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Photos: Iranian Christians in Tehran prepare for the new year
Many shops in Tehran are displaying colorful Christmas decorations and ornaments welcoming the Christians who are busy shopping ahead of the new year 2015. While Iran is officially designated the "Islamic Republic," among its more than 70 million people is a small but important Christian minority. - 12/31/14

Air Pollution In Tehran Sends Hundreds To Hospitals
Severe air pollution in Iran's capital, Tehran, has put nearly 400 people in hospitals with heart and respiratory problems. Hassan Abbas, a Tehran emergency services official, said on December 30 that the city's dirty air had caused another 1,434 people to be treated in their homes for similar problems. - 12/31/14

Ali Karimi Leaves Iran's National Football Team: "If You Can't Serve, Quit To Not Betray"
Iran national football team assistant coach Ali Karimi resigned from his post just hours before Team Melli's flight to Australia for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. It's still unknown why Karimi quit his post but he has posted a text on his Instagram account which contains this sentence: If you can't serve, quit to not betray. - 12/31/14

U.S. calls for prisoner swap with Iran to free former Marine
The United States has proposed exchanging Amir Hekmati, the former US marine currently jailed in Iran, for a number of Iranian prisoners being held in the U.S., Hekmati's lawyer has told the media. ISNA reports that according to Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabayi, the U.S. has sent word that it is willing to exchange Hekmati with Iranian detainees in the United States. - 12/31/14

President Rouhani stresses speedy construction of Chabahar-Mashhad railway
President Hassan Rouhani has emphasized the need to expedite the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway, which will extend 1,380 kilometers from southeast to northeast of Iran. On Tuesday, Rouhani accompanied by a delegation, traveled to the port city of Chabahar on the east coast of the Sea of Oman. - 12/31/14

US Treasury Adds More People, Entities To Iranian Sanctions List
Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated nine individuals and entities under various Iran-related authorities for their support of Iranian government sanctions evasion efforts and human rights-related abusers, including those engaged in censorship. - 12/31/14

Couchsurfing In Tehran, How Foreign Crashers Help Iranians Escape
Travel for Iranians is hard, which is why the young have found hosting foreigners is a way to explore the world vicariously. The latest twist to the private breaking of Iran's myriad restrictions. -Sandra Keil, World Crunch - 12/31/14

The Nuclear Negotiations: The Melting Strategy and the Missiles Time Bomb
Given the secrecy of the P5+1 negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, it is hard to surmise the concessions being made or the structure of a final settlement. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the path to a nuclear deal will involve many "mini deals" by which Iran's nuclear program will be slowly "melted" away to a symbolic level in return for a measured release of its frozen oil money and lifting of some sanctions. -Hooshang Amirahmadi - 12/30/14

Obama Says No Plans For Embassy In Iran, But 'Never Say Never'
U.S. President Barack Obama says Washington is not yet ready to reopen an embassy in Iran, but he is not entirely ruling out the possibility during the last two years of his presidency. - 12/30/14

Photos: Iranian two-seat electric vehicle unveiled
A two-seater electric vehicle built by a group of students and professors in Qazvin Islamic Azad University was unveiled in Azad University of Tehran. The newly-unveiled plug-in car has a width of 120cm and its length is 2m, which can reduce parking problems on the streets of Tehran. Moreover, The car does not produce any pollution. - 12/30/14

Jewish Lexicographer Soleiman Hayyim commemorated in Tehran
The Persian literary monthly Bokhara paid tribute to Iranian Jewish lexicographer and translator, Soleiman Hayyim (1887-1970) at the Mahmud Afshar Foundation on Sunday. - 12/30/14

Protests at an IRGC Plant: Mediation to End the Workers Strike in Arak, Iran
Workers at the Pars Wagon train car manufacturing plant who on the third day of their strike had taken their protest to the streets finally ended their action on Saturday after the mediation of the chief of police of the town of Arak and a member of the town's security team. - 12/30/14

Iran approves $15b plan to develop joint oilfields
Iran has approved a comprehensive plan to develop joint oilfields at a cost of $15 billion. Iran has a number of joint fields with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. - 12/30/14

IRIB chief names woman as deputy for radio affairs
The head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has picked a woman as his deputy for radio affairs. Mohammad Sarafraz on Saturday appointed Nasrin Abravani as his deputy to regulate radio affairs of Iran's broadcasting service. - 12/30/14

IRGC presence in Iraq described as crucial to Iranian security
The head of Iran's National Security Supreme Council, Ali Shamkhani, has defended the presence of Iran's Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, saying their presence is pivotal to Iran's domestic security. - 12/30/14

Photos: The Grief of Bam Citadel
Bam Citadel (Arg-e Bam) is the largest adobe building in the world, located in Bam, a city in Iran's southeastern province, Kerman. Bam Citadel was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 2003. After 11 years and despite various restoration operations, ruin scars remain on the Citadel. -Hamid Sadeghi - 12/29/14

Obama: Iran Nuclear Deal 'Possible'
U.S. President Barack Obama says a nuclear agreement with Iran is "possible" and would be a necessary first step in any greater diplomatic engagement between the two countries. - 12/29/14

Memorial Service Held For Iranian Commander Killed In Iraq
The funeral for an Iranian general killed in Iraq while advising local forces has been held in Tehran on December 29. Iranian state television reported that the body of Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi will be taken for burial in his hometown of Ahvaz, in southeastern Iran. - 12/29/14

Tough Iran Nuclear Talks to Resume in 2015
Talks aimed at ensuring that Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon, and ending international sanctions against it, missed a self-imposed deadline in 2014 and will resume next year. Experts say reaching an agreement is essential for both sides but will not be any easier in the new year. -Al Pessin, VOA - 12/29/14

5 killed, 5 injured in Iran armed robbery shooting
Armed robbery shooting has left five people killed and another five injured in the central Iranian cities of Khomein and Golpayegan. According to Iranian police sources, four armed robbers opened fire on police forces in Khomein on Saturday after the security forces attempted to stop the robbers' vehicle which had aroused their suspicion. - 12/29/14

President Rohani's adviser denounces poor treatment of dervishes
The Iranian president's adviser on ethnic and minority affairs says the treatment of dervishes in Iran in recent years has been "unfortunate" and "arbitrary" and against "the interests and laws of the Islamic Republic". - 12/29/14

Lindsey Graham Says Congress Will "Follow Bibi's Lead"
Lindsey Graham, who is not a stupid person, can be so embarrassing. Speaking at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Saturday, Graham said the following in response to Bibi's call for "more sanctions, and stronger sanctions" against Iran. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/29/14

Terrorists kill 3 IRGC members in southeast Iran
Three members of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have been killed in an ambush by terrorists in the border region of Saravan in Sistan-and-Baluchestan Province, southeast of Iran. - 12/29/14

Photos: The Citadel of Furg in Birjand
The Citadel of Furg, or Arg e Furg, is a citadel from the 12th century, located in Iran's South Khorasan province 90 km east of the city of Birjand. The citadel was founded by Meerza Muhammad Rafiee Darmiany I (Lama). Materials used in the building include stone, brick, clay, gypsum, lime and mortar (Sarouj). -Mohsen Nofresti - 12/28/14

Photos: Iranian Army Test Fires Shalamcheh Missiles In Drills
The Iranian Army's air defense units have shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles on the third day of major military exercises code-named Mohammad Rasoulallah (Mohammad, the Messenger of God) in southern parts of the country. - 12/28/14

Iranian film "the paternal house" deemed too violent for screening
KIanoosh Ayari's film Khaneh Pedari (The Paternal House), which recently was cleared for public screening after four years, has once again been pulled from cinemas through the intervention of Parliament's Cultural Commission, which says the film contains "one of most violent sequences in the history of Iranian cinema". - 12/28/14

Foreign tourists visiting Tehran rise by 270 percent
The number of foreign visitors in Tehran during the current Iranian calendar year (stated on March 21) rose by 270 percent comparing to similar period last year, said Director General of Tehran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization Rajabali Khosroabadi. - 12/28/14

Iranian opposition leader Mousavi responds to public attacks
With a rising number of accusations against the opposition leaders being spread in the media, Mir Hossein Mousavi has responded, calling those attacks "slander and insults". Mousavi has been quoted as saying that those who "steal from the poor and have created such vast corruption schemes are the seditious ones." - 12/28/14

