Iranian Moderation Tracker

Since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers on July 14, 2015, also known as the Iran Deal, UANI has been monitoring the day-to-day actions of the Iranian regime to determine if the Iranian regime is abiding by its commitments and moderating its aggressive and threatening behavior.

A key benefit of the Iran Deal, proponents of the agreement argued, would be that it would contribute to the moderation of the Iranian regime. By tracking developments in Iran’s nuclear program, human rights situation, regional destabilizing activities, sponsorship of terrorism, and relations with the U.S., UANI’s JCPOA Accountability Tracker clearly shows that the Iranian regime has not moderated as a result of the JCPOA and has in fact adopted a more hardline approach both in its domestic and foreign policy.

To see daily Iran-related developments prior to the JCPOA, view UANI’s Rouhani Accountability Tracker.

Date Theme Event
04-26-2017
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf.

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf, an American official said on Wednesday, the latest tense naval encounter between the two countries. The incident happened Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The “Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” McConnaughey said in a statement to The Associated Press. (Associated Press)

04-20-2017
Syria Conflict

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Iran and its ally Hezbollah of conspiring to destabilize the Middle East.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Iran and its ally Hezbollah on Thursday of conspiring to destabilize the Middle East - a charge "categorically" rejected by Iran's U.N. envoy as a misleading propaganda campaign perpetrated by Israel and others in the region. Haley is the current Security Council president and she asked members to focus on the factors causing conflicts across the region during their monthly meeting on the situation in the Middle East instead of engaging in what she called routine "Israel bashing." Her targets at the open meeting, where over 50 countries spoke, were Iran and Hezbollah who are supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, training "deadly militias" in Iraq and arming Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. "For decades, they have committed terrorist acts across the region," Haley said. (Washington Post)

04-20-2017
Nuclear Program

President Donald Trump says Iran is failing to fulfill the "spirit" of its nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran is failing to fulfill the "spirit" of its nuclear deal with world powers, President Donald Trump declared Thursday, setting an ominous tone for his forthcoming decision about whether to pull the U.S. out of the landmark agreement. As he often had during the president campaign, Trump ripped into the deal struck by Iran, the U.S. and other world powers in 2015 and said "it shouldn't have been signed." Yet he pointedly stopped sort of telegraphing whether or not the U.S. would stay in. "They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that," Trump said of the Iranians, though he did not mention any specific violations. Earlier this week, the administration certified to Congress than Iran was complying - at least technically - with the terms of the deal, clearing the way for Iran to continue enjoying sanctions relief in the near term. (AP)

04-19-2017
Syria Conflict

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says, "We will have to overcome Iran's efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it..."

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that Iran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen, as the United States weighs increasing support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting there. At least 10,000 people have been killed and more than 3 million displaced in the war in Yemen, now in its third year. Millions of people are also struggling to feed themselves. "We will have to overcome Iran's efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it," Mattis told reporters in Riyadh after meeting senior Saudi officials. Mattis said the goal was for there to be a political solution through U.N.-brokered negotiations to resolve the conflict in Yemen. (Reuters)

04-19-2017
Syria Conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accuses Iran of 'alarming ongoing provocations' to destabilize countries in the Middle East.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of 'alarming ongoing provocations' to destabilize countries in the Middle East as the Trump administration launched a review of its policy toward Tehran.Tillerson told reporters the review, which he announced on Tuesday, would not only look at Tehran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal but also its behavior in the region which he said undermined U.S. interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. His tough words matched those of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said in a visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday that Iran's destabilizing influence would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen. (Reuters)

04-18-2017
Human Rights

The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested more than 30 men who are believed to be gay at a private party last week in the Esfahan province.

The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested more than 30 men who are believed to be gay at a private party last week in the Esfahan province.  The prominent Canadian NGO Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) first reported on the violent crackdown, saying the men were between the ages of 16 and 30. "IRQR received several reports in last few days and were able to confirm that police attacked guests and physically beat them. Police detained them all at the Basij (Revolutionary Guard Militia) Station and then transferred them to Esfahan's Dastgerd Prison. A few people managed to escape and we received reports that there were several heterosexual individuals among those arrested," the human rights NGO wrote in its website on Thursday. (JPost)

04-18-2017
Syria Conflict

A ceremony in Iran's holy city of Qom shines a light on Iran's widening influence over an armed fringe of the opposition in Bahrain.

At a wake in Iran's holy city of Qom in February, a small group of Bahraini emigres and clerics mourned a young militant killed in a gun battle with Bahrain's security forces. The eulogy was delivered by an exiled Bahraini cleric who has called for the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority to uproot the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy in a holy war. "The choice of resistance is widening and spreading on the ground," said the cleric, Murtada al-Sanadi, who has been named by the United States as a "specially designated global terrorist" backed by Iran. The ceremony shines a light on Iran's widening influence over an armed fringe of the opposition in Bahrain, a country with a strategic value that belies its small size. It hosts a U.S. naval base and is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, Iran's main regional rival. A quickening tempo of mostly crude bombing and shooting attacks has accompanied a government crackdown, which culminated last year in the dissolution of the main opposition bloc. (Reuters)

04-15-2017
Military

President Hassan Rouhani says, "The strengthening of the capability of the Iranian armed forces ... is only for defending the country and we will ask no one's permission to build up the armed forces, and to build missiles and aircraft."

Iran will ask "no one's permission" to build up its missile capability, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday, in what appeared to be a defiant response to U.S. efforts to hamper the Iranian military. Facing an election in May where he hopes to secure a second four-year term, Rouhani has had to defend himself from opponents who say he has been too eager to appease the West, after agreeing to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the nuclear deal and said during his election campaign he would stop Iran's missile program. After Iran test-fired a new ballistic missile in January, Trump tweeted that it was "playing with fire". Addressing an event showcasing some locally built military hardware, broadcast on state TV, Rouhani said: "The strengthening of the capability of the Iranian armed forces ... is only for defending the country and we will ask no one's permission to build up the armed forces, and to build missiles and aircraft." (Reuters)

04-13-2017
Human Rights

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctions Gen. Soleimani's brother, Sohrab Soleimani, who has been accused of committing human-rights violations as head of the Tehran Prisons Organization.

The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned the brother of Iran's top spy master and military strategist for alleged human-rights violations, amid growing calls by Congress for the White House to confront Tehran and bring home U.S. citizens still imprisoned in the country. Successive U.S. administrations have fixated on curtailing the activities of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of international operations of Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Gen. Soleimani is overseeing Iran's military operations in Syria, which are designed to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. and its Middle East allies also said they have seen Gen. Soleimani's hand in Revolutionary Guard military activities in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Gen. Soleimani's brother, Sohrab Soleimani, who has been accused of committing human-rights violations as head of the Tehran Prisons Organization. (WSJ)

04-13-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country's Western-backed government.

Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country's Western-backed government. The moves come as tensions have flared between the United States, Iran and Russia over the conflict in Syria, and officials worry that the fallout could hurt Afghanistan's chances for peace. For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal. Now, as the Taliban gains ground and the White House appears to lack a clear Afghan policy, Iran and Russia have boosted support for insurgents and sidelined the United States from regional diplomacy on the war. Russia on Friday will host high-level talks on Afghanistan with Iranian, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats, the Kremlin said. But the United States, irked by Moscow's recent outreach to the Taliban, has not confirmed whether it will attend. (Washington Post)

04-12-2017
Human Rights

Iranian social media activists arrested ahead of next month's presidential elections are being held on security and obscenity charges.

Iranian social media activists arrested ahead of next month's presidential elections are being held on security and obscenity charges, the judiciary said Wednesday. "Some of these people have been arrested on national security charges and some... for committing crimes against public decency and publishing obscene content," deputy judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie told the Mizan Online news agency. Twelve people who run reformist and pro-government discussion forums on the popular messaging app Telegram were arrested last month. Authorities released no information at the time of their arrests and the detainees have not appeared in open court. Local media said the Telegram channels were shut down after the arrests. At least one was restored within a few days, but has not posted anything since March 17. (AFP)

04-11-2017
Human Rights

The European Union extends until April 2018 sanctions against Iran for "serious human rights violations."

The European Union on Tuesday extended until April 2018 sanctions against Iran for "serious human rights violations", a narrower measure than restrictions the bloc had already lifted after an international accord on Tehran's nuclear programme. The EU has pursued rapprochement with Iran since the 2015 nuclear deal, which reversed a decade of hard-hitting Western financial and trade sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Top EU officials have been shuttling in and out of Tehran since, often accompanied by large European business delegations. But the bloc has also extended by a year its travel ban and an asset freeze on 82 Iranian people and one entity, as well as a ban on exports to Iran of equipment for monitoring telecommunications and other gear that "might be used for internal repression." (Reuters)

04-10-2017
Syria Conflict

In a statement released by Russia and Iran, "The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines..."

A statement released by "the joint command operation center of Syrian allies," a group that includes Russia and Iran, warned the U.S. against further military actions in the war-torn country, following a missile strike on a Syrian air base last week. Referring to its defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the group warned that they would support Syria and its people "with all means that we have." "The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines," the statement read. "America knows very well our ability and capabilities to respond well to them, [and] we will respond without taking into consideration any reaction and consequences." The statement did not include critical details like what kind of military operation would cross such a red line, or what kind of response would be made on the part of Syria and its allies, but noted that they would work to "liberate" Syria from occupation. (ABC News)

04-07-2017
Human Rights

On April 7, 2017, hundreds of runners took part in Tehran's first-ever marathon, but many women were outraged to find they could only run a short distance in a closed-off stadium.

Hundreds of runners took part in Tehran's first-ever marathon on Friday, but many women were outraged to find they could only run a short distance in a closed-off stadium.While men ran through Iran's capital in the morning, women were allowed to run just 10 kilometers (six miles) in Azadi stadium in the afternoon - with no male spectators or officials permitted. Many were baffled by the move, since there are no rules against men and women running together in Iran - and joggers of both sexes are often seen in parks and public areas. "I registered but I quit. I took back my 500,000 rials ($15) because we were deceived," Nasim, an architect in her 30s, told AFP. (AFP)

04-06-2017
Politics

The announcement that a prominent conservative cleric will run for Iran's presidency next month has transformed the race, potentially unifying opponents to President Hassan Rouhani in a strong challenge to his re-election.

The announcement that a prominent conservative cleric will run for Iran's presidency next month has transformed the race, potentially unifying opponents to President Hassan Rouhani in a strong challenge to his re-election. Ebrahim Raisi declared his candidacy on Thursday, according to Tasnim news agency, a day after two other conservatives, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, bowed out. The emergence of a single strong opponent could not only narrow Rouhani's chance of winning on May 19, but also position Raisi as the front-runner to succeed 77-year-old Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader, when he dies. "This is going to be a very serious race with huge consequences for the Iranian electorate," Sanam Vakil, an associate fellow at Chatham House, said by phone. "The stakes are very high." (Bloomberg)

03-31-2017
Terrorism

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis says Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity.

Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in London on Friday. Asked about comments Mattis made in 2012 that the three primary threats the United States faced were "Iran, Iran, Iran," Mattis told reporters that Iran's behavior had not changed in the years since. "At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today," Mattis said. (Reuters)

03-30-2017
Syria Conflict

Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh condemn what they termed Iran's support for "terrorist gangs" in Bahrain and urge Tehran to stop fueling "sectarian conflicts".

Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh on Thursday condemned what they termed Iran's support for "terrorist gangs" in Bahrain and urged Tehran to stop fueling "sectarian conflicts". In a statement issued at the end of a meeting in Riyadh, the ministers of the Arab states of the Gulf expressed "condemnation of the provocative and irresponsible statements, and acts of aggression by the Iranian regime towards the kingdom of Bahrain". They also deplored Tehran's "support to terrorist gangs" and accused it of "fueling sectarian strife to harm national unity in the kingdom". The ministerial council urged Iran to "abandon politics that lead to nourishing sectarian and confessional conflicts, and to stop forming and supporting groups and militias that fuel these conflicts in Arab states." (AFP)

03-29-2017
Syria Conflict

Yemen's embattled president has launched a scathing verbal attack on Iran, saying the non-Arab and mostly Shiite nation is pursuing expansionist policies to destroy the Arab identity.

Yemen's embattled president has launched a scathing verbal attack on Iran, saying the non-Arab and mostly Shiite nation is pursuing expansionist policies to destroy the Arab identity. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told an Arab summit in Jordan on Wednesday that Iran "is the true sponsor of terrorism." Civil war has raged in Yemen for two years. The fighting pits Hadi's troops, backed by a Saudi-led international military coalition of mostly Arab states, against Shiite Houthi rebels, led by Abdul-Malek al-Houthi and backed by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his forces. Iran supports fellow Shiite Houthis. (Associated Press)

03-29-2017
Syria Conflict

The nation's top military official in the Middle East says Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region.

The nation's top military official in the Middle East on Wednesday said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region. "I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone," Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony Wednesday. "And it's an area between normal competition between states - and it's just short of open conflict." The general said Iran is exploiting this area in a variety of different ways, through things such as "lethal aid facilitation," the use of "surrogate forces" and cyber activities, among other things. He also believes Iran poses "the greatest long-term threat to stability" in the entire region. (CNBC)

03-28-2017
Terrorism

A German court has sentenced a 31-year-old Pakistani, Haider Syed Mustafa, to four years and three months in prison for spying for Iran by seeking out possible Jewish and Israeli-related targets for attacks in Germany and France.

A German court has sentenced a 31-year-old Pakistani to four years and three months in prison for spying for Iran by seeking out possible Jewish and Israeli-related targets for attacks in Germany and France. The German news agency dpa reported Tuesday that Haider Syed Mustafa was convicted by a Berlin court for collecting extensive material on the former head of the German-Israeli Association and on a French-Israeli professor from an economic university in Paris, for the elite Quds Force unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. No attacks were carried out. Mustafa, who came to Germany in 2012 to study for an engineering degree at the University of Bremen, received more than 2,000 euros (2,170 dollars) for his spying activities which included shooting hundreds of photos and creating presentations on the potential targets. He refused to testify during the trial. (Associated Press)

03-27-2017
Human Rights

Three prisoners by the names of Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari have reportedly been sentenced to death by Iranian courts based solely on opinions or beliefs they expressed.

Three prisoners by the names of Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari have reportedly been sentenced to death by Iranian courts based solely on opinions or beliefs they expressed. "Verdicts like the ones issued to Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari are reminiscent of the ones issued in the medieval times. The international community must speak out about their death sentences. We call for global condemnation," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights. According to close sources, Sina Dehghan, a resident of Tehran, was arrested on October 21, 2015 by Ministry of Intelligence agents from the city of Arak. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Dehghan was reportedly just finishing up his mandatory military service at a base in Tehran operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Close sources say that prior to his arrest, Sina Dehghan along with Mohammad Nouri, Sahar Elyasi, and an individual under the age of 18 used the messenger app "Line" to share content that the judicial and security authorities in Iran consider offensive to Islam. (Iran Human Rights)

03-26-2017
Terrorism

Bahrain says it has broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials.

Bahrain said on Sunday it had broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials, state news agency BNA reported. The agency quoted an Interior Ministry statement as saying that the 14-member cell was working under direct supervision from two exiled Bahrainis living in Iran, one of them recently designated by the United States as a "global terrorist". Tensions have been rising in the kingdom since last year after authorities stepped up a crackdown on dissent, banning the main opposition group al-Wefaq, arresting a leading activist and critic of the government and revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the country's majority Shi'ites. (Reuters)

03-26-2017
Anti-Americanism

Iran has imposed sanctions on 15 U.S. companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel.

Iran has imposed sanctions on 15 U.S. companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel, the state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, in a tit-for-tat reaction to a move by Washington. The agency quoted Iran's foreign ministry as saying the companies had "flagrantly violated human rights" and cooperated with Israel in its "terrorism" against the Palestinians and the expansion of Jewish settlements. It was not immediately clear if any of the companies, which included defense technology firm Raytheon, had any dealings with Iran or whether they would be affected in any way by Tehran's action, which IRNA said would include seizure of their assets and a ban on contacts with them. The sanctioned companies also included ITT Corporation, United Technologies and specialty vehicles maker Oshkosh Corp. (Reuters)

03-22-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen's rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi'ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East.

Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen's rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi'ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say. Iran's enemy Saudi Arabia is leading a Sunni Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian peninsula - part of the same regional power struggle that is fuelling the war in Syria. Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, said that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the two-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria. (Reuters)

03-22-2017
Anti-Americanism

U.S. Navy commanders accuse Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and say future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash.

U.S. Navy commanders accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and said future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash. They spoke after the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted what one of the commanding officers described as two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on Tuesday on a journey from the Indian Ocean into the Gulf. It was the first time a U.S. carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30 percent of global oil exports pass annually, since President Donald Trump took office in January pledging a tougher U.S. stance toward Iran. (Reuters)

03-20-2017
Nuclear Program

Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif warns that if the United States continues reneging on its commitments under the nuclear deal the Islamic Republic will resume its nuclear activities with "even greater" speed.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned late on Monday that if the United States continues reneging on its commitments under the nuclear deal to the extent that Iran sees the keeping of the deal not in conformity with its national interests the Islamic Republic will resume its nuclear activities with "even greater" speed. The July 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, went into effect in January 2016. According to the JCPOA, Iran put limits on its nuclear activities in return for a termination of all nuclear related sanctions. To back up his statement, Zarif told reporters in Isfahan that Iranian experts have succeeded to develop the country's "most advanced" centrifuges which are capable of refining uranium 20 times more than the old generations, ISNA reported. (Tehran Times, "Zarif: Iran Will Resume Nuclear Work With 'Greater Soeed' if U.S. Violates Deal," 3/20/2017).

03-19-2017
Extremism

In honor of Iranian mother's day, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter to assert that the West considers women to be "goods and means of pleasure" and that this is the product of the "Zionists' plot."

In honor of Iranian mother's day, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter Sunday to share his views on gender issues, asserting that the West considers women to be "goods and means of pleasure" and that this is the product of the "Zionists' plot." The seven-tweet ramble came on the birth anniversary of Fatimah Zahra, the daughter of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, which is also designated as mother's day in the country. Accordingly, Khamenei began his message by identifying Fatimah's positive traits that make her the "perfect role model for Muslim women." These included "grandeur & stature beyond human's understanding and imagination." (Times of Isreal)

03-18-2017
Human Rights

Iranian MPs have criticized the arrests of journalists and social media organizers, with one directly accusing the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian MPs have criticized the arrests of journalists and social media organizers ahead of the presidential election in May, with one directly accusing the elite Revolutionary Guards in a letter published Saturday. The arrests in recent days are alleged to have targeted unnamed people who run channels on the popular messaging site Telegram supporting reformists and the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani. Two prominent journalists - Ehsan Mazandarani and Morad Saghafi - have also been detained. Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist MP, wrote an open letter to Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari, calling on the organization to stay out of politics. (AFP)

 

03-17-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran has challenged the need for it to ship sensitive material abroad if its stock exceeds a limit set by its nuclear deal with major powers.

Iran has challenged the need for it to ship sensitive material abroad if its stock exceeds a limit set by its nuclear deal with major powers. The challenge raises the prospect of a confrontation with the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump because diplomats say Iran is only months away from reaching that cap. The 2015 deal restricts Iran's atomic activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against Tehran. One restriction is on its stock of heavy water, a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium, like an unfinished one at Arak that had its core removed under the accord. Iran has already exceeded the 130-tonne limit on its heavy water stock twice. The latest standoff with Washington over the issue was only defused in December when Iran shipped the excess amount to Oman, where the heavy water is being stored until a buyer can be found. In a letter to the U.N. nuclear watchdog circulated to member states on Thursday and posted on the agency's website, however, Iran argued that the deal does not require it to ship excess heavy water out of the country. (Reuters)

03-17-2017
Human Rights

Iran's hardline judiciary has sentenced the daughter of late Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to jail for "anti-state propaganda, spreading lies against the judiciary and the Revolutionary Guards Corps."

Iran's hardline judiciary has sentenced the daughter of late Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to jail for "anti-state propaganda, spreading lies against the judiciary and the Revolutionary Guards Corps", the opposition website Kalemeh reported on Friday. The Islamic Republic has piled pressure on the pro-reform opposition ahead of a presidential election on May 19, when hardline rivals of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani hope to regain control of executive power. "Again Faezeh Hashemi has been sentenced to six months' jail because of her critical remarks about Judiciary and the Guards," Kalemeh reported. Judicial officials were not immediately available to comment. The 55-year-old Hashemi, a women's rights activist and a former member of parliament, has 21 days to appeal the sentence. She was also jailed for six months in 2012 for "spreading anti-state propaganda". (Reuters)

03-15-2017
Human Rights

Security agents arrest Morad Saghafi, the reformist editor-in-chief of Goftegoo (Conversation) magazine.

Amid a widening crackdown on journalists and activists in Iran ahead of the country's May 2017 presidential election, security agents arrested Morad Saghafi, the reformist editor-in-chief of Goftegoo (Conversation) magazine, on March 15, 2017. His lawyer, Hamed Zargar, said on March 16 that Saghafi had a phone conversation with a family member the day after he was arrested, and has little chance of being released on bail before the start of the Iranian New Year on March 21. Saghafi owns the Shirazeh (Essence) publishing house and is the executive director of Yek Shahr (One City), a non-governmental organization that aims to "elevate the people's ability to enjoy their rights as citizens and improve their lives." (Center for Human Rights in Iran)

03-13-2017
Human Rights

The son of a detained Iranian opposition leader has been sentenced to six months in jail.

The son of a detained Iranian opposition leader has been sentenced to six months in jail, his brother said on Monday, after releasing an open letter from his father demanding to be put on trial after years of his house arrest. Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament, has been under house arrest since 2011 with his fellow presidential contender Mir Hussein Mousavi after denouncing the results of 2009 election as rigged, and calling for street protests. His son, Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, was accused of publishing propaganda against the state over the letter to President Hassan Rouhani in which Karroubi said: "I want you to ask the despotic regime to grant me a public trial." (Reuters)
 

03-13-2017
Human Rights

According to a UN monitor studying human rights in Iran, "Reformists in Iran are under pressure, detainees face torture and abuse, and people are being executed at an 'alarming' rate."

Reformists in Iran are under pressure, detainees face torture and abuse, and people are being executed at an "alarming" rate, a UN monitor studying human rights in the tightly controlled country says. The bleak picture presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 13 comes ahead of a May 19 presidential election in Iran. "All reports indicate a high level of control over citizens and that democratic space is severely limited," Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur for Iran, told the council in Geneva. Jahangir did not refer directly to the election, but she noted that three opposition figures who publicly challenged the official results of Iran's 2009 presidential election -- former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi; his wife, university professor Zahra Rahnavard; and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi -- have been kept under house arrest for nearly six years without being formally charged. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

03-13-2017
Terrorism

Iran has established rocket factories in Lebanon that are under the full control of the Hezbollah terror group.

Iran has established rocket factories in Lebanon that are under the full control of the Hezbollah terror group, a top Iranian general told a Kuwaiti newspaper. Citing one of the deputy heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the al-Jarida newspaper reported Monday that Iran in recent months has established factories for manufacturing both rockets and firearms in Lebanon. The newspaper did not say which of IRGC chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari's deputies made the assertion. The report came just days after Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, a former brigadier general in the IRGC, said Hezbollah is now capable of producing rockets that can hit any part of Israel. Dehghan offered no details of the new capabilities. (Times of Israel)

03-12-2017
Human Rights

Iranian, Afarin Nayassar, and a US-Iranian dual national, Karan Vafadari, were sentenced to death in Iran on charges of founding a "cult" and promoting moral corruption.

An Iranian and a US-Iranian dual national were sentenced to death in Iran on Sunday on charges of founding a "cult" and promoting moral corruption. The defendants, who have not been named, are believed to be a couple involved in the art industry who were arrested in July last year. They ran a leading art gallery in Tehran, the Iranian capital, and were known to associate with foreign diplomats. Iran has arrested several Iranians holding dual nationality in recent months in a move analysts suggest is intended to intimidate those associated with foreign businesses or who have social connections with foreigners. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran prosecutor-general, said on Sunday that the man and woman had been sentenced because they established "a new cult" and made "alcoholic beverages, encouraged vice through throwing mixed parties and exhibiting and selling obscene images at gallery." (Financial Times)

03-07-2017
Syria Conflict

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria.

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the head of Iran's veterans' affairs office said on Tuesday. "Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums," Mohammad Ali Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency. Shahidi, who is head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, was speaking at a conference on martyrdom culture in Tehran. The figure was more than double the number he gave in November, which referred only to Syria. Iran is, with Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and also organises militias fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq. Shahidi did not provide details on the nationalities of those killed. Iran oversees "volunteer" fighters recruited from among its own nationals as well as Shiite communities in neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan. The families of those killed in battle are given Iranian citizenship under a law passed last May. (AFP)

03-06-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles. One of the tests was successful, destroying a floating barge approximately 155 miles away.

Continuing a pattern of provocative actions, Iran this weekend test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles and sent fast-attack vessels close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. officials confirmed to Fox News. One of Iran's ballistic missile tests were successful, destroying a floating barge approximately 155 miles away, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch told Fox News. The launches of the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missiles were the first tests of the missile in two years, one official said. It was not immediately clear if this was the first successful test at sea -- raising concerns for the U.S. Navy, which operates warships in the area, one of which had an "unsafe and unprofessional" interaction with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. boats on Saturday. The IRGC boats approached to within 600 yard of the tracking ship USNS Invincible and then stopped, officials confirmed to Fox News. The Invincible was accompanied by three ships from the British Royal Navy and all four ships were forced to change course, Reuters reported. The Iranian provocations were partially obscured by a worldwide focus on North Korea's own ballistic missile tests. (Fox News)

03-06-2017
Anti-Americanism

Multiple fast-attack vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, forcing it to change direction.

Multiple fast-attack vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a U.S. official told Reuters on Monday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the boats came within 600 yards (meters) of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. The Invincible and three ships from the British Royal Navy accompanying it had to change course. The official said attempts were made to communicate over radio, but there was no response and the interaction was "unsafe and unprofessional." The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could not immediately be reached for a comment. Years of mutual animosity eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran last year after a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. But serious differences remain over Iran's ballistic missile program and conflicts in Syria and Iraq. While still a presidential candidate in September, Donald Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harassed the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water." (Reuters)

 

03-03-2017
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy surveillance ship has a close encounter with an Iranian navy frigate in the Middle East.

A U.S. Navy surveillance ship had a close encounter with an Iranian navy frigate in the Middle East, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. The frigate came within 150 yards of the USNS Invincible on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, just south of the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The gulf separates Oman from southeastern Iran. The encounter was deemed “unprofessional” but not unsafe because the frigate was on a parallel course with the Invincible at the point of closest approach. The Invincible is outfitted with sonar to track submarines and radar to monitor missile tests. (CBS News)

02-22-2017
Anti-Americanism

The United States should expect a "strong slap in the face" if it underestimates Iran's defensive capabilities, a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said as Tehran concluded war games.

The United States should expect a "strong slap in the face" if it underestimates Iran's defensive capabilities, a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, as Tehran concluded war games. Since taking office last month, U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table. "The enemy should not be mistaken in its assessments, and it will receive a strong slap in the face if it does make such a mistake," said General Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Guards’ ground forces, quoted by the Guards' website Sepahnews. On Wednesday, the Revolutionary Guards concluded three days of exercises with rockets, artillery, tanks and helicopters, weeks after Trump warned that he had put Tehran "on notice" over the missile launch. "The message of these exercises ... for world arrogance is not to do anything stupid," said Pakpour, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim. "Everyone could see today what power we have on the ground." The Guards said they test-fired "advanced rockets" and used drones in the three-day exercises which were held in central and eastern Iran. (Reuters)

02-21-2017
Extremism

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls for the "complete liberation" of Palestine from the "tumour" of Israel, renewing his regime's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Tuesday for the "complete liberation" of Palestine from the "tumour" of Israel, renewing his regime's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist. Khamenei was speaking at the sixth international conference in support of Palestinian intifada (uprising), one of a number of showcase events the Tehran authorities organise in solidarity with the Palestinians. "This cancerous tumour, since its start, has grown incrementally and its treatment must be incremental too," Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state television. "Multiple intifadas and continuous resistance have succeeded in achieving very important incremental goals. "It continues to advance towards its other objectives, ultimately the complete liberation of Palestine," he added… Moderate President Hassan Rouhani, and the conservative brothers who head parliament and the judiciary -- Ali Larijani and Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani -- flanked the supreme leader as he spoke. (AFP)

02-20-2017
Military

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises... the launch of the "smart and advanced" rockets came during an annual three-day maneuver which began in Iran's central desert...

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises, Iranian media reported on Monday... the launch of the "smart and advanced" rockets came during an annual three-day maneuver which began on Monday in Iran's central desert... Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Revolutionary Guards' ground forces told the channel that rockets with ranges of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) as well as the Fajr-3, Fajr-4 and Fajr-5 rockets, all believed to have under 100-kilometer range, were all successfully tested in the exercise. (AP)

02-15-2017
Anti-Americanism

A full-length animated film depicting an armed confrontation between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. navy is soon to open in Iranian cinemas, amid rising tensions over President Donald Trump's hardening rhetoric against Tehran.

A full-length animated film depicting an armed confrontation between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. navy is soon to open in Iranian cinemas, amid rising tensions over President Donald Trump's hardening rhetoric against Tehran... The 88-minute animation opens with the U.S. army attacking an Iranian nuclear reactor, and the U.S. navy in the Gulf hitting strategic locations across the county. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a powerful branch of the Iranian military, retaliates with full force, raining ballistic missiles on the U.S. warships. "They all sink and the film ends as the American ships have turned into an aquarium for fishes at the bottom of the sea," Azima said... The main Iranian commander in the film has been intentionally depicted as Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC commander who is overseeing Iran's military operations in Syria and Iraq against Islamist militants. (Reuters)

02-15-2017
Politics

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejects calls for “national reconciliation,” effectively guaranteeing that opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, leaders of the “Green Movement” protests will remain under house arrest.

Three months before presidential elections in Iran, it appears incumbent Hassan Rouhani will not fulfill a key pledge he made before winning office: to free opposition leaders held under house arrest since a 2009 crackdown. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has rejected calls for “national reconciliation,” effectively guaranteeing that opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — leaders of the “Green Movement” protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election — will remain under house arrest. It was the latest setback to reformists who back the moderate Rouhani, who signed the historic nuclear agreement that improved Iran’s relations with the West, but is facing criticism from conservatives as the economy has failed to improve even as many international sanctions were lifted. (Los Angeles Times)

02-10-2017
Anti-Americanism

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied to swear allegiance to the clerical establishment following U.S. President Donald Trump's warning that he had put the Islamic Republic "on notice."

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Friday to swear allegiance to the clerical establishment following U.S. President Donald Trump's warning that he had put the Islamic Republic "on notice", state TV reported... They carried "Death to America" banners and effigies of Trump, while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs. State TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump's picture in a central Tehran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: "Thanks Mr. Trump for showing the real face of America." ... "Some inexperienced figures in the region and America are threatening Iran ... They should know that the language of threats has never worked with Iran," Rouhani told the crowd at Azadi Square. "Our nation is vigilant and will make those threatening Iran regret it ... They should learn to respect Iran and Iranians ... We will strongly confront any war-mongering policies." The rallies were rife with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli sentiment. Some carried pictures of Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May captioned "Death to the Devil Triangle". (Reuters)

02-09-2017
Military

Iran launched another missile from the same launch pad east of Tehran where it conducted a previous ballistic missile test last month.

Iran launched another missile Wednesday from the same launch pad east of Tehran where it conducted a previous ballistic missile test last month, an official told Fox News. The Semnan launch pad was the same as the one where Fox News reported exclusively on Tuesday, satellite photos showed Iran had placed a Safir rocket poised to put a satellite into space before it was taken off the launcher. The reason Iran scrubbed the previous launch is not yet known. The missile used in Wednesday's launch was a short-range Mersad surface-to-air missile, which impacted 35 miles away, according to a U.S. official. This latest test comes less than a week after the U.S. placed new sanctions on Iran. There's been a flurry of activity at the Semnan launch pad, located about 140 miles east of Tehran, in recent weeks, officials have told Fox News. (Fox News)

02-07-2017
Anti-Americanism

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed Donald Trump's warning to Iran to stop its missile tests, saying the new U.S. president had shown the "real face" of American corruption.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed Donald Trump's warning to Iran to stop its missile tests, saying the new U.S. president had shown the "real face" of American corruption. In his first speech since Trump's inauguration, Iran's supreme leader called on Iranians to respond to Trump's "threats" on Feb. 10, the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Trump had tried but failed to frighten Iranians, Khamenei said. "We are thankful to (Trump) for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America," Khamenei told a meeting of military commanders in Tehran, according to his website... In remarks published on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would not agree to renegotiate its nuclear agreement. "I believe Trump will push for renegotiation. But Iran and European countries will not accept that," Mohammad Javad Zarif told Ettelaat newspaper. "We will have difficult days ahead." ... "No enemy can paralyze the Iranian nation," Khamenei said. "(Trump) says 'you should be afraid of me'. No! The Iranian people will respond to his words on Feb. 10 and will show their stance against such threats." (Reuters)

02-05-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran's nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement.

Iran's nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement with world powers after a shipment expected later this week. Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday as saying that Iran will receive a final batch of 149 tons of natural uranium by Tuesday, in addition to 210 tons already delivered since early 2016. (AP)

02-05-2017
Anti-Americanism

A senior member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former IRGC official warns that the slightest aggression by Washington against Iran will be responded by razing to the ground the US military base in Bahrain.

A senior member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps official warned that the slightest aggression by Washington against Iran will be responded by razing to the ground the US military base in Bahrain. "The US army's fifth fleet has occupied a part of Bahrain, and the enemy's farthest military base is in the Indian Ocean but these points are all within the range of Iran's missile systems and they will be razed to the ground if the enemy makes a mistake," Mojtaba Zonour, a former advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader's Representative at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said on Saturday evening. (Fars News Agency)

02-04-2017
Military

Iran held military exercises involving missile and radar systems, just a day after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Tehran for a recent ballistic missile test.

Iran held military exercises involving missile and radar systems Saturday, just a day after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Tehran for a recent ballistic missile test. The morning drills were an illustration of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ rejection of sanctions and preparedness to deal with threats, according to the guards’ official website. “We will do our best to defend the Iranian nation’s security day in and day out, and if the enemy makes any mistake our roaring missiles will land on their heads,” Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, the IRGC aerospace forces’ commander, was quoted as saying. The aerospace unit of the IRGC, an elite military force charged with protecting the country’s Islamic system, carried out the drills in Semnan province, east of Tehran. (Wall Street Journal)

02-04-2017
Human Rights

A scientist who worked for a Belgian university has been sentenced to death in Iran on suspicion of espionage.

A scientist who worked for a Belgian university has been sentenced to death in Iran on suspicion of espionage. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian national and professor of disaster medicine at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), was arrested in April 2016 while visiting family in the country.   He is due to be executed in two weeks, according to VUB. Dr Djalali’s family and colleagues kept news of the arrest quiet in an attempt to avoid worsening the situation but have spoken out following the issuance of the death penalty. The university’s rector, Caroline Pauwels, said: “A scientist performing important humanitarian work, gets sentenced without public trial and is looking at the death penalty. This is an outrageous violation of universal human rights, against which we should react decisively.” ... In custody, Dr Djalali conducted three hunger strikes, according to the petition, which have cost him his health and 20kg in bodyweight. He was forced to sign a confession to an unknown offence, the petition said. (The Independent)

02-04-2017
Extremism

A senior Iranian government official warns Tehran will swiftly retaliate against Israel if the US launched a military strike against Iran.

A senior Iranian government official on Saturday warned Tehran would swiftly retaliate against Israel if the US launched a military strike against Iran. Mojtaba Zonour, a member of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and a former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps official, boasted an Iranian missile could hit Tel Aviv in under seven minutes, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. Zonour said Tehran would strike the Israeli coastal city and “raze to the ground” a US military base in Bahrain “if the enemy makes a mistake.” “And only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv,” he added. (Times of Israel)

02-03-2017
Human Rights

Iranian authorities hanged 87 people in the month of January 2017, including two juvenile prisoners and six prisoners who were executed in public.

According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, the Iranian authorities hanged 87 people in the month of January 2017, including two juvenile prisoners and six prisoners who were executed in public. Out of the 87 executions, only 19 of them were announced by official Iranian sources. Most of the executions which were carried out in Iran in January 2017 were for drug related charges. According to research conducted by Iran Human Rights, executions tend to significantly increase in the months leading to an election in Iran but significantly decrease or stop a couple weeks before the election. Iran Human Rights is deeply concerned that a new wave of executions have started in Iran and worries that the number of executions will increase following the "Fajr Decade" celebrations. (IHR)

02-03-2017
Human Rights

Iran's supreme court has ruled that a woman must be blinded in one eye as punishment for an acid attack that left her victim sightless, using the principle of "eye for an eye" of Islamic Sharia law.

Iran's supreme court has ruled that a woman must be blinded in one eye as punishment for an acid attack that left her victim sightless, using the principle of "eye for an eye" of Islamic Sharia law, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Thursday. Under Iran's Sharia law, imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution, qesas (retribution) is permitted in cases where bodily injuries are inflicted. The convicted attacker, who was not identified, was found guilty of throwing acid in the face of her victim, identified as Sima, two years ago in the city of Dehdasht, Tasnim reported. "The sentence to blindness in one eye, payment of blood money (compensation), and seven years imprisonment have been confirmed by the highest court," Tasnim quoted head of judiciary Majid Karami in the province of Kohgiluyeh as saying. (Reuters)

02-02-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran has tested a cruise missile called "Sumar" that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons in addition to test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile.

Iran has tested a cruise missile called "Sumar" that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons in addition to test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, German newspaper Die Welt reported Thursday, citing unspecified intelligence sources... The newspaper said the Sumar cruise missile was built in Iran and traveled around 600 km in its first known successful test. The missile is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons and may have a range of 2,000 to 3,000 km, the paper said, citing intelligence sources. Cruise missiles are harder to counter than ballistic missiles since they fly at lower altitudes and can evade enemy radar, confounding missile defense missiles and hitting targets deep inside an opponent's territory. But the biggest advantage from Iran's point of view, a security expert told Die Welt, was that cruise missiles are not mentioned in any United Nations resolutions that ban work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. (Reuters)

01-29-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test under Donald Trump's presidency, in yet another apparent violation of a United Nations resolution.

Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test under Donald Trump's presidency, in yet another apparent violation of a United Nations resolution, U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday. The launch occurred Sunday at a well-known test site outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran, Fox News was first to learn. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, officials said. Iran defense minister Brigadier Gen. Hossein Dehqan said in September that Iran would start production of the missile. U.N. resolution 2231 -- put in place days after the Iran nuclear deal was signed -- calls on the Islamic Republic not to conduct such tests... The U.S. intelligence community was able to identify Sunday's launch due to its robust satellite network. The overhead system can detect the heat signature of missile launches and explosions from bombs being dropped around the world... "Iran's missile tests are an unacceptable act of aggression-something we have seen occur time and again for the last 18 months," Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, CEO of the non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran, responded. (Fox News)

01-28-2017
Human Rights

Two juvenile offenders were executed in Kerman (southeastern Iran) and Tabriz (northwestern Iran) prisons. This is in addition to the more than 70 people who have been executed since the beginning of 2017.

Two juvenile offenders were executed in Kerman (southeastern Iran) and Tabriz (northwestern Iran) prisons. This is in addition to the more than 70 people who have been executed since the beginning of 2017. Iran Human Rights calls for international reactions to the wave of executions and in particular juvenile executions in Iran... The Iranian authorities lead the world in the most executions of minors, despite the revisions made to the Islamic Penal Code and that child executions violate Iran's international obligations. (IHR)

01-23-2017
Terrorism

Iran continues to provide the Taliban with missiles to hit Afghan forces, the governor of Helmand province told Afghanistan’s daily newspaper Hayat Allah Hayat.

Iran continues to provide the Taliban with missiles to hit Afghan forces, the governor of Helmand province told Afghanistan’s daily newspaper Hayat Allah Hayat. He stated that ten rockets were fired by the Taliban at government headquarters in Helmand province, which borders Pakistan, and that the inscription on the missiles showed that they were made in Iran. Afghan officials added that Iranian-made missiles launched by the Taliban were found in clashes that took place in the cities of Krmesar and Sunken. The governor believes that the reason behind Tehran’s support of the Taliban is due to the dispute between Iran and Afghanistan regarding the Helman River, which flows into lake Hamon in Baluchestan province in eastern Iran. Tehran believes Afghanistan changed the path of the river causing the lake to dry out. (Al Arabiya)

01-22-2017
Human Rights

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a five-year jail sentence for British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on security charges.

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a five-year jail sentence for British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on security charges, Iran's judiciary spokesman said on Sunday. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family said in September that a Revolutionary Court had handed down the sentence on undisclosed charges. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said the term had been upheld. "The five-year prison verdict against the security defendant Nazanin Zaghari has been finalised," the judiciary's website Mizan quoted Ejei as telling a weekly news conference. Ejei also said Farhad Abd-Saleh was handed a five-year sentence on appeal on security charges, without elaborating. Iranian authorities have given few details about Abd-Saleh, who was named in October along with five others, some of them Iranian dual nationals, who had been sentenced to 10 years in jail for "espionage and collaborating with the American government". (Reuters)

01-19-2017
Politics

"Of nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since the deal was reached in July 2015, 90 have been with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities..."

When world powers agreed in 2015 to lift sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, the deal's supporters in the United States, Europe and Tehran hoped renewed trade and investment could boost Iran's private sector and weaken the state's hold on the economy. But a Reuters review of business accords reached since then shows that the Iranian winners so far are mostly companies owned or controlled by the state, including Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Of nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since the deal was reached in July 2015, 90 have been with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities, the Reuters analysis shows... In Iran, Khamenei and other anti-Western hardliners have repeatedly criticized it because they are concerned it would open the door to Western involvement in Iran's economy... No matter what hardliners have said about the nuclear pact, though, the Reuters analysis shows that businesses which answer ultimately to the Supreme Leader stand to gain from it... The state dominates Iran's economy, so state-controlled firms were always likely to win most business after sanctions were lifted. Iranian officials estimate that the private sector makes up only 20 percent of Iran's economy. In Iran, "you make money if you're close to the centers of power," said Ali Ansari, an Iran scholar at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "The economy hasn't been restructured or reorganized. You're recycling wealth through the elite." ... Counter to the hopes of supporters of the nuclear accord, the initial wave of investment looks likely to further strengthen the power of the state, including Khamenei, whose power far surpasses Rouhani's. (Reuters)

01-18-2017
Human Rights

Iran’s persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice...

Iran’s persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice, said Amnesty International. Hundreds are routinely flogged in Iran each year, sometimes in public. In the most recent flogging case recorded by Amnesty International, a journalist was lashed 40 times in Najaf Abad, Esfahan Province, on 5 January after a court found him guilty of inaccurately reporting the number of motorcycles confiscated by police in the city. “The authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including flogging, amputation and blinding, throughout 2016 highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality. These cruel and inhuman punishments are a shocking assault on human dignity and violate the absolute international prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment,” said Randa Habib, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The latest flogging of a journalist raises alarms that the authorities intend to continue the spree of cruel punishments we have witnessed over the past year into 2017.” (Amnesty International)

01-12-2017
Human Rights

Iranian-born Swedish resident and expert in emergency disaster medicine Ahmadreza Jalali has been held in Evin Prison for almost nine months.

In yet another case of a foreign resident or dual national from a western country grabbed and imprisoned in Iran without access to a lawyer or any other aspect of due process, Iranian-born Swedish resident and expert in emergency disaster medicine Ahmadreza Jalali has been held in Evin Prison for almost nine months. He is now approaching three weeks on hunger strike in protest against his detainment. Jalali was arrested by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence on April 24, 2016 while visiting the Iranian capital, after being officially invited by Tehran University... “Ahmadreza had always traveled to Iran by invitation of state organizations, including the Red Crescent, and never experienced any problems before,” his wife Vida Mehran-nia told the Campaign, adding that her husband has been charged with “collaborating with enemy states.” ... Mehran-nia told the Campaign that her husband began his hunger strike on December 25, the day his interrogators told him he would receive the maximum punishment... A non-practicing general medicine physician with a post-doctorate degree in emergency and disaster medicine, Jalali lives in Sweden with his wife and two children. (ICHRI)

01-10-2017
Syria Conflict

Photographs released by the Australian government show that light anti-armor weapons seized from a smuggling vessel near Yemen's coast appear to have been manufactured in Iran.

Photographs recently released by the Australian government show that light anti-armor weapons seized from a smuggling vessel near Yemen's coast appear to have been manufactured in Iran, further suggesting that Tehran has had a hand in a high-seas gunrunning operation to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The weapons, a selection of at least nine rocket-propelled grenade launchers, were among thousands of weapons seized by an Australian warship, the Darwin, in February from an Iranian dhow that was sailing under the name Samer. Iran has been repeatedly accused of providing arms helping to fuel one side of the war in Yemen, in which rebels from the country's north, known as the Houthis, ousted the government from the capital, Sana, in 2014... That finding follows a report late last year by Conflict Armament Research, a private arms consultancy, that said the available evidence pointed to an apparent "weapon pipeline, extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles. (New York Times)

01-10-2017
Terrorism

A US court orders the governments of Iran and Syria to pay nearly $200 million to the family of an Israeli infant killed by a Hamas terrorist in a 2014 vehicular attack in Jerusalem.

A US court this week ordered the governments of Iran and Syria to pay nearly $200 million to the family of an Israeli infant killed by a Hamas terrorist in a 2014 vehicular attack in Jerusalem. The US District Court in Washington, DC ruled Tuesday that Tehran and Damascus were liable to provide compensation for damages amounting to $178,500,000 due to their financial backing of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. The Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin represented the family of dual Israeli-American citizen Chaya Zissel Braun, the three-month-old baby who was killed when Palestinian terrorist Abdel Rahman Shaludi rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people at the Ammunition Hill light-rail station in the capital. Israeli officials identified the perpetrator as a convicted terrorist who had previously served a prison sentence and had ties to Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)

01-10-2017
Politics

At the massive funeral for Ayatollah Rafsanjani, crowds challenged the authorities by chanting opposition slogans.

Iranians bade farewell to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Tuesday, with the sprawling state funeral veering slightly off script when groups of mourners started shouting opposition slogans. The authorities were forced to raise the volume on the loudspeakers playing lamentation songs after some in the crowds took up cries of “Oh, Hussein, Mir Hussein,” a reference to a former presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011. Some of the chants were aimed at Russia, Iran’s ally in the Syrian conflict. Video clips on social media showed mourners shouting “Death to Russia” and “the Russian Embassy is the den of espionage,” as they passed the embassy’s complex in the heart of Tehran. People also called for the release of hunger strikers in Iranian prisons. (The New York Times)

01-09-2017
Human Rights

A U.N. expert focusing on human rights in Iran is warning about the health risk of prisoners who have been conducting prolonged hunger strikes to protest against their detention.

A U.N. expert focusing on human rights in Iran is warning about the health risk of prisoners who have been conducting prolonged hunger strikes to protest against their detention. Special rapporteur Asma Jahangir says at least eight prisoners of conscience have been on life-threatening hunger strikes in recent weeks, and called on Iranian leaders to release all people “arbitrarily detained” for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression. Jahangir said in a statement Monday that the eight “are left with no other option but to put their life at risk to contest the legality of their detention.” (AP)

01-09-2017
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels after they closed in at a high rate of speed near the Strait of Hormuz.

