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New US Sanctions and Iran’s Response

            On August 29, the U.S. Treasury Department and State Department sanctioned more than 25 individuals, companies and banks for supporting Iran’s nuclear program, helping Iran evade sanctions or supporting terrorism. The punitive measures reflect Washington’s “determination to take action against anyone, anywhere, who violates our sanctions,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. He also emphasized that the United States will continue to enforce existing sanctions while the interim nuclear deal is in effect.
President Hassan Rouhani, however, warned that such measures “deepen distrust” between Iranians and the United States. He added that the latest sanctions are contrary to the spirit of the interim nuclear deal. And Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh vowed to circumvent the measures. The following are excerpts from press releases and remarks by American and Iranian officials. Descriptions of some of the sanctioned entities and individuals are at the bottom.

Statement by U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden
            Today we took additional steps in our effort to maintain pressure on the government of Iran. Specifically, the Departments of Treasury and State imposed sanctions on several companies and individuals engaged in activities such as assistance to Iran’s nuclear program, support for terrorism, or aiding Iran’s evasion of international sanctions. Just as we announced these measures and continue to enforce pre-existing sanctions on Iran, the United States remains committed to working with our P5+1 partners toward a long-term, comprehensive solution that provides confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Our actions today and since the start of the talks are consistent with our commitments under the Joint Plan of Action, which provided limited relief of certain sanctions in exchange for Iranians steps that halted its nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects. 
U.S. State Department Press Release
Actions Targeting Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Proliferators and Their Supporters
           As part of these combined actions, the Department of State imposed sanctions on four companies pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for engaging in or attempting to engage in activities that have materially contributed to, or posed a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of WMD or their means of delivery.  The Department of State’s designations comprise Iran-based entities engaged in efforts to support the development of nuclear weapons, or elements of Iran’s program that could be used to produce nuclear weapons.
Actions Targeting Persons Engaging with the Energy or Petrochemical Sectors of Iran
             Also today, the Department of State imposed sanctions pursuant to the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) on Goldentex FZE, a UAE-based  company involved in providing support to Iran’s shipping sector. 
            In addition, the Department of State took action to impose sanctions on Italy-based Dettin SpA pursuant to the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (ISA), as amended by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA).  According to information available to the United States, Dettin SpA knowingly providing Iran’s petrochemical industry with goods and support whose value exceeded $250,000. 
U.S. Treasury Department Press Release
  • Treasury designated four individuals and two entities pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their supporters.  Treasury also identified two aliases used by a previously sanctioned key Iranian missile proliferator.
  • Treasury designated two entities and three individuals tied to Iran’s energy industry pursuant to E.O. 13645.  Treasury also identified six vessels pursuant to this authority.      
  • Treasury designated one entity pursuant to E.O. 13622 for its provision of material support to the Central Bank of Iran in connection with the purchase or acquisition of U.S. dollar bank notes by the Government of Iran.
  • Treasury identified five Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions under E.O. 13599, which blocks the property and interests in property of the Government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions.
  • Treasury designated four entities and one individual pursuant to E.O. 13224 in connection with Iran’s support for terrorism.  Treasury also identified one alias used by an Iranian airline that was previously sanctioned under this E.O.
Iranian Reaction
President Hassan Rouhani
            “We are not afraid of sanctions. The government has handled the affairs despite sanctions. Sanction is oppression and aggression against the rights of the Iranian nation. It is our duty to put the aggressors in their place.
            “Besides, we basically believe that sanctions are illegal and wrong in essence and their form is also incorrect and unconstructive from our viewpoint. Iran continues to talk until an agreement is made… [but] if an agreement is not reached, sanctions cannot remain like before.
            “Our people distrust Americans. It would be better if Americans could do something that could help to build some trust in the future. Unfortunately, their moves only deepen distrust.
            “We hope that we will reach agreement in the continuation of the path and the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted.”
            Aug. 30, 2014 in a press conference
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh
            “The sanctions are cruel and illegal and we fulfill our duty for circumventing the sanctions. We do not recognize the sanctions.”
            Sept. 3, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
             “The Islamic Republic of Iran denounces any unilateral and biased-interpretation of the Geneva agreement by the U.S. and strongly believes that the sanctions are contrary to the country’s commitments.”
             Aug. 30, 2014 according to the press
Entities and Individuals Sanctioned by the U.S. State Department
Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research:
The Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) is a Tehran-based entity that is primarily responsible for research in the field of nuclear weapons development. SPND was established in February 2011 by the UN-sanctioned individual Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who for many years has managed activities useful in the development of a nuclear explosive device. 
Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute:
Iran’s Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute (NSTRI) implements projects in the nuclear field, specifically at Iran’s 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor at Arak (the IR-40) - a reactor that, as presently designed, would provide Iran the capability to produce plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuelthe could be used in nuclear weapons. 
Jahan Tech Rooyan Pars and Mandegar Baspar Kimiya Company:
Jahan Tech Rooyan Pars (Jahan Tech) and Mandegar Baspar Kimiya Company (Mandegar Baspar) are Iran-based entities involved in the procurement of proliferation-sensitive material, specifically carbon fiber, for proscribed elements of Iran’s nuclear program. 
Entities and Individuals Sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department
WMD-Related Actions under E.O. 13382
Mohammad Javad Imanirad and Arman Imanirad
Mohammad Javad Imanirad and Arman Imanirad are being designated for acting for or on behalf of designated Iranian company, Aluminat.  Aluminat, which was designated in May 2013 under E.O. 13382, is an Iranian entity involved in the procurement of aluminum products for Iran’s nuclear program. 
Nefertiti Shipping
Nefertiti Shipping is being designated for its ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which was designated in September 2008 for providing logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).  Nefertiti Shipping is IRISL’s agent in Egypt. 
Sazeh Morakab, Ali Gholami, Marzieh Bozorg, and New Aliases of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group
Sazeh Morakab is being designated for providing services to Shahid Hemat Industrial Group (SHIG) and Iran's Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).  Sazeh Morakab’s Managing Director, Ali Gholami, and Commercial Manager, Marzieh Bozorg, are also being designated today for acting for or on behalf of Sazeh Morakab.  As of late 2012, Sazeh Morakab held established contracts with HESA and procured composite materials on HESA's behalf.  Sazeh Morakab has also helped procure carbon fiber for SHIG.
SHIG was included in the Annex to E.O. 13382 and is tied to Iran's ballistic missile research, development and production activities.  HESA was designated in September 2008 pursuant to E.O. 13382, and conducts research on the production of, development of, and flight operations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 
SHIG continues to use cover companies to obscure its procurement-related activities including its recent acquisition of metal alloys and controllers.  Treasury today is identifying Sahand Aluminum Parts Industrial Company (SAPICO) and Ardalan Machineries Company (ARMACO) as two aliases used by this key Iranian missile proliferator.
Energy-Related Designations under E.O. 13645
Faylaca Petroleum, Abdelhak Kaddouri, Muzzafer Polat, and
Seyedeh Hanieh Seyed Nasser Mohammad Seyyedi
Faylaca Petroleum makes payments on behalf of the Iranian government’s National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).  Faylaca Petroleum and other Sima General Trading-associated front companies, known to have worked with Iran to market crude oil and petroleum products, have also collaborated to obscure the origin of Iranian gas condensate. 
Abdelhak Kaddouri is the financial chief of U.S.-sanctioned NICO Sarl and owner and manager of U.S.-sanctioned Swiss Management Services Sarl.  Kaddouri also manages Iranian front companies on behalf of NICO.  NICO is a subsidiary of NIOC and was identified by the Treasury Department as being part of the Government of Iran in 2008.  Swiss Management Services Sarl was identified by Treasury in September 2013 pursuant to E.O. 13599 for acting for or on behalf of the Government of Iran.
Muzzafer Polat is the founder, director general, and manager of Petro Royal FZE.  In 2013, the Treasury Department identified Petro Royal FZE as an entity controlled by Seyed Seyyedi, who was identified concurrently pursuant to E.O. 13599 for acting for or on behalf of various Government of Iran entities.  Polat, who is also associated with Faylaca Petroleum, participated in a scheme in which Faylaca Petroleum and other Sima General Trading-associated front companies, known to have worked with Iran to market crude oil and petroleum products, collaborated to obscure the origin of Iranian gas condensate.
Seyedeh Hanieh Seyed Nasser Mohammad Seyyedi, the daughter of previously designated Seyed Seyyedi, is Faylaca Petroleum’s Managing Director and actively manages the company’s operations.  In early 2014, she was involved in start-up operations for Faylaca Petroleum after it was purchased by NICO.
Lissome Marine Services LLC
Lissome Marine Services LLC’s vessels provide support to NITC, Iran’s primary shipper of crude oil, by facilitating ship-to-ship transfers.  In addition, Treasury is identifying six vessels that belong to Lissome Marine Services LLC.   
Sanctions for Material Support to the Central Bank of Iran or the Purchase or Acquisition of U.S. Dollar Bank Notes by the Government of Iran under E.O. 13622
Asia Bank
Asia Bank (formerly Chemeximbank) is an Iranian-owned bank that has provided support to the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian banks.  In mid-2014, Asia Bank converted and facilitated the delivery from Moscow to Tehran of U.S. dollar bank notes valued at over $13 million to representatives of the Iranian government. 
Identification of Additional Iranian Banks under E.O. 13599
The following five Iranian banks are being identified as Iranian financial institutions, which therefore, are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13599.
Khavarmianeh Bank, Ghavamin Bank, Gharzolhasaneh Resalat Bank, Kish International Bank, and Kafolatbank
Kharvarmianeh Bank and Ghavamin Bank are privately owned banks located in Iran.  Gharzolhasaneh Resalat Bank, located in Iran, is also an Iranian financial institution. Kish International Bank is 55 percent owned by the Government of Iran via Refah Bank.  Tajikistan-based Kafolatbank is owned by Sarmayeh Bank, which was identified as an Iranian financial institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in July 2012.
New and Updated Counter-Terrorism-Related Designations under E.O. 13224
Meraj Air, Caspian Air, and Sayyed Jabar Hosseini

Meraj Air is a Government of Iran airline that has been used to ferry illicit cargo, including weapons, from Tehran to the Syrian regime since at least 2013.  Caspian Air is an Iran-based airline that provides support to IRGC elements by transporting personnel, and illicit material, including weapons, from Iran to Syria.

