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Iran's Election Matter
In this column, Farhang Jahanpour writes that it is time for the U.S. to turn over a new leaf in relations with Iran. Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Language at the University of Isfahan. He has taught at the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University for the past 28 years. - 1/31/14

Intelligence Ministry Reviews Cases of Iranian Expats for Return
Iran has established a secretariat for the Committee for the Return of Expat Iranians, inside Iran's Intelligence Ministry, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary, and Iranian Expatriate Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said in an interview with Tadbir News Website. - 1/31/14

A Supreme Leader Appointee: "Stop Complaining About the Geneva Accord: It was the Regime's Decision"
As members of the hardline Principlist group continue to criticize Hassan Rouhani's administration for its negotiations with the West, a publication published in Tehran quoted some official authorities to say that the decision to resolve the nuclear issue in fact was the "decision of the state" and that protests over this decision will have no impact. -Arash Bahmani - 1/31/14

Iran seizes assets of tycoon under investigation
The Iranian judiciary says the assets of detained Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani have been confiscated. The Mehr News Agency reports that all the assets under Babak Zanjani's name have been identified and confiscated by order of the prosecutor. - 1/31/14

EXHIBITION at YBCA, San Francisco: Room for Big Ideas: The Chasm Arena
This exhibition juxtaposes works by Palestinian artist Zeina Barakeh and Israeli artist Michal Gavish, centering on conflict, reconciliation, and history. Five Iranian artists participated in the audio part of this world-shaking project: Omid Fallahazad, Samira Hashemi, Pantea Karimi, Mahshid Modares, and Minoosh Zomorodinia. - 1/31/14

Iran's environment chief receives Energy Globe award
Iran's Vice President and Head of the Department of Environment Masoumeh Ebtekar has won the Energy Globe Foundation award for her long-term efforts in the field of environment protection. During a Wednesday ceremony in the Iranian capital city of Tehran, Ebtekar received the 2014 edition of Energy Globe Honorary Award for a Lifetime Achievement, Mehr News Agency reported. - 1/31/14

Rohani ally switches jobs in the government
The Iranian president has accepted the resignation of Mohammad Ali Najafi as head of Culture and Tourism Department and appointed him to lead the Economic Coordination Committee. Massod Soltanifar was announced as a replacement for Najafi. Soltanifar had been nominated by Rohani for the Sports and Youth Ministry but he failed to obtain Parliament's approval. - 1/31/14

Chameleonic Opposition to an Iran Deal
In the long story of the evolving Iran nuclear issue, we naturally tend to focus on whatever is the chapter immediately before us. Right now that mainly involves the negotiation-subverting Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill, which President Obama in his State of the Union address explicitly threatened to veto if Congress passed it. But we also ought to keep a longer-term view of how opponents of an agreement with Iran have kept changing their tune and changing their arguments as their earlier arguments have become inoperative. -Paul Pillar - 1/31/14

Sanctions Cut Off Online Courses for Iranians
"Denying Iranians the right to an education undermines American interests and values, and violates the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi. "The Iranian government has systematically denied education to students based on their political and religious beliefs. The U.S. should not be in the business of denying education to students simply because they are Iranian." - 1/30/14

A Manufactured Crisis
The subtitle of Gareth Porter's new book, The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, is well-chosen. Large parts of A Manufactured Crisis are indeed untold till now. They amount to what the author terms an "alternative narrative". But don't be misled by "alternative". This is not the work of some crank who imagines conspiracies where none exist. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 1/30/14

Rouhani Reaches Out at Davos
Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Hassan Rouhani tried to persuade world business leaders to invest in Iran, especially in its hydrocarbon and automobile sectors. His appeal is not likely to set off a gold rush; investors will wait to see if the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 is successfully concluded sometime this summer. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani - 1/30/14

US Restricts Free Online Courses to Some Countries
The U.S. education company Coursera, which offers free Internet-based classes in subjects ranging from Medicine and Mathematics to Business and Social Sciences, says it 'regretably had to make changes' to its accessibility in some countries. - 1/30/14

Iranian Police Dismiss Reports Of Cyberthreats Against Nuclear Negotiators
Iran's deputy police chief says no threats have been made against the members of the country's team of nuclear negotiators. Mohammad Reza Radan made the comments on January 29 in response to a question about alleged e-mails threatening the Iranian negotiators with "revenge" over the nuclear deal they reached with Western countries in November 2013. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/30/14

Congress Backs Off Iran Sanctions After President Obama's Veto Threat
U.S. President Barack Obama appears to have prevailed, for now, in his campaign to stop Congress from imposing new sanctions against Iran while a diplomatic initiative on Tehran's nuclear program is under way. - 1/30/14

Statistics show Iran's cancer rate rising fast
The chairman of the Cancer Research Center of Iran, Mohammad Esmail Akbari, says 41,000 Iranians die of cancer each year and Iran's cancer rate is among the world's fastest rising. - 1/30/14

Iran's 2014 Budget Taking Shape
As the Iranian parliament begins to discuss the 2014 budget, which takes March 21, some challenges are beginning to emerge in a country with an inflation rate of 44 percent, negative economic growth and high unemployment. In particular, subsidy reform presents lawmakers with a major challenge. -Ali Sajjadi, VOA - 1/30/14

Obama Promises Iran Sanctions Veto During 2014 SOTUS
The following is what President Barack Obama had to say about the US' Iran policy during his Jan. 28, 2014 State of the Union Speech. In saying that he will veto new sanctions passed by Congress, the President is of course referring to what Jim calls the Kirk-Menendez-Schumer Wag the Dog Act of 2014 -Jasmin Ramsey, LobeLog - 1/30/14

IAEA inspectors visit Iran's Gachin uranium mine
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors on Wednesday visited the Gachin uranium mine, as part of a joint statement that Iran and the UN nuclear agency signed on further cooperation on Tehran's nuclear activities in the Iranian capital on November 11, 2013. - 1/30/14

Turkey's Erdogan Visits Iran to Improve Ties After Syria Split
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran on Wednesday to bolster trade and energy ties, state TV said, in what also looked like a bid to defuse tensions over Syria by capitalizing on Tehran's diplomatic opening to regional rivals and the West. -Reuters - 1/30/14

Photos: The Bald Heroes!
When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian noticed that one of his students was being bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped. - 1/29/14

International symposium on the state of Iran's environmental crisis presents chilling picture: Human security is under threat
Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF) in partnership with the Persian Wildlife Foundation (PWF) and in association with the London Middle East Institute (SOAS), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Soudavar Memorial Foundation (SMF), I B Tauris Publishers and thePersian Wildlife Heritage Foundation convened a pioneering international symposium on the challenges facing Iran's natural heritage - 1/29/14

Final Iran nuclear deal can be reached in a short time: Rouhani
A final nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers can be achieved in a short period of time, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday. He made the remarks during a meeting with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who is visiting Iran as the head of a group of former global leaders known as the Elders. - 1/29/14

Iranian President Rouhani receives Turkish Prime Minister
President Hassan Rouhani and visiting Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan who arrived here Tuesday night, met on Wednesday. The two discussed issues of mutual interest in the meeting which was held at the Sa'adabad Cultural and Historical Complex in northern Tehran. - 1/29/14

NIAC Applauds Investigation of Bank Discrimination Against Iranian Students
NIAC applauds the decision by Minnesota Department of Human Rights' (MDHR) to investigate charges of alleged discrimination by TCF Bank against Iranian students whose university-linked bank accounts were terminated. - 1/29/14

Mahmud Dowlatabadi's book telling story of Hasanak the Vizier published
Firuzi Publications has recently released the latest work by the renowned Iranian author Mahmud Dowlatabadi on the story of the chancellorship of Hasanak the Vizier based on Persian historian Abul-Fazl Bayhaqi's "Masudian History". - 1/29/14

Persian language group slams local languages initiative
Members of the Academy of Persian Language & Literature have lashed out against recent statements from the Rohani administration that encourage the teaching of local languages in public elementary schools around the country. - 1/29/14

JINSA Split on Iran Deal, Urges U.S. Support If Israelis Attack
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) claims that it has U.S. national security interests at heart, but it's difficult to understand how U.S. backing for an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities will serve U.S. national interests if negotiators are still trying to work out the details of a final agreement six months from now. -Jim Lobe - 1/29/14

Renault set to resume car assembly in Iran
French carmaker Renault says it has resumed shipments to Iran for vehicle assembly, less than two weeks after Iran's nuclear deal with world powers took effect. Renault's regional boss Gilles Normand said the automaker expects its car manufacturing in Iran to pick up in the first half of the year. - 1/29/14

German Customs Finds Heroin In Iranian Rugs
German customs agents say they found 45 kilograms of heroin woven into a shipment of Iranian rugs, and a number of people have been arrested in connection with the case. - 1/29/14

Israeli Gets 4 1/2 Years For Offering To Spy For Iran
The Jerusalem court said Yitzhak Bergel admitted, as part of a plea bargain, to charges of contacting a foreign agent, intent to commit treason, and attempting to aid an enemy of Israel. Bergel is described as belonging to Neturei Karta, a splinter group of Ultraorthodox Jewry that rejects the existence of a manmade Jewish state until the coming of the messiah. - 1/29/14

Turkish Central Bank Makes Massive Rate Hike to Save Lira
The bank raised its overnight lending rate to 12 percent from 7.75 percent, its one-week repo rate to 10 percent from 4.5 percent, and its overnight borrowing rate to 8 percent from 3.5 percent - all much sharper moves than economists had forecast. -Reuters - 1/29/14

Iraq says Syria War Spillover Hinders Oilfields, Pipelines
Spillover attacks from the civil war in Syria have hindered development of Iraq's gas and oil reserves and a major pipeline to the Mediterranean has been blown up dozens of times, Iraq's top energy official said on Tuesday. -Reuters - 1/29/14

Thinking About Iran By Remembering South Africa
South Africa's transformation and redemption during the 90s is instructive as relations between the United States and Iran improve-a thaw made possible by the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani to the presidency this past June. -Shervin Malekzadeh, LobeLog - 1/28/14

