Daily TIP

Reports: Iran breaks out of sanctions, inks European energy deal

Posted by Albert Gersh - December 30, 2014

Iranian state media boasted on Tuesday that Tehran has successfully inked an oil and gas deal with a top Italian energy company, bragging that the deal came despite the fact that Iran has yet to reach a final agreement with the P5+1 global powers regarding the country’s atomic program. The story emerged just a few days after a Gulf outlet reported that that the Iranians will soon attend a week-long energy exhibition in Oman indicated aimed at "promot[ing] trade between the Sultanate and the Islamic Republic of Iran with the participation of more than 100 Iranian companies." Both announcements in turn came just days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that the Iranian economy had officially exited a sanctions-driven recession. The developments have deepened long-standing worries that sanctions relief provided to the Islamic republic under the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) is spiraling beyond public predictions issued months ago – and then consistently defended – by top Obama administration officials. Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Executive Director Mark Dubowitz conveyed the Iranian braggadocio regarding the Italian deal alongside a pointed question about the robustness of the Western sanctions regime. Administration officials have been perceived as scrambling to keep up with Iranian progress in eroding the sanctions regime. Treasury Department officials announced on Tuesday that they were imposing sanctions on more than half a dozen Iranian targets that, per a Reuters description of the charges, had “supported Iran's efforts to avoid sanctions and backed the government's human rights abuses, including censorship.” Lawmakers have become increasingly critical of the administration’s ability to check the erosion of the sanctions regime, and have become concomitantly skeptical of the White House’s claim that Western negotiators have sufficient leverage to extract meaningful concessions from the Iranians. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) predicted over the weekend that there will be "a very vigorous Congress when it comes to Iran,” and that a vote regarding sanctions legislation was likely in January.

Groundbreaking new diagnostic technique used on firefighters at Ground Zero identifies dangerous particles inhaled by firefighters, factory workers, dental technicians,and kids with asthma. Microscopic foreign particles in the lungs of firefighters, welders, industrial workers and children cause respiratory problems of great concern to Prof. Elizabeth Fireman of the Institute for Pulmonary and Allergic Diseases at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. She has developed a bio-monitoring technique that’s proven its value from Ground Zero to the playground. Back in 1999, Fireman published her first paper showing how her revolutionary induced sputum (IS) and analysis techniques worked better than the more invasive bronchial lavage method in obtaining and studying mucus of Israeli factory workers to test for hazardous particles from inhaled dust. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center terror attack on September 11, 2001, she flew to New York to bio-monitor 39 New York City firefighters who’d inhaled toxic substances at the disaster site, and compared results against a control group of Israeli firefighters. She identified toxic metals such as mercury in the rescue workers’ lungs. “When the Twin Towers collapsed, I realized my method could be used for the firefighters. At the beginning, they didn’t understand how a woman in Israel could help, but I met Dr. Dave Prezant, the chief physician of the New York Fire Department 10 months later at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society, and offered him the technology. I said I was sure even at this point I would find particles, because they accumulate and remain in the body.” In a new study soon to be published, Fireman and a team of researchers compared the IS technique to environmental monitoring in mapping air pollution. They examined 136 urban children evaluated for asthmatic symptoms at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, which is affiliated with the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University. “Rooftop pollution monitoring stations measure larger particulate matter, which is mostly expelled by the lungs,” explains Fireman, who also is on Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. “I wanted to know what happened to the small particle matter capable of evading the body’s immunological mechanisms. And I wanted to know how they affected asthmatic kids.” (via Israel21c)

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