Azar 22 1398 - December 13 2019
Jailed Under Lengthy Sentences, Iran's Conservationists Suffer Ongoing Rights Violations

Iranian authorities are refusing to transfer imprisoned conservationist Sam Rajabi to the hospital to treat a serious medical condition, and are continuing to hold three of his colleagues in solitary confinement without legal justification, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. "It appears that the authorities are punishing them for objecting to the [preliminary] court's decision and insisting that they had confessed under pressure and deception," said Tehran-based attorney Mohammad Hossein Aghasi in an interview with CHRI on December 11. -CHRI 12/13/19

New sanctions to ban humanitarian trade with Iran: US Treasury

The US Treasury Department has stressed that Washington's newly announced sanctions targeting Iran's air and maritime transport industries will lead to the restriction of trade related to humanitarian goods. "US persons will be prohibited from engaging in transactions involving Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) or E-Sail, including transactions for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices," the Treasury's guidelines on Iran sanctions read. -Press TV 12/13/19

Slain Protester's Mother Sentenced to Prison: "Today I Have Sons and Daughters Throughout Iran"

Less than a month after hundreds of people were killed in the Iranian authorities' crackdown on November's mass street protests, a court in Tehran summoned the mother of a victim killed in a 2009 crackdown to prison for demanding justice. The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) learned that Shahnaz Akmali was summoned to prison after she visited the family of a protester who died from a gunshot wound in the city of Karaj, west of the capital, on November 16, 2019. -CHRI 12/13/19

Ana Bayat Stars In MIMI'S SUITCASE At Theatre of Yugen

Ana Bayat's critically-acclaimed one-woman show, Mimi's Suitcase, is an autobiographical journey through identity, immigration, women's rights, and involuntary displacement. With nothing but the titular suitcase, a trench coat, and a scarf, this universal coming-of-age story of resilience and humanity is a tour de force: a humorous and heartfelt portrayal of 27 characters (men and women of all ages) performed in four languages (English, Spanish, French and Persian/Farsi) 12/13/19

How foreign football coaches in Iran are collateral damage to US sanctions

Hundreds of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran on Monday but unlike recent protests decrying a jump in the price of petrol, this particular rally demanded the return of an Italian football manager. Andrea Stramaccioni, who previously managed Inter Milan and Udinese, quit as head coach of Tehran's Esteghlal FC on Sunday over failed payments. The reason? US sanctions. -Euro News 12/13/19

Tribal tourism gives a chance to discover another face of Iran

For both domestic and foreign travelers, tribal tourism is all about opening eyes to new places, traditions, cuisines, beliefs, and ways of life. Also called ethno-tourism, ethnic tourism or tribe tourism, it lays the ground for you to feel indigenous people by living with a nomad or rural family or enjoying an independent stay. However, as the name implies, it's a trip for recreational purposes rather than being an expedition for anthropological research! -Afshin Majlesi, Tehran Times 12/13/19

Has Iran's award-winning actress left Iran to escape prosecution?

Ever since her marriage in 2014 to the son of a powerful Iranian hard-liner, Mahnaz Afshar, an actress with an uncanny resemblance to 1970s mini-skirted idol Googoosh, has been a figure of controversy in Iran. The recent debate is related to her appearance in November as one of the judges on the show "Persia's Got Talent," broadcast on a Saudi-funded TV channel -- right at the height of political tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. -Rohollah Faghihi, Al Monitor 12/13/19

ANALYSIS: U.S. and Europe Apply Dueling Band-Aids to Iran Trade

The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) announced on January 31, 2019 launched as an initiative by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to facilitate European trade with Iran. According to the initial joint statement on INSTEX, the special purpose vehicle will "support legitimate European trade with Iran, focusing initially on the sectors most essential to the Iranian population-such as pharmaceutical, medical devices and agri-food goods." The long-term plan for INSTEX, which is registered in France and led by a former head of Germany's Commerzbank, includes potential expansion to exporters from additional countries. -Robert Kim, Bloomberg 12/13/19

"How Could They Shoot at a Kid?" Iranian Authorities Shirk Responsibility After Teen Killed on Way Home from School

Fifteen-year-old Mohammad Dastankhah was walking home from high school in the city of Shiraz, Fars Province when he was shot and killed by a bullet while local authorities were repressing street protests in his city. In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), his sister Ghazal Dastankhah said the authorities had offered to pay his parents blood money, which according to Islamic law is paid as financial compensation to the victim or heirs of a victim in cases of murder, bodily harm, or property damage, but were vague about his cause of death to avoid responsibility. 12/12/19

After the Iran protests: How Europe can keep diplomacy alive

The Middle East is facing a wave of protests - with the latest unrest in Iran sweeping the country in November. For the moment, a swift government crackdown that reportedly left at least 208 dead has largely brought the protests to an end. An unprecedented internet shutdown during the unrest means that information and debate from inside Iran are now going viral, with observers seeking to take stock of what it could mean for the country. While much remains unclear, the episode has shaken a fragile Iranian nation, diminished the already dwindling popular support for the Rouhani administration, and further complicated European efforts to reduce tensions between the United States and Iran.-Ellie Geranmayeh, ECFR 12/12/19

Iran Protests: "My Brother Was a Passerby... We Want them to Tell Us Why They killed Him"

