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February 12 2016
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U.S. Official: Iran Has Kept Commitments On Nuclear Deal So Far

- A senior U.S. official says Iran so far has kept its commitments under the nuclear agreement with world powers implemented last month. Stephen Mull, the State Department's lead coordinator for implementing the deal curbing Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 11 that there is no evidence that Tehran is cheating. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 02/12/16

Iranian authorities warn shops not to sell Valentine's Day gifts

- Iranian security forces have warned retailers that selling Valentine-themed gifts and balloons is illegal, and the police will be on the lookout to confront such violations. The reports says the police emphasized that no gathering of boys and girls exchanging Valentine gifts will be tolerated. 02/12/16

Iranian Hardliners Violate Law to Keep Assembly of Experts Loyal to Khamenei

- In addition to the massive disqualifications of moderate candidates for upcoming elections in Iran, hardliners have implemented another strategy to prevent challenges to their power: restricting the number of seats to important governmental bodies in order to prevent possible inroads by moderate candidates. 02/12/16

U.S., Russia, European Powers Agree To Syrian Truce In Week

- Major powers agreed to a cessation of hostilities in Syria and to expand delivery of humanitarian aid to people caught up in the conflict, top diplomats said in Munich on February 12. 02/12/16

Press Reports Reveal Abuse Against Afghan Students in Iranian Schools

- Afghan students are being subjected to physical punishment and discrimination in Iranian schools, according to media reports in Iran that the government has tried to suppress. 02/12/16

BASF to invest $4bn in Iran petchem plan

- Iran said on Friday that Germany's BASF, the world's largest chemical producer, plans to make an investment of as much as $4 billion in its petrochemical industry. Marziyeh Shahdani, the managing director of the National Petrochemical Company (NPC), has been quoted by the media as saying that negotiations are underway with BASF to construct a petrochemical township in southern Iran. 02/12/16

Capture Of U.S. Sailors Reenacted At Celebrations Of Iran's 1979 Revolution

- The capture of 10 U.S. sailors by Iranian forces last month was reenacted at rallies in Iran celebrating the anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Images published by Iranian news agencies and shared on social media show actors in fatigue pants walking in the streets, some with their hands tied and with chains around their necks. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 02/12/16

US keeps bans against Iran's Mahan Air

- Almost a month after Iran saw a series of nuclear-related economic sanctions lifted, new indications show certain segments of the Iranian economy still remain shut out in what could be a violation of the nuclear deal that the country reached with the P5+1 last summer. 02/12/16

The Art of Dissidence and Diplomacy

- Our new program at IPS, Epicenter, is devoted to lifting up the work of artists as both dissidents and as diplomats - those who help to provoke conflict where the status quo is unjust and those who hope to resolve conflict where the status quo is violent. We'll be focusing on the Middle East for the next year, with a particular emphasis on Iran. 02/12/16

Nation vs. Revolution in Iran

- The Implementation of Iran's nuclear agreement with the P5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has not yet been completed, but critical statements by its detractors in Iran about its ineffectiveness have already began. For example, recently Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a former speaker of the Parliament and an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, said that so far the JCPOA had not had a single positive impact. -Shireen T. Hunter 02/11/16

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U.S. Lawmakers Object To Loosening Visa Rules For Some Iranians - The Obama administration's plan to loosen tough new visa requirements for businessmen and journalists who travel to Iran has touched off strong resistance in Congress. 02/11/16

Iran's President slams corruption without naming its source - The Iranian president says production and manufacturing efforts in the country are stifled by a network of smuggling supported by a corrupt system. He said the corruption must end. 02/11/16

Going their own way - For a long time, Persian classical music was considered untouchable. Now the sons of Iran′s great ustads have begun to change traditional music. -Marian Brehmer, Qantara 02/11/16

A Real "Political Revolution" Would End the War in Iraq - These days, Bernie Sanders doesn't say much about the Middle East. But if you've heard him say nothing else on the subject, he's probably reminded you that he -- unlike a certain former secretary of state -- had the foresight to vote against the Iraq War when it came before Congress back in 2002. -Peter Certo, LobeLog 02/11/16

Tales of exile and of home: Iranian diaspora in literature - When I was at university studying English literature, I took an interest in diasporic and migrant writings. Authors from India, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean all told the same kind of stories of exile and resettlement. Their books raised a shared set of concerns, reflecting homelessness, loss and attempts to reconstruct identity. -Sanaz Fotouhi, Guardian 02/11/16

