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December 17 2017
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Caspian Sea: Iran is getting ready to accept the realities

- For more than two decades Iran has been insisting on having an equal share of the Caspian Sea along with other littoral states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan). Even when Iran was talking about the principle of equity in the international law, it was intended to be at least twenty percent of the Caspian Sea. But now, ... -Bahman Aghai Diba 12/15/17

China eyeing take over of Iran gas project if France's Total pulls out

- Speculations are rising that China's leading oil and gas company CNPC could replace French energy giant Total in a key Iranian natural gas project if any new US sanctions against investments in Iran's economic projects forces it to leave the country. Reuters in an exclusive report said CNPC had already started talks with Iran over a share of 30 percent in the project to develop Phase 11 of Iran's South Pars gas field - the world's biggest independent gas field. 12/15/17

IRAN: After Burn Victims Denied Compensation Because They're Girls, Lawyer Says Law Must Change

- A lawyer in Iran is speaking out about sexism in the country's legal code after the families of two children who died in a fire at an elementary school were denied full compensation because the victims were girls. 12/15/17

US House passes bill scrutinizing plane sales to Iran

- US lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill that will bring the sales of American planes to Iran under the close scrutiny of the Congress. The bill passed 252-167 - all but four Republicans supported it, and they were joined by 23 Democrats. It would require the Treasury Department to report to Congress on Iranian purchases of US aircraft and how those sales would be financed. 12/15/17

How Many Camels is One Human Life Worth? Attorney Calls For Reform in Iran's "Blood Money" Scheme

- Blood money should be calculated on the basis of actual costs and inflation, not the market price for camels, as it is currently based on in Iran, according to a Tehran-based civil rights lawyer. According to Islamic law, Diyah, known as "blood money" in English, is paid as financial compensation to the victim or heirs of a victim in cases of murder, bodily harm, or property damage. 12/15/17

The genesis of a new Iranian nationalism

- The wave of nationalist sentiment in Iran is far from merely a reaction to outside threats such as the Islamic State and the Trump administration's rhetoric. -Narges Bajoghli, Al-Monitor 12/15/17

Iran opens first museum dedicated to female artist

- Iran has opened its first museum dedicated to a solo female artist - Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, who has received widespread international attention during decades of exile. The nonagenarian doyenne of Iranian art and friend of Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, had her first US solo museum exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York in 2015. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian 12/15/17

Nikki Haley Slams Iran's Role In Yemen War, Neglects To Mention U.S. Part In Humanitarian Crisis

- While fiercely denouncing Iran, Haley neglected to acknowledge America's own prolonged role in destabilizing the Middle East through its support of a military offensive that continues to slaughter Yemeni men, women and children. The U.S. is a powerful international backer of a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis that has conducted hundreds of airstrikes on Yemeni soil over the past two and a half years. - Jesselyn Cook, Huffington Post 12/15/17

U.S. To Boost Saudi Nuclear Power Development

- Almost a decade has passed since President George W. Bush promised that the United States would help Saudi Arabia develop commercial nuclear energy plants. When he visited Riyadh in May 2008, he pledged to sign a "memorandum of understanding," or MOU, committing the United States to "assist the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to develop civilian nuclear power for use in medicine, industry and power generation" ... -Thomas W. Lippman, LobeLog 12/15/17

Renewed Uncertainty For The JCPOA

- With relatively little fanfare, an important deadline passed by on December 12: the 60-day window during which Congress could have reimposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. That window had been opened on October 13 when President Donald Trump-under the terms of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA)-refused to certify that the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) was in America's national interest. -Derek Davison 12/14/17

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Flight Fight: Proposed Tripling Of 'Departure Tax' Roils Iranians - The price for Iranians of heading abroad could triple if the government's new budget proposal is approved. Under the budget plan submitted by President Hassan Rohani on December 10, so-called departure taxes would skyrocket to around $60 for a single trip outside the country, compared with the current fee of $20. Subsequent trips within a 12-month period would incur even higher fees. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL 12/14/17

NYT's Argentina Op-Ed Fails To Disclose Authors' Financial Conflict Of Interest - On Tuesday, Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz, two executives at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), took to the op-ed pages of The New York Times to celebrate last week's announcement that Argentina's former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, would face treason charges for her alleged role in covering up Iran's alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aries, killing 85 people. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog 12/14/17

