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NIAC Delivers Book on "The Iranian Schindler" to All Senators
To strengthen the understanding of the positive historic relations between the Jewish and Iranian peoples, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) delivered copies of "In the Lion's Shadow: The Iranian Schindler and his Homeland in the Second World War" to all one-hundred members of the U.S. Senate earlier this month. The books were donated to NIAC with a signed dedication to each Senator by its author, Dr. Fariborz Mokhtari, a former professor at National Defense University in Washington. -Derya Corcor - 2/28/15

Sen. Menendez Top Recipient of MEK-Related Campaign Funding
It appears that Menendez has also been the top recipient of campaign funding from donors with ties to the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK), the cultish group that was until recently included on the State Department's terrorism list -Jim Lobe - 2/28/15

Iranian Cleric Says 'Final Steps' Being Taken In Nuclear Talks
Tehran's provisional Friday Prayers leader says the "final steps" are being taken in Iran's talks with six global powers aimed at reaching an agreement curbing Tehran's disputed nuclear program. Speaking to worshippers in the Iranian capital, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi praised President Hassan Rohani for his management of the talks. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/28/15

Iran eyeing development of small reactors
"During the recent talks with US negotiators in Geneva, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Washington is also looking into this strategy," the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has been quoted as saying by the Persian-language newspaper Ta'adol. - 2/28/15

Members of Congress Skipping Netanyahu's Speech
The legislators below have made the decision to skip Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming speech to a joint-session of Congress on Tuesday, March 2nd. If your legislator is on this list, thank them for standing up for diplomacy. -NIAC - 2/28/15

Higher education in Iran means higher jobless rate
Iran's Minister of Science and Technology says the unemployment rate among university graduates is higher than the general unemployment average, and that is why the country's academic elite go abroad for work. - 2/28/15

Iranian Prisoner of Conscience Released After Nine Months of "Temporary Detention" At Deplorable Facility
Nine months after her arrest, the lawyer and prisoner of conscience Negar Haeri was released on bail of about US$580,000 on February 25, 2015. She spent her entire time in prison since her May 2014 arrest on "temporary detention orders. - 2/28/15

Two Iranian websites linked to reformists blocked
Fars News Agency reported on Friday February 27 that the Jamaran and Bahar News websites have been blocked and are no longer accessible by internet users. According to Fars News Agency Jamaran has published a number of interviews in recent weeks with "radical reformist figures" and also widely covered news of former Iranian president and top reformist figure Mohammad Khatami. - 2/28/15

Silencing Khatami?
The judicial order of a media blackout on Mohammad Khatami and the reaction of Iranian social media users have once again highlighted the former president's political importance. As the potentially pivotal 2016 parliamentary elections draw near, the pressure on Khatami -- known as the "president of the reformist governments" -- will increase. -LobeLog - 2/28/15

Iran Nuke Deal Could Help It Mend Fences With Saudi Arabia
After years of mutual mistrust and jockeying for regional power, Saudi Arabia and Iran may be on their way to mending fences, analysts say. Mutual concerns over the emergence of the so-called Islamic State group in the region and Iran's impending nuclear deal with the West are providing stimulus for Riyadh and Tehran to head towards detente, analysts say. -Cecily Hilleary, VOA - 2/27/15

New Iranian Pro-Reform Party Holds First Congress
A new Iranian political party viewed as pro-reformist has held its first congress in Tehran. The Nedaye Iranian (Call of Iranians) party was formed in December and plans to compete in legislative elections in 2016. - 2/27/15

Iran: Prosecutor cancels concert despite Culture Minister's stance
A few days after the minister of culture stressed that his ministry will not surrender to pressure from extremist groups regarding concerts, Alireza Ghorbani's Eshtiag music group was prevented from holding a concert that had been scheduled for Wednesday February 25. - 2/27/15

Rohani Adviser Says Rights Violations Hurting Iran
Ali Yunesi, a senior adviser to Iran's President Hassan Rohani and a former intelligence minister, has admitted that "many cases" of human rights violations are taking place in Iran's courts and prisons, blaming them on extremists. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/27/15

Iran Launches 2.4 Billion Euro High-Speed Rail Project
The construction of a high-speed railway, extending about 400 kilometers from Tehran to Isfahan, started on Wednesday. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani officially launched the project during a visit to the city of Qom, which is located between Tehran and Isfahan. - 2/27/15

Rebirth of the Cool: American Music Makes a Return to Iran
The audience members in Tehran's Vahdat concert hall rose from their seats, clapping wildly as the frontman Bob Belden, a fun-loving New Yorker with a predilection for loud shirts, rested his soprano saxophone on a nearby stand. -Thomas Erdbring, NY Times - 2/27/15

This chef serves Persian comfort food from the corner of a pizza joint in New York City
Asheh Reshteh is a thick, winter soup packed with beans, herbs and noodles. In Iran, you can buy it on the street. And now, in New York, you can try it at Taste of Persia NYC, courtesy of printer-turned-chef Saeed Pourkay. -Alex Gallafent, PRI - 2/27/15

Schakowsky Statement on Why She Won't Attend Bibi's Speech
Despite growing pressure to attend Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's speech to a Joint Session of Congress next Tuesday, a number of Democrats have issued statements outlining their reasons for staying away. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/27/15

Kerry: Netanyahu Misjudging Nuclear Talks with Iran
Kerry told a congressional hearing that what has been accomplished so far in talks with Tehran has actually made Israel safer by stopping Iran from advancing its nuclear program. He said critics of the ongoing talks with Iran, including Netanyahu, may not know what they are talking about. - 2/26/15

Iran's Intent is the Real Issue, Says Former IAEA Inspector
Robert Kelley is a licensed nuclear engineer who has worked on many aspects of nuclear weapons and later on nuclear nonproliferation. His personal experiences include weapons simulation testing, plutonium metallurgy, isotope separation and emergency response. -RNN - 2/26/15

