Azar 15 1399 - December 05 2020
The assassination of an Iranian scientist and the double-standards of American outrage

Another day, another sleek Israeli (allegedly) assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in broad daylight outside Tehran. "An Eye for an Eye: Zionists Must Prepare Themselves" screamed the Saturday headline on Kayhan, Iran's hardline newspaper, a day after the car Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was travelling in with his wife was sprayed by bullets. Like so many other targeted killings by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad on Iranian scientists over the last 10 years (Fakhrizadeh was the fifth), the attack unfurled like a spy movie thriller. -Shenaz Kermalli, Responsible Statecraft 12/4/20

Long wait worth the shot at Asian glory for Iran's Persepolis

Persepolis will have waited 11 weeks for their shot at glory by the time the Asian Champions League final kicks off but assistant coach Karim Bagheri told Reuters it will be worth it if they can bring the continental prize back to Iran. The Iranian champions booked their place in the final in October but the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means they are still a long way from knowing who their opponents will be at Doha's Al Janoub Stadium on Dec. 19. -Reuters 12/4/20

Iran says it will comply with nuclear deal if Biden lifts all sanctions

Iran will come back into full compliance with its nuclear deal immediately after the incoming Joe Biden administration in the US proves its bona fides by lifting all sanctions, the country's foreign minister has said. Setting out the parameters for a new relationship with Washington, Javad Zarif also said Iran would not require the US to rejoin the deal, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPoA), before lifting its sanctions, but would need some kind of assurance that once it has rejoined, the Biden administration would not simply leave the deal again in the same way Donald Trump did. -Guardian 12/4/20

How Biden Is Determined to Parry Trump's Sabotage and Restore Iran Nuclear Deal

Biden realizes that the number one issue is Iran's nuclear capability, which is now civilian, and which Biden want to keep that way. Biden could reenter the JCPOA with a stroke of a pen on January 20, 2021. -Juan Cole, Common Dreams 12/4/20

Insanity Reigns - the US, Israel, and Iran

All too often, events occur that make me feel that I am living in "Bizarro World". The recent talk and extensive US corporate media coverage about whether or not the US and/or Israel will soon attack Iran is one of these occasions. The alleged rationale for such an attack is the possibility that Iran might pursue the development of a nuclear weapon. This rationale ignores the religious ruling or fatwa issued by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei against the acquisition, development and use of nuclear weapons. -Ron Forthofer, Antiwar.com 12/4/20

Will the murder of Iran's star nuclear scientist embolden diplomacy?

The funeral of Iran's leading nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, is done. Iran's leaders are now debating how to respond and have promised revenge. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei has declared that talks are "not possible," but it's still possible Iran has not shut the door to negotiations with European and even American officials. -Daniel Brumberg, Responsible Statecraft 12/4/20

Iran Assassination Is a Political Provocation

Imagine for a moment what would happen if unknown assassins murdered a high-ranking US scientist involved with chemical weapons. Let's say officials in Iran quietly took responsibility, arguing that the US had violated international law because it continues to hold stockpiles of mustard gas and nerve agents VX and sarin, despite numerous commitments to destroy them starting in the late 1990s. Compare that fictional assassination with Israel's actual assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a prominent Iranian scientist described as the "father of the Iranian bomb." The fictional and real murders are analogous with an important exception. -Reese Erlich, Antiwar.com 12/4/20

Facing up to Israel's destabilizing behavior

Responsibility for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is still officially a matter of speculation, but it is highly likely that Israel did it. Israel has the motive, the methods, and the moxie. It also has the record, including not only a string of murders of other Iranian nuclear scientists some eight years ago but also a more widely used killing machine that has made Israel the world's leader in targeted assassinations. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 12/3/20

Despite Trump Efforts to Foment War With Iran, Experts Say Biden Has Chance to Restore Needed Diplomacy

Progressive experts on US-Iranian relations on Wednesday urged caution-and expressed hope for renewed diplomatic efforts from the incoming Biden administration-following news that Iran's parliament voted to increase uranium enrichment just days after the nation's top nuclear scientist was gunned down in an assassination plot endorsed by President Donald Trump and which many believe was carried out by the Israeli government. -Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams 12/3/20

Iran ready to show goodwill if U.S., Europe abide by nuclear deal: Zarif

Iran will fully comply with a 2015 deal aimed at preventing it from developing nuclear weapons if both the United States and Europe honour their original commitments, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday. Addressing a Rome conference via video-link, Zarif said the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) could not be renegotiated but it could be resurrected. -Reuters 12/3/20

Iran to further limit nuclear commitments: What's next?

