United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

World Bank: Easier to Do Business in Iran

            Iran was ranked 130 out of 189 economies by the World Bank in its new Doing Business report, two positions higher than last year. The report measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Iran ranked 62 for starting a business, 89 for acquiring credit and 172 for obtaining a construction permit. The following are excerpts from the report.

Starting a business
The Islamic Republic of Iran made starting a business easier by stream-lining the name reservation and company registration procedures.The Islamic Republic of Iran combined name reservation with company registration at a single window.
Getting electricity
The Islamic Republic of Iran made getting electricity easier by eliminating the need for customers to obtain an excavation permit for electricity connection works.
Data from World Bank
Difficulty of hiring
Fixed-term contracts prohibited for permanent tasks?
Maximum length of fixed-term contracts (months)
No limit
Minimum wage for a full-time worker (US$/month)
Ratio of minimum wage to value added per worker
Rigidity of hours
50-hour workweek allowed?
Maximum working days per week
Premium for night work (% of hourly pay)
Premium for work on weekly rest day (% of hourly pay)
Major restrictions on night work?
Major restrictions on night work?
Paid annual leave (working days)
Difficulty of redundancy
Maximum length of probationary
period (months)
Dismissal due to redundancy allowed by law?
Third-party notification if worker is dismissed?
Third-party approval if worker is dismissed?
Third-party notification if workers are dismissed?
Third-party approval if workers are dismissed?
Retraining or reassignment?
Priority rules for redundancies?
Priority rules for reemployment?
Redundancy Cost
Notice period for redundancy dismissal (weeks of salary)
Severance pay for redundancy dismissal (weeks of salary)
Research questions
Unemployment protection scheme?
Health insurance for permanent employees?


Click here for the full report.


Iran's Logic in Iraq War vs. Nuclear Talks

            A comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 may be possible prior to the November 24 deadline, despite widespread pessimism among analysts. In a new briefing, Seyedamir Hossein Mahdavi, a researcher at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University from 2013 to 2014, draws parallels between the conditions surrounding today’s nuclear negotiations and the conditions in 1988 when Iran agreed to accept a UN resolution to end the Iran-Iraq war. By examining the economic, religious, and ideological similarities between the two cases, Mahdavi concludes that Iranian leaders will likely be compelled to accept a nuclear deal. Just as the end of the Iran-Iraq war paved the way for renewed economic development, choosing the path of compromise in the nuclear negotiations would relieve sanctions and allow leaders to address the mounting economic crisis. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has referred to this as "heroic flexibility." The following are excerpts from the brief.

            To answer the myriad of questions surrounding the prospects of reaching a comprehensive agreement by the November deadline—or soon thereafter—requires insight into the Iranian regime’s decision-making process, insight that, for the most part, has eluded analysts due to the opaqueness of the Iranian political system. This Brief argues that a deeper insight is possible by comparing the circumstances and mechanisms that led to the Islamic Republic’s decision to end the war with Iraq in 1988 with those prevailing today.
            Using documents made public since 1988, this Brief demonstrates that although the political players have changed in the past two decades, there are important similarities between the conditions that prevailed and the logic that led to Iran’s decision to accept the UN proposal to end the war with Iraq and the conditions and logic that now affect its nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. The Brief makes this argument by comparing these two crises along three common dimensions: economic, religious, and ideological.
The Economic Dimension
            Iran’s economic crisis in 2012-13, when growth plunged to a low of negative 5.6 percent under crushing international sanctions, most resembles that of the final years of the Iran-Iraq war. Lack of resources during the second half of the 1980s had pushed the Iranian economy to an unmanageable brink. According to official Iranian reports, the dual necessity of fighting a prolonged war and providing for the population in the first decade after the 1979 revolution had created an unsustainable situation. According to former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iranian experts then estimated that in order to win the war against Iraq, several more years of fighting plus nuclear weapons were needed.
            Khomeini, who favored the prolongation of the war, suddenly shifted positions based on the warnings issued by economic experts, even though he never publicly acknowledged the economic constraints as reasons for accepting the ceasefire. Specifically, what seemed to have changed his mind was a letter he received from the head of the Budgeting and Planning Organization, which in addition to enumerating the myriad of economic problems the country was facing, claimed that the Islamic Republic had no choice now but to choose between “expanding the revolution” and “holding on to power.”
            Economic dilemmas have played the same role in the nuclear case as they did in forging the decision to accept peace with Iraq. To a large extent, Rouhani’s election reflected Khamenei’s acceptance of the need to deal with Iran’s deteriorating economy. In mid-2012, as the country experienced crippling recession and skyrocketing inflation three ministers from former President Mohammad Khatami’s reformist government (1997-2005) met with Khamenei and impressed upon him the dire state of Iran’s economic situation. This meeting seems to have set in motion a series of developments that eventually led Khamenei to support holding a competitive election in 2013 and to permit explicit criticism of the government’s nuclear policy—a subject which until then had been off-limits for public debate—that in turn set the stage for Rouhani’s success in the election.
            The strategy adopted by Khamenei echoes Khomeini’s historic phrase that “safeguarding the Islamic Republic is more obligatory than any religious duty.” The actions of both supreme leaders suggest that despite some of Iran’s ideologically motivated foreign policy maneuvers, macro foreign policy decisions are rooted in their economic ramifications and are based on practical considerations, namely the longevity of the regime.

