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March 17 2018
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Signatories to Iran nuclear deal meet in Vienna amid Trump's threat

- Signatories to Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers have held a new round of their periodic meetings to review its implementation amid US threats to kill the multilateral accord. Representatives from Iran, the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany convened in the Austrian city of Vienna on Friday for a meeting of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission, or JCPOA. 03/16/18

As Short-Term Solutions Fail, Iran's Currency Loses More Value

- The exchange rate for the US dollar against the Iranian currency, tuman, rose to a record high on March 13 as attempts by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) during recent months to defend the local currency appear to have failed. One dollar was traded for 4,800 tumans in Tehran on Tuesday, showing yet another hype since its steep decline began 10 months ago. 03/16/18

Death of Man Accused of Filming Protests in Iran Marks Fifth Detainee Death in Two Months

- The death in custody of a nursing student arrested for allegedly filming anti-state protests in the Iranian Province of Ilam marks the fifth known death of a detainee in Iran within the course of two months. Officials claimed Taleb Basati, 26, died of a stroke but his death certificate only says "head injury and trauma" according to a friend. As in the other four cases, the authorities have told the victim's family to not ask questions about their loved ones' cause of death and to avoid speaking to media outlets. 03/16/18

Chinese firm to fund Iran plane purchases

- Iran's media say the country's national airline Iran Air has signed an agreement with a Chinese company to provide funding for the company's plane purchase campaigns - most notably those pursued with Airbus and Boeing. The Persian-language newspaper Iran reported that the agreement had been signed on Monday at Iran Air premises in Tehran, citing a statement by the country's Ministry of Roads and Urban Development. 03/16/18

Saudi Prince Says Kingdom Will Build Nuclear Weapons If Iran Does

- Saudi Arabia's crown prince asserted on March 15 that the kingdom will develop nuclear weapons if Iran does, in a television interview immediately denounced by Tehran. Iran signed a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015 that prohibits it from developing nuclear weapons, and beyond that. Tehran has said it has no ambition to develop such weapons of mass destruction. However, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal, and Tehran has said that, if the United States withdraws, it will no longer be bound by the deal. 03/16/18

Trump's And Pompeo's Path To Nuclear Crisis

- The prospective replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo clears one of the last apparent hurdles between Donald Trump and his destruction of a significant diplomatic achievement that has been squarely in the interests of the United States, of nuclear nonproliferation, and of the containment of conflict in the Middle East. This is, of course, the multilateral agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 03/16/18

Railroad Project to Connect Iran With Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan

- The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Iran held the first-ever quadrilateral meeting in Baku to discuss regional cooperation. At the center of the discussions was the construction of Rasht-Astara railroad, the 180-kilometer-long rail line that will connect the Iranian and Azerbaijani cities. The project is expected to be completed in three years. -Asgar Asgarov, VOA 03/16/18

In Loving Memory of My Father, Dr. Ali Asghar Khodadoust

- Born in 1935 in Shiraz, son to Abdullah and Behjatosadat Khodadoust, Ali Asghar Khodadoust lived what can only be described as an extraordinary life defined by his passion, values, faith, and love of humanity. The breadth and depth of his legacy could not help but shine out past his humility, and he left this world better in as many ways as he could with each and every one of his days. He passed away in his 83rd year in New York. -Mojgan Khodadoust 03/16/18

U.S. Reports Major Drop In Encounters With Iranian Vessels In Persian Gulf

- The Pentagon says the U.S. Navy has experienced a major, unexplained drop in close encounters with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf since August. "They don't seem to be engaging in the same provocative behavior" seen in previous years, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on March 15 as he returned from a trip to the Middle East. 03/16/18

Evoking Sophia Loren In Iran

- ... my ears perked up when I heard cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda-the hardline Friday Prayer Leader of the holy city of Mashhad, the seat of Imam Reza Shrine-mention Sophia Loren in his Friday speech. The occasion for remembering Loren was a Women's Day performance of Iranian folklore dance by eight and nine year olds in front of the mayor of Tehran. -Farideh Farhi 03/15/18

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Iran Signs $4 Billion Oil Deal With Russian Firm - Iran has signed a $742 million deal with Russian state-owned energy firm Zarubezhneft to boost production at two oil fields in the country's west. Zarubezhneft and Dana Energy, a private Iranian company, will jointly develop the Aban and Paydar fields in Ilam province near the Iraqi border, to boost production from 36,000 to 48,000 barrels of oil per day. 03/15/18

Iran's Growing Water Shortage Protests Spur Accusations of Mismanagement - Escalating street protests by Iranians against water shortages in a rural part of central Iran have inspired more domestic criticism of the government's handling of the nation's water resources. Overseas-based human rights groups say the protests by farmers in Varzaneh in Isfahan province began last month and escalated into violent confrontations with security forces last week. -Michael Lipin and Mohammad Naficy, VOA 03/15/18