Iran says parties to JCPOA protested US breach of nuclear deal during Vienna meeting - A senior Iranian diplomat says the parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have protested the US breach of its commitments under the agreement during a meeting of a commission tasked with monitoring commitments to the accord. "All members of the P5+1 [group] explicitly protested to the US and stressed that it should fully and precisely implement its commitments," Abbas Araqchi, a deputy foreign minister, told reporters in the Austrian city of Vienna on Wednesday after a new meeting of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Commission, which monitors the implementation of the nuclear deal. 12/14/17

OIC Summit in Turkey Blasts Trump Decision on Jerusalem - ISTANBUL - Leaders of majority Muslim nations gathered in Istanbul Wednesday and condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as unlawful. The meeting came as unrest in the Middle East continues, along with growing criticism over the Jerusalem move. -Dorian Jones, VOA 12/14/17

United Nations Chief Urges Washington To Honor Obligations Under Iran Nuclear Deal - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed support for the 2015 Iran deal from all the signatories except for the US, calling on Washington to also honor its obligations under the landmark agreement. Guterres made the remarks in a report on implementation of a UN resolution that endorsed the July 2015 nuclear agreement, which was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. 12/14/17

US Official Accuses Turkey of Pushing Extreme Islamist Ideology - An already tense relationship between the United States and Turkey appears to be under more strain after a top Trump administration official accused Turkey of spreading what he called extreme Islamist ideology around the world. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday that Turkey had joined Qatar as a prime source of funding that contributes to the spread of extremist ideology. -Jeff Seldin, VOA 12/14/17

Iran's hard-liners aren't only ones empowered by Trump's Jerusalem move - After US President Donald Trump's ill-advised decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, some headlines have noted that Iran's hard-liners have been empowered as a result. While that may be true -- and extremists in Tehran certainly claim as much -- it also paints an incomplete picture. -Reza Marashi, Al-Monitor 12/14/17

Southeastern Iran Hit By Two Strong Earthquakes; At Least 18 Injured - Iran's southeastern province of Kerman has been hit by at least two strong quakes in recent days, injuring at least 18 people and damaging around 20 buildings, state media reported. The first quake of magnitude 5.9 struck on early on December 12 about 56 kilometers north of Kerman, a city with a population of more than 820,000. 12/13/17

Tehran Stock Exchange breaks all-time high record - Tehran Stock Exchange's main index, TEDPIX, broke an all-time high record in Wednesday trading by surging into the 93,000 lane. TEDPIX gained 654 points to stand at 93,283, a level never seen in the Exchange's history since establishment in 1966. 12/13/17

Reexamining US Mideast Policy After The Jerusalem Proclamation - President Donald Trump's official proclamation that the US accepts Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, along with preparations to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv, has predictably upset apple carts across the Middle East and beyond. The period just ahead will be dominated by diplomatic responses, an increase in violence, and perhaps terrorist acts. -Robert E. Hunter 12/13/17

Istanbul Hosts Summit Against Trump's Jerusalem Recognition - ISTANBUL - Twenty-two leaders in the Islamic world were gathering in Istanbul Wednesday in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The meeting comes as unrest in the Middle East continues, along with growing criticism over the Jerusalem move. -Dorian Jones, VOA 12/13/17

Iran to seal deal with Russia-led trade bloc Eurasian Economic Union soon - Iran says it expects the formalities over its membership to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) - a regional trade bloc led by Russia - would be finalized soon and an agreement with the Union's member states would be signed accordingly. Iran's media quoted a trade official as saying that the agreement with the EEU would be signed by the presidents of all member countries. 12/13/17

US Congress to Let Iran Deadline Pass, Leave Decision to Trump - Congress will allow the deadline on reimposing sanctions on Iran to pass this week, congressional and White House aides said Tuesday, leaving a pact between world powers and Tehran intact at least temporarily. By doing that, Congress passes the ball back to Trump, who must decide in mid-January whether he wants to issue a waiver to keep old sanctions from being imposed on Iran.-Reuters 12/13/17

Mogherini Avoids Maryam Rajavi As MEK Violence Erupts At The EU Parliament - In the week leading up to Human Rights Day on December 10th, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, had a typically busy week meeting with world leaders. For this reason, our inside sources tell us, MEK leader Maryam Rajavi brought forward a planned trip to the European Parliament hoping she would bump into Mogherini in the buildings by chance and take a picture so she can claim to her followers that she is still alive as 'President-elect of Iran'. -Massoud Khodabandeh, Iranian 12/13/17