Photos: IRGC flexes muscles in Strait of Hormuz
On Wednesday, the Naval Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps carried out a new round of exercises dubbed Payambar Azam 9 in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz. As the main part of the drills, the naval forces successfully targeted a model U.S. aircraft carrier. - 2/26/15

Nuclear Deal Could Increase Pressure On Rohani
Nonetheless, even though negotiations are still ongoing and success is far from guaranteed, President Hassan Rohani could come under pressure if his administration succeeds in reaching an enduring agreement that would rein in Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/26/15

Activists Ask FIFA to Intervene to End Iran's Ban on Women in Stadiums
In a letter addressed to the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Swiss-based organization responsible for administering the World Cup soccer competitions, 190 Iranian activists have asked FIFA to suspend Iran's membership in FIFA, in response to the Iranian government's ban on the presence of Iranian women in soccer stadiums. - 2/26/15

Cancer cases in Iran's Khuzestan province skyrocket over past 15 years
Red Crescent sources report a 500-percent increase in the number of cancer patients in Khuzestan in the past 15 years. Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan, is considered one of the most polluted cities in the world, and Kaveh Jaseb told IRNA that lung, stomach and blood cancer are respectively the most common forms of cancer in the province. - 2/26/15

Forget Bibi: Let's Hear More from Our NATO Allies
As a framework deal for a comprehensive nuclear accord between the P5+1 and Iran becomes more likely by the end of the month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu and his U.S. allies are stepping up their efforts to sabotage any agreement through the Republican majority in both houses of Congress. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/26/15

Libyan MP Says Iran Should Bolster Role to Stem Chaos
Days after militants affiliated with the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the residence of the Iranian ambassador in Tripoli, a prominent Libyan lawmaker and former rights activist said Iran has taken an ineffective, hands-off approach regarding his country. - 2/26/15

EU Says Iran Nuke Deal 'At Hand'
The European Union's foreign policy chief has said a nuclear deal with Iran was "at hand," urging different sides to show political will ahead of a new round of talks scheduled in Geneva next week. Federica Mogherini, whose predecessor Catherine Ashton chairs the talks in Geneva, said February 24, "We cannot miss this opportunity." - 2/25/15

Subversive Facebook page wins women's rights prize
The Geneva Summit for Democracy and Human Rights announced on Monday that Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, creator of the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page, is the recipient of its Women's Rights Prize for 2015. - 2/25/15

Child Poverty: 7 Lessons
The official child poverty rate in the United States today stands at 20 percent; it is the second highest among the world's developed countries. That means that almost 15 million children live in poverty in the United States. The Century Foundation formulated seven "lessons" about childhood poverty in the U.S. following its Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative conference last June -The HAND Foundation - 2/25/15

2015 Farhang Short Film Festival Finalists Announced
Farhang Foundation's panel of judges has selected six short films as finalists for the 7th Annual Farhang Foundation Short Film Festival. The top six submissions represent a variety of genres and styles, including drama, romance, animation, stop motion, and more. - 2/25/15

Iranian Student Who Triggered UMass Dispute Fights to Return
Lost in the dispute over the University of Massachusetts' controversial restrictions on Iranian students was the woman who inadvertently sparked it all. Until now. Her name is Zahra Khalkhali, and her case has become a cause celebre on UMass' Amherst campus. -NBC News - 2/25/15

MP says sanctions-related cash leaving Iran in suitcases
A conservative Iranian MP says he has received certain reports that a significant amount of Central Bank foreign currency assets has been taken out of the country in suitcases. He also claimed that the money represents the very assets released as a result of the Geneva agreement. - 2/25/15

The Unwritten American Rules of the Road
"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception," said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation's leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt's service as Nazi Germany's chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond damaged his reputation for decades, today his ideas have achieved unimagined influence. -Alfred W. McCoy, LobeLog - 2/25/15

As Netanyahu Tries to Stop U.S.-Iran Deal, Leaked Cables Show Israeli Spies Reject His Nuke Claims
In what has been described as the biggest intelligence leak since Edward Snowden, Al Jazeera has begun publishing a series of spy cables from the world's top intelligence agencies. In one cable, the Israeli spy agency Mossad contradicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's own dire warnings about Iran's ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. -Democracy Now - 2/25/15

US, Iran Report 'Some Progress' at Nuclear Talks
Both sides described a second day of talks in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as "serious, useful and constructive." But Zarif told Iran's Fars news agency that "there is a long way to reach a final agreement." - 2/24/15

Iran sabre team comes 8th in Fencing World Cup
Iran sabre team finished in eighth place in the Fencing World Cup held in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday. Iran started the campaign with a 45-20 victory over Chile in the Round of 32. Iran beat the U.S. 45-39 in Round of 16 but lost to Italy 45-39 in the quarter-final. - 2/24/15

Russia offers Iran latest anti-aircraft missile system
The head of Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec says Moscow has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missile defense systems after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was scrapped under Western pressure. - 2/24/15

Iran, IAEA to expedite cooperation: Iranian official
A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator says Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have decided to enhance their cooperation within the framework of the nuclear talks between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1. - 2/24/15

Iranian teachers escalate protests by skipping class
Teachers in several Iranian cities are refusing to attend classes as they continue to protest the lack of attention to their demands. Zamaneh's own reporting as well as reports on the Melli Mazhabi website indicate that on Sunday February 22, teachers used social media to coordinate a one-day strike across the country. - 2/24/15

Iranophobia Complicates the Fight against ISIS
As the March deadline for a political framework agreement between the P5+1 and Iran approaches, Iranīs regional rivals have ratcheted up their opposition to a deal. The preferred line of attack now seems to be that the deal will further enhance Iranīs regional influence. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 2/24/15

Leaked cables show Netanyahu's Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad
Binyamin Netanyahu's dramatic declaration to world leaders in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service, according to a top-secret Mossad document. -Guardian - 2/24/15

Kerry and Iran's Zarif Hold Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have held two hours of talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program. The meeting on February 22 in Geneva included for the first time U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi. - 2/23/15

