Monthly Archives: June 2019

Iran Says it Will Break Uranium Stockpile Limit in 10 Days

FILE -  Behrouz Kamalvandi speaks during a press conference.
FILE – Behrouz Kamalvandi speaks during a press conference.

TEHRAN, IRAN – Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country’s atomic agency said Monday while also warning that Iran has the need for uranium enriched up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

The announcement indicated Iran’s determination to break from the landmark 2015 accord, which has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into free-fall.

The spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, made the announcement during a press conference with local journalists at Iran’s Arak heavy water facility that was carried live on Iranian state television.

The development comes in the wake of suspected attacks on oil tankers last week in the region, attacks that Washington has blamed on Iran, and also as tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States, a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America for the nuclear deal.

Kamalvandi acknowledged that the country already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels “based on the country’s needs.”

That increase could be to any level, from 3.67% which is the current limit set by the nuclear deal.

Iran’s needs 5% enrichment for its nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr and it also needs 20% enrichment for a Tehran research reactor, the spokesman said.

When uranium is mined, it typically has about 140 atoms of this unwanted isotope for every atom of U-235. Refining it to the purity of 3.67%, the level now allowed by the nuclear deal means removing 114 unwanted atoms of U-238 for every atom of U-235.

Boosting its purity to 20% means removing 22 more unwanted isotopes per atom of U-235 while going from there to 90% purity means removing just four more per atom of U-235, he noted. Ninety percent is considered weapons-grade material.

That means going from 20% to 90% is a relatively quicker process, something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts.

US Resident Freed by Iran to Trump: ‘Get Back Your Hostages’

US Resident Freed by Iran to Trump: ‘Get Back Your Hostages’

By Associated Press

Nizar Zakka speaks during his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon, June 11, 2019.
Nizar Zakka speaks during his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon, June 11, 2019.

BEIRUT – A Lebanese man and permanent U.S. resident who was released after spending years in an Iranian prison called on President Donald Trump and Western countries to “please get back your hostages from Iran,” adding that he saw American detainees during his nearly four-year imprisonment.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Nizar Zakka said he was subjected to “all kinds of torture,” both physical and mental, during his detention in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, including standing on one leg for hours, extended periods of interrogation and lack of food.

“Nobody on earth deserves such suffering,” he said in the 30-minute emotional interview during which he broke down in tears at one point.

Zakka, an information technology expert, was arrested in Iran in September 2015 while trying to fly out of Tehran. He had just attended a conference there at the invitation of one of the country’s vice presidents. The following year, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after authorities accused him of being an American spy — allegations he and his associates vigorously reject.

He was released Tuesday and flew back to his native Lebanon, amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Last year, the Trump administration decided to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose heavy sanctions on Iran. The past weeks have witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity to ease tensions and salvage the landmark deal.

Zakka is one of several prisoners with either dual nationality or links to the West held in the Islamic Republic’s prisons. It was not clear why Iran decided to act now, after years of Lebanese officials asking for his release.

“In my opinion, it was good timing for the Iranians, and especially they had a request from the President of the Lebanese Republic,” Zakka said. “They took this opportunity to send also a message … de-escalating tensions within the region.”

Zakka told the AP that during his detention he met several Westerners held in Iran, and for two years shared a cell with Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University graduate student sentenced to 10 years behind bars after being accused of “infiltrating” the country and sending confidential material abroad.

“I really ask President Trump to not leave Xiyue behind and other Americans behind, please,” he said.

Zakka also said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British woman, was held in the same building where he was until she was moved to the women’s section inside Evin prison.  She is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for allegedly planning the “soft toppling” of Iran’s government while traveling with her young daughter.

Zakka added that Iranian-American Siamak Namazi was held in a cell “almost two meters away” from his, while the man’s father Baquer Namazi was held on a floor above. Both father and son are serving a 10-year sentence after they were convicted of collaborating with a hostile power.

Asked whether he met former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission, Zakka said: “We heard some stories. Some people told me that they saw him. It wasn’t confirmed stories.”

Zakka called on the “American Congress, American administration and all Western countries, please get back your hostages in Iran.”