Cuba Today, But (Alas) Not Iran Tomorrow
Following President Barak Obama's decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, it is remarkable to see so much speculation about whether this will set a precedent for a restoration of US ties with Iran -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 12/28/14

Census chief reveals Iranian population statistics
Mohammad Nazemi, the head of Iran's Census Organization, says the office registered 1.4 million births and 400,00 thousand deaths annually, adding that 800,000 marriages and 160,000 divorces were registered last year. - 12/28/14

Young Iranian American Jews look to make a difference in civic life
"There are lots of groups that seek to instill cultural and ethnic pride in their members," Myers said. "What's distinctive here is the yoking of that to civic participation." -Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times - 12/28/14

US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Talks
Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to resolve Iran's nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 12/26/14

Iran: Female Prisoner of Conscience Transferred to Deplorable Gharchak Prison
Female prisoner of conscience Hakimeh Shokri was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison to the Gharchak Prison in Varamin on December 15, 2014, Shokri's sister told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/26/14

Photos: Iran's major drill enters second stage
In this stage of the maneuvers on Friday, the Iranian Army's Ground Forces practice striking mock enemy targets by using tank fire supported by Air Force helicopters as well as missiles and artillery units. Naval forces will also engage the mock enemy. The army backed by its F-4 fighter jets will also disrupt the hypothetical enemy's communications lines. - 12/26/14

Scheherazade to appear in musical at Tehran hall
An Iranian troupe will stage a musical entitled "A Scheherazade Should Be" based on the story of Scheherazade, the legendary Persian queen and the storyteller of "One Thousand and One Nights". Only women are allowed to attend the performances, which will be staged by a cast of over 40 female performers. - 12/26/14

Iran, world powers closer than ever to final nuclear agreement: U.S.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf says the world powers and Iran are closer than they have ever been to a comprehensive agreement over Tehran's nuclear energy program. Speaking at her daily press briefing on Tuesday, Harf told reporters that Iran's nuclear program is frozen for the first time in the last decade, describing it as a "significant achievement." - 12/26/14

Iran's President Rouhani congratulates Christians worldwide on Xmas, New Year
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has extended his congratulations to all Christians around the globe ahead of Christmas and the new Gregorian calendar year, saying a return to the sublime teachings of prophets is the only way for the mankind's prosperity and progress. - 12/25/14

Iran ready to accept rational, fair nuclear pact: Foreign Minister Zarif
In a letter to his counterparts released to the media on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif briefed them on the latest developments in the negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 group on Iran's peaceful nuclear program. - 12/25/14

Photos: Iran Army stages massive military drills
The first stage of the six-day military drill began on Thursday. The exercises will cover an area of 2.2 million square kilometers stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz all the way to the 10th parallel north in the north of the Indian Ocean. - 12/25/14

Iran will weather storm of 'oil plot': President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has predicted that oil prices will not remain low and has stated that Iran will deal with the current "oil plot" through the people's support. Rouhani made the remarks on Wednesday in a speech to a large group of people in the eastern city of Birjand, the capital of South Khorasan Province. - 12/25/14

Iran's GDP grows by 4%: Central Bank
TEHRAN -Iran's gross domestic product grew by 4 percent in the first half of the current Iranian calendar year, which began on March 21, compared to the same period in the previous year, the Central Bank of Iran reported. - 12/25/14

Iran's "National Internet" to be tested in Qom before countrywide roll-out
Iran's Minister of Communications says a significant budget has been set aside for launching the so-called "National Internet" and it remains one of his ministry's top priorities. The Iranian government cites cyber security and the promotion of internet-based business as reasons to launch a national internet. - 12/25/14

Pardis Sabeti and Team of Ebola Fighters Recognized by TIME as 2014 Person of the Year
Iranian American and award-winning computational geneticist at Harvard University,Pardis Sabeti, along with other Ebola fighters, were named TIME magazine's 2014 Person of the Year. The Ebola fighters were chosen for their bravery and stepping-up during a time when many others were reluctant to do so. - 12/24/14

Column: Cuba Shift Could Help Break Iran Deadlock
President Barack Obama's decision to transform the U.S. relationship with Cuba has obvious implications for the few remaining countries that lack normal diplomatic ties with the United States, especially Iran. -Barbara Slavin, VOA - 12/24/14

Ex-U.S. Marine Held In Iran Suspends Hunger Strike
The family of a former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran says he has suspended a hunger strike after authorities agreed to reexamine his case. Amir Hekmati, 31, told his family by telephone on December 16 that he was beginning the hunger strike. - 12/24/14

Pro-Reform Iranian Daily Newspaper "Roozan" Suspended
A pro-reform Iranian daily newspaper, "Roozan," has been suspended by an order from the prosecutor office in Tehran. The reason for the move has not been announced publicly. - 12/24/14

Burial of unknown Iranian soldiers at heritage site called illegal
Iran's Cultural Heritage Department says the burial of unknown soldiers at the Amir Chakhmagh historical site in Yazd is illegal and it is calling on all government bodies to cooperate and refrain from creating tensions. - 12/24/14

Cuba and Iran
Since Obama's announcement last week that he will normalize relations with Cuba, a number of commentators have analyzed what impact this might have on US-Iranian ties, particularly with respect to the ongoing negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/24/14

Iran-U.S. rapprochement depends on resolving nuclear issue: James Dobbins
James Dobbins, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, has said that any rapprochement between Tehran and Washington is quite dependent on resolving the Iran nuclear issue. He made the remarks in an interview with IRNA published on Tuesday. - 12/24/14

Photos: Wildlife of Iran's Golestan National Park
Golestan National Park is situated in Golestan Province between the eastern parts of the Alburs Mountains and the western fringes of the Khorasan-Kopet Dag. It comprises 91,890 ha. The Park reaches from 1000 to 1400 m above sea level and has a variety of habitats -Aboutaleb Nadri - 12/23/14

Iran: Let Afghans Seek Refugee Status
The Iranian government's December 13, 2014 announcement that it will grant a six-month visa extension to 450,000 Afghans is a helpful move to prevent their imminent deportation, Human Rights Watch said today. However, the visa-extension plan is no substitute for an asylum system that will allow newly arriving Afghans to lodge refugee claims. - 12/23/14

Family of US reporter jailed in Iran tells of 'inconceivable' five-month ordeal
For five months, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian has slept on the concrete floor of his cell, waking each morning to relive the nightmare that is solitary confinement in one of Iran's most notorious prisons. -Lauren Gambino, Guardian - 12/23/14

Prison Sentence for Young Iranian Facebook User Increased from 15 to 20 Years
A Tehran Revolutionary Court has increased the sentence of a 21-year-old Facebook user from 15 to 20 years in prison for his postings on Facebook. The case was originally appealed in the hope that the severe 15-year sentence would be reduced. However, the appeals court remanded the case to the lower court because one of the charges, "insulting the sacred," was not addressed in the original ruling. - 12/23/14

Iran opens cell therapy center
Iran inaugurated the cell therapy and regenerative medicine center affiliated to the country's Red Crescent Society in a ceremony attended by Iranian Vice President for Science and Technology Affairs Sorena Sattari. - 12/23/14

Iran's Larijani Criticizes U.S. Approach To IS, Reaffirms Support For Damascus
Iran's powerful parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, (speaking on December 21 during an official visit to Damascus) has reaffirmed Tehran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and criticized the United States for its "interference" in Syria, including regarding the Islamic State group. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 12/23/14

Iran's Budget Woes Unlikely to Derail Nuclear Goals
A big slide in oil prices will hurt Iran's attempts to rescue battered living standards, but economic pain is unlikely to soften the Islamic Republic's stance in nuclear talks or end aid to allies such as Syria, matters seen by its ruling clerics as strategic priorities. -Reuters - 12/23/14

Dear Washington: Kick Out This Iranian Militant Cult
In the war of words on Iran's domestic issues and controversial nuclear program, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) always is front and center to condemn the country. The MEK is known by many monikers: the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), but is best known by the multifaceted National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). -Holly Dagres, Huffington Post - 12/23/14

