Iran (January 23, 2021)

Iran (January 23, 2021)



The Iran Nuclear Deal at Five: A Revival?

The 2015 nuclear deal enters 2021 clinging to life, having survived the Trump administration’s withdrawal and Iran’s breaches of its commitments. When the Biden administration takes office, Washington and Tehran should move quickly and in parallel to revive the agreement on its original terms.

By the International Crisis Group

January 15, 2021

„[…] The era of U.S. “maximum pressure” may be drawing to an end. At this juncture lies promise as well as peril: reviving U.S.-Iran diplomatic engagement on the JCPOA’s original basis could restore the agreement’s considerable non-proliferation benefits, revive contacts that withered under the Trump administration, and offer at least the prospect of discussing issues outside the nuclear file in a constructive rather than adversarial manner. For either side to subject such diplomacy to leverage-focused one-upmanship and additional demands would be a recipe for deadlock that is as predictable as it is avoidable. Instead, Iran should return to full compliance with its JCPOA commitments in exchange for a swift U.S. re-entry into the deal and lifting of Trump-era sanctions imposed in contravention of the accord. Such concerted forward movement should guide the two sides toward a clean revival of the existing JCPOA framework. But there are risks: in Iran’s case, failure to reasonably engage with the Biden administration could sap what international sympathy it has won as the aggrieved party following the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement. Were Iran to proceed with further nuclear provocations, it might find itself seen by not just the U.S. but also the E3 as the unreasonable party. For Washington and the P4+1, with Iran’s June presidential polls looming, it is vital to deliver the financial dividends that Tehran, with some justification, sees as the unrealised return for its own nuclear commitments and JCPOA compliance prior to U.S. “maximum pressure”. Rouhani’s departure may not prove fatal to diplomacy, but there is no reason not to seize the opportunity between now and then to make as much progress as possible.“


Nine hurdles to reviving the Iran nuclear deal

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian (Former Iranian Ambassador to Germany and former chief of Iran’s National Security Foreign Relations Committee)

Bulletin of the Atomic Scvientists

January 19, 2021

Nine hurdles to reviving the Iran nuclear deal

„[…] Although reviving the agreement is certainly still possible, it won’t be easy. The two sides will need to overcome nine hurdles to make it happen. […] Despite these hurdles, Biden should nevertheless seek a reentry into the deal. Only a clean and full implementation by all parties can save the world’s most comprehensive nuclear agreement, contain rising US-Iran tensions, and open the path toward more confidence building measures. That path should include, upon Biden’s issuing an executive order to rejoin the JCPOA, the creation of a working committee of parties to the agreement tasked with ensuring full compliance by all signatories, and a forum, organized by the UN secretary general, in which Iran and the Gulf countries can discuss a new structure for improving security and cooperation in the region.“


Salvaging the Nuclear Deal Before It Is Too Late

By Daniel Larison

January 21, 21

Salvaging the Nuclear Deal Before It Is Too Late

„One of the early priorities of the new Biden administration has to be rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and they can expect to encounter stiff resistance from the Iran hawks that have been working overtime to destroy the agreement for the last five and a half years. Hard-liners have already fired off two salvos with an article in The Atlantic and an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this week. The first is supposed to be a “case against the nuclear deal,” but it might as well be titled “the case against diplomacy with Iran.” Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi misrepresent what the JCPOA does, exaggerate the benefits that Iran is supposed to get (but has never actually received), and cling to an absurd maximalist demand of “zero enrichment” that Iran would never accept. It is very much the same tedious and disingenuous argument that we have heard before, and we can expect to hear it repeated many more times in the coming months. […] Assuming the other parties to the deal reciprocate by holding up their end of the bargain, Iran will ratify in 2023 the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which allows short-notice inspections of undeclared facilities in Iran and which it is now voluntarily implementing. To date, no country on earth has developed nuclear weapons under the watchful eyes of the IAEA’s inspectors who are empowered by the access that the Additional Protocol affords them.“


The Case Against the Iran Deal

Reviving the JCPOA will ensure either the emergence of a nuclear Iran or a desperate war to stop it.