Maz Jobrani: I'm Not a Terrorist but I Played One on TV
World-renowned comedian and actor, Maz Jobrani, explains what it's like to be an Iranian American in Hollywood in his new book, "I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV." Following the book release earlier this week, Jobrani set out on a comedy tour explaining how he overcame Hollywood stereotypes and forged a path to stardom in an industry that only saw him as the perfect TV terrorist. - 2/23/15

IAAB's Persian Language Educators' Symposium - May 23rd-24th in Berkeley, California
IAAB, in collaboration with directors of Persian language schools, is pleased to present the second biennial Persian Language Educators' Symposium from May 23-May 24, 2015 in Berkeley, California at Golestan Center for Language Immersion and Cultural Education. - 2/23/15

Health Ministry reveals most deadly cancers for Iranians
The head of the cancer department of Iran's Health Ministry reports that the most fatal cancer for men across the country is stomach cancer and for women is breast cancer adding that 90,000 new cancer cases are reported each year. - 2/23/15

Iran's Interior Minister warns of illegal drug profits financing election campaigns
Iran's Interior Minister says "dirty money from drug trafficking" in Iran now amounts to 10 trillion toumans a year, some of which has been finding its way into "elections and the securing of votes" to influence the country's politics. - 2/23/15

IS Claims Attack on Iran Ambassador's Residence in Libya
Militants loyal to the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for bombing the empty residence of Iran's ambassador to Libya. No one was injured Sunday in the central Tripoli attack. - 2/23/15

Hyperloop Is Real: Meet The Startups Selling Supersonic Travel
The majestic Senate majority leader suite in the U.S. Capitol was still Harry Reid's in September when he eagerly scooched his leather chair across the Oriental rug to gaze at something that, he was told, would change transportation forever. -Bruce Upbin, Forbes - 2/23/15

Iranians Wait And Wonder If A New Dawn Is Coming
When we walked into a shopping mall in Tehran, Pooya Shahsiah was waiting for us at the top of the escalator. She's the co-owner of a trendy little shop on the second floor that sells shirts, scarves, cups and jewelry. Cloth hangs along the walls in reds and yellows and blues. -Steve Inskeep, NPR - 2/23/15

'Significant Gaps' Exist in Iran Nuclear Talks, Kerry Says
There are still "significant gaps" in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday in London ahead of Sunday talks in Geneva with Iranian officials. "There is still a distance to travel," he said, adding that if an agreement is not reached by the March 31 deadline, the talks will not be extended. - 2/22/15

Iran Seeking Role In Selling Gas To Europe
Russia, beware, Iran is trying to get into the European gas market. In recent months, Iranian officials have been signaling to potential customers in Europe, potential suppliers in the Caspian Basin, and transit country Turkey that Iran is not only ready to get into the game but that without Iranian participation the European Union's Southern Gas Corridor will take many years to realize, or might never be realized. -Bruce Pannier, RFE - 2/22/15

Award-winning Taxi filmmaker on art and politics in Iran
Jafar Panahi, the winner of this year's Berlinale Golden Bear prize, responded to statements from the head of Iran's Cinema Organization about the "political" nature of Panahi's recognition by the film festival, saying that "for many years the art scene [in Iran] has been haunted by the footsteps of politics". - 2/21/15

Reading the Runes in the Latest Report on Iran's Nuclear Program
The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's nuclear program contains much that is worth emphasizing. Iran is continuing to account for all its declared nuclear material (and the agency appears to have no reason to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear material). Iran is also continuing to comply fully with the commitments it made to the United States and others on November 24, 2013 and which it has renewed since. -Peter Jenkins - 2/21/15

Hardline Iranian Judge Blocks Lawyer Chosen to Represent Washington Post Journalist
An Iranian lawyer trying to represent a detained Washington Post journalist is not being allowed to see his prospective client, he says. Masoud Shafii said he has been trying to see Jason Rezaian, but he has been stymied by the judge assigned to preside over the case. Rezaian, a dual citizen of Iran and the U.S., has been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for seven months. - 2/21/15

Iran and U.S. resume nuclear talks in Geneva
Iran and the United States restarted intensive nuclear talks in Geneva on Friday with the aim of narrowing remaining gaps in the run up for a political agreement by the end of March and a final nuclear deal by July 1. - 2/21/15

American saxophonist Bob Belden impressed by Iran visit
American saxophonist Bob Belden, who gave performances with his band Animation in Tehran, says he will never forget Iran.James Robert Belden known as Bob Belden attended the 30th Fajr International Music Festival with 'Animation' band members, and gave performances on the last day of the gala on Thursday, Persian media reported on Friday. - 2/21/15

Iran takes the 3rd place at Greco-Roman World Cup in Tehran
The Iranian wrestling team defeated Turkey at the Greco-Roman World Cup and finished in third place. In the third-fourth match held at the Azadi Complex on Friday, the Iranian wrestling team defeated Turkey 6-2 and came third. - 2/21/15

Iranian Parliament rejects $22-million budget for environment protection
In its study of the next year's national budget bill (March 5015-March 2016), Majlis on Wednesday refused to pass a $22 million bill intended to fund projects to protect environment. The fund reportedly sought to battle environmental issues, especially dust storms that have recently crippled the country's western parts - 2/21/15

Watch: 100 years of Iranian beauty - in one minute
A mesmerizing video released Wednesday captures 100 years of Iranian beauty trends in one minute. Stylists transform model Sabrina Sarajy's hair and makeup to popular styles from each decade in a time-lapsed video produced by media company Cut.com. -USA Today - 2/21/15

Exhibition at Stanford: She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World
A major new exhibition at the Cantor Arts Center, She Who Tells a Story, presents the pioneering work of 12 leading women photographers from Iran and the Arab world. The artists explore identity, narrative, representation, and war in daily life, inviting a broader understanding of the Middle East than what Westerners glean through media reports. - 2/20/15

