United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Poll: Jewish Support for Iran Strike Drops

            Some 52 percent American Jews would support a U.S. strike on Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail, according to a new poll by the American Jewish Committee. In the 2012 poll, about 64 percent of respondents supported a strike. The organization noted a smaller drop in support for a potential Israeli strike, 67 percent in 2013 down from 72.5 percent in 2012.
            American Jews were almost evenly divided in assessing the likelihood that diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. About 46 percent thought diplomacy and sanctions were very or somewhat likely to work while just over half disagreed.
            When asked if they approved of President Obama’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program, 45 percent somewhat approved. The rest were split in their level of disapproval. A Pew Research poll released in October also showed that that about half of American Jews approve of President Obama’s Iran policy, compared with 45 percent of the public overall. The following are excerpted results with links to the full reports at the end.  

2013 American Jewish Committee Survey
Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Obama is handling Iran’s nuclear program?
How concerned are you about the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons?
            Very Concerned 55%
            Somewhat Concerned 29%
            Not Too Concerned 11%
            Not Concerned At All 4%
How likely do you think that a combination of diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons?
            Very Likely 10%
            Somewhat Likely 36%
            Somewhat Unlikely 27%
            Very Unlikely 25%
If diplomacy and sanctions fail, would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
            Support Strongly 24%
            Support Somewhat 28%
            Oppose Somewhat 28%
            Oppose Strongly 17%
If diplomacy and sanctions fail, would you support or oppose Israel taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
            Support Strongly 35%
            Support Somewhat 32%
            Oppose Somewhat 18%

            Oppose Strongly 12%

Click herefor the full AJC poll.


Pew Research: A Portrait of Jewish Americans

















Click here for the full Pew study.


Iran’s Breakout Time Shortening

            Iran may need as little as one month to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb, according to new report by the Institute for Science and International Security. But Tehran would need to go to extremes to enrich uranium that fast. The report presents several different processes Iran could use to produce enough fissile material. Most options would require a few months. One method could even take more than 11 months.
            The institute updated its previous report, released in 2012, because Iran has since installed additional centrifuges for uranium enrichment, including more advanced IR-2m models at the Natanz facility.
            The new estimate, however, does not include the substantial additional time Tehran would need to develop a warhead and marry it to an effective delivery system, like a ballistic missile. But the report warns that “these preparations would most likely be conducted at secret test sites and would be difficult to detect.”
            Therefore, the authors —including former U.N. weapons inspector and Iran Primer author David Albright—argue that the most practical strategy for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is to “prevent it from accumulating sufficient nuclear explosive material, particularly in secret or without adequate warning.” The following are excerpts with a link to the full text at the end.

            Today, Iran could break out most quickly using a three-step process with its installed centrifuges and its LEU [low-enriched uranium] stockpiles as of August 2013. In this case, Iran could produce one SQ [amount needed for a weapon] in as little as approximately 1.0–1.6 months, if it uses all its near 20 percent LEU hexafluoride stockpile. Using only 3.5 percent LEU, Iran would need at least 1.9 to 2.2 months and could make approximately 4 SQs of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] using all its existing 3.5 percent LEU stockpile.
            The shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran. An essential finding is that they are currently too short and shortening further, based on the current trend of centrifuge deployments. As a result, the current negotiations should result in:
            ·lengthening the breakout times,
            ·shortening the time to detect breakout, and
            ·gaining assurance that a secret centrifuge plant is unlikely to be built or finished.
Table 5 Estimated Minimal Breakout Times, in months, as of August 2013
Scenario 1: Breakout with only enriching centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow
Four step
            Without use of LEU inventory                            9.0-9.6
            With use of LEU inventory                                 2.3-3.2
Three step                                                                       1.3-2.3
Two step                                                                          n.a.
Scenario 2: Breakout with all installed centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow
Four step
            Without use of LEU inventory                             5.4-6.8
            With use of LEU inventory                                  1.7-2.3
Three step
            With use of both 3.5% and near 20%               1.0-1.6
            With use of 3.5% LEU and no 20% LEU          1.9-2.2
Two step (not enough near 20 percent as of August but close)           
            If 205kg near 20% LEU hexafluoride                1.0–1.2
If 250 kg near 20% LEU hexafluoride                           0.7–0.8
Scenario 3: Covert Facility of IR-2m Centrifuges Optimized for WGU Production with Separative power of 3-5 SWU/yr
            From 0.7% to 90%                                              2.55-4.25
            From 3.5% to 90%                                              0.73-1.22
            From 19.75% to 90%                                          0.15-0.25
Scenario 4: Covert Facility of IR-2m Centrifuges Using More Realistic, Multi-Step Cascade Setup and Separative Power of 3-5 SWU/yr
Four step
            Without use of LEU inventory                             6.4-11.3
            With use of LEU inventory                                  1.6-2.6
Three step
            With use of both 3.5% and near 20%                1.3-2.3
            With use of 3.5% LEU and no 20% LEU           2.2-4.5
Two step
            With 250 kg near 20% LEU hexafluoride          0.7-1.4
            With 205 kg near 20% LEU hexafluoride          1.1-2.3
Click here for the full summary.
Click here for more information what Iran would need to do to build a bomb.

