Eye on Iran: Deutsche Bank's Business With Sanctioned Nations Under Scrutiny

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NYT: "Federal and state prosecutors are investigating Deutsche Bank and several other global banks over accusations that they funneled billions of dollars through their American branches for Iran, Sudan and other sanctioned nations, according to law enforcement officials with knowledge of the cases... The Deutsche Bank investigation is the latest in a series of cases against global financial firms since 2009 that suggests the practice of transferring money on behalf of Iranian banks and corporations flourished under a loophole in United States policy that ended in 2008. A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment, but noted that the German bank decided in 2007 that it would 'not engage in new business with counterparties in countries such as Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea and to exit existing business to the extent legally possible.'" http://t.uani.com/QhL9Z9

AFP: "The 'cancerous tumour' of Israel is the biggest problem confronting Muslim countries today, Iran's supreme leader said on Sunday, repeating an epithet slammed just days earlier by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US and EU officials. In a speech marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said 'the big powers have dominated the destiny of the Islamic countries for years and... installed the Zionist cancerous tumour in the heart of the Islamic world,' according to the official IRNA news agency. 'Many of the Islamic world's problems come from the existence of the sham Zionist regime,' he was quoted as saying." http://t.uani.com/SHY4FS

NYT: "When President Obama announced last month that he was barring a Baghdad bank from any dealings with the American banking system, it was a rare acknowledgment of a delicate problem facing the administration in a country that American troops just left: for months, Iraq has been helping Iran skirt economic sanctions imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear program. The little-known bank singled out by the United States, the Elaf Islamic Bank, is only part of a network of financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations that, according to current and former American and Iraqi government officials and experts on the Iraqi banking sector, has provided Iran with a crucial flow of dollars at a time when sanctions are squeezing its economy." http://t.uani.com/Rbw4gG

Nuclear Program

AP: "A senior Iranian commander says a possible Israeli airstrike against his country's nuclear facilities is 'welcome' because it would give Iran a reason to retaliate and 'get rid of' the Jewish state 'forever.' The remarks by Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guard's air force, were reported Saturday by the official IRNA news agency. Hajizadeh says in the event of an Israeli strike, Iran's response would be 'swift, decisive and destructive.' But he also claims Israeli threats of a strike are just part of a psychological war against Iran." http://t.uani.com/PyXvjp

AFP: "The United States and Israel have different interpretations of the same intelligence reports on Iran's nuclear programme, the US military's top general said. General Martin Dempsey, at the start of a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq, said late Sunday that Israel viewed the threat posed by Tehran's atomic ambitions with more urgency, as a nuclear-armed Iran could endanger Israel's very existence. Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he conferred with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz on a regular, 'bi-weekly' basis. 'We compare intelligence, we discuss regional implications. And we've admitted to each other that our clocks are turning at different rates,' he said. 'They are living with an existential concern that we are not living with.'" http://t.uani.com/NbNVVo

Reuters: "The EU foreign policy chief said on Saturday that comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called Israel a 'cancerous tumour' with no place in a future Middle East, were 'outrageous and hateful'. Catherine Ashton's language was unusually forthright for the West's chief negotiator over Iran's nuclear program. Ashton 'strongly condemns the outrageous and hateful remarks threatening Israel's existence by the Supreme Leader and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,' said a statement by her spokesman." http://t.uani.com/NT9kyV


NYT: "With American and European sanctions spurring a currency crisis in Iran, officials say a growing number of Iranians are packing trucks with devalued rials and heading to the freewheeling currency market next door in American-occupied Afghanistan, to trade for dollars. The rial has lost more than half its value against the dollar, and cross-border bank transfers and currency exchanges have become difficult, as sanctions have slashed Iran's vital oil revenue and cut the country off from international financial markets. Iranian businesses and individuals are desperate to avoid further losses, by converting their money and moving it out for safekeeping. At the same time, the government is trying to find alternate ways to bring in hard currency." http://t.uani.com/QSvnEN

Reuters: "South Korean refiners will resume imports of up to 200,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude from September, economy ministry sources said on Monday, ending a two-month gap due to a European Union ban on insurance cover for Iranian oil. The resumption is unlikely to hinder South Korea's bid to extend a U.S. sanction waiver later this year as imports in 2012, which were down 17 percent in the first half, will still be almost 20 percent lower than last year. 'The imports will resume from early September loading, meaning late September arrival,' said a source at the economy ministry who has direct knowledge of the matter but declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media." http://t.uani.com/OGfT5Y