Reports of the shooting deaths of bystanders not involved in the recent protests in Iran in mid-November continue to grow, indicating the breadth of the indiscriminate firing of live ammunition into crowds of civilians by security forces intent on crushing the protests. Amirhossein Kabiri, was killed by a bullet, even though he was not a participant in a nearby protest. He was 33 years old. His death certificate states "weapons of war" as the cause of his death on November 19, 2019, in the Golshahr district of Karaj, west of Tehran, his sister informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on December 9. -CHRI 12/12/19

Don't Mistake Iran's Exiled Pro-Trump Opposition with the Green Movement

On the 66th anniversary of what is known as the "Student Day" in Iran, university students in Tehran and some other cities held protest rallies to commemorate the killing of three students by security forces of the Pahlavi monarchy on December 7, 1953, amid demonstrations against then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon's visit to the country....This year's student protests received scant coverage in English-language outlets. Ironically, though, the protests were a target of massive social media vitriol by Iran's exiled pro-Trump "opposition" campaigning for regime change and restoration of monarchical reign in Iran under the leadership of Reza Pahlavi, the deceased Shah's eldest son. -Maysam Behravesh, Responsible Statecraft 12/12/19

Afghan children learn side by side with Iranian peers

As the bell rings to announce the start of the day, a group of girls run through the gates of Vahdat Primary School in the old Persian city of Esfahan in Iran. Their packed bags bouncing on their backs, the students skid to a stop in front of the main building and huddle in line for the morning assembly. -Farha Bhoyroo, UNHCR 12/12/19

Swiss channel to ease humanitarian exports to Iran: Report

A Swiss channel for the export of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Iran is to open "within months", officials have told Reuters, amid Europe's failure to launch its long-awaited Iran channel known as INSTEX. Senior Swiss and American officials have told Reuters that Bern is "working hard" to make its special humanitarian channel operational within the coming months. 12/12/19

US Hopes Prisoner Exchange Will Lead to Broader Discussion with Iran

Top American officials say the U.S. is hopeful that the recent prisoner exchange will lead to a broader discussion on consular affairs between the U.S. and Iran. In an interview with VOA on Wednesday, Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, recalled some of the emotional moments of witnessing the release of Xiyue Wang, a Chinese American detained in Iran, and said Wang will be "working with us and doing everything we can to get out people like Bob Levinson and then the Namazis and others." -Nike Ching, VOA 12/12/19

Trump's Maximum Pressure Campaign Thwarted the Chance to Contain Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

The architects of the Trump administration's Iran policy expect that the "maximum pressure" strategy would force Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal from a weaker position. Regardless of its impact on Iran's foreign policy behavior at this stage, this strategy had repercussions for domestic developments with implications for regional politics. Trump's policy tipped the domestic balance of power in a consequential way by undermining president Rouhani's ability to constrain the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) economic activities. -Loosineh Markarian, Responsible Statecraft 12/12/19

U.S. quietly drops 2 more prosecutions linked to Trump Iran prisoner swap

Federal prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against two more individuals linked to a prisoner swap with Iran announced by the Trump administration on Saturday. An Atlanta-based federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the sanctions-violation cases against scientists Mahboobe Ghaedi and Maryam Jazayeri. -Politico 12/12/19

Iran's Asiatic cheetahs Delbar and Kushki fail to reproduce in captivity

Two Asiatic cheetahs, kept in captivity at Tehran's Pardisan Park, have reached the bitter end because they have lost their ability to regenerate and should be returned to nature. Female Asiatic cheetah, Delbar, and the male one, Kushki have lived in the capital for the past few years. In 2015, the female Asiatic cheetah once became pregnant naturally but sadly lost her cub. 12/11/19

Outspoken Iranian Lawmaker Harshly Attacks Khamenei-Controlled Bodies

An outspoken lawmaker in Iran has attacked the entities under Khamenei's control for undermining the authority of the Parliament and warned that weakening the Majles can lead to the downfall of the regime. In a fiery speech in Majles on Tuesday Ali Motahari harshly criticized the involvement of entities appointed by Khamenei in legislation and called for the dissolution of the Economic Coordination Council (ECC) which consists of the President, Chief Justice and Majles Speaker. -Radio Farda 12/11/19

State Forces Buried Man Killed in Iran Protests Against Families Wishes

Hospital authorities in the city of Islamshahr, Tehran Province, transferred the body of Hamid Taheri to state security forces without his family's permission after he died from a bullet wound on November 16, 2019, his father-in-law, Rahim Ajari, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). The unnamed authorities buried Taheri, a 35-year-old carpenter who had recently become a father, in a cemetery against his relatives' preferences. His father and brother were also pressured to sign a "pledge" of silence, according to Ajari. -CHRI 12/11/19

Foreign tour operators, travel marketers astonished by safe, modern Iran

International tour operators and travel marketers, who have recently made a familiarization tour across Iran, are astonished by seeing a country that is far more safe and modern than that they previously thought. A weeklong Famtrip organized by an Iranian tour operator brought 17 travelers from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Peru and China. 12/11/19

IAPAC Proud to Endorse Sarah Beeson for Georgia State Senate

The Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), the connected PAC of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), today proudly announces its endorsement of Sarah Beeson for Georgia State Senate District 56. Sarah Zibanejadrad Beeson is a businesswoman who runs her family's company that has been based in Georgia State Senate District 56 for more than two decades. If successful, she will be the second Iranian American elected to the Georgia State Senate. 12/11/19

Can The U.S. And Iran Capitalize on the Prisoner Swap and Move Toward Better Relations?