The Religious Dimension
            As a Shi’a source of emulation (marja’), Khomeini combined his religious and political authority to reject the peace treaty signed by Imam Hassan. But the pro-peace camp in the government and parliament used the same Shi’a literature to sway Khomeini to accept the need to end the war. As debates and conflict over war or peace became more intense, Rafsanjani proposed a middle ground that was also predicated upon Shi’a teachings. At its core was the idea of peace after a victorious offensive on the enemy, a peace that was the result of triumph in the war followed by compromise—a combination of the different methods adopted by the two Imams. Fittingly, the last offensive in the Iran-Iraq war was called Karbala, in remembrance of Imam Hussein’s last battle.
            Khamenei has also used similar religious language to navigate between his own uncompromising rhetoric over the nuclear issue and the practical necessities of Iran’s economic situation. In 1996, in one of his most famous speeches titled “Lessons from Ashura,” Khamenei explicitly endorsed Imam Hussein’s policy of no-negotiations by stating that one was obliged to fight evil and that regardless of winning or losing, the outcome was victory. However, in 2013 when the economic conditions of the country had deteriorated in a fashion similar to that experienced during the final years of the Iran-Iraq war, Khamenei resorted to Imam Hassan’s peace, dubbing the new negotiating strategy of Iran as “heroic flexibility.”
The Ideological Dimension
            In today’s Iran, the political elite is roughly divided into two camps—representing the two poles of reconciliation and resistance—the “Worried” and the “Valiant.” By the end of the war with Iraq, the political elite was similarly divided between those favoring peace and those favoring the continuation of the war. The dominant inclination among the IRGC was to continue the war until victory, which was defined as capturing Karbala and toppling Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime. By contrast, most members of the executive branch and especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the pursuit of a peace based on preserving national sovereignty.
            Despite the obvious differences between the two camps over the continuation of the war, it was Khomeini’s maneuvers that actually prevented either side from completely eliminating the other. As mentioned earlier, until the last year of the war, Khomeini explicitly defended the war’s continuation to the degree that even to this day, the Iranian public continues to believe that while Khomeini wanted to continue the war, politicians such as Rafsanjani imposed the ceasefire on him.
            This dual approach is being repeated today by the second Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic with regard to the nuclear negotiations. Much like Khomeini, Khamenei consistently defines himself publicly as a supporter of “resistance” over the nuclear issue, while giving Rouhani’s moderate foreign policy team permission to actively engage in negotiations.
            Today in the public mind, Rouhani is identified with peace much like Rafsanjani was in the late 1980s. If reaching peace with Iraq had failed and the war continued, it would not have been possible to advance Rafsanjani’s plans for economic development during the second decade of the Islamic Republic. Iran’s power would have depreciated, the economy would have deteriorated, and those advocating for war would have been emboldened enough to outmaneuver Rafsanjani and his pragmatic allies. Now it is Rouhani who hopes to save Iran by achieving a nuclear agreement and resolving the deep economic crisis brought upon by sanctions. Should a nuclear agreement be concluded, the government will likely be able to bring the economy out of recession in time for the 2015 parliamentary campaigns. By improving the standard of living of Iranians, Rouhani can become powerful enough to push back against his extremist opponents. But if the negotiations fail, and subsequently the hardliners win a majority in the 2015 elections, Rouhani’s government will not be able to fulfill its economic promises or implement its political and cultural agenda as both will be blocked by the new parliament.
Click here for the full briefing
Tags: Nuclear

Economic Trends: Month of October

Garrett Nada

            The biggest news in October was President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement that oil revenues have been slashed 30 percent. The cut is due in part to the falling oil price, now at about $85 a barrel, the lowest since 2012. Iran is largely dependent on crude oil exports, which account for nearly 80 percent of Iran’s foreign revenue. So the fall in price has placed even more pressure on Rouhani’s government to secure a nuclear deal that will lift wide-ranging economic sanctions on Iran. 
The economy, however, is still projected to grow 2.2 percent in 2015, according to a new report released by International Monetary Fund. The interim nuclear deal, which was implemented in January, has enabled Iran to repatriate foreign oil revenues held overseas. In October, India transferred a $400 million oil payment to Iran’s central bank.
            Also in October, a flurry of statistics was released due to the close of the first half of the Iranian calendar year (March 21 to September 22). Some findings suggested that sectors of the economy are slowly recovering. For example, 400,000 Iranians reportedly found jobs and 520,000 vehicles were produced, nearly a 75 percent increase compared to last year. Iran’s oil and non-oil exports were also up compared to last year. 
            But many people are still struggling to make a living. Seven million Iranians, about eight percent of the population, are living in extreme poverty, according to Minister of Labor, Cooperatives and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei.
            Another significant development was Boeing’s sale of aircraft manuals, drawings, navigation charts and data to Iran Air —the first acknowledged deal between U.S. and Iranian aerospace companies since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis. The sales, however, only generated $120,000 in revenue and $12,000 in net profit in the quarter. The following is a run-down of the top economic stories with links.