A U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels after they closed in at a high rate of speed near the Strait of Hormuz, two U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Monday. The incident, which occurred Sunday and was first reported by Reuters, comes as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office on Jan. 20. In September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water." The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the USS Mahan established radio communication with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats but they did not respond to requests to slow down and continued asking the Mahan questions. The Navy destroyer fired warning flares and a U.S. Navy helicopter also dropped a smoke float before the warning shots were fired. The Iranian vessels came within 900 yards (800 meters) of the Mahan, which was escorting two other U.S. military ships, they said. (Reuters)

01-08-2017
Politics

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died at the age of 82, a big blow to moderates and reformists deprived now of their most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment.

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday at the age of 82, a big blow to moderates and reformists deprived now of their most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment. He had been described as "a pillar of the Islamic revolution". His pragmatic policies – economic liberalisation, better relations with the West and empowering elected bodies - appealed to many Iranians but were despised by hardliners. Few have wielded such influence in modern Iran but since 2009 Rafsanjani and his family faced political isolation over their support for the opposition movement which lost a disputed election that year to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council. He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that selects the supreme leader, Iran's most powerful figure. His absence from that debate, whenever it happens, means the chances of a pragmatist emerging as the next supreme leader are reduced. His death ahead of May's presidential elections is a blow to moderate president Hassan Rouhani who allied himself with Rafsanjani to win the 2013 election and went on to resolve Iran's long standoff with the West on the nuclear programme. (Reuters)

01-08-2017
Syria Conflict

The United Nations chief expressed concern to the Security Council that Iran may have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, according to a confidential report.

The United Nations chief expressed concern to the Security Council that Iran may have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, according to a confidential report, seen by Reuters on Sunday. The second bi-annual report, due to be discussed by the 15-member council on Jan. 18, also cites an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the northern Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen. Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program. But Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement. The report was submitted to the Security Council on Dec. 30 by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before he was succeeded by Antonio Guterres on Jan. 1. It comes just weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to either scrap the nuclear agreement or seek a better deal, takes office. (Reuters)

01-03-2017
Human Rights

The fate of a hunger-striking activist imprisoned in Iran has sparked a rare unauthorized protest near the prison where he's being held.

The fate of a hunger-striking activist imprisoned in Iran has sparked a rare unauthorized protest near the prison where he's being held. Videos posted online show dozens of people taking part in a protest Monday supporting Arash Sadeghi... Sadeghi is serving a 15-year sentence. Amnesty International says he was convicted of "spreading propaganda against the system" and "insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic." Sadeghi began his hunger strike after his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, was arrested in late October. Amnesty says she is serving a six-year prison sentence over an unpublished fictional story found in her home about a woman burning a Quran in anger over another woman being stoned to death for adultery. (AP)

12-29-2016
Syria Conflict

Allegations over Russia and Iran's deepening ties with the Taliban have ignited concerns of a renewed "Great Game" of proxy warfare in Afghanistan hat could undermine US-backed troops and push the country deeper into turmoil.

Allegations over Russia and Iran's deepening ties with the Taliban have ignited concerns of a renewed "Great Game" of proxy warfare in Afghanistan that could undermine US-backed troops and push the country deeper into turmoil. (AFP)

12-27-2016
Politics

Mehdi Karroubi, a leading member of the Iranian opposition who has been under house arrest for almost six years, announced he is quitting his party, Iranian media reported

Mehdi Karroubi, a leading member of the Iranian opposition who has been under house arrest for almost six years, announced he is quitting his party, Iranian media reported on Tuesday. Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi were reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential election, and questioned the shock victory of conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which led to mass protests. Two years later, both leaders ended up under house arrest for their part in the protests, which regime leaders still call "the sedition". "Considering my situation since (2011) and given that I do not know how long this will last, I ask my friends to accept my resignation," Karroubi, 79, wrote in a letter to his party, according to reformist newspaper Shargh... Karroubi said his resignation was aimed at preserving the unity of his party, National Trust, ahead of the presidential election in May -- despite it being banned since his arrest... President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who allied with the reformists to win power in 2013, has failed to secure the release of Karroubi and Mousavi as he promised during his campaign. (AFP)

12-25-2016
Human Rights

Four fingers of the right hand of two prisoners were amputated in an Iranian prison on the Christmas day, December 25.

Four fingers of the right hand of two prisoners were amputated in an Iranian prison on the Christmas day, December 25... According to close sources the two prisoners who were brothers, were sentenced to prison and amputation of four fingers of the right hand because of a robbery they allegedly committed in 2011. (Iran Human Rights (IHR)).

12-19-2016
Terrorism

"Evidence of Russian and Iranian cooperation with the Taliban has been found," Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, chairman of the Afghan Senate says.

The Afghan Senate on Monday said it will investigate growing military ties between Taliban insurgents and Iran and Russia. "Evidence of Russian and Iranian cooperation with the Taliban has been found," Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, chairman of the Afghan Senate said. He added that reports of foreign links to the Taliban are "worrisome." The probe comes after U.S. General John Nicholson, leader of NATO's Resolute Support Afghan mission, said over the weekend that Taliban connections to Russia and Iran are not advancing the cause of stability in the region... Iran is accused by Afghan officials of harboring Taliban fighters from Afghanistan in cross-border areas. “Families of a number of high ranking Taliban leaders reside in Iran,” Asif Nang, the governor of western Farah province, recently told Radio Liberty. “They live in cities such as Yazd, Kerman, and Mashhad, and come back to Afghanistan for subversive activities.” ... Locals say they often see Taliban crossing borders into Iran... “Iran not only has hosted Taliban families, it has supplied the group with weapons that could target and damage tanks and planes,” lawmaker Jumadin Gayanwal from southeastern Paktika province said. (Voice of America)

12-19-2016
Nuclear Program

Two diplomats say the UN nuclear agency has warned Tehran that unless it slows the process it could soon bust through its cap on material that could be used to make a bomb.

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday that Iran is complying with obligations limiting uranium enrichment, but two diplomats say the agency has warned Tehran that unless it slows the process it could soon bust through its cap on material that could be used to make a bomb. A nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers stipulates that Iran can possess only low-enriched uranium — which is not suitable for weapons — and no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) at any time. That’s far less than would be needed to make a nuclear weapon, even if it were further enriched to weapons-grade levels. But even a slight violation of Iran’s enrichment commitments would be politically volatile at a time when the deal is on shaky ground. The incoming U.S. administration wants the agreement renegotiated, and many American lawmakers oppose it. Iran says it won’t renegotiate the deal, and accuses the United States of reneging on commitments to lift sanctions. (AP)

12-17-2016
Extremism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemns Britain as a "source of evil and misery" for the Middle East after British Prime Minister Theresa May called Iran a regional threat.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned Britain on Saturday as a "source of evil and misery" for the Middle East after British Prime Minister Theresa May called Iran a regional threat. "Shamelessly, the British have recently called ... Iran a threat to the region, but everyone knows that ... it is the British who have always been the source of threats, corruption and misery," the state news agency IRNA quoted Khamenei as telling participants at an Islamic unity conference in Tehran. Khamenei called "policies and the actions of the British in the past two centuries a source of evil and misery for the peoples of the region", IRNA added. May called on Gulf Arab heads of state at a summit last week to work with London "to push back against Iran's aggressive regional actions, whether in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria or in the Gulf itself". (Reuters)

12-16-2016
Human Rights

The appointment of ultra-conservative hardliner Gholam-Hossein Gheibparvar as the new commander of Iran’s Basij, a volunteer militia under the authority of the Revolutionary Guards, has raised fears of increased intimidation and repression.

The appointment of ultra-conservative hardliner Gholam-Hossein Gheibparvar as the new commander of Iran’s Basij, a volunteer militia under the authority of the Revolutionary Guards, has raised fears of increased intimidation and repression of anyone deemed guilty of political dissent. Brigadier General Gheibparvar believes, in contrast to the Constitution, that the Revolutionary Guards holds the authority to interfere in all aspects of life in the Islamic Republic to protect the revolution. His track record of iron-fist policies significantly contributed to his rise in Iran’s military apparatus. His predecessor, Mohammad Reza Naghdi—who was put on the U.S. sanctions list in 2011 for “being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election”—was similarly appointed as Basij commander in 2009 because of his reputation as the ruthless head of Tehran’ police intelligence unit in the 1990s. (International Campaign of Human Rights in Iran)

12-16-2016
Syria Conflict

The leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launch provocative statements against the Gulf states threatening to intervene in Bahrain and Yemen.

The leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched provocative statements against the Gulf states threatening to intervene in Bahrain and Yemen. The comments were reported by Iranian media after what they described as a “victory in Aleppo,” upon the massacres, starvation and displacement against civilians. Aleppo was considered as one of the strongholds of the opposition; however, the Syrian regime took a hold of it with the help and support of Iranian and Russian military troops. In this context, the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami told the official Iranian news agency Islamic Republic News Agency that “The victory in Aleppo will pave the way for liberating Bahrain,” pointing out that Iran has an expansion project that will extend to Bahrain, Yemen and Mosul after the fall of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Salami said that “the people of Bahrain will achieve their wishes, the Yemeni people will be delighted, and the residents of Mosul will taste victory, these are all divine promises,” as he put it. He also pointed out that Iran is still providing unlimited support for the Houthi group, highlighting that Iranian missile could destroy the enemy targets in any area. (Al Arabiya)

12-15-2016
Human Rights

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reports that the country's authorities have detained 120 people in a private party in a coffee shop in Tehran.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency is reporting that the country's authorities have detained 120 people in a private party in a coffee shop in Tehran. The Wednesday report quotes Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, as saying "15 bottles of alcohol were found and 15 people were drunk and the coffee shop was closed." ... Dolatabadi said the 120 people were arrested on Tuesday night for attending a mixed-gender party, and that authorities also arrested two "underground singers." (AP)

12-15-2016
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on all Muslims to unite against the "great conspiracy" of the enemies to destroy Islamic communities through sectarian wars.

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on all Muslims to unite against the "great conspiracy" of the enemies to destroy Islamic communities through sectarian wars. Rouhani addressed scores of thinkers from around the world at an international Islamic unity conference in Tehran on Thursday, saying that the ongoing bloodletting in Muslim countries is being orchestrated by major powers and the Zionists... "Big powers set up streams of blood in the streets of Mosul and destroyed this beautiful city. They took away sleep from Muslims and enslaved Muslim and Christian girls who were under the banner of a single government," he said... "We must take pride in a Jihad which is in line with the judgment of the Holy Qur'an. We know of no Jihad other than the one standing against tyranny and defending the dignity of Islam and Muslims," he added. Rouhani held hope that Muslims would unite by clinging to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and identify the "Zionist regime" of Israel as their "biggest enemy", when Yemen would achieve liberation and those who are aiding terrorists with money and arms would face the Islamic Ummah with shame. (Press TV)
12-14-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran has played a pivotal role in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's campaign to crush rebel resistance in Aleppo and is now close to establishing a "Shi'ite crescent" of regional influence stretching from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean Sea.

Iran has played a pivotal role in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's campaign to crush rebel resistance in Aleppo and is now close to establishing a "Shi'ite crescent" of regional influence stretching from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean Sea. Revolutionary Guards commanders and senior clerics in Tehran have this week praised Iran's defeat of "Wahhabi terrorists" in Syria and the country they characterize as the rebels' patron, Sunni Muslim regional rival Saudi Arabia... For the first time, Tehran could exert authority over a vast sweep of the Middle East extending through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon - an arc of influence that Sunni Arab powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, have been warning about for years... Establishing such a "Shi'ite crescent" would give Tehran immense political clout in the region as it vies with arch-rival Riyadh and allow it to protect Shi'ite communities in these countries. It would also present a military threat to Israel, through Syria and Lebanon, which Iranian officials regard as a deterrent to any Israeli aggression towards Iran. (Reuters)

12-13-2016
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warns of Israel's misusing the insecurities in the region, and said the Palestinians have no way out, but resistance and jihad against Tel Aviv.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned of Israel's misusing the insecurities in the region, and said the Palestinians have no way out, but resistance and jihad against Tel Aviv. "Today, the world public opinion is faced with this strong argument that the Zionist regime has never been after peace, and this argument and reasoning should be used to show that there is no way, but jihad and resistance for the Palestinians against the usurper regime," President Rouhani said in a meeting with Leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah in Tehran on Tuesday. Warning that the Zionist regime has in the past two decades misused the security problems in the region, he said that the regime and its supporters have paved the ground for terrorists' operation in the regional states, specially Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even North Africa to make them busy with internal security problems and forget the Palestinian issue. Abdullah, for his part, appreciated Iran's support for the Palestinian people and resistance groups, and said if Iran didn’t help, the Palestinians wouldn’t be able to maintain their position and inform the world of their ideas and causes. (Fars News Agency)

12-13-2016
Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani orders the development of a nuclear-propulsion system for ships, describing the move as a response to the recent extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the development of a nuclear-propulsion system for ships, describing the move as a response to the recent extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress. He also requested a study of fuel production for the propulsion system and set a three-month deadline for a progress report on both steps, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Tuesday. The White House said the announcement didn’t breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal last year with the U.S. and five other powers. But Mr. Rouhani’s order nevertheless inserts new contention into a relationship that’s expected to strain further when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January. It is unclear whether the move was political posturing aimed mainly at a domestic audience upset at the extension of sanctions or if Iran will follow through on the development of nuclear-powered ships... Many nuclear-powered vessels are fueled with uranium enriched above 90%... The use of any grade of uranium exceeding 3.67% enrichment would violate the nuclear agreement. (Wall Street Journal)

12-05-2016
Syria Conflict

Recent cyberattacks have frozen an unspecified number of computers at two government agencies in Saudi Arabia, and security experts say it is likely that Iran is behind the digital mayhem.

Recent cyberattacks have frozen an unspecified number of computers at two government agencies in Saudi Arabia, and security experts say it is likely that Iran is behind the digital mayhem. The attacks are believed to have affected thousands of computers at the Saudi civil aviation and transportation agencies, harkening back to a devastating Iranian cyberattack in 2012 that nearly crippled the Saudi state oil company, Aramco... “Since the (U.S.) election especially, there’s been a pretty drastic increase in the amount of targeting of Saudi and Israeli institutions by hacking groups that we absolutely know are based out of Iran,” said Collin Anderson, an independent researcher currently writing a report on Iranian cyber warfare for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Anderson said “reasonable degrees of evidence” link the hacking to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful security and military organization. (McClatchy)

12-05-2016
Human Rights

Twelve people involved in the fashion industry in Iran are reported to have been jailed for "spreading prostitution" via images posted online.

Twelve people involved in the fashion industry in Iran are reported to have been jailed for "spreading prostitution" via images posted online. The eight women and four men were handed sentences of between five months and six years by a court in Shiraz, a lawyer told the Ilna news agency. They were also banned from working in fashion and travelling abroad for two years afterwards, Mahmoud Taravat said... The 12 were convicted of charges including spreading prostitution and promoting corruption via the publication of obscene images online, inciting Muslims to corrupt themselves through putting on fashion shows, and spreading a "Western-style culture of nudity". (BBC News)

12-05-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says, "America... is our enemy, we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can..."

"Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Congress's decision to renew US sanctions for 10 years would elicit a "harsh reaction" and proved the United States was still an enemy. "America... is our enemy, we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can," Rouhani said in a speech to students at Tehran University. The Iran Sanctions Act passed the US Senate 99-0 last week, after easily clearing the House of Representatives in November... "If this is implemented... it would be a blatant and clear breach of the JCPOA (nuclear agreement) and would face a very harsh reaction from us," Rouhani said. The actual language in the agreement could be interpreted in different ways. It calls on the US to "cease the application of... all nuclear-related sanctions". It does not specify whether Washington can keep them in reserve for possible use in the future. At a press conference on Tuesday, conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani said parts of the deal were "rushed". "Some of the sections of the JCPOA should have been written with more precision to stop differing interpretations," Larijani said. "I believe Iran should file a complaint in regard of the Americans' breach of the JCPOA," he added." (AFP)

12-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

An American-Iranian dual national and his wife have been in detention in Iran without charge or access to lawyers since their arrest by elite Revolutionary Guards in July.

"An American-Iranian dual national and his wife have been in detention in Iran without charge or access to lawyers since their arrest by elite Revolutionary Guards in July, a New York-based rights group said on Friday. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) said Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Niasari, who run an art gallery in Tehran, were being held in Tehran's Evin Prison. The Islamic Republic does not recognise dual nationality, a position that prevents Western embassy officials from visiting such detainees. "Yet another case of a dual national snatched and held without charge or access to a lawyer represents an alarming continuation of a judicial system run by intelligence agencies with no respect for the law and no accountability," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the human rights group. The statement said families of the arrested couple decided not to publicize their cases, hoping it would be resolved. "Then when the family started receiving anonymous phone threats and demands for money, they decided to go public and write a letter to Iran's supreme leader," the statement said." (Reuters)

12-01-2016
Terrorism

Two Iranian men were charged in a Kenyan court with collecting information to facilitate a terrorist act after they were allegedly found with video footage of the Israeli embassy.

"Two Iranian men were charged Thursday in a Kenyan court with collecting information to facilitate a terrorist act after they were allegedly found with video footage of the Israeli embassy. Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee were arrested Tuesday in an Iranian diplomatic car on Bishops Road in Nairobi, after they had come from visiting Kamiti Prison where they saw two other Iranians who have been jailed for 15 years on terrorism charges, said prosecutor Duncan Ondimu. The suspects were taking the pictures using a mobile phone, Ondimu said. A Kenyan driver, Moses Keyah Mmboga, who was chauffeuring the vehicle belonging to the Iranian embassy, has been charged with the suspects and also faces a separate charge of "abetting terrorism". Iranian agents are suspected in attacks or thwarted attacks around the globe in recent years, including in Azerbaijan, Thailand and India. Most of the plots had Israeli targets. In June 2013 a Kenyan court convicted two Iranian nationals of being Quds agents plotting attacks against Western targets in Kenya and they were sentenced to life in prison." (AP)

12-01-2016
Human Rights

The dual national translator for a prestigious film festival was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and her passport confiscated as she was leaving the country together with her colleague.

The dual national translator for a prestigious film festival was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and her passport confiscated as she was leaving the country together with her colleague on November 27. “Nooshafarin Dastoori has been summoned to the Intelligence Ministry to explain some things,” an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, although it was not clear what the ministry was seeking. “Everything seemed to be going well until the last airport checkpoint, when Ms. Dastoori was prevented from boarding the plain and her passport was taken away. I know that she was questioned at the security office in the airport but she was not given a reason why she was not allowed to travel abroad. They only told her that she had to stay in Iran for the time being and answer a few questions,” said the source. Dastoori, a German-Iranian national, is an assistant to Anke Leweke, the Iran Consultant for the Berlin Film Festival. They were in Tehran to select films, which were confiscated at the airport, according to the source. (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

11-30-2016
Syria Conflict

Weapon shipments intercepted in the Arabian sea by Australian, French and U.S. warships contained large quantities of Russian and Iranian weapons, some of which had markings similar to munitions recovered from Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Weapon shipments intercepted in the Arabian sea by Australian, French and U.S. warships this year contained large quantities of Russian and Iranian weapons, some of which had markings similar to munitions recovered from Houthi fighters in Yemen, according to a new report released by an independent research group Wednesday. In October, U.S. officials claimed to have captured five shipments of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen. The report, published by Conflict Armament Research, or CAR, draws on markings found on rifles, rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and munitions, providing some of the more concrete evidence to date of Iran’s logistical support to Houthis fighting in Yemen’s nearly two-year-old civil war... “CAR’s analysis of the seized materiel … suggests the existence of a weapon pipeline extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles,” the report says.(Washington Post)

11-29-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran will increase its uranium enrichment capacity if the US renews sanctions against the Islamic Republic and violates the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian lawmaker says.

"Iran will increase its uranium enrichment capacity if the US renews sanctions against the Islamic Republic and violates the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian lawmaker says. “In case of the extension of sanctions [against Iran] and violation of the JCPOA (the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we will raise uranium production and enrichment to 190,000 SWU (separative work units),” the chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on Tuesday. He added that the “retaliatory measure” will be carried out in line with legislation passed by the Iranian Parliament... "'Initiating sanctions' is no different from 'renewing them after their expiration,' and the latter is also [an instance of imposing] sanctions and violation of the previous commitments by the opposite side," Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday." (Press TV)

11-27-2016
Human Rights

The son of one of Iran's founding revolutionaries was sentenced to several years in jail after releasing a decades-old tape in which his father denounced the mass execution of prisoners.

The son of one of Iran's founding revolutionaries was sentenced to several years in jail Sunday after releasing a decades-old tape in which his father denounced the mass execution of prisoners, local media reported. Ahmad Montazeri, 60, was convicted by a clerical court in the holy city of Qom on charges of "acting against the national security" and "releasing a classified audio file," the ISNA news agency reported. He received a further year for "propaganda against the system," ISNA said. The court said he would only serve six years in view of his lack of previous convictions, his age, and "reverence" for a brother he lost in an insurgent attack. Montazeri is the son of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who for decades was right-hand man to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of Iran's Islamic revolution. The elder Montazeri was one of the few Iranian leaders to voice opposition in 1988 when Khomeini ordered the execution of thousands of political dissidents held in the country's jails. (AFP)

11-26-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces says that Tehran may be interested in setting up naval bases in both Syria and Yemen, the semi-official Tasnim reported.

Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces said Saturday that Tehran may be interested in setting up naval bases in both Syria and Yemen, the semi-official Tasnim reported. The report by Tasnim, close to military, quoted Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri as saying, "Maybe, at some point we will need bases on the shores of Yemen and Syria." He said "Having naval bases in remote distances is not less than nuclear power. It is ten times more important and creates deterrence." Gen. Bagheri added that setting up naval platforms off the shores of those countries requires "infrastructures there first." He said Iran is also able to set up permanent platforms for military purposes in the Persian Gulf and roving ones in other places. (AP)

11-26-2016
Anti-Americanism

A small Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a U.S. military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.

A small Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a U.S. military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, two U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Monday, an action they described as "unsafe and unprofessional." The incident is the latest in a series of similar actions by Iranian vessels this year, but the first reported since Republican Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8. During his campaign, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessel that harassed the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water," if he was elected. Trump is due to take office on Jan. 20... The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident took place when a Navy MH-60 helicopter flew within half a mile (0.8 km) of two Iranian vessels in international waters. One of the vessels pointed a weapon at the helicopter, the U.S. officials said. "The behavior by our standards is provocative and could be seen as an escalation," the officials said. At no point did the crew of the helicopter feel threatened, they added. (Reuters)

11-24-2016
Human Rights

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi has begun serving a year-long prison sentence handed down over footage authorities deemed insulting.

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi has begun serving a year-long prison sentence handed down over footage authorities deemed insulting, his production company confirmed on Thursday. The charges against the 30-year-old stemmed from a film he directed called "Writing on the City" that focuses on political graffiti in Iran from the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution to the contested 2009 election. He was initially sentenced to six years behind bars after being found guilty of "insulting sanctities" in October 2015. In February, an appeals court reduced the sentence to one year but kept the requirement that Karimi endure 223 lashes as stipulated in his original sentence. Speaking to The Associated Press earlier this week, Karimi said he hopes to use the time behind bars to complete the script for his next film. "Be sure, I'm strong. Inside, and mentally, I'm ready," he said. (AP)

11-22-2016
Syria Conflict

More than 1,000 soldiers deployed by Iran to Syria to back the government side in its civil war have been killed, an Iranian official says, underlining Tehran's increasing presence on front lines of the conflict.

More than 1,000 soldiers deployed by Iran to Syria to back the government side in its civil war have been killed, an Iranian official said, underlining Tehran's increasing presence on front lines of the conflict. It was a major increase in the reported death toll from just four months ago, when the Islamic Republic announced that 400 of its soldiers had died on Syria's battlefields... Although many of the soldiers the Shi'ite Muslim Iran sends are its own nationals, it is casting its recruitment net wide, training and deploying Shi'ites from neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. Half of the death toll reported in August were Afghan citizens. "Now the number of Iran's martyrs as defenders of shrine has exceeded 1,000," Mohammadali Shahidi Mahallati, head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs, which offers financial support to the relatives of those killed fighting for Iran, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. (Reuters)

11-22-2016
Terrorism

Iran is smuggling weapons and ammunition to Hezbollah through commercial flights from the Islamic Republic to Lebanon, according to intelligence information revealed by Israel's UN ambassador to the Security Council.

Iran is smuggling weapons and ammunition to Hezbollah through commercial flights from the Islamic Republic to Lebanon, according to intelligence information revealed by Israel's UN ambassador to the Security Council, which was cleared for publication on Tuesday. UN Ambassador Danny Danon sent an urgent letter to the Security Council members in which he revealed the smuggling route from Iran's Revolutionary Guards to Hezbollah: "The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights." Danon added that "these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah." The UN envoy wrote that "Iran continues to violate Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 1701 and 2231." Iran arms terrorist organizations in the Middle East and works to undermine stability in the entire region, he added. (The Jerusalem Post)

11-21-2016
Human Rights

A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran is at breaking point after going on a five-day hunger strike in protest against her incarceration.

A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran is at breaking point after going on a five-day hunger strike in protest against her incarceration, according to her husband. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation, is being held at Tehran's Evin prison. In September she was found guilty of offences relating to national security, but the precise reason for her arrest has not been clarified... "She is at breaking point," her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told the Guardian. "When [Iranian-Canadian professor] Homa Hoodfar was released [in September], she was really hopeful that she would be next and she got moved into a big room. She was very excited. Then she got moved back to a small room, which sent her down to a sense that nothing is going to happen, and that's when she started feeling suicidal." Ratcliffe said he last spoke to his wife a week ago but only found out about the hunger strike late last week when her family were summoned to the prison. (The Guardian)

11-21-2016
Extremism

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlines that the Palestinian territories will be freed from Israel's occupation in the next 10 years.

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlined that the Palestinian territories will be freed from Israel's occupation in the next 10 years. Addressing elite students in Alborz province near Tehran on Monday, Naqdi expressed the hope that the notions, thoughts and ideology that led to Iran's Islamic Revolution would help Palestinians get rid of Israel in the next 10 years. Elaborating on his reasons for predicting the liberation of Palestine and annihilation of Israel by 2025, he said that the Islamic Revolution helped Iran get rid of the US over 35 years ago, rescued the country from Saddam Hussein's aggression and helped the Lebanese to get rid of the Americans. "Considering these developments, liberation of Palestine by the Islamic Revolution is not unlikely at all," Naqdi said. In relevant remarks earlier this month, General Naqdi underlined that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process. (Fars News Agency)

11-17-2016
Nuclear Program

The head of the UN atomic watchdog chided Iran after a second minor breach this year by Tehran of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

"The head of the UN atomic watchdog chided Iran on Thursday after a second minor breach this year by Tehran of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency last week showed that Iran's stock of so-called heavy water had inched above the level agreed under the landmark accord. Heavy water, a modified form of normal water, is used in certain types of nuclear reactors. "Iran has since made preparations to transfer a quantity of heavy water out of the country," which will bring it below the ceiling, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told the agency's board. "It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation" of the deal, he said in Vienna." (AFP)

11-16-2016
Human Rights

Videos showing apparently coerced confessions of prisoners — interwoven with ominous-sounding music and clips of unrelated assaults by militants of the Islamic State — have been shown on Iranian state television in the months since the mass executions.

"When Iran conducted a mass hanging in August of Sunni prisoners accused of attacks in its restive western Kurdish region, the executions were widely criticized as an egregious human rights violation. But death-penalty opponents also were appalled at what came next. Videos that showed apparently coerced confessions of the prisoners — interwoven with ominous-sounding music and clips of unrelated assaults by militants of the Islamic State — have been shown on Iranian state television in the months since the executions. Produced and disseminated by official media outlets, the videos contain no apologies for the mass hangings. They apparently are meant to exploit fears among the country’s majority Shiite population about the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group ensconced in Syria and Iraq that shares antipathy for both Iran and the West. Human rights groups say the hangings in Iran on Aug. 2 put 20 to 25 prisoners to death, one of the largest mass executions ever carried out in that country. In a report about the videos issued Wednesday, titled “Broadcasting Injustice, Boasting of Mass Killing,” the rights group Amnesty International accused Iran of having used stage-managed confessions, falsehoods and sensationalist screen titles like “In the Devil’s Hands” and “In the Depth of Darkness” to justify the mass hangings to a domestic audience." (The New York Times)

11-15-2016
Human Rights

Dozens of businesses in Iran owned by members of the Baha’i faith have been indefinitely shut down by the authorities after some owners closed their establishments to honor the birthdays of two of the faith’s holiest figures.

Dozens of businesses in Iran owned by members of the Baha’i faith have been indefinitely shut down by the authorities after some owners closed their establishments to honor the birthdays of two of the faith’s holiest figures... Between November 6-10, 2016 the police closed down several Baha’i shops in Karaj, the Campaign has learned. The Baha’i World News Service also reported that 104 Baha’is shops in the cities of Noshahr, Shahsavar, Tonekabon, Amol, Bahmanir, Kerman, Bandar Abbas, and Sari “were sealed by Iranian authorities after they were temporarily closed to observe Baha’i holy days on 1 and 2 November.”  According to the Baha’i calendar, November 1 is the birthday of the Bab, the faith’s prophet, and November 2 is the birthday of Bahá’u’lláh, the faith’s founder. (International Campaign for HUman Rights in Iran)

11-15-2016
Human Rights

A U.N. committee urges Iran to cease enforced disappearances and the widespread use of arbitrary detention and has expressed serious concern about severe limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

A U.N. committee on Tuesday urged Iran to cease enforced disappearances and the widespread use of arbitrary detention and has expressed serious concern about severe limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. The General Assembly's human rights committee approved the measure by a vote of 85 in favor, 35 against and 63 countries abstaining. The assembly is virtually certain to adopt the resolution when it's put to a vote next month. The measure welcomed pledges by Iran's president to eliminate discrimination against women and ethnic minorities as well as granting greater space for freedom of expression. But it also expressed concern over the "alarmingly high frequency" of the death penalty and urged Iran to eliminate laws and practices that constitute human rights violations against women and girls. Iran's Foreign Ministry swiftly rejected the vote. (AP)

11-15-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's missile programme is "non-negotiable" and tests will continue, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi says, following criticism from European Union diplomats.

Iran's missile programme is "non-negotiable" and tests will continue, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Tuesday, following criticism from European Union diplomats. "Iran's defence capabilities cannot be compromised and are under no circumstance negotiable," he told state television IRIB. "Missile tests are conducted within the framework of Iran's defence policies." A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday urged Tehran to refrain from ballistic missile testing. Iran's military has carried out a number of missile tests in recent months, which the United States and European governments have said are a breach of its commitments under last year's nuclear deal. (AFP)

11-14-2016
Human Rights

A 28-year-old Iranian woman received 80 lashes after an Iranian court found her guilty of the offences more than two years after she attended a party in the second biggest city of Mashhad.

A WOMAN has laid bare the brutal punishment she reportedly received at the hands of authorities after she was caught attending a party with boys and drinking alcohol. The 28-year-old Iranian woman received 80 lashes after an Iranian court found her guilty of the offences more than two years after she attended a party in the second biggest city of Mashhad. Masih Alinejad, a former journalist who administers the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom, posted an interview with the unnamed woman who suffered shocking injuries after her ordeal. Posting under the #NoToLashes, Alinejad’s post goes into detail how the woman was initially arrested for consuming alcohol at a party, something which is strictly forbidden in Iran. (News.com.au)

11-14-2016
Syria Conflict

Eleven Middle East and North African countries accused Iran of sponsoring "terrorism" and constantly interfering in the internal affairs of Arab nations, sparking tension and instability in the region.

Eleven Middle East and North African countries accused Iran of sponsoring "terrorism" and constantly interfering in the internal affairs of Arab nations, sparking tension and instability in the region. In a letter to the U.N. General Assembly circulated Monday, the 11 countries cited Iran's support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Shiite Hezbollah group in Lebanon which has sent fighters to support the Syrian government. They also accused Iran of supporting "terrorist groups and cells" in Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere. The Arab nations reiterated a statement by Bahrain's foreign minister in September that the only way forward is for Iran "to comprehensively change its foreign policies and end hostilities." The letter, organized by the United Arab Emirates, was signed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Yemen. The 11 countries condemned Iran for sponsoring "terrorism" in the region, particularly in Yemen where they said Tehran is supporting the Houthis financially and militarily by training their fighters and illegally sending them weapons and ammunition. (AP)

11-14-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani blasts the US, Israel and certain regional states for creating and assisting the terrorist groups in the region.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani blasted the US, Israel and certain regional states for creating and assisting the terrorist groups in the region. "Today, there is precise intelligence showing that the US and the Zionist regime are assisting with the creation and supporting the terrorist stream in the region, and the governments of certain regional states are also suffering this plague," Larijani said in Tehran on Monday, addressing a ceremony to commemorate the martyrdom of Mohsen Khazaei, reporter of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, who was killed in Aleppo on Saturday. The Iranian speaker said that turmoil and spread of terrorism in the region creates the best conditions for the Zionist regime to survive. (Fars News Agency)

11-13-2016
Syria Conflict

Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, the advisor to the Iranian foreign affairs minister, said Iranian missiles are not only manufactured in Syria but in other countries in the region as well.

Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, the advisor to the Iranian foreign affairs minister, said Iranian missiles are not only manufactured in Syria but in other countries in the region as well. He said Iran expanded its missiles’ production outside its borders due to the “increasing Israeli threats in the region.” Although he did not reveal much about the production Iranian missiles, he said Iraq is one of the countries where ballistic missiles are produced. His statements come two days after the Iranian chief of staff said that manufacturing ballistic missiles has been carried out in Aleppo during the past years. (Al Arabiya)

11-13-2016
Anti-Americanism

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlines that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process.

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlined that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process. "According to the analysis made by the behind-the-stage and shadow decision-makers of the establishment in the US, the United States will collapse in 2035 and I think that it is an optimistic analysis as this will take place much earlier," Naqdi told FNA on Sunday. He referred to the election of Trump as the new US president, and said, "The person that has ascended to power displays the reality of the US." Noting that Barack Obama showed the face of the US in disguise, Naqdi said that Trump is the real face of the US and he may accelerate collapse of the US. (Fars News Agency)

11-11-2016
Terrorism

Iran’s top general says the Islamic Republic set up a missile factory in Syria which transferred supplies to Hezbollah to use in the 2006 war against Israel.

Iran’s top general said the Islamic Republic set up a missile factory in Syria which transferred supplies to Hezbollah to use in the 2006 war against Israel. “Iran established the missile industry for Syria in Aleppo in the past years and produced missiles and they were used during the 33-day war against Israel,” Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency quoted General Mohammad Hossein Bagher as saying. (Times of Israel)

11-11-2016
Human Rights

23 people have been executed during the last six days in Iran... Six prisoners were executed in Iran yesterday.

23 people have been executed during the last six days in Iran... Six prisoners were executed in Iran yesterday. One prisoner was hanged publicly in the village of Chelmeh near the city of Mashhad (northeastern Iran) reported the Iranian media. (Iran Human Rights)

11-10-2016
Military

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri says Iran has gained such great missile capabilities that enemies would not begin to contemplate attacking the country.

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said Iran has gained such great missile capabilities that enemies would not begin to contemplate attacking the country. “Our missile power has reached a point that the enemies cannot decide to invade,” the senior officer said at a cultural ceremony on Thursday, held in commemoration of Brigadier General Hassan Tehrani-Moqaddam, known as the father of Iran's missile program, who was martyred in 2011. Highlighting Iran’s success to acquire the technical expertise to produce missiles with solid fuel, Major General Baqeri said Iran’s progress in the missile industry was so rapid that none of the modern anti-missile systems could defeat the Iranian projectiles in terms of speed, power and precision. He also warned the “insane” Zionist regime of Israel that a war against the Islamic Republic of Iran will not have an end, until the enemies concede defeat in a humiliated manner. The top commander further pointed to Iran’s assistance to its allies in the region, saying Syria, which once refused to supply more missiles to Iran during the Iraqi imposed war in the 1980s, enjoyed the missile industries that Iran set up in the city of Aleppo later. The missiles manufactured in Aleppo were used against the Tel Aviv regime in the 33-day war, the general added, referring to an Israeli war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006. (Tasnim News Agency)

11-09-2016
Nuclear Program

The United Nations agency monitoring the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers says that Iran is in violation of the deal meant to curb its ability to make atomic arms by storing marginally more heavy water than the agreement allows.

The United Nations agency monitoring the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers said Wednesday that Iran is in violation of the deal meant to curb its ability to make atomic arms by storing marginally more heavy water than the agreement allows. Heavy water is a concern because it is used to cool reactors that can produce substantial amounts of plutonium. That, in turn, can be applied to making the fissile core of nuclear warheads. The U.N's International Atomic Energy Agency said in a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press that Iran had exceeded the heavy water allotment of 130 metric tons (143.3 tons) only slightly — by 100 kilograms (220 pounds.) The report also noted that Iran had served notice it would resolve the issue by exporting 5 metric tons, substantially over the excess amount. Wednesday's report said the agency verified the overhang on Tuesday, just days after IAEA chief Yukiya Amano "expressed concerns" to top Iranian officials. A senior diplomat familiar with the issue said the Iranians had told the IAEA that the shipment would be leaving their country within the next few days... Still, with both sides closely watching for violations, the breach was sensitive even beyond the technical uses of heavy water, especially since it was the second such breach since implementation of the deal curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. (AP)

11-07-2016
Anti-Americanism

The detention in Iran of Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka is a “U.S. Iranian problem,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says during an official visit to Lebanon.

The detention in Iran of Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka is a “U.S. Iranian problem,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during an official visit to Lebanon on Monday, as the man's family urged that he be repatriated to Lebanon. “What happened with Mr. Zakka is not a problem between Iran and Lebanon, seeing as the problem was the violation of the applicable laws in Iran by a foreigner, and the problem is actually between the United States and Iran,” Zarif said in response to a reporter's question. After being detained for around a year without trial over spying allegations, Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine on September 20. “The sentence that was given to Nizar Zakka more than a month ago is an unjust ruling and it should not apply to a Lebanese citizen,” Zakka's family said in a statement it issued on the occasion's of Zarif's visit earlier in the day. (Naharnet)

11-04-2016
Anti-Americanism

Thousands of Iranians have burned the American flag and chanted anti-U.S. slogans as they marked the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students 37 years ago.

Thousands of Iranians have burned the American flag and chanted anti-U.S. slogans as they marked the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students 37 years ago. Such protests take place every year outside the compound that once housed the embassy on the anniversary of the 1979 takeover that followed the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Iranians at the rally outside the former embassy building on Thursday chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" and burned the U.S. and Israeli flags. On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days after Washington refused to hand over Iran's toppled shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, for trial in Iran. (AP)

11-03-2016
Nuclear Program

Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami warns that if the US government reneges on the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as JCPOA, Iran will “send the deal to Museum”.

Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami warned that if the US government reneges on the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as JCPOA, Iran will “send the deal to Museum”. “The Americans should be aware that if they fail to meet their obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), we will send the deal to Museum,” Brigadier General Salami said during a massive demonstration held in Tehran on Thursday to mark the “National Day of Fight against Global Arrogance”. He further emphasized that if Washington reneges on the agreement, the two sides will “go back to square one" and the Islamic Republic will activate its decommissioned centrifuges. In that case, the country not only will refuse to stop its nuclear program but also develop the activities, the commander went on to say. (Tasnim)

11-02-2016
Terrorism

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s elite military force, is sending assets to infiltrate the United States and Europe at the direction of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s elite military force, is sending assets to infiltrate the United States and Europe at the direction of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to recent Farsi-language comments from an Iranian military leader. The IRGC “will be in the U.S. and Europe very soon,” according to the Iranian military commander, who said that these forces would operate with the goal of bolstering Iran’s hardline regime and thwarting potential plots against the Islamic Republic. “The whole world should know that the IRGC will be in the U.S. and Europe very soon,” Salar Abnoush, deputy coordinator of Iran’s Khatam-al-Anbia Garrison, an IRGC command front, was quoted as saying in an Iranian state-controlled publication closely tied to the IRGC... “The IRGC is [the] strong guardian of the Islamic Republic,” Abnoush was quoted as saying. “The Fedayeen of Velayat [fighting force] are under the order of Iran’s Supreme leader. Defending and protecting the Velayat [the Supreme Leader] has no border and limit.” (Washington Free Beacon)

11-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

Massoumeh Ebtekar Iran's vice-president celebrates the 444-day siege of the U.S. Embassy and says, "she is still proud of their work in releasing documents found in the CIA's files."

The Iranian students who stormed the US embassy in 1979 and released thousands of secret CIA documents were the WikiLeaks of their time, their former lead spokesperson has told AFP. Every year on November 3-4, Iran celebrates the 444-day siege of the embassy when more than 50 diplomats, staff and spies were taken hostage by Islamist students demanding the extradition of the shah, who had fled to America after being deposed a few months earlier in the Islamic revolution. Massoumeh Ebtekar is now Iran's vice-president and one of its most recognisable politicians, feted globally for her work as head of the environment department. But back then, she was a 20-year-old medical student -- nicknamed "Mary" by the international press -- who became the face of the hostage crisis thanks to her fluent English. She now regrets the diplomatic isolation that followed the embassy siege, but she is still proud of their work in releasing documents found in the CIA's files -- some painstakingly reassembled after embassy staff frantically shredded as many as possible when the students stormed the building. "Revealing these documents was very similar to what WikiLeaks is doing these days. It was the WikiLeaks of those ages," Ebtekar told AFP. (AFP)

11-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Americans as “liars, untrustworthy, deceitful and backstabbers” while saying he still opposed any direct negotiations with the U.S. following the nuclear deal.

It seems everyone has an opinion about the U.S. presidential election, including Iran’s supreme leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in a speech he gave on Wednesday marking the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In his remarks, Khamenei said Clinton and Trump’s comments in the presidential debates “are sufficient for the annihilation of the reputation of the United States.” ... He also described Americans as “liars, untrustworthy, deceitful and backstabbers” while saying he still opposed any direct negotiations with the U.S. following the nuclear deal. (AP)

10-31-2016
Human Rights

Iran's Islamic Republic has arrested the organizers of a march near the tomb of the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great that attracted thousands of people celebrating the country's pre-Islamic glory.

Iran's Islamic Republic has arrested the organizers of a march last week near the tomb of the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great that attracted thousands of people celebrating the country's pre-Islamic glory. Crowds of mostly young Iranians attended the march near the ancient city of Pasargadae in central province of Fars on Friday to celebrate the day unofficially marked in the Iranian calendar as Cyrus Day. Videos released on social media show them chanting "Iran is our country, Cyrus is our father." Reuters could not independently verify the videos' authenticity. "The main leaders and organizers of this gathering who chanted unconventional slogans against the (Islamic Republic's) values have been arrested," said prosecutor Ali Salehi in the provincial capital Shiraz on Monday, according to Fars news agency. (Reuters)

10-31-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran welcomes the election of Michel Aoun as Lebanon's new president, calling it a victory for the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, Tehran's ally in Lebanon.

Iran welcomed the election of Michel Aoun as Lebanon's new president on Monday, calling it a victory for the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, Tehran's ally in Lebanon. Aoun, a leader of Lebanon's Christian community, secured the post in a parliamentary vote, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum in a deal with Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri, who is now expected to become prime minister. "The election of Michel Aoun as president shows new support for the Islamic resistance (against Israel)," Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top foreign policy adviser, was quoted as saying by Iran's Tasnim news agency. "This is surely a victory for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of (Hezbollah and) Islamic Resistance in Lebanon." ... Iran's President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Aoun, a former army commander, in a phone call, an official in Rouhani's office tweeted, calling it a victory for resistance and for ethnic tolerance in Lebanon. (Reuters)

10-30-2016
Syria Conflict

Mullah Zabihullah, the official spokesman of the “Afghan Taliban” and the second man in the movement reveals the presence of relations and new networks with Iran.

Mullah Zabihullah, the official spokesman of the “Afghan Taliban” and the second man in the movement revealed the presence of relations and new networks with Iran. “The movement is trying to benefit from all legitimate means to reach a regional agreement as part of the war against the American invasion; therefore, the Imara holds ongoing networks with a large number of regional and neighboring states.” He said to the London based Asharq Al-Awsat in an email 18 months ago, that the movement had received drone planes, which help film suicidal operations. (Al Arabiya)

10-27-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthis in Yemen — including coastal defense cruise missiles like the ones that were fired at US Navy ships earlier this month.

U.S. officials tell NBC News that they believe Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthis in Yemen — including coastal defense cruise missiles like the ones that were fired at US Navy ships earlier this month. "We believe that Iran is connected to this," Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan said. The head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, who is tasked with securing the waters off of Yemen, disclosed today that the U.S. and partner nations have intercepted five weapons shipments from Iran that were headed to the Houthis in Yemen... Donegan said the first intercept occurred in April 2015 when seven ships guarded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy attempted to move weapons to Yemen... Donegan believes other shipments from Iran did make it into Yemen and into Houthi hands. "We did not catch or pick up all the ships," he said, adding, "It's fortunate we were able to find [these ships]. There certainly are others." (NBC)

10-26-2016
Military

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards say they have developed a "suicide drone" capable of delivering explosives to blow up targets at sea and on land.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they had developed a "suicide drone" capable of delivering explosives to blow up targets at sea and on land. The new drone is primarily for maritime surveillance and "has not been designed to be armed with missiles," the Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Guards, reported. "(But) it can carry heavy payloads of explosives for combat missions to launch suicide attacks. "Flying at a high cruising speed near the surface of the water, the aircraft can collide with the target and destroy it, either a vessel or an onshore command centre." (AFP)

10-25-2016
Human Rights

The Baha'i International Community says that Iran's effort to crush the religious minority has continued unabated and intensified on some fronts despite President Hassan Rouhani's promises to end religious discrimination.

The Baha'i International Community said Tuesday that Iran's effort to crush the religious minority has continued unabated and intensified on some fronts despite President Hassan Rouhani's promises to end religious discrimination. In a 122-page report, the community said Rouhani's government has stepped-up its "campaign to incite hatred against Baha'is" including by disseminating more than 20,000 pieces of anti-Baha'i propaganda in the Iranian media. Since Rouhani was inaugurated in August 2013, the report said at least 151 Baha'is have been arrested, and at least 388 incidents of economic discrimination have been documented ranging from threats and intimidation to shop closings. The report also said that under Rouhani, thousands of Baha'is have been blocked from attending universities and 28 followers have been expelled. (AP)

10-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

Robin Shahini, an Iranian-American held in Tehran has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years in prison for “collaboration with a hostile government,” yet another dual national convicted in a secret trial since Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

An Iranian-American held in Tehran has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years in prison for “collaboration with a hostile government,” yet another dual national convicted in a secret trial since Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The sentence handed down to Robin Shahini, a 46-year-old graduate student who lives in San Diego, is the harshest yet for those detained in what analysts believe is hard-liner plan to use them as bargaining chips in future negotiations. Shahini told Vice News in an interview aired late on Monday that he “just laughed” after hearing his sentence. He acknowledged supporting the protests that followed Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, but denied being involved in any sort of spying. “Whatever information they had is all the pictures I posted in Facebook, in my web blog, and they use all those evidence to accuse me,” Shahini said in a telephone call from prison... For Shahini, he said he wasn’t sure whether he’d file an appeal, but said he also had another option to protest his sentence. “I do a hunger strike — until either they free me or I die,” he said. (AP)

10-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. permanent resident who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year says Tehran is demanding a ransom in exchange for his release.