Water shortages a problem in cities across Iran
The Head of Iran's Department of Environment has issued a warning about the water resources for 14 cities across the country, adding that current conditions are also raising serious concerns about the water supply for the Capital. - 2/20/15

NIAC Runs Full Page NY Times Ad on Netanyahu Visit
Today (Thursday, February 19th, 2015), the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is running a full-page ad in the New York Times highlighting John Boehner and Benjamin Netanyahu's outrageous political stunt that could kill diplomacy with Iran and start a war. - 2/20/15

Iranians Take To Social Media To Challenge Media Ban On Ex-President Khatami
Some Iranians are protesting against a state media ban on former President Mohammad Khatami by posting his pictures on social media under the hashtag "We will be Khatami's media" -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/20/15

'You Are Invited': Isolated Iran Seeks Foreign Tourists
Two events last week suggested the conflicting currents in Iran. The country marked the anniversary of its revolution last Wednesday with the usual slogan, "Death to America." The following day, Iran opened an international tourism exhibition with a different slogan: "You are invited." -Steve Inskeep, NPR - 2/20/15

Good Reads on Bibi-Boehner, P5+1 Progress
For those who want to keep up with the Bibi-Boehner fiasco and prospects for an agreement between the P5+1 and Iran by the end of March, there has been some good reading material published on the Web in the last few days. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/20/15

U.S. University Reverses Ban On Iranian Science Students
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst says it will accept Iranian students into its science and engineering programs. The university said in a February 18 statement that it will develop individualized study plans to meet the requirements of a U.S. sanctions law. - 2/19/15

Iranians Anxious about Nuclear Talks
With the March 24 deadline approaching for a political agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), one aspect of this ongoing political issue is often neglected: the humanitarian dimension. -Adnan Tabatabai - 2/19/15

Iran: Supreme Leader casts doubt on lifting of sanctions
In a speech on Wednesday February 18, Ayatollah Khamenei said: "The enemy is taking maximum advantage of its sanctions tactic. They are trying to stop the people. I believe that even if the nuclear issues proceed as they dictate, sanctions will not be lifted because they are against the principle of the Revolution." - 2/19/15

US Keeping Some Details of Iran Nuclear Talks From Israel
The United States said Wednesday it has been withholding some details of nuclear talks with Iran from Israel to prevent those details from possibly being made public and distorted. - 2/19/15

Iran's Jews: It's Our Home And We Plan To Stay
Iran is a country where people at rallies routinely chant "Death to Israel." It's also home to the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel and Turkey. Iran's Jewish population topped 100,000 in the years before the shah of Iran was toppled in 1979 by the country's Shiite Muslim clerics. Today, the number of Jews has dipped to below 9,000. -Steve Inskeep, NPR - 2/19/15

The Middle East and China
he Middle East is where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together and where the trade routes between China, India, and Europe converge. It has two-thirds of the world's energy reserves. It is also the epicenter of this planet's increasing religious strife. Relationships between this strategically crucial region and the rest of the world are now undergoing a sea change. -Chas W. Freeman, LobeLog - 2/19/15

CNN/ORC poll: Majority of Americans oppose Netanyahu invite
A large majority of Americans believe that Republican congressional leaders should not have invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the White House, according to a new CNN/ORC survey. -CNN - 2/19/15

Cars, drugs and virginity tests dominate Iranian film festival
Divorce, abortion and infidelity - set amid villas with blue pools and lavish gardens - were the themes dominating this year's Fajr film festival, which ran 1-12 February in Tehran. But it was one of the weakest line-ups in recent years. -Guardian - 2/19/15

California court says Iran's justice system not fair enough for property dispute
A California court found itself in the unfamiliar terrain of foreign relations when it had to decide whether a dispute over real estate in Iran - claimed by three Californians who say an Iranian cheated their parents out of the property -- should be transferred to the Iranian courts. -SF Gate - 2/19/15

Some Questions Worth Asking
ISIS, ISIL or actually DA'ESH, and its self-appointed associates have been hitting Western European targets as of late, killing some half-dozen Jewish people among others. The terrorist group is also responsible for the decapitation of journalists and innocent aid workers, as well as the wholesale massacre of thousands of Moslems and non- Moslems, including several dozen Christians. -Kam Zarrabi - 2/18/15

Photos: Iran displays manned spacecraft prototype
In a ceremony on Tuesday Iran unveiled a mock prototype of its first domestically manufactured spacecraft that is capable of taking astronauts into space. The spaceship, built on a one-to-one scale, was put on display in an exhibition on Iran's latest achievements in space industry. - 2/18/15

Opinion: Effort to Thwart Iran Deal Won't Have Intended Effect
Friction between the United States and Israel is not uncommon. On issues ranging from the 1956 Suez war to the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, the leaders of the U.S. and Israel have often clashed in ways that reflected different perceptions of their national interests. Still, there is something particularly disturbing and counterproductive about the current disagreement over Iran. -Barbara Slavin, VOA - 2/18/15

Iran's Judiciary Chief Defends Opposition House Arrests As Legal
The head of Iran's Judiciary says there is no legal obstacle to the house arrest of the leaders of the Green Movement according to the country's laws. Speaking at a conference commemorating two martyrs, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani slammed recent U.S. statements about the house arrest of Mehdi Karroubi, MirHosein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard as interference in the country's internal affairs. - 2/18/15

Relations of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan: Potential friends and enemies
Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan may seem as potential close allies or at least two neighboring countries with very good relations. The two countries have land, river and sea borders. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 2/18/15

Iran parliament endorses fuel price hike
The Iranian parliament (Majlis) has approved a five-percent increase in fuel prices for the next fiscal year starting March 21, amid falling oil prices. The Iranian lawmakers voted in favor of fuel price hike during deliberations on the annual budget bill for next year on Monday - 2/18/15