Domestic Developments
Inflation: President Hassan Rouhani said inflation will fall below 20 percent by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2015). “Iran’s average monthly inflation increase was around 3 percent in the last year of the previous administration. But now the average monthly rise is around one percent,” he noted in a live television interview. Inflation is now at about 21 percent. “We are containing the inflation, and simultaneously snapping economy out of recession,” said Rouhani.
Economic Projections: Iran’s economy is projected to grow 2.2 percent in terms of real gross domestic product in 2015, according to The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook for October. In April, the group had predicted a growth rate of 2.3 percent.
Iran’s economy is projected to grow by three percent this year, according to the governor of Iran’s Central Bank, Valiollah Seif. “The economic situation in Iran is on the mend,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg. “The economic program we have right now is based on the fact the sanctions will continue, so this is a given assumption,” said Seif. “Naturally, if sanctions are removed, we would experience much better results.”
Employment: Some 400,000 jobseekers found employment during the first six months of the current Iranian year (March 21 to September 22), according to President Rouhani’s advisor for supervision and strategic affairs, Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht.
Iran needs to create 8 million new jobs in the near future to employ those currently out of work, according to Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia. The workforce is expected to grow from 22 million to 25 million within seven years, which will require the creation of 13 million new jobs, according to the Ministry of Labor, Cooperatives, and Social Welfare.
Poverty: Some seven million Iranians, about eight percent of the population, are living in extreme poverty, according to Minister of Labor, Cooperatives and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei. “The poverty is linked to gender too, such that women breadwinners are twice more likely to live in poverty compared to men,” he said at a conference on development and education equality. Rabiei warned that urban poverty has been on the rise for the past decade. He also announced that the government will introduce programs for eradicating illiteracy, one for people under age 30 and one for older adults.
Living costs: The prices of some staple foods in Iran have risen significantly since last year, despite the Rouhani administration’s efforts to stabilize inflation. The price of milk has risen 28 percent and the price of eggs has risen 24 percent, according to one Tehran resident interviewed by the Financial Times. Official statistics show that food prices have generally risen 6-12 percent since last year.
The living cost of an urban household in Iran was about $18 million rials or $560 per month during the first quarter of the year, according to a survey conducted by the Statistical Center of Iran. The living cost for a rural household averaged about $340 per month.
Banking: International banks are still avoiding dealing with Iran for fear of violating U.S. and E.U. sanctions. They are even shying away from processing humanitarian deals, according to Tehran-based Middle East Bank’s chief executive, Parviz Aghili. "Going through a very simple process of opening letters of credit for the importation of goods, even humanitarian goods, has become much more difficult and a hassle," Aghili told Reuters.
Automobiles: Iranian automakers produced more than 520,000 vehicles in the first half of the Iranian year, a 74.3 percent rise compared to the same period last year, according to the Financial Tribune.
Steel:  Iran’s steel production during the first nine months of 2014, 12.1 million tons, increased by six percent compared to the same period in 2013, according to state news.
International News
Foreign Trade: Iran’s foreign trade volume grew 22 percent to more than $53 billion during the first six months of the Iranian calendar year, according to the head of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, Valiollah Afkhami-Rad. In an interview, he projected foreign trade to reach $110 billion by March 2015. So far, Iran’s major exports included propane, methanol and bitumen. The main destinations for goods, in descending order, were China, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Turkey.
Oil, Petrochemicals and Natural Gas: Crude oil revenues have been cut by about 30 percent, according to President Rouhani. “We have to deal with the new conditions and the global economic conditions. In the issue of oil, the economy has not been the sole important factor and international politics and plots have been also involved,” he told parliament, likely referring to the drop in oil prices worldwide.
Iran exported 7.8 million tons of petrochemical products worth some $5.1 billion during the first half of the Iranian calendar year, according to the National Petrochemical Company’s production manager, Ali Mohammad Bosaqzadeh. The value of the exported products increased by seven percent compared to last year.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned against relying on oil revenues. “Iran should be managed through reliance on its internal forces and the resources on the ground, meaning the youth's intelligence and talent, and production of science and knowledge and if so, no world power can turn the country's economy into a plaything,” he said on October 22.
Iran exported $6.5 billion worth of natural gas condensates during the first half of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21 to Sept 22). The amount represents an 85-percent increase compared to last year.
Non-Oil Exports: Iran exported $16.7 billion worth of non-oil goods during the first half of the current Iranian calendar year. Exports to Asia, which accounted for 93 percent of total exports, increased by nine percent in comparison to the same period last year. And exports to Europe increased by 33 percent.
The government plans to boost non-oil exports to $61 billion in value by March 2015, according to the deputy chairman of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, Yaghmour Gholizadeh. The Islamic Republic actually registered an overall trade surplus of some two billion dollars between March and September 2014.
Non-oil exports from Shahid Bahonar Port in Bandar Abbas increased by 231 percent during the first half of the Iranian year compared to the same period last year, according to an official from the ports and maritime organization.
European Union: The value of Iran’s exports to the European Union increased by 77 percent in August 2014 compared to August 2013. The value of the goods reached $102 million, according to Eurostat. The total trade turnover from January to August 2014 between Iran and the 28 E.U. member states totaled $5.8 billion.
Boeing: Boeing, a U.S.-based aerospace and defense company, announced that it sold aircraft manuals, drawings, navigation charts and data to Iran Air. The sale marked the first publically acknowledged transaction between U.S. and Iranian aerospace companies since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis. The sales generated some $120,000 in revenue and $12,000 in net profit in the quarter.
Ease of Doing Business: Iran was ranked 130 out of 189 economies by the World Bank in its new Doing Business report, two positions higher than last year. The report measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Iran ranked 62 for starting a business, 89 for acquiring credit and 172 for obtaining a construction permit.
Data from World Bank
Iraq: Iran exported some $5.5 billion in technical and engineering services and other commodities to Iraq between March and September 2014, according to the head of the Iran-Iraq joint chamber of commerce, Jahanbakhsh Sanjabi Shirazi. Iran’s Export Development Bank allocated $300 million to further boost exports to Iraq.
India: India transferred a $400 million oil payment to Iran’s central bank via the United Arab Emirate’s central bank. Under the interim nuclear deal that took effect in January, Tehran received $4.2 billion in blocked funds across the world. Iran was later granted access to another $2.8 billion, of which some $1.4 billion has been repatriated.
Turkey: President Rouhani reiterated Iran’s determination to boost its trade with Turkey to $30 billion by 2015 in a meeting with Turkish Ambassador to Tehran Reza Hakan Tekin. Bilateral trade value in the first half of 2014 totaled $6.5 billion, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.
Germany: Michael Tockus, chairman of the Germany-Iran Chamber of Commerce, pledged to continue enhancing trade relations between the two countries, irrespective of the outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers. “The present improving trend will continue even if there will be no change in the West's economic sanctions against Iran,” he told reporters in Berlin.
United Kingdom: A group of Iranian businessmen hosted a forum in London on E.U.-Iran trade relations. The purpose of the event, held in cooperation with the European Voice newspaper, was to “evaluate the post-sanctions trade framework and investment opportunities.” No current U.K. or E.U. officials participated. But former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine attended. And U.K. and U.S. officials reportedly attended as observers, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Tags: Economy

