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Environmental Activist Imprisoned in Iran Alleges Torture for Forced Confessions

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  • Environmental Activist Imprisoned in Iran Alleges Torture for Forced Confessions

    6 Feb – Iranian environmental activist, Niloufar Bayani, who has been held for more than a year by IRGC intelligence, alleged in a court session headed by Judge Salavati that she was repeatedly threatened and attacked by authorities, and was forced to make confessions. She said the ‘confessions’ were made under physical torture and intense psychological pressure, and that she had retracted all of them after the first round of investigations.

    Local media reported that on January 30th, Bayani and seven other Iranian environmental activists accused of spying, appeared in a Tehran court for a closed-door trial. During that court session they learned that the first half of their indictment is based on retracted forced ‘confessions’.

    According to the state news agency IRNA, Mohammad-Hossein Aghasi, who represents one of the accused, said that he was not present in court as the state designated its own handpicked lawyers to represent the defendants. IRNA reported that three lawyers were present at the trial, referring to them as “Reza Jafari, Beigi and Hosseini.” The lawyers were approved by Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani.

    Present at the closed-door trial at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Abolqasem Salavati, were defendants Houman Jowkar, Taher Ghadirian, Morad Tahbaz, Sepideh Kashani, Niloufar Bayani, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh.

    Niloufar Bayani interrupted the court session several times, and objected that her ‘confessions’ had become the basis for the trial. Her allegations are especially important because four of the Iranian environmental activists were charged with “sowing corruption on Earth,” which can carry the death sentence in Iran.

    The activists were “seeking proximity to military sites with the cover of the environmental projects and obtaining military information from them”, according to Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi.

    IRNA reported that three of the activists have been accused of espionage, and one has been charged with “conspiracy against national security”. They were arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on January 24th and 25th. Mizan, the judiciary’s official news agency, and state-run Fars News Agency called to the defendants “individuals accused of spying on the country’s military installations” in their reports.

    The environmentalists are all members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. On February 13th, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the Tehran prosecutor, told reporters that the detained activists are accused of using environmental projects as a cover for collecting classified strategic information. The Foundation claims to only work to conserve and protect the flora and fauna in Iran.

    The environmentalists have not been given access to lawyers of their choice or have had a trial date set. On social media, family members said that they were told by judicial authorities that the detained environmentalists can only be represented by lawyers from a pre-approved list of 20 that the judiciary had published in June 2018.

    It has also been reported that the detainees were subjected to prolonged periods of solitary confinement and denied phone calls with family members.

    Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said, “Iran’s judiciary is again highlighting its role as key functionaries in a repressive state machinery rather than defenders of justice.” She added, “Iran’s leaders need to search no further for a source of simmering societal anger against them than the judiciary’s despicable treatment of peaceful activists who are only trying to mitigate the country’s many serious problems, including environmental crises.”

    Niloufar Bayani was a Biology student at McGill university. Bayani graduated in 2009 and later worked for the United Nations Environment Programme. She went to Iran to do environmental work nearly a year ago, where was arrested and accused of espionage. She has been in the notorious Evin prison ever since. McGill University has not commented, but University spokesperson Chris Chapello told the Montreal Gazette that McGill is “aware of the situation and has been in contact with the Canadian authorities.”

    Hayley Lapalme is working toward her friend Bayani’s release. She said in an interview, “To learn this person, who had a wonderful presence in our community here [in Toronto], is now in a prison cell — it’s stunning, really.”

    Lapalme added, “Niloufar is this person who has this lightness, goodness, intelligence and generosity about her that is really contagious. She really brings out the best in people.”

    Bayani’s environmental field work included the study of zebra mussels in Montreal and researching marine life in Belize. She went to Iran to do field work on Asiatic cheetahs, an endangered species in the country with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

    Iranian authorities have accused Bayani of spying and could face the death penalty. Lapalme said, “The kind of work that we can practice freely and that is appreciated here, it’s work that’s being criminalized now in Iran.”

    More than 300 conservationists, including primatologist Jane Goodall, signed an open letter that demands the release of Bayani and eight other environmentalists in Iran. The letter states, “We are convinced that their work and research had no second means or objectives. We are horrified about the thought that the neutral field of conservation could ever be used to pursue political objectives.”