Men Detained at Women's Rights Rally in Iran Remain Behind Bars After Female Detainees Released - The women who were detained at a women's rights demonstration in front of the Iranian Labor Ministry in Tehran on March 8, 2018, have all been released but five male demonstrators remain behind bars. The last of the female detainees were freed from Gharchak Prison in the city of Varamin after posting bail on March 12, a source with knowledge about the cases told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). 03/15/18

Pompeo: Springtime For Irano/Islamophobes - "Great news for the Republic!" tweeted Sebastian Gorka, on hearing the news that CIA Director Mike Pompeo is replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Gorka, who was forced to resign from his position as a former deputy assistant to the President in major part due to his apparent membership in a Hungarian "knighthood" that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, thinks quite highly indeed of the former Kansas congressman. -Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton, LobeLog 03/15/18

This business owner learned to take risks at a young age - Anoosheh Oskouian, 54, is chief executive of Ship & Shore Environmental Inc., a multimillion-dollar Signal Hill company that makes pollution-reducing equipment. The firm also helps cut energy costs and develop energy alternatives for U.S. and foreign industrial companies. -Los Angeles Times 03/15/18

Iran deal advocates prepare to battle Pompeo nomination - President Donald Trump's shock Twitter announcement today that he's replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Iran hard-liner Mike Pompeo immediately generated considerable backlash from advocates who fear that he could precipitate the president's threats to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. -Bryant Harris, Al Monitor 03/15/18

Pompeo, Big Oil and the attack on Iran Deal - All you need to know about Mike Pompeo, the four-term congressman from Kansas who is actually from California, is that most of his life he has been in business with the Koch brothers. His appointment as Secretary of State puts a seal on Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. More dangerously, Trump was straightforward that he put Pompeo in to replace Rex Tillerson in order to destroy the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action treaty between the United Nations Security Council and Iran. -Juan Cole, Informed Comment 03/15/18

Pentagon Voices Support For Iran Nuclear Deal Amid Tillerson Exit - A top U.S. military commander expressed the Pentagon's continued support for Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, hours after the announced departure of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a top defender of the deal in the U.S. administration. U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 13 that he shares the views of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joe Dunford that the deal is still in the best interests of the United States. 03/14/18

Iran: End Persecution of Families Seeking Truth and Justice For Detainees Who Died in Detention - The Iranian authorities should end their cruel campaign of harassment and intimidation against the families of detainees who have died in detention under suspicious circumstances, Amnesty International, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, Human Rights Watch and Justice for Iran said today. 03/14/18

Europe, Iran Baffled By US Position On Nuclear Deal - During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) "the worst deal ever" for the US. In his first State of the Union address in January, Trump called on Congress to "fix the terrible flaws" of the Iran nuclear deal. The president has threatened to withdraw from the accord if Congress and Europe fail to amend it by May 12. -Mohammad Ghaderi and Javad Heiran-Nia, LobeLog 03/14/18

Outspoken Iranian Academic Sadegh Zibakalam Sentenced To Prison, Banned From Political Activities - An outspoken pro-reformist Iranian political analyst says he has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of "spreading propaganda" against the Iranian establishment. In a short video posted online, Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at the University of Tehran, said he planned to appeal the sentence. 03/14/18

Tehran City Council Names Street After Former Primer Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq - Tehran city council has named Naft (oil) street after Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. Mosaddeq is very well-known for his efforts in nationalization of the Iranian oil industry in 1951. Prior to the nationalization of the industry it had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. 03/14/18

Overthrow: 100 Years of U.S. Meddling & Regime Change, from Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to Cuba - As special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, we take a look back at Washington's record of meddling in elections across the globe. By one count, the United States has interfered in more than 80 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And that doesn't count U.S.-backed coups and invasions. We speak to former New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, author of "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." -Democracy Now 03/14/18

Women and their achievements feature on billboards in Iran - A soldier, war photographer, and an Olympian are some of the women gracing public billboards in Iran's capital Tehran in a rare move in the conservative country. The billboards showcase the achievements of ground-breaking Iranian women, including the late mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani who in 2014 became the first woman to win the Fields Medal - the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics. -BBC 03/14/18

Iran Jails Ahmadinejad's Vice President For Corruption - Iran on March 13 jailed Hamid Baghai, a vice president under former hard-liner Mahmud Ahmadinejad, following his conviction for corruption, Iranian media reports said. "Police officers apprehended and transferred the convict to prison," the Tehran prosecutor's office said, cited by the Fars news agency. 03/14/18

With Pompeo's Rise, Uncertainty Deepens for Iran Nuclear Deal - It is unclear how Mike Pompeo becoming U.S. secretary of state may affect the Iran nuclear deal. U.S. President Donald Trump's choice of the Central Intelligence Agency director to replace Rex Tillerson means an Iran hawk who fiercely opposed the 2015 pact as a member of Congress will now be in charge of the U.S. diplomacy trying to strengthen, and perhaps save, it. -Reuters 03/14/18

