No change after over a year

nothing has changed

Rouhani was elected on a ticket for change – a change which was desperately needed by the Iranians after decades of the regime thumbing its nose at the world and believing it could get away with anything.

Rouhani promised to stand for the rights of the people and spoke about basic freedoms which had the voters running to the ballots. Those same voters are probably sorely disapointed today because the state of human rights in Iran has barely changed, and if it has changed at all,it is for the worse.

Rouhani may have changed the rhetoric of the regime and has convinced part of the world leadership that the change is not only rhetoric thin but the reports are far from moderate.

If you are not sure and have 3:27 minutes, you should watch this video which highlights the significant gaps between the rhetoric and reality of Rouhani.

Or if you would rather read, take some time off to read this article which shows that there is “massive repression” under Rouhani’s rule. With an unexpected surge in the number of executions, it’s not a surprise that the UN has condemned Iran with another scathing report, as it did in the pre-Rouhani days for the dismal state of human rights in Iran.

And how does Rouhani answer to these accusations? He either keeps quiet about it if he can and if he is trapped into answering a direct question, such as regarding the 91 lashes to be given to the “Happy in Iran” video dancers, he manages time and time again to dodge the question – “I’m not certain what this thing you’re referring to was, how many people danced.”

It’s time for Rouhani to decide: is he to fulfill his election promises or not? If he is, great. If he isn’t the P5+1 negotiators should decide if this is the man we want to make peace with.

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Rouhani under Pressure from Economy

rouhani_money_2 Iran’s economy is going schizophrenic: on the one hand, sanctions are loosened and energy deals are booming and on the other hand the average Iranians are suffering. Where’s all the money going? The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the winds of over Tehran.

 

 

Business is Booming

As sanctions loosen up, Iran is riding a tidal wave of new business ventures with its neighbors to capitalize on its vast energy resources: While China is planning to reach a $200 billion a year trade with Iran within 10 year, Russia is ready to ink a$20 billion oil-for-goods deal. Other countries in the region and in Europe are following suit and have sent trade money-laden delegations to Tehran. In order to accommodate for the boom in business, Iran has launched a huge floating gas export terminal and is getting ready to lay pipelines to its regional neighbors. The $7 billion sanction relief under the nuclear agreement and approximately $100 billion relief once all sanctions are lifted should place Iran’s economy in great shape. The IMF has gone as far as to state that a final  nuclear deal would cause Iran’s economy to “soar“. In fact, Tehran’s stock market has risen steadily since Rouhani’s presidency up until about a month ago when the reality of the economic situation finally sank in.

 

But Money is Scarce

As the Norouz festivities came and went, dark clouds of pessimism remained over most Iranian families: sharp price hikes in commodities (24% electricity, 20% gas, 20% water, 50% petrol…), increased taxes, cuts in subsidies and skyrocketing interest rates have contributed to an alarming decrease in the purchasing power. At a rate of 40% inflation and 12.6% unemployment, salaries are being increased by less than 20% – in fact the real wages are less than 65% of what they were 2 decades ago. Iran’s vice president reported that 43% of 850,000 industrial units remain closed due to “the weakness of the economy” while in a recent poll, only 20% of the companies actually planned to increase wages meaning that the situation is going from bad to worse. As fishmonger Shahin Anbarani’s in Tehran simply put it – “People don’t have any money“. Rouhani’s big middle class support might be disillusioned by the fact that the economic turnaround he promised did not materialize but, to be honest, Rouhani’s promises might be hard to keep after decades of mismanagement. The massive surge in privatization in Ahmadinejad’s presidency was funneled  to key regime players in the IRGC whose extent in the Iranian economy is conservatively estimated at 1/3 of the GDP. Khamenei who acknowledged that the earlier privatization efforts were not beneficial and is betting on the “Year of Economy and Culture with National Determination and Jihadi Management” will have to find the golden path between his hardliner stronghold in the IRGC and Rouhani’s popular promises for change. And politics are not the only problem – warnings of a looming drought have led to water shutdowns which seem to be on the increase.

 

Some (Not Enough) Shifts in Priorities

Rouhani’s greatest challenge is prioritizing and those left out are losing heavily: Hezbollah, long supported by Tehran, is spiraling into an economic crisis of its own due to cutbacks from Tehran, the raging war in Syria and an increase in sanctions on other contributors.