'World Elders' Visit Iran, Call For End To Syria 'Nightmare'
A delegation of former world leaders known as "The Elders" has come to Iran and called for an end to what they described as Syria's "nightmare." The group, led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, met in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. - 1/28/14

German-Iranian Woman Elected Secretary General Of The Social Democratic Party
Yasmin Fahimi, a German-Iranian woman, has been elected as the Secretary General of German co-governing Social Democratic Party (SPD). Fahimi received 492 (88.5%) of the 557 votes cast. - 1/28/14

Iran Nuclear Talks to Resume in New York in February
The United States says world powers will begin a new phase of talks with Iran next month on reaching a long-term nuclear deal. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the talks likely will begin in mid-February, and will be held in New York. - 1/28/14

TV Journalist Makes Rare Visit to Former US Embassy in Tehran
American journalists made a rare visit to the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Monday. CNN's Jim Sciutto, who was among the journalists, tweeted "Getting the rare chance today to explore the inside of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran. A living museum piece." -Maryam Manzoori, VOA - 1/28/14

Iran's Basij Force Issues Report On Alleged Rights Abuses In U.S.
Iran's paramilitary Basij force has published a report about the human rights situation in the United States. The Basij force, which has been accused of brutality and involvement in state repression against opposition activists in Iran, says the United States is "one of the main violators of human rights." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/28/14

Iran, Middle East's biggest crude steel producer in 2013: WSA
Iran was the biggest producer of crude steel in the Middle East in 2013, according to the World Steel Association's latest press release. Iran produced 15.4 million tons of crude steel in 2013, a 6.6 percent rise compared to 2012. - 1/28/14

Syrian opposition can never depose Assad: Iranian FM
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Syrian opposition is dreaming if they think they can oust President Bashar al-Assad because they are in no position to overthrow the Syrian government. In an interview with the Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Zarif said that the main goal for all sides in the Syria conflict should be to end the war. - 1/28/14

The Two Faces of Empire
A captain ready to drive himself and all around him to ruin in the hunt for a white whale. It's a well-known story, and over the years, mad Ahab in Herman Melville's most famous novel, Moby-Dick, has been used as an exemplar of unhinged American power, most recently of George W. Bush's disastrous invasion of Iraq. -Greg Grandin, LobeLog - 1/28/14

At the movies: 300 are baaack!
Last week we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968), the legendary African-American civil rights movement leader, who fundamentally changed the way we tackle the thorny issue of race and racial equality in the United States. And speaking of calendars, on 7 March 2014 (less than 7 weeks), the 300: Rise of an Empire movie will come to a theater near you. -A.J. Cave - 1/27/14

Photos: University Dissertation Presented On The Wall!
6 Iranian women (Bita, Elham, Mahzad, Setayesh, Simin, Zahra), who are university students majoring in Graphics, did their dissertation by doing a painting on the outside wall of a sports club in Tehran. Here are snapshots of the women at work and their amazing work of art! -Mohammad Babaei - 1/27/14

Hundreds of Iranian journalists call on President Rohani to keep promise
772 journalists state that their community has long been awaiting the reopening of the association and they were hoping that this would have been one of the new government's accomplishments in the report on its first hundred days but instead they are disappointed that their organization still remains shut down. - 1/27/14

Negligence Suspected As Two Women Fall To Their Death In Tehran Fire
The fire that claimed two lives in a clothing manufacturing workshop in central Tehran last week has created much controversy over Tehran's Fire Department's handling of the incident, with many, including President Hassan Rouhani, calling for an investigation. The fire has put the spotlight on government accountability for what some believe has been gross negligence, which claimed the lives of Nasrin Foroutani, 44, and Azar Haghnazari, 60. - 1/27/14

Rouhani's Calculated Focus on Shattering Iranophobia Project
In her beautifully written book, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, Barbara W. Tuchman has explored the history of international relations from thousands of years ago up to the 1970s. In her extensive effort, she has presented several prominent examples of unwise and illogical measures taken by human beings as a result of which opportunities have been lost and peace has given way to war and destruction. -Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh - 1/27/14

US, EU to lift sanctions against 14 giant Iranian petrochemical companies soon
The United States and European Union would soon exclude 14 Iranian major petrochemical companies from the list of sanctions after the implementation of the Geneva deal started on January 20. - 1/27/14

Iran calls U.S. military option rhetoric 'undiplomatic'
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham says the United States' rhetoric about a military option against Iran are "undiplomatic" and in violation of international law and the UN charter. - 1/27/14

Human rights award goes to singer Shahram Nazeri
The Kermanshah and Ilam Bar Association has named Shahram Nazeri, the Iranian classical music singer and composer, as the winner of the Mehr Human Rights Award for his humanitarian efforts. - 1/26/14

"Camp X-Ray" star will never play Iranian characters in foreign projects
Iranian star of "Camp X-Ray" Peyman Moadi has stated that he will never play an Iranian character in any foreign film project. Moadi portrays Ali, a Tunisian man who has been imprisoned by mistake at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, in "Camp X-Ray", Peter Sattler's directorial debut that was released in the United States on January 17. - 1/26/14

Iran holds 10th Persian language Olympiad in Russia
The 10th edition of Persian language and literature Olympiad has been held among the Russian students in the country's capital city of Moscow, Press TV has reported. The winners of this year's competition were announced during a ceremony held on January 24, 2014. - 1/26/14

Hassan Rouhani: Sanctions against Iran are illegal
Sanctions against Iran are illegal and are undermining international law, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. - 1/26/14

Iran determined to reach final nuclear deal, seeks investment: President Rohani
Iran is determined to negotiate a comprehensive deal on its nuclear program with major powers, President Hassan Rohani said on Thursday, inviting Western companies to seize opportunities now and invest in the country. - 1/25/14

Iranian Artist Shirin Neshat Receives a Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum
Every year at Davos, the Crystal Awards celebrate artists who not only excel in their art, but also help to improve the world around them. This year, the awards recognized three exceptional cultural leaders: the Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian Matt Damon; the opera tenor Juan Diego Florez; and artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat. - 1/25/14

Iran's Writers Association Criticizes State Pressure
Iran's Writers Association says security officials have prevented the group from holding its monthly advisory meeting. In a recently issued statement, the group says the meeting was due to be held on January 14 at the home of one of the members. But according to the statement, a few days before the scheduled meeting, the individual was summoned by the Intelligence Ministry and "forced" to cancel the gathering. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/25/14

U.S. Warns That Iran 'Not Open For Business' Despite Accord
Officials in Washington have warned that an interim accord on Iran's nuclear program does not open the door to new economic opportunities with Tehran. "The New York Times" quotes Treasury Undersecretary David S. Cohen as saying that "Iran is not open for business," adding that "a vast network of complicated sanctions" remain in force. - 1/25/14

Iranian-American Actress Gets Fed Up With Hollywood's Racism
Ever get tired of seeing your favorite Middle Eastern actors relegated to roles that only deal with the War on Terror? Because they surely are. Kathreen Khavari is a public-health-professional-turned actress who was fed up with Hollywood's racism, so she decided to do something about it. -Jamilah King, Colorlines.com - 1/25/14

Geneva Communique: Road Map for Syria Political Transition
t an international peace conference for Syria in June 2012, participants agreed to what has become known as the Geneva Communique. It laid out a six-point plan intended to stop the violence and move the two sides towards a political settlement. The United Nations is trying to implement that framework at peace talks going on now in Switzerland where the two parties have finally agreed to meet. -Margaret Besheer, VOA - 1/25/14

11 Persian Sayings That Make No Sense In English
Translating idioms and sayings into other languages is always an exercise in humor- often, you've repeated them so many times without thinking about what is literally being said. We decided to make a list of the 11 funniest Persian sayings and translate them literally into English, along with a photo accompaniment of their literal meanings. -Persian with Chai and Conversation - 1/25/14

Rouhani Says Iran Wants Nuclear Deal, Investment
Rouhani told corporate chiefs Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he sees Tehran "pursuing policies of moderation, prudence and hope in the future global economy." He said Iran has the potential to be one of the world's top 10 economic powers in the next 30 years, and plans to reopen trade with other countries. - 1/24/14

Iranian FM Zarif Hits Back
Speaking to CNN during the World Economic Forum in Davos this week Foreign Minister Javad Zarif got personal. He chided the US president, though he only named the "the White House", for playing fast and loose with facts. The White House version of the first-phase deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 in November both "underplays concessions" to Iran and "overplays Iranian commitments," he said. -Farideh Farhi, LobeLog - 1/24/14

Jailed Iranian Student Activists Given First Furloughs
Iranian student activists Zia Nabavi and Arash Mohammadi were given furloughs on Wednesday January 22. Nabavi, the spokesman for the Council for the Defence of the Right to Education, has been serving his sentence in exile in Karoon Prison. Arash Mohammadi was released from Tabriz central prison. - 1/24/14

Kerry Talks of Iran, Syria at World Economic Forum
Kerry arrived in Davos on Thursday after a peace conference on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland. In an interview with Al-Arabiya, he rebuked Iran for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "Iran understands that the Geneva 1 communique calls for a transition government with full executive authority by mutual consent. Iran could have come to Geneva but they refused to embrace that standard," said Kerry. -Zlatica Hoke. VOA - 1/24/14

Support Slipping for Iran Sanctions in US Senate
CAPITOL HILL - More Democratic senators are quietly signaling their opposition to a bill that spells out new sanctions against Iran if negotiations to limit the country's nuclear program do not yield a final accord. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 1/24/14

Iranian Arts Community Rallies Around Environmental Conference
Iranian filmmaker Manijeh Hekmat has announced that on Saturday January 25, there will be a conference on environmental issues with participation from grassroots organizations, the Department of the Environment and other government officials. - 1/24/14

