Eye on Iran: Trump Expected To Keep Sanctions Relief For Iran But May Add Some Penalties

TOP STORIES

Trump Expected To Keep Sanctions Relief For Iran But May Add Some Penalties | Washington Post

President Trump is expected to agree this week to continue granting Iran a reprieve from sanctions over its nuclear program, while again signaling his displeasure with the international nuclear deal that lifted the penalties, U.S. and European officials, congressional aides and others said. He also is expected to announce new sanctions linked to human rights and other issues that would not directly affect the nuclear agreement but would ­underscore U.S. concerns about Iran’s response to recent anti-government protests and other actions, officials and others said.

Iran Could Greatly Increase Uranium Enrichment, Says Spokesman | Reuters

Iran’s atomic energy agency said on Wednesday a reimposition of sanctions by the United States would be a violation of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, adding that the Islamic Republic had the capacity to greatly increase its enrichment of uranium… “The capacity exists within the atomic energy agency to speed up nuclear work in various fields, particularly in the field of enrichment, which can be increased several times more than in the period before the nuclear agreement.” 

Iran Arrests Dozens For 'Terrorist' Acts Linked to Protests | Associated Press

Iran says it has arrested dozens on suspicion of "terrorist activities" during a recent wave of protests.

UANI IN THE NEWS

Deadline Closes In on Administration Regarding Iran Sanctions | UANI Senior Adviser Dennis Ross on NPR

[Ross:] I’m hoping that he will not reinstate the sanctions. I think he can use the fact that he has concerns, legitimate concerns, about what the Iranians are doing both domestically but in the region as a way to say to the Europeans  - look let’s join together, let’s say how we can raise the costs, let’s see how we can make it clear to the Iranians that they have some hard choices to make.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Takht-Ravanchi: Iran Might Decide to Quit Nuke Deal | Mehr News Agency (Iran)

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said if Iran does not enjoy the benefits of the JCPOA, it might leave it, adding the Europeans can compensate for Iran’s losses in case US withdraws. 

EU Backs Under-Fire Iran Nuclear Pact At Brussels Talks | Associated Press

European Union foreign ministers say a key agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be preserved as U.S. President Donald Trump weighs whether to pull out of the pact. 

Call Out Iran but Keep Nuclear Deal, Germany Says to U.S. | Reuters

Europe and the United States should confront Tehran about its ballistic weapons program and its role in Syria’s civil war but a 2015 deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb must be preserved, Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday. 

IRAN PROTESTS

White House Calls for Iran to Release 'Political Prisoners' amid Protest Crackdown | Hill

The White House on Wednesday called for the Iranian government to end its crackdown on widespread demonstrations and release thousands of protesters who have reportedly been jailed in recent weeks. 

Iran Protests End but Regime Now Faces ‘Race against Time,’ Experts Say | NBC News

Iran's most significant protests in almost a decade may have calmed, but anger that fueled the nationwide demonstrations lingers and could erupt again at any time, according to experts.  

Beyond Tweets, Here's How Trump Could Help The Iranian Protesters | Kenneth R. Weinstein for The Los Angeles Times

President Trump has made it clear that the U.S. stands with Iranian protesters, whose demonstrations against the repressive government of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were broken up last week but whose demands have yet to be answered. Trump could still aid their cause, and with a relatively easy, risk-free move: He could make public details of the regime's corruption and help average Iranians understand the full extent of the national wealth that has been transferred from them to their government's fat cats.

Iran’s Elites Are Far More Fragile Than They Look | Sanam Vakil for Foreign Policy

The wave of recent protests throughout Iran is the latest sign of Tehran’s crisis of leadership. It is a crisis that has indicted all echelons of the state and all the factions that compete for power within it... The protests also highlighted how all those groups now lay on one side of a deepening divide between the Iranian state and society.

What the Iran Protests Were Not | Vali Nasr for the Atlantic

It is equally important to note what these protests were not. They were not a repeat of a past urban, secular uprising of affluent citizens demanding social and cultural change, freedom of expression, and political participation. And here lies the good news for the Islamic Republic. The most serious threats to the system have traditionally come when Tehran has risen in rebellion—as it did in June 2009 to protest the outcome of the presidential elections that year. 

US Sanctions Hinder Iranian Protesters’ Ability to Organize Online | Al Monitor

[A] coalition of advocacy groups that support better ties with Tehran have forged an unlikely alliance with Iran hawks in Congress to try to rectify the chilling effect that US sanctions have had on US technology firms. Together, they’re urging the Donald Trump administration to provide greater flexibility for US companies to provide social media and digital platforms to Iranian citizens.

Will Latest Anti-Regime Protests Change Iran’s Costly Regional Policies? | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

While economic grievances are the key driver of the current protests, ordinary Iranians are questioning the wisdom of their government’s military adventurism abroad and support for foreign state and non-state actors at the expense of domestic priorities. Although the protests are fading and are unlikely to change Iran’s regional posture in the short and immediate terms, growing resentment inside Iran about the country’s foreign policy will have long-term implications for the Islamic Republic’s efforts to expand its soft power and hard power strategies in neighboring countries and the broader region.

Let’s Bomb Iran with English | Ambassador Marc Ginsberg for the Huffington Post

English, as it turns out, is the Ayatollah’s kryptonite. Khamenei went, well, into a mullah meltdown in 2016 when he found out that some Iranian nursery schools were teaching English. So, the riots have forced Khamenei to double down. He is now banned the teaching of English in Iran’s primary schools… I have visions of American stealth bombers dropping millions of crates laden with English language instruction toys, books, to instruct young Iranian’s how to learn the Queen’s English, so to speak.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Iran Halts Death Penalty for Minor Drug Crimes | Associated Press

Iran has begun implementing new guidelines that will prevent thousands of convicted drug smugglers from being executed, Iranian media reported Wednesday.

RUSSIA & IRAN

Iranian FM in Russia for Talks on Nuclear Deal, Syria | Associated Press

Iran’s foreign minister is visiting Moscow for talks focusing on the future of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and the situation in Syria, where both nations support President Bashar Assad.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS  

Confronting Iran Takes a Back Seat to Sunni Bickering | Wall Street Journal

When protests against Iran’s theocratic Shiite regime erupted late last month, the reaction from the region’s two main Sunni powers couldn’t have been more different.

SYRIA & IRAN

Turkey Urges Russia, Iran to Stop Syrian Army Offensive in Idlib | Reuters

Turkey called on Russia and Iran on Wednesday to pressure Syrian authorities to halt a military offensive in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, which Damascus launched despite an international deal to reduce hostilities there. 

IRANIAN DOMESTIC ISSUES

Iranian Media: 5.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Southern Iran | Associated Press

Iranian media are reporting that a magnitude 5.1 earthquake has jolted the country’s southern province of Kerman.