The Fallout From the UN Security Council Revisiting Iran’s Nuclear Case
The editorial of Arman Melli warns the Iranian nuclear negotiation team and authorities that they should take very seriously the threat of the UN Security Council to revisit Iran’s nuclear case, as this will cause irreparable damage for Iran. As the talks for reviving the nuclear deal between Iran and the P4+1 have resumed in Vienna, Iran is accused of not being serious in the talks and trying to buy time.
Iranian authorities must not neglect the warnings of experts, as Iranian officials continue to dismiss these warnings as intimidation tactics. They should not undermine the potential fallout if the Iranian nuclear case is referred to the UN Security Council once again.
It is highly likely that the UN Security Council might get involved in Iran’s nuclear case again. If this happens, they will not let it go like they did last time. And Iran will not be able to prevent the implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions. It is not possible to do what former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did back then to block the resolutions.
Iranian authorities should have no doubt that the inspection of nuclear facilities will be transferred from the IAEA to the UN Security Council – which has much broader powers and would lead to heavier consequences. The Security Council will most likely sanction Iran in a similar fashion to the action taken against Iraq in the 1990s; followed by Russia and China.
The Necessity of Ending These Crushing Sanctions
The editorial of Aftab Yazd urgently demands that the Iranian government must reach an agreement for resuscitating the nuclear deal with the other signatories because the Iranian people are paying a high price for the sanctions imposed on Iran.
These days, a new round of nuclear talks is underway in Vienna, and now all are concerned about the outcomes of these negotiations. It seems that after years of negotiations, these talks must lead to an agreement.
Under the current circumstances, deteriorating economic conditions have made life increasingly difficult for people, and therefore it is imperative to reach an agreement in Vienna and revive the JCPOA. So, the government must use all its power to bring this agreement to fruition. They must use experts from different fields, particularly legal experts, to properly defend the rights of the Iranian people.
The truth of the matter is that there is no time to waste, and Iran has no option but to reach an agreement. But the government must lead the negotiations with the aim of reaching the best possible agreement for Iran so that these crippling sanctions are lifted against the country after all these years.
The Iranian people deserve the best life, but now economic conditions are worsening day by day. That is not fair. The government is accountable to the people and must do everything in its power to ensure that the Vienna talks reach the best conclusion.
Are People’s Livelihoods Tied to the JCPOA?
The editorial of Arman Melli states that people’s economic conditions in Iran greatly depend on foreign policy decisions and the destiny of the nuclear deal, urging that Iranian officials must stop denying this fact. During his presidential election campaign and his early days in office, President Ebrahim Raisi and his team claimed that they could resolve people’s economic woes by achieving a breakthrough in the nuclear deal – a claim which has been proven wrong already.
Unfulfilled promises by officials and authorities erode public trust which leads to a drop in social capital. When promises are publicly made, people believe that these promises will be honored and make decisions based on this.
Ebrahim Raisi’s government took office by making promises to improve the deteriorating economic conditions faced by the people, while officials announced that they do not want to tie people’s financial difficulties to foreign policy and the nuclear deal (JCPOA). They insisted that they have plans for improving the country’s economic conditions and people’s standard of living.
But it seems that the government’s efforts are focused on resolving the issues in foreign policy, hoping that it will help improve people’s standard of living. This is exactly the path that was taken by Hassan Rouhani’s government. Those officials who claim that people’s financial difficulties are not tied to foreign policy and the nuclear deal are wrong; rather the bleak economic conditions endured by the people are strongly linked to the JCPOA.
Now, Raisi’s government is also being realistic and has distanced itself from its early slogans. That the current government was forced to pursue the nuclear talks shows that this government is following in the footsteps of the previous government, hoping that a breakthrough in the nuclear deal will help to resolve people’s issues.
It is an undeniable fact that the country’s dire economic conditions are tied to foreign policy and the JCPOA. US sanctions have debilitated Iran’s economy, while any change and improvement in people’s economic conditions is tied to the nuclear deal.
Non-Existent Budget Resources!
The editorial of Arman Melli reviews the vague aspects of the Iranian draft budget for next year, highlighting how some of the forecasts and guarantees made in the draft are unrealistic and unclear.
The draft budget for the next Iranian year (starting March 21) has many problems, and despite the slogans of the Iranian president and the head of the Budget and Plan Organization, there is no structural reform in the draft budget.