IRAN: World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director wraps up two-day visit
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, Ms. Ertharin Cousin, wrapped up a two-day visit to the host country of second-largest population of refuges in the world, Islamic Republic of Iran, on Wednesday January 22, 2014. - 1/24/14

Top Israel Lobby Group Loses Battle on Iran, But War Not Over
Eight years ago, Stephen Rosen, then a top official at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and well-known around Washington for his aggressiveness, hawkish views, and political smarts, was asked by Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker magazine whether some recent negative publicity had harmed the lobby group's legendary clout in Washington. -Jim Lobe - 1/24/14

Photos: A village school in the internet era!
15 Khordad is a small school located in the village of Pakol in the province of Kohgiluyeh Va Boyer Ahmad in southwestern Iran. The school hosts 17 students in two classrooms. However, it lacks basic amenities such as electricity, water and heating, and the students are deprived of a proper educational environment. -Hossein Khedmati - 1/23/14

Column: Iran Nuclear Deal Opens Doors for Students
A senior Barack Obama administration official on Monday told reporters "we've committed that up to $400 million of Iran's own money can be directed through a financial channel that we will agree on to universities and colleges outside of Iran where Iranian students are currently studying." - 1/23/14

Iran volleyball team invited to play friendlies in US
The US Volleyball Federation has invited Iran's squad to America to hold friendlies in the city of Los Angeles, writes the official website of the Iranian Volleyball Federation. - 1/23/14

FIFA stops National Team from sporting Iranian Cheetah on World Cup shirts
A campaign by environmental activists to raise awareness of the endangered Iranian Cheetah by putting its image on the shirts of Iran's national football team for the upcoming World Cup has been rejected by the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA). - 1/23/14

Iran: UN rights experts 'alarmed' at sharp increase in hangings, urges halt to executions
Independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the Government of Iran to urgently halt executions, given reports that at least 40 people have been hanged so far this year. - 1/23/14

Iran's Rouhani: Possible to Overcome Animosity With US
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday it would be possible to turn more than three decades of enmity with the United States into friendship if both sides were to make an effort. -Reuters - 1/23/14

Former U.S. Officials Make New Push To Free U.S. Marine In Iran
Former top American security and defense officials have launched a new appeal to free a former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran. Amir Hekmati has been detained by Tehran since August 2011 on espionage charges, which Washington says are false. - 1/23/14

Wife Of Man Who Vanished In Iran Says He Was Working For CIA
WASHINGTON -- The wife of Robert Levinson, an American who disappeared some seven years ago during a trip to Iran's Kish Island, has confirmed that he was working at the time for the CIA, the U.S. intelligence agency. - 1/23/14

U.S. State Department's Spokesman Makes Gesture Toward Iranian Opposition
The U.S. State Department's Persian-language spokesman Alan Eyre has sent condolences via Facebook over the death of one of the sisters of opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi. In a message in Persian posted with a picture of Karrubi, Eyre writes that it was with "with deepest regret" that he found out about the death of Fatemeh Karrubi, the sister of the former Iranian parliament speaker. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/22/14

Iran sends warships to Atlantic Ocean
The Iranian Navy's 29th fleet of warships, comprised of the Khark logistic helicopter carrier and the Sabalan destroyer, set sail on Tuesday from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas for the Atlantic Ocean on a three-month voyage. It is the Navy's first-ever mission to the Atlantic Ocean. - 1/22/14

President Rohani: Davos, a chance for Iran to define views to world
President Hassan Rohani said Davos provided a chance for Iran to define its views to the world. The president made the remarks on Wednesday while talking to IRNA at the airport before leaving Tehran for Switzerland to take part in the 44th Davos economic summit. - 1/22/14

Syria Still Haunting Obama's Strategy in the Middle East
For three years, the Syrian civil war has continued unabated; and for three years, the so-called "international community" has achieved almost nothing - other than to head off the war's escalation over the use of chemical weapons following President Barack Obama's ill-considered drawing of a red line against such use. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 1/22/14

China to Help Iran Implement Its Closed National Internet
The Islamic Republic of Iran and China have reportedly reached an agreement to begin cooperating on Internet operations, aiming to implement Iran's "National Information Network," according to a report on the website of Iran's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. - 1/22/14

Iran-China trade hits $31b in 10 months: Envoy
The value of trade between Iran and China stood at $31 billion in the first ten months of 2013, the Chinese ambassador to Tehran announced. The two-way trade grew by 5.3 percent in the first ten months of 2013 in comparison to the corresponding time last year, IRNA quoted Chinese Ambassador Yuhang Yang as saying on Monday. - 1/22/14

Workshop in San Jose, California: 6/8 Rhythm in Persian Music and Language
Ever wonder why 6/8 rhythm is so important in our music? Could it be because so much of what we say in colloquial Farsi is also in 6/8? Come join us for a fun lecture/workshop at the Shiraz Arts Academy with our own Naser Sheikhzadegan who will review and perform basics of rhythm and explore commonalities in our music and spoken Farsi in usages of 6/8 and other rhythms. - 1/22/14

Assad's Future Sparks Sharp Debate at Syrian Peace Conference
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's political future has been a divisive issue as delegations from more than 30 countries, the United Nations and Syria's warring sides meet for a long-awaited peace conference in Switzerland. - 1/22/14

Iran: Rule banning musical instruments on TV is broken
Iran's Channel One television has caused a sensation by showing musical instruments on screen for the first time in 30 years, it's reported. -BBC - 1/22/14

Iran's oil sales rise as sanctions pressure eases - sources
Iran's oil exports have picked up modestly in January for the third consecutive month, according to sources who track tanker movements, adding to signs that the easing of sanctions pressure on Tehran is helping its oil exports to recover. -Reuters - 1/22/14

As Sanctions Are Relaxed, Western Businesses Look To Iran
The easing of sanctions on Tehran that has just taken effect is sending Western companies rushing to seek new business opportunities in Iran. A group of senior French executives, including from the energy and automotive sectors, is heading to Tehran early next month. They follow a delegation of British lawmakers who visited this month. -Charles Recknagel, RFE - 1/21/14

Another Example of Why Congress Should Not Let the Bibi Dog Wag the U.S. Tail
The front-page article by Jodi Rudoren about Israel's "Castle Strategy" in Sunday's New York Times offers yet one more example - and right in the opening paragraph - of why the Kirk-Menendez "Wag the Dog" Act of 2013 is so dangerous to the security of the United States. -Jim Lobe - 1/21/14

EU Eases Some Sanctions Against Iran
PARIS - The United States and other world powers are easing economic sanctions against Iran after international inspectors confirmed that Tehran has started to curb its most sensitive nuclear enrichment activity. -Lisa Bryant, VOA - 1/21/14

Lavrov: Barring Iran from Syria Talks a Mistake, Not Disaster
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's decision to bar Iran from Wednesday's opening session of Syrian peace talks is a mistake, but not a disaster. Lavrov spoke Tuesday, following Ban's decision on Monday that Iran would no longer be welcome as one of the more than 30 countries represented at the talks in Montreux, Switzerland. - 1/21/14

Iran: Rohani administration puts minority language education on agenda
The Iranian president's special aide for ethnic and religious minorities' affairs has announced that the education of ethnic minorities in their mother tongue is on the government's agenda. - 1/21/14

Iran Begins Implementing Joint Plan of Action
Iran today (January 20th) began implementing its end of the historic bargain made in Geneva on Nov. 24 under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Arms Control Association has a useful summary of the IAEA report and analysis of the deal (as well as what's to come) -Jasmin Ramsey - 1/21/14

Jack Straw: In Hasan Rouhani's Iran, you can feel the winds of change
Ex-home secretary Jack Straw returns from a visit to Tehran convinced that it's time for the West to rethink its relationship with the regime -Independent - 1/21/14

US hails 'unprecedented opportunity' as Iran halts enriching high-level uranium
The US has hailed Iran's suspension of high-level uranium enrichment as an "unprecedented opportunity", after a long standoff that threatened to ignite yet another conflict in the Middle East. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 1/21/14

Kioomars Hashemi Elected President of National Olympic Committee of Iran
Kioomars Hashemi was elected as the tenth President of the Iran's National Olympic Committee (NOC) on Monday. Hashemi succeeds Mohammad Aliabadi, who replaced Reza Gharakhanloo in October 2008. - 1/21/14

How Rouhani triumphed: Iranian election could spell trouble for hard-liners
Iranians disillusioned by a stolen election were coaxed to turn out for last year's ballot. They elected a centrist president and have reshaped Iran's political map. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 1/21/14

Photos: Swans arrive from Siberia in Sorkhroud, northern Iran
In the recent years, during winter about 5000 swans migrate from Siberia to the wetlands of the Caspian town of Sorkhroud in northern Iran. The swans return back to Siberia after the the cold season ends. The swans bring life and beauty to the wetlands and attract many visitors. Environmental activists are also busy trying to educate the public to be a good host to their guests! - 1/20/14

Iran Limits Enrichment as Nuclear Deal Goes Into Effect
Iran has begun halting its most sensitive nuclear enrichment activity as an agreement with world powers reached in November goes into effect Monday. The United Nations nuclear agency said in a report that Iran disabled centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordo nuclear facilities that were used to enrich uranium to 20 percent. - 1/20/14

Iran's Justice Minister Says Detained Opposition Leaders Should Receive No Trial
In statements during a speech in the city of Mashhad, Iran's Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi said yesterday that a trial for imprisoned 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi would not be in the best interest of the regime, and that the regime has determined that "they should remain restricted." Pour-Mohammadi added that if Mousavi and Karroubi were put on trial, the Iranian regime "would witness struggles, confrontations, and demonstrations." - 1/20/14

UN's Ban Invites Iran to Syrian Peace Talks
The United Nations has formally invited Iran to join the long-awaited Syrian peace talks, which are scheduled to open Wednesday in Switzerland. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Sunday that he believes Iran "needs to be a part of the solution in Syria," and that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif assured him Iran understands the basis of the talks. - 1/20/14

