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Protesters Rally across Iran against Rising Prices and Austerity Measures
Protesters against rising prices, rampant inflation, living conditions and economic corruptions took to the streets in several cities in Iran. The first major wave of demonstrations across the country since 2009 have raised concerns among the Islamic Republic's authorities who have threatened the protesters with major crackdowns. - 12/31/17

Spinning The Iranian Protests
In supporting recent anti-government protests in Iran, both Iranian hardliners and the US State Department may want to be careful what they wish for. Not only are the protests unlikely to spark the kind of change either of the two adversaries may be hoping for, they also are refusing to stick to the different scripts the Trump administration and opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani read into them. -James M. Dorsey, LobeLog - 12/31/17

Iranian Poet to Serve Two Years in Prison For Criticizing Country's Supreme Leader
Poet Mohammad Mahdavifar has been sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. Mahdavifar, 48, is best known for his poem, "Alefba," in which he used letters of the Persian alphabet to enumerate crimes committed by the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979. - 12/31/17

10-Year-Old Iranian Gymnast Caught Up in Hijab Controversy
The Iran Gymnastics Federation has walked back its threat to discipline a 10-year-old gymnast for allegedly taking part in an international competition without wearing the mandatory hijab. Iranian women are required to wear the hijab, the head-to-toe-covering Islamic dress code, at all times in public. - 12/31/17

Inspiring fashion designs add glamor to Tehran's Golestan Palace
There is a common ground between the design elements involved in both architecture and fashion and many fashion designers around the world are inspired by architecture in their works. Now some young fashion designers in Iran display their designs inspired by the Golestan Palace at the venue during an exhibition. - 12/31/17

Trump's National Security Strategy And The Middle East: A Bridge To Nowhere
President Trump's new National Security Strategy and the negative reaction his announcement on Jerusalem has generated in the UN Security Council and General Assembly do not bode well for America's relations with friendly Arab countries and the wider Islamic world. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 12/31/17

Protesters Shout "Death to High Prices" as Demonstrations Break Out in Three Iranian Cities
Protests erupted in several Iranian cities on December 28, 2017, as citizens peacefully spoke out against the rising cost of living. In Mashhad, Iran's second most populated city, police confronted the demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas. An eyewitness in Neishabour told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that the protests against the perception of rising inflation were organized via announcements shared on social media. - 12/29/17

Iranian Official Warns Against New Rallies After Price Protests Turn Political
Large crowds of people took to the streets in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah on December 29, a day after hundreds protested against high prices and shouted political slogans in the country's second-largest city, Mashhad. Footage on social media showed protesters in Kermanshah's central Azadi Square chanting "Death to the dictator" and "The nation is struggling in poverty; the leader is trying to act as God." - 12/29/17

Tehran Police Will No Longer Arrest Women Who Break Dress Code
Police in Iran's capital of Tehran said they will no longer arrest women for failing to observe the Islamic dress code and instead send them to classes at counseling centers. The Tehran Times on December 28 quoted Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi as saying that "those who do not properly observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them." - 12/29/17

Iranian-Jewish Worshipers Find Two Synagogues Ransacked and Vandalized in Shiraz
Unidentified assailants attacked two synagogues in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz on December 24 and 25, 2017, and destroyed or desecrated religious items, according to Sam Kermanian, an adviser to the Los Angeles-based Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF). - 12/29/17

The US and Israel reportedly signed a secret pact to take on Iran
Israel and the United States have secretly signed a far-reaching joint memorandum of understanding providing for full cooperation to deal with Iran's nuclear drive, its missile programs and its other threatening activities, an Israeli TV report said. -Business Insider - 12/29/17

Khamenei Compares Trump To 'Smarter' Reagan, Says U.S. Will Not 'Weaken' Iran
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump and asserted that his policies will not "weaken" Tehran. In a series of tweets and a televised speech on December 27, Khamenei suggested that U.S. efforts to rein in Iran have been failing since Ronald Reagan was president three decades ago. "Reagan was more powerful and smarter than Trump. He was a better actor in making threats," Khamenei said. - 12/28/17

Why Iranians Trust Celebrities More Than Government
The recent earthquake in Kermanshah province in western Iran that left hundreds of people dead and thousands injured was followed by a huge wave of empathy from fellow Iranians. Donations were pouring in from all over the country. Hundreds of volunteers rushed to the area to help the victims. But it seemed that the people's reaction to the event was accompanied with a deep mistrust of the government. -Mohammadreza Kazemi, Radio Farda - 12/28/17

Drugs Versus Nukes
Those wishing to kill the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program, have never given up. The agreement's ever-lengthening successful record, now more than two years old, of keeping closed all possible pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon ought to have discouraged would-be deal-slayers. But the slayers got a new lease on life with the election of Donald Trump... -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 12/28/17

Clean Break II: Iran Hawks Decide To Burn It All Down
But who cares about all of that? It doesn't seem to be an issue for at least some of America's anti-Iran hawks. In response to Iran's rising profile in the Middle East, fueled mostly by a war those neocons ardently championed and the striking ineptitude of the hawks' new favorite Persian Gulf monarchy, the intellectual heirs to the men who drew those ill-fated borders are proposing, long after it might have done any good, to re-draw them. -Derek Davison and Jim Lobe - 12/28/17

Khamenei Lambasts Ahmadinejad's Camp In Rare Speech
The Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has accused some individuals inside Iran of "doing the enemy's job". Addressing members of the Islamic Publicity Organization on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei lambasted "those who hold, or used to hold, all means in the country" saying that "they do not have the right to play the role of the opposition". This was an apparent reference to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his team who have engaged in an intense war of words with the Judiciary. - 12/28/17

Iran's Interior Ministry rules out link between HAARP and recent earthquakes
Deputy Interior Minister for Security and Law Enforcement Mohammad Hossein Zolfaqari has ruled out a link between repeated earthquakes in Iran and the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) project, saying the claim lacks scientific basis. HAARP was initiated as an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It was designed and built by BAE Advanced Technologies (BAEAT). - 12/28/17

Fire put out at Iran's Rag-Sefid oilfield, after 59 days
Fire in the well No. 147 of Rag-Sefid offshore oilfield in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan Province was put out at Tuesday's night, Shana news agency reported. A blowout occurred at Rag-Sefid oilfield on October 29. The accident happened when drilling operation was ongoing in depth of 2,403 meters in the well No. 147 of the field. It burned the drilling rig and killed two persons working for the National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC). - 12/28/17

Magnitude 4.2 quake rocks Iran's capital city Tehran
A magnitude 4.2 quake shook Tehran at 12:54 AM on Wednesday and was felt by Tehran, Karaj and surrounding cities. According to initial reports, the epicenter of the tremor that happened at the depth of 12 kilometers, was the city of Malard on the border between Tehran and Alborz provinces. - 12/27/17

Iranian Authorities Confiscate Passport Of Prominent Director Rasoulof, Ban Him From Making Films
Award-winning director Mohammad Rasoulof has revealed that he has been banned from making films in Iran and is not allowed to leave the country. "As soon as I arrived at Tehran's international airport [on September 11, 2017], two individuals came to me at the passport checkpoint and took me to a room where they confiscated my passport and personal belongings," Rasoulof told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on December 23, 2017. - 12/27/17

Asiatic Cheetah Cub Saved From Smugglers
Following the arrest of an animal-trafficking band in Tehran, an Asiatic cheetah cub was discovered and required measures were taken for her protection, Iran's Department of Environment official website reported on Tuesday. - 12/27/17