After months of confrontation, U.S.-Iran relations finally produced something positive, as both sides agreed to a swap of prisoners. Iran freed American student Xiyue Wang and the United States freed Iranian scientist Masoud Soleimani. President Donald Trump thanked Iran for a fair exchange and added that it showed that the two states can deal with one another. Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterized Iran's approach in this matter as "constructive." Later Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif declared Iran's readiness to exchange other remaining prisoners, adding that now the ball is in the United States' court. -Shireen Hunter, Responsible Statecraft 12/11/19

MEK defectors raise doubts over alleged Iranian 'terror cell' in Albania

Albanian police recently announced that they had discovered a terror ring, run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which had planned attacks on an exiled Iranian opposition group living in Albania. Hassan Heyrani, a former high-ranking MEK member who defected from the group in 2017, said he believes the story that the police presented is fabricated. "If it was true, why hasn't Interpol arrested them? Albania is a very poor country where corruption is rife, police can be bought," he said. -Middle East Eye 12/11/19

China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt are world's worst jailers of journalists

For the fourth consecutive year, at least 250 journalists are imprisoned globally... Iran, which also saw significant protests in 2019, increased the number of journalists in jail to 11. Prominent economic reporter Mohammad Mosaed was arrested after tweeting during an internet shutdown intended to suppress news of protests against high gas prices, "Hello Free World!" and that he was using "42 different proxies" to get online. -CPJ 12/11/19

EU Should Lead Calls for UN Commission of Inquiry Into Iran Protest Deaths

The EU should lead calls for the UN to investigate Iranian state forces' use of lethal means to repress the country's mid-November 2019 protests which resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "As an important potential trade and investment partner with substantial leverage over Iran, the EU should take the lead in calling for the UN Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry into the latest massacre," said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. -CHRI 12/11/19

If Iran Falls, ISIS May Rise Again

As disorder deepens in Iran amid widespread protests, fears are rising that the fall of Iran's revolutionary Shiite Islamic Republic could lead to disaster in the region and the re-emergence of an even greater foe of the United States--the Islamic State militant group known as ISIS...Iran has remained steadfast in the face of its foes foreign and domestic, and few expect the full demise of the government. But even those inside and outside Iran who support the rallies that continue day and night against the clerics running the nation fear the chaos alone could foster conditions for ISIS to breed. -Tom Oconnor, Newsweek 12/11/19

In A Letter To President Rouhani 160 Lawyers In Iran Ask For Investigation Into Protest Deaths

In a letter to the Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani, 160 prominent Iranian lawyers have called for an investigation of the deadly mid-November protests in Iran and punishment of those responsible for killing protesters. Attributing the protests to "foreign plots", as well as "ignoring the causes and the objective reasons of people's dissatisfaction," would have no result other than recurrence of similar events in the future, the lawyers said in their open letter to Rouhani. -Radio Farda 12/10/19

Father Of Bystander Killed During Iran Protests Seeks Accountability

Farzad Ansarifar, a 27-year-old construction worker who was killed on November 16 in the city of Behbahan in Khuzestan Province, was struck by a bullet behind his head even though he was only a bystander at a protest against the increase in the price of gasoline, his father told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). 12/10/19

Iran Lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri Says She Will Not Run Again As Protest To Brutal Suppression

The leader of women's faction in the Iranian parliament (Majles) has announced she will not run for a seat in the upcoming elections as protest to the bloody suppression of protests in November. Parvaneh Salahshouri, 54, representing Tehran districts says she also objects to policies that restrict the parliament's power and authority. -Radio Farda 12/10/19

Pentagon Report Undermines Hawks' Claims On Iranian Ballistic Missile Threat

Many argue that Iran's ballistic missile program should be a major focal point for U.S. policy... Wrong. Iran's missile force is indeed improving, and states with vital interests in the Persian Gulf are right to pay attention. But Iranian missiles shouldn't be the heart of our diplomacy. The reality is they're not very useful for going on offense. Quite the opposite: they're a primarily defensive tool--and an important one that Iran fears giving up. As the new Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report entitled "Iran Military Power" points out, "Iran's ballistic missiles constitute a primary component of its strategic deterrent. -John Allen Gay, Responsible Statecraft 12/10/19

Iran exports $27B of non-oil products in 8 months

Iran exported $27 billion of non-oil commodities during the eight-month period from March 21 to November 23, IRIB reported on Tuesday citing the data released by Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA). The IRICA's data put the weight of the country's non-oil exports at 88 million tons during the mentioned time span, which indicates a 16-percent rise from the figure of the same period of time in the previous year. 12/10/19

San Francisco State University Announces Additional $1 Million Gift from Alumna and Philanthropist Neda Nobari

San Francisco State University announced that the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies received an additional $1 million from alumna and Iranian American philanthropist Neda Nobari, building upon her generous gift of $5 million from June 2016 that established the first-of-its-kind center. Administered under the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, the center is dedicated to research and teachings that examine the historical and cultural experiences of the global Iranian diaspora. -SFSU 12/10/19