Sunni prisoners end hunger strike in Iranian prison
Four Iranian Sunni prisoners in Qezel Hessar Prison have ended their hunger strike after 75 days. The Human Rights Reporters News Agency reports that the four prisoners began their hunger strike to protest their death sentences and to question the fairness of the proceedings against them. - 1/20/14

Iran sees a 'big jump' in gas exports in 2015
Iran will "witness a change in the revenues of the country from crude oil to natural gas," Owji said. He pointed to the country's goal to triple gas shipments to some of its neighbors, saying, "By signing new deals with Turkey and Iraq, Iran will increase natural gas exports to about 100 million cubic meters by next year from a current 35 million." - 1/20/14

Sanctions Eased, Iran Gets Feelers From Old Trading Partners
For critics of the interim nuclear agreement with Iran, Hossein Sheikholeslami might seem to embody their worst fears. Mr. Sheikholeslami has been busy in recent weeks, since the deal was agreed to in principle, shuttling back and forth between the capital and the airport to welcome all the guests: parliamentary missions from old European trading partners like Germany, Italy and Finland, which are eager to renew contacts. -Thomas Erdbrink, Washington Post - 1/20/14

Obama Starts To Turn Tide Against Lobby's Sanctions Bill
It's the weekend and the tide may have turned President Obama's way in his battle to prevent Congress from enacting new Iran sanctions, sanctions that would almost surely kill the agreement the P5+1 reached with Iran to restrict its nuclear program. -MJ Rosenberg, Huffington Post - 1/20/14

Iranian-American Sunny Zia running for Long Beach Community College's 3rd District
"I am running to bring new leadership to the Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees and fight for affordable education for all," said Zia. Her platform includes putting an end to the anti-student two-tier tuition system, increasing access to vocational programs, and reinvesting in the local Long Beach economy. - 1/19/14

Retreat in the Last 165 Days
The man who was elected to be Iran's next president 165 days ago had made promises about women and equality during the last month of his presidential election campaign which ultimately brought him much support and votes. Hassan Rouhani's verbal support of half of Iran's 72 million people - the women - brought him more votes and victory. - 1/19/14

Death of another Persian Leopard brings new committee
Following the death of a twelfth Persian Leopard so far this year, the deputy head of Wildlife Protection for the Department of Environment announced that an emergency committee has been established to protect the panthers. - 1/19/14

What if Iran-P5+1 Disagreed on the Geneva Deal?
The Geneva nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 in November 2013 has entered its executive phase. During the past two months, the agreement has been evaluated from different angles. One way is also to ask what would have happened if the agreement had not been concluded? -Kayhan Barzegar - 1/19/14

Iranian environmental activist gets reduced sentence
The appeals court of Ardebil Province has reduced the prison term given to environmental activist Ali Kheyrjou to six months in jail. He had been sentenced to five years in jail with two of those years spent in exile in Kermanshah. - 1/19/14

Turkey Acts Against Jihadists
Analysts say the action may herald a hardening of Turkey's policy towards jihadists. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been criticized for months for not doing enough to stop them from transiting Turkey to fight in the civil war in neighboring Syria. -Jamie Dettmer, VOA - 1/19/14

Iran's Rouhani Needs a Nuclear Resolution
After 34 years of enmity, Tehran and Washington are heavily invested in the success of a deal over Iran's nuclear programme achieved through teamwork. Now the political future of Iran's new moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, depends on this issue. -Jasmin Ramsey - 1/18/14

Iran Should Release Imprisoned Activist for Urgent Medical Treatment
The Iranian Judiciary should immediately release imprisoned student activist Bahareh Hedayat before continued imprisonment and lack of adequate medical treatment for her chronic reproductive system problems cause irreversible damage to her health, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. - 1/18/14

Iranian female official won't speak at Friday prayers after all
Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Iran's Department of the Environment, has reported on her Facebook page that she will not be speaking at the Friday Mass Prayers in Tehran, despite earlier announcements. - 1/18/14

Iranian Culture Minister Asks Judiciary to Provide More Freedom of Expression
Iran's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati publicly stated that the Iranian Judiciary should join the Rouhani administration in providing more freedom of expression to Iranian media and artists, in an interview with Al Jazeera. His remarks drew strong criticism from Iran's Prosecutor General and Spokesperson for the Judiciary Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi. - 1/18/14

Iran: Web committee discusses loosening online restrictions
Iran's minister of communications says the committee for determining criminal content on the web has met to discuss the new administration's policies in order to reach consensus on which sites will be subject to filtering. - 1/18/14

IAEA Team In Tehran To Monitor Nuclear Deal
A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to monitor implementation of a groundbreaking deal struck in November between Iran and the international community over Iran's disputed nuclear program. - 1/18/14

Qatar's Activism Sparks a Backlash
Over the past few years, Qatar, the tiny gas-and-oil rich emirate has emerged as a major regional political player, and globally as a media powerhouse by founding Al-Jazeera TV. Politically Qatar moved aggressively to fund "Arab Spring" Islamist movements and Hamas militants who control the Gaza Strip. -Mohamed Elshinnawi, VOA - 1/18/14

Iran Diplomat Killed In Yemen Shooting
An Iranian diplomat has been killed by unidentified gunmen in the capital of Yemen, Sanaa. The diplomat, identified as Ali Asghar Assadi, was wounded in a drive-by shooting at the Iranian ambassador's residence on January 17. He later died in the hospital. - 1/18/14

Has Iran's Internet Policy Changed With Rouhani?
"Restrictions on social media must be lifted," said Ali Jannati, Iran's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance to Aljazeera this Monday, admitting that he has been using Facebook for the past three years. His words are compelling, but recent events have not been very promising. -Ali Reza Eshraghi - 1/17/14

White House Releases Summary of Iran Nuclear Deal
The information outlined by the White House Thursday includes a timetable for inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Economic Energy Agency. It also details the modest easing of sanctions on Iran that are being granted in return for the freeze on some parts of the Iranian nuclear program. - 1/17/14

Bazaarpool, Iranian musicians team up to commemorate Asita Hamidi
The Swiss band Bazaarpool and a number of Iranian musicians have teamed up to pay homage to the late Austrian musician of Iranian origin Asita Hamidi during concerts in Tehran. Hamidi, a 51-year-old singer and harpist who lived in Bern, Switzerland, died of a type of blood cancer in December 2012. - 1/17/14

Former US Ambassadors Hunter and Gargano Join the Board of American Iranian Council
Commenting on this significant development at the AIC, Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi, Founder and President of the Council, said "Ambassadors Hunter and Gargano bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in diplomacy and business that most suit US-Iran relations in this historic moment in their constructive engagement. - 1/17/14

Hundreds get sick due to cracks in Tehran water pipes
Hundreds of people were stricken with diarrhea and vomiting attacks after drinking tap water in the Pardis neighbourhood of Tehran. Residents have been urged to use bottled water for the next 24 hours while the matter is being investigated, according to Javan News. - 1/17/14

Penn Research Helps Lay Out Theory for Metamaterial That Acts as an Analog Computer
Now, the birthplace of the digital computer, ENIAC, is using this technology in the rebirth of analog computing. A study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (led by Nader Engheta), The University of Texas at Austin and University of Sannio in Italy, shows that metamaterials can be designed to do "photonic calculus" as a light wave goes through them. - 1/17/14

UN: Syria Mass Executions Could Be War Crimes
The U.N. human rights office says armed opposition groups in Syria, particularly an extreme al-Qaida-linked faction, are committing a "soaring" number of killings in the country's north that could amount to war crimes. - 1/17/14

Female official to make history at Tehran's Friday Mass Prayer
Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Iran's Department of the Environment, will become the first woman to ever speak at Tehran's Friday Mass Prayers this Friday January 17. The report adds that Ebtekar's speech will mark the beginning of Clean Week, which highlights environmental awareness and cleaning efforts. - 1/16/14

Fighting Off Peace
The US faces a grave crisis. One threatening our economic well-being and modern political system. We seem destined for a ruinous enemy deficit. If President Barack Obama has his way, Iran and America, after 35 years of enmity, may be headed for reconciliation, a serious diminution of tensions, an end to constant blustering, proxy conflicts and freely flowing bile. -Henry Precht - 1/16/14

Nine female-fronted bands to perform at Iran's Fajr Music Festival
Nine female-fronted Iranian ensembles are scheduled to give performances at the 29th Fajr International Music Festival in February. Only women will be allowed to attend the concerts, which will be performed by these bands that mostly are led by singers. - 1/16/14

Kuwait SC signs captain of Iran's national football team
Kuwait SC announced Tuesday night that Iran captain Javad Nekounam has joined the team on a four-month contract. Nekounam signed a deal with the Kuwaiti football team reportedly worth $500,000. - 1/16/14

Authorities Close Cultural Events in Tehran Despite Rouhani's Recent Support of Artists
A large crowd of eager guests, some of whom had traveled long distances, were not allowed to attend a cultural event organized by Chelcheragh magazine on Sunday, January 12, cancelled on orders from the Tehran General and Revolutionary Courts Prosecutor, according to the Police Commander. - 1/16/14

Iran's Intelligence Minister Says No Need For Media To Cover Economic Corruption
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmud Alavi says there is "no need" for media to publish details of cases of economic corruption. Alavi, who was speaking on January 14 to Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency, added that the coverage of corruption cases by the media could hurt investment in the country. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/16/14

Iran and Bahrain: The New York Times' Uncritical Take
I was a bit surprised to see the New York Times lump together Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain so cavalierly as objects of Iranian military adventurism. The veteran reporters Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt should have known that Iran's relations with these three countries are very different and driven by the particular conditions in each country. -Jim Lobe - 1/16/14

World Bank forecasts 1% GDP growth for Iran in 2014
Iran's gross domestic product (GDP) will grow by 1 percent in 2014, according to the World Bank's newly-released Global Economic Prospects. The report has predicted 1.8 percent and 2 percent GDP growth for Iran in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Iran's GDP growth was -1.3 percent in 2013, the report said. - 1/16/14

