Shahrivar 28 1399 - September 18 2020

The day began, as usual, with turning the TV on, flipping back and forth between MSNBC and CNN. I avoid FOX; I simply cannot tolerate FOX and Friends who assume, and rightly so, that they are addressing closed-minded, gullible ignoramuses who'd swallow the garbage they are routinely fed. But then, what do we get out of CNN or MSNBC that is different and more credible? -Kambiz Zarrabi 9/17/20

Biden's proposed Iran policy doesn't go far enough

The Democratic nominee produced, for the first time, a coherent set of views that will presumably guide his Iran policies. Whoever hoped that it would open a way to rescue the U.S.-Iran non-relationship from unremitted hostility will have been disappointed. To the contrary, the article presents a boilerplate of standard platitudes about Iran being a malign actor, and preciously little in a way of more realistic thinking about the U.S. policy towards that country. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 9/17/20

Showdown set as US to declare UN sanctions on Iran are back

In defiance of overwhelming opposition, the United States is preparing to declare that all international sanctions against Iran have been restored. Few countries believe the move is legal, and such action could provoke a credibility crisis at the United Nations. Virtually alone in the world, the Trump administration will announce on Saturday that U.N. sanctions on Iran eased under the 2015 nuclear deal are back in force. -AP 9/17/20

Is Mike Pompeo preparing an October Surprise?

With less than seven weeks left until the U.S. presidential elections, the faction within the Trump administration aligned with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to be preparing the ground for an October Surprise - a confrontation with Iran that will be cast as both defensive and lawful. The first direct clash may take place as early as this coming Monday. -Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 9/17/20

Second Iranian phrama company develops rival drug to Israeli medication

A second Iranian pharmaceutical company has unveiled a special drug for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), saying it would rival a patented Israeli medication whose imports into Iran has been banned merely because of political reasons. Copamer is the brand name for a domestic version of glatiramer acetate, the medication vastly used to treat MS. -Press TV 9/17/20

Al Nassr top group after Al Sadd held in Asian Champions League thriller

Saudi club Al Nassr stormed to the top of Group D with a 2-0 win over Iran's Sepahan on Tuesday after Qatar's Al Sadd were held 3-3 by Al Ain in a thriller on the second day of Asian Champions League action in the Doha hub. The group stage of the western half of the continent's premier club competition resumed in Qatar on Monday after a seven-month coronavirus shutdown. -Reuters 9/16/20

Israel, the UAE, & Bahrain didn't sign peace deals, they're military alliances to counter Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Washington on Tuesday. Brokered by the Trump administration, these deals represent two of the most broadly popular developments for both Trump and Netanyahu in many years. These agreements are called "peace deals," although Israel has never been at war with either the UAE or Bahrain. --Mitchell Plitnick, Responsible Statecraft 9/16/20

When it comes to Iran, how many failures is enough for Pompeo?

For many years Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has worked to bring Iran to heel, if not to destroy the Islamic Republic altogether. He would presumably prefer to accomplish those ends through economic and political warfare, but it is unlikely he would object to military attacks if that is what it takes. As a Congressman from Kansas as early as 2014, he was urging Washington to attack Tehran's nuclear facilities, noting it would take "under 2,000 sorties," or bombings, to do the job. "This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces," he said. -Muhammad Sahimi, Responsible Statecraft 9/15/20

South African Intel Source Denies Report of Iranian Plot to Kill US Ambassador

After a dubiously sourced report from Politico claimed Iran is considering assassinating the US ambassador to South Africa, an intelligence source told the South African newspaper Daily Maverick that the plot was "not likely to be real." The source said that with November approaching, the story could have been an effort by the Trump administration to distract the public from its failures, or as the source put it, a "weapon of mass distraction" and an instance of "the tail wagging the dog." -Dave DeCamp, 9/15/20

Joe Biden: There's a smarter way to be tough on Iran

When Donald Trump ran for President, he promised a "better deal" to constrain Iran's nuclear program and pledged to pressure Tehran into curbing its aggressive behavior across the Middle East. Like so many of President Trump's promises, these proved to be just empty words. Instead, he recklessly tossed away a policy that was working to keep America safe and replaced it with one that has worsened the threat. -Joe Biden, CNN 9/14/20