Michael Oren (Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Yossi Klein Halevi (Senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem)

January 21, 2021

„[…] The Biden administration must resist pressure from members of Congress and others who are urging an unconditional return to the JCPOA. Even the deal’s fervent supporters need to recognize that its fundamental assumptions—that Iran had abandoned its quest for a military nuclear option and would moderate its behavior—have been thoroughly disproved. At the same time, America must consult its Middle East allies about what they think a better deal would look like. Such a deal would verifiably and permanently remove Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. This means not merely mothballing the nuclear infrastructure, but eliminating it. It means empowering international inspectors with unlimited and immediate access to any suspect enrichment or weaponization site. It means maintaining economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime until it truly comes clean about its undeclared nuclear activities and ceases to develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. A better deal will deny Iran the ability to commit the violations it is now committing with impunity. […] The JCPOA is also incompatible with President Biden’s long-standing commitment to Israel’s security. At a 2015 gathering celebrating Israel’s independence, then–Vice President Biden said: “Israel is absolutely essential—absolutely essential—[for the] security of Jews around the world … Imagine what it would say about humanity and the future of the 21st century if Israel were not sustained, vibrant and free.” Reviving the JCPOA will endanger that vision, ensuring the emergence of a nuclear Iran or a desperate war to stop it. Biden is a proven friend who has shared Israel’s hopes and fears. He must prevent that nightmare.“


US Return to JCPOA Should Not Couple with Preconditions for Iran: Russia

By Tasnim News

January, 21, 2021

„Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said the US return to the Iran nuclear deal should not be coupled with any preconditions under the new administration of Joe Biden.Answering to a question about the potential timeframe of the US return to the Iran nuclear deal, during a televised interview with Rossiya’24 news channel on Wednesday, Ulyanov replied, „I’d say that we all urgently need that the first signs of normalization will appear in February, since under the law recently passed by Iran’s Majlis (parliament), unless progress is made, as early as on February 21 Tehran is to terminate the appliance of the Additional Protocol and the Safeguards Agreement it signed with the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency), and that will dramatically reduce the chances of inspecting the state of affairs in Iran’s nuclear program.“  Ulyanov recalled that Iran would hold the presidential election in June. Therefore, „the window of opportunity is very narrow,“ the Russian envoy to Vienna added. […]“



Biden & Iran: The Missile Program

By Michael Elleman

United States Institue of Peace

January 15,2021

„• Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. (Israel has more capable ballistic missiles, but fewer in number and type.) Most were acquired from foreign sources, notably North Korea. The Islamic Republic is the only country to develop a 2,000-km missile without first having a nuclear weapons capability. • Iran is still dependent on foreign suppliers for some key ingredients, components and equipment, but it has the technical and industrial capacity to develop long-range missiles, including an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, or ICBM. • The military utility of Iran’s liquid-fuel ballistic missiles is limited because of poor accuracy, so these missiles are not likely to be decisive if armed with conventional, chemical or biological warheads. But Tehran could use its missiles as a political or psychological weapon to terrorize an adversary’s cities and pressure its government. • Iran’s indigenous Fateh-110 family of solid-fuel missiles have achieved the precision necessary to destroy military and critical-infrastructure targets reliably, as demonstrated during its January 2020 attack against U.S. forces stationed at Ayn al Asad airbase in Iraq using Zolfaghar missiles. • Iran should not be able to reliably strike Western Europe before 2022 or the United States before 2025—at the earliest. • Iran’s space program, which includes the successful launch of several small, crude satellites into low earth orbit using the Safir and Qased carrier rockets, proves the country’s growing ambitions and technical prowess. Since 2016, the larger, more powerful Simorgh failed to put a satellite into orbit during four launch attempts and remains a work in progress. […]“



Could Gulf Reconciliation Herald a Broader Regional Realignment?

The blockade imposed against Doha by the Arab Quartet has been lifted, but there is still a long way ahead to a resolution of the conflict in the Gulf. Relations between the Gulf states might now unfold according to different scenarios: each would have a different impact on the region in general, and on Israel in particular

By Ari Heistein, Yoel Guzansky

The Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University

January 20, 2021

„The annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on January 5, 2021 culminated in the resolution of the Qatar crisis. The crisis began in 2017, shortly after President Trump’s visit to the region, as the so-called Arab Quartet (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt) imposed a blockade against Doha to pressure it to rein in its foreign policy. The blockading countries have started lifting their pressure campaign against Qatar, although the terms of the agreement have not been fully disclosed and it is unclear if any of their initial demands were met. Some possible regional implications of the latest Gulf reconciliation include: the GCC distancing Qatar from Turkey; a widening policy gap between the UAE and Saudi Arabia; or, if the reconciliation stalls, further evidence of the intractable frictions between Qatar and its neighbors. A successful resolution to this crisis could serve Israel’s interests by promoting a more unified GCC front against Iran’s malign activity in the region and greater restraint in Turkish foreign policy. However, Jerusalem should also be aware that this development could herald shifting fault lines in the Gulf. […]“


