Tag Archives: Iran

Is the #Iran regime still operating a secret nuclear program?

12 Jul centrif

With the anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal coming up this Thursday 14th of July, the Financial Times, quoting the German domestic intelligence agency published this important and worrying story:

“Iran has attempted to acquire nuclear technology in Germany even after the atomic accord it reached with western powers in Vienna last July, according to the German domestic intelligence agency.

The annual report of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) said that illegal Iranian attempts to procure technology “continued on a quantitatively high level by international standards” in Germany in 2015.” (I emboldened the important parts)

The American response? According to State Department spokesperson John Kirby:

We have no information to indicate that Iran has procured any materials in violation of the JCPOA.  More generally, the IAEA has reported that Iran continues to implement its nuclear-related commitments under the deal.  We understand that Germany shares this view and is not suggesting that Iran has violated its JCPOA commitments.

Kirby then went to state:

We understand the BFV report is mainly about missiles; and while it does mention nuclear dual-use technology, it covers all of 2015 and makes no distinction about whether the reported activities occurred prior to the JCPOA coming into effect.

So whom should we believe?

The nuclear deal was signed on the 14th of July 2015, and it came into effect (also known as implementation day) on January 16 2016.

Even if the reported activities took place before the recent nuclear deal came into effect, we still have much to worry about. The reason: Iran was illegally trying to purchase equipment for its nuclear program, which to me says that Iran was at least until recently pursuing the secret part of its military nuclear program. If these purchases were for civilian purposes only, then why was the Iranian regime trying to hide them?

The Germans would have much to lose by publishing such a report, as the have many impending business deals with Iran. The fact that they have published these reports shows their level of concern.

And if these purchases did take place after the atomic deal with Iran, then at the very least, Iran is not only showing dishonesty, with such behavior it will be pushing investors away. After all, who would want to invest in a country which is sailing so close to the winds of new sanctions?  

#India, #Iran, and the Chabahar Port Deal

30 May

According to a new article by Dr Albert B.Wolf:

On Monday, May 23, the government of India announced that it would invest $500 million (USD) in the development of the Iranian port of Chabahar.

So whats so special about this deal? As he puts it in his article for the American Security Project:

The deal kills four birds with one stone: it bypasses Pakistan, bests China’s Maritime Silk Road project, provides New Delhi with greater access to oil-rich Central Asia and lowers its dependence on energy sources in the Middle East.  India’s investment has been welcomed in nearly all quarters in Tehran. Even with the gradual reduction in sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the heavy hand of the Pasdaran and the country’s out-of-date banking system have put off many potential foreign investors.

I highly recommend reading his article on this important, geostrategic development which impacts Iran, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. You can find it here.

In case you were wondering how the planned new railway line will connect India to Afghanistan via Iran: the map below explains.

Chabahar-Zahedan-Rail-Line

An Israeli conversation about the recent missile tests by #Iran

17 Apr newmissile

What message do the latest missile tests by Iran send to Israel, and to the international community? Why is Iran carrying out these missile tests now? What implications will they have for the nuclear agreement and for Israel? Who is gaining the upper hand in Iran: the government or the regime? How should Israel view the recent developments in Iran ?

These are some of the questions answered by the Israeli panelists in Jerusalem, which were:

  • Amir Oren is a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He writes about defense and military affairs, the government and international relations.
  • DR Eldad Pardo teaches at the Rothberg School, Hebrew University, Research Director at The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE).
  • Meir Javedanfar teaches at the IDC Herzliya and is a researcher at the Meir Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Haifa University

Take a virtual tour of Haim synagogue- in Tehran, #Iran

6 Feb haimsynagogue

There are different estimates as to how many functioning Synagogues there are in Tehran. I have heard numbers as high as 20, and as low as 12.

One of the oldest synagogues of Tehran is the Haim Synagogue, which was built 103 years ago. Its situated on 30 Tir avenue, near the British Embassy in Tehran. The synagogue is named after Rabbi (Hakham) Haim Mor-e. In the 1950s, it played host to fleeing Iraqi Jews, who immigrated to Israel, via Iran. They camped in the Synagogue.

These days the synagogue is only open on Shabbat and high holidays, due to the dwindling numbers of its congregants, mainly because of immigration.

With thanks to the 7Dorim site, Iran’s Jews community who do such a great job of keeping Iran’s Jewish heritage intact.

To start the virtual tour, click here

#Rouhani cuts the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) budget by 20%

20 Jan In this picture taken on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008, Iranian Revolutionary Guards members march during a parade ceremony, marking the 28th anniversary of the onset of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), in front of the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran. Speaking to Arab students at Carnegie Mellon's Doha campus, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps appears to have gained so much power that it effectively is supplanting the Iranian government. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s President Rouhani presented his budget to the Iranian parliament 3 days ago.

One of the very interesting facts from his latest budget is that he has cut the IRGC budget by as much as 20% (from $6.1 billion this year to $4.9 billion  next year).

Even after this cut, the budget of the IRGC which has approximately 125000 active personnel will be twice that of Iran’s armed forces (Artesh) which has approximately 500,000 personnel on active duty. Next year the budget has allocated $2.03 billion for the Artesh, a rise of 9% from this year.

In my latest interview (from 2 days ago) for I24 News I discuss President Rouhani’s latest budget in more details.

Debate: A former #Iran and #Saudi official go head to head

18 Jan nimr

The Iran – Saudi cold war entered a new phase after the recent execution of the Saudi Shiite Cleric Sheikh Nimr, and the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Since then we have heard and read comments and accusations made by both sides against each other, but never at the same place.

The debate below is the first debate between a former Saudi and Iranian official since the recent events.

The Iranian side is represented by Seyyed Hossein Mousavian, the former head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Iranian National Security Council and a close ally of President Hassan Rouhani. The Saudi side is represented by Jamal Khashoggi, a former adviser to Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal.

If you are in the U.S and can not access the Youtube link below, click here

Was diplomacy the only reason or the biggest reason why a US – #Iran crisis was averted today?

13 Jan 29998353

Sorry to be the Party Pooper, but diplomacy and improved relations between Zarif and John Kerry were not the only, nor the biggest reason why the captured U.S sailors were released within 24 hours by Iran.

The biggest reason? The end of sanctions being so close.

The Iranian supreme leader is a realist. He is not going to ruin years of negotiations and sacrifice all the compromises he made to reach a nuclear deal so that sanctions are removed by locking horns with the U.S at this point. Not when he is so close to the finishing line.

And this is what gave the moderates in Iran leverage against the hardliners. The latter would have absolutely loved to turn this incident into something more serious as it would have boosted their “revolutionary” credentials and their defense budgets. Not to mention leveraging it to gain more political room for maneuvering inside Iranian domestic politics.

But today, it wasn’t to be. Lets see how they will react next time, after the supreme leader has received what he has wanted all along: end to sanctions. Then a simple incident like today could get more complicated. And friendly relations between Kerry and Zarif may not be enough to solve things within 24 hours, like today.

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