A bill aimed at further reducing Iran's nuclear commitments proposed by conservatives and hardliners in the country's parliament just cleared its last hurdle. The Strategic Act to Revoke Sanctions was approved by the powerful 12-member vetting body Guardian Council with extraordinary speed on Wednesday despite government opposition. -Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera 12/3/20

Special Report: Iran expands shrines and influence in Iraq

The vast, $600 million expansion at the Imam Hussein shrine, which is revered as the place of martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, will swell the capacity of what is already the world's largest annual pilgrimage, dwarfing the Hajj to Saudi Arabia's Mecca. It is the biggest development at the shrine in 300 years. -Reuters 12/3/20

Iran's nuclear advances went on, even as its scientists were picked off, one by one

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran's nuclear and missile program, was finally assassinated. Many believe his Nov. 27 killing was the handiwork of Israel, though so far that accusation has yet to be confirmed. If so, it is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism. Israel and the United States had been looking for Fakhrizadeh for at least 15 years as part of a larger covert war against Tehran supposedly designed to slow its nuclear and missile programs - which Israel insists are aimed at producing weapons and the means to deliver them. -Muhammad Sahimi, Responsible Statecraft 12/2/20

How US media manipulates Iran's nuclear program into a sinister myth

Experts, media elites, and other Iran observers lit into New York Times national security reporter David Sanger this week for his sloppy - and perhaps "Judith Miller-level bad" - reporting on Iran's nuclear program following the assassination of one of the country's top nuclear scientists last week. The offense in question involved the opening line of Sanger's "News Analysis" which asserted that the scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, had "led Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon for the past two decades." -Ben Armbruster, Responsible Statecraft 12/2/20

Iran's president rejects bill that would boost enrichment

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday rejected a bill approved by parliament that would have suspended U.N. inspections and boosted uranium enrichment, saying it was "harmful" to diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal and easing U.S. sanctions. -AP 12/2/20

Europeans urged to quickly set out roadmap on Iran nuclear deal

France, Germany and the UK must move quickly to set out a roadmap for Iran and the incoming Biden administration in the US to come back into compliance with the nuclear deal, some of Europe's leading diplomats have said. They warn that unless the three countries, known as the E3, coordinate a joint public statement setting out what both sides must do to end the impasse, there is a real risk that Joe Biden will come to power facing only escalating tensions with Iran. -Guardian 12/1/20

Calls for Diplomacy-Not War-as Scientist's Assassination, Trump Impede Biden's Path to Iran Engagement

Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday called for strengthened diplomacy to "prevent catastrophic war" with Iran amid swirling fears the Trump administration is recklessly sabotaging the Biden White House's prospects for such diplomatic efforts. The post from Khanna (D-Calif.) tweet was shared by Win Without War, which earlier on Monday sounded a similar note as Sen. Chris Murphy. "A Monday morning reminder that the Trump administration's maximum pressure against Iran has been a maximum failure," the group tweeted. -Common Dreams 12/1/20

Iran's Zarif warns of 'misinformation' over scientist's killing

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned of a "targeted misinformation campaign and psychological war" following the assassination of the country's top nuclear scientist last week. In an Instagram post late on Monday, Zarif said early news reports of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's death in Farsi-language media had said "the Israeli media claimed that the scientist's name had reached Mossad through UN lists", referring to the intelligence agency of Israel, which is being blamed for the assassination. -Al Jazeera 12/1/20

Why the Assassination of a Scientist Will Have No Impact on Iran's Nuclear Program

The roadside assassination, last week, of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was an elaborate intelligence operation that played out like a blockbuster thriller, according to unusually candid accounts by the Iranian media. Fakhrizadeh, who was around sixty and had a graying beard, and also a bit of a paunch, has often been compared to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of America's atomic bomb, and A. Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 12/1/20

Confronting the Islamic Republic of Iran: Give Peace a Chance

As President Donald Trump prepares to leave office, Iran is leading the news after the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear engineer, likely by Israel with U.S. knowledge if not assistance. The Obama administration criticized a similar Israeli hit in 2012, but Trump lauded the latest murder. He has been fixated on Iran since taking office. -Doug Bandow, Antiwar.com 11/30/20

'Reckless, Provocative, and Illegal': Sanders Warns Assassination of Iranian Scientist Designed to Kill Diplomacy

Sen. Bernie Sanders warned over the weekend that the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-widely believed to have been the work of Israel-was carried out with the intention of undermining any prospect of diplomacy between the United States and Iran just weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office. -Common Dreams 11/30/20

Will the World Community Condemn the Murder of Iran's Nuclear Scientist?