Photos: Rock castle of Sirjan
The rock castle of Sirjan belonging to the Sassanian era, 224-651 CE, is located 7km southeast of Sirjan, Kerman Province in southern Iran. This castle has been registered as one of Iran's national monuments. -Vahid Dehyadgari - 12/22/14

Iranian hunter sentenced for killing panther, illegal rifle
A poacher has been sentenced to 42 months in jail for hunting an Iranian panther in northern Iran, the head of Environment and Wildlife Watch of Iran told the Mehr News Agency. - 12/22/14

Iran projected to maintain oil output at 2.8 mbpd in December.: EIA
Iran's crude oil output was projected to remain 2.8 million barrels per day in December 2014, unchanged compared to previous months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). - 12/22/14

Freer and Sackler Galleries to Release Complete Digitized Collection Jan. 1, 2015
The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian's museums of Asian art, will release their entire collections online Jan. 1, 2015, providing unprecedented access to one of the world's most important holdings of Asian and American art. The vast majority of the 40,000 artworks have never before been seen by the public, and more than 90 percent of the images will be in high resolution and without copyright restrictions for noncommercial use. - 12/22/14

New Iran Bank Rules Change Interest Paid On Deposits
New central bank directives have put an end to the payment of daily interest on deposits, and only a minimum one-year deposit is allotted interest at 22 percent. Reports indicate, however, that some financial institutions are still offering daily interest rates at 27 percent per annum. - 12/22/14

Iran is world's fourth missile power: Defense Minister
The Islamic Republic of Iran is the fourth missile power in the world, Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan says. "Iran has an acceptable status among countries possessing missile capabilities, and stands after the United States, Russia, and China [in missile power]," Dehqan said in a televised interview with Al-Alam channel on Friday. - 12/22/14

Iran's unwelcome dogs find care at rare shelter
Man's best friend is seen as anything but in Iran, where city workers gun down strays and conservatives view pet dogs as a corrupting Western influence. But in a rare animal shelter in the countryside west of Tehran, hundreds of lucky pups have found mercy, and a growing number of Iranians are learning to love them. -Nasser Karimi, AP - 12/22/14

Photos: Iran Honors Its Fallen Jewish Soldiers
Iran is well-known for its stinging anti-Israeli rhetoric and refusal to recognize what it calls the "Zionist regime." So, it might have come as a surprise when officials in Tehran unveiled a monument honoring Iranian-Jewish soldiers who died in action during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 12/20/14

Iran and Landlocked States
Land-locked states or coast-less states are the states that have no free access to the open waters of the world. At the moment, there are 42 land-locked States and out of these, a considerable number are in the area that Iran is situated: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Kirgizstan. - Bahman Aghai Diba - 12/20/14

Iran's Income from South Pars Gas Field to Hit $167B in 2017
An Iranian gas official predicted that South Pars gas field will generate an annual income of 167 billion dollars for Iran in 2017-2018. -The South Pars gas field, whose development has been divided into 24 phases, is located in the Persian Gulf straddling the maritime border between Iran and Qatar. - 12/20/14

Ex-IAEA Chief Warns on Using Unverified Intel to Pressure Iran
In a critique of the handling of the Iran file by the International Atomic Energy Agency, former IAEA Director General Han Blix has called for greater skepticism about the intelligence documents and reports alleging Iranian nuclear weapons work and warned that they may be used to put diplomatic pressure on Tehran. -Gareth Porter, LobeLog - 12/20/14

If It's True on Cuba, It's True on Iran
America's Cuba policy has long been an open joke in international circles. Seldom has a country pursued such a futile policy for so long while clearly recognizing its senselessness. It's probably the foremost example of how American domestic politics can take its foreign policy hostage, leaving everyone a loser. -Ryan Costello and Trita Parsi, NIAC - 12/20/14

Flights Resume between Iranian city of Shiraz and Bahrain's capital Manama
Direct flights between Iran's southern city of Shiraz and the Bahraini capital, Manama, were resumed after three years of suspension, the managing director of the Bahraini airline Gulf Air announced. - 12/20/14

What Iranians are saying about the U.S.-Cuba deal
The deal hatched between the Obama administration and Raul Castro's government is big and historic. The comparison on everyone's mind was Iran. After all, much of the groundwork toward the Cuban deal was laid in clandestine talks that took place roughly around the same time the Obama administration was meeting Iranian officials secretly over Tehran's nuclear program. -Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post - 12/20/14

U.S. Department of State Delays Release of Iran History
The U.S. Department of State has blocked the publication of a long-awaited documentary history of U.S. covert action in Iran in the 1950s out of concern that its release could adversely affect ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. -Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists - 12/19/14

Photos: Iranian activist Emad Bahavar released after 5 years in jail
Iranian political activist Emad Bahavar was released on Thursday December 18 after serving five years in jail for his support of reformist leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami. - 12/19/14

Photos: Bonefishing season begins in Caspian Sea
Iranian fishermen in north of the country have started the bonefishing season in the Caspian Sea. Bonefish live in shallow inshore water and the fishing is done by wading or from a shallow-draft boat. - 12/19/14

161 PhD Students Demand Immediate Medical Attention and Judicial Review for Omid Kokabee
In a statement of solidarity with the imprisoned Iranian scientist Omid Kokabee, 161 doctoral students and graduates from universities around the world have released an open letter, demanding medical attention and due process for him. - 12/19/14

Welcoming Philanthropists and Major Social Venture Capital Investors to Partner for a "Culture of Human Rights and Responsibilities" Advocacy
Injustice can easily become the norm and the law of the land. As the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King eloquently noted, "unjust law is no law." Congruently, Thomas Jefferson noted that, "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." -Majid Baradar, 12Petals Media Group - 12/19/14

Lecture in London: Cyrus the Great: Between History and Legend
The life of Cyrus the Great has been the subject great interest from antiquity to the present. Reza Zarghamee will discuss the aims and methods of his recently published book Discovering Cyrus. - 12/19/14

Alcohol poisoning deaths decline in Iran
The Iranian coroner's office reports that 53 people have died in the past seven months due to alcohol poisoning. Coroner's office spokesman Kambiz Soltani said this represents a 31-percent decrease from the same period last year. - 12/19/14

Iran unveils a memorial honoring Jewish heroes Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options Resize Text Print Article Comments 32
Earlier this week, authorities in Tehran unveiled a monument to slain Iranian Jewish soldiers who died during the country's long and bitter war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988. Death tolls for the hideous conflict differ, but casualty counts usually reach more than 1 million for both countries. -Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post - 12/19/14

For Leopards in Iran and Iraq, Land Mines Are a Surprising Refuge
Land mines keep people out of the Persian leopard's last habitats, creating a conundrum -- removing the hazards leaves the cats more vulnerable. -Peter Schwartzstein, National Geographic - 12/19/14

Nuclear Program Has 'Hurt Iran More Than Iraq War'
Iran's nuclear activities and ambitions faced rare, blunt criticism at a roundtable at Tehran University, where one of the speakers said the damage done by the nuclear program was greater than that by the 1980-88 war with Iraq, which left tens of thousands dead and caused much devastation. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/18/14

Persian Architectural Element Windcatcher Featured On Iranian Currency
The picture of famous windcatcher of Aghazadeh House is printed on the Iranian bill as the Iranian unique structure is going to be registered in world heritage list of UNESCO. The windcatcher of this house is considered as one of the most beautiful and original windcatchers with a height of 18 meters and 19 vents to adjust the temperature even when there is no wind in the region. - 12/18/14

Women Continue Struggle for Rights Despite Barriers
The focus of this presentation is on the struggles of members of the women's movement in Iran against human rights violations, particularly since the 1979 Islamic revolution, up to 2014. I will try to show how Iranian women have succeeded in taking a stand against human rights violations, even as problems continue. -Mansureh Shojayee - 12/18/14

Iran Slams U.S. Fight Against IS, Backs Russia's Push For Syria Talks
Washington is "not serious about fighting terrorism," Iran's deputy foreign minister has said, in a sharply worded criticism of the United States and its allies fighting against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq, according to Russian media reports. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 12/18/14