Opening a Southern Front in the Hezbollah-Israel Conflict?
If what now in retrospect seems like a harbinger of the "War of the Syrian South," an exception to this pattern was established January 18 when Israel's air force attacked an IRL convoy in the Quneitra region near the Golan on the Syrian side of the border. Six fighters were killed, including a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard. -Aurelie Daher, LobeLog - 2/18/15

New minor succeeds, gaining popularity
Omid Irani, a senior, will be graduating this semester as the first Seton Hall student to declare Seton Hall's new Middle Eastern studies minor. This 18-credit multidisciplinary program, a joint effort between the departments of history, religious studies, political science and the School of Diplomacy, was a seed of an idea in 2009. -Emily Balan, Setonian - 2/18/15

Omid Kokabee, in Letter from Evin Prison in Tehran, Accepts Prestigious Science Award
An acceptance speech by Omid Kokabee, written from his Evin prison cell in Iran, was delivered at the Award Ceremony for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2014 Freedom and Responsibly Award on February 13. - 2/17/15

Farhang Foundation announces winners of its annual Nowruz competitions: Celebrations planed in Los Angles and Orange County
Preparations for Farhang's 7th Annual Nowruz (Iranian New Year) Celebrations are underway as the Foundation selects the winning submissions from this year's Nowruz Banner Contest and Nowruz Program Contest. - 2/17/15

Rohani's administration seems to back down on women's right to sing
The Ministry of Culture appears to have caved in to pressure from Islamic Republic hardliners regarding women singing in public, as a recent report indicates that the female singer scheduled to perform in the opening of Fajr Music Festival did not perform. - 2/17/15

Iran: Journalists Association Wary Of Government Interference
The Association of Iranian Journalists has issued a statement warning against efforts by the Ministry of Labour to establish a larger, all-encompassing organization to replace the existing association. - 2/17/15

Iran's Green Movement Leaders in Limbo After 4 Years of House Arrest
Even though the unlawful house arrests of the leaders of the Green Movement and the denial of their basic rights continues for years no official agency or institution has been identified to be responsible for this situation. Many believe that the national security council is responsible while there are those who argue that ayatollah Khamenei is the cause and continuation of the arrests. -Behrooz Samadbeygi - 2/17/15

Iranian Media Told, Again, Not to Mention Ex-President Khatami
The spokesman for Iran's judiciary has confirmed that Iranian media remain banned from mentioning former reformist President Mohammad Khatami and publishing his comments, statements, and pictures. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/17/15

EU Realignment on Saudi Arabia and Iran?
In a rare move, the European Parliament (EP) recently adopted a strongly worded resolution condemning human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia by a vote of 460 to 153. This unprecedented criticism of Saudi Arabia, officially an "ally," by a EU institution contrasts with the relatively milder treatment accorded to Iran, an official "foe" and Saudi Arabia's regional antagonist. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 2/17/15

This is what the lives of Iranian women really look like
Sari, a few hours north of Iran's capital, Tehran, is a small city with a population of 200,000. If you're young, privileged, and bored in Sari, Shoonesh is the place to be on a Friday night. Racing through the narrow streets, you need only a passing glance of consent from a neighboring driver to signal that they're down for a challenge. -Mahsa Alimardani, Quartz - 2/17/15

Iran's Neoliberal Austerity-Security Budget
President Hassan Rouhani submitted Iran's 1394 (the Persian New Year begins on 21 March 2015) Budget Bill to the Iranian Parliament this last December. The budget was put together before the sharp fall in oil prices and before the nuclear negotiations failed to reach the expected "comprehensive" deal on November 24, 2014. -Hooshang Amirahmadi - 2/16/15

Chinese Foreign Minister Pushes Iran On Nuclear Deal
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a trip to Tehran on February 15 that striking a deal in talks with the United States, China, France, Russia, Germany, and Britain would allow Iran to uphold its "legal rights" to use nuclear power and shed international economic sanctions, allowing Iranians to "energetically develop the economy." - 2/16/15

President Rouhani condemns killing of 3 Muslim students in North Carolina
"The brutal crime of the killing of three young Muslim students in the United States of America is a deplorable act and another manifestation of the serious danger of the spread of violence and extremism in our time," Rouhani said on Sunday. - 2/16/15

Iranian government allots money to encourage birth of more children
Iranian Ministry of Health has announced a budget of 400 billion toumans to promote childbearing and increase the national fertility rate. A ministry spokesman told IRNA that the budget will be targeted toward "infertility treatments, providing insurance for infertility treatment drugs and reducing their costs". - 2/16/15

Former Iranian VP begins serving sentence for corruption
Former vice president Mohammadreza Rahimi has been taken to Evin Prison to serve out his five-year sentence for corruption charges. In an open letter, Rahimi called himself a victim of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stubbornness. - 2/16/15

Iran forbids involvement of armed forces in elections
"Members of armed forces, including army, Sepah [the IRGC], the law enforcement, Basij [volunteer forces], and security and intelligence systems, are not allowed to participate in political fronts or support any certain nominees in elections," the council said on Saturday, according to IRNA. - 2/16/15

Iran's Supreme Leader sends new letter to Obama: Wall Street Journal
According to the WSJ, Ayatollah Khamenei wrote to Obama in recent weeks in response to an October presidential letter that raised the possibility of U.S.-Iranian cooperation in fighting the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if a nuclear deal is secured. An Iranian diplomat told the paper that the Supreme Leader's response was "respectful" but noncommittal. - 2/15/15

Iran's Panahi scores another triumph at Berlin Film Festival
Jafar Panahi's Taxi has won the Golden Bear at the 65th Berlin Film Festival. Panahi's niece, Hannah Saiidi, who portrays one of the film's protagonists, accepted the prize on the filmmaker's behalf, as Panahi is banned from traveling abroad and could not attend. - 2/15/15

Iranian Cheetah's dwindling numbers lower than thought
The head of the Iranian Cheetah Association says the endangered feline's numbers are still falling in Iran, despite efforts, and their situation has become more critical. Morteza Eslami told ISNA that earlier estimates pointed to a population of between 70 and 120 Asiatic cheetahs in the country but the number is now put between 40 and 70. - 2/15/15