U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Chief on Iran

            On November 1, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief, Yukiya Amano, said that talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program have progressed significantly since the election of President Hassan Rouhani. “There was some real change” in Iran’s tone during the last two meetings with the International Atomic Energy Agency in September and October, he said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. But Amano also noted that the agency still requires verification of activities at 12 sites, including the Parchin military complex near Tehran.  


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UN Report: Deepening Human Rights Crisis

            On October 22, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran released a new report on violations in the Islamic Republic. It stated that:

            “At the heart of the deepening human rights crisis in the Islamic Republic of Iran is its disregard for the pre-eminence of rights and standards promulgated by treaties to which it is a party. Its culturally relativistic positions on human rights result in broad restrictions on fundamental rights and limit who can enjoy those rights on the basis of gender, ethnicity, ideology, political opinion, religion or culture.”
            Iran criticized the U.N. report in a 56-page response. Tehran challenged Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed’s sources and called his approach “politicized.” The following are key excerpts on various issues from the report and Iran’s response.  
U.N. Report
Freedom of expression, access to information and association
6. A number of Iranian laws and policies, including the 1986 Press Law, the 2009 Computer Crimes Law and the 2010 Cybercrime Law, continue to flagrantly violate the right to freedom of expression and access to information under international law.
Also of concern are reports that the Government considers 600 Iranian journalists to be part of an anti-State network, that it has stated that journalists are arrested to prevent them from engaging in “seditious activities” and that the Government broadened the scope of sanctioned expression in February 2013 to include online content that either encouraged boycotts of the 2013 presidential election or mocked its candidates. In its comments, the Government asserts that freedoms are determined on the basis of their conformity with Islamic standards and that elected officials establish laws through a democratic process and therefore they do not violate freedom of expression or access to information.
7. Some 67 Internet cafes were reportedly closed in July 2013, authorities have reportedly announced that up to 5 million websites are blocked, and in April 2013 officials estimated that some 1,500 “anti-religious websites”, such as those containing pro-Wahhabi or Baha’i content, are blocked per month, as well as those dedicated to news, music and women’s rights, web pages maintained by ethnic minorities and social media sites.
8. At least 40 journalists, as well as 29 bloggers and online activists, are reportedly serving sentences in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and at least 23 journalists have reportedly been arrested since January 2013 (see figure I). This includes the arrest of 15 journalists between 25 and 27 January, the largest mass arrest of journalists in the country since 2009, as well as the arrest of 8 journalists on 6 and 7 March. All 40 journalists currently serving prison sentences were convicted for either national security crimes or crimes of a political nature, with 18 being convicted for “spreading propaganda against the State.”
9. Seven individuals were reportedly sentenced for crimes associated with their roles as lawyers and administrators of Majzooban Noor, a community news website that covered human rights abuses against members of the Dervish community. Their prison sentences range from 7.5 to 10.5 years for crimes including “organizing an illegal group with the intent to disturb national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. Sources reported that as at 18 July, the defendants had refused to submit an appeal as a form of protest against unfair trial standards, including inadequate access to legal counsel.
22. Of particular alarm are reports thatsome 724 executions took place between January 2012 and June 2013; of those, 202 were reportedly carried out in the first half of 2013, 135 of which were officially announced by the Government (see figure IV). The majority of executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran continue to be related to drug-trafficking cases, including a number of public executions. Some 786 executions, in violation of international law, have been reported for drug trafficking since the Special Rapporteur began monitoring the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Other forms of cruel and inhuman punishment
28. In 1997, the Human Rights Committee equated flogging, amputation, and stoning with torture, rendering those punishments incompatible with human rights standards. The Special Rapporteur is perturbed by reports about sentences of limb amputation for the crime of theft and by reports about the flogging of 123 individuals between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2013 for such crimes as “sedition”, “acts incompatible with chastity”, drinking alcohol, “illicit” relationships and non-penetrative homosexual acts. An equally disturbing report issued by the Iran State News Agency (ISNA) stated that 10,814 flogging sentences were implemented in the Mazandaran Province alone over the course of eight months in 2012.
