Iran (September 20, 2020)

Iran (September 20, 2020)



As U.S. Increases Pressure, Iran Adheres to Toned-Down Approach

The Trump administration has ramped up its criticism of Iran, but Tehran has chosen a path of restraint, intelligence showed.

By Julian E. Barnes, David E. Sanger, Ronen Bergman and Lara Jakes

September 19, 2020

„The Trump administration has increased criticism and pressure on Iran in recent days: accusing the country of planning assassinations of American diplomats, announcing hacking indictments, preparing unilateral sanctions and denouncing Tehran for interfering in the November election. But the campaign to denigrate and isolate Iran belies Tehran’s current posture. Iran’s supreme leader has blocked any large, direct retaliation to the United States, at least for now, allowing only cyberactivity to flourish, according to American and allied officials briefed on new intelligence reporting. […]“


U.S. Reimposes U.N. Sanctions on Iran Over Objections of World Powers

The full range of the sanctions were announced on Saturday evening in Washington, but it is unclear how effective they will be.

By Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger

September 19, 2020

„Over the strenuous objections of its closest allies, the Trump administration reimposed United Nations sanctions against Iran on Saturday, though the weight of their repercussions is unclear without the cooperation of the world’s other major powers. In an evening statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the “return of virtually all previously terminated U.N. sanctions” and, in effect, declared a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran as no longer in force. “The world will be safer as a result,” Mr. Pompeo said. He also warned that the United States “is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences” for other countries that do not enforce the sanctions. He did not elaborate. […]“


Is Mike Pompeo preparing an October Surprise?

By Trita Parsi

September 16, 2020

Is Mike Pompeo preparing an October Surprise?

„[…] Pompeo tweeted on August 27 that the 30 day period to snapback United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran comes to an end on September 20, 2020. The tweet was bizarre on several grounds. First, the entire U.N. Security Council (with the notable exception of the Dominican Republic) had made clear that the U.S. did not have standing to initiate the snapback mechanism contained within the Iran nuclear deal since the U.S. no longer was a party to the agreement. Pompeo’s tweet completely disregards the verdict of the vast majority of the Council and pretends as if the 30-day snapback clock had begun. Second, and perhaps more problematic, Pompeo appeared to signal that he intends to enforce the non-existent U.N. sanctions at “midnight GMT on September 20.” Enforcement would entail U.S. warships attacking and confiscating Iranian cargo ships in international waters — as well as non-Iranian vessels suspected of carrying Iranian goods. Pompeo will contend that these measures are not only lawful but also necessary to uphold the (again, non-existent) ruling of the U.N. Security Council.  The vast majority of the international community, as well as the other states in the U.N. Security Council, will forcefully reject the notion that the United States is acting on behalf of the Council and will regard U.S. conduct as unlawful acts of aggression. […]“


E3 statement on NPT Safeguards Agreement with Iran

Statement from France, Germany and the UK delivered to the IAEA Board of Governors at the September 2020 meeting.

UK Mission to the UN in Vienna

September 18, 2020

In a joint statement delivered to the IAEA Board of Governors on Friday, Britain, France and Germany, the three European signatories to a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal with Iran hailed Tehran’s encouraging statements on its intention to further strengthen its cooperation with the IAEA.


USS Nimitz aircraft carrier enters Persian Gulf after Pompeo’s threats against Iran

By Press TV

September 18, 2020

„For the first time in ten months, a US aircraft carrier has sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and enters into the waters of the Persian Gulf, as Washington has threatened to illegally extend an expiring arms embargo on Iran. […] The United States regularly sends aircraft carrier groups into the Persian Gulf. But the Nimitz strike group is the first carrier to operate in the Persian Gulf since USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) made the Strait of Hormuz transit in November 2019. This comes just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to enforce an arms embargo and “UN” sanctions against Iran, despite nearly the entire UN Security Council saying Washington does not have the grounds to do so. On Tuesday, Pompeo said that the US would not allow Iran purchasing Chinese and Russian military equipment, despite Iran’s stern warning against Washington’s “dangerous” defiance of international law. „We are going to act in a way — and we have acted in a way — that will prevent Iran from being able to purchase Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems and resell weapons to Hezbollah,“ Pompeo said. And on Wednesday, Pompeo vowed that the United States would return to the UN to have the sanctions re-imposed on Iran next week.[…]“