Iran says supplies to Iraq pushed gas exports up 64 percent - Iran says its exports of natural gas saw a huge rise over a period of five months starting 21 March 201 in what it says was a result of rising supplies to its western neighbor Iraq. Behzad Babazadeh, the director for international affairs of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), was quoted by the domestic media as saying that the country had exported as much as 50 million cubic meters per day (mcm/d) of gas over the aforementioned period that marks the first five months after the start of the new Iranian calendar year. 12/13/17

Trump's Jerusalem Decision And The Saudi-Iranian Rivalry - It is too early to assess the long-term impact of Donald Trump's incendiary decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and upend US foreign policy by moving Washington's embassy. Nonetheless, one close US ally--Saudi Arabia--may pay a big price for Trump's controversial recognition. -Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog 12/13/17

Proposed Higher Departure Fees Angers Iranians - A new revenue generating measure in President Hassan Rouhani's proposed budget has led to public outcry and mocking of the government in Iran. "Exit fees" from the country are set to rise many fold, if the new budget is passed in the coming months. 12/12/17

Women's share of Iran's budget bill increases by 30% - The proposed national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year 1397, starting on March 21, 2018, has allocated 210 billion rials ($5.25 million) for women's affairs, an increase of 30 percent year on year. President Hassan Rouhani presented the administration's draft of the national budget bill for the next year to the Majlis (Iranian parliament) on Sunday. 12/12/17

Iran's Supreme Court Upholds Swedish Resident Ahmedreza Djalali's Death Sentence - Iran's Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence issued against Iranian-born Swedish resident Ahmadreza Djalali, who has been imprisoned in Tehran since April 2016 after being arrested by the Intelligence Ministry. Djalali's wife, Vida Mehran-nia, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that her husband's main lawyer was told the Supreme Court's decision in court on December 5, 2017, but he was denied a physical copy of the ruling. 12/12/17

Iran's Security Forces Block Annual Ceremony to Commemorate "Chain Murders" Victims - Security forces prevented a gathering near Tehran marking the 19th anniversary of a series of murders and disappearances by the Intelligence Ministry of dissidents in the 1990s known as the "chain murders." The Writers Association of Iran (WAI) issued a statement on December 7, 2017, hours after many of its members and supporters were prevented from entering Imamzadeh Taher Cemetery in Karaj by a prosecutor's order. 12/12/17

The Logic Behind Iran's Regional Posture - On December 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei convened Iran's top military brass. Iranian media circulated one key sentence of his remarks on the front pages of newspapers: "Today, the armed forces are in need of the best human save the nation from vulnerability against the enemy." -Adnan Tabatabai, LobeLog 12/12/17

IRAN: Persons with disability awaiting better living conditions - The bill on rights of persons with disabilities, which is being discussed by the Majlis [Iranian Parliament], has raised hopes among the disabled for better living conditions. People with disabilities have a wide range of problems such as finding jobs or living in cities which have not been developed to be accessible for disabled people. 12/12/17

Iran's Saipa has exported $1.2 billion in cars: Official - Iran's Saipa Group says it has exported 230,000 vehicles worth 1.2 billion in recent years as the automaker plans to expand sales with new designs and competitive products. The company exports vehicles to about 40 markets, deputy head for exports and international affairs of the group Mohsen Dastkhosh said on Friday. 12/12/17

UN experts do not confirm Iran link to Yemen missiles: Report - UN experts, who examined the debris from missiles fired from Yemen at Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, have not confirmed that the projectiles were "Iranian-made" as claimed by the Riyadh regime and the US. The missiles were fired by Yemeni Houthi fighters at the Saudi capital on July 22 and November 4 in retaliation for Riyadh's deadly raids against the country. 12/12/17

Ahmadinejad moves to target influential Iranian political family - Once again, Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made headlines following his controversial remarks targeting judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani and his brother, parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. The war of words illustrates yet again Ahmadinejad's typical strategy, which is to attack influential political families to gain more popularity with the public. -Saeid Jafari, Al Monitor 12/12/17

Johnson Meets President Rohani, Discusses Case Of Jailed Iranian-British Woman - Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Tehran on December 10 as he continued efforts to gain the release of a jailed Iranian-British woman. A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said Johnson and Rohani "spoke forthrightly" on several issues, including the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, according to the BBC. 12/11/17