Zarif: Iran fully ready for prisoner swap, ball in US court

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said Tehran was "fully ready" for a full prisoner exchange with the United States. Zarif's comments on Monday came two days after the US and Iran swapped prisoners in a rare act of cooperation between the longtime foes. "After getting our hostage back this week, fully ready for comprehensive prisoner exchange," Zarif wrote on Twitter, while in Istanbul. "The ball is in the US' court," he added. -Al-Jazeera 12/10/19

U.S. Sanctions Are Driving Iran to Tighten Its Grip on Iraq

MASSIVE, SUSTAINED PROTESTS in Baghdad and Tehran that have been met with violent responses from security forces throughout the fall and winter have rapidly altered the political dynamics in both Iraq and Iran. But it is still uncertain whether the grassroots anger that has erupted will lead to significant change in either country -- or whether the United States will play a role in shaping the outcome. -James Risen, Intercept 12/10/19

Mother of Slain Iranian Protester: "Why Did They Shoot at My Son's Head?"

The family of Pouya Bakhtiari, a 27-year-old man shot and killed by security forces in the Mehrshahr district of Karaj, west of the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019, during the recent protests that gripped Iran, will seek justice through domestic and international channels, his mother told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "They aimed at my son's head and deliberately killed him," Nahid Shirpisheh said in an interview on December 3. -CHRI 12/9/19

In Sympathy With Mourning Iranians Film Director Dariush Mehrjui Not Celebrating 80TH Birthday

Dariush Mehrjui, a prominent Iranian film director says he is not celebrating his 80th birthday today as a sign of sympathy with fellow Iranians who are mourning the victims of the November protests. "I'm sad and despondent because of the calamity that has befallen [our] people. They are in mourning; they are living in hard and unfitting conditions. In such circumstances celebrating birthdays is vain," he told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on Sunday. -Radio Farda 12/9/19

Teenager Killed in Isfahan During Iran Protests Delivered to Family in a Shroud

The body of teenager Mohammad Javad Abedi was delivered to his family wrapped in a shroud ready for burial several days after he was killed by security forces in the city of Isfahan during the recent protests that have swept through Iran over the increase in the price of gasoline, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. Iran's security forces used lethal force to crush the protests, including the firing of live ammunition into crowns of unarmed protestors -CHRI 12/9/19

The Real Deal Behind the U.S.-Iran Prisoner Swap

Donald Trump celebrated a surprise prisoner exchange with Iran in a tweet on Saturday, just hours after a Princeton graduate student and an Iranian scientist were traded on the tarmac of Zurich's international airport. "Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together!" he wrote. The swap was a rare moment of detente following months of escalating hostilities, which came within minutes of a military confrontation in June, after Iran shot down a sophisticated U.S. drone. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 12/9/19

Mysterious Foul Odor In Tehran To Be Investigated But Jokes Abound

Tehran Mayor on Sunday said results of the investigation to find the source a foul odor periodically plaguing various areas of the capital since January have been sent to the Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization. In an interview with the state-run television (IRIB) last night the mayor Pirouz Hanachi said there is still no definite answer about the source of the obnoxious smell. -Radio Farda 12/9/19

Iranian Girl Wins Reputation by Walking a Thin Line

Reyhaneh Armaghani is an Iranian girl whose unusual career and field of sport, highlining, has won her some reputation. She walks on a thin belt, practices slack line and unicycle, and works at heights. "I got acquainted with this field at the 2014 Climbing Festival in Kermanshah," Reyhaneh Armaghani told Hamshahri newspaper in a recent interview. -IFP 12/9/19

US policy hinders positive 'regime change' in Iran

With the rare exception of a weekend prisoner swap, the record of US-Iran relations since the Trump administration came to office has been dismal both for the Iranian people and for US national interests. A policy of undermining and then quitting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCOPA)--topped by an embargo on the export of Iranian oil--has punished the Iranian people and provoked their government to commit more aggressive acts. -Barbara Slavin, Atlantic Council 12/9/19

An Arrest for the 1988 Prison Massacres in Iran Puts Universal Jurisdiction to the Test

Sweden's detention of an Iranian allegedly involved in the 1988 prison massacres is both the latest attempt at universal jurisdiction and a reminder of what historian Ervand Abrahamian calls "the most despicable as well as the most bizarre event in modern Iran." The arrested man, named by campaigners and by London's Sunday Times as 58-year-old Hamid Nouri, is due to remain in custody until at least December 11 when prosecutors will decide whether to indict him. -Gareth Smyth, Responsible Statecraft 12/9/19

Iran unveils 'budget to resist US sanctions' with help from $5bn Russian loan

Iran's president has presented a draft state budget of about $39bn to parliament, saying it was designed to resist US sanctions by limiting dependence on oil exports. Officials have not given figures for the oil price and export volumes used in the calculations, although the International Monetary Fund has indicated Iran would need oil prices to be triple current levels to balance its budget as its crude exports have plunged. -Guardian 12/9/19

World Powers Urge Iran To Reverse Atomic Deal Violations

World powers pressed Tehran on December 6 to reverse recent actions that violate a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, a Chinese official said at the end of a meeting in Vienna that came amid heightened tensions between the West and Iran. The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been unraveling since the United States unilaterally withdrew last year and reimposed American sanctions that have further crippled Iran's struggling economy. -RFE/RL 12/7/19