A U.S. permanent resident who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year says Tehran is demanding a ransom in exchange for his release. That demand is likely to rekindle complaints by Republicans that the Obama administration has given an incentive to Iran to take and hold hostages in return for ransom payments, by timing out a $400 million cash payment to Iran in January in order to ensure the release of four hostages... Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and permanent resident of the United States, said through his attorney Tuesday that Iranian officials in April told him it would take as much as $2 billion to ensure his release from captivity. In September, Iranian officials lowered that amount to $4 million, and told him that he was spared the death penalty but would remain in prison for 10 years until the payments is made. (Washington Examiner)

10-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

Secretary of Iran's SNSC Ali Shamkhani says the Iranian nation will not change its anti-Zionist and anti-American attitudes over marginal issues.

Secretary of Iran's SNSC Ali Shamkhani said the Iranian nation will not change its anti-Zionist and anti-American attitudes over marginal issues... Shamkhani referred to guided plots to distract attention from cruelty of the Zionist Regime to terrorism in Islamic countries reiterating “people of Iran would never alter their anti-Zionist and anti-American positioning with minute matters.” (Mehr News

10-24-2016
Human Rights

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, following her arrest today, Amnesty International urged.

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, following her arrest today, Amnesty International urged. Despite the fact that no official summons has been issued, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home was raided this morning by officials, who violently broke through her front door before taking her to Evin Prison in Tehran. It appears that she has been taken to the women’s ward to begin serving her six-year sentence. She has been convicted of charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities,” for writing an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning in Iran. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s husband, Arash Sadeghi, a human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, has since started a hunger strike in protest at her imprisonment. (Amnesty International

10-24-2016
Syria Conflict

IRGC chief commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the Fatehin battalion, reaffirming ongoing plans to establish these units beyond Tehran province and across the country.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) held a commemoration ceremony in Tehran on Friday for members of the Fatehin (“Conquerors”) Special Unit of the Basij paramilitary killed in combat in Syria. IRGC chief commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the Fatehin battalion, reaffirming ongoing plans to establish these units beyond Tehran province and across the country. Jafari told the media that he had given a report to the supreme leader about the expansion of the Fatehin... The Fatehin unit of Qom province held its first drill in September. The drill’s motto was “the path to Jerusalem goes through Karbala,” first proclaimed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, during the Iran-Iraq war... Mehdi Hadavandi, the commander of the Fatehin Basij Tehran unit as well as the unit’s Syria operations, said the IRGC has set up “special courses” for “resistance forces,” which include Iranian as well as proxies, for combat in Iraq and Syria... “Today we are witnessing the formation of the army of the Master of Time [12th Shiite Imam Mahdi who will herald the apocalypse] in Syria,” proclaimed Hadavandi earlier this month at a ceremony for Ashura religious mourning ceremony in Tehran. (Long War Journal

10-24-2016
Extremism

Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says that the fabricated Zionist regime is the rootcause of terrorism in the Middle East region orchestrated by western powers.

Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Monday that the fabricated Zionist regime is the rootcause of terrorism in the Middle East region orchestrated by western powers. Rafsanjani made the remarks in a meeting with visiting Austrian parliament vice-speaker Karlheinz Kopf. Rafsanjani said that nine million Palestinian displaced by the occupying Zionist regime have unclear fate and that the countries which brought Zionists to the Middle East region to get rid of their hardliners and backed the Zionists crimes and atrocities against Palestinian people should take a decisive measures to stop the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians. (IRNA)

10-24-2016
Nuclear Program

Presidential Office Director Mohammad Nahavandian says, Iran has already exported heavy water to the United States and Russia...This means an undisputable victory for Iran in attending the global economy in nuclear energy.

The purity of the heavy water at Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor (aka IR-40) has improved from 75.99 percent to 95.99 percent, said Presidential Office Director Mohammad Nahavandian. Noting that Iran has already exported heavy water to the United States and Russia, the official said plans are made to sell more the product to other countries, the president’s official website reported October 24. “This means an undisputable victory for Iran in attending the global economy in nuclear energy,” he stressed. (Trend News Agency)

10-23-2016
Anti-Americanism

President Rouhani criticizes American democracy, "You see the United States that claims it has had democracy for more than 200 years, look at the country, what the situation is where morality has no place."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday criticized the U.S. presidential candidates' behavior during their recent debates. "Did you see the debate and the way of their speaking, accusing and mocking each other? Do we want such a democracy in our country? Do we want such elections in our country?" Rouhani said, speaking to a crowd in the Iranian city of Arak. "You see the United States that claims it has had democracy for more than 200 years," he said in comments broadcast live by state TV. "Look at the country, what the situation is where morality has no place." Rouhani said that during his September visit to the UN General Assembly, he was asked which of the candidates he preferred. "I said what? Should I prefer bad to worse or worse to bad?" Iran's state TV has broadcast two of the debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in full. It has closely followed the campaign, often highlighting economic and social problems in the U.S. and the most confrontational debate segments. (AP)

10-23-2016
Syria Conflict

Senior military advisor to the supreme leader and former chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces says, the presence of Iranian advisors in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's support for Yemen and Hezbollah, manifested its revolutionary and religious ideology.

Hassan Firouzabadi, senior military advisor to the supreme leader and former chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, told the Iranian Fars news agency that the presence of Iranian advisors in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's support for Yemen and Hezbollah, manifested its revolutionary and religious ideology. He denied, however, that Iran meddled in other countries' internal affairs or sought to extend its territorial control. He confirmed Iran had sent advisors to the Gaza Strip and provided the Palestinians with guidance and technology. (The Mejr Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

 

10-21-2016
Terrorism

The Islamic Jihad Islamist movement staged a public show of force in the Gaza Strip, with its leader praising Iran and criticising Arab states.

The Islamic Jihad Islamist movement staged a public show of force in the Gaza Strip on Friday, with its leader praising Iran and criticising Arab states... Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah spoke via a video link, using his speech to accuse some Arab countries of abandoning the Palestinian cause. "If the Arabs turn their backs on Palestine and embrace Israel, they can no longer condemn the resistance for taking support from Iran," Shalah said, without naming any countries. "(Iran) is the only country which commits to the unending support of the Palestinian cause." (AFP)

10-20-2016
Terrorism

The U.S. Treasury moved to disrupt the fundraising and operation of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, imposing sanctions on four operatives and a firm that have assisted the organization, long seen as a terrorist outfit by Washington.

The U.S. Treasury moved to disrupt the fundraising and operation of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group on Thursday, imposing sanctions on four operatives and a firm that have assisted the organization, long seen as a terrorist outfit by Washington. In a related action, the U.S. State Department sanctioned Hezbollah commander Haytham 'Ali Tabataba'i under U.S. counter-terrorism rules. 'Ali Tabataba'i has commanded Hezbollah special forces, has operated in Syria and has been reported to be in Yemen, the State Department said in a statement. The sanctions prevent U.S. citizens from doing business with the individuals and organization, Global Cleaners SARL. Saudi Arabia joined the United States in imposing sanctions on some of the people, the Treasury Department said in statement. (Reuters)

10-20-2016
Human Rights

The wife of an Iranian-Austrian man sentenced recently by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison on spying charges has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband is a "simple businessman" unjustly imprisoned.

The wife of an Iranian-Austrian man sentenced recently by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison on spying charges has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband is a "simple businessman" unjustly imprisoned. Harika Ghaderi's husband, businessman Kamran Ghaderi, was initially detained in Tehran in January but his conviction and sentence for espionage and cooperation with the United States were revealed earlier this week. "How can they say something like that about Kamran? I don't understand," Ghaderi's wife said, adding that he had no ties to the United States and was not involved in politics... Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on October 18 that the 52-year-old Ghaderi was among six individuals who received 10-year sentences for what he described as spying and working with the hostile government in Washington... Ghaderi is the CEO of Avanoc, an IT management and consulting company that has worked in Iran for many years, his wife told Radio Farda. (RFE/RL)

10-20-2016
Terrorism

Argentina issued another extradition warrant for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.

"Argentina issued another extradition warrant Thursday for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, the government said. Investigating Judge Rodolfo Canicoba asked Baghdad to extradite Ali Akbar Velayati, who is on the Interpol wanted list, since he is currently on Iraqi soil. He asked Iraq to arrest Velayati "in order to extradite him, after learning via the international press that the accused travelled to Baghdad" on Wednesday, the Argentine justice ministry said in a statement. In July Argentina issued a similar warrant to Singapore and Malaysia after learning Velayati was on a lecture tour to those countries. Argentine investigators accuse Velayati and four other Iranian former officials, including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of orchestrating the July 18, 1994 car bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires." (AFP)

10-20-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran has stepped up weapons transfers to the Houthis, the militia fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen, U.S., Western and Iranian officials tell Reuters, a development that threatens to prolong and intensify the 19-month-old war.

Iran has stepped up weapons transfers to the Houthis, the militia fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen, U.S., Western and Iranian officials tell Reuters, a development that threatens to prolong and intensify the 19-month-old war. The increased pace of transfers in recent months, which officials said include missiles and small arms, could exacerbate a security headache for the United States, which last week struck Houthi targets with cruise missiles in retaliation for failed missile attacks on a U.S. Navy destroyer. Much of the recent smuggling activity has been through Oman, which neighbors Yemen, including via overland routes that take advantage of porous borders between the two countries, the officials said. (Reuters)

10-19-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran says it will accept no US "interference" after Washington demanded the release of a dual national and his 80-year-old father given 10 year sentences for espionage. Three other Iranian-American dual nationals were also sentenced to 10 years.

"Iran said on Wednesday it would accept no US "interference" after Washington demanded the release of a dual national and his 80-year-old father given 10 year sentences for espionage. The State Department demanded the immediate release of Siamak and Baqher Namazi, both Iranian-American dual nationals, after their sentences were announced on Tuesday. But foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told Iranian media: "The government and the Iranian people give no importance to the statements and interference of American officials and their efforts to divide the ranks of the Iranian people. The American threats only add to the wall of mistrust Iranians have regarding the United States." Washington expressed concern over the health of the elder Namazi, a former UN Children's Fund employee who also served as the governor of an Iranian province before the Islamic revolution of 1979. Both were jailed for 10 years for "espionage and collaboration with the American government", Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolat-Abadi announced on Tuesday. Three other Iranian-American dual nationals -- Farhad Abd-Saleh, Kamran Ghaderi and Alireza Omidvar -- were also sentenced to 10 years on the same charges, along with a US resident from Lebanon, Nezar Zaka." (AFP)

10-19-2016
Anti-Americanism

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East says he suspects Iran is playing a role in recent missile launches by Houthi rebels in Yemen against U.S. ships in the Red Sea.

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said he suspects Iran is playing a role in recent missile launches by Houthi rebels in Yemen against U.S. ships in the Red Sea.  "I do think that Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houthis, so I do suspect there is a role in that," said U.S. Central Command leader Army Gen. Joseph Votel at the Center for American Progress.   It was the closest a U.S. official has come to directly attributing the missile attacks to Iran, which supports the Houthis in their civil war against the embattled regime. Last week, U.S. ships were fired upon at least two times while in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, prompting a U.S. destroyer to destroy three radar sites that U.S. officials say they believe were used in the missile launches. (The Hill)

10-18-2016
Terrorism

Iranian officials maintain that they will continue to fund global terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which are committed to Israel’s destruction, despite objections from the United States.

Iranian officials maintain that they will continue to fund global terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which are committed to Israel’s destruction, despite objections from the United States. “When they ask the foreign minister of America why do you violate your commitments under the JCPOA, they say we have acted on our commitments and even gone further than they require. However, Iranians must do certain things, such as ceasing their support for terrorists and halting their missile activities,” Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s Judiciary, was quoted as saying in Farsi-language reports on Monday. “However, what they mean by terrorists are resistance groups like Hezbollah of Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, which have stood against the violations and crimes of the Zionist regime,” Larijani said. (Washington Free Beacon)

10-18-2016
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian-American businessman and his father have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, the latest dual nationals imprisoned since the nuclear deal.

"An Iranian-American businessman and his father have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, a state-run judicial news agency reported Tuesday, the latest dual nationals imprisoned since the nuclear deal. The announcement by the Mizan news agency came a day after it released footage of businessman Siamak Namazi, a sign of the power still wielded by hard-liners in the Islamic Republic. The Mizan report said Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF representative who once served as governor of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province under the U.S.-backed shah, were convicted of "cooperating with the hostile American government." ... The report also said Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon, also received a 10-year prison sentence. His supporters had earlier told The Associated Press about the sentence, though the Mizan report was the first official Iranian report of it. The report also said two others had been convicted as well, without naming them or identifying their nationalities." (AP)

10-17-2016
Syria Conflict

A prominent Iranian official has boasted that his country interference in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq is in line with objectives to export the “Islamic Revolution” throughout the region.

A prominent Iranian official has boasted that his country interference in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq is in line with objectives to export the “Islamic Revolution” throughout the region. Hassan Fariuzabadi - the military advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said in an interview with semi official news agency, Fars: “We do not interfere and we do not want to expand our territory”, adding: “what is clear is our system is an Islamic revolution”, referring to Ruhollah Khomeini’s declared aim in 1979 of exporting the revolution... In an unprecedented statement, Khamenei Advisor revealed in the interview published Saturday, that his country sent, in the past years, military advisers to Gaza strip and trained the “Palestinian forces.” (Al Arabiya)

10-17-2016
Human Rights

Hard-liners in Iran posted a video online showing a detained Iranian-American businessman for the first time since his arrest in the country a year ago, a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran.

"Hard-liners in Iran posted a video online Monday showing a detained Iranian-American businessman for the first time since his arrest in the country a year ago, a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran. The minute-long video featuring Siamak Namazi, dubbed over with what sounded like a dramatic film score, highlighted recent tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. It also comes as hard-liners in Iran's security forces continue to target dual nationals and anyone with Western ties after the nuclear deal negotiated by the moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani. The montage of clips includes an Iranian drone flying over a U.S. aircraft carrier and American sailors on their knees after being briefly detained by Iran in January. It shows Namazi's U.S. passport, his United Arab Emirates ID card and a clip of him in a conference room, his arms raised at his sides. At the end of the video, it shows a still image of U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House's Foreign Affairs Committee. It quotes a statement by Royce from last year describing Namazi's arrest as "latest show of contempt for America." ... It wasn't clear why hard-liners chose to release the video, which was posted online Monday by Iran's state-run Mizan judicial news agency. However, it comes as Namazi, who earlier advocated for closer ties between Iran and the U.S., faces his one-year anniversary of being detained in Iran." (AP)

 

10-16-2016
Human Rights

Iranian media says authorities have detained 11 members of a "modeling and decadence network."

"Iranian media says authorities have detained 11 members of a "modeling and decadence network." The semi-official Tasnim news agency said Sunday that the network was involved in producing and publishing pornographic pictures on social media. It said authorities shuttered three underground studios used for the purpose. The report said the 11 people detained were "key elements" of the network, which was active in the southeastern city of Zahedan." (AP)

10-16-2016
Anti-Americanism

Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri says, “the US presence in the region is [like] a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the US out of the region."

"Chief spokesman for Iran's Armed Forces says the United States is the most important reason behind all the current problems in the Middle East, stressing that Washington must accept its strategic mistakes and leave the region. “The root cause of all the problems in the West Asia region is the US hegemony,” Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Sunday... “The US presence in the region is [like] a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the US out of the region,” Jazayeri added." (Press TV)

10-15-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the third such incident in the past week.

"A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on Saturday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the third such incident in the past week, U.S. officials said. Multiple surface-to-surface missiles were fired at the USS Mason sailing in international waters in the Red Sea but the warship used on-board countermeasures to defend itself and was not hit, one defense official said, citing initial information. The latest attack could provoke further retaliation by the U.S. military, which launched cruise missiles on Thursday against three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen in response to the two previous failed missile firings against the Mason. "The Mason once again appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea, again from coastal defense cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen," Admiral John Richardson, U.S. chief of naval operations, said during a ship christening in Baltimore on Saturday." (Reuters)

10-13-2016
Military

Russia has completed the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, which has sparked concern in Israel.

"Russia has completed the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, RIA news agency quoted Russia's state arms export agency as saying on Thursday. Russia's agreement to provide Iran with S-300 has sparked concern in Israel. Moscow canceled the contract to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West." (RIA)

10-12-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. warship operating off the coast of Yemen was targeted a second time by what appeared to be Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in southern Yemen.

"A U.S. warship operating off the coast of Yemen was targeted a second time Wednesday by what appeared to be Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in southern Yemen... Officials said the USS Mason, a destroyer, wasn't hit or damaged when two missiles were fired from a Houthi-controlled area known as al-Hudaydah. Iran backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been engaged in a bloody civil war that pits them against a Saudi Arabia-led coalition that is backed by the U.S. It was the second such attempted attack since Sunday, when missiles fired from the same region missed the Mason... Pentagon officials stressed that the Mason was operating in international waters off the Red Sea coast of Yemen about 6 p.m. local time Wednesday when the second attack occurred." (The Wall Street Journal)

 

10-12-2016
Terrorism

The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah vowed to maintain its "jihad" in neighbouring Syria at a huge rally in Beirut, a day after its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the war was in a phase of escalation.

"The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah vowed to maintain its "jihad" in neighbouring Syria at a huge rally in Beirut on Wednesday, a day after its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the war was in a phase of escalation. Addressing thousands marking Shi'ite Islam's annual Ashura religious commemoration in a heavily secured square in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold, Nasrallah said the war in Syria was being fought in defence of the whole region. "We will continue to bear our great responsibilities of jihad there. Your sons are there, and your men, your brothers, your husbands. They are defending their existence, dignity and the resistance," he said... Since Hezbollah's entry into Syria's civil war on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, some 1,500 of its fighters have died, say security sources in Lebanon. These have included about 350 this year; their images, often in heroic pose, are displayed on posters in Shi'ite villages across Lebanon." (Reuters)

10-11-2016
Anti-Americanism

The Pentagon won't rule out that Iranian missiles provided to rebels in Yemen were used to fire upon two U.S. warships in the Red Sea. Capt. Jeff Davis says, "It's no secret that Iran has been actively supplying them and giving them the tools of war."

"The Pentagon won't rule out that Iranian missiles provided to rebels in Yemen were used to fire upon two U.S. warships in the Red Sea on Sunday, spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday. The destroyer USS Mason and amphibious warship USS Ponce were conducting 'routine operations in international waters' in the Red Sea on Sunday night when the first of two cruise missiles was detected heading toward them, Davis said... On Tuesday, Davis confirmed that both missiles were launched from a coastal area of Yemen that is under the control of Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels... Davis said Tuesday that while the Houthis may have obtained advanced weaponry through the facilities they now control in Yemen, the U.S. was not ruling out that the missiles might have come from Iran. 'It's no secret that Iran has been actively supplying them and giving them the tools of war,' Davis said." (Stars & Stripes)

10-09-2016
Syria Conflict

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fire two missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer operating off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.

"Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer operating off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea on Sunday -- though neither missile hit the ship, the Pentagon said in a statement. Though the American warship wasn't struck, the ship was definitely targeted, a U.S. defense official told Fox News. This dramatic escalation comes a week after the U.S. Navy sent warships to the area when a United Arab Emirates flagged auxiliary ship was destroyed off the coast of Yemen by the Houthis. "We assess the missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen," Pentagon spokesman Capt Jeff Davis said. "The United States remains committed to ensuring freedom of navigation everywhere in the world, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our ships and our servicemembers." ... U.S. officials have long accused Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to the Houthis." (Fox News)

 

10-07-2016
Human Rights

The United Nations human rights investigator for Iran called for the immediate release of three Iranians with dual nationality whose health is a matter of concern.

"The United Nations human rights investigator for Iran called on Friday for the immediate release of three Iranians with dual nationality whose health is a matter of concern. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, in particular highlighted the case of the Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in April with her 2-year-old daughter and tried in August. An Iranian revolutionary court sentenced her to five years in prison on charges that remain secret, her family said last month. "Sentencing individuals for charges that are kept secret from defendants and their defense lawyers is a mockery of justice," Shaheed, a former foreign minister of the Maldives, said in a statement. He said her health had "seriously deteriorated" since her arrest." (Reuters)

10-06-2016
Syria Conflict

As Saudi Arabia holds a naval drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a powerful Iranian general has been quoted as suggesting the kingdom's deputy crown prince is so "impatient" he may kill his own father to take the throne.

"As Saudi Arabia holds a naval drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a powerful Iranian general has been quoted as suggesting the kingdom's deputy crown prince is so "impatient" he may kill his own father to take the throne. Harsh rhetoric has been common between the two rivals since January but the remarks by Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani's take things to an entirely different level by discussing Saudi King Salman being killed. Meanwhile, Iran already has warned Saudi Arabia to stay away from its territorial waters as heavily armed Saudi frogmen and warships take part in the Gulf Shield 1 drill across the larger Persian Gulf, adding to the tensions between the two rival Mideast powers." (AP)

10-06-2016
Human Rights

Iranian judges have ordered a young female writer and activist to serve a six-year jail term for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning to death in her country.

"Iranian judges have ordered a young female writer and activist to serve a six-year jail term for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning to death in her country. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call on Tuesday from judicial officials ordering her to Evin prison in Tehran, where her husband, Arash Sadeghi, a prominent student activist, is serving a 19-year sentence.  Ebrahimi Iraee told Voice of America’s Persian network this week that she had been sentenced to five years in prison for insulting Islamic sanctities and one extra year for spreading propaganda against the ruling system." (The Guardian)

10-05-2016
Human Rights

Montreal's Homa Hoodfar says members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard psychologically tortured her during dozens of interrogations over the course of 112 brutal days in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Montreal's Homa Hoodfar says members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard psychologically tortured her during dozens of interrogations over the course of 112 brutal days in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.  They threatened "they would send my dead body back to Canada," the retired Concordia University professor told CBC News in her first interview since her release on Sept. 26… She says the interrogators tried to break her spirit. The worst part, she said, was when they played music from the funeral of her husband, who died in December 2014. They had found the music on Hoodfar's iPad… Hoodfar says she hopes she wasn't traded as part of an embassy deal. "I know that has happened sometimes," she said. "But that's one of the concerns I have." (CBC News)

10-04-2016
Human Rights

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has given a damning assessment of human rights in Iran, highlighting the “alarming rate” of executions and saying little progress has been made under president Hassan Rouhani.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has given a damning assessment of human rights in Iran, highlighting the “alarming rate” of executions and saying little progress has been made under president Hassan Rouhani. In spite of his achievements on the international front, most notably reaching last year’s landmark nuclear deal, Rouhani’s promises of domestic improvements have stalled in the face of resistance from hardliners. Ban’s 19-page report, released this week, says he remains “deeply troubled” by accounts “of executions, floggings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, denial of access to medical care and possible torture and ill-treatment”. (The Guardian)

10-03-2016
Human Rights

Iran's head of Judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, says that the Judiciary has no plans to abolish the death penalty and called on Iranian judicial officials to not hesitate in carrying out the execution sentences for alleged drug offenders.

"Iran's head of Judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, recently said that the Judiciary has no plans to abolish the death penalty and called on Iranian judicial officials to not hesitate in carrying out the execution sentences for alleged drug offenders. Amoli Larijani's official remarks were made on Thursday September 29 in Mashhad, at the 13th annual conference for Iran's revolutionary, military and public courts. According to Iranian state run media, Fars, in his remarks Amoli Larijani referred to drug traffickers as "merchants of death" and rejected calls for the complete abolition of the death penalty for crimes related to drug trafficking." ( Iran Human Rights)

10-03-2016
Human Rights

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government, claiming he was taken hostage and psychologically tortured during his 18 months in prison in an effort by Tehran to influence negotiations.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Iranian government, claiming he was taken hostage and psychologically tortured during his 18 months in prison in an effort by Tehran to influence negotiations for a nuclear agreement with Iran. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, says Rezaian was targeted for arrest to gain advantage in a prisoner exchange and to “extort” concessions from the U.S. government in the multinational talks over lifting sanctions if Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear program. Iranian officials repeatedly told Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who also was detained for more than two months, that Rezaian had “value” as a bargaining chip for a prisoner swap, the suit says... “For nearly eighteen months, Iran held and terrorized Jason for the purpose of gaining negotiating leverage and ultimately exchanging him with the United States for something of value to Iran,” the suit states. (Washington Post)

10-02-2016
Terrorism

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says, “I am happy and proud of the fact that my brothers Qasem Soleimani, Hassan Nasrallah and Ramadan Abdullah [Shalah] contact me every day and thank me for the Islamic Republic's policies..."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared before the Iranian parliament Oct. 2 to address questions about Iran’s diplomatic approach in the aftermath of the nuclear deal. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed with six world powers led to the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions in return for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Javad Karimi Ghodoosi, a member of parliament from the Principlist faction who has been an outspoken critic of Iran’s current government, posed questions that triggered an outburst by Zarif... Voicing his displeasure with Ghodoosi and stressing his ministry’s compliance with the policies of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Zarif replied in a harsh tone, “I am happy and proud of the fact that my brothers Qasem Soleimani, Hassan Nasrallah and Ramadan Abdullah [Shalah] contact me every day and thank me for the Islamic Republic's policies. … So please do not question our foreign policy.” (Al-Monitor)

10-01-2016
Military

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Aerospace Force has released photos of a US drone captured by Iran which is similar to a new attack drone built by Iran's Revolutionary Guard that can carry four precision-guided bombs.

"Iran's Revolutionary Guard has built a new attack drone which is similar to a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle captured five years ago, Iranian media reported on Saturday. The semi-official Tasnim news agency says the "Saegheh" (Thunderbolt) drone is similar to the RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone. Iran's state-run Press TV says the long-range drone can carry four precision-guided bombs. Neither report gave figures for the drone's range. Iran claimed to have shot down an RQ-170 drone used by the Central Intelligence Agency in December 2011 and broadcast footage of the recovered aircraft. It also claims to have captured three American ScanEagle drones. Iran said last year that it had successfully tested its replica of the RQ-170. Also on Saturday, Tasnim published photos of what it said was a U.S.-made MQ-1C drone captured recently by the Guard. It did not say when or how the drone was captured." (AP)

"The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force on Saturday released the first photos of a US drone captured by Iran. According to the IRGC, the photos show an American MQ-1C Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) now in possession of the IRGC forces. It is not clear when exactly the drone has been captured by Iran. The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle attack drone is a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft that is an upgraded MQ-1 Predator as an extended-range multi-purpose UAV." (Tasnim)

09-28-2016
Nuclear Program

A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards says Iran is in possession of missiles that can hit Israel, stating that the “Zionist regime is our biggest target.”

A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Tuesday that Iran is in possession of missiles that can hit Israel. Iran's Press TV quoted Commander of the IRGC's Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh as telling reporters that "we do not need missiles with a range of over 2,000 kilometers. The longest range required for [Iran's] missiles is the [Israeli] occupied lands." The commander warned that "the Zionist regime is our biggest target." (Jerusalem Post)

09-28-2016
Human Rights

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a 16-year sentence for one of Iran’s most prominent women’s rights activists, Narges Mohammadi.

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a 16-year sentence for one of Iran’s most prominent women’s rights activists, her lawyer said Wednesday. The activist, Narges Mohammadi, 44, a human rights lawyer, has been in and out of jail over the past 15 years and has had several confrontations with Iran’s hard-line dominated judiciary. Her arrest in 2015 and conviction a year later were severe blows to Iran’s small and embattled community of women’s rights activists, highlighting the severe pressures they face. “She has committed no crime and has just been doing her job as a lawyer and citizen,” said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and prominent activist who spent two years in prison but who was granted an early release in 2013. Ms. Sotoudeh characterized her colleague as a law-abiding citizen who defended victims of acid attacks and voted while in prison during the 2015 parliamentary elections. “Every day Narges is behind bars is one too many,” Ms. Sotoudeh said. (The New York Times)

09-26-2016
Human Rights

A Canadian-Iranian retired professor was released from prison on humanitarian grounds" and flown out of Iran ending her months of detention alongside other dual nationals swept up by hard-liners in the security services.

A Canadian-Iranian retired professor was released from prison on "humanitarian grounds" and flown out of Iran on Monday, Iran's state-run news agency said, ending her months of detention alongside other dual nationals swept up by hard-liners in the security services. Homa Hoodfar was flown to the Arab Gulf nation of Oman, the brief report from the IRNA news agency said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed her release in a statement, thanking Italy, Switzerland and Oman for their help in the matter. Hoodfar, 65, was questioned and barred from leaving Iran in March after traveling to the country to visit family following the death of her husband. Her family said she has been held in Tehran's Evin Prison since June. Hoodfar until recently taught anthropology and sociology at Montreal's Concordia University. In July, Iran announced indictments for Hoodfar and three others, without providing any details about the accusations. In recent weeks, Hoodfar's supporters described her health as deteriorating while she was in solitary confinement, saying she was "barely able to walk or talk." (AP)

 

09-26-2016
Syria Conflict

As many as 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters have arrived in Aleppo supporting the Syrian regime in its fight to crush the rebellion.

As deadly airstrikes pounded Aleppo, Syria over the weekend, a major foreign ground force was also converging on the region. As many as 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters have arrived in Aleppo supporting the Syrian regime in its fight to crush the rebellion, two U.S. officials confirm to Fox News. There are an estimated 250,000 Syrian civilians trapped in Aleppo facing an onslaught of Russian and Syrian bombs, according to reports. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias include fighters from neighboring Iraq as well as Afghanistan, officials say. Many of those fighters had already been in Syria but recently descended on Aleppo. (Fox News)

09-25-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran’s Defense Ministry has released a video of the latest homegrown ballistic missile, Zolfaqar, being launched and hitting a target.

Iran's Defense Ministry on Sunday released video of the latest homegrown ballistic missile, Zolfaqar, being launched and hitting a target. The video shows Zolfaqar moving upward with a thick vapor trail and then detonating a target in the middle of a desert area. Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan inaugurated the mass production line of the tactical ballistic missile. Zolfaqar runs on solid fuel and can hit targets with pin-point accuracy in a range of 750 kilometers. (Tasnim)

09-23-2016
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian general in charge of the Islamic Republic’s air defense says his forces warned off an American U2 spy plane trying to fly over his country.

An Iranian general in charge of the Islamic Republic’s air defense says his forces warned off an American U2 spy plane trying to fly over his country. Iranian state television broadcast the comments by Gen. Farzad Esmaili on Friday, saying the incident happened “in recent days.” Esmaili said the plane flew away, without elaborating on where the aircraft attempted to enter Iranian airspace. (AP)

09-23-2016
Human Rights

An advocacy group has called for the immediate release of two Iranian journalists detained in Tehran.

An advocacy group has called for the immediate release of two Iranian journalists detained in Tehran. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement early Friday highlighting the cases of Sadra Mohaqeq, an editor at the pro-reform daily newspaper Shargh, and Yashar Soltani, who writes for the news website Memari News. Sherif Mansour of the committee says the reporters' detention shows, "whether journalists are advocating for national political reform or reporting on a local land deal, they are not safe from Iranian prisons." (AP)

09-22-2016
Human Rights

A prisoner is publicly executed in a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz in southern Iran.

A prisoner sentenced to public execution for rape and murder was hanged in public at a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz (Fars province, southern Iran) on the morning of Thursday September 22. According to Iranian state run news agency Mehr, quoting the press department of the Judiciary in Fars, a prisoner identified as "Saeed T." was hanged in public on the morning of Thursday September 22 at a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz. Photos of this public hanging shows that at least one child was present and watching the execution. This is not the first time that Iranian authorities have used a sports stadium to carry out an execution. In 2013, after learning about a public execution carried out in a sports stadium in northeastern Iran, FIFA issued a warning to Iranian officials and called on them to ensure that the act is not repeated. (Iran Human Rights)

 

09-22-2016
Human Rights

Women in Iran have been posting photos on social media of themselves riding bicycles, defying a fatwa forbidding them from cycling in public.

Women in Iran have been posting photos on social media of themselves riding bicycles, defying a fatwa forbidding them from cycling in public. It had been understood women that could cycle as long as religious concerns were respected. But when asked recently, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said women were not allowed to cycle in public or in the presence of strangers... A video a mother and daughter filmed of themselves cycling in Iran has had 98,000 views since it was posted on My Stealthy Freedom's Facebook page on Monday. Campaign founder Masih Alinejad, who is based in New York, said: "They told me that they are not going to give up because they think biking is their absolute right. "It is absolutely shameful to hear such a backward fatwa against women in the 21st Century. (BBC)

 

09-22-2016
Syria Conflict

Abandoning a long-standing reticence, Iranians are increasingly candid about their involvement in Syria's war, and informal recruiters are now openly calling for volunteers to defend the Islamic Republic and fellow Shi'ites against Sunni militants.

Abandoning a long-standing reticence, Iranians are increasingly candid about their involvement in Syria's war, and informal recruiters are now openly calling for volunteers to defend the Islamic Republic and fellow Shi'ites against Sunni militants. With public opinion swinging behind the cause, numbers of would-be fighters have soared far beyond what Tehran is prepared to deploy in Syria… Once Tehran described these forces as military "advisers" but with around 400 killed on the battlefield, this discretion has slipped and several thousand are now believed to be fighting Islamic State and other groups trying to topple Assad. Many Iranians initially opposed involvement in the war, harbouring little sympathy for Assad. But now they are warming to the mission, believing that Islamic State is a threat to the existence of their country best fought outside Iran's borders. Iran alludes to its fighters in Syria as "defenders of the shrine", a reference to the Sayeda Zeinab mosque near Damascus, which is where a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad is said to be buried, as well as other shrines revered by Shi’ites. It is casting its recruitment net wide. As well as Iranians, it has gathered Shi'ites from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to battle the Syrian opposition in what has become a sectarian conflict. Fighters killed in Syria are praised as heroes on state television and given lavish funerals. Iranian wrestler Saeed Abdevali dedicated the bronze medal he won at the Rio Olympics to the families of "defenders of the shrine" who have been killed. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the wars in Syria and Iraq, where Iranian-backed authorities are also fighting Sunni militants, as crucial to the survival of the Islamic Republic. If Iranians had not gone and died fighting there, "the enemy would enter the country", he said. (Reuters)

09-21-2016
Extremism

Iran unveiled a new missile carried by a military truck which bore a banner printed with a 2013 anti-Israeli quote by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that Iran will annihilate the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa should Israel attack Iran.

Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces said Wednesday a $38 billion aid deal between the United States and Israel makes Iran more determined to strengthen its military… During a separate parade Wednesday in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Iran unveiled a new missile, known as Zolfaghar. It was carried by military truck which bore a banner printed with a 2013 anti-Israeli quote by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that Iran will annihilate the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa should Israel attack Iran. (AP)

09-21-2016
Military

Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf.

Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf. At a parade in Tehran on Wednesday, shown on state TV, the military displayed long-range missiles, tanks, and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system. At the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf, the navy showed off 500 vessels, as well as submarines and helicopters, at a time of high tension with the United States in the strategic waterway. U.S. officials say there have been more than 30 close encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels in the Gulf so far this year, over twice as many as in the same period of 2015. (Reuters)

09-20-2016
Human Rights

A U.S. permanent resident detained for a year in Iran over spying allegations has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine.

A U.S. permanent resident detained for a year in Iran over spying allegations has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine, his supporters said Tuesday, the latest move in a crackdown on those with foreign ties following last year's nuclear deal. The sentence for Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen who advocates for internet freedom and whose nonprofit group did work for the U.S. government, comes as Iranian officials attend the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York. It also shows the challenge faced by Western governments and those wanting warmer ties with Iran, where hard-liners in the security forces and judiciary target dual nationals and others in secret trials. "There's no regard for any international order, any international agreement or any international state of relations that they care about," said David Ramadan, a former Virginia state legislator who co-founded a group called Friends of Nizar Zakka. A statement early Tuesday from Jason Poblete, a U.S. lawyer representing Zakka, said a Revolutionary Court in Tehran handed down the sentence in a 60-page verdict that Zakka's supporters have yet to see. (AP)

09-20-2016
Nuclear Program

North Korea says it successfully tested a high-powered rocket engine for launching satellites. The description of the new engine matched that of a rocket booster the U.S. has alleged Pyongyang was collaborating on with Iran.

North Korea said it had successfully tested a high-powered rocket engine for launching satellites, elevating concerns it is making progress in developing a long-range ballistic missile. The description of the new engine matched that of a rocket booster the U.S. has alleged Pyongyang was collaborating on with Iran, experts said, indicating the North Korean technology might be shared with Tehran... The description of the engine also indicated it may be the same as a rocket booster that North Korea has allegedly worked on with Iran. In January, U.S. Treasury sanctioned two Iranian officials who it said had traveled to Pyongyang with engineers in recent years to jointly develop an 80-ton rocket booster. “It’s one and the same,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute, adding that a rocket engine of that size would represent an upgrade to Iran’s current capabilities. (WSJ)

09-19-2016
Human Rights

Sadra Mohaghegh, the social affairs editor of the reformist Shargh newspaper, was arrested on September 19, 2016. “S-M” had been detained by “one of the security agencies” for working with “anti-revolutionary” media outlet.

Sadra Mohaghegh, the social affairs editor of the reformist Shargh newspaper, was arrested on September 19, 2016, but the circumstances surrounding his arrest and the charges against him are unclear, according to his lawyer. The arrest comes on the heels of an international tour by President Hassan Rouhani that will end at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he will have a press conference on September 22. The semi-official Mehr News Agency reported on September 19 that a newspaper editor identified as “S-M” had been detained by “one of the security agencies” for working with “anti-revolutionary” media outlets. Later that day, Shargh confirmed Mohaghegh’s arrest via its Twitter account. Mohaghegh is well known for his reports on environmental issues and informative social media postings; a few hours after his arrest, his Twitter and Facebook accounts became inaccessible. He was briefly arrested on two previous occasions, in 2012 and 2013, but was never prosecuted. (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

09-18-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme Leader says to the commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards force, the Islamic Republic must stand strong against Washington on the region's conflicts.

Iran's supreme leader said the Islamic republic must stand strong against Washington on the region's conflicts, in an address Sunday to commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards force. "The Americans insist we negotiate with them on regional issues, especially on Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in the speech published on his official website. "What is their main goal for requesting these talks? They have no aim but to prevent the presence in the region of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the main factor of America's failures," said Khamenei. (AFP)

09-17-2016
Extremism

Iranian President Rouhani says, "The Zionist regime seeks to devise and exploit the ongoing developments in the Middle East, particularly the emergence and spread of terrorist and extremist groups such as Daesh..."

The Iranian President said world challenges should not be allowed to divert attention from the plight of the Palestinians. “The Zionist regime seeks to devise and exploit the ongoing developments in the Middle East, particularly the emergence and spread of terrorist and extremist groups such as Daesh to overshadow its crimes against the oppressed Palestinian nation and others regional nations.” (Press TV)

09-13-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran threatens to shoot down two US Navy surveillance aircraft flying close to Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf.

"Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy surveillance aircraft flying close to Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf over the weekend, the latest in a series of recent provocations between Iran and the US military in the region, three US defense officials with knowledge of the incident told Fox News. On Sept. 10, a Navy P-8 Poseidon with a crew of nine and an EP-3 Eries with a crew of roughly 24, were flying a reconnaissance mission 13 miles off the coast of Iran, in the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, according to officials. Iran's territorial waters-like all nations--extend 12 miles into the sea, according to international maritime law. At some point during the flight, the Iranian military warned the two aircraft to change course or risk getting shot down.  The US military planes ignored the warning and continued flying in international airspace, although close to Iranian territory, the officials told Fox.  "We wanted to test the Iranian reaction," one US official told Fox News when asked why the US jets were flying close to Iran. "It's one thing to tell someone to get off your lawn, but we weren't on their lawn," the official continued.  "Anytime you threaten to shoot someone down, it's not considered professional." (Fox News)

09-13-2016
Human Rights

The outlook for release of Montreal anthropologist Homa Hoodfar from Iran’s Evin prison darkened with news that a hard-line judge has dismissed her lawyer and chosen another to represent her without her consent.

"The outlook for release of Montreal anthropologist Homa Hoodfar from Iran’s Evin prison darkened Tuesday with news that a hard-line judge has dismissed her lawyer and chosen another to represent her without her consent. “This seems to be standard procedure for this judge, who has been violating many laws,” said Hoodfar’s niece, Amanda Ghahremani, speaking from Montreal. “He’s denied access to her lawyers, her family, she is in solitary confinement and has not been moved to a general ward. Her health is our biggest concern.” The judge, Abolqasem Salvati, known for earlier draconian verdicts, has presided over high profile cases of Iranian-born journalist Jason Rezaian, Canadian permanent resident Mostafa Azizi and Iranian-British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was sentenced last week to five years in prison." (Toronto Star

09-11-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran begins building its second nuclear power plant with Russian help, the first such project since last year's landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran began building its second nuclear power plant with Russian help on Saturday, the first such project since last year's landmark nuclear deal with world powers. The project in the southern port city of Bushehr will eventually include two power plants expected to go online in 10 years. Construction on the second plant is set to begin in 2018. The entire project will cost more than $8.5 billion, with each plant producing 1,057 megawatts of electricity. "Construction of the power plant is a symbol of Iran enjoying the results of the nuclear deal," Senior Vice-President Ishaq Jahangiri said at a ceremony marking the start of the project. "We will continue working with Russia as a strategic partner and friend," he added. Iran's sole operational nuclear reactor, also built in Bushehr with Russian assistance, produces 1,000 megawatts. It went online in 2011, and the two countries have agreed to cooperate on future projects. (AP)

09-09-2016
Extremism

Memari News, an independent website dedicated to news about architecture and urban development, has been suspended for publishing a letter from Iran’s National Inspection Organization to the Tehran Municipality.

Memari News, an independent website dedicated to news about architecture and urban development, has been suspended for publishing a letter from Iran’s National Inspection Organization to the Tehran Municipality that declared the sale and grant of certain lands to municipality workers and other officials to be against the law. “The Tehran Prosecutor’s suspension of a website for publishing an official letter is a blatant abuse of power aimed at suppressing media organizations that are trying to keep officials accountable for their actions,” said the Campaign’s executive director Hadi Ghaemi.“The Judiciary is making a mockery of its claim to be fighting corruption and protecting the rights of citizens by closing down news sites that expose unlawful activities,” Ghaemi added.Memari News noted in its report that the letter from the National Inspection Organization was not marked classified. The organization investigated Tehran Municipality under Article 598 of the New Islamic Penal Code which deals with abuse of government funds and properties and found violations in excess of 2.2 trillion tomans ($702 million USD). It pointed fingers at several senior municipality officials as well as city council members, Members of Parliament and police officers. (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

09-09-2016
Human Rights

Iran has sentenced an Iranian-British charity worker to five years in prison, after detaining her while on a family trip to the country in April, her husband says.

"Iran has sentenced an Iranian-British charity worker to five years in prison, after detaining her while on a family trip to the country in April, her husband said on Friday. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is one of several dual nationals Iran has arrested in recent months, some of whom have been accused of spying. Abolghassem Salavati, an Islamic Revolutionary Court judge who has handled numerous high-profile cases involving foreigners, handed down the sentence in Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case on Tuesday, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said. Mr. Salavati presided over a three-hour trial on Aug. 14 at which Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer was present, according to her family. The family said the proceedings were held in secret, and it was denied permission to attend. Mr. Ratcliffe said Iran hadn’t revealed specific charges against his wife. “A sentence with secret charges still seems crazy,” he said. “Literally it is a punishment without a crime.” (WSJ)

09-07-2016
Syria Conflict

A bitter war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni saying, "this incident proves once again that this cursed, evil family does not deserve to be in charge and manage the holy sites."

 

A bitter war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified Wednesday ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage from which Iranians have been excluded for the first time in decades. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted the “incompetence" of the Saudi royal family as he met with the families of victims of a deadly stampede during last year's hajj. "This incident proves once again that this cursed, evil family does not deserve to be in charge and manage the holy sites," Khamenei said. (AFP)

09-06-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after a fast-attack craft from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came within 100 yards (91 meters) of it in the central Gulf.

A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after a fast-attack craft from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came within 100 yards (91 meters) of it in the central Gulf on Sunday, U.S. Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. It was at least the fourth such incident in less than a month. U.S. officials are concerned that these actions by Iran could lead to mistakes... there have been 31 similar interactions with Iranian ships this year, almost double the amount from the same period last year. "We don't see this type of unsafe and unprofessional activity from any other nation," the defense official added. (Reuters)

09-05-2016
Syria Conflict

With Iranians blocked from the hajj pilgrimage, Supreme Leader Khamenei issued a furious rebuke against rival Saudi Arabia, saying the Muslim world should challenge its management of Islam's holiest sites.

With Iranians blocked from this month's hajj pilgrimage, their supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a furious rebuke to rival Saudi Arabia, saying the Muslim world should challenge its management of Islam's holiest sites. "Saudi rulers... who have blocked the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims' path to the Beloved?s House, are disgraced and misguided people who think their survival on the throne of oppression is dependent on defending the arrogant powers of the world, on alliances with Zionism and the US," Khamenei said. He accused Saudi Arabia's ruling family, who are the custodians of Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, of politicising the annual hajj pilgrimage, due to start at the end of the week, turning themselves into "small and puny Satans who tremble for fear of jeopardising the interests of the Great Satan (the United States)". For the first time in almost three decades, Iranians have been effectively barred from participating in this year's pilgrimage to Mecca after talks on logistics and security fell apart. But even by recent standards, with relations between the rival Middle Eastern powers at an all-time low, the language was tough. "Because of Saudi rulers' oppressive behaviour towards God's guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj," Khamenei wrote in a statement on his website. (AFP)

08-31-2016
Military

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that Iran needs to boost its offensive military capabilities. "In order to secure our population, our country and our future we have to increase our offensive capabilities as well as our defensive capabilities."

"Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Iran needs to boost its offensive military capabilities. "In order to secure our population, our country and our future we have to increase our offensive capabilities as well as our defensive capabilities,” he said at a military expo in Tehran where a number of top military officials gathered, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)... Khamenei also said that expanding defensive capabilities was necessary “so that oppressive powers feel threatened”, an allusion to the United States and key European allies." (Reuters)

08-29-2016
Human Rights

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, has expressed outrage at the execution on 27 August of 12 people, including Alireza Madadpour, on drug-related charges.

"The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, has expressed outrage at the execution on 27 August of 12 people, including Alireza Madadpour, on drug-related charges. Mr. Shaheed had appealed publicly on 26 August to the Iranian authorities not to go ahead with the planned executions at Karaj Central Prison. 'The execution of individuals for drug-related offences is simply illegal,' Mr. Shaheed said, noting that international law only allows the imposition of the death penalty for the 'most serious crimes', where there is intentional killing, and after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees. None of these conditions were respected, at least in the case of Mr. Madadpour. 'Combating drug trafficking, a serious concern in Iran, does not justify the use of the death penalty in drug-related cases,' the Special Rapporteur stressed. 'The execution of Mr. Madadpour and 11 others shows the Iranian authorities’ complete disregard of its obligations under international human rights law and especially of international fair trial standards and due process guarantees,' Mr. Shaheed added." (UN)

08-29-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran has deployed the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system around its Fordow underground uranium enrichment facility.

"Iran has deployed the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system around its Fordow underground uranium enrichment facility, Iranian state media reported on Monday. Iranian state TV on Sunday aired footage of deployment of the recently delivered missile system to the nuclear site in the central Iran. 'Our main priority is to protect Iran's nuclear facilities under any circumstances,' Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) air defense force told state TV... The IRGC's Esmaili did not say whether the system was operational, but added: 'Today, Iran's sky is one of the most secure in the Middle East'. Iran's top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that the country's military power was for defensive purposes. 'The S-300 system is a defence system not an assault one, but the Americans did their utmost to prevent Iran from getting it,' Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state TV." (Reuters)

08-29-2016
Anti-Americanism

"The number of provocative interactions between Iranian vessels and the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf nearly doubled in the first half of 2016 compared with the same time period."