UN atomic watchdog: Hopeful of greater trust with Iran

The head of the United Nations' atomic watchdog agency told board members on Monday he is hopeful Iran's decision to let inspectors in to two disputed sites could lead to greater trust with Tehran. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in late August secured an agreement with Iran to inspect the two sites where the country is suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material and possibly having conducted nuclear-related activities. -AP 9/14/20

UK, France and Germany agree to reject US demand for Iran snapback sanctions

Foreign ministers from the UK, France and Germany have agreed to hold out against US demands to snapback all UN sanctions on Iran, despite intensified pressure from the US specifically on the UK government to fall into line. The US was left isolated at the UN security council last month when it said it wished to reimpose snapback sanctions, with the European nations - known collectively as the E3 - arguing that the US was no longer a participant in the deal and so unable to act unilaterally. -Guardian 9/11/20

Iran begins expansive annual war games amid tensions with US

Iran's military Thursday began an expansive annual three-day exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state TV reported, with the maneuvers taking place amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. Units from the navy, air force and ground forces are participating in a nearly 2 million-square-kilometer (772,200-square-mile) area of the Gulf of Oman. State television said Iranian submarines and drones were being deployed. -AP 9/10/20

Iran's move towards China will have global ramifications

The decision by Iran and China to embark on what amounts to a 25-year strategic partnership has touched off a flurry of analysis and speculation around the world. The agreement - which has yet to be formalised - is set to transform Iran's foreign policy outlook by triggering a move towards the East. -Mahan Abedin, Middle East Eye 9/9/20

Jaishankar in Iran as India's worried about China deal & Beijing 'grabbing' Chabahar Port

China and Iran are on the verge of signing an economic and strategic agreement worth $400 billion, but India wants to ensure that the Chabahar project in the West Asian country doesn't see any Chinese involvement. This was among the reasons why External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who is travelling to Moscow Tuesday for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's foreign ministers' meeting, made a stopover in Iran's capital Tehran to meet his counterpart Javad Zarif. -The Print, India 9/8/20

What is behind the hype about the new Iran-China partnership?

The mainstream US media and think-tanks based along the Washington, DC, beltway have been gripped by two recent momentous developments in the Middle East, both interpreted as escalations in the geopolitical conflict between the US and Iran: the news of a prospective strategic partnership agreement between Iran and China, and the normalisation of relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel. -Tom Hussain, Al Jazeera 9/8/20

Indian defense minister visits Tehran, meets Iranian counterpart

India and Iran are understood to have explored revival of regional approach model involving India-Iran to stabilise Afghanistan as US plans to exit Kabul and give Taliban a stake in governance. This issue figured prominently when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Iranian counterpart Brig General Amir Hatami in Tehran Saturday enroute to Delhi from Moscow. -Economic Times, India 9/7/20

Another Opinion Columnist Pushing War With Iran Who Doesn't Actually Exist

There is at least one more foreign policy opinion writer from the Mujahideen-eKhalq (MEK) whose existence is dubious, based on a study by a social media analyst and statements from a defector from the group. Amir Basiri, who contributed to Forbes 9 times, the Washington Examiner 52 times, OpenDemocracy, Algemeiner, and The Hill once also appears to be a fabrication. -Arthur Bloom & Paul Brian, American Conservative 9/4/20

How the recent Iran-IAEA agreement can save the nuclear deal

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency recently resolved a year and a half-long dispute over an Agency investigation into possible undeclared nuclear materials and activities. While this investigation is focused on accounting for past activities, Iran's cooperation eliminates a key obstacle that may have impeded any potential return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. -Julia Masterson, Responsible Statecraft 9/3/20

Iran Ramps Up Production At Supergiant South Pars Gas Field

Reaching natural gas production of one billion cubic meters per day (bcm/d) has been one of the three core hydrocarbons resource strategies of Iran since the Islamic Republic began to seriously develop the supergiant South Pars non-associated natural gas field in 1990, alongside producing 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil and building out a world-class petrochemicals sector. Over the past week or so, Iran has announced a number of initiatives aimed at increasing gas output from South Pars in order to significantly surpass this 1 bcm/d figure as quickly as possible with the corollary boost in export revenues. -Simon Watkins, Oil Price 9/3/20

Iran nuclear deal members resolved to preserve agreement

Representatives of Iran and the world powers working to save the nuclear deal with Tehran agreed Tuesday in Vienna to do everything possible to preserve the landmark 2015 agreement in their first meeting since the United States announced a bid to restore United Nations sanctions against the Islamic Republic. -AP 9/2/20

Iran is pioneer in biotechnology, ICT, and artificial intelligence in region: VP

Iran is playing the leading role in the region in the fields of fintech, ICT, stem cell, aerospace, and is unrivaled in artificial intelligence, Sourena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology, told the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview on Saturday. He went on to say that in terms of biotechnology Iran is at the forefront by producing 24 biomedicines. -Ali A. Jenabzadeh & Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times 9/2/20

Why is Iran developing missiles and bolstering regional proxies?