Having said that, money is still being channeled out of Iran: Tehran has invested too much in Assad to back down now and is still supporting him financially and militarily adding 30,000 tons in aid to a $3.6 billion line of credit.

And although Iran should be saving quite a bit of money by downsizing its nuclear program under the nuclear deal, the fact is that contrary to the Western negotiators’ beliefs, there have not been any serious cut backs in the program. And if it is up to Khamenei, which it is, there won’t be any cutbacks in the future either.

If Rouhani wants to bring about the economic turnaround he envisioned, he will have to fight Khamenei and the IRGC chiefs to really change priorities. Unfortunately, his support outside of Iran as a moderate has placed him at odds with the IRGC hardliners so that leaves him with only one valid option: convince the Supreme Leader to change priorities.

Tehran Smiles And Scowls to Power

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The Scowl Behind the Smile

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, tweeted a series of tweets last week revealing his sentiments toward the nuclear deal with the West  including this: “By the grace of God, the objectives of the US and global arrogant powers against the IRI will face failure sooner or later”.

This candid glimpse at the top of the regime’s food chain, makes us ask a very important questions regarding Iran’s true intentions. Or, to state it more clearly, what does Iran wants from the talks?

What does Tehran want? Basically, power.

  1. Money = Power: After decades of sanctions lead and implemented by the “arrogant powers”, Iran needs money and cooperating on a nuclear deal seems to be the only way to do so. Even if the sanctions are still in effect, President Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policy and smile diplomacy have led to a long line up of trade delegations and deals that have boosted the economy and justified Rouhani’s  election promises. There are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake here and Rouhani knows it – Iran, without sanctions, can perhaps achieve his wish to become one of the top ten economies in the world.
  2. Friends = Power: After decades of sanctions, Iran found itself politically isolated with only a handful of allies. The inner circle of allies included Syria and Lebanon while an outer circle included mostly NAM countries which were allied through a common animosity to a mutual enemy – the “arrogant powers” of the “West”. Since introducing the smile diplomacy, Tehran’s list of friends gets longer daily, friends who will be expected to support Tehran if and when the nuclear deal falls apart.
  3. Influence = Power:  After decades of limited influence on its neighbors (apart from Syria and Lebanon) Tehran wants to be taken seriously as an important country and a force to be reckoned with in its region and the world. More specifically, Tehran, and specially Khamenei himself, wants to export the Islamic revolution with Iran at its head and introduce a “century of Islam” that will put an end to the rule of the “arrogant powers”.

 

What is Tehran giving up? Nothing…

In order to achieve the power of money, friends and influence, Tehran will have to give up on absolutely nothing apart from trading scowls for smiles. Tehran’s understanding of the nuclear deal is that its program will continue “as-is”, keeping them a mere six months away from reaching break-out point when it chooses to do so. In the meantime, by the simple fact that the Iranian negotiation teams approach the talks with smiles, they have increased their power enormously.

Yes, Rouhani’s smile diplomacy has proven to be effective. But it should be worthwhile for all of Iran’s new business partners, friends and neighbors, as well as the “arrogant powers”, to listen in on Khamenei once in a while in order to understand that Rouhani’s smile diplomacy does not fit the Supreme Leader well.

IRGC Controls Conventional and Unconventional Military

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The Muscle Behind the Supreme Leader

The IRGC’s military power is the muscle that Khamenei depends upon in order to preserve his regime and export the Islamic Republic’s revolution.

The use of military force within Iran by the IRGC is focused on muting the voices of dissenters and critics of the regime – whether through arrests, torture or hanging – and focused on developing and maintaining the required military assets necessary to defend Iran or to attack its enemies.

Iranian leaders usually stress that their military might is meant only to defend Iran but in reality, the IRGC in particular devotes significant resources to offensive capabilities in the form of support for subversion and terrorism. An editorial published by the IRGC itself provides some insight as to  reason why such activity is a key factor for Iran: “In order to achieve ideological, political, security and economic self-reliance we have no other choice but to mobilize all forces loyal to the Islamic Revolution, and through this mobilization, plant such a terror in the hearts of the enemies that they abandon the thought of an offensive and annihilation of our revolution…. If our revolution does not have an offensive and internationalist dimension, the enemies of Islam will again enslave us culturally, politically, and the like, and they will not abstain from plunder and looting.