US citizen Xiyue Wang released from Iranian jail in prisoner swap

A Chinese-born US citizen sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on spying charges has been released as part of a prisoner swap. Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, imprisoned since 2016, was exchanged for Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist arrested at Chicago airport last year and convicted on charges of violating US trade sanctions. -Guardian 12/7/19

Cutting-edge combat UAV, destroyer delivered to Iran's Navy

A combat reconnaissance tactical drone and a modern destroyer were delivered to the Navy in a ceremony in southeastern Iran on Saturday. Simorq is a domestically-manufactured and multi-purpose drone with high range flight capability. The drone can be utilized in surveillance and combat operations. 12/7/19

If Tehran is pushed too far, it may hit out in ways that are disastrous

The crisis in the Persian Gulf, which took Iran and the US to the brink of war in June, was never resolved - and shows every sign of reigniting. Like antagonists in a school-yard fight who refuse to shake hands and make up, the two sides, backed by regional allies and proxies, are sullenly waiting for it all to kick off again. The next bout could be much worse. -Simon Tisdall, Guardian 12/7/19

Could Iran's Exit From The Nuclear Deal Create Space For Dialogue?

From all sides, the situation is in a deadlock. The French efforts to bring the U.S. and Iran to some kind of compromise seem to have subsided. There is still hope to see next year in the U.S. a political equation more favorable to Iran. But save for such a kind of miracle, the Islamic Republic is facing today a painful choice: continue bearing the deprivation and suffocation of its people, or take a game-changing initiative, such as pulling out of the JCPOA. -Francois Nicoullaud, Responsible Statecraft 12/7/19

Top UN Human Rights Official: "Clear Violations" of International Norms on Use of Force in Iran and "Serious" Human Rights Violations Against Protestors

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued statement on December 6, in which she "expressed alarm" over the Iranian government's violent response to the protests that broke out across the country after the government's November 15 announcement of a steep gas price hike, stating that there were "clear violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, and serious violations of human rights." -CHRI 12/6/19

International arrivals in Iran at 6.7 million since March

Some 6.7 million foreign nationals have visited Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21). Iran welcomed some 7.8 million foreign nationals last year, achieving 52.5 percent increase year on year. 12/6/19

Russia Halts Work At Iran's Fordow Nuclear Facility

Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has suspended work on modernizing a unit of Iran's Fordow nuclear complex due to an issue with uranium compatibility, Rosatom's nuclear fuel cycle unit TVEL said on December 5. -RFE/RL 12/6/19

More support needed for refugee education in Iran

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Iran's efforts to extend education opportunities for nearly half a million Afghan children in the country, and recognizes that the country needs greater humanitarian support because of the economic challenges it faces today. Iran has been one of the world's leading refugee hosts for decades and currently has some one million registered refugees from Afghanistan. -UNHCR 12/6/19

Iran rejects EU powers' letter to UN as 'desperate falsehood'

Iran has said it is determined to proceed with its ballistic missile programme, as it rejected as a "desperate falsehood" the letter from three European countries accusing Tehran of developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. -Al Jazeera 12/6/19

International Cheetah Day: Running fast toward extinction

Asiatic cheetah, the planet's fastest mammal, are facing extinction as their population has dramatically shrank to less than 7,000 in the world over the past few years, with a small remaining population in Iran. The Iranian cheetah population seems to be in trouble; incidental killing of cheetahs by people or livestock guarding dogs, habitat fragmentation and loss of biological corridors and prey base depletion, mining activity and road construction were among the main factors that threatened the lives of these valuable species. 12/5/19

Iran's Currency Drops 8 Percent In Wake Of Protests, Fuel Hike

Iran's currency rial lost more value Wednesday against major currencies reaching a low of 130,100 against the U.S. dollar. One month ago, the rial was trading at around 120,000 to the dollar, but since an increase in gasoline prices and widespread anti-government protests in November, the currency has steadily lost about 8 percent of its value. 12/5/19

Iran's Leaders Soften Stance on Protesters

Faced with a simmering fury in the country, Iran's leaders on Wednesday abruptly softened their stance toward street protests that are believed to have left hundreds of civilians dead last month, the most lethal crackdown since the 1979 revolution. The change, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, signaled that the hierarchy was scrambling to manage resentment worsened by a brutal suppression of protests throughout the country -New York Times 12/5/19

Trump Stuck Between Ending Endless Wars and his Hawkish Megadonors

President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to withdraw the United States from its ongoing wars in the Middle East, and avoid the kind of military adventurism, like the Iraq war, that has destabilized the region. Trump's track record, however, is largely detached from his promises - a disconnect perhaps at least partially explained by his largest campaign contributors' consistent advocacy for U.S. military action in the Middle East and support for starting a preventive war with Iran. -Eli Clifton, Responsible Statecraft 12/5/19

Axis of hope

In her new book, Axis of Hope: Iranian Women's Rights Activism across Borders (University of Washington Press, 2019), Catherine Sameh, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of California, Irvine, shares the stories and practices of women's human rights activists both inside and outside of Iran. -UCI 12/5/19

Public Outrage Grows As Reports of Bloody Crackdown Emerge: "Every Corner of Iran is Mourning the Atrocities"

