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PHOTOS: New Year 2017 shopping in Tehran
These photos by Majid Haghdoust show the Iranian Christians shopping for the New Year 2017 in the capital city Tehran. While Iran is officially designated the "Islamic Republic," among its more than 70 million people is a small but important Christian minority. Most of Iran's Christians are Armenians and Assyrians, who remain relatively free to follow their faith. - 12/31/16

Iranian Lawmaker Warns About Hunger Striker's Condition
An Iranian lawmaker has warned the government that a prominent jailed dissident is in serious condition on a hunger strike and should be released. Reformist parliamentarian Elias Hazrati wrote to Judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani that Arash Sadeghi is in critical condition after going 70 days without food and that his death could result in "serious" political consequences for Ira - 12/31/16

Hardline Tehran Prosecutor Advocates Harsher Penalty for Mixed-Gender Parties
Tehran's hardline prosecutor general has announced that people caught at mixed-gender parties, especially celebrity artists and athletes, along with those caught consuming alcohol, or participating in other "indecent" activities should face stiffer penalties. - 12/31/16

Iran and the US: A Roadmap to Peace: The path to a possible U.S.-Iran detente
U.S.-Iran relations have been affected by a series of tragic historical incidents and a long-running geopolitical competition over power and influence in the Middle East. Iran views the U.S. presence in the region not only as a security threat, but as a deterring force against its ambitions. The United States also views Iran's actions as destabilizing and seeks to contain its rise by employing a variety of diplomatic and economic tools -Sina Azodi, The Diplomat - 12/31/16

The Case for Sending Secretary Kerry to Tehran
Although it is unclear what will happen to the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) once President-elect Donald Trump assumes office, President Barack Obama still has a few weeks left to try to reinforce his signature foreign policy achievement by sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the capital of one of the signatory members-Tehran. -Navid Hassibi - 12/30/16

Train from Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan to Mashhad, Iran launched
Iran has launched a direct passenger train service between its northeastern city of Mashhad and Azerbaijan's isolated enclave of Nakhchivan - a move which is expected to provide the landlocked region with a wide access to Iran's national rail network. - 12/30/16

Iran, US likely to start re-negotiations on nuclear deal: Olli Hainonen
A former IAEA fellow and its deputy director-general has told Mehr News that it should not be surprising if Iran and the US were to start some pre/re-negotiations on JCPOA once Trump takes over as president. In an interview conducted by Mehr News International Service, Olli Hainonen talked about the possible scenarios for Iran's nuclear deal once Donald Trump takes over as President of the United States. - 12/30/16

PHOTOS: Father of Turquoise Mine
Seyyed Hassan Afkhami is a lovely old man who has been working in Neishabour Turquoise Mine since he was 12 years old. Majority of local people here have been engaged in extracting the precious stone from the world's largest turquoise mine located near Neishabour in Khorasan Razavi province (map) that has a long history dating back to 3,000 b.c. - 12/30/16

Iranian Reformists slam exiled dissidents over letter to Trump
According to Kalame, the official news site of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi (who has been under house arrest since 2011), more than 300 social and civil activists have released a statement describing the letter of the 30 dissidents as "anti-national and shameful." -Rohollah Faghihi, Al Monitor - 12/30/16

Has Obama "Betrayed" Israel at the UN?
Has America's president betrayed Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his government bitterly accused after President Obama failed to veto a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel for its settlements in the West Bank? -Henry Siegman, LobeLog - 12/30/16

South Korea's Daewoo wins deal to build shipyard for Iran
South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Company (DSME) - the world's second biggest shipbuilding companies - has announced a major deal to develop an construction yard in Iran. The joint venture company will engineer and build the types of ships needed by Iran, the DSME said. - 12/30/16

Why Iran's 'green gold' is set to rebound
While Iran may be known for its massive oil and natural gas reserves to many people around the world, it is also known to some for its top-quality pistachios. Production of the nut in Iran dates to the fifth century B.C. -Maysam Bizaer, Al Monitor - 12/30/16

Iran's President Rouhani links 'grave-sleeping' to corruption
President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday linked social ills in the Iranian society to corruption, reacting to a letter on Tuesday by Oscar-winner director Asghar Farhadi who had said he felt "filled with shame" once he learnt about the homeless spending their nights in dug graves in a city near Tehran. - 12/29/16

Revolutionary Court Sentences More Than 70 Iranians to Prison for Celebrating "Cyrus Day"
More than 70 people who were arrested in October 2016 at a peaceful gathering celebrating Cyrus the Great were tried in mid-December without legal council and sentenced to long prison terms by the Revolutionary Court in the city of Shiraz. "The exact number of those arrested is not known because the court has not publicized their cases and their relatives have been ordered not to speak about them," an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/29/16

Sweden's Prime Minister to lead trade delegation to Iran
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, leading a trade delegation, is due to visit Tehran in February 2017, Sweden's ambassador in Iran, Helena Sangeland, said on Tuesday. In a meeting in Tehran with the chairman of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), Gholam-Hossein Shafeie, the Swedish envoy expressed her country's willingness to expand mutual cooperation with Iran, saying, "Sweden puts great importance on ties between the two countries." - 12/29/16

Oman, Iran's Closest Gulf Ally, Signals Change By Joining Saudi Alliance
Oman, Iran's closest ally in the Persian Gulf region, has signaled that it may be changing course by joining a Saudi-led coalition of Muslim countries fighting terrorism. Arab news outlets said on December 28 that Oman's defense minister sent a letter to Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announcing the decision to join the Islamic Military Alliance Against Terrorism. - 12/29/16

Putin Says Syria Cease-Fire Deal Signed, Russia And Turkey 'Guarantors'
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Syrian government and its opponents have signed an agreement on a nationwide cease-fire and a declaration expressing the willingness to begin peace talks. Putin said on December 29 that a document outlining measures to implement the cease-fire was also signed. - 12/29/16

South Korea's Daelim wins major Iran refinery deal
South Korea's construction giant Daelim Industrial Company says it has won a major deal from Iran to expand a central oil refinery. Daelim announced in a statement as quoted by the media in Seoul that the project involves improving and optimizing facilities at Isfahan Oil Refinery. It added that the value of the deal is $1.9 billion. - 12/29/16

Holiday Greetings, New Year Wishes
With fearful-tearful eyes and intimate sympathy with all those suffering from our inhuman violence, cruelty & killings throughout the world. Particularly in this chronological felicitous time of Christ's Birthday. Followed a few days after the Birth of the ancient Iranian God-Goddess of Love Mehr-Mithra -Roya Monajem - 12/28/16

Donya Fannizadeh, "mother" of Iran's most popular puppet Kola-Qermezi, dies at 49
Puppeteer Donya Fannizadeh who was mostly known for manipulating Kola-Qermezi, Iran's most popular puppet character that features a playful boy, died on Wednesday at 49 after about ten years battling sarcoma. Donya was the daughter of actor Parviz Fannizadeh. - 12/28/16

Expatriate designer Sadegh Roushani remaking Iran's image
Australia-based Iranian designer Sadegh Roushani plans to use fashion to remake Iran's image in the world. In 2014, he launched his fashion label Roushani Design in the Gold Coast to produce apparel with decorative Iranian motifs and images of the historical sites in his homeland. - 12/28/16

Iran's 'Grave Sleepers' Prompt Calls For Action
The images are morbid -- homeless men, women, and children so desperate for shelter that they would resort to living in open graves. Yet that is what some 50 Iranians have reportedly been doing for years, holing themselves up in concrete dugouts at a graveyard outside Tehran. -Frud Bezhan - 12/28/16

Dreaming Of Blue Skies: Tehran's Battle For Clean Air
Tehran's wet streets provide temporary relief to millions who have been tolerating unbearable levels of pollution. In today's Tehran, precipitation is associated with romanticism and blessings, washing away polluted skies briefly before reality sets in again. Pollution has plagued Iran's capital for years, manifesting in various health problems amongst locals, closing of schools, and transforming daily activities into questions of life and death. -Shirin Hakim and Kaveh Madani - 12/28/16

Turkey Seeks To Include Saudis In Syrian Peace Talks; Iran Says No
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saudi Arabia and Qatar should join Russian-sponsored peace talks on Syria even as a top Iranian official said the Saudis should be excluded. Erdogan said on December 27 that the talks should include Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are allied with Turkey in supporting Sunni rebel groups seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, because they have "shown goodwill and given support" to Syria. - 12/28/16

Iran 'main bidder' for stake in Russia's Makhachkala port
Iran has emerged as the main bidder for a stake in the Caspian port of Makhachkala, aiming to expand shipping and trade links with Russia and other countries, a report says. The port in the Russian republic of Dagestan has been put out for bidding by international investors, with China, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Vietnam vying for a share. - 12/28/16

Asia imports of Iranian oil more than doubled
India and South Korea have raised oil imports from Iran more than four times in a month which saw four major Asian buyers more than double their purchases from a year ago. China, India, South Korea and Japan imported 1.94 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 117 percent on a year earlier, government and ship-tracking data cited by Reuters showed. - 12/28/16

PHOTOS: Homeless Iranians seek shelter in empty graves
A series of dramatic photographs showing homeless people sheltering from the winter cold in a graveyard near Tehran is stirring emotions in Iran. According to one local newspaper, over 50 people are living among empty graves in a cemetery located in Shahriar suburb, near the capital. - 12/27/16