Iran Weekend Update
If you want to keep up with legislative and other Washington-based developments regarding Iran, including Bibi Netanyahu's forthcoming visit here, there are a number of documents and websites that should bring you up to date. Below you will find excerpts I've lifted from the latest Legislative Round-Up, the indispensable weekly by Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now (APN). -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/15/15

Being Realistic about Nuclear Proliferation
Earlier this week, after a closed hite House briefing on Iran, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said: "Instead of preventing proliferation, we are managing proliferation. If we enter a new world order where we are going to manage proliferation.... that is a different and far more challenging world." -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 2/14/15

PAAIA Voices Concern Over UMass Amherst's Proposed Policy on Iranian Students
In a recent statement, University of Massachusetts Amherst announced they will no longer accept Iranian nationals to their engineering and natural sciences programs due to their concerns in complying with the Iran Threat Reductions and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012. PAAIA is concerned that UMass Amherst's potential broad interpretation of the law will negatively impact Iranian students during the admissions process and could lead to similar policy decisions by other U.S. universities. - 2/14/15

Hardline Stance on Iran Nuclear Deadline Could Be Pressure Tactic
As the March 24 deadline nears for Iran nuclear negotiators to agree on the fundamental structure of a final deal, both the U.S. and Iran increasingly have been vocal in saying they do not favor another overall extension in negotiations. There is debate, however, over whether the U.S. and Iran are actually taking more hard-line positions over the final July deadline or if they are trying to use their public assertions to pressure the other side. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 2/14/15

Iranian Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi Meets Pope
Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi met with Pope Francis on Thursday. In the meeting, the Pope stressed the need for inter-religion cooperation and said that freedom of expression does not justify insulting religious sanctities, referring to terrorist acts carried out in the name of religion. - 2/14/15

Revolutionary Guard Commander Says Iran Helped Defeat IS In Iraq
A Revolutionary Guard commander says Iran has helped defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq. "When Islamic State emerged in Iraq, no country offered assistance to destroy it," General Mohammad Ali Jafari said on February 14. "But Iran rushed to help the Iraqi nation to annihilate Islamic State." - 2/14/15

The Islamic State Unites the World
During the Cold War, science fiction writers and politicians like Ronald Reagan imagined that the threat of an invasion from outer space could break down ideological barriers and unify the world. The arrival of giant bug-eyed creatures bent on death and destruction would prompt world leaders to set aside their petty rivalries for the higher purpose of saving the planet. - John Feffer, LobeLog - 2/14/15

NIAC Concerned by University's Exclusion of Iranian Students, Calls for Reversal
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has learned that the University of Massachusetts Amherst will no longer admit Iranian nationals as students in certain engineering and science programs and will require all Iranian students to certify their compliance with certain sanctions. NIAC is deeply concerned by the University of Massachusetts Amherst's action and calls on the University to reverse its decision. - 2/13/15

Iran's 33rd Fajr Film Festival wraps up: "Crazy" wins Best Director and Best Film awards
The 33rd edition of Iran's Fajr International Film Festival has come to an end with "Crazy" by the renowned Abolhasan Davoodi winning the Best Director and the Best Film awards. Produced by Bita Mansuri, Crazy received 11 nominations, including best film, best director for Abolhassan Davudi, best actress for Tannaz Tabatabaii, best cinematographer, best screenplay and best music. - 2/13/15

Iranian Commander Says IS Group 'Nearing' Demise
The head of Iran's powerful Quds Force has been quoted as saying the Islamic State (IS) group is nearing its demise. General Qassem Suleimani was quoted by Fars news agency as saying in a ceremony on February 11, "Considering the heavy defeats suffered by [IS militants] and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, we are certain these groups are nearing the end of their lives." - 2/13/15

Iranian Judiciary urged to let jailed journalist get medical care
Ninety-six social and political activists have issued a letter urging the Islamic Republic judiciary to take the necessary steps for the release of jailed journalist Saeed Razavi Faqih. The letter highlights Razavi Faqih's need for immediate medical care and reminds the judiciary of its responsibility for his health and safety. - 2/13/15

Tell Congress: Don't Attend Netanyahu's Speech
Congressional hawks have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress to directly challenge President Obama's diplomacy with Iran and promote sanctions that could start a war. - 2/13/15

Iranian translator of Blue Is the Warmest Colour 'declared persona non grata'
Sepideh Jodeyri, who translated Julie Maroh's 2010 graphic novel about a lesbian romance into Persian, has spoken out after her book launch in Tehran was cancelled -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 2/13/15

Lest We Forget: Bibi's "Wisdom" on Iraq
Republican members of Congress say they are eagerly waiting to hear directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on why the nuclear deal being negotiated between the United States and its P5+1 partners (including its three closest NATO allies) and Iran is so dangerous...Which, of course, brings to mind once again Netanyahu's demonstrated regional expertise in his enthusiastic promotion of the invasion of Iraq...-Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/13/15

Photos: Village Students in Chabahar Looking For Philanthropists To Help Their Schools
These photos are from the schools at Kamb and Tiss Koopan villages in the district of Chabahar town in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province. At the age of the internet, the students at these schools are still deprived of the basic educational facilities. With their their government having failed them, these students have now turned to philanthropists and asking for their help so their schools can meet the minimum educational standards. - 2/12/15

The Green Movement Stirs and Rouhani Responds
On February 14, Iran's Green Movement leaders will enter their fifth year of house arrest. Despite his implicit campaign promise, President Hassan Rouhani has been unable to gain the release of former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and former speaker of parliament Mehdi Karroubi. As recent events indicate, however, supporters of the Green Movement are still demanding the release of these opposition leaders and insisting that Rouhani's office implement democratic reform. - 2/12/15