Khamenei Comments: The West Created ISIS

            In his speeches, interviews, and tweets from September and October, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented on the Islamic State, the economy, women, and the death of Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani.
            In a speech on September 4, Khamenei claimed that the West is responsible for creating ISIS and other jihadist groups in the Middle East to undermine Iran. During an interview on the same subject, he also ruled out cooperating with the United States against ISIS, stating that “we will not cooperate with America particularly because their hands are dirty.”
            On the economy, the Supreme Leader warned against relying too heavily on oil, and called for more scientific research to help boost growth. Khamenei's office also tweeted frequently about women’s issues, expressing support for women’s education and economic activities.
            The following are excerpts from his key speeches and statements in September and October.
The Islamic State
            "[The West] claims that [creating orientations such as al Qaeda and DAESH] has nothing to do with them, but everyone knows that they are involved. Once, I quoted a statement from a well-known American politician, but they denied it later on. It can be witnessed that they have created these orientations. They themselves acknowledge that it was they who created these orientations. Even if they do not acknowledge it, we have certain evidence which proves it. We know it.”
            “There is no doubt that these orientations have been created by these western powers and their regional agents. It is possible that they are not directly involved in some cases and that they use their agents for this purpose. Of course, they were directly involved in some cases as well. On the issue of Taliban, I do not forget that American newspapers somehow supported and promoted the ideas of Taliban. They did not do it openly and outspokenly, but in fact, their propaganda work was based on promoting Taliban during a time when it had just been formed.”
            Sept. 4, 2014 in a
speech at a meeting of the Assembly of Experts

            “During the past two, three days, I had a source of entertainment which was listening to the statements of the Americans on the issue of DAESH [ISIS] and fighting against it. They made absurd, hollow and biased statements. One of the issues which was really a source of amusement for me was that the American secretary of state and the girl who stands there and talks, openly said, ‘We will not invite Iran to the coalition against DAESH’ First, what honor is greater than the fact that America is disappointed with us and does not want us to participate in a wrong collective task. This is a source of pride for us, not a source of regret.”
            “Second, I witnessed that all of them are lying. Since the first days that the issue of DAESH arose, the Americans asked our ambassador in Iraq - through their ambassador - to organize a meeting and reach an agreement on the issue of DAESH. Our ambassador relayed this inside the country and some of our officials were not against it. But I was against it and said, ‘On this issue, we will not cooperate with America particularly because their hands are dirty. How can we cooperate on this issue with those whose hands and intentions are dirty?’”
            Sept. 8, 2014 in an interview
            “This takfiri orientation - the thing that has emerged in Iraq, Syria and some other regional countries today and that confronts all Muslims, not just Shias - is the handicraft of colonialists themselves. They made something called al-Qaida and DAESH in order to confront the Islamic Republic and the movement of the Islamic Awakening. However, this product has become a burden for them.”
            “We see that the unreal effort which America and its allies are making in the region today under the name of confronting DAESH is, in fact, an effort for channeling enmities among Muslims more than it is an effort for nipping this evil movement in the bud. They try to pit Muslims against one another. Today, they have chosen this ignorant, prejudiced, fossilized and dependent group as the element for doing this. Otherwise, the goal is the same old goal.”
            “If someone does something to provoke the feelings of the other side and to create enmity, they should certainly know that they are helping America, vile England and Zionism. They should know that they are helping those people who create DAESH, al-Qaida and the like and who create the takfiri orientation in order to create discord between Shia and Sunni. Today, Islamic unity, Islamic brotherhood and Islamic solidarity is one of the most necessary and urgent responsibilities for all Islamic societies. All of us should be committed to this responsibility.”
            Sept. 13, 2014 in a speech on the occasion Eid al-Ghadir



