NIAC Statement on Nikki Haley’s Missile Speech

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Reza Marashi
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: info@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – National Iranian American Council Research Director Reza Marashi issued the following statement regarding Ambassador Nikki Haley’s presentation at the Defense Intelligence Agency accusing Iran of supplying missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen:

“Ambassador Haley’s dearth of foreign policy experience is no excuse for her shambolic performance today. Rather than displaying the dignity and poise of America’s face at the United Nations, she had her Colin Powell 2003 moment, demonstrating that too many of our leaders have still not learned the lessons of the Iraq war disaster. This stunt is particularly galling as it comes on the same day that reports emerged that the U.S. secretly sent advanced weaponry into Syria that ended up in the hands of ISIS and are now a direct threat to American troops and allies.

“Contrary to Amb. Haley’s claims, the UN Secretary General’s report did not assert anything irrefutable or definitive about any Iranian violations. Instead, the report indicates that the United Nations is ‘still analyzing the information provided’ in reports from various nations. As is the case with so many claims from the Trump administration, it appears that the facts are being chosen to fit a predetermined narrative or policy goal.

“It is indisputable that more arms in the region will do nothing to advance peace. Iran should halt any weapons shipments that it is sending to the Houthis or other armed groups in the region. However, Iran alone cannot be expected to halt its fueling of its proxy war with Saudi Arabia, and is unlikely to do so through unilateral demands alone. Accordingly, the Trump administration should also end its direct support for the Saudi-led humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and end its missile sales in the region that are arming some of the world’s worst despots. If Ambassador Haley and the Trump administration are truly concerned about Iran’s regional activities and missile program, they should pursue direct dialogue with Iran rather than repeat the same mistakes of the past.

“The U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen has not just produced mass human suffering in America’s name, it has empowered Iran in a country where it previously had very little influence. The Saudi-led debacle has also empowered al-Qaeda – the same al-Qaeda that attacked the United States on 9/11 with 15 Saudi nationals, and continues to plot attacks on the homeland today. Moreover, U.S. missile sales in a volatile region to the increasingly aggressive Saudi Arabia and the UAE have provided the Iranian government with a pretext to further develop its own missile program and cite U.S. military sales as justification.

“The Trump administration should immediately pursue bilateral and multilateral dialogue with the Iranian government on all issues of contention with no preconditions. The track record is clear. Talking about Iran with other countries only led to more missiles and more centrifuges in Iran during the Bush administration. Talking with Iran and other countries simultaneously produced compromises on missiles and less centrifuges under the Obama administration. Haley and her Republican colleagues in government would be wise to heed the words of Albert Einstein: ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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Muslim Ban Plaintiffs Statement in Advance of IAAB v. Trump Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / LINK
December 8, 2017
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: (407) 408-0494
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Muslim Ban Plaintiffs Statement in Advance of IAAB v. Trump Hearing
Our Resolve Has Never Been Greater

Washington, D.C – Today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. will hear arguments in three related legal challenges, including Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump, to the Trump administration’s latest version of its Muslim ban. The hearing comes after the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into full effect while these suits and another in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are under consideration.

IAAB v. Trump was the first major lawsuit brought against President Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0. The plaintiffs in this action are Iranian Alliances Across Borders, an Iranian-American diaspora community organization, and six individual plaintiffs, all of whom are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents with Iranian relatives or spouses who will be blocked from coming to the United States.  The plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump are represented by Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Covington & Burling LLP and in consultation with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).  

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “We are before the court today asking for clarity – clarity following three versions of a Muslim ban that now affects more than 150 million people, and various court decisions that have torn apart and obscured the status of families. We are also asking the court for moral clarity. A Muslim ban and the U.S. Constitution simply cannot co-exist. A Muslim ban betrays bedrock American principles, and it cannot be allowed to define who we are as a nation. We are optimistic that the Fourth Circuit will share our view that this Muslim ban remains as unconstitutional as the first two versions.”

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates: “Following the Supreme Court’s deeply unfortunate decision to temporarily reinstate the third Muslim ban, the stakes in this case are painfully clear. This court will decide if families will be torn apart and if our country will abandon fundamental values of fairness and equal treatment. For the past year, the federal courts have served as the backbone of our Constitution and ruled on the right side of history. We remain optimistic that the Fourth Circuit will do the same.”