Since at least 2006, senior Iranian official Sayyed Jabar Hosseini has been the Managing Director of Liner Transport Kish (LTK).  LTK, which the IRGC has employed to support terrorist activities outside of Iran, was designated in December 2010 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to E.O. 13224.  As LTK’s Managing Director, Hosseini has coordinated Iranian shipments across the Levant as well as to Sudan. 
Pioneer Logistics and Asian Aviation Logistics
Turkey-based Pioneer Logistics and Thailand-based Asian Aviation Logistics are two key Mahan Air front companies that have served as intermediaries for the sanctioned Iranian airline’s acquisition of aircraft material.  Mahan Air was designated in October 2011 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for providing financial, material and technological support to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).
Pioneer Logistics acts for or on behalf of Mahan Air by receiving and purchasing aviation-related material for the designated airline.  In an effort to help Mahan Air evade sanctions, Pioneer Logistics has shipped aircraft parts to another U.S.-designated Mahan Air front company, UAE-based Avia Trust, for onward delivery to Mahan Air.  Mahan Air has also used Pioneer Logistics as a cutout for the repair and overhaul of aircraft parts and as a cutout to evade sanctions in order to purchase aircraft tires for its aircraft.
Asian Aviation Logistics also acts for or on behalf of Mahan Air and helps the airline evade sanctions by making payments on behalf of Mahan Air for the purchase of engines and other equipment.  Asian Aviation Logistics also employs at least one Mahan Air official.
Yas Air Alias: Pouya Air
Pouya Air is being identified today as an alias for designated Iranian airline Yas Air, which was designated in March 2012 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF for transporting illicit cargo, including weapons, to Iran’s clients in the Levant.


Kerry Calls on Iran to Release US Citizens

            On August 29, Secretary of State John Kerry called on Tehran to release three U.S. citizens detained in Iran and one that went missing on Iranian soil. The following is the full text of the statement.

      The Unites States respectfully calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home.
      Today marks the three-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s detention on false espionage charges while visiting his family in Iran.  Mr. Hekmati is the eldest son; he has long been separated from his family and they need him home.
      Mr. Levinson went missing in March 2007 on Kish Island.  His family has endured years of painful separation and worry.  We are immensely concerned about his well-being and whereabouts.
             On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have been detained for two years in Iran, on charges related to his religious beliefs.  Mrs. Abedini has spoken eloquently about the difficulties her family has faced during this challenging time.
             Mr. Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post, is being detained in an unknown location.  His love of Iran is seen in his reporting – portraits of the generosity and kindness of the Iranian people.
             The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones.  We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian and respectfully request the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home.

UN: Iran Complying with Interim Nuke Deal

             On August 20, the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported that Iran has continued to meet its commitments under the interim deal that was implemented in January and extended through November. Iran has halted its most sensitive activities and rolled back its program in other key areas. The following are excerpts from the latest monthly report.

            The Agency confirms that since 20 January 2014, Iran has
• not enriched uranium above 5 % U-235 at any of its declared facilities
• not operated cascades [of centrifuges] in an interconnected configuration at any of its declared facilities
• completed the dilution – down to an enrichment level of no more than 5% U-235 – of half of the nuclear material that had been in the form of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 on 20 January 2014.
• fed 100 kg of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 into the conversion process at the Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) for conversion into uranium oxide
• had no process line to reconvert uranium oxide back into UF6 at FPFP
• had not made “any further advances” to its activities at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) or the Arak reactor (IR-40 Reactor), including the manufacture and testing of fuel for the IR-40 Reactor;
• fed 1505 kg of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235 into the conversion process at the Enriched UO2 Powder Plant (EUPP) for conversion into uranium oxide;
• continued to provide daily access to the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow;
• provided regular managed access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor
production workshops and storage facilities, and provided information thereon; and
provided, in relation to enhanced monitoring, the following:
• plans for nuclear facilities and a description of each building on each nuclear site;
• descriptions of the scale of operations being conducted for each location engaged in
specified nuclear activities; and
• information on uranium mines and mills, and on source material.
Click here for the full report.