Iran's Cultural Cleavages And The Need For National Compromise - Popular demonstrations in Iran at the end of 2017 reflected economic and other grievances along with a growing frustration and impatience with the Islamic system's shortcomings. However, the demonstrations also revealed deep cultural cleavages in Iranian society. Some of Iran's cultural divides are very deep rooted and are related to Iran's Islamization after the Arab/Islamic conquest of the Sassanid Empire in 642 CE. Others are of more recent origin and developed with the start of Iran's modernization in the late nineteenth century. -Shireen T. Hunter 03/13/18

The Tyranny of Social Media - There have been many studies showing the effects of (social media) in-group and out-group biases on individual decision making. Therefore, the availability or popularity of a particular social media platform among members of any movement can have a huge impact on outcome. The fact that about 48 million Iranians today use Telegram, a 40% consumption of Iran's internet bandwidth, calls for an analysis of its role in the recent uprisings across the country. -Behnam Zoghi and Jalal Shahinitiran 03/13/18

Prominent Iranian Human Rights Lawyer to Appeal Hijab Protester's Prison Sentence - A woman who was sentenced to prison in Iran for removing her headscarf in public is being used as an example to dissuade others from repeating the peaceful protest against the compulsory hijab, according to prominent human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh. "What Narges did was appear in public without the hijab, that much is true," Sotoudeh told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 10, 2018. "But in court, she was tried for 'encouraging corruption,' as if she ran a house of prostitution." 03/13/18

Iran Considers Lifting Its Nine-Year Ban on Twitter - The Iranian government's top internet policy body is currently debating whether it should lift the state's nine-year ban on Twitter. "The issue regarding un-filtering Twitter is being followed up by the minister of telecommunications who has presented it to the SCC with a positive view," said Saeed Mahdiyoun, the deputy director in charge of drafting regulations for Iran's Supreme Cyberspace Council (SCC), on March 8, 2018. 03/13/18

Iran Accuses US of Supporting IS in Afghanistan; Washington Denies Allegation - Iran has accused the United States of helping Islamic State militants in Afghanistan to fuel regional terrorism and threaten neighboring countries. Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the allegations while speaking to a gathering of diplomats, scholars and journalists in Islamabad. -Ayesha Tanzeem & Ayaz Gul, VOA 03/13/18

Iran's Parliament begins impeaching three cabinet ministers - The Iranian labor minister has secured a vote of confidence during a hearing session at the Parliament (Majlis) on his alleged mismanagement, as the legislature begins an impeachment process involving three cabinet ministers. The parliament held a hearing session on Tuesday to discuss the performance of Ali Rabiei, who faced charges of mismanaging unemployment and other government enterprises. 03/13/18

New book SOFREH: Take a journey in words and images through the culture of Persian celebration - SOFREH: The Art of Persian Celebration is a journey in words and images through the culture of Persian celebrations. Never before have the splendour and beauty of these ancient traditions been presented in such an intricate and novel fashion. Sofreh, Persian for spread, is the focal point of the celebrations. These two lavishly illustrated volumes devoted to compositions created for the Persian New Year and marriage ceremonies are beautifully presented and richly documented. 03/12/18

Three Iranian Students Arrested During Protests Sentenced To Prison - Three Iranian students who were detained during the widespread protests earlier this year have been sentenced to nine years in prison by the Revolutionary Courts. The students were all charged with propaganda against the regime, acting against national security, and disturbing peace and public order through participation in unlawful assemblies. 03/12/18

Dollar in doldrums in Iran - Iranians have been dealing with an ever-increasing devaluation of the rial since the beginning of the present Iranian calendar (March 21, 2017) but the major and unexpected depreciation occurred almost a month ago, in mid-February, when is supposed to be the biggest crackdown on foreign exchanges in six years. At the time, U.S. dollar broke all records and jumped to almost 50,000 rials in Tehran's currency exchange shops, while it used to be bought almost 37,500 rials earlier in past April, 38,000 rials in past September, 41,000 rials in past December and 43,000 rials in early January, 2018. -Haniyeh Sadat Jafariyeh 03/12/18

Iran Finds Black Box, Bodies From Turkish Plane Crash - Iranian state media reports that authorities have recovered the black box from a Turkish private jet that crashed in southwestern Iran on March 11, killing all 11 people onboard. Turkish media reports said the plane was carrying Mina Basaran, the 28-year-old daughter of Turkish businessman Huseyin Basaran, along with seven of her friends and three crew members. 03/12/18

'Startups, the golden solution for tackling urban development challenges': Tehran Mayor - Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi has expressed the municipality's readiness to actively support startups, considering them as 'the golden solution' for tackling challenges of urban development. The municipality has a positive and supportive view towards startups and recognizes them as a prerequisite for developing a smart city, Mehr quoted him as saying on Sunday. 03/12/18