Israel used all four years of Trump's presidency to entrench its systems of occupation and apartheid. Now that Joe Biden has won the U.S. election, the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist, likely by Israel with the go-ahead from the US administration, is a desperate attempt to use Trump's last days in office to sabotage Biden's chances of successful diplomacy with Iran. Biden, Congress, and the world community can't let that happen. -Medea Benjamin, Ariel Gold, Common Dreams 11/30/20

How the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist can sabotage diplomacy & start a war

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a key Iranian nuclear official, has been assassinated in Tehran. While it's unclear as of this writing who is responsible, Israel has assassinated numerous Iranian nuclear scientists in the past, but had, until now, been unable to get to the highly protected Fakhrizadeh. Some Iranian reports claim it was a suicide attack, which would reduce the likelihood of Israeli operatives carrying out the attack, but the bullet holes in Fakhrizadeh's car cast doubt on that. -Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 11/30/20

Iran's top nuclear scientist shot dead near Tehran

An Iranian nuclear scientist described as the guru of Iran's nuclear programme has been gunned down in the street in a town near Tehran. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was ambushed in the town of Absard, about 40 miles east of Tehran. Four assailants opened fire after witnesses heard an explosion. Efforts to resuscitate Fakhrizadeh failed. His bodyguard was wounded. An adviser to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed that the country would retaliate against the perpetrators. -Guardian 11/27/20

Trump remains in a battle of wills with Iran

As the sun sets on Donald Trump's presidency, one piece of potentially dangerous unfinished business is Iran's nuclear program. Here's an area where cool heads must prevail over the next two months to avoid an 11th-hour catastrophe. Both the United States and Iran have been messaging their resolve in recent days, in signals that have mostly gone unnoticed. -David Ignatius, Washington Post 11/27/20

Team Trump determined to drop foreign policy bombs on the way out

When the Trump administration was good it was at best middling. When the administration was bad - when dropping the nuclear accord with Iran, attempting to force Tehran's surrender through brutal economic sanctions, threatening war with Iran, and allying with the malign Saudi dictatorship - it was truly awful. Failure only enraged administration officials, causing them to impose even greater hardship on the Iranian people -Doug Bandow, Responsible Statecraft 11/27/20

How a feminist framework can guide US, European Iran policy

The election of the nation's first female vice president marks a political watershed in Washington, DC. And while President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have promised a different kind of foreign policy, the real question about "building back better" is - how exactly, and for whom? Who benefits? Whose interests will be taken into account? Whose voices will not be heard? Such are the questions that a feminist approach would ask of every policy. -Cornelius Adebahr and Barbara Mittelhammer, Responsible Statecraft 11/25/20

Iranian president upbeat about relations with Biden-led US

Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, said on Wednesday it would be easy to solve the country's problems with the US so long as Joe Biden stuck to the commitments he made on the campaign trail. Rouhani's optimistic remarks to a weekly cabinet contrasted with a speech the day before by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which sketched out a more difficult path to normalisation and the lifting of sanctions. -Guardian 11/25/20

Talks 'got us nowhere': Iran's supreme leader casts doubt on future negotiations

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei played down the idea of returning to negotiations with the West, despite a pledge from President-elect Joe Biden to revive the landmark nuclear deal from which his predecessor withdrew. "We once tried the path of having the sanctions lifted and negotiated several years, but this got us nowhere," Khamenei said, according to Reuters. -Al Monitor 11/25/20

'Iran in the Crosshairs?' Reports of Secret Meeting Between Netanyahu, MbS, and Pompeo Spark Fears of War Plot

The alarming possibility of a military attack on Iran-a nation that has long been in the sights of war hawks in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel-was immediately invoked by foreign policy analysts Monday following reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in secret late Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. -Jake Johnson, Common Dreams 11/24/20

Why Biden must ignore Sen. Coons' 'caveats' and stay on course to return to the Iran deal