"Dangerous confrontations between Iran and the U.S. Navy are becoming even more frequent than previously estimated, Fox News has learned. According to new data shared Monday with Fox News by a U.S. defense official, the number of provocative interactions between Iranian vessels and the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf nearly doubled in the first half of 2016 compared with the same time period a year ago. 'In the first half of 2016, we have seen nearly twice as many unprofessional and/or unsafe interactions when compared to the first half last year. That's a disturbing rise and it has continued into the second half of the year,' said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. In the first half of 2016, there were 19 dangerous interactions with the Iranians, which the U.S. Navy characterized as 'unsafe and unprofessional.' In the first half of 2015, that number was 10, according to the official. The Iranian vessels acted as the aggressors every time, according to the U.S. Navy. The account follows a Fox News report on Friday citing estimates that such confrontations are up more than 50 percent this year. The defense official, though, said Monday the U.S. Navy had gone through its numbers over the weekend and reclassified some of them. (U.S. Central Command had issued a statement in July saying there were 26 dangerous interactions in the first half of 2016.) The new numbers show an even sharper rise in the first half of the year, though the number itself is lower than Central Command first estimated." (Fox News)

08-29-2016
Human Rights

A professor from Montreal who has been imprisoned in Iran was recently hospitalized and is barely conscious and can hardly walk or talk, according to family.

"A professor from Montreal who has been imprisoned in Iran was recently hospitalized and is barely conscious and can hardly walk or talk, according to family. Homa Hoodfar, an anthropologist at Concordia University, is being kept in solitary confinement nearly three months after her arrest in Tehran on June 6 while on a personal and research visit to Iran, her niece Amanda Ghahremani said. Hoodfar's family says Iranian authorities have refused regular visits by her lawyer and have tried to dismiss him. During his one visit in July, he was forbidden to discuss her case and has been denied all access to her legal file, the family said. 'It has become clear that the authorities are not prioritizing her health and do not intend to respect Homa's due process rights under Iranian law,' Ghahremani said... 'The continued solitary incarceration and illegal psychological pressure applied by the presiding judge to break her and confess to these fabricated charges are of great concern to Professor Hoodfar's family and friends,' a news release from the family says." (CBC)

08-28-2016
Human Rights

Iran says that a person close to the government team that negotiated its nuclear agreement with foreign powers has been arrested on accusations of espionage and released on bail.

"Iran said on Sunday that a person close to the government team that negotiated its nuclear agreement with foreign powers had been arrested on accusations of espionage and released on bail. The disclosure, reported in the state news media, appeared to be the latest sign of the Iranian leadership’s frustration over the agreement, which has failed so far to yield the significant economic benefits for the country that its advocates had promised. Iranian officials have blamed the United States for that problem... There were unconfirmed reports last week that the Iranian authorities had arrested Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, who has dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, on espionage suspicions. Mr. Esfahani, an adviser to Iran’s central bank, helped the Iranian nuclear negotiators bargain for sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s pledges of verifiably peaceful nuclear work. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, speaking at a weekly news conference on Sunday in Tehran, had 'confirmed the arrest of an individual from the negotiating team.' But the spokesman also said that 'his charge of spying has not been proved' and that the suspect had been released on bail pending an investigation." (NYT)

08-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iranian naval boats made dangerous maneuvers around United States warships in the Persian Gulf area on at least four occasions this week, including one episode in which the Americans fired warning shots from a 50-caliber deck gun to prevent a collision.

"Iranian naval boats made dangerous maneuvers around United States warships in the Persian Gulf area on at least four occasions this week, Pentagon officials said Thursday, including one episode in which the Americans fired warning shots from a 50-caliber deck gun to prevent a collision. It was unclear whether the confrontations — one near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday and three in the northern Persian Gulf on Wednesday — were deliberate efforts to send a hostile message about American naval activity. Still, they underscored the risk of an armed clash between Iran and the United States in an area that has been a perennial source of tension for the two countries. There was no immediate comment from Iran about Wednesday’s encounters. But its defense minister denied that Iranian vessels had done anything wrong in the Tuesday episode and accused the Americans of trespassing to provoke a response. Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, called the Iranian behavior on Wednesday a violation of international law and accused the Iranians of ignoring repeated warnings from the American vessels, creating a 'dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation.' In a statement, Commander Urban said Wednesday’s episodes included two in which the Squall and the Tempest, American coastal patrol ships operating in international waters, were harassed by three boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, which crisscrossed the Tempest’s bow and created 'a possible collision hazard.' Later, he said, an Iranian patrol vessel approached the Tempest head-on despite repeated radio, flare and loudspeaker warnings. 'Ultimately, Squall resorted to firing three warning shots from their 50-caliber gun, which caused the Iranian vessel to turn away,' Commander Urban said. In the third episode on Wednesday, he said, the Stout, a guided missile destroyer, was harassed by the same vessel that had menaced the Tempest and the Squall. It crossed the Stout’s bow three times in an 'unsafe intercept,' Commander Urban said, and the Stout maneuvered away and 'employed devices,' which he did not identify, to dissuade the Iranian vessel from further harassment." (NYT)

08-24-2016
Anti-Americanism

Four ships from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps harassed a U.S. destroyer near the Persian Gulf in what the U.S. Navy called an 'unsafe and unprofessional' interaction."

"Four ships from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps harassed a U.S. destroyer near the Persian Gulf in what the U.S. Navy called an 'unsafe and unprofessional' interaction. The USS Nitze, an Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer, was transiting international waters near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday when the four Iranian vessels approached at high speed and failed to respond to 12 separate radio communications, according to Cdr. William Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet. The USS Nitze blew its whistle in five short blasts on three occasions—signaling the Iranian vessels were on a dangerous course—and fired off 10 flares in the direction of the approaching ships before altering course to avoid a potential collision, Cmdr. Urban said. As two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the destroyer, the quartet finally slowed speed and motored away from the U.S. ship, according to Cmdr. Urban, who characterized the interaction as a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation. The USS Nitze was transiting the waters with the USS Mason, another guided-missile destroyer. The incident was one of many interactions between Iranian and American ships in and around the Persian Gulf in recent months. But it was one of few the U.S. Navy has deemed unsafe or unprofessional. According to a U.S. defense official, the Navy deemed about 10% of the hundreds of interactions between Iranian and American ships unsafe or unprofessional in 2015 and the first half of 2016. The official said the number of interactions—both safe and unsafe—has increased this year compared with 2015." (WSJ)

08-23-2016
Human Rights

"The cyber-arm of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard says it has summoned, detained and warned some 450 administrators of social media groups in recent weeks."

"The cyber-arm of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard says it has summoned, detained and warned some 450 administrators of social media groups in recent weeks. The announcement Tuesday, carried on a website affiliated with the Guard's cyber arm, says those detained used social media like the messaging app Telegram, which is popular in Iran. The announcement says those detained or summoned made posts that were considered immoral, were related to modeling, or which insulted religious beliefs. It says the Guard only took action after 'judicial procedures' were completed, without elaborating." (AP)

08-21-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran has reportedly formed what it calls the 'Liberation Army' whose units will be deployed in the Arab countries."

"Iran has reportedly formed what it calls the 'Liberation Army' whose units will be deployed in Arab countries, according to a news website. Currently, Iran is involved in multiple conflicts where Shia and Sunni Muslims are locked in a power struggle, notably Syria and Yemen. Mohammad Ali Al Falaki, a retired commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in an interview published on Thursday by Mashregh News that Iran is fighting on three fronts: Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran 'created the Liberation Army in Syria under the leadership of Qassem Soleimani', said Falaki, who leads forces in Syria... 'The forces that belong to this army are not Iranians only. In any place where there is a fight, we organise and supply the army from the people of the area,' said Falaki." (Al Jazeera)

08-21-2016
Military

President Rouhani says, "Iran's military budget had more than doubled compared with last year. If we are able to discuss with world powers world powers around the negotiating table, it is because of our national strength, because of our national unity."

"Iran released images of its first domestically built long-range missile defence system on Sunday, a project started when the country was under international sanctions. Images on multiple state news agencies showed President Hassan Rouhani and Minister of Defence Hossein Dehghan standing in front of the new Bavar 373 missile defence system. The system was designed to intercept cruise missiles, drones, combat aircraft and ballistic missiles, according to earlier statements by Dehghan... In an earlier speech at Friday prayers, he said: 'Our missile power is at such a level that we are able to destroy all our targets at any operational range.' Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday that Iran's military budget had more than doubled compared with last year. 'If we are able to discuss with world powers around the negotiating table, it is because of our national strength, because of our national unity,' he said." (AFP)

08-17-2016
Human Rights

"Iran has arrested several Iranians holding dual nationality in what has been seen as a new round of intimidation targeting people connected to foreign circles and businesses."

"Iran has arrested several Iranians holding dual nationality in what has been seen as a new round of intimidation targeting people connected to foreign circles and businesses. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran's state prosector, said on Tuesday that a dual national whose 'activities were in the economic sector' was arrested last week for alleged links to Britain's intelligence services. He gave no further details but the arrest followed the detention last month of two leading figures in Iran's art business, apparently for socialising with foreign diplomats and allegedly having alcohol at their home... Iran's judiciary said two dual nationals - widely assumed to be the pair in the art industry - were arrested last month last month because they invited foreign diplomats to parties and had 4,000 litres of alcohol in their home. Alcohol is banned by the Islamic state but widely used in private gatherings... Earlier this year, Revolutionary Guards broke up a party in Tehran attended by foreign diplomats, Iranian artists, businessmen and athletes, and detained the hostess, a western-educated ophthalmologist in her late 60s." (FT)

08-16-2016
Human Rights

Tehran's top prosecutor says that authorities have arrested a dual citizen who has been in contact with British intelligence services. The person faces espionage charges after being taken into custody.

"Tehran's top prosecutor said Tuesday that the authorities had arrested a dual citizen who had been in contact with British intelligence services, the latest in a string of such detentions this year. The person faces espionage charges after being taken into custody, prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi told the official Islamic Republic News Agency. He didn't disclose the person's name or second nationality, or elaborate further on the case. The U.K. government said it was seeking information following the reported detention of a dual Iranian-British national in Iran. At least six other Iranian dual nationals have been arrested this year, many of whom stand accused of spying or attempting to undermine the Iranian system." (WSJ)

08-16-2016
Syria Conflict

In a first, Iran allows Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to strike opposition targets in Syria, deepening involvement in the five-year Syrian civil war and angering the United States.

"Russia's use of an Iranian air base to bomb targets in Syria sends a message to Washington as it weighs a military partnership with Moscow: Join us or we'll look to your enemies. Tuesday's missions were unprecedented. Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to strike opposition targets in Syria. The move came with little notice to the United States, which has watched helplessly the escalating bloodshed near Aleppo, the country's biggest city, and even offered an alliance with Russia against Islamic State and other extremist fighters as a way to get Syria's government out of the fight. The negotiations have dragged on for weeks. Russia has grown impatient, with top officials several times suggesting an imminent deal, only to have American officials counter that the sides weren't close. The bombing runs from a base near the Iranian city of Hamedan, 175 miles southwest of Tehran, may have been a reminder to the Obama administration that Moscow could be cozying up to Iran if Washington doesn't come around. 'The Russians are showing they have options in Syria while they have Washington over a barrel on Aleppo,' said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He said the operations also cement Russia's alliance with Iran in the region." (AP)

08-10-2016
Human Rights

"An audio file recently released by the website of the late Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri...has shed light on the cleric's objections to a string of executions in the late 1980s and his eventual falling out with the ruling establishment."

"An audio file recently released by the website of the late Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri — the onetime deputy supreme leader of Iran who was a leading Shiite cleric — has shed light on the cleric’s objections to a string of executions in the late 1980s and his eventual falling out with the ruling establishment. In the final months of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the Iranian group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) launched an attack from inside Iraq against western Iran. While the attack was quickly countered, it led to perhaps the last fateful decision of the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini shortly before his death in which thousands of mostly MEK members who had been imprisoned in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution were executed. Montazeri, who had been groomed to replace Khomeini and was one of the most well-known figures of the revolution, objected so adamantly to the order that he quickly lost his place within the government. His objection to the executions has been previously published in his autobiography. But the release of the audio file has brought this news to the surface once again and has revealed the harshness in which he dealt with the individuals involved." (Al-Monitor)

08-10-2016
Human Rights

Amnesty International says, "Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women's rights activists in the country in the first half of this year."

"Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women's rights activists in the country in the first half of this year, carrying out a series of harsh interrogations and increasingly likening any collective initiative relating to women's rights to criminal activity, Amnesty International said today. The organization's research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women's rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran's February 2016 parliamentary election. 'It is utterly shameful that the Iranian authorities are treating peaceful activists who seek women's equal participation in decision-making bodies as enemies of the state. Speaking up for women's equality is not a crime. We are calling for an immediate end to this heightened harassment and intimidation, which is yet another blow for women's rights in Iran,' said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International." (Amnesty)

08-09-2016
Nuclear Program

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says, "the construction of two nuclear power plants with $10bn worth of investment will soon begin on President Rouhani's orders."

"The AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi said Tue. the construction of two nuclear power plants with $10bn worth of investment will soon begin on President Rouhani’s orders. Ali Akbar Salehi, Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), referred to the efforts made by the Western countries in exerting pressures and imposing various kinds of threats on the Iranian negotiating team in the course of nuclear talks, adding 'their problem is not with our armaments, economy, technology, trade, or even science. Their problem is with the Iranian nation; they are worried about the message of the Islamic Revolution reaching across the world.' 'The US has settled its scores with its potential rivals but Iran has stood up against it,' Salehi said. 'This is a serious political challenge that does not form in vacuum and requires producing content and ideologies.' Salehi went on to add that major European banks are not working with Iran due to pressure from the United States. 'We need to speak up louder to the world and this needs to happen faster,' Salehi said. 'The US is worried that the content of the Islamic Republic’s productions would reach the world.' ... Salehi further noted that with the implementation of the JCPOA, the right to enrichment and heavy water production has been preserved in the country, adding 'Iran's heavy water production surplus is currently on a sale agenda and our nuclear industry is functioning well.'" (Mehr Iran)

08-09-2016
Nuclear Program

The U.S. Defense Department says, "Iran has gradually improved its offensive cyber abilities and developed more advanced ballistic missiles since signing an accord last year to curb its nuclear program."

"Iran has gradually improved its offensive cyber abilities and developed more advanced ballistic missiles since signing an accord last year to curb its nuclear program, the U.S. Defense Department said. The Islamic Republic now has a 'substantial inventory of missiles capable of reaching targets throughout the region, including U.S. military bases and Israel,' according to an unclassified summary from a Pentagon assessment of Iran's military prowess. The annual report, mandated by Congress, is the first issued since the U.S. and five other world powers signed the accord with Iran in July last year to curtail its nuclear ambitions in return for ending sanctions. The full report, which includes classified details, was submitted May 31 to congressional defense committees. While the summary includes only one line on Iran's cyber capabilities, the findings echo a recent report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Michael Eisenstadt, who found that Iran's cyber operations have evolved 'from a low-tech means of lashing out at its enemies to a pillar of its national security concept.'" (Bloomberg)

08-09-2016
Human Rights

"The lawyer of prominent Iranian journalist says a court has sentenced his client to three years in prison on charges of insulting authorities and spreading propaganda against the ruling system."

"The lawyer of prominent Iranian journalist says a court has sentenced his client to three years in prison on charges of insulting authorities and spreading propaganda against the ruling system. Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei [said]... that his client, Isa Saharkhiz, who was detained in November, can appeal the verdict within the next 20 days. The lawyer says the verdict was announced on Monday and that Saharkhiz got two years for insulting authorities and one year for spreading propaganda. Saharkhiz was recently hospitalized because of a heart problem. His detention came amid a campaign that saw the arrests of other cultural figures critical of Iran's clerical system. Saharkhiz had been released in 2013 after serving nearly five years in prison on similar charges." (AP)

08-09-2016
Human Rights

"The lawyer of prominent Iranian journalist says a court has sentenced his client to three years in prison on charges of insulting authorities and spreading propaganda against the ruling system."

"The lawyer of prominent Iranian journalist says a court has sentenced his client to three years in prison on charges of insulting authorities and spreading propaganda against the ruling system. Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei [said]... that his client, Isa Saharkhiz, who was detained in November, can appeal the verdict within the next 20 days. The lawyer says the verdict was announced on Monday and that Saharkhiz got two years for insulting authorities and one year for spreading propaganda. Saharkhiz was recently hospitalized because of a heart problem. His detention came amid a campaign that saw the arrests of other cultural figures critical of Iran's clerical system. Saharkhiz had been released in 2013 after serving nearly five years in prison on similar charges." (AP)

08-09-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian hackers have targeted the regime's perceived opponents by hacking into their computers to install spy software, mapped out the millions of Iranian users of the encrypted messaging service Telegram, and and targeted journalists for espionage."

"The email arrived on the afternoon of March 9, 2016, and it appeared to bring news from an exile's most feared bureaucracy: the U.S. immigration service. 'You received this email because you do not have a Permanent Residence, your Permanent Residence Status needs to be adjusted or you need to renew/replace your Permanent Residence Card,' the email read. Sent from a dhs.gov mailing address, containing links to the relevant forms, and ending with a cheerful sign-off - 'With Best Regards' - the email had the look of a legitimate piece of correspondence from the U.S. government. It wasn't: The email had actually been sent from a hacker likely working on behalf of the Iranian government. The links to the requested forms contained malware designed to spy on its recipients - a human rights activist and likely others in the Iranian diaspora - on behalf of Tehran. The email wasn't an isolated attack against a potential dissident. Tehran is increasingly turning the tools of computer espionage against both exiles abroad and potential dissidents at home. Western researchers have found evidence that Iranian hackers have targeted the regime's perceived opponents by hacking into their computers to install spy software, mapped out the millions of Iranian users of the encrypted messaging service Telegram, and targeted journalists for espionage." (FP)

08-07-2016
Human Rights

"The Iranian government has executed a nuclear scientist who was believed to have cooperated with U.S. intelligence but who returned to Iran after claiming he had been abducted and tortured by the CIA."

"The Iranian government has executed a nuclear scientist who was believed to have cooperated with U.S. intelligence but who returned to Iran after claiming he had been abducted and tortured by the CIA... Amiri went missing in Saudi Arabia in May or June 2009 while on religious pilgrimage to Mecca. In the following months, Iranian officials accused the U.S. of abducting him. The State Department claimed for months that it 'had no information' on Amiri... Clinton confirmed... during a news conference, that Amiri had been present in the U.S., saying he arrived 'of his own free will and he is free to go. These are decisions that are his alone to make.' When he did land in his native country on July 15, 2010, he was given a hero's welcome, and Iranian officials cast him as a double agent, claiming he had infiltrated U.S. intelligence and that Iran had the upper hand in an intelligence war. But soon after returning home, Amiri was taken into custody, presumably imprisoned because of his dalliance with the U.S." (Politico)

08-06-2016
Extremism

Iran has officially become the first nation to ban Pokemon Go and has begun arresting Pokemon Go users on the streets and deleting the game from confiscated smartphones.

"The Iranian regime apparently has little tolerance for virtual monsters. On Friday, Iran officially became the first nation to ban Pokemon Go, the dizzyingly popular mobile phone app game that has taken the world by storm in recent months... Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, general secretary of the regime's Internet Supervisory and Monitoring of Iran Committee, said in an interview... that Pokemon Go was banned... Khoramabadi said national security concerns accounted for the ban, adding, 'It might also endanger the security and safety of citizens'... Pokemon Go is gaining increasing popularity in Iran despite Internet restrictions that force Iranians to find alternative access to online sites based outside the country... Despite the obstacles, Iranian users say they have successfully found some of the games' virtual characters in buses in Tehran, parks, restaurants and in Hafeziyeh, the most famous tourist site in Shiraz. Users brag about their hunts by posting screen shots on Twitter, which is also a banned portal in Iran... Analysts in Tehran tell VOA that Iran's moral police unit, known as 'Gashte Ershad,' was a major force behind the ban. There are reports that moral police units have begun arresting Pokemon Go users on the streets and are deleting the game from confiscated smartphones. Some users are complaining about their plight on Twitter." (VOA)

08-05-2016
Nuclear Program

"Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on backing Iran's nuclear programme beyond the current agreement for Russia to deliver nuclear reactors to Tehran, state news agency RIA Novosti has reported."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on backing Iran's nuclear programme beyond the current agreement for Russia to deliver nuclear reactors to Tehran, state news agency RIA Novosti has reported. The two countries struck a deal for Russia to deliver two nuclear reactors, which could be increased to a potential six, in 2014. Putin will meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Azerbaijan next week; ahead of the visit, he said Moscow is more than willing to extend the nuclear partnership... 'Firstly, this will affect the joint work in the nuclear sphere,' Putin said. 'Also, we will increase joint trade efforts. During the first five months of this year it grew by 70 percent, to $855 million.' Russia is in the process of delivering the S-300 missile system to Iran-a deal that was put on hold when the U.N. banned the international community from trading arms with Tehran in 2010. Putin, Rouhani and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev will discuss further regional cooperation, including Russia and Iran's military cooperation in support of the Syrian government, next week." (Newsweek)

08-05-2016
Human Rights

The United Nations' top official for human rights has criticized Iran for executing 20 people this week and expressed "serious doubts about the fairness of the trials, respect for due process and other rights of the accused."

"The United Nations' top official for human rights has criticized Iran for executing 20 people this week. A statement Friday by High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said there were 'serious doubts about the fairness of the trials, respect for due process and other rights of the accused' before their executions. On Tuesday, Iran's judiciary announced the executions, identifying those put to death as Kurdish Islamic extremists who were convicted of armed robbery, killing civilians and planning bomb attacks. Zeid said reports suggested most, if not all, of those executed were Sunnis from Iran's Kurdish minority. Kurdish fighters increasingly have battled Iranian security forces in recent weeks in northwestern Iran, leading to fatalities on both sides." (AP)

08-04-2016
Human Rights

Human rights groups condemn the execution of at least 20 Kurdish activists in Iran who had been charged with links to terrorism. The rights activists say the government's accusations are baseless.

"Human rights groups on Thursday condemned the execution of at least 20 Kurdish activists in Iran who had been charged with links to terrorism... The Iranian government said that the men had ties to foreign Islamist groups, an apparent reference to Islamic State, and that they were plotting to carry out attacks inside Iran. But rights activists said the government's accusations were baseless. 'Some of them had been in prison even before Daesh [Islamic State] or other Sunni extremist groups appeared in the region,' said an attorney from Tehran who requested anonymity. Shahram Ahmadi, 29, a Kurdish activist from Sanandaj, was among those who were hanged. He was reportedly arrested for distributing leaflets that demanded rights for the Sunni minority in Iran... Rights activists in Iran say the government is using IS as an excuse to instill fear in the public... 'Kurds in Iran are persecuted twice - first because they are Kurds, and second because they are Sunnis,' said Azad Moradian, spokesman for the Los Angeles-based Kurdish American Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran... Tehran has accused foreign powers, Saudi Arabia in particular, of backing Kurdish rebels against Iranian forces. But Kurdish groups say this is merely a pretext for the government to justify its suppression of Kurds. 'These [executions] have something to do with Iran's regional policy,' said Moradian. 'Iran is afraid of a Saudi influence in Sunni Kurds. And so these executions could be a message for Saudi Arabia.'" (VOA)

08-04-2016
Human Rights

Iran says, "it hanged 20 "terrorist" Sunni prisoners, in one of the Islamic Republic's biggest mass executions in recent years."

"Iran said Thursday it had hanged 20 "terrorist" Sunni prisoners, in one of the Islamic Republic's biggest mass executions in recent years. The men, who were hanged on Tuesday, were accused of carrying out a string of attacks against civilians and religious leaders in Iran's western Kurdish region, state media reported.Those hanged on Tuesday did not deserve mercy, IRIB state television quoted Montazeri as saying." (AFP)

08-02-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian hackers have compromised more than a dozen accounts on the Telegram instant messaging service and identified the phone numbers of 15 million Iranian users, the largest known breach of the encrypted communications system."

"Iranian hackers have compromised more than a dozen accounts on the Telegram instant messaging service and identified the phone numbers of 15 million Iranian users, the largest known breach of the encrypted communications system, cyber researchers told Reuters. The attacks, which took place this year and have not been previously reported, jeopardized the communications of activists, journalists and other people in sensitive positions in Iran, where Telegram is used by some 20 million people... Telegram promotes itself as an ultra secure instant messaging system because all data is encrypted from start to finish, known in the industry as end-to-end encryption. A number of other messaging services, including Facebook Inc's (FB.O) WhatsApp, say they have similar capabilities... The researchers said the Telegram victims included political activists involved in reformist movements and opposition organizations... Cyber experts say Iranian hackers have become increasingly sophisticated, able to adapt to evolving social media habits... targets included members of the Saudi royal family, Israeli nuclear scientists, NATO officials and Iranian dissidents." (Reuters)

08-02-2016
Human Rights

Iran's regime executed a gay adolescent in July. This is the first confirmed execution of someone convicted as a juvenile in the Islamic Republic in 2016 and is in violation of international law.

"Iran's regime executed a gay adolescent in July - the first confirmed execution of someone convicted as a juvenile in the Islamic Republic in 2016 - Amnesty International reported this week. Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak Prison in Iran's Markazi Province on July 18, after he was convicted of 'forced male-to-male anal intercourse' ('lavat-e be onf') in early 2015... Amnesty said the Iranian authorities received a complaint accusing Afshar and two other adolescents of forcing a teenage boy to have sex. Afshar, who was arrested in December, 2014, said that the same-sex relations were consensual and the accuser had freely engaged in prior homosexual relations. 'Iran has proved that its sickening enthusiasm for putting juveniles to death, in contravention of international law, knows no bounds,' said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International... Iran frequently executes gay men for same-sex relations and frames the men for rape charges to justify its Islamic law application of lethal homophobia." (Jerusalem Post)

08-01-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says, "Tehran will refuse to engage in any further talks with Washington due to what he described as U.S. violations of the deal."

"Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that average Iranians have not seen any benefit from the nuclear deal with world powers... saying: 'Weren't the supposed sanctions lifted to change the life of the people? Is any tangible effect seen in people's life after six months?' Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said the U.S. has continued to thwart Iran's economic relations with other countries despite the landmark accord. He said Tehran will not accept any further talks with Washington due to what he described as U.S. violations of the deal, though he's previously ruled out further negotiations in other speeches." (AP)

07-27-2016
Human Rights

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British charity worker, "detained in Iran for more than 100 days is now so frail she's barely able to walk."

"A British mum detained in Iran for more than 100 days is now so frail she’s barely able to walk. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker with dual citizenship, has so far been kept in solitary confinement for six weeks of her 115-day detention. Because of the brutal conditions, Nazanin has lost a significant amount of weight and her hair is falling out. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where Nazanin works, have now delivered a letter to Boris Johnson imploring him to take her case seriously... Both Richard and Nazanin have also been separated from their two-year-old daughter Gabriella, who had her passport confiscated when her mum was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on April 3." (Metro UK)

07-27-2016
Syria Conflict

A top Iranian Commander visited the Israeli-Syrian border. This is the first time the Iranian regime has publicly acknowledged a visit by a senior regime official to the area, raising concern from Israeli officials.

“A top Iranian general recently visited the Israeli-Syrian border to tour a city on Israel’s doorstep, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported Wednesday, marking the first time the government has publicized a visit by a senior regime official to the area. General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij paramilitary force, a massive volunteer organization under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that performs domestic security functions, traveled to the city of Quneitra in southwest Syria. He also inspected the demarcation line dividing the Golan Heights, a strategic rocky plateau by the border that Israel has controlled since the 1967 Six Day War… Naqdi’s stop comes after several cross-border incidents between the Syrian army, fighting for embattled President Bashar al-Assad, and the Israel Defense Forces. Two Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles shot two missiles by a residential building in Quneitra on Monday, resulting in no injuries, after a stray mortar fell inside the Golan Heights near Israel’s border… Israeli officials are concerned that Iran and Hezbollah will use the fighting in Syria as a way to set up a new front against Israel in the southern part of the country, and Naqdi’s visit could raise concerns that Tehran is trying again to set up military posts near Quneitra. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Naqdi in 2011 'for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran.' Naqdi oversaw on Sunday the destruction of 100,000 satellite dishes for causing 'increased divorce, addiction, and insecurity in society” and for damaging Iran’s Islamic “morality and culture.’" (Washington Free Beacon)

07-26-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian authorities have executed at least 250 people between January 1 and July 20 of this year...an average of more than one execution each day."

"According to a report published by Iran Human Rights (IHR), Iranian authorities have executed at least 250 people between January 1 and July 20 of this year. This represents an average of more than one execution each day. Still, the execution numbers so far in 2016 are significantly lower than the numbers for the same period in 2015. Last year, Iranian authorities executed more than 700 people in the first seven months of the year. The execution numbers for the whole year were more than 969, the highest in more than 25 years. 'Despite the significant reduction in the number of executions compared to the last two years, Iran remains on top of the list of executioners after China. Moreover, there is no indication that the reduction in the number of executions so far is due to a change of policy by the Iranian authorities. The numbers are lower than last year most probably because of the parliamentary elections in February and March of this year and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in June,' says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights." (IHR)

07-26-2016
Nuclear Program

Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says, "Iran has drawn up plans to bring its nuclear activities to the previous stage if the West refrains from honoring its obligations under the nuclear deal."

"Iran has drawn up plans to bring its nuclear activities to the previous stage if the West refrains from honoring its obligations under the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said... 'Necessary preparations have been made of for a quick reversibility in case of the violation of the JCPOA by the other side,' Salehi said in an interview with the IRIB published on Saturday. Salehi’s deputy Behrouz Kamalvandi has also said that Iran is capable of restoring its nuclear activities to the pre-nuclear deal in a span of 45 days. 'In a month-and-half we can increase our centrifuges and (nuclear) material,' Kamalvandi told the Mehr news agency published on Saturday... Elsewhere, Salehi said that final steps to sell 40 tons of heavy water to Russia have been taken and the agreement will be signed soon. He added some big European corporations seek to buy heavy water from Iran and the issue is under negotiation." (Tehran Times)

07-26-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Ali Shadmani renews Iran’s threats to block the Strait of Hormuz. He also blames the U.S. for supporting terrorist groups.

"Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Ali Shadmani renewed Tehran's threat that the country would block the Strait of Hormuz if it is faced with enemies' direct military action. 'If the enemy makes a small mistake, we will shut the Strait of Hormuz, kill their sedition in the bud and endanger the arrogant powers' interests,' General Shadmani said, addressing a gathering in the Western city of Kermanshah on Tuesday. His remarks came after Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami warned the US in May to avoid crisis escalation, and said the Iranian Armed Forces will stop and block the passage of any vessel that they deem as a threat in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Salami pointed to the US presence in the region, and said, 'We warn the Americans not to repeat their past mistakes and they should learn from historical realities.' Elsewhere, General Shadmani blamed the US for supporting the terrorist groups in the region to guarantee the Zionist regime's survival, and said, 'The Islamic Revolution has endangered the life of the Quds Occupying Regime and today the resistance front has grown across the world.'" (Fars News)

07-26-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran intercepts an Emirati-owned ship due to exclusion of the Persian Gulf's full name from the ship's documents.

"A cargo ship owned by an Emirati company sailing across the Persian Gulf with the flag of Panama was intercepted at a southern Iranian port on Tuesday after maritime control detected exclusion of the Persian Gulf’s full name from the ship’s documents. Aboutaleb Gerailoo, an official at the Port and Maritime Organization of the southwestern province of Khuzestan, said the Persian Gulf’s name was missing from the documents of the ship, named Feodora. Iranian authorities stopped the ship after noticing that its documents contain a 'fake term' instead of Persian Gulf, he added, stressing that all foreign vessels sailing through Iran’s maritime routes have to use the historically and internationally-recognized name of the Persian Gulf. The ship was interrupted at the port of Bandar Imam Khomeini, and will not be offered any service by Iran until the fake name in its papers are corrected, the official said." (Tasnim)

07-25-2016
Terrorism

Kosovo charges an Iranian man with "financing terrorism and money laundering."

"Kosovan authorities said Monday they had charged an Iranian man with 'financing terrorism and money laundering' via an aid group he runs, alleging he received some 900,000 euros ($990,000) in undeclared cash between 2014 and 2015. Officials did not name the man but local media identified him as Hasan Azari Bejandi, who runs the Qur'an NGO and oversees the activities of four other religious organizations suspected of having links to Tehran. The groups operations have been suspended as a result of the investigation, authorities said. Kosovo newspaper Express reported the NGOs had been spreading anti-Western and anti-Semitic sentiment." (AFP)

07-25-2016
Human Rights

Iran detains up to 150 young people "after the morality police raided what has been described as a mixed gender party near Tehran."

"Up to 150 people have been detained in Iran after the morality police raided what has been described as a mixed-gender party near Tehran... Mohsen Khancherli, a senior police commander, confirmed to the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Monday that the arrests had been made, but did not say whether any of those detained were still in custody. 'A while ago, we received a tipoff about a mixed-gender party at a garden in the vicinity of Islamshahr, in the west of the Tehran province,' he said. '[Police forces managed] to arrest tens of boys and girls during a joint operation with one of the relevant departments.' Khancherli said police were closely monitoring gardens and public halls in the area, noting that their efforts had been stepped up during summer. 'In this garden, which was situated next to an unlicensed studio for recording underground music, nearly 150 boys and girls had gathered in a mixed-gender party under the pretext of a birthday celebration,' he said. 'But all participants were detained by the police and subsequently referred to the judicial authorities.'" (Guardian)

07-24-2016
Extremism

"Iran destroys 100,000 satellite dishes and receivers as part of a widespread crackdown against the illegal devices that authorities say are morally damaging."

"Iran destroyed 100,000 satellite dishes and receivers on Sunday as part of a widespread crackdown against the illegal devices that authorities say are morally damaging, a news website reported. The destruction ceremony took place in Tehran in the presence of General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of Iran's Basij militia, who warned of the impact that satellite television was having in the conservative country. 'The truth is that most satellite channels... deviate the society's morality and culture,' he said at the event according to Basij News. 'What these televisions really achieve is increased divorce, addiction and insecurity in society.' Naghdi added that a total of one million Iranians had already voluntarily handed over their satellite apparatuses to authorities. Under Iranian law, satellite equipment is banned and those who distribute, use, or repair them can be fined up to $2,800 (2,500 euros). Iranian police regularly raid neighbourhoods and confiscate dishes from rooftops." (AFP)

07-21-2016
Anti-Americanism

"A San Diego man has been detained by Iranian authorities...Robin Shahini, a U.S. citizen and May graduate of San Diego State, might have been detained because of his online comments criticizing Iran's human rights record."

"A San Diego man has been detained by Iranian authorities, according to friends and family members who have not heard from him in more than one week. The man, Gholamrez 'Reza' Shahini, who goes by 'Robin,' traveled to Iran to visit family this month. He had been staying at his mother’s house in his native Gorgan, a city about 250 miles northeast of Tehran and near the Caspian Sea, according to Mohammad Shahini, a second cousin. Robin Shahini, a U.S. citizen and a May graduate of San Diego State, might have been detained because of his online comments criticizing Iran's human rights record, said Denera Ragoonanan, a friend of Robin Shahini. 'Robin has been known for his advocacy of human rights on social media. This advocacy, unfortunately, has not sat well with the Iranian government,' Ragoonanan wrote on her Facebook page, accompanied by a photo of Shahini and other friends... Ragoonanan said Shahini was visited by Iranian intelligence July 11 and taken from his mother’s home." (LAT)

07-21-2016
Anti-Americanism

Commander of the IRGC says, "the IRGC naval forces are in such good level of military preparedness that they can send the US warships to the bottom of the Persian Gulf."

"Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said the IRGC naval forces are in such good level of military preparedness that they can send the US warships to the bottom of the Persian Gulf. In a Thursday address to a gathering of IRGC Navy commanders in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, Major General Jafari said the IRGC naval forces have pretty good conditions... In separate comments yesterday, the top general unveiled plans for multiple war games in the current Iranian year (ends on March 20, 2017) to maintain the military preparedness of the IRGC forces and send enemies the message that the forces are ready to bury them in the Persian Gulf waters." (Tasnim News)

07-21-2016
Syria Conflict

IRGC commander claims, "Iran’s neighbors are actively trying to spread unrest inside Iran...particularly the House of Saud have become 'clear enemies and today spend a lot of money to spread instability to Iran."

"During a speech to Iran’s naval commanders July 21, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke about the threats to Iran in the Persian Gulf region and the importance of maintaining security. Jafari said that some of Iran’s neighbors are actively trying to spread unrest inside Iran, adding that some regional countries and particularly the House of Saud have become 'clear enemies and today spend a lot of money to spread instability to Iran.' Jafari did not say exactly what Saudi Arabia is doing. Mohsen Rezaei, a former IRGC commander during the Iran-Iraq War and the current secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, recently accused Saudi Arabia of establishing a training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan near Iran’s borders." (Al-Monitor)

07-20-2016
Terrorism

The US Treasury Department sanctions three al Qaeda members "using Iran as a base to raise funds, acquire weapons and move fighters across the Middle East and South Asia."

"The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned three alleged al Qaeda members the U.S. said are using Iran as a base to raise funds, acquire weapons and move fighters across the Middle East and South Asia. The Treasury’s designations are the latest in a string announced in recent years outlining Iran’s alleged complicity in al Qaeda’s operations. The activities are a challenge to the Obama administration’s hope to cooperate with Tehran in combating international terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda and Islamic State, in the wake of last year’s landmark nuclear agreement... The Treasury said in its designation that an al Qaeda operative named Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi has used Iran as a base to raise funds for extremists fighting in Syria. Mr. Bayumi was also charged with liaising with Iranian authorities to free militants detained in the Shiite-dominate country. 'Bayumi is a veteran al Qaeda member who has been located in Iran since 2014 and a member of al Qaeda since at least 2006,' the Treasury said in its designation. The Treasury blacklisted two other Iran-based men who the U.S. believes are important logistical planners for the terrorist organization. Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al-Amri Al-Khalidi was accused of coordinating operations of al Qaeda-linked groups in Pakistan. Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn was accused of overseeing the funding and operations of al Qaeda members inside Iran. 'As of 2015, Ghumayn assumed control of the financing and organization of al Qaeda members located in Iran,' the Treasury said in its statement." (Wall Street Journal)

07-20-2016
Terrorism

An Argentina judge requests the arrest of an adviser to "Iran's supreme leader who is accused of masterminding the South American country's worst terrorist attack," the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

"An Argentine judge is requesting that Singapore and Malaysia arrest an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader who is accused of masterminding the South American country’s worst terrorist attack. Ali Akbar Velayati was foreign minister of Iran at the time of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and is now an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Velayati is visiting Southeast Asia to attend a regional summit. Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his request seeks to reinforce existing arrest orders. Former Iranian officials have been on an Interpol capture list for years, but Argentine prosecutors have never been able to question them." (Associated Press)

07-20-2016
Nuclear Program

Iranian parliament speaker threatens to re-open enrichment facilities in reaction to the recent UN report on the implementation of the JCPOA.

"The Iranian parliament speaker asked the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on Wednesday to prepare a plan for the re-opening of shuttered uranium enrichment facilities, reacting to the recent UN report on the implementation of the JCPOA. 'It is necessary for the Atomic Energy Organization (of Iran) to act in compliance with the law passed on the reopening of the nuclear plant to enrich uranium proportionate to the country’s needs and prepare a plan and keeps the Majlis (parliament) posted on it,' Ali Larijani said... The remarks by Larijani come after the UN Security Council briefing on the first report of the secretary general on the implementation of resolution 2231 adopted immediately after the conclusion of the nuclear deal between Iran and great powers in July 2015. Iran has strongly objected to the report, calling it 'biased' and 'unrealistic.' While ambiguous, Larijani should be referring to the Natanz and Fordow facilities by the 'nuclear plant.' Clarifying Larijani’s words, AEOI Director Ali Akbar Salehi said Larijani had meant reversing the stalled uranium enrichment program." (Tehran Times)

07-19-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's foreign minister says "a document submitted by Iran to the IAEA and outlining plans to expand Iran's enrichment program, is a 'matter of pride.'"

"Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday extolled the country's ability to bring its nuclear program back on track as limits on the landmark 15-year accord between Tehran and world powers ease in the coming years. Mohammad Javad Zarif said a document, submitted by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency and outlining plans to expand Iran's uranium enrichment program, is a 'matter of pride.' He said it was created by Iran's 'negotiators and industry experts' and that even foreign media have noted Iran is likely to strive for restoring its full enrichment after 10 years. Zarif's remarks, carried by the semi-official Fars news agency, followed revelations the day before of the confidential document — an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal with world powers — that Iran gave the IAEA. The document, obtained by The Associated Press in Vienna, outlines Tehran's plans to expand its uranium enrichment program after the first 10 years of the nuclear deal. It's the only text linked to last year's deal between Iran and six world powers — the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany — that has not been made public, although U.S. officials say members of Congress who expressed interest were briefed on its substance. Zarif said the addendum to the nuclear deal will soon be made public, but he did not elaborate. 'God willing, when the complete text of the document is published, it will be clear where we will stand in 15 years,' he said." (AP) http://t.uani.com/29VJdLN

07-19-2016
Human Rights

"In the past nine months, the Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least six dual-national Iranians… the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged.”

"In the past nine months, the Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least six dual-national Iranians, their friends and family members say, the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged. The government has confirmed most of the detentions, without giving details of any charges. Analysts say the circumstances are often similar: arrest on arrival or departure from Tehran’s airport, the announcement of a period of interrogation followed by a hardline website publishing a list of alleged crimes, usually plotting to overthrow the government, before they set foot in court... According to former prisoners, families of current ones and diplomats, in some cases the detainees are kept to be used for a prisoner exchange with Western countries... In late June, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lead interrogator presented an unusual proposal: her husband should pressure the UK government 'to reach an agreement' and in exchange her case would be closed before going to court. The interrogator did not give any further details on what the agreement would entail, Ratcliffe told Reuters. He said he relayed the proposal to the UK Foreign Office and was told they had no information about any agreement. The interrogator also told her mother during a visit to Evin prison last Wednesday that the agreement he was referring to was an 'exchange,' Ratcliffe added."(Reuters)

07-18-2016
Human Rights

Iran Human Rights says, "at least 30 people were hanged in Iran in the past week."

"At least 30 people were hanged in Iran in the past week, according to official and unofficial sources. Most of the executions were reportedly carried out on Sunday July 17. Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and state media, have been silent about most of these executions." (IHR)

07-18-2016
Politics

"Hardliners are gaining authority in a backlash against President Hassan Rouhani...and Rouhani himself now has 'serious doubts about running for a second term.'"

"A year after Iran's nuclear deal with the West, hardliners are gaining authority in a backlash against pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani that his allies say could leave him sidelined or push him out of power in an election next year... now that the negotiations are over, Rouhani's supporters say that Khamenei and his followers are trying to restrict the president's authority or replace him. In the face of such pressure, Rouhani himself may decide not to stand again. Already, hardliners are blaming the president's faction for the failure of the deal to deliver a swift improvement in living standards, at a time when prices for oil exports are low and promised foreign investment has yet to arrive. 'The political infighting has intensified in Iran. The legitimacy of the establishment is at stake,' said a senior official, who asked not to be identified. 'It will deepen further until the presidential election next year,' the official said, adding that Rouhani himself now had 'serious doubts about running for a second term'... The parlous state of Iran's economy pushed Iran's top leaders to accept Rouhani as the best option to resolve their nuclear dispute with the West. But Rouhani's allies believe that those close to Khamenei no longer see Rouhani as useful." (Reuters)

07-18-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran’s ballistic missile launches are inconsistent with the spirit of the nuclear deal and Iran should refrain from conducting such launches," the UN Secretary General states in a newly released report.

 

"Iran’s ballistic missile launches are inconsistent with the spirit of a nuclear deal, the United Nation’s secretary-general said in a report publicly released Monday, though he refrained from calling the launches an outright violation. 'I call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to refrain from conducting such launches, given that they have the potential to increase tensions in the region,' Ban Ki-moon wrote in a report the U.N. Security Council. 'Whereas it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.' The document is Ban’s first biannual report to the Security Council on the landmark nuclear deal since 'Implementation Day' six months ago and comes just after the one-year anniversary of the deal being reached. Though Ban said he is encouraged by Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments, the country continues to engage in other improper activity, such as the ballistic missile launches and shipping arms to Yemen." (The Hill)

07-17-2016
Politics

"President Hassan Rouhani is confronting a major scandal involving inflated salaries for the managers and executives of state-run companies."

 

"Less than a year before new elections, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran is confronting a major scandal involving inflated salaries for the managers and executives of state-run companies. In recent weeks, the Iranian news media have been publishing payment slips showing many top managers of state-run companies earning what for Iran are astronomical bonuses and salaries, often hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Mr. Rouhani was elected in 2013 promising to end corruption in government and revive the economy by completing a nuclear deal and ending sanctions. With sanctions still largely in place, however, the economy remains moribund. Now, having cleaned house after supplanting the corruption-riddled administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and putting his own people at the top rungs of state-run enterprises, Mr. Rouhani finds himself increasingly vulnerable as the disclosures of inflated salaries multiply. 'Mr. Rouhani’s friends are his enemies,' said Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour, the head of the Tehran office of the World Trade Center organization. 'They are cronies.' ... 'What is emerging is a mechanism similar to that in the former Soviet Union,' said Saeed Laylaz, an economist close to the government. 'The elites are rewarded with money and privileges in return for their loyalties.'" (NYT)

07-13-2016
Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warns that "Tehran could quickly restore its nuclear capacity if the terms of the accord are breached."

 

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday marked the first anniversary of his country’s landmark nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers with a warning that Tehran could quickly restore its nuclear capacity if the terms of accord are breached... On Wednesday, Mr. Rouhani, a strong proponent of the accord, said Iran would continue to adhere to the terms of the deal but expressed wariness over whether the other signatories would do so. 'We always keep our word,' the Iranian leader said on state television. 'But if they want to breach their commitment, our nuclear capabilities are such that we can reach the level we want in a short period of time.'" (WSJ)

07-13-2016
Nuclear Program

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says "the country's experts are now testing newly-designed centrifuges... the speed at which Iran can bring its frozen operations back into action would surprise the opposite party."

 

"Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi announced that the country's experts are now testing newly-designed centrifuges. 'At present, works on IR2 and IR2M centrifuges has almost ended but they need to go through a number of more tests,' Kamalvandi said on Wednesday. He underlined Iran's capability to resume the frozen part of its nuclear activities if the powers defy their undertakings under the nuclear deal, and warned that if such a thing happens, the speed at which Iran can bring its frozen operations back into action would suprise the opposite party. 'They have seen how smart our scientists are and we are not therefore concerned about returning to the past conditions and capacities and we are able to develop even more than the past,' Kamalvandi said... Iran in January unveiled the latest generation of its centrifuges that are 15 times more powerful than its currently operating IR1. While the first generation of its centrifuges had the enrichment capacity of 1 to 1.5 SUWs, the IR8 enjoys the capacity of 15 to 20 SUWs." (FarsNews)

07-12-2016
Terrorism

Bahrain arrests two men suspected of planting a bomb that killed a Bahraini woman in June and says "the men received training in weapons and explosives from Iran's Revolutionary Guards."

