Eye on Iran: U.S. Secretly Offered Iran a Channel for Talks on Prisoners

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U.S. Secretly Offered Iran a Channel for Talks on Prisoners | Wall Street Journal

The White House secretly reached out to Iran in December to propose creating a direct channel to negotiate the release of prisoners held by each side, according to U.S. officials and people briefed about the discussions, marking the first U.S. diplomatic overture to Iran on the issue under President Donald Trump. However, Iran didn’t respond and, despite at least three subsequent offers from Washington, so far has refused to engage with U.S. officials on the offer, according to the people briefed about the discussions.

Britain Says It Wants To Save Iran Deal, Working To Address U.S. Concerns | Reuters

Britain said on Thursday it was working with its partners to tackle U.S. concerns over a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, but said Tehran must avoid actions that threaten regional security.

Iran 'Accountable' for Ailing US Prisoner's Health: W.House | Agence France-Presse

The White House on Wednesday warned Iran that it will be held responsible for the health of 81-year-old American citizen Baquer Namazi, who was recently sent back to prison after medical treatment.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Despite Iran Nuclear Deal 'Limbo', France to Keep Pushing Business Ties | Reuters

France will continue to encourage its firms to do business in Iran despite uncertainty surrounding a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which has put the business environment in “limbo”, a senior French finance official said on Thursday.

Reinstated Foreign Relations C'tee Head Could Change Course Of Iran Deal | Jerusalem Post

A shuffle in Democratic leadership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may change the course of negotiations among lawmakers and the Trump administration on the Iran nuclear deal, as the president presses for legislation that would “fix” his concerns with the accord. After surviving a federal corruption probe, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey will take back the reins of the committee’s ranking committee chair from Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland. Both men disapproved of the agreement when it reached Congress for a vote in 2015, but Menendez, in particular, has been a vocal critic on the Democratic side.

NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS

Only 5 Nations Can Hit Any Place on Earth With a Missile. For Now | New York Times

Countries like Iran, North Korea and Pakistan have robust missile development programs. And the similarity of some of their missiles indicates that they have collaborated to share technology.

IRAN PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

‘I Have No Fear’: Iranian Women Cast Off Islamic Head Scarves in Protest | Wall Street Journal

Iranian women are defying the government by pulling off their head scarfs in public, joining a growing protest movement that places them on the front lines of a debate between Iran’s Islamic conservatives and proponents of greater social freedoms.

Hijab Protests Expose Iran’s Core Divide | Robin Wright for the New Yorker

It was the quietest protest Iran has ever witnessed. Vida Movahed, a thirty-one-year-old mother of a toddler, stood atop a large utility box on Tehran’s busy Enghelab Street and removed the hijab head covering that all women are required to wear by law. Her jet-black hair cascaded far down her back. She then tied her white scarf to a stick and, as shoppers scurried beneath her on a busy thoroughfare, silently waved it like a flag… Thus began the so-called Girls of Revolution Street protest, on December 27th, and with it Iran’s most robust debate about both women’s rights and religious restrictions in the four decades since the fall of the Shah.

Iran: Three Child Offenders Executed | Human Rights Watch

Iran executed at least three child offenders across the country in January 2018, Human Rights Watch said.

Iran: Three Activists on Hunger Strike After Violent Prison Transfer | Amnesty International

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release human rights activists Atena Daemi, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and her husband Arash Sadeghi, Amnesty International said today, amid reports all three have begun a hunger strike to protest the unlawful transfer of Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee to the dangerous Shahr-e Rey prison in Varamin outside Tehran.

Iranian Court Upholds Death Sentence for Man Accused of Spying for Israel | Agence France-Presse

Iran’s Supreme Court has rejected a request to review the death sentence given to university professor Ahmadreza Djalali, accused of passing information to Israel, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Shirin Ebadi: Bill That Restricts Protests to Designated Areas in Iran Adds “More Limits” to Freedom of Speech | Center for Human Rights in Iran

A proposed bill aimed at designating public spaces in Iran for protests will lead to “more limits” on the people’s right to voice their demands, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“This is Slavery” 30 Sugar Plant Workers Arrested in Iran for Demanding Unpaid Wages  | Center for Human Rights in Iran

Police arrested more than 30 protesters on the fourth day of a strike by hundreds of workers on February 4, 2018, at a major sugar plant near the city of Shush, in Iran’s Khuzestan Province.

The Case for Designating Iran’s State Media | Saeed Ghasseminejad and Richard Goldberg for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

During the recent protests in Iran, dissidents both inside and outside the country asked the U.S. government to enforce sanctions against Tehran’s state-run media enterprise, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Despite Congress imposing sanctions on IRIB in 2012, the Obama and Trump administrations have continually issued waivers suspending IRIB sanctions every 180 days for the last four years. Since IRIB and its partners continue to facilitate human rights abuses inside Iran, this IRIB waiver policy should be reversed.

Actress: Iranian Women Are Breaking Their Silence -- and Deserve Our Support | Nazanin Boniadi for CNN

The bravery of the women recently protesting in Iran stiffened my resolve to participate in the 2018 Women's March in Los Angeles. As a decadelong advocate for women, I felt compelled to use my freedom of expression to demand theirs.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Baquer Namazi Shouldn’t Have to Die in an Iranian Prison | New York Times Editorial Board

When Baquer Namazi, the oldest American known to be held in Iran, was released on medical leave Jan. 28 from Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, it was an unexpected and unusual act of mercy. There was even some hope that Mr. Namazi, an 81-year-old former diplomat for Unicef, might be granted parole. On Tuesday, those hopes were dashed as the authorities ordered the ailing Mr. Namazi to return to jail, a decision so lacking in compassion that the Trump administration must intervene.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

S Korea: No Samsung Smartphones for Iran, N Korea Olympic Athletes | Press TV (Iran)

South Korean officials say they will not provide Iranian and North Korean players with Samsung smartphones which are available free to all other athletes at the Winter Olympics starting Friday. State news agency Yonhap quoted PyeongChang Olympic organizers as saying Wednesday that the decision had been taken in line with sanctions on the two countries.

IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION

Iran Says Its Regional Influence Not Linked to Nuclear Deal | Reuters

Iran said on Thursday there was no link between its influence in the Middle East region and its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers that has now come under fire from the Trump administration.

SYRIA & IRAN

Leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran to Discuss Syria In Istanbul: Turkish Source | Reuters

Turkey and Russia agreed on Wednesday that their next three-way summit with Iran to discuss the conflict in Syria will be held in Istanbul, a Turkish presidential source said.

The Latest: Iran’s Rouhani Discusses Syria With Turkish FM | Associated Press

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has discussed the war in Syria with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and offered Iranian assistance in helping allay Turkey’s concerns about Syria’s future.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

Bahrain Arrests 4 in Pipeline Blast, Laying Blame on Iran | Associated Press

Bahraini authorities say police have arrested four men suspected of being behind a blast that ripped through a state-run oil pipeline in November. A statement by the Interior Ministry says two of those arrested received "intensive training" in Iranian Revolutionary Guard camps in Iran. Iran denies allegations it is behind Shiite insurgents in Bahrain.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Iranian Parliament Decides to Question Rouhani | Asharq Al-Awsat

A political crisis in Iran aggravated on Wednesday after deputies garnered the needed votes to question President Hassan Rouhani over the country’s economic and financial policies.