Biden’s proposed Iran policy doesn’t go far enough

By Eldar Mamedov

September 16, 2020

Biden’s proposed Iran policy doesn’t go far enough

„In a bizarre outburst in Washington Post, senior fellow from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute Danielle Pletka lamented that she may be “forced” to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. The reason is her fear that Biden will be a “figure-head president reading from teleprompter words drafted by his party’s hard-left ideologues.” Whatever prompted this level of “epistemic closure,” as CATO’s Emma Ashford politely put it, Biden’s views on Iran certainly do not testify to a “left-ward lurch” of Democratic foreign policy that so worries the likes of Pletka. […] Biden’s rather hawkish article may result from the need the Democrats feel to convince the voters that they are no less “tough” on national security than the Republicans. If elected, he may pursue a more restrained policy. Associating hawkishness with credibility in foreign policy, however, is in itself a symptom of deep malaise that has led the U.S. to excessive entanglements in the Middle East. On evidence of Biden’s views on Iran, there is, for now, little room for hope that that will change.“


There’s a smarter way to be tough on Iran

By Joe Biden

September 13, 2020

„[…] Here’s what I would do as President. First, I will make an unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Second, I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal’s provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern. This includes working aggressively to free unjustly detained Americans and calling out the regime for its ongoing violations of human rights, including the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari this week and the wrongful detention of political prisoners, such as human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. And we will work to help our partners reduce tensions and help end regional conflicts, including the disastrous war in Yemen. I will also take steps to make sure US sanctions do not hinder Iran’s fight against Covid-19. And on day one, I will repeal Trump’s disgraceful travel ban targeting a number of Muslim-majority countries, among others. Third, we will continue to push back against Iran’s destabilizing activities, which threaten our friends and partners in the region. Drawing on the record-setting US-Israel security assistance agreement signed when I was Vice President, America will also work closely with Israel to ensure it can defend itself against Iran and its proxies. We will continue to use targeted sanctions against Iran’s human rights abuses, its support for terrorism and ballistic missile program. If Iran chooses confrontation, I am prepared to defend our vital interests and our troops. But, I am ready to walk the path of diplomacy if Iran takes steps to show it is ready too. With the world back at America’s side, a Biden administration will make it a priority to set Iran policy right.“


The UAE-Israel Breakthrough: Bilateral and Regional Implications and U.S. Policy

By Ebtesam al-Ketbi, Dore Gold, Barbara A. Leaf, and David Makovsky

September 14, 2020

„Former diplomats and experts discuss what steps each party should take after the historic White House signing ceremony, and how to bring the Palestinians and other actors into the fold. On September 14, The Washington Institute held a virtual Policy Forum with Ebtesam al-Ketbi, Dore Gold, Barbara Leaf, and David Makovsky. Ketbi is founder and president of the Emirates Policy Center, the UAE’s leading foreign policy and security think tank. Gold is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli permanent representative to the UN. Leaf is the Institute’s Lapidus Fellow and former U.S. ambassador to the UAE. Makovsky is the Institute’s Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and former senior advisor to the State Department’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks. […]“


Iran Chooses a Harsher Tone as it Reacts to the Bahrain-Israel Rapprochement

The normalization of relations with Israel provides another grievance Tehran can use to mobilize Bahrain’s Shias against their rulers.