After failing to extend the Iran arms embargo at the U.N. Security Council, the Trump administration is now seeking to initiate the "snapback" mechanism provided in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which allows its participants to reinstate all multilateral sanctions against Iran lifted in 2015 under the nuclear deal...Iranian leaders' motivation for these behaviors in a volatile Middle East is survival. Historical and geopolitical experiences in the region impose two behaviors on Iran which have, incidentally, provoked the most antagonism by the U.S. -Jalil Bayat, Responsible Statecraft 9/2/20

Joe Biden must elaborate his Iran policy

A more productive way to approach Iran under a new administration would be for the U.S. first to return to the JCPOA and at least partially lift sanctions, while Iran resumes its full compliance and reverses all increases in the levels of its enriched uranium. Gradually, a Biden administration should allow U.S. companies to deal with Iran and thus prepare the way for dialogue on regional and other issues, especially in areas where there might be some convergence of interest between Iran and the U.S. -Shireen Hunter, Responsible Statecraft 9/1/20

Iran's Khamenei: UAE 'disgraced forever' by Israel deal

The United Arab Emirates has betrayed the Islamic world and the Palestinians by reaching a deal toward normalising ties with Israel, Iran's top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday. -Reuters 9/1/20

What Trump's troop withdrawal from Iraq means for ending America's endless wars

The Wall Street Journal scoop on the details of the Trump administration's troop withdrawal from Iraq is welcome news. Reportedly, President Donald Trump is cutting U.S. troop levels by one- third, to about 3,500 troops from 5,200. This move would bring force levels back to where they were in 2015, at the height of the war against ISIL, which in and of itself demonstrates how unnecessary the troop level increases have been mindful of the decimation of the Islamic State. -Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 8/31/20

How U.S. Drove Iran and China Into Tighter Embrace

Since its Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran's foreign policy motto has been "neither East nor West," based on first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's warning to avoid dependence on outsiders. Under the pressure of U.S. measures aimed at crippling its economy, however, Iran has grown ever closer to America's principal rival, China, and vice versa. The two are said to be contemplating a 25-year strategic partnership. -Golnar Motevalli, Bloomberg 8/28/20

What's next for Russia-Iran military partnership?

Russia's dialogue with Iran has emerged as one of the most dynamic fronts of Moscow's diplomacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Iranian Foreign Minister visited Moscow twice this summer to discuss the future of the nuclear deal, as well as the coordinated response to the American campaign to extend the UN arms embargo on Tehran. Against this backdrop, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami's trip to the Army-2020 Military Forum taking place Aug. 23-29 is adding fuel to speculation about Moscow and Tehran ramping up military-technical cooperation once the Iran arms embargo expires Oct. 18. -Anton Mardasov, Al Monitor 8/28/20

Train wreck averted-for now

It is still far too early for any victory laps for proponents of Iran nuclear diplomacy. But what was seen as a potential diplomatic train wreck courtesy of the Trump administration has seemingly been averted by skillful diplomacy by the Europeans and other UN Security Council parties, at least for now. Days after the UN Security Council firmly rejected the Trump administration's bid to invoke UN snapback sanctions on Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran jointly announced a breakthrough today. -Laura Rozen, Diplomatic 8/27/20

US left isolated at UN after bid to reimpose sanctions on Iran - why did it even try?