Online exhibit "Collapse" raising funds for Kermanshah quake victims - Iranian painter and graphic designer Behzad Shishegaran has launched an online exhibition entitled "Collapse" on Instagram, Telegram and Facebook to raise funds for the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Kermanshah region in western Iran last month. 12/11/17

Nine Iranian mountain climbers killed by avalanche - Nine Iranian climbers were fatally buried by an avalanche on Oshtoran Kooh Mountain, in the country's west on Friday. The climbers were among a group of 15 men and women from the city of Mashhad and a local guide who were trapped by the avalanche on Thursday. 12/11/17

Iran Sentences Fugitive Ex-Bank Chief Mahmud Reza Khavari To Prison In Absentia - Iran's judiciary says the former head of the country's largest state-controlled bank who fled to Canada amid a massive embezzlement case has been handed a lengthy prison sentence in absentia. Khavari, who obtained Canadian citizenship in 2005, joined his family there in 2011 in the wake of the $2.6 billion fraud scandal, described as the largest-ever such case in Iran. 12/11/17

IRGC Commander Turned Musician Says He Was Banned From Producing Music by the Intelligence Ministry - Iranian singer and songwriter Hossein Zaman, a former Revolutionary Guards commander who has been banned from producing or performing music for more than 15 years, says the ban was put in place because Iran's Intelligence Ministry wants to intimidate him into refraining from expressing his political views. 12/11/17

German electronic band to give first Western pop concert in Iran in 39 years - German electronic musician Christopher von Deylen and his band Schiller will become the first pop group to perform in Iran's capital, Tehran, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. -Deutsche Welle 12/11/17

Trump's Jerusalem Decision: A Fatal And Fateful Blow - President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was irresponsible and dangerous for more reasons than I can count. Let me outline just a few of the principle concerns: -James J. Zogby, LobeLog 12/11/17

Middle East War: Iran's Allies Are Secretly Launching Missiles at Saudi Arabia as Tehran Takes Control in the Battle for Dominance - Tehran exerts enormous influence on an expanse that stretches from Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea, over the Levantine steppe of Syria and Iraq and down to Yemen. That influence stemmed from Iran's creation of powerful Shiite proxies in key countries in the region, which Tehran had been able to mobilize to its advantage--and to Saudi Arabia's chagrin... -Newsweek 12/11/17

Europe And Iran's Threat Perception - At the end of November, a delegation of senior European lawmakers visited Iran. The delegation was chaired by Janusz Lewandowski from Poland, a former EU commissioner, representing the center-right European People's Party, the largest bloc in the European Parliament (EP). It also included long-standing advocates of engagement with Iran... -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog 12/9/17

2017 Freestyle World Wrestling Clubs Cup in Tehran: Iran's Easy Pipe Kashan defeats USA's Titan Mercury to win title - Easy Pipe Kashan of Iran claimed the title of the 2017 Freestyle World Wrestling Clubs Cup held in Tehran on Dec. 7-8. The Iranian team defeated defending champion Titan Mercury from the U.S. 6-4 in the final match. 12/9/17

Iran Foreign Minister, Britain Foreign Secretary discuss JCPOA, economic ties in Tehran - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have held talks in the Iranian capital about a landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries more than two years ago. 12/9/17

Iran's Culture Minister Says He's Trying to "Transform" Conservative Clerics' Views on Music - Before musicians can perform concerts in Iran without the threat of the authorities suddenly canceling them, someone has to convince conservative Shia Muslim clerics that music is not un-Islamic. "Some of the things that have happened to these artists is because of the views expressed by some religious leaders," said Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi in an interview 12/9/17

Iran's Student Movement Faces Roadblocks Under Rouhani Despite Election Campaign Promises - Protests were held at several Iranian universities on December 7, 2017, on the occasion of Student Day. One activist told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that President Hassan Rouhani has failed to uphold his election campaign promise to end the securitization of university campuses. 12/9/17

World Powers Warn Iran, Saudi Arabia Not To Meddle In Lebanon - World powers are pushing Saudi Arabia and Iran to stop interfering in Lebanon's politics while urging Iranian ally Hizballah to rein in its military activities in neighboring states. The International Lebanon Support Group, a body that includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- met in Paris on December 8 with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in an effort to help him shore up the nation's shaky governing coalition. 12/9/17