 

"Bahrain has arrested two men suspected of planting a bomb that killed a Bahraini woman in late June and of having received training and support from Iran, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. A ministry statement identified a third suspect in the blast but said he had fled to Iran, the Middle East's Shi'ite Muslim power across the Gulf from Sunni Muslim-ruled Bahrain. The bomb blast occurred on a road as the woman passed in her car in the village of East Eker, south of the capital Manama, on June 30, the statement said. Shrapnel hit the car, killing her and injuring her three children. The statement accused the three men of receiving training in weapons and explosives from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. One man traveled to Iran for his training, it said." (Reuters)

07-12-2016
Nuclear Program

In violation of a UN Security Council Resolution, Iran attempts to launch “a version of the North Korean BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile.”

 

"Two days before the anniversary of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, the Islamic Republic attempted to launch a new type of ballistic missile using North Korean technology, multiple intelligence officials tell Fox News. The test, in violation of a UN resolution, failed shortly after liftoff when the missile exploded, sources said. The effort occurred on the evening of July 11-12 near the Iranian city of Saman, an hour west of Isfahan, where Iran has conducted similar ballistic missile tests in the past. It would be at least the fourth time Iran has launched or attempted to launch a ballistic missile since the nuclear accord was signed on July 14, 2015... The most recent test was the first time Iran attempted to launch a version of the North Korean BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile, which has a maximum range of nearly 2,500 miles, putting U.S. forces in the Middle East and Israel within reach. The extent of North Korea’s involvement in the failed launch is not immediately clear, apart from North Korea sharing their technology, according to officials." (Fox News)

07-12-2016
Terrorism

New evidence of the Al Qaeda-Iran connection reveals that "Al Qaeda operatives based in Iran were working on chemical and biological weapons."

 

"Al Qaeda operatives based in Iran worked on chemical and biological weapons, according to a letter written to Osama bin Laden that is described in a new book by a top former U.S. intelligence official. The letter was captured by a U.S. military sensitive site exploitation team during the raid on bin Laden's Abbottabad headquarters in May 2011. It is described in Field of Fight, out Tuesday from Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Michael Ledeen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 'One letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran,' Flynn writes. Flynn's claim, if true, significantly advances what we know about al Qaeda's activity in Iran. The book was cleared by the intelligence community's classification review process. And U.S. intelligence sources familiar with the bin Laden documents tell us the disclosure on al Qaeda's WMD work is accurate... 'There's a lot of information on Iran in the files and computer discs captured at the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden,' Flynn writes in the introduction." (Weekly Standard)

07-11-2016
Anti-Americanism

Head of U.S. Central Command says, "boats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came 'unacceptably close' to harassing an American warship in the Strait of Hormuz."

 

"Boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps maneuvered dangerously close to a U.S. military vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, part of a pattern that the top American general in the region—who was on the ship at the time—said risked grave miscalculation. 'What concerns me is our people don’t always have a lot of time to deal with those interactions,' said Gen. Joe Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, as he stood on the bridge of the amphibious ship later in the day. 'It’s measured in minutes to really have the opportunity to make the right decision.' The five Iranian boats included four small patrol craft and a larger boat called a Houdong fast-attack craft. At least one of the patrol boats was equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun and what is known as a multiple rail rocket launcher. They came within several hundred yards of the American ship. The series of encounters on Monday took place as the New Orleans sailed in international waters through the strait. Gen. Votel, on a swing through the Middle East this week, voiced concern about how quickly such an encounter could turn lethal for the ship, which was carrying about 700 Marines. In the case of Monday’s incident, U.S. officials didn’t consider the Iranian ships to be technically harassing the American warship, but said they came unacceptably close to doing so." (Wall Street Journal) 

07-11-2016
Human Rights

Iran's judiciary indicts three detained Iranian dual-nationals and a Lebanese citizen, and are being kept behind bars on various charges.

 

"Iran's judiciary has indicted three detained Iranian dual-nationals and a Lebanese citizen also held in the Islamic Republic, the judiciary's official news website Mizan said on Monday. Several Iranian dual nationals from the United Sates, Britain, Canada and France have been detained in the past few months and are being kept behind bars on various charges, including espionage or collaborating with a hostile government. 'After the issuance of indictments, the cases against (British-Iranian) Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, (American-Iranian) Siamak Namazi, (Canadian-Iranian) Homa Hoodfar and (U.S.-Lebanese) Nizar Zekka ... have been referred to court for processing,' the website quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying. He did not provide details about the charges brought against the four. Dolatabadi also did not say whether the court was a Revolutionary Court, which handles security-related cases. A judiciary source told Reuters their cases had been referred to the court 'within the past two weeks'. 'But it does not mean that they will stand trial soon. Iran's judiciary is reviewing their cases very carefully,' said the official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter." (Reuters)

07-11-2016
Terrorism

Israel outlaws a Palestinian group for "acting as a front for Iran-directed militant activities targeting Israelis and the regime of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas."

 

"Israel announced Monday it had outlawed a Palestinian group it says acted as a front for Iran-directed militant activities targeting Israelis and the regime of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed the order outlawing Al-Hirak Al-Shababi ('the youth movement') at the recommendation of the Shin Bet internal security agency, a ministry statement read. The decision followed 'significant information indicating that the group is directed by Hezbollah and Iran to carry out attacks against Israelis, and ignite a wave of violence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem at Israel and the Palestinian Authority,' it read. While the group claimed to be a collective of youths seeking to change the situation in the West Bank through civil activity, it was in fact 'a terror group headed by two opponents of the Palestinian Authority', the statement read. The defence ministry named them as Munir Asli, living in Lebanon, and Hilmi Balbisi, living in Jordan. It said they are 'directed and funded by Hezbollah and Iran', which have both transferred 'hundreds of thousands of shekels' over the past two years to fund the group's activities." (AFP)

07-09-2016
Nuclear Program

German intelligence reports reveal the vast scale of the Islamic Republic's activities to advance its chemical and biological weapons capabilities.

 

"Iran's proliferation activities span eight German states and involve a range of activities to advance its chemical and biological warfare capabilities, as well as its nuclear and missile programs. The vast scale of the Islamic Republic’s network to obtain nuclear and missile technology goes beyond what was disclosed in recent German intelligence reports released on Thursday. The Jerusalem Post has examined intelligence data and reports from the 16 German states, which included new information on Iranian chemical and biological weapons programs. Half of Germany’s state governments reported in their 2015 intelligence documents attempts by Tehran to secure nuclear-related goods." (JPost)

07-09-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman rejects comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and says, "Iran will continue 'with full force' its missile program based on defensive plans and national security calculations."

 

"Iran will press on with its missile program 'with full force', a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Saturday, adding that critical comments by Germany's leader were unhelpful. Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament in Berlin on Thursday that missile launches by Iran earlier this year were inconsistent with a U.N. resolution urging it to refrain for up to eight years from missile work designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Merkel's remarks were 'not constructive' and would have no bearing on the program, according to state news agency IRNA. Reiterating Tehran's assertion that the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons, he added: 'Iran will continue with full force its missile program based on its defensive plans and national security calculations.' On Friday, Iran rejected as 'unrealistic' a report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticizing its missile launches as inconsistent with its deal with world powers to curb sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. Reuters reported on Thursday that a confidential report by Ban had found the tests to be inconsistent 'with the constructive spirit' of the July 2015 agreement... Germany's domestic intelligence agency said in its annual report that Iranian efforts to illegally procure technology, especially in the nuclear area, had continued at a 'high level' in 2015. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, criticized the comments by Ban and Merkel and denied Iran had been trying to purchase nuclear technology on the black market. 'I feel they are cooking up a plot against us. We should be vigilant,' he was quoted as saying by Iran's Tasnim news agency." (Reuters)

07-09-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's top nuclear official accuses German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's criticism of Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal as being part of a conspiracy against the Islamic Republic.

 

"United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s criticism of Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal may be part of a conspiracy against the Islamic Republic, according to the country’s top nuclear official. Iran must be vigilant following the comments from both Ban and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in an interview to state TV according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. The world leaders this week criticized the country for failing to cooperate on issues including restrictions on its ballistic missile program. 'A conspiracy is underway, otherwise there is no reason for Mr. Ban and Ms. Merkel to make such an outcry,' Salehi said. 'I sense that they are in the process of laying groundwork and concocting.'" (Bloomberg)

07-08-2016
Nuclear Program

German intelligence reports say, "Iran continued trying to illegally procure nuclear equipment from Germany after forging last year's nuclear agreement with world powers."

 

"Iran continued trying to illegally procure nuclear equipment from Germany after forging last year’s landmark nuclear agreement with world powers, German intelligence officials said, even as the Foreign Ministry in Berlin and the White House played down the reports. German authorities detected repeated efforts by Iran-tied companies and organizations to obtain such equipment in the months after July 2015, when Tehran and six world powers reached the deal in Vienna, officials said... Such efforts continued this year, but at a significantly lower level, the German officials said, elaborating on two recent German intelligence reports covering 2015. However, U.S. and German officials on Friday rejected the suggestion that Iran might have breached the agreement since it went into effect on Jan. 16... On Monday, the annual report from the domestic intelligence agency in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous, said it detected 141 procurement efforts in 2015 that were likely related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. About two-thirds of them were 'attributed to Iranian programs' and more than 90% were blocked before any export took place, the agency said. In its annual report released June 28, the federal domestic intelligence agency said 'Illegal Iranian procurement efforts in Germany remained at a quantitatively high level in 2015,' especially 'for goods that can be used in the area of nuclear technology.'" (Wall Street Journal)

07-07-2016
Nuclear Program

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon says, "Iran's ballistic missile launches 'are not consistent with the constructive spirit' of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers."

 

"Iran's ballistic missile launches 'are not consistent with the constructive spirit' of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, but it is up to the United Nations Security Council to decide if they violated a resolution, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a confidential report seen by Reuters on Thursday. Ban's reluctance to state whether the March missile launches flouted the Council resolution, which was adopted a year ago as part of the deal to curb Iran's nuclear work, further weakens the case for new sanctions that hinged on the interpretation of ambiguous language in the resolution... Under the U.N. resolution, Iran is 'called upon' to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years. Critics of the deal have said the language does not make it obligatory. 'I call upon Iran to refrain from conducting such ballistic missile launches since they have the potential to increase tensions in the region,' Ban wrote in his first bi-annual report to the 15-member Security Council on the implementation of remaining sanctions and restrictions. 'While it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those ballistic missile launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing of the (Iran nuclear deal),' he said. The council is due to discuss Ban's report on July 18. The United States, Britain, France, and Germany wrote to Ban in March about the missile tests, which they said were 'inconsistent with' and 'in defiance of' the council resolution. The letter said the missiles used in the launches were 'inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons' and also asked that the Security Council discuss 'appropriate responses' to Tehran's failure to comply with its obligations." (Reuters

07-07-2016
Nuclear Program

German Chancellor Angela Merkel states in the Bundestag that Iran has "continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council.'"

 

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated on Thursday that Iran has run afoul of UN Security Council regulations to stop its illicit military rocket program. Her comments follow a startling report from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, which stated in its late June report that Iran has continued to seek illegal nuclear technology. Chancellor Angel Merkel said in the Bundestag Iran 'continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council.' Merkel said that NATO's anti-missile system targets Iran's rocket program and was 'developed purely for defense.' ... Germany's intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said in the report, that Iran's ' illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities in Germany registered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution persisted in 2015 at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level. This holds true in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.' The report noted 'a further increase in the already considerable procurement efforts in connection with Iran's ambitious missile technology program which could, among other things, potentially serve to deliver nuclear weapons. Against this backdrop it is safe to expect that Iran will continue it sensitive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives.'" (JPost

07-07-2016
Extremism

German authorities arrest a Pakistani man accused of spying for Iran on the former head of a group that promotes German-Israeli relations.

 

"German authorities have arrested a Pakistani man accused of spying for Iran on the former head of a group that promotes German-Israeli relations. Federal prosecutors said Thursday that the 31-year-old, identified only as Syed Mustufa H. in keeping with German privacy rules, was arrested on Tuesday in the northern city of Bremen. They said in a statement that he was 'in contact with an intelligence unit attributed to Iran,' without elaborating. He is alleged to have spied on the former head of the German-Israeli Society and people close to him, among others, and handed over information to Iran in October. The ex-head of the German-Israeli group, former lawmaker Reinhold Robbe, told the Bild newspaper that he wasn't surprised by the alleged espionage and he 'will not be intimidated.'" (AP)

07-06-2016
Extremism

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei "says recent bombings in Muslim countries are the fruit of terrorism which US, UK and Israeli intel agencies have nurtured in order to consign Palestine into oblivion."

 

"Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says recent bombings in Muslim countries are the fruit of terrorism which US, UK and Israeli intel agencies have nurtured in order to consign Palestine into oblivion. 'In Baghdad, several hundred families saw the loss of their loved ones at the hands of criminals and terrorists and those who want to promote a fabricated and fake Islam among people at the order of their masters... 'This is the result of terrorism nurtured by security services of America, the Zionist regime and England,' the Leader said during Eid al-Fitr prayers in Tehran Wednesday... Ayatollah Khamenei said Muslim countries are the target of a scheme to turn certain political differences into civil wars. 'The enemies are trying to consign the Palestinian issue into oblivion. They want to have the Islamic world preoccupied with internal problems so that the Palestinian issue is forgotten and the Zionist regime is given a chance to pursue its wicked goals.' ... The main aim of the global arrogance, foremost the US, in wreaking tragedies in the region is to relegate the Palestinian issue to neglect, Ayatollah Khamenei repeated. The Leader called Palestine as the 'core issue of the world of Islam,' saying no Muslim or non-Muslim country with a conscience should ever forget the Palestinian issue. 'The Zionist regime will definitely get slapped for the pressures which it metes out to the besieged and oppressed Palestinian nation,' Ayatollah Khamenei added." (Press TV

07-03-2016
Extremism

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei says, "Those who believe in looking to the West for the progress of the country have lost their minds because wisdom tells us to learn from experience."

 

"Iran will never coordinate with the United States in Syria and other regional conflicts, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in remarks published on his website Sunday. 'We don't want such a coordination as their main objective is to stop Iran's presence in the region,' Khamenei said in a transcript from a speech to university students... Khamenei repeated demands for the US to stop interfering in the region and said Washington was still acting aggressively despite last year's nuclear accord with world powers to end Iran's isolation. 'Americans are still engaged in hostility against the nation of Iran, be it the Congress or the US administration,' he said... 'Those who believe in looking to the West for the progress of the country have lost their minds because wisdom tells us to learn from experience,' Khamenei said." (AFP

07-01-2016
Extremism

Tens of thousands of Iranians participated in annual Quds Day anti-Israel rallies, chanting "Death to Israel" and Death to America." President Rouhani says, "The Zionist regime is a regional base for America and the global arrogance."

 

"Iran's President Hassan Rouhani accused Western powers of trying to exploit differences between the world's Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims to divert attention from the Israel-Palestinian conflict, state television reported on Friday. Rouhani's comments came as tens of thousands of Iranians joined anti-Israel rallies across the country to express support for the Palestinians. They chanted 'Death to Israel' and 'Death to America' and burned the Israeli flag. 'The global arrogance (the United States and its allies) wants to create discord among Muslims ... Unity is the only way to restore stability in the region,' Rouhani said. 'We stand with the dispossessed Palestinian nation.' ... 'The Zionist regime (Israel) is a regional base for America and the global arrogance ... Disunity and discord among Muslim and terrorist groups in the region ... have diverted us from the important issue of Palestine,' Rouhani said." (Reuters

07-01-2016
Extremism

On Quds Day, Deputy IRGC Hossein Salami Commander declares, "Today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are provided more than ever... Today, more than 100,000 missiles are ready to fly from Lebanon."

 

"A senior Iranian commander called on the Tel Aviv regime to learn from its past mistakes, saying that hundreds of missiles are ready across the Islamic regions to hit Israel in case of any wrong move by Zionists. 'Today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime (of Israel) are provided more than ever,' Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, addressing the weekly Friday Prayers in Tehran held after massive rallies marking the International Quds Day. 'Today, more than 100,000 missiles are ready to fly from Lebanon,' he said, adding that whenever the Zionists attempt to repeat their past mistakes based on their wrong estimates, the missiles will be fired and hit Israel and will lead to new developments. The commander went on to say that in addition to missiles, there are 'tens of thousands of destructive long-range missiles' in some other Islamic regions, which are targeting the entire Israeli-occupied territories, ranging from Haifa to Tel Aviv, and are ready for order to remove Israel from the political geography of the world. '...If the Zionists make a wrong move, all the occupied territories will come under attack from dedicated fighters and God willing, the territories will be liberated,' Brigadier General Salami noted." (Tasnim

07-01-2016
Extremism

Marking anti-Israel Quds Day, Foreign Minister Zarif states, "The Zionist regime and Takfiri groups are, in fact, a single danger, both of which are guided by same powers in the world and the region."

 

"Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif highlighted the Zionist regime of Israel's heinous crimes against the Palestinian people and said the regime and Takfiri (extremist) groups are considered as a common threat to the world. 'The Zionist regime and Takfiri groups are, in fact, a single danger, both of which are guided by same powers in the world and the region,' Zarif told reporters at a massive rally in Tehran on Friday morning, held to mark the International Quds Days. 'The Takfiri currents and their supporters have forgotten the reality of Israel's enmity against the Islamic world and have targeted Muslims, instead of the regime' the Iranian top diplomat said." (Tasnim)

06-30-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says [Iran] will discard...nuclear deal...if Western countries attempt to re-apply economic pressure on Iran under new pretexts."

 

"Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani says the Islamic Republic will discard a nuclear deal it has struck with six world powers if Western countries attempt to re-apply economic pressure on Iran under new pretexts. Speaking on Thursday, Larijani said Iran can see no change in the behavior of the countries with which it has struck the nuclear deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 'We keep zooming in on their behavior and we see no kind of compromise or conciliatory behavior,' he said, emphasizing, however, that the sides to the JCPOA have no intention of doing away with the nuclear agreement... Larijani said that the Western countries have 'concerns' on other issues and seek to re-impose the sanctions against Iran under such allegations as Iranian involvement in terrorism and the status of human rights in the country. 'We have already told the Westerners,' the Iranian Parliament speaker said, 'that if they engage in looking for pretexts so they can re-impose the sanctions under new excuses, we will discard the nuclear deal.' Larijani said one of the Western objectives in trying to apply pressure to Iran with new bans is to 'reduce Iranian influence in the region.'" (Press TV

06-30-2016
Anti-Americanism

The U.S. Navy says "that an investigation into Iran's detention of 10 sailors and the seizure of their two riverine boats in the Arabian Gulf earlier this year showed that Iran broke international law."

 

"The Navy's top officer said Thursday that an investigation into Iran's detention of 10 sailors and the seizure of their two riverine boats in the Arabian Gulf earlier this year showed that Iran broke international law. 'These two boats and their crew members had every right to be where they were on that day,' said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson during a press briefing. 'The investigation concluded that Iran violated international law by impeding the boat's innocent passage transit and they violated sovereign immunity by boarding, searching and seizing the boats and by photographing and videotaping the crew,' he said. The investigation's conclusion now raises the question of whether and how the Obama administration will seek redress from Iran... Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the report confirmed Iran's 'flagrant violations of international,' and criticized the administration for thanking Iran for releasing the sailors. 'The Navy investigation confirms what has been obvious from the beginning: that Iran's obstruction, boarding, and seizure of sovereign U.S. Navy vessels at gunpoint and the detention, interrogation, and recording of 10 American sailors were flagrant violations of international law,' he said in a statement. 'Yet five months later, the Administration has shamefully failed to retract its craven statements of gratitude and praise for Iran's illegal behavior. This Administration's groveling to Iran has placed all American service members at greater risk,' he added." (The Hill)

06-30-2016
Anti-Americanism

A Navy investigation finds "Iran used 'intimidation tactics' when interrogating the 10 American sailors arrested in the Persian Gulf in January." Iran "also collected passwords to the sailors' personal phones and laptops during their overnight detention."

 

"Iran used 'intimidation tactics' when interrogating the 10 American sailors arrested in the Persian Gulf in January, according to a Navy investigation into the incident. Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp Navy interrogated the U.S. crewmembers individually to obtain information about U.S. forces, according to the declassified investigation findings released Thursday. Iran's detention of the American personnel overnight on Jan. 12 violated international law and sovereign immunity, investigators concluded. Details surrounding the incident, which has fueled efforts by Iran to embarrass the United States, have been sparse since U.S. Central Command released a preliminary timeline of the event days after the arrests. The newly released findings cast light on the events leading up to the sailors' detention, as well as their treatment and interrogation while in Iranian custody. 'Interrogators employed intimidation tactics such as slapping the table, spinning the captive's chair, or threatening to move them to the Iranian mainland; no crewmember was harmed,' the findings state. Iranian personnel demanded to know what the U.S. boats were doing wading into Iranian territorial waters, where they came from, and 'where their mothership was.' The Iranians interrogated the crewmembers as a group and later individually interrogated seven of the 10 Americans in a separate room. The sole female crewmember's interrogation was also recorded. The Iranians asked questions about U.S. forces and also collected passwords to the sailors' personal phones and laptops during their overnight detention." (Free Beacon)

06-30-2016
Terrorism

Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has reportedly "uninterruptedly received financial and military aid from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), exceeding 45 million dollars annually."

 

"Palestinian sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that three Hamas leaders have been spending relentless efforts to restore the organization's relationship with Iran. Hamas had undergone disputes with Iran concerning standpoints taken on the Syria war. The Palestinian organization, unlike Iran, had widely supported the Syrian revolution against dictator Bashar al-Assad. Sources revealed that Palestinian leader of Hamas' military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Marwan Issa along with other military leaders like, Yehya al-Sinwar, Mahmoud al-Zahar, have maintained contact with Iran over the past period. The three commanders had uninterruptedly received financial and military aid from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), exceeding 45 million dollars annually- noting that prior to dispute rising, Hamas' military division received far more significant financial and military aid from Iran. Sources revealed that internal friction strikes the Hamas organization with the group's military division often being in disagreement with its political administration. The military wing looks forward to restoring connections with Iran and delivering them into a stronger state, guaranteeing the constant flow of funds." (Asharq Al-Awsat)

06-30-2016
Extremism

Iran's Revolutionary Guards declares that 25 years from now "no Israel would be present on the map," pledging to liberate Jerusalem from Zionists on the eve of anti-Israel Quds Day.

 

"Iran's Revolutionary Guards envisage a Jerusalem in 25 years from now when 'no Israel would be present on the map,' the military organization said in a statement, according to the Iranian news agency. The latest threat by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC, came in a statement carried by MEHR news agency, claiming the organization had devoted '37 years of unremitting support for Palestine' during Ramadan. 'Liberation of the beloved Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinians from under the occupation of Zionists by the courage provided by the Islamic Revolution and a globalized approach to systematically fighting dominance and Zionism on International Quds Day, have bestowed upon Resistance Front strength and unflagging spirit which had made of Resistance an iron fist against any compromise with illegitimate regime of criminal Zionists,' the statement said." (Haaretz)

06-29-2016
Extremism

Promoting anti-Israel Quds Day rallies days away, Iranian President Rouhani says, "By behind-the-scene attempts, terror, and creating conflicts among the regional and Muslim world countries... the Zionists are trying to make others forget their crimes."

 

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined that the main goal of the current turmoil and crises in the regional states is diverting attentions from the Zionists' 70 years of occupation and crimes against the Palestinian nation. 'By behind-the-scene attempts, terror, and creating conflicts among the regional and Muslim world countries and Muslim against Muslim and Muslim against Christian wars in recent years, the Zionists are trying to make others forget their crimes and make the Muslims, the regional people and the world forget the oppressed Palestine and the savagery of the Zionists,' Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday. 'We shouldn't let the Zionists' big crimes be forgotten, and the oppressed Palestinian nation which has been displaced and forced out of its own home feel disappointment,' he added. Rouhani called on all Iranian and world nations to show massive turnout in the International Quds Day rallies on Friday." (Fars

06-29-2016
Terrorism

Al-Monitor reports "Hamas has decided to resume public relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran after years of apathy between them as a result of the Syrian crisis."

 

"Hamas has decided to resume public relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran after years of apathy between them as a result of the Syrian crisis. Signs confirming the rapprochement came from the deputy chairmen of Hamas' political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk and Ismail Haniyeh. In a June 15 interview with Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, Abu Marzouk praised Iran for the first time since Hamas left the Syrian capital of Damascus. He said, 'The support offered by Iran to the Palestinian resistance - be it in logistics, training or funds - is unmatched and beyond the capabilities of other countries. Iran's support and backing to the resistance and the Palestinian cause is clear, explicit and equal to the stance of Arab, Muslim and free peoples of the world who back and support the resistance.' Relations between Hamas and Tehran began to deteriorate in 2012, after the wave of Arab Spring revolutions reached Syria, which is the main ally of Iran in the Middle East... Abu Marzouk's statements and Haniyeh's telephone call came to confirm the change occurring in the Islamic movement's relationship with Tehran and endorsed the fact that relations between them had been restored with a resumption of Iranian funding... The source, who requested anonymity, added, 'Hamas' military wing strongly endorsed the resumption of said relations, especially in light of the urgent need for funds and military support that only Iran can provide.'" (Al-Monitor

06-24-2016
Terrorism

In defiance of U.S. sanctions, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declares, "We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran."

 

"Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said his group would not be affected by fresh US sanctions because it receives its money directly from Iran, not via Lebanese banks. In a speech broadcast by the Shiite party's Al-Manar station, Nasrallah brushed off assertions that Hezbollah would be hurt by US sanctions on Lebanese financial institutions that work with the group. 'We do not have any business projects or investments via banks,' Nasrallah said, insisting the group 'will not be affected.' 'We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,' he added. Iran was instrumental in Hezbollah's inception three decades ago and has provided financial and military support to the group. In December, the US Congress voted to impose sanctions on banks that deal with Hezbollah, considered a 'terrorist group' by the US. And last month, Lebanon's central bank instructed the country's banks and financial institutions to comply with the new measure against the Lebanese Shiite group. Hezbollah has fiercely criticised the law and accused central bank governor Riad Salameh of 'yielding' to Washington's demands. 'As long as Iran has money, we have money... Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it,' Nasrallah said." (AFP

06-20-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian authorities ... shut down the Ghanoon newspaper, which has criticized the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)."

"Iranian authorities on Monday shut down the Ghanoon newspaper, which has criticized the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the newspaper said in a statement on its website. The move came days after President Hassan Rouhani called for greater freedom of expression in the media. Ghanoon said it been shut by the judiciary after complaints made by the IRGC's Department of Intelligence. The paper has been accused of 'libel and publishing falsehoods to create public anxiety,' according to its website. It did not specify which reports had upset the IRGC. Ghanoon was temporarily banned in 2014 over a report about possible corruption charges against a former member of the IRGC after he was released on bail. The newspaper also came under attack in January when it criticised the way the Guards handled the arrest of 10 American sailors in Iranian waters. It wrote that the video which aired on the Islamic Republic's state television showing U.S Navy personnel kneeling with their hands behind their heads was reminiscent of beheadings by Islamic State." (Reuters

06-20-2016
Syria Conflict

IRGC-Quds Force head Gen. Qassem Soleimani issues threats indicating "that Iran was prepared to support an armed uprising there, after the Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of a leading Shiite opposition cleric."

"Threats issued on Monday by a senior Iranian commander to the Sunni-led island state of Bahrain seemed to indicate that Iran was prepared to support an armed uprising there, after the Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of a leading Shiite opposition cleric. In a statement, the commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the high-profile leader of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, denounced the 'mistreatment' of the cleric and threatened Bahrain with 'a bloody intifada.' Bahrain's leaders have accused the Quds Force of sending weapons to local insurgents, which Iran denies. But General Soleimani's explosive remarks suggested that Tehran was losing patience. The action against the cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, 'is a red line, and passing this red line will create flames of fire in Bahrain and the entire region,' General Soleimani said. 'And the people will have no choice but armed resistance.' The statement, coming from General Soleimani, who is leading the country's military efforts in Syria and Iraq, was widely perceived as a serious threat. 'This shows that we have a new strategy of supporting an intifada in Bahrain,' said Hamidreza Taraghi, a political analyst close to Iran's leadership." (NYT

06-19-2016
Nuclear Program

Contradicting Tehran's longstanding denials, "The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country's past, covert nuclear weapons program."

 

"The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country's past, covert nuclear weapons program, current and former officials said, a finding that contradicts Tehran's longstanding denials that it was pursuing a bomb. Traces of man-made uranium were found at the Parchin facility, southeast of Tehran, by investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, as part of an investigation tied to the landmark nuclear deal reached last July between Iran and global powers. The Iranians have claimed that the site was used for developing and testing conventional weapons. The particles were the first physical evidence-on top of satellite imagery and documents from defectors-to support the charge that Iran had been pursuing a bomb there. The Obama administration didn't comment about the uranium in December when the IAEA released its report; the finding got only one brief mention in the 16 pages. But in recent interviews, current and former U.S. officials asked about the uranium finding said the working assumption now is that it is tied to nuclear weapons development that Iran is believed to have pursued more than a decade ago." (WSJ

06-17-2016
Anti-Americanism

Tehran's Interim Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammed Emami-Kashani says "the spread of drugs is the US policy," alleging "they (the US policy makers) import terrorism on the one hand and drug on the other hand."

"Tehran's Interim Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammed Emami-Kashani said ominous triangle of Saudi money, Zionist's policy and US power prevents the progress of original Islam. Ayatollah Emami-Kashani who led this week's ritual ofFriday Prayers in Tehran noted the Islam that Takfiris and ISIL preach is not the noble and original one. Praising Leader's comments on Islam, he noted that the only person who well describes the Revolution at home and abroad is the Iranian Leader Ayatollah Khamenei; 'He stands at the peak, where he sees all the world and then makes remarks.' ... Emami-Kashani in another part of his sermon in Friday Prayers this week, said the spread of drugs is the US policy, saying 'they (the US policy makers) import terrorism on the one hand and drug on the other hand.'" (Mehr

06-16-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran is suing the US in the UN International Court of Justice, accusing Washington DC, of violating a 1955 treaty by freezing its assets."

"Iran is suing the U.S. in the International Court of Justice, accusing Washington, D.C., of violating a 1955 treaty by freezing its assets, the United Nations' main judicial arm said Wednesday. The case, filed Tuesday, follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision in April that gave victims of alleged Iran-linked terror attacks the right to collect some $2 billion in Iranian assets that are frozen in the U.S. Tehran alleges the U.S. seized assets of Iranian entities that weren't party to judgments and were immune from enforcement proceedings under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, the ICJ said in a statement. Iran said U.S. courts had awarded more than $56 billion worth of damages against it over Tehran's alleged involvement in terrorist attacks, according to the ICJ... Attacks blamed on Iran include the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing, in which 241 American military personnel were killed in Lebanon. Victims of that attack and others have won U.S. court cases against Iran in recent years, and sought to collect damages... Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that his government would pursue the ICJ case until it won back its assets and received compensation. He rejected allegations of Iranian involvement in the Beirut bombing. 'American courts have ruled through illegitimate decrees that these assets must be put at the disposal of Americans and the families of those who were killed in Lebanon,' he said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. 'It's not clear what Americans were doing in Lebanon and what this issue has to do with Iran.'" (WSJ)

06-16-2016
Human Rights

"UN calls for the immediate release of prominent Iranian women's rights activist Bahareh Hedayat and has expressed concern for her health in a report published on Wednesday by a human rights group."

"A United Nations body has called for the immediate release of prominent Iranian women's rights activist Bahareh Hedayat and has expressed concern for her health in a report published on Wednesday by a human rights group. Until her arrest in 2009 Hedayat had been involved in projects calling for gender equality and had reported on cases of sexual violence against female students at universities. She has spent some of her time at Evin prison in solitary confinement. 'The deprivation of liberty of Bahareh Hedayat was arbitrary,' the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in its report, compiled in May after a request from the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI). The report said Hedayat, who was also arrested and released multiple times from 2006, should be compensated for her time spent in detention. Hedayat was convicted in 2010 on charges of insulting Iran's Supreme Leader and president and acting against national security." (Reuters)

06-16-2016
Politics

"Revelations of exorbitant salaries paid to senior officials have sparked widespread anger in Iran, threatening to undermine public support for President Hassan Rouhani as he prepares to run for re-election next year."

"Revelations of exorbitant salaries paid to senior officials have sparked widespread anger in Iran, threatening to undermine public support for President Hassan Rouhani as he prepares to run for re-election next year. Rouhani's government has launched an investigation into public pay following the reports of executives at the state insurance regulator earning more than 50 times the base government salary. The president's opponents are demanding answers on behalf of struggling Iranians who have yet to see the promised economic benefits of the country's nuclear deal with world powers. The Iranian parliament's conservative speaker, Ali Larijani, hammered the message home in the legislature on Tuesday, announcing the Supreme Audit Court would release a report on the issue next week. 'These excessive salaries have caused anxiety in society,' Larijani said, responding to a claim from another conservative MP that a senior health ministry official was earning 2 billion rials ($58,000) a month, far above the base public sector salary of about $400 a month." (AFP)

06-15-2016
Human Rights

"A British-Iranian woman who was arrested in Iran in April is accused of seeking to 'overthrow the regime', according to a statement from the IRGC."

"A British-Iranian woman who was arrested in Iran in April was accused on Wednesday of seeking to 'overthrow the regime', according to a statement from the powerful Revolutionary Guards. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was accused of being 'involved in the soft overthrow of the Islamic republic through... her membership in foreign companies and institutions,' the Mizan news agency quoted a regional Guards branch as saying. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was arrested at Tehran airport on April 3 as she prepared to return to Britain with her daughter after visiting family in Iran, her husband told AFP last week. Iran doesn't recognise dual-citizenship and, if put on trial, she will be considered an Iranian. According to the Guards, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was 'identified and arrested after massive intelligence operations' as one of 'the heads of foreign-linked hostile networks.' She was alleged to have conducted 'various missions... leading her criminal activities under the direction of media and intelligence services of foreign governments.' 'Further investigations are being done and her case has been sent to Tehran for legal proceedings,' the statement added." (AFP)

06-14-2016
Human Rights

"Senior Islamic cleric Seyyed Youssef Tabatabi-nejad, who leads Friday prayers in Isfahan, encouraged the country's morality police to crack down on 'improper veiling' and suggested women's immodest clothing was having an impact on the environment."

"Immorality among women is causing a river in Iran to dry up, according to a senior cleric from the Islamic Republic. Seyyed Youssef Tabatabi-nejad, who leads Friday prayers in Isfahan, encouraged the country's morality police to crack down on 'improper veiling' and suggested women's immodest clothing was having an impact on the environment. In a sermon this week, he said: 'My office has received photos of women next to the dry Zayandeh-rud River pictured as if they are in Europe. It is these sorts of acts that cause the river to dry up even further,' ISNA News Agency reported." (Independent)

06-14-2016
Nuclear Program

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei threatens to "set fire" to the nuclear deal if American presidential candidates renege on the agreement.

"Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened on Tuesday to 'set fire' to the nuclear deal sealed with world powers if U.S. presidential candidates reneged on the agreement... 'The Islamic Republic won't be the first to violate the nuclear deal. Staying faithful to a promise is a Koranic order,' Khamenei said, according to state media. 'But if the threat from the American presidential candidates to tear up the deal becomes operational then the Islamic Republic will set fire to the deal.' ... Khamenei noted that sanctions had not been completely lifted, issues with Iranian banks had not been resolved and that Iranian money that was being kept in other countries had not been returned. 'The nuclear deal has holes which, if they were closed, would reduce or cancel its disadvantages,' he said. He added: 'Some think that we can get along with the Americans and solve our problems. This is an incorrect idea and a delusion.'" (Reuters)

06-14-2016
Human Rights

"In Iran, gay and transsexual people are being forced to carry 'gay' ID cards as the price of avoiding conscription and years of abuse and harassment in the armed forces."

"Gay and transsexual people in Iran are being forced to carry 'gay' ID cards as the price of avoiding conscription and years of abuse and harassment in the armed forces. Military service is compulsory for men once they reach 18, but the state offers a get-out clause to those who are gay and those who have undergone sex-change operations - most of which are carried out under duress from the government in an attempt to 'cure' them." (The Times of London)

06-14-2016
Nuclear Program

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warns "Iran has the capability to ... obtain 100,000 SWUs in less than a year and a half thanks to the new generation centrifuges; so the other side should not think our hands are tied."

"On Tuesday evening, the heads of the three branches, government officials and a group of senior managers of various sectors as well as political, social and cultural representatives met with the Leader of the Revolution... The Leader of the Islamic Revolution pointed to the threats by some US presidential hopefuls to scrap last year's nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, saying the Islamic Republic will strongly respond to any such move. 'The agenda of the enemy today is to stop or eliminate the capabilities of the Islamic Republic or at least to prevent their growth,' Ayatollah Khamenei added... 'Fortunately Iran has the capability to return to the previous status and we can- if we deem necessary- obtain 100,000 SWUs in less than a year and a half thanks to the new generation centrifuges; so the other side should not think our hands are tied.'" (Khamenei.ir)

06-13-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says that despite the historic nuclear deal reached last year with Western powers, the Islamic Republic would never trust the United States."

"Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday that despite the historic nuclear deal reached last year with Western powers, the Islamic Republic would never trust the United States. 'We never trust the US and the basis of our power is our fight against hegemony,' Zarif told Iranian lawmakers during an address to parliament. Zarif went on to accuse Washington of perpetuating a hostile policy towards Iran, and of procrastinating the implementation of the sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback agreement that officially came into force earlier this year. 'The nuclear agreement doesn't mean that the other side's hostilities have ended since they always consider the Islamic Republic of Iran as an obstacle on their way; also it doesn't mean that they have withdrawn from their stonewalling,' he said... Earlier this month, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the US, Britain and Israel as the Islamic Republic's 'main enemies,' and accused Washington of breaking its promises." (Times of Israel

06-13-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran is going to deploy a largely Shiite mercenary force of Afghans in Syria alongside its own troops, Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, and Shiites whom Iran has marshaled from Iraq and Pakistan."

"His is one of many stories heard here in Herat, an ancient and largely Shiite city in northwest Afghanistan, that gives rare insight into how far the Islamic Republic is going to deploy a largely Shiite mercenary force of Afghans in Syria alongside its own troops, Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, and Shiites whom Iran has marshaled from Iraq and Pakistan... Iran's use of Afghan fighters to bolster pro-government ranks in the Syrian war is no longer a secret, and is increasingly publicized inside Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, met in March with families of Afghans killed in Syria, praised their sacrifice, and said: 'I am proud of you.' Some Afghans fight willingly for religious reasons, eager to take up a cause of 'defending' Shiite shrines in Syria. Others fight for cash, upwards of $700 per month, or choose to realize promises of Iranian citizenship, schooling for their children, and jobs, if they survive the frontline - benefits usually beyond reach for Afghan migrants in Iran. Still other Afghans report coercion and intimidation, and say their second-class status inside Iran - among an estimated 3 million Afghans, only one-third are legal migrants - is taken advantage of. Afghans' 'vulnerable legal position in Iran and the fear of deportation may contribute to their decision [to join militias in Syria], making it less than voluntary,' Human Rights Watch said in a January report." (CSM)

06-13-2016
Human Rights

"Local authorities sentence an Iranian blogger to 444 lashes for his blog posts about social affairs and civil rights. Mohammad Reza Fathi, was found guilty of 'spreading lies' and 'disturbing public opinion' over articles published on his blog."

"Local authorities have sentenced an Iranian blogger to 444 lashes for his blog posts about social affairs and civil rights. Mohammad Reza Fathi, who lives in Saveh, a city in the Markazi province of Iran, was found guilty of 'spreading lies' and 'disturbing public opinion' over articles published on his blog, according to the newspaper Yas. Fathi denied the accusations against him, and has appealed the verdict. 'My blog posts were about social affairs,' the blogger said. 'I was only defending citizens' rights and public funds.' Flogging is a common form of punishment in Iran." (Journalism Is Not a Crime)

06-09-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian authorities arrest a Canadian-Iranian professor of social anthropology, the latest in a string of cases involving dual nationals which has prompted concern over the country's political atmosphere."

"Iranian authorities have arrested a Canadian-Iranian professor of social anthropology, the latest in a string of cases involving dual nationals which has prompted concern over the country's political atmosphere. Homa Hoodfar was arrested earlier this week after nearly three months of repeated questioning by the Iranian intelligence service, her sister told the Guardian on Wednesday. Hoodfar is the latest in the ever-expanding list of dual nationals targeted in recent months. Several Iranian dual nationals from the US, the UK, Canada and France are currently behind bars or facing regular questioning, often accused of espionage or collaborating with a hostile government. The 65-year-old scholar travelled to her home country in February, principally for personal reasons, but she also continued her academic research while in the country, her family said. Her trip coincided with parliamentary elections during which a record number of women were elected as MPs, mostly allied with the moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani. In March, members of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards raided Hoodfar's flat a day before she was due to fly to London, where she planned to join her family for the Persian new year and the 70th birthday of her brother. The authorities confiscated her belongings and her three passports, and summoned Hoodfar for regular questioning. Hoodfar's family had chosen not to go public until now because they believed the interrogations were the result of a misunderstanding and would soon end, according to her sister, Katayoon Hoodfar." (Guardian)

06-08-2016
Extremism

""Iran international goalkeeper Sosha Makani has been suspended for six months for 'inappropriate' conduct, including the wearing of what media have dubbed 'SpongeBob trousers', ISNA news agency reported."

06-07-2016
Human Rights

A three-minute trial in 2015 found brothers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, 26 and 31, and their friend Yousef Emadi, 35, guilty of "insulting Islamic sanctities, spreading propaganda against the system' and 'illegal audio-visual activities."

"Two musicians and a film-maker have begun three-year jail sentences in Iran for the online distribution of underground music. The three men, who have been described by Amnesty as prisoners of conscience, were summoned to serve their sentences last week after an appeals court upheld their conviction. A three-minute trial in 2015 found brothers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, 26 and 31, and their friend Yousef Emadi, 35, guilty of 'insulting Islamic sanctities', 'spreading propaganda against the system' and 'illegal audio-visual activities' for the distribution of music unlicensed by the cultural ministry. They did not have access to lawyers during the trial, activists said." (Guardian)

06-06-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran blasts the West's double-standard policies in fighting terrorism, says "today, the US is using the ISIL as an instrument and defends the Zionist regime but puts Iran in the list of terrorists because (Iran) has stood against and confronted (the US)."

"Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani blasted the West's double-standard policies in fighting terrorism, and said the US State Department's report will no way stop Tehran's efforts in the war on terrorism in the region. 'Today, the US is using the ISIL as an instrument and defends the Zionist regime but puts Iran in the list of terrorists because the Islamic Republic has stood against and confronted their main strategy and hegemony,' Shamkhani told reporters in Tehran on Sunday. 'But this will not affect the Islamic Republic of Iran's policies in defending the regional states and it shows the West's double-standard policy on terrorism,' he added." (Fars Iran)

06-03-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme Leader calls US, UK and Israel; "main enemies" and accuses Washington of procrastination over the nuclear deal, saying "for a country to integrate its economy into the world economy is not an honour, it's a loss and defeat."

"Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out Friday at the United States, Britain and Israel as the Islamic republic's 'main enemies', accusing Washington of procrastinating over Tehran's landmark nuclear deal. 'It's the US, the evil Britain, and the damned and cancerous Zionist regime. These are the main enemies,' Khamenei said in a televised speech marking the 27th anniversary of the death of his revolutionary predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The supreme leader mentioned the nuclear deal with world powers that came into force in January, and accused Washington of breaking its promises. 'We sat down and negotiated with the P5+1 group and even separately with the Americans over the nuclear issue,' he said during a televised speech to thousands gathered at Khomeini's extravagant mausoleum in southern Tehran. 'The other side, the Americans, made some commitments. The Islamic republic completed its commitments but the other unfaithful side is procrastinating.' 'Whoever trusts in the United States is committing a big mistake and will be hit with a slap,' he added. Khamenei's address was met with chants from the crowd of 'Death to America', a common cry during his anti-Western speeches... Khamenei went on to emphasise the importance of a domestic 'resistance economy', rather than reliance on foreign investment. 'To think that the economic boom of the country can be merely reached through foreign investment is a mistake,' he said. 'More important than foreign investment is activating domestic potential. For a country to integrate its economy into the world economy is not an honour, it's a loss and defeat.'" (AFP)

06-03-2016
Terrorism

US State Department as has done in numerous previous years, identified Iran as the world's "foremost state sponsor of terrorism" in 2015, says Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism despite sealing a nuclear deal with world powers.

"The U.S. said the number of global terrorist attacks declined slightly between 2014 and 2015, although the Islamic State group expanded its reach. Iran remained the leading state sponsor of terrorism despite sealing a nuclear deal with world powers, the State Department said in its annual survey of worldwide terrorism released Thursday... as it has done in numerous previous years, the report identified Iran as the world's 'foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015' through its provision of financial support, training and equipping of various extremist groups, notably Lebanon's Hezbollah, as well as the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad... Although it achieved a diplomatic resolution to concerns over its nuclear program, Iran in 2015 continued to use the Quds Force of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to implement foreign policy goals, which include creating instability throughout the Middle East, according to the report. In addition to arming the Hezbollah and the Assad government, it also provided weapons and other assistance to militants in Bahrain and remained active in supporting anti-Israel groups such as Hamas, the report said." (AP)

06-01-2016
Extremism

Iranian sponsors "Zionist caliphate" cartoon contest, with "Zionism, terrorism and racism" and "ISIL terrorism and genocide in the name of religion and to the benefit of the Zionists" as the designated themes.

05-31-2016
Syria Conflict

"Sunni politicians in Iraq condemned a visit by Iranian General Qassem Soleimani to Shi'ite paramilitary forces fighting alongside the Iraqi army to drive Islamic State militants out of the Sunni city of Falluja."

"Sunni politicians in Iraq condemned on Saturday a visit by Iranian General Qassem Soleimani to Shi'ite paramilitary forces fighting alongside the Iraqi army to drive Islamic State militants out of the Sunni city of Falluja. Three lawmakers from the province of Anbar told Reuters the visit by Iran's al-Quds brigade commander could fuel sectarian tension and cast doubt on Baghdad's assertions that the offensive is an Iraqi-led effort to defeat Islamic State, and not to settle scores with the Sunnis... In recent days, Iranian media published pictures of what they said was a visit by Soleimani to Falluja and a meeting he held with the leaders of the Iraqi coalition of Shi'ite militias known as Popular Mobilization, or Hashid Shaabi. It is the second time Soleimani has appeared in Iraqi conflict zones. About a year ago, witnesses said he was present when Popular Mobilization fighters ousted Islamic State militants from cities north of the capital. An Iraqi government spokesman did not confirm Soleimani's visit and stressed that Iranian advisors are present in Iraq in order to assist in the war on Islamic State (IS) in the same capacity as those of the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition. Member of parliament (MP) Hamid al-Mutlaq rejected that, however. 'We are Iraqis and not Iranians,' he said. 'Would Turkish or Saudi advisers be welcomed to assist in the battle?' he added, drawing a parallel between the three regional powers bordering Iraq -- mainly-Sunni Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and Shi'ite Iran. 'Soleimani's presence is suspicious and a cause for concern; he is absolutely not welcome in the area,' said Falluja parliamentarian Salim Muttar al-Issawi." (Reuters)

05-31-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran is working on construction of the largest missile base for the IRGC near Sayed Sadiq, which belongs to Iraqi Kurdistan due to strategic value.