Of the many miscarriages of Trump administration, its policy on Iran is most emblematic of its overall failure. An incoming Biden administration will need to address these failures. However, to do so, Biden must be careful to distinguish himself from his predecessor from day one. Recent comments by Senator Chris Coons, who stated he would support a return to the Iran deal with "caveats," is precisely the language that Biden should avoid, as it legitimates the disastrous policies of the Trump administration -Assal Rad, Responsible Statecraft 11/24/20

UK, France and Germany discuss working with Joe Biden on Iran nuclear deal

European foreign ministers from Germany, France and the UK have met to discuss a joint approach with the incoming Joe Biden administration on reviving the Iranian nuclear deal. The three nations, whose ministers met in Berlin, are hoping Tehran can reach an agreement under which the US would lift its crippling sanctions in return for Iran ending its non-compliance with the 2015 agreement constraining its nuclear activities. -Guardian 11/24/20

Why is Israel smiling after Azeri win in Nagorno-Karabakh?

At the outbreak of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a group of Washington hawks from neoconservative think tanks like Hudson Institute and Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) urged the United States to support Azerbaijan. They pushed the narrative that Armenia was an ally of Iran, while Azerbaijan an ally of Israel. Azerbaijani victory, thus, would be a gain for Israel. The fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, however, is not what interests these neoconservatives. Like in almost everything having to do with a greater Middle East, for them this is all about Iran. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 11/24/20

European powers see hope for Iran accord in US transition

The German, French and British foreign ministers were meeting Monday to discuss the future of the international agreement on Iran's nuclear program amid hopes that the incoming U.S. administration might help breathe new life into the accord, Germany's Foreign Ministry said. -AP 11/23/20

Can Joe Biden's ethos of empathy point the way to a new US foreign policy?

There will certainly be voices both inside and outside government advocating for a hawkish U.S. military posture in the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf. With U.S.-China relations at their lowest ebb in a generation and U.S.-Iran tensions dangerously close to a boiling point, a new strategy is needed. Reducing the risk of a U.S.-China cold war or a military conflict with Iran requires not just repudiating Trump's jingoistic transactionalism, but also breaking from decades of pre-Trump militarism, rooted in white supremacy and imperialism, under the guise of American exceptionalism. -Perry Cammack, Responsible Statecraft 11/23/20

The Unprecedented US Presidential Election and its Consequences

American democracy has survived a dangerous virus, and it has even come off the ventilator, but whether it will be restored to full health or will suffer for a long time (like a long Covid) from the negative effects of the virus of personality cult, chauvinism, populism, racism, militarism and, yes let's say it, fascism, remains to be seen. -Farhang Jahanpour, IPS 11/23/20

The NYT's Trump Iran 'attack' story and the failures of foreign policy reporting

The New York Times published a major story this week, reporting that President Trump recently sought options for a military strike on Iran's nuclear program in response to a new International Atomic Energy Agency report finding that Iran had significantly increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. -Ben Armbruster, Responsible Statecraft 11/20/20

What Will a Vengeful President Do to the World in His Final Weeks?

A lame-duck Donald Trump may seek to shore up his dismal foreign-policy legacy with military strikes or premature troop withdrawals-at the risk of sabotaging Joe Biden's foreign policy... Iran has outmaneuvered Trump. The President must be seething-at Iran, for failing to come crawling, and at Biden, for pledging to return to the deal, albeit with updates. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 11/20/20

A Dedicated Obsession: Washington's Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime

One dogma that is likely to persist in US foreign policy during a Biden presidency will be the sanctions regime adopted towards Iran. Every messianic state craves clearly scripted enemies, and the demonology about the Islamic Republic is not going to go begging. -Binoy Kampmark, Counterpunch 11/19/20

Adviser to Iran's leader: US attack risks 'full-fledged war'

An adviser to Iran's supreme leader who is a possible 2021 presidential candidate is warning that any American attack on the Islamic Republic could set off a "full-fledged war" in the Mideast in the waning days of the Trump administration. Speaking to The Associated Press, Hossein Dehghan struck a hard-line tone familiar to those in Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, a force he long served in before becoming a defense minister under President Hassan Rouhani. -AP 11/19/20

Iran's Revolutionary Guard launches aircraft-carrying ship

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said it launched a heavy warship Thursday capable of carrying helicopters, drones and missile launchers amid ongoing tensions with the U.S. Photographs of the ship, named after slain Guard naval commander Abdollah Roudaki, showed it carrying truck-launched surface-to-surface missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. -AP 11/19/20