Human Rights Watch: Locked Up in Karaj

            More than 60 prisoners in Karaj, near Tehran, are serving terms for exercising their fundamental rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. The organization also suspects that due process violations may have tainted the judicial process that led to 35 prisoners being placed on death row.
             “The election of a new, avowedly moderate president a year ago raised hopes that many of Iran’s political prisoners would soon walk free, but many remain behind bars,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The lion’s share of responsibility for releasing these prisoners rests with the judiciary, but President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet should be doing more to press for their release.”
            Iran’s judiciary has not responded to the Human Rights Watch inquiry about 175 prisoners in three facilities in Karaj, most of whom are profiled in the report. The following are excerpts.
Journalists, Bloggers and Social Media Activists
             Human Rights Watch has identified nine journalists and bloggers held in Karaj who qualify as political prisoners. All of them are in Rajai Shahr prison except for one.
             According to Reporters Without Borders there are at least 62 journalists and bloggers in Iran’s prisons, making Iran one of the largest jailers of journalists in the world. The Iranian judiciary imposes harsh sentences on journalists and bloggers based on vague and ill-defined press and security laws such as “acting against the national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “publishing lies,” and insulting the prophets or government officials such as the president, or Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
             Bahman Ahmadi-Amoui, a journalist who had written articles critical of the government on his website and in official newspapers, is serving a four-year sentence in Rajai Shahr after his arrest on June 20, 2009. Officials arrested him following the disputed elections and prosecuted him on charges of “propaganda against the state,” “insulting the president,” and “acting against the national security.” A revolutionary court sentenced him to seven years and four months in prison and 34 lashes, which was reduced on appeal to four years.
             The authorities are also holding a 53-year-old blogger, Mohammad-Reza Pourshajari, in Karaj’s Central Prison, a separate facility that normally houses detainees convicted in Karaj courts. In 2010 the authorities tried and convicted Pourshajari, who is also known by his pen name, Siamak Mehr, on charges of “acting against the national security,” “insulting Ayatollah Khomeini,” and “insulting [religious] sanctities” for writings he posted on his personal blog, his daughter told Human Rights Watch. Pourshajari suffers from serious heart ailments and authorities have consistently denied him proper medical care, his daughter said. In a June 10, 2013 audio recording obtained by Human Rights Watch, a voice identified as Pourshajari’s says that authorities beat and tortured him  and threatened to hang him after forcing him to stand on a four-legged stool during his initial detention following his arrest on September 12, 2010. He also says that authorities held him in solitary confinement for eight consecutive months and that interrogators repeatedly threatened to send him to the gallows.
Lawyers and Other Rights Defenders
             Human Rights Watch’s investigation has identified seven rights defenders and one lawyer who are imprisoned in Karaj. All are detained in Rajai Shahr prison.
             Authorities are holding lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh, who is 67 years old, in Rajai Shahr prison. He is a former colleague of Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi who cofounded the Defenders of Human Rights Center with Ebadi and several other lawyers. In October 2010, a revolutionary court convicted Seifzadeh of charges including “acting against national security through establishing the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. An appeals court later reduced his nine-year sentence to two years, but in March 2013, Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Seifzadeh to another six years in prison for “assembly and collusion against the national security” for writing critical letters to former President Khatami and signing several group statements while in prison, Ebadi told Human Rights Watch.
             The authorities are also holding several student and labor rights activists at Rajai Shahr prison. On Student Day in December 2009, students demonstrated on university campuses throughout Iran, to protest the results of the disputed June 2009 presidential election. Authorities arrested student protesters, including Majid Tavakoli, a 23-year-old student at Amirkabir University and member of the school’s Islamic Student Association, who gave a speech criticizing the government. In 2009 a revolutionary court sentenced Tavakoli to eight-and-a-half years in prison on various national security charges related to his speech, including “conspiring against the national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” and president. Authorities later transferred Tavakoli from Evin prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr, according to rights groups. He is currently being held in Ward 4, Room 12, said a former prisoner.
Religious Minority Activists and Community Leaders
             Human Rights Watch’s investigation identified 38 peaceful religious activists and community leaders, the majority of them are members of Iran’s Baha’i minority, whom the Iranian authorities are holding at both Rajai Shahr prison and the Central Prison in Karaj. At least 136 Baha’is are detained in Iranian prisons for their peaceful activities.
             Baha’i leaders Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeed Rezaei, Behrouz Azizi Tavakoli, and Vahid Tizfahm are each serving 20-year prison sentences in Rajai Shahr. Security forces arrested these men, along with two female leaders now in detention at another facility, between May 8 and May 14, 2008. After holding the seven in Evin prison in Tehran for 20 months without charge, officials on January 12, 2010 brought charges that included spying, “insulting religious sanctities,” and “spreading corruption on earth.” All the charges were related to their peaceful activities as leaders of the Baha’i community. Authorities have often leveled the charge of spying against Baha’is because of the faith’s supposed links to Israel (the tomb of the faith’s founder, Baha’u’llah, is near Acre in what is now Israel).
             The authorities are also holding two Christian pastors and two Christian converts in prisons in Karaj. The family of Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, has said that he is detained in Ward 4 Room 12 of Rajai Shahr prison. A revolutionary court convicted him of “intent to endanger the national security” by establishing and running home churches, and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
             Authorities are also holding Christian pastor Behanam Irani, Hossein Saketi Aramsari (also known as “Stephen”) and Reza Rabbani (also known as “Silas”) at the Central Prison in Karaj, a source familiar with the cases told Human Rights Watch. Armed security and intelligence forces entered pastor Irani’s home in April 2010 and arrested him for performing ceremonies in a private home with a small group of other Iranian Christians. A revolutionary court had previously convicted Irani in 2008 of acting “against national security” and “propaganda against the system” for proselytizing, and issued a suspended five-year sentence against him. After the 2010 arrest, however, a revolutionary court revived the initial sentence, the source said. The court relied on Irani’s admission that he was a Christian convert and pastor, and on testimony from witnesses who accused him of tricking them into adopting the Christian faith. Saketi Aramsari is currently serving a one-year prison term on the charge of “propaganda against the system,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the source familiar with these two cases.
Political Activists
             Human Rights Watch’s investigation has identified eight prisoners in Karaj who have been imprisoned solely because of their peaceful political activism. All are detained in Rajai Shahr prison.
             Throughout Iran members of reformist parties and other government opponents are serving sentences stemming from the government crackdown after the disputed 2009 election. Many had unfair trials before revolutionary courts, whose judges fail to ensure basic due process standards. Revolutionary courts sentenced some after mass show trials during which they were indicted on patently political charges such as “actions against the national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” “membership in illegal groups,” and “disturbing public order.” Some defendants were made to confess before television cameras, in violation of the right under international law to not be compelled to testify against oneself.
Click here for the full report. 