Why Did Rouhani Visit Italy? - When Iran's President Hassan Rouhani visited Rome last month, Italian and Iranian officials and businessmen signed $22 billion worth of deals in sectors ranging from energy to infrastructure, steel, and shipbuilding. Rouhani's "charm offensive" in Europe, which also included stops in the Vatican and France, marked his first trip overseas following the nuclear deal's Implementation Day as well as the first visit of an Iranian president to the continent in 16 years. -Cinzia Bianco and Giorgio Cafiero 02/10/16

Prominent Lawyers Disqualified from Iran's Bar Association Election - More than two dozen prominent lawyers, including well-known human rights defenders, have been disqualified from running in next month's election for the Iranian Bar Association's board of directors. According to a 1997 law, the Judiciary's Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges reviews the qualifications for candidates seeking a seat in the bar association's board of directors. In this way the Judiciary exerts its influence through a body that claims its independence. 02/10/16

Friends fear for U.S. businessman in Iran - Nearly a month after a prisoner deal between Washington and Tehran, the friends and family of business consultant Siamak Namazi -- who holds degrees from Tufts and Rutgers universities and has ties to many Washington foreign policy insiders -- fear he has been forgotten in the warm afterglow of last month's swap and are pressing the Obama administration to step up efforts to free him. -Michael Crowley, Politico 02/10/16

Iranian Professors Sound Alarm Over 'Mass Disqualifications' In Upcoming Vote - About 300 professors at universities across Iran have expressed their "growing concern" over the "mass disqualifications" of candidates in February 26 voting for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, which could choose the country's future supreme leader. 02/10/16

New App that Detects Morality Police is Instant Hit in Iran - A smartphone application aimed at helping Iranian users avoid the country's morality police became a smash hit immediately after it was released today, with its servers being inundated by requests, according to one of its creators. Authorities Block App within 24 Hours of Its Debut 02/10/16

Iran TV Anchor Quits, Citing Sexual Harassment - An Iranian news anchor says she was forced to quit her position and flee the country in mid-January following years of repeated sexual harassment by the station's director. Sheena Shirani, a former broadcaster with Press TV, last week published a series of messages and recordings of voicemails she received from news director Hamid Emadi. 02/10/16

Iran: Rejected female candidates risk backlash in small towns - The Iranian president's advisor on women's affairs, Fahimeh Farahmanpour, has expressed grave concern over the Guardian Council's widespread disqualification of women running in the parliamentary elections. She said when a female candidate in a small town is disqualified on the basis of paragraph 1 of Article 28, which refers to lack of practical commitment to Islam, then she will have to shoulder a heavy cost in her community. 02/10/16

The truth about visiting Iran - My friends, who are avid and intrepid travelers, blanched when I said I was going to Iran. "You'll never get out alive. You're Jewish. You're female. They'll behead you, and they'll post it on YouTube," one of them cautioned. "You'll rot in a rat-infested jail for the rest of your life. There's no American Embassy; no one will be able to help you!" -Judith Fein, Jerusalem Post 02/10/16

Khomeini's Grandson Banned From Running In Iran Elections - An Iranian constitutional watchdog has rejected an appeal by Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the Islamic republic's founder, against his disqualification from running as a candidate for a top clerical body. 02/10/16

The Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: A Win-Win Agreement (part one) - After many years of unprecedented, crippling Western sanctions that stopped Iran's oil exports and even banking transactions, the long and arduous negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed on 14 July 2015. That agreement finally reached the Implementation Day on 16th January 2016, coincidentally 37 years to the day when the late Mohammad Reza Shah left Iran for good and paved the way for the victory of the Islamic revolution. -Farhang Jahanpour 02/9/16

Iran ready to expand cooperation with EU, Greece: President Rouhani - President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that Iran is ready to expand cooperation with European Union, including Greece and that strengthening relations and cooperation between Tehran and Athens are beneficial for both nations. President Rouhani made the remarks in a meeting with Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Tehran. 02/9/16

Bandage made of crustacean shell helps rapid wound healing - Iranian researchers at Tehran's Amirkabir University of Technology have developed a wound dressing using shell of crustaceans which would revolutionize healing of lesions. 02/9/16