"Exposing regional plans of Iran, a Kurdish official revealed that the Iranian regime has launched its construction of the largest missile and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) base. The center is being established near Sayed Sadiq which belongs to the Sulaymaniyah Governorate located in the Iraqi Kurdistan... The official further revealed that the number of IRGC commanders and officers frequently visiting the location and supervising the construction are being present on a daily basis. Quds Force division had deployed a large number of unit 400 members who are assigned with monitoring and dealing with Iran-backed Kurdish forces to the area... 'The IRGC had started since May 7 its construction of a military base in the Syrian Coastal Mountain Range, inside Iraqi Kurdistan,' the official said. 'According to our information, the Iranian regime is working on founding a missile base in the region, given its strategic value. The location influences a majority of its vicinity. Iranian military helicopters consistently hover over the region; meanwhile IRGC soldiers and machines work on construction.'" (Asharq Al-Awsat)

05-31-2016
Syria Conflict

"US commandos are on the front lines in Syria in a new push toward the Islamic State's de facto capital in Raqqa, but in Iraq it is an entirely different story: Iran, not the US, has become the face of an operation to retake the jihadist stronghold."

 

"American commandos are on the front lines in Syria in a new push toward the Islamic State's de facto capital in Raqqa, but in Iraq it is an entirely different story: Iran, not the United States, has become the face of an operation to retake the jihadist stronghold of Falluja from the militant group. On the outskirts of Falluja, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, police officers and Shiite militiamen backed by Iran are preparing for an assault on the Sunni city, raising fears of a sectarian blood bath. Iran has placed advisers, including its top spymaster, Qassim Suleimani, on the ground to assist in the operation. The battle over Falluja has evolved into yet another example of how United States and Iranian interests seemingly converge and clash at the same time in Iraq. Both want to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But the United States has long believed that Iran's role, which relies on militias accused of sectarian abuses, can make matters worse by angering Sunnis and making them more sympathetic to the militants... In an extraordinary statement on Wednesday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the world's pre-eminent Shiite religious leader, who lives in Najaf in southern Iraq and is said to be concerned by Iran's growing role in Iraq, urged security forces and militia to restrain themselves and abide by 'the standard behaviors of jihad.'" (NYT)

05-31-2016
Politics

Ali Larijani was re-elected speaker of Iran's Parliament, denying Rouhani's supporters a post they thought they had earned with a big win in the elections.

 

"A leading conservative was re-elected speaker of Iran's Parliament on Tuesday, denying reformists a post they thought they had earned with a big win in February elections. In a mild surprise, an overwhelming majority of Iran's lawmakers chose a conservative candidate, Ali Larijani, who has held the position since 2008. Mr. Larijani, 57, scion of a powerful Iranian family, is not considered a die-hard conservative, as he managed the Parliament's approval last summer of the nuclear agreement with Western powers. Moreover, Mr. Larijani has supported in recent years the government of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who was elected on promises of reaching a nuclear deal and loosening Iran's severe restrictions on personal freedoms. Of 276 lawmakers present in the 290-seat house, Mr. Larijani won 237 votes, Iranian state television reported. Mr. Larijani's election was something of a formality. His main reformist opponent, Mohammad Reza Aref - who served as first vice president from 2001 to 2005 under Mohammad Khatami, then the liberal reformist president - withdrew from the race on Monday." (NYT)

05-31-2016
Human Rights

"Iran has given foreign messaging apps a year to move data they hold about Iranian users onto servers inside the country, prompting privacy and security concerns on social media. Iran has some of the strictest controls on internet access in the world."

 

"Iran has given foreign messaging apps a year to move data they hold about Iranian users onto servers inside the country, prompting privacy and security concerns on social media. Iran has some of the strictest controls on internet access in the world and blocks access to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, although many users are able to access them through widely available software. 'Foreign messaging companies active in the country are required to transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity,' Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace said in new regulations carried by state news agency IRNA on Sunday. The council, whose members are selected by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave social media companies a year to comply, IRNA said, adding that the measures were based on the 'guidelines and concerns of the supreme leader'. The new requirements could affect messaging app Telegram in particular. The cloud-based instant messaging service has gained popularity because of its high level of security and is estimated to have about 20 million users in Iran, which has a total population of about 80 million... Social media users reacted with concern to the planned changes. 'Telegram's data centres are to be moved inside the country so they can delete what they want and arrest who they want,' @Mehrdxd said in a tweet. 'I would stop using #Telegram if the servers are moved inside the country because it would not be safe anymore,' @Gonahkar (Guilty) wrote in a tweet." (Reuters)

05-27-2016
Human Rights

"More than 30 college students were arrested, interrogated and within 24 hours were each given 99 lashes for attending a graduation party that included men and women, Iran's judiciary has announced."

 

"More than 30 college students were arrested, interrogated and within 24 hours were each given 99 lashes for attending a graduation party that included men and women, Iran's judiciary has announced. The punishments, which were believed to be part of a wider crackdown by a judiciary dominated by hard-liners, were meted out in Qazvin, about 90 miles northwest of the capital, and were carried out in record time, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, reported on Thursday, citing the city's prosecutor. The Qazvin prosecutor, Esmail Sadeghi Niaraki, said that more than 30 female and male students - the women were described as 'half naked,' meaning they were not wearing Islamic coverings, scarves and long coats - were arrested while 'dancing and jubilating' after the authorities received a report that a party attended both by men and women was being held in a villa on the outskirts of Qazvin. An arrest warrant was issued, he said, and the defendants were sentenced to 99 lashes after being questioned. 'We hope this will be a lesson for those who break Islamic norms in private places,' Mr. Niaraki said. Mixed-gender parties, dancing and the consumption of alcohol are illegal in Iran, although they have become common over the past decade, especially in cities." (NYT)

05-27-2016
Nuclear Program

"Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei underlined that Iran's nuclear advancements and power forced the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) to negotiate a deal with Tehran."

"Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei underlined that Iran's nuclear advancements and power forced the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) to negotiate a deal with Tehran. 'The other sides accepted (to recognize) Iran's nuclear industry after they saw Iran's might, that is enrichment to the 20% level, because everyone knows that reaching the 20% level is the most difficult part of enrichment,' Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing Experts Assembly's newly-elected head Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and members in a meeting in Tehran on Thursday. He said that building 19,000 first-generation centrifuges, launching 10,000 centrifuges, production of the second, third and fourth generations of centrifuges and construction of a heavy water plant are other symbols of Iran's nuclear power, and added, 'The enemy which once wasn't ready to accept even the existence of one centrifuge in Iran, was forced to accept the same fact after facing the country's nuclear power; actually, the Americans didn't make this concession but we took it in light of our own power.'" (Fars Iran)

05-26-2016
Terrorism

"Iran decides to provide fixed financial support of $70 million as an annual budget to the Palestinian Jihad Islamic Movement, Palestinian sources close to the movement stated."

"Iran decided to provide fixed financial support to the Palestinian Jihad Islamic Movement, has visited Tehran in April, Palestinian sources close to the movement stated. The PIJ delegation was headed by its Secretary General Ramadan Shalah and included his assistants Ziad Nakhleh and military official of the movement Akram Ajuri. It held several public meetings with Iranian leaderships and other private meetings with the Commander of the Iranian National Guard and Commander of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani. The parties discussed various files that elaborated the Iranian vision for the PIJ Movement in the coming years. One of the major decisions taken by Qassem Soleimani and approved by the political and military offices of the Movement, according to the sources, was restructuring al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the PIJ, and assigning Khaled Mansour the general commander of the Brigades in Gazza Strip. Notably, Mansour is considered to be one of the most prominent leaders who are close to Iran and is respected and honored by the PIJ Movement. Soleimani also ordered allocating $70 million as an annual budget for the Quds Brigades, transferred from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's treasury. Tehran pledged funding the movement consistently after a hiatus for two years." (Asharq Al-Awsat)

05-26-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for vigilance against what he called a 'soft war' mounted by the West and aimed at weakening the clerical establishment."

"Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for vigilance against what he called a 'soft war' mounted by the West and aimed at weakening the clerical establishment, state television reported on Thursday... 'Our officials and all parts of the establishment should be vigilant about the West's continued soft war against Iran...the enemies want to weaken the system from inside,' Khamenei said. In a meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts, with authority to appoint and dismiss the supreme Leader, Khamenei told Iranian officials: 'By impairing centers of powers in Iran, it will be easy to harm the establishment from inside.' ... 'The only way to materialize the (1979 Islamic) revolution's goals is national unity and not to obey the enemy,' he said... 'Iran's enemies try to influence decision-making centers, alter Iranian officials' positions and change people's beliefs,' Khamenei said. 'We should be strong and empowered.'" (Reuters)

05-25-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran's defense minister says Iraq and Syria, currently engaged in war on Takfiri groups, have fallen prey to a plot designed jointly by the United States and the Zionists."

"Iran's defense minister says Iraq and Syria, currently engaged in war on Takfiri groups, have fallen prey to a plot designed jointly by the United States and the Zionists. 'What is today happening in Syria and Iraq is a deep-seated US-Zionist conspiracy that has triggered war in Muslim territories,' Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told reporters on Tuesday. 'Zionists are supporting terrorists and equipping them, i.e. pitting them against Muslims. What is important for them is to guarantee the Zionist regime's security,' he added." (Press TV Iran)

05-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

"IRGC Commander warns that certain reactionary regimes in the region have become a tool of the US to wage proxy wars to block Iran's growing influence in the region."

"Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that certain reactionary regimes in the region have become a tool of the US to wage proxy wars to block Iran's growing influence in the region. 'The US has opted for a warmongering approach using evil and reactionary regimes in the region after the Islamic Revolution's continued success and the hegemonic system's failure in controlling the Islamic Revolution's influence,' General Jafari said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran on Monday. He said that the corrupt regional regime's greed for power has led them commit savage acts against the defenseless people in Yemen and Syria, attempt to disturb the political and security system in Iraq, supply the Takfiri groups with weapons and suppress the innocent Bahraini people. General Jafari also blasted a number of the world Muslim bodies for turning into instruments of protecting the US and Israel's interests in the region." (Fars Iran)

05-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Top Military Aide to the Iranian Supreme Leader Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi called on Iranian officials to keep vigilant against the plots hatched by the US officials to influence and penetrate into the country's decision-making bodies."

"Top Military Aide to the Iranian Supreme Leader Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi called on Iranian officials to keep vigilant against the plots hatched by the US officials to influence and penetrate into the country's decision-making bodies. 'One of the tactics used by the enemies is to penetrate into different decision-making bodies,' Rahim Safavi said, addressing a gathering in the Central city of Isfahan Tuesday afternoon. The Leader's top aide noted that the enemies have changed their tactics and instead of conventional war they are trying to penetrate into the decision-making bodies." (Fars Iran)

05-24-2016
Human Rights

"A teachers' union leader in Iran has warned of an intensifying campaign of harassment and imprisonment by the Iranian authorities against teachers' union representatives."

 

"A teachers' union leader in Iran has warned of an intensifying campaign of harassment and imprisonment by the Iranian authorities against teachers' union representatives. Hashem Khastar, from Mashhad in north-east Iran, says there have been hunger strikes staged by teachers in protest against jailings and the denial of human rights. Mr Khastar, from the teachers' union in Khorasan Razavi province, says he has been jailed three times. He says this followed his defence of the right of teachers to belong to an independent union and that he was jailed for 'trying to bring out the voice of the innocent teachers of Iran'. 'The teachers want, through this teachers' movement, to achieve democracy,' he says." (BBC)

05-24-2016
Politics

"A powerful anti-Western cleric was chosen as the head of Iran's new Assembly of Experts... Ahmad Jannati, 90, is a an outspoken critic of President Hassan Rouhani and his attempts to end Iran's global isolation by normalizing ties with the West."

"A powerful anti-Western cleric was chosen on Tuesday as the head of Iran's new Assembly of Experts, in a sign that hardliners are still in firm control of the body in charge of choosing the next supreme leader. Ahmad Jannati, 90, is a an outspoken critic of President Hassan Rouhani and his attempts to end Iran's global isolation by normalizing ties with the West. The 88-member assembly, consisting mostly of elderly clerics, is expected to choose the successor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is 77 and rumored to be in frail health... The selection of Jannati, with 51 votes according to state media, as the new head is likely to surprise voters in the February election who managed to block many hardliners from keeping their seats in the assembly. Jannati had squeezed in as the last of 16 members elected in the capital Tehran. Jannati is also the chairman of the Guardian Council, a hardline vetting body that disqualified the majority of prominent reformist and many moderate candidates from running in the February elections. Even by the standards of Iran's clerical establishment, Jannati stands out for his virulently anti-Western opinions, once accusing the West of having created al Qaeda and describing U.S. forces in Iraq as 'bloodthirsty wolves.'" (Reuters)

05-24-2016
Human Rights

"For the first time, Iran has officially acknowledged that it has imprisoned a US permanent resident who advocates for Internet freedom."

"For the first time, Iran has officially acknowledged that it has imprisoned a U.S. permanent resident who advocates for Internet freedom. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Tehran 'will try to speed up' the case of Lebanese citizen Nizar Zakka, who disappeared in Tehran in September after attending a government-sponsored conference." (RFE/RL)

05-23-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme leader Khamenei says that "US hostility against the Islamic Republic stems from Iran's defiance of Washington's arrogant policies: 'the main cause of all these enmities and fabrication of pretexts is [Iran's] defiance of Arrogance.'"

"Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the US hostility against the Islamic Republic stems from Iran's defiance of Washington's arrogant policies. 'The main cause of all these enmities and fabrication of pretexts is [Iran's] defiance of Arrogance (a reference to the hegemonic powers led by the US),' the Leader said while addressing a commencement ceremony for graduates of Imam Hussein Military Academy in Tehran on Monday. Ayatollah Khamenei was referring to the US hostile stances against Iran's nuclear program, missile power and human rights record. 'Were the Iranian nation ready to surrender, they (arrogant powers) would have comprised over [Iran's] missile power and nuclear energy and they would have made no mention of human rights,' said the Leader. Regarding Iran's missile program, Ayatollah Khamenei said: 'Recently they have embarked on massive [media] hype campaign, but they must know that such hues and cry will have no effect and they cannot do a damn thing.' The Leader said the US officials have acknowledged that the Iranian nation refuses to submit to the bullying tactics of arrogant powers due to its adherence to Islamic ideology. Ayatollah Khamenei highlighted 'steadfastness', 'defiance of the enemy' and 'safeguarding the revolutionary and Islamic identity' as the main factors of the strength of the Islamic establishment and the Iranian nation." (Press TV Iran)

05-22-2016
Syria Conflict

"The man killed by a US drone attack in Pakistan and believed to be Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had just returned from Iran when his vehicle was struck, security officials told AFP Sunday."

"The man killed by a US drone attack in Pakistan and believed to be Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had just returned from Iran when his vehicle was struck, security officials told AFP Sunday. The driver -- who also died in Saturday's attack -- was a civilian who worked for a local rental company, according to the officials, contradicting the US account that he was a 'second combatant'. The US late Saturday said Mansour was 'likely killed' in the attack in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan. Afghanistan's spy agency said Sunday that Mansour was dead. Neither the Taliban nor Pakistan have confirmed the death. Pakistani ID documents found on the alleged militant leader could shed light on the degree of official support he received in the country. His passport showed he had left for Iran on March 28 and returned the day he was killed. 'He was returning from Iran when he was hit by a drone strike near the town of Ahmad Wal,' one security official said." (AFP)

05-22-2016
Extremism

"Iranian military commander boasts that 'if the Supreme Leader's orders [are] to be executed...we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.'"

05-20-2016
Human Rights

"An already-imprisoned prominent human rights activist in Iran has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in a new trial, a ruling denounced by the UN", this shows that "Iran's abusive criminal justice system is used as a tool of repression."

"An already-imprisoned prominent human rights activist in Iran has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in a new trial, a ruling denounced Friday by the United Nations as it called for her immediate release. Iranian media and officials have not commented on the sentence for Narges Mohammadi, who has campaigned against the death penalty and serves as the vice president of the now-banned Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. A statement from the center said Mohammadi was sentenced in Tehran's Revolutionary Court on charges including planning crimes to harm the security of Iran, spreading propaganda against the government and forming and managing an illegal group. Mohammadi already is serving a six-year sentence, which means the new court ruling will extend her time in prison by four years, supporters say... In a statement, the office of the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was 'appalled' by Mohammadi's sentence and said she was denied the specialized medical care she needs. 'Her sentencing is illustrative of an increasingly low tolerance for human rights advocacy in Iran,' the U.N. office said. 'We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure the immediate release of Ms. Mohammadi and all those detained for merely exercising their human rights.' Amnesty International said Thursday that Mohammadi's sentence shows how 'Iran's abusive criminal justice system is used as a tool of repression.'" (AP)

05-20-2016
Syria Conflict

"Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah vows to strengthen its presence in war-torn Syria and send more leaders to the conflict, a week after its top military commander there was killed."

"Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah on Friday vowed to strengthen its presence in war-torn Syria and send more leaders to the conflict, a week after its top military commander there was killed. The death of Mustafa Badreddine, who Hezbollah said was killed near Damascus by shellfire from Sunni Islamist rebels, was one of the biggest blows yet to the Iranian-backed group's leadership. Hezbollah, Lebanon's most powerful political and military group, has provided crucial support to the Syrian army, along with Iranian forces and the Russian air force. The group is estimated to have lost around 1,200 fighters in Syria's five-year-old conflict. 'No death of any of our leaders has driven us from the battle. This precious blood will push us to a larger, stronger and more sophisticated presence,' leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast live on the group's Al Manar television. 'We are staying in Syria. More leaders will go to Syria than the number that were there before. We will be present in different forms as well,' he said without elaborating. 'We will complete this battle.' Nasrallah spoke on a big screen, projected live in a hall in southern Beirut as part of a ceremony honouring Badreddine a week after his death... At least four prominent figures in Hezbollah have been killed in Syria since January 2015. A number of high-ranking Iranian officers have also been killed, either fighting Syrian insurgents or in Israeli attacks." (Reuters)

05-20-2016
Nuclear Program

"Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, will start work on Iran's Bushehr-2 nuclear power plant by the end of this year after the construction site preparations are completed."

"Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, will start work on Iran's Bushehr-2 nuclear power plant by the end of this year after the construction site preparations are completed. 'We hope that the Iranian side will identify seismic parameters at the site so we could start work on several new blocks already before this year is out,' a source at Rosatom said on Thursday. Russia has already built a power plant in Bushehr. The agreement for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was finalized in 1995, but the project was delayed several times due to a number of technical and financial issues. Mahmoud Shoori said that after the construction and launch of the first stage of the Bushehr plant, Iran realized that it needed at least two more units and decided to give the job to Russia's Rosatom. 'Our longtime experience of productive cooperation with Russia and the technological potential Russia demonstrated during the construction of Bushehr-1 convinced us that we had made the right choice.' Mahmoud Shoori said." (Sputnik Russia)

05-18-2016
Human Rights

Former Iranian President issues a terse public reprimand saying his daughter had made a big mistake in visiting the Bahais, describes the Bahai faith as "'a deviant sect', which 'we disavow and have always done.'"

"A political storm has erupted in Iran after the daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani visited a leader of the persecuted Bahai religious minority while she was on leave from prison. Senior conservative clerics denounced Faezeh Hashemi following her meeting with Fariba Kamalabadi, a mother-of-three who was temporarily released and allowed home to see her newborn grandchild. Iran's religious establishment regards the Bahai faith, which emerged in Iran in the 19th Century, as a heretical sect. Bahais, who number approximately 300,000 and are heavily concentrated in Tehran and Semnan, are often denounced as unclean and accused of being agents of the US and Israel. In response to the criticism of Ms Hashemi's visit and calls for her to be prosecuted, her father issued a terse public reprimand saying she had made a big mistake that had to be rectified. He described the Bahai faith as 'a deviant sect', which 'we disavow and have always done.'" (BBC)

05-18-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran's IRGC says that "many Iranians have volunteered to fight in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's war against 'terrorism'...denies having any conventional armed forces in Syria, but acknowledges having military advisers and volunteers."

"Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said on Wednesday many Iranians have volunteered to fight in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's war against 'terrorism', the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported... 'Many young Iranians from different parts of the country and of different ethnicities have volunteered to go to Syria ... to help the Syrian government and the Syrian people in their fight against terrorism...,' Tasnim quoted the head of the IRGC's public relations office, General Ramezan Sharif, as saying... The Islamic Republic denies having any conventional armed forces in Syria, but has acknowledged having military advisers and volunteers from the IRGC there to help Assad's forces. Last month, however, Tehran said military commandos had also been dispatched to Syria as advisers, suggesting it was using its regular army as well as forces from the IRGC. However, Iran's army chief later said those personnel were volunteers working under IRGC supervision, and that the regular army was not directly involved... In the past few months Iran has sustained serious losses in Syria, including several high-ranking members of the IRGC. Iranian media have reported the death of over 100 members of the IRGC and its affiliated volunteer, the Basij militia, in Syria... 'Syria is the golden ring of resistance front,' Ali Akbar Velayati, top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Iran's Student News Agency ISNA." (Reuters)

05-18-2016
Nuclear Program

"A senior Judiciary official called on Western countries not to violate or undermine a recent deal between Iran and world powers on Tehran's nuclear program...warns Western countries against impairing the deal."

"A senior Judiciary official called on Western countries not to violate or undermine a recent deal between Iran and world powers on Tehran's nuclear program. Speaking in Tehran on Monday, Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the Judiciary department for human rights, noted that Iran has made major accomplishments in the field of nuclear technology but put some restrictions on its nuclear program under the deal, Nasim reported. He warned Western countries against impairing the deal otherwise Iran would resume its previous work 'at a much higher speed.'" (Tehran Times)

05-17-2016
Syria Conflict

"The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead", in aftermath of apparent assassination of Hezbollah commander in Syria, by Saudi-supported forces.

"The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal. The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on 'takfiri' forces supported by Riyadh. According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences. Soleimani also named Badreddine's successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands. Badreddine's replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE... Iran's order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine's death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement." (Middle East Eye)

05-17-2016
Human Rights

"At least 13 prisoners were hanged in Iran: six prisoners at Yazd Central Prison (central Iran), six prisoners at Urmia Central Prison (northwestern Iran), and one prisoner in public in Mashhad (northeastern Iran)."

"At least 13 prisoners were hanged in Iran on Tuesday May 17: six prisoners at Yazd Central Prison (central Iran), six prisoners at Urmia Central Prison (northwestern Iran), and one prisoner in public in Mashhad (northeastern Iran)... Fararu, an Iranian news website close to the authorities, reports on the execution of a prisoner, identified only as 'Hamed', reportedly on death row on armed robbery charges and hanged in public at 6:45am in a city square in Mashhad (Razavi Khorasan province). In the pictures published by Fararu it shows that Hamed was executed in front of people, including children." (IHR)

05-17-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's parliament votes through a law obliging the government to demand damages from the US for 63 years of 'hostile action and crimes', state television reported."

"Iran's parliament Tuesday voted through a law obliging the government to demand damages from the United States for 63 years of 'hostile action and crimes', state television reported. 'The government has the duty to take the necessary measures seeking compensation for material and moral damages caused by the United States' to the country and Iranians over the past 63 years, the text reads. It cites 'material or moral damage' caused by the U.S. during the coup against nationalist leader Mohammad Mossadegh (1953), in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), in the destruction of oil platforms in the Gulf and in espionage against the Islamic republic. Parliament did not specify a sum, but Vice President Majid Ansari said during the debate that 'Iranian courts have already ruled that the U.S. pay $50 billion in damages for its hostile actions' towards the country. The law was passed by the conservative-dominated outgoing parliament in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month. On April 20, the U.S. body ruled that Iran must hand nearly $2 billion in frozen central bank assets to the survivors and relatives of those killed in attacks it has been accused of organizing. These attacks include the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. The ruling affects around 1,000 Americans." (AFP)

05-17-2016
Extremism

Iranian news report claims that Holocaust cartoon contest comparing "Hitler and [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu" has the goal to "enhance" freedom of speech.

"An Iranian television news report about the country's current Holocaust cartoon contest described how one section was 'dedicated to drawings of people like Hitler and [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu' and that the goal was to 'enhance' freedom of speech. The segment on Al-Alam TV, an Arabic-language station based in Tehran, was broadcast Sunday and covered the previous day's opening of the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, an event that has been condemned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and by the US State Department. An English-language subtitled version of the television report was provided Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based watchdog group. Along with footage of the opening ceremony, reporter Salim Issa explained that 'the goals of the contest are to enhance the culture of freedom of speech by means of modern art and to open new horizons for cultural and artistic cooperation and exchange between Iranian and foreign artists.' Issa highlighted 'the largest and most symbolic picture in exhibition,' a drawing showing a kite in Palestinian national colors flying above gray, imposing brick walls arranged in a swastika... Another section of the exhibit, which runs for two weeks, is 'dedicated to drawings of people like Hitler and Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of the Israeli occupation, who appeared in one painting wielding a sword like an ISIS terrorist.'" (Times of Israel)

05-17-2016
Extremism

"Iran’s revolutionary guard has accused Kim Kardashian West of using her Instagram account to corrupt the country’s women and youth."

"Iran’s revolutionary guard has accused Kim Kardashian West of using her Instagram account to corrupt the country’s women and youth. The Iranian police organization that monitors the country’s Islamic culture to avoid outside influence has said that the reality TV star is working in coordination with Instagram. 'They are targeting young people and women,' said the organization’s spokesman Mostafa Alizadeh, according to Iran Wire, a website run by Iranian journalists. 'Ms. Kim Kardashian is a popular fashion model so Instagram’s CEO tells her, ‘make this native,’' he added. 'There is no doubt that financial support is involved as well. We are taking this very seriously.' Iranian authorities have arrested eight people in modeling, photography or fashion throughout the country whose photos seemed at odds with the Islamic culture. 'Our aim is to teach them a lesson and make them wake up,' said a represenative from the prosecutor's office, reported Iran Wire." (The Hill)

05-16-2016
Human Rights

"Iran has arrested eight people for working in 'un-Islamic' online modelling networks, particularly on Instagram, the head of Tehran's cybercrimes court said on state television."

"Iran has arrested eight people for working in 'un-Islamic' online modelling networks, particularly on Instagram, the head of Tehran's cybercrimes court said on state television. The arrests were made under a two-year-old sting operation named 'Spider II', targeting among others models who post photos online without the hijab covering the hair that is compulsory for women in public in Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution. It identified 170 people running online Instagram pages -- 59 photographers and makeup artists, 58 models, 51 fashion salon managers and designers, and two active institutions, according to a statement from the special court. 'We found out that about 20 percent of the (Iranian) Instagram feed is run by the modelling circle,' Javad Babaei said on state television late Sunday. They have been 'making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity', he said. Babaei said it was the judiciary's duty to 'confront those who committed these crimes in an organised manner'. In addition to the eight arrests, criminal cases have been opened against 21 other people, he said. The sting operation has homed in on a database of over 300 popular Iranian Instagram accounts and connected accounts, Babaei said." (AFP)

05-16-2016
Terrorism

"Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the death of Hezbollah's military chief will certainly stiffen the Lebanese resistance movement's determination to fight the Israeli regime and terrorism."

"Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the death of Hezbollah's military chief will certainly stiffen the Lebanese resistance movement's determination to fight the Israeli regime and terrorism. In a message to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday, Zarif expressed the Islamic Republic's condolences on the killing of Mustafa Badreddine by the Israeli regime. The Iranian minister said Badreddine was 'all passion and devotion' in defending the ideals of Islam and the resistant Lebanese people and in fighting terrorism. In a statement on Friday, Hezbollah said it is investigating to find out whether a blast which claimed the life of its top military commander was caused by an airstrike, missile attack or artillery." (Press TV Iran)

05-16-2016
Human Rights

"The US condemns the 2008 arrests of Baha'i leaders in Iran and asks the Islamic Republic to free them, calls upon call upon Iranian authorities to uphold their own laws and meet their international obligations."

"The United States condemned the 2008 arrests of Baha'i leaders in Iran Saturday and asked the Islamic Republic to free them. Iran arrested Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm, and Mahvash Sabet. They were all convicted of espionage, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison. 'We join the international community in condemning their continued imprisonment and calling upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to release them immediately, along with all other prisoners of conscience in Iran,' State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement issued on Saturday. 'Furthermore, we call upon Iranian authorities to uphold their own laws and meet their international obligations that guarantee freedom of expression, religion, opinion, and assembly for all citizens,' the statement added." (CNN

05-14-2016
Extremism

"Iranians staged an international contest for cartoons depicting the Holocaust but insisted the event was aimed at criticizing alleged Western double standards regarding free expression and not at denying the Nazi genocide."

05-09-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iranian lawmakers call on President Rouhani to stop implementing a nuclear agreement if the US continues violating the accord and maintains its hostile policies...They accused the US of backpedaling on the agreement", reports Iran's Press TV.

 

"A group of Iranian lawmakers have called on President Hassan Rouhani to stop implementing a nuclear agreement if the US continues violating the accord and maintains its hostile policies. As many as 102 legislators on Monday urged President Rouhani to set a deadline for reconsidering Iran's voluntary implementation of nuclear-related measures under the agreement. They asked the government to resume all nuclear activities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in case the US refuses to return some $2 billion recently taken away from frozen Iranian assets. They accused the US administration of backpedaling on the June 2015 agreement, sabotaging the deal and blackmailing over the removal of sanctions. The lawmakers asked the government to respond in kind, with regard to the seizure of Iran's frozen assets by the US." (Press TV Iran)

05-09-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran's elite IRGC members were killed during an attack by militants in northern Syria in what shows Tehran's deep involvement in the Syrian civil war. Iran is one of President Bashar Assad's strongest backers along with Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah."

 

"More than a dozen members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were killed this week during an attack by militants in northern Syria in what shows Tehran's deep involvement in the Syrian civil war. Iran has been one of President Bashar Assad's strongest backers and has, along with Lebanon's Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group, sent fighters to battle on the government's side. Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted Hossein Ali Rezaei, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guard in the northern province of Mazandaran, as saying that 13 members were killed and 21 were wounded. Rezaei did not say when or where the incident occurred but another semi-official news agency, Tasnim, quoted a Revolutionary Guard spokesman in the same area as saying that they were killed when a coalition of insurgents, including al-Qaida's branch in Syria known as the Nusra Front, seized the northern village of Khan Touman from pro-government forces... The announcement in Tehran came as a senior Iranian official met with Assad in Damascus and vowed continued support for his government in the country's five-year-old civil war. Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by Syria's state news agency SANA as saying that Tehran will always stand by Syria because it 'knows that terrorism does not target Syria but the whole people of the region.'" (AP)

05-09-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Former US Marine who was held prisoner in Iran is suing the Islamist-led country seeking damages for torture while in custody... Lawsuit attempts to provide justice for this man and his family."

 

"A former U.S. Marine who was held prisoner in Iran for more than four years is suing the Islamist-led country, seeking damages for torture he endured while in custody, his lawyers announced Monday. Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American from Michigan, was convicted on vague espionage charges after being taken into custody while on a visit to Iran. He and three other Americans of Iranian descent were released earlier this year as part of a prisoner swap negotiated between Iranian officials and the Obama administration. The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and it seeks economic, compensatory, and punitive damages from a country that does not have diplomatic ties with the United States and is unlikely to recognize any court ruling against it. According to a news release, the complaint maintains that 'Iran's despicable behavior was outside the scope of immunity provided by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and therefore subjects Iran to suit in the United States.' It says that Hekmati was subject to beatings, sleep deprivation, forced drugging and psychological abuse. 'Iran's treatment of Amir Hekmati was utterly contemptible,' his attorney, Scott Gilbert, said in a statement. 'Amir can never be adequately compensated for his suffering. ... Our intention, with the filing of this lawsuit, is to attempt to provide at least some measure of justice for Amir and his family.'" (Politico)

05-09-2016
Anti-Americanism

"IRGC commander warns that his forces would drown American warships should they pose the slightest territorial threat to the country, says 'Wherever the Americans look in the Persian Gulf, they will see us.'"

 

"A commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has warned that his forces would drown American warships should they pose the slightest territorial threat to the country. 'Wherever the Americans look in the Persian Gulf, they will see us,' Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of the IRGC Navy, said in remarks on state television on Mondaynight. 'They know that if they commit the slightest mistake, we will drown their vessels in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, or the Sea of Oman,' he added. The commander further highlighted the Navy's defense might, saying Iran's enemies are only aware of a small fraction of the country's military capabilities. The IRGC has underground facilities housing surface-to-sea missiles and vessels, Fadavi noted." (Press TV Iran)

05-09-2016
Human Rights

"A British-Iranian woman is being held in solitary confinement in Iran: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year-old project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency's charitable arm (has been arrested) by Iran's elite IRGC."

 

"A British-Iranian woman is being held in solitary confinement in Iran, away from her two-year-old daughter, after they attempted to return to the UK from a family visit. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year-old project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency's charitable arm, was arrested in early April in Tehran by members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard at Imam Khomeini airport, where she and her daughter, Gabriella, were about to board a flight back to the UK. The mother has since been separated from her daughter, who is British and does not have Iranian nationality; she has been placed in the care of Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family in Iran and her passport confiscated. Her father, Richard Ratcliffe, who has been advised not to travel to Iran, says he has not seen or held his daughter since she went holiday, or spoken to his wife since her arrest. 'It is now nearly two months since I saw or held my little girl. I cannot get her back: her passport is confiscated, I have no visa, and I have been advised not to try and go to Iran,' Ratcliffe said... 'It is hard to understand how a young mother and her small child on holiday could be considered an issue of national security. She has been over to visit her family regularly since making Britain her home,' her husband said in a statement. He has not been able to speak to his wife since the arrest. 'The cruelty of the situation seems both outrageous and arbitrary - that a young mum and baby can be treated as some national security threat is absurd, far outside any reality our family was familiar with,' he said. 'But it is also very real. In its isolation and pressures on her, it is a cruelty that is clearly deliberate and designed. And I have been powerless to stop it. After 36 days we have gone public, against the advice of the [Foreign Office], in the hope that with others and with public pressure that might change.'" (Guardian)

05-09-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran test-fires another ballistic missile, the latest in a spate of tests following the implementation of the nuclear deal with world powers earlier this year"

"Iran test-fired another ballistic missile, the latest in a spate of tests following the implementation of the nuclear deal with world powers earlier this year, according to a report Monday by the country's semi-official Tasnim news agency. The test-firing of the missile was carried out two weeks ago, the agency quoted Gen. Ali Abdollahi, deputy chief of the armed forces' headquarters, as saying. Tasnim is close to the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard, which is in charge of Iranian ballistic missiles program. The agency said the missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers, or 1,250 miles - enough to reach much of the Middle East. Iranian military commanders have described them as a strategic asset and a strong deterrent, capable of hitting U.S. bases or Israel in the event of a strike on Iran. Iran insists the ballistic tests do not violate the nuclear deal and is likely seeking to demonstrate it is making progress with its ballistic program, despite scaling back on the nuclear program following the deal that led to the lifting of international sanction on Tehran. Abdollahi said the latest missile tested is very accurate, within 8 meters (yards). 'Eight meters means nothing, it means it's without any error,' he said. He did not elaborate. Last month, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard's airspace division, said a new, upgraded version of the Sajjil - a solid fuel high-speed missile with a range of 1,200 miles that was first tested in 2008 - would soon be ready. But it was not immediately clear if the missile Abdollahi referred to was the new Sajjil. In March, Iran test-fired two ballistic missiles - one emblazoned with the phrase 'Israel must be wiped out' in Hebrew - that set off an international outcry." (AP)
 

05-06-2016
Human Rights

"Iran's Intelligence Ministry officials are increasingly harassing and threatening independent journalists in an apparent move to dissuade them from feeling emboldened by centrist candidates' gains in the county's recent Parliamentary election."

 

"Iran's Intelligence Ministry officials are increasingly harassing and threatening independent journalists in an apparent move to dissuade them from feeling emboldened by reformist and centrist candidates' gains in the county's recent Parliamentary elections. 'I received calls on my mobile phone two or three times a day from an unknown number. After three days I finally answered and a man who introduced himself as an agent of the Intelligence Ministry asked me to go to the Laleh Hotel's restaurant for a friendly meeting,' one journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The agent then reminded the journalist about the 'red lines' journalists should not cross, the source told the Campaign. 'He told me not to be deceived by promises. My place is not in prison, he said, and he told me not to assume something significant has happened with the change in Parliament's make-up [which has tilted] in favor of the reformists,' said the journalist. 'He said I'm under surveillance and warned me that [while I] may not be arrested, my articles would be saved as evidence,' added the journalist. The intimidation of journalists has been a long-standing practice of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Yet these recent incidents involved the Ministry of Intelligence, which is under the direct authority of President Rouhani." (ICHRI)

05-06-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's President Rouhani criticizes the US for supporting terrorism in strongest terms since taking office in 2013, says "the responsibility for all of these crimes is [on] the Zionists and the Americans."

 

"In the latest attack, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - who has always distrusted the United States while simultaneously giving the green light for the nuclear negotiations - accused the United States of being anti-Shiite, the predominant sect to which the majority of Iranians belong. 'Today, anti-Islam, anti-Iran and anti-Shiism are the definitive policies of America and the governments who are affiliated with it,' said Khamenei during a May 5 speech to administration officials, the heads of branches of the government and ambassadors from Islamic countries on the occasion of the anniversary of the day Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation. Khamenei criticized the United States, which he referred to with the religiously charged terms of 'ignorance and idolatrous,' for having dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima, killing hundreds of thousands but after many years 'still not ready to apologize.' He also blamed the United States for destroying the infrastructure of countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq and not being willing to accept responsibility for what they have done. According to Khamenei, 'reactionary Islam' - the violent jihadi movements taking over parts of the Middle East - and 'American Islam' - a softer and more liberal type of Islam promoted by Western countries - are two movements with the same goals. Khamenei also repeated an old claim that terrorists groups in the Middle East are supported by the United States, saying, 'Corrupt groups who committed the worst crimes in the name of Islam are supported and backed by the West.' He continued, 'In appearance the West forms an anti-Islamic State coalition, but in reality they support this group and within the anti-Islam framework refer to them as the Islamic State and ruin the image of Islam.' ... Iran's President Hassan Rouhani also addressed the crowd at the event, echoing many of Khamenei's criticisms of the United States. Rouhani said that anti-Islam Westerners and their mercenaries in the region are 'the two blades of a scissor.' While he did not blame the United States or the West for supporting terrorist groups in the region, he did criticize the US occupation of Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq, and the chaos those military campaigns created, saying, 'The responsibility for all of these crimes is [on] the Zionists and the Americans.' Rouhani's criticism of the United States is perhaps his strongest since taking office in 2013." (Al-Monitor)

05-05-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Tensions between Iran and the US show signs of worsening as the Iranians threaten to block a vital Persian Gulf access route and protest what they call the American 'meddling approach and and tone.'"

 

"Tensions between Iran and the United States, never far from the surface, showed signs of worsening on Wednesday, with the Iranians threatening to block a vital Persian Gulf access route and protesting what they called the American 'meddling approach and tone.' The Iranian messages, conveyed in statements by a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and by the Foreign Ministry, came a few days after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, expressed exasperation with the United States, questioning the longstanding deployment of the Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. 'It is Americans who should explain why they have come here from the other side of the world and stage war games,' the ayatollah said in remarks widely reported in Iran's state news media. Together, the messages appeared to reflect a steady buildup of anti-American sentiment in Iran recently despite the nuclear agreement that took effect in January, which, on paper at least, eased the country's economic isolation... But the Iranians have not yet benefited economically and have accused the United States of obstructing their ability to do business and attract investments, in part because of other American financial restrictions unaffected by the nuclear agreement... The Iranians have also taken note of efforts by some lawmakers in Washington who opposed the nuclear agreement and who have warned against a resumption of commercial dealings with Iran. On Monday, for example, three members of Congress sent a letter to Boeing's chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, urging him 'in the strongest possible terms' not to execute any sales to Iran, which the company is considering after meeting with Iranian aviation officials last month. Boeing has not commented on the letter but has acknowledged opening discussions with Iran. The Iranians have also been seething over an April 20 Supreme Court ruling that permitted the use of nearly $2 billion in seized Iranian assets to compensate American victims of overseas attacks that United States officials have attributed to Iran despite its denials. Iran remains on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, another sore point with the Iranians." (NYT)

05-05-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan pledges support for Palestinian groups that fight against the 'Zionist regime,' in a meeting with the head of Islamic Jihad."

 

"Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan pledged support for Palestinian groups that fight against the 'Zionist regime,' in a meeting with the head of Islamic Jihad. 'The secret of victory over the Zionist regime and the liberation of the Holy al-Quds [Jerusalem] lie in the unity of all Muslims,' Dehqan told Ramadan Shalah in their meeting in Iran on Tuesday, Fars News Agency reported. 'The goal of the big powers is to wage war, create turmoil and promote terrorism in the region in a bid to guarantee the security of the Zionist regime and forget the Palestinian cause,' the defense minister said. Shalah and his delegation met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday, and have met other Iranian leaders during their current visit." (JPost)

05-04-2016
Anti-Americanism

"The deputy commander of Iran's powerful IRGC says Iranian forces will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the US and its allies if they 'threaten' the Islamic Republic."

 

"The deputy commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said Iranian forces will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the United States and its allies if they 'threaten' the Islamic Republic, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday. The comments by Gen. Hossein Salami, carried on state television, follow a long history of both rhetoric and confrontation between Iran and the U.S. over the narrow strait, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes. The remarks by the acting commander of the Guard also follow those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who on Monday criticized U.S. activities in the Persian Gulf. It's unclear whether that signals any new Iranian concern over the strait or possible confrontation with the U.S. following its nuclear deal with world powers. In his remarks, Salami said that 'Americans should learn from recent historical truths,' likely referring to the January capture of 10 U.S. sailors who entered Iranian waters. The sailors were released less than a day later, though state TV aired footage of the sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads. 'If the Americans and their regional allies want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and threaten us, we will not allow any entry,' Salami said, without elaborating on what he and other leaders would consider a threat. He added: 'Americans cannot make safe any part of the world.'" (AP)

05-03-2016
Human Rights

"In Iran, religious freedom is 'deteriorating.' Religious minorities are subject to arrest, torture and even execution 'based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused,' the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

 

"In Iran, religious freedom is 'deteriorating,' according to a new government report. Religious minorities are subject to arrest, torture and even execution 'based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused,' the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote in a report issued Monday. The population of Iran is 99 percent Muslim, made up mostly of Shi'a Muslims. According to the report, the government discriminates against people of other faiths - such as Sunni Muslims and Christians - who are facing 'increasing religious freedom abuses.' 'Since President Hassan Rouhani was elected president in 2013, the number of individuals from religious minority communities who are in prison because of their beliefs has increased,' the report noted... In Iran, the report encouraged the Obama administration to 'ensure that violations of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights are part of multilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranian government whenever possible, and continue to work closely with European and other allies to apply pressure through a combination of advocacy, diplomacy, and targeted sanctions.'" (The Hill)

05-03-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme Leader says "that the United States is the Middle East's main enemy, with the 'Zionist regime' a close second

"Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said; that the United States is the Middle East's main enemy, with the 'Zionist regime' a close second. Speaking at a meeting in Tehran on Sunday with the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ramadan Abdullah, Khamenei said that looking at the turmoil in the region in a 'macro' sense, the US was clearly to blame, with Israel following closely behind. PIJ is an Islamist terrorist organization. In comments carried by Iranian websites, some of which were then posted to Khamenei's Twitter page, the Iranian leader unleashed a series of anti-US and anti-Israel remarks. Khamenei, said Iran's Mehr News agency, 'reaffirmed that with this perspective in regional issues, Iran sees the United States as main enemy with the Zionist regime standing behind it. He pointed to extensive, unprecedented sanctions of US and its followers against the Islamic establishment in recent years and dubbed the objective of them as discouraging Iran from continuing its path; 'but they failed to achieve their goals and will fail in future as well.'' The ongoing unrest in the Middle East, Khamenei alleged, is a continuance of the 'war' waged on Iran by US-led Western governments since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 'and the Palestine issue is the key issue,' Khamenei tweeted. The Iranian leader said Iran was backing embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad 'because those standing against Syria are in fact enemies to core of Islam and serve the interests of the US and Zionist regime.' In yet another swipe at the US, the Iranian supreme leader said an 'arrogance front' has tried to portray the unrest in the region as a power play between Shia and Sunni Islam but that 'clash is a colonialist, US plot.' The supreme leader further said that 'defending Palestine' was an Iranian duty that also symbolized 'defending Islam,' and vowed to keep supporting the Palestinian cause." (Times of Israel)

05-03-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme Leader says "that the United States is the Middle East's main enemy, with the 'Zionist regime' a close second."

"Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that the United States is the Middle East's main enemy, with the 'Zionist regime' a close second. Speaking at a meeting in Tehran on Sunday with the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ramadan Abdullah, Khamenei said that looking at the turmoil in the region in a 'macro' sense, the US was clearly to blame, with Israel following closely behind. PIJ is an Islamist terrorist organization. In comments carried by Iranian websites, some of which were then posted to Khamenei's Twitter page, the Iranian leader unleashed a series of anti-US and anti-Israel remarks. Khamenei, said Iran's Mehr News agency, 'reaffirmed that with this perspective in regional issues, Iran sees the United States as main enemy with the Zionist regime standing behind it. He pointed to extensive, unprecedented sanctions of US and its followers against the Islamic establishment in recent years and dubbed the objective of them as discouraging Iran from continuing its path; 'but they failed to achieve their goals and will fail in future as well.'' The ongoing unrest in the Middle East, Khamenei alleged, is a continuance of the 'war' waged on Iran by US-led Western governments since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 'and the Palestine issue is the key issue,' Khamenei tweeted. The Iranian leader said Iran was backing embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad 'because those standing against Syria are in fact enemies to core of Islam and serve the interests of the US and Zionist regime.' In yet another swipe at the US, the Iranian supreme leader said an 'arrogance front' has tried to portray the unrest in the region as a power play between Shia and Sunni Islam but that 'clash is a colonialist, US plot.' The supreme leader further said that 'defending Palestine' was an Iranian duty that also symbolized 'defending Islam,' and vowed to keep supporting the Palestinian cause." (Times of Israel) 

05-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's Supreme Leader criticizes the US presence in the Persian Gulf region, saying American forces should go back to the Bay of Pigs, state media reported."

 

"Iran's Supreme Leader criticized the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf region on Monday, saying American forces should go back to the Bay of Pigs, state media reported. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a group of teachers Monday that American military drills in the region were proof of U.S. arrogance. 'They sit together, scheme and say that Iran must not hold war games in the Persian Gulf. What a foolish remark! They come here from the other side of the globe and stage war games. What are you doing here? Go back to the Bay of Pigs. Go and hold exercises there. What are you doing in the Persian Gulf? The Persian Gulf is our home,' said Khamenei. State TV broadcast part of his speech. His remarks were an apparent reference to the 1961 failed invasion of Cuba by 1,500 CIA-trained exiles. Muslims also view pigs as unclean animals as the Quran prohibits followers of Islam from eating pork." (AP)

05-02-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran offers to help the global community construct nuclear power plants, according to a top official, who says Iran would be home to seven new nuclear plants by 2020, according to recent remarks (by) the spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization."

 

"Iran is offering to help the global community construct nuclear power plants, according to a top official, who said that Iran would be home to seven new nuclear plants by 2020, according to recent remarks. Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, announced on Friday that Iran has the technology and know-how to help the world's advanced nations construct nuclear power plants. Iran is currently holding talks with a variety of nations aimed at cementing new deals to construct new nuclear plants, Kamalvandi was quoted as saying in the country's state-controlled press. 'Besides Bushehr nuclear power plant and two other plants being constructed in Iran, four others will be built by 2020,' Kamalvandi announced. Iran has been working with Russia to construct several new nuclear plants in the country. 'The Islamic Republic is pursuing a plan 'to build at least one nuclear power plant every 15 years,' Kamalvandi said in separate remarks this month." (Free Beacon)

05-02-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran passes a law allowing the government to grant citizenship to the families of foreigners killed while fighting for the Islamic republic."