             “The country’s economy should rely on the brilliant talents of its young students and elites and not on underground resources.”
            “As emphasized on the directive issued recently for the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, scientific movement should not be stopped, since any lag in this movement would lead to retrogression.”
           “With rapid scientific progress, Iran has not yet found its place it should have, since it had been lagging behind since long ago; so, it is necessary to push scientific movement forward with all necessary components as science-based economy.”
            “In an economy relying on the ready-made oil and gas and other underground resources, the system would be too tedious to produce innovations; neither would it foster elites, with no real progress in the path to success.”
            “A country relying on crude oil to handle its economy and the well-off child are the same in this regard.”

            “Any policy tailoring its economy on oil would be tantamount to leave it on the mercy of brute forces of international economics given the fluctuations in crude prices; any country with such policies would have imagine its future very grim.”
            “A well-connected chain should incorporate all organizations in production of knowledge, where all rings of the chain would work in harmony with other members.”
           Oct. 22, 2014 according to Mehr News


Death of Ayatollah Mohammadreza Mahdavi Kani
            On October 21, Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani passed away at the age of 83. He was the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a group of clerics responsible for overseeing the activities of the Supreme Leader.

            “This great and pious man appeared always and everywhere in the position of a religious scholar and an honest politician and a candid revolutionary.”
            Oct. 23, 2014 according to the press



Latest on Nuke Talks: What Iran, P5+1 Say

           Less than 30 days remain until the November 24 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. Leaders on both sides have noted that there has been progress on key issues and remain hopeful that a deal can be reached before the deadline. Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasized sanctions relief and the right to a peaceful nuclear program. Both sides have claimed that the other will be at fault if a deal is not reached in time. The following are excerpted remarks by officials on the status of the nuclear talks.

