Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

Key takeaway: The EU’s revision to its laws to protect European companies from U.S. sanctions against Iran is unlikely to retain major European business in Iran.

The EU European Commission amended the 1996 EU blocking statute law on August 7 to extend to the newly-reimposed U.S. sanctions against Iran. The revision occurred on the same day as the U.S. reimposed its first round of sanctions back against Iran following the May 8 U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). German carmaker Daimler AG and automotive supplier Duerr AG both announced that they will suspend their operations in Iran shortly after the implementation of the EU amendment. The two German companies’ individual announcements demonstrate that the blocking statute is likely not enough to convince many European companies to remain in Iran and to risk isolation from U.S. financial markets.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from August 5 - August 11.

Nuclear Deal Developments
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August 13, 2018

Trump orders reimposition of first-round of U.S. sanctions against Iran

The U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reimplemented the first-round of sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal on August 7 following U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order on August 6. The reimposed sanctions prohibit Iran from acquiring U.S. bank notes, and sanction Iran’s trade in precious metals, industrial materials, and transactions related to the Iranian rial, among other financial restrictions. OFAC will reimpose the second-round of sanctions lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) affecting the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and Iranian energy exports after the end of the second wind-down period on November 5. (WhiteHouse.gov) (E) (WhiteHouse.gov) (E) (Treasury.gov) (E)

  • EU revises blocking statute to extend to reimposed U.S. sanctions against Iran. The EU European Commission amended the EU blocking statute to extend to the newly-reimposed U.S. sanctions against Iran on August 7. The blocking statute prohibits European companies from complying with select-U.S. sanctions against Iran. The blocking stature also allows the EU to not recognize any court rulings that enforce U.S. sanctions. (Europa.eu) (E)

  • German automotive companies suspend operations in Iran. German carmaker Daimler AG and automotive supplier Duerr AG separately announced that they halted their business operations in Iran in response to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Daimler and Duerr’s announcements came on August 7 and August 11 respectively. (Reuters) (E) (Reuters) (E)

Citations & Links

1. WhiteHouse.gov
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-reimposing-sanctions-lifted-horrible-iran-deal/

2. WhiteHouse.gov
https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-reimposing-certain-sanctions-respect-iran/

3. Treasury.gov
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/iran.aspx

4. Europa.eu
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4805_en.htm

5. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-daimler/daimler-abandons-iran-expansion-plans-as-sanctions-bite-idUSKBN1KS0N8

6. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-duerr-iran/auto-supplier-duerr-stops-iran-business-due-to-sanctions-boersen-zeitung-idUSKBN1KW08Y

Regional Developments and Diplomacy
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August 13, 2018

Rouhani chides Trump’s offer to negotiate

President Hassan Rouhani derided U.S. President Donald Trump’s July 30 offer to hold negotiations with Rouhani during a televised interview on August 6. Rouhani criticized Trump’s offer and noted that “having negotiations while imposing sanctions is meaningless.” Rouhani announced that negotiations will continue with European countries over the coming months and that Iran will meet with Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)-member states in August as well as during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 18. (President.ir) (President.ir)

  • Presidential Political Deputy and former nuclear negotiator Majid Takht Ravanchi stated during an interview with Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) on August 8 that “currently we cannot say with certainty that negotiations with Europe through early November will reach a [conclusion].” Takht Ravanchi also noted that Iranians should not wait for a meeting between Rouhani and Trump and expressed doubt that the two will meet during the September 18 UN General Assembly meeting in New York City, New York. (ISNA)
August 13, 2018

IRGC official reportedly suggests IRGC involvement in al Houthi attack on Saudi oil tankers

IRGC Sarallah Operational Base Operations Deputy Brig. Gen. 2C Nasser Shabani reportedly boasted on August 7 that the IRGC instructed Yemeni al Houthi forces to conduct the July 25 attack on two Saudi oil tankers near the Bab al Mandab Strait. Fars News Agency reported that Shabani stated that “we told the Yemenis to strike the two Saudi tankers and they did.” Fars News Agency later removed Shabani’s quote from the article. IRGC spokesperson Brig. Gen. 2C Ramazan Sharif stated that the media misquoted Shabani. It is unclear whether Shabani is privy to information on Iranian-al Houthi coordination to conduct the attack or if he was making an extravagant claim. IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani warned that the “Red Sea is no longer safe for U.S. presence” during a speech on July 26. (BBC Persian) (Twitter) (Mashregh News)

August 13, 2018

North Korean foreign minister pays official visit to Tehran

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho traveled to Tehran on August 7 on an official visit and discussed mutual ties in separate meetings with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Yong Ho presented a report to Rouhani and other Iranian officials reviewing North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump’s high-profile summit on June 12. Yong Ho invited Larijani to pay an official visit to North Korea during their meeting. (President.ir) (IRIB News) (Defa Press)