Iran's Leaders on Iraq Crisis and ISIS

           Iran’s policy on Iraq has evolved as the Islamic State has taken more territory since June. Tehran has welcomed the nomination of Haidar al Abadi to replace Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. The Islamic Republic has backed Maliki, a Shiite, since he took office in 2006. But the endorsement of Abadi, announced by Supreme National Security Council chief Ali Shamkhani and later by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggests Tehran has moved on. Maliki's government has alienated both Sunnis and Kurds. Abadi hails from al Maliki’s Islamic Da’wa Party and also is  a Shiite.The following tweet contains a remark by Khamenei to Iranian diplomats.
           Iran’s leaders are unified in their support for the central Iraqi government against The Islamic State. But officials have sent mixed messages on U.S. intervention or possible cooperating with Washington to help Baghdad quell the uprising. 
            In June, President Hassan Rouhani initially said his country could consider cooperating with the United States “if it starts confronting terrorist groups in Iraq or elsewhere.” Hesameddin Ashna, a Rouhani advisor and head of the state-run Center for Strategic Studies, even suggested that U.S. airstrikes could help the Iraqi air force.
            But Shamkhani dismissed speculative reports about U.S.-Iran coordination. And Supreme Leader Khamenei warned against U.S. intervention. He has blamed the United States, along with Sunni Gulf states, for allowing extremist groups to flourish in the region. “The real fight is between those who want to bring back a U.S. presence and those who want Iraqi independence,” Khamenei said on June 22.
            In August, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, dismissed U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State fighters. “The Americans, who strengthened terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are putting on a show in dealing with ISIS instead of [taking] serious action,” he said.
            The following are excerpted remarks by Iranian leaders on Abadi’s nomination and U.S. airstrikes with generic comments on the Iraqi crisis since June.


Supreme National Security Council Chief Ali Shamkhani
      “The framework provided by the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the prime minister has been chosen by the majority group in the parliament.
      “We congratulate Haidar al-Abadi on his nomination as prime minister, for him personally and for religious dignitaries, the Iraqi population and its political groups.
Iran calls on “all groups and coalitions in Iraq to protect the national interest”and “deal with external threats.”
            Aug. 12, 2014 according to the press
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
            “Obama has become concerned about the Kurds while many Christians, Sunni Muslims, Druze and Alawites were killed in Syria, but they [U.S. officials] remained silent.
            “Now, all of a sudden they have become conscious. This shows that they (US officials) have adopted a double standard and tactical approach toward this issue and this is wrong.”
           Aug. 12, 2014 to foreign ministry officials
Chairman of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi
            “The Americans, who strengthened terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are putting on a show in dealing with the ISIS instead of [taking] serious action.
Washington is just “posturing” to show “it has a role to play in the region.”
            Aug. 11, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Ministry
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports all steps taken toward the completion of the political process in Iraq. It is obvious that the Islamic Republic of Iran as in the past will continue its support for the Iraqi government and nation in fighting terrorism and promoting the country’s stability and security.”
             Aug.12, 2014 in a statement
            The following are generic comments on the Iraq crisis.
President Hassan Rouhani
      “The Islamic Republic will not tolerate violence and terror as foreign-backed takfiri militants wreak havoc in northern Iraq.
      “As the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will not tolerate the [acts of] violence and terror and we fight violence and terrorism in the region and in the world.
      “We all should practically and verbally confront terrorist groups. We can think about it [cooperation with the United States] if we see America starts confronting the terrorist groups in Iraq or elsewhere.
      “Iran has never dispatched any forces to Iraq and it is very unlikely it will ever happen.”
            June 14, 2014 during a press conference
            “Regarding the holy Shia shines in Karbala, Najaf, Khadhimiya and Samarra, we announce to the killers and terrorists that the big Iranian nation will not hesitate to protect holy shrines.
            “These terrorist groups, and those that fund them, both in the region and in the international arena, are nothing, and hopefully they will be put in their own place.”
            June 18, 2014 in a speech to a crowd in Lorestan province
            “I advise Muslim countries that support the terrorists with their petrodollars to stop.
            “Tomorrow you will be targeted... by these savage terrorists. Wash your hands of killing and the killing of Muslims.
            “For centuries, Shiites and Sunnis have lived alongside each other in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf and North Africa...in peaceful coexistence.”
            June 22, 2014, according to press
            “If the Iraqi government wants help, we will study it; of course no demand has yet been raised until today but we are ready for help within the framework of the international laws and at the request of the Iraqi nation.
            “Of course, we should know that help and assistance is one issue, and interference and entrance [into the battlefield] is another. If the Iraqi government demands us we will help them, but the entrance of the Iranian troops [onto the scene of battles in Iraq] has never been considered.
            “Since the onset of its establishment, the Islamic Republic has never taken such measures and we have never sent our troops to another country for operations. Of course, we will provide countries with our consultative views.”
            June 24, 2014, according to press