Women’s Rights
34. Of concern are laws and policies that continue to limit women’s access to decision-making roles and that erode the advancements made by women in education. The Government has not reconsidered policies that result in the admission of more men than women in certain fields at universities across the country, that prohibit women from enrolling in certain fields of study (77 fields and hundreds of courses for the 2012/13 academic year) or that replace women’s studies curricula with courses on “women’s rights in Islam” at universities.
35. In its comments to the present report, the Islamic Republic of Iran contends that all female candidates were disqualified because of their lack of “executive and political experience” and that gender was not a consideration. The Government has also called attention to attempts to address domestic violence legally and to establish initiatives to treat victims of domestic violence and eliminate discrimination against women and that would allow women to attend decision-making sessions of government meetings that address environmental, economic and health issues.
Response by Iran’s U.N. Mission
Freedom of expression, access to information and association
As inferred from various principles of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran, the scope of freedoms are determined by three criteria namely opposition or nonconformity with Islamic standards, public interest and rights as well as the rights of others. Observance of the Islamic standards have always been noted and emphasized.
The Special Rapporteur has based his draft report on a report by the Iranian opposition as well as some other unreliable sources. He is using unverified figures and by using terms such as "alarming reports of execution" tries to inculcate an undocumented issue.
Other forms of cruel and inhuman punishment
The Special Rapporteurs claim on the presence of conflict between some recognized punishments in the Islamic Penal Code and human rights regulations is due to his lack of attention to both cultural diversity and Sharia provisions.
Women’s Rights
The I.R. Iran is obliged according to its Constitution and its willingness to cooperate with international bodies and belief to guaranteeing the rights of women has adopted in 2012 the law on protecting the family. In the law, developments on observing rights of women and children are envisioned. Those rights are inter alia presence of judge counselor in courts, appointing lawyer by court for those without sufficient financial resources, provision of alimony to the wife from the court which is considering the family dispute, possibility for the wife to file disputes in her area of residency, envision of council centers for family in which at least half members should be married women, obligatory registration of permanent marriage its dissolution, divorce, and registration of temporary marriages where the law stipulates, conducting medical examination before marriage to ensure couples health and health of their children, child fostering, provision of regular allowances for the wife from the salary of the dead husband even after remarriage…
In response to the claim of the draft report on the limitation of political participation of Iranian women, it is reiterated that in the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran no limitation is placed on the political participation of women and holding of political vacancies by them. In the process of qualification of presidential candidates of the June 2013 presidential elections, gender was not considered as a criterion, and women who registered their candidature were disqualified merely for lack of required executive and political experiences.


Iranians Divided on Nuclear Program

            About 56 percent of Iranians approved of their government developing nuclear power capabilities for non-military use, according to a new Gallup World poll. And a plurality of some 41 percent of respondents disapproved of developing such capabilities for military use. But 34 percent approved of developing nuclear power capabilities for military use. The remaining 25 percent either did not know or refused to answer the question. The results were based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults conducted in between May 24 and June 6, 2013—before the election of President Hassan Rouhani. The following are excerpts from the report.

            Many Iranians would likely welcome an end to the diplomatic standoff between their country and many of the world's top powers over Iran's nuclear program. Even before Rouhani's election, the majority of Iranians were at least somewhat hopeful about the possibility of their country reaching an agreement with the European Union on Tehran's nuclear program.
            Despite the considerable difficulties facing negotiators on both sides on Tuesday, Iranians are cautiously optimistic that their country will eventually reach a diplomatic settlement with Western nations.

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