Iran admits breach of nuclear deal discovered by UN inspectorate

Iran has admitted a further breach of the 2015 nuclear deal by firing up advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges installed at its underground plant at Natanz. The finding was made by the UN nuclear weapons inspectorate, the International Atomic Energy Association, and confirmed by the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. -Guardian 11/19/20

Iranian FM Says Tehran Willing To Fully Comply With Nuclear Deal If Biden Lifts Sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran would return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal if U.S. President-elect Joe Biden lifts crippling sanctions against the country. Zarif said in a November 17 interview with the government daily Iran that Tehran remains committed to the nuclear accord, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and that Biden could make the changes quickly through "three executive orders." 11/18/20

US or Israeli attack on Iran unlikely - but not impossible

If there is one thing we know for certain about the Trump administration, it is that when we think it cannot possibly get worse, it does. In his waning days as president, Donald Trump is actively considering war with Iran. -Joe Cirincione, Responsible Statecraft 11/18/20

Fears of foreign policy chaos in Trump's final days fueled by Iran bombing report

Fears that Donald Trump might try to wreak havoc on the world stage in his final, desperate, weeks in office appear to have been well-founded, after he reportedly asked for options on bombing Iran. A report in the New York Times said Trump was advised against strikes on Iranian nuclear sites by senior officials warning of the risk of triggering a major conflict. But it added that the president may not have entirely given up on the idea of staging attacks on Iran or its allies and proxies in the region. -Julian Borger, Guardian 11/18/20

Security officials worry Israel and Saudi Arabia may see the end of Trump as their last chance to go to war with Iran

European intelligence officials are alarmed about the possibility of military action towards Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration.
 Concern that Trump - who has pushed for maximum pressure on Iran - or a combination of Israel or Saudi Arabia creating a military confrontation in the waning days of the administration has been a concern for over a week, according to three European intelligence officials who spoke with Insider. -Mitch Prothero, Business Insider 11/18/20

UN atomic watchdog: Iran now operating Natanz centrifuges

The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency confirmed on Wednesday reports that Iran has begun operating centrifuges installed at an underground site, but said they had been moved from another facility so the country's overall uranium-enriching capabilities have not increased. 11/18/20

Trump's Requested Strike on Iran Could Kill More People Than Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

First, it should be noted that Iran is not engaged in illegal activity. Its right to enrich uranium for civilian electricity production was acknowledged by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or nuclear deal signed with all the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Iran has only departed from that agreement in very minor ways, and mainly as a way of putting pressure on Europe to defy the US severe economic sanctions, which contravene the treaty. It is Trump's Washington that has behaved illegally, not Iran. -Juan Cole, Common Dreams 11/17/20

Why Biden shouldn't fall for the 'sanctions wall' trap on Iran

Faced with a countdown on its tenure in office, the Trump administration is accelerating efforts to bar President-elect Biden from returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - the nuclear accord between the United States, other major world powers, and Iran - and to cement the U.S.-Iran relationship into one of perpetual conflict. - and more. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 11/17/20

Iran warns of 'crushing response' if Trump targets nuclear site

Iran has warned of a strong response if Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to use the twilight of his presidency to mount a strike on Iran or its allies in the region. It was reported that Trump last week looked at options for striking Iran's main nuclear site, but was dissuaded from taking action after his advisers warned it might lead to a larger conflict in the Middle East. The report was sourced to four US officials by the New York Times. -Guardian 11/17/20

A Defeated Trump 'Has No Authorization for a New War,' Say Campaigners After NYT Reports President Wanted Military Strike Options for Iran

"Trump's request for military options to strike Iran's nuclear program in his waning days in office encapsulates the bankruptcy of the pressure-only approach toward Iran favored by so many in Washington." -Kenny Stancil, Common Dreams 11/17/20

Mike Pompeo's legacy of incompetence peaked with his failed Iran policy

The 2020 election is over and his days in power are waning, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is vowing to double down on his hardline approach to Iran. His plans have gone largely unnoticed - which might not be much of a surprise, given everything else that's happening in Washington right now. But his latest move - as mean-spirited as it is misguided - still deserves to be called out. -Jason Rezaian, Washington Post 11/17/20