Independent Iranian Journalist Facing Prosecution For Criticizing Powerful Politician
Detained after criticizing a powerful local lawmaker, Sina Ghalandari, an independent journalist based in the city of Kuhdasht, Lorestan Province, has been released on bail. "Every journalist or political activist who has criticized him has ended up in court and prison," a source with knowledge about the case told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "Now he's pressing charges against Mr. Ghalandari." - 12/27/17

'China wants link between Pakistan's Gwadar and Iran's Chabahar ports'
Iran says it has received a request from China to establish a connection between Pakistan's Gwadar port - which Chinese companies are developing - and Iran's southeastern port of Chabahar. Abdolrahim Kordi, the managing director of Chabahar Free Trade Zone, was quoted by Iran's media as saying that China had informed Iran that it was interested in using Chabahr to transit goods from Gwadar to regional and extra-regional destination points. - 12/27/17

Book Review: Dreams of a forgotten childhood in Shiraz
Author Cyrus Kadivar gives us a fascinating account of the last days of Pahlavi rule in Iran in his new book, "Farewell Shiraz: An Iranian Memoir of Revolution and Exile." He left Iran at the age of 16, during the 1979 revolution, for a life of exile -Lisa Kaaki, Arab News - 12/27/17

Tehran earthquake a wakeup call for the region
It should be reiterated that earthquakes in the Tehran-Karaj-Qazvin areas of the southern foothills of the mighty Alborz mountains, are foreseeable and inescapable. Instead of false and unrealistic statements, the authorities should prepare the citizens for the occurrence of large-magnitude earthquakes. They should seriously retrofit the vital structures, replace poorly constructed buildings, stop the corruption in the building industry, and enforce the "Iranian Code for Seismic-Resistant Buildings Design" -Manuel Berberian, Temblor - 12/27/17

The Belt and Road through Eurasia: Who Wins and How?
China's Belt and Road infrastructure development initiative will have its winners and losers. But for now, Beijing is trying to bolster international support for the project, which will link its western provinces to Europe, by keeping some aspects of the specific routing of rail corridors ambiguous. -Nathan Hutson, Eurasianet - 12/27/17

PAAIA Emerging Leader, Yassamin Ansari, Discusses the Importance of Supporting Iranian American Candidates for Public Office
Yassamin Ansari, a member of PAAIA's Emerging Leaders program, an initiative designed to engage the next generation of Iranian Americans in policy and public service, recently spoke with PAAIA about the importance of supporting Iranian American candidates for public office. Ansari recently hosted a fundraiser for Kia Hamadanchy, an Iranian American candidate running for Congress (CA-45). If successful, Hamadanchy could become the first Iranian American ever elected to Congress. - 12/26/17

Farideh's long quest to find her biological parents continues
Known as Eline Koning among her adopted family and friends in the Netherlands, and by Farideh in a children's home in Iran years ago, this 41-year-old Iranian-Dutch woman is still on a mission to find her biological parents. - 12/26/17

Iranian banks seal deal to get 'unlimited funds' from Russia
Iran says four of its banks have signed an agreement with the Export Insurance Agency of Russia (EXIAR) to provide "unlimited funds" for development projects to be carried out by domestic and international contractors in the Islamic Republic. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in a statement said the agreement had been signed between the EXIAR and Bank Sepah, the Export Development Bank of Iran, Bank Parsian and Bank Pasargad. - 12/26/17

Iran's Rag-Sefid oilfield burning since October 29th despite killing operations
A blowout occurred at Rag-Sefid offshore oilfield in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province on October 29, 2017. The accident happened when drilling operation was ongoing in depth of 2,403 meters in the well No. 147 of the field. It burned the drilling rig and killed two persons working for the National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC). One week after the blowout, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said that the blaze would be brought under control within one and half month, but the well is still burning after 58 days. - 12/26/17

How Christmas is celebrated in Iran
You will be surprised, or you won't, depending on how much you know of Iran, but Christmas is celebrated in Iran. It may be surprising because for a predominantly Muslim nation where Christians make up less than 1% of the country's population, you may think that all signs and traces of Christmas, from pine trees decorated with red, green and gold gift boxes placed behind shop windows to nativity scenes of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, will be difficult, if not impossible, to spot on the streets. -Marjohn Sheikhi - 12/25/17

IRAN: Guardian Council Rejects Parliament's Amended Law Allowing Religious Minorities to Run in Local Elections
Six days after Iran's Parliament passed an amendment reaffirming the right of minorities to run in local council elections, the Guardian Council's Spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodaei announced the council had rejected it. The Guardian Council is a body of six clerics and six jurists that vets laws and elections for conformity with Islamic principles. - 12/25/17

Iran's Parliament Overwhelmingly Agrees to Begin Deliberating Disabilities Rights Bill
With only two opposing votes, Iran's Parliament has overwhelmingly passed the outlines of a bill designed to better protect the rights of people living with disabilities in the country. The lawmakers voted in favor of the Bill for the Protection of the Rights of People with Disabilities in principle on December 19, 2017, and will soon begin deliberating its 35 articles before a final vote, reported the semi-official Mehr News Agency. - 12/25/17

Four giant container ships to join Iran fleet next year: Official
Four giant new container vessels will join Iran's shipping fleet next year, bringing the country closer to its target of scraping out a place among the world's 10 mega shippers. "With the arrival of these vessels, the rank of the national shipping fleet in the work will rise to 16 from 20 at present," chairman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping (IRISL) Mohammad Saeedi was quoted Saturday as saying. - 12/25/17

Baha'is Still Misunderstood in Iran, Says Former Leader After Serving 10 Years in Prison
Baha'i leader Behrouz Tavakkoli has spoken out about the Iranian government's "misunderstandings" about his minority faith. Tavakkoli spoke to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on December 15, 2017, 11 days after his release from Rajaee Shahr Prison where he served a 10-year-prison sentence for his religious beliefs. - 12/24/17

Hundreds Arrested in Tehran During Yalda Winter Solstice Celebration
Anti-vice police arrested more than 230 young men and women at two private parties in Tehran during the Iranian festival of Yalda on December 21, 2017. Yalda is a winter solstice celebration observed on the longest night of the year. Traditionally families gather and celebrate at home but people living in large cities also host private parties where women often do not observe the mandatory hijab and where alcohol is commonly served. - 12/24/17

Seattle Federal Judge Lifts Travel Ban On Certain Refugees With Close U.S. Ties
A federal judge in Seattle has lifted a ban on certain refugees with close U.S. ties that had been ordered by President Donald Trump's administration. U.S. District Judge James Robart on December 23 ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Jewish Family Service (JFS) after they argued the policy prevented people from some Muslim-majority countries from reuniting with family living legally in the United States. - 12/24/17

U.S. has much to gain by warming up to Iran
Let's stop demonizing Iran. Our relations with that country in recent decades have been based on misunderstandings and habitual thinking. False stereotypes rule the common perception of Iran and its people. We need to reject those stereotypes and take a fresh look at this country, its people and its possible role in bringing peace and prosperity to the Middle East. -Richard Pettigrew, -Register-Guard - 12/24/17

Iran Extends Film Censorship Reach Beyond Its Borders
Iran has taken its cultural censorship efforts to new levels by pressuring a filmmaker to cancel the screening of one of his films in Canada. The film, Delighted, by Abdolreza Kahani, was due to be screened last month at an independent theater in Toronto. But Kahani decided to cancel the screening after receiving a warning from Iran's Culture Ministry. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 12/24/17

9th Circuit says Trump's third travel ban is illegal
A federal appeals court decided unanimously Friday that President Trump's latest travel ban violates the law, but the ruling will not take effect until the Supreme Court reviews a likely appeal. -Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times - 12/24/17