United States
President Barack Obama
             “Our number one priority with respect to Iran is making sure they don't get nuclear weapon. And because of the unprecedented sanctions that this administration put forward and mobilized the world to abide by, they got squeezed, their economy tanked, and they came to the table in a serious way for the first time in a very, very long time. We've now had significant negotiations. They have abided by freezing their program and, in fact, reducing their stockpile of nuclear-grade material or-- or weapons-grade nuclear material. And the question now is are we going to be able to close this final gap so that they can reenter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced, and we have verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can't develop a nuclear weapon. There's still a big gap. We may-- may not be able to get there.”
              Nov. 9, 2014 in an interview with CBS News
             “Whether we can actually get a deal done, we’re going to have to find out over the next three to four weeks. We have presented to them a framework that would allow them to meet their peaceful energy needs. And if, in fact, what their leadership says, that they don’t want to develop a nuclear a weapon -- if that is, in fact, true, then they’ve got an avenue here to provide that assurance to the world community, and in a progressive, step-by-step, verifiable way, allow them to get out from under sanctions so that they can reenter as full-fledged members of the international community.
            “But they have their own politics, and there’s a long tradition of mistrust between the two countries. And there’s a sizeable portion of the political elite that cut its teeth on anti-Americanism and still finds it convenient to blame America for every ill that there is. And whether they can manage to say yes to what clearly would be better for Iran, better for the region, and better for the world, is an open question. We’ll find out over the next several weeks.”
            Nov. 5, 2014 in a press conference
Secretary of State John Kerry
            “On the issue of the Iran nuclear talks, we are gearing up and targeting November 24th. We’re not talking about or thinking about going beyond that date. That’s a critical date. And we believe it is imperative for a lot of different reasons to get this done. Most people don’t understand why, if you’re simply trying to show that a program is peaceful, it would take so long. People want to know that the transparency and accountability necessary to get this done is on the table, and we ought to be able to reach agreement. So our press is to try to get this done. And I think that it gets more complicated if you can’t. It’s not impossible if you’re not able to, but I think let’s see what happens when we bear down as we are.
            “An enormous amount of work has gone into this. For months upon months, we’ve had expert teams sitting down, working through details, looking at all of the technical information that is necessary to be able to make a judgment about what the impact of a particular decision is. Some of it’s very complicated, and we’ve tried to reduce it to as simple and understandable a format as possible. And it’s been very constructive. The Iranian team has worked hard and seriously. The conversations have been civil and expert.
            “And my hope is that now is the moment for really political decisions to be made that make a judgment that we can show the world that countries with differing views, differing systems, but with a mutual interest of trying to prove a peaceful program can in fact do that and get the job done. So we’re very hopeful about that, and I have every intent of making myself available and doing everything necessary to try to do that. And I’m confident that Foreign Minister Zarif will likewise make himself available and continue to push forward.”
            Nov. 5, 2014 in a press briefing after meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
SECRETARY KERRY : Well, we’re closer [to a deal] than we were a week ago or 10 weeks ago, but we’re still with big gaps…
AL HUNT: In these next three and a half weeks, do you have any plans to meet with high-level Iranians on this issue?
SECRETARY KERRY: I am meeting on the 9th of November. I will be meeting with the foreign minister directly. We’ll have two days. We will be beginning a slog of going into the last two weeks. Our expert team will be on the ground with a constant process. We’ll be in Vienna for the final days with the P5+1, all of us together trying to come to some kind of an agreement.
AL HUNT: Mr. Secretary, there are reports that the Iranians believe – they’ve indicated to some people that their leverage has been enhanced in these negotiations because of their role in fighting ISIS. Is that a correct reading?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me use this program to deliver a very clear message to the Iranians, which is: This is not a political decision for us. This is a substantive decision based on the proof of a peaceful program. It’s not hard to prove your program is peaceful if that’s what you want to do. So outside leverage, Syria, ISIL, whatever, is not relevant to this. It’s not affecting us one way or the other. We have one set of criteria within our mind.
There are four pathways to a nuclear weapon. One is the secret underground facility known as Fordow, one is the Natanz enrichment facility that is known to everybody, a sort of well-identified building. The third is the Arak, as it is called, plutonium heavy water reactor. And the fourth is the covert, whatever you aren’t sure of because it’s not clear to you, and therefore you need sufficient verification and sufficient transparency to be able to determine that there isn’t that path being pursued. That’s things like, for instance, knowing you have an eye on the production of uranium and how much uranium and where it’s going and how many centrifuges and these kinds of things.
So those four pathways need to be closed off. We’re looking to the Iranians to be as responsible as they have said they will be and as forthcoming as they have promised, which is to be transparent and allow the proof of this peaceful program.
             Oct. 31, 2014 in an interview with Al Hunt of Bloomberg News on the Charlie Rose Show
            “I’m not going to give it odds [successfully brokering a nuclear deal].  As I said to the President recently, I’m not going to express optimism; I’m going to express hope and I think achieving it is critical.  But I will say this to everybody:  We’ve set a very clear standard.  There are four present pathways to a bomb for Iran – the hidden so-called secret facility in a mountain called Fordow, the open Natanz enrichment facility, the plutonium heavy-water reactor called Arak, and then, of course, covert activities.  We’ve pledged that our goal is to shut off each pathway sufficient that we know we have a breakout time of a minimum of a year that gives us the opportunity to respond if they were to try to do that.
            “We believe there are ways to achieve that.  Whether Iran can make the tough decisions that it needs to make will be determined in the next weeks, but I have said consistently that no deal is better than a bad deal.  And we’re going to be very careful, very much based on expert advice, fact, science as to the choices we make.  This must not be a common ideological or a political decision.  And if we can do what we’ve said, what the President set out in his policy – the President said they will not get a bomb.  If we could take this moment of history and change this dynamic, the world would be a lot safer and we’d avoid a huge arms race in the region where Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians, others may decide that if they’re moving towards a bomb, they got to move there too, and obviously it’s a much more dangerous world.  And that is not a part of the world where you want massive uninspected, unverified, nontransparent nuclear activities.  So that’s what we’re trying to do.” 
            Oct. 30, 2014 at the Washington Idea Forums hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic
            “We hope we can get there but we can’t make any predictions.”
            “It’s imperative obviously, that Iran work with us in all possible effort to prove to the world the [nuclear] program is peaceful.”
            Nov. 18, 2014 according to the press
Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
            “Our bottom line is unambiguous, crystal clear, and, quite frankly, written in stone: Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
            “If [a deal] does not happen, the responsibility will be seen by all to rest with Iran.”
            “Such a plan, if fully implemented, would give confidence that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and would enable the Iranian people to look forward to a much brighter future.”
            “We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text. However, like any complicated and technically complex diplomatic initiative, this is a puzzle with many interlocking pieces.”
            Oct. 23, 2014 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki
            “We’re still very focused on making progress and seeing if we can get a deal done before the deadline in all of our meetings. There’s still time to do so. This was an opportunity to have follow-on discussions with Secretary Kerry, EU High Representative Ashton, Foreign Minister Zarif. They had two lengthy meetings yesterday; two today as well. The discussions have been tough, direct, and serious. And as you know, the political directors will continue to stay in Oman for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. They’ll be reconvening, of course, for the already-announced round of meetings that are next week in Europe.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 in a daily press briefing
U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken
            "Right now, I think it's going to be difficult to get to where we want to go. It's not impossible."
            "It depends entirely on whether Iran is willing to take the steps it must take to convince us, to convince our partners, that its program would be for entirely peaceful purposes...As we speak, we're not there."
            Nov. 19, 2014 in a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
President Hassan Rouhani
            "Tehran has taken highly positive steps in the nuclear talks with the P5+1 and if the negotiating sides also [prove to] have the necessary political will in this regard, reaching a comprehensive agreement will be possible within the next month."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
            "Iran has made its utmost efforts...and made the necessary adjustments to its demands and we hope that all the P5+1 countries, particularly the US, which occasionally seeks excessive demands in the nuclear talks, will understand the circumstances."
            "If the P5+1  and certain countries pursue a goal to impede Iran's development and are looking for a pretext, this issue is impossible and our nation will never give up the path of development and its rights."
            "This issue is not legal and rational and all the P5+1 members should heed the long-term interests of countries and the region."
            Nov. 12, 2014, according to the press
            "If the other side negotiating with the Islamic Republic of Iran has the political will for an agreement and does not make excessive demands, the situation is ripe for achieving a deal."
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to the press