More importantly, when the officials say that in next year’s budget forecasts 8 percent economic growth, they must clearly state how they are going to achieve this. How can they achieve 8 percent growth, while the current budget has risen and the civil budget has declined? When investment has declined and there are no plans for facilitating production, how can we expect 8 percent economic growth?
Some lawmakers have defended the budget draft in the Parliament, but their remarks are not scientifically and economically correct. As such, next year’s budget will not only increase inflation and unemployment, but will also lead to a decrease in economic growth.
So, next year’s budget has not been drafted logically. When government officials say they will not borrow money from the Central Bank of Iran, it is not clear how they are going to provide money to pay for their expenses. Such remarks are empty slogans. They must either sell bonds and securities or borrow from the Central Bank, or else the issue of financing the budget remains ambiguous and unclear.
The budget allocated to Iranian state-run television has increased by 56 percent, the budgets of military and law-enforcement bodies have doubled or tripled, and seminary organizations and entities have had a nearly twofold increase in their budgets. But no attention has been paid to the civil budget or to foreign investment, while the ground for domestic investment has not been paved either.
So, it is not clear how they are going to increase the civil budget, investments, and production to decrease inflation and unemployment, and at the same time increase economic growth. In case the nuclear talks are successful, the price of the US dollar will not significantly decline.
If the nuclear negotiations are successful, we will not see any considerable drop in the price of the dollar, and that is because of the decline in oil revenues, the drop in oil sales, and other problems which exist in Iran. When it come to the nuclear talks, the Iranian authorities must try to avoid any serious damage which will result in long-term economic and social instability – even if this means making some compromises now.
But the Iranian authorities should not give a pretext to the other parties to the nuclear talks which will allow them to inflict all kinds of damage on Iran. The Iranian negotiation team should not base its decisions on a hostile perception of the nuclear deal and misunderstandings; nor should it try to find faults with the deal.
They should allow experienced and committed experts to freely express their opinions and these opinions must be taken into consideration.
Kurdish Political Prisoner Secretly Executed
The Attorney General’s Office in Kurdistan Province announced that Haydar Qorbani, a political prisoner, was executed on December 19. In this statement, Qorbani was charged with “rebellion and collaboration in the murder of three individuals” and being a member in an armed opposition group.
Hengaw Organization for Human Rights has reported that the death sentence of the prisoner was carried out “secretly and without allowing him to have a last meeting with his family.”
According to this report, judiciary officials had told Mr. Qorbani’s family to go for a meeting with him, but then were taken to a cemetery in the city of Sanandaj where they were told that “Haydar was executed and this is his grave.”
This organization has also reported that Hassan Qorbani, Haydar’s brother, has been arrested by security forces after his objection to the secret execution of his brother.
Following the release of the news of the secret execution of Haydar Qorbani, a considerable number of people gathered in front of his house in the city of Kamyaran, despite the threats made by Iran’s security forces.
The death sentence of this prisoner was issued in 2020 and in recent months, human rights activists had pointed to torture and the extraction of a coerced confession from this prisoner, warning against the possible implementation of this sentence.
A few months ago, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Javaid Rehman and eight other UN human rights experts in a joint statement underscored that this political prisoner had never been armed and expressed serious concerns about his unfair trial and torture, calling for revoking the death sentence of Mr. Qorbani.
In 2016, Haydar Qorbani and his brother-in-law Mahmoud Sadeghi were arrested on the charge of “collaboration in the deaths of several members of the IRGC.”
Since his arrest, Qorbani was placed under extreme pressure to make a confession, and Press TV network, affiliated with the Iranian government, had broadcast a video of the coerced confession of this Kurdish political prisoner.
Amnesty International underscored that the confession was obtained under torture, calling for revoking the death sentence and holding a fair trial for him.
Hayman Qorbani, Haydar’s son, released a video on social media asserting his father’s innocence, calling for human rights activists and international organization to prevent his father’s execution.
IRGC Holds Military Drill While Israelis Talk of Iran’s Weak Position in the Nuclear Talks
Amid escalating tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Israel declaring its readiness to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, Abbas Nilforoushan, an IRGC official, announced the launching of a joint military drill on the Gulf coast.
According to Nilforoushan, the drill would last five days along the Gulf coast, the Strait of Hormuz, and in the provinces of Hormozgan, Bushehr, and Khuzestan, with participation of units from the IRGC’s ground, navy and aerospace forces. The Strait of Hormuz is a passageway for about 20 percent of the world’s oil exports, and Iran has recurrently made threats to close it.