Israeli Army Arrests Palestinian Teen For Hurting Soldiers' Masculinity
The IDF Spokesperson was clearly excited to publish the details of a complicated military operation that took place Tuesday morning: under the cover of darkness, Israeli Border Police broke into the Tamimi family's home and arrested 17-year-old Ahed, taking her in for interrogation. -Yael Marom, LobeLog - 12/24/17

Southeastern Iran Hit By Another Moderate Earthquake; 23 Reported Injured
An earthquake of magnitude 5.2 rocked Iran's southeastern province of Kerman on December 21 and at least 23 people were injured, state TV said, only a day after two people were killed by a similar tremor near Tehran. Rescue teams were dispatched to the town of Kuhbanan, the epicenter of the latest quake, officials said. No deaths were reported. - 12/22/17

Behind Closed Curtains: Interior Design in Iran - Book Presentation by Lena Spath
Author Lena Spath has captured the beauty, intricacy, and vibrancy of Iranian interior design in order to showcase its underrated style in her new book Behind Closed Curtains: Interior Design in Iran. "I want to challenge the narrative on Iran most media companies follow. This book is my way to bring the country's history and the stories of its citizens into the homes and the hands of more people." - 12/22/17

Roudsar Persian Leopard Arezoo Dies In Fight With Hedgehog
Persian leopard Arezoo, well-known for being named after her habitat in Roudsar, northern Iran, was found dead apparently after a fight with a hedgehog. On February 5, the Roudsar leopard survived a complicated spinal surgery after getting caught in a trap. - 12/22/17

Trump's Muddled Iran Policy Is Headed For Failure
Not surprisingly, Trump's National Security Strategy is full of hostile bluster and rhetoric with shockingly little substance -- just like the President himself. On Iran, one of the primary international targets of Trump's hostility, the document only reveals that the administration has yet to develop a coherent policy nearly a year into Trump's presidency. -Ryan Costello, LobeLog - 12/22/17

"Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran"; an Exhibition at Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums in Massachusetts hosts an exhibition entitled "Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran". The exhibition presents various aspects of Persian art in Qajar era. The Harvard Art Museum in a press release states: "This exhibition brings together four principal art forms-lacquer, lithography, photography, and painting and drawing on paper-to explore their separate and intertwined histories, contexts of production, and means of dissemination across sectors of society ranging from the courtly elite to the citizenry at large. - 12/22/17

Two Iranian Journalists Held for Months Without Charge Released on Bail
After four months in arbitrary detention, Iranian journalists Sasan Aghaei and Yaghma Fashkhami have been released on bail. The semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency (ISNA) reported that Aghaei was freed on December 20, 2017, and Fashkhami on December 21. - 12/22/17

First-Time New York State Senate Candidate Sarmad Khojasteh Launches Website to Raise Awareness, Introduce Himself to Voters
New York State Senate candidate Sarmad Khojasteh (R) today officially launched his website and social media accounts, further raising awareness about his candidacy, and to introduce himself to voters, outline policy positions, and raise money in preparation for the upcoming Special Election for the 37th District Senate Seat. - 12/22/17

Tehran Municipality welcomes startup ideas to mitigate air pollution
Tehran Municipality embraces new, innovative startup ideas to face the persistent challenge of air pollution, director of Tehran Municipality's ICT organization said on Tuesday. Tackling Tehran's air pollution requires more active interactions between [responsible] organizations and private sector and the municipality welcomes new startup ideas to face this challenge, Nasimonline quoted Mohammad Farjoud as saying. - 12/22/17

Students Challenge Minister's Claim That No One in Iran is Banned From University for Political Reasons
A student who was banned from pursuing a university education in Iran because he engaged in peaceful activism has spoken out against the science minister's claim that "few" such cases exist. Majid Dorri and fellow banned student Mahdieh Golru held signs outside the Science Ministry for several days beginning on December 17, 2017, in protest against the minister's statement. - 12/22/17

Why China Sold Qatar The SY-400 Ballistic Missile System
China's sale of the SY-400 system to Qatar must be interpreted within the context of Beijing's grander objectives in the Middle East pertaining to the ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. Both Qatar and countries within the Saudi/UAE-led bloc play important roles in China's vision for a multicontinental trade corridor that positions Beijing at the center of the 21st century global economy. -Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 12/22/17

One Dead, Nearly 100 Injured After Earthquake Hits Near Iran's Capital Tehran
Iranian officials say a woman died and nearly 100 people suffered minor injuries after an earthquake struck near Tehran late on December 20, sparking panic in the capital and neighboring areas. Authorities said on December 21 that the woman died in the town of Malard, close to the epicenter of the 5.2-magnitude earthquake, about 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran. In Tehran and other cities and towns, the latest quake sent panicked residents into the streets and parks, and tens of thousands of people braved the cold to spend the night outside, fearing stronger aftershocks. - 12/21/17

Iranian Missiles And Fake News
Apparently even seemingly respectable media outlets occasionally peddle fake news at service of a particular political agenda, with the aim of creating a massive echo chamber that would make it appear to be "real news." Such was the case with the Jerusalem Post's announcement that the European Parliament (EP) has called on Iran to end its ballistic missile program. -Eldar Mamedov - 12/21/17

Weak aftershocks reduced risk of major quake in Iran's capital city Tehran: Official
The head of Iran's Seismology Institute says the risk of a major earthquake in the capital city of Tehran has decreased as several weak aftershocks were registered following a magnitude 5.2 tremor, which affected six Iranian provinces. Ali Moradi said seven 2-3 magnitude aftershocks have been registered in Tehran so far, adding, "There is no more concern for larger tremors" after the major quake occurred, IRNA reported on Thursday. - 12/21/17

Why Is NPR Giving Ample Air-Time To Anti-Iran Deal Propaganda?
National Public Radio isn't typically known for trafficking in right-wing talking points, but the radio news network more generally favored by Americans of progressive persuasion has been quietly garnering a reputation among Washington insiders for promoting opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action--as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known--and letting them air their talking points largely unchallenged. -Ben Armbruster, LobeLog - 12/21/17

Former Iranian Vice President Baghaei Says Sentenced To 63 Years In Prison
Former Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei says that he has been sentenced to 63 years in prison after being convicted on corruption charges he contends are baseless. Baghaei has 20 days to appeal against the sentence, which observers suspect is a warning to former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad from the hard-line conservative judiciary. - 12/21/17

Italian musician sisters to perform duet in Tehran
The Italian musician sisters, violinist Natascia Gazzana and pianist Raffaella Gazzana, will perform a duet at Tehran's Niavaran Cultural Center on Saturday. - 12/21/17

Hurry up! Yalda Night is right around the corner
Children chasing each other; mothers setting out dried nuts, pomegranates and watermelons amongst other fine foodstuffs; and fathers watching a ball game amid all! Does this sound familiar? Well, this is a glimpse of the Yalda celebration in honor of the longest night of the year! - 12/20/17

IRAN: First national conference on citizens' rights held in Tehran
In a ceremony in the Islamic Summit Conference Building in Tehran on Tuesday (December 19, 2017), the first report on the 'Charter on Citizens' Rights' was released in the presence of President Rouhani and ministers, deputy ministers and other government officials. - 12/20/17

Tehran Prosecutor Ignores Imprisoned Iranian-Austrian Businessman's Request for Back Operation
The Tehran prosecutor has ignored a request by imprisoned Iranian-Austrian dual national Kamran Ghaderi for an urgent back operation, his wife told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "Kamran has been suffering from a herniated spinal disk for a long time and now constant neck pain has been added to his problems as well," said Harika Ghaderi, who lives in Vienna, on December 15, 2017. - 12/20/17