“I will take the opportunity to speak to the American Congress and to the American administration and to all the Western countries, please get back the hostages in Iran. Get them back home. They deserve to be back home,” Zakka added.

Zakka, 52, described how he was detained as he was headed to the airport in a taxi on Sept. 18, 2015, after a visit to Iran following an invitation by one of its vice presidents. “I was stopped by a civilian car and taken by people in civilian clothes. They took me as a hostage since then. I didn’t know anything. They blindfolded me and they took me to a place for almost 40 days. I didn’t know where I am.”

He added that the men told him that they are members of the intelligence department of the Revolutionary Guard and that they control the country.

“We decide. We are the judge. We are everything,” he recalled them saying.

كۆسپه‌كانی ئایین له‌ سه‌ر ڕێگای كوردایه‌تی و نه‌ته‌وایه‌تی

كۆسپه‌كانی ئایین له‌ سه‌ر ڕێگای كوردایه‌تی و نه‌ته‌وایه‌تی

Amin Khawaleh

ئه‌مین خه‌واله‌ رۆژنامه‌نووس و هه‌واڵنێر

ئه‌مین خه‌واله‌ رۆژنامه‌نووس و هه‌واڵنێر

٩ی مانگى ژوئن ٢٠١٩ی زایینى

ئایین و نه‌ته‌وه‌ دوو بابه‌تی سه‌ره‌كی و جیاواز كه‌ هه‌موو كات به‌رانبه‌ر یه‌كتری و دژی یه‌كتری ڕاوه‌ستاون و جاری وا هه‌یه‌ دژی یه‌كتر و بگره‌ وه‌كوو كۆسپ و له‌مته‌رێك بوونه‌ته‌ هۆی به‌ لاڕێدا بردنی خه‌بات و بزووتنه‌وه‌یه‌كی ڕه‌وا كه‌ سه‌ركه‌وتن و داهاتی چاكی لێ به‌دی ده‌كرا.

له‌ سه‌ره‌تای دامه‌زرانی شارستانییه‌ت و به‌رفراوانی نه‌ته‌وه‌كان ئایین وه‌كوو كوسپ و ڕێگرێك بووه‌ته‌ هۆی په‌ره‌نه‌ستاندن و لاوازی نه‌ته‌وه‌كان و له‌م نێوانه‌دا كورد وه‌كوو كۆنترین نه‌ته‌وه‌ی مێژوو و خاوه‌ن شارستانییه‌تێكی جوان و ڕێك و پێك و ناوچه‌ و میزوپۆتامیایه‌كی به‌رچاو زیاتر له‌ نه‌ته‌وه‌كانی دیكه‌ بووه‌ته‌ قۆربانی نه‌ته‌وه‌ و بیر و بڕوا دواكه‌وتووه‌كانی نه‌ته‌وه‌كه‌ی و دواكه‌وتوویی و دووبه‌ره‌كی و بگره ده‌یان شه‌ڕی براكوژی له‌ نێوان خۆیان دا.

سه‌لاحه‌دینی ئه‌ییووبی وه‌كوو سه‌رۆك عێلێكی خاوه‌ن ده‌سه‌ڵات و ده‌ست رۆیشتوو زنجیره‌ میرایه‌تی ئه‌ییووبیانی له‌ وڵاتی میسر پێك هێنا به‌ڵام ته‌نانه‌ت جارێك دوای مافی كوردی نه‌كرد و دیفاعی له‌ مافی ڕه‌وای نه‌ته‌وه‌كه‌ی نه‌كرد و ته‌نانه‌ت له‌ گه‌ڵ ئه‌فسه‌ره‌ پایه‌به‌رزه‌كانی سۆپاكه‌ی كه‌ زۆربه‌یان كورد بوون به‌ زمانی عه‌ره‌بی ئاخافتنی كردووه‌ و قه‌ت شانازی به‌ كورد بوونی نه‌كردووه‌ و هه‌موو جارێك باسی له‌وه‌ كردووه‌ كه‌ ئه‌و مۆسۆڵمانێكی كورده‌ كه‌ واته‌ خزمه‌تی ته‌نیا به‌ ئایین و مه‌زهه‌ب كردووه‌ و هیچ دڵسۆزییه‌كی بۆ نه‌ته‌وه‌كه‌ی خۆی نه‌بووه‌.