NSA Spies on People With Internet and Fake Rocks
As President Barack Obama prepares to unveil reforms to the U.S. National Security Agency's intelligence gathering programs, there is renewed attention on how the NSA actually hacks into computers. Some of the NSA's techniques were described in a New York Times article Wednesday, detailing how the agency implanted malicious software in nearly 100,000 computers worldwide. -Brian Allen, VOA - 1/16/14

Israel Lobby Thwarted in Iran Sanctions Bid For Now
In what looks to be a clear victory - at least for now - for President Barack Obama, a major effort by the Israel lobby and its most powerful constituent, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to pass a new sanctions bill against Iran has stalled in the U.S. Senate. -Jim Lobe - 1/16/14

Iran Rejects Preconditions To Attend Syria Peace Conference
Iran says it won't take part in next week's international peace conference on Syria if preconditions are set for its participation. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking on January 16 after talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. - 1/16/14

Flaws in the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions (Wag the Dog) Bill
Ed Levine, an arms control specialist who worked for both Republican and Democratic senators for 20 years on the Intelligence Committee and another ten on the Foreign Relations Committee, has written a detailed and devastating analysis of S. 1881, the Kirk-Menendez bill, for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation on whose advisory board he currently serves. -Jim Lobe - 1/15/14

AIPAC Still Trying to Torpedo Iran Nuke Deal
As preliminary Iran Nuke deal is finalized and set to go into effect next Monday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is pushing for Congress to pass new sanctions against Iran which would violate and likely nullify the historic agreement. - 1/15/14

Artists in Sweden protest arrest of young poets in Iran
A group of Iranian poets and artists based in Sweden gathered in front of the Iranian embassy in Stockholm along with some of their Swedish peers to protest the arrest of Iranian poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi. Swedish television aired a report on the demonstration on Monday January 13. - 1/15/14

Diplomacy Offers Best Possible Outcome for Iran-US
Iran Review had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with Dr. Parsi about US Senate's new bill (Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013), differences between the US Congress and the White House, Iranian parliament's (Majlis) drafting of new bill for raising the level of uranium enrichment to 60 percent, and resolution of deep-rooted differences between Iran and the United States. - 1/15/14

White House Rejects Rohani's 'Surrender' Claim
The White House has dismissed a claim by Iranian President Hassan Rohani that the interim nuclear deal Iran reached in Geneva in November marked the 'surrender' of major powers. President Hassan Rohani has described a nuclear deal reached in Geneva in November as a victory for Iran. - 1/15/14

Exhibition and Lectures: Travel the Silk Road in Los Angeles!
During its golden age (AD 600 to 1200), the Silk Road opened up the world to new ideas and products. It stretched 4,600 miles through scorching desert sands and freezing snowy mountain passes, from eastern China through Central Asia to the Middle East. - 1/15/14

"The House is Black" Media Performance at UCLA's Freud Playhouse
"The House is Black" is Sussan Deyhim's media-film-performance project, inspired by the works of Forough Farrokhzad one of Iran's most influential feminist poets and film makers of the 20th Century. This project seeks to shed light on the importance of progressive Iranian contemporary arts through the vision of two of Iran's most avant-garde female artists, Forough Farrokhzad and Sussan Deyhim. - 1/15/14

Iran's President Rohani encounters protests on journey to Khuzestan
Hassan Rohani began his first provincial visit on Tuesday January 14 arriving in Khuzestan amidst labour protests. Tasnim website reports that in a speech, the president noted the efforts to create 550 hectares of agricultural land, the replenishment of the Karoon River and the revival of the cities of Abadan and Khoramshahr. - 1/15/14

Feinstein's Denunciation of Kirk-Menendez Iran Act May Be Decisive...
Tuesday's floor speech by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein could bury AIPAC's hopes of winning passage of what I have called the Kirk-Menendez Wag the Dog Act of 2013...at least for the next month or so. -Jim Lobe - 1/15/14

Reported Russia-Iran Oil Talks Concern U.S.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the United States has raised concerns with Russia about reports that Moscow and Tehran are negotiating a barter agreement for Iranian oil. - 1/15/14

Obama Urges Iran to Seize 'Door of Opportunity' in Nuclear Talks
WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama says Iran should seize a "door of opportunity" to achieve a final comprehensive nuclear deal with the international community, and he has appealed again to lawmakers not to pass legislation imposing new sanctions. -Dan Robinson, VOA - 1/14/14

Photos: Death of an Iranian Leopard
A leopard that had suffered spinal cord injury due to shooting by hunters was put to sleep using euthanasia procedure and anesthetic injection. This heart-breaking incident happened in the Tonekabon region in northern Iran. - 1/14/14

62 Organizations Warn Senate Against New Iran Sanctions
Sixty-two organizations delivered a joint letter to the Senate today urging the Senate to oppose new Iran sanctions legislation, S.1881, that they say would "critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war." - 1/14/14

Rohani deputy reports on lack of women among Iranian leaders
The presidential deputy for women and family affairs says Iranian women are mostly excluded from top positions in the government. ILNA reports that Shahindokht Molaverdi said in a report that except for a few women in Parliament, the unfortunate truth is there are no women in top posts. - 1/14/14

Seeking Engagement: Could Crises Bring Washington And Iran Closer Together?
Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation -- all are crises in which the West and Iran have high stakes. But could the two sides -- particularly Washington and Tehran -- ever reduce tensions sufficiently to become partners in global peacemaking, or even achieve a rapprochement? -Charles Recknagel, RFE - 1/14/14

Iran's Oil Plans in 2014
Iran's oil sector is like an ageing wrestler who could still surprise opponents with a show of strength. With this essential industry currently flat on its back, President Hassan Rouhani's team has to find a way to get their champion back on its feet. Meanwhile, international oil companies are looking on from the sidelines, and whispering some encouragement. -Robin Mills, LobeLog - 1/14/14

Maverick Iranian Conservative Hits Back At Hard-Liners
A week does not go by without conservative Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari criticizing hard-liners in the Iranian regime and expressing views that one would more expect to come from opponents of the regime. The hard-liners have hit back, and last week even threatened Motahari with legal action, but the outspoken lawmaker with solid conservative credentials is not blinking. - 1/14/14

U.S. Policies Driven By Aliens, Says Iran's Fars News Agency
Iran's semiofficial news agency Fars has once again given more ammunition to those critics who refer to the hard-line news outlet as "False" news. Fars has reposted a report on its English website that claims the foreign and domestic policies of the United States have been driven by an "extraterrestrial intelligence agenda" since 1945 -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/14/14

New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress
Despite strong opposition by the White House and the States Department and despite the pleadings of some of the most prominent bipartisan US foreign policy luminaries who have warned that additional sanctions would jeopardize ongoing diplomatic efforts, many US senators are pushing forward with a new resolution that is supported by the same neocons that brought us the Iraq war. -Farhang Jahanpour - 1/13/14

Rohani's Citizenship Rights Charter Contradicts Constitution, Says Iranian Lawyer
In an exclusive interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, lawyer and human rights activist Mehrangiz Kar analyzed the various problems with the draft Citizenship Rights Charter presented by Hassan Rohani last November, saying it is a "hodge podge of things" that both repeats and contradicts the Constitution, and it needs a more careful review by law professors and students. - 1/13/14

Former Tehran prosecutor headed to court, banned from travel
Saeed Mortazavi, the former Tehran Prosecutor and head of the Social Security Fund, has been banned from traveling abroad. The probe has found Mortazavi used the fund to bribe members of Parliament and the media. It has also found his dealings with detained Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani "legally problematic." - 1/13/14

Statement by the President on the Implementation of the First Step Agreement on the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program
Today's agreement to implement the Joint Plan of Action announced in November marks the first time in a decade that the Islamic Republic of Iran has agreed to specific actions that halt progress on its nuclear program and roll back key parts of the program. - 1/13/14

Iran discontinues Caspian water transfer project
Last April, Iran announced a plan to transfer water from the Caspian Sea to central regions of the country, with the goal of providing central provinces with water for industrial and agricultural usages. Iran's environment protection organization official Abdolreza Karbasi sad in October 2013 that transferring water from the Caspian Sea to the central desert of Iran will lead to an ecological disaster. - 1/13/14

US to release $550M of Iranian blocked funds in February
Iran will get a first installment around February 1 of USD 550 million of USD 4.2 billion being unblocked under a six-month landmark nuclear deal with the West, a US official said. "The installment schedule starts on February 1 and the payments are evenly distributed" across 180 days, a senior US administration official told AFP. - 1/13/14

What is the significance of "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed"?
In the Geneva Accords of 24 November 2013 between Iran and 5+1 Powers regarding the nuclear case of Iran, in two parts of the text that is known as "the Joint Plan of Action" (intentionally not called accord, agreement, contract, treaty or any similar words like that), it is mentioned that "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". -Bahman Aghai Diba - 1/13/14

Kerry, Lavrov To Discuss Iranian Role In Syria Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are to meet in Paris on January 13 in a bid to decide Iran's role in ending Syria's civil war. In Lebanon, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on January 12 that Tehran is not seeking an invitation at all costs to the gathering in Switzerland. - 1/13/14

Netherlands Businesses Cutting Ties With Israel's Occupation
In recent weeks, Israel and especially advocates for its right-wing in the United States have been scrambling to lash back at a boycott resolution passed by the American Studies Association (ASA). This was an initiative of an academic group in the United States directed at all of Israel in support of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 1/13/14

Iran Nuclear Deal to Take Effect Jan. 20
Iran and six world powers have agreed on how to implement an interim nuclear agreement struck in November, with its terms beginning next week. Iranian Foreign Ministry officials confirmed Sunday "the Geneva deal will be implemented from January 20." Obama said he would veto any new sanctions legislation passed by the U.S. Congress during talks on a long-term deal with Iran... - 1/12/14

Iran and America: How Quickly Things Change
The negotiators of the P5+1 and Iran will convene again this month to see whether the nuclear agreement of November can be developed into a formal treaty laying out in detail the commitments by the parties. What a distance we have come in less than a year of overt and secret discussions! -Charles Naas, LobeLog - 1/12/14