According to Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: “Under the Muslim ban, IAABers have encountered discrimination and bigotry in our schools and in our neighborhoods. But, when faced with hate, we stand strong. We will not be silenced. We will not be invisible. We will continue to persevere and to defend our community.”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United: “As long as the Muslim ban remains in place, our country is cruelly separating families and signaling to Muslims that they are second-class citizens unworthy of equal treatment under law. Religious freedom is about fairness and equality for people of all faiths. There is nothing fair or equal about banning Muslims from the United States. We urge the court to once again strike down President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American Muslim ban.”

The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.

Iranian Alliances Across Borders is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 2003. IAAB addresses issues of the Iranian diaspora by facilitating community building, developing ways to better understand what it means to be part of a diaspora community, and empowering members of the Iranian diaspora community to enhance connections with their new communities as well as maintain connections with their root community.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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NIAC Frustrated with Muslim Ban Being Allowed Back into Effect

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org
Phone: (407) 408-0494

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (“NIAC”) issued the following statement on the heels of a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States moments ago to lift injunctions in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, allowing the Trump administration to implement the embattled third version of the president’s Muslim ban pending appeals:

“We are deeply frustrated with the Supreme Court decision today allowing the third version of the Muslim ban to go back into effect. While we understand this is not a decision on the merits, every month since the inception of the Muslim ban in January, members of the Iranian-American community and other affected communities have remained in legal limbo and have been forced to ride an exhausting emotional roller coaster that has kept families apart. There have been brief windows of opportunity for the affected communities to apply for visas on behalf of their spouses, fiancés, grandmothers and grandfathers and other close family to join them in the United States, only to have that window shut just as quickly.

“The unintended consequences of varying court decisions may unfortunately be shared with the original intent of the Muslim ban: to discourage Muslims and Iranian Americans from traveling to the United States. Iranians, who have been told to quickly apply for visas and pay related fees while the Muslim ban was enjoined by the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, now have to relive the painful reality that they are unwanted in America – that they are viewed as inherently dangerous and, potentially in the future, would be viewed as second class citizens. NIAC cannot in good conscience continue to advise members of our community that their family members should continue paying visa fees and submitting applications for visas while the risk of being banned still exists.

“Our recommendation to Iranian-Americans whose family members might be seeking visas is to not apply for visas until a Supreme Court decision is made on the merits. Be advised, even if individuals are in possession of a valid visa that is not an M, F, or J visa, they may still be blocked from entering the United States.

“Iranians should be aware that they may not be allowed to enter the U.S. as a result of this decision, even if they travel on a valid U.S. visa.

“Days from now, oral arguments will be heard in the respective appellate courts. We remain optimistic that the judges in the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal will agree that the third version of the Muslim ban suffers from the same unconstitutional taint as the president’s first two attempts.”

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NIAC Statement on President’s Retweet of Hate Group Videos

Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement after President Trump retweeted a British white supremacist’s hateful videos attempting to vilify Muslims:
 

This morning, Donald Trump disgraced the office of the President by retweeting a British white supremacist’s hateful videos aimed at vilifying Muslims. It’s no secret that Trump wants to stoke fears of Muslims – and those of Middle Eastern descent – in order to enact his bigoted agenda, including the Muslim ban. Faced with a demagogue in the White House, the American people must continue to unite to reject Trump’s hatred and bar him from enshrining it in law. 

It is important to recognize that this isn’t about Islam. The strain of deep-rooted racism in America that once justified separating Blacks and Whites or the mistreatment of Jews, is today manifesting itself as Islamophobia. To stand up against Islamophobia is simply to stand up against bigotry and racism, it is not equivalent to taking a theological position in favor of or against Islam.

 

NIAC Statement on Shooting of Bijan Ghaisar

The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement following the passing of Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old Iranian American from Northern Virginia who was shot three times in the head by U.S. Park Police after Mr. Ghaisar is alleged to have engaged in a hit-and-run accident and short chase with police:

“We are deeply saddened and concerned by the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar, an Iranian-American from Northern Virginia, at the hands of U.S. Park Police. We extend our deepest condolences to the Ghaisar family as well as Bijan’s friends as they cope with this tragedy.

