IranSource | Understanding and Analyzing a Multifaceted Iran

The new round of US sanctions against Iran has put neighboring Iraq in a tough position. 

Baghdad heavily relies on Iranian electricity and natural gas imports to meet its energy needs. A forty-five-day sanctions waiver granted to Iraq by the Trump administration in early November is set to expire this week.

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As the United States increases its pressure campaign against Iran, the country’s missile program has emerged as a major source of contention. However, Iran is unlikely to heed US demands to halt its development of ballistic missiles, which comprise the backbone of its defense doctrine. 

In order to better analyze Iran’s defense strategies, it is important to note that for Iran, the line between security concerns and national pride is blurred. Iran’s traumatic historical experiences play a critical role in shaping its approach to defense and in particular, to missiles.  

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Ali Hosseini is a 26-year-old with a normal nine-to-five job in Tehran. He has a bachelor’s degree in information technology and mostly works in social media and public relations. Two months ago, he bought a Bitcoin mining device with his cousin and has been mining since.

Hosseini had no prior knowledge of blockchains and distributed ledger technologies prior to purchasing the device. Hosseini had only heard in passing about cryptocurrencies five years ago, but forgot all about them until last year when they became all the rage globally.

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History, it is said, does not repeat but it can rhyme.

An appearance by the son of the deposed Shah of Iran at a prominent Washington think tank on Dec. 14 was reminiscent in some ways of speeches by the late Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi in the run-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Reza Pahlavi, like Chalabi, insisted that the current government of his homeland is on the verge of collapse because of its destructive domestic and foreign policies. A new democratic secular Iran, Pahlavi also said, would “transform the Middle East,” including by no longer threatening Israel with destruction.

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Nonresident senior fellow Nader Uskowi talks about his new book, Temperature Rising: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Wars in the Middle East. Uskowi discusses with IranSource the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) inside Iran and the Middle East, what the West is getting wrong about the elite force, and the challenges the IRGC is facing today.

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As part of its efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, Europe is on the verge of launching a special purpose vehicle (SPV)—a payment mechanism described as “a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran.” Yet while Europeans see this mechanism as both legitimate and necessary, the SPV is regarded by the Trump administration as an attempt to evade US sanctions and is thus vulnerable to retaliation from Washington.

As Esfandyar Batmanghelidj and I argue in a new report for the European Leadership Network and Bourse & Bazaar, establishing a humanitarian SPV (H-SPV) would enable the European Union (EU) and European governments to sustain vital trade with Iran while holding the Trump administration accountable for its promises not to target the Iranian people. 

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The trade and economic partnership between Iran and Brazil has expanded in recent years and was slated to grow even further after the completion of the Iran nuclear dealin 2015. But questions are being raised about this relationship after the victory of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil is Iran’s seventh-largest trade partner and by far its most important economic interlocutor in South America. On November 15, a Brazilian vessel arrived at Chabahar, Iran’s only ocean port, carrying 72,000 tons of bulk corn from Brazil.  A year ago, a Brazilian ship, the Living, carried 66,000 tons of sugar into Chabahar.

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Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used to denigrate United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions as “worthless paper.” That is not the case anymore.

In the aftermath of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal codified by UNSC resolution 2231, Iranian diplomats are embracing this element of international legality to accuse the Trump administration of wrongdoing.

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Pirouz Hanachi was narrowly elected mayor of Tehran last month by the capital’s city council, besting former roads and urban development minister Amir-Abbas Akhoundi by one vote—eleven to ten.

Hanachi replaces Mohammad Ali Afshani as the third mayor of the capital in the council’s current term. However, the Interior Ministry delayed accepting his election and officially ratifying it. This was due to the fact that the Intelligence Ministry did not swiftly approve Hanachi’s clearance for reasons that have not been disclosed. 

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The Trump administration had major qualms with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) prompting the US withdrawal in May. These included the sunset provisions, which provide expiration dates for certain restrictions, and its narrow targeting of Iran’s nuclear program without addressing the continued enhancement of its ballistic missile arsenal, which enables the regime’s “malign activity” in the region.

Iran has in fact made advancements in the precision and strategic military value of its ballistic missile arsenal, expanding upon its use as a deterrent to include more advanced offensive capabilities that threaten foreign military infrastructure.

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