Air pollution shuts schools, cancels sports events in Iran's big cities
Schools have been closed on Tuesday in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, Urmia, and Arak and sports events have been cancelled as a result of heavy air pollution. Schools have been closed on Tuesday in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, Urmia, and Arak and sports events have been cancelled as a result of heavy air pollution. - 12/20/17

Iran's Royan Institute clones Murciana goat
Scientists at Iran's Royan Research Institute has succeeded in producing the country's third cloned goat belonging to Murcia-Granada breed of goat. Dr. Mahdi Hajian, Head of Embryology Department at Isfahan Campus of Royan Research Institute, made the announcement asserting "following successful cloning of Saanen and Alpine goats, we sought to clone a third one from Murcia-Granada breed." - 12/20/17

Iran, Turkey Azerbaijan agree to reject US decision on Jerusalem at UN
Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan have rejected a US decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the "capital" of Israel. The three neighboring states agreed to adopt a united stance on Washington's new policy at an upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly on the issue. - 12/20/17

Trading Jerusalem For Iran
US president Donald J. Trump's recognition of Jerusalem potentially sets the stage for a controversial American effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The United States and the two Gulf states see a US peace plan-in-the-making as a way of paving the way for more overt cooperation with Israel in confronting Iran, whom they accuse of destabilizing the Middle East. - James M. Dorsey, LobeLog - 12/20/17

Yemen war: Iran denies supplying rebel missile fired at Riyadh
Iran says accusations by Saudi Arabia and the US that it supplied the missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels at Riyadh on Tuesday are "baseless". On Wednesday morning, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Ms Haley's accusations "provocative, purposeful and dangerous" and said he would be following them up at UN meetings and with the secretary general. -BBC - 12/20/17

Iran's Judiciary Should Free Labor Activist Reza Shahabi Who Suffered Stroke
The Iranian judiciary should immediately free ailing trade unionist Reza Shahabi, who recently suffered a stroke in Rajaee Shahr Prison, and allow him to receive full medical attention, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today. - 12/19/17

Iran's Culture Ministry Successfully Pressures Iranian Director to Cancel Film Screening in Canada
Iranian director Abdolreza Kahani cancelled a screening of one of his films in Canada after Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance threatened to ban his next film if he refused to comply, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. - 12/19/17

Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad Battling With Powerful Judiciary
Iran's chief prosecutor says authorities will soon issue an "appropriate" response to an ultimatum made by former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to the country's powerful judiciary. Prosecutor-General Hojatoleslam Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said on December 18 that the judiciary will issue its response to Ahmadinejad "within a day or two." - 12/19/17

US president can't cause Iran deal to collapse: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the United States will not be able to kill the 2015 multinational nuclear deal, emphasizing that the landmark pact will remain in place. "Two years have passed since the [implementation] of the JCPOA," Rouhani said on Tuesday, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear accord is officially called. - 12/19/17

Russia Calls U.S. Security Strategy 'Imperial,' China Denounces 'Cold War' Thinking
Russia and China have lambasted U.S. President Donald Trump's new national security strategy, which refers to them as rivals of Washington that are seeking to undermine U.S. power and interests. The U.S. security strategy also states that "the dictatorships" of North Korea and Iran "are determined to destabilize regions, threaten Americans and our allies, and brutalize their own people." - 12/19/17

Bibi Says Iran Will Soon Have 100 Nuclear Bombs. Well, Where Are They?
Speaking at the Jerusalem Post's Diplomatic Conference on December 6th, 2017, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that, within a decade, Iran stands to emerge from the nuclear deal with not one atomic bomb but "a nuclear arsenal of 100 bombs and more." -Shemuel Meir, LobeLog - 12/19/17

Marivan celebrates becoming world city of handicrafts
Marivan on Monday celebrated receiving an international status as the city of Kalash, a particular lightweight and breathable footwear. Head of World Crafts Council-Asia Pacific Region Ghada Hijavi along with clusters of Iranian cultural officials and artisans attended the event organized by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization, Mehr reported. - 12/19/17

Why The Risk Of War Is Higher With Iran Than North Korea
There is a fear that the United States might become embroiled in war in 2018 with Iran, North Korea, or possibly both. In view of the inflammatory rhetoric directed by the United States and North Korea toward one another over the past several months, it would appear at first glance that the risk of war with North Korea is higher. The risk appears still higher because North Korea poses a considerable security risk to America's allies in the Pacific region, especially Japan and South Korea. However, barring some new and unexpected developments in the Korean Peninsula, the likelihood of a full-scale war between the U.S. and North Korea is less than the chance of a U.S. military intervention against Iran. -Shireen T. Hunter - 12/18/17

Smog Prompts School Closures in Iran's capital Tehran
Iranian authorities have shut down schools and canceled sporting events around Tehran due to thick smog covering the capital city. Authorities decided to close kindergartens and primary schools in all but two cities in the Tehran Province, which is home to around 14 million people, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported on December 17. - 12/18/17

Iran says aviation giants Boeing, Airbus and ATR to fund plane purchases
Iran's aviation officials have played down speculations that the administration of US President Donald Trump would block sales of planes to the country and say they expect purchases to move ahead faster because mechanisms to fund the campaigns are being worked out by plane-makers, themselves. - 12/18/17

Iranian TV Broadcasts Purported Confession Of Iranian-Swedish Academic Sentenced To Death
Iranian state TV has aired what it calls a confession by an Iranian-Swedish academic who has been sentenced to death on espionage charges. In the December 17 broadcast, Ahmadreza Djalali, a researcher at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, admits to supplying information to a foreign intelligence service about Iranian nuclear scientists who were later assassinated. - 12/18/17

In Letter From Evin Prison, Narges Mohammadi Demands Judiciary Stop Violating Due Process Rights
Political prisoner Narges Mohammadi has criticized Iran's judiciary and security organizations for holding detainees in solitary confinement for prolonged periods without charge while trying to build a case against them. - 12/18/17

Draft Legislation Aims To Protect Iran's Most Beleaguered Friend
Over the past few years, several brutal cases of mistreatment of dogs and other animals in Iran have gone viral on social media, sparking rare public protests and calls for legislation to protect animals and punish those who harm them. Those calls are now on their way to being answered, as the country's first draft legislation against animal cruelty has been prepared for consideration by parliament. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 12/18/17

Saudi Plans To Develop Nuclear Power
Tom Lippman reported here last week that Westinghouse hopes to win an order for nuclear reactors from Saudi Arabia (KSA). He also referred to speculation that, to help Westinghouse, the United States would not insist on KSA foregoing uranium enrichment when it came to formulating the intergovernmental agreement on nuclear cooperation (123 agreement) that would have to underpin a US reactor sale. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 12/18/17

Caspian Sea: Iran is getting ready to accept the realities
For more than two decades Iran has been insisting on having an equal share of the Caspian Sea along with other littoral states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan). Even when Iran was talking about the principle of equity in the international law, it was intended to be at least twenty percent of the Caspian Sea. But now, ... -Bahman Aghai Diba - 12/15/17

China eyeing take over of Iran gas project if France's Total pulls out
Speculations are rising that China's leading oil and gas company CNPC could replace French energy giant Total in a key Iranian natural gas project if any new US sanctions against investments in Iran's economic projects forces it to leave the country. Reuters in an exclusive report said CNPC had already started talks with Iran over a share of 30 percent in the project to develop Phase 11 of Iran's South Pars gas field - the world's biggest independent gas field. - 12/15/17

