United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

ICG: Getting to “Yes” on an Iran Nuclear Deal

            Both Iran and the world’s six major powers risk losing the opportunity to solve the nuclear dispute if they do not retreat from maximalist positions, according to a new brief by the International Crisis Group (ICG). Tehran, in particular, “should postpone plans for industrial-scale enrichment and accept greater constraints on the number of its centrifuges in return for P5+1 flexibility on the qualitative growth of its enrichment capacity through research and development,” according to the report. ICG offers amendments to its 40-point plan for a nuclear deal released in May, with a new emphasis on uranium enrichment, “which has emerged as the most contentious and complex issue” in negotiations. The following are excerpts.

            As in 2005, when now President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were last in charge of the nuclear portfolio, negotiators are bogged down in a worn-out debate over exactly why Iran insists on uranium enrichment; its economic logic or lack thereof; whether Iran should be subject to restrictions beyond those imposed on other members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); and how to calculate the time Iran would need to enrich enough uranium for one weapon –which, assuming other abilities are present, measures its “breakout capacity”.
            Neither side’s technical arguments bear scrutiny in this debate because its roots are fundamentally political. Negotiators are both driven and constrained by their respective domestic politics, especially the U.S. and Iran, where powerful constituencies remain sceptical of the negotiations. The struggle over the number of centrifuges is a surrogate for a more basic one: the Iranian revolution was predicated on rejecting outside powers’ dictates after a century of Western intervention in Iranian affairs; for the West, its concerns are founded on Iran’s behaviour as an anti-status quo, revolutionary power.
            While this power struggle cannot and will not be resolved within the framework of the nuclear talks, a workable and wise compromise is still possible. It can be achieved, however, neither by a contest of wills over maximalist positions nor by mechanically splitting differences. Instead, the parties should reverse engineer their underlying political concerns and legitimate interests to find common technical ground: for Iran this means a meaningful enrichment program, continued scientific advancement and tangible sanctions relief; and for the P5+1, a firewall between Iran’s civilian and potential military nuclear capabilities, ironclad monitoring mechanisms and sufficient time and Iranian cooperation to establish trust in the exclusively peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program. If they resolve the key issue of enrichment, other pieces of the puzzle stand a better chance of falling into place.
Squaring the Circle
            Negotiators first should address the crucial issue of defining Iran’s enrichment capacity. Removing that obstacle would constitute real progress and, in so doing, increase the costs of ultimate failure; further, it could give the negotiators an incentive to compromise on other issues of more recent vintage, such as concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program.
            The minimum requirements for solving the enrichment conundrum would be:
• for Iran, to demonstrate that the immense investment in its enrichment program has not gone to waste, to ensure respect for what it sees as its rights and to establish a program that could grow and evolve over time to meet its peaceful needs, particularly by guarding against any fuel supply interruption; and
• for the P5+1, to ensure that the enrichment program is geared only toward civilian purposes and that Iran has been deterred from pursuing nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.
             These objectives are not incompatible but require both sides to demonstrate flexibility and find creative trade-offs between different components of the agreement. In fact, they agree on the need for an initial ceiling on the number and sophistication of Iran’s centrifuges and that these restrictions would be relaxed after a period of confidence building.
             To reconcile remaining differences, the parties should trade off the height of the ceiling against the length of the confidence building. Iran should accept a lower initial ceiling on its enrichment capacity than it desires, given that it has limited needs and that even in the best of circumstances it will not be able to take over fuelling Bushehr as early as 2021;40 in return, the P5+1 should agree to a shorter time frame and gradual increase in the technological sophistication of Iran’s enrichment program.
             This could be achieved by balancing three components of the deal:
Research & Development. Iran should accept more quantitative constraints on its centrifuges than it would prefer, in return for the P5+1 countenancing more qualitative advances in the enrichment program through research and development.
Practical guarantees. Iran and Russia should amend and renew their binding agreement for Moscow to supply the Bushehr reactor’s fuel for its entire lifespan. To allay Iran’s fuel security concerns, Russia should agree to provide Iran with a five year stockpile of fuel as a backup that could be used in the event of supply disruption. This assurance, coupled with the contingency enrichment program Iran would retain and its ongoing R&D activity, would allow it to dial up its enrichment capacity in case of disruption of the nuclear-fuel supply. The program, however, would be constrained in such a manner that any breakout push could be promptly detected and reacted to decisively. Also, to eliminate any sneak-out risk – that is, breaking out in a clandestine enrichment facility instead of a declared one – Iran should allow the IAEA to monitor all key nodes of centrifuge production and testing.
Objective Milestones. The duration of the final agreement as well as each of its component steps, by the end of which Iran’s nuclear program would be normalised, should not be based on selective criteria such Iran’s electoral calendar45 or arbitrary deadlines. As Crisis Group previously recommended:
             The final step should be broken down into phases of different durations that would be conducive to the multi-layered nature of both the nuclear program and the sanctions regime; their rollback would need to happen in stages, with significant preparation time followed by a series of measures in rapid success.
             The balanced, measured nature of this approach also would serve a political need: it would enable front-loading the agreement to rally support in the relevant capitals by quickly demonstrating tangible achievements while Presidents Obama and Rouhani are in office; signal regular progress throughout the duration of the final step; and postpone some difficult concessions until both sides have become accustomed to a new relationship.
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Fall Push on Nuke Talks