Global Terrorism as a Strategy

This “mobilization” includes a vast network of proxy fighters such as the Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas organizations as well as a network of terrorist cells across the globe which the IRGC supports or is actively involved in directly or through its elite Al Quds division. In some cases, such as in Syria, the IRGC does not even try to hide its involvement: “We have extended our security borders to the East Mediterranean” – Deputy Commander (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami.

In most cases, the IRGC’s operations are covert and include espionage and terrorism. In activities of this nature, the IRGC tries to not be directly involved and relies either on its elite Al Quds division or on proxy terrorist, and in some cases, even Iranian diplomats.

The fact that many Iranian diplomats are in fact ex-IRGC operatives creates, once again, a very fluid structure within which the IRGC operates:

“80 percent of the staff working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are directly linked to the Revolutionary Guard and are not linked to the (foreign) ministry itself. Thus, the head of the diplomatic mission has no control over them”.

The IRGC controls the agenda, the budget, the proxy fighters and the diplomats in terrorist activities outside of Iran. Obviously, most of these activities are concealed and the links that do surface between terrorist activities and the IRGC are not in the open.

Still, enough links have been exposed to lead countries to call for the IRGC to be listed as a terrorist entity – as well as to sanction IRGC officers such as Gen. Hosein Salimi (Commander, IRGC Air Force), Gen. Mohammad Baqr Zolqadr (IRGC officer serving as deputy Interior Minister), Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani (Qods Force commander), Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi (IRGC ground forces commander), Brig. Gen. Morteza Reza’i (Deputy commander-in-chief, IRGC), Vice Admiral Ali Akbar Ahmadiyan (chief of IRGC Joint Staff) , too name a few.

The IRGC without Khamenei?

It is hard to imagine another organization with so much power, in so many fields in one country. But then, most countries do not have a Supreme Leader either. Both Khamenei and the IRGC are intent on protecting the regime and their futures and both are able to do so quite freely because Khamenei is above the law and he has brought the IRGC above the law with him.

Rouhani’s ticket to the presidency was one of change. A change in the handling of the confrontation with the UN over the Nuclear program and thus, a change in the economic situation in Iran. He can easily change the tone and style of Iran’s foreign policy but it is doubtful that he can change its content – in other words, as long as the IRGC and Khamenei are in charge, he can change the talk but not the walk.

This cycle of power seems impossible to breakthrough as long as Khamenei is in power. If and when Khamenei passes away, the IRGC will find itself under the “protection” of another Supreme Leader. Will Khamenei’s heir accept the IRGC’s powerbase as his own and accept them as his partners? Will they accept him? And what will happen if Khamenei’s heir wants to change the status quo? How will the IRGC react to a threat to its control? Will the enemies of the IRGC try to seize this opportunity for change?

In any case, the IRGC is inherently connected to Khamenei and according to an IRGC-related site, its purpose is to serve the Islamic system and not the current administration.

These questions are probably being asked by IRGC leaders as well as their enemies at this very moment. They should be asked by the Western powers as well because such a power struggle is bound to affect the rest of the world if and when Iran reaches nuclear break-out.

Relevant posts:

IRGC Controls Legitimate & Illegitimate Economy

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Update from November 12th: 

Reuters investigates Khamenei’s economic empire worth at least $92 Billion.

 

Original Post

The IRGC gets Richer by the Day

The exact amount of money controlled by the IRGC will never be known by the outside world, since the IRGC’s empire is very diversified and includes both legitimate businesses as well illegitimate deals, black-market activities and smuggling.

And yet, enough is known to understand that the IRGC is probably the most influential economic enterprise in Iran – controlling approximately $80 Billion, half of Iran’s imports and one-third of the country’s non-oil exports, an estimated 11 thousand projects and 40% of the economy , generating an annual revenue of at least $12 Billion a year.

The IRGC’s political ties to the regime and to the Majlis (parliament), together with its high security credentials, allow it take control of businesses without tenders, without legal supervision and, in some cases, even with huge tax-breaks.

Huge Corporations with Huge Influence

One example: Khatam al-Anbiya, the IRGC’s powerhouse construction company, controls over 812 registered companies inside or outside Iran, and (is) the recipient of 1,700 government contracts ,including numerous tunneling projects, nuclear/missile activities, gas and oil pipelines, and the international airport. Most of these projects were handed to the IRGC without tender or competition.