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
             “If the Western side can trust that our aim is peaceful and they don’t have political motives, now is a good time to set the framework of the agreement.”
            Nov. 8, 2014, according to the press
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always had a peaceful nuclear program and in line with the religious decree issued by the Leader banning use and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, WMD has no place in our defense doctrine.”
            “If Western countries are ensured that our nuclear program seeks peaceful ends and if they abandon political adventurism, this is a propitious time to hammer out a deal.”
            “There are some strong solutions, and what prevented an agreement were political reservations by the P5+1 negotiators; we still hope to reach a solution with all these technicalities.”
            Nov. 9, 2014 according to the press
            “It is important for the West to understand that sanctions have never contributed to the resolution of this issue, sanctions are not a part of a solution, sanctions are the most important part of the problem, they're illegal in nature, they must be removed, they have not produced any positive result.
            “The only thing that sanctions have produced for the West are about 19,000 centrifuges.”
            Nov. 10, 2014, according to the press
            “The issue of sanctions and its margins will fail to overshadow the will of the Iranian nation to preserve their rights in using peaceful nuclear energy.”
            Nov. 11, 2014, in a meeting with Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud
            "If, because of excessive demands ... we don't get a result, then the world will understand that the Islamic Republic sought a solution, a compromise and a constructive agreement and that it will not renounce its rights and the greatness of the nation.”
            Nov. 18, 2014 according to the press
            “As we have said since the very first day, if the other side shows political will for reaching a solution, numerous proposals exist and have been raised to make sure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.”
            “We had good talks and decided on how to continue negotiations in the coming days and the rest depends on the political will to achieve results.”
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to the press
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyed Abbas Araghchi
            "All nuclear capabilities of Iran will be preserved and no facility will be shut down or even suspended, and no device or equipment will be dismantled."
            “We will not retreat one iota from the country’s nuclear rights, but we are fully ready for transparency and confidence-building.”
            “All sanctions should be lifted and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept even a single instance of sanctions to remain in place under a [final] comprehensive nuclear deal.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
            “Neither of the negotiating parties is interested in extending [the deadline of] the talks. All sides are determined to achieve an agreement prior to the deadline. Therefore, extension is not on the agenda of any of the parties.”
            Oct. 26, 2014 according to the press
            “It is not clear if negotiations will reach a conclusion within the specified time frame” unless the other side gives up its “illogical excessive demands.”
            “Undoubtedly, trying to launch negotiations through media instead of [from behind] the negotiating table will not only make matters more difficult for progress in talks and reaching a comprehensive agreement, but it will also make it more difficult to continue on the current path particularly when it is accompanied by illogical excessive demands.”
            “We also believe that both sides have a real opportunity which may not be available again. We are sure that if the other side is genuine and committed to its claim to make sure Iran’s nuclear energy program is peaceful, then reaching this goal is not very difficult. ”
            “There will be no damage to the country’s research and development and, more importantly, industrial enrichment will continue with force and within the framework of the country’s needs. At the same time, all sanctions must be lifted and eliminated; and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept any sanctions within the framework of a comprehensive nuclear deal – not even one.”
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered negotiations based on a fundamental premise against all weapons of mass destructions including nuclear weapons. This is based on the Fatwa of the Supreme Leader and (Iran) will continue with goodwill until a final conclusion is reached.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to Iran’s Nuclear Energy page
            "Iran's negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) is progressing on a hard path with ups and downs and there is no bright perspective envisaged for its ending by the deadlines."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
“After hours of discussions, we are not still in a position to say whether we have made progress, nor are we in the position to say there has been a setback.”
            “Every subject being mooted, entails lateral issues and complications like the technical, legal and political issues.”
            “We will keep making our efforts and the positive point is that all sides are serious and the demand to reach the deal is serious for all parties.”
            Nov. 10, 2014, according to the press
            “Negotiations and discussions during the past two days were very useful. But we are not still in a position to say that we have made progress. It’s yet to be done in the coming days. We would be available as much as needed here in Oman or in any other places before the deadline of November 24. We are still hopeful.”
            A deal will require “lots of goodwill by all parties and of course readiness to make difficult decisions.”
            “It’s a fact that based on a possible comprehensive solution all the sanctions should be lifted. Iran would certainly continue its enrichment, but the question is the capacity of this enrichment which should be determined based on our practical needs and that would be something we are very hopeful to come to at the end of these negotiations.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 to Press TV
            “All parties are serious about the talks and we intend to hold as many meetings as needed by the deadline.”
            Nov. 12, 2014, according to Mehr News
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani
            “Unfortunately, the West’s double-standard approach to disarmament has not helped [efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation].”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
            “As regards the nuclear issue, Iran believes in continued negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of the restoration of all its rights and respect for the existing laws.”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