salahelden Eiubi
زۆرن ئه‌و كه‌سانه‌ی له‌ درێژایی مێژوو له‌ گه‌ڵ ئه‌وه‌ی بیر و بڕوای ئایینی و تێكه‌ڵ به‌ ئیسلام و مه‌زهه‌بیان بووه‌ به‌ڵام ئاستی نه‌ته‌وه‌په‌ره‌ستیان هه‌موو كات له‌ سه‌ر ئایینه‌كه‌یان بووه‌ بۆ وێنه‌ نه‌مر قازی مۆحه‌ممه‌د وه‌كوو هه‌مووان ئاگادارن و خزمه‌تی به‌ڕێزیان له‌ ئاست نه‌ته‌وه‌كه‌یان بۆ ساڵانێكی زۆر پایه‌داره‌ و ئه‌مێنێته‌وه‌ له‌ گه‌ڵ ئه‌وه‌ی له‌ بنه‌ماڵه‌یه‌كی ئایینی له‌ دایك بووه‌ و په‌روه‌رده‌ كراوه‌ به‌ڵام مێژوو هه‌تا هه‌تایه‌ شانازی به‌ بوونی وه‌كوو كه‌سێكی نیشتمانپه‌روه‌ر ئه‌كات و ناوی به‌رزیان هه‌تا هه‌تایه‌ وه‌كوو ئه‌ستێره‌یه‌كی پرشنگدار ئه‌دره‌وشیته‌وه‌. دوابه‌دوای سه‌ركه‌وتنی بزووتنه‌وه‌ی گه‌لانی بنده‌ستی ئێران و هاتنه‌ سه‌ر كاری ڕژیمی كۆماری ئیسلامی ئیسلامی ئێران له‌ ساڵی ١٢٥٧ هه‌تاوی به‌ یارمه‌تی و ئه‌مه‌گداری نه‌ته‌وه‌ی كورد وه‌ك ئاگادارین ڕێبه‌ری ئایینی ئه‌وان خۆمه‌ینی خوێن ڕێژ فه‌رمانی خه‌باتی دژی كوردان ڕاگه‌یاند و ئه‌وانی به‌ نه‌ته‌وه‌یه‌كی دژی بزووتنه‌وه‌ی ناڕه‌واكه‌ی ناودێر كرد له‌ هه‌مان كاتدا و دوابه‌دوای رێگه‌پێنه‌دانی رێبه‌رانی گه‌لی كورد بۆ ئه‌نجۆمه‌نی پاڕله‌مانی ئه‌و ولاته‌ و فه‌رمانی كوشتن و ئازاردانیان شه‌ڕێكی قورسی ٢٨ ڕۆژه‌ له‌ گه‌ڵ رژیمی جه‌نایتكاری خۆمه‌ینی له‌ نێوان ئه‌وان و ئۆپۆزیسیونی پارته‌ دژبه‌ره‌كانی ئه‌و رژیمه‌ له‌ شاری سنه‌ سه‌ر به‌ رۆژهه‌ڵاتی كوردستان هاته‌ ئاراوه‌ كه‌ جه‌ماوه‌ری كوردستان و پێشمه‌رگه‌ گیان له‌ سه‌رده‌سته‌كانی نه‌ته‌وه‌ی كورد به‌ربه‌ره‌كانی و خۆڕاگرییه‌كی چاكیان له‌ خۆیان نواند هه‌تا له‌ ئاكام دا به‌ پێشنیاری ده‌وڵه‌تی ناوه‌ندی بڕیاری وتووێژ درا له‌ نێوان ئه‌نجۆمه‌نی بززوتنه‌وه‌ی ئێران و ڕێبه‌رانی گه‌لی كورد پێك هاتوو له‌ نه‌مر شێخ عێزه‌دین حۆسه‌ینی و شه‌هید دوكتور قاسملوو و سه‌ڵاحی مۆهته‌دی و چه‌ن كه‌سی دیكه‌ و ئه‌حمه‌دی مۆفتی زاده‌ ڕێبه‌ری گرووپی ئایینی مه‌كته‌بی قورعان كه‌ خۆیان وه‌كوو هێزێكی ئایینی شوڕشگێری و نوێنه‌ری مه‌زهه‌بی سوننه‌ و كورد ده‌ناساند. له‌ لایه‌كی دیكه‌ش ره‌فسه‌نجانی، به‌هه‌شتی وتاڵه‌قانی وه‌كوو نوێنه‌رانی شوورای بزووتنه‌وه‌ی كۆماری ئیسلامی رژیمی ئێران هاتنه ناوشاری سنه‌ و ئاماده‌ی دانیشتن و كۆبوونه‌وه‌ بوون له‌ گه‌ڵ نوێنه‌رانی گه‌لی كورد بۆ چاره‌سه‌ری گرفته‌كان و دانی مافه‌ ڕه‌واكانی نه‌ته‌وه‌ی كورد به‌و گه‌له‌ چه‌وساوه‌ و سته‌م لێكراوه‌. به‌ وته‌ی شایه‌د حاڵێك رێزدار دوكتۆر حۆسه‌ین خه‌لیقی كه‌ خۆی وه‌كوو به‌شداری كۆبوونه‌وه‌كه‌ بووه‌ و دواتری وه‌كوو بیره‌وه‌ریه‌ك باسی لێده‌كا و ده‌یگێڕێته‌وه‌ ئه‌حمه‌دی مۆفتی زاده‌ی وه‌كوو كه‌سێكی خه‌یانه‌تكار پێش ئاماده‌بوونی نوێنه‌رانی گه‌لی كورد له‌ گه‌ڵ به‌رپرسانی رژیمی ئێران كۆبوونه‌وه‌ ئه‌كات و ئه‌بێته‌ به‌ربه‌ستێك بۆ به‌ ئاكام گه‌یشتنی كۆبوونه‌وه‌ی دووقۆڵی گه‌لی كورد و نوێنه‌رانی ئه‌نجۆمه‌نی رژیمی ئێران و دواتریش له‌ چه‌ن شوێن و جێگای جوربه‌جۆر هه‌موو كات ده‌ست له‌ سه‌ر گیرفانی ده‌كوتێ و ده‌ڵێت خۆدمۆختاری له‌ گیرفانماندایه‌ و هیچ به‌ربه‌ستێك نه‌ماوه‌ به‌ڵام له‌ ڕاستی دا داهاتی به‌رگری قاره‌مانانه‌ی 28 رۆژی گه‌لی كورد و جه‌ماوه‌ری نیشته‌جێی شاری سنه‌ی زۆر هه‌رزان به‌ لایه‌نی داگیركه‌ر دۆڕاند و دواتریش وه‌كوو خۆی له‌ به‌ڵگه‌ و نووسراوه‌كانی دا له‌ كتێبی ده‌رباره‌ی كوردستان باسی ده‌كات چه‌ندی جار وه‌بیری ده‌سه‌ڵاتدارانی هێناوه‌ته‌وه‌ كه‌ چه‌كی و چۆڵی پێشمه‌رگه‌ی كوردستانی ته‌سلیمی پاده‌گانه‌ سه‌ربازیه‌كانی رژیم كردووه‌ و ئێستا به‌رپرسانی رژیم له‌ شاره‌ كورده‌كان فیشه‌كی پێ ناده‌ن بۆ به‌رگری له‌ سنووره‌كانی به‌ وته‌ی ئه‌وان ئێران و به‌رگری دژی گه‌لانی ناڕازی بزووتنه‌وه‌ی كۆماری ئیسلامی. دواتر جه‌ماوه‌ری دانیشتووی كوردستان به‌ ڕق و كینه‌یه‌كی زۆره‌وه‌ ئه‌و درووشمه‌یان دووپات ئه‌كرده‌وه‌: “ئه‌حمه‌دی مۆفتی زاده – ڕه‌نجی كوردی به‌ با دا” و ده‌یان درووشمی هاوشێوه‌ی دیكه‌.