Iran's Siamand Rahman clinches gold at 2017 World Para Powerlifting Championships - Iranian Paralympic powerlifter Siamand Rahman has produced a magnificent display of strength and prowess at the 2017 World Para Powerlifting Championships in Mexico, and been awarded the top honor. On Thursday and the sixth day of the contests in Mexico City, the men's over 107-kilogram weight category saw a battle between the 29-year-old Iranian sportsman, his compatriot Mansour Pourmirzaei and Jordan's Jamil Elshebli. 12/8/17

Two Iranian Officials Publicly Break Rank and Discuss Discriminatory Policies Against Baha'is - Iranian officials are beginning to broach the previously taboo topic of religious discrimination in Iran. On the same day, two government officials publicly discussed discriminatory policies against Baha'is, one of Iran's most severely persecuted minority faiths. 12/8/17

Why is Iranian rial suddenly weakening? - A recent devaluation of the rial on the so-called free market in Iran has raised concerns that the country's economy will experience another collapse of the value of its national currency similar to what happened in 2012. The free market rate of the US dollar surpassed the psychological mark of 40,000 rials in early October. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor 12/8/17

U.K. Foreign Secretary To Visit Iran To Press For Release Of Jailed Briton - Britain says Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Iran on December 9 to meet with his Iranian counterpart and lobby for the release of an Iranian-British woman jailed in Tehran. Johnson's office did not identify jailed aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by name in its December 8 statement but said that he would press for the release of dual nationals being held in Iran when he meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran. 12/8/17

IRAN: Rouhani Admin's New "Fair Usage" Internet Price Rates Violate Net Neutrality - Seven months into President Hassan Rouhani's second term, his Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has introduced a new pricing scheme for internet usage that violates net neutrality while improving state censorship capabilities. 12/8/17

Seventy Percent of Americans Know the Iran Nuclear Deal is Working for Them - Last week, Brookings released a report on the results of a public opinion poll that covered Middle East policy and attitudes toward Iran. In particular, the respondents indicated dramatic support for the Iran nuclear deal's national security benefits -Kathryn Grant, Diplomacy Works 12/8/17

Iran's national weightlifting team wins world championship title in Anaheim, California - Iran's men weightlifting national team has clinched its first ever world champion title, after collecting a total of 509 points at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in the United States. The competitions were held in Anaheim, California, from November 28 to December 5. 12/7/17

Iranian University Shuts Down After Student Strike - Student protests in Iran this week were propelled by different grievances and demands. Some were concrete issues related to financial issues and others were the result of constant pressures and interference by security organs in universities. One hotspot has been the Petroleum Industry University (Sana'ate Naft), where student protests began even earlier. 12/7/17

U.S., Iran Need To Engage In Substantive Negotiations On Regional Issues - Still, it would be dangerous to conclude that there is fundamentally no space for compromise. The Iran nuclear agreement was one such compromise. It still holds, though tenuously. The Trump administration is using "regional issues" as one strategy to undermine the agreement. Although Iran won't agree to folding such issues into a renegotiation of the JCPOA, at some point Iran, Israel, and the United States must address their conflicting interests in the region, ideally before the current regional proxy conflict in Syria expands into a Third World War. -Thomas Buonomo, LobeLog 12/7/17

Iran: Reformist MPs Call on Science Ministry to Allow "Starred" Student Activists to Attend University - Students accused of engaging in peaceful activism continue to be banned from attending university in Iran despite President Hassan Rouhani's election campaign promise that he would lift the ban. On November 30, 2017, the reformist newspaper Jame-e Farda reported that between 150 and 200 graduate and PhD-level students were blocked from enrolling in Iranian universities in the current academic year because they had "stars" on their records. However, the actual number is likely much higher. 12/7/17

An Exhibition By Iranian Artist Farhad Moshiri Might Be All We Have Left Of Winter In 100 Years - When I saw the canvasses in Snow Forest, an exhibition of hand-embroidered canvasses by Fahrad Moshiri at Perrotin New York, I was immediately reminded of the woods that surround my parents' house in Chappaqua. Throughout my childhood, we spent every weekend morning hiking in those woods. -Brienne Walsh, Forbes 12/7/17

Chovgan added as Iran's intangible cultural heritage to UNESCO lists - The sporting team game of chovgan, which is played on horseback and recognized as a version of the modern polo game, has been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. 12/7/17

Iranian weightlifter Saeid Alihosseini wins silver at World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California - Georgian Lasha Talakhadze won the men's super-heavyweights with a total of 477kg, improving his own world record by 4kg. He also broke his own snatch world record by 3kg when he lifted 220kg. Iranians Saeid Alihosseini and Behdad Salimi were second and third with totals of 454kg and 453kg respectively. 12/6/17

