Brief on Iran

Brief On Iran (BOI) Newsletter, September 14, 2015

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Brief On Iran – Newsletter
September 14, 2015
  Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)

  OIAC
  
OIAC-09/10/2015: The main Iranian opposition and human rights organizations warn of the imminent execution of 13 Iranian prisoners who had been moved into solitary confinement to await their deaths by hanging. The following day it was reported that 10 of these individuals had already been killed en masse in Ghezel Hesar prison.
Two of the other death row inmates are housed in another prison. It is unclear whether or not the 11th from Ghezel Hesar is Mahmoud Barati, a schoolteacher who was the subject of an Amnesty International call to action on Monday.
Amnesty emphasized that Barati is the victim of the Iranian judiciary’s mandatory death sentence for various drug-related crimes, which do not meet international law standards for capital punishment. In part because of these mandatory sentences, Iran has executed more than 700 people so far in 2015.
   The Hill
  Mark P. Logan, Dokhi Fassihian
  
Now that Congress has cleared the way for the Iranian nuclear deal to go forward, the United States should work with other democracies to tackle a second critical issue that remains central to all other concerns about Iran: the country’s appalling human rights record.
Despite hopes that respect for fundamental rights might improve under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the regime has only deepened its repression. Authorities continue to arrest critics of the government, and maltreatment of minorities and women remains pervasive. Iran’s hardliners have pushed through a law that denies access to justice to would-be political opponents. 

Despite repeated calls by the UN for a moratorium on executions, the judiciary has hanged 1,900 people and expanded the use of capital punishment for “national security” crimes since Rouhani took office. There should be no illusions about the regime’s intentions even as sanctions are lifted and Western business returns to Iran.

   Amnesty International
  
 The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution of Mahmoud Barati, a teacher who was convicted of drug-related offences following an unfair trial that is believed to have included a confession obtained through torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said.

According to contacts in Ghezel Hesar prison, Mahmoud Barati has been transferred to solitary confinement and is scheduled to be executed at dawn tomorrow morning (8 September 2015).
“Mahmoud Barati’s execution must immediately be halted. International law does not allow for the use of death penalty for drug-related offences. The Iranian authorities must immediately quash his death sentence,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
   Iran Human Rights
   
Without adequate laws protecting workers’ safety or independent labor groups able to organize and advocate effectively for workers’ rights, workplace deaths in Iran have risen to alarming numbers.
More than 650 people have died and 10,109 others were injured at the workplace in Iran in just the four-month period from March 21 to July 22 in 2015, according to the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (ILMO).
“The numbers could be much worse. Many workers do not report their injuries to medical centers out of fear of losing their jobs and many work-related accidents do not get reported,” labor activist Mehdi Kouhestani-Nejad commented to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “We do not have mandatory safety training regulations. In other countries, safety comes first,” he added.
According to official statistics gathered in a report by the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), the number one cause of death at the workplace over this period was falls from high places (45.6 percent), followed by blows from strong objects (22.1 percent), and electrocution (15.1 percent).
  Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle East)
OIACUS, Washington,DC – Today, we observe the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack against the United States. While international community is still engaged in a concerted effort to curb international terrorism, Iran continues to send billions of dollars to fill the pockets of terrorist fighters across the Middle East, including in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, The Washington Times reported on Saturday citing the U.S. Congressional Research Service report conducted at the request of Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk.
According to the report, Iran’s defense budget ranges anywhere between $14 billion to $30 billion a year and much of that money goes to fund terrorist groups and rebel fighters throughout the region. 
The report discloses that funding for these terrorist groups could be much higher than originally estimated, as Iran often hides public records about its defense spending.
LA Times
Paul Richter, Patrick McDonnell, Ramin Mostaghim
Even as the White House celebrates a victory over Republican-led efforts to block the nuclear deal with Iran, concern persists over possible opposition from a different source: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It has been assumed in Western capitals, and in Tehran, that the deal to curb the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief would never been have sealed on July 14 without the blessing of Iran’s top official.
 
But in recent weeks, Khamenei has subtly distanced himself from the accord, sending signals that he is not happy with some aspects. Although there are competing explanations for why that may be, his moves and comments are nevertheless causing anxiety about the agreement’s long-term durability.
 
Amid promises from Iran of a peace plan for Syria, lets get one thing straight: The Islamic Republic is not negotiating over its key interests in Syria, but advancing them more directly, and possibly with less concern for Bashar al-Assad’s fate. Furthermore, Assad’s woes are not pressuring Iran to negotiate, but embedding it more deeply in Syria. Rather than bring peace, this will probably worsen the war’s sectarian character, strengthen jihadist groups, and make a lasting settlement less likely than ever.

All this is on full display in the city of Zabadani.
Zabadani lies some 17 miles northwest of Damascus, astride a key Hezbollah supply line and near core Hezbollah territory in Lebanon. This makes the city critical for both the militia and Iran. In early July, Hezbollah and regime forces began an offensive to take Zabadani, besieging rebel forces there. Syrian rebels responded by encircling thousands of pro-regime and Hezbollah forces in Fu’a and Kefraya, northern Syria, using this as leverage to force a ceasefire in Zabadani. Sporadic fighting continues and the city’s fate remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that Iran’s handling of the Zabadani crisis indicates a shift in its Syria strategy, in which it either negotiates on behalf of or ignores Assad and his inner circle, securing its interests directly rather than by proxy.
 
Iran has been sending billions of dollars to fill the pockets of terrorist fighters across the Middle East, including in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, according to a private U.S. government report ordered bySen. Mark Kirk
Iran‘s defense budget ranges anywhere between $14 billion to $30 billion a year and much of that money goes to fund terrorist groups and rebel fighters throughout the region, according to the Congressional Research Service report conducted at the request of Mr. Kirk, an Illinois Republican. 
 Iran- Nuclear Activities

  
Iran has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Saturday.
The comments cast doubt on previous assessments from some Western analysts who said the country had a low supply and sooner or later would need to import uranium, the raw material needed for its nuclear program.
Any indication Iran could become more self-sufficient will be closely watched by world powers, which reached a landmark deal with Tehran in July over its program. They had feared the nuclear activities were aimed at acquiring the capability to produce atomic weapons – something denied by Tehran.
  
The leader of Iran’s legislature has definite views on his country’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Ali Larijani says the agreement is good enough. He adds that United States’ reading of that deal, particularly when it comes to sanctions, is not good at all. And he’s hoping that the agreement brings change in his country – though not as much as many Iranians would want.
The lawmaker expressed those views to NPR during a visit to New York. While he is not one of the clerics who hold ultimate power in Iran, he is a consummate insider. He was a top national security official before his election to parliament. His brother leads the judiciary, and the family has important business interests. He is considered a true conservative in his country, and his views open a window into Iran’s complex governing elite.
 
  The Washington Post
  Mike Pompeo and David B. Rivkin Jr.
  
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which requires the president to submit to Congress the nuclear agreement reached with Iran, represents an exceptional bipartisan congressional accommodation. Instead of submitting an agreement through the constitutionally proper mechanism – as a treaty requiring approval by a two-thirds majority in the Senate – the act enables President Obama to go forward with the deal unless Congress disapproves it by a veto-proof margin. Unfortunately, the president has not complied with the act, jeopardizing his ability to implement the agreement.

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