IRAN: After Burn Victims Denied Compensation Because They're Girls, Lawyer Says Law Must Change
A lawyer in Iran is speaking out about sexism in the country's legal code after the families of two children who died in a fire at an elementary school were denied full compensation because the victims were girls. - 12/15/17

US House passes bill scrutinizing plane sales to Iran
US lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill that will bring the sales of American planes to Iran under the close scrutiny of the Congress. The bill passed 252-167 - all but four Republicans supported it, and they were joined by 23 Democrats. It would require the Treasury Department to report to Congress on Iranian purchases of US aircraft and how those sales would be financed. - 12/15/17

How Many Camels is One Human Life Worth? Attorney Calls For Reform in Iran's "Blood Money" Scheme
Blood money should be calculated on the basis of actual costs and inflation, not the market price for camels, as it is currently based on in Iran, according to a Tehran-based civil rights lawyer. According to Islamic law, Diyah, known as "blood money" in English, is paid as financial compensation to the victim or heirs of a victim in cases of murder, bodily harm, or property damage. - 12/15/17

U.S. To Boost Saudi Nuclear Power Development
Almost a decade has passed since President George W. Bush promised that the United States would help Saudi Arabia develop commercial nuclear energy plants. When he visited Riyadh in May 2008, he pledged to sign a "memorandum of understanding," or MOU, committing the United States to "assist the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to develop civilian nuclear power for use in medicine, industry and power generation" ... -Thomas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 12/15/17

Renewed Uncertainty For The JCPOA
With relatively little fanfare, an important deadline passed by on December 12: the 60-day window during which Congress could have reimposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. That window had been opened on October 13 when President Donald Trump-under the terms of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA)-refused to certify that the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) was in America's national interest. -Derek Davison - 12/14/17

Flight Fight: Proposed Tripling Of 'Departure Tax' Roils Iranians
The price for Iranians of heading abroad could triple if the government's new budget proposal is approved. Under the budget plan submitted by President Hassan Rohani on December 10, so-called departure taxes would skyrocket to around $60 for a single trip outside the country, compared with the current fee of $20. Subsequent trips within a 12-month period would incur even higher fees. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL - 12/14/17

NYT's Argentina Op-Ed Fails To Disclose Authors' Financial Conflict Of Interest
On Tuesday, Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz, two executives at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), took to the op-ed pages of The New York Times to celebrate last week's announcement that Argentina's former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, would face treason charges for her alleged role in covering up Iran's alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aries, killing 85 people. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 12/14/17

Iran says parties to JCPOA protested US breach of nuclear deal during Vienna meeting
A senior Iranian diplomat says the parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have protested the US breach of its commitments under the agreement during a meeting of a commission tasked with monitoring commitments to the accord. "All members of the P5+1 [group] explicitly protested to the US and stressed that it should fully and precisely implement its commitments," Abbas Araqchi, a deputy foreign minister, told reporters in the Austrian city of Vienna on Wednesday after a new meeting of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Commission, which monitors the implementation of the nuclear deal. - 12/14/17

OIC Summit in Turkey Blasts Trump Decision on Jerusalem
ISTANBUL - Leaders of majority Muslim nations gathered in Istanbul Wednesday and condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as unlawful. The meeting came as unrest in the Middle East continues, along with growing criticism over the Jerusalem move. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 12/14/17

United Nations Chief Urges Washington To Honor Obligations Under Iran Nuclear Deal
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed support for the 2015 Iran deal from all the signatories except for the US, calling on Washington to also honor its obligations under the landmark agreement. Guterres made the remarks in a report on implementation of a UN resolution that endorsed the July 2015 nuclear agreement, which was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. - 12/14/17

US Official Accuses Turkey of Pushing Extreme Islamist Ideology
An already tense relationship between the United States and Turkey appears to be under more strain after a top Trump administration official accused Turkey of spreading what he called extreme Islamist ideology around the world. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday that Turkey had joined Qatar as a prime source of funding that contributes to the spread of extremist ideology. -Jeff Seldin, VOA - 12/14/17

Iran's first museum for a female artist honours nonagenarian
The 93-year-old doyenne of Iranian art, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, has donated more than 50 of her works to a new museum dedicated to her oeuvre in Tehran. The Monir Museum, which opens tomorrow (15 December) in a 19th-century former palace and gardens, is the first institution in Iran devoted to a single female artist. -The Art Newspaper - 12/14/17

Southeastern Iran Hit By Two Strong Earthquakes; At Least 18 Injured
Iran's southeastern province of Kerman has been hit by at least two strong quakes in recent days, injuring at least 18 people and damaging around 20 buildings, state media reported. The first quake of magnitude 5.9 struck on early on December 12 about 56 kilometers north of Kerman, a city with a population of more than 820,000. - 12/13/17

Tehran Stock Exchange breaks all-time high record
Tehran Stock Exchange's main index, TEDPIX, broke an all-time high record in Wednesday trading by surging into the 93,000 lane. TEDPIX gained 654 points to stand at 93,283, a level never seen in the Exchange's history since establishment in 1966. - 12/13/17

Reexamining US Mideast Policy After The Jerusalem Proclamation
President Donald Trump's official proclamation that the US accepts Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, along with preparations to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv, has predictably upset apple carts across the Middle East and beyond. The period just ahead will be dominated by diplomatic responses, an increase in violence, and perhaps terrorist acts. -Robert E. Hunter - 12/13/17

Istanbul Hosts Summit Against Trump's Jerusalem Recognition
ISTANBUL - Twenty-two leaders in the Islamic world were gathering in Istanbul Wednesday in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The meeting comes as unrest in the Middle East continues, along with growing criticism over the Jerusalem move. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 12/13/17

Iran to seal deal with Russia-led trade bloc Eurasian Economic Union soon
Iran says it expects the formalities over its membership to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) - a regional trade bloc led by Russia - would be finalized soon and an agreement with the Union's member states would be signed accordingly. Iran's media quoted a trade official as saying that the agreement with the EEU would be signed by the presidents of all member countries. - 12/13/17

Iran says supplies to Iraq pushed gas exports up 64 percent
Iran says its exports of natural gas saw a huge rise over a period of five months starting 21 March 201 in what it says was a result of rising supplies to its western neighbor Iraq. Behzad Babazadeh, the director for international affairs of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), was quoted by the domestic media as saying that the country had exported as much as 50 million cubic meters per day (mcm/d) of gas over the aforementioned period that marks the first five months after the start of the new Iranian calendar year. - 12/13/17

Trump's Jerusalem Decision And The Saudi-Iranian Rivalry
It is too early to assess the long-term impact of Donald Trump's incendiary decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and upend US foreign policy by moving Washington's embassy. Nonetheless, one close US ally--Saudi Arabia--may pay a big price for Trump's controversial recognition. -Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 12/13/17

Proposed Higher Departure Fees Angers Iranians
A new revenue generating measure in President Hassan Rouhani's proposed budget has led to public outcry and mocking of the government in Iran. "Exit fees" from the country are set to rise many fold, if the new budget is passed in the coming months. - 12/12/17

Women's share of Iran's budget bill increases by 30%
The proposed national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year 1397, starting on March 21, 2018, has allocated 210 billion rials ($5.25 million) for women's affairs, an increase of 30 percent year on year. President Hassan Rouhani presented the administration's draft of the national budget bill for the next year to the Majlis (Iranian parliament) on Sunday. - 12/12/17

