Eye on Iran: Iran: US Bases at Risk If Sanctions Pass

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Iran: US Bases at Risk If Sanctions Pass | The Hill

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard is reportedly warning Washington against imposing sanctions on Tehran, saying U.S. military bases in the region would be at risk.  “As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday, according to an Iranian state media report cited by Reuters. Jafari also addressed the White House's announcement on Friday that President Trump would respond to Iran's support for "terrorism," a reference to the influential Revolutionary Guard security force.  “If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world particularly in the Middle East,” he said.

Decertifying the Iran Deal Wouldn’t Have to Kill It | UANI Advisory Board Member Dennis Ross for the Wall Street Journal

[T]he administration needs to explain the distinction it is drawing: It must emphasize that it is not pulling out of the JCPOA and is not asking Congress to restore the sanctions that were waived under the deal. But it should say that the U.S. is not going to acquiesce in Iran’s dangerous behavior and is, therefore, decertifying to put the world on notice that at some point in the next six to 12 months the U.S. will walk away from the deal if the JCPOA’s sunset provisions, Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, and its regional misbehavior are not addressed.

No, Trump Is Not Withdrawing from the Iran Deal | Eli Lake For Bloomberg View

If any former Obama administration officials, European diplomats or arms-control advocates are reading this, I have some reassuring news. President Donald Trump will not be killing your precious Iran nuclear agreement. Yes, the president is expected next week to decertify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Which would indeed throw the matter to Congress, which then has 60 days to re-impose crippling sanctions. But none of that means the U.S. will be unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal. If Trump wanted to re-impose secondary sanctions on Iran's oil exports and banking system, he could order the U.S. Treasury Department to do that on his own. He doesn't need to decertify Iranian compliance through the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act… The reality is that Trump is asking Congress to codify the terms of a better Iran nuclear deal so that it can be used as leverage with European allies to push Iran for more concessions. If the president wanted to get the U.S. out of the nuclear deal, he would have done it already.

UANI IN THE NEWS

Exclusive: Iran Is Peddling False Business Connections with the West | The Daily Caller

Iranian media outlets and government sanctioned businesses are peddling false affiliations and dealings with western businesses such as Toyota and Dupont, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation reveal. The fake dealings were uncovered by a U.S.-based advocacy organization, United Against Nuclear Iran, that is working to prevent the regime from obtaining nuclear weapons. The group sent letters to dozens of the western businesses supposedly doing business in Iran, and several responded to say the regime entities were blatantly lying, as they have no business whatsoever with the country.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Europe Helped Draft the Iran Nuclear Deal. Now Leaders Are Trying to Save It. | Washington Post

European officials and business executives are quickly mobilizing a counter effort to the expected U.S. rebuff of the Iran nuclear accord, encouraging companies to invest in Iran while urging Congress to push back against White House moves that could hobble the deal. The European stance — sketched out on the sidelines of an Iran-focused investment forum in Zurich this week — is an early signal of the possible transatlantic rifts ahead as the United States’ European partners show no sign of following the White House call to renegotiate the landmark pact with Tehran.

Iranian President Defends Nuclear Deal, Says Trump Can Not Undermine It | Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended the nuclear deal with Western powers Saturday and said that U.S. President Donald Trump could not undermine it... “In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else,” Rouhani said...

Iran Officials Refuse to Revise Nuclear Deal | Wall Street Journal

Iranian officials are refusing to make any changes to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed with six world powers, as U.S. President Donald Trump weighs whether to declare that Tehran isn’t complying with the accord. Keeping the deal intact is an economic imperative for Iran, which has seen a rush of new investment and trade since it took effect.

Diplomacy Is to Win, Not for Show -- Recertify the Iran Deal, Then Make It Better | Washington Examiner Editorial Board

The Iran nuclear deal is broken and is, as President Trump noted in speaking to the United Nations, an embarrassment. But on Oct. 15, the next deadline for his assent or dissent, he should nevertheless certify Iran's compliance. This seems contradictory and appeasing, but it isn't. It's sensible diplomacy based squarely on a results-based calculation about the best way to force Iran to do what we need them to do.