Siamand Rahman: World's strongest Paralympian raises bar higher
In the build up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Iranian powerlifter Siamand Rahman had tantalised the world with one of the most exciting stories of 'will he or will he not' ever seen in the Paralympic Movement. On breaking the men's over 107kg world record no less than nine times in two years before Rio 2016, the question on everyone's lips was clear: can he reach the mystical 300kg mark? -IPC - 12/27/16

Iranian Currency's Sharp Fall Sparks Concerns, Criticism
Iran's currency fell to an unofficial record low against the U.S. dollar on December 26, extending a dramatic drop in the rial's value in recent months that has prompted concerns about the country's economy. The street value of the rial reportedly hit 41,500 to the dollar on December 26, compared to 35,570 in September and beating the previous low of around 40,000 recorded in 2012. - 12/27/16

Yasmin Khan's "The Saffron Tales: Recipes From the Persian Kitchen"
Armed with little more than a notebook and a bottle of pomegranate molasses, British-Iranian cook Yasmin Khan traversed Iran in search of the country's most delicious recipes. Her quest took her from the snowy mountains of Tabriz and the paddyfields of Gilan to the cosmopolitan cafes of Tehran and the pomegranate orchards of Isfahan, where she was welcomed into the homes of artists, farmers, electricians and teachers. Through her travels, she gained a unique insight into the culinary secrets of the Persian kitchen and the lives of ordinary Iranians today. - 12/27/16

PHOTOS: Tehran 6th Artwork Auction Fetches 3 Million Dollars
The 6th Tehran Auction of artwork, held on December 24th, hosted 120 works of 112 illustrators and painters. The highest sold works belonged to Reza Derakhshani, Hossein Zendehroudi, Kourosh Shishegaran, Monir Farmanfarmaian, Farideh Lashai, Bahman Mohasses, Manouchehr Yektaei, and Farhad Moshiri, along with other works of diverse names. - 12/27/16

Iran Opposition Leader Quits Party After Long House Arrest
Mehdi Karrubi, a top Iranian opposition leader who has been under house arrest for nearly six years, has resigned as secretary-general of his party. Karrubi wrote in a letter to the National Trust party that his resignation is an effort to preserve unity ahead of the May presidential election. - 12/27/16

High dollar rates spark criticisms in Iran
The runaway dollar has sparked serious concerns in Iran over what many believe could eventually prove costly for a country which has been planning for months to reap the benefits of the removal of the sanctions. - 12/27/16

Iran's exports rise outpacing imports
The latest official figures show that Iran's exports of non-oil commodities over a period of nine months starting 21 March 2016 increased by around 10 percent - another indication which shows that the country's trade is improving after the removal of multiple years of sanctions. - 12/27/16

Do Project Cancellations Indicate Declining US Interest in South Caucasus?
US President-elect Donald Trump has canceled his real estate projects in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The moves suggest that the US role in the South Caucasus may decline during Trump's administration. -Michael Hikari Cecire, LobeLog - 12/27/16

PHOTOS: Foreign Tourists Visiting Historical Houses In Kashan, Iran
Since the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers in July 2015, there has been a big jump in travel by foreign tourists to Iran. One of the favorite destinations for the tourists is Kashan in central Iran where they can visit numerous historical houses from the 18th and 19th centuries that illustrate the finest examples of architecture from the Qajar era. - 12/26/16

More than 50 days on hunger strike: Iranian political prisoners are slowly dying
As the number of political prisoners on hunger strikes are increasing in Iranian prisons, three prisoners who have been on hunger strike for the past seven weeks are slowly dying: Arash Sadeghi, Morteza Moradpour and Ali Shariati. Aside from the three, Saeed Shirzad, children rights activist serving a 5 year sentence, has sewed his lips in order to refuse food. - 12/26/16

Women Wrestling: UWW agrees to Iran's cover-singlet proposal
The United World Wrestling (UWW) has accepted a proposal by Iran to allow female athletes from Muslim nations to adhere to Islamic dress code while taking part in international tournaments. Most of the technical principles of cover-singlet wrestling are similar to those of women's wrestling. A singlet covers the athlete's body from head to toe, and an accompanying helmet protects her head and ears. - 12/26/16

Iran resumes carpet exports to U.S. in post-sanctions era
Head of the Iranian National Carpet Center has announced the resumption of Iran's hand-woven carpet export to the US during post-sanctions era. Hamid Karegar, speaking in a meeting with Qazvin Governor General Fereidoun Hemmati on Sunday, said that Iran resumed carpet exports to the US in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). - 12/26/16

Iran Says It Will Pay Half Price For Boeing Planes
Iran has said it will only pay half of the price announced for 80 new planes from U.S. firm Boeing. Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan as saying the country will only pay half of the $16.6 billion deal because of reduced purchasing options. - 12/26/16

Iran's currency hits record low as Trump worries deter fund inflows
Iran's rial hit a record low against the U.S. dollar on Monday in a sign of concern about the country's ability to attract foreign money after U.S. president-elect Donald Trump takes office. -Reuters - 12/26/16

Iranian banks authorized to sell dollars at free rates
The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) says it has authorized banks to deal in foreign exchange trading at a free-market rate - a move which is expected to help control the rising rates of the dollar. Persian-language newspaper Jomhouri-ye Eslami criticized CBI's move and said it would only deteriorate the situation of the Rial against the dollar in Iran's foreign currency market. - 12/25/16

PHOTOS: Two Persian leopards spotted at Parvar Protected Area
A leopardess and her cub were spotted on December 21st at Parvar Protected Wildlife Area in Semnan province of Iran. Persian leopard is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List; the population is estimated at fewer than 871-1,290 mature individuals and considered declining. - 12/25/16

Iran, P5+1 to meet in January over US sanctions renewal
A high-level commission monitoring the implementation of last year's nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers plans to meet in Vienna on January 10 to discuss the recent move by the United States to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). - 12/25/16

Russia, Iran Presidents Hold Talks On Syria Crisis
The presidents of Russia and Iran have agreed to continue working together "on issues related to assistance in finding a political solution to the Syria crisis," a Kremlin statement says. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, spoke by telephone on December 24 and described the Syrian government's capture of the city of Aleppo as a "milestone" in the conflict. - 12/25/16

Imprisoned Iranian Activist Faces New Charges After Filing Complaint About Revolutionary Guards
Iranian civil rights defender Atena Daemi, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence in Tehran's Evin Prison for her peaceful activism, has been slapped with new charges after filing a complaint against the Revolutionary Guards for using excessive force. - 12/25/16

Trump's Syria conundrum
President-elect Donald Trump's position on the conflict in Syria has been a confusing assortment of positions, the latest of which - his call for a safe zone in Syria - seems informed by his most recent conversations with candidates he interviewed for the position of secretary of state. -BBC - 12/25/16

Happy Holiday Season...
As we once again approach the much hyped, hustle and bustle of the holiday season, one cannot help but pause and contemplate the diversity of faiths worldwide, still revered by individuals versus the more exploitative and intrusive politicized religiosities that have, sadly, led to accumulation of power and wealth through subjugating the masses to violence, enslavement, injustice, and greed. -Davood N. Rahni - 12/24/16

IAEA Publishes Restricted Documents on Iran Nuclear Activities
The International Atomic Energy Agency has published on its website a number of documents, previously restricted, about the international nuclear deal with Iran reached in 2015. The documents released Friday are accompanied by a letter from the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who authorized the publication, but gave no details about why the documents were being made public now. - 12/24/16

2017 Uncertainties Require a New Mideast Security Structure
2016 certainly bore no good news for the Middle East. Wars are being waged with greater intensity, and the humanitarian catastrophes in Syria and Yemen are reaching unprecedented levels. Instability remains the key defining character of the region as it moves into the new year. But that is hardly news for the regional stakeholders who have been living with instability for decades now. -Adnan Tabatabai - 12/24/16

Iranian-American "Completely Isolated" in Iran's Gorgan Prison
Iranian-American political prisoner Reza (Robin) Shahini is being held in adverse conditions with dangerous criminals in Gorgan Prison, 186 miles northeast of Tehran in Golestan Province, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. - 12/24/16

More on Flynn's (and Ledeen's) Book
Iran appears uppermost in Flynn's mind, as he tells us that the regime there can somehow be brought down without resorting to military force, just as was done in the Soviet Union: "You don't have to send thousands of American troops to defeat Radical Islamist regimes. Properly used, this form of ideological and information warfare can probably bring down the Iranian regime, never mind the sadistic and immoral Islamic State..." -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/24/16

Iran Tourism: Myth vs. Fact
The stigma that Iran is a dangerous place where Western tourists - and particularly Americans - are neither welcomed, nor permitted to visit the country, could not be farther from the truth. Where does this stigma come from? For one thing, when Americans picture Iran, they tend to envision scenes from the 1979 hostage crisis or the stereotypical cries of "Death to America" that they have seen in the U.S. media. However, these perceptions do not reflect the reality on the ground. -Gabriella Butler, AIC - 12/23/16

US allows more Iran exports, training Iranians
The US Treasury Department has loosened exports of authorized medical devices as well as agricultural goods to Iran as well as the training of Iranian health professionals by Americans. The US Treasury Department says it has amended transactions restrictions on Iran to allow the exports of authorized medical devices and agricultural commodities to the country. - 12/23/16

British woman held in Iran told she can keep two-year-old daughter in prison or lose custody
A British mother being held in an Iranian prison has been told she can either keep her two-year-old daughter with her in jail or give up custody. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in April on unspecified "national security charges" as she was travelling back to Britain from Tehran after a trip to visit family. -Independent - 12/23/16