Mike Pompeo was angry. The US secretary of state stood in the UN headquarters in New York on August 20 and proclaimed a new axis of evil between former American allies - the UK, France and Germany - and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Pompeo's outburst was prompted by a very bad week for the US in the UN security council. -Scott Lucas, The Conversation 8/27/20

The Only Way Out of the Middle East Is Through It

The United States has long made containing Iran a focus of its efforts in the Middle East, from troop deployments to diplomatic dealmaking. But so far, containment has largely failed. Since 2018, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal and exerted maximum pressure on Iran, even moving an additional 20,000 troops into the Middle East. -Vali Nasr, Foreign Affairs 8/27/20

Iran Fast Tracks Development Of Huge West Karoun Oil Field

One of the three key priorities for Iran - along with completing all of the phases on its supergiant South Pars natural gas field and expanding its value-added petrochemicals sector - is to increase the crude oil production and exports from its West Karoun cluster of giant oil fields. The West Karoun fields together contain at least 67 billion barrels of oil in place and, with an average recovery rate currently of only around 4.5 per cent (compared to over 50 percent at similar oil fields in Saudi Arabia), the potential to dramatically increase Iran's crude oil revenues is enormous. -Simon Watkins, Oil Price 8/27/20

Trump Can't Have His Cake and Eat It Too on Iran Sanctions

On Thursday, the United States delivered notification to the U.N. Security Council demanding a so-called snapback of all the previous U.N. sanctions against Iran under Resolution 2231. The Trump administration cited significant violations of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which the United States withdrew in May 2018. All Security Council sanctions against the country were lifted under Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal. -Saheb Sadeghi, Foreign Policy 8/27/20

UN security council rejects US attempt to extend Iran sanctions

The US has suffered another humiliating diplomatic setback after the president of the UN security council rejected the Trump administration's attempt to extend economic sanctions on Iran. America was rebuffed last week when 13 countries on the security council argued that the US had no legal right to "snap back" sanctions because it had already walked out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 8/26/20

Iran says talks with IAEA chief in Tehran were 'constructive': ISNA

Talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog's chief were constructive, Iran's top nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on Tuesday, after meeting Rafael Grossi during a visit to seek access for inspectors to two suspected former atomic sites. "A new chapter of cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency will start," said Salehi, but added that "Iran will not accept any additional demands beyond its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal". -Reuters 8/25/20

Iran's Zarif Says U.S. Trying to 'Flood' Region With Weapons After UAE Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of trying to "flood" the Middle East with weapons following a normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which will open a path for the UAE to purchase advanced American arms. Zarif branded Pompeo an "outlaw" and said he had "no qualms about violating his own country's laws," referring to reports that the Trump administration is seeking to bypass arms control rules to sell advanced drones to Gulf states. -Newsweek 8/25/20

Iran Confirms Blast At Natanz Nuclear Facility Was 'Sabotage'

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said an explosion at the country's main nuclear facility in July was caused by sabotage. "The explosion at Natanz nuclear facility was a result of sabotage operations. Security authorities will reveal in due time the reason behind the blast," spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told state TV channel Al-Alam on August 23. 8/24/20

The US Iran snapback fiasco - a view from Brussels

The U.S.'s push to activate the snapback - re-imposition of the U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran lifted as a result of the nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA - officially certified the diplomatic failure of the U.S. Iran policy. Not only Washington's chief rivals Russia and China, but also its closest European allies - the E3 of Britain, France and Germany - explicitly rejected the notion that the U.S. continued enjoying rights under the JCPOA even as it unilaterally withdrew from that agreement in 2018. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 8/24/20

Iran sanctions: nearly all UN security council unites against 'unpleasant' US

The extent of US isolation at the UN has been driven home by formal letters from 13 of the 15 security council members opposing Trump administration attempts to extend the economic embargo on Iran. The letters by the council members were all issued in the 24 hours since the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, came to the UN's New York headquarters to declare Iran in non-compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal. -Julian Borger, Guardian 8/24/20

Exposing Pompeo's phony UN snapback stunt in two sentences

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed miserably in his efforts on Thursday to force the United Nations to reimpose its pre-JCPOA sanctions on Iran. To briefly summarize, the Trump administration and its allies in Washington have been pushing to pile even more sanctions on Iran, and to do that, it hatched a plan to try to get the U.N. to "snapback" its pre-JCPOA sanctions for purportedly violating the nuclear deal's terms. -Ben Armbruster, Responsible Statecraft 8/24/20

Iran's FM Zarif writes to UNSC chief: US has no right to demand restoration of sanctions

In a letter to the chairman of the UN Security Council on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted the U.S. for it illegal moves to return UN sanctions on Iran, reiterating that since the U.S. has formally withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear agreement has no right to return UN sanctions. 8/21/20