            “Unfortunately, we face two festering tumors in this region and across the Muslim world. One tumor has always caused distress to the Palestinians and Muslims and these days it is secreting and wreaking havoc on the land of olive [trees]. The other festering tumor which is agonizing the Muslims these days is a campaign launched under the name of Islam, religion, caliphate and caliphacy and has undertaken the murder and killing of Muslims in the region. All studies indicate that both tumors have roots at the same point.

            July 28, 2014 in a meeting with Iranian officials and foreign diplomats
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
      “We are strongly against the interference of the US and others in Iraq’s internal affairs and do not approve of it, because we believe that the Iraqi government, nation and religious authority are capable of ending this sedition and will end it, God willing.
      “The United States is dissatisfied with the result of elections in Iraq and they want to deprive the Iraqi people of their achievement of a democratic system, which they achieved without U.S. interference.”
       “What is happening in Iraq is not a war between Shiites and Sunnis. Arrogant powers want to use the remnants of Saddam’s regime and takfiri [ISIS] extremists to deprive Iraq of stability and tranquility.”

      June 22, 2014 at a meeting with judiciary officials


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour
AMANPOUR: You have other problems [besides the nuclear dispute]. Right now on your border, and that is the rise of ISIS in Iraq. How big a threat to Iran is ISIS?

ZARIF: I think this problem of extremism and sectarianism is a danger not only to Iraq and Syria

but to the entire region. We've been saying that --

AMANPOUR: But to Iran?

ZARIF: -- to Iran, too. Iran is a part of this region. We don't like instability in our neighborhood. Inside Iran, we are probably best protected from such waves of extremism than any of our neighbors. All our neighbors are more vulnerable to this threat than Iran is internally. 

But for us, our domestic security is inseparable from security of the region. So for us a secure Iraq, a secure Persian Gulf, a secure Afghanistan is as important as our own security.

So from that perspective, it becomes important. But we said it from the very beginning that this problem of extremism, violence and use of sectarian divisions in order to advance a political agenda was dangerous for all countries in the region and that is why we insisted from the very beginning that we need to have a strong unified stance against it.

AMANPOUR: And I presume you want a unified Iraq as well, because right now, it looks like it's fragmenting and it could possibly fragment.

I want to ask you specifically, Nouri al-Maliki is a product of Iran, according to everybody. In other words, Iran backed him in 2010 when he was reelected. Iran backed a lot of the people who he brought into his cabinet. And they are calling him extremely divisive, extremely sectarian and practically the opposite --They're calling him extremely divisive and extremely sectarian. Is al-Maliki the man that Iran wants to see as prime minister, no matter what?

ZARIF: Well, I think you made some assumptions that are not correct. Iran, first of all, wants Iraq territorial integrity and I have spoken to almost every regional foreign minister and all of them want to ensure that Iraq remains a secure with its own boundaries, national unity of Iraq. Disintegration of Iraq is going to be a disaster for the entire region. So that's given.

Iraq has a very lively democratic process. It's very young but very lively. People go and vote and people elect certain people. Our advice to the Iraqis, all of them, who’ve never supported any individual or party, our advice has been that you need to work, based on the democratic model, but at the same time to ensure that the government is inclusive, that the government represents various views.

Now you have a system in Iraq with an overwhelming majority of one group, but you have a system where the president is from one ethnicity; the speaker of the parliament is from another religious sectarian group. The prime minister is from another.

If you find this combination within the constitutional framework that Iraq has established and then allow various political parties to form a workable government that also represents all segments of Iraqi society, this is our desire. We're not in the business of supporting any individual. 

We support the Iraqi people. We support the choices of the Iraqi people, whoever Iraq can choose as its prime minister will have the full backing of Iran, whoever Iraq choose as its prime minister. 

And as its president and as its speaker of parliament, will have the full backing of Iran, because for us the number one issue is that we need to respect the choices of the Iraqi people. And my advice to countries in the West as well as countries in the region is to have respect for people, allow them to make their own choices. And once you allow them to make their own choices, they'll make the best choice.