As reports of the unprecedented state violence against protesters in Iran begin to emerge now that the state-imposed internet shut-down has been lifted, the full extent of the state's brutal crackdown is being revealed and Iranians have been reacting with outrage and grief. Current estimates of the number killed are over two hundred, and perhaps significantly higher. Many more were injured and thousands arrested. -CHRI 12/4/19

Iran's President Rouhani Ready To Talk With Trump An Hour After Lifting Sanctions

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says If the President of United States agrees to lift all the sanctions imposed on Iran, he will be ready to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump within an hour. Rouhani who was speaking at a conference on "insurance and development" in Iran on Wednesday December 4, said that he made the same offer while he was in New York in September to take part at the UN General Assembly meeting. -Radio Farda 12/4/19

Reports of Bystanders Killed by Iran's Security Forces Firing Indiscriminately at Protesters Grow

Reports of bystanders who were killed by security forces in Iran because they happened to be near protestors continue to mount with the lifting of the state-imposed internet shutdown and news blackout in the country. Arsham Ebrahimi, age 21, died of a bullet wound on November 16 in the city of Isfahan, central Iran, Arsham's uncle, Navid Ebrahimi, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). -CHRI 12/4/19

Iran President Calls For Release Of 'Innocent' Unarmed Protesters

Iran's President Hassan Rohani has called for the release of protesters who were arrested in recent demonstrations against a sharp hike in gas prices if they were unarmed and simply voicing their opinion. "Religious and Islamic clemency should be shown and those innocent people who protested against petrol price hikes and were not armed...should be released," Rohani said in a televised speech on December 4. -RFE/RL 12/4/19

These photos show what it's really like in Iran, where - despite its antagonistic relationship with the US- life is surprisingly normal

Iran is frequently the subject of intense international news coverage, be it political tensions with the US over broken trade agreements, oil tanker crises, or recent nationwide protests. What we don't often see is how ordinary people live in the Islamic Republic. People go to work, socialize, and generally live a pretty normal existence. Here's a look into everyday life in the country, based on my own personal experiences. -Sahar Esfandiari, Business Insider 12/4/19

IRAN: Housewife Killed by Bullet to Neck While Helping Wounded Protester; Family Forced To Pay to Take Body

An unarmed civilian and mother of three young children, Ameneh Shahbazi, was killed by a bullet as she was trying to help a person shot in the leg during a protest, her brother, Mohammad Shahbazi, said in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Her death certificate indicated that she had died from a shattered skull but in fact a bullet had broken her neck, Mohammad said. The family was forced to pay in order to receive her body, and they were surrounded by security agents at her funeral. -CHRI 12/3/19

Iran Guards Official Says Khamenei Played Crucial Role In Suppressing Protests

A top official of Iran's revolutionary Guards has said that if it was not for the "timely intervention" of the Supreme Leader, it would not have been possible "to wrap up" the November protests in 48 hours. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called the protesters "thugs" on November 17, the third day of protests and called on "those responsible" to "discharge their preserve the country's security". This was a signal to an array of security and intelligence organs to use military means to quell the unrest. -Radio Farda 12/3/19

Lawmaker Says Dissent In Iran Glows Like Fire Under Ashes

An outspoken reformist member of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) says security forces have "preemptively" arrested a number of students who have not taken part in recent protests in Iran. Mahmoud Sadeqi (Sadeghi) said in an interview with the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on Monday, December 2 that the arrests have been made illegally and the authorities should investigate and explain the measure. -Radio Farda 12/3/19

Iran says still selling oil despite US sanctions; global traders agree

International energy news providers say Iran's announcement that the country is still selling its oil despite US sanctions is not without foundation. Since September, the United States has been working to bring Iran's oil exports down to zero as part of Washington's "maximum pressure" on Tehran. But Iran's Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri asserted on Monday that the policy has failed because the Islamic Republic continues to send its oil to the market. -Press TV 12/3/19

Iran: Death toll from bloody crackdown on protests rises to 208

The number of people believed to have been killed during demonstrations in Iran that broke out on 15 November has risen to at least 208, said Amnesty International, based on credible reports received by the organization. The real figure is likely to be higher. Dozens of the deaths have been recorded in Shahriar city in Tehran province - one of the cities with the highest death tolls. -Amnesty International 12/2/19

Quds Governor Admits Ordering Police To Shoot At Iran Protesters

The governor of Qal'eh Hassan Khan (Qods township) has claimed responsibility for ordering the Islamic Republic security forces to open fire on protesters who had invaded the governor's building. Speaking to the government's official daily, Iran on Sunday, December 1 Layla (Leila) Vaseqi admitted that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces had been active in suppressing the protesters from day one of the anti-regime demonstrations in November. -Radio Farda 12/2/19

Will Iran's 50% gas price hike pay off for the economy?