             With the deadline for a final nuclear deal looming in 10 weeks, the pace of diplomacy on Iranian nuclear talks is picking up. The United States and Iran held their third round of bilateral talks on September 4 and 5 in Geneva. The last round was on August 7.
             The U.S.-Iran dialogue is in preparation for the next round of full talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers in New York on September 18, on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly. The following press releases are from the U.S. State Department and EU foreign policy spokesperson Michael Mann.
U.S. Delegation Travel to Geneva for Talks With Iran on Its Nuclear Program
            Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman, and Senior Advisor Jacob J. Sullivan will meet with Iranian officials in Geneva on September 4-5. These bilateral consultations will take place in the context of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations led by EU High Representative Cathy Ashton.
U.S. Delegation to the Consultations with Iranian officials in Geneva:
The Honorable William J. Burns, Deputy Secretary of State
The Honorable Wendy R. Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Mr. Jacob J. Sullivan, Senior Advisor
Ambassador Brooke D. Anderson, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs on Iran Negotiations
Mr. James Timbie, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Mr. Paul Irwin, Director for Nonproliferation, National Security Council
Mr. Christopher Backemeyer, Director for Iran, National Security Council
Mr. Eytan Fisch, Assistant Director for Policy, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of Treasury
Ms. Julia Jacoby, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Department of State
Mr. Matan Chorev, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State, Department of State
Statement by E.U. foreign policy spokesperson Michael Mann
             The talks between the E3/EU+3 and Iran, led by High Representative Ashton, will continue in New York as of 18th September.
             Following the meeting between High Representative Ashton and Foreign Minister Zarif on 1 September, and in the framework of the talks, there will be bilateral meetings between the E3 and Iran and also between the U.S. and Iran at the level of Political Directors.
             The E3/Iran bilateral will take place in Vienna on 11 September (at PD level).

Rouhani on ISIS, Nuke Talks

     On August 30, President Hassan Rouhani vowed to resist U.S. sanctions in a televised press conference. But he also said Iran would continue nuclear talks with the world’s six major powers.  “We hope that we will reach [an] agreement... the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted,” Rouhani told domestic and foreign reporters. Just one day before the press conference, Washington sanctioned more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals for supporting Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism and sanctions evasion. Rouhani warned that the sanctions “are against the spirit” of the interim nuclear deal that was implemented in January 2014. 

           The president, who took office a little more than a year ago, addressed both domestic and foreign policy challenges, including the threat of Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq. He accused the United States and the West of supporting the Islamic State (IS) while it was fighting the Syrian regime in past years. Rouhani also criticized U.S. motivations for recent air strikes on IS. “Attacking terrorists on the pretext of protecting a country’s own citizens or embassy is not a true reason to fight terrorists,” he said. 
           The president also said that he did not know whether he would attend the U.N. General Assembly in September. Rouhani said he has “no plans” to meet with President Barack Obama. The following are excerpted remarks, including tweets from Rouhani's quasi-official account.

Nuclear Talks
            “Sanctions are an invasion of the Iranian nation. We should resist the invasion and put the invaders in their place. We should not allow the continuation and repetition of the invasion.
Sanctions on Iran’s pharmaceutical industry constitute a “crime against humanity.”
            “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.”
            “We hope that we will reach agreement in the continuation of the path and the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted.”
            “The United States is the only country that Iran holds deep doubts about its good will for the settlement of the nuclear standoff.”
            “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.”
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
            “Attacking terrorists on the pretext of protecting a country’s own citizens or embassy is not a true reason to fight terrorists.”
            “The U.S. and Western [countries] kept silent and supported ISIL during some years of terrorists fighting against Syria, but now they claim fight against terrorism in the region.”
Foreign Policy
            “Iranian people are men of ethics, morality and culture, wishing to lead peaceful co-existence with other nations. The reason is that in the past 100 to 200 years, Iran has not made any aggression on any country and has been only defendant to aggression, if any.
            “In the past year, leaders of many countries traveled to Iran. I traveled to several countries as well. Iran seeks good neighborly ties with the neighbors and the regional states with unity and fraternity.”
            “In the new era, we will have better relations with Turkey. We have difference of opinion with Turkey on the Syrian developments. No problem. We hope we will bring the differences to settlement.”
            “We want to have better relations with all the neighbors. Difference, if any, has nothing to do with our bilateral relations, rather, the differences we have about the region, ranging from North Africa to the Middle East, do still exist and may remain as well.”
            “Of course, if we reach an agreement with the P5+1 [on the nuclear issue], the conditions will be more different and it will be much easier to expand economic relations with all countries including China.”
Domestic Issues
             “As for the issues about the previous years and their backlash in the present time, we will act within framework of the law and our yardstick is the law. If the judiciary has sentenced a person to a prison term and he/she are deprived of the social rights. Let’s say, if the court has deprived one of the social rights, we have nothing to do.”
            “The predictions are all on the same basis and God willing, this year, we will witness positive growth, leaving behind recession and entering the era of economic boom.”
             “Efforts have been made to minimize negative growth in 1392 (2013-14) and in 1391 (2012-13) economic growth rate was minus 6.7 and in 1392 (2013-14) being minus 1.1 percent. We tried lower the negative growth to some extent.
             “In the field of energy, the government has made lots of efforts to sell oil and gas liquids to the extent the country needed as you see we are under the sanctions.”

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.

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