Based on reporting, it appears that Ghaisar was unarmed and in his car when he was shot three times in the head, which strongly suggests that the police’s shooting was not justified or proportionate. We hope that the FBI, which has taken over the investigation of the incident, will provide a full and fair accounting that takes all angles into account.”

FAQ on Iranian Earthquake Relief

As Iranian Americans, our hearts go out to all of those who were impacted by yesterday’s tragic earthquake that struck near the Iran-Iraq border. Initial reporting indicates that it is the deadliest earthquake of 2017, with hundreds dead and thousands injured, and many more who have lost everything. Like with prior earthquakes in Iran, the recovery and rebuilding is likely to be difficult.

Given the comprehensive trade embargo on Iran, Americans are likely to have questions regarding whether they will be able to assist in recovery efforts. While there are restrictions to navigate, the Treasury Department has licensed U.S. citizens to engage in certain activities to assist relief efforts in Iran following natural disasters. Below, we have detailed a brief Q&A, which we will update as the situation unfolds and we learn more about ongoing relief efforts.

The National Iranian American Council urges the Treasury Department to closely examine whether additional steps are needed to ensure that Americans can effectively contribute to relief efforts, and to issue any additional licenses necessary to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not stand in the way of urgent relief.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I am a resident of the United States and I want to help out with relief efforts in Iran, but don’t know if I can or how I can.  How can I help out with the earthquake relief?

While the United States imposes a comprehensive trade embargo with Iran, you can lawfully engage in certain activities to help out relief efforts related to the earthquake in Iran. You can do the following:

  • You can donate food, clothing, or medicine to Iran, provided that the donations are meant to relieve human suffering and are not directed to the Government of Iran, an Iranian bank, or any other restricted parties.  
     
  • You can make donations to a U.S. non-governmental organization (“NGO”) engaged in the provision of humanitarian services in or related to Iran, including in relief and reconstruction efforts related to the earthquake. U.S. persons would not be permitted to send funds directly to non-U.S. charitable organizations specifically intending those funds to be used for relief efforts in Iran.
     
  • You can seek license authorization from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) to engage in any other humanitarian-related activities related to the relief efforts in Iran.   
     

I want to help out, but am nervous about running afoul of U.S. sanctions laws.  Are there things that I definitely cannot do to support the relief efforts in Iran?

Yes. The United States imposes a comprehensive trade embargo with Iran, so most transactions between the two countries are prohibited absent an applicable exemption or license authorization. Those activities outlined above are either exempt from the trade embargo or are otherwise authorized. However, certain activities remain prohibited. For instance, the following activities remain prohibited under U.S. law:

  • You cannot send funds directly to Iranian charitable organizations absent prior license authorization from OFAC.  Such activity is currently prohibited under U.S. law and could expose you to civil or criminal liability as a result.
     
  • You cannot send goods or technologies to Iran to help out with relief efforts other than those that fall under the OFAC exemption or those that are licensed by OFAC.  The export of any prohibited goods or technologies to Iran is prohibited – even if such goods or technologies are intended for use in aiding relief efforts related to the earthquake in Iran.

Should I contact a lawyer before deciding to send funds or make a donation to Iran?

Because the U.S. trade embargo with Iran is exceptionally broad and prohibits most dealings between the two countries – including what would be regarded as innocuous – it is always a good idea to speak to legal counsel before engaging in a transaction in or related to Iran.  However, due to the obvious need to act expediently to help out with relief efforts in Iran at this time, it would not necessarily be unreasonable to rely on the representations of a U.S.-based NGO providing humanitarian-related services to Iran that they are acting in compliance with U.S. sanctions laws.   

I am an American and saw a fundraiser for earthquake relief efforts on social media. Should I donate?
 
This depends both on what the funds will be used for and the credibility of the campaign. If the fundraiser is seeking donations for an Iranian or non-U.S. charity, you should NOT donate. If the fundraiser is for a U.S. organization that is planning relief efforts in line with U.S. sanctions regulations, you can consider donating to the campaign. However, you should also consider giving to U.S.-based organizations directly rather than using a social media platform.
 