Iran Air Finalizes Purchase Of 100 Airbus Planes Worth $18 Billion
Airbus and Iran Air have finalized a deal for 100 planes worth $18 billion in a boost for an Iranian economy hobbled by years of sanctions. Airbus said on December 22 that deliveries will begin early next year. The contract includes single-aisle A320 and A330 jets and wide-body A350 XWB planes. - 12/23/16

Iran seeks closer ties with Eurasian states: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has underlined Tehran's determination to establish closer relations with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Rouhani made the remarks at a Friday joint press conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev in Kyrgyzstan's capital city of Bishkek. - 12/23/16

Syria's Assad Claims 'Turning Point' In War With Takeover Of Aleppo
The Syrian Army said it has taken complete control of Aleppo after evacuating the last rebel fighters from the battered city on December 22, handing President Bashar al-Assad his most important gain in the nearly six-year civil war. Assad and his forces proclaimed "an important turning point" and credited allies Russia and Iran for helping to make it possible. Russia's air force conducted hundreds of raids over the city while thousands of Iranian-backed militia fighters joined the battle. - 12/23/16

While Iran's President Rouhani is losing support, he is still likely to win re-election: Analyst
President Rouhani still stands the highest chance of winning re-election in the next presidential election, due May 2017, although his popularity is fading due to weak economic performance, an Iranian university professor has said. "Mr. Rouhani's electorate will face a drop of some millions for his second term," E'temad daily quoted Sadeq Zibakalam of Tehran University as saying. - 12/23/16

Lebanese-American Internet Freedom Advocate Starts Hunger Strike in Iran's Evin Prison
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born U.S. permanent resident and internet freedom advocate who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran in September 2015 for "espionage," has been on hunger strike since December 8, 2016 to protest his unjust sentence and the denial of medical and consular services. - 12/23/16

Relax: the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Doing Its Job
Nearly one year after Implementation Day, the Iran nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) is working, and implementation of the deal is, in large measure, on track. Although the president-elect vowed to toss the deal and negotiate a "better" one, the truth is that the Iran deal is accomplishing exactly what it was supposed to... -Laicie Heeley, Amy J. Nelson, National Interest - 12/23/16

Aleppo: High Point for the Iranian Venture in Syria
If ever it had any doubts, Iran can today take comfort in its strategic calculations. For its leadership, there was never any question of permitting some sort of neo-Taliban take power in Damascus, crush all its minorities, then cross into Lebanon and Iraq to desecrate the most sacred shrines of Shi'ism, and ultimately threaten the very borders of Iran itself. All of this with the massive support, overt or covert, of Saudi Arabia, now more than ever obsessed by the centuries-old Persian and Shi'a threat. -Francois Nicoullaud - 12/22/16

The United States Can't Have Its JCPOA and Eat It Too
Last year's nuclear agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), has many detractors in the United States and elsewhere, including U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. They have always maintained that the deal benefits Iran more than the United States and its allies. Many of these detractors have thus argued that the JCPOA should be renegotiated or simply cancelled. -Shireen T. Hunter, LobeLog - 12/22/16

Photos: Zoroastrians "Towers of Silence" in Yazd
Amongst enigmatic tourist destinations in Iran are two Zoroastrian 'Towers of Silence' that are nested on top of two lonely, barren hilltops in southern outskirts of the city of Yazd, which has long been a center of Zoroastrianism in the country. In accordance with ancient Zoroastrian beliefs that accentuates on purity of the earth, dead bodies were not directly buried but left in these uncovered stone towers so that birds of prey could pick the bones clean. - 12/22/16

Iran inks deals as President Rouhani visits Kazakhstan
Iran and Kazakhstan have signed five agreements for cooperation on the second leg of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's tour of the Central Asia. Rouhani and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev oversaw the signing of the accords in the capital Astana on Thursday, aimed at expanding economic relations. - 12/22/16

Iran to launch 3 more satellites into space: ICT Minister
Iran's minister of information and communications technology says the country plans to send a new domestically-manufactured satellite into space by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (ending on March 20, 2017). - 12/22/16

Reformist Iranian Journalist Targeted by Intelligence Agents Awaits Sentence After Kafkaesque Trial
Reformist journalist Farzad Pourmoradi is awaiting sentencing after being tried at Branch 103 of the Criminal Court in Kermanshah, northwestern Iran, on December 5, 2016, but the indictment for the charges of "spreading lies for the purpose of disturbing public order" and "insulting officials" did not specify what constituted the alleged crimes. - 12/22/16

Iran sends first condensate cargo to Europe
Iran says it has sent its first cargo of gas condensate to Europe in a sign that shows the country is already expanding the market for its ultra light oil. Managing Director of South Pars Gas Complex Masoud Hassani was quoted by the domestic media as saying that the cargo comprises one million barrels of condensate which can be used to make both fuel and plastic. - 12/22/16

Iranian Kurd Group Accuses Tehran of Bombing that Killed 6 in Iraq
An Iranian Kurdish armed opposition group accused Iran on Wednesday of a bombing that killed five of its fighters and an Iraqi Kurdish policeman in northern Iraq. A twin explosion late on Tuesday hit the offices of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) in Koy Sanjaq, east of Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region. -Reuters - 12/22/16

Five Political Prisoners in Iran on Life-Threatening Hunger Strikes in Desperate Bid for Case Reviews
The lives of at least three imprisoned civil rights activists in Iran are perilously in danger after suffering health complications from weeks on hunger strike, while another has sewn his lips shut, but judicial authorities have yet to respond to their demands, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. - 12/21/16

Iran's President Rohani Visits Armenia On His Way To Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Iranian President Hassan Rohani visited Armenia on December 21 as part of a swing through three former Soviet republics. Rohani was expected to discuss bilateral ties with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Karen Karapetian. The two presidents were set to attend an Armenian-Iranian business forum. - 12/21/16

Iran, Russia, Turkey start bid to solve Syria crisis diplomatically: Iranian FM Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran, Russia and Turkey have started the process of finding a political solution to the Syria crisis. There is no military solution to the Syria conflict and the country's crisis can only be solved through political approaches, Zarif said in Moscow on Tuesday. - 12/21/16

Prehistoric Iranian toys or votive carts?
These animal figurines mounted on little carriages are part of a valuable deposit that is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The relics were unearthed in Susa, southwestern Iran, in the early 20th. They are part of a valuable deposit found at Susa, near the temple of Inshushinak. - 12/21/16

Iran Floating Oil Storage Builds Up: Report
Iran currently has 28.95 million barrels of oil and condensate in floating storage, a rise of 2.1 percent over the past week, the Fars news agency says. Citing shipping data and sources which track tanker movements, the news agency said on Wednesday that 38 tankers with stored oil were parked in sea lanes close to terminals in four Iranian ports. - 12/21/16

Iran Floating Oil Storage Builds Up: Report
Iran currently has 28.95 million barrels of oil and condensate in floating storage, a rise of 2.1 percent over the past week, the Fars news agency says. Citing shipping data and sources which track tanker movements, the news agency said on Wednesday that 38 tankers with stored oil were parked in sea lanes close to terminals in four Iranian ports. - 12/21/16

Iranian Security Chief Reveals Iran, Russia Sharing Military Base In Syria
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was quoted by Iranian news agencies on December 20 as saying there is "a shared base in Syria where Iran, with Russia's help, does advisory work to help the Syrian army and the [pro-Assad] resistance forces." - 12/21/16

OFAC 101: Iran Sanctions (U.S. Department of the Treasury)
OFAC provides readily available copies of statutes, executive orders, rules, and regulations relating to Iran on its website. Both due to - and also despite - this abundance of language, there is often confusion surrounding what is and is not permitted in U.S.-Iran business operations under the new agreement. Hence, this article seeks to clarify some of these guidelines. Imagine this as "OFAC 101." -Kriyana Reddy, AIC - 12/21/16

Yalda Night: A warm welcome to winter, felicitous farewell to fall
Once again, Iranians from all walks of life and all around the globe are arranging to celebrate Shab-e Yalda (Yalda Night), which falls on December 20. The auspicious yet thousands-year-old occasion, known as the longest and darkest night of the year, marks the last eve of autumn and the beginning of winter. - 12/20/16

President Rohani Officially Launches Iranian Citizens' Rights Charter
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has launched a Citizens' Rights Charter that represents one of his administration's most conspicuous efforts so far to fulfill campaign pledges he made in winning the presidency three years ago. Although it is not a legally binding document, the text contains 120 articles pertaining to freedoms that critics say are routinely violated in the Islamic republic, including rights to "life," which is aimed at capital punishment, "free expression," and against an "inquisition of ideas." -Golnaz Esfandiari - 12/20/16

Iranians celebrate the longest night of the year: Yalda
Yalda is the name by which the longest night of the year is known in Iran. Iranians mark the end of autumn and the advent of winter in one of the most celebrated national events. In public belief, the night of the last day of the Persian calendar month of Azar - this year it falls on December 20th - harbors the eventual victory of light over darkness. - 12/20/16

Global Nomadic Art Project wraps up in Tehran museum
The Global Nomadic Art Project, which began in the coastal village of Salakh on Qeshm Island on December 5, wrapped up at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday, December 18, 2016. TThe seventh edition of the project began in South Korea and moved to India and South Africa, and later continued in Iran. - 12/20/16

IMF expects 6.6% economic growth for Iran
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it expects Iran's economic growth to reach as high as 6.6 percent for the Persian calendar year that started in March 2016. The IMF announced in a statement that higher oil production and exports would be particularly instrumental in boosting Iran's economic growth that was in recession last year. - 12/20/16