US isolated as allies and opponents reject its bid to snapback UN sanctions on Iran

The Trump administration was left isolated on the world stage as foreign allies and competitors alike rejected its demand to restore UN sanctions on Iran Thursday. Other countries that remain party to the deal -- China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany -- disagreed with Pompeo's legal rationale for the move, as many believe the full return of UN sanctions would kill the 2015 agreement. -CNN 8/21/20

The Iranian Jews Who Joined the Islamic Revolution

Thousands flocked from Tehran's synagogues to protests, led by their rabbis. Jewish delegates met with Khomeini to express support for his struggle. A groundbreaking study sheds light on the life of Iranian Jews, their complex view of Zionism and their surprising stance on the Islamic Revolution -Ofer Aderet, Haaretz 8/21/20

Trump reaffirms plan to withdraw all US troops from Iraq

President Donald Trump on Thursday reaffirmed his plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq as quickly as possible as he met with the prime minister of Iraq to discuss ways to rein in pro-Iran militias in the country and counter residual threats from Islamic State sleeper cells. "We look forward to the day when we don't have to be there," Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. -AP 8/21/20

Before 'Coup 53,' the US and Iran were old friends

The British- and American-backed plot to overthrow Iran's prime minister in 1953 laid the groundwork for the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and decades of hostility with the U.S. A documentary about the plot released on Aug. 19 offers new details of what happened. I believe it is worth recalling the time before the events chronicled in "Coup 53," when the two countries had a distinctly different relationship. -Daniel Thomas Potts, The Conversation 8/20/20

The United States Overthrew Iran's Last Democratic Leader

Despite a campaign of historical revisionism in Washington, the archival record makes clear that the U.S. government was the key actor in the 1953 coup that ousted Mohammad Mosaddeq-not the Iranian clergy. -Roham Alvandi & Mark J. Gasiorowski, Foreign Policy 8/20/20

Snapback: The last gasp of Trump's failed Iran strategy

With Americans dealing with a pandemic and many focused on the elections, the Trump administration is putting on a diplomatic theater of the absurd at the United Nations Security Council. Fresh off a stunning, if predictable, defeat in seeking to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. is expected to try to trigger snapback of all U.N. sanctions on Iran in a bid to tear down the nuclear accord struck under President Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 8/20/20

Trump's schadenfreude foreign policy and its political appeal

Jeremy Shapiro of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations' Philip Gordon have compiled a good summary of how the Trump presidency has been largely bereft of diplomatic agreements and achievements, despite Donald Trump's self-promotion as a deal-maker. The administration's record has been far less one of making deals than of destroying or withdrawing from them, with little or nothing in the way of replacements. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 8/20/20

Iran sanctions: Trump threatens to unilaterally reimpose UN measures

President Donald Trump has announced that secretary of state Mike Pompeo will activate a controversial mechanism aimed at reimposing UN sanctions on Iran, escalating a row with European allies that has huge repercussions for the Iranian nuclear deal. Pompeo will travel to New York on Thursday to notify the UN security council that the US is triggering the so-called "snapback" procedure, which Britain, France and Germany say it doesn't have the right to do. -AFP 8/20/20

Analysis: UAE-Israel ties may get Abu Dhabi advanced weapons

A U.S.-brokered deal that saw Israel and the United Arab Emirates begin to open diplomatic ties may end up with Abu Dhabi purchasing advanced American weaponry, potentially upending both a longstanding Israeli military edge regionally and the balance of power with Iran. -AP 8/20/20

'Coup 53' Tells The Story Of A 1953 Campaign By MI6 And The CIA To Oust Iran's Leader

Co-directed by Taghi Amirani and renowned film editor Walter Murch, Coup 53 tells the story of Operation Ajax, in which Britain's MI6 and the American CIA engineered the forcible removal of Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran's elected prime minister. The shockwaves of this 1953 coup rattle our history to this day. -John Powers, NPR 8/19/20

The Trump administration is hungry for war with Iran

Seeing the likely scenario of a Biden victory, Iran hawks have doubled down on their failed approach in hopes of sparking a conflict before Trump potentially leaves office -Negar Mortazavi & Assal Rad, Independent 8/19/20