On Nov. 15, Iran announced a shift in its gasoline subsidy policies that led to massive social protests and the unprecedented government response of a weeklong internet shutdown. Though it's too early to have a complete analysis of the recent wave of anti-government protests, it is valid to argue that the political, economic and social costs of the recent decision were very high. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor 12/2/19

'The Other Apartment' Offers a Portal Between the U.S. and Iran

What if you could be transported into another person's lived experience just by visiting their home? Two artists -one in Pittsburgh, one in Tehran- are putting this idea to the test with The Other Apartment, an ambitious installation that uses the intimacy of one person's home to bridge the vast geographic, cultural, and political divides between the United States and Iran. -Laura Feinstein, Citylab 12/2/19

U.S. Sanctions on Iran are Affecting Impoverished Iranians

Roughly a year ago, the United States Government decided to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. After leaving the agreement, the Trump administration decided to reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran. This decision has had three main impacts on Iran with the brunt of the effects felt by impoverished Iranians. -Borgen Magazine 12/2/19

Heavy Air Pollution Shuts Schools, Universities In Parts Of Iran

Schools and universities have been shut in parts of Iran including the capital, Tehran, due to high levels of pollution, state media report. The decision to shut schools and universities in the capital on November 30 was announced late on November 29 by Deputy Governor Mohammad Taghizadeh, after a meeting of an emergency committee for air pollution. -RFE/RL 11/30/19

Iran opposition leader compares supreme leader to shah

A long-detained opposition leader in Iran on Saturday compared a bloody crackdown on those protesting government-set gasoline prices rising under its supreme leader to soldiers of the shah gunning down demonstrators in an event that led to the Islamic Revolution. -AP 11/30/19

CCBE Human Rights Award 2019 Granted To Four Imprisoned Iranian lawyers

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) grants its 2019 Human Rights Award to four Iranian lawyers currently in prison: Nasrin Sotoudeh, Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Najafi and Amirsalar Davoudi. 11/29/19

Iranian women footballers runners-up at CAFA U23 Championship

Iran finished CAFA U23 Women's Championship with heads held high. Maryam Azmoun's team finished runners up after the team defeated Afghanistan 7-0 in their final match. The CAFA Championship is an international football competition in Central Asia for the member nations of the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA). 11/29/19

Six European countries join EU-Iran financial trading mechanism INSTEX

Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden will join the INSTEX mechanism for trade with Iran, the six countries declared in a joint statement on Friday (29 November) ahead of further talks between parties to the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna next week. -Alexandra Brzozowski, Euractiv 11/29/19

Did U.S. Billionaire Play Role in Iran Environmentalists' Imprisonment?

IN SEPTEMBER 2017, a group of Iranian environmentalists working on Asiatic cheetah preservation with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation felt a pang of alarm. Thomas S. Kaplan, a billionaire precious metals investor then best known for his fine art collection, had just made a surprise public appearance in New York at the annual conference of United Against Nuclear Iran. The Iranian environmentalists were concerned because their group had gotten aid from one of Kaplan's nonpolitical charities. Now, he was speaking before a group that was extremely hostile to their country. -Murtaza Hussain, Intercept 11/28/19

Can The Iran Crisis Be A Blessing In Disguise For Europe?

Popular protests in Iran came at a particularly delicate time for the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA). More than one year after the United States unilaterally withdrew and re-imposed extraterritorial sanctions against Iran, the JCPOA is hovering precariously on a brink of collapse. Currently, the only obvious path available for Iran and the U.S. to avoid a direct confrontation is the French President Emmanuel Macron's initiative to mediate between them, and to issue a $15 billion credit line to Iran to cover its basic needs. -Eldar Mamedov 11/27/19

Neither Thaw Nor War: Steering The U.S. And Iran Out Of No-Man's-Land

With protests flaring up around the country over a hike in fuel prices, the atmosphere in Iran is febrile. At the same time, it is eerily quiet with the near-total internet shutdown cutting the country off from the rest of the world. The disarray of the current situation has led to a flurry of speculation. -Ghoncheh Tazmini, LobeLog 11/26/19

Ghosts of Mossadegh: The Iran Cables, U.S. Empire, and the Arc of History

AS U.S. SANCTIONS strangle Iran's economy, anti-government protests are spreading. This week on Intercepted: Iranian-American author and analyst Hooman Majd discusses a century of history marked by intervention and threats from major world powers. Beginning with Britain, Russia, and Germany battling for control of Iran's oil, Majd and Jeremy Scahill discuss the CIA coup against Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, the Islamic revolution, and the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and how Washington has repeatedly tried to bring down the government of the Islamic Republic. -Intercept 11/22/19

Pentagon Says Iran's Missile Arsenal Unequaled In Middle East

Iran's arsenal of missiles is unmatched in the Middle East, even bigger than Israel's, a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report says. Iran would develop its defense capability faster if it were not for a UN-mandated arms embargo for most weapons that is set to expire in October 2020. -RFE/RL 11/20/19

Iran's Shadow War on ISIS

Since the election of Donald Trump, the United States and Iran have grown increasingly fractious, exchanging provocations that have fueled fears of war. But in the early days of the fight against ISIS under President Barack Obama, these longtime rivals were focused on a common goal: halting the Islamic State's advance and destroying its so-called caliphate. -Murtaza Hussain, Intercept 11/19/19

Iranian woman weightlifter Elham Hosseini makes history by winning medal

Elham Hosseini became the first Iranian woman to win a medal in an international weightlifting tournament. Hosseini claimed a bronze medal at the 2019 Weightlifting IWF Naim Suleymanoglu Tournament on Saturday. 11/18/19

A SPY COMPLEX REVEALED: Leaked Iranian Intelligence Reports Expose Tehran's Vast Web of Influence in Iraq