  • Human Rights Watch Condemns Iran for Mass Arrests and Abuses in Annual Report

    21 Jan – Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized Iran for “widespread arrests” of protesters and activists in its 2019 annual report into human rights violations around the world, citing specifically the thousands of arrests made during the nationwide anti-government protests in the winter of 2018, as well as the arrests of environmentalists and women who protested against compulsory hijab.

    In the report, which draws on events from late 2017 to November 2018, HRW also condemned Iran’s shadowy “security apparatus” and “suppressive and non-accountable Judiciary” for their work to suppress human rights.

    The report said: “Iranians participated in numerous protests across the country amid deteriorating economic conditions, perceptions of systematic government corruption, and popular frustration over lack of political and social freedoms. Security forces and the judiciary responded to these protests with arbitrary mass arrests and serious due process violations.”

    Following these mass arrests of people trying to exercise their freedom of speech, Iran’s judiciary handed down harsh sentences at “unfair trials”. They still fared better than the at least 50 protesters who were arbitrarily killed in the street or the 14 who were tortured to death before their trials; something the Government has refused to investigate.

    HRW also condemned Iran for creating a list of Government -approved lawyers to deal with “national security” cases, which is how the mullahs often charge political activism. How can a person get a fair trial when the prosecution chooses their lawyer?

    Another troubling issue is the arrest of dozens of environmentalists, whom the Government accused of spying despite the fact that they were monitoring an endangered species with the express permission of the Iranian Government. This included Canadian-Iranian Professor Kavous Seyed Emami, who died under suspicious circumstances in custody.

    The HRW report read: “Since 2014, the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards] Intelligence Organization has arrested at least 14 dual and foreign nationals who authorities allegedly perceived to have links with western academic, economic, and cultural institutions. They remain behind bars on vague charges such as ‘cooperating with a hostile state,’ deprived of due process, and routinely subjected to pro-government media smear campaigns.”

    The group then condemned Iran for its violent abuse of women peacefully protesting compulsory hijab, the jailing of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotudeh and human rights activist Farhad Meysami, discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, and discrimination against handicapped Iranians,
    Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Division, said Iranian officials “blame the world for their own problems” and “refuse to look into the mirror” to discover how their suppression increases dissent among Iranians.

    The report also condemned Iran for executing at least five juvenile offenders. This report was published just days before Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri mourned that the Government had been forced to stop brutal punishments like amputations because of international pressure.

  • Iranian Civil Activists Imprisoned Again for Speaking About Their Tortures

    21 Jan – Iranian civic activist Sepideh Qolian and labour leader Esmail Bakhshi, who were tortured during their imprisonment last year, was arrested again on Sunday.

    In a short tweet, Qolian said: “I’ve been arrested.”

    Since their release from prison in December, Qolian and Bakhshi, who was initially arrested along with several striking sugar mill workers in mid-November, have been speaking out about their torture in custody. The activists’ case regarding their torture is still open in Susa, southwestern Iran.

    On Saturday, Iran’s state TV broadcast videos of Qolian and Bakhshi, as well as activist Ali Nejati who is still imprisoned, in which they said that they were not being treated badly in prison and confessed to being linked to a foreign-based Marxist group. Human rights watchdogs have repeatedly condemned Iran for forcing inmates to make “confessions” that are then broadcast on state TV.

    Qolian had previously said that the torturers forced her to make the video and threatened to release the video if she ever told people that she had been tortured in jail. Following its release, she said she was more determined than ever to expose the government for torturing her.

    She tweeted: “Even if you bring 5,000 Haft Tapeh Sugarcane workers in front of the camera for forced confessions with lashes and batons, it will not make the fact that you are corrupt and cruel any less significant… The images that were broadcasted of me proves what I said before that I was tortured during my incarceration. I will follow up my torture accusations more seriously and now that my confessions were broadcasted, I demand that my court be held publicly.”

    Bakhshi’s defence lawyer denied the Iranian Prosecutor General’s statement that the activists could not have been tortured in prison.