Which U.S. charitable organizations might be planning relief efforts in Iran?

The following U.S. organizations have responded to previous natural disasters in Iran and are planning relief efforts in response to the 2017 earthquake:

We will update this list as additional information becomes available.

BREAKING: IAAB v. Trump Team Praises Ruling Blocking Muslim Ban 3.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
CONTACT: Yasmina Dardari | +1 407 922 8149 |
 yasmina@unbendablemedia.com 

Washington, D.C. – Early this morning, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a ruling in Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump,blocking the Trump administration from implementing Muslim Ban 3.0, which was scheduled to go into full effect today.  Judge Chuang’s ruling follows a hearing on Monday afternoon in his courtroom where the plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump as well as two other related actions, requested a preliminary injunction.

In today’s ruling, which temporarily halts the implementation of the President’s order, Judge Chuang determined that Muslim Ban 3.0 likely violates the U.S. Constitution and federal immigration law.  Judge Chuang relied on the long litany of anti-Muslim statements and comments by President Trump, concluding that this latest version is an “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.”

The plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump are represented by Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Covington & Burling LLP, in consultation with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).  

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “We applaud the court’s decision in blocking this unconstitutional third attempt at a Muslim Ban.  This latest travel ban is little more than a dangerous effort to target Iranians and Muslims, unjustified by any credible national security concerns. The ban will have a real impact on real people’s lives, robbing families of moments they can never get back. The National Iranian American Council is resolute in seeing this hateful and unconstitutional policy never becomes law.”

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates: “Today’s ruling reaffirms that religious discrimination and bigotry have no place in our country.  We applaud Judge Chuang for recognizing that Muslim Ban 3.0 contravenes fundamental American values and does not make our country safer.  We, however, are well aware that our work is not finished. We will continue to advocate against this unjust and discriminatory policy until it is finally and permanently relegated to the dustbin of history.

“So, for today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we continue the fight.”

According to Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: “Today is such a proud day for youth we serve at IAAB. When our members connect with family members, friends and community members from across the Iranian diaspora, it changes futures, enriches lives, and roots them in a meaningful sense of community and responsibility. Our youth spoke up in court and they won. When grounded in community and sense of justice, the young people of IAAB can even beat the most powerful man in the world.

“We know that the ban is not totally gone and that graduations, weddings, and family gatherings will continue to be interrupted, and that our youth will continue to face harassment and hostility. So we will continue to speak out against the ban and religious discrimination in all its forms.”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United:“The Muslim ban in all its versions has never been about making America safer or protecting our people. It’s about discrimination, plain and simple. The ban violates fairness and equal treatment—concepts that are at the core of religious freedom. We’re pleased that the courts have once again recognized that fact.”   

Judge Chuang’s ruling follows a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Muslim Ban 3.0 issued by Hawaii Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii v. Trump yesterday afternoon.

For more information, or for interview with a National Iranian American Council legal expert, please contact Yasmina Dardari at 407-922-8149 or by email at yasmina@unbendablemedia.com.

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The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people.

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. 

Iranian Alliances Across Borders is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 2003. IAAB addresses issues of the Iranian diaspora by facilitating community building, developing ways to better understand what it means to be part of a diaspora community, and empowering members of the Iranian diaspora community to enhance connections with their new communities as well as maintain connections with their root community.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

NIAC Encouraged By Hawaii Ruling Blocking Muslim Ban 3.0

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is encouraged by the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii in the case of Hawaii v. Trump, blocking the September 24 Proclamation, more commonly known as Muslim Ban 3.0, from going into effect, nationwide.

In granting a nationwide Temporary Restraining Order to the plaintiffs, Judge Derrick Watson opined that the plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of success against the newest version of the travel ban.

“Banning more than 150 million people based on nationality and faith is not only a dangerous and incoherent national security policy, it lacks any credible support in the facts or the Constitution,” said Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council. “We agree with Judge Watson that an individuals country of origin is not a reliable indicator of their propensity for terrorism or inherent dangerousness. We will continue to confront and combat every version of the Muslim Ban that President Trump draws up until he abandons this racist and xenophobic campaign promise to his base.”