له‌ به‌شێك له‌ كتێبی “كورده‌كان چی ده‌ڵێن” له‌ نووسینی قادر عه‌بدوڵا كه‌ هاوكات بووه‌ له‌ گه‌ڵ هه‌وڵه‌ بێ ئاكامه‌كانی ئه‌حمه‌دی مۆفتی زاده بۆ وه‌ده‌ستهێنانی ده‌سه‌ڵات له‌ ناوچه‌ كوردنشینه‌كانی كوردستانی رۆژهه‌ڵات نووسه‌ر باس له‌وه‌ ده‌كات و ده‌ڵێت : ده‌وڵه‌تی ئێران هه‌موو ناوچه‌ كوردنشینه‌كانی له‌ ورمێ هه‌تا سنه‌ كردووه‌ته‌ سێ پارچه‌ و هه‌ر پارچه‌یه‌كی داوه‌ته‌ ده‌ست بوونه‌وه‌رێكی سه‌یر و سه‌مه‌ره‌ی ده‌ركه‌وته‌ له‌ تووره‌كه‌ی ئێمپریالیزم. بوونه‌وه‌ری یه‌كه‌م كه‌سێكی به‌ختگه‌ڕاوه‌یه‌ به‌ ناوی ئه‌حمه‌دی مۆفتی زاده‌ كه‌ گه‌لی كورد به‌ گشتی نه‌فره‌تیان لی هه‌یه‌ و لێی بێزارن، ئه‌م كه‌سه‌ كه‌ ده‌وڵه‌ت پێی ده‌ڵێت عه‌للامه‌ به‌ واتی زانا و مامۆستا بڕی حه‌وت سه‌د بۆ هه‌شت سه‌د كه‌سی چه‌قۆكێش و شه‌قاوه‌ و بێكار و برسی له‌ ده‌وری خۆی كۆكردووته‌وه و مانگانه بڕی هه‌زار و حه‌وسه‌د هه‌شت سه‌د تمه‌نیان پێ ئه‌دات و به‌ ناوی لایه‌نگری كۆماری ئیسلامی له‌ سنه‌ تا سه‌رده‌شت سنووره‌كانی دژ كرده‌وه‌ی پارته‌ كوردییه‌كان بۆ كۆماری ئیسلامی پاراستووه‌ و بووه‌ته‌ به‌ره‌نگاری حیزبه‌ چه‌كداره‌كان و جه‌ماوه‌ری ناڕازی كوردستان.‌