Iran, Britain to discuss reopening of respective embassies
A group of Iranian MPs has been invited by the British House of Commons to travel to London to discuss the reopening of the British Embassy in Tehran. IRNA reports that according to Iranian MP Abbasali Mansouri Arani, there is much hope that the two countries will open their respective embassies in the coming year. - 12/18/14

If It's True on Cuba, It's True on Iran
America's Cuba policy has long been an open joke in international circles. Seldom has a country pursued such a futile policy for so long while clearly recognizing its senselessness. It's probably the foremost example of how American domestic politics can take its foreign policy hostage, leaving everyone a loser. -Trita Parsi and Ryan Costello, Huffington Post - 12/18/14

Project Pressure captures Iran's melting glaciers
Project Pressure has created the first open source glacier archive, recording the environmental impact of climate change by documenting the world's changing glaciers. Some of the most endangered glaciers on the planet are in Iran. The rugged mountains of Iran have shaped both the political and the economic history of the country, forming distinct valley communities that remained largely isolated until major roads were built in the 20th Century. -Laurie Balbo, Green Prophet - 12/18/14

UN: Freeze Funding of Iran Counter-Narcotics Efforts
he United Nations agency charged with combating illicit drug trafficking should withdraw its support for counter-narcotics police operations in Iranuntil the death penalty for drug offenses is abolished, six rights groups said in a letter published today. The groups made the plea after Iran's judiciary hanged 18 alleged drug traffickers within 24 hours on December 3, 2014, bringing the number of drug offenders executed in the country during 2014 to at least 318. - 12/18/14

Activist Iranian woman Mahdieh Golroo in jail for nearly two months without charges
Golroo, a prominent women's rights activist, was arrested in 2009 and released after 30 months in jail. She was arrested again about two months ago after she took part in a protest in front of Parliament calling for action against acid-throwing attacks on women. - 12/17/14

Friends, Not Just Enemies, of an Iranian Nuclear Deal are Imperiling It
U.S. and Iranian negotiators are in Geneva resuming work on an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program. Whether the negotiations succeed in producing a deal is still very much in doubt, but not because it is doubtful that there is a deal to be had. -Paul R. Pillar - 12/17/14

Film Director Abbas Kiarostami visits Tehran Peace Museum
Celebrated filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has visited the Tehran Peace Museum at the invitation of Hassan Hassani-Sadi, a war veteran who is a curator of the museum, some Persian news agencies reported on Saturday. - 12/17/14

Reports of Ahmadinejad administration's corruption called "tip of iceberg"
The head of Iran's Expediency Council said on Tuesday December 16 that the administration cannot fully report on the depth of the problems it has inherited from the former administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, adding that only "the tip of the iceberg of corruption" has been revealed so far. - 12/17/14

Finalists Announced for 'Freedom: A Shared Dream' Competition
Farhang Foundation is pleased to announce that five finalists have been selected for Freedom: A Shared Dream, an international urban art competition inspired by Cyrus the Great, who ruled the ancient Persian Empire 2,600 years ago and championed the principles of religious diversity and personal freedom for all. - 12/17/14

Iran's President, Revolutionary Guards 'Enjoy Very Good Relations'
Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), says President Hassan Rohani and the IRGC enjoy " very good relations," based on mutual trust. Jafari was reacting to a question regarding recent comments by Rohani, who warned against the monopolization of power and the spread of corruption in Iran, saying that corruption is brought about when guns, money, and media are concentrated in one institution. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/17/14

Iran's Justice Minister says administration powerless to end house arrests
Iran's Justice Minister says the administration has no jurisdiction over the opposition leaders' continued house arrest, and this issue can only be decided by the National Security Council. Mostafa PourMohammadi, referring to the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard, said: "I have no particular responsibility regarding this matter." - 12/17/14

Iran exports $954M pistachios in eight months
Iran exported $954 million of pistachio in the first eight months of the current Iranian calendar year, which began on March 21, a 67 percent rise compared to the same period last year, the Fars news agency reported on Monday. - 12/17/14

Why Does ISIS Hate Shi'a?
ISIS is a close kin to the Wahhabi /Salafi school of Islam in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. In fact, these people don't see Christians or Jews as first and foremost their main enemy-they see other Muslims who don't share their narrowly exclusionist views as the chief target. Shi'a top the list, for sure, but so do more liberal schools of Sunni Islamic thinking-that is, nearly everybody else. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 12/17/14

Western-style stores growing in Iran
When Thomas Cristofoletti walked into the Hyperstar supermarket in Shiraz, Iran, he was stopped at the door. He had his camera over his shoulder, and the international-style grocery store was built inside a large mall with a strict policy against photography. -Allison Love, CNN - 12/17/14

Marzieh Rasouli Letter to Bahareh Hedayat
Below are excerpts of a letter written by Journalist Marzieh Rasouli, to Bahareh Hedayat, imprisoned student and women's rights activist. Marzieh and Bahareh were in Evin prison together for a short while. Marzieh has been released since, but on December 30, 2014, Bahareh Hedayat will have served a full 5 years of her 10 year prison sentence. - 12/16/14

Iran takes 1st place in World Classic Bodybuilding Championships
Iran came first in the IFBB World Classic Bodybuilding Championships 2014 on Sunday. The competitions held in La Nucia, Spain from December 12-15. Iran claimed one gold, one silver and one bronze medal and won the title with 49 points. - 12/16/14

Tensions, Slogans During Speech By Hard-Line 'Kayhan' Editor
Tensions were reported at a December 15 speech by Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the ultra-hard-line daily "Kayhan" who spoke at an event at Tehran University about the 2009 antigovernment protests. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/16/14

"Tales" director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad wins APSA jury grand prize
Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad has won one of the two jury grand prizes at the 8th Asia Pacific Screen Award for her acclaimed social drama "Tales". Iranian actress Merila Zarei received a special mention for her performance in "Track 143". Iranian writer/producer/director Reza Dormishian received the APSA Academy NETPAC Development Prize for his second feature film "I'm Not Angry!". - 12/16/14

Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand receives the ICHR's prestigious human rights award
The International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) announced today that Mr. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, received the ICHR's prestigious human rights award for 2014. Although he is currently imprisoned the award recognizes his efforts to defend the right of Iranian Kurds under persecution. - 12/16/14

Iran says it warned Australia about hostage-taker's mental problems
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has condemned the hostage-taking incident in Sydney, Australia, adding that it had warned Australian authorities on several occasions about the history and the mental problems of the hostage-taker over the past two decades. - 12/16/14

Iran: Nuclear Talks with US Proceed in Good Atmosphere
Iran said on Tuesday bilateral nuclear talks with the United states were proceeding in a good atmosphere despite lingering gaps over key issues such as Tehran's uranium enrichment capacity and how fast economic sanctions should be lifted. -Reuters - 12/16/14

It's Egypt That Needs Higher Oil Prices
The country that could ultimately suffer the most damage from a sustained depression in the world price of oil could be one that is not a major producer: Egypt. Unable to sustain itself, Egypt is being propped up by big infusions of cash from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). -homas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 12/16/14

The IAEA Faces a Major Credibility Test
On December 11, the spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that his agency was, as Gareth Porter asserted on this website earlier this month, not interested in accepting a recent invitation by Iran to visit Marivan, at least at this time. -Robert Kelley, LobeLog - 12/15/14

Iran Nuclear Talks Extended: A Perilous Slippery Slope
Soon after the Iran nuclear talks were recently extended for another seven months (beyond the November 22, 2014 deadline), President Rouhani spoke with the Iranian people in a televised address in which he sought to portray the inconclusive negotiations as a diplomatic victory for Iran, as an indication that his team of negotiators "stood their ground" in the face of excessive demands by the US and its allies. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 12/15/14

CONFERENCE: From Persepolis to Isfahan: Safeguarding Cultural Heritage
This conference will focus on protecting the cultural heritage of Iran. As is well known cultural heritage worldwide is under threat, and from many countries there are stories of damage to monuments and archaeological sites allied to ongoing deterioration of cultural resources. - 12/15/14

Iranian MP slams "completely overt" corruption
Iranian MP Abed Fatahi has spoken out against the widespread nature of corruption in the country, saying it is has become a matter of course in every branch of life. Fatahi told ISKA news on Sunday December 14: "It has now gone beyond under-the-table handouts, it is completely overt." - 12/15/14