 

"Iran has passed a law allowing the government to grant citizenship to the families of foreigners killed while fighting for the Islamic republic, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday. 'Members of the parliament authorised the government to grant Iranian citizenship to the wife, children and parents of foreign martyrs who died on a mission... during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and afterwards,' it said. Citizenship must be awarded 'within a maximum period of one year after the request', IRNA added... The law could apply to 'volunteers' from Afghanistan and Pakistan who are fighting in Syria and Iraq against jihadists including the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra Front... Tehran says its Fatemiyoun Brigade, comprised of Afghan recruits, are volunteers defending sacred Shiite sites in Syria and Iraq against Sunni extremists like those of IS... Iranian media regularly report on the death of Afghan and Pakistani volunteers in Syria and Iraq, whose bodies are buried in Iran." (AFP)

05-01-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's Supreme Leader says "that the United States is the Middle East's main enemy, with the 'Zionist regime' a close second."

"Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that the United States is the Middle East’s main enemy, with the 'Zionist regime' a close second. Speaking at a meeting in Tehran on Sunday with the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ramadan Abdullah, Khamenei said that looking at the turmoil in the region in a 'macro' sense, the US was clearly to blame, with Israel following closely behind. PIJ is an Islamist terrorist organization. In comments carried by Iranian websites, some of which were then posted to Khamenei’s Twitter page, the Iranian leader unleashed a series of anti-US and anti-Israel remarks. Khamenei, said Iran’s Mehr News agency, 'reaffirmed that with this perspective in regional issues, Iran sees the United States as main enemy with the Zionist regime standing behind it. He pointed to extensive, unprecedented sanctions of US and its followers against the Islamic establishment in recent years and dubbed the objective of them as discouraging Iran from continuing its path; ‘but they failed to achieve their goals and will fail in future as well.’' The ongoing unrest in the Middle East, Khamenei alleged, is a continuance of the 'war' waged on Iran by US-led Western governments since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 'and the Palestine issue is the key issue,' Khamenei tweeted. The Iranian leader said Iran was backing embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad 'because those standing against Syria are in fact enemies to core of Islam and serve the interests of the US and Zionist regime.' In yet another swipe at the US, the Iranian supreme leader said an 'arrogance front' has tried to portray the unrest in the region as a power play between Shia and Sunni Islam but that 'clash is a colonialist, US plot.' The supreme leader further said that 'defending Palestine' was an Iranian duty that also symbolized 'defending Islam,' and vowed to keep supporting the Palestinian cause." (Times of Israel)

04-28-2016
Extremism

"Secretary of the International Holocaust Cartoon Contest and Exhibition Seyed Massoud Shojayee Tabatabayee says the event is aimed at preventing the Zionist regime's further crime against the Palestinians, and is not at all after antisemitism."

 

"Secretary of the International Holocaust Cartoon Contest and Exhibition Seyed Massoud Shojayee Tabatabayee said the event is aimed at preventing the Zionist regime's further crime against the Palestinians, and is not at all after antisemitism. 'We are not after anti-Semites, rather we seek to address the fake Zionist regime,' Shojayee Tabatabayee told FNA on Wednesday. 'The issues that we raise about the Holocaust are not related to spreading racist hatred and violence,' he added, referring to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's recent interview with New Yorker on the Holocaust Contest in Iran. When asked by the New Yorker in an interview earlier this week, why Iran allows a cartoon festival on the Holocaust, Zarif told the US magazine 'why does the United States have the Ku Klux Klan? Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the United States? Don't consider Iran a monolith. The Iranian government does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you're talking about'. Shojayee Tabatabayee filed a response to Zarif, saying 'Generally speaking, Mr. Zarif is not familiar with the events happening in relation to the Holocaust exhibition (and cartoon contest) and no one has provided him with any relevant information either'. He, meantime, pointed to the western media (including Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo)'s blasphemous cartoons of Islam's holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and said 'we held the first edition of the Holocaust Cartoon Contest' as the westerners claim that freedom of expression is limitless and anything can be worked on." (Fars Iran)

04-28-2016
Military

"'Iran and Russia have developed 'specific plans' for bolstering the two countries' military and technical cooperation', says Iran's Defense Minister."

 

"Iran and Russia have developed 'specific plans' for bolstering the two countries' military and technical cooperation, says Iran's defense minister. Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the announcement following a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held on the sidelines of the 5th Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) in the Russian capital on Wednesday. During the meeting 'Russia and Iran reached... some agreements and drew up specific plans towards furthering military and technical cooperation,' he noted. Referring to Iran's historical nuclear agreement, Dehqan said 'under the current conditions bright horizons can be drawn for strategic cooperation between the two countries in various fields.' ... Dehqan noted that close cooperation between Tehran and Moscow will help return 'stability and security' to the world and hasten the eradication of terrorism and the problems it creates." (Press TV Iran)

04-27-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's supreme leader and president accuses the United States of hostility and bad faith, saying the implementation of its nuclear deal with world powers was not being honoured."

 

"Iran's supreme leader and president accused the United States of hostility and bad faith Wednesday, saying the implementation of its nuclear deal with world powers was not being honoured. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei echoed other officials in Tehran who allege that Washington is creating hurdles for European financial institutions, more than three months after the agreement came into force. With nuclear-related sanctions lifted, US and European diplomats have said there is no bar on non-American banks doing business with Iran. But it is not happening in reality, Khamenei said. 'On paper they say that foreign banks can do business with Iran but, in practice, they are fomenting Iranophobia to prevent relations. The United States creates disruptions and then asks us afterwards: 'Why are you suspicious'?' Khamenei told workers in the capital. European officials have told AFP their bankers fear they could face fines or even criminal cases against their US subsidiaries if they rush back to Tehran. At a separate event, President Hassan Rouhani criticised a decision by the US Supreme Court last week to make $2 billion of frozen Iranian assets available to American victims of terror attacks. US officials blame Tehran for attacks including the bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Tehran threatened on Monday to take action in the International Court of Justice against the US if the $2 billion belonging to Iran's Central Bank is 'diverted' to 1,000 Americans affected by the ruling. 'This is a totally illegal action and contrary to international rules and immunity of central banks,' Rouhani said, calling it 'a violation and open hostility by the United States against the Iranian people.'" (AFP)

04-26-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran threatens to sue the US at the ICJ "to prevent the distribution of nearly $2 billion in impounded assets from Iran's central bank to compensate American victims of overseas attacks."

 

"Iran said on Monday that it would seek to sue the United States at the International Court of Justice at The Hague to prevent the distribution of nearly $2 billion in impounded assets from Iran's central bank to compensate American victims of overseas attacks. Distribution of the impounded assets, which the United States Supreme Court validated in a decision last week, has enraged the Iranians and threatened to damage the improvement in relations created by the deal reached last July on Iran's nuclear activities. The Supreme Court decision affected more than 1,000 Americans - survivors of, and relatives of people killed in, attacks that the American authorities have attributed to Iranian operatives. The attacks include the 1983 truck bombing of a Marine base in Beirut and a truck bombing in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in 1996. The Iranians have denied responsibility for these attacks and have accused the United States of using them as an excuse to steal their money through the Supreme Court decision. 'We hold the U.S. administration responsible for preservation of Iranian funds, and if they are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the I.C.J. for reparation,' Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters on Mondayin Tehran. He was referring to the International Court of Justice." (NYT)

04-26-2016
Human Rights

"An Iranian revolutionary court handed down long prison terms to four journalists supportive of the government of President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian news media reported. All were convicted on charges of having acted against national security."

 

"An Iranian revolutionary court handed down long prison terms on Tuesday to four journalists supportive of the government of President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian news media reported. All were convicted on charges of having acted against national security. Noting that Mr. Rouhani has called for more press freedom in several speeches, analysts said the prison sentences were a warning by Iran's conservative-dominated judiciary that it would not accept any relaxation of the rules for journalists. A prominent reporter and actress, Afarin Chitsaz, was sentenced to 10 years, the Iranian Students' News Agency reported... All of the journalists worked for reformist newspapers. They included the editor in chief of Farhikhtegan, Eshan Manzandarani, who received a seven-year sentence. The other two were Davood Asadi, who received five years, and Eshan Safarzaiee, who received seven years. The four were arrested in November by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on suspicion of assisting the United States in ''infiltrating' the country. Ms. Chitsaz was also convicted of 'having connections with foreign governments,' her lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, said in an interview... International press freedom groups denounced the punishments. 'Convicting journalists for 'acting against national security' underlines the need to change the overbroad laws that lead to the harassment and jailing of the media,' the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement. 'Iranian authorities must cease imprisoning journalists.'" (NYT)

"An Iranian court has sentenced four pro-reform journalists to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years after convicting them on charges of acting against national security. State TV's website said on Tuesday that the verdicts can be appealed. The four were arrested in November as part of ongoing crackdown by hard-liners, a move that was criticized by moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Several Iranian activists and cultural figures were also arrested in the run-up to February elections for parliament and the all-cleric Assembly of Experts. The four sentenced have worked for various newspapers, including pro-reform Farhikhtegan daily. They include Davood Asadi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ehsun Mazandarani was given a seven-year term while Afarin Chitsaz and Ehsan Safarzaiee each have to spend five years behind bars." (AP)

04-26-2016
Syria Conflict

US and Iran are unable to work together to defeat the Islamic State, despite the nuclear deal. Furthermore, "Iran's proxies are undercutting efforts to unite the civilian population, a necessity if Iraq is to eventually extinguish extremism."

 

"Iraqi forces, backed by American airstrikes and advised by American officers, have been making strides in Anbar Province, slowly taking back territory from the Islamic State. But in Falluja, a city in Sunni-dominated Anbar that has been in the hands of the Islamic State longer than any other in Iraq or Syria, civilians are starving as the Iraqi Army and militias lay siege to the city. And elsewhere in the province, Shiite militias supported by Iran are carrying out kidnappings and murders and restricting the movement of Sunni Arab civilians, according to American and Iraqi officials... A growing number of critics are warning that American-backed military victories need to be backed up with political reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Arabs, something Iran is working against, and with determined efforts to rebuild cities so that civilians can return. In Anbar, they note, the situation is bleak: Shiite militias have worsened sectarian animosities, and hundreds of thousands of civilians have been unable to return home. More broadly, analysts and officials say, it has become clear that though the United States and Iran both want to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq, they have been unable to work together to promote unity in the country - even after a deal was reached last year over Iran's nuclear program, which many hoped would allow them to cooperate more closely... Iran's proxies are undercutting efforts to unite the civilian population, a necessity if Iraq is to eventually extinguish extremism." (NYT)

04-26-2016
Human Rights

"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has ranked Iran 169th of 180 countries in its 2016 edition of the World Press Freedom Index. Iran climbed four places since last year's report but remains one of the most repressive countries in the world."

 

"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has ranked Iran 169th of 180 countries in its 2016 edition of the World Press Freedom Index. Iran climbed four places since last year's report but remains one of the most repressive countries in the world when it comes to press freedom. According the RSF report, which was published on Wednesday, 20 April, this year's index saw a 'deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels.' Since 2013, the overall level of media freedom in the world has declined by 13.6 percent... Iran is rated the world's third biggest prison for journalists by RSF, and ranks among the top three most censored countries in Freedom House Freedom House's annual study of internet freedom." (Journalism Is Not a Crime)

04-25-2016
Human Rights

"A French-Iranian citizen who left Iran in 2009 after facing espionage charges has been sentenced to six years in jail following her return to the country to visit her critically ill mother, an opposition website reports."

 

"A French-Iranian citizen who left Iran in 2009 after facing espionage charges has been sentenced to six years in jail following her return to the country to visit her critically ill mother, an opposition website reported. Former French embassy employee Nazak Afshar, 58, was arrested last month on arrival at Tehran airport, website Kaleme said late on Sunday. She was freed on bail from Evin prison after sentencing, it said. The Iranian judiciary has not commented on her case or made the charges against her public. Afshar, who had dual citizenship, was arrested and tried in 2009 on charges of spying and acting against Iran's national security. No verdict was issued and she was freed following the intervention of the French government, leaving the country the same year. The potential opening up to the West after last year's nuclear deal has alarmed Iranian hardliners, and Afshar's arrest appears to be part of a crackdown against what some officials have portrayed as Western infiltration. Several other dual-nationality citizens or expatriates have been arrested on returning to visit Iran, and a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said on Sunday that four had recently been sentenced for their connections to foreign countries. 'Five people who were arrested recently for their connections outside the country were put on trial ...and four of them have received their sentences,' Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency... Iranian conservative media reported last week that the presenter of a pro-opposition television channel was arrested as he traveled to Iran in 'the disguise of visiting relatives.' Sabri Hassanpour, was host of the online network 'Simay-e Rahayi' (Liberation TV) in the Netherlands, and an outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic. Other dual nationals Iran is holding include Iranian-Briton Kamal Foroughi, 76, who was arrested in 2011 while working in Tehran as a business consultant. Iranian-US citizens Siamak Namazi and his 80-year-old father, Baquer, are also in jail." (Reuters)

04-22-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran denounces as 'theft' a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that almost $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be paid to American families of those killed in attacks blamed on the Islamic Republic, state television reported."

 

"Iran has denounced as 'theft' a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that almost $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be paid to American families of those killed in attacks blamed on the Islamic Republic, state television reported. The ruling was handed down on Wednesday as U.S. President Barack Obama visited Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, hoping to reduce Gulf states' fears over Iranian influence in the region. 'This is totally rejected. It is theft ... it is like stealing Iran's money and we condemn it,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying. 'The decision is incompatible with international laws.' The court found that the U.S. Congress had not usurped the authority of the courts by passing a law in 2012 stating that the frozen funds should go toward satisfying a $2.65 billion judgment against Iran won by the families in a U.S. federal court in 2007. The ruling would affect, among others, the families of 241 U.S. soldiers killed in truck bomb attacks on a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in October 1983... 'The (U.S. court) ruling again displayed America's hostility towards Iran ... and proved that America cannot be trusted,' Jaber Ansari said." (Reuters)

04-22-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran attempts to launch a new long-range rocket in order to place a satellite into orbit, violating a UN Security Council resolution which prohibits the testing of ballistic missile technology.

 

"While President Obama was preparing to head to Saudi Arabia earlier this week, Iran launched a new long-range rocket but it did not accomplish the rogue nation's goal of putting a satellite into orbit, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday. The Pentagon is concerned the components Iran uses to put a missile into space are the same ones used for an potential long-range strike against the West in the future. Last month the secretive regime reportedly tested missiles featuring the phrase 'Israel must be wiped out' scrawled on them in Hebrew. Iran has launched a series of rockets into orbit within the past year. The State Department claims such launches do not violate the nuclear deal signed with the U.S. and other Western nations, but are 'inconsistent' with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which was tied to the nuclear deal when it went into effect. The resolution states Iran cannot 'undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.' 'If it's true, and we're talking about a ballistic missile launch or the testing of ballistic missile technologies, that's obviously of concern to us,' State Dept. spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday. The vehicle launched on Tuesday was a Simorgh rocket, The Washington Free Beacon reports. In 2010, then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first unveiled the rocket to the public." (Fox News

04-21-2016
Anti-Americanism

"US Supreme Court rules that almost $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be turned over to American families of people killed in the 1983 bombing of US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran."

 

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that almost $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be turned over to American families of people killed in the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran. The court's 6-2 ruling dealt a setback to Iran's central bank, finding that the U.S. Congress did not usurp the authority of American courts by passing a 2012 law stating that the frozen funds should go toward satisfying a $2.65 billion judgment won by the families against Iran in U.S. federal court in 2007. Bank Markazi had challenged a 2014 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the assets, bonds held in a trust account overseen by former federal judge Stanley Sporkin, should be handed over to the more than 1,000 American plaintiffs. With the legal questions resolved, lawyers for the plaintiffs said all that is left is for a federal judge to allow Sporkin to distribute the funds. The lead plaintiff was Deborah Peterson, whose brother, Marine Lance Corporal James Knipple, died in the Beirut bombing. Peterson said for her the legal fight has never been about the just money. 'The mission was for those responsible for the bombing to be held accountable and for the world to understand what happened in Beirut,' Peterson said. Ted Olson, the lawyer for the victims who argued the case before the Supreme Court, said the ruling brings 'long-overdue relief to more than 1,000 victims of Iranian terrorism and their families, many of whom have waited decades for redress.' ... Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who authored the 2012 legislation in question, called the ruling 'a long-awaited victory for justice.' 'So long as Iran continues its support for terrorism, its regime will be held liable for its actions,' Menendez said. The Obama administration filed court papers backing the families. The assets held in New York were part of the Iranian bank's foreign currency reserves. They were traced to a Citibank account in New York held by Luxemburg-based Clearstream Banking, which acted as a intermediary for Banca UBAE, an Italian bank of which Bank Markazi is a customer." (Reuters)

04-20-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran's Supreme Leader attacks Saudi Arabia's attempts to isolate its ally Hezbollah, says: "Hezbollah is shining in the Muslim world. It doesn't matter if a corrupt, dependent and hollow government with the use of petrodollars condemns it in a statement."

 

"U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday to meet Saudi Arabia's King Salman ahead of a summit with other Gulf Arab leaders on Thursday and with regional tensions with Iran likely to be high on the agenda. Obama comes to the world's top oil exporter for a fourth and likely last time as president hoping to reassure it and other Gulf allies of Washington's commitment to their security, and to seek ways to reduce sectarian tensions in the region... The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman which are ruled mostly by Sunni Muslim monarchies, with the exception of Oman. They see Shi'ite Iran as a threat to their security and say its involvement in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen has fueled conflict and deepened sectarian divisions. That tension surfaced again on Wednesday when Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei attacked Riyadh's attempts to isolate its ally, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, in a series of fiery Tweets. 'Hezbollah is shining in the Muslim world. It doesn't matter if a corrupt, dependent and hollow government with the use of petrodollars condemns it in a statement. To hell with it,' he wrote. The White House shares the view of Gulf Arab states that Tehran plays a destabilizing role, but has said it hopes to bring them and Iran to develop a 'cold peace' in which their rivalry does not further inflame smoldering Middle East tensions. Greeting Obama in an ornate room in a Riyadh palace, King Salman said he was pleased the American president was visiting and Obama thanked him for hosting the summit. Before Obama met King Salman, in an ornate room in a Riyadh palace, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter had talks with his Gulf Arab counterparts on ways of countering Iranian influence and fighting the Islamic State group, hours before President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia. They agreed on joint cooperation toward improving Gulf missile defense, special forces and maritime security, but no new deals were announced. The GCC secretary general said the bloc and the United States would stage joint maritime patrols to stop weapons smuggling to Iran. American officials said these were already taking place and did not represent a new step." (Reuters)

04-18-2016
Human Rights

Iranian physicist Omid Kokabee is imprisoned due to refusal to collaborate on Iran's nuclear programme, his family now asks for his release due to cancer diagnosis.

 

"An Iranian physicist imprisoned in Tehran since 2011 is suffering from life-threatening kidney cancer, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said on Monday. Omid Kokabee, 34, was arrested while on a visit to Iran from the United States, where he was studying physics at the University of Texas. He was charged with communicating with a hostile government and receiving illegitimate funds. His family has asked for his immediate release due to his severe health condition. 'The prison doctors were prescribing painkiller without even examining him,' an informed source was quoted as saying by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, an independent organisation based in New York. 'It was only last week that Omid was diagnosed with cancer and now the cancerous tumour has spread all over his right kidney,' it said. Iranian judiciary officials have said Kokabee was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail and the Islamic Republic will not bow to international pressure calling for his release. Kokabee has said he had been tortured in prison, both physically and mentally, and forced to make confessions. In letters from Evin prison in 2011 and 2013, Kokabee wrote that his imprisonment was the result of his refusal to heed pressure by Iranian government to collaborate on a secret research project, most probably refering to Iran's nuclear programme." (Reuters)

04-18-2016
Human Rights

"Police in Iran's capital have a network of 7,000 undercover agents whose job is to inform on alleged moral transgressors in the Islamic republic."

 

"Police in Iran's capital have a network of 7,000 undercover agents whose job is to inform on alleged moral transgressors in the Islamic republic, a top official said Monday. Bad veiling -- covering the head is mandatory for women in Iran -- and anti-social behaviour is among the crimes the force has been tasked with tackling. The men and women's 'undercover patrols will confront implicit transgressions in the city,' according to General Hossein Sajedinia, Tehran's police chief. 'Confronting bad hijab and removal of veils inside cars, driving recklessly, parading in the streets, harassing women and stopping noise pollution are the priorities' for the agents, he said Sajedinia's remarks were published by Mizan Online, the official news service for Iran's judiciary, along with pictures of himself and a large formation of plain-clothed agents in Tehran." (AFP)

04-17-2016
Politics

"A newly elected female MP in Iran is to be barred from entering the next parliament apparently because she is alleged to have shaken hands with an unrelated man during a trip abroad."

 

"A newly elected female MP in Iran is to be barred from entering the next parliament apparently because she is alleged to have shaken hands with an unrelated man during a trip abroad. Minoo Khaleghi, a reformist politician and environmental activist, has denied claims about the handshake, which would be illegal under Iran's Islamic law. Khaleghi was elected in February as a new member of the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, from the constituency of Isfahan, the country's top tourist destination. She had been qualified to run, meaning that the powerful guardian council, which vets all candidates, had approved her candidacy. But the controversial body of clerics and jurists has changed its mind, nullifying her votes even though election officials endorsed the results in Isfahan and found no major discrepancy in the counting process. Critics, including the outspoken MP Ali Motahari, have warned that the disqualification of a candidate who had been initially qualified and then elected sets a dangerous precedent. It also puts a spotlight on the role of the guardian council, an unelected body which has blocked a significant number of reformists and dissidents from running in Iranian elections in recent years." (Guardian)

04-17-2016
Syria Conflict

On Iran's National Army Day parade, Iran's President claims 'If tomorrow your capitals face danger from terrorism or Zionism, the power that will give you a positive answer is the Islamic Republic of Iran,'"

 

"Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday vowed to defend Muslim countries against terrorism and Israel while insisting that its neighbors should not feel threatened. Speaking during a National Army Day parade in which Iranian forces displayed sophisticated air defense systems recently acquired from Russia, Rouhani praised Tehran's role in helping the Syrian and Iraqi governments roll back the Islamic State group. 'If tomorrow your capitals face danger from terrorism or Zionism, the power that will give you a positive answer is the Islamic Republic of Iran,' he said. But he added that Iran would only help if Muslim countries asked it to, and said its military power was purely for defensive and deterrent purposes." (AP)

04-16-2016
Syria Conflict

"Jordan says it is recalling its ambassador to Iran for consultations, suggesting the decision is linked to continued tensions between Tehran and Jordan ally Saudi Arabia."

 

"Jordan says it is recalling its ambassador to Iran for consultations, suggesting the decision is linked to continued tensions between Tehran and Jordan ally Saudi Arabia. Government spokesman Mohammed Momani said on Monday that Jordan took the step because of what he described as Iranian interference in the 'internal affairs of neighboring countries, especially Gulf countries.' He did not cite a specific trigger for the decision, but suggested it was linked to the attacks on two Saudi diplomatic missions by protesters in Shiite-led Iran earlier this year. The attacks came after the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric by Saudi Arabia. Momani said in comments published by the state news agency Petra that Iran has 'not responded' to calls by Jordan and others to respect the sovereignty of Arab countries." (AP)

04-16-2016
Syria Conflict

"US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says that Iran is exercising a 'maligned influence' in the Middle East against which US troops are serving as a deterrent... in the gulf region to talk with (the) leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries."

 

"U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said on Saturday (April 16) that Iran is exercising a 'maligned influence' in the Middle East against which U.S. troops are serving as a deterrent. Speaking to U.S. troops stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, Carter said the recent nuclear deal with Iran was positive but did not rule Iran out as a threat. 'We have the nuclear deal with Iran, which is a good deal in the sense that it took the nuclear weapons out of the picture, provided it's implements and all of that, and we're watching that. But that doesn't take Iran out of the picture, and the possibility of either outright aggression or the kind of malign activity that you see them exercising in the region that a lot of our friends and partners including our hosts here and other in the regions are concerned about,' he said. Carter, who also spoke about the need to destroy the Islamic State, said U.S. troops were in the region to back up U.S. allies. 'So you too are part of the system of deterrents and countering Iran's malign influence in the region, standing tall with our friends,' he said. The U.S. Secretary of Defense is in the gulf region to talk with leaders in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries about the fight against Islamic State militants and other defense issues." (Reuters)

04-16-2016
Human Rights

Signed statement by prominent figures from Brazil, India, Australia, Germany, the UK and the US asked Ayatollah Khamenei to stop the harassment and discrimination against Baha'i business owners in Iran.

 

"In a signed statement addressed to Iran's supreme leader, 54 leading business people and economists from countries around the world asked Ayatollah Khamenei to stop the harassment and discrimination against Baha'i business owners in Iran. 'We view the recent spate of business closures by Iranian authorities not only as a violation of religious freedom and human rights, but also as an affront to the freedom to do business,' the letter, which was signed by prominent figures from Brazil, India, Australia, Germany, the US, and the UK, stated. The letter noted that since October 2014, Iranian authorities had closed at least eighty Baha'i-owned businesses in the cities of Kerman, Rafsanjan and Sari because their owners had temporarily closed their doors to observe Baha'i holy days, and had pressured Baha'i business owners to sign pledges that they would no longer close their shops on Baha'i holy days. 'The closing of Baha'i businesses and the constant harassment of Baha'is are against Iran's international commitments guaranteeing freedom of religion,' said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 'The business community worldwide should let Iran know that if Iran wishes to be open for business it must respect the law and the rights of Baha'is,' he added." (ICHRI)

04-15-2016
Extremism

"Iranian President Rouhani slammed the 'Zionist regime of Israel' saying, 'we should always be vigilant against the danger of the Zionist regime as the main source of violence and extremism.'"

 

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slammed the Zionist regime of Israel for its continued aggression against the oppressed people of Palestine, describing Tel Aviv as the root source of violence and extremism in the Middle East. Addressing the 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Thursday, Rouhani expressed deep sorrow over the negligence of the international community on the issue of Palestine and Israeli crimes. 'We should always be vigilant against the danger of the Zionist regime as the main source of violence and extremism,' he said in his address, adding that the continued massacre of innocent Palestinian people, mostly women and children, in the occupied Palestinian territories and the siege of the Gaza Strip show the violent nature of the Zionist regime of Israel that continues its brutalities with the international community, western powers in particular, turning a blind eye to the atrocities." (Tasnim Iran)

04-15-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran is sending thousands of Afghan men to fight alongside Syrian government forces...this national Shia Muslim militia (is) in effect a 'Foreign Legion' that Iran has mobilised to support the Syrian (regime)."

 

"As the five-year conflict in Syria grinds on, BBC Persian has found evidence that Iran is sending thousands of Afghan men to fight alongside Syrian government forces. The men, who are mainly ethnic Hazaras, are recruited from impoverished and vulnerable migrant communities in Iran, and sent to join a multi-national Shia Muslim militia - in effect a 'Foreign Legion' - that Iran has mobilised to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Many have since fled the battlefield and joined the refugee trail to Europe. In a small town in Germany, we meet 'Amir', an Afghan man in his early twenties. He was born to refugee parents in Isfahan, Iran, and is now himself an asylum seeker in Europe. Like most of the almost three million Afghans in Iran, he lived as a second-class citizen." (BBC)

04-15-2016
Syria Conflict

"Leaders from more than 50 Muslim nations accused Iran of supporting terrorism and interfering in the affairs of regional states, including Syria and Yemen, a condemnation that may widen the divide between Iran and its main rival, Saudi Arabia."

 

"Leaders from more than 50 Muslim nations accused Iran on Friday of supporting terrorism and interfering in the affairs of regional states, including Syria and Yemen, a condemnation that may widen the divide between Iran and its main rival, Saudi Arabia. The leaders, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, have been attending a summit in Istanbul this week of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss a such issues as the humanitarian fall-out from Syria's civil war. 'The conference deplored Iran's interference in the internal affairs of the States of the region and other member states including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism,' the OIC said in its final summit communique. It also stressed the need for 'cooperative relations' between Iran and other Muslim countries, including refraining from the use or threat of force." (Reuters)

04-15-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani travels to Moscow once again to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in defiance of a United Nations ban forbidding him from international travel', multiple intelligence report to Fox News.

 

"Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani traveled to Moscow once again to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high ranking officials in defiance of a United Nations ban forbidding him from international travel, multiple intelligence sources tell Fox News. This marked Soleimani's second trip to Moscow since July, days after a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers was reached on July 14. Fox News learned Soleimani has departed Moscow, opting to return to Tehran after one day instead of a planned two-day trip. This marks the first face-to-face meeting between Soleimani and Putin since the Russian president ordered his military to begin a partial withdrawal of forces from Syria last month. Soleimani arrived in Moscow from Tehran early Thursday morning via private jet, a charter operated by Mahan Air, an Iranian airline. This week, Russia sent its first component of the advanced S-300 air defense system to Tehran, a delivery planned during Soleimani's last trip to Moscow. Using a private jet to travel to Moscow indicates that Soleimani wants to avoid public disclosure of his clandestine travels. Sources say that he has canceled a number of trips to Moscow recently, fearing that he would be exposed. Soleimani was first designated a terrorist and sanctioned by the United States in 2005 for his role as a supporter of terrorism. He is responsible for coordinating Shia-militias that killed hundreds of American troops in Iraq during the second Iraq war." (Fox News)

04-14-2016
Human Rights

"UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein appeals to Iran to halt executions for drug offences until Parliament debates a new law that would remove the mandatory death penalty for drug crimes."

 

"UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Thursday appealed to Iran to halt executions for drug offences until Parliament debates a new law that would remove the mandatory death penalty for drug crimes. Five men were hanged last weekend, three of them on charges of narcotics trafficking. The other two men were convicted of murder. In at least one of the cases, that of Rashid Kouhi, there were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial and the denial of his right to appeal. Kouhi was sentenced to death in 2012 after he was found in possession of 800 grams of crystal meth. He was executed on Saturday, 9 April in Gilan province in northern Iran. Last year, at least 966 people were executed in Iran - the highest rate in more than two decades - the majority for drug offences. At least four of those executed in 2015 were juveniles. However, in December last year, 70 Members of Parliament presented a bill to amend the existing mandatory death penalty for drug offences. The bill, which was introduced in Parliament in January this year, provides for life imprisonment in such cases. It remains to be seen whether it will be taken forward in the new Parliament. 'There have been encouraging signs from within Iran towards reform of the law, from the judiciary, the executive and the legislature and I hope the new parliament will adopt these changes. But it is unfortunate that executions for drug-related offences - crimes that clearly do not meet the threshold under international human rights law for application of the death penalty - continue to be carried out in the meantime,' High Commissioner Zeid said." (UN)

04-13-2016
Human Rights

Iran's president has fallen under scrutiny over recent juvenile executions in the Islamic republic; 'Rouhani doesn't seem at all interested to push for it, fight the battle and improve the human rights situation...and that's a problem."

 

"The case presented by the Iranian judiciary was simple: In the southern province of Fars, Fatemeh Salbehi suffocated her husband after drugging him, a capital crime in the Islamic Republic. What made the case controversial is that Salbehi was only 17, a minor by international legal standards, when she allegedly committed the crime. Her alleged confession also came during a series of interrogations where there was no lawyer present. The case was retried but Salbehi was hanged in the Adel Abad prison in Shiraz last October. The issue has come under scrutiny because of a scathing U.N. report on human rights in Iran last month which highlighted what it called the 'alarmingly high' rate of executions in the country, including juveniles. That report, along with an Amnesty International report in January, spurred commentary from ordinary Iranians on social media at least some of which criticized President Hassan Rouhani for not doing more to stop the juvenile executions. Iran has the highest rate of juvenile executions in the world, despite being a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international human rights treaty that forbids capital punishment for anyone under 18... The juvenile executions have continued despite campaign promises made by Rouhani in 2013 to reform human rights... 'The administration can't just keep hiding behind the nuclear issue,' said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 'Rouhani doesn't seem at all interested to push for it, fight the battle and improve the human rights situation. And that's a problem because we're now into the third year of his term.'" (Reuters)

04-12-2016
Syria Conflict

Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman after visit to Egypt meets with Jordan's King Abdullah during diplomatic meeting issue joint statement to reject Iranian influence in the region.

 

"After the arrival of the Saudi deputy crown prince to Jordan on Monday, both Riyadh and Amman said in a joint statement that they rejected Iranian interference in the region, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was welcomed by Jordan's King Abdullah on Monday in the same day Saudi King Salman finished his five-year visit to Egypt." (Al Arabiya)

04-12-2016
Human Rights

UK government pleads for the life of a British-Iranian businessman who was sentenced to death in Iran last month, UK officials are seeking consular access to Mehdi Shams in Tehran.

 

"Britain is to plead for the life of an Iranian businessman who boasted that he ran a multibillion-dollar nuclear sanctions busting operation from a Surrey mansion. Mehdi Shams, an Iranian businessman who was sentenced to death in Iran last month, holds a British passport. UK officials are seeking consular access to him in Tehran. Mr Shams had well-documented associations with a number of companies and individuals who had faced international sanctions for their links to oil smuggling and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. His self-confessed sanctions busting was run from a £2 million mansion in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey." (Times of London)

04-12-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran's Brigadier General Hamidreza Pourdastan, says it is "Iran's new strategy to send more advisers to the Syrian war" after "four of the first military advisors of the Islamic Republic's army...were killed in Syria by takfiri groups."

 

"Four soldiers in Iran's regular army were killed in Syria, the Tasnim news agency reported on Monday, only a week after Tehran announced the deployment of army commandos to help President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war there... To date, most Iranians involved in the Syrian war have been from the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran is believed to have sent hundreds as military advisers. But an officer in the Iranian army's ground force said last week that commandos from the army's Brigade 65 and other units were sent to Syria as advisers. 'Four of the first military advisors of the Islamic Republic's army...were killed in Syria by takfiri groups,' Tasnim reported... Commenting on the deployment of Brigade 65 to Syria, the commander of ground forces, Brigadier General Hamidreza Pourdastan, said on Monday it was Iran's new strategy to send more advisers to the Syrian war." (Reuters)

04-12-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran believes that the government of Bashar al-Assad should remain in power until the end of the presidency term and the removal of Assad is a redline for us" says senior advisor to Iran's Supreme leader.

 

"The idea of the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a redline for the Islamic Republic, says a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. 'Iran believes that the government of Bashar al-Assad should remain in power until the end of the presidency term and the removal of Assad is a redline for us,' Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises Ayatollah Khamenei on international affairs, said in a televised interview on Saturday. He emphasized that only the Syrian people can decide the future of their country and their president. The Iranian official also commented on the policies of the United States in the Middle East, saying Washington has suffered repeated failures in its regional policies. People in Afghanistan and Iraq, Velayati said, have pushed Americans out of their countries and now the US authorities cannot tolerate Iran's influence in countries such as Iraq and Syria. 'At the request of these governments (Iraq and Syria), we support them [in their fight] against terrorists and it is none of Americans' business to say anything in this regard,' Velayati stated. He noted that Washington is behind the creation of terrorist groups such as the Daesh Takfiri group. The Iranian official warned that the US seeks to disintegrate Muslim countries so that proxy governments would be formed to support the Israeli regime. Velayati also emphasized that whether the Americans accept it or not, the time for their presence in the region is over." (Press TV Iran)

04-12-2016
Syria Conflict

"Russia starts sales of S-300 systems to Iran. The deal is to be completed by the end of the year, says Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin."

 

"Russia has started sales of S-300 systems to Iran. The deal is to be completed by the end of the year, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday. In an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station, he said Russia has already sent the first batch of S-300 systems to Iran. 'We are acting in strict compliance with the contract. They pay, we sell. We have already started. It is a supply in full sets,' he said. In his words, the number of missile systems and the number of missiles are stipulated by the contract. 'I cannot say what exactly has been supplied but the supply was conducted by a logistics route elaborated by Russian and Iranian specialists,' he said. According to Rogozin, having received the first batch of these systems, Iran is abandoning its claim to Russia from the international court of arbitration. 'They have agreed it with the Majlis, their parliament, so, the deal is being realized in full,' he said." (TASS Russia)

04-11-2016
Politics

"Former Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest since 2011, appeals to President Hassan Rouhani for a court hearing where he could show two elections he lost were rigged."

 

"Former Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest since 2011, appealed to President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday for a court hearing where he could show two elections he lost were rigged. Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament, said in a letter to Rouhani that Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, Basij militia and intelligence ministry falsified the results of the 2005 and 2009 polls that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad won. He also said Iranian authorities used 'thugs' to attack political critics, embassies and cultural centers. Karroubi and fellow reformist presidential contender Mir Hussein Moussavi, who has also been under house arrest since 2011, have been accused of stoking unrest after the 2009 polls. But neither of the two figureheads of the country's 'green movement' have been formally charged or had their day in court. Public criticism of authorities in Iran, particularly from a former insider like Karroubi, is rare. 'The only path is reform and returning to the direction of the law,' Karroubi wrote in the letter, where he also said he did not think Rouhani could end his house arrest... Rouhani hinted during his 2013 election campaign that he might release the two political prisoners, but has not taken up the issue that has polarized the Islamic Republic and could lead to a showdown with hardliners opposed to him."

04-11-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran's foreign minister says the country's missile program is not up for negotiation with the United States. The missile program and 'defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not negotiable.'"

 

"Iran's foreign minister said Sunday the country's missile program is not up for negotiation with the United States. The missile program and 'defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not negotiable,' said Mohammad Javad Zarif after meeting with his Estonian counterpart, Marina Kaljurand. He added that if Washington was serious about defensive issues in the Middle East, it should stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel. A Saudi-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes and battling the Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen since March 2015. Iran also supports anti-Israeli militant groups... Zarif on Sunday also hinted that regional U.S. allies are among those quietly supporting the extremist Islamic State group. 'The U.S. needs to view regional issues more seriously than raise baseless and threadbare allegations against Iran,' said Zarif. 'Mr. Kerry should ask U.S. allies where the Islamic State's arms come from.'" (AP)

"A top Iranian military official has roundly rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry's calls for missile negotiations with Tehran and urged Iran's Foreign Ministry to respond 'firmly to the impudence.' The strong-worded reaction from deputy joint chief of staff of the armed forces, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, on Friday came a day after Kerry suggested the US was open to a 'new arrangement' with Iran for resolving the issue. 'We are stressing what has been said several times: the missile power is non-negotiable and among the red lines of the Iranian nation and for developing its defense capabilities, Iran doesn't get permission from anybody,' he said. Jazayeri said Iran is 'following its deterrent doctrine and defensive strategy for security independent of the will and intent of arrogant powers and aliens.' The country, he said, 'will not allow anybody to interfere in this regard' and 'will cut any hand which is intended to interfere in it.' Jazayeri urged Iran's diplomatic establishment which hammered out a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on its nuclear program 'to deal firmly and transparently with the American meddling in Iranian affairs, especially in the defensive sphere.' 'The country's diplomatic apparatus is expected to show a timely and decisive reaction to American impudence, especially by the US secretary of state,' he said. 'And by announcing strategic unity and national determination existing in the Islamic Iran for protecting, strengthening and developing defensive and missile capabilities, (it should) purge any thought of a rift and ambivalence in this regard from the minds of American officials,' he added." (Press TV Iran)

04-11-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's defense minister poured scorn on US Secretary of State John Kerry's accusations that Tehran is 'destabilizing' the Middle East, countering that America should get out of the region."

 

"Iran's defense minister poured scorn Saturday on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's accusations that Tehran is 'destabilizing' the Middle East, countering that America should get out of the region. The broadside illustrated new tension between Iran and the United States, despite last year's nuclear deal, with contrasting stances on the conflicts in Yemen and Syria underpinning the latest barbs. If the U.S. seeks 'stability' it should 'leave the region and stop suppo9rting terrorists,' Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said, quoted by the website of state television. 'If John Kerry thought about these subjects, he would no longer utter nonsense and foolish words.' The reaction came after Kerry speaking on a visit to Bahrain on Thursday condemned 'the destabilizing actions of Iran,' noting that the United States was taking Tehran's actions 'very seriously'. But Dehghan denounced Kerry's remarks as a sign of 'frustration' at 'Iran's defense capabilities', charging that it is the U.S. that is intervening in the Middle East on account of massive arms sales... The secretary of state also said that the U.S. and GCC nations 'remain united in our opposition to Iran's missile activities'. However, a top Iranian military official said Saturday there would be no change to the missile program. 'The U.S. is not qualified to make comments about our defense power,' said Revolutionary Guards deputy chief General Hossein Salami. 'Our missile capabilities will never be negotiated or compromised.'" (AFP)

04-08-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran says "for years, we have been building power on the presumption of a widespread war with the US and its allies and have developed all our capacities and capabilities for decisive victories over such enemies."

 

"The Islamic Republic has shaped the structure of its military power proportionate to possible military threats posed by the US and its allies, IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said. 'For years, we have been building power on the presumption of a widespread war with the US and its allies, and have developed all our capacities and capabilities for decisive victories over such enemies,' Jafari said in a gathering of senior IRGC commanders in Tehran on Tuesday. 'Before political and diplomatic options, we have gotten prepared for a military option,' Major General Jafari underlined. He then made it clear that Iran does not welcome any war, but if the time comes for a military confrontation, it will be regarded as an opportunity like the Iraqi imposed war in the 1980s, reiterating that, like in the past, the US will not be able 'to do a damn thing'. The commander also pledged that the IRGC will press ahead with its missile program, saying new missiles with more accuracy and destructive power will continue to be mass produced. The top general also highlighted the extensive plans the IRGC has prepared to show appropriate reaction to the 'stupid' conducts by the Arab allies of the US. 'Regimes like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and their peers are symbols of modern political underdevelopment, and the IRGC... has made preparations for response to their rudeness and stupid behavior, which stems from (their) reliance on the US power,' General Jafari pointed out." (Tasnim Iran)

04-08-2016
Military

"Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan announced plans to boost the penetration and destructive power of missile payloads along with the much improved precision-striking capability."

 

"Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan announced plans to boost the penetration and destructive power of missile payloads along with the much improved precision-striking capability. 'Concurrently with its efforts to increase the precision-striking power of its weapons systems, the defense ministry has also paid attention to boosting the destructive and penetration power of different weapons' warheads and has put on its agenda the acquisition of the technical know-how to produce Octogen explosive materials and Octogen-based weapons,' General Dehqan said, addressing a ceremony to inaugurate a plant which produces the new generation of explosive materials (Octogen) in Tehran on Wednesday. Octogen (HMX) is used exclusively for military purposes to implode fissionable ... as a component of rocket propellant, and as a high explosive buster charge. Blasting certain western states for creating conditions in which no country that masters the technical know-how helps Iran, General Dehqan said, 'We should endeavor to reinvigorate our infrastructures in the defense industries, reduce dependence and use domestic industries.'" (Fars Iran)

04-07-2016
Syria Conflict

"US Secretary of State John Kerry and Bahrain's Foreign Minister call on Iran to stop escalating its provocative behavior across the Middle East and pursue a more constructive foreign policy three months into the implementation of the nuclear deal."

 

"Secretary of State John Kerry and Bahrain's foreign minister called on Iran Thursday to stop escalating its provocative behavior across the Middle East and pursue a more constructive foreign policy three months into the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal. The U.S., Bahrain and other Gulf Arab countries have expressed increasing concerns about Iran's continued missile tests, its weapons shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen, and the participation of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah fighters in the Syrian civil war in support of the Assad regime. The chief U.S. diplomat is in Bahrain to consult with officials from Bahrain and other Gulf Arab countries frustrated by Tehran's policies. Mr. Kerry is laying the groundwork for meetings between President Barack Obama and Gulf Arab leaders in Riyadh later this month. Mr. Obama held a meeting in Washington last year with Gulf Arab leaders and senior officials to pledge military aid and calm allies' nerves about Tehran as the nuclear deal neared completion. On Thursday, about a year after Iran and five world powers agreed on the parameters of the final nuclear accord, Messrs. Kerry and his counterpart in Manama, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, told reporters after a meeting Thursday morning that Tehran is fueling conflicts across the region, including in Syria and Yemen. 'Today we are noticing two things that we kind have expected,' Mr. Al Khalifa said, outlining the views of Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional alliance of six Arab countries. 'The missile program is moving forward with full support of the leadership of the Islamic Republic and we are seeing the hegemonic interventions through proxies in several parts of our region continuing unabated.'" (WSJ)

04-07-2016
Nuclear Program

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh al-Khalifa who says ''the missile program is moving forward with full support from the top of the leadership... we are seeing the hegemonic interventions continuing unabated."

 

"A year after he struck the outlines of a nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry finds himself confronting a new challenge from Tehran: While it is observing the nuclear agreement to the letter, its missile launches, arms shipments to Yemen and involvement in Syria have, if anything, accelerated. Mr. Kerry arrived here for a meeting of the Arab states this week with the objective of reassuring them with an array of plans for new missile and cyberdefenses. Instead, he found himself disputing the argument of one leading diplomat from the United Arab Emirates that Tehran today is 'as dangerous as ever.' Without nuclear fuel or the ability to produce more, Mr. Kerry argued, Iran is far less of a threat than it was, adding that 'the crisis was the potential of a nuclear weapon.' But his hosts at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council echoed the concern here on Thursday that, even with the nuclear threat off the table, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps seemed to be active everywhere. 'We are noticing two things that we kind of have expected,' Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, said at a joint news conference with Mr. Kerry. 'The missile program is moving forward with full support from the top of the leadership of the Islamic Republic, and we are seeing the hegemonic interventions' by Tehran 'continuing unabated.' Mr. Kerry is fully acknowledging those facts. On Thursday morning, touring the sprawling naval base of the United States Fifth Fleet here, he was briefed on four interceptions in recent months of Iranian shipments of small arms headed to Yemen." (NYT)

04-05-2016
Nuclear Program

"US President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, says that "Iran, by testing ballistic missiles, was undermining the 'spirit' of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers."

 

"During an April 1 speech at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, US President Barack Obama said that Iran, by testing ballistic missiles, was undermining the 'spirit' of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers. The comments have struck a nerve in Iran, particularly among critics of President Hassan Rouhani who believe that the nuclear deal has had little impact on the country's economy. Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Hassan Firouzabadi, who has in previous statements supported the nuclear deal, rejected Obama's idea that there is a 'spirit' to the nuclear agreement. In an April 5 meeting with other officials of the armed forces, Firouzabadi said, 'When we reviewed the details of the Barjam we saw nothing but text, and we have no information on the spirit of the BARJAM.' 'BARJAM' is the Persian acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plant of Action (JCPOA)... Obama's comments on Iran's missile program also received a response from the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jafari. In an April 5 address to IRGC commanders, Jafari said that they are rooted in America's 'fear of IRGC's missiles,' adding that Iran's enemies 'must remain in this fear.' Jafari also took this opportunity to question the nuclear agreement and reject Rouhani's ideas of trying to build domestic momentum from it. 'Barjam has never been considered a proud document and it will never be,' Jafari said. 'Barjam is a diplomatic text with an uncertain end; a large part of it is the obligations of an enemy that is unreliable and spiteful,' he said." (Al-Monitor)

04-04-2016
Syria Conflict

"Bahrain's foreign minister says that Gulf Arab states were prepared to confront Iran over its foreign policy and Tehran should drop its support for Middle East factions."