دواتریش وه‌كوو ئاگادارین به‌ هۆی سه‌ره‌ڕۆیی و داواكارییه‌كانی له‌ رژیمی ئێران كه‌وته‌ به‌ر ڕق و كینه‌ و كه‌م مه‌یلی ده‌سه‌ڵاتدارانی ئه‌و رژیمه‌ و بۆ ماوه‌ی ساڵانێكی زۆر حۆكمی به‌ندكران و ئه‌شكه‌نجه‌ی به‌ سه‌ر دا سه‌پا و دواتریش دوای ئه‌شكه‌نجه‌یه‌كی زۆر گیانی له‌ سه‌ر خزمه‌ت به‌ رژیمی ئێران دانا به‌ڵام به‌ داخه‌وه‌ په‌یڕه‌وان و دواكه‌وتووانی ئایینه‌كه‌ی رۆژ له‌ گه‌ڵ رۆژ ته‌شه‌نه‌یان كردووه‌ و بوونه‌ته‌ مه‌ترسییه‌كی گه‌وره‌ بۆ دوا رۆژی نه‌ته‌وه‌ی كورد له‌ رۆژهه‌ڵاتی كوردستان و ئه‌گه‌ری به‌ لاڕی دابردنی چه‌ن سال خه‌بات و ره‌نج و تێكۆشان و چه‌ند هه‌زار شه‌هید و گیانبه‌ختكردوو.