BBC UN appeal: Stop Iran harassing Persian service staff - The BBC is making an unprecedented appeal to the UN to stop Iran from harassing its Persian service staff in London and their families in Iran. It says Iran has stepped up a campaign of intimidation, including threats, arrests of relatives and travel bans. Iran began targeting the BBC's Persian service after the disputed 2009 presidential election, when Tehran accused foreign powers of interference. -Kasra Naji, BBC Persian 03/12/18

Renewed Serbia-Iran Flights Seen As Possible Migrant Route - Direct flights between Iran and Serbia have resumed after a gap of 27 years with the landing on March 10 of an IranAir jet at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport. With the resumption, some groups in Serbia have raised concerns that the flights might be used as a new route for migrants from Iran looking to remain permanently in Europe. All flights on IranAir's twice-weekly Tehran-Belgrade service have been fully booked until the end of the summer, Serbian media have reported. 03/12/18

Around the world, Zoroastrians mourn the loss of one of their brightest lights. - Dr. Farhang Mehr rose through the ranks of academia and politics in Iran, shaping economic policy there before fleeing persecution during the Islamic Revolution and settling in the United States. An accomplished scholar, dedicated public servant, and pillar of the Zoroastrian community in diaspora, he died on March 4, 2018, in Southern California. He was 94. -FEZANA 03/12/18

Knife attacker shot dead outside Iranian ambassador's residence in Vienna: police - A knife attacker has been shot dead outside the Iranian ambassador's residence in Vienna, police say. According to local police, the 26-year-old Austrian was killed on Sunday just before midnight after he attacked a security guard while trying to enter the ambassador's residence in Vienna's Hietzing district. 03/12/18

Sacramento developer Ali Youssefi, instrumental in downtown resurgence, dies at age 35 - Ali Youssefi, a dynamic young developer involved in some of Sacramento's most important projects during its current renaissance, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 35 03/12/18

Conservative Iranian Officials Outraged That Little Girls Were Allowed to Dance at Women's Day Event - Iran's ultra-conservative prosecutor general has demanded that the organizers of a Women's Day event in the capital city be punished for allowing little girls to dance on a stage. His demand has been echoed by religious hardliners around the country but some liberal commentators have pointed out that the issue has been blown drastically out of proportion. 03/11/18

Feminist Trio Takes Defiant Song To Tehran's Subway, Video Goes Viral - A video of three Iranian women singing a famous feminist song on Tehran's subway on March 8 to mark International Women's Day is going viral on social media and highlighted ongoing challenges to veiling and other discriminatory laws. The women are not wearing the Islamic head scarf, known as the hijab, that is mandated for women in public under Iran's clerically dominated system. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 03/11/18

Russia says Iran to become Eurasian Economic Union member in May - Russia says Iran could join an emerging economic bloc that it leads as early as May in a move that could eventually help both nations dodge the impacts of US-led economic sanctions they face. Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted by media as saying that Iran's membership to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) could help the expansion of bilateral trade and investment between Tehran and Moscow. 03/11/18

An Iranian judge who punishes minor crimes with tree planting not jail - Mohammad Reza Amuzad is a judge in Galikesh, northern Golestan province, who punishes minor crimes with alternative sentences such as planting trees in the province. During the past one and a half year that he has judged in this rather small city, Amuzad has passed many cases of alternative sentences since he believes they are more preventive than jail, Khabaronline reported on Saturday. 03/11/18

Economic Problems Prompt Iran to Cautiously Consider Change - Labor strikes. Nationwide protests. Bank failures. In recent months, Iran has been beset by economic problems despite the promises surrounding the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers. Its clerically overseen government is starting to take notice. Politicians now offer the idea of possible government referendums or early elections. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged the depths of the problems ahead of the 40th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution. -AP 03/11/18

Iranian-Armenian actor Levon Haftvan dies at 51 - Levon Haftvan, the Iranian-Armenian actor who played roles in acclaimed movies such as "Kupal" and "Parviz," died of heart attack on Saturday. He was 51. Haftvan suffered a heart attack on Friday night while acting in a scene in the TV series "Bride of Darkness" and was taken to the hospital where he passed away the next day, Persian media reported. 03/11/18

Four Arrested After Breaching Iranian Embassy In London - British police arrested four people who had climbed on to a balcony of the Iranian Embassy in London and waved flags in an apparent protest against the government in Tehran. London police said on March 9 that the four men, who remained in custody, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and being unlawfully on diplomatic premises. The men, who did not manage to get inside the building, came down voluntarily after around three hours. 03/11/18

Will EU Blacklist All Of Hezbollah? - When President Donald Trump threatened not to waive sanctions on the nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) unless the agreement's supposed flaws were "fixed," he also issued a number of demands directed specifically at European allies. One of them was that the EU put the Lebanese organization Hezbollah on the terrorist list. At the moment, just Hezbollah's military wing is on the list. Trump demanded that the EU extend the designation to all of Hezbollah including its political wing. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog 03/11/18