Hill Update on Iran and Israeli Settlements - (UNDERMINING THE JCPOA) HR 3662: Introduced 10/1/15 by Russell (R-OK) and having 62 all-GOP cosponsors, the "Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act." As highlighted in Part 1 of the 12/31/15 Round-Up, this bill is one a number pending initiatives aimed at undermining the JCPOA. Notably, it is entirely partisan, meaning efforts to move it are nothing more than grandstanding -Lara Friedman, LobeLog 02/9/16

Sanctions Lifted, American Tourists Head to Iran - The lifting of sanctions on Iran last month has resulted in a surge of bookings, tour operators say, many from Americans undeterred by a State Department warning laying out the risks of taking trips there. Tour operators say the demand has been so acute that they are racing to add new departures and selling them in record time. -Elaine Glusac, NY Times 02/9/16

The art of picnicking in Iran: You ain't seen nothing until you've seen an Iranian picnic - It soon became apparent that Brits have far more in common with Iranians than I had realised, most notably a subversive sense of humour and the inability to do anything without vast amounts of tea. But something else links our cultures, something at which Iranians excel and at which they beat us hands down. Iranians are serious, hardcore picnickers. -Lois Pryce, Independent 02/9/16

Iran's selfie-taking, hoops-shooting religious leaders are stars on Instagram - The Instagram account "Talabe Today" shows, the country's imams are a lot like the rest of us. The man behind the popular account is Masoud Zareian, an Iranian seminary student who wanted to improve the image of the country's conservative clergy, according to the BBC, citing a local newspaper who interviewed Zareian. -Christopher Miller, Mashable 02/9/16

Trash-Talking: Collecting Garbage Isn't A Crime In Tehran. Or Is It? - Left with few options to legally highlight state repression in Iran, former Tehran University chancellor Mohammad Maleki and former hard-line columnist Mohammad Nurizad settled on a seemingly innocuous form of public protest -- collecting garbage from the streets of Tehran. -Golnaz Esfandiari and Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah, RFE 02/8/16

Cyris Habib Named to DNC Platform Committee - Washington State Senator Cyrus Habib, the highest-ranking Iranian American in political office was recently appointed to the 2016 Democratic National Convention Platform Committee by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 02/8/16

World Bank forecasts 5.8% GDP growth for Iran in 2016 - The World Bank has forecasted Iran's gross domestic product (GDP) will grow by 5.8 percent in 2016 and by 6.7 percent in 2017. In its January 2016 Global Economic Prospects report with the theme of Spillovers amid Weak Growth, the World Bank said Iran's economy expanded by 1.9 percent in 2015. 02/8/16

Iranian films Nahid and Sonita to screen at Portland International Film Festival - The 39th Portland International Film Festival is being held February 11-27 in Portland, Oregon. This year the Iranian films Nahid, directed by Ida Panahandeh, and Sonita, directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, will be screened at the festival. 02/8/16

Iran's Eight-Million-Year-Old Fossils Unveiled after Returning Home from US - Iran's ancient fossils, which had been sent to the US some 40 years ago for studies and were returned home after Tehran won a decades-long legal dispute with Washington, were unveiled in the Iranian capital. In the unveiling ceremony held in the city's Pardisan Park, 1351 fossils dating back to eight million years ago were put on display. 02/8/16

What Would Be Most Likely to Unravel the Iran Nuclear Agreement - The agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program-one of the most significant achievements in recent years on behalf of nuclear nonproliferation-deserves ample attention and effort to preserve it. Preserving the accord will require much attention and effort, given that many of those who strove to prevent the agreement from ever being completed or implemented are still trying to kill it. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 02/8/16

EU Foreign Policy Chief Says Preparing 'Important' Visit To Iran - EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says she is preparing an "important visit" to Iran following the implementation of the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers. 02/8/16

Iran's rural areas considered for high-speed internet service - Iranian Minister of Communications Mahmoud Vaezi says the government is looking into providing high-speed internet service to the country's rural areas. He added that 18,000 thousand villages will receive high-speed internet this year. 02/8/16

The Leader Our Foreign Policy Deserves - It's often said that, in democracies, we get the leaders that we deserve. In the current slugfest masquerading as a presidential race, it looks as though we're getting the leader that our foreign policy deserves. The results of the first round of the 2016 presidential election in Iowa, with narrow victories by Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, only underscore this point. Let me explain. -John Feffer, LobeLog 02/8/16