له‌ باشووری كوردستانیش گرووپه‌كانی كۆمه‌ڵی ئیسلامی و بزووتنه‌وه‌ی ئیسلامی و ده‌یان گرووپ و تاقمی هاوشێوه‌ به‌ رێبه‌رایه‌تی كه‌سانێكی وه‌كوو عه‌لی باپیر و مه‌لا كرێكار بوونه‌ته‌ كوسپ و رێگر له‌ ڕێگای خه‌باتی گه‌لی كورد و زۆر جار له‌ سه‌ر بڕوا ئایینیه‌كانیان خه‌یانه‌تیان به‌ جه‌ماوه‌ر و پێشمه‌رگه‌كانی پارچه‌كانی دیكه‌ی كوردستان نیشته‌جێی باشوور كردووه‌ وه‌كوو خه‌یانه‌تی عه‌لی باپیر و هێنانی كۆمه‌ڵێكی زۆری به‌رچاوی چه‌كدار و پاسدار بۆ سه‌ر باره‌گاكانی حیزبی دێموكراتی كوردستانی ئێران و چاوساغی كردنیان له‌ ساڵه‌كانی سه‌ره‌تای سه‌ركه‌وتنی شۆڕشی كوردانی باشوور به‌ سه‌ر هێزه‌كانی رژیمی به‌عسی عێراق و ئازاد كردنی ئه‌و پارچه‌ی كوردستان.

به‌ داخه‌وه‌ له‌ ئێستاش دا به‌رته‌سكی بیركردنه‌وه‌ی نه‌ته‌وه‌ی كورد له‌ هه‌موو پارچه‌كانی كوردستان بووه‌ته‌ هۆی پێكهاتنی ده‌یان گرووپی ئیسلامی تۆندئاژۆ وه‌كوو ئه‌نساری ئیسلام و ئه‌نساری سۆننه‌ و سه‌له‌فی و ده‌یان گرووپی هاوشێوه‌ هه‌ر بۆیه‌ش گرووپه‌ تێرۆریستیه‌كانی وه‌كوو ئه‌لقاعیده و داعیش زۆر به‌ ئاسانی خۆیان ئه‌خزێننه ناو كۆمه‌ڵگا و جه‌ماوه‌ر و جێگای خۆیان ئه‌كه‌نه‌وه‌ و بیر و بڕوا پیسه‌كانیان له‌ دڵی كۆمه‌ڵگا دا جێگر ئه‌كه‌ن و ئه‌بنه‌ كۆسپ و به‌ لاڕێدابردنی خه‌باتی نه‌ته‌وه‌كه‌مان و زۆر جار خوازراو یان نه‌خوازراو خزمه‌ت به‌ دوژمن و رژیمه داگیره‌كه‌ره‌كانی وڵاتانی بنیده‌ستی هه‌موو پارچه‌كانی كوردستان وه‌كوو ڕژیمی كۆماری ئیسلامی ئێران و رژیمی به‌شار ئه‌سه‌د له‌ وڵاتی سووریه.


ئه م نوستراوه ده توانن بۆ فۆرمه تى پى دى اف دابه زینێن

: كۆسپه‌كانی ئایین له‌ سه‌ر ڕێگای كوردایه‌تی و نه‌ته‌وایه‌تی


World Bank: Iran Likely to Suffer Worse Recession Than Previously Thought

World Bank: Iran Likely to Suffer Worse Recession Than Previously Thought

June 05, 2019 7:40 PM

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Michael Lipin

By: Michael Lipin

WASHINGTON —The World Bank says Iran is likely to experience an even worse recession this year than previously thought, as U.S. sanctions largely choke off oil exports that have been Tehran’s main revenue source.

In its latest Global Economic Prospects report published Wednesday, the Washington-based institution that provides loans to countries said it expects Iran’s Gross Domestic Product to shrink by 4.5% this year, a steeper contraction than its earlier estimate of negative 3.6% GDP growth for 2019.

“The oil industry is an important part of Iran’s economy, and its oil production is clearly going to drop because of the new U.S. sanctions,” said Patrick Clawson, research director for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in a VOA Persian interview on Wednesday.

The Trump administration imposed a total, unilateral ban on Iranian oil exports on May 2 as part of its campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran to negotiate an end to its perceived malign behaviors. It had issued sanctions waivers to eight of Iran’s oil customers in November to allow them to keep importing Iranian crude for six months, but later said it would not renew those waivers and would require those customers to reduce such imports to zero.