WSJ: "Iraq has reclaimed its place as the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, overtaking Iran for the first time in 24 years and shifting the balance of power in the group... But the shift in rankings also is because Iran's output has declined. Western sanctions, aimed at pressuring Tehran over its nuclear program, have cut 700,000 barrels a day from the country's production since 2011, according to OPEC data. Before the first of the sanctions were imposed in January, Iran was producing 3.5 million barrels a day of oil, a level Iraq doesn't expect to reach until next year... This is good news for oil consumers. Extra supplies from Iraq helped global markets cope with the loss of Libyan exports during last year's civil war. It also helps offset the loss of Iranian exports this year." http://t.uani.com/ScxHup

WatchPro: "Not-for-profit advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has launched its Luxury Good Campaign against luxury brands, calling on, amongst others, Omega to cease supplying its timepieces to retailers in Iran... UANI has launched a Luxury Goods database on its website listing firms that 'supply' the regime with a high-end consumer products including cars, watches and jewellery... Why the UANi has targeted Omega specifically from the number of watch brands also operating in Iran is unclear. Other brands that sell in the country include Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breitling, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Richard Mille and Zenith, plus many more." http://t.uani.com/PyqQbC




Reuters:"Iran has rejected Afghan government claims that Tehran orchestrated a series of suicide bomb attacks earlier this week that killed at least 28 people in Afghanistan, Iran's English-language Press TV reported on Sunday. Afghanistan's spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), killed two alleged insurgents and detained three more this week for what they said was their involvement in the bombings this week in Afghanistan's Nimroz province. The NDS said the five were Iranian citizens, and that they had trained for suicide bomb missions in Iran, which borders Afghanistan to its west." http://t.uani.com/QSu3lg

Syrian Civil War

WSJ: "Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's regime is running out of cash to face the insurgency in the country and France plans to discuss with Russia ways to reduce Syrian government funding, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday. The Syrian government has enough money to hold out for only a few months without the support of Russia and Iran as the repression costs about €1 billion ($1.23 billion) a month, Mr. Fabius said in an interview with French radio station RTL." http://t.uani.com/Rw8EVt

Human Rights

NYT: "Thirty-six universities in Iran have banned women from 77 fields of study. The ban, which was first reported Aug. 6 by Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency, came as the results of university entrance exams for the coming academic year were being announced. The restrictions were not noted in previously distributed university leaflets but will affect students for the coming year. Subjects now open only to men include accounting, engineering and pure chemistry, according to the Iranian news Web site Rooz Online." http://t.uani.com/OQsGs7

ICHRI: "Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor accused of apostasy will be put on a new trial on August 27. Nadarkhani, who refused to repent from being a Christian in earlier judicial proceedings and faces a death sentence, is now facing the new charges of 'banditry and extortion.' The Christian pastor's earlier charges were 'apostasy' and 'converting to Christianity,' but the new charges of 'banditry and extortion' were first mentioned last year on Fars News Agency." http://t.uani.com/PMN0dZ


Domestic Politics

Fox News: "Tensions are flaring between the Iranian government and the Iranian people, who are criticizing minimal rescue efforts in the aftermath of tandem magnitude 6.3 and 6.4 earthquakes that rattled Iran's northwest East Azerbaijan province Saturday. 'People are pessimistic about getting help from the Red Crescent, the Basij or any government groups. No one trusts the government to help us through this crisis,' said human rights activist and former political prisoner, Hamid, in an interview with Fox News. Hamid's full name has been left out for his security. The death toll is now 306, with 3,037 injured, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.  The quake mostly affected women and children, who were home in the afternoon. An estimated 16,000 people are homeless. The government has shown little compassion and has been slow in response and unreliable in allocating aid supplies, according to many." http://t.uani.com/PMImMM

Foreign Affairs

AP: "Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi will attend a summit in Iran later this month, a presidential official said on Saturday, the first such trip for an Egyptian leader since relations with Tehran deteriorated decades ago. The visit could mark a thaw between the two countries after years of enmity, especially since Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic revolution. Under Morsi's predecessor Hosni Mubarak, Egypt, predominantly Sunni Muslim, sided with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab states in trying to isolate Shiite-led Iran. Until now, contacts have been channeled through interest sections, a low-level form of diplomatic representation." http://t.uani.com/RbC499

