WSJ: Europe-Iran business forum latest in Iran sanctions downward spiral


A Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday revealed that an upcoming London forum will bring together Iranian firms with a range of international counterparts - drawn from law offices, telecom operations, business consultancies, and even art auction houses - to explore how capital might be moved into Iran as the country transitions into a "post-sanctions" environment. The article, by editorial page writer Sohrab Ahmari, was blunt in assessing that the Europe-Iran Forum's activities call into question the White House's repeated insistence that sanctions against Iran are holding despite the financial relief granted by the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). Top European officials - including former foreign secretaries and ministers from the U.K. and France respectively - will attend opposite Iranian businesses that have long been denied access to the global marketplace, including one that is explicitly sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department. The piece quoted Matt Baker, an associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), describing the forum as "an effort to further undermine Western leverage vis-a-vis Iran at a critical time in the nuclear negotiations by encouraging Western investors to establish valuable business contacts and create the basis for their return to the Iranian market." Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had already in mid-September boasted that Iran's post-JPA economy had managed to recover from what had been a multi-year stagnation, the result of Western sanctions that had been widely credited with bringing the Iranians to the negotiating table. A week later Reuters reported that the European Union was making quiet moves to boost the bloc's import of natural gas from the Iranians. A week later the wire printed another story on moves being made to boost Iranian resource exports, this time documenting how "Iran is increasing steel exports and courting foreign investors in an ambitious bid to quadruple steel output in a decade." Around the same time a European judicial decision led to the U.K. Treasury lifting a long-time asset freeze on NITC, Iran's largest tanker operator. The month of developments heightened a year's worth of worries that sanctions relief would deprive Western negotiators of the leverage they need to extract robust nuclear concessions from Iran. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that "Congress, that put these sanctions in place... [is] very concerned that we're going to deal away the leverage that we have where we finally have Iran willing to sit down and talk about these issues."


Israeli chemist Yifat Miller and her PhD student Yoav Atsmon-Raz have found a critical link between Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Miller’s research at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Beersheva revealed, for the first time, the atomic structure of a brain protein fragment called non-amyloid beta component (NAC), known to trigger PD when it clumps together. The same clumping action by an endocrine hormone called amylin harms insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to T2D. Amylin is also found in the brain, and previous studies show that its clumping there, with the aid of the peptide amyloid beta, is related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the death of neurons. Miller suspected that this mechanism explains why people with T2D face twice the normal risk of developing AD later in life. With these findings, she strongly suspected she was closing in on a groundbreaking key to understanding of the mechanism that underlies T2D and neurodegenerative diseases. Miller’s second goal was to shed more light on Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as the reason why people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk for developing PD and not only AD. Miller’s hypothesis was that amylin can also interact with NAC or alpha-synuclein. This study spanned nearly three years of research using sophisticated computer simulations. The findings were then confirmed through experiments. Miller set up her lab in BGU in 2011 after three years of post-doctoral research on AD at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. With her staff of four graduate students and one post-doctoral researcher, she focuses on the link between type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Miller’s lab may continue investigating this further. (via Israel21c)

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