Why Iran could top Biden’s Middle East agenda

By Larry Luxner

The Atlantic Council

January 20, 2020

Why Iran could top Biden’s Middle East agenda

„Each crisis represents a major US foreign-policy challenge, but all will likely receive less attention from the new American administration than another pressing issue in the region: Iran’s recent nuclear advances. That was the consensus of five Arab, Israeli, and American experts gathered for a virtual discussion on January 20 that coincided with Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States. The panel—moderated by Kirsten Fontenrose, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative—was part of the Council’s 2021 Global Energy Forum. […]“



Iran launches $3.4bn refinery to collect gas flares from oil fields

By Press TV

January 21, 2021

Play Video–3-4bn-refinery-to-collect-gas-flares-from-oil-fields

„Iran has opened a sprawling refinery in its oil-rich province of Khuzestan to collect gas flares that are normally burnt and wasted during crude production. The Persian Gulf Bidboland Gas Refinery, a mega-project launched in the southwestern city of Behbahan, came on line on Thursday upon an order by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who used a video conference call to open the facility. Construction of the refinery began in 2015. It has cost $3.4 billion, of which $2.3 billion has come from Iran’s sovereign wealth fund. Some 15,000 people contributed to the construction process which included works for over 1,000 kilometers of pipelines to collect flares from oilfields in three southern provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr and Kohgiluyeh & Boyer-Ahmad. […]“



Sanctioning the Environment: Why US Foreign Policy has Failed Iran and Iraq

By Barney Bartlett, Shirin Hakim, Karen MaKuch

The Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD)

January 20, 2021

Sanctioning the Environment: Why US Foreign Policy has Failed Iran and Iraq

„Abstract: US foreign policy has long failed the environment along the Iran-Iraq border. American efforts to stabilize Iraq have countered its actions across the border in neighbouring Iran, which has centred around the use of coercive measures for decades. This polarization in US foreign policy has overlooked the environmental inextricability of the resource abundant Iran-Iraq border, inadvertently contributing to instability in the region.  Whilst Iran and Iraq are home to unique historic and cultural contexts, the social, economic, and environmental realities of these neighbouring states are much the same. Both countries are facing ongoing issues with water scarcity, the mismanagement of local resources, climate change and increased political dissent amongst locals. Due to the inseparability of Iran and Iraq’s environmental security, the environmental ramifications of stringent US sanctions against Iran are spilling into and exacerbating existing challenges in Iraq. The Biden administration now has an unprecedented opportunity to place climate policy at the forefront of American policymaking, both at home and abroad. This will necessitate a serious re-evaluation of US soft and hard policy tools that inadvertently undermine sustainable development. This is exemplified in this work through the examination of economic sanctions and their inadvertent environmental impacts, using Iran as an example. Results discuss how US sanctions policy has long overlooked environmental concerns. Recommendations are intended to guide future US foreign policymakers on methods to mitigate the potentially deleterious impacts of sanctions in a target state, minimize confrontations and promote sustainable development on an international level.“



Why Is Iran Experiencing Power Cuts and Gas Shortages?

By Roshanak Astaraki

January 22, 2021

ANALYSIS: Why Is Iran Experiencing Power Cuts and Gas Shortages?

„The director of Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE) Isa Kalantari has said the public must reduce its gas consumption or face frequent power outages. In comments reported by the Tehran-based Tejarat News on Jan. 4, Mr. Kalantari explained: “Our nation could expect electricity shortage, or we may be forced to use fuel oil [heating oil, kerosene]. People must either reduce their gas consumption or use heating oil.” “A significant increase in household gas consumption during the winter months has caused a severe drop in gas supply to industries and power plants,” Kalantari noted. “Industries and power stations, which produce electricity, cannot operate without gas, so they may have to use heating oil.” “There are some exceptions regarding the use of heating oil,” Kalantari said. “The Headquarters for Fighting Coronavirus has banned the use of heating oil in major cities, including Tehran, Karaj, and Isfahan. However, other cities will be forced to use heating oil because of the gas shortage.” […]“



Nazanin Shahrokni, Women in Place: The Politics of Gender Segregation in Iran (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020

Nazanin Shahrokni interviewed by Jadaliyya

January 15, 2021,-Women-in-Place-The-Politics-of-Gender-Segregation-in-Iran-New-Texts-Out-Now

„Women in Place constitutes the intertwinement of the personal, the political, and the professional for me. I begin the book by describing a scene from 1995, which I experienced personally: the opening ceremony of the Students’ Sports Olympiad, which took place in Isfahan, Iran, one of the first times when male and female students were allowed in the very same stadium together, albeit in separate sections. This was a formative experience for me, because living these events brought home an apparent “paradox” that permeates my book. […]“