    He said: “Some officials are trying to terminate the torture case by saying that violence against workers may have been exercised outside the prison when they were being transferred to jail.”

    He explained that this violates the supposed impartiality of judicial officials, advising that everyone, including the prosecutor, is barred from passing judgements on a case before the court issues its verdict.

    Regarding his torture, Bakhshi said: “I was beaten up and tortured to death for no reason. I was so badly battered that I could not move for 72 hours in my solitary confinement cell. The pain was so unbearable that it made sleeping impossible. Weeks after my release, I still feel intolerable pain in my broken ribs, left ear, and testicles.”

    While more than 1,300 activists and workers in Iran and abroad have signed a petition in support for Bakhshi and other workers, demanding that Bakhshi is given the chance to publicly protest and complain against what happened to him in jail.

  • Amnesty Calls for Justice for Victims of 1988 Iran Massacre

    Amnesty International has exposed the shocking scale of the 1988 Iranian massacre in a new report, which denounces the mass-murders as a crime against humanity, condemns the harassment of those seeking justice, and calls for those responsible to be held to account.

    By Pooya Stone

    In the summer of 1988, 30,000 political prisoners, mainly members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were executed by the Iranian Government on the fatwa of then-supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini.

    Their bodies were then buried in anonymous mass graves, some of which have since been destroyed by the Government to cover up evidence, and the families of the victims were left in the dark about the fate of their loved ones. Despite overwhelming evidence presented by human rights groups, the Iranian opposition, and even some Government insiders, the Government has systematically denied the massacre to the Iranian people and the international community.

    They’ve even gone so far as to launch a massive crackdown on those seeking the truth.

    No one has faced justice for their crimes and, worse still, many still have influence in Iran today, like current Minister of Justice Alireza Avaei, the Minister of Justice until 2017 Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, the current head of the Supreme Court for Judges Hossein Ali Nayyeri, and 2017 presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi.

    Amnesty wrote that the failure to bring the criminals to justice, in this case, makes the 1988 massacre an ongoing crime against humanity and so the international community is obligated to seek justice on behalf of the victims.

    It is therefore imperative that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court work together to ensure independent criminal investigations.

    However, it is equally important that bodies like the European Union do not ignore these atrocities, especially not when using the flimsy excuses of trade or the nuclear deal. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini should be less concerned with building a relationship with the mullahs and more concerned with helping the people of Iran, who are advocating for the overthrow of the mullahs.

    Alejo Vidal-Quadras, president of the Brussels-based International Committee in Search of Justice and former vice president of the European Parliament, wrote: “We, in Europe, know that bringing justice to the victims of a crime against humanity not only means justice for those affected but a lesson of history for all to remember. We bring justice not only to close a case but also to remind us and the next generations that crimes against humanity cannot be under any circumstances left unpunished so that they never ever could happen again.”

  • Hundreds of Christians in Iran Arrested Ahead of Christmas

    21 Dec – Over 150 Iranian Christians have been detained in the past month and arrests are expected to continue over the Christmas holiday.

    Those arrested include Amir Taleipour, 39, and his wife Mahnaz Harati, 36, who were arrested in front of their 7-year-old daughter during a raid on their home in Mashhad. The couple has not been allowed to speak with relatives or lawyers since the arrest.

    Sources explain that these arrests in the officially Shia Muslim country normally spike during December when more Iranians are attracted to Christianity, as Iran hopes to intimidate potential converts away from the religion. However, arrests have been especially severe this year, with some speculating that security branches who fear losing money in the new budget are trying to show how effective they can be.

    Miles Windsor, advocacy and development manager at Middle East Concern (MEC), said: “The current situation has been described by some as unprecedented. There are a huge number of arrests and detentions. Recently it seems there is definitely a coordinated and determined campaign to decimate the Christian community and to spread fear and intimidation.”

    While Shia Islam is Iran’s official religion and bases its laws on the mullahs’ interpretation of Sharia, the constitution recognizes Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity as official religious minorities. However, according to the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, it also specifies the death penalty for “proselytizing”, attempting to convert Muslims, “enmity against God”, and “insulting the prophet [Muhammad]”.

