United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Khamenei on Nowruz: Questions Holocaust

            On March 21, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei questioned the Holocaust in a controversial address at the Imam Reza shrine marking Nowruz, Persian New Year. The “Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it's uncertain how it has happened,” he said. Khamenei lauded Iran for progress in science and technology despite tightened economic sanctions. He also  argued that the United States had failed to achieve its goals in the Middle East, especially in Syria. The following are translated excerpts from Khamenei's semi-official Twitter account.

Rouhani on Nowruz: Nuke Agreement Possible

           On March 20, President Hassan Rouhani expressed optimism for reaching a final nuclear agreement in a televised statement marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The following video is subtitled in English.

 

Nowruz Greetings: From US to Israel

           On March 20, government officials from the United States, Great Britain and Israel sent Nowruz greetings to the Iranian people. The Persian New Year marks the Spring Equinox and the first day of spring. President Barack Obama said, "This Nowruz could mark not just the beginning of a new year, but a new chapter in the history of Iran and its role in the world—including a better relationship with the United States and the American people, rooted in mutual interest and mutual respect." The following are videos and transcripts of statements by top leaders. 

U.S. President Barack Obama
 
 
           Dorood.  As you and your families gather around the Nowruz table, I want to extend my best wishes on this new spring and new year.  As always, this holiday is a chance to give gratitude for your blessings and to reflect on our hopes for the year ahead.
 
           As I have every year as President, I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Since taking office, I’ve offered the Iranian government an opportunity—if it meets its international obligations, then there could be a new relationship between our two countries, and Iran could begin to return to its rightful place among the community of nations.
 
           Last year, you—the Iranian people—made your voice heard when you elected Dr. Hassan Rouhani as your new president.  During his campaign, he pledged to strengthen Iran’s economy, improve the lives of the Iranian people and engage constructively with the international community—and he was elected with your strong support. 
 
           Last fall, I spoke with President Rouhani.  It was the first conversation between an American president and an Iranian leader since 1979.  I conveyed to President Rouhani my deep respect for the Iranian people, just as he expressed his respect for the American people.  And I told him that I firmly believe that we can address the serious disagreements between our governments, reduce distrust and begin to move beyond our difficult history. 
 
           Since then, we’ve made progress.  For years, the international community has had concerns that Iran’s nuclear program could lead to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, which would be a threat to the region and to the world.  Under the initial agreement we reached in November, the Iranian government has agreed to limit key parts of its nuclear program.  Along with our international partners, the United States is giving Iran some relief from sanctions.  Now we’re engaged in intensive negotiations in the hopes of finding a comprehensive solution that resolves the world’s concerns with the Iranian nuclear program. 
 
           As I’ve said before, I’m under no illusions.  This will be difficult.  But I’m committed to diplomacy because I believe there is the basis for a practical solution.  Iran’s highest officials, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, have said that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.  So there is a chance to reach an agreement if Iran takes meaningful and verifiable steps to assure the world that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.  Iran would have access to peaceful nuclear energy.  And we will have addressed—peacefully, with diplomacy—one of the greatest challenges to international peace and security. 
 
           A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue—and an Iran that upholds universal rights, at home and abroad—would help move Iran along the new path that so many Iranians seek.  After all, throughout your history the talents and genius of the Iranian people have led to great achievements in literature and the arts, science and technology.  But the economic hardship that so many Iranians have endured in recent years—because of the choices of Iranian leaders—has deprived your country and the world of the extraordinary skills and contributions you have to offer.  And you deserve better.
 
           If Iran meets its international obligations, we know where the path of dialogue and greater trust and cooperation can lead.  It will mean more opportunities for Iranians to trade and forge ties with the rest of the world.  It means more economic growth and jobs for Iranians, especially young Iranians who dream of making their mark in the world.  It will mean more opportunities for Iranian students to travel abroad and build new partnerships that help you realize your incredible potential.  In short, real diplomatic progress this year can help open up new possibilities and prosperity for the Iranian people for years to come.       
 
           That’s the message the Iranian people sent at the ballot box last year.  I hope that the entire Iranian government hears that message too.  Because for the first time in many years, we have the opportunity to start down a new path.  If Iran seizes this moment, this Nowruz could mark not just the beginning of a new year, but a new chapter in the history of Iran and its role in the world—including a better relationship with the United States and the American people, rooted in mutual interest and mutual respect.
 
           Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak. 
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
      I'm privileged to join President Obama in wishing the people of Iran and all those who celebrate around the world -- from East Asia to the Persian Gulf region -- a happy, healthy, and prosperous Nowruz.
 
      All who celebrate Nowruz remember that it is not just an ancient tradition dating back over 3,000 years, but a time of renewal and hope. This season we reflect on the shared humanity that binds us together.
 
      My own family is stronger today because of the presence and love of Iranian-Americans, and I am proud of the family ties that we Americans have to Iran and its people. Here in America, we value the significant contributions that Iranian-Americans continue to make, whether it's in science, medicine, engineering, business, art, or so many other ways.
 