Protestant Church Property Confiscated in Iran by Khamenei-Supervised Organization
The largest Persian-speaking Protestant community in Iran, Jama'at-e Rabbani, has announced that it has been stripped of its ownership of Sharon Gardens, a large and valuable piece of real estate in the city of Karaj, by an organization operating under the supervision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. - 12/20/16

Iran Expects First Airbus Jet In Mid-January
Iran expects to receive its first jet next month under a multibillion-dollar deal with Airbus for 100 planes, a senior Iranian official said. Deputy Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan told Reuters in an interview that the negotiations with Airbus have been finalized and that the deal is expected the be signed on December 20 or 21. - 12/20/16

Iran Says It Wants UN Help to Build Nuclear-powered Vessels
Iran is asking the International Atomic Energy Agency for advice and assistance in developing a fleet of nuclear-powered ships, according to reports Sunday on Iranian government websites. - 12/19/16

Iranian researchers build brain stimulator tDCS device
Iranian researchers at Amirkabir University have designed and developed brain stimulator transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) devices that can be used in treatment of Parkinson's Disease. - 12/19/16

Historical Seb Castle stands tall in southeastern Iran
The historical Seb Castle, with a height of 23 meters, stands tall as one of the tourist attractions in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. Seb Castle is constructed of clay and mortar blend with loads of sticky plant seeds. In some parts wooden slabs cut from palm trees have been used to strengthen the overall layout, enabling it to withstand the natural disasters in particular mellow seismic vibrations. - 12/19/16

Five Gonabadi Dervishes Arrested in Iran Amid Ongoing Persecution Campaign
Five dervishes of the Sufi Gonabadi Order were arrested in the southern Iranian city of Dezful on December 13, 2016 after obeying a summons to appear at the prosecutor's office, their lawyer Kasra Nouri told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/19/16

Renault's 11-month sales to Iran up 146% year over year
French carmaker Renault's sales of automobiles to Iran increased by 146 percent from January to November 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, according to the French company's recent sales report, Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday. - 12/19/16

Azerbaijan: Netanyahu Visit Boosts Azerbaijani-Israel Ties
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent official visit to Baku signals that Azerbaijan-Israel ties are gaining momentum. Netanyahu's visit on December 13, his first since 1997, resulted in the signing of four cooperation agreements, including one creating a joint economic commission that Netanyahu said would expand Azerbaijani energy exports to Israel. -Zaur Shiriyev, LobeLog - 12/19/16

Iran finalizes deal with Airbus to buy 100 planes
The Iranian flag carrier, Iran Air, says it has finalized a much-awaited contract with the European aviation giant Airbus to purchase 100 aircraft. Iran Air will receive seven or eight planes from Airbus in 2017, Farhad Parvaresh, the managing director of the airline told reporters on Sunday. - 12/18/16

Iran Claims U.S. Violated Nuclear Deal, Requests EU Review
Reports from Tehran say Iran has requested a meeting of a commission that oversees the implementation of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to Tehran's claims that the United States has violated the agreement. - 12/18/16

IAEA satisfied by Iran commitment to nuclear deal: Yukiya Amano
During a visit to Tehran, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has expressed satisfaction with Iran's commitment to its obligations under the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers. "Iran has been committed to its obligations and this is an important matter," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s Director General Yukiya Amano said on Sunday at a joint press conference with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). - 12/18/16

Iran proposes World Solidarity for Wrestling yearly contests
The Islamic Republic of Iran Wrestling Federation (IRIWF) has submitted a proposal to the governing body for amateur wrestling to organize three-team tournaments every year under the "World Solidarity for Wrestling" banner. The events could be held in Tehran's Milad Tower, in Red Square in the Russian capital city of Moscow, and in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan of New York City, as well as popular venues in Japan and Turkey, the Iranian organization proposed. - 12/18/16

Is Tillerson a Timely Choice?
The announcement of Rex Tillerson as Trump's pick for secretary of state has led many to ask whether an oil executive is capable of advancing America's foreign policy interests. Although the Trump transition team didn't likely foresee the full potential of the appointment, Tillerson may offer a timely change of profile for the role of secretary of state-if we prioritize a long overlooked challenge facing American diplomacy. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj - 12/18/16

Ayatollah Khamenei Criticizes British PM For Saying Iran Poses Regional Threat
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has harshly criticized Britain in a response to Prime Minister Theresa May's claim that Iran poses a threat to the region. "The British were the root of all evil in the region over the last two centuries, now in barefaced fashion they accuse Iran of all countries of being a threat," Khamenei said in remarks published on his website on December 17. - 12/18/16

Iran's New Basij Militia Commander More Militaristic Than His Predecessor
The appointment of ultra-conservative hardliner Gholam-Hossein Gheibparvar as the new commander of Iran's Basij, a volunteer militia under the authority of the Revolutionary Guards, has raised fears of increased intimidation and repression of anyone deemed guilty of political dissent. - 12/18/16

In Yemen, Yet Another Undeclared U.S. War
The long national nightmare that was the 2016 presidential election is finally over. Now, we're facing a worse terror: the reality of a Trump presidency. Donald Trump has already promised to nominate a segregationist attorney general, a national security adviser who is a raging Islamophobe, a secretary of education who doesn't believe in public schools, and a secretary of defense whose sobriquet is "Mad Dog." -Rebecca Gordon, LobeLog - 12/18/16

TEDxTehran 2016: "Good Morning Tehran"
Our lives in Tehran and worldwide is in constant motion. Time is always in transition. This was a reflection of TEDxTehran theme the past three years. We began with our city, Tehran En Route, heading towards an inflection point, The Verge of a Breakthrough that gave way to A New Paradigm. So what comes right after this journey to a New Paradigm? - 12/16/16

PHOTOS: Quiet Death Of Migrant Geese In Meighan Wetland
In recent days, Meighan Wetland, located in Arak, Iran (map), has witnessed death of many migrant geese that seek refuge there every year. The cause of these deaths is unknown and is being investigated by the environmental authorities. - 12/16/16

Mother Begs Revolutionary Guards Not to Return Her Activist Son to Prison In Heart-Rending Video
A video posted on social media shows the mother of civil rights activist Omid Alishenas, who was at home with her on bail at the time, pleading with the Revolutionary Guards agents outside her door not to force him to return to Evin Prison to begin serving a seven-year prison sentence. - 12/16/16

Qeshm Island in Persian Gulf to host Global Geoparks Network workshop in 2017
The Iranian island of Qeshm in Persian Gulf will play host to Global Geoparks Network Workshop for Middle East Region, which will be held from April 24 to 26, 2017. Founded in 2004 as an international partnership developed under the umbrella of UNESCO, the GGN seeks to promote professional management of global geoparks and raise multi-cultural links to the maintenance of geological sites. - 12/16/16

Iran's Aseman Airlines to get Airbus planes
Iran's Aseman Airlines says it is working on a plan to renovate its fleet by procuring a series of planes from the world's largest aerospace corporation Boeing, European aviation giant Airbus and even Russia's Sukhoi aircraft builder. - 12/16/16

U.S. Charges Man With $1 Billion Conspiracy To Evade Iran Sanctions
The U.S. Justice Department said on December 15 that it has charged a U.S. citizen with money laundering and evading sanctions on Iran. The department charged that Kenneth Zong along with four unindicted co-conspirators -- another American and three Iranians -- engaged in fraudulent transactions intended to unlawfully withdraw Iranian-owned funds worth approximately $1 billion from South Korean banks. - 12/16/16

There's more propaganda than news coming out of Aleppo this week
There was a period in 2011 and 2012 when there were genuinely independent opposition activists operating inside Syria, but as the jihadis took over these brave people were forced to flee abroad, fell silent or were dead -Patrick Cockburn, Independent - 12/16/16

Law Allowing U.S. Sanctions Against Iran Extended Without Obama Signature
In a surprise move, U.S. President Barack Obama declined to sign a 10-year extension of legislation governing sanctions against Iran but allowed it to become law anyway. Obama faced a deadline of midnight on December 14 to sign the bill extending the Iran Sanctions Act, which allows the United States to impose sanctions on companies for doing business with Iran. - 12/15/16

Dr. Homayoon Shidnia and Persian Manuscript Studies in the US
Last Thursday, December 8, 2016, the Persian manuscript tradition lost its greatest patron in the West. Professor Homayoon Shidnia (1930-2016), who passed away in Indianapolis organized the small but culturally influential Iranian community of Indiana and created the non-profit Foundation for the Preservation of Persian Manuscripts nearly two decades ago. -Dr. Mahmoud Omidsalar - 12/15/16

Aleppo Evacuation Under Way: Reports
Reports say an operation to evacuate a rebel-held enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo is under way. The International Committee of the Red Cross said on December 15 that it was preparing to evacuate 200 wounded people, some in critical condition, as part of a cease-fire deal. - 12/15/16

Tehran to Host New Iran Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference
Iran, the 18th largest economy in the world, is to host the first Iran Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (IHTIC), a top-level gathering of international investors, owners, operators, developers and government officials. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision plan, Iran is expecting to increase the number of tourism arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million by 2025. - 12/15/16

Trump to face Putin reckoning if Iran nuclear deal annulled: EU's Mogherini
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the US will have to face Russia if President-elect Donald Trump decides to back away from the Iran nuclear deal. Mogherini made the remarks in a Wednesday interview with The Wall Street Journal, adding that it was impossible for Trump to demand fresh concessions from Iran in relation to its nuclear program. - 12/15/16

President Rouhani Supporter Imprisoned for Peaceful Activism Critically Ill After 43-Day Hunger Strike
After 43 days on hunger strike, political prisoner Ali Shariati, a long-time supporter of President Hassan Rouhani, has been hospitalized and is "critically ill," his mother told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/15/16

