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News | Iran Threatens to Sever Relations with UAE over Strategic Isles ... or Not

by DAN GEIST and PAUL MUTTER

10 Oct 2012 05:20Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

AbuMusaDistant.jpgDenial (?) of the Day

Iranian news agencies (some of them, anyway): IRI and UAE just as tight as ever

According to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), the Iranian government denies an AFP report that Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told parliamentarians on Tuesday that Iran is considering breaking off diplomatic relations with the UAE over the ongoing ownership dispute regarding the islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb, which lie along the Persian Gulf's primary shipping lanes. The Foreign Ministry accused the AFP of deliberately misconstruing Mehmanparast's comments. Meanwhile, as of publication time, the English-language website of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) was leading with a story headlined "Iran warns UAE to stop repetitive claims on three Islands, otherwise relations will be severed."

The dispute over the three strategic islands, which were under British/emirati rule for most of the 20th century, broke into the open in 1971 as Britain's treaty with the Trucial States was about to expire. Just days before the UAE came into existence, Iran under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi invaded and seized the Tunbs, claiming that they and Abu Musa have rightfully belonged to it for centuries. An agreement between the emirate of Sharjah and Iran calling for joint administration of Abu Musa yielded Iran effective control of the island. The Islamic Republic has literally "stamped" its ownership on Abu Musa with a football pitch that features the words "PERSIAN GULF" in English at a scale readily legible by satellite. The display is intended as a rebuttal to assertions made by Saudi historians and politicians, among others, that the gulf should be labeled "Arabian" instead of "Persian."

While the government's denial has been relayed by Fars News Agency as well as ISNA, Press TV actually reported Mehmanparast's comments without denying their veracity earlier on Tuesday. Though Press TV has since scrubbed that story from its English-language website, its piece quoting Mehmanparast can still be viewed here. For the moment, IRNA's similar report remains its top story for Anglophones.

Sanctions Relief of the Day

"The Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued Amended Iranian General License C-1 [link to PDF download], which authorizes, for an additional 45-day period, U.S.-based non-governmental organizations to raise funds and send those funds to Iran to be used for earthquake relief efforts in response to the August 11, 2012 earthquake in northwestern Iran."

-- From the U.S. Treasury Department's Resource Center. The extended license facilitates, through November 19, the donations of funds from the United States "to be used in direct support of humanitarian relief and reconstruction activities" related to the August quakes in East Azerbaijan province.

Quote of the Day

"Bashar al-Assad's government largely has the situation under control."

-- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, discussing the happenings in Syria with Germany's Der Spiegel.

Headline of the Day

"Bad Terrorists and Good Terrorists"

-- Hossein Sheikholeslam, international affairs adviser to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani and former ambassador to Syria, writes a commentary for Mehr News Agency inspired by the U.S. State Department's recent removal of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO) from its list of foreign terrorist groups. Among Sheikholeslam's musings: "Over the past twenty months, U.S. officials have staunchly supported the terrorists operating in Syria. They have overtly funded the rebels fighting against the popular government of President Bashar al-Assad, and the U.S. has ensured that weapons have flooded into the hands of the terrorists. This is because the terrorism in Syria is a good instrument for protecting the Zionist regime and such types of terrorism must be supported in U.S. doctrine."

Photo of the Day

CarsOverUSFlagFars.jpg

Yes, another gathering in Tehran to exploit protest that stupid "Innocence of Muslims" video. No, the cars didn't even leave a smudge. Yes, they burned it later.

Competing Calculations of the Week

Look, oil sales up! No look, oil production down!

So the Financial Times headlines its latest update on the Islamic Republic's oil industry thus: "Iran arrests its decline in oil exports." Here's what FT sees as the leading news:

Iranian oil exports hit a low in July of less than 1m barrels a day, but they increased slightly in August and more significantly in September, hitting 1.2m b/d, according to traders who monitor the sales.

The consecutive monthly recovery comes as Turkey and South Korea recently restarted buying Iranian crude after a hiatus of several weeks. China, India, Taiwan and Japan also bought oil. Tehran also shipped oil and fuel oil to little-known ports in Malaysia and Indonesia, most likely to resell it quietly to Asian refiners, traders said.

"We have seen the low point of Iranian oil exports," a Gulf-based senior oil official said. "Asian countries are buying again."

Oil & Gas News, a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Trade Arabia, takes a different tack, focusing on output rather than exports -- and finding a source who casts doubt on the latter (it also prefers "bpd" to "b/d" for "barrels per day"):

Iranian supply fell by 50,000 bpd to 2.80 mbpd, matching July's rate, the survey found. Output in July was Iran's lowest since 1988, according to figures from the US Energy Information Administration. Output from Iran is down sharply this year due to US and European sanctions on the country over its nuclear programme. The embargo bars EU insurance firms from covering Iran's exports, hindering imports by some non-EU buyers.

Some sources expected a small recovery in Iranian exports this month as some customers, including South Korea, returned. But some buyers say Iran's tanker fleet has been struggling to meet delivery schedules, slowing down exports.

'There is clearly a problem with the tanker issues and over the longer term it's probably going to get more and more difficult,' said one industry source, who estimated Iranian exports in September were on a par with August's.

Video of the Day

A gorgeous documenting of the folk music of southern Iran from the 1960s, directed by Nasser Taghvai. Deep appreciation to Mohammad Amin for uploading this precious film to YouTube.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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