Lavrov Says 'Key Issues' Regarding Caspian Sea Legal Status Solved - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the five Caspian states have agreed on "all the outstanding key issues" regarding the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Lavrov made the announcement in Moscow on December 5 after meeting with his counterparts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. 12/6/17

Ali Hashemi wins another gold for Iran at World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California - Ali Hashemi bagged another gold for Iran at the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships at the Anaheim Convention Center early Tuesday. In the men's 105 kilogram class, Hashemi finished on 404kg ahead of Arturs Plesnieks of Latvia, who lifted 402kg, and Uzbek Ivan Efremov - who had beaten Hashemi in September the last time they met - on 399kg. 12/5/17

U.S. High Court Wary Of Seizing Ancient Relics To Pay $71 Million Iran Judgment - U.S. Supreme Court justices have expressed skepticism over a lawsuit that seeks the seizure of ancient Persian museum relics to pay for a $71.5 million U.S. court judgment against Iran for its alleged role in a suicide bombing. The plaintiffs in the case before the Supreme Court want to seize ancient Persian artifacts held at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, which have been on loan from Iran since 1937, as well as relics held by Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. 12/5/17

Supreme Court Allows Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect - The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the third version of the Trump administration's travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges against it continue. The decision was a victory for the administration after its mixed success before the court over the summer, when justices considered and eventually dismissed disputes over the second version. -New York Times 12/5/17

Three Activists Sentenced to Prison in Trial "Directed" by Iran's Intelligence Ministry - Political prisoners Majid Assadi, Payam Shakiba, and Mohammad Banazadeh were sentenced to prison and exile after the Intelligence Ministry pressured the court, a family member of one of the prisoners told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). 12/5/17

Iran-made rotavirus, rabies vaccines to hit market by 2019 - Domestically manufactured rotavirus and rabies vaccines will enter Iranian market by 2019, Head of Pasteur Institute of Iran (IPI) announced Monday. According to Head of Pasteur Institute of Iran (IPI), Dr. Houman Kaghazian, the manufacture of rabies vaccine went underway at Pasteur Institute five years ago, and will be ready to enter the Iranian market in two years' time. 12/5/17

Tallinn Film Review: 'Asphyxia' - Fereydoun Jeyrani's elegant black-and-white thriller refracts Iranian gender politics through the prism of a twisty Hitchcockian noir. -Jessica Kiang, Variety 12/5/17

Europe Scolds Trump on Iran, Jerusalem in Tillerson Meeting - A joint press conference by the European Union's foreign-policy chief and the U.S. Secretary of State descended into a thinly veiled exchange of rebukes, adding to signs of increased strain in the world's most powerful alliance. -Bloomberg 12/5/17

Iranian Weightlifter Wins World Title, Breaks Records in Anaheim, California - Iranian weightlifter Sohrab Moradi broke two world records to win the 94-kilogram class at the World Championships in Anaheim, California, on December 3. Moradi, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, scored an easy victory over Lithuania's Aurimas Didzbalis by 29 kilograms. 12/4/17

Iran Opens Extension Of Key Chahbahar Port In Gulf Of Oman - Iran has officially opened an extension of its southeastern port of Chabahar, which Tehran hopes will become a key transit hub for land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia. State TV said President Hassan Rohani attended the inauguration on December 3 along with dignitaries from India, Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries. 12/4/17

CIA Chief Sends Letter To Iran's General Soleimani Over Threats To U.S. Forces In Iraq - The director of the CIA says he sent a letter to a top Iranian general warning him that Washington will hold Tehran responsible for any attacks on U.S. interests by Iran-backed forces in Iraq. Director Mike Pompeo on December 2 told a defense forum in Simi Valley, California, that the letter to Major General Qassem Soleimani was never opened but that he wanted to send it because Soleimani had indicated his forces might threaten U.S. interests in Iraq. 12/4/17

Iran's 'Devoted Countryman' dies at 86 - Villager Riz Ali Khajavi who saved the lives of passengers of a train in 1962 when a landslide brought down rocks from overlooking mountain on a railroad, died at 86. Known as a national hero whose sacrifice story is being taught in Iranian schools, Riz Ali Khajavi was admitted to Imam Reza Hospital due to a severe pulmonary complication 20 days ago and died later on Saturday at 86. 12/4/17