Opinion: Former US Congressman Makes Historic Visit to Iran
With little fanfare, another taboo in U.S.-Iran relations has shattered. Jim Slattery, a former six-term Democratic Congressman from Kansas, late last year became the first former or current American legislator to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran. -Barbara Slavin, VOA - 2/12/15

U.S. Greco-Roman coach Lindland praises Iranian wrestlers
The U.S. Greco-Roman coach Matt Lindland praised the Iranian wrestlers ahead of the 35th International Senior Freestyle, Greco-Roman and Pahlavani Wrestling "Takhti Cup". The top U.S. wrestler competing is 2012 Olympian Ben Provisor along with two other young stars, namely Ryan Mango and Brian Graham. - 2/12/15

There would have been no progress in nuclear talks without Supreme Leader's support: Iranian FM Zarif
Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday that the Supreme Leader has set "the red lines the guidelines" for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team led by him. "If it was not for the support of the Leader and people there was not progress" in nuclear talks with the major powers, Zarif told reporters while taking part in rallies marking the 36th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. - 2/12/15

Iran will boost gas production by 100mn cubic meters: President Rouhani
Addressing a massive gathering of people celebrating the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran on Wednesday, President Rouhani said Iran has made great strides in the energy sector by increasing its oil production from 2.7 million barrels a day last year to 2.9 million this year, and boosting its natural gas output by 100mcm/d in the same period. - 2/12/15

Looking at Armenian-Iranian Relations Through a Russian Lens
The late January visit to Armenia by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif got little media attention, but it could have significant ramifications for geopolitics in Eurasia. Specifically, the trip could help Russia gain a trade outlet that softens the blow of Western sanctions. -Alex Vatanka, LobeLog - 2/12/15

Construction of Iran's new nuclear plant to begin in fall
The Russian Ambassador to Iran says all preparations for the construction of a second nuclear power station in Bushehr are on track and the construction will commence in the fall of 2015. - 2/12/15

Why Islamic Reform Is Delayed
Recent geopolitical turmoil in the Arab/Muslim World, and the resulting proliferation of radical movements and groupings such as Al-Qaeda and ISIL, seems to have provide plenty of incendiary fodder for the propaganda mill of the proponents of the theory of "the clash of civilizations," according to which the roots of conflicts in the Muslim world must be sought in Islam itself, in its alleged "incompatibility" with modernization and Western values. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 2/11/15

Photos: Iran unveils indigenous supersonic fighter jet
Iran's Defense Ministry has unveiled a new domestically-built advanced supersonic trainer fighter jet, named Saeqeh 2 (Thunderbolt 2). Saeqeh was unveiled as a prototype in 2004 and later became operational in 2006. The jet is Iran's second domestically-developed fighter with many calling it the Iranian F-18. - 2/11/15

Photos: Iranian village of Esfidan
Esfidan is a village located in Bojnourd County, North Khorasan Province in southeastern Iran. Due to its interconnected architecture, Esfidan village is known as the Masouleh of Iran's Eastern part. Masouleh is another village in north of Iran worldly known for its beautiful urban architecture. -Maryam Davarnia - 2/11/15

Iran favors win-win nuclear deal with P5+1: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the country favors a "win-win" nuclear deal with the P5+1 states, expressing hope that Tehran's negotiating sides would show the necessary political resolve for the settlement of the nuclear case. - 2/11/15

The Green Movement Still Terrifies Iran's Leaders
Since February 2011 the leaders of Iran's Green Movement, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, and former Speaker of the Majles [parliament] Mehdi Karroubi have lived under strict house arrest, ordered by Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). -Akbar Ganji, National Interest - 2/11/15

Iranian writers welcome decline of censorship
It is hard to overstate how beleaguered Iran's writers and publishers felt during the eight years under Ahmadinejad. The Islamic Republic has never been a bastion of freedom of expression, but during that time, things were taken to a different level. -Arash Azizi, Al-Monitor - 2/11/15

Long-term oil price prediction drives price even lower
Following predictions from the International Energy Agency that the price of oil will see a limited rise in the next five years, oil prices in Asian markets plummeted once more on Tuesday February 10. - 2/11/15

Can the EU Take the Lead on Iran?
The interim nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) concluded on November 24, 2013, is rightly hailed as one of the few successes of the European common foreign and security policy. But as the EU3 (France, Germany, UK), alongside its other negotiating partners, struggles to clinch the final deal with Iran, the EU's own lack of ambition and creativity risks snatching failure from the jaws of success. -Eldar Mamedov - 2/10/15

Dust problem escalates in Ahvaz, other Iranian cities
The concentration of dust particles in Ahvaz air has reached its highest levels in recent days, forcing people to stay home and avoid the streets. Following school closures, 11 Khuzestan cities have now closed all government offices as well. - 2/10/15

Iran's IRGC Intensifies Crackdown on Facebook Users with 12 Arrests and 24 Summonses
An IRGC cyberspace specialist, Mostafa Alizadeh, announced in a statement on Iranian state television on February 1, that 12 Iranian Facebook users have been arrested on charges of "spreading corruption, and [carrying out a] mission to change family lifestyles." He added that 24 other citizens were summoned to answer questions about their Facebook activities. - 2/10/15

Obama Says Further Extension of Iran Nuclear Talks Not 'Useful'
U.S. President Barack Obama said on February 9 that a further extension of nuclear negotiations with Iran will not be useful if Tehran does not agree to a basic framework. Obama said the issues discussed at the nuclear talks are no longer "technical." "The issues now are: does Iran have the political will and the desire to get a deal done," he said. - 2/10/15

Another Iranian Commander Killed in Iraq
A commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been killed in Iraq, Iranian media reported. The Tasnim news agency, said to be affiliated with IRGC, says Reza Hosseini Moghadam was in Samarra to confront militants of the Islamic State (IS) when he was killed on February 7. - 2/10/15