Beach volleyball and women's rights in Iran? - Beach volleyball is testing women's rights in Iran. Yes, beach volleyball in Iran. You may think that women's rights there are a secondary issue, compared with recent headlines focusing on a nuclear agreement... But in fact, this issue goes to the heart of whether Iran upholds its international agreements. -Minky Worden, CNN 02/8/16

Big in Tehran: Inside Iran's $140M console and PC market - I've chalked up 2015 revenue for the PC and console games market in Iran to approximately $140 million, based on research firm Newzoo's latest data, and project it to grow to $167 million this year. But the majority of this is hard to measure or accurately track because it lurks in gray and black markets due to decades of sanctions and the absence of official distribution channels. -VentureBeat 02/8/16

Iranian Couples Increasingly Living Together Outside of Marriage - First they called it "white marriage," now it's "black coupling." But no matter how Iranian officials choose to denigrate the upward trend of young unmarried couples living together, it's bound to grow. That's because the phenomenon is directly related to socioeconomic disparities between Iranian men and women, a sociologist speaking on the condition of anonymity told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 02/6/16

France and Iran Are Back to Business - After a decade of wrangling over the nuclear program, President Rouhani found himself in Italy and France last week in search of business in the automotive, transportation, hydrocarbon, and industrial sectors. That Rouhani choose to visit Paris over any other European capital underlines the fact that Franco-Iranian relations go much deeper than the past decade of haggling over Iran's uranium enrichment levels. -Emma Scott 02/6/16

Saudi defeat in Syria definite: Iran's IRGC chief - A top Iranian military commander says a "definite" defeat awaits Saudi Arabia if it sends troops to Syria. "Sending troops by Saudi Arabia means a coup de grace for its regime which, of course, is not bad," chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Ja'afari said on Saturday. 02/6/16

Iran Reverses Ban On 1,500 Election Candidates - Iran's constitutional watchdog, the hard-line Guardians Council, has reversed a ban on 1,500 candidates who had registered to run in the February 26 parliamentary elections. It is unclear how many of the newly approved candidates are considered to be reformists. 02/6/16

Canada lifts Iran sanctions, to restore ties - Canada announced on Friday that it is lifting some sanctions against Iran and is also working over the restoration of diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a statement that it had amended its "broad-reaching autonomous sanctions against Iran to allow for a controlled economic re-engagement, including lifting the broad ban on financial services, imports and exports." 02/6/16

UN urges Iran to adopt legal protections for children - The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on Iran to reform its laws affecting children, including the execution of minors and discrimination against girls. The committee calls on the Islamic Republic government to address discrimination against girls manifested in "family relations, the criminal justice system, property rights, compensation for physical injury, among others." 02/6/16

Iran's Landmines: A Never-Ending Nightmare - Akbar, 47, needs to wrap his leg stump in layer after layer of cloth. His leg was amputated after he stepped on a hidden landmine on his way from work, in western Iran, an area still contaminated by landmines from the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war. His health insurance company did not cover the expense of a prosthetic leg, so he had to pay out of pocket what he could afford, which is what he describes as a "rotten" prosthesis. -Mehrnaz Samimi, LobeLog 02/6/16

Many Iranian Women, Youth Feel Failed by Reformists Ahead of Vote - Many Iranian women and young people are disillusioned about the upcoming elections, desperate for reform but losing hope in their pragmatic president and his promise of a freer society. The February 26 parliamentary poll will see pro-reform candidates, who broadly back President Hassan Rouhani, attempt to overturn the majority held by conservative hardliners in the 290-seat assembly. -Reuters 02/6/16

Digging Deep To Build The Tallest Hotel In Iran - Ebrahim Pourfaraj wants to build the biggest hotel in all of Iran. He's already started his project in the far north Tehran, a wealthy zone where the city climbs up the slopes of the snow-capped Alborz Mountains. The sheer scale is amazing. Construction crews have dug a hole in a hillside, about 240 feet deep. Pourfaraj says no commercial construction site in Iran has ever gone this deep. -Steve Inskeep, NPR 02/6/16

How sanctions helped Iranian tech industry - As Iran moves to take advantage of the sanctions relief extended under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the recent drop in crude prices means that Tehran won't be able to count on soaring oil revenues in the near future... However, things are not all bleak. Iran has an asset that could potentially partially be relied on to tackle the issue of economic growth in the long term: its high-tech sector. -Mahmoud Pargoo, Al Monitor 02/6/16