Iran's Supreme Court Upholds Swedish Resident Ahmedreza Djalali's Death Sentence
Iran's Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence issued against Iranian-born Swedish resident Ahmadreza Djalali, who has been imprisoned in Tehran since April 2016 after being arrested by the Intelligence Ministry. Djalali's wife, Vida Mehran-nia, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that her husband's main lawyer was told the Supreme Court's decision in court on December 5, 2017, but he was denied a physical copy of the ruling. - 12/12/17

Iran's Security Forces Block Annual Ceremony to Commemorate "Chain Murders" Victims
Security forces prevented a gathering near Tehran marking the 19th anniversary of a series of murders and disappearances by the Intelligence Ministry of dissidents in the 1990s known as the "chain murders." The Writers Association of Iran (WAI) issued a statement on December 7, 2017, hours after many of its members and supporters were prevented from entering Imamzadeh Taher Cemetery in Karaj by a prosecutor's order. - 12/12/17

The Logic Behind Iran's Regional Posture
On December 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei convened Iran's top military brass. Iranian media circulated one key sentence of his remarks on the front pages of newspapers: "Today, the armed forces are in need of the best human save the nation from vulnerability against the enemy." -Adnan Tabatabai, LobeLog - 12/12/17

IRAN: Persons with disability awaiting better living conditions
The bill on rights of persons with disabilities, which is being discussed by the Majlis [Iranian Parliament], has raised hopes among the disabled for better living conditions. People with disabilities have a wide range of problems such as finding jobs or living in cities which have not been developed to be accessible for disabled people. - 12/12/17

Iran's Saipa has exported $1.2 billion in cars: Official
Iran's Saipa Group says it has exported 230,000 vehicles worth 1.2 billion in recent years as the automaker plans to expand sales with new designs and competitive products. The company exports vehicles to about 40 markets, deputy head for exports and international affairs of the group Mohsen Dastkhosh said on Friday. - 12/12/17

UN experts do not confirm Iran link to Yemen missiles: Report
UN experts, who examined the debris from missiles fired from Yemen at Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, have not confirmed that the projectiles were "Iranian-made" as claimed by the Riyadh regime and the US. The missiles were fired by Yemeni Houthi fighters at the Saudi capital on July 22 and November 4 in retaliation for Riyadh's deadly raids against the country. - 12/12/17

Johnson Meets President Rohani, Discusses Case Of Jailed Iranian-British Woman
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Tehran on December 10 as he continued efforts to gain the release of a jailed Iranian-British woman. A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said Johnson and Rohani "spoke forthrightly" on several issues, including the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, according to the BBC. - 12/11/17

Online exhibit "Collapse" raising funds for Kermanshah quake victims
Iranian painter and graphic designer Behzad Shishegaran has launched an online exhibition entitled "Collapse" on Instagram, Telegram and Facebook to raise funds for the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Kermanshah region in western Iran last month. - 12/11/17

Nine Iranian mountain climbers killed by avalanche
Nine Iranian climbers were fatally buried by an avalanche on Oshtoran Kooh Mountain, in the country's west on Friday. The climbers were among a group of 15 men and women from the city of Mashhad and a local guide who were trapped by the avalanche on Thursday. - 12/11/17

Iran Sentences Fugitive Ex-Bank Chief Mahmud Reza Khavari To Prison In Absentia
Iran's judiciary says the former head of the country's largest state-controlled bank who fled to Canada amid a massive embezzlement case has been handed a lengthy prison sentence in absentia. Khavari, who obtained Canadian citizenship in 2005, joined his family there in 2011 in the wake of the $2.6 billion fraud scandal, described as the largest-ever such case in Iran. - 12/11/17

IRGC Commander Turned Musician Says He Was Banned From Producing Music by the Intelligence Ministry
Iranian singer and songwriter Hossein Zaman, a former Revolutionary Guards commander who has been banned from producing or performing music for more than 15 years, says the ban was put in place because Iran's Intelligence Ministry wants to intimidate him into refraining from expressing his political views. - 12/11/17

German electronic band to give first Western pop concert in Iran in 39 years
German electronic musician Christopher von Deylen and his band Schiller will become the first pop group to perform in Iran's capital, Tehran, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. -Deutsche Welle - 12/11/17

Trump's Jerusalem Decision: A Fatal And Fateful Blow
President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was irresponsible and dangerous for more reasons than I can count. Let me outline just a few of the principle concerns: -James J. Zogby, LobeLog - 12/11/17

Middle East War: Iran's Allies Are Secretly Launching Missiles at Saudi Arabia as Tehran Takes Control in the Battle for Dominance
Tehran exerts enormous influence on an expanse that stretches from Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea, over the Levantine steppe of Syria and Iraq and down to Yemen. That influence stemmed from Iran's creation of powerful Shiite proxies in key countries in the region, which Tehran had been able to mobilize to its advantage--and to Saudi Arabia's chagrin... -Newsweek - 12/11/17

2017 Freestyle World Wrestling Clubs Cup in Tehran: Iran's Easy Pipe Kashan defeats USA's Titan Mercury to win title
Easy Pipe Kashan of Iran claimed the title of the 2017 Freestyle World Wrestling Clubs Cup held in Tehran on Dec. 7-8. The Iranian team defeated defending champion Titan Mercury from the U.S. 6-4 in the final match. - 12/9/17

Europe And Iran's Threat Perception
At the end of November, a delegation of senior European lawmakers visited Iran. The delegation was chaired by Janusz Lewandowski from Poland, a former EU commissioner, representing the center-right European People's Party, the largest bloc in the European Parliament (EP). It also included long-standing advocates of engagement with Iran... -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 12/9/17

Iran's Culture Minister Says He's Trying to "Transform" Conservative Clerics' Views on Music
Before musicians can perform concerts in Iran without the threat of the authorities suddenly canceling them, someone has to convince conservative Shia Muslim clerics that music is not un-Islamic. "Some of the things that have happened to these artists is because of the views expressed by some religious leaders," said Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi in an interview - 12/9/17

Iran Foreign Minister, Britain Foreign Secretary discuss JCPOA, economic ties in Tehran
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have held talks in the Iranian capital about a landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries more than two years ago. - 12/9/17

World Powers Warn Iran, Saudi Arabia Not To Meddle In Lebanon
World powers are pushing Saudi Arabia and Iran to stop interfering in Lebanon's politics while urging Iranian ally Hizballah to rein in its military activities in neighboring states. The International Lebanon Support Group, a body that includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- met in Paris on December 8 with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in an effort to help him shore up the nation's shaky governing coalition. - 12/9/17

Iran's Student Movement Faces Roadblocks Under Rouhani Despite Election Campaign Promises
Protests were held at several Iranian universities on December 7, 2017, on the occasion of Student Day. One activist told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that President Hassan Rouhani has failed to uphold his election campaign promise to end the securitization of university campuses. - 12/9/17

Iran's Siamand Rahman clinches gold at 2017 World Para Powerlifting Championships
Iranian Paralympic powerlifter Siamand Rahman has produced a magnificent display of strength and prowess at the 2017 World Para Powerlifting Championships in Mexico, and been awarded the top honor. On Thursday and the sixth day of the contests in Mexico City, the men's over 107-kilogram weight category saw a battle between the 29-year-old Iranian sportsman, his compatriot Mansour Pourmirzaei and Jordan's Jamil Elshebli. - 12/8/17

Two Iranian Officials Publicly Break Rank and Discuss Discriminatory Policies Against Baha'is
Iranian officials are beginning to broach the previously taboo topic of religious discrimination in Iran. On the same day, two government officials publicly discussed discriminatory policies against Baha'is, one of Iran's most severely persecuted minority faiths. - 12/8/17