    Further Arrests

    Other Iranian Christians recently arrested include:

    • Sisters Shima, 27, and Shokoofeh Zanganeh, 30, who is beaten in prison in Ahvaz on or after December 2, after a raid on their home

    • Farzad Behzadi, 30, and Abdollah Yousefi, 34, who was arrested at the same time as the sisters, but whose whereabouts are unknown

    • 70 Christians in Karaj on November 30, including Jamshid Derakhshan, 64, whose whereabouts is still unknown

    Windsor said that these continuing arrests are increasing fear and limiting the flow of information, noting that most Christian arrestees are falsely charged with vague national security crimes, including espionage. These charges, often followed by sham trials, carry prison sentences of 10-15 years.

    He said: “There is no doubt that it’s the Christian faith of these individuals that is the reason behind their arrests and detentions.”

    The US State Department yet again listed Iran as a Country of Particular Concern for severe violations of religious freedom earlier this month. Despite the crackdown, Christianity is growing in Iran with estimates of between 800,000 and 1 million Christian Iranians.

  • Sugar Mill Workers in Iran Continue Protests Even as Riot Police Arrive at Factory


    22 Nov – Protests at the Haft Tappeh (Tapeh) sugar mill, once a source of national pride that has been struggling financially since it was privatized in 2015, continued as workers stayed with their strike on Saturday, according to reports by labor rights groups in Iran. Periodic strikes and workers’ demonstrations have become a fixture of life at the mill. Workers say they are often not paid their salaries for months at a time and their wages and benefits have been cut since privatization.

    Families accompanied the workers as they marched in Shush, southwestern Iran, to draw attention to their demands, ending the march near the governor’s office.

    Reports also say that some three busloads of security forces arrived in Khuzestan province, and anti-riot police were stationed in and around the complex on Saturday. In their social media posts, labor organizations worry that the arrival of anti-riot forces signal a plan to break the workers’ strike.

    For nearly a year, the Haft Tappeh workers have staged intermittent strikes and protests. They are angry over the mismanagement of the privatized complex, late payment of wages, and lack of production by the factory. They demand an end to the private ownership. They desire a takeover by workers, or a combination of ownership in which they can have a voice in running the business. They say they haven’t been paid since August and are demanding answers about the future of the industrial complex.

    The complex was once profitable before it was privatized in dubious circumstances. The Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Mill is the only factory of its kind in Iran. It was built nearly half a century ago during the reign of last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The agro-industrial complex was always lucrative until the Islamic Republic decided to sell it to the private sector in a murky transaction in 2015.

    The complex, built on a 2-hectare area, was sold to the private sector for a down payment of roughly two million dollars. It is not clear if any further payments have been made. In fact, its current owner seems to be on the run from the authorities for non-payment of loans from government banks.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, Haft Tapeh became part of a large sugar cane plantation. In the course of leveling the land for planting, some of the archaeological remains were destroyed and others exposed.In the 1950s and 1960s, Haft Tepe became part of a large sugar cane plantation. In the course of leveling the land for planting, some of the archaeological remains were destroyed and others exposed.was an archaeological site in Ḵūzestān province, in the southwestern alluvial plains of Persia, its seven hills, a prominent feature of the flat plain, led to it being called the “Seven Mounds”. In the 1950s and 1960s, Haft Tapeh became part of the large sugar cane plantation.

  • For the 65th Time, UNGA Condemns the Iran’s Human Rights Violations


    19 Nov – Iran has been condemned by the 3rd committee of the United Nations General Assembly for its blatant human rights violations. Thursday’s condemnation marks the 65th time that Iran has been called out for its human rights record at the international level.

    A draft resolution, which was introduced by Canada was adopted by the committee following a vote of 85 to 30. However, 68 countries abstained from voting. There will be a general vote at the UNGA in December.

    The resolution warns against the “alarmingly high frequency” of the use of the death penalty — especially against minors, as well as “the widespread and systematic use of arbitrary detention,” poor prison conditions “deliberately denying prisoners access to adequate medical treatment,” and “cases of suspicious deaths in custody.”

    Iran does not adhere to international judiciary and human rights norms, stressed the resolution.