Iran Reportedly Blocks Women's Day Gathering, Detains Some Participants - Several women who had attempted to gather in Tehran to mark International Women's Day have been detained, reports said. Women's rights activists had announced that they would stage a peaceful protest outside the Labor Ministry in the Iranian capital on March 8 to call for more rights. 03/9/18

Tehran, Moscow set to broaden economic cooperation - The 14th meeting of Iran-Russian Joint Economic Committee wrapped up on Tuesday with signing a cooperation document by Iranian Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Masoud Karbasian and Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin in Moscow. 03/9/18

Supreme Leader Khamenei Claims Iran's 'Enemies' Behind Anti-Hijab Protests - Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has accused foreign "enemies" of funding recent protests over the compulsory hijab. Khamenei's remarks in a March 8 speech were his most extensive public comments on a series of peaceful acts of protest in which dozens of women have removed their head scarves in public and waved them on sticks. "As a result, some girls were deceived and removed their veil here and there," Khamenei said. 03/9/18

Seyed-Emami Family: Iran is "Trying to Prevent Us From Rebuilding Our Lives" - Upon arriving in Vancouver, Canada, on March 8, 2018, the sons of Kavous Seyed-Emami-the Iranian-Canadian academic who died in Tehran's Evin Prison last month-issued a statement about the "chaotic ordeal" they have suffered at the hands of the Iranian Judiciary and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps since their father was pronounced dead on February 9. 03/9/18

Inaugural director of Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies wants to break bread, build bridges - Persis Karim thinks about food a lot -- not so rare in a region known as a foodie capital. But she's interested in how it can serve as a vehicle for cultural exchange. A lot of people's first exposure to immigrant groups is through their cuisine. From there, they learn about the history, the culture and the conflicts, she says. That's why food is one of several ways Karim, the Neda Nobari Distinguished Chair and director of the San Francisco State University Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, is engaging the campus and greater community about the Iranian diaspora. -SF Gate News 03/9/18

Iranian Woman Gets Two Years In Prison For Removing Head Scarf - An Iranian woman who removed her Islamic head scarf on a Tehran street has been sentenced to two years in prison, local media report. The semiofficial Tasnim news agency on March 7 quoted prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying that the woman was attempting to "encourage corruption through the removal of the hijab in public." 03/8/18

Ongoing Harassment: Wife of Iranian-Canadian Who Died in Iran's Evin Prison "Banned" From Leaving Country - The Iranian government should immediately allow the wife of Iranian-Canadian academic and environmentalist Kavous Seyed-Emami to leave Iran as she wishes and stop intimidating and harassing the Seyed-Emami family, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). In the early hours of March 8, 2018, the Seyed-Emami family-mother and two sons-were en route to Vancouver, Canada, from Tehran when the mother, Maryman Mombeini, was prevented from boarding the plane at the Imam Khomeini International Airport. Her passport was also briefly confiscated. 03/8/18

CAMA Gallery of Iranian Art announce opening of London gallery on April 5th, 2018 - Following the success of their space in Tehran, CAMA Gallery, the new international market leaders in Modern and Contemporary Iranian art, have announced the opening of their London gallery on the 5th of April with an inaugural exhibition of 19 Contemporary Iranian artists. 03/8/18

Outspoken Iranian Professor Sadegh Zibakalam Fined as Noose Tightens Around Freedom of Speech in Universities - Sadegh Zibakalam, a Tehran-based reformist political analyst and academic known for his criticisms of Iranian state policies, has been fined for telling a foreign newspaper that the majority of Iranians do not support the Islamic Republic. The Tehran University political science professor told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on February 28, 2018, that he was questioned at Branch 2 of the Culture and Media Court in Tehran after he made the comments in an interview with Deutsche Welle. 03/8/18

PAAIA Mourns the Loss of Founding Member, Dr. Bahman Atefi - PAAIA joins the Iranian American Community in mourning the loss of Dr. Bahman Atefi, who passed away suddenly in his home on Monday night. We extend our sincere condolences to his family, his friends, and all those who knew him. Born in Tehran, Iran in March 1953, Dr. Atefi came to the United States to study at Cornell University where he received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Later, he earned his Doctorate of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 03/8/18

When Israel Hatched a Secret Plan to Assassinate Iranian Scientists - In May 2003, the deputy head of the Mossad presented a top secret plan to the reclusive Israeli spy agency's senior leadership, a group of some of the most hard-nosed security men in the world. The plan, the product of an intensive four-month effort, was an ultra-secret strategy to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. -Ronen Bergman, Politico 03/8/18

The Non-Existent Waiver Process Under Trump's Muslim Ban - The National Iranian American Council is appalled by the revelation that, despite the Trump Administration's claims that there is a "waiver" process to ensure his Muslim ban does not target family members of Americans, only two such waivers had been issued by Feb. 15 - out of 8,406 visa applications from "banned" countries. NIAC applauds the efforts of Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Van Hollen, who uncovered this information as part of an inquiry to the State Department. 03/7/18