NIAC Deplores Trump’s Push to Violate Iran Nuclear Deal

 

 

 

Washington, DC – Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s speech withholding certification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:

“Trump’s speech was a national disgrace. This isn’t an effort to stiff a contractor over a real estate project, it’s a matter of war and peace. Donald Trump is in way over his head.

“Contrary to the reporting, Donald Trump is killing the deal – not in one move, but in several moves. First, Congress will attempt to kill it through deal-killing legislation from Tom Cotton. If that is blocked, Trump has vowed to kill it himself. Either way, the deal will get killed by this process triggered by Trump.

“Cotton’s legislation would seek to unilaterally rewrite the nuclear deal, an unequivocal violation of the agreement. A vote for that bill would be as significant as a vote for the 2002 war with Iraq.

“Trump is single handedly destroying U.S. credibility and all but guaranteeing that no country in their right mind would agree to a deal with the U.S. again. The U.S. has shredded alliances through go-it-alone approaches before, to disastrous effect. Trump’s has reduced America’s allies on Iran to just Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi royal family. Trump’s ‘coalition of the willing’ on Iran makes George W. Bush’s old coalition on Iraq look like a diplomatic masterstroke.

“The most insulting of Trump’s lies was when he sought to pass himself off as a champion of the Iranian people. As we speak, Trump is banning nearly all Iranians from the United States. The majority of people targeted by Trump’s Muslim ban are Iranian. Iranian Americans are being cut off from their family members in Iran thanks to Trump.

“Congress must step in and make it clear that it will restrain this President and that the U.S. is fully committed to upholding its word on the Iran deal.”

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Trump Risks War with Iran through Reckless Nuclear Deal Decision

Washington, DC – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s failed certification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:

“Trump’s failed certification of the Iran nuclear deal is a politically motivated and self-destructive act that risking undoing years of careful diplomatic efforts. The fact that Trump is backing down from asking Congress to immediately snap-back nuclear sanctions is of little comfort. U.S. credibility is already in question thanks to the President’s antics leading up to his decision and the nuclear deal still remains in jeopardy.

“Any effort to unilaterally extort other countries of the P5+1 to renegotiate the deal and change the goalpost is a violation of the deal, by definition. It doesn’t matter what fancy words are used to describe the process, in reality it is nothing short of the U.S. reneging on its word.

“Trump has failed to commit that the U.S. will stay true to its word and abide by the deal. He has kicked the issue down to Congress with instructions to attempt to coerce our allies as well as Iran to reopen the painstaking negotiations that took 12 years to conclude. Extortion is not a sound diplomatic strategy and the President’s actions on this issue have significantly weakened his hand. 

“This opens the door for Iran to respond in kind by also threatening to renege on is commitments lest the U.S. gives it additional concessions. This is a recipe for disaster. The deal can not survive these attacks on it, triggered by Trump’s decertification. 

“In effect, Trump’s advisers forced the President to eat his vegetables in order to be served dessert. He doesn’t get to tear the deal up today, but he is demanding that Congress take actions that would tear up the deal on his behalf. So far, similar to the effort to destroy Obamacare, Trump has discovered that his fellow critics of the agreement have no real alternative. If Trump has succeeded at anything, it has been his ability to accidentally call the bluff of his colleagues on the Hill. On this issue of war and peace, cooler heads must prevail in Congress. 

“Notably, one of the areas where Trump has apparently backed down is on designating the IRGC as a terrorist group, a move long opposed by the Pentagon but fervently supported by hawkish Washington organizations. It appears that there are still some adults in the room who were willing to convince the President to back down on a move that would have put U.S. troops in danger and united opposing factions inside of Iran to the detriment of moderate interests.

“Unfortunately, in Washington it still sounds like the threat of war with Iran is returning. Sen. Tom Cotton is the apparent brainchild of Trump’s new approach, and Cotton has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran. Cotton and even experts testifying at Congressional committees in recent days have been encouraging lawmakers to prepare for strikes on the Iranian homeland. The hard work to stabilize the nuclear accord and forestall war with Iran will continue in the months ahead, and the Iranian-American community will be at the forefront of that effort.”