Iranian economy to grow 2.8% in 2014: Business Monitor
The Iranian economy will grow 2.8 percent in 2014, Business Monitor said in its latest report. Meanwhile, the country's inflation rate is estimated at 23 percent in 2014, according to the report. The Iranian economy will grow by 3.3 percent on average by 2018, the report added. - 12/15/14

Internet filters to be custom-fit for each user
Iran's Deputy Communications Minister says Smart Filtering will be implemented on the basis of "age, profession and the needs of users." He said information blocking will be tailored according to the identity of the user. - 12/15/14

Tehran's Ovissi gallery exhibits works by three American painters
An exhibition displaying works by three U.S. abstract painters are currently underway at Tehran's Ovissi Gallery. Thirteen works by Sheila Rice, Fernando DeOliviera and Brian Xavier will be on display until December 17 at the exhibit. - 12/15/14

Iran's 300% Stock Rally Fades as Nuclear Deal Eludes Rouhani
The Tehran Stock Exchange Index has lost 20 percent in 2014, set for the first yearly decline since 2008, as petrochemical companies and lenders plunged, bourse data show. Over the previous five years, shares soared 910 percent, or about 300 percent in dollar terms after factoring in the rial's declines. -Business Week - 12/15/14

What Is Genuine Leadership in the Middle East?
A supreme challenge to US policies in the Middle East-especially in the Arab world-has been dealing with the no-win dilemma of leadership in the Arab world. As we look out across the wreckage of the present scene in the Middle East, many observers, including myself, highlight the striking absence of any genuine Arab leadership in the region today. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 12/15/14

Photos: 20 million converge on Karbala for Arbaeen
The number of pilgrims who flocked to the holy city of Karbala for the Arbaeen ceremonies passed the 20-million mark, Iraqi officials announced on Saturday. The head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), Ammar al-Hakim, stated last Monday that the Arbaeen pilgrimage confirms the citizens' stance against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists. - 12/14/14

Iranian official says replacing members of US negotiating team has no impact on strategies
Official close to Iranian negotiating team said on Sunday that replacing members of the US negotiating team has no impact on the process but Iranian team will carefully check possible shift in attitudes. - 12/14/14

Iran to resume petchem exports to Europe
Iran will soon resume exports of petrochemical products to Europe, which have been banned under the US-led sanctions in recent years. The ban was lifted last year following breakthroughs in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers. - 12/14/14

Visas renewed for 450 thousand Afghans in Iran
Iran says it has renewed the visas of 450,000 Afghan nationals for another six months while talks over their residency status continue with the Afghan foreign ministry. - 12/14/14

5.2-mangnitude earthquake shakes Behbahan in southwestern Iran
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale hit the city of Behbahan in Khuzestan province on Saturday morning. - 12/14/14

Another Asiatic cheetah sighted in Yazd
Director of Iranian Cheetah Society has announced the sighting and registering of another new Asiatic Cheetah in Yazd Province. Morteza Eslami told Mehr News that a number of camera traps had been placed in each of the cheetah habitats in Iran for an overall observation of the target species. - 12/13/14

US, Iranian Officials to Hold Nuclear Talks in Geneva
Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will lead a U.S. negotiating team that is set to meet with Iranian officials next week, ahead of more high-level talks on Iran's nuclear program. - 12/13/14

Attack Kills One Amid Huge Shi'ite Pilgrimage In Iraq
Iraqi police said a mortar attack killed one person and wounded four others near Karbala on December 12 as record numbers of Shi'ite pilgrims gathered in the shrine city for one of the largest annual religious gatherings in the world. Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said on December 11 that more than 17 million pilgrims had come to Karbala for the Arbaeen commemoration. - 12/13/14

IAEA rejects Iran offer to visit Marivan site
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has rejected a visit proposed by Iran to a site in the country's western region of Marivan to investigate allegations of large-scale experiments on explosives. The IAEA claimed on Thursday that the offer does not help address the agency's concerns pertaining to the issue of alleged high-explosive experiments at the site. - 12/13/14

Now at the Sands Casino: An Iranian Hacker in Every Server
This was no Ocean's Eleven. The hackers were not trying to empty a vault of cash, nor were they after customer credit card data, as in recent attacks on Target (TGT), Neiman Marcus, and Home Depot (HD). This was personal. The perpetrators wanted to punish the company, or, more precisely, its chief executive officer and majority owner, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson (for saying US should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran) -Ben Elgin and Michael Riley, Business Week - 12/13/14

Sensing a Deal on Sanctions, Iran Is Bullish
The confidence is beginning to take on a life of its own, with executives in the major export industries - oil and gas, transportation and carpets - feverishly preparing for what they envision as gloriously prosperous days ahead. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 12/13/14

US Navy Tests New Laser Weapon in Persian Gulf
The U.S. Navy says it has, for the first time, successfully tested an experimental laser weapon aboard a ship deployed in the Persian Gulf. The Office of Naval Research has released a video showing the weapon in action during the tests. - 12/13/14

Iran Documentary Lifts Lid On One Syria-Bound Fighter
Martyrdom was one of the greatest wishes of Iranian Basij member Mohammad Hassan Rasoul Khalili. In the words of his father, "this world was like a cage to him." Khalili, a devotee of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, finally achieved his death wish last year in Syria, when a bomb he was trying to defuse exploded. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/13/14

Oil prices fall below $60 for first time since July 2009
Oil prices have fallen below USD 60 for the first time since July 2009 amid mounting evidence that global supplies are far outstripping demand. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery decreased by 86 cents to USD 59.09 in Friday morning trade in Asia. Brent was also down 52 cents at USD 63.16. - 12/12/14

Mortar shelling hits Karbala suburbs as 17 million pilgrims gather for Arbaeen rituals
No Iranian was among the victims of the multiple Karbala suburb explosions Thursday night, the cause of which is cited to be mortar or mini katyusha shelling. The attacks on the largest peaceful gathering of Shia Muslims occured at a time that according to Iraqi sources at least 17 million pilgrims had arrived in Karbala until Thursday to participate in Arbaeen rituals - to be held on Saturday -- and the number is still increasing. - 12/12/14

Royan using stem cells to treat kidney diseases
Iranian researchers at Royan Institute are conducting clinical trials to treat chronic and acute kidney disease by using mesenchymal stem cells, an official said. Speaking on the sidelines of the 12th Asian Congress of Urology (ACU), Dr. Reza Moqaddas-Ali, the head of Kidney Group of Stem Cells Research Center affiliated to Royan Institute, added that the researchers have conducted animal trials successfully. - 12/12/14

Israel must pay Iran for pipeline project loss: Arbitration panel
A Swiss arbitration panel has ruled that Israel should pay Iran for the loss of its stake in the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline. The pipeline project was a joint venture by the former Iranian regime and Israel in 1968, but it crashed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran. - 12/12/14

The National Effort at Self-Exoneration on Torture
The nation's current attempt at catharsis through a gargantuan report prepared by the Democratic staff of a Senate committee exhibits some familiar patterns. Most of them involve treating a government agency as if it were Dorian Gray's portrait, which can take on all the hideous marks of our own transgressions while we present ourselves as pure and innocent. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 12/12/14

Congress to Establish Reporting Requirements on Iran Talks, Sidestep Sanctions
Two "must pass" bills that Congress will consider this week before adjourning for the year would provide formalized oversight for Congress to monitor the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. -Ryan Costello, NIAC - 12/12/14

Jailed Iranian activists assess government's record on rights
Abdolfattah Soltani, Saeed Madani, Mehdi Khodayi, Keyvan Samimi and Saeed Razavi issued a statement commending "the relative efforts of the Iranian administration toward improving the situation" in Iran. They expressed support for "the return of expelled professors and students to universities", "the drafting of a citizen's bill of rights", "efforts to remedy environmental problems" and "the approval of a comprehensive plan for free access to information." - 12/11/14

Extremism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, or culture: Tehran statement
The participants at the international conference against violence and extremism in Tehran issued a statement on Wednesday declaring that "violent extremism and violence is a global challenge and is not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, culture, race, and ethnic group." - 12/11/14