AMANPOUR: Obviously Iraq has had a very painful history under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Obviously Iran suffered from that as well. But Prime Minister Maliki has at best treated the Sunnis as worse than junior partners, has basically frozen them out.

Do you think that the Shiite prime minister, because that’s what the constitution says it should be, should treat Sunnis as equals or as junior partners?

ZARIF: No, you see, it's a government based on democratic principles people have -- it doesn't matter whether you're Sunni --

AMANPOUR: It should be, but it hasn't happened.

ZARIF: -- no, no. You see, you have a government where political parties -- unfortunately some of them are along sectarian lines -- but political parties go to the polls, receive votes, some have more votes, some have less votes. They're different voting blocs in the Iraqi parliament.

Why do we need to send it into a sectarian issue? These are, in the United Kingdom, for instance, the prime minister is from one party; it has a coalition which works with another party. It's just a fact of life.

Why people need to make -- to insert divisive sectarian issues into this? We need to establish a government in Iraq that represents the views of the people but at the same time maybe if you have something exactly on that line, you will get only one group taking over all segments of Iraqi power structure and that is why you have these divisions and these attempts to bring everybody inside. 

It doesn’t mean that people who got the largest number of votes should be equally represented as people who got two votes in the parliament, that is not the meaning of democracy. Meaning of democracy is you get more votes; you get more seats in the parliament. You get more seats in the government. That's the reality.

But keeping that reality in mind, we insist that all segments of Iraqi society should be included in governing Iraq. That's the only way to ensure stability in Iraq and I'm sure all political parties, be Shia, Kurd, Sunni, all of them and non-sectarian, all of them have that objective in mind.

Now the way to achieve that objective may be different from -- based on one platform to another. But I think that's what we need to achieve. We should not start inserting sectarian divisions into Iraq.

Sectarian considerations are really dangerous for our region and really dangerous for the world. We live in a globalized world and it's very dangerous to fan these flames of sectarian hatred, one where it won't be contained in that area.

AMANPOUR: Is ISIS sufficient a threat for Iran and the United States to combat? Or does Iran not want to see any U.S. involvement in Iraq right now?

ZARIF: I think the international community needs to come together in order to deal with this threat of extremism and violence.

AMANPOUR: Specifically in Iraq.

ZARIF: In Iraq, in Syria, elsewhere. It requires a unified approach, not shortsighted policies, not infringing yourself in positions but really seeing the problem as it is. It is a problem of extremism. It is a problem of demagogues using inherent resentment that have arisen out of decades of injustice in our region.

But these are demagogues using these resentments in order to advance a very dangerous political agenda. And this dangerous political agenda may fit in the designs of some external powers. I don't know. I do not want to espouse conspiracy theories.

But what is important is everybody should come to realize that whatever their short-term interests are, in long term, this is a threat against everybody and everybody needs to have a unified international and regional stance against such acts of extremism and allowing it to take root in Iraq. 

Any political, any shortsighted political gain that some people believe they can derive from this unfortunate situation in Iraq is exactly shortsighted and will come to haunt them in the future.
Click here for more of the interview.
           “It is in the interest of everybody to stabilize the government of Iraq. If the U.S. has come to realize that these groups pose a threat to the security of the region, and if the U.S. truly wants to fight terrorism and extremism, then it’s a common global cause.”
            June 13, 2014 to Robin Wright for The New Yorker


Supreme National Security Council Chief Ali Shamkhani
      “The current crisis in Iraq is the result of the meddling and collaboration of the western and regional enemies of the Iraqi nation, who are seeking to prevent the Iraqi people’s will and determination from coming into action.”
      June 16, 2014 in a meeting with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani
           “Reports in Western media about possible Iran-U.S. cooperation are part of the West’s “psychological warfare” and are “completely unreal.”
            “As we have announced, we will examine the issue of helping (Iraq) within the framework of international regulations in case of an official request by the Iraqi government and this will be completely a bilateral process and has nothing to do with a third country.”
            June 16, 2014 according to Fars News Agency

Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
       “It is the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief that no one should aid countries like Syria and Iraq unless the work is limited counselling and advising. The people and governments of these countries can overcome their problems without the aid of any country.”
       June 24, 2014 at a ceremony for martyrs of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
      “Iraq enjoys the necessary potential and military preparedness to fight against the terrorist and extremist elements. Any move that complicates the situation in Iraq will not be in the interest of Iraq and the region.
       “We believe that the Baghdad government can fully overcome the ongoing crisis in Iraq and thwart conspiracies through consolidation of national unity and internal solidarity.”
            June 14, 2014 to the press
      “Causing insecurity, disrupting democratic trends, overcoming ballot boxes, imposing weapons and terror rather than [promoting] democratic trends, all of these suggest that terrorism is being used today as a tool to overcome people’s votes.
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the ominous phenomenon of terrorism and believes the first method to counter and eradicate it is for the regional nations to remain vigilant and for countries to boost national unity, and for the international community to pay serious and unbiased attention to this scourge facing humanity.”
            June 25, 2014 to the press
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
            “Supporting the Iraqi government and nation does not mean sending troops to Iraq. It means condemning terrorist acts and closing and safeguarding our joint borders.”
            June 14, 2014 according to Fars News Agency
Center for Strategic Studies head and Rouhani advisor Hesameddin Ashna
            “If the issue is about confronting extremism and violence, then yes, we’re [the United States and Iran] on the same side, but if it’s about destabilizing the region, then, no we are not.
            Iran would not support a U.S. ground intervention but airstrikes could help the “paralyzed” Iraqi air force.
            June 2014, according to The Washington Post
President Rouhani’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs Hamid Aboutalebi
            “The events in Iraq has highlighted a number of hypothesis.
            “First, Iran and America are the only two countries, from a perspective of regional power, that can peacefully end Iraq’s crisis.
            “Second, Iran and America have both ruled out military involvement in Iraq
            “Third, both Iran and America have asked Iraq’s government and Nouri al Maliki to bring the scourge of terrorism and the problems of Iraq to an end.
           “Fourth, the legitimate government of Iraq, in addition to its military capabilities, has potential political solutions worth considering to resolve problems.
            “Fifth, Iran and America have both never disregarded the implicit possibility of cooperation to solve the crisis in Iraq.”
           June 15, 2014 on Twitter according to Al Monitor
Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian
            “The brutal attacks of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank and the indifference of self-proclaimed advocacy groups and ISIL proved that they are enforcers of the policies dictated by Tel Aviv and apply their power and arms only against Muslims and the strength of the Islamic states.
           July 13, 2014 according to the press
            “Certain countries which are supporting Takfiri terrorists and remnants of [executed Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] should either correct their attitude or wait for negative consequences of their support.”
         June 30, 2014 in a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov
           “If Iran asks [for help], we will send military equipment to Iraq within the framework of international laws and contracts.”
           June 26, 2014 according to the press
            “We supply Baghdad with necessary consultations but we have no intervention in the country.”
            June 16, 2014 according to Tasnim news agency
            “We will mightily support Iraq in is confrontation with terrorism. We are sure that the Iraqi armed forces will powerfully and effectively crash the terrorist and takfiri forces.”
            June 11, 2014 via state media
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
      “The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are our friends [in Iraq].
      “We have always insisted that all ethnic groups must have active and constructive participation in Iraq's power structure".
      “We regard it as unacceptable to deprive any Iraqi ethnic group of their constitutional rights by anyone.”

       June 21, 2014 according to Parliament’s website 

Deputy Commander of Army Ground Forces Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari
            “Iranian Army’s Ground Forces are not only closely monitoring the developments in Iraq and the region, but also constantly observe the different threats [coming from around the globe].”
            June 16, 2014 according to Tasnim news agency
Supreme Leader Khamenei’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards Hojjatoleslam Ali Saeedi
            “Saudi Arabia made a lot of efforts to upset the situation in Syria, and Qatar has also made a big investment in this regard, and some other countries made grave mistakes in Syria as well.”
           June 12, 2014 according to Iranian media
Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
            “We do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of countries and we hope we will be a good mediator to extinguish the flames [of the crisis in Iraq].”
            June 22, 2014 in a meeting with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully
Interior Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Ali Amiri

            “There is no particular problem along our common border with Iraq; however, the necessary measures have been taken by the Interior Ministry and border police.”
           June 23, 2014, according to press

Basij Militia Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi
            “The terrorist and anti-Islamic ISIL group is the US’s instrument for sowing discord among Muslims in the region.
            “The US and the Israeli regime seek to use fanatics and anti-Islamic groups to damage the Islamic community.”
            June 23, 2014, according to press

Lt. Commander of Khatam al Anbia Air Defense Base Gen. Shahrokh Shahram
            “Today the takfiri and ISIS forces are killing Muslims in the region on behalf of the US the same way over 30 countries helped Saddam [Hussein] during the imposed war to pave the way for the collapse of the Islamic Republic through waging war against Iran.”
            June 30, 2014 according to Fars News Agency

Tehran’s Provisional Friday Prayer Leader Seyed Ahmad Khatami
           “The US and Israel are supporting the ISIS with the purpose of disintegrating Iraq and create differences among Muslims.”
            June 27, 2014

Parliament's Director General for International Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslam
           “Supporters of these terrorist groups want to portray Iraq's parliamentary democracy as a failure because they consider this democracy as a factor for their destruction.”
            July 1, 2014 according to the press



Ambassador to Tehran Mohammad Majid al Sheikh
            “These are just the rumors of biased and despiteful media which are seeking to sow discord among the regional states, especially Iran and Iraq.
            “Iraq doesn’t need any country neither for weapons nor for the military forces at all; hence, I emphasize that neither General [Qassem] Soleimani nor any other (Iranian) figure is in Iraq.”
            June 24, 2014, according to press


Photo credits: President.ir, Khamenei.ir, Iran's Ministry of Defense, Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ali Larijani by Harald Dettenborn [CC-BY-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons,


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