How China could shape Iran's economic future

Today, Iran is preparing for a 25-year strategic accord with China under its "look East" strategy, while renewing an older pact with Russia. With Tehran's resistance to "submitting" to what it perceives as the "western sphere", and specifically US demands, the only way out of its dire economic and political impasse is to go to bed with China. -Shahriar Sabet, Middle East Eye 8/19/20

UN crisis looms as US readies demand for Iran sanctions

After a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council, the United States is poised to call for the United Nations to reimpose sanctions on Iran under a rarely used diplomatic maneuver - a move that is likely to further isolate the Trump administration and may set off a credibility crisis for the United Nations. -AP 8/19/20

Despite U.S. sanctions bid, Iran aims to keep nuclear deal alive until U.S. election

The fate of a fragile 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers hinges on the result of the U.S. presidential election in November, not a planned U.S. bid this week to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Tehran, said several Iranian officials. -Reuters 8/19/20

Saudi Arabia's push for nuclear power risks further destabilizing the region and beyond

Every so often over the past three decades, news reports or government statements have stirred speculation that Saudi Arabia is trying to acquire or develop nuclear weapons. In the latest episode, articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times this month indicated that Saudi Arabia is working secretly with China to develop industrial facilities in which it could process its domestically mined uranium ore into nuclear fuel. -Thomas W. Lippman, Responsible Statecraft 8/18/20

British spy's account sheds light on role in 1953 Iranian coup

A first-hand account of Britain's role in the 1953 coup that overthrew the elected prime minister of Iran and restored the shah to power has been published for the first time. The account by the MI6 officer who ran the operation describes how it took British intelligence years to persuade the US to take part in the coup. Meanwhile, MI6 recruited agents and bribed members of Iran's parliament with banknotes transported in biscuit tins. -Julian Borger, Guardian 8/17/20

Pompeo set to double down on failure to extend Iran arms embargo

Undeterred by its humiliating failure to win U.N. Security Council extension of the arms embargo on Iran, the Trump administration has vowed to double down by pushing an equally unpopular snapback of pre-2016 U.N. sanctions. In the August 14 tally on the arms embargo extension, the U.S. gathered only one vote besides its own. And the Dominican Republic may have lent its support only to act as a polite host for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's August 16 visit to the Caribbean nation. -Mark Fitzpatrick, Responsible Statecraft 8/17/20

Iran and America in 2020: a dreadful relationship

The stand-off between America and Iran will get worse before it gets better -Economist 8/17/20

Donald Trump vows 'snapback' over humiliating UN defeat on Iran arms embargo

Donald Trump has vowed to use a contentious provision to unilaterally reinstate UN sanctions on Tehran, following what Iran's president said was a humiliating defeat for the US in its bid to extend an arms embargo on Tehran. A day after the UN security council overwhelmingly rejected a US resolution to extend the embargo, Trump said at a news conference at his New Jersey golf club: "We'll be doing a snapback. You'll be watching it next week." -Guardian 8/17/20

China welcomes Putin's proposed summit on Iran

China welcomed on Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposed summit of world leaders to avoid "confrontation" over a U.S. threat to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran. The United States lost a bid on Friday to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran. -Reuters 8/17/20

Are the US and Iran talking behind the scenes?

"I think Iran and [Donald] Trump are close to a win-win agreement," veteran Iranian journalist and BBC Persian correspondent Masoud Behnoud recently tweeted on August 8. "Trump has a failed record on foreign policy and will give concessions on the eve of the election. Iran also wants rewards for its patience, especially its patience in the face of the recent explosions." -Sina Toossi, Atlantic Council 8/14/20

The strategic consequences of ending the arms embargo on Iran

In 2015, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2231, endorsing the nuclear agreement between Iran and the major world powers, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. But the resolution also established a five-year embargo on conventional arms sales going in and out of Iran, replacing earlier resolutions that had levied more permanent restrictions on such sales. Five years on, the moratorium is set to expire on October 18, 2020... -Farhad Rezaei, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 8/14/20

Where does Iran stand in the India-China regional rivalry?