    Last year a similar resolution gained 81 positive votes to 30 negatives. Four additional states joined other countries who are vocal about their discontent about the human rights situation in Iran.

    Iran also lost several traditional United Nations allies. In fact, Brazil and Mexico, in what is believed to be an attempt to distance themselves from the government in Tehran, abstained from the vote this year.

    Javaid Rahman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Iran, presented his report on Iran’s human rights situation to the UN in September. He wrote that he was concerned about continued human rights abuses by Iran. The resolution adopted on Thursday is in reference to Rahman’s report, which has caused worries for the rulers of Iran.

    In his yearly report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez discussed his ongoing concern regarding the human rights situation in Iran. The government was angered by Guttierrez’s remarks, and used propaganda to attack the UN authority.

    Bahram Ghassemi, spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, called Thursday’s resolution unacceptable. He said that the Islamic Republic is based on “republicanism” and is against “any kind of discrimination or politicization of human rights,” but did not address any of the issues raised by the resolution.

    Welcoming the UNGA’s draft resolution in condemnation of the Iranian government ’s human rights violations, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, NCRI president said, “Condemning the systematic and gross violations of human rights by the theocratic system ruling Iran, the UN resolution once again confirmed that the government blatantly tramples upon the Iranian people’s most fundamental rights in all political, social and economic spheres.”

    The NCRI pointed out in a statement, other areas that need to be addressed, including “systematically assassinating opponents abroad, and depriving the people of Iran of their rights to decide their country’s fate, to enjoy the rule of law, to have access to fair trials, to have free access to information, and to form independent syndicates and unions for workers, students and government employees.”

  • Environmentalists Face Death Penalty in Iran


    17 Nov – Five imprisoned Iranian environmentalists are now facing the death penalty after the ridiculous charges against them were changed from “espionage” to “Corruption on Earth”, according to one of the former lawyers of the accused.

    Mohammad Hossein Aghasi told Radio Farda on Sunday, October 21, that the charges were changed after the examining magistrate received a letter from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and that the new charge of “corruption on earth” carries the death penalty under the Islamic Penal Code.

    In January, Iranian security arrested eight environmentalists – Niloufar Bayani, Houman Jokar, Sepideh Kashani, Amir Hossein Khaleqi, AbdolReza Kouhpayeh, Taher Qadirian, Sam Rajabi and Iranian-American dual citizen Morad Tahbaz – and accused them of spying for the West, when they tried to monitor an endangered breed of tiger. They were held in temporary custody for months by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization, with no formal charges brought against them.

    The founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Iranian-Canadian Professor Kavous Seyyed-Emami, was detained with the eight ecologists, but died in prison shortly after. Iran claims that he committed suicide, but there are serious doubts about that narrative.

    TAKEN OFF THE CASE
    Aghasi who represented Jokar, Qadirian, and Rajabi, was recently taken off the case by the Iranian judiciary, thanks to an “unfair” and unconstitutional clause in Article 48 of Iran’s Criminal Procedure Act, which only allows suspects in national security cases to be represented by lawyers on Iran’s approved list. The list only contains about 20 names and many political cases are being termed national security, meaning that there are not enough lawyers to go around.

    While Aghasi doesn’t know what the letter from the SNSC actually said, he speculated that it could be a response to the Prosecutor-General’s enquiry about changing the charges.

    Although, Isa Kalantari, the head of Department of Environment (DoE), claims that the new charges have not been officially announced, it’s worth noting that the Iranian
    Intelligence Ministry has found no evidence of espionage by the environmentalists, so the government had to find another way to punish them.

    MURDER OF ENVIRONMENTALIST
    In a related matter, many social media posts were created on October 22 concerning the mysterious murder of prominent environmentalist and human rights activist Farshid Hakki, who was reportedly stabbed to death near his house in Tehran, before his body was burnt.

    Abdolreza Davari, the managing director of “Economic Reviews” monthly magazine, where Hakki served as a scientific advisor, tweeted that the news was “shocking” and “tragic” and called for an investigation.