Silk Road Ensemble Celebrates Cultural Harmony
Spices, fragrant oils, gems and silk were bought and sold along the 6,500-kilometer trading route that stretched from China to the Mediterranean. However, cellist and UN Peace Ambassador Yo-Yo Ma says cross-cultural exchanges and understanding were the ancient route's most precious products. Ma founded the 31-member ensemble, whose members represent 20 countries, to express that spirit of exploration and sharing. -Adam Phillips, VOA - 1/12/14

Conservative Iranian Lawmaker In Hot Water Over Criticism Of Judiciary
Lawmaker Ali Motahari is one of the very few insiders in the Islamic republic who openly criticizes the system he is a part of. Motahari is now in hot water for apparently going too far in his criticism. In a December 30 speech in the Iranian parliament, Motahari blasted the house arrest of opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi as illegal and anti-Islamic. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/12/14

Funeral held for film crew killed at the explosion scene of the Iranian war drama "The Ascendants"
"Iranian security officials do not allow the import of special explosive substances for film projects and consequently, Iranian special effects coordinators have to use military explosives for explosion scenes in film projects," Abbas Shoqi, a member of the board of directors of the Special Effects Coordinators' Society in the Iranian House of Cinema, had earlier told the Persian service of ISNA after the explosion. - 1/12/14

Art without freedom is nonsense: President Rohani
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that creativity is developed in the light of freedom and that art without freedom is nonsense. President Rohani made the remarks at Tehran's Vahdat Hall on Wednesday evening during a meeting attended by a large number of artists, literati, cineastes and groups of presidential advisors and officials. - 1/11/14

Moving Forward With Iran
For years predictions about Iran's nuclear program have been alarmist or defensive: Iran will get the bomb anytime now to every justification possible for the continuation of its program despite the many costs. Central to these hypotheses was one refrain: the US and Iran will not reach an agreement. -Jasmin Ramsey - 1/11/14

Iran: Nuclear Talks Conclude with 'Solutions'
Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator says talks with world powers on Tehran's nuclear program have concluded with solutions on all points of disagreement. Abbas Araqchi made the comment to Iranian state-run television Friday, after two days of talks in Geneva with envoys from the European Union and the United States. - 1/11/14

White House Ups Ante on Sanctions Bill As More Republicans Sign On
As an update to the post I wrote Thursday, it appears the White House is toughening its rhetoric against the Kirk-Menendez Wag the Dog Act, as more Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors. There are now a total of 59 co-sponsors, including 43 of the 45 Republicans (Sens. Jeff Flake and Ron Paul are the hold-outs), and 16 of 55 Democrats and Independents. -Jim Lobe - 1/11/14

Iranian City Councillor Says She Lost Post Over Facebook Account
Behshahr city councillor Azamolsadat Hosseini announced that she has been dismissed from her position as spokesperson for the council for having a Facebook account. Ms. Hosseini's dismissal has become a hot topic in Iranian media over the past two days. - 1/11/14

Hookah incident leads to football suspensions in Iran
The Iran Football Federation has suspended five people for smoking hookah: two members of the Persepolis team and three members of the national under-22 football team. - 1/11/14

EU's Ashton Invited To Visit Iran
Iran has invited EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been closely involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, to visit the Islamic republic. Iran's Mehr news agency on January 11 quoted a deputy of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying Ashton had been invited to visit Tehran whenever she wants. - 1/11/14

Iraqi Ambassador: Iraq Turning to Russia for Aid
The Iraqi ambassador to the United States told VOA in an interview with the Persian News Network that his country is going to ask Russia for help in dealing with al-Qaida insurgency. One week has passed since al-Qaida militants raised their flag over government buildings in Fallujah and declared an independent Islamic state. -Carla Babb, VOA - 1/11/14

Thwarting Iran Diplomacy: Not Good for the Jews
Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer got it wrong when they laid blame for the Iraq War on the "Israel Lobby" (in their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy). However, a war with Iran could be a different story. -Lara Friedman, Huffington Post - 1/11/14

Israeli Military Lifts Veil on Iran Listeners
JERUSALEM - Iranian-born immigrants to Israel are drafted to its military intelligence units in disproportionately large numbers, an official report said on Thursday, reflecting high demand for Farsi speakers to monitor the Jewish state's arch-enemy. -Reuters - 1/11/14

Neocons Who Brought You The Iraq War Endorse AIPAC's Iran Bill
The neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the successor organization of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), has just published another open letter (reproduced below) to Congressional leaders that implicitly endorses what I have called the "Kirk-Menendez Wag the Dog Act of 2013," known officially as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S. 1881). - 1/10/14

Tell Your Senators to STOP New Iran Sanctions Bill!
A growing number of Senators are preparing to kill the interim deal with Iran and pass new sanctions to put us on the path to war. President Obama has issued a rare veto threat against the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has thus far opposed bringing the bill up for a vote. If we get 40 Senators to oppose it, a vote will not happen. If 34 Senators oppose it, a veto will be sustained and the bill will not become law. - 1/10/14

'Northern Kurdistan' Gets Icy Response In Iran's West Azerbaijan Province
The idea that a new, Kurdish, province be formed in Iran's northwest has been floated -- and it is going over like a lead balloon among the country's large Azeri minority. Osman Ahmadi, a Kurdish member of parliament, proposed the formation of "Northern Kurdistan" province during a parliamentary session on January 5. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 1/10/14

Iran: Lawyer says journalist should be tried in provincial court in the presence of the press jury
Iranian journalist Serajeddin Mirdamadi stood trial on Wednesday January 8 in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran for "propaganda activities against the regime" and "collusion against national security." - 1/10/14

Iran's thriving rap culture
Wearing baggy clothes and starter caps, teenage boys had come to Tehran's Friday Bazaar to hit on girls. Posing, they threw their hands in the air making gestures - gang signs. The odd concoction of a circle, two fingers and one finger on each hand was symbolic of the Iranian capital's area code: 021. -Holly Dagres, Al-Monitor - 1/10/14

Iran's bad loans amount to $32B: Central Bank
Bad loans of the Iranian banking system amount to 800 trillion rials (about $32 billion), Iran's Central Bank Governor, Valiollah Seif, announced on Wednesday. Special committees will be formed in bank branches in order to collect the debts, the Mehr News Agency quoted Seif as saying. - 1/10/14

Serious Challenges Face Iraqi Government
Iraq is the scene of increasing violence as the Shi'ite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faces two major challenges. Analysts say the first challenge is the growing alienation of Iraq's minority Sunni population which considers itself marginalized from the political process and believes it is being treated as second-class citizens. -Andre de Nesnera, VOA - 1/10/14

Iran's Supreme Leader gives views on nuclear talks
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday January 9: "One of the blessings of the recent negotiations is that they clearly revealed the enmity of the United States with Iran and Islam for everyone to see." And he urged the Iranian government to concentrate more on "internal power" for resolving the country's problems. - 1/10/14

President Rohani: Art can flourish in a democratic society
President Hassan Rohani on Wednesday met with a group of Iranian prominent artists and emphasized his determination to provide an appropriate situation for artistic creativity. Criticizing those who look at art from a security point of view, the president said art is not a menace and artists do not threaten the security of the country and the government should trust the art and artists. - 1/9/14

Tell your senators and Obama: No threat of new Iran sanctions!
Urged on by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and by the Israeli and Saudi Arabian governments, these hawks want to impose further conditions and threaten additional sanctions on Iran and thereby torpedo the deal currently being negotiated between Washington and Tehran -Campaign for Peace and Democracy - 1/9/14

US, EU to Meet with Iran on Implementing Nuclear Deal
Diplomats from Iran, the United States and European Union are set to meet Thursday in the latest talks to implement an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi will meet in Geneva with U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and EU deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid. - 1/9/14

Video Asks Iranians: What Would You Do If You Could Do Anything You Wanted?
"If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?" That's the question Iranian artist Ali Molavi asked 50 people in Tehran, including a young man dressed as a fan of heavy metal music who says he would destroy the world if he could. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/9/14

Middle East in Search of a New Equilibrium
Many U.S. veterans of the Iraq war are feeling understandable anguish about recent al-Qaida gains in Ramadi and Fallujah. More American servicemen and women died in Anbar province, where Ramadi and Fallujah are located, than in any other region of Iraq during the U.S. military intervention. -Barbara Slavin - 1/9/14

Revival of Lake Urmia will take 10 to 15 years: Iranian Energy Minister
Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said on Wednesday that a revival of the Lake Urmia will take 10 to 15 years and cautioned that any politically motivated promise that the lake will be restored in a short time will be "treason against the Lake Urmia and the people." - 1/9/14

Tycoon's Huge Debt To Iranian Oil Ministry Causes Worry
Iran's oil minister has reiterated concerns that Babak Zanjani, the Iranian tycoon who is currently under arrest on suspicion of financial fraud, owes a debt of over two billion euros to the oil ministry. - 1/9/14

German-Iranian woman set to head co-ruling Social Democratic Party
Berlin - Yasmin Fahimi, A German-Iranian woman, is tipped to become the next secretary general of Germanyˈs co-governing Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Frankfurt-based daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Wednesday. - 1/9/14

U.S. and Iran Face Common Enemies in Mideast Strife
Even as the United States and Iran pursue negotiations on Tehran's nuclear program, they find themselves on the same side of a range of regional issues surrounding an insurgency raging across the Middle East. -Thomas Erdbring, NY Times - 1/9/14

Cruz, Inhofe Circulate Draft Resolution To End All Bilateral Talks With Iran
What Sen. John McCain referred to as the "wacko-bird" faction of the Republican Party is seeking co-sponsors for a new resolution that would forbid the Obama administration from engaging in any bilateral talks with Iran unless Tehran fulfills two conditions. - 1/8/14