“If the accord continues to unravel, the U.S. and Iran will be back on the path to war. As former Secretary of State John Kerry warned earlier this year, prior to the deal ‘Leaders in the region were saying to me personally, and to the president, President Obama, you should bomb these guys.’ The Obama administration wisely stepped back from the nuclear brink and invested in diplomacy. Now, Trump appears to be inching back towards that brink and it will be up to Congress to stop him.”

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Memo: Potential Economic Fallout of a U.S. Exit from the JCPOA

If Congress re-imposes nuclear sanctions on Iran under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) the United States could be forced to sanction our closest allies in Europe and Asia. This would have profound negative consequences on the transatlantic alliance and with other nations that would be vital for any effort to negotiate a deal regarding North Korea. Similar risks would accompany a potential legislative effort to dramatically escalate non-nuclear sanctions effectively re-imposing sanctions lifted under the accord under a separate justification. Potential consequences will include:

  1. Alienating allies by targeting some of their foremost companies with secondary sanctions for their continued trade with Iran that was envisioned under the JCPOA.
  2. Engaging in a trade war with our closest allies, who could retaliate against the U.S. economy or protect their own companies from U.S. sanctions.
  • The E.U. Ambassador to the U.S., David O’Sullivan, recently said “the European Union will act to protect the legitimate interests of our companies with all the means at our disposal.” In this scenario sanctions would only punish U.S. businesses without producing a significant economic impact on Iran.

3. Elevating the economic and security influence of Russia and China in the region.
4. Precipitating a decline in the use of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The use of the dollar underpins the bite behind U.S. multilateral sanctions and provides significant financial benefits to the U.S. economy.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned about this in 2016 when he said “if foreign jurisdictions and companies feel that we will deploy sanctions without sufficient justification or for inappropriate reasons—secondary sanctions in particular—we should not be surprised if they look for ways to avoid doing business in the United States or in U.S. dollars.”

5. India, South Korea, and Turkey are already implementing policies to use their own currency in transactions with Iran.
6. Removing economic incentives for Iran not to pursue a nuclear weapons program that it is not currently pursuing.

The re-imposition of sanctions or alternatively a comprehensive non-nuclear sanctions package would place the U.S. in a conundrum. If the sanctions effectively block our allies from investing in Iran this will severely damage our partnerships and if our sanctions do not have a secondary effect, then we will essentially be sanctioning our own economy with little impact on Iran. On this point it is important to note that re-imposition of sanctions could upset a Boeing deal worth $41.6 billion when leasing and purchasing are combined, and that Boeing claims will support 100,000 U.S. jobs.  Below you can find a partial list of recently completed and ongoing investment into Iran that could be impacted by decertification and U.S. sanctions.

To see our report please see the following:

Memo Potential Economic Fallout of a U.S. Exit from the JCPOA

Orgs Urge U.S. Government to Allow Apple and Google to Host Iranian Apps

Washington, DC – NIAC and a group of Iranian American and human rights organizations are urging the U.S. government to lift restrictions that have recently prevented Iranians from hosting apps on the Apple and Google app stores.

In a Letter to Sec. Tillerson & Mnuchin sent today to the State and Treasury Department, the organizations officially requested that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reconsider the scope of the current licensing policies that affect Iranian developers whose apps have been removed from Apple and Google app stores.

On August 24, 2017,  it was reported that Apple began removing applications developed by Iranians from its mobile app store. Within a week, Google had taken similar action. Iranians reacted by taking their frustrations to social media, with the trending hashtag #StopRemovingIranianApps. Many tweeted in English during Apple’s annual iOS event to gain the attention of Apple CEOs to bring attention to this issue. Yaser Bahrami, an Iranian app developer, tweeted: “Today, Apple is the first enemy of iranian [sic] iOS developers. We are developing software not nuclear weapon.” Another user, an Iranian computer engineer named Payam, said this removal of Iranian apps from Apple and Google stores made it seem as if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) never even happened.

