White House: 'No Deal' On Prisoner Swap With Iran At This Time | Reuters
The White House said on Monday there was no deal on a prisoner swap with Iran at this time, and the United States is continuing to engage with Iran over how to get home Americans unjustly detained there. "There's no deal. And the last thing that we want to do is give false hope to families that have been waiting for a long time for their loved ones to come home," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
Iranian Teen Girls Hunted By Police For Posting Viral Tiktok Dance To Selena Gomez Song | Fox News
A group of Iranian teen girls are being sought by police for posting a TiKTok video of themselves dancing to a Selena Gomez song. The video, being widely shared online, shows five teen girls dancing without headscarves in front of tower blocks in western Tehran to the song "Calm Down" by Selena Gomez and Nigerian singer Rema. The song was released last Wednesday, March 8, which was International Women’s Day. Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari said the video would be considered ordinary in most cities around the world but in Iran, "it’s an act of defiance."
Iranian Reformer Tajzadeh Says Attacked By Prison Guards For Third Time In Month | Radio Free Europe
Prominent reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who is currently being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, says he and his cell mates were attacked by guards for their support of recent comments made by opposition figure Mir Hossein Musavi on regime change. Tajzadeh, 65, said in a letter that he and fellow prisoners Saeed Madani and Hossein Razzaq were attacked after they were subjected to an "unusual and long search" of their cell over the weekend. Tajzadeh said guards seized some personal notes in an attack, which comes amid government claims that more than 80,000 people have been released in a mass amnesty, that was a direct response to their support for Musavi. In the letter, which he addressed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tajzadeh, a former deputy interior minister and staunch critic of Khamenei, claimed it was the third attack by prison inspectors on his cell in Evin in the past month.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Time To ‘Snapback’ Sanctions On Tehran, Experts Say | Jewish News Syndicate
...Jason Brodsky, the policy director of the U.S.-based United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), told JNS that “Iran continues to test international red lines to see what it can get away with in advancing its nuclear program. “Tehran has still not provided a sufficient explanation of the [84%-enriched uranium] particles, although the IAEA director-general maintains there has been no accumulation or production. Nevertheless, this shows the absence of deterrence on the nuclear file,” Brodsky continued. “Iran has advanced its program to such an extent because it has not paid a price yet. It is time for the U.S. and Europe to reset that calculus by holding it accountable. They can start by snapping back sanctions at the U.N. Security Council,” he added. “The process to revive the JCPOA has been dead for a long time. That is because of a confluence of factors—namely the internal political situation in Iran and its supply of arms to Russia for use against Ukraine. This is why there is a pressing need for the U.S. and its allies to outline a new Iran policy,” Brodsky said.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Italy 'Asked IAEA Chief To Do Everything To Prevent Nuclear Iran' – FM | Jerusalem Post
Italy is strongly opposed to a nuclear Iran, the country’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said as he met with his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Jerusalem on Monday. “We’re very worried by the possibility that Iran could develop nuclear weapons,” Tajani said, adding that Italy was opposed to a nuclear Iran, which would endanger the entire world. Tajani said he had personally spoken with International Atomic Energy Agency’s Secretary-General Rafael Gross and “I asked him to do everything that is possible to prevent a nuclear Iran. He spoke as Israel, the United States and the European Union have grappled with the implications of reports that Iran has enriched uranium up to 84%, which is close to the 90% needed for weapons-grade atomic production.
Iran’s IRGC Claims New 'Laser-Guided' Missiles, Air Defense For Ships – Analysis | Jerusalem Post
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval arm claims that it has put “laser-guided missiles” and “air defense” on its fast attack boats. This comes after a series of recent claims by the IRGC about upgrading its navy. The IRGC has its own naval ships while Iran has an official navy as well. The two compete for resources from the regime although the two also have different missions. The IRGC Navy carries out the harassment of foreign navies and is also involved in developing new weapons while the regular navy has larger ships and conducts longer-range missions. In recent years, the IRGC navy has sought to improve its fast attack boats, of which it has several types and hundreds of boats. Several days ago, Iran claims to have equipped two classes of its ships with long-range missiles. Now, reports at Tasnim News, which is pro-regime and close to the IRGC, has said that Iran has “fast vessels of the IRGC with laser-guided missiles and air defense.” The report says that a new generation of Tandoor vessels has also been equipped with anti-ship missiles.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
US Pursues Diplomacy With Iran But Not On Restoring Nuclear Deal | Iran International
US State Department refused Monday to comment on the possible release of Iran’s frozen funds in exchange for three Americans held by Iran. The State Department’s outgoing spokesperson Ned Price however, signaled that efforts are underway for their release. He also sounded positive about a deal last week between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore relations, brokered by China. There have long been signs that a US agreement to free $7 billion frozen by South Korean banks would be the price to pay for the release of three dual-nationals considered in effect hostages held by Iran. But after Iran’s deadly crackdown on popular protests and its supply of weapons to Russia, the proposition has become politically costly for the Biden administration. At the same time, Price once again reiterated that restoring the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran “is not on the agenda.”