U.K. Foreign Secretary To Visit Iran To Press For Release Of Jailed Briton
Britain says Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Iran on December 9 to meet with his Iranian counterpart and lobby for the release of an Iranian-British woman jailed in Tehran. Johnson's office did not identify jailed aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by name in its December 8 statement but said that he would press for the release of dual nationals being held in Iran when he meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran. - 12/8/17

IRAN: Rouhani Admin's New "Fair Usage" Internet Price Rates Violate Net Neutrality
Seven months into President Hassan Rouhani's second term, his Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has introduced a new pricing scheme for internet usage that violates net neutrality while improving state censorship capabilities. - 12/8/17

US considers how to curtail Iran's 'malign influence'
Even as the Pentagon remains focused on deterring North Korea and fighting ISIS, multiple US officials tell CNN that Defense Secretary James Mattis is asking planners to think about what action to take on Iran. Discussions are taking place on how to use the US military to deter and contain Iranian activities in neighboring countries, short of a direct conflict. -CNN - 12/8/17

Iran's national weightlifting team wins world championship title in Anaheim, California
Iran's men weightlifting national team has clinched its first ever world champion title, after collecting a total of 509 points at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in the United States. The competitions were held in Anaheim, California, from November 28 to December 5. - 12/7/17

Iranian University Shuts Down After Student Strike
Student protests in Iran this week were propelled by different grievances and demands. Some were concrete issues related to financial issues and others were the result of constant pressures and interference by security organs in universities. One hotspot has been the Petroleum Industry University (Sana'ate Naft), where student protests began even earlier. - 12/7/17

U.S., Iran Need To Engage In Substantive Negotiations On Regional Issues
Still, it would be dangerous to conclude that there is fundamentally no space for compromise. The Iran nuclear agreement was one such compromise. It still holds, though tenuously. The Trump administration is using "regional issues" as one strategy to undermine the agreement. Although Iran won't agree to folding such issues into a renegotiation of the JCPOA, at some point Iran, Israel, and the United States must address their conflicting interests in the region, ideally before the current regional proxy conflict in Syria expands into a Third World War. -Thomas Buonomo, LobeLog - 12/7/17

Iran: Reformist MPs Call on Science Ministry to Allow "Starred" Student Activists to Attend University
Students accused of engaging in peaceful activism continue to be banned from attending university in Iran despite President Hassan Rouhani's election campaign promise that he would lift the ban. On November 30, 2017, the reformist newspaper Jame-e Farda reported that between 150 and 200 graduate and PhD-level students were blocked from enrolling in Iranian universities in the current academic year because they had "stars" on their records. However, the actual number is likely much higher. - 12/7/17

Chovgan added as Iran's intangible cultural heritage to UNESCO lists
The sporting team game of chovgan, which is played on horseback and recognized as a version of the modern polo game, has been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. - 12/7/17

Outside-In Won't Resolve The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
All three participants in the triangle are making their maneuvers to the drumbeat of Iran, Iran, Iran as a constant preoccupation and rationalization. For Netanyahu, the drumbeat continues to serve as an all-purpose distraction and blame-shifter. MbS has made opposition to Iran his rallying cry in trying to justify operations such as the calamity in Yemen and the attempts to strong-arm smaller states such as Qatar and Lebanon. And of course, anti-Iranism has been the one loud and consistent theme in a Trump Middle East policy in which many observers have a hard time discerning a clear strategy. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 12/7/17

Teen behind viral 'Angelina Jolie' plastic surgery photos reveals she lied
A young woman who shocked the internet with her shocking appearance - which she claimed was the result of botched plastic surgery to look like Angelina Jolie - has finally come clean: it was a hoax. Sahar Tabar claimed to have gone under the knife more than 50 times in a bid to look like the smouldering A-lister, with results that looked more harrowing than Hollywood. -Independent - 12/7/17

Iranian weightlifter Saeid Alihosseini wins silver at World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California
Georgian Lasha Talakhadze won the men's super-heavyweights with a total of 477kg, improving his own world record by 4kg. He also broke his own snatch world record by 3kg when he lifted 220kg. Iranians Saeid Alihosseini and Behdad Salimi were second and third with totals of 454kg and 453kg respectively. - 12/6/17

Lavrov Says 'Key Issues' Regarding Caspian Sea Legal Status Solved
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the five Caspian states have agreed on "all the outstanding key issues" regarding the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Lavrov made the announcement in Moscow on December 5 after meeting with his counterparts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. - 12/6/17

Middle East on Edge Ahead of Possible Change to US Policy on Jerusalem
Criticism of President Donald Trump's reported plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is pouring in from across the Middle East, Europe and around the world. One of the strongest statements of opposition to such a plan came from key NATO ally Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan Tuesday. -Cindy Saine, VOA - 12/6/17

Erdogan Says U.S. Trying To 'Blackmail' Turkey With Iran Sanctions Case
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the New York trial of a Turkish banker accused of conspiring to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions "blackmail" and a "blemish" on his country. His comments in Ankara on December 5 came as the trial of Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla continued with a fifth day of testimony by the U.S. government's star witness and alleged mastermind of the scheme to evade sanctions. - 12/6/17

Ali Hashemi wins another gold for Iran at World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California
Ali Hashemi bagged another gold for Iran at the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships at the Anaheim Convention Center early Tuesday. In the men's 105 kilogram class, Hashemi finished on 404kg ahead of Arturs Plesnieks of Latvia, who lifted 402kg, and Uzbek Ivan Efremov - who had beaten Hashemi in September the last time they met - on 399kg. - 12/5/17

U.S. High Court Wary Of Seizing Ancient Relics To Pay $71 Million Iran Judgment
U.S. Supreme Court justices have expressed skepticism over a lawsuit that seeks the seizure of ancient Persian museum relics to pay for a $71.5 million U.S. court judgment against Iran for its alleged role in a suicide bombing. The plaintiffs in the case before the Supreme Court want to seize ancient Persian artifacts held at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, which have been on loan from Iran since 1937, as well as relics held by Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. - 12/5/17

Three Activists Sentenced to Prison in Trial "Directed" by Iran's Intelligence Ministry
Political prisoners Majid Assadi, Payam Shakiba, and Mohammad Banazadeh were sentenced to prison and exile after the Intelligence Ministry pressured the court, a family member of one of the prisoners told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 12/5/17

Iran-made rotavirus, rabies vaccines to hit market by 2019
Domestically manufactured rotavirus and rabies vaccines will enter Iranian market by 2019, Head of Pasteur Institute of Iran (IPI) announced Monday. According to Head of Pasteur Institute of Iran (IPI), Dr. Houman Kaghazian, the manufacture of rabies vaccine went underway at Pasteur Institute five years ago, and will be ready to enter the Iranian market in two years' time. - 12/5/17

Tallinn Film Review: 'Asphyxia'
Fereydoun Jeyrani's elegant black-and-white thriller refracts Iranian gender politics through the prism of a twisty Hitchcockian noir. -Jessica Kiang, Variety - 12/5/17

Iranian Weightlifter Wins World Title, Breaks Records in Anaheim, California
Iranian weightlifter Sohrab Moradi broke two world records to win the 94-kilogram class at the World Championships in Anaheim, California, on December 3. Moradi, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, scored an easy victory over Lithuania's Aurimas Didzbalis by 29 kilograms. - 12/4/17