Netanyahu launches another tirade against Iran at AIPAC - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Iran is responsible for "darkness descending" on the Middle East, hailing the US administration's threat to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries. 03/7/18

The Middle East's nuclear technology clock starts ticking - The Middle East's nuclear technology clock is ticking as nations pursue peaceful capabilities that potentially leave the door open to future military options. Concern about a nuclear arms race is fuelled by uncertainty over the future of Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement, a seeming US willingness to weaken its strict export safeguards in pursuit of economic advantage, and a willingness by suppliers such as Russia and China to ignore risks involved in weaker controls. -James M. Dorsey 03/7/18

Four Deaths in State Custody in Iran in Two Months Heighten Grave Concerns for Detainees - The recent death of a devotee of Iran's largest Sufi order in Tehran marks the fourth known death of a detainee in state custody in Iran in two months. "It's outrageous that detainees in Iran keep dying in state custody," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "These people are arrested, they die, and nobody knows what happened," added Ghaemi. "This lack of transparency is unacceptable." 03/7/18

Historical Tabib mansion in Shushtar, Iran turned into boutique hotel - The 19th-century Tabib Shushtari mansion has recently been repurposed into a boutique hotel after being fully restored. The mansion is located in the ancient city of Shushtar, southwest Iran. The hotel has 10 rooms with a capacity to accommodate 39 people. 03/7/18

Iran, Russia discuss Superjets, trade in local currencies - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak says Moscow and Tehran have discussed deliveries of Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger planes to Iran amid uncertainties about deals with Boeing and Airbus. "We discussed the possibility of Sukhoi Superjet 100 purchase by our Iranian partners and outlined a plan of how this can be put it into practice," Russian media quoted him as saying in Moscow Tuesday. 03/7/18

Kremlin Confirms Putin, Rohani, Erdogan To Meet in April - The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet for talks during April. A March 7 Kremlin statement about the gathering did not specify the exact date or where the meeting would take place. Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all deeply involved in the war in Syria. 03/7/18

Son Of Senior Iranian Cleric Arrested After Criticizing Islamic Establishment - Iranian authorities have detained an Iranian cleric who recently accused the Iranian establishment of being repressive and unjust. The detained cleric, Hossein Shirazi, is the son of the 75-year-old Ayatollah Sadegh Shirazi -- a senior cleric who is said to have followers in Iran and Iraq. Both have been critical of the Iranian clerical establishment. 03/7/18

All to regret nuclear deal failure: Iranian President tells visiting French FM - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says everyone will regret the possible collapse of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 as the US continues its efforts to sabotage the deal and issues threats to pull out of it. In a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Tehran on Monday, the Iranian president added that it is imperative to save the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in order to improve regional security, stability and cooperation. 03/6/18

Louvre Museum Sponsors First Major Western Art Show In Tehran - More than 50 artworks from the Louvre museum in Paris arrived at the National Museum of Iran on March 5 in the first major show by a Western museum in Iran's history. The 40-day show reflects France's determination to use cultural diplomacy as it seeks to rebuild ties with Iran that have been strained recently by a dispute over Iran's ballistic-missile development. 03/6/18

41 Tehran University Students Facing Prosecution For Participating in December 2017 Protests - The Iranian Judiciary has opened cases against 41 students of Tehran University who allegedly participated in protests in the capital city in January 2018, the university's Deputy Chancellor for Cultural Affairs Majid Sarsangi announced on March 1, 2018. "What we can do in terms of helping these students with their problem is to have talks with our dear colleagues in the Judiciary so that they may treat them with the highest degree of Islamic mercy, and that's what's being done right now," said Sarsangi. 03/6/18

Iranian Environmentalists Detained in Crackdown Denied Legal Counsel Amid Claims Some Were "Jewish Spies" - Several environmentalists who were arrested by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Intelligence Organization in January 2018 continue to be denied access to legal counsel more than six weeks into their detention. "The families want to know what the charges are so that they can visit the detainees in prison and exercise their natural right to get a lawyer," a source with knowledge about the case told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on February 28, 2018. 03/6/18

Netanyahu to Trump: Israel, US Have a Common Challenge to Stop Iran - "Iran must be stopped; that is our common challenge," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday. The two leaders, sitting alongside each other in the Oval Office, discussed how to thwart Iran's military advances in the Middle East and the 2015 international accord designed to curb Tehran's nuclear weapons development. Both Trump and Netanyahu have deemed it inadequate. -Steve Herman, VOA 03/6/18

How A Persian Gulf Security Agreement Could Serve U.S. Interests - At the Munich Security Conference in February, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif repeated his administration's proposal to engage Iran's Persian Gulf neighbors with the goal of creating a Persian Gulf Security Agreement. According to Zarif, the talks for such an agreement would be "founded on dialogue, common principles, and confidence building measures" with the goal of avoiding "turmoil or potentially far worse." -Shahed Ghoreishi, LobeLog 03/6/18