FILE - People conduct their business at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 7, 2019.
FILE – People conduct their business at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 7, 2019.

U.S. economist Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore told VOA Persian in another Wednesday interview that Iran’s internal economic problems also are to blame for its worsening recession. “Iran is very corrupt, has very little economic freedom, and it’s hard to start a business there because Iran is not really a free market or liberal economy,” Hanke said.

Transparency International, a Berlin-based civil society organization that monitors global corruption, has ranked Iran 138 out of 180 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index.

Iran’s other low global economic rankings include 155 out of 180 nations in the Economic Freedom Index of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy institute, and 128 out of 190 governments in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index.

The World Bank’s new report also said Iran’s year-on-year inflation rate has risen sharply from about 10% in the middle of last year to about 52% in April. It said the depreciation of Iran’s rial since May 2018, when the U.S. announced it would re-impose sanctions on Iran, has contributed to the rising inflation. The rial’s slump versus the dollar in Iran’s unofficial currency market has made dollar-denominated imports more expensive for Iranians.

Clawson said Iran’s inflation is high primarily because it is relying on printing money to finance its spending. “The Iranian government is not bringing in enough revenue to pay for its expenses, so it is borrowing money from the banking system to cover the difference, and that is driving inflation,” he said.

Hanke, who says he is the only economist outside Iran to measure its inflation with high frequency, told VOA Persian that he calculated Iran’s actual inflation rate to be 113% on Wednesday, much higher than the World Bank’s latest reading.

The World Bank’s projection of a 4.5% contraction in Iran’s GDP this year is not as bad as the 6% contraction predicted by the International Monetary Fund, another global lending agency, in its latest report from April. The World Bank also said it expects economic growth in Iran to return next year “as the impact of U.S. sanctions tapers off and as inflation stabilizes.” It projected a 0.9% rise in Iran’s GDP for 2020.

Hanke declined to make his own predictions for Iran’s economic performance, saying any forecasts for a nation such as Iran are problematic because they rely on guesswork.

This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio, and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

US Carrier in Persian Gulf Region Seen as Clear Signal to Iran

US Carrier in Persian Gulf Region Seen as Clear Signal to Iran

FILE - The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Strait of Gibraltar, entering the Mediterranean Sea, April 13, 2019.

FILE – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Strait of Gibraltar, entering the Mediterranean Sea, April 13, 2019.

Under a starry sky, U.S. Navy fighter jets catapulted off the aircraft carrier’s deck and flew north over the darkened waters of the northern Arabian Sea, an unmistaken signal to Iran that the foremost symbol of the American military’s global reach is back in its neighborhood, perhaps to stay.

The USS Abraham Lincoln, with its contingent of Navy destroyers and cruisers and a fighting force of about 70 aircraft, is the centerpiece of the Pentagon’s response to what it calls Iranian threats to attack U.S. forces or commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf region. In recent years, there has been no regular U.S. aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East.

U.S. officials have said that signs of heightened Iranian preparations to strike U.S. and other targets in the waters off Iran as well as in Iraq and Yemen in late April emerged shortly after the Trump administration announced it was clamping down further on Iran’s economy by ending waivers to sanctions on buyers of Iranian crude oil.

The administration went a step beyond that on Friday, announcing penalties that target Iran’s largest petrochemical company.

On Saturday, the Lincoln was steaming in international waters east of Oman and about 200 miles from Iran’s southern coastline. One month after its arrival in the region, the Lincoln has not entered the Persian Gulf, and it’s not apparent that it will. The USS Gonzalez, a destroyer that is part of the Lincoln strike group, is operating in the Gulf.

All interactions ‘safe and professional’

Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade, commander of the Lincoln strike group, said Iran’s naval forces have adhered to international standards of interaction with ships in his group.

“Since we’ve been operating in the region, we’ve had several interactions with Iranians,” he said. “To this point all have been safe and professional — meaning, the Iranians have done nothing to impede our maneuverability or acted in a way which required us to take defensive measures.”