Dismantling the Iran Deal Would Be Dangerous and Unwise
When President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20, he will inherit an array of foreign policy challenges. But unlike his predecessor, the list will not include the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran--unless Trump pursues a reckless plan to dismantle the nuclear deal or allows it to fall apart. -Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association - 12/15/16

Revolutionary Guard faces new foe in Iran's opening economy
Iran's Revolutionary Guard faces a new enemy: the gradual opening of the country's economy after the nuclear deal with world powers. Though better known for its hard-line fervor as an elite force created to defend Iran's cleric-led system, the Guard holds vast business interests both public and hidden across the Islamic Republic. -AP - 12/15/16

President Rouhani: Iran-Indonesia ties will benefit Islamic world
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that that strong relationship between Iran and Indonesia ties is beneficial to both countries and the larger Islamic world. In a joint press conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Tehran, Rouhani said Iran attaches great importance to relations with Indonesia as an important Islamic state in East Asia. - 12/14/16

Tehran, Moscow open new page in energy, industry ties
Iran and Russia signed 11 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on energy and industry cooperation in Tehran on Tuesday. Ten of the MOUs were penned during the 13th session of the Russian-Iranian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation co-chaired by Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Mehr news agency reported. - 12/14/16

Six Years into Extrajudicial House Arrest, Iran's Green Movement Leaders Still Asking for Trial
The Judiciary should carry out its latest "promise-or threat" to put former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011, on trial, said his son Mohammad Taghi Karroubi. Mehdi Karroubi, former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Green Movement leader Zahra Rahnavard who is also Mousavi's wife, have been forcibly detained under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011 for publicly disputing the results of Iran's 2009 presidential election. - 12/14/16

Iran Increasingly Sees IS as Threat to Islamic Republic
In an unusual display of public candor, Iranian authorities have said in recent speeches that Islamic State infiltrators are becoming a growing threat to the Islamic Republic. At least three times in recent months, Iranian officials have spoken about breaking up IS-related terror cells and arresting IS-affiliated militants planning attacks inside Iran. - 12/14/16

Israeli, Azerbaijani Leaders Meet In Baku
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has held talks with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Baku. Azerbaijan's presidential website said on December 13 that the two discussed bilateral ties during their face-to-face meeting. Reports from Iran quoted clerics and officials complaining about Shi'ite majority Azerbaijan hosting Netanyahu. - 12/14/16

Iran and the US elections: Observations from a trip to Iran
Iran has entered uncharted territory following the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. I recently came back from a six-week trip to Iran where I had the opportunity to observe first-hand the changes, developments, and uncertainty in the country. The widespread optimism that initially surrounded the deal, and the expectations that it would bring an economic windfall, have been significantly diminished since... -Payam Mohseni, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - 12/14/16

Turkey and Iran: Bitter Friends, Bosom Rivals
For nearly two centuries and despite their fierce geopolitical competition from the Levant to Iraq and the Caucasus, Turkey and Iran have kept the peace between themselves, compartmentalized growing energy and commercial relations and even cooperated regionally when their interests converged. Yet today, while their economies are increasingly intertwined, a profound disagreement over core interests in Iraq and Syria is putting these two former empires on a collision course. -International Crisis Group - 12/14/16

PHOTOS: Shahzadeh Garden, A Jewel In The Desert
The historical Shazdeh (Prince) Garden is located in the Kerman desert near Mahan. The Garden is a fine example of Persian gardens that take advantage of suitable natural climate. This magnificent garden known as "a corner in heaven" has been registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List as one of the masterpieces of traditional gardens. - 12/13/16

Iran Sanctions Cost U.S. Economy up to $272 Billion: Report
U.S. sanctions on Iran have carried a significant cost to the U.S. economy, a new report published by the National Iranian American Council today finds. Losing More Billions - The Cost of Iran Sanctions to the U.S. Economy reveals that between 1995 and 2014, the U.S. sacrificed at least $203 billion and as much as $272 billion in potential export revenue to Iran. - 12/13/16

In Response To Sanctions Renewal By U.S., Iran President Orders Work On Nuclear Propulsion Device
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to plan work on nuclear propulsion devices to be used in sea transport in response to the recent violation of a multilateral nuclear deal by the United States.​ - 12/13/16

Religious commonalities more important than differences: Iran's Sunni Female Governor
Different branches of Islam should pay attention to their notable commonalities rather than little differences, says Ms. Homeyra Rigi, the first Sunni female governor in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Rigi, 41, is the governor of Qasr-e Qand city in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. She was appointed to the position in 2014. She had already served as the head of the welfare department of Chabahar and councilor, as well. - 12/13/16

Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi: President Rouhani Directly Responsible for All Intelligence Ministry Abuses
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi held President Hassan Rouhani directly responsible for "every Intelligence Ministry violation" and criticized his failure to uphold the Constitution. - 12/13/16

Iran Signs Oil Deal With Gazprom Neft
Iran has signed a preliminary agreement with state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom Neft to develop two oil fields. The National Iranian Oil Company and Gazprom signed the memorandum of understanding at a December 13 ceremony in Tehran attended by Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak. - 12/13/16

Flynn's Wacky Worldview
Skepticism about Michael Flynn's fitness for the position of national security adviser appears to be growing as more media outlets are paying closer attention to his (and his son's) core beliefs about the world. Such scrutiny also appears to be more relevant since President-elect Trump may be relying more heavily on Flynn than on the CIA or other government intelligence agencies for his own assessment of world events. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/13/16

Iran celebrates wheat production self-sufficiency
Iran has marked what is celebrated at home as a landmark achievement to attain self-sufficiency in production of wheat. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Monday participated in a ceremony to celebrate the success of domestic producers to hit a record wheat production level of 11.5 million tons in a year. - 12/13/16

Guide to skiing and snowboarding in Iran
While not the first destination that comes to mind for powder hounds, skiing in Iran is a growing choice for those keen to ride somewhere different in a country rich in culture off the slopes. With sanctions easing, the country is expected to open up even further and attract even more skiers to its slopes in the Alborz Mountain Range near the capital Tehran. Moreover, the cheap prices mean that powder chasers can go easy on the hip pocket while enjoying famous Iranian hospitality. -Snow Season Central. - 12/13/16

Shifting Partnerships and the Road to Peace in the Middle East
Since the wave of revolt shook the Middle East beginning in 2011, alliances have been shifting with the change of leaderships. Most of those who once shaped the region and balanced the powers are no longer in charge. With wars, conflicts, and leadership changes, stability and synergy seem unlikely in the near future. The biggest powers in the Middle East, namely Saudi, Egypt, Iran, and the GCC, don't agree about such issues as Syria, Yemen, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran. -Rana Allam, LobeLog - 12/13/16

"The Salesman" by Iranian Director Asqar Farhadi Nominated for Golden Globe Awards
Iranian filmmaker Asqar Farhadi's latest movie, The Salesman, was nominated for the 2017 Golden Globe Awards. The list of nominees for the Golden Globe Awards 2017 ceremony was announced on Monday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The 74st annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on January 8, 2017. - 12/12/16

IRAN: Six Years Into Extrajudicial House Arrest, Mehdi Karroubi Repeats Request for First Trial
Mehdi Karroubi, former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard have been forcibly detained under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011 for publicly disputing the results of Iran's 2009 presidential election and encouraging peaceful protests. - 12/12/16

PHOTOS: The Historic Resket Tower in Sari, Iran
The Resket Tower is located in the city of Sari (Dodangeh District) in Iran's Mazandaran province. The tower dates back to the 11th century. With its conical dome, this cylindrical brick tower is believed to have been built near the impact site of a meteorite and is the tomb of Bavandid (651-1349) royal. The tower is 18 meters high and nearly 15 meters wide at its base. The tower has Kufic and Sassanid inscriptions as well as unique moqarnas decorations below its dome. - 12/12/16

Women's Leadership in Iran: a Panel Discussion
Mansoureh Shojaee a leading Iranian feminist author and activist, Masih Alinejad, journalist and writer and trouble maker for the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saghar Qyasi feminist researcher joined Naemeh Doustar, Zamaneh Media's women's section editor to talk about challenges to women's leadership in Iran. - 12/12/16

Iran's Sina Sanat Izeh crowned at World Wrestling Clubs Cup
Iranian wrestling club Sina Sanat Izeh has been crowned the champion of the third edition of the Greco-Roman Club World Cup in Hungary. On Friday evening, the Iranian team finished in the first place at the end of the two-day competitions in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest, overpowering Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi SK of Turkey 5-3 in the title showdown. - 12/12/16

Iran Army drills unveils hand-launched drone
The Iranian Army has unveiled a hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicle during its military drills underway in the country's strategic southeastern areas. The drone, dubbed 'Farpad,' is the latest surveillance aircraft of its type to join the battery of NEZAJA, the acronym derived from the Persian name of the Army's Ground Forces. - 12/12/16

PHOTOS: The Saint Stepanos Monastery In The Mountains Of Northwest Iran
The St. Stepanos Monastery or Monastery of St. Stephen the Protomartyr is an Armenian monastery about 15 km northwest of Jolfa city, East Azarbaijan Province in northwest Iran. It is situated in a deep canyon along the Arax river on the Iranian side of the border between Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Iran. It was built in the 9th century and rebuilt in the Safavid era (1501-1736) after several earthquakes damaged it. - 12/11/16