President Trump's Big Decision on Iran Next Week Could Rattle the Oil Markets; Here's Why | CNBC

If the White House decertifies the Iran deal, RBC Capital Markets is warning investors that oil prices could jump. Helima Croft, the firm's global head of commodity strategy, is watching next Thursday, October 12 very closely. That's the day when President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a key speech on Iran policy. There's speculation that Trump will move to unravel the international deal, signed under President Barack Obama, that curbs Iran's nuclear program. "It's a very significant development that could happen next week," Croft said on CNBC's "Trading Nation" this week.

Getting to No: How the Trump Administration Decided to Decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal | Stephen F. Hayes and Michael Warren for The Weekly Standard

Donald Trump was frustrated. Five days earlier, on July 12, 2017, the president had decided for the second time in his young administration that he would certify to Congress Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal he’d promised as a candidate to dismantle. He wasn’t happy with the decision he’d made, and he was angry about the process that led to it. His top national security aides had presented him with a narrow range of options that did not include leaving the deal—or even simply “decertifying” it. On July 13, The Weekly Standard was the first to report Trump’s reluctant decision.

Iran’s Options if U.S. Abandons Nuclear Deal | Ahmad Majidyar for The Middle East Institute

An article in state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (I.R.N.A.) analyzes Tehran’s options if the United States unilaterally abandons the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the nuclear agreement Iran signed with world powers in July 2015. It points out that the Trump administration appears to be refusing to certify Iran’s compliance with the J.C.P.O.A. despite objections from the other signatories of the deal – Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China. While de-certification does not mean Washington is leaving the deal, “it is considered a step toward unraveling it,” the article warns. According to the analysis, the Trump administration is throwing the future of J.C.P.O.A. in doubt in order to “seek concessions from Tehran, preparing the ground for countering Iran in the region, and promoting domestic propaganda for Trump.”

Here’s What Happens If Trump Really Decides to Decertify The Iran Deal | Elena Chachko for Foreign Policy

The Washington Post reported yesterday that next week, President Donald Trump may announce that he will “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal because it is not in the interest of the United States to continue implementing it. The administration faces an October 15 deadline to certify to Congress that Iran is complying with the agreement and that it remains in the United States’s interest to follow it, as mandated by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). The announcement would be part of the broader introduction of a new U.S. strategy toward Iran that would address the country’s support for terrorism, involvement in Middle East violence and ballistic missile development, in addition to the nuclear issue. In a meeting with senior military leaders yesterday, Trump once again criticized Iran’s behavior and asserted that the country has “not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.” He did not say that Iran has violated any of its concrete obligations under the agreement.

NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS

Iran Open to Talks over Its Ballistic Missile Programme: Sources | Reuters

Iran has suggested to six world powers that it may be open to talks about its ballistic missile arsenal, seeking to reduce tension over the disputed programme, Iranian and Western officials familiar with the overtures told Reuters.  Tehran has repeatedly vowed to continue building up what it calls defensive missile capability in defiance of Western criticism, with Washington saying the Islamic Republic’s stance violates its 2015 nuclear deal with the powers. But the sources said that given U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to ditch the deal reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, Tehran had approached the powers recently about possible talks on some “dimensions” of its missile programme.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

President Trump’s Failing Leadership on Iran | Danielle Pletka for the New York Times

President Trump has made clear his hostility toward the Iran nuclear deal, labeling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has entered into.” He is right: The ill-constructed deal left Iran with an industrial-scale nuclear program which, when the pact’s terms begin to expire, will provide Iran with a clear pathway to nuclear weapons. But true leadership requires Mr. Trump to do more than focus solely on Iran’s nuclear program; he must also address the broader threats that Iran poses to the region.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Iran's Digital Activists Are Fighting Oppression with Period Trackers | Wired

Firuzeh Mahmoudi didn't mean to start a human-rights movement. It was June 20, 2009, and in Berkeley, California, the American-Irani, who left Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, watched on social media as tens of thousands of reformist Iranians protested on the streets of Tehran at what they saw as a rigged election. On the outskirts of the rally, a dark-haired young woman strolled in the crowd when gunfire suddenly rang out. As video of the incident went viral, the world saw Nedā Āghā-Soltān die of a chest wound. "It broke my heart," says Mahmoudi, 46. "So I decided to do something."