Iran: Suspended activist lawyer arrested on Human Rights Day
Iranian human rights lawyer and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh was briefly arrested along with husband Reza Khandan on Wednesday December 10. Sotoudeh has been staging daily protests in front of the Iranian Bar Association since her licence was suspended, demanding the right to work and dissent. - 12/11/14

Vocalist Hengameh Akhavan To Give Concert In Tehran: Men Keep Out!
Iranian vocalist Hengameh Akhavan will give a concert at Tehran's Vahdat Hall on December 26. Only women will be allowed to attend the concert, during which she is scheduled to perform classical Iranian songs. - 12/11/14

Iran rejects claim of oil-for-goods swap deal with Russia
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has rejected Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev's claim that Iran and Russia have made an oil-for-goods swap deal. - 12/11/14

Latest International Crisis Group Report on Iran Negotiations
When twelve months of intense negotiations between Iran and the P5+1/EU3+3 ended with yet another extension, sceptics saw this as confirmation that the talks are doomed. But it would be as grave a mistake to underestimate the real progress as to overstate the chances of ultimate success. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/11/14

Condemned prisoners sent to solitary in another Iranian prison
Thirty-five Iranian prisoners on death row in Qezel Hessar Prison were transferred on Sunday December 7 to solitary confinement in Rejai Shahr Prison in Karaj. The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that some prisoners have said the transfer could be a step toward their execution. - 12/11/14

The two faces of modernity in Iran - analysis
It is often thought that what is currently taking place in Iran, the continuation of what has unfolded there over the past three decades - violation of human rights, systematic discrimination against women, and belligerence toward the west - constitutes a rejection of modernity and its fruits. -Farzin Vahdat, Guardian - 12/11/14

Is Iran's "Tsunami" Set to Become the Most Dominant Force in Taekwondo?
In the final bout of the men's -58kg category on Dec. 3, 2014 in an event that is considered the pinnacle of elite taekwondo, the gold medal was won by an Iranian who can boast skill and talent in spades - but is a mere lad who is not only still at high school, but as a 4th poom, does not even hold a black belt. - 12/10/14

Israeli Nukes Meets Atomic Irony in the Middle East
The stated rationale for the United States casting on Tuesday one of the very lonely votes it sometimes casts at the United Nations General Assembly, on matters on which almost the entire world sees things differently, warrants some reflection. The resolution in question this time endorsed the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East and called on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ... -Paul Pillar, National Interest - 12/10/14

Iran's President Rouhani Calls Global Oil Price Fall Political Scenario
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has warned that the current drop in global crude prices is not simply an economic issue, but rather a political plot by some countries. "The fall in crude price is not merely an economic issue. Rather, it is caused by a plot and political planning by certain countries," Rouhani said at his Wednesday cabinet meeting. - 12/10/14

Iran's Supreme Court Rejects Legality of Kokabee's Sentencing
Omid Kokabee, 33, was a post-doctoral Nuclear Physics student at the University of Texas at Austin at the time of his arrest on January 30, 2011, at Tehran's International Airport. He was about to leave the country after visiting family in Iran. He was kept in solitary confinement for over a month during his 15-month pre-trial detention, and his family and lawyer were not allowed access to him. - 12/10/14

Violence-free world can be realized through cooperation: Iran's President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that a world without violence can be realized through governments' cooperation and coordinated policy making. Rouhani made the remarks during the International World Against Violence and Extremism Conference in Tehran on Tuesday. - 12/10/14

Iran Military Option: An Increasingly Daunting Challenge
Although the Obama administration appears to be currently focused on resisting calls to increase sanctions on Iran while negotiations over its nuclear program are in session, the far more dangerous "military option" is alive and well in Washington despite its many pitfalls. -Wayne White, LobeLog - 12/10/14

Arrests announced in fraud case from Ahmadinejad era
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi has announced the arrest of 20 middle managers of the former administration in connection with a financial fraud case. Alavi reports that the scheme took place from 2010 to 2013 during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's second term as president. - 12/10/14

Photos: Over one million Iranian pilgrims flock to Iraq to mark Arba'een
Iran's Traffic Police Chief Eskandar Mo'meni on Monday estimated that more than 1,200,000 Iranians would attend this year's Arba'een procession, which falls on December 13 this year. Iranian officials have announced that more than 900,000 Iranians have entered Iraq so far. - 12/9/14

Calls For Release Of Jailed Students, Opposition Figures On Iran's Student Day
Some students in Iran used Student Day, celebrated on December 7 with speeches and other events at universities, to call for the release of opposition figures and jailed students. Iranian semiofficial news agencies Mehr and Fars reported that a speech by President Hassan Rohani at Tehran's University of Medical Sciences was disrupted by students chanting in support of opposition figures. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/9/14

Iran's President Rohani warns of corruption from concentration of power
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has referred to the concentration of power as a cause of corruption and he criticized the combination of arms, money, power and the media controlled by one institution. It appears that President Rohani is referring to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which in addition to extensive military power is also widely active in economic projects and the media. - 12/9/14

Jason Rezaian's Family Speaks Out
On July 22, Jason Rezaian, an American-Iranian Washington Post reporter, was detained in Tehran by Iranian authorities along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two other people whose names have been kept private. The reason for the arrests was never publicly announced, and today, more than four months later, everyone but Rezaian has been released. -Jasmin Ramsey, LobeLog - 12/9/14

Iran clinches third place in World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships
Iranian taekwondo fighters have managed to secure the third place in the 2014 world cup taekwondo championship. Iran lost to Mexico 39-43 in a furiously close-fought match on Sunday in which the Iranian managing team was heavily critical of the way the Mexicans hosted the competition. - 12/9/14

Iranian oil giant seeking billions in foreign investment
The National Iranian Oil Company says it will attend a London conference with the goal of attracting $40 billion of investment in 40 oil industry projects The conference is reportedly set for two days in March of 2015. - 12/9/14

Iranian official claims 109 NATO personnel arrested in Bandar Abbas last September
The Iranian Air Defence Command announced on Monday December 8 that it arrested 108 NATO military personnel in Bandar Abbas as they tried to pass through Iranian airspace. A report on Tasnim indicates that Amir Farzad Esmaili said in a ceremony in Mashhad that the plane carrying these detainees was forced to land by Iranian jets. - 12/9/14

Syria, Iran Condemn Israel's Airstrikes Near Damascus
The foreign ministers of Syria and Iran are condemning Israel for airstrikes Sunday near Damascus. At a news conference in Tehran, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif drew parallels between the Israeli government and what they call "terrorists" in Syria - the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad. - 12/9/14

Poll: Increasing Support In US For One-State Solution
Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, regularly produces polls that are always worth looking at. Unlike most surveys of American views on US policy in the Middle East, Telhami tends to dig deep as opposed to simply establishing general opinions. -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 12/9/14

CIBC closes Concordia student's bank account because he's Iranian
Arash Khodadadi, a Montreal university student, has been forced by CIBC to close his chequing and savings accounts because he is from Iran. Montreal lawyer Eiman Sadegh knows of at least 13 similar cases in Montreal with other major Canadian banks. -CBC, Canada - 12/9/14

Rise In Cohabitation Has Iran Officials Railing Against 'White Marriage'
Raana and Hamed have been living together for four years. They eat together. They both contribute to the household and share a savings account. They fight "like husbands and wives in a registered marriage." They even wear wedding rings and introduce themselves as a married couple. But they're not. Because, as they also told Iranian daily "Ebtekar" in May, they don't believe in marriage. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/8/14

Iranian Court Charges 'Washington Post' Reporter
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is "deeply disappointed" by reports that a "Washington Post" reporter detained in Iran for more than four months has been formally charged. The U.S. newspaper reported on December 6 that Jason Rezaian spent about 10 hours in a Tehran court on December 6 while his case was reviewed by a judge. - 12/8/14

Why Hasn't the IAEA Followed Up Iran's Inspection Offer?
When Iran offered last month to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the Marivan region near the border with Iraq, the IAEA might have been expected to respond with alacrity to the opportunity. -Gareth Porter, LobeLog - 12/8/14

"Fest of Duty" wins justice award at IDFA
Fest of Duty a documentary by Iranian filmmaker Firouzeh Khosrovani was in the line up of documentaries at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in the Panorama section and won the Oxfam Global Justice Award. - 12/8/14