The view from Tehran on Biden's pledge to return to the nuclear deal

Joe Biden's election is set to have major ramifications for the Middle East. President Trump's policies centered on reneging on the 2015 nuclear deal, piling on sanctions on Iran, and providing unconditional support to U.S. partners like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Conversely, President-elect Biden ran on a pledge to return to the Iran deal and diplomatically ease regional tensions. But will the Iranians play ball? And will the heightened anti-American politics in Iran even permit a return to the deal? -Sina Toossi, Responsible Statecraft 11/16/20

The clock starts now: Biden must make the right signals to Iran on nuke deal

The election of Joe Biden provides a four-month window to restore the historic 2015 nuclear agreement. But the months before Biden enters the White House may be even more important. The wrong signals from Biden can close the window even before he takes the Presidential oath; the right signals can prepare the ground for the successful restoration of the nuclear accord - and more. -Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 11/16/20

Born into occupation, young Afghans fear the Taliban will crush their freedoms when U.S. troops exit

They are a generation not so much adrift as stuck between opposing forces. They live with fresh graves and echoes of firefights and marketplaces spoiled by suicide bombers. Theirs is land that has not been conquered, a nation that has attuned them to hardship and the hope that the Taliban and the government will peacefully coexist after U.S. troops crate their weapons, fold their banners and leave. -Los Angeles Times 11/16/20

Israeli agents in Iran kill al-Qaida's top lieutenant - report

Al-Qaida's second-in-command was killed in Iran in August by Israeli operatives acting at the behest of the United States, the New York Times has reported, citing intelligence officials. Iran denied the report. Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement that there were no al Qaeda "terrorists" on Iranian soil. -Guardian 11/16/20

Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile 12 times beyond limit: IAEA

Iran has stockpiled low-enriched uranium 12 times more than the limit set by a nuclear accord, while it also failed to provide a credible explanation about the presence of nuclear material in undeclared sites, according to the United Nations' nuclear agency. The findings were reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday in a confidential document given to member countries and seen by news agencies. -Al Jazeera 11/12/20

As Trump Ignores Election Results and Plans 'Flood' of Sanctions, Biden Signals Possible Shift in US Relations With Iran

While President Donald Trump and his allies in Washington continue to ignore and reject the results of last week's election, President-elect Joe Biden signaled on Tuesday that his administration may shift away from the Trump White House's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran in favor of easing tensions with the Middle Eastern nation's government. -Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams 11/11/20

To Save the Iran Nuclear Deal, Think Bigger

Soon after taking office, President-elect Joe Biden will face the daunting task of restoring the 2015 nuclear deal and getting the United States and Iran back on speaking terms. The outgoing administration of President Donald Trump intends to make that job nearly impossible by spending its last ten weeks in office engineering a "flood" of sanctions to further squeeze Iran. -Trita Parsi, Foreign Affair 11/11/20

Iran's Rouhani says Trump administration 'abjectly struck down'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said the Trump administration, which he alleged aimed to overthrow Iran, has been "abjectly struck down" by its own people in the 2020 US elections. In a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday, Rouhani said the current American leader, who has been projected as the loser of the presidential elections but has refused to concede, was goaded into abandoning the Iran nuclear deal "with childish and delusional conceptions". -Maziar Motamedi, Al-Jazeera 11/11/20

Iran has prepared initial plan for gas exports to Afghanistan: NIGC chief

Head of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) says the country has a plan in place for launching gas exports to neighboring Afghanistan. "The initial plan has been prepared and diplomatic negotiations are ongoing," said Hassan Montazer Torbati on Monday as he briefed reporters on the latest situation of Iran's gas exports to neighboring countries. -Press RV 11/11/20

Iran and the world wait for Biden

Iranian leaders have insisted that the November 3 US elections will have no real significance for Iran's basic interests. But such assertions should not be taken seriously. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself signaled that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) should avoid a dustup with US forces; he was clearly worried that a US-Iran clash might work in President Donald Trump's political favor. Moreover, public opinion surveys suggest that a wide swath of the Iranian populace has watched the US elections closely. -Daniel Brumberg, Responsible Statecraft 11/10/20

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia sign Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed an agreement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the deal "incredibly painful both for me and both for our people". The BBC's Orla Guerin in Baku says that, overall, the deal should be read as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia. -BBC 11/10/20

Trump poised to leave legacy of chaos with last-minute foreign policy moves

The abrupt dismissal of the US defence secretary, Mark Esper, and reported plans for multiple layers of new sanctions on Iran have made clear that Donald Trump's last 10 weeks in office could still prove a very bumpy ride for the rest of the world. -Julian Borger, Guardian 11/10/20