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

EU Sets Duties on Brazil, Iran, Russia, Ukraine Steel | Reuters

The European Union has decided to set duties on hot-rolled steel from Brazil, Iran, Russia and Ukraine after a complaint by EU manufacturers that the product used for construction and machinery was being sold at excessively low prices.  The EU will levy anti-dumping tariffs of between 17.6 and 96.5 euros ($20.6-112.8) per tonne from Saturday, its official journal said.  The European Commission had initially proposed setting a minimum price - of 472.27 euros per tonne - but revised its proposal after failing to secure backing from EU member states. European steel association Eurofer, which brought the complaint, said it was happy the minimum price proposal had been dropped, but expressed disappointment that the Commission had opted for fixed-price rather than normal percentage tariffs.

SYRIA CONFLICT  

Turkey Gears Up For ‘Risky’ Syria Mission With Russia And Iran | Bloomberg

Syrian rebels backed by Turkey are engaged in a “serious operation” in the country’s Idlib province, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, part of a joint mission with Russia and Iran to monitor a ceasefire agreement and pacify a rebel stronghold in northwest Syria. Turkey also beefed up troops on the border since the three countries agreed to establish a combat-free zone in Idlib -- largely controlled by former al-Qaeda militants -- and to monitor any violations by opposition groups or forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It isn’t clear when Turkish troops will cross the Syrian border. On Saturday, Free Syrian Army rebels, riding on the back of trucks with automatic weapons, crossed into Idlib via Turkey as troops received orders about where they will be deployed in Syria, Hurriyet newspaper reported. Erdogan said Turkish troops haven’t yet crossed the border and the operation was carried out by the FSA rebels. The troops had earlier clashed their way to retake Syrian town of al-Bab from Islamic State.

IRAQ CRISIS

Iran Sees Challenge of Kurdish Referendum as Opportunity | Al Monitor

Up until the last day before the Sept. 25 Kurdish independence referendum, Iran was still dealing with the event with a sense of disbelief and with the misconception that it would be called off at the last moment. The assumption was that the de facto head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, was only maneuvering to negotiate a better deal with the central government in Baghdad with respect to the region’s autonomy — on both the political and the economic side. Iran thought that Barzani was looking for Iranian-Turkish support for future talks, while already having an American green light to escalate to the edge of the abyss, and that things would then be better. This was the case when Iranian Chief of General Staff Mohammad Bagheri visited Ankara and met with high-level Turkish officials and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in August.

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Iran Names Nuclear Negotiating Team Member Jailed for Spying | Reuters

A dual national member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team has been jailed for five years for spying, news agency Tasnim said on Sunday, citing a spokesman for the judiciary. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei named the convicted man as Abdolrasul Dori Esfahani, without identifying his second nationality.  Tasnim reported the sentence on Wednesday without naming Dori Esfahani or detailing the charges. Tasnim reported in July last year that he was in charge of banking affairs during the talks.  According to Iranian media, he has Iranian and Canadian citizenship.   “He was one of the people accused of spying and passing intelligence to strangers and he was linked to two intelligence agencies,” Mohseni Ejei said. He said Dori Esfahani’s five-year sentence was upheld after a failed appeal, Tasnim reported. Dori Esfahani also faces charges of financial corruption, Mohseni Ejei said.

Iran’s Ex-President Khatami Banned from Public Ceremonies | Associated Press

Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency is reporting that the country’s authorities have banned former reformist President Mohammad Khatami from appearing at public ceremonies for three months. The Saturday report quotes Mohammad Anjam, Khatami’s lawyer, as saying that a letter attributed to a judicial authority has been delivered to Khatami house saying that he has been barred from public political, cultural and promotional ceremonies for three months starting September 23.

Iran Arrests Brother of Country's Senior Vice President | Associated Press

An Iranian news website says authorities have arrested the brother of the country's senior vice president, apparently over finance-related matters. The Tabnak site, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, reported on Friday that Eshaq Jahangiri's brother, Mahdi Jahangiri, was taken into custody. The report did not elaborate. Mahdi Jahangiri runs the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and is also the founder of the private Gardeshgari Bank. The senior vice president posted on his Instagram account that he doesn't have any precise information about any charges or accusations against his brother but that the detention was "predictable" and that he hopes it isn't a case of political "abuse." In July, President Hassan Rouhani's brother, Hossein Fereidoun, was also detained on allegations of financial misconduct. He was released on a $15 million bail.