IRGC Adviser Says Quds Force Commander Soleimani Is 'No Rambo Or Rocky'
Qassem Soleimani is no "Rambo" or "Rocky" from Hollywood movies, says a senior media adviser to the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/8/14

ISIS Eclipses Iran as Threat Among US Public
Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, has just released a major new poll of US public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The survey also contains some very interesting data that suggest Islamic State (ISIS or IS) is now seen as a significantly greater threat to the United States than Iran. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/8/14

Biden: Chance of Nuclear Deal With Iran is Less Than 50-50
But he said new sanctions at this time, as some in Congress are pushing, would produce "the worst of all worlds." The vice president said new sanctions would break up the coalition pressuring Iran and give negotiators less leverage with which to reach a peaceful resolution. - 12/8/14

Amended law could reduce drug-related executions in Iran
Iran's Commissioner of Human Rights Mohammad Javad Larijani says his office is making a concentrated effort to change capital punishment linked to drug charges, which would result in a considerable decline in executions in Iran. - 12/8/14

Methamphetamine Use Soars in Iran as Lifestyles Speed Up
Women in headscarves and men in tatty clothes puff on a glass pipe as smoke swirls around their faces. The pictures published by Iranian media and blogs in recent months are a sign of a new drug epidemic: shishe, or methamphetamine. Shishe means "glass" in Farsi, a reference to the appearance of the drug in some of its purest forms. -Reuters - 12/8/14

Unexpected Backlash to New Iran Sanctions in Senate Committee
A new Iran sanctions bill being floated by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) would force the P5+1 into a weaker deal or backfire by leading to Iranian nuclear expansion, according to experts handpicked by Menendez to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. -Ryan Costello, NIAC - 12/6/14

Photos: The Art Of Turquoise Inlaying
Isfahan, Iran - Turquoise inlaying is a kind of handicraft made by implanting small pieces of turquoise stone in mosaic fashion on the surface of the dishes, ornaments and decorative objects with copper, brass, silver or bronze bases. -Alie Sa'adatpour - 12/6/14

NIAC Policy Memo: Additional Iranian Concessions Under Extended Nuclear Deal
New information has been released outlining significant new nuclear concessions by Iran under the extended Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) secured on November 24, 2014. -Jamal Abdi and Ryan CostelloRyan Costello, NIAC - 12/6/14

Intriguing Iran
For most Americans, visiting Iran doesn't make it onto their vacation radar. Yet for me and my wife Harriet, experiencing the wonders of ancient Persia has topped our bucket list for quite some time. -Michael J. Solender, Charlotte Observer - 12/6/14

Previously unknown details about Iranian F-4, F-5, Su-24 and UAVs involvement in air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq
Al Jazeera footage aired a few days ago exposed an IRIAF F-4 Phantom performing an air strike on ISIS positions in Iraq. The news of a cooperation between Washington and Tehran, later confirmed by the Pentagon, quickly spread across the world and images of the Iranian Phantoms in the colors of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force have appeared on worldwide media outlets. -Aviationist - 12/6/14

Reliance on Ethnocentric Solutions Equates to Deceiving Women
Through the pretext of defending Islamic values, it has been claimed for the last thirty six years that relying on international provisions and documents will not correct the gender discriminations that exist against women in Iran's traditional society. -Mehrangis Kar - 12/5/14

Toronto, Mashhad medical universities ink MoU
Mashhad University of Medical Sciences and Canada's University of Toronto signed a memorandum of understanding on sharing educational and scientific findings. The deal was concluded in a ceremony attended by the Head of Clinical Biochemistry Department Khosrow Adeli and the professor of Toronto University's Biology Pathology Department. - 12/5/14

Focus Iran: Contemporary Photography and Video Exhibition in Los Angeles
The Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) and Farhang Foundation present Focus Iran: Contemporary Photography and Video. This juried exhibition features photography and video works from artists around the world who have documented contemporary, intimate life relating to Iran and the Iranian diaspora. The exhibition will be on view at CAFAM from January 25 through May 3, 2015. - 12/5/14

Kerry: Any Iranian Military Action Against Islamic State 'Positive'
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington and Tehran are not coordinating their fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq but that any Iranian military action against the IS would be "positive." - 12/5/14

Afghan migrants in Iran face uncertain future
A delegation from the Afghan government is travelling to Iran to discuss the fate of 760,000 Afghan migrants in Iran, who resident permits may not be renewed and who may face deportation. - 12/5/14

On Iran, Ashton Carter Has Been Hawkish
Neoconservative and other Iran hawks have to be at least somewhat encouraged by Obama's imminent nomination of Ashton Carter as Chuck Hagel's replacement at the Pentagon. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/5/14

Iran's complicated relationship with the Internet
"Authorities in the Islamic Republic have long had an embattled relationship with the online space," writes Gissou Nia, an expert on human rights issues in Iran. In fact, it's much more complicated than you might think. -Your Middle East - 12/5/14

Photos: Saffron Farms in Ghaenat, Iran
Iran has long been a significant source of high-quality saffron production and export which accounts for up to 95 percent of saffron production in the world. These photos by Mohsen Noferesti show saffron farming in the city of Ghaenat in northeastern Iran. - 12/4/14

The Phantom F-4 Phantom? Iran Denies Air Strikes On IS In Iraq
Iran has denied claims by the Pentagon that its F4 Phantom fighter jets carried out strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq. U.S. officials told Reuters on December 3 that Iran's F-4 phantoms had struck IS positions in the eastern Diyala province in the last several days. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 12/4/14

Iran: Journalist's Detention Extended - Washington Post Reporter Held 4 Months, but Not Charged
Iran's judiciary has extended Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian's pretrial detention for another two months. Rezaian, a dual Iranian and American national, is being held in a section of Evin prison controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. He has been in detention for more than four months without being formally charged with any crime. -HRW - 12/4/14

Iran's Enrichment Offer: A Postscript
Since Nov. 11, 2013, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been cooperating better on the so-called "possible military dimension" (PMD) of the Iranian case. Will this incline the IAEA secretariat to react more forensically than in the past to this latest Iranian dismissal of material allegedly found on a laptop a decade ago? -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 12/4/14

New sanctions would 'blow up' Iran nuclear talks: Susan Rice
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Tuesday that placing additional sanctions on Iran would "blow up" negotiations over the country's nuclear program, The Hill news website reported. - 12/4/14

Al-Qaida Behind Car Bomb at Iran Envoy's Home in Yemen
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on the Iranian ambassador's house in the Yemen capital Sana'a early Wednesday. The U.S. State Department condemned the bombing and expressed condolences to the families of the victims. It said attacks on diplomatic facilities and against diplomats can never be justified or excused. -VOA - 12/4/14

Forget "300", Meet the Real Xerxes in This Great New Comic
Google image search "Xerxes" and the first thing that pops up are images from the comic book turned Hollywood blockbuster film 300. Cult author Frank Miller's bizarre, distorted portrayal of the ancient Persian king Xerxes the Great and his battles with the Greeks in 300 is a piece of self proclaimed stylized "propaganda". -Shirin Wertime, Barakabits - 12/4/14

U.S. and Iran Both Attack ISIS, but Try Not to Look Like Allies
Iranian fighter jets struck extremist targets in Iraq recently, Iranian and American officials have confirmed, in the latest display of Tehran's new willingness to conduct military operations openly on foreign battlefields rather than covertly and through proxies. -NY TImes - 12/4/14

Iraqi Kurds Seek Greater Balance Between Ankara and Baghdad
After a period of frostiness, Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey seem intent on mending the ties, as each of the parties show signs of needing the other. But the Kurds appear more cautious this time around, leery of moving too close to Ankara lest they alienate the new Iraqi government in Baghdad with which they signed a breakthrough oil deal Tuesday. -Mohammed A. Salih, LobeLog - 12/4/14

Photos: Iran, Turkmen, Kazakh presidents attend landmark ceremony to open joint railway
Iranian, Turkmen and Kazakh Presidents met and conferred in Incheborun railway station on Wednesday in a landmark ceremony to celebrate putting into operation of joint railway networks. President Rouhani said the project will pave the way for economic development of the three nations and the entire region. - 12/3/14