Iran Air, Boeing sign $16.6b deal for 80 planes
Iran Air signed a $16.6 billion deal to buy 80 passenger planes from U.S. aircraft maker Boeing, IRNA quoted Farhad Parvaresh, the managing director of the Iranian flag carrier as saying on Sunday. The deal, penned in the presence of Iran's Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi, includes purchase of 50 narrow-bodied 737 planes and 30 long-range 777s, according to Parvaresh. - 12/11/16

Iran Summons British Ambassador Over May's Comments
The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran because of recent comments by British Prime Minister Theresa May about Iran. Ambassador Nicholas Hopton was summoned for talks in Tehran on December 10 to explain May's comments at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Bahrain on December 7, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported. - 12/11/16

After a year of boldness, Saudi Arabia is in retreat
IN JANUARY this year Muhammad bin Salman, the young deputy crown prince who in effect runs Saudi Arabia, declared an end to his country's "comatose" foreign policy and a determination to push back against Iran. The Syrian rebels he supported looked unbeatable in Aleppo. His generals spoke of the imminent capture of Sana'a, Yemen's capital, from the Houthi rebels who had seized it. He kept Iran and its client militia, Hizbullah, from imposing their choice of president in Lebanon... -Economist - 12/11/16

Dr. Cumrun Vafa Awarded 2017 Breakthrough Prize In Fundamental Physics
Iranian-American scientist Dr. Cumrun Vafa is the recipient of the 2017 Breakthrough Prize In Fundamental Physics. Dr. Vafa will share the $3 million prize with 2 Professors Joseph Polchinski and Andrew Strominger. - 12/10/16

PHOTOS: "Maktab Shiraz" Art Exhibition by Shamseddin Ghazi
Artistic Principles: a) Belief in the use of the symbols and native elements and the national and religious ones and combining them with contemporary golbal artistic principles. b) Studying the form and content of traditional Iranian art, and comparing them with the contemporary art. c) Reconstructing and rebuilding the Iranian myth and the national symbols throughout all eras in Iran (before and after Islam) and updating them in the Contemporary Art. - 12/10/16

Iranian Rights Activist Sentenced to 15 Years Imprisonment in Critical Condition After 45-Day Hunger Strike
Civil rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for his peaceful activism, is in "critical and worrying" condition after 45 days on hunger strike in Tehran's Evin Prison, an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/10/16

Unprecedented Ruling Lightens Jail Term for Imprisoned Iranian Baha'is
Twenty four Iranian Baha'is who had been sentenced to heavy sentences ranging from 6 to 11 years for charges ranging from threatening national security to links to espionage, were acquitted from the charge that link them to enemy countries by the appeals court in Golestan Province. - 12/10/16

Iranian-Turkish Tensions Escalate Over Syria, Iraq
Tensions between neighbors Turkey and Iran are on the rise, with the countries jostling for influence in war-torn Syria and Iraq. But there are concerns that the rivalry is fueling sectarian divisions in the region. The tensions could also open the door to cooperation with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. - 12/10/16

Iran's Cyber Police Tries to Control Popular Social Media App Telegram with Hacking, Permits
A state crackdown on social media ahead of Iran's 2017 presidential election has resulted in the Cyber Police (FATA) requiring Iranian-owned channels with more than 5,000 followers on the country's most popular messaging application, Telegram, to seek official permits. Meanwhile, several Iranian-owned Telegram channels have been hacked by state agents, according to an investigation by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/10/16

Qatar's Diminishing Returns in Syria
Recent developments have set back Qatar's five-and-a-half-year campaign to topple the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad. Donald Trump's win last month and the president-elect's vows to sever Washington's limited support for Syrian rebels, Russia and China's votes on Dec. 5 to block a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Aleppo, and decisive gains scored by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the ruined city have all severely undermined Doha's objectives in the war-torn country. -Giorgio Cafiero - 12/10/16

Reformists and Hardliners at Loggerheads over Opposition Leaders' Arrest
More than seven years since the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, controversies related to the disputed polls and the regime's subsequent crackdown of the protest movement continue to haunt the Islamic Republic. As the country is gearing up for next year's presidential vote, Iranian conservatives and reformists are yet again at loggerheads over the house arrest of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi. -Ahmad Majidyar, MEI - 12/10/16

Azerbaijan: Officials Are Wrong to Securitize the Shias
What Azerbaijan needs today is not the harassment of ordinary believers on stretched security grounds, but a genuine respect for diversity of views, beliefs and lifestyles. This would form a better basis for a long-term, sustainable security and stability in the country. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 12/10/16

Iran's Fashion Industry is the Latest Victim of Khamenei's War on Western Culture
In the latest attack on the Islamic Republic's growing fashion sector, a court in Shiraz sentenced 12 industry professionals in December 2016 to prison terms ranging from five months to six years. An investigation by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has revealed that the crackdown on the sector is ongoing, is being led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Intelligence Organization in concert with Iran's Judiciary, and follows a decree by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei against all forms of perceived western culture. - 12/9/16

Trump's National Security Advisor: A Troubling Appointment
President-elect Trump's appointment of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn will likely create a Kafkaesque situation that Trump himself will find unmanageable. Questions surrounding the appointment could hamper the president's plans to pursue his policy initiatives and will cast an unnecessary cloud over the new administration. Because of General Flynn's attachment to fake news, dangerous preconceptions of Islam and Muslim countries, and cavalier attitude toward the truth and objectivity, he would be a constant headache for the president. -Emile Nakhleh - 12/9/16

Sareh Javanmardi raises awareness about people with impairment
A series of women made indelible marks on the shooting range at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Sareh Javanmardi stormed to two pistol golds, the first Iranian woman to win a title in shooting, and the USA's McKenna Dahl became her country's first female medallist in shooting Para sport. - 12/9/16

Iran's President Rohani Says OPEC Cooperation Key To Boosting Oil Prices
Iranian President Hassan Rohani says cooperation among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is key to implementing a deal reached last week to cut production in a bid to boost slumping global prices, Iranian state TV reported. - 12/9/16

Expelled Student Activist Reminds President Rouhani of Unfulfilled Pledge to Let Her Resume Studies
A women's rights activist and former student who spent nearly two and a half years in prison for her peaceful activism has written an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani reminding him that he has still not fulfilled his campaign promise of allowing expelled political students to resume their studies. - 12/9/16

Iran threatens to reverse diplomatic relations with England after Theresa May's remarks at GCC
Chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi has warned England of re-downgrading relations following "divisive" remarks by Prime Minister Theresa May. During the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council's annual summit in the Bahraini capital Manama on Wednesday, May said she was "clear-eyed" about what she called "the threat" Iran poses to the region. - 12/9/16

The fear that's keeping Iranian Americans from visiting their homeland
Sitting inside his empty travel agency in Los Angeles, Farhad Besharati expressed concern about the decline of his business. The majority of his customers are older Persians who come to him when they want to purchase airline tickets to Iran. But lately, he said, some are canceling their flights, and fewer people are arranging trips -Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times - 12/9/16

Hyundai inks major Iran ship building deals
Iran says it has signed contracts with South Korea's shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries Company to build at least eight Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) as well as medium-range tankers for carrying petroleum products. - 12/9/16

James Mattis' 33-Year Grudge Against Iran
The military officials I spoke with say that Mattis is the quintessential Marine; it defines everything he does and believes, from how he treats his soldiers and disciplines his commanders to how he views the world. Most critically, perhaps, for the United States and its future, Mattis has embraced the Marine Corps' longstanding grievance against Iran, one that goes back to the 1980s. In fact, Mattis' anti-Iran animus is so intense that it led President Barack Obama to replace him as Centcom commander. -Mark Perry, Politico - 12/9/16

Shell Signs Deal To Explore Oil Development In Iran
Iran and Shell signed a deal on December 7 to explore the development of three of Iran's biggest oil and gas fields, undeterred by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's vow to undo last year's nuclear deal that enabled Western companies to resume business with Iran. - 12/8/16

Iran calls for China to step up economic relations
"As China expanded its economic relations with Iran during the sanctions, the country fits for playing stronger role in the Iranian economy after the removal of the sanctions," Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Chairman Gholam-Hossein Shafeie said during Iran-China Business Forum in Beijing on Tuesday. - 12/8/16

Iran Announces Plan To Make Toman Its Official Currency, Ditching Rial
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has announced that his administration will reintroduce the toman as the country's official currency, replacing the rial, upon approval by parliament, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on December 7. - 12/8/16

Iran says in US interest to respect nuclear deal
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it is in the interest of the US to remain committed to last year's landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries. Addressing a seminar in Tokyo on Thursday, Zarif said that the agreement was "multilateral" and endorsed by the UN Security Council but the US has a "less than respectable" history in abiding by international laws. - 12/8/16

Will the Trump Administration Start a War with Iran?
The direct stakes in whether the Trump administration adheres to the agreement that restricts the Iranian nuclear program are important enough, in terms of nuclear nonproliferation. Also important are the opportunities to build on that agreement constructively to address problems of concern to both Iran and the United States. But at stake as well, as the new administration makes policy toward Iran, is the need to avoid a potentially disastrous turn, highly costly to U.S. interests, in the U.S.-Iranian relationship. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 12/8/16

Tehran Says Britain Touts Iran 'Threat' To Make 'Massive' Arms Sales In Persian Gulf
Iran shot back at British Prime Minister Theresa May after she called the country a "threat" at a meeting with Arab Gulf states in Bahrain on December 7. Britain is "not in a position to accuse others of interfering in regional affairs," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said in Tehran. - 12/8/16