Hundreds of students protest at Tehran University dorm
On Saturday night, a large group of students gathered at Tehran University Dorm to protest their increased expenses, the lack of sufficient dorm spots, restrictions on hours, blackouts at night, low-quality internet services and their mistreatment by university security personnel. - 2/10/15

After Rare Visit, Ex-U.S. Lawmaker Says Iran Yearns For Respect
A former U.S. congressman who made a rare visit to Iran in December says President Hassan Rohani and his inner circle are "deeply committed" to improving Tehran's relationship with the United States. - 2/10/15

The Nisman Murder and the AMIA Bombing: A Tangled Thread
The evidence already available about Argentine Prosecutor Alberto Nisman's death from a gunshot to the head creates a strong presumption that he was murdered. He was about to present publicly his accusation that President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman conspired to absolve Iran of the 1994 AMIA bombing and lift the Interpol red notices on the accused Iranians. -Gareth Porter, LobeLog - 2/10/15

Obama's Last National Security Strategy
The world of today appears to be a great deal more dangerous than the one that President Obama inherited on taking office in 2009. The Islamic State (ISIS or IS) has remade the map of a large chunk of the Middle East. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is any more stable or peaceful despite the formal withdrawal of U.S. ground forces. War rages across eastern Ukraine. Conflicts among the major players in Asia have sharpened... -John Feffer, LobeLog - 2/10/15

US, Iran Discuss Nuclear Deal
Iran's top diplomat said it would not be "the end of the world" if a nuclear agreement is not reached with world powers, but wants to use the next six weeks to concentrate on finding a solution. Kerry, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, said he is looking forward to a "peaceful resolution" to Iran's nuclear program. - 2/9/15

Netherlands wins Indoor Hockey World Cup, Iran finishes 4th
In the third-fourth place match, Iran lost to host Germany 13-2 and finished in fourth place. The Iranian team finished fourth but surpassed all expectations. - 2/9/15

Female Singing At Center Of New Attacks Against Iran's Rohani
A recently released album of traditional Iranian music is turning into a new headache for the administration of President Hassan Rohani, who's accused by his hard-line opponents of being too liberal in his cultural and social policies. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/9/15

Iran's Supreme Leader Supports 'Good' Nuclear Deal
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said he backs a "good" nuclear compromise with world powers in which neither side is likely to get everything it wants. "I would go along with any agreement that could be made," Khamenei said in a statement carried by the ISNA news agency on February 8. "Of course, I am not for a bad deal." - 2/9/15

Putin Says 'Substantial Progress' Made In Nuclear Talks With Iran
In an interview published by Egypt's state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram on February 9, Putin said, "The crucial point is that nobody should try to derive unilateral benefit from the situation or to bargain out more than what is needed for a balanced and just resolution of this complicated issue." - 2/9/15

Biden Won't Attend Netanyahu's Speech to Congress
The political uproar over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to address the U.S. Congress next month continues to smolder. On Friday, the office of Vice President Joe Biden said he was expected to be traveling abroad and would not attend the speech. -Cindy Saine, VOA - 2/9/15

Former Israeli Opposition Leader Puts Bibi-Boehner Ploy Bluntly
Yossi Sarid, the former head of Israel's Meretz Party and leader of the opposition in the Knesset from 2001 to 2003, has just written a very blunt -- far too blunt for "acceptable" political discourse in Washington, DC -- op-ed published Sunday by Haaretz. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/9/15

Banned Iranian Film Premiers At Berlin Festival
A new movie by dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi has premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. The annual festival, running February 5-15, featured the first screening of Panahi's film Taxi on February 6. - 2/7/15

Iranian ministry dismisses concerns over male-female duets
Iran's Ministry of Culture and Guidance has responded to recent concerns expressed by two members of the clergy regarding male and female performing artists singing duets, saying: "There is no legal prohibition against issuing permits for works containing men and women singing together". - 2/7/15

Turkmenistan Attack on Iranian Fishermen in the Caspian Sea: Roots and Implications
The continued problem of Caspian delimitation that has persisted since the collapse of the former Soviet Union (1991) and emergence of newly independent states in the coasts of the Caspian Sea, is exerting pressure on these countries and creating an atmosphere of frustration. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 2/7/15

Film: "Desert Dancer" to go on screen in April
Desert Dancer is a 2014 biographical film directed by Richard Raymond. It tells a true story of a young, self-taught dancer in Iran, Afshin Ghaffarian, who risked his life for his dream to become a dancer despite a nationwide dancing ban. - 2/7/15

The Iranian Politicians Rumored To Have U.S. Green Cards
What do a top Iranian presidential aide, a sitting foreign minister, and a pair of hard-line parliamentarians have in common? They are all holders of U.S. green cards, if reports are to be believed. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/7/15

Kerry, Zarif to Hold Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will meet in Munich Friday to discuss the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. The talks, to be held on the sidelines of a security conference, follow a pair of meetings the diplomats held on the topic last month. - 2/6/15

Ziba Shirazi presents "Spring Love: A Prelude to Nowruz"
Saturday, February 21 at the Soka Performing Arts Center: "Spring Love," is a splendid blend of music, dance, and imagery, celebrating the dynamic tradition of Nowruz (the Iranian New Year) through the story of three generations within a family experiencing love at the first sight. - 2/6/15

U.S. Congress can't go against world to annul a deal with Iran: Professor
Farhang Jahanpour of Oxford University's Faculty of Oriental Studies says the Republican-dominated Congress won't be able to rescind a possible nuclear deal with Iran because it will go against the wishes of the American voters and the international community who greatly favor a nuclear pact with Iran. - 2/6/15

Sponsor of Iran War Bills Backs Netanyahu Speech
The Congressman responsible for several pushes for military action against Iran is now leading an effort to ensure that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is given Congressional platform to oppose the Iran nuclear talks.-Jamal Abdi, NIAC - 2/6/15

Update on Bibi-Boehner Fallout
The Bibi-Boehner fiasco appears to be the gift that keeps on giving. At least, it continues to buoy the hopes of those who