The possible strategic agreement between Iran and China presents concerns not only for the United States, but also for one of the premier powers of the Asian continent: India. On a visit to Tehran in May 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a memorandum of understanding with Tehran in a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to develop the strategic Iranian seaport of Chabahar. -Saeid Jafari, Responsible Statecraft 8/14/20

Iran and Turkey denounce UAE over deal with Israel

Iran and Turkey have accused the United Arab Emirates of abandoning Palestinians, a day after the Gulf state announced it would become the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel. Iran's foreign ministry denounced the Washington-brokered deal as an act of "strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv" and said it was a "dagger ... unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims". -Oliver Holmes, Guardian 8/14/20

Trump administration abuses power, spurns accountability to continue Saudi arms sales

So much wrongdoing to inspect, so little support from above in inspecting it. That seems to be the plight of inspectors general throughout the federal government during Donald Trump's presidency. The most recent newsworthy plight is at the State Department, where Secretary Mike Pompeo has burned through two IGs during the past three months amid issues embarrassing to the himself. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 8/14/20

Is the UAE's engagement with Iran a cold peace or genuine rapprochement?

On August 2, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif exchanged greetings for Eid al-Adha and participated in rare bilateral discussions. In a tweet following their virtual meeting, Zarif stated that he discussed COVID-19 and "bilateral, regional and global situations" with his Emirati counterpart and claimed that they agreed to "continue dialogue on the theme of hope." -Samuel Ramani, Responsible Statecraft 8/13/20

Will October Surprise Be Trump-Provoked War With Iran?

Was Donald Trump's January 3rd drone assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani the first step in turning the simmering Cold War between the United States and Iran into a hot war in the weeks before an American presidential election? Of course, there's no way to know, but behind by double digits in most national polls and flanked by ultra-hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump is a notoriously impetuous and erratic figure. -Bob Dreyfuss, Common Dreams 8/12/20

It doesn't matter who wins in November, Iran will not renegotiate the JCPOA

The upcoming US presidential elections in November will likely determine whether the Iran nuclear deal survives. If Donald Trump wins re-election, Iran is likely to quit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and alter its nuclear doctrine to give it more leverage in any future negotiations. If Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is elected, both Iran and the United States could move towards reviving the JCPOA, but Iran will remain reluctant to expand its terms. -Saheb Sadeghi, Atlantic Council 8/12/20

Iran's president, FM lash out at new US push on arms embargo

Iran's president and foreign minister lashed out on Wednesday at a revised proposal by the U.S. that would extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran indefinitely, the latest in the Trump administration's maximum pressure policy against Iran. The U.S. on Tuesday circulated the revised draft at the U.N., seeking to gain more support in the 15-member Security Council where veto-wielding Russia and China have voiced strong opposition. -AP 8/12/20

What's at stake in the upcoming presidential elections in the US and Iran

The U.S. presidential election will take place in less 100 days and analysts in both Washington and Tehran are speculating about the future of U.S.-Iran relations. There are those who think that if elected, Joe Biden and his administration will seek a more "balanced" approach to Iran by re-joining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and providing sanctions relief. And then there are those who think that if Trump is re-elected, his administration will continue implementing the pernicious "maximum pressure" strategy. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Responsible Statecraft 8/12/20

It's time to end senseless, endless sanctions

Despite developing more targeted "smart sanctions" aimed primarily at group and national leaders, elongated sanctions episodes continued to wreak disastrous consequences on civilians through the present day. The Trump Administration's use of maximum pressure sanctions, which some see as targeted, plus trade sanctions on steroids, have devastated civilians in North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela, thus solidifying wide acceptance that sanctions constitute economic war. -George A. Lopez, Responsible Statecraft 8/11/20

Russia to Build $1.6b Port to Boost Trade With Iran, India, China

Russia is planning to build a port on the Caspian Sea near the city of Lagan to increase trade in the region and beyond. Plans to build the port have been included in the official Russian Federation blueprint for the region issued on July 29, Global Construction Review reported. 8/11/20

Iran sets up field hospital in Beirut

Iran has dispatched two shipments of humanitarian aid to Beirut following the devastating explosions in Lebanese capital. The consignments include food and medical supplies, and field hospitals for treatment of the injured. -Mahdi Shojaeian, Mehr 8/10/20

The foreign dimension of the coming American electoral process

Iran is the front that probably is most capable of dragging the United States into open warfare in the near future. And Netanyahu, of course, would love to see an extension of the presidency of Trump, who has given Netanyahu's government almost unlimited political cover to do whatever it wants in militarily conquered and occupied territory. Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, has similar motives, and a similar ability to stoke trouble with Iran that could ensnare the United States. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 8/10/20

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