No, Iran Does Not Have an ICBM Program - Let's be realistic: Iran will not surrender its ballistic missile program. Rockets play too central a role in Iran's defense and deterrence posture, especially given its antiquated and inferior air force. The need for missiles is also deeply embedded in the national psyche, from the days in the mid-1980s when acquiring and firing back Scud missiles was the only way to retaliate against Iraqi missile strikes on Iranian cities. -Michael Elleman & Mark Fitzpatrick, War on the Rocks 03/6/18

UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran-Accord Failure Would Be 'Great Loss' - The failure of a landmark 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to restrict Tehran's nuclear program would represent a "great loss," the head of the UN's atomic watchdog has said. "As of today, I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments" under the deal, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said in a speech opening a quarterly meeting of the IAEA's board of governors. 03/5/18

French Foreign Minister in Tehran for potentially tense talks - Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is in Tehran for a two-day visit which is expected to be far from easy after a series of harsh statements made by French leaders about Iran's missile program and its role in the Middle East. The top French diplomat was greeted by a group of protesters as his flight touched down at Tehran's Mehrabad airport mid-night Sunday. The protesters carried placards which read "Iran is not Libya," in an apparent reference to France's role in NATO's bombing of the African country and the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. 03/5/18

Iranian Baha'i Leader Spent 10 Years in Prison, Authorities Incapable of Producing Any Evidence of Wrongdoing Throughout - The Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to suppress Baha'is by putting their leaders behind bars and denying them rights as equal citizens, according to a former leader of the persecuted community released after serving a 10-year sentence in prison. "When I was preparing to get released, one of the prison staff asked me whether I had stopped believing in my faith after 10 years. Then he answered his own question and said, 'No,'" Saeid Rezaie told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in an interview on February 20, 2018. 03/5/18

Worrying road accidents in Iran: Some 14,000 deaths in 10 months - Some 13,874 people were killed in road accidents over the first 10 months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2017-January 20, 2018). According to Iran's forensics organization, men constituted 10,889 of the deaths over the aforesaid period, Fars news agency reported on Saturday. 03/5/18

Professors to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: Use Persian New Year Norooz as opportunity to promote peace - A group of distinguished professors and intellectuals have written a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling on him to use Norooz, the Persian New Year, as an opportunity to remove "structural violence" in international system in order to achieve true peace (Positive Peace). Inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a cultural tradition observed by numerous peoples, Norooz is an ancestral festivity marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. It promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighbourliness... 03/4/18

Selling Saudis The Nuclear Rope To Hang US - Selling nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia and allowing them to build massive uranium-enrichment facilities and plants to extract plutonium is a stupendously dumb idea. So, it is perhaps fitting that the Trump administration is sending Rick Perry to discuss all this with the Saudis. -Joe Cirincione, LobeLog 03/4/18

Did Bad Economic Conditions Cause Iran's Protests? - Like other Iranian president before him, President Hassan Rouhani is having a bad second term. Only six months after his decisive re-election, protesters were in streets shouting "Death to Rouhani." Then came a sharp fall in the value of the rial, by 10% in two weeks, which threatens to undo the principal economic achievement of his first term-lowering inflation-and his plans to lower interest rates. Iran's Central Bank had to increase interest rates last month to stop the fall of the rial. These are precarious times for Rouhani, who has won two elections promising economic revival. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani 03/2/18

Iranian Hijab Protester, Maryam Shariatmadari, Charged With "Acting Against National Security" - An Iranian woman who was arrested in Tehran for peacefully protesting against Iran's compulsory hijab law has been formally charged, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. Maryam Shariatmadari, who is currently being held in Gharchak Prison in Varamin, south of Tehran, is facing the charges of "fostering bad hijab" and "acting against national security. 03/2/18

Opposition Leader Under House Arrest and 68 Female Documentary Makers Lend Support to Iran's Hijab Protesters - As people protesting against the Islamic Republic of Iran's mandatory hijab law continue to be arrested, an increasing number of political and cultural personalities inside the country are expressing support for the peaceful movement. In late February 2018, prominent opposition figure Zahra Rahnavard, who has been under house arrest for more than seven years, said for the first time that she opposed the compulsory hijab. 03/2/18

Prominent Iranians Lifting The Veil On The Hijab Debate - A small number of Iranian women, risking arrest to protest compulsory head scarves, have rekindled debate about Iran's so-called hijab rule. The Islamic scarf, or hijab, is one of the pillars of the Islamic republic and among its most visible symbols. It became compulsory after the 1979 revolution, after which Iranian women were required to cover their hair and body in public. Those who violate the rule face police harassment, fines, and even jail terms, and a number of the recent hijab protesters have already been taken into custody. -Golnaz Esfandiari 03/2/18

Iranian Woman Injured During Compulsory Hijab Protest Denied Post-Surgery Care by Prison Officials - A woman who was severely injured by a policeman in Tehran while she was peacefully protesting against Iran's compulsory hijab law has been denied post-surgery medical care and access to a lawyer. "Given her physical condition, Maryam Shariatmadari needs urgent medical attention but the prison authorities are denying her," tweeted journalists Jila Baniyaghoob on February 25, 2018. 02/28/18