Explosion on film in Tehran set kills five, injures others
Five people were killed and two injured in an explosion on the film set of Me'rajiha a new film by Massoud Dehnamaki. ISNA reports that the explosion occurred today, Wednesday January 8, as the crew was nearing the final stages of filming. - 1/8/14

Is Iran's Conservative Camp Muscling In On Nuclear Talks?
Is Iran's conservative camp muscling in on Tehran's nuclear negotiations with six world powers? Yes, if you listen to some hard-line lawmakers and media who are reporting that two conservatives have been added to a mysterious panel said to monitor the work of Tehran's negotiating team. Not really, if you go by the word of those participating in the negotiations and media close to the government. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/8/14

Iran's Culture Minister Questioned In Parliament
Culture Minister Ali Jannati has been questioned in the Iranian parliament by a hard-line lawmaker over some of his comments regarding the closure of newspapers and the solo singing of women. Hamid Rasayi accused Jannati of showing tolerance toward the insulting of religious sanctities and promoting laxness over religious principles. - 1/8/14

The Iran Nuclear Negotiations At The Turn Of Another Year
It is tempting to assume that, for Iran nuclear negotiators, 2013 was a year of two halves: stalemate during the last months of the Ahmadinejad administration, and then, after the presidential election of Dr. Hassan Rouhani, a gathering of momentum towards the break-through announced in the early hours of November 24. -Peter Jenkins - 1/8/14

Jack Straw says Iran has inalienable right to nuclear energy
A four-member British parliamentary delegation arrived in Tehran on Tuesday in the first such visit to Iran in five years and met with a number of Iranian officials. Members of the all-party parliamentary group on Iran, led by former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, had been invited by their counterparts in the Iranian parliament and hope to arrange a reciprocal visit to London by Iranian MPs. - 1/8/14

New Population and Family Plan Would Stifle Women, Says Iranian Civil Society
More than 650 Iranian citizens and civil activists have issued a statement objecting to the "Comprehensive Population and Family Excellence Plan" currently on the Iranian Parliament's agenda, arguing that the plan would place undue restrictions on women's employment and educational opportunities. - 1/8/14

Iran: Basij Commander Admits Forces Shot at 2009 Protesters
After more than four years of denying that Basij and other security forces took direct shots at the 2009 post-election protesters, last week's statements by the unnamed Commander of District 117-Neynava of IRGC's Tehran Region, admitting for the first time that the men on top of a Basij base in Tehran shot at the protesters, has caused a stir among activists and the media. - 1/8/14

Iranian Journalist Qaravi released after article landed him in jail
Ali Asghar Qaravi, the Iranian journalist who was arrested for his article in the Bahar daily, has been released on bail after two months in jail. Neday-e Sbaz-e Azadi reported that Qaravi was released after the Bahar daily was found to be in violation of press laws. - 1/8/14

Will Hillary Take A Position On Iran Sanctions?
What will former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say, if anything, about the Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions bill? The pressure on her to take a position must be considerable, if only because, as both the former secretary and presumed front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination, she could exert a decisive influence on the bill's fate in the Senate. -Jim Lobe - 1/8/14

Foreign Policy Luminaries Warn Against New Iran Sanctions
In a letter today, a bipartisan group of senior foreign policy luminaries urged senators not to pass new sanctions against Iran, warning that additional sanctions would jeopardize ongoing diplomatic efforts and potentially move the U.S. closer to war. -Jasmin Ramsey, LobeLog - 1/7/14

Petition addressed to UN protests Iran sanctions
A petition, signed by more than 2,500 people and addressing the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has protested the sanctions targeting Iran's medical imports. The petition has been initiated by a group of Iranian political, cultural, and artistic figures. Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami as well as Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi are among the signatories. - 1/7/14

2014 Nowruz Banner Contest Winner Announced
The winning design, now unveiled for the first time, will be featured on street banners in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley in promotion of Farhang's upcoming Nowruz celebrations in March 2014. Afsoon Riazi, a graphic designer based in Vancouver, Canada has created this year's winning design, at the heart of which is a red apple. - 1/7/14

British Lawmakers Visit Tehran
A delegation of British lawmakers has arrived in Iran -- the first such visit since diplomatic ties between London and Tehran collapsed in 2011. The four-member delegation is being led by Jack Straw, a member of parliament from Blackburn, England. - 1/7/14

Top Iranian negotiator denies new supervisors will oversee nuke talks
Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister and senior nuclear negotiator, says he has no knowledge of a new supervisory committee that will oversee nuclear talks. Following Hassan Rohani's victory in last June's presidential election, the new president announced that he has full authority to forge a deal in the nuclear talks. - 1/7/14

Jamshid Mashayekhi collaborating on doc "From Iran to Argentina"
"The nomad women will also be asked to speak in front of the camera and each will symbolically present a handmade gift to the Argentinean football superstar Lionel Messi," he said. Messi was the subject of thousands of insulting messages after the 2014 World Cup draw grouped Iran with Argentina on December 6. - 1/7/14

Iran's return to oil markets will not lower prices: Oil Minister
The return of Iran to oil markets will not lead to a decrease in prices, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Monday. In a message to members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Zanganeh also said that unconventional oil production from shale reserves by non-OPEC countries will not be a threat to OPEC. - 1/7/14

Arms and Athletes in Bahrain: Al Khalifa's Deadly Game
A few days ago, Bahraini officials announced they "foiled an attempt to smuggle explosives and arms, some made in Iran and Syria, into the country by boat." Around the same time, the government also contended it had defused a car bomb and seized weapons in different locations in the country. -Emile Nakhleh - 1/7/14

Iran Appears To Reject Sideline Role In Syria Peace Talks
The official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying on January 6 that Iran was ready to participate in the conference, dubbed Geneva 2. But she said Tehran would only accept offers "that preserve the honor of the Islamic republic." - 1/7/14

Cartoons of Iranian musicians on display at Tehran gallery
A collection of cartoons centering on Iranian musicians is currently on display in an exhibition at Tehran's Naqsh-e Jahan Gallery. Entitled "Face to Face", the collection has been created by Saeid Chavari. - 1/6/14

Photos: Wonders Of The World - Going 60 Years With No Bath
The 80-year-old Amoo Hadji who lives in the village of Dezhgah (city of Farashband in Fars province), has not showered for almost 60 years. Amoo Hadji lives the most primitive life. His most valuable possession seems to be a three-inch steel pipe which he uses to smoke animal dung with. - 1/6/14

Iranian Foreign Ministry: Number of Political Emigrants Irrelevant: Email Address to Check Return Status
Iran's deputy foreign minister has asserted that contrary to the prevalent propaganda, the refugee trend in recent years has been in-bound into Iran, rather than outbound. Hassan Ghashghavi at the same time acknowledged that many Iranians had left the country in the aftermath of the controversial 2009 presidential elections adding that those who emigrated were from the political sectors of society. He declared the political sector to be between 50,000 to 100,000 people, adding that they constituted an "irrelevant" size. -Niusha Saremi - 1/6/14

Iranian MP's website blocked as prosecutor summons him over comments
Ali Motahari criticized the judiciary last week in Parliament for failing to review the sentences given to political prisoners arrested during the 2009 election protests, and he also questioned the independence of the judiciary. - 1/6/14

Tehran ready to reciprocate West's confidence-building measures: Rafsanjani
Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to take confidence-building measures if the West also makes efforts to gain Tehran's trust. - 1/6/14

Iran ready to help Iraq fight al-Qaeda: Iranian Commander
Asked about some Iraqi media reports that Baghdad is seeking help from Iran and the US to assist its operations against al-Qaeda, Hejazi said on Sunday that no official request has been made on Iran in this regard. - 1/6/14

Italian entrepreneurs to foster trade ties with Iran
A group of Italian businessmen and economic entrepreneurs will travel to Iran in the near future in order to promote business partnerships and long-term cooperation with their Iranian counterparts. - 1/6/14

Saudi plane crash lands in Medina, Iranian pilgrims injured
Twenty nine pilgrims were injured when a Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) Boeing 767-300ER made an emergency landing at Medina airport in the west of the country early on Sunday, the General Authority of Civil Aviation said, Reuters reported. - 1/6/14

Petroleum plant accident kills two in Lorestan Province of Iran
The head of Crisis Management for Lorestan Province reported on Sunday January 5 that two workers are dead following an accident at the Khorram Abad Petrochemical Plant. - 1/6/14

In Iran, Violence Against Women Highest Among Kurds
According to the BBC's Persian service, 66.3 percent of Iranian women experience violence in their lives, but Kurdistan Province and the city of Ahvaz are reported to be the two most violent cities for females. -Ava Homa, Rudaw - 1/6/14

A Year of Campaigns for Iran
Iranians witnessed two major political events in 2013: The election of a new president and the beginnings of a nuclear deal. Both of them kindled hope in the hearts of many Iranians for a better, less painful future. -Global Voices - 1/6/14

MP Talks With Rooz: Fifteen Percent Illiteracy in Iran is a Disaster
About 10 million of Iran's 67 million people who are over the age of six can neither read nor write, according to a literacy official. Also, according to UNESCO, Iran's 86th among the world's 164 countries in literacy. The head of Iran's literacy program announced these figures and added, ൗ percent of Iranians continue to be illiterate." -Niusha Saremi - 1/5/14

47 Senators Take AIPAC's Word Over U.S. Intel Community
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has published the list of senators who so far have agreed to co-sponsor the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, aka the Wag the Dog Act of 2014. You'll recall that the initial list, which was introduced by its principal engineers, Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, Dec 19, included 26 co-sponsors equally divided between Democrats and Republicans -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 1/5/14

Iranian surgeon: brain cancer vaccine is a promising therapy
A London-based Iranian neurosurgeon who is leading the first ever brain cancer vaccine trial in Europe, says he is satisfied with the initial results of this new therapy for the most aggressive form of brain cancer known as "glioblastoma tumour". - 1/5/14

Three islands belong to Iran: Hassanein Heikal
Prominent Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal says that the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb, and the Lesser Tunb belong to Iran, and the United Arab Emirates' dispute over Iran's sovereignty over the islands is baseless and politically motivated. - 1/5/14