IRGC Major General Rostam Qassemi, who just happens to be oil minister, makes it quite clear what the IRGC’s goal and future should be: This base (Khatam al-Anbiya) should become the replacement for big foreign companies. In fact, since taking over as oil minister, the IRGC was awarded, again without tender, numerous projects in the energy market including a “$2.5bn contract to build infrastructure in the South Pars oil field” and “a $1.3bn contract to build a natural gas pipeline running nearly 560 miles from Bushehr province to Sistan-Baluchestan“.

IRGC Gets Richer as Iranians Get Poorer

Not content with controlling the businesses themselves, the IRGC is now poised to take over the management of the Central Bank of Iran: “The CBI and IRGC (are) to prepare an urgent plan for an orderly transfer of responsibility for running the entire banking system to the IRGC.”

Perhaps when that happens, the IRGC won’t have to deal in smuggling gold from Turkey, through Dubai, successfully profiting from and circumventing the effects of the UN-backed sanctions on the economy.

Paradoxically, the IRGC profited enormously from the sanctions, which eliminated foreign competition and increased profitability from smuggling.

The IRGC’s (not so) Secret Partner

A closer look at the IRGC’s partners in businesses it bought or manages shines a bright light on the shady connections of the IRGC with the pinnacle of power in Iran – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei controls numerous foundations such as the Imam Khomeini Foundation, Mostazafan Foundation, Abdolazim Shrine, and and Astan Qodsmanages. These foundations are directly appointed by the Supreme Leader and therefore, they do not pay taxes, and they cannot be audited by the parliament or by the judiciary system. Apart from huge assets in real estate ($45 Billion back in 2008), the Imam Khomeini Foundation is also a partner in Iran’s Telecommunication Company together with the IRGC and other profitable businesses in the energy markets, food and mining and much more.

The tie between Khamenei, the IRGC and Iran’s assets is no trivial matter. To quote Meir Javedanfar – “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the regime’s supreme investment manager” and “Khamenei’s shareholders consist mainly of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Principalists“.

Khamenei and his IRGC partners not only have complete control over where Iran’s money will be invested, they also profit from the businesses that own and manage these projects.

The next post will focus on the IRGC’s control military activities in and outside Iran.

Relevant posts:

IRGC controls national & foreign policy

IRGC controls politics & politicians

IRGC Controls Iran

How Moderate is Rouhani’s Cabinet?

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The Current Power Base in Tehran

Over the past two weeks we began publishing a series of articles regarding the three pronged sources of power and control in Iran: Supreme Leader Khamenei, President Rouhani or the Iranian Guards Revolutionary Corps (IRGC), currently led by Mohammad Jafari. Although Jafari himself is still not a visible power player, the IRGC definitely is. The IRGC, “the principal defender of the Islamic Revolution“, has a disproportionate  amount of control on Iran’s politicspolicies and economy (next post in the series) – control that resembles the KGB at its hiatus and is strengthened by Khamenei at the expense of the clerics since he took office. In fact, half the cabinet members of former president Ahmadinejad were current/former IRGC officials as was Ahmadinejad himself.

Rouhani’s Moderate” Cabinet

Last week, Rouhani chose his cabinet members and reduced the number of posts of IRGC members – while introducing “technocrats and economic planners” in their stead. This choice led to speculations, once again, that Rouhani is promoting a moderate version of Iran in the hopes of rapprochement with the West. Unfortunately, much as with Rouhani himself, Tehran’s definition of moderate is not easy to pin down.

His defense minister, Brig. Gen. Hossein Dheghan, is a top IRGC commander as is Hamid Chitchian, the future minister of energy – a key role in Tehran’s government.  Rouhani did reduce the number of IRGC officials in his cabinet and yes, some of his cabinet members seem to have been chosen for their abilities and not for their political ties to current controlling factors. And yet, some of his cabinet members are far from moderate:

The Future According to the Past

But perhaps more importantly, no one, inside or outside of Tehran, knows how the IRGC, and Khamenei himself, will react over time to this Rouhani’s “moderation” strategy.

Rouhani may have reduced the IRGC’s direct influence in his cabinet but the IRGC’s base of power includes Khamenei himself and as long as Rouhani’s moderation does not hamper the IRGC’s hold on Iran’s economy, it may be business as usual for the IRGC.