 

"Bahrain's foreign minister said on Friday that Gulf Arab states were prepared to confront Iran over its foreign policy and Tehran should drop its support for Middle East factions. Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa also played down any difference with the United States over remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama last month telling Saudi Arabia and Iran 'to find an effective way to share the neighborhood'. Ties between Bahrain and Washington remained strong, he said... 'We send a message to Iran and to all its followers. We are now serious about confronting it and we have no hesitation to defend our people, states, interests and brothers in the region because this is a vital issue for us,' Sheikh Khaled said in an interview with the Dubai-based al-Arabiya channel. Bahrain accuses Iran of fomenting unrest in the country and of supplying weapons to Shi'ite militants behind several bomb attacks on security forces. Iran denies the charges. Sheikh Khaled said Bahrain and other Gulf Arab states were ready to turn a new page with Iran if it changed its policies. 'The main step is that Iran must completely change its foreign policy towards the countries of the region,' he said. This included Iran dropping its support for the Lebanese Hezbollah organization and other groups." (Reuters

04-04-2016
Syria Conflict

Pentagon announces that "the crew of a US Navy ship stopped a massive Iranian arms shipment dead in its tracks, seizing thousands of weapons, AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers that were likely headed to Yemen."

 

"The crew of a U.S. Navy ship stopped a massive Iranian arms shipment dead in its tracks, seizing thousands of weapons, AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers that were likely headed to Yemen, the Pentagon announced Monday. The seizure, which unfolded in the Arabian Sea on March 28, was the third of its kind in recent weeks, military officials say. Iran has been supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen in their proxy war against a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States. Like Iran, the Houthis are a Shia-led group. The arms shipment appears to mark the latest provocative action from the Islamic republic. On Friday, President Obama said Iran was obeying the 'letter' of its landmark nuclear agreement with the West, but not the 'spirit' of it. The Navy said the shipment included 1,500 AK-47s, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns. After the U.S. seized the weapons stash from the dhow, a traditional sailing vessel, officials let the crew go. A U.S. official told Fox News current rules do not allow the U.S. Navy or other western naval forces to seize the crew in addition to illicit cargo. 'You have to find a country willing to prosecute,' the official said." (Fox News)

"The U.S. Navy has confiscated a cache of weapons that it believes was being transported from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen, marking at least the third time in two months that such a shipment was stopped, Navy officials said. Naval forces aboard the USS Sirocco, a coastal patrol ship, intercepted and seized the weapons March 28 from a small craft commonly known as a dhow in the Arabian Sea, the Navy announced Monday. The cache included about 1,500 Kalashnikov rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns, the Navy said. Naval forces aboard the USS Gravely, a larger guided-missile destroyer, also responded. The dhow and its crew were allowed to depart after the weapons were seized. Photos released Monday by the Navy show the weapons lined up on the Gravely. 'Our naval forces, and those of our partners, will continue to conduct maritime security operations in the region in order to disrupt the flow of illicit weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen,' said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a Navy spokesman in the Middle East. 'These weapons only serve to exacerbate the situation there and prolong the conflict.' In earlier seizures, the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Darwin intercepted a craftFeb. 27 that was carrying nearly 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 100 RPG launchers, 49 PKM machine guns, 39 PKM machine gun barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes. In another incident, the French navy destroyer FS Provence intercepted a ship March 20 that was carrying about 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 64 Dragunov marksman rifles, nine antitank missiles and other equipment, the Navy said. The ships are part of the Combined Maritime Forces led by Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command." (WashPost

04-04-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran's Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, pledges continued support for Hamas and says "we sent several ships full of arms to the resistance, [but] some were intercepted."

 

"Relations with Iran were also on the agenda given the February visit of a Hamas delegation to the Iranian capital that produced an agreement between the two sides to enter a new era in relations based on new rules. The delegation to Tehran met Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' foreign operations branch. Soleimani advised the movement to keep its distance from all the chaos in the region and pledged Iran's continued support, although Abu Marzouk in a leaked phone call accused Iran of lying about its claims of supporting the movement. Marzouk's accusation prompted Soleimani to say at the meeting, 'Iran never lied, and we won't lie. We sent several ships full of arms to the resistance, [but] some were intercepted. We won't leave you alone. Whenever there's a new technology that we can send, we won't hesitate to. This is our duty. Whoever says the contrary should remember that this is all [taking place] before God's eyes." (Al-Monitor)

04-04-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iranian military official says commandos from an Iranian army unit have been deployed to Syria on an advisory mission."

 

"An Iranian military official says commandos from an Iranian army unit have been deployed to Syria on an advisory mission. Brigadier General Ali Arasteh, the deputy for coordination in the Iranian Army's Ground Forces, told Tasnim news agency on Monday that the Iranian commandos, from Brigade 65 of the Forces, had took on a mission of advising Syrian forces." (Press TV Iran)

04-04-2016
Nuclear Program

Iranian official warns about Iran's missile power as a redline which can no way be encroached, says "the US calculations about the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation are fully incorrect".

 

"Deputy Chief of Staff of Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazzayeri warned the US officials that Iran's missile power is a redline which can no way be encroached. 'The US calculations about the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation are fully incorrect,' Jazzayeri said on Monday. 'The White House should know that defense capacities and missile power, specially at the present juncture where plots and threats are galore, is among the Iranian nation's redlines and a backup for the country's national security and we don't allow anyone to violate it,' he added. Jazzayeri described as 'ridiculous' US President Barack Obama's attempts to link facilitated removal of the sanctions with a halt to Iran's missile program, and said the Americans' rationale and line of action is based on making vows and breaking them." (Fars Iran)

04-01-2016
Nuclear Program

"President Obama criticizes Iranian leaders for undermining the 'spirit' of last year's historic nuclear agreement, even as they stick to the 'letter' of the pact" in comments after the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC.

 

"President Obama on Friday criticized Iranian leaders for undermining the 'spirit' of last year's historic nuclear agreement, even as they stick to the 'letter' of the pact. In comments following the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Obama denied speculation that the United States would ease rules preventing dollars from being used in financial transactions with Iran, in order to boost the country's engagement with the rest of the world. Instead, Obama claimed, that Iran's troubles even after the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear deal were due to its continued support of Hezbollah, ballistic missile tests and other aggressive behavior. 'Iran so far has followed the letter of the agreement, but the spirit of the agreement involves Iran also sending signals to the world community and businesses that it is not going to be engaging in a range of provocative actions that are going to scare businesses off,' Obama said at a press conference. 'When they launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous.' 'Iran has to understand what every country in the world understands, which is businesses want to go where they feel safe, where they don't see massive controversy, where they can be confident that transactions are going to operate normally,' he added. 'And that's an adjustment that Iran's going to have to make as well.' ... Earlier this week, multiple reports indicated that the White House was considering easing financial rules to let foreign companies use the dollar to do business with Iran. But on Friday, Obama appeared to shoot the idea down. 'That's not actually the approach that we're taking,' he said. 'It is not necessary that we take the approach of them going through dollar transactions,' he added. 'It is possible for them to work through European financial institutions as well.' Instead, Obama said, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other U.S. officials would help 'provide clarity' to global businesses about what kinds of work they can do in Iran under current rules." (The Hill)

04-01-2016
Syria Conflict

Former Prime Minister of Lebanon says "the issue of Iranian influence isn't a Saudi issue, it's an Arab issue."

 

"Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday urged Iran to turn its interference in Arab countries into a constructive involvement, calling on the Islamic Republic to support all of Lebanon and not just a specific faction. In a wide-ranging interview with Russia Today's Worlds Apart, Hariri also discussed the war in Syria, saying that Russian involvement aimed at protecting the Syrian state. 'Iran's involvement in the region has to be a constructive involvement. ... The involvement of Iran should be [to] the benefit of the whole of Lebanon, not for a faction of Lebanese who are only Shiite,' Hariri said, in English, in reference to Hezbollah, who is backed by Iran. 'If you want to help Lebanon, you have to help the whole Lebanese government. You don't help a faction in the Lebanese government.' The Future Movement leader arrived in Moscow Tuesday on a visit during which he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Hariri and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of meddling in the affairs of Arab countries. 'I don't think Saudi Arabia wants bad relationships with Iran, but Iran's involvement in countries like Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria are not involvements that build trust between the two countries,' he said. 'The issue of Iranian influence isn't a Saudi issue, it's an Arab issue.'" (Daily Star Lebanon)

03-31-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran's supreme leader backed the country's missile program, criticizing a prominent ayatollah who had suggested that in the future, negotiations were far more important."

 

"Iran's supreme leader backed the country's missile program on Wednesday, criticizing a prominent ayatollah who had suggested that in the future, negotiations were far more important. Defending the military's recent tests, which critics, particularly in the United States, say are a violation of the recently concluded nuclear agreement, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that both negotiations and the testing of missiles were important to Iran. 'If the Islamic system pursues technology and negotiations without defense power, then this will be a retreat in the face of threats from other insignificant countries,' Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying in an address in Tehran. 'Enemies continue strengthening their military and missile sectors. How can anyone say that the era of missiles has passed?' Ayatollah Khamenei was responding to a comment posted on Twitter over a week ago by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and influential supporter of Iran's moderate president, Hassan Rouhani. Ayatollah Rafsanjani wrote that the 'world of tomorrow is one of negotiations, not the world of missiles.' Ayatollah Khamenei, in a rare open criticism, reacted harshly, though he referred only indirectly to Ayatollah Rafsanjani's remark. 'People say that tomorrow's world is a world of negotiations and not a world of missiles,' he said. 'If they say this thoughtlessly, it shows that they are thoughtless. However, if this is intentional, then this is treachery.'" (NYT)

03-30-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khameni says that "missile power was key to the country's future security...those who believe only diplomacy is the key to Iran's future are acting out of 'ignorance or treason.'"

"Iran's supreme leader said Wednesday that missile power was key to the country's future security, slapping down moderates who say the focus should be on diplomacy. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all matters of state in Iran, praised the powerful Revolutionary Guards for their 'show of advanced and precise missiles' in recent tests that drew Western criticism. 'In this jungle-like world, if the Islamic republic seeks negotiations, trade and even technology and science, but has no defence power, won't even small countries dare threaten Iran?' Khamenei said in remarks published on his official website. 'Our enemies are constantly enhancing their military and missile capabilities and given this how can we say the age of missiles has passed?' His comments appeared aimed at ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a senior leader of the reformist and moderate camp, who last week tweeted: 'Tomorrow's world is the world of dialogue not missiles.' They also came a day after the United States, France, Britain and Germany said Iran's recent ballistic missile tests violate UN Security Council resolutions... Iran has twice tested ballistic missiles since the July 14 deal, prompting Western condemnation and new US sanctions. 'The enemies of the revolution... use dialogue, economic trade, sanctions, military threats and any other means to further their goals,' Khamenei said. 'We should be able to confront and defend in all of these fields.' He said those who believe only diplomacy is the key to Iran's future are acting out of 'ignorance or treason.'" (AFP)

03-30-2016
Nuclear Program

The US and its EU allies say in a joint letter that the recent missile tests by Iran were '"in defiance of the UN Security Council resolution" that endorsed last year's historic nuclear deal.

"By launching nuclear-capable missiles Iran has defied a United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed last year's historic nuclear deal, the United States and its European allies said in a joint letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday. Iran's recent ballistic tests involved missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and were 'inconsistent with' and 'in defiance of' council resolution 2231, adopted last July, said the joint U.S., British, French, German letter to Spain's U.N. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. The letter said the missiles used in the recent launches were 'inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.' It also asked that the Security Council discuss 'appropriate responses' to Tehran's failure to comply with its obligations and urged Ban to report back on Iranian missile work inconsistent with 2231. Spain has been assigned the task of coordinating council discussions on resolution 2231. Council diplomats have said the case for new U.N. sanctions was weak, hinging on interpretation of ambiguous language in a resolution adopted as part of a July nuclear deal to drastically restrict Iran's nuclear work... The four powers' carefully worded letter stopped short of calling the Iranian launches a 'violation' of the resolution, which 'calls upon' Iran to refrain for up to eight years from activity, including launches, related to ballistic missiles designed with the capability of delivering nuclear weapons. Diplomats say key powers agree that request is not legally binding and cannot be enforced under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals with sanctions and authorization of military force. But Western nations, which view the language as a ban, say there is a political obligation on Iran to comply... The letter said the four Western powers 'note with concern that Iranian military leaders have reportedly claimed these missiles are designed to be a direct threat to Israel.' Several diplomats said the most Iran could expect would be a public rebuke by the Security Council... But a council rebuke could provide a legal springboard for European countries to consider new sanctions against Iran, Western diplomats said." (Reuters

03-29-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian Kurd, already serving nine years in prison after two unfair trials, has been sentenced to a further five years in prison after writing a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran."

 

"Iranian Kurdish farmer Yousef Kakehmami, already serving nine years in prison after two unfair trials, has been sentenced to a further five years in prison after writing a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran." (Amnesty)

03-29-2016
Human Rights

"Iranian Supreme Court orders a man's eye to be gouge out as retribution under the strict interpretation of Sharia law."

"The Iranian Supreme Court has sentenced a man to have his eye gouged out after blinding another man in a street fight. The 28-year-old, identified only as Saman, was convicted under Iran's strict retribution laws after fighting in the street with his then 25-year-old victim when he was 23. According to Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based NGO, Saman claimed he had unintentionally blinded the man with a metal rod... Last year, a man convicted of attacking another man with acid - blinding and disfiguring him for life in the city of Qoms - was sedated and had his left eye gouged out." (Independent)

03-28-2016
Syria Conflict

IRGC Commander says "conditions are very good for the resistance front in Syria...As long as there is Islamic Revolution, the resistance will go on... The enemies of Islam, including the Zionist regime, will be destroyed within the next 25 years.”

"Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said conditions are very good for the resistance front in Syria. Speaking to journalists in the Northern city of Gilan on Monday, the IRGC commander said the ancient city of Palymra has been liberated, and now the main focus is now on pushing back the terrorist group of ISIL further, and stressed that the ongoing ceasefire has not changed Russia's Syria policy as it is still in coordination with the resistance front. 'Liberation of Palmyra shows continuing coordination between Russia and Syria. As long as there is Islamic Revolution, the resistance will go on,' he added. The IRGC commander further noted that the ISIL has waged a proxy war on the resistance front, adding that conditions in Iraq, Syria and Yemen are now good and to the benefit of the Iranian Islamic Revolution. 'As maintained by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the enemies of Islam, including the Zionist regime, will be destroyed within the next 25 years,' Jafari added." (Fars Iran)

03-28-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran will pursue its development of ballistic missiles despite the US blacklisting of more Iranian companies linked to the program... even if they build a wall around Iran, our missile program will not stop", says senior IRGC commander.

"Iran will pursue its development of ballistic missiles despite the U.S. blacklisting of more Iranian companies linked to the program, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Monday. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired several ballistic missiles this month, drawing condemnation from Western leaders who believe the tests violate a United Nations resolution. The U.S. Treasury Department blacklistedon Thursday two Iranian companies, cutting them off from international finance over their connection to the missile program. Washington had imposed similar sanctions on 11 businesses and individuals in January over a missile test carried out by the IRGC in October 2015. 'Even if they build a wall around Iran, our missile program will not stop,' Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC's aerospace arm, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. 'They are trying to frighten our officials with sanctions and invasion. This fear is our biggest threat.' U.S. officials said Iran's missile test would violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to conduct 'any activity' related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons... President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatic conservative, said on Sunday that boosting Iran's defense capabilities is a 'strategic policy' though Iran should take care not to provoke its enemies."(Reuters

03-26-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran accuses Washington of cyber attacks, denies cyber attack charges brought against IRGC computer specialists by US Justice Department.

"Iran brushed aside cyber-attack charges brought against seven of its citizens by U.S. prosecutors, accusing Washington of putting millions of Iranians in danger with its own attacks on Iran's nuclear program. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, told reporters that the U.S. 'is not in any position to charge citizens of other countries, not least Iran's, without providing any documentary evidence,' according to the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency on Saturday... 'Iran has never had dangerous actions in cyberspace on its agenda nor has it ever supported such actions,' Jaberi Ansari said, adding that the U.S. was behind a series of cyber-attacks on Iran's nuclear program that put 'the lives of millions of innocent people' at risk of an environment disaster." (Bloomberg)

"The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed an indictment against seven computer specialists who regularly worked for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, charging that they carried out cyberattacks on dozens of American banks and tried to take over the controls of a small dam in a suburb of New York. The indictment, while long expected, represents the first time the Obama administration had sought action against Iranians for a wave of computer attacks on the United States that began in 2011 and proceeded for more than a year, paralyzing some banks and freezing customers out of online banking. The indictment stops short of charging that the attacks were directed by the Revolutionary Guards, a branch of the Iranian military. But it referred to the seven Iranians as 'experienced computer hackers' who 'performed work on behalf of the Iranian government, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.' Nothing in the indictment addresses the motives for the attacks. But intelligence experts have long speculated that the cyberactions directed at roughly four dozen financial institutions - including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One and PNC Bank - were intended to be retaliation for an American-led cyberattack on Iran's main nuclear enrichment plant. That attack, which employed the so-called Stuxnet virus, was revealed in 2010... But the case of the Bowman Dam in Rye, N.Y., was entirely different: It appeared to be an effort to take over the dam itself. The attempt failed because the dam was under repair and offline, but in some ways it worried American investigators more because it was aimed at seizing control of a piece of infrastructure." (NYT

03-24-2016
Human Rights

Nobel Panel condemns Iran's death threats toward Persian-British writer Salman Rushdie, after 27 years.

"The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the Nobel Prize in literature, has condemned an Iranian death warrant against British writer Salman Rushdie, 27 years after it was pronounced. Two members quit the academy in 1989 after it refused to condemn Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini's fatwa against Rushdie for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his book 'The Satanic Verses.' Citing its code against political involvement, the academy issued a statement defending free expression but without explicitly supporting Rushdie. However, in a statement posted on its website Thursday, the academy for the first time denounced the fatwa and reward money for Rushdie's death as 'flagrant breaches of international law.' It didn't specify what prompted its change of heart, but cited state-run Iranian media outlets' recent decision to raise the bounty by $600,000. 'The fact that the death sentence has been passed as punishment for a work of literature also implies a serious violation of free speech,' the academy said, adding that literature must be free from political control." (AP)

03-24-2016
Human Rights

Iran appeals court sentences prominent television producer over exercising right to freedom and expression.

"An Iranian appeals court has sentenced the prominent television producer and writer Mostafa Azizi to two years in prison, reducing his initial sentence of eight years, according to his son. Mostafa Azizi, a Canadian resident, was arrested in February 2015 while visiting his family in Iran. He was convicted of several offenses for exercising his right to freedom of expression, including posting on social media. In June 2015, Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Azizi to eight years in prison on charges of 'collusion against national security,' 'insulting the Supreme Leader' and 'spreading propaganda against the system.' Before his trial took place, he spent a month in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards, where he was harshly interrogated and given no access to his family or a lawyer. He was then transferred to Evin's communal Ward 8." (Journalism Is Not a Crime

03-24-2016
Politics

Iran's Guardian Council disqualifies a newly-elected female member of parliament and throws down an unprecedented challenge to the moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

"A powerful supervisory council in Iran has disqualified a newly-elected female member of parliament, throwing down an unprecedented challenge to moderate President Hassan Rouhani. The conservative Guardian Council ruled that Minoo Khaleghi couldn't take her seat less than a month after she and other allies of Rouhani had made significant gains in parliamentary elections. It was the first time the council, which vets prospective candidates as well as proposed legislation, had made such a move after an election. The council didn't give a reason for ruling out Khaleghi, who received the third-highest vote among the five lawmakers elected from the central district of Isfahan, the state-run Mehr news agency cited Isfahan Governor Rasoul Zargarpour as saying on Wednesday. The dispute over Khaleghi is the first big test for Rouhani since an alliance of so-called reformist and moderate lawmakers supportive of his agenda to reintegrate Iran into the world economy edged out conservatives as the largest bloc in the 290-seat parliament. 'It's not surprising that the first victim is a woman,' said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. 'It's a convenient way to demonstrate that the old guard still stands.'" (Bloomberg)

"The reformist MP Minoo Khaleghi, newly elected to Parliament from the city of Isfahan and one of 14 women who ran successfully in Iran's recent elections, has been disqualified by the Guardian Council. No reason has been given for Khaleghi's disqualification, and the disqualification of a candidate after being vetted, allowed to run, and elected is extremely rare, although not unprecedented in Iran. 'What hardliners couldn't achieve through the ballot box, they're trying to achieve through post-election maneuvering,' said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 'The Guardian Council abused their power to vet candidates by disqualifying the vast majority of reformist candidates. And when reformists still scored impressive gains, they abuse it again by negating those gains after-the-fact,' Ghaemi added. Reformists have called on President Hassan Rouhani to prevent this move by hardliners to block their candidates from serving even after they are elected." (ICHRI

03-23-2016
Human Rights

UN votes to continue monitoring human rights in Iran after reports that executions have increased to the highest number in more than two decades.

"The United Nations Human Rights Council voted Wednesday to renew its agreement with a special rapporteur to continue monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in Iran. The resolution was adopted with 20 countries voting to extend the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed, while 15 nations opposed the mandate, and 11 abstained. Among the countries that voted against extending the mandate were Russia, China, Cuba and South Africa. In a statement, UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group, called the adoption of the resolution 'a concrete sign that the international community recognizes that human rights violations are ongoing in the country and stands in solidarity with the numerous victims in Iran.' The transgressions Iran is accused of include restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, the arbitrary detention of journalists and political and civic figures, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and violence against women and the suppression of their rights, advocates said. Last year, executions increased to the highest number in more than two decades, according to Shaheed's most recent report." (LAT)

03-20-2016
Anti-Americanism

On Iran's New Year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that the US is still fundamentally hostile to Iran after nuclear deal, also calls for 'year of the Resistance Economy: Action and Implementation.'

Reuters: "The United States is still fundamentally hostile to Iran and its policies have undermined the benefits of sanctions relief, the Islamic Republic's hardline leader said on Sunday, warning Iranians not to trust their old enemy. Ringing in a new Iranian year at a televised rally in the Shi'ite holy city of Mashhad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said fear of U.S. regulations was keeping big foreign companies, particularly in the financial sector, away from Iran. The uncompromising stance of Iran's most senior figure poses a challenge to President Hassan Rouhani, the architect of last year's nuclear deal who hopes to open Iran's economy to the world. In keeping with the deal, many international sanctions on Iran were lifted in January. Since then foreign business delegations have flocked to Tehran and billions of dollars of deals have been signed. But European banks and other companies have stayed away, largely due to remaining U.S. sanctions. That, Khamenei said, was a sign that Iran should be economically self-reliant because the U.S. and its allies were not reliable partners. 'In Western countries and places which are under U.S. influence, our banking transactions and the repatriation of our funds from their banks face problems ... because (banks) fear the Americans,' he said. 'The U.S. Treasury ... acts in such a way that big corporations, big institutions and big banks do not dare to come and deal with Iran,' Khamenei said. The Central Bank of Iran has also said remaining U.S. sanctions have scared off European firms. To drive the point home, the stage on which Khamenei sat carried a giant banner reading 'the year of the Resistance Economy: Action and Implementation', his chosen slogan for the Iranian year 1395 that began on Sunday." (Reuters)

03-20-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iranian-backed militia threatens US armed forces fighting the Islamic State, saying 'if the US administration doesn't withdraw its forces immediately, we will deal with them as forces of occupation'.

Reuters: "An Iranian-backed militia said on Monday it said it would treat U.S. Marines deployed in Iraq to fight Islamic State as forces of occupation and 'deal' with the foreign troops. Washington said on Sunday a detachment of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was in Iraq, bolstering efforts by the United States and a coalition of allies against Islamic State. 'If the U.S. administration doesn't withdraw its forces immediately, we will deal with them as forces of occupation,' the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia said on its TV channel, al-Ahd. 'The forces of occupation are making a new suspicious attempt to restore their presence in the country under the pretext of fighting their own creation, Daesh,' the Shi'ite Muslim militia added, referring to an acronym for Islamic State, a ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim movement." (Reuters)

03-20-2016
Syria Conflict

"General Saeed Qasemi, a Revolutionary Guards commander and the commander of Ansar Hezbollah, a paramilitary conservative Islamic group in Iran, has demanded that Iran annex Bahrain."

"General Saeed Qasemi, a Revolutionary Guards commander and the commander of Ansar Hezbollah, a paramilitary conservative Islamic group in Iran, has demanded that Iran annex Bahrain, the Revolutionary Guard-affiliated news agency Tasnim reported Sunday. Speaking at a forum in the city of Bushehr, Qasemi urged the annexation of Bahrain to Iran, explaining that 'Bahrain is an Iranian province that was detached from the Islamic Republic of Iran due to the Western colonialism.' 'Iran must make efforts to bring Bahrain back into Iranian territory and transform it into a part of Bushehr province,' Qasemi further stated. General Qasemi was a senior commander during the Iran-Iraq war that erupted in September 1980, and is also considered a crony of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Similar declarations regarding the dire need to annex Bahrain to Iran are recurrently voiced by senior Iranian officials." (JPost

03-20-2016
Syria Conflict

"US authorities say discovered weapons were initially sent from Iran and were probably intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen by way of Somalia"...this provides another example of forces inside Iran stoking sectarian tensions in the Middle East.

"A large weapons cache headed for Somalia was discovered and seized by the French on March 20, authorities said. It's the second large weapons seizure in the region this month, and both may have been headed to Yemen from Iran. According to a U.S. assessment, the arms that were most recently seized originated in Iran, and their likely ultimate destination was Yemen, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for U.S. 5th Fleet, told CNN. Iran has been accused of arming Houthis -- fellow Shiite Muslims fighting against the government in Yemen's civil war -- before. Stephens would not specify whether or not the United States believed this weapons shipment was headed to Houthi rebels. Earlier this month, a similar arms cache was discovered off the coast of Oman. U.S. authorities said those weapons were believed to be initially sent from Iran and were probably intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen by way of Somalia, according to Lt. Ian McConnaughey with the U.S. Navy. The March 20 discovery is the third such weapons seizure since September, Stephens said. French forces spotted the ship carrying the arms as part of routine surveillance in the northern Indian Ocean. On board the vessel, they found discovered 'several hundred AK47 assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank weapons,' according to a March 28 news release by the Combined Maritime Forces. The CMF is a multinational naval partnership -- which includes France -- that helps police more than 3 million square miles of international waters... This latest weapons seizure would provide another example of forces inside Iran stoking sectarian tensions in the Middle East if the U.S. assessment proves correct." (CNN

03-19-2016
Syria Conflict

Arab countries are concerned about Iran's expanding influence in the Middle East, says the Lebanese PM

"Prime Minister Tammam Salam justified Arab countries' concerns about a possible Iranian advancement in the region, describing attempts to challenge it as 'legal.' 'Iran is expanding vastly in the Arab world, while Arabs are not intervening in its affairs. The complaints are legal and based on distrust,' Salam said in an interview with the Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. The premier said that his government is relentlessly seeking to rectify Lebanon's gap with Arab countries, particularly Gulf states, by affirming Lebanon's keenness to preserve Arab consensus and unity. The Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council has been alarmed by the international rehabilitation of Tehran since it reached a deal with major powers last year, ending a 13-year standoff over its controversial nuclear program. The intensifying battle for influence between the region's main Sunni and Shiite powers has sparked growing concern in Lebanon, which is witnessing measures being taken against suspected Hezbollah-linked individuals and companies in Gulf countries." (Daily Star Lebanon):

03-18-2016
Human Rights

"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its concern about the conditions in which journalists are being detained in Iran"

"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its concern about the conditions in which journalists are being detained in Iran, especially Afarine Chitsaz of the daily newspaper Iran, a young woman arrested at the same time as three other journalists on 2 November. She was able to make a short phone call after her arrest but the authorities have provided no official information about her detention. According to the information obtained by RSF, she is now being held in isolation in Section 2A of Tehran's Evin prison. The Revolutionary Guards control this section and subject detainees to a great deal of pressure, often with the aim of extracting confessions to be used at their trials. Iran is the world's biggest prison for women journalists, with four others currently held. The other four - Rihaneh Tabatabai, Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, Narges Mohammadi and Atena Ferghdani - are serving jail terms ranging from one to twelve years and some some are in poor health." (RSF)

03-18-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's IRGC is planning to build a statue of the US sailors who were captured in Iranian waters earlier this year in order to 'extol the virtues of the Iranian military.'

"Iran's Revolutionary Guard is planning to build a statue of the US sailors who were captured in Iranian waters earlier this year, a senior officer said. The provocative proposal is likely to cause outrage in the US and be seized on by Republicans opposed to President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran. Commander Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guard's naval forces, said the monument of the surrendering Americans would be a 'tourist attraction'. 'There are very many photographs of the major incident of arresting US Marines in the Persian Gulf in the media and we intend to build a symbol out of them inside one of our naval monuments,' he told Iran's Defense Press news agency... The statue is likely to be built on Kharg, a small Iranian island in the Persian Gulf not far from where the sailors were captured. The monument could feature as a stop for travelers on the Rahian-e-Nour, a semi-mandatory pro-regime pilgrimage that takes visitors to historical spots from the Iran-Iraq war and extols the virtues of the Iranian military." (Daily Telegraph)

03-17-2016
Politics

"Iranian tycoon's death sentence feeds perceptions of high-level corruption", Iranians are frustrated about the opaque nature and outcome of the judicial proceedings against the businessman

"Iran's planned execution of billionaire Babak Zanjani for corruption will mask the identity of senior officials who supported him, say the president and two lawmakers independently assessing a case that has fueled public cynicism about political graft. Hundreds of Iranians have taken to social media to vent their frustration about the opaque nature and outcome of the judicial proceedings against the businessman, who says he was backed by powerful officials during the term of hardline former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Zanjani has said he helped Iran circumvent sanctions by selling its oil abroad. He was arrested in 2013 and detained in Tehran, accused by the judiciary of pocketing more than $2.7 billion for oil sold on behalf of the Ahmadinejad government, months after moderate President Hassan Rouhani won power campaigning against corruption in government... The case has highlighted the complexities of Iran's system of clerical and republican rule where power is wielded by both elected and unelected officials. But much remains unclear, including any involvement of government figures in Zanjani's financial transactions, due to the opaque nature of the Iranian political and judicial systems. Rouhani, who says he wants to wipe out the corruption that spread during his predecessor's tenure, has publicly criticized the handling of the case. The president has questioned who enabled Zanjani to carry out deals involving huge sums of money and whether that money can be recovered if he is executed 'Who protected him and created a space for him to do such things?' Rouhani said at a gathering during a visit to the city of Yazd last week. 'What the people want is to know how and with who's permission this individual was able to sell oil and where has all of this money gone now?' 'Execution isn't going to solve any problem,' he added... 'Executing the accused will allow the hands behind the scene, who were even more responsible for this case than the accused, to be forgotten,' Hussein Dehdashti, an independent lawmaker, said on March 6 after the sentence was announced, according to the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency. Amir Abbas Soltani, another independent lawmaker on the committee, said: 'The government officials who were corrupt and profiteering are still being protected and have not been confronted.'" (Reuters)

03-17-2016
Syria Conflict

'The security issue from Iran was always there and I think will always continue. It is not something new' says senior security official from Kuwait

Reuters: "Kuwait is not a 'free-rider' in U.S.-led campaigns against terrorism and other threats, a senior Kuwaiti security official said on Thursday, rejecting comments by President Barack Obama critical of some U.S. allies. Sheikh Thamer al-Sabah, President of Kuwait's National Security Bureau, was referring to Obama's remarks to The Atlantic magazine last week in which he said some states in the Gulf and Europe were 'free-riders' who called for U.S. action without getting involved themselves... He said Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers had not diminished Kuwait's concerns over Iran. These included militant sleeper cells and spies, involvement in regional conflicts and the safety of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Kuwait is the closest major population center to it. 'The security issue from Iran was always there and I think will always continue. It is not something new,' he said. 'I salute you for trying your best to work with Iran only on their nuclear program despite knowing what Iran is doing for Hezbollah in Lebanon, for other places in the world, for bombings, for hijacking of aircraft, for assassinations of people,' he added. 'I salute them on how they can actually sit down and talk about only the nuclear program with the knowledge they have of how Iran is capable of doing all of these things. I can't do it.' He voiced concern about Iraq, where Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias are fighting alongside government forces against Islamic State." (Reuters)

03-17-2016
Terrorism

Evidence against Iran and Hezbollah keep on accumulating on both being firsthand involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands of US citizens. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, the IRGC and Quds Force may have been involved.

"Evidence against Iran and Hezbollah keep on accumulating on both being firsthand involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that reportedly killed thousands of U.S. citizens. Asharq Al-Awsat has exclusively attained and published six documents New York courthouse Judge George Daniels used for the verdict which fines Iran with billions of dollars in compensation for the families of the victims of the attack. The verdict also specialized a cut for compensating the insurance companies that bore fiscal losses due to the 9/11 attacks. George Daniels condemned Iran for facilitating the execution of the terrorist attacks that affected both New York and Washington. Documents procured by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper emphasize Iran smoothing out the route for al-Qaeda terrorists moving to campgrounds in Afghanistan for training, which proved necessary for the 9/11 attacks to hit target. Moreover, documents exposed that Hezbollah alleged minister of defense Imad Mughniyeh- assassinated in 2008- had visited the perpetrators in October 2000 and had arranged their flight to Iran with new passports for their assurance before dispatching them for the attack. Iranian administration had also given orders for border checkpoints and observatories to stamp the passports of the terrorist attackers, in a move to facilitate their advance. Al-Qaeda persistently had a supporting lifeline provided by the Iranian government, which also provided the terrorist organization- according to the documents- with both financial backing and safe haven to terrorist top leaders after the September 11 attacks... The trial revealed that each of Osama bin Laden , Ayman al-Zawahiri-current leader of al-Qaeda- ,Mughniyeh and other Iranian attaches met in Khartoum, Sudan to establish an alliance supporting terrorism. A courthouse judiciary source, requesting anonymity, revealed that six people and bodies are accused in the case filed against Iran. The six comprise, Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, former Iranian intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Brig. Gen. Mohammed Baqir tho al-Qader. Administrational bodies among the accused are the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its special operations division, the Quds Force." (Asharq Al-Awsat)

03-17-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that Iran may have violated international law when it seized 10 American sailors in the Persian Gulf, saying 'Iran's actions were outrageous, unprofessional and inconsistent with international law.'"

"Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said on Thursday that Iran may have violated international law when it seized 10 American sailors in the Persian Gulf in January. 'Iran's actions were outrageous, unprofessional and inconsistent with international law,' Mr. Carter said in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The sailors were detained after veering off course into Iranian territorial waters near Farsi Island, the home of an Iranian Navy base, and were freed after about 14 hours. Video footage released by the Iranian government showed the sailors kneeling at gunpoint with their hands clasped behind their heads. At the time, the Obama administration emphasized the sailors' quick release, calling it a result of the diplomatic channels opened by the nuclear deal struck last year with Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry, who built a close relationship during the nuclear talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, thanked Iran for its cooperation... Mr. Carter initially showed restraint in his remarks about the episode, but two weeks after the detention, he said he was 'very, very angry' about the sailors' treatment. On Thursday, Mr. McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pressed Mr. Carter about the administration's response. 'You've made it quite clear that you're outraged and all that,' Mr. McCain said. 'But what specifically have you recommended to do in response to that?' ... According to a Navy spokesman, a report on the episode was given to Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, on Feb. 28. The spokesman said that after the review process was complete, a redacted version would be released to the public." (NYT)

03-16-2016
Syria Conflict

"Iran plans to deploy commandos and snipers in Iraq and Syria as military advisers", says senior Iranian army commander.

"A senior army commander said Iran plans to deploy commandos and snipers in Iraq and Syria as military advisers. 'At some point we might decide to use our commandos and snipers as military advisers in Iraq and Syria,' Deputy Chief Liaison of the Army's Ground Force General Ali Arasteh told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday. He said the first group of commandos and snipers are being trained for the purpose and the country might decide to send them to Iraq and Syria in the near future." (Fras Iran)

03-15-2016
Nuclear Program

US rebukes Iran at the UN over a series of 'provocative and destabilizing' ballistic missile tests, US ambassador to the UN called them 'dangerous launches' which have elevated tensions between Iran and the US on this issue.

"The United States rebuked Iran on Friday over a series of 'provocative and destabilizing' ballistic missile tests this week and all but accused the Iranians of having violated a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls on them to refrain from such acts. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said in a statement that the United States had scheduled a Security Council meeting for Monday to address what she called 'these dangerous launches.' Ms. Power's statement elevated the tension between the United States and Iran over the missile issue, which threatens to undercut the improved atmosphere in the two months since the landmark Iranian nuclear agreement went into effect... Security Council Resolution 2231, which formally abrogated all of the Council's nuclear-related sanctions against Iran once the agreement took effect, also included language meant to prevent Iran from launching missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons... 'The United States is deeply concerned about Iran's recent ballistic missile launches, which are provocative and destabilizing,' Ms. Power said in her statement. She also criticized Iranian military leaders who were quoted in Iranian news media as saying that the missile tests were meant to be a direct threat to Israel. 'We condemn such threats against another U.N. member state and one of our closest allies,' she said. The missile launches, she said, 'underscore the need to work with partners around the world to slow and degrade Iran's missile program.'" (NYT)

03-15-2016
Anti-Americanism

"Iran's state TV says the country has retrieved thousands of pages of information from devices used by 10 U.S. Navy sailors briefly detained by Iran."

"Iran's state TV says the country has retrieved thousands of pages of information from devices used by 10 U.S. Navy sailors briefly detained by Iran in January. The Tuesday report quotes Gen. Ali Razmjou saying the information was retrieved from laptops, GPS devices and maps. Razmjou is a naval commander in the powerful Revolutionary Guard. Gen. Razmjou said the move falls within Iran's rights under international regulations. He says the information fills about 13 thousand pages. The nine men and one woman were detained for less than a day in January after they drifted into Iranian waters off of Farsi Island, an outpost in the middle of the Persian Gulf that has been used as a base for Revolutionary Guard speedboats since the 1980s." (NYT)

03-15-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif says that the tests of nuclear-capable missiles are legal and did not break UN rules

"Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that he had deliberately negotiated the wording of the latest United Nations resolution restraining his country's nuclear program to ensure that the test-firing of nuclear-capable Iranian missiles would be legal. Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a speech at the Australian National University that Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted after the Iranian nuclear deal was signed last year, did not bar Iran from testing the type of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that it launched last week. 'It doesn't call upon Iran not to test ballistic missiles, or ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads ... it calls upon Iran not to test ballistic missiles that were designed to be capable,' Zarif said. 'That word took me about seven months to negotiate, so everybody knew what it meant,' he said, referring to 'designed.' ... Zarif on Tuesday became the first Iranian foreign minister to visit Australia since 2002. He was welcomed by key Australian officials, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull." (AP)

03-15-2016
Syria Conflict

"Hezbollah should bear the consequences of interfering in the affairs of Gulf countries", says a high-ranking security official from the UAE

"Hezbollah should bear the consequences of interfering in the affairs of Gulf countries, a high-ranking security official in the UAE said Tuesday, accusing the party's chief of war crimes in Syria. 'As long as Hezbollah [chief Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah chooses to harm our Gulf states, then it should bear the resulting confrontation,' Dubai's General Security chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said in the first of a series of tweets. The Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab Interior Ministers and Arab Foreign Ministers separately designated Hezbollah a 'terrorist organization' recently. The development came as tension soared between the party and Saudi Arabia, the leading GCC country... 'Nasrallah's hatred toward Arabs will make him taste the humiliation and hatred that Arabs will inflict on him and his terrorist supporters,' Tamim said. He called on Arabs to start a campaign against Nasrallah by boycotting the leader and cutting all ties with Hezbollah. Bahrain's Interior Ministry Mondayannounced the deportation of a number of Lebanese it accused of belonging to or supporting Hezbollah, a day after Riyadh said it would punish anyone with ties to the group. 'Nasrallah chose to import [military] training, smuggling, bombing and terrorism to our countries. He should be taught a lesson,' the official added. The security chief described Nasrallah as the 'head of terror,' chastising his pride in his ties with Iran. 'Shame on him.' 'Shiites in Lebanon deem him (Nasrallah) as an Iranian agent targeting Arabs,' he continued, accusing the Hezbollah chief of being a 'war criminal in Syria.'" Daily Star (Lebanon)

03-15-2016
Syria Conflict

"Foreign military and security threats have all turned into an opportunity for Iran to spread the Islamic Revolution's dialogue across the globe" says IRGC General

"Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said foreign military threats have turned into opportunities for Iran in the push to spread the Islamic Revolution's dialogue in the world. 'Foreign military and security threats have all turned into an opportunity for Iran to spread the Islamic Revolution's dialogue across the globe,' General Jafari said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday. He said enemies have also targeted the resistance front in order to curb and contain the Islamic Revolution and its discourse, but this threat has become an opportunity too." (Fars Iran)

03-14-2016
Syria Conflict

Iranian Qods Force General Soleimani says Saudi Arabia’s government was “illegitimate” and condemned the country’s military engagement in Yemen, saying “it has always been the Saudis who have engaged in adventurism against Islam, and against us."

"In a sharply worded speech, commander of the Iranian expeditionary Qods Force Ghasem Soleimani said Saudi Arabia's government was 'illegitimate' and condemned the country's military engagement in Yemen. 'It has always been the Saudis who have engaged in adventurism against Islam, and against us,' he said. The speech, delivered to a crowd in the provincial capital of Kerman, southeastern Iran, was the first time Soleimani had explicitly and publicly criticized Saudi Arabia. Prior to this, he had openly condemned various individual Saudi policies, but never attacked the entire political system and the House of Saud outright. Praising the Iranian political system, the special forces commander said that as the center of Islam and the Shi'a faith, Iran enjoys democracy, while in Saudi Arabia the power is monopolized by one family. Soleimani used the speech to praise Iran's political system and to celebrate its military achievement. He described Iran as a 'decent, peace-loving, and tolerant' nation and said that, since the 1979 revolution, Iran had never behaved in a hostile manner against Saudi Arabia or other neighboring countries. He dismissed accusations made by some international media and political commentators that Iran's involvement in the Syrian conflict was reckless and risky. Without a doubt, Soleimani said, Iran would continued to defend itself, but he stopped short of saying what Iran's next steps in Syria might be." (IranWire)

03-14-2016
Nuclear Program

"Iran may still depend on North Korea to procure materials for missiles", report says.

"A report by Washington's Congressional Research Service (CRS) raised suspicions that Iran boosted its missile development by taking help from North Korea and may still be dependent on the Kim Jong Un regime to get some materials for the ballistic missiles, Yonhap reported. The CRS report cited the intelligence community to say that North Korea's cooperation with Iran was significant until the 2000s. 'Iran has likely exceeded North Korea's ability to develop, test and build ballistic missiles. But Tehran may, to some extent, still rely on Pyongyang for certain materials for producing Iranian ballistic missiles, Iran's claims to the contrary notwithstanding,' the report said, according to Yonhap: 'For example, some observers argue that Iran may not be able to produce even its Scud B and Scud C equivalents - Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, respectively - without some foreign support for key materials or components.'" (IBT)

03-14-2016
Nuclear Program

US vows to continue push for UN action on Iran's recent ballistic missile tests and accuses Russia for not responding to UNSC violation.

"The United States on Monday vowed to continue pushing for United Nations Security Council action on Iran's recent ballistic missile tests and accused Russia of looking for reasons not to respond to Iranian violations of a U.N. resolution. 'This merits a council response,' U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation Security Council convened at Washington's request. 'Russia seems to be lawyering its way to look for reasons not to act,' she said. 'We're not going to give up at the Security Council, no matter the quibbling that we heard today about this and that.' Power was referring to comments from Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who made clear that in the view of veto-wielding Russia, Iran's ballistic missile tests did not violate council resolution 2231, adopted in July, that endorsed an historic nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. 'A call is different from a ban so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,' Churkin said. 'The legal distinction is there.' Resolution 2231 'calls upon' Iran to refrain from certain ballistic missile activity. Western nations see that as a clear ban, though council diplomats say China and other council members agree with Russia's and Iran's view that such work is not banned. Iran's U.N. mission issued a statement opposing Monday's council discussion of its missile tests. It added that statements Iranians made about Israel were merely a response to Israeli threats." (Reuters)

03-13-2016
Human Rights

"Former French employee arrested in Tehran" on charges of spying and acting against Iran's national security.

"A former employee of the French embassy in Tehran has been arrested at the airport after arriving in Iran to visit her critically ill mother, the opposition website Kalemeh reported on Saturday. Nazak Afshar, 58, who has French-Iranian citizenship, had previously been arrested in 2009 on charges of spying and of acting against Iran's national security. Although she was put on trial at the time, no verdict was issued and she was freed following the intervention of the French government. She left the country the same year. Afshar had traveled to Iran to visit her mother after 'doctors had given up hope of her recovery', the website said, without giving details of the ailment. The potential opening up to the West after last year's nuclear deal has alarmed Iranian hardliners and the arrest of Afshar and the detention of other people with dual citizenship appear to be part of a crackdown on what some officials have called Western infiltration. Siamak Namazi, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, was detained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in October while visiting family. Baquer Namazi, Siamak's 80-year-old father who is also a dual citizen, was arrested in February on his arrival in Tehran. An Iranian-British former BBC journalist, Bahman Daroshafaei, was also detained in February but was released on bail three weeks later." (Reuters

03-11-2016
Terrorism

"Arab League has branded Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization,a move that raises concerns of deepening divisions among Arab countries and ramps up the pressure on the Shiite group, which is fighting on the side of Syria."

"The Arab League on Friday formally branded Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group a terrorist organization, a move that raises concerns of deepening divisions among Arab countries and ramps up the pressure on the Shiite group, which is fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad in Syria. The decision came during a foreign ministers' meeting of the Arab League at the organization's seat in Cairo, the Egyptian state MENA news agency reported. It came just a day after the league elected veteran Egyptian diplomat Ahmed Aboul-Gheit as its new chief. The move aligns the 22-member league firmly behind Saudi Arabia and the Saudi-led bloc of six Gulf Arab nations, which made the same formal branding against Hezbollah on March 2. It also brings the league in line with the United States, which is closely allied with the Gulf states and has long considered Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. The European Union only lists the military wing of Hezbollah on its terrorist blacklist. In Cairo, Saudi Ambassador Ahmed Qattan, told the satellite TV station Al Arabiya that the vote was not unanimous as Lebanon and Iraq abstained... The league's decision also reflects deep regional divisions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite powerhouse Iran, Hezbollah's patron." (AP)

03-11-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iranian cleric warns government about US officials supposedly seeking to influence the country's decision-making bodies through the recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers.

"Tehran's provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani called on Iranian parliamentarians to keep vigilant against the plots hatched by the US officials to influence and penetrate into the country's decision-making bodies through the recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers. Addressing a large and fervent congregation of the people on Tehran University campus on Friday, Ayatollah Emami Kashani said, 'As Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has always said we should keep vigilant in a bid not to allow the enemy's penetration.' He underlined that the enemy has focused on penetrations to make the country insecure in political, economic and military fields. The senior Iranian cleric reiterated that the country's parliamentarians should watch out the western countries' penetration efforts in Iran's key sectors."  Fars (Iran)

03-10-2016
Human Rights

UN investigator says that executions in Iran have reached the highest level in more than a quarter-century. Iran is one of the world's leading users of the death penalty, along with China and Saudi Arabia.

"Executions in Iran surged to nearly 1,000 in 2015, a United Nations investigator said on Thursday, the highest level in more than a quarter-century. The investigator, Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, said in a report t