Baghdad Bombings Kill 19 as Iraq Prepares 'Major Attack' on al-Qaida-linked militants
A new wave of bombings has killed at least 19 people in Baghdad as Iraqi security forces prepared for a major operation to retake two western cities held by al-Qaida-linked militants. - 1/5/14

Iran among "Top 2014 destinations, picked by travel industry leaders"
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/e4f47a04-6972-11e3-89ce-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2pXzgJn3d Thirty-five years after it dropped off the tourist map, Iran may be set to return to the top of "must-visit" lists for 2014. Its attractions have never been in doubt - from ski resorts to beaches, stunning Islamic architecture, ancient archaeological sites and superb food -Financial Times - 1/5/14

Explore 'Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran' at Peeler Center, Feb. 10 - May 8
An exhibition of 58 works of photography and video installations by 20 of Iran's most celebrated photographers, will be on view at DePauw University's Richard E. Peeler Art Center. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, gathers personal perspectives of contemporary Iran filtered through individual sensibilities, which simultaneously addressing public concerns. - 1/4/14

Iran's Foreign Minister to Make Key Turkish Visit
ISTANBUL - The Iranian foreign minister visits Turkey Saturday as the Turkish government continues to be mired in a deepening crisis involving a Turkish state bank that allegedly laundered money sent to Iran. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 1/4/14

Iranians abroad to lose benefit payments
Iranians residing outside the country will no longer receive the government's monthly benefit payments that now go to all families. ILNA reports that the spokesman for the public works and budget commission announced that it is looking at cutting off the benefits paid out to 4.5 million Iranians who have Iranian birth certificates but reside outside the country. - 1/4/14

Iran to host international architecture expo
Iran plans to hold the 4th international interior architecture and modern house to be joined by twelve other countries. The event which is combination of knowledge, art and industry is scheduled for January 8-11. It also includes different sections in designing, architecture, interior decoration, nanotechnology and biotechnology. - 1/4/14

University to re-establish humanities programs
More than two years after Allameh Tabatabai University announced that it will no longer offer a number of humanities programs, one of its department heads announced on Friday January 3 that the programs will be restored. - 1/4/14

Snow, cold temperature hit across much of Iran
The Iran Meteorological Organization reported on Thursday January 2 that starting Friday, 24 provinces will be seeing temperatures below 0 degree C. Meanwhile, the Red Crescent and rescue operations report that in the past two days they have rescued more than 4,000 people in 14 provinces caught in snowy regions. - 1/4/14

Iran invited to Munich Security Conference
Iran has been invited to attend the 50th Munich Security Conference set for January 31-February 2. Wolfgang Ischinger, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), has called upon Iran to dispatch a high-profile representative to the international meeting - 1/4/14

Al-Qaeda-Linked Militant Commander Dies In Lebanese Detention
A senior Islamist militant leader arrested in Lebanon has reportedly died while in military custody. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades also claimed to have carried out the November bomb attack against the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that killed 23 people, including a diplomat. - 1/4/14

Dear Congress: don't sabotage our chance to end the cold war with Iran
In January, congressional Democrats and Republicans who are united in their skepticism of - if not outright opposition to - the interim Iran nuclear deal will attempt to pass a new round of economic sanctions against the Iranian people. This move would very likely scuttle the current six-month agreement, end negotiations toward a comprehensive settlement, and put us back on the path to war. -Marc Joffe and Sheldon Richman, Guardian - 1/4/14

Madam Mayor And Her Plans
"I am a Baluchi woman with green dreams for my city." These are the words of Samie Baluchzehi, a woman who passed three key hurdles to become the first ever Iranian Baluchi mayor: being a woman, being single and being a Sunni. As mayor of the town of Sarbaz in Iran's Baluchistan province, Baluchzehi has announced her dreams of turning the township of Kalat, a subdivision of Sarbaz into a greenhouse. -Mansur Shojayee - 1/3/14

2013: Obama Rising
The consensus in Washington is that President Barak Obama had a bad year in 2013. Indeed, the Washington Post selected him as the person who had the worst year. The problem with a "consensus," of course, is that it is often wrong. -Robert E. Hunter - 1/3/14

Iranian Officals and Clerics Verbally Attack and Threaten 2009 Protestors and Leaders
Over the past few days, influential Iranian leaders have unleashed a fresh wave of verbal attacks and threats against the 2009 post-election protesters and their leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. The threats and attacks have included a hardliner cleric's volunteering to hang Mousavi and Karroubi - 1/3/14

Iran in World Politics: A Conversation with Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
The recent developments in Iran have come as a shock to many political observers. The election of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and the departure of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have raised hopes for resolving the present political crisis surrounding Iran. -Siamak Nooraei - 1/3/14

Iranian town of Qasr-e Shirin tallies casualties, damage from landmine explosions
Officials in the western Iranian city of Qasr-e Shirin report that it has been the site of 84 landmine explosions in the past two years. Qasr-e Shirin governor's office reported that in the past two years, 10 people have been killed, 67 have been injured and 21 vehicles have been destroyed by these explosions. - 1/3/14

Female bodybuilders try to lift sport's profile in Iran
Because they have to wear hijabs, Iranian women athletes cannot compete in many international competitions, and have to settle for competing at a national level. But for Iran's female bodybuilders, any sort of competition is out of the question. -France24 - 1/3/14

Let's Be Honest on Iran
Here's a New Year's resolution that participants in policy debate in Washington, and especially those in Congress, should make: be honest about your position on Iran. Say what you really want, and make your best arguments on behalf of what you really want, and don't pretend to be working in favor of what you really are working against. -Paul Pillar, National Interest - 1/3/14

Iraq's Kurds Begin Oil Exports To Turkey
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says that crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan has started flowing through a new pipeline that leads to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. - 1/3/14

On the Eve of an Uncertain Negotiation
From recent declarations of President Barack Obama, echoed by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and various American and French officials, one can foresee the initial bargaining position of the Western members of the P5+1 group in the upcoming negotiation with Iran aimed at "a long-term comprehensive solution" to the nuclear crisis. -Francois Nicoullaud, LobeLog - 1/2/14

PHOTOS: One dead, dozens hurt as quake hits Hormuzgan province of Iran
At least one was killed and dozens were wounded in the 5.5-magnitude earthquake which jolted the town of Bastak in Hormuzgan province, Southern Iran, on Thursday. A large number of residential units have been damaged and panic-stricken people have left their homes and stay outdoor. - 1/2/14

Former Rouhani Nuclear Aide Hossein Mousavian Returns to Iran
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who worked with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when Rouhani was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and who has been living in the US since 2009 following dubious charges of espionage during the Ahmadinejad administration has returned to Iran, reports the New York Times. - 1/2/14

Tehran governor-general urges import of Euro 4 petrol
Tehran Governor- General Hossein Hashemi on Wednesday called for import of petrol to meet Euro 4 standard until self-sufficiency in production of high quality gasoline. Hashemi said low quality of the gasoline being consumed in Iran is the prime reason of air pollution in Iranian metropolitans. - 1/2/14

Iran has not brought new centrifuges into operation: Salehi
Iran has installed a number of new centrifuges for enriching uranium but has not brought them into operation because of the Geneva nuclear deal, Iran's nuclear chief said on Saturday. - 1/2/14

New statistics show Iran making progress against landmines
Iran's ministry of defence says 60 percent of the country's landmine-infested areas have been cleaned up. Islamic Republic News Agency reports that according to the latest statistics, the remaining 40 percent of infested areas are spread out among five Western Provinces. - 1/2/14

The Danger of New Iran Sanctions
The Geneva "interim" agreement reached in November between Iran and the so-called P5+1 (the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia) freezes Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions relief, with the goal of enabling further talks to comprehensively resolve one of the world's thorniest challenges. -Colin H. Kahl, National Interest - 1/2/14

Photos: Iranian Christians Mark New Year 2014 at Sarkis Church in Tehran
Iran's Armenian Christian community held a ceremony at Sarkis Church in Tehran early Wednesday morning to celebrate the New Year 2014. During the ceremony, special prayers were said and candles were lit. This was also a chance for some to pose with the Santa! - 1/1/14

Babak Zanjani, Iran's 'Economic Basij,' Now In Trouble At Home
With an estimated net worth of nearly $14 billion, Babak Zanjani is possibly Iran's richest man. Little was known, however, about the tycoon at home or abroad until his name appeared late in 2012 in connection with Western economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its disputed nuclear program. - 1/1/14

Photos: First Snow Of The Season In Tehran
The first snow of the winter season gave a white cover to Tehran on Wednesday and brought a much needed relief from the recent high levels of air pollution. Some residents took to the heights in northern Tehran to take advantage of the fresh powder and air. -Hemmat Khahi - 1/1/14

Iran's inflation rate hits 35.5%, down 0.4% in month
The Statistical Center of Iran has announced that the inflation rate for the 12-month period ended the ninth Iranian calendar month of Azar (endd on December 21) hit 35.5 percent, a 0.4 percent fall compared to the previous month. - 1/1/14

Iran wants American tourists, and a boomlet has begun
The U.S. and Iran may have miles to go in their negotiations over curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions, but the ease in hostility has already produced a boomlet in American travel to Iran. Three U.S.-based tour operators say they've seen a surge of bookings and questions about Iran in recent months. -Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times - 1/1/14

Iranian MP lashes out against plans to prosecute him
On Sunday, in a speech to Parliament, Motahari criticized the judiciary for failing to review some of the "severe sentences" issued to political prisoners during the 2009 election protests. He also suggested that these sentences were influenced by security forces and thus compromised the independence of the judiciary. - 1/1/14

Iranians Pile Into Stocks as Nuclear Deal Spurs 133% Gain
For evidence of how Iranians are embracing President Hassan Rouhani's pledge to re-establish ties with the world economy after decades of crippling sanctions, take a look at the Tehran Stock Exchange. -Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg - 1/1/14
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