Now leaked Iranian documents offer a detailed portrait of just how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs, and of the unique role of Suleimani. The documents are contained in an archive of secret Iranian intelligence cables obtained by The Intercept and shared with the New York Times for this article, which is being published simultaneously by both news organizations. -Intercept 11/18/19

Iranian Startups: Komodaa's Success Story Is Heard From Shiraz

Sana Khalesi, founder of Komodaa, formerly a content writer in the UK and Greece, says of launching komodaa Startup in Shiraz and that she and her team are thinking of a market of 3,600 billion Tomans (about 300 million dollars). Komodaa is the first Eco-friendly and online fashion marketplace in Iran that tackles this issue by making it super simple to buy/sell pre-owned wearables. -Tahereh Khajegiri, Shanbe Magazine 11/17/19

Photos: Iranian sculptors, international fellows doing their best at Tehran symposium

A number of Iranian and foreign sculptors are doing their best to create monumental artifacts in the 9th Tehran International Sculpture Symposium, which started on November in Tehran's Abbasabad district. Winners will be announced during a special ceremony on November 26, just one day after the end of the symposium. -Babak Borzouyeh 11/15/19

Italy's Sulmona Film Festival's Best Actress Award Goes To Iran'a Behdokht Valian For Role In "Tattoo"

Iranian actress Behdokht Valian was named best actress for her role in director Farhad Delaram's drama "Tattoo" at the 37th Sulmona International Film Festival in Italy, the organizers announced on Saturday. The film is about a young girl who wants to renew her driver's license but she is sent to the traffic police center for her tattoos. 11/13/19

200 Film Personalities Condemn Censorship in Iran: "Our Profession Has Been Under Attack"

More than 200 members of Iran's film industry signed an open letter dated November 2, 2019, condemning state censorship and demanding "freedom of expression and thought" in the Islamic Republic. The letter was published by Persian-language websites after the judiciary banned director Kianoush Ayari's film "The Parental House" less than a week after it was first screened in Iran. -CHRI 11/12/19

Iran takes the crown at Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup

Title-holders Iran defeated Spain 6-3 at the 2019 Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup final match at Jumeirah's Kite Beach on Saturday. Iran won the competition for the third time. The Persians had already won the title in 2013 and 2018. 11/11/19

Is France Moving Against The MEK?

On October 30, a volley of tweets attributed to Alexis Kohler, chief of staff of the French President Emmanuel Macron, announced that France, taking into account the "negative consequences" of the presence of the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) on the French soil, will restrict its activities in the country. On November 5, however, the Elysee Palace disowned the tweets as fake, and the Twitter handle supposedly belonging to Kohler was suspended. -Eldar Mamedov 11/7/19

Iran's President Rohani opens first major startup accelerator in Tehran

President Rohani has opened a first major startup accelerator in the county, a sign his government is intent on using the domestic know-how to compensate for the technological losses caused by the American sanctions. Rohani opened the Azadi Innovation Factory (AIF) in Tehran where he spent hours talking to heads of startups and minor accelerator companies involved in various fields of technology and science. 11/6/19

"Maximum Pressure": U.S. Economic Sanctions Harm Iranians' Right to Health

The Trump administration's broad sanctions on Iran have drastically constrained the ability of the country to finance humanitarian imports, including medicines, causing serious hardships for ordinary Iranians and threatening their right to health, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The administration in Washington should take immediate steps to ensure a viable channel exists for trade of humanitarian goods with Iran. 10/29/19

Iran Wushu Sanda team claims world title

Iran's eight-member Sanda team claimed eight gold medals and won the title of the 15th World Wushu Championships (WWC) in Shanghai, China. Iran had won three gold medals in the women's divisions. China won the championships in Taolu and Sanda, winning 10 gold medals and one bronze. Iran became runners-up with eight gold medals, two silvers and one bronze. 10/24/19

Trying To Exploit Iran's Diverse Ethnic Population To Advance A War Agenda

On September 25, during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)-a pro-Israel, anti-Iran lobby group-held a "summit" in New York that was attended by, among others, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, and Sigal Mandelker, the outgoing Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, as well as diplomats from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As usual, tough rhetoric was uttered by all the speakers, and threats were made. -Muhammad Sahimi 10/17/19

Female pilots take control of first Iranian domestic flight

Reports in the Iranian media shows a female captain and her co-pilot (Neshat Jahandari and Forouz Firouzi) have flown a passenger plane, a first in the history of the country's aviation industry. The reports published on Tuesday showed photos of the two pilots taken from the social media showing them before and after the two-way flight between the capital Tehran and the second largest city of Mashhad, located east of the country. -Press TV 10/16/19

Genome study shows that Iran's population is more heterogeneous than previously believed

An international research team including scientists from the University of Cologne, Germany, numerous Iranian universities and the University of Sydney, Australia, has shown that today's Iranian population is composed of partially highly heterogeneous ethnic groups, exhibiting a high degree of genetic variation. In many cases, their source goes back many thousands of years. The results, obtained from the first genome-wide genetic characterization of the Iranian population by this team, appeared in PLOS Genetics under the title 'Distinct genetic variation and heterogeneity of the Iranian population'. 9/25/19

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last updated on Fri Dec 13 12:39:27 EST 2019