Iran's President Rohani: Era of Police State and Extremism Is Over
"I give promise to the dear youth of my country, especially the dear young students, that I am standing by my promises." In an indirect reference to his moderate policies, President Rohani said, "The era of extremism has come to an end." - 12/3/14

Stabbing of Six Women Continue Series of Attacks Against Iranian Women
In a continuing series of attacks against women in Iran, a suspect has been arrested for the stabbing of six women in the southern town of Jahrom in Fars Province over the past week. The stabbings follow the numerous acid attacks against women in Isfahan over the last few months, which were allegedly linked to vigilante justice that was aimed at punishing "improper" hijab and encouraged by the Iranian Parliament's proposed "Plan to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice." - 12/3/14

Is Iran's Rial in Free Fall?
The decision announced last Monday in Vienna to extend the talks aimed at a compressive agreement on Iran's nuclear program for an additional seven months has resulted in Iran's currency taking dive. In one week, the rial lost more than 5% of its value in the unofficial market. The devaluation has clear political and economic implications -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani - 12/3/14

Iranian writers' group denounces continued censorship
On the occasion of the Day of Action against Censorship, Iran's Writers' Association announced that the Islamic Republic government continues to impose censorship in various and complex ways. - 12/3/14

We have gotten very close to nuclear pact: Iranian FM
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamamd Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran and the major powers are now closer than ever to striking a final accord on the Iranian nuclear program. Zarif said the extension of talks was needed to draft the details of the agreement, and most of the negotiators believe that much less time is needed to reach an agreement. - 12/3/14

Report Says Iranian Hackers Infiltrate Firms Worldwide
Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran's United Nations mission, dismissed the report as a "baseless and unfounded allegation fabricated to tarnish the Iranian government image" and undermine Tehran's nuclear negotiations with world powers. - 12/3/14

Iran's Enrichment Offer: So Near And Yet Not Far Enough
So much has been written and said about the uranium enrichment aspect of the 14-month nuclear negotiation with Iran that it is hard to look at it with fresh eyes, and starting from first principles. Nonetheless what follows is an attempt to do so. It suggests that the US and Iran are closer on enrichment than once seemed possible, but are still at risk of failing to find common ground in the course of the extension agreed a week ago. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 12/3/14

Blocked FIFA funds could now flow to Iran's national team
The head of Iran's Football Federation reports that Sepp Blatter, the head of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA), has announced that some of Iran's money for football activities, which has been blocked due to the International sanctions, will now be released - 12/3/14

Guards Killed In Bombing At Iranian Envoy's Residence In Yemen
A security official in Yemen says a powerful car-bomb blast that apparently targeted the Iranian ambassador's residence has killed Yemeni and Iranian security guards. Guards said Ambassador Hassan Sayed Nam was not in the house when the attack took place in a diplomatic district of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on December 3. - 12/3/14

Iran wary of oil 'shock therapy' as OPEC vies for market
The "shock therapy" of a steep drop in crude prices, which have fallen to a five-year low, is no solution for OPEC's loss of market share to U.S. shale producers, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said. - 12/2/14

Iran Approves New 'Reformist' Political Party 'Voice of Iranians'
Iran's Interior Ministry has approved the registration of a new "reformist" political party, the first in years in the Islamic republic. The party is led by Sadegh Kharazi, Iran's former ambassador to France and former senior advisor to reformist President Mohammad Khatami. The party includes members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, a reformist party. It also includes supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi - 12/2/14

The Parchin Puzzle
In the seemingly never-ending debate over Iran's nuclear program, specifically the "possible military dimensions," or PMD, of its past work, much has been made over the thus-far frustrated demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect a building at the sprawling Parchin military complex near Tehran. -Robert Kelley, LobeLog - 12/2/14

Poll: 81% in Tehran approve extension of nuclear talks
A recent IRNA survey shows 81 per cent of people in Tehran have a positive view about 'Vienna agreement' and see the second extension of nuclear talks as positive for Iran. Results of this IRNA poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 25-26, 2014, with a nonprobability sampling of adults between 19-85 living in all 22 districts of Tehran. - 12/2/14

Iranian President orders report on controversial interference waves
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has ordered his ministers of "Communications and Information Technology", "Health Care" and "Defence" as well as the head of the Atomic Energy Agency to submit a report to him on the use of interference waves in the country. - 12/2/14

The allure and enduring legacy of Persian Nasta'liq calligraphy
When the famed calligrapher Mir Emad was murdered at the Safavid court in 1615 - perhaps on account of artistic rivalry or perhaps because of his religious affiliations - an important chapter in the history of the calligraphic script known as nasta'liq came to a close. -Kevin Schwartz, Reorient - 12/2/14

Iran Bombing Islamic State In Iraq, U.S. Official Confirms
The list of countries bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq has thus far featured a host of classic United States partners -- Canada, the U.K., France. Now, it looks like the U.S. has a new quasi-partner in the air: Iran. -Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Huffington Post - 12/2/14

IRAN'S FEMALE SURF PIONEERS
In 2010, Irish surfer Easkey Britton took time off from finishing a PhD in Marine Science to surf this moonscape of a coastline (Chabahar, Iran). It was a lark, a chance to see and surf someplace new, a serious adventure. It ended up being the beginning of a brand new surf culture: the women surfers of Iran. -Surfer - 12/2/14

Khamenei Aide Calls For End To Criticism Of Nuclear Talks
A top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for an end to domestic criticism of Tehran's nuclear negotiations with major world powers. Former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises Khamenei on international affairs, said on November 30 that since the supreme leader has endorsed an extension of the talks for several months, people should stop their criticism. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/2/14

Exiled Iranian journalist recalls lost freedoms
Journalism in Iran has never been for the fainthearted. But the challenges of covering the country as a local hire for the foreign press are especially complex, as former New York Times correspondent Nazila Fathi recounts in a moving new memoir, "The Lonely War." -Barbara Slavi, Al-Monitor - 12/2/14

Iranian currency tumbles further in wake of nuclear extension
The exchange rate for the dollar rose even higher in Tehran with every dollar being traded at 3,520 toumans on Sunday November 30 Mehr News Agency reports. ISNA reported the dollar was traded at 3560 toumans on Sunday afternoon which is the highest rate of exchange for the dollar since Hassan Rohani took power last year. - 12/1/14

Iran Hospital Manager Hurt In Acid Attack
Iranian police say two attackers on a motorbike have thrown acid in the face of a Tehran hospital manager. In a statement, police said Dr. Siamand Anvari, the head of Ziaian Hospital, was attacked late on November 29 while on his way home. - 12/1/14

Detained Iranian opposition leader writes to supportive MP
Mehdi Karroubi, one of three Iranian opposition leaders who have been under house arrest since 2011, has reportedly written to Iranian MP Ali Motahari, urging him to persist in helping the detained leaders to officially stand trial. - 12/1/14

Iranian Woman Busts A Move, Hopes Not To Get Busted Herself
A woman dancing on a subway train may seem innocuous enough. But in Iran, a deeply conservative country where the government dictates citizens' clothing and behavior, dancing in public is strictly forbidden. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 12/1/14

Iranian, Russian export funds ink MOU
The Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EFGI) and the Export Insurance Agency of Russia (EXIAR) signed a memorandum of understanding in Tehran on Sunday to boost cooperation. - 12/1/14

Oil at $40 Possible as Market Transforms From Caracas to Tehran
Oil's decline is proving to be the worst since the collapse of the financial system in 2008 and threatening to have the same global impact of falling prices three decades ago that led to the Mexican debt crisis and the end of the Soviet Union. -Bloomberg - 12/1/14

Foreign automakers find Iranian market has gone local
Foreign automakers seeking a return to the potentially huge Iranian market with the lifting of international sanctions will find the business environment has changed: former joint venture partners now want to play the game by their own rules. -Cyril Julien, AFP - 12/1/14

The ISIS Phenomenon: How Does It End?
The ISIS Phenomenon continues to astonish--to notch up innovative new features in Islamist politics that suggest a deepening ability to exploit and feed off long-term accumulated Muslim grievances. What are the logical end-points of extremism at which these forces finally reach terminal collapse? What kind of prognosis can we offer about this phenomenon? -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 12/1/14
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