Iran Opens Extension Of Key Chahbahar Port In Gulf Of Oman
Iran has officially opened an extension of its southeastern port of Chabahar, which Tehran hopes will become a key transit hub for land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia. State TV said President Hassan Rohani attended the inauguration on December 3 along with dignitaries from India, Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries. - 12/4/17

CIA Chief Sends Letter To Iran's General Soleimani Over Threats To U.S. Forces In Iraq
The director of the CIA says he sent a letter to a top Iranian general warning him that Washington will hold Tehran responsible for any attacks on U.S. interests by Iran-backed forces in Iraq. Director Mike Pompeo on December 2 told a defense forum in Simi Valley, California, that the letter to Major General Qassem Soleimani was never opened but that he wanted to send it because Soleimani had indicated his forces might threaten U.S. interests in Iraq. - 12/4/17

Iran's 'Devoted Countryman' dies at 86
Villager Riz Ali Khajavi who saved the lives of passengers of a train in 1962 when a landslide brought down rocks from overlooking mountain on a railroad, died at 86. Known as a national hero whose sacrifice story is being taught in Iranian schools, Riz Ali Khajavi was admitted to Imam Reza Hospital due to a severe pulmonary complication 20 days ago and died later on Saturday at 86. - 12/4/17

Sharif University's Mannequin Robot Among Top Eight In ICSR 2017
Director of the Center of Excellence in Design, Robotics, and Automation of Sharif University of Technology Ali Meghdari said "22 countries attended the 9th International Conference on Social Robotics which was held last week in Tsukuba, Japan. ROMA robot mannequin of Sharif University of technology ranked among the top eight robot designs and received memorial award." - 12/4/17

Iran acquires technology to produce nuclear batteries: AEOI advisor
Iran has acquired the technology to produce nuclear batteries to be used in health and industrial sectors, an advisor to head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says. Asghar Zare'an, who is an advisor to Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Sunday that Iran was the fifth country mastering the technology to produce nuclear batteries after the United States, Russia, France and Britain. - 12/4/17

US pressuring countries to stop buying Iran heavy water: Iranian MP
A senior Iranian parliamentarian says the Islamic Republic is in talks with a number of countries to sell its surplus heavy water, a nuclear byproduct, after the US decided to halt its purchases. Tehran has to sell its surplus heavy water under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world countries which requires that the inventory not exceed 130 tonnes. - 12/4/17

A Small Group In Iran Owes Banks Billion Of Dollars In Bad Debts
A few hundred people in Iran have borrowed billions of dollars from the country's financial institutions and refuse to meet their obligations toward the lending institutions. Now, a current and a former member of the Iranian Parliament have taken the issue in their own hands and are trying to force the delinquent debtors to pay their bills. - 12/2/17

Tehran Earthquake Preparedness 'Woefully Low, Unacceptable': Official Warns
Earthquake preparedness in the city of Tehran is woefully 'low' and 'unacceptable', Ismail Najjar, head of the state-run National Disaster Management Organization said on Thursday. Tehran is perched between no less than three major fault-lines. The Mosha, the Tehran, and the Rey fault lines are each on their own enough to bring down a city if they get active. - 12/2/17

Italy stresses EU's commitment to Iran nuclear deal
Italian Foreign Minister Alfano Angelino says the EU believes all the signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), should remain committed to the agreement. Angelino said in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Rome on Thursday that the EU has a completely positive view about the JCPOA and underlines the need for all sides to remain committed to it. - 12/2/17

Iranian Broadcast Censors World Cup Program Over Host's Clothing
Portions of the 2018 World Cup draw broadcast were censored in Iran because authorities decided co-host Maria Komandnaya's clothing was too revealing. Iranian state broadcaster IRIB on December 1 blocked the first part of the show from the Kremlin Palace in Moscow that featured Komandnaya, a Russian sports journalist, and former England soccer star Gary Lineker. - 12/2/17

Tehran Prosecutor Sentenced to Prison for Protestor's Death Denies Responsibility
Former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, the only official who has been held accountable for the death of a protestor who was tortured in the Kahrizak Detention Center in 2009, has publicly objected to his two-year prison sentence. Mortazavi, who has been implicated in rights violation cases throughout his career, also accused the Appeals Court judge who issued the sentence of being an accessory to murder in an unrelated case. - 12/2/17

U.S. firms "main losers" of sanctions: Iran's Oil Minister
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said U.S. energy firms are the main losers from the sanctions placed against his country. Speaking at the 173 OPEC meeting in Vienna on Thursday, Zanganeh called U.S.'s policy confusing and self-defeating, CNBC reported. - 12/2/17

Moderately Strong Quakes Hit Eastern Iran Near Kerman; Damage Reported
Two moderately strong earthquakes hit eastern Iran in quick succession early on December 1. The U.S. Geological Survey said the first, a relatively strong magnitude 6.0 tremor, struck at a shallow depth close to the city of Kerman, which has a population of more than 821,000. - 12/1/17

Misusing Intelligence To Sell Conflict With Iran
Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration already has provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques an earlier U.S. administration used in selling its launching of a war against Iraq. Among these techniques is the cherry-picking of intelligence not to inform policy-making or to enlighten the public but instead to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thereby to muster support for a policy already chosen. -Paul Pillar - 12/1/17

Iran placed in tough group in 2018 World Cup
Iran national football team, known as Team Melli, have been drawn in Group B of the 2018 World Cup. Carlos Queiroz's team will play powerhouse Spain, Portugal and Morocco in Russia. - 12/1/17

Fit To Be Tied: Thai Coach 'Upset' He Had To Wear Head Scarf At Iranian Tournament
In Iran, it's more often women disguising themselves as men to sneak into sporting events, where they are banned. But in a reversal of sorts, the male coach of the Thai women's national kabaddi team wore a head scarf to the Asian Kabaddi Championship in the Iranian city of Horgan on November 26 to evade a ban on men attending women's sporting events. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL - 12/1/17

Iran's Parliament Should Pass Pending Disability Rights Bill
New legislation currently pending in the Iranian parliament will, if passed, strengthen the basic rights of Iran's persons with disabilities community. The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) marks the upcoming International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3, by urging Iranian lawmakers to pass this vital legislation. - 12/1/17

Iranian Envoy Says U.S. Won't Succeed In Pushing Iran Out Of Syria
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says U.S. efforts to push Iranian military advisers and fighters out of Syria as part of a deal to end the war-torn country's six-year civil war will not succeed. "The aim of the U.S. administration is to get Iran out of Syria," Zarif said on November 30 at a conference in Rome. "The U.S. and Russia cannot decide for Iran. We are there at the request of the Syrian government," Zarif said. "It's our region. It's the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. We are going nowhere." - 12/1/17

Did Trump Greenlight Neoconservative Takeover Of State Dept. And CIA?
Donald Trump is likely to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and choose Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to take over the intelligence agency, according to "senior administration officials" who spoke to The New York Times. That move would mark an elevation of two neoconservative Iran hawks to the most influential positions in national intelligence gathering and diplomacy. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 12/1/17

Halt to heavy water purchase from Iran is a U.S. problem: Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Friday that it is the Trump administration's problem for halting purchase of heavy water from Iran. Washington Free Beacon reported on Thursday that The Trump administration has put a stop to U.S. purchases of nuclear materials from Iran, a policy that first began under the Obama administration. - 12/1/17

Poll: Middle Easterners Want Good Relations With U.S., Russia
A new survey from Zogby Research Services (ZRS) finds that large majorities across the Middle East want their governments to get along with both the United States and Russia, despite their hostility toward both countries' involvement in regional conflicts. Large majorities in nearly every country surveyed--Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates--said that it was important for their countries to have good relations with both countries. -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 12/1/17

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