Lawmakers Urge for Visa Waivers for Dual Nationals, Iran Visitors - Washington, DC - NIAC Action applauds Jared Huffman (D-CA) and all twenty-six Members of Congress who today called on the Obama Administration to protect dual nationals and people who have visited Iran from discriminatory new visa restrictions. 02/5/16

Wrestling with Iran - In Iran, wrestling commands the same level of public interest as football in the United States. This is no passing fad. Wrestling is intimately entwined with the history and culture of the country, going back to the legendary matches that Persian kings conducted with their rivals...The initiative in Washington to engage in "wrestling diplomacy" began in 2009, shortly after Barack Obama entered the Oval Office. -John Feffer, LobeLog 02/5/16

U.S. Republican Lawmakers Seek To Make 'Inspection' Trip To Iran - Three U.S. Republican lawmakers who are highly critical of Iran applied for visas to visit Tehran and observe this month's elections, inspect nuclear sites, and meet with the Revolutionary Guards. 02/5/16

Arrest of Iranian-British Dual National in Tehran May Be Hardliners' Ploy to Foil Iran-UK Relations - New details about the case of Iranian-British translator Bahman Daroshafaei, who was arrested this week at his Tehran home during a historic visit by Iran's foreign minister to the UK, suggest his detainment may be a politically motivated move by hardliners to thwart better relations with the UK. 02/5/16

U.S. Presidential Hopefuls Clinton, Sanders Spar Over Iran, Russia - The two U.S. Democratic candidates for president sparred over foreign policy during a debate February 4, and showed particularly sharp differences over Iran. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took issue with socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on restoring diplomatic relations with Tehran now that many economic sanctions have been lifted. 02/5/16

Iran Inks $40 Billion In Deals In Moscow; Eyes Oil Sales To Rosneft - Iran and Russia have initialed contracts worth around $40 billion for nuclear power construction, railways, and other projects, the top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on February 4. 02/5/16

Tonic For The Troops: Iran Singer Takes Stage In Syria - A well-known Iranian religious singer recently traveled to war-torn Syria, where he performed for Iranian fighters deployed there to bolster Tehran's regional ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Saeed Haddadian, a popular singer in conservative segments of Iranian society, said in a February 3 interview that he traveled to Syria with his son to honor Iranian forces who "do in action what we say in words." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 02/5/16

First Europe bank to open Iran office - Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) says it wants to open a branch in Tehran "as quickly as possible," becoming the first foreign lender to set up shop in Iran after the lifting of sanctions. RBI is in "intensive talks" with Iranian banks as Tehran is rejoining the international banking system, its board member Peter Lennkh said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt. 02/5/16

German MKM To Invest 1 Billion Euros in Iran's Copper Industry - TEHRAN - Germany's copper producing company Mansfelder Kupfer und Messing GmbH (MKM) signed a memorandum of understanding, worth 1 billion Euros, to invest in a number of mineral projects including the ones in downstream copper industries in Iran. 02/5/16

Thousands flee as Russian-backed offensive threatens to besiege Aleppo - Tens of thousands of Syrians fled an intensifying Russian assault around Aleppo on Friday, and aid workers said they feared the city which once held two million people could soon fall under a full government siege. Iran reported one of its generals was killed on the front line assisting government forces, direct confirmation of the role Tehran is playing along with Moscow in what appears to be one of the most ambitious offensives in five years of civil war. -Reuters 02/5/16

Iranian Officials Condemn Radical Mob's Attack On Top Actress - An attack last week on one of Iran's most famous actresses by hardline vigilantes has been condemned by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Rouhani administration's top official in charge of women's affairs. 02/4/16

Iran's Parliament set to approve shorter work week for women - Iraj Abdi, a spokesman for Iranian Parliament's Social Commission, says new regulations will soon be approved to let women work reduced hours under certain conditions. The new regulations, according to Abdi, will allow women with children under six, women with disabled children and single mothers to work eight hours less at their full-time jobs without a reduction in pay and benefits. 02/4/16

Iranian B&Bs and inns win TripAdvisor's 2016 award - TripAdvisor has released its list of the top 25 bed and breakfast and inns in the Middle East, placing Iranian House, Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel, and Manouchehri House in the city of Kashan as among the winners of the Travelers' Choice award in 2016. 02/4/16

Most Iranians Approve Nuclear Deal, Doubt U.S. Compliance - Nearly six months after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 was agreed, seven out of ten Iranians approve of the deal, but only 34% believe the U.S. will comply with its terms, according to a new poll released here Wednesday by the University of Maryland's Center for International & Security Studies (CISSM). -Jim Lobe 02/4/16

