Belfer Iran Brief—Ayatollah Khamenei enters the enrichment debate and other news

Belfer Iran BriefAyatollah Khamenei outlines Iran's demands for its future enrichment capability, Iran sent more military hardware to the fighting in Iraq, and more in this week’s edition of the Belfer Iran Brief, covering July 4-11.

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By Sam Ratner

Highlights

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei identified Iran’s necessary domestic enrichment capability at 190,000 SWU.
  • The International Energy Agency estimates that Iranian oil exports fell 26% in June to 1.08 million barrels/day, their lowest rate since October 2013.
  • Iran has sent three Su-25 attack planes to Iraq to assist in the fight against ISIS.

Diplomacy and nuclear issue

  • French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius claimed that France, Russia, and the U.S. have “differences in approach” to the P5+1 talks. (Reuters, 7/8)
  • Iran reportedly offered to turn their facility at Fordow into “research and development and back-up site for Natanz” as part of a final deal. (Reuters, 7/9)
  • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei identified Iran’s necessary domestic enrichment capability at 190,000 SWU. (Reuters, 7/8) Note: Khamenei went on to say that 190,000 SWU “is not a need this year or in two years or in five years, but…is the country’s absolute need.”
  • Iran is preparing to begin operating its newly commissioned uranium conversion plant. (Reuters, 7/11)
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined foreign ministers from Britain, France, and Germany in Vienna over the weekend to accelerate progress in P5+1 talks. (NYT, 7/10) (AP, 7/11) Note: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was absent.
    Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna for P5+1 talks
    July 14, 2014 - US Secretary of State John Kerry leaving Coburg Palais after his bilateral meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the second straight day of talks over Tehran's nuclear program in Vienna. (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanctions and Iran’s economy

  • Trade between Germany and Iran increased 19% year-on-year in the first four months of 2014. (Fars, 7/10)
  • The International Energy Agency estimates that Iranian oil exports fell 26% in June to 1.08 million barrels/day, their lowest rate since October 2013. (WSJ, 7/11) Note: The IEA also estimated that Iran has averaged 1.1 million barrels/day of crude oil exports since the JPA was implemented.

Iranian domestic politics

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani thanked Ayatollah Khamenei for his public support of nuclear negotiations at this “sensitive juncture.” (Tehran Times, 7/9)

US-Iran relations

  • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian claimed that the U.S. has asked Iran to cooperate with the U.S. in responding to the crisis in Iraq. (Tehran Times, 7/9)

Geopolitics and Iran

  • Iran has sent three Su-25 attack planes to Iraq to assist in the fight against ISIS. (NYT, 7/8) Note: Iran has denied this and other direct support for the Iraqi government’s war effort.
  • Influential Iranian Shiite clerics denounced ISIS in sermons while stopping short of encouraging sectarian warfare. (WSJ, 7/4)
  • Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman to discuss the crisis in Iraq. (The National, 7/9)

Israel

  • Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, on a trip the Washington, expressed skepticism that a comprehensive nuclear deal would be concluded by the July 20th deadline. (Reuters, 7/4)

“Red lines,” “points of no return,” and military strikes

  • No significant developments.

Uncertain or dubious claims

  • No significant claims.

Sam Ratner is the project coordinator for Iran Matters. He tweets at @samratner.