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/film

2. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/105536

3. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/97051909929/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%B1-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%BE-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%88%DB%8C%D9%88%D8%B1%DA%A9-%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B4%DB%8C%D9%85-%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C

Citations & Links

1. BBC Persian
http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-features-45106676?ocid=socialflow_twitter

2. Twitter
https://twitter.com/RZimmt/status/1026786819663376384

3. Mashregh News
https://www.mashreghnews.ir/news/882012/%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84-%D8%B4%D8%AF

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/105577

2. IRIB Press
http://www.iribnews.ir/fa/news/2197062/%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%87-%D8%B4%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86

3. Defa Press
http://defapress.ir/fa/news/303375/%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%87%DB%8C%DA%86%E2%80%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B0%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D9%86%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%DA%A9%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF

Domestic Politics
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August 13, 2018

Parliament impeaches Rabiei over poor economic conditions

One hundred twenty-nine parliamentarians voted to successfully impeach Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare Minister Ali Rabiei over grievances related to poor economic conditions. Parliamentarians raised issues over high-levels of youth unemployment, the social security system, and unfinished-state projects. Rouhani appointed Deputy Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare Minister Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpei to serve as interim minister on August 11 following Rabiei’s impeachment. Bandpei also previously served as a reformist parliamentarian. Hardline Parliament Leadership Board member Akbar Ranjbar Zadeh stated that weak cabinet members should not remain in the government following Rabiei’s impeachment. (IRIB News) (Fars News Agency) (President.ir)

August 13, 2018

Araghchi’s nephew arrested on corruption charges

Judiciary spokesperson and hardliner Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei announced that security forces arrested Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Foreign Exchange Affairs Deputy Ahmad Araghchi along with four other unidentified individuals on corruption charges. Ahmad Araghchi is the nephew of Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi. Ejei also announced the arrest of four senior Industry, Mines, and Trade Ministry managers on July 24 for corruption. These arrests follow several calls from Assembly of Experts head Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati for the Judiciary to crackdown on “economic corruption.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei noted that “punishment for economic corrupters need to be done with justice and quickly” on August 11. (IRNA) (IRNA) (President.ir) (ISNA)

August 13, 2018

Ahmadinejad calls for resignations of Rouhani, Ali Larijani, and Amoli Larijani

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, and Judiciary head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani to resign from office on August 9. Ahmadinejad criticized Rouhani for Iran’s economic problems. Ahmadinejad has used political crises in the past to levy attacks against senior regime officials, including President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reformist Parliamentarian Mohammad Ali Vakili responded to Ahmadinejad’s call for Rouhani to step down by stating that “if Rouhani has to go... then [Ahmadinejad] has to be executed!” (Telegram) (Ebtekar News)

Citations & Links

1. IRIB News
http://www.iribnews.ir/fa/news/2197380/%D8%A8%D8%A7-%DB%B1%DB%B2%DB%B9-%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%DB%8C%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%B1%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%B9%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A2%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF

2. Fars News Agency
https://www.farsnews.com/news/13970517000444/%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B6%D8%B9%DB%8C%D9%81-%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%82%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AC%D8%A8-%D8%AA%D8%B6%D8%B9%DB%8C%D9%81-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%85%DB%8C

3. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/105610

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82992269

2. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82991117

3. Presideent.ir
http://president.ir/fa/105517

4. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/97052010719/%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D9%81%D8%B3%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B9-%D9%88-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85

Citations & Links

1. Telegram
https://t.me/dr_ahmadinejad/4350

2. Ebtekar News
http://ebtekarnews.com/index.php?newsid=116658

Economy
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August 13, 2018

CBI head Hemmati announces new economic policies

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) head Abdol Nasser Hemmati announced several new economic policies aimed at easing Iranians’ economic hardships in a televised interview on August 6. Hemmati said that the regime had lifted restrictions limiting the amount of foreign currency and gold that could be imported and ended a ban on currency trading. Hemmati also announced that medicine, food, and other essential goods would be held to the government’s official exchange rate. The Iranian rial experienced a mild increase in value following the new CBI’s new policies, one-day before the U.S. reimposed financial and currency-related sanctions against Iran on August 7. (New York Times) (E) (Mehr News Agency)

Citations & Links

1. New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/world/middleeast/iran-us-sanctions.html

2. Mehr News Agency
https://www.mehrnews.com/news/4366697/%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%BA%DB%8C%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF%DB%8C%D9%86%DB%B9%DB%B8

TIMELINE
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