If and when that line is crossed, Rouhani, and the West, should remember what happened to former President Khatami who was deemed as too liberal by Khamenei and soon found himself ousted in favor of Ahmadinejad.

Earlier articles on the IRGC:

IRGC’s Controls on National & Foreign Policy

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Supporting and Exporting the Revolution

The IRGC is active on the national front mainly in upholding and protecting the Islamic Republic system and the ideal of the Iranian-inspired Islamic revolution.

But that protection is not limited to the borders of Iran. In the May-June issue of its official newsletter, “Message of the Revolution”, the IRGC presents its version of “important issues in evaluating presidential candidates“. This includes “preserving the principles of the revolution and the ideals of the Imam [Khomeini] and Leadership [of Khamenei], specifically in the dimension of foreign policy” – including “the essential conflict between the Islamic Revolution and Global Arrogance” and, of course, wiping out the “Zionist regime”.

The IRGC and the Nuclear Program

Iran’s nuclear program is important to the IRGC on three levels: militarily, financially and in the context of foreign policy. Since the beginning of the nuclear crisis, the IRGC strategy regarding the way to handle the nuclear issue is much less blunt than Rouhani’s: No Deal.

The nuclear program is theoretically governed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), but “in reality, however, from strategic conception to production and management, the IRGC supervise the program under the authority of the Supreme Leader.

Two recent statements by IRGC high ranking officers on the nuclear program that are worth noting:

While “Brigadier General Gholam Reza Mehrabi vigorously defended Iran’s nuclear program and rejected the notion that Tehran should negotiate with the U.S. on this issue“, Deputy Commander Brigadier General Salami stated the method and the goal: “The P5+1 formula is no longer able to prevent the Iranian nation from taking steps in nuclear technology. We are at the apex of our power today and taking last steps towards victory, and this is the final obstacle.”

The next post will focus on the IRGC’s control over economy activities inside and outside Iran.

earlier posts on IRGC:

https://iran2407.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/who-really-controls-iran/

https://iran2407.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/irgcs-controls-over-politics-politicians-2/

IRGC’s Controls Over Politics & Politicians

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Scratch my back…

At its inception, and at Khomeini’s insistence, the IRGC was barred from the realm of politics and was meant to be a unifying organization for the good of the Iranian nation.

Having said that, as the Supreme Leader, Khamenei exercises the right to suggest, promote, endorse, place or bar candidates for jobs on many levels. One would think that as a cleric, Khamenei would favor clerics in key jobs – but Khamenei does not forget that his appointment to Supreme Leader was wholeheartedly supported by the IRGC, not by Iran’s clerics.

On taking office in 1989, Khamenei began by integrating IRGC officials into Iran’s economy – subsequently opening the doors to the political arena as well. He needed to surround himself with people whose goals were to protect his regime, making a point of placing IRGC-endorsed officers in strategic jobs: The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation (Ezzatollah Zarghami), the Supreme National Security Council (Saeed Jalili), and the Expediency Council (Mohsen Rezaei) to name a few. Within three decades, thousands of IRGC officers found their way into parliament, local government, the foreign office and more.


 

IRGC overtakes Clerics

By the time Ahmadinejad – himself a former IRGC officer – took office as president, the IRGC had become firmly entrenched in parliament and government: one third of Iran’s parliament and “half of the cabinet members…were members of the IRGC.” By 2011, on the eve of the appointment of Major General Rostam Qassemi as oil minister in his cabinet, the ratio of IRGC members had reached two thirds.

Conversely, the percentage of clerics in Iran’s parliament dropped from 50% in the 1980’s to 25% in the 1990’s to less than 10% today.

The case of Qassemi’s appointment deserves a closer look. Not only did it give the IRGC control over a lot more money, and power to make more money; Qassemi even “conditioned his acceptance of the cabinet position on a “purge of the forces close to the current of deviation…from the oil industry.” – “forces” close to Ahmadinejad himself – implying that Qassemi’s appointment was forced on him as president by Khamenei himself.

The resulting 216 out of 246 votes for the appointment could also be credited to the strength of Khamenei and the IRGC at the time, despite moderate conservative Ali Mottahari’s lone public objection: “The IRGC as a military force should not be connected with the political and economic power. In other words, the IRGC should not be [a part of the] cabinet.”