While much of the backlash was directed at Apple and Google, the removal of apps was likely due to the existing U.S. trade embargo on Iran. Companies like Google and Apple have begun allowing Iranians to access and download software in recent years,. following the Obama Administration’s decision to exempt communications technology from the Iran embargo. The companies had also hosted apps by Iranian developers on those platforms until recently. That may be because, while the exemption allows for software to be exported to Iranians, it does not necessarily apply to the hosting of Iranian apps. It is unclear if recent threats by Donald Trump to abandon the nuclear deal may have prompted companies to reevaluate their policies regarding Iran, but their interpretation that they are barred from hosting such apps may be correct. A fix may only be possible if the Treasury and State Department broaden the exemption to allow the hosting of Iranian apps, as urged in the organization’s’ letter.

In addition to NIAC, the letter was sent by Access Now, ASL19, Center for Human Rights in Iran, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Iranian American Bar Association, PARS Equality Center, Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans and United4Iran.

The full text of the letter is below:

October 11, 2017

Dear Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mnuchin:

We are writing to raise concerns regarding recent events in which Apple and Google appear to have deleted mobile applications (“apps”) developed by Iranian users from their respective mobile application stores (“app stores”). These events are an impediment to the free flow of information and private entrepreneurship independent of the government of Iran. We are concerned that the actions by Apple and Google were mandated by current U.S. sanctions laws and regulations administered by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), and are herein requesting OFAC to reconsider the scope of its current licensing policies and amend those policies as needed to ensure that Iranians are able to make their own apps available on app stores operated by U.S. parties.

On February 7, 2014, OFAC, in consultation with the State Department, issued General License D-1 (“General License with Respect to Certain Services, Software, and Hardware Incident to Personal Communications”) in order to facilitate the Iranian people’s access to information. GL D-1 was widely praised as an effective example of securing human rights, protecting access to online information, and avoiding government censors.

As a result of GL D-1, the Iranian people – including Iranian youth – were permitted access to apps made available from app stores run by U.S. companies, such as Apple and Google. Upon being granted access to apps made available from app stores like Apple and Google, many young Iranian developers themselves created their own apps for purposes specifically relevant to the Iranian people and submitted those apps to app stores operated by Apple and Google, where they were posted. The startup ecosystem created by young Iranian entrepreneurs has gained international attention for its promoting opportunities for both men and women to secure independence from the traditional state dominated economies of Iran. This movement has continued despite persecution by hardline elements.

Recently, though, both Apple and Google appear to have come to the conclusion that GL D-1 does not provide license authorization for U.S. companies, such as themselves, to host apps developed by Iranian users on their app stores. The disappearance of popular apps created by young Iranian developers and previously made accessible to Iranian users has created shockwaves amongst Iranians online – a potent feeling that they are being unfairly punished for the seemingly perpetual geopolitical dispute between their government and the government of the United States. 

We have appreciated the consideration that has gone into previous efforts by the U.S. government to broaden general license authorizations aimed at easing the burdens placed on the Iranian people by the U.S.’s comprehensive trade and investment embargo with Iran. We have likewise valued the manner in which the Departments of State and Treasury have received our ideas in the past regarding these matters. We believe that recent events merit OFAC to consider broadening the scope of GL D-1 as to expressly authorize U.S. parties to host apps developed by Iranian users on their app stores. Alternatively, if OFAC has concerns about issuing a general license authorization regarding the hosting of such apps, then OFAC should promulgate a statement of licensing policy specific to this matter so as to inform interested parties that OFAC will review license applications to engage in such conduct under a favorable presumption. These steps are critical to remediate the backlash that has been stirred amongst Iranians online and to ensure that the Iranian people are able to fully access personal communications technologies and evade the reach of their own government’s censors.

We trust that your agencies will engage in a thoughtful review of this letter and reconsider its current licensing policies regarding this matter. Further, we hope that this recent issue is not the result of any policy shift away from building bridges with the Iranian people through technology, but instead the result of unforeseen circumstances and technological developments outpacing current licensing. We would appreciate a meeting with appropriate representatives to discuss this matter in fuller detail and engage in a frank conversation regarding any concerns about broadening GL D-1. We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your responses.

Sincerely,

Access Now

ASL19

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Iranian American Bar Association

National Iranian American Council

PARS Equality Center

Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans

United4Iran