            “Lifting all cruel sanctions and [Iran’s] entitlement to full legal rights within the framework of the NPT must be included in any agreement [on Tehran’s nuclear energy program].”
            “Internal divisions within [other] countries and [their] excessive demands will have no impact on the will of the Iranian negotiating team”
            “If the opposite side has a rational and apolitical approach based on realities, it will be possible to reach an agreement in the nuclear talks.”
            Nov. 16, 2014, in a meeting with a member of the central committee of China’s communist party
Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
            “We will not give up an iota of our rights and the Islamic Revolution values in the nuclear negotiations.”
            “If, God willing, the talks reach a conclusion, everyone will see that we have not given up [our nuclear rights].”
            “We want all sanctions to be lifted.”
            Nov 18, 2014 according to the press
Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran’s Majlis Alaeddin Boroujerdi
            “If this [final] agreement is not signed, it is as clear as day that the excessive demands of Americans have been the factor behind the failure of the negotiations.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
            “The fact that recent negotiations, including Muscat talks, failed to bear any results is due to extra demands of the US and unfair sanctions they insist not to be removed all at once.”
            “All sanctions should be removed at once, as they are on the pretext of a nuclear issue”
            Nov. 15, 2014, according to the press
Senior advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati
            “We are confident that in the end, even if Iran-P5+1 negotiations last for a long time, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be the winner.”
            “Iran's stance is that it plans to benefit from peaceful nuclear energy within the framework of international regulations and supervision.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press  
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
            “Negotiations are moving in a difficult path with many ups and downs.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to NuclearEnergy.ir
Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not agree to the sanctions being removed one by one.”
            “The West must remove the sanctions against Iran all at once.”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
            “If the westerners are really after settling Iran's nuclear issue, they shouldn’t seek excuses and should try to cope with Iran's realities.”
            “We are not thinking about extending the negotiations as we are trying to reach the desirable results in the specified period of time (left to the deadline).”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
            "We definitely are at a critical stage. There is not very much time left before Nov. 24 and the issues remain more or less the same."
            "If we cannot come to a conclusion by Nov. 24, I am sure that those who are performing an objective analysis of the situation definitely will not blame Iran for the possible lack of progress, because Iran has shown its determination to finish the job."
            "Enrichment is one [of the main points of contention], of course, and the sanctions, but we also talk about [the] Arak [research reactor] and a number of other things about which we have to come to an agreement. In our judgment the Americans do not want to appreciate what's happening on the ground in Iran as far as the nuclear capabilities and capacities are concerned. We have about 20,000 centrifuges, almost half of which are producing nuclear material, the other half are only spinning. We can't just turn back the clock and say, "now we are in 2005" and are offering what we have offered then."
            "You have to keep the status quo! But we are ready to accept some limits to our activities for a specific period of time. And after that specific time we need to be treated like any other member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."
            Nov. 10, 2014 in an interview with
Spiegel Online
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi
            Recent agreement between Iran and Russia for construction of two power plants and the protocol to produce nuclear fuel in Iran “will make our stances stronger in talks with Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany.”
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to The Iran Project
Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Avaz Heidarpour
            "The US is looking for troubling the talks, but Iran is committed to negotiations to resolve its nuclear standoff with the West."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
Member of the Presiding Board of Iran’s Majlis Hossein Sobhani-Nia
            “The Islamic Republic has never accepted the issue of suspension, but the removal of sanctions has been the key issue for us.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
            “The foreign policy chiefs noted that talks on the settlement of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program have real chances to lead to concrete agreements, but additional efforts must be applied.”
            Oct. 24, 2014 according to The Iran Project
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
            “The organizational meeting of international mediators in Vienna on November 7 has helped us to move forward in this direction.”
            “All participants [of the meeting] voiced additional proposals. We are determined to put it all together in such a way that key compromises could be reached before the deadline [on November 24].”
            Nov. 7, 2014 after a meeting with negotiators from the P5+1 countries

United Kingdom
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
            "I'm not optimistic that we can get everything done by Monday [November 24]."
            "But I think if we make some significant movement we may be able to find a way of extending the deadline to allow us to get to the final deal if we're making a good progress in the right direction."
            "We do very much want to see a deal done with Iran, but we don't want to do a bad deal. Better then no deal than a bad deal."
            "The right deal with Iran has to be one which gives us the assurance we need that Iran's program is exclusively targeted at civil nuclear use, has no military dimension at all and where Iran's enrichment capacity is limited to a level which does not present any military threat."
            Nov. 19, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
            "We want a deal, but important points of difference remain."
            "We hope that we can reduce those in the coming days, but that will depend on the attitude of the Iranians."
            Nov. 20, 2014 in a joint statement with John Kerry at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris


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