From Politics to Policies

It is through these appointments that the IRGC has muscled its way into politics and, more importantly, gotten its hands onto the resources of Iran – money that helps finance IRGC activities on a national and International level.

The next post will focus on the IRGC’s control of national and foreign policy in Iran.

Earlier post on IRGC:

https://iran2407.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/who-really-controls-iran/)

Rouhani’s Promised Change Is Relative

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Promises of Change

Rouhani’s ticket was based on one word: change.

Now elected, the question is: will he change the budgetary priorities – the nuclear program, violent proxy groups and Bashar Assad – set by Khamenei?

His voters found in him a man who understood that the Iranian people do not have to carry the burden of a mismanaged foreign policy headed by stubborn hardliners who found pride in thumbing their noses at “the West”.

Rouhani promises “reconciliation and peace” but more importantly he promises “good international interactions to gradually reduce the sanctions and finally remove them.”

His main priority right now is to change the whole tone at the negotiating table in order to alleviate sanctions. With titles such as “liberal”, “moderate cleric” and “top nuclear negotiator”, he seems to be the right man for the job.

Rouhani’s talk appeals to Iranians as well as “the West” but it remains to be seen if he can – or even wants – to walk the talk on a nuclear tightrope held by Supreme Leader Khamenei. In other words, Rouhani has to kill the sanctions AND keep Khamenei’s nuclear ambitions alive.

How Much Will Change?

To be sure, after years of stale dealings with Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and Jalili, who, in Rouhani’s words “brought sanctions to the country…Yet, they are proud of it“,  western negotiators will find in Rouhani a breath of fresh air. He is sure to change at least the tone of Tehran’s foreign policy. This will probably mean that there will be less fiery rhetoric against the West at future P5+1 meetings.

But…although Rouhani can change the tone of foreign policy, nuclear policy is dictated by only one man in Tehran – Khamenei – and as long as Khamenei is in power, the nuclear program will stay on track. Furthermore, Rouhani is not anti-nuclear by any means – as can be judged by his answer to allegations that he had halted the nuclear program on his watch “It’s good if you study history…We suspended it? We mastered the (nuclear) technology!”.

Khamenei, who over the last few years catapulted himself to the front-stage may take a tactical step back and allow Rouhani the necessary space he needs to bring about the promised change in atmosphere. In fact, Khamenei may have found in Rouhani a way out from his predicament of being to hardline for the West as well as Iranians.

Changing the Tune, not the Lyrics

Yes, Rouhani will bring with him a marked change to how Iran is perceived and accepted by the West and hopefully for him and the Iranian people, he will be able to alleviate sanctions.

Khamenei, the IRGC and the whole structure of government in Tehran are bound to free the reigns a bit and give Rouhani some leeway. In fact the ”IRGC says its ready to cooperate w/Rowhani. IMO only until he has helped end sanctions & restored their businesses“. What happens after he successfully achieves that is left unsaid.

Rouhani is quoted to have said “It is good to have centrifuges running, provided people’s lives & livelihoods are also running“. So he clearly wants the centrifuges, but also wants the people to live better. In other words, unlike way back in Pakistan, Rouhani does not believe the people should “eat grass” for the sake of the nuclear program, but that a way needs to be found for Iran to have its proverbial cake and eat it too.

At the end of the day, Rouhani’s drive for change is focused mainly on the way the nuclear issue was handled by his compatriots but not on the aspirations themselves. His job now is to allow Khamanei to continue with budgetary priorities which favor the nuclear program, support for violent proxy groups and Bashar Assad. And these are priorities which Rouhani, as a longstanding member of Iran’s National Security Council, is extremely familiar with.

Update from June 17th Press Conference

In Rouhani’s first official press conference, hopes for change are mixed with “more of the same” rhetoric.

  • Yes, there will be “greater transparency” BUT this is only because “Our nuclear programmes are completely transparent” – some IAEA and the P5+1 negotiators would beg to differ.
  • Just in case there was any misunderstanding, Iran’s “nuclear activities are legal” BUT enrichment will continue. Meanwhile, AEOI Director Fereydoun Abbasi stated today that Tehran has “No plan for enriched uranium beyond 20%” – disregarding the fact that enrichment up to 20% was one of the reasons for the nuclear debacle.
  • And as to the sanctions themselves – “The sanctions are unfair…illegal and only benefit Israel.”