           On this Nowruz, we reaffirm our belief that strengthening cultural and academic ties between our two countries benefits our two peoples. Today, I am pleased to note that the Treasury Department will issue a new General License that will enhance educational ties between Iran and the United States through exchanges and the provision of new opportunities for Iranians to study in our country.
 
           It's not lost on any of us that the United States and Iran have endured harsh winters in our past, but gathering to welcome Spring and the New Year with friends and family is an opportunity to look forward to what can lie ahead with hard work and commitment. And it is our hope that the people of Iran will be able to fulfill their aspirations in their own society in the coming year.
 
           So as you gather with your loved ones around the Haft Seen Sofreh, the United States wishes you a joyous New Year filled with the hope for a better tomorrow.
 
           Nowruzetan Pirooz!
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague
 
 
           I want to take this opportunity to wish all those celebrating around the world a happy Nowruz.
 
           Today people from many countries, communities and backgrounds, including here in the UK, will be gathering with their loved ones to celebrate the New Year and mark the start of spring.
 
           Nowruz signifies a new season and a time of harmony. It is an opportunity to look back on the year that has passed and look ahead to the year to come.
 
           So, however and wherever you are celebrating the New Year, I wish you health and happiness for the future.
 
           Nowruz is also a time for fresh starts. And in that spirit, I want to say to the Iranian people that the UK looks forward this year to improving relations with Iran.
 
           This is something our two governments have been working on over the last few months. Our diplomats are visiting each other’s countries after a gap of nearly two years.
 
           We are establishing new relationships and we’re talking to each other about a range of matters important to both our countries.
 
           Of course, this doesn’t mean we have resolved all our differences. We haven’t. There remain many pressing issues for us to address. But I firmly believe that constructive dialogue and improved co-operation between the UK and Iran is in all our interests.
 
           For that reason, we will continue our efforts to improve relations in ways that bring concrete benefits to both our peoples.
 
           Nowruzetan piruz.
 
Israeli President Shimon Peres
 

 

 

US Opens Way for Academic Exchanges

            On March 20, the U.S. Treasury authorized accredited U.S. academic institutions to hold academic exchanges with Iranian universities. The general license notably allowed the provision of on-line courses for Iranian students. The Treasury’s announcement coincided with Nowruz, Persian New Year, and followed the issuing of another general license in February which allowed Iranians to purchase American computers, cell phones, software, mobile applications and Internet services.

 
Publication of Iran General License G
 
           Today, the Office of Foreign Assets Control issued Iran General License G authorizing accredited U.S. academic institutions to establish and operate undergraduate and graduate academic exchange agreements with Iranian universities, including the provision of scholarships to participating Iranian students.  It also authorizes the export to Iran of certain additional educational services by U.S. academic institutions, including the provision of certain on-line courses, and by U.S. persons for certain academic study or non-for-profit educational activities in Iran, or the administration of university entrance and other examinations for Iranian students.

Click here for more information on the license.
 
 

Iran Complying with Interim Nuke Agreement

           On March 20, the U.N. nuclear watchdog released a new report detailing Iran’s implementation of the interim nuclear deal brokered in November 2013. Tehran has continued to comply with the agreement and has not enriched uranium to 20 percent. But it has not yet completed a facility to convert low-enriched uranium gas into an oxide, which would need to be reprocessed to be used to fuel a weapon. The following is an analysis by the Arms Control Association on Iran’s implementation with a link to the latest U.N. report.  

 
Iranian Actions                                 
 
Status                                          
By January 20, halt production of near-20% enriched uranium hexaflouride gas (UF6) and commit to only enrich up to 5%.
Completed
According to the January 20 IAEA report, Iran had halted enrichment to 20% UF6.
By January 20, disable the configuration of the centrifuge cascades Iran has been using to produce 20% enriched UF6.
Completed
According to the January 20 IAEA report, Iran had ceased operating its interconnected centrifuges enriching to 20% UF6. The February 20 IAEA report said that Iran is now using the four cascades at Fordow to enrich uranium to 5%.
On January 20, continue conversion of half of its stockpile of near-20% uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) into uranium oxide powder as working stock for fabricating fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.
 
In Progress
According to the February 20 IAEA report, Iran is in the process of converting half of its stockpile of 20% enriched UF6 gas to uranium oxide powder. An additional 49 kg were converted since the November IAEA report.
On January 20, begin dilution of half of its stockpile of 20% UF6 to no more than 5% enriched UF6 and complete dilution by April 20.
In Progress
According to remarks delievered to the IAEA Board of Governors on March 3, Iran completed dilution of half of its required dilution of 20% enriched uranium to 3.5%.
Continue only its safeguarded research and development practices, including its current enrichment reserach practices, which were not designated for accumulation of the enriched uranium.
Completed
In the February 20 IAEA report, the agency verified that Iran was continuing its safeguarded research and development practices at Natanz and was not using the research to accumulate uranium as it tested advanced models.
By April 20, provide the IAEA with:

  • plans for nuclear facilities
In Progress
Iran submited details on site selection for 16 nuclear power plants to the IAEA, its initial plans for 10 future enrichment sites, and a light water reactor.
  • descriptions of buildings located on nuclear sites
Not Yet Completed
  • the scale of operations for each location
Not Yet Completed
  • information on uranium mines and mills
In Progress
According to the February 20 IAEA report, the agency has received some infomation about Iran's mining and milling activities, and more will be forthcoming.
  • information on source material
Not Yet Completed
Submit an updated Design Information Questionaire (DIQ) for the reactor at Arak (IR-40).
Completed
Iran submitted at updated DIQ on the reactor to the IAEA on February 12, according to the agency's Feb. 20 report.
Take steps to conclude a safeguards approach with the IAEA for the Arak reactor.
In Progress
The IAEA's February 20 report notes that Iran agreed to take steps to work with the agency to conclude the safeguards agreement.
Allow daily IAEA inspector access at Fordow and Nantanz, including scheduled and unannounced inspections and access to surveillance information on a daily basis.
Completed
As of the February 20 IAEA report, the IAEA was able to install surveillance measures at Natanz and Fordow to facilitate daily monitoring and came to an agreement regarding the facilitation of daily access.
(Prior to the Joint Plan of Action, the IAEA had acessed Fordow on a weekly basis, and Natanz on a biweekly basis.)
Allow the IAEA to conduct monthly inspections of the heavy water reactor at Arak and associated facilities.
In Progress
The IAEA was able to make its first monthly visit and access the heavy water reactor on Feb. 12, according to the agency's Feb. 20 IAEA report.
(Prior inspections were conducted at the reactor once every three months, and other facilities at the site were not included.)
Provide information to allow the IAEA inspectors managed access to:

  • centrifuge assembly workshops
Completed
The IAEA was able to visit the facility between February 3-7.
  • centrifuge rotor production
Completed
The IAEA was able to visit the facility between February 3-7.
  • workshops and storage facilities
Completed
The IAEA was able to visit the facility between February 3-7.
  • uranium mines and mills
In Progress
In a January 20 letter to the IAEA, Iran provided information about its uranium mines and mills, and the IAEA was able to access the Gchine mine on January 29.
Provide figures that will allow the IAEA to verify that centrifuge production will be dedicated to the replacement of damaged machines.
Not Yet Completed
Cap the size of the 5% enriched UF6 stockpile.
In Progress
Iran is constructing a plant to convert 5% enriched UF6 to uranium dioxide, a powder suitable for power plant fuel, which will enable it to maintain a cap on its stockpile of UF6, which is not to exceed the amount Iran had an the beginning of implementation of the deal. As of the Feb. 20 IAEA report, Iran had not yet completed the plant, nor provided a timeframe for its operaitons.
 
Iran Will Refrain From the Following Actions
 
Status
Refrain from installing a reconversion line to reconvert uranium oxide powder to 20% UF6.
Complying
The January 20 IAEA report said that Iran does not have a reconversion line in place.
Refrain from reproccessing or constructing a facility capable of reprocessing materials.
Complying
In a January 18 letter to the IAEA, Iran said it will not engage in reprocessing or construct a reprocessing facility over the six months of the deal. The January 20 IAEA report confirmed that no reprocessing is taking place at the Tehran Reserach Reactor or MIX facility.
Refrain from making any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant.
(This includes not installing new centrifuges and not feeding UF6 into the roughly half the centrifuges at Natanz that are installed but not yet enriching uranium.)
Complying
The IAEA verified in the February 20 report that Iran has not made any further advances and no new centrifuges are enriching uranium.
Refrain from making any further advances of its activities at Fordow.
(This includes not installing new centrifuges, not feeding UF6 into the three quarters at Fordow that  are installed but not yet enriching uranium, and not interconnecting the cascades.)
Complying
The IAEA verified that Iran has not made any further advances and no new centrifuges are enriching uranium.
Replacing existing centrifuges only with centrifuges of the same type.
Complying
As of the February 20 IAEA report, the agency did not report any violation of this restriction, and survelliance has been set up to monitor any changes.
Refrain from commissioning the heavy water reactor at Arak.
Complying
The February 20 IAEA report said that Iran had not conducted any activities to further the Arak reactor.
Refrain from transfering fuel or heavy water to the Arak reactor.
Complying
The February 20 IAEA report said that Iran had not conducted any activities to further the Arak reactor.
Refrain from testing additional fuel or producing more fuel.
Complying
The February 20 IAEA report said that Iran had not manufactured or tested any reactor fuel, and the number of fuel rods produced remains at 11.
Refrain from installing any additional reactor components at the Arak site.
Complying
The February 20 IAEA report said that Iran had not conducted any activities to further advance the Arak reactor.
Limit centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines.
Not Yet Verified
Refrain from constructing any new locations for enrichment.
Complying
In a January 18 letter to the IAEA Iran said it would not pursue any new uranium enrichment sites during the six months of the agreement.
 

Click here for the full U.N. report.

 

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