Does Iran's Constitution Promote Export Of Islamic Revolution? - Some claims are repeated unchallenged so often that they end up becoming part of the conventional wisdom. Such is the case with the assertion that the Iranian constitution mandates the export of the country's Islamic revolution and bestows on the Islamic Republic the responsibility to protect all Shia Muslims in the world regardless of citizenship. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir made such claims in his speech in the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament (EP) on February 22. Before that, he claimed the same thing in the Munich Security Conference and on many other occasions. -Eldar Mamedov 02/28/18

IAAB v. Trump Muslim Ban Plaintiffs File Petition with the United States Supreme Court - On Friday, the plaintiffs in Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump joined plaintiffs in two other cases in filing a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The parties have asked the Court to review their cases and are seeking an expedited briefing schedule so that the cases may be heard along with Hawaii v. Trump, another challenge to President Trump's Muslim ban, that is set for argument on April 25, 2018. 02/27/18

A Nuclear Deal With Iran Remains The Least Bad Option - Abbas Araghchi was in London last week. Araghchi, one of Iran's deputy foreign ministers, was a negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the July 2015 agreement designed to resolve international concerns about the nature and intent of Iran's nuclear program. Toward the end of an interview with the BBC on February 22, he was asked whether the JCPOA would "collapse if the United States [were] not part of it." -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog 02/27/18

"Identity" art exhibit in Tehran spotlights acid attacks - A collection of woodworks created on the theme of acid attacks is currently on display during an exhibition in Tehran. The exhibition entitled "Identity" opened at Ashiane-ye Mehr Gallery on Friday during a special ceremony, which was attended by the artists and several victims of acid attacks. 02/26/18

The Limits Of EU Diplomacy In The Persian Gulf - In line with the EU policy of balanced engagement with Saudi Arabia and Iran, a group of senior EU lawmakers visited both Riyadh and Tehran last week, with a stopover in Kuwait. The delegation was led by the German chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, David McAllister (European People's Party, centre-right). -Eldar Mamedov 02/23/18

Celebrate The Iranian New Year And The First Day Of Spring At The 10th Annual Farhang Foundation Nowruz Festival In Los Angeles - The Farhang Nowruz Festival is a free to all, public, daylong celebration located at UCLA, including a colorful Spring Walk, Iranian Tea House, spectacular dances, children activities, puppet shows, authentic musical performances, a rare performance by Iranian living legend Sima Bina, and more. 02/22/18

Neocons Call For War Against Iran In Syria After Israeli Strikes - The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a little known but highly influential hawkish think tank in Washington that has made a name for itself over the past few years by opposing the Iran nuclear deal and its subsequent (and current) efforts to derail it. Aside from its long tradition of opposing negotiations with Iran, FDD has also been known as a safe space for its staff--chief among them CEO Mark Dubowitz--to call for war against Iran and/or regime change. -Ben Armbruster 02/17/18

Muslim Ban Plaintiffs Celebrate IAAB v. Trump Ruling: We Continue On Together - Today (February 15, 2018), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., upheld the Maryland district court's order blocking implementation of the Muslim Ban in three consolidated cases, Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump, IRAP v Trump, and Zakzok v Trump. This ruling is a significant victory for the many individuals and families whose lives are still hanging in the balance. 02/16/18

Tehran's Homegrown Critics Double Down On Rohani's Referendum Challenge - A referendum proposed by President Hassan Rohani to heal Iran's divisions has been attacked by his hard-line opponents but provided an opening for establishment critics to go a step further. More than a dozen Iranian activists and intellectuals from inside the country and abroad quickly seized on the president's tentative calls this week for the plebiscite, to ask for a UN-backed referendum in Iran that would allow for a transition to a new form of government. 02/15/18

Iran beats Australia to finish third at 2018 Men's Indoor Hockey World Cup - The Iran men's national field hockey team has defeated the Australian squad at the 2018 Men's Indoor Hockey World Cup in Germany to claim the third place overall at the end of the prestigious international tournament. On Sunday, the Iranian outfit thrashed Australia 5-0 in the bronze medal game, which was staged at the multi-purpose Max-Schmeling-Halle arena in the German capital city of Berlin. 02/12/18

Time To Rethink Iran's Strategy - Let's get real for a moment: How would a peaceful Middle East and a less confrontational Iran serve Israel's purpose and, by extension, these days that of the Saud clan and, by default, the presumed interest of the Unites States; who are we kidding? America's default position in Middle East affairs, now even more so than before under the leadership of a clueless leader, has been to follow the Zionist's moneys and political influence rather than what might truly be America's own legitimate and realistic interests. -Kambiz Zarrabi 01/20/18

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last updated on Fri Mar 16 10:37:46 -05 2018