Meanwhile, UK’s The Guardian newspaper ran a letter signed by student council members from a number of British colleges and universities, in which they urged the release of the trade unionist Shahrokh Zamani and other prisoners. Zamani recently ended a 47-day-long hunger strike related to his conviction on vague charges of membership in a group opposed to state interests.
Aerospace Shopping Spree
In a sort of counterpoint to events related to international workers day, the Iranian regime made a statement on Thursday concerning its plans for high-level expenditures in the event that sanctions are lifted after the July deadline for nuclear negotiations.
The government’s top aviation official stated that Iran has plans to purchase 400 airplanes over the ten year period from 2015 to 2025. Companies may soon find themselves bidding for that newly legalized business, and some of the frontrunners in that competition include Boeing and Airbus, which are headquartered, respectively, in the USA and France, two of the six nations negotiating with Iran over the nuclear issue.
GE and Rolls-Royce are expected to sell and service engines for a de-sanctioned Iran, as well. Earlier this month, GE was granted Treasury Department approval to service 18 engines for Iran, for the first time since the 1970s.
Criticizing the Critics
Rouhani has recently criticized opponents of the sanctions deal that is leading to these plans for future spending. Reuters mentions in its coverage of the president’s televised interview, which took place on Tuesday, that those opponents are part of a tiny minority that benefited from the sanctions.
The report describes Iranian hardliners as accusing Rouhani of “sacrificing national pride and revolutionary identity for the sake of an agreement.” But it also points out that those hardliners have been restrained by Supreme Leader Khamenei. Western negotiators and some media outlets have taken this conflict at face value, but it can just as easily be seen in terms of a mere difference of strategy, towards similarly confrontational goals.
If the latter is the case, then we saw a meaningful example of that confrontational attitude today, when Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkhan issued a statement repudiating the US State Departments report, which was release on Wednesday, declaring that Iran is still a major state sponsor of terrorism. The Weekly Standard elaborated on that report, focusing on Iran’s support for an al-Qaeda terrorist network operating within its borders.