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Rights Group Calls For Sanctions On Iran For Sentencing Swedish-Iranian Dissident To Death | Radio Free Europe
The U.S.-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has urged the international community to sanction Iran for sentencing Iranian-Swedish dissident Habib Chaab to death after "luring" him to Turkey and taking him to Iran. Chaab was tried and condemned for leading a "terrorist group" and organizing and carrying out "numerous bombings and terrorist operations" in southwestern Iran. Chaab is a founder and former leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz separatist group. CHRI said in a statement that governments should impose "political and economic consequences" on Tehran for its "hostage-taking.”
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Britain's New Security Blueprint Points To Iran’s Military Support For Russia As Threat | Iran International
As Britain announced its new blueprint for security and international policy on Monday, Iran’s support for Russia was of grave concern. The UK declared that the UK's security hinged on the outcome of the Ukraine war and expressed concern at support for Russia being potentially offered by China and Iran. "China’s deepening partnership with Russia and Russia’s growing cooperation with Iran in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine are two developments of particular concern," Britain's Integrated Review (IR) said. It has been revealed that Iran is providing Russia with drones, ammunition and missiles, in its ongoing war in Ukraine which began one year ago. In its wake, numerous crises have followed including a global food and energy supply shortage.
Will Iran-Azerbaijan Tensions Continue To Escalate? | Jewish News Syndicate
Recently, an Iranian warplane violated Azerbaijani airspace, prompting Baku to summon the Iranian ambassador. “The flight of a military aircraft for more than half an hour near the territories of Azerbaijan is a provocation and unfriendly behavior towards Azerbaijan,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We strongly condemn the Iranian side for such a provocative step, call on them to provide an appropriate explanation and refrain from such provocative steps in the future.” The incident came after Iran held military exercises along the Azerbaijani border; opened up a consulate in Kapan, Armenia, a sensitive area for Azerbaijanis; was caught operating an espionage network in Azerbaijan; and attacked the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, killing a senior security official. All of this occurred after Baku announced that it was opening an embassy in the State of Israel. Coincidence? I think not.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Russian Su-35 Fighter Deal To Iran Provides Concern As Collaboration Builds Against The West | Air Force Technology
Iran’s purchase of Su-35 Russian fighter jets was reported by Army Technology last month. The article foreshadowed the purchase of the fighter jets after noting that the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) showcased its new underground base, the “Oqab 44” (Eagle 44), in an unveiling ceremony on 7 February. The Eagle 44 base is said to be capable of accepting and operating various types of fighter jets and bombers and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), a state source, reports. Iran’s fighter fleets are mostly made up of 1970s-era US aircraft, such as the F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger, as well as old F-14 Tomcats, acquired prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The country also has smaller numbers of Chinese Chengdu J-7, which are based on the Russian MiG-21, and 1980s-era MiG-21 fighters.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran And Belarus Sign Cooperation Roadmap In Lukashenko Visit | Al Jazeera
Iran and Belarus have signed a cooperation roadmap document during a state visit by President Alexander Lukashenko to Tehran. Lukashenko arrived in the Iranian capital late on Sunday and was officially received by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Monday. The visit comes as the two countries mark 30 years of official diplomatic relations. The two presidents and their delegations held talks, at the end of which they signed eight agreements on trade, mining and transportation, among other things. “Today we achieved an agreement on a comprehensive roadmap between Iran and Belarus,” Raisi said during a joint conference with Lukashenko following the talks. “This comprehensive roadmap between Iran and Belarus outlines political and economic conditions and encompasses all areas of interest between the two countries.”