Former BBC Journalist, Translator Arrested In Tehran - Iranian journalist and translator Bahman Darolshafayi, a dual Iranian-British national and former BBC journalist, has been arrested in Tehran. Authorities had not announced the reason for Darolshafayi's arrest on February 3. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 02/4/16

An Iranian rock star in London: the highs and lows of Ali Azimi's turbulent career - 'Persistence is the key to success', my late grandfather used to say; it's also a philosophy the London-based Iranian musician Ali Azimi keeps close to his heart. A former mechanical engineer, Azimi came to public attention in 2009 with his band, Radio Tehran, and their album, 88. -Ben Mirza, Reorient 02/4/16

After Iran deal, imported Persian rugs reach L.A. - The call came in to the rug store at 10:30 on Wednesday morning: After five days in U.S. customs, the shop's first batch of carpets imported from Iran were ready for pickup. Store owner Alex Helmi quickly gathered his employees and told them to drive to the airport to pick up the shipment: 40 handmade rugs valued at about $500,000. -Sarah Parvini, LA Times 02/4/16

Farhang Foundation Announces the Winners of the 2016 Nowruz Competitions - Preparations for Farhang's 8th Annual Nowruz (the Iranian New Year) Celebrations at LACMA are underway as the Foundation selects the winning submissions from this year's Nowruz Multimedia Program and Nowruz Street Banner Competitions. 02/3/16

Iran Elections Update - Less than four weeks away from the February 26 elections for Iran's parliament, the details of how many registrants will be allowed to run is not yet clear. This was not unexpected. As I suggested in my previous post, the unprecedented rate of disqualifications by the provincial supervisory committees was bound to unleash a flurry of consultations with the Guardian Council to reverse some of the decisions made at the lower levels. -Farideh Farhi 02/3/16

Tehran Stock Market Hits One-Year High After Sanctions Lifted - The Tehran Stock Exchange has surged to a one-year high since Iran's landmark nuclear deal with world powers went into effect last month. The Tehran TEDPIX index soared to 73,725 on February 2, boosted by an outpouring of foreign investment of $16.6 million in the 10 days since sanctions were lifted, Bloomberg reported. 02/3/16

Iran's 'Sormeh' Wins Award At Italian Film Festival - Sormeh, a short fiction movie directed by Iranian filmmaker Azadeh Ghochagh has won the Best Film Award in the main section of the Italian short film festival 'Dieciminuti'. Ghochagh's production had competed with other movies from France, the UK, Finland, Bahrain, the US, Italy and Norway. 02/3/16

Ratings agency Moody foresees strong growth for post-sanctions Iran - International ratings agency Moody's projects Iranian economy to grow in the years to come over its solid foundation and sanctions removal. Iran's gross domestic product (GDP) will grow five percent in 2016-2017, thanks to a solid foundation built to cope with exclusion from the global financial system, Moody's said in an e-mailed research note Monday. 02/2/16

Rokhsareh Qaem-Maqami's Sonita wins top award at Sundance Film Festival - Sonita, a joint production of Iran, Germany and Switzerland, by Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Qaem-Maqami, has won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival: World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary and Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary 02/1/16

IRAN: A Travelogue to Home Away from Home - Our family of five, along with nearly 800 other passengers, were aboard the Emirate's double decker A-380, having departed from New York's JFK on winter solstice night 12 hours earlier, and expected to arrive in Dubai within an hour, considering the time difference. We noted, unlike the past, that the Persian Gulf on navigation screen simply has no name designation, factual or fallacious. Looking down however, we were ecstatic to witness the snow-capped, extinct volcanic Mt. Damavand, elev. 18,500 ft., eternally standing high and proud, to safeguard the motherland, IRAN. -Davood N. Rahni 02/1/16

Photos: Iran Navy holds massive maritime parade, ends major drills - Iran's naval forces have staged a maritime parade in the Sea of Oman, marking the end of large-scale naval drills in the country's southern waters where they successfully hit and destroyed mock enemy targets. 01/31/16

Iran's shooter Khedmati wins gold at Asia Olympic qualifiers - Iranian female sports shooter Najmeh Khedmati has put on an awe-inspiring display of skills at the 2016 Asian Olympic Shooting Qualifying Tournament in India, and managed to snatch a gold medal. 01/31/16