According to this IRGC commander, the military drill aims to show Iran’s readiness for countering any “possible threats.” The drill was held a few days after the nuclear talks in Vienna came to a halt, and Israel announced that it is ready to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, there are increasing doubts about the outcomes of the nuclear talks. Moreover, in recent months, Israeli officials have asserted that they will not wait for America’s approval for confronting Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has emphasized that his country is not a part of the nuclear deal with Iran, saying “we don’t see ourselves committed to it, and we will not repeat the mistake we made in 2015 after the JCPOA was signed.”
In recent months, Iran has stepped up the pace and level of uranium enrichment, creating concerns among world powers and regional countries.
Under these circumstances, Israeli officials have warned again and again that they are ready for taking unilateral measures against Iran’s nuclear program.
The Head of the IRGC’s Khatam al Anbiya Construction Headquarters Gholamali Rashidi has said that any Israeli attack will not be possible without America’s support and approval. He has urged that in case of such attacks, Iran will attack all centers and bases used in the operation.
Government Promises to Double Direct Subsidies
While the Iranian government remains vague about the sources of funding for next year’s draft budget amid talks of a budget deficit, Mohsen Rezaee, economic deputy to Ebrahim Raisi, has announced the doubling of direct subsidies to the Iranian people. According to Rezaee, a household of four will receive 800,000 tomans of goods and cash money from next month.
The promise to double subsidies has coincided with the increase in the price of the forex and the decrease in the value of the national currency, and the prices of essential goods have unprecedently soared. In the meantime, experts have warned that Iran is heading towards hyperinflation.
The Iranian government has decided to provide for a part of its expenses by not offering the dollar at 4,200 tomans (the official subsidized exchange rate) any longer, while compensating for the ensuing increase in prices by paying direct subsidies to low-income households.
Many economic experts have warned against the feasibility of this plan, urging that it will definitely increase the inflation rate.
Abolishing the official exchange rate will initially shock the economy and increase inflation for all groups in society, but next year’s draft budget provides no insulation against this expected economic shock and rise in inflation.
In the meantime, Iranian Economic Minister Ehsan Khandouzi announced that in next year’s budget, except for medicines and bread, the official exchange rate of 4,200 tomans per dollar will no longer be allocated.
Currently six essential goods of wheat, barley, corn, soy, cooking oil, and oilseeds, along with certain medicines and medical equipment receive the official exchange rate for import.
The official exchange rate was set in 2018 by former President Hassan Rouhani in reaction to the leap in the forex price in the market after former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal unilaterally.
The price of the dollar at 4,200 tomans has been allocated for importing essential goods and controlling their prices, but Rouhani’s government gradually stopped allocating this subsidized exchange rate for many goods which resulted in skyrocketing prices.
Critics have warned against eliminating the official subsidized exchange rate, and recently, the head of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce warned of hyperinflation and soaring prices.
Officials Confirm Omicron Variant in Iranian Provinces
Iran’s Health Ministry has published statistics on the latest coronavirus death toll in the country, saying more patients have been hospitalized or lost their lives in recent days.
According to recent official statistics, 2,413 new patients have been identified, 376 of whom were hospitalized. Moreover, 43 individuals lost their lives in one day. This brings the number of coronavirus victims in Iran to 131,167 and patients to 6,175,782. The same tally also indicates that 2,835 patients are currently in critical condition in ICUs.
However, it should be mentioned that Iran’s official COVID-19 statistics are still under serious question by independent sources.
No cities in Iran are currently in the red or orange zone, but 53 cities are reportedly in the yellow zone and 395 in the blue zone.
Meanwhile, the head of public relations at Iran’s Health Ministry announced that his ministry held an emergency meeting in this regard. Deputy Health Minister Kamal Heydari stated that the omicron variant has entered Iran via a middle-aged individual from the UAE who is currently in Tehran. An official at Iran’s National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control, however, remarked that there is no reliable system for identifying different COVID-19 variants in Iran. “We should assume that this case is just the tip of the iceberg,” stated Shahnam Arshi.
Another official at Iran’s coronavirus headquarters has warned about the rapid spread of the omicron variant, saying if a lockdown is not imposed, we will witness another peak of this disease in the next three or four weeks in the country.