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Analysis & Commentary - Behnam Ben Taleblu

Behnam Ben Taleblu's Latest Articles

10th October 2018 – Axios

U.S. and India headed toward clash over Iranian oil sanctions

Behnam Ben Taleblu

India, a country the Trump administration has called “a key security and economic partner,” will soon test U.S. resolve on Iran. Two Indian firms are reportedly seeking to purchase Iranian oil in November. Should the imports go through, they would contravene the stated U.S. aim of bringing Iran’s petroleum exports “as close to zero as possible” by Nov. 4. more...

3rd October 2018 – Axios

With Syria strike, Iran continues ramping up ballistic missile use

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired six ballistic missiles into eastern Syria on Monday. The strike — whose efficacy is debatable — was in response to a Sept. 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran. Both the Islamic State, or ISIS, and a local Arab resistance group took responsibility for the attack. more...

14th September 2018 – FDD's Long War Journal

Analysis: Iranian Missile Strikes Against Kurdish Dissidents in Iraq

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Over the weekend, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired seven short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) at the headquarters of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in northern Iraq. The move follows an uptick in violence between Tehran’s security establishment and Kurdish insurgents, allegations about foiled terror plots in the country’s Kurdish-heavy west, as well as the recent execution of three Iranian Kurdish males imprisoned for allegedly having ties to terror groups. more...

7th September 2018 – Axios

Iran moves missiles to Iraq in attempt to fortify security, influence

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Last week, Reuters reported that Iran transferred two types of weapons — a rail-launched artillery rocket and solid-propellant short-range ballistic missiles called the Fateh-110 and the Zulfiqar — to Shiite militias in neighboring Iraq. The same report cited an unnamed Iranian official who said the missile transfer was “a backup plan if Iran was attacked.” more...

30th August 2018 – Bloomberg — Co-authored by Ellen R. Wald

Making Iran Sanctions Hit Harder This Time

Behnam Ben Taleblu

While the Trump administration’s reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran earlier this month grabbed the headlines, a more significant date is Nov. 4, when the truly crippling penalties — including those on Iranian oil — are slated to return. more...

28th August 2018 – The Wall Street Journal

You Can Run, but You Can’t Hide From Iran Sanctions

Richard Goldberg, Behnam Ben Taleblu

As the U.S. begins to reimpose tough sanctions on Iran, defenders of the 2015 nuclear deal are peddling myths. They say Russia, China and India will evade sanctions. They claim oil prices will skyrocket. And they predict Europe will establish a “sanctions free” payment channel to Iran. None of these warnings should slow President Trump’s campaign to impose maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic. more...

20th August 2018 – The Hill

Iran-North Korea meeting — A message for the US?

Behnam Ben Taleblu, David Maxwell

As U.S. sanctions on Iran entered into force on August 7, Tehran was busy playing host to the foreign minister of the ultimate rogue nuclear regime, North Korea. Between August 7 and 8, North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho held high-level talks with Iran’s foreign minister and President. more...

16th August 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

Iran’s Allies in Iraq Vow to Help Tehran Skirt U.S. Sanctions

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Romany Shaker

Under pressure from pro-Iranian factions, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is backing away from his initial commitment to comply with U.S. sanctions on Iran. Abadi’s reversal illustrates both the weakness of Abadi’s caretaker government and the depth of Tehran’s influence in Iraq. more...

14th August 2018 – Axios

Iran’s increased missile testing an apparent rebuke to U.S. pressure

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iran’s Defense Minister unveiled a new short-range ballistic missile called the Fateh Mobin, or “manifest conqueror,” on Monday. Initially designed for surface-to-surface combat, these missiles have been upgraded several times and include anti-ship variants. more...

3rd August 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Iran’s New Central Bank Governor Tied to Sanctioned Entities

Saeed Ghasseminejad, Behnam Ben Taleblu

On July 25, Abdolnasser Hemmati replaced Valiollah Seif as the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).  more...

30th July 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkey Vows to Defy U.S. Sanctions on Iran – Again

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Merve Tahiroglu

As the August 6 deadline approaches for the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions on Iran, Turkey has declared it “will not obey” and is vowing to continue buying oil from the Islamic Republic. more...

27th July 2018 – Axios

Iran and the U.S. trade barbs but hedge on strategy

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Major General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, issued a forceful response to President Trump’s recent tweet addressed to Iranian President Rouhani, the latest in a round of escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran invoking war. “Gambler Trump! I alone will stand against you,” he touted. “You may begin a war, but it is us who will end it.” more...

18th July 2018 – Axios

U.S. and Europe continue to butt heads on Iran

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Secretary of State Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin recently rejected a European appeal for sanctions exemptions for firms conducting business with Iran. more...

26th June 2018 – Axios

Iranians take growing discontent to the streets

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iranians protesting government policies have shut down parts of the Tehran Grand Bazaar. Social media posts showed Iranian merchants gathering outside the parliament building yesterday chanting anti-regime slogans. The protests, which began in the capital, have reportedly spread to several other towns, with other bazaars shuttering on Tuesday. more...

16th June 2018 – The National

Tehran and its proxies are willing to sacrifice the welfare of ordinary Yemenis to keep the conflict

Behnam Ben Taleblu

“There is no military solution to the conflict,” says the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths. Iranian officials agree, at least in public, yet Tehran keeps sending weapons to the Houthi rebels, including ballistic missiles. Arming the rebels makes perfect sense when Iran does not want to resolve the conflict. more...

6th June 2018 – Axios

Iran’s strategy to keep the nuclear deal: fear

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Since the U.S.' exit from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has doubled down on its diplomatic strategy to pressure Europe into offsetting the effect of American sanctions, which are slated to return by November. But Iran also appears to be hedging its bets, claiming to remain committed to the limited restrictions on its nuclear program while professing interest in boosting its enrichment capabilities and centrifuge manufacturing. more...

21st May 2018 – The Hill

Mike Pompeo raises the bar for a deal with Iran

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went big — very big — in his speech at the Heritage Foundation Monday. Pompeo’s remarks were the first major statement of U.S. policy towards Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal on May 8. Whereas the JCPOA attempted to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat in isolation, Pompeo demanded nothing less than a fundamental transformation of the Islamic Republic’s behavior. This bold move raises the bar very high for any future deal with Iran. more...

16th May 2018 – The National Interest

Return of the Sanctions: Banks Should Steer Clear of the Central Bank of Iran

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury Department has set its crosshairs on two more Iranian illicit finance schemes. Late last week, Washington designated a network spanning Iran and the United Arab Emirates that had “procured and transferred millions in U.S. dollar-denominated bulk cash” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF), according to the Treasury Department’s press statement. more...

14th May 2018 – Fortune Magazine

Iran Could Benefit From the Brewing U.S.-Europe Nuclear Deal Dispute

Behnam Ben Taleblu

The EU believes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal is worth preserving. It is no surprise, then, that President Trump’s decision to restore nuclear sanctions and terminate America’s adherence to the JCPOA risks putting Washington on a collision course with Europe. With sanctions kicking-in between the next 90 to 180 days, all attention will be on the efficacy of American tools of financial pressure. more...

8th May 2018 – Real Clear Defense

Atomic Archive Strengthens Case to Fix Nuclear Deal

Orde Kittrie, Behnam Ben Taleblu

President Trump stated on Twitter Monday afternoon that he will be announcing his “decision on the Iran deal today from the White House at 2:00 p.m.” Trump is facing a deadline of May 12, which is the expiration date of the current waiver of one of the key Iran sanctions laws that are waived to implement the Iran nuclear agreement. more...