Iran Embarks on European Mission to Attract New Business - Iran is open for business. That's the message from President Hassan Rouhani during his milestone visit to Europe. With most sanctions lifted as a result of its agreement to dismantle its nuclear program, Iran has embarked on a charm offensive to extol the economic opportunities on its territory and to free itself from years of international isolation. -Mil Arcega, VOA 01/30/16

Family of Imprisoned Iranian Producer: Canada Must Do More - The family of prisoner of conscience Mostafa Azizi is calling on Canada to exert more pressure on Iran to release him following the prisoner swap that led to the freedom of four Iranian-Americans held in Iran. 01/30/16

Surprise Visitor During Latest Caspian Sea Status Meeting - Representatives of the five Caspian Sea littoral states -- Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan -- finished up their most recent meeting on January 29. Reports about the January 28 portion of the deputy foreign ministers' meeting seemed to indicate it was business as usual. -Bruce Pannier, RFE 01/30/16

Iran and France Sign Major Trade Deals - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has signed trade deals with France worth billions of dollars following the lifting of international sanctions imposed over its nuclear program. "We are ready to turn the page for a new relationship between our two countries," he told a group of French business leaders in Paris after his arrival Thursday in the French capital. 01/29/16

Iran's Rouhani Visits Paris as Part of 'Charm Offensive' - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in France Wednesday - the first official visit of an Iranian president there since 1999. Rouhani flew in from Italy where he closed business deals worth $18.5 billion. He is expected to do likewise in France. 01/28/16

Pope Urges Iran to Promote Political Solution in Middle East - Pope Francis has urged Iran to use its "important role" to promote peace in the Middle East and help halt the spread of terrorism and weapons trafficking. The pope made the appeal during a 40-minute closed-door meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican Tuesday. 01/27/16

Iranian President Signs Business Deals In Rome - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said after meeting in Rome with Iranian President Hassan Rohani that a series of business agreements they signed is "just the beginning" for their countries. Deals being signed during Rohani's 48-hour stay in Italy are valued at up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion). 01/26/16

SEPARATING FACTS FROM FICTION: Truths, Myths, and Outright Lies - The P5+1/Iran nuclear agreement is a done deal and sanctions against Iran are lifting, much to the chagrin of the war parties here and the Wahhabis there. Significantly though, Israeli regime's objection to the agreement is a calculated strategy for blackmail and extortion against its old patron and benefactor, the United States. As expected, the Israeli PM, Netanyahu, has already begun his well-choreographed routine of We need more, give us more, or we'll screw it up for you! -Kambiz Zarrabi 01/25/16

How does the Nuclear Deal Affect Personal Transactions Involving Iran? - Many questions have arisen following yesterday's landmark announcement of implementation of the nuclear agreement reached last July between Iran and the P5+1 states (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany). This deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA) has brought about much speculation about Iran's emergence from roughly a decade of punishing sanctions and its reintegration into the international economic and political sphere. -Farhad Alavi 01/17/16

The Underlying Messages of the US-Iran Naval Incident - When news broke that the naval branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had captured 10 US naval personnel whose boat had drifted into the territorial waters of the Iranian island of Farsi, it first appeared that Iran's hardliners were attempting to scuttle the implementation of the recently concluded nuclear deal and thus prevent any further improvement in US-Iran relations. -Shireen T. Hunter 01/14/16

PHOTOS: The Kindness Station in Khorramabad provides cloths, food and books for the needy - Walls of kindness have been popping up all over Iran in an attempt to keep the homeless warm this winter. These spontaneous outdoor charities are based on a simple principal: "If you don't need it, leave it. If you need it, take it." A group of philanthropists in the city of Khorramabad in western Iran have gone a step further and created a Kindness Station which is equipped with a refrigerator and library where in addition to cloths, donors can leave food and books for the needy or the homeless. -Farnaz Goudarzi 01/12/16

Iranian-American Organizations Urge President Obama to Waive Discriminatory Visa Language - A coalition of Iranian American organizations issued the following joint-statement regarding legislation recently passed into law concerning the Visa Waiver Program: As Iranian American civil rights and advocacy organizations, we are dismayed that Congress passed legislation to amend the U.S.'s Visa Waiver Program in a manner that risks discriminating against the Iranian-American community and other communities. 12/24/15

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last updated on Fri Feb 12 14:53:22 GMT 2016