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Overview: Iran Analysis Weekly Report September 11, 2016

11 Sept., 2016

Vistar Business Monitor

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called upon Islamic countries to “fundamentally reconsider” Saudi Arabia’s management of the Hajj pilgrimage, which began on September 9. Mr. Khamenei claimed that Saudi Arabia “martyred” those injured during the 2015 Hajj stampede instead of providing them with medical treatment. The 2015 Hajj stampede reportedly killed over 2,200 pilgrims, including more than 400 Iranians. He called Saudi Arabia’s rulers “small and puny satans who tremble for fear of jeopardizing the interests of the Great Satan,” and accused Saudi Arabia of “barring Iranian pilgrims” from participating in this year’s Hajj. In response to Khamenei’s comments, Saudi Arabia's top cleric, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, claimed that Iranians are not “Muslims,” stating, “We must understand they are not Muslims... and their enmity toward Muslims, especially the Sunnis, is very old.”

Mr. Khamenei also delivered his second statement last week calling for Muslims to reconsider permitting Saudi Arabia to administer the Hajj. While meeting with families of Iranians killed during the 2015 Hajj stampede, Khamenei stated that the incident “indeed demonstrated that this government is not qualified to manage the Two Holy Mosques, and this reality must be spread in the Muslim world and be understood.” Rouhani, meanwhile, called for Muslim countries to focus on “punishing the Saudi government” and criticized Saudi officials for “tactlessness and ineptitude.” The Hajj is scheduled to begin on September 9.

Ultra conservative newspaper Kayhan published images of letters from Bank Mellat and Bank Sepah refusing business with entities connected to the IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base, the IRGC’s engineering wing. Kayhan claims that “some” Iranian banks have decided to “self-sanction” themselves due to concerns over international sanctions. In response to the article published by Kayhan, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Valiollah Seif issued a statement claiming that “Iranian financial institutions can have financial and business relations with any individual or institution, whether or not they are on the sanctions lists.”

Economy and Finance Minister Ali Tayyebnia issued a statement in defense of Iran’s cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). He noted that the FATF’s restrictions prevented Iran from engaging in international banking transactions after the nuclear deal and claimed that “removing Iran from the FATF’s blacklist” is in the “nation’s interest.” In June, the FATF suspended some of its restrictions against Iran for a year to allow Tehran to implement an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing action plan. If Iran is able to meet its commitments under the plan, the FATF has claimed that it will consider “next steps” regarding Iran’s status on its blacklist. Regime hardliners have criticized Iran’s cooperation with the FATF, however. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, for example, claimed that the regulations are aimed at “depriving Iran of its financial and economic resources and are a type of sanction.”

The IAEA issued a confidential report confirming Iran’s compliance thus far with its obligations under the nuclear deal. The IAEA, however, acknowledged that Iran has started manufacturing rotor tubes, a critical component of centrifuges. Tehran is only able to use spare parts from older machines for its centrifuges currently producing fuel-grade uranium, according to the nuclear deal. The accord does permit Iran to build rotor tubes in specific circumstances. Iranian news agencies circulated Western coverage of the report, but Iranian officials have not yet reacted publicly.

The money supply increased in the month of Khordad to 10 quadrillion rials, showing a 29.7% increase year on year. On the other hand, when the money supply in the first quarter of this fiscal year is compared with the same period in 1392, the result is shocking. The money supply has increased by about 6 quadrillion rials since spring of 1392.

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