Course correction in US-Iranian relations: A road map for the Biden administration

Joe Biden has vowed to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. In a recent report for Friederich Ebert Stiftung, Ellie Geranmayeh looks at what concrete steps can be taken by the United States, Iran, and Europe to bring all parties to the nuclear deal back into full compliance, noting that time is of the essence. -European Council on Foreign Relations 11/9/20

Neighboring countries hold 60% share of Iran's non-oil exports

Importing 17.683 million tons of commodities worth $4.854 billion, Iraq was the top destination, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with importing 8.5 million tons of goods valued at $2.272 billion, Turkey with 4.794 million tons worth $1.489 billion, Afghanistan with 4.077 million tons valued at $1.325 billion, and Pakistan with 1.257 million tons worth $491 million. 11/9/20

Iran's president calls on Biden to return to nuclear deal

Iran's president called on President-elect Joe Biden to "compensate for past mistakes" and return the U.S. to Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, a state-run news agency reported Sunday. Hassan Rouhani's comments mark the highest-level response from Iran to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris clinching the Nov. 3 election. -AP 11/9/20

Azerbaijan claims to have captured key town in Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan has said it has recaptured the symbolic town of Shusha, a claim denied by Armenian officials as fighting in the bloody six-week-old battle over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory appeared to reach an apex. "[This day] will become a great day in the history of Azerbaijan," said Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, in a televised address. His announcement on Sunday was greeted with celebrations on the streets of Baku as Azerbaijanis gathered to wave flags and sing. -Guardian 11/9/20

Karabakh War An Increasingly Serious Policy Challenge For Iran - Analysis

Though Iran professes neutrality in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, calls for an immediate ceasefire, and offers to mediate between the warring sides, Tehran's political elite is sharply split on how to respond to the fighting in the South Caucasus. Their diverging approaches are driven by both foreign and domestic considerations. -Paul Goble, Eurasia Review 11/6/20

Iran's Game-Changing Rapid-Fire Underground Missile Base

A video released this week on YouTube shows a new Iranian underground missile system capable of firing a barrage of ballistic missiles in quick succession. In most of the world, such missiles are kept in silos, each holding a single missile, like the U.S. Minuteman missile III launch facilities scattered across Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. But if a Minuteman silo is a single-shot rifle, the Iranian version is a magazine-fed semi-automatic. -David Hambling, Forbes 11/6/20

Liraz: Zan - a secret Israeli-Iranian musical collaboration

The Israeli-born singer worked with Iranian musicians on secure channels to create her new album. In the TV series Tehran, Liraz Charhi plays an Israeli Mossad spy working remotely with agents in the field in Iran. Her new album as a singer, though it is intended to bring the two peoples together, had to deploy similar tradecraft. -David Honigmann, Financial Times 11/6/20

Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict: Russia says will consider Iran's proposal to end fighting

Russia is considering an Iranian proposal for ending the conflict in the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh after three ceasefires failed to halt fighting that is now in its sixth week. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said Iran's proposal was made by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Abaqchi during a visit to Moscow last week but gave no further details, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday. -MEE 11/4/20

US election: one hundred years of Iran-US relations

Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran and America's relations have become tense and hostile. The two countries stand against each other and, despite the efforts made to establish a relationship again, efforts have been fruitless. It is safe to say that the level of inflammation we witnessed during Donald Trump's presidency was unprecedented in contemporary Iranian history. -Mohamad Roshan , Global Comment 11/4/20

How Trump has turned the US 'war on terror' towards Iran and Hezbollah

On October 23, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement in commemoration of the 1983 attacks on the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut which led to the deaths of 241 U.S. service members. Pompeo asserted that the Lebanese Hezbollah movement was behind the attack and made reference to the group's "commitment to violence and bloodshed." It further stated: "...we renew our commitment to preventing Hezbollah and its sponsor Iran from spilling more innocent blood in Lebanon or anywhere in the world." -Ali Rizk, Responsible Statecraft 11/3/20

Attack on Kabul University by Isis gunmen leaves 22 dead

At least 22 people were killed and 22 wounded after Islamic State-affiliated gunmen stormed Kabul University as it was hosting a book fair attended by Iran's ambassador to Afghanistan, taking hostages and fighting gun battles with security forces for more than five hours. The Afghan government has declared Tuesday a national day of mourning following the attack. -Guardian 11/3/20

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