Sharif University's Mannequin Robot Among Top Eight In ICSR 2017 - Director of the Center of Excellence in Design, Robotics, and Automation of Sharif University of Technology Ali Meghdari said "22 countries attended the 9th International Conference on Social Robotics which was held last week in Tsukuba, Japan. ROMA robot mannequin of Sharif University of technology ranked among the top eight robot designs and received memorial award." 12/4/17

Iran acquires technology to produce nuclear batteries: AEOI advisor - Iran has acquired the technology to produce nuclear batteries to be used in health and industrial sectors, an advisor to head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says. Asghar Zare'an, who is an advisor to Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Sunday that Iran was the fifth country mastering the technology to produce nuclear batteries after the United States, Russia, France and Britain. 12/4/17

US pressuring countries to stop buying Iran heavy water: Iranian MP - A senior Iranian parliamentarian says the Islamic Republic is in talks with a number of countries to sell its surplus heavy water, a nuclear byproduct, after the US decided to halt its purchases. Tehran has to sell its surplus heavy water under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world countries which requires that the inventory not exceed 130 tonnes. 12/4/17

A Small Group In Iran Owes Banks Billion Of Dollars In Bad Debts - A few hundred people in Iran have borrowed billions of dollars from the country's financial institutions and refuse to meet their obligations toward the lending institutions. Now, a current and a former member of the Iranian Parliament have taken the issue in their own hands and are trying to force the delinquent debtors to pay their bills. 12/2/17

Tehran Earthquake Preparedness 'Woefully Low, Unacceptable': Official Warns - Earthquake preparedness in the city of Tehran is woefully 'low' and 'unacceptable', Ismail Najjar, head of the state-run National Disaster Management Organization said on Thursday. Tehran is perched between no less than three major fault-lines. The Mosha, the Tehran, and the Rey fault lines are each on their own enough to bring down a city if they get active. 12/2/17

Italy stresses EU's commitment to Iran nuclear deal - Italian Foreign Minister Alfano Angelino says the EU believes all the signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), should remain committed to the agreement. Angelino said in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Rome on Thursday that the EU has a completely positive view about the JCPOA and underlines the need for all sides to remain committed to it. 12/2/17

Tehran Prosecutor Sentenced to Prison for Protestor's Death Denies Responsibility - Former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, the only official who has been held accountable for the death of a protestor who was tortured in the Kahrizak Detention Center in 2009, has publicly objected to his two-year prison sentence. Mortazavi, who has been implicated in rights violation cases throughout his career, also accused the Appeals Court judge who issued the sentence of being an accessory to murder in an unrelated case. 12/2/17

U.S. firms "main losers" of sanctions: Iran's Oil Minister - Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said U.S. energy firms are the main losers from the sanctions placed against his country. Speaking at the 173 OPEC meeting in Vienna on Thursday, Zanganeh called U.S.'s policy confusing and self-defeating, CNBC reported. 12/2/17

Cotton, Pompeo And Trump Are A Recipe For War With Iran - As bad as the Trump administration has been, it can always get worse. And that is precisely what will happen if the Trump administration follows through with a reported plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and nominate Tom Cotton to take Pompeo's old position. -Trita Parsi 12/2/17

Moderately Strong Quakes Hit Eastern Iran Near Kerman; Damage Reported - Two moderately strong earthquakes hit eastern Iran in quick succession early on December 1. The U.S. Geological Survey said the first, a relatively strong magnitude 6.0 tremor, struck at a shallow depth close to the city of Kerman, which has a population of more than 821,000. 12/1/17

Misusing Intelligence To Sell Conflict With Iran - Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration already has provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques an earlier U.S. administration used in selling its launching of a war against Iraq. Among these techniques is the cherry-picking of intelligence not to inform policy-making or to enlighten the public but instead to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thereby to muster support for a policy already chosen. -Paul Pillar 12/1/17

Poll: Middle Easterners Want Good Relations With U.S., Russia - A new survey from Zogby Research Services (ZRS) finds that large majorities across the Middle East want their governments to get along with both the United States and Russia, despite their hostility toward both countries' involvement in regional conflicts. Large majorities in nearly every country surveyed--Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates--said that it was important for their countries to have good relations with both countries. -Derek Davison, LobeLog 12/1/17

The Conference that Challenged Trump's Travel Ban - We are pleased to announce the return of the IAAB Conference in 2018! In partnership with the Hagop Kevorkian Center at New York University, IAAB's International Conference on the Iranian Diaspora will be held April 21-22, 2018 at New York University School of Law. 11/30/17