Opinion & Analysis

Dennis Ross in NYT: "The key questions for policy makers in Washington today are whether there is a way to extend the clock from an Israeli standpoint and whether it is possible to synchronize the American and Israeli clocks so that we really can exhaust diplomacy and sanctions before resorting to force. Four actions by the United States could make this possible. First, the United States must put an endgame proposal on the table that would allow Iran to have civil nuclear power but with restrictions that would preclude it from having a breakout nuclear capability - the ability to weaponize its nuclear program rapidly at a time of Tehran's choosing. Making such a proposal would clarify whether a genuine deal was possible and would convey to Israel that the American approach to negotiations was not open-ended. Second, America should begin discussions with the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany (the so called P5+1) about a 'day after' strategy in the event that diplomacy fails and force is used. This would signal to both Israel and Iran that we mean what we say about all options being on the table. Third, senior American officials should ask Israeli leaders if there are military capabilities we could provide them with - like additional bunker-busting bombs, tankers for refueling aircraft and targeting information - that would extend the clock for them. And finally, the White House should ask Mr. Netanyahu what sort of support he would need from the United States if he chose to use force - for example, resupply of weapons, munitions, spare parts, military and diplomatic backing, and help in terms of dealing with unexpected contingencies. The United States should be prepared to make firm commitments in all these areas now in return for Israel's agreement to postpone any attack until next year - a delay that could be used to exhaust diplomatic options and lay the groundwork for military action if diplomacy failed. Although some may argue that these actions will make a military strike more likely next year, they are almost certainly needed now in order to give Israel's leaders a reason to wait." http://t.uani.com/Ostsss

Amos Yadlin in WashPost: "Despite seeing eye to eye on this strategic goal, the United States and Israel disagree on the timeline for possible military action against Iran. Superior U.S. operational capabilities mean that it will be another year or two before Iran's nuclear sites become 'immune' to a U.S. attack. Unlike Israel, therefore, the United States can afford to delay beyond this fall, which is precisely what the Obama administration wants. Leave your planes in their hangars, the president has signaled to Israel. A long-standing principle of Israeli defense doctrine is that it will never ask the United States to fight for it. That is why Israel's political leaders have emphasized that when it comes to national security, Israel will ultimately decide and act on its own. Unfortunately, what Israeli leaders may not fully grasp is that while they can attack alone, Israel will need the United States both the day after and the decade after a strike to ensure that Iran does not reconstitute its program. Disregarding U.S. requests to delay would not encourage such support. Only by framing a nuclear-armed Iran as an impermissible threat to the national interests of the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf can President Obama bridge this gap between Israeli creed and need. He must convince Israel, Iran, Russia and even Saudi Arabia that the U.S. military option is credible and effective. A gesture directly from Obama could do it. The U.S. president should visit Israel and tell its leadership - and, more important, its people - that preventing a nuclear Iran is a U.S. interest, and if we have to resort to military action, we will. This message, delivered by the president of the United States to the Israeli Knesset, would be far more effective than U.S. officials' attempts to convey the same sentiment behind closed doors. The administration should also take five immediate steps to convince allies and adversaries alike that military action is real, imminent and doable - which are key to making it less likely. First, Obama should notify the U.S. Congress in writing that he reserves the right to use military force to prevent Iran's acquisition of a military nuclear capability. This would show the president's resolve, and congressional support for such a measure is likely to be strong. Forty-four senators signed a bipartisan letter to Obama in June, urging him to 'reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time' and focus instead on sanctions and 'making clear that a credible military option exists.' Second, Washington should signal its intentions via a heightened U.S. military presence in the gulf, military exercises with Middle East allies and missile defense deployment in the region. Media coverage of these actions should be encouraged. Third, Washington should provide advanced military technology and intelligence to strengthen Israel's military capabilities and extend the window in which Israel can mortally wound Iran's program. This support would be contingent on Israeli pledges to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work. Fourth, U.S. officials should speak publicly about the dangers of possible Iranian nuclear reconstitution in the wake of a military strike. Perhaps the most cogent argument against a unilateral Israeli strike is that it would quickly lead to the disintegration of Western sanctions. Without the inhibitions of a sanctions regime, Iran could quickly reconstitute its nuclear program - this time bunkered entirely underground to protect against aerial strikes. If Iran sees military action by Israel or the West as an absolute end to its nuclear ambitions, it will be more reluctant to risk things. Fifth, Obama should publicly commit to the security of U.S. allies in the gulf. This would reassure jittery friends in the region and credibly anchor the U.S. last-resort military option to three powerful interests: U.S. national security, Israeli security and the security of allied states. Israel cannot afford to outsource its security to another country. But if the United States wants Israel to give sanctions and diplomacy more time, Israelis must know that they will not be left high and dry if these options fail. Ironically, the best assurance the U.S. president can give Israel is a commitment to, if all else fails, resort to military action to protect critical U.S interests. But time is running out to make this commitment credible to the people of the United States, Israel and Iran. As the adage goes, if you want peace, prepare (credibly) for war." http://t.uani.com/QhD1rE