  • Price of Real Estate in Tehran Rose Over 80% in Past Year


    9 Nov – Real estate prices in Iran have risen 83.5% in the past year, according to a report released by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in early November.

    The CBI said that house prices in Tehran are based on the benchmark of 86,100,000 rials per square meter of built-in area in October 2018. That’s $575 based on the global exchange rate as sellers can’t get dollars based on the government’s artificial exchange rate.

    This rise is particularly concerning as over the past seven months, when Iran ’s economic crisis was at its worst, the average house price per square meter in Tehran was only 55.5% higher than it had been the previous year.

    As with previous CBI reports on the high cost of real estate, the price increase has meant a drop in sales, which indicates a continued recession. In fact, property sales in Tehran had dropped by nearly a third in October, compared with September.

    FALL OF THE RIAL
    The reason for these high prices and low sales is the massive devaluation of the Iranian currency (the rial), which has been tumbling since the start of the year. Back in February, the exchange rate was 30,000 rials per US dollar. Now, it sits at 150,000, with the exchange rate hitting 200,000 in early October. While this had certainly been helped by the reimposition of US sanctions, the decline began before Donald Trump announced them in May.

    RISING PRICES
    In the past month, the average rental fees in urban areas increased by over 12.6%, while in Tehran they increased by 15%. But these rising prices are not just limited to housing, as food is also becoming increasingly expensive. The cost of tomato paste is 227.8% higher than this time last year, while bananas have increased by 186% and tomatoes by over 147%.

    Also rising in cost are milk and dairy products due to the ongoing drought and a rise in the cost of packaging, but the dairy producers’ association is still trying to regulate the prices.

    While non- industrial manufactured goods have risen 11.5% in the past year, something that will become apparent on retail shelves in coming months. This is due largely to a rise in the cost of imported parts or material, thanks to the exchange rate.

    The CBI and the statistical centre are also reporting an 11.5% rise in the inflation rate compared with the previous month, something considered too high by any standard.

  • Iran and Its Ballistic Missile Program

    9 Nov – The United States has been calling on Iran to stop manufacturing weapons that have the potential of carrying a nuclear warhead. Iran has not paid much attention to the demands and has continued to develop a growing number of long-range ballistic missiles. Furthermore, it has also been firing a number of shorter-range missiles in conflict situations.

    A minimum of 17 people were killed and dozens more injured (many of whom were women and children) when Iran fired several Fateh-110 missiles towards Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    At the beginning of October, Iran fired further missiles into Abu Kamal, a border town in the eastern part of Syria. This intensive missile attack included the use of Zulfiqar and Qiam-1 rockets that were aimed at Islamic State militants.

    While these strikes were being planned and carried out, tensions between Iran and the United States were rising. The United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or 2015 nuclear deal as it is known, earlier this year. One set of sanctions had already taken effect, with the rests due imminently.

    The strikes in September and October were actually the most intensive missile attacks that Iran has carried out in almost two decades.

    Iran has a large and varied missile arsenal – one of the biggest in the region. It has thousands of cruise missiles and short- and medium- ranges ones that have the potential of reaching parts of Europe and Israel.

    However, Iran does not have intercontinental missiles that are capable of delivering atomic warheads to much further distances. The United Kingdom, the United States, France, China and Russia have intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be sent across the globe.

    But, earlier this year, researchers in the United States exposed a potential secret test-site for ballistic missiles near a town called Shahrud in the desert. An expert from the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies indicated that Iran believes this secret site will enable Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile in the next five to 10 years.

    The Trump administration is working under the theory that sanctions will push Iran into abandoning its ballistic missile program and the development that goes along with it. However, Iran is already under the threat of sanctions and it is not going to give the ballistic missiles up without a fight. Or unless it has some great incentive to do so.

    Perhaps it would be more prudent of the Trump administration to ensure that – for now – Iran cannot access or develop the missiles that will do the most damage. Limiting Iran to a certain range is a lot more realistic, and will be received better, than trying to make it abandon everything related to ballistic missiles.

    Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has already warned: “If we cannot openly trade our commodities, if we cannot get what we want to get from open, transparent international transactions, we will not lie down and wait to die. We will do it. We will do it through whatever means that is necessary.”