FILE - An F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea, May 20, 2019.
FILE – An F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea, May 20, 2019.

The Lincoln’s contingent of 44 Navy F-18 Super Hornets are flying a carefully calibrated set of missions off the carrier night and day, mainly to establish a visible U.S. “presence.” As an apparent result, Iran seems to have tinkered with its preparation for potential attacks, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of Central Command, said Saturday.

He said on Friday that he thinks Iran had been planning some sort of attack on shipping or U.S. forces in Iraq. Two other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details, said Iran was at a high state of readiness in early May with its ships, submarines, surface-to-air missiles and drone aircraft.

“It is my assessment that if we had not reinforced, it is entirely likely that an attack would have taken place by now,” McKenzie said.

In an interview on the bridge, or command station, of the Lincoln with reporters who are traveling with him throughout the Gulf region, McKenzie said the carrier has made an important difference.

FILE - In this April 14, 2018, photo, then-Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie Jr. speaks during a media availability at the Pentagon in Washington. McKenzie, now the top commander of U.S. forces in the Mideast, says Iran appears to have decided to "step back and recalculate" in response to a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf area.
FILE – In this April 14, 2018, photo, then-Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie Jr. speaks during a media availability at the Pentagon in Washington. McKenzie, now the top commander of U.S. forces in the Mideast, says Iran appears to have decided to “step back and recalculate” in response to a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf area.

‘We are looking hard at them’

“We believe they are recalculating. They have to take this into account as they think about various actions that they might take. So we think this is having a very good, stabilizing effect,” he said.

“They are looking hard at the carrier because they know we are looking hard at them,” McKenzie added.

He said earlier in the week that he had not ruled out requesting additional defensive forces to bolster the deterrence of Iran, whose economy is being squeezed hard by U.S. sanctions after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. The U.S. already has announced plans to send 900 additional troops to the Mideast and extend the stay of 600 more as tens of thousands of others also are on the ground across the region.

Iran’s influential Revolutionary Guard has said it doesn’t fear a possible war with the U.S. and asserted that America’s military might has not grown in power in recent years. “The enemy is not more powerful than before,” the Guard spokesman, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said in late May.

The U.S. has accused Iran of being behind a string of recent incidents, including what officials allege was sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

McKenzie spent two days aboard the Lincoln to confer with naval commanders, observe both daytime and nighttime flight operations, and to thank crew members. Their deployment plans were disrupted when the White House approved McKenzie’s request in early May that the Lincoln cut short its time in the Mediterranean Sea and sail swiftly to the Arabian Sea.

“I am the reason you are here,” the general said in an all-hands announcement to the nearly 6,000 personnel on the Lincoln Friday night, shortly after he flew aboard by Navy helicopter from Oman.

Intent was to stabilize

“I requested this ship because of ongoing tensions with Iran,” he said. “And nothing says you’re interested in somebody like 90,000 tons of aircraft carrier and everything that comes with it. Our intent by bringing you here was to stabilize the situation and let Iran know that now is not the time to do something goofy.”

FILE - A U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bomber flies over Pabrade during a military exercise north of Vilnius, Lithuania, June 16, 2016.
FILE – A U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bomber flies over Pabrade during a military exercise north of Vilnius, Lithuania, June 16, 2016.

McKenzie also requested, and received, four Air Force long-range B-52 bombers. They were in the region 51 hours after being summoned and were flying missions three days later. They are now operating from al-Udeid air base in Qatar. There had been no U.S. bomber presence in the Gulf region since late February.

In an interview Friday after speaking with B-52 pilots at al-Udeid, McKenzie said it’s hard to know whether that gap in a bomber presence had emboldened the Iranians.

‘Pretty quiet’

“Cumulatively, the fact that we had drawn down in [the Mideast] may have had an effect on Iranian behavior,” he said. “We do know that bringing stuff back in seems to have had an effect on their behavior,” noting that there have been no Iranian attacks on U.S. forces.

On Saturday aboard the Lincoln, McKenzie was asked whether there have been any incidents between Iranian and American naval forces in recent weeks.

“No, actually, I think things are pretty quiet right now,” he said.

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