By Ali Alfoneh

The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW)

September 16, 2020

Iran Chooses a Harsher Tone as it Reacts to the Bahrain-Israel Rapprochement

„The Islamic Republic has taken a somewhat harsher tone in its reaction to the announcement that Bahrain will normalize relations with Israel than it did to the U.S.-brokered agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, as expressed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ and the Bahraini Shia opposition based in Iran. What accounts for the nuances in the Islamic Republic’s reaction, and what is the likelihood of Tehran acting upon threats that it has made against Bahrain? […]“


Executives Describe Bottlenecks, Red Tape in Iran’s Pharmaceutical Sector

By Nicki Siamaki

September 16, 2020

„[…] US sanctions have made the import of these pharmaceuticals and the raw materials needed to domestically manufacture more basic pharmaceuticals increasingly challenging. While US sanctions ostensibly do not target the humanitarian sector, international financial institutions remain wary of processing humanitarian transactions with Iran due to fear of falling foul to US sanctions, contributing to medicine shortages. I interviewed two individuals working in Iran’s pharmaceutical sector in late August to discuss medicine shortages and some of the challenges that foreign and local companies operating have faced since the reimposition of US sanctions. Both interviewees, while highlighting an acute need for some medicines, shed light on some of the regulatory, operational and integrity risks that foreign pharmaceutical companies face on the ground. […]“


Health Minister: Iran to purchase 20mln coronavirus vaccine doses from Indian firm

By The Iran Project

September 20, 2020

Health Minister: Iran to purchase 20mln coronavirus vaccine doses from Indian firm

„Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced on Saturday that the country plans to buy 20mln doses of coronavirus vaccine from an Indian company, while Iranian firms also continue their efforts to produce the vaccine. […] He added that Iran is endeavoring to develop and supply the vaccine, and noted, “Of course, our research teams in the country are working round-the-clock to produce the vaccine and we have pinned much hope on their positive results.” Also, earlier today, Iranian Vice-President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari said that 6 prominent companies in Iran have been activated to produce coronavirus vaccine, adding, “The health ministry will declare good news in this regard.”[…]“


Iran Executes Wrestler Accused of Murder After He Took Part in 2018 Protests

Many suspected that the charges against Navid Afkari were false, and international sports groups had mounted a campaign for clemency.

By Farnaz Fassihi and Marjorie Olster

September 12, 2020

„Iran said Saturday that it had executed a 27-year-old wrestler accused of murder after he took part in antigovernment protests two years ago, a case that set off a campaign by international sports groups to demand clemency for the athlete. The wrestler, Navid Afkari, was executed on Saturday morning at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz, his lawyers confirmed. Mr. Afkari was accused of fatally stabbing a water-utility worker amid unrest in his home city, Shiraz, a center of the antigovernment protests that swept the country in 2018. […]“


Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Health is Deteriorating Under Hunger Strike

By The National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

September 16, 2020

„Monday, September 14th marked the 35th day of Nasrin Sotoudeh’s hunger strike, which she began over a month ago in protest of prison conditions, the risk of prisoners contracting Covid-19, and the plight of political prisoners who have been wrongly targeted and held in Iranian prisons for countless years. Sotoudeh, a renowned Iranian lawyer and human rights activist is all too familiar with the cruelties of the Iranian judiciary, which has imprisoned her on various spurious charges over many years, blocked her bank accounts to bring financial strain on her family, and recently detained her 20-year old daughter who was released on bail. […]“


Iran To Link Its Power Grid To Russia, Azerbaijan

By Tsvetana Paraskova

September 11, 2020

„Iran’s electricity grid will be connected with Russia and Azerbaijan in a few months, once grid compatibility studies are completed, Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said on Friday. […] The idea of connecting Iran’s power grid with Russia via Azerbaijan was first aired in March 2019, when Ardakanian met with the then Azerbaijani minister of economy and industry, Shahin Mustafayev, in Tehran. […] Iran and Russia are looking to boost their energy cooperation, including via joint projects, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported earlier this week after Iranian Ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, held a meeting to discuss the future energy cooperation with Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Tikhonov.[…]“