Iran Tops Agenda at Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain
Arab Gulf countries wrapped up a two-day summit in Bahrain's capital, Manama, Wednesday, after discussing major regional concerns that included Iran, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. King Hamad of Bahrain sounded a cheerful note, in his final remarks to the 37th annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The king thanked his fellow Gulf leaders for attending, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May, for her presence. -VOA - 12/8/16

2 die, 6 injured in helicopter crash in Tehran lake
Two died and 6 were injured in a helicopter crash in Tehran on Tuesday, Mehr news agency reported. The helicopter which belonged to Iranian Helicopter Support and Renewal Company, called PANHA, crashed into the Chitgar recreational and artificial lake with 8 passengers on board. - 12/8/16

Gheibparvar appointed new chief of Iran's Basij
In a decree on Tuesday the Supreme Leader appointed Qolamhossein Gheibparvar as the new head of the Basij Organization, Fars reported. Gheibparvar was formerly the commander of Fars Province Fajr Corps and IRGC Ground Force Training Department in reverse chronological order. - 12/8/16

Opening up, Iran has opportunity to commercialize its science and technology skills
The Islamic Republic of Iran has developed the science and technology skills necessary to be a global player in more than oil and gas, but must invest more in innovation to compete effectively in the global economy, according to an UNCTAD report. - 12/7/16

Anti-Riot Forces Violently Attack Peacefully Protesting Tehran Bus Union Members
Members of one of Iran's oldest unions who were peacefully demanding their past due housing allowances and other benefits in front of the Tehran Municipality building were violently attacked by anti-riot police on December 4, 2016. - 12/7/16

Iranian Basij Official Says 50 Student Volunteers Killed Fighting In Syria
The press agency for Iran's hard-line conservative volunteer militia, the Basij, has quoted a senior official as saying that 50 Iranian student volunteers have been killed while fighting in Syria. - 12/7/16

Iran safest investment market for Japan in Mideast: Iranian FM
Visiting Japan, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif bills Iran as the "safest" destination for foreign investment in the troubled Middle East, calling on the Japanese businesses to seize the opportunity and promote their role the Iranian market. He made the remarks at a major economic gathering bringing together the Iranian and Japanese business personalities at Hotel Okura in Tokyo on Wednesday under the auspices of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). - 12/7/16

In Iran, Women's Basij Leader Demands Persecution Of Gender-Rights Activism
Minou Aslani, head of the Women's Basij organization in Iran, has condemned efforts to increase the number of women in parliament and opposed campaigns to curb domestic violence as perceived assaults on Iranian society and traditional family values. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 12/7/16

Iran Offers Incentives For Foreign Investment
Iranian Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia said Iran welcomes foreign investment and offers investors with a variety of incentives, IRNA reported. Speaking at the 20th general meeting and conference of Asia-Pacific Central Securities Depository Group (ACG20) in Tehran on Tuesday, the minister explained some of incentives which foreign investors can benefit from in the country. - 12/7/16

IAEA report confirms Iran's shipping of excess heavy water
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed Iran's shipping of 11 tons of heavy water out of the country as part of its commitments to last year's nuclear agreement. According to a diplomat citing a confidential IAEA report, the transfer brings Iran's stock of heavy water to below 130 metric tons which is in accordance with the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 group of countries. - 12/7/16

Britain Pledges To Help Gulf Countries Counter Iran's 'Aggressive Actions'
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she hopes to deepen defense cooperation with Persian Gulf countries to "push back Iran's aggressive regional actions." In October 2015, Britain began to construct a naval base in Bahrain -- the country's first new permanent military base in the Middle East in four decades. - 12/7/16

Why Iran is finding it hard to create jobs
The country's economy is finally taking off: boosted by sanctions relief, GDP is set to grow about 4.5% this year, up from 0.4% in 2015. Yet few ordinary Iranians have felt the benefits. Unemployment actually went up in the first half of this year, from 10.7% to 12.2%. Underemployment is also rife, at about 9.5%. Why is Iran's rebound failing to create jobs? -Economist - 12/7/16

PEGAH: A Film by Javid Rezai
The summer before university, Pegah, a shy girl from a traditional Iranian family, finds herself on the cusp of an illicit relationship with her British friends recently divorced father. 25 year-old Javid Rezai is a British-Iranian director and screenwriter. His first narrative short, Another Life, premiered at the Festival Internacional de Cine de Madrid in 2016. The film went on to be nominated for 15 awards globally. - 12/6/16

Prominent Iranian Lawyer, Writers Arrested With "Overwhelming Force" at Chain Murders Commemoration
Police and plainclothes security agents arrested a prominent human rights lawyer and several members of the Writers Association of Iran at a commemoration event for victims of the "chain murders" of dissidents in the 1990s by agents of the Iranian government. - 12/6/16

Iranian President Threatens US Over Sanctions Extension
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is threatening the United States with a "harsh reaction", after Congress voted last week to renew sanctions against the country for an additional 10 years. Rouhani said if U.S. President Barack Obama implements the sanctions it would mark a "blatant and clear breach" of the nuclear agreement reached last year. - 12/6/16

Iran seizes 'unauthorized' film package heading to Berlin Film Festival
Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dowlatabadi announced on Sunday that Iranian police have seized a package of 'unauthorized' Iranian films from the consultant of the Berlin Film Festival - Berlinale at a Tehran airport. "A woman named Anke Leweke [the Iran consultant for the Berlin Film Festival] has recently arrived in the country, visiting with some of the 2009 post-election sedition convicts," Jafari-Dowlatabadi said in a meeting. - 12/6/16

Report: Iran Jails 12 Working In Fashion Industry
An Iranian court has sentenced 12 people working in the fashion industry to jail for posting images on the Internet, according to a report in local media. The eight men and four women were given sentences ranging from five months to six years in jail by a court in the southern city of Shiraz on December 5, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reported. - 12/6/16

New IS Spokesman Takes Aim at West, Turkey and Iran
A new chief spokesman for the Islamic State is urging supporters to target the terror group's enemies wherever they find them and "burn the ground under their feet." IS, through it's al-Furqan media division, released an audio recording of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, naming him as the replacement for Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Adnani was killed in a U.S. drone strike near al-Bab, Syria August 30.-Jeff Seldin, VOA - 12/6/16

Russia using Iran's airbase currently not on agenda: Iranian Official
Iran says Russia currently has no plans for using the airbase near the western Iranian city of Hamedan for its anti-terrorism operations. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi made the remarks during a press conference on Monday in response to earlier reports concerning Russia's use of the Nojeh airbase. - 12/6/16

Iran, Airbus to jointly produce plane parts
Iran says it will soon launch a cooperation scheme with France's aviation giant Airbus over the production of spare parts for planes - a move that could help the company get a stronger foothold in the Iranian market once a much-awaited agreement to sell planes to the country becomes effective. - 12/6/16

I Want to Cry Like Soraya
Don't we all? On the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the passing of Iran's Queen Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari, Joobin Bekhrad remembers her and two other Iranian luminaries who also met their untimely ends in Paris -Reoirent - 12/6/16

Flynn Simply Unfit
General Flynn is entitled to differ from the large majority of the American security establishment by opposing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran. But his advocacy of "regime change" over diplomacy as a means of addressing Iran's nuclear program is reckless and incendiary. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/6/16

How the OPEC Deal Breaks Down for Three Big Producers
OPEC got what it wanted with Wednesday's agreement to cut oil production: higher prices. But that is a double-edged sword, as those higher prices could lead to a surge in production by U.S. shale producers and others outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. And if those producers exacerbate the supply glut that has plagued the market, it will be much more difficult to reach another deal when this one expires in six months. -Sara Vakhshouri, LobeLog - 12/6/16

China's Foreign Minister warns against obstruction of Iran nuclear deal
China has warned that no party to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world countries should allow its domestic upheavals to adversely affect its commitment to the accord. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks in Beijing on Monday at a joint press conference with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. - 12/5/16

Iran's President Rouhani submits $486 billion budget bill to Parliament
President Hassan Rouhani presented the administration's draft of the national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year 1396, which starts on March 21, 2017, to the Majlis. The proposed national budget amounted to about 10.849 quadrillion rials (about $486 billion), an 11 percent rise year on year. - 12/5/16

Iran women's rugby sevens team vice champion at Germany tournament
Iran national women's under-22 rugby sevens team has made quite an achievement at a four-team round-robin tournament in Germany, finishing in the second place at the end of the event. - 12/5/16

Rights Activist Files Complaint Against Iran's Revolutionary Guard Agents for Excessive Force
The young human rights activist Atena Daemi has filed a formal complaint against agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for using excessive force when transferring her to Evin Prison to begin her sentence, she said in a letter written to a source who wished to remain anonymous due to security concerns. - 12/5/16

Iranian powerlifters pocket 8 gold medals in world tournament
Iranian powerlifters have started off to a vigorous and impressive campaign at the World Championship Amateur World Powerlifting Congress (AWPC)/ World Champions Cup World Powerlifting Congress (WPC)/World Armlifting Association (WAA) - 2016 in Russia, winning eight gold medals. - 12/5/16

Iranian Female Soccer Pros Featured on Next 60 MINUTES SPORTS on Showtime
American citizen, who grew up in Tulsa, Okla., has become a leading coach in Iran's nascent professional girls' soccer program, and she tells Lesley Stahl she sees an increasing number of women and girls playing the sport across the country. Stahl goes to Iran to speak to Katayoun Khosrowyar and see this so-called soccer revolution first-hand on the next edition of 60 MINUTES SPORTS -Broadway World - 12/5/16

