Iran stifling dissent over nuke deal, says snap-back of sanctions not possible

All signs indicate that the formerly isolated regime is content with the accord and the resulting new trade opportunities with the West.

By REUTERS
August 5, 2015 02:50
3 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (photo credit: HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY WEBSITE / AFP)

 
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Iran is reining in critics of the nuclear deal it signed with world powers last month, and its president and foreign minister are arguing in its favor inside the country – a sign that the formerly isolated regime is content with the accord and the resulting new trade opportunities with the West.

Billboards supporting the deal have appeared on Tehran highways, according to the Iran Front Page website, which cites Iranian media.

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In addition, the country’s Press Supervisory Board has suspended a hardline newspaper and cautioned two other outlets for criticizing the deal – a rare move for a body more used to upholding social conservatism.

The board suspended 9 Dey, a weekly newspaper that accused Tehran’s negotiators of overstepping Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s redlines in the negotiations, the ISNA news agency reported on Monday.

The board referred the publication’s case to a court, it added.

Censors also cautioned Kayhan, an influential conservative daily, and the Raja News website, in a setback for critics who assert that Iranian negotiators made too many concessions to reach the historic deal on July 14.

Conservative newspapers have been targeted in the past: In February 2014, the Supreme National Security Council sued a conservative journalist working for Vatan-e Emrooz (Today’s Nation) for criticizing President Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policy. However, Iranian censors usually target publications that are perceived to be undermining the Islamic Republic’s strict religious codes.



Meanwhile, in another sign that Iran is taking full advantage of its newfound international legitimacy, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrived in Tehran on Tuesday.

Senior government ministers from France, Germany and Serbia have been among visitors to Iran since the accord, which raised the prospect of lifting banking and trade sanctions on the Islamic Republic, perhaps around the end of this year.

Before Gentiloni’s visit, the Iranian Mehr news quoted him as saying, “Italy’s economic ties with Iran have definitely suffered during the sanctions era, but the recent nuclear agreement will serve as an opportunity for a gradual improvement in the two countries’ relations.”

Italian Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi, who accompanied the delegation, told Iranian reporters that Italy would certainly invest in Iran’s car industry in near future.

“The number of cars produced in Iran is high, and this will not be limited to Iran’s market,” state news agency IRNA quoted her as saying.

Guidi said Italy would create new “finance channels” to facilitate trade with Iran.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said that the international sanctions regime against the country had collapsed, and rejected the idea that it could be renewed in a “snap-back.”

“The structure of the sanctions that the US had built based on the UN Security Council’s resolutions was destroyed, and like the 1990s, when no other country complied with the US sanctions against Iran, no one will accept the return of the sanctions [in the future],” the Fars New Agency cited Zarif as saying at a meeting of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.

He also defended the deal as a “balanced agreement” that upheld the country’s overall objectives, according to the Tasnim News Agency.

Separately, the commander of the Iran Revolutionary Guards’ navy, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, warned the US against taking any hostile action.

“The western media are mocking the US for speaking of ‘on-the-table options,’ because the US always utters some words without the ability to materialize them, and... we are ready to give such a powerful response to the slightest move of the US that it won’t be able to make any other moves,” Fars quoted Fadavi as saying at a ceremony on Monday.

Referring to the nuclear deal, he said that “the Islamic Revolution has given the other side a rare opportunity, and they should take care not to miss this opportunity.”

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