What U.S. Enmity Has Wrought In Iran - An important consequence of the unrelenting, unqualified hostility toward Iran that Donald Trump has made a centerpiece of his foreign policy is described in an article by Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times about the impact of that policy on the Iranian public. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 11/29/17

War In The Middle East--Again? - Fast forward to 2017. The enemy is not Iraq but Iran. A similar public case is being built about Tehran's aggressive intentions, its threats to its neighbors, and its poor human-rights record. Although Iran has been effectively disarmed in terms of a possible nuclear-weapons program, the Trump administration has castigated its other behavior from one end of the Middle East to the other. Will there be war? -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog 11/24/17

Iran, EU hold high-level talks in Tehran amid Trump's threats - Iran and the EU have started their third round of high-level talks following the 2016 implementation of a nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world countries. Helga Schmid, the EU's deputy political director, met Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi in Tehran Monday to discuss issues of mutual interest, the state news agency IRNA reported. 11/20/17

MbS: Pride Cometh Before The Fall? - Until only a few months ago, Saudi Arabia's conduct of its domestic and foreign policies was largely characterized by a good deal of caution, a lack of bombast, and a respect for established traditions. One area where the role of tradition, and respect for rank and precedence, was particularly important was the issue of succession in the royal family. Until recently, everyone inside and outside the kingdom was quite certain that once the reigning monarch died or was incapacitated, the next in line would follow and no one would challenge the established order of succession. -Shireen T. Hunter 11/18/17

Flying girl of Iran, Fatemeh Akrami, hopes to increase female skydivers - Fatemeh Akrami, the only female skydiver in Iran, hopes to instruct skydiving to as many interested girls as possible. "My goal is to become a skydiving instructor for Iranian girls," Akrami, 24, said in an interview with the Tehran Times. "I am an Iranian girl and my responsibility is to boost the number of female skydivers in the country", she stated. -Naghmeh Mizanian 11/16/17

UCLA receives $1 million for Elahe Omidyar Mir-Djalali postdoctoral fellowship in Iranian linguistics - Adonation of $1 million from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute will establish the Elahe Omidyar Mir-Djalali Postdoctoral Fellowship in Iranian Linguistics in the UCLA Department of Linguistics, one of the nation's top-ranked linguistics departments. 11/7/17

Endangered Persian Leopard "Arezoo" Released Back To Wild in Roudsar - A Persian leopard that had been severely injured by getting caught in snare in February was fully recovered and released back to wild on Sunday. On February 5, Arezoo which is named after her habitat in Roudsar, northern Gilan province, was found while suffering from serious damages by getting caught in snare. 11/7/17

Photos: Khartouran wildlife refuge home to 60 endangered Asiatic cheetahs - Khar Turan National Park or Touran Wildlife Refuge is an Iranian National Park in Semnan province, southeast of Shahrud. The place is home to one of the largest populations of the critically endangered Asiatic cheetahs. Currently there are about 60 collars in the world, all of which are living in Iran. 11/6/17

A need for national, regional, international cooperation to save Caspian seal - There is a great need for national, regional and international cooperation to conserve the Caspian seal, an environment official has said. Caspian seals are only found in the Caspian Sea. Unfortunately the seals which are the sole marine mammals inhabiting the Caspian Sea have fallen into a drastic decline, Parvin Farshchi, deputy head of the department of environment for marine affairs, said in an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times. -Maryam Qarehgozlou 11/3/17

Do Americans Want to Renegotiate the Nuclear Deal with Iran? - A recent article in The Hill claimed that "a strong majority of voters-including most Democrats" want the United States to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. The results it cites are at odds with many other polls. For example, a CNN survey done the same week found that 67 percent of Americans did not think that the United States should withdraw from the nuclear deal, while only 27 percent thought that it should. -Nancy W. Gallagher 11/1/17

Iranian-American Organizations and Individual Plaintiffs File Supplement to Lawsuit Challenging Trump's Travel Ban 3.0 - Three prominent Iranian-American organizations and 16 individuals have filed legal papers challenging President Trump's October 24th Executive Order, which they argue targets refugees from Iran and 10 other African and Middle Eastern countries. The papers are a supplement to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction the groups filed earlier this month against the Trump Administration's Travel Ban 3.0. 10/27/17

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last updated on Fri Dec 15 11:01:05 EST 2017