Tabriz to host World ParaVolley World Club Cup May 1-6, 2017
Northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz (map) has been chosen to host the 2017 World ParaVolley World Club Cup. The competition will be held in Tabriz next year from May 1 to 6. Gostaresh Foolad Tabriz will represent Iran in the competition. - 12/5/16

Iran fashion workers jailed for 'spreading prostitution'
Twelve people involved in the fashion industry in Iran are reported to have been jailed for "spreading prostitution" via images posted online. The eight women and four men were handed sentences of between five months and six years by a court in Shiraz, a lawyer told the Ilna news agency. - 12/5/16

December 4 marks International Cheetah Day: World's fastest land animal is racing against extinction
Cheetah is world's fastest land animal over short distances and also the most ancient of all the big cats. Years of persecution have made it one of the world's most vulnerable big cats. In their ancestral homeland of the Middle East the Asian subspecies of cheetah is critically endangered, with very few, if any, individuals left in remote parts of Iran. The situation is only slightly better in Africa. -Farnaz Heidari - 12/4/16

Iran President Demands Obama Not Sign Extension Of U.S. Sanctions
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has urged U.S. President Barack Obama not to sign a 10-year extension of U.S. sanctions approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate. In a speech to Iran's parliament on December 4, Rohani said the bill violates a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. - 12/4/16

Amnesty Calls On Iran To Release Four Arrested At Commemoration For Murdered Writers
Amnesty International has called on Iran to release "immediately and unconditionally" four individuals arrested on December 2 at a gathering marking the 18th anniversary of the killings of two prominent intellectuals. - 12/4/16

Iranian Official Arrested for Supporting Release of Imprisoned Human Rights Activist
Alireza Rahmani, the director of public relations for the governor's office in Qazvin, 89 miles (143 kms) northwest of Tehran, was arrested on November 29 for inviting friends online to support the release of imprisoned human rights activist Narges Mohammadi. - 12/4/16

Iranian Startups: Modiseh Online Store
Shanbe talks to Hadi Arbabi, the founder of Iranian online store Modiseh: We have chosen this name "Modiseh" because it has the word "mod" (fashion) and the name of one of Isfahan villages which is pronounced "Modiseh". In this way we included Iranian approach in our brand. On the other hand because internet includes searching and navigating, this name reminds us of "Odyssey", the hero of Greek epics and stories. - 12/3/16

Iran Officials Upset Over Extension of US Sanctions
Iran's top diplomat has strongly condemned a bill that passed the U.S. Congress earlier this week to extend sanctions against the country. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iranian state broadcaster IRIB the extension of the sanctions "shows the unreliability of the American government" to the rest of the world. "America is acting against its commitment," he said. - 12/3/16

Titan Mercury of U.S. defeats Bimeh Razi of Iran to claim championship of World Wrestling Clubs Cup 2016
Iranian wrestling club Bimeh Razi has been defeated by the Titan Mercury of the United States at the 2016 Freestyle World Wrestling Clubs Cup in Ukraine, and finished as the runner-up in the respected international event. - 12/3/16

Iran's Supreme Court Upholds Billionaire's Death Sentence
Iran's highest court has upheld a court decision imposing the death penalty on billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani, who was convicted of massive embezzlement and sentenced in March. Zanjani, one of Iran's richest people, was arrested in 2013 and accused of stealing more than $2 billion from the government through crooked oil sales he made during the administration of former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. - 12/3/16

Iran Says Extension Of Sanctions Act By U.S. Congress Violates Nuclear Deal
Iran says the extension of sanctions legislation by the U.S. Congress is "a violation" of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) reached between Tehran and world powers last year. "We will report it to Iran's committee assigned for monitoring the implementation of the deal," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on December 2. - 12/3/16

OPEC deal: Iran turns the tables on Saudis
After months of talks and rounds of meetings, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) finally sealed a deal on November 30 for a production cut, marking a turning point in the organization's history. A deal which everyone believed had very little chance of success, is now done and the organization agreed to cut production by about 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 4.5 percent of current production, to 32.5 million bpd. -Ebrahim Fallahi - 12/3/16

Basel and Stockholm Convention Regional Center renews establishment in Iran
Basel and Stockholm Convention Regional Center, an institution aiming at protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, extended its establishment in Iran for five more years until 2020. -Maryam Qarehgozlou - 12/3/16

Iran Owns 5% Of Company Building Israeli Navy Subs; Gov't Probe Widens
During the 1970s, the Iranian government invested $400 million in the German conglomerate, a 24.9% stake, which was inherited by Iran's current Islamic government. At the time ThyssenKrupp was mostly building steel, and not yet in the shipbuilding business. The switch came after ThyssenKrupp acquired shipbuilder Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in 2005. -Forbes - 12/3/16

Egypt and Saudi Arabia: Marriage on the Rocks?
On the other hand, the Egyptian officials who have been in charge since 2013 do not view Iran with as much concern as do their Saudi counterparts. Consequently, in recent years Egypt has not been willing to embrace the same hardline anti-Iranian stance that Mubarak did for many years. -Cinzia Bianco and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 12/3/16

Iran Considers Renewal of US Sanctions a Violation of Nuclear Deal
Iran is threatening to retaliate after the U.S. Senate gave Congress' final approval to an extension of the American sanctions against Iran that lawmakers of both parties said is crucial to enforcing the international nuclear accord with Tehran. -Michael Bowman - 12/2/16

Family Breaks Silence Over Iranian-American and Wife Held for Three Months Without Charge or Counsel
Karan Vafadari, an Iranian-American national belonging to the Zoroastrian faith, and his wife Afarin Niasari, have been in detention in Tehran's Evin Prison without public charge or access to counsel since their arrest by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Intelligence Organization agents three months ago, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. - 12/2/16

German-Iranian Assistant for Berlin Film Festival Barred from Leaving Iran
Nooshafarin Dastoori, the dual national translator for a prestigious film festival, was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport and her passport confiscated as she was leaving the country together with her colleague on November 27. - 12/2/16

Iran could face severe water crisis in 2017: Report
Historically low rainfalls have raised concerns that Iran will have an arid year in 2017. Iran's Tasnim news agency in a report said the average rainfalls in the country dropped this autumn by 74 percent compared to last year. This was the lowest drop the country had seen for the past 47 years, Tasnim added. - 12/2/16

Iran vows 'appropriate' response to US sanctions
Iran says the US Congress' vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another decade violates last year's nuclear accord, adding Tehran will take "appropriate measures" against the decision. The extension passed the Senate on Thursday, after easily clearing the House of Representatives last month, with a White House official saying President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure. - 12/2/16

Learning to love the 'Persian Palaces' of Beverly Hills
The way Pourandokht Banayan tells it, she and her husband built the very first "Persian Palace" in Beverly Hills. The boxy yellow house bears the telltale mark of the now-outlawed style: four of those two-story columns out front. It was erected on this plot of land at the top of Coldwater Canyon in the late 1980s, before the rush of other Iranians building or renovating similar homes in the notoriously wealthy enclave -Curbed - 12/2/16

UNESCO approves Noruz collective feast of 12 nations
The celebration of Noruz, the New Year shared by 12 countries, was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO on Wednesday. Noruz marks the beginning of spring across a vast geographical area. It is celebrated on March 21st every year. - 12/1/16

Caravan of the Arts: IRAN 2017
I am excited to announce that we are going back to visit IRAN in 2017 and we are inviting several of our friends to join us! We have planned 2 special trips to Iran next year in partnership with AltruVistas (sustainable travel organization) and benefitting the OMID Foundation (charity/rehab facility for disadvantaged young women in Iran). I am thrilled to be leading these trips to introduce new people to my ancestral homeland. -Afshin Shirazian - 12/1/16

U.S. National Board of Review names "The Salesman" best foreign-language film
The National Board of Review (NBR) in New York has picked Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's drama "The Salesman" as best foreign-language film. The movie, which won Farhadi the award for best screenplay and the Palme d'Or for best actor for Shahab Hosseini at the Cannes Film Festival this year, is Iran's submission to the 89th Academy Awards in the best foreign language film category. - 12/1/16

Defiance Thrusts Iranian Lawmaker Into Spotlight
Until recently, Mahmud Sadeghi was an obscure legal expert whose most conspicuous professional accomplishment was a two-year advisory stint with Iran's Education Ministry. That changed with the 54-year-old's election to parliament in Iran's tightly controlled elections in February, as one of 133 relative moderates allied with reformist President Hassan Rohani to have won seats in the 290-seat legislature, known as the Majlis. -Golnaz Esfandiari - 12/1/16

Oil Prices Surge As OPEC Agrees To First Production Cut Since 2008
Ministers from the 14 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have reached agreement to cut their production by 1.2 million barrels a day, in a bid to boost slumping global prices. The November 30 deal by the oil cartel will lower the total output of the cartel to 32.5 million barrels a day beginning in January. - 12/1/16

Imprisoned Human Rights Activist to Sue IRGC Agents for Violent and Illegal Arrest
Human rights activist Atena Daemi, 29, was taken into custody from her home in Tehran by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Intelligence Organization on November 26 and transferred to Evin Prison to begin a seven-year prison sentence. "After being taken to Evin Prison's Women's Ward, Atena contacted her family by phone and told them she will sue the IRGC agents who used violent and illegal means to arrest her before being formally summoned to prison" - 12/1/16

Iran's 8-month non-oil exports up 5.7% from last year
Iran's exports of non-oil products in the first eight months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-November 20) stood at $28.117 billion, with 5.74 percent rise from $26.59 billion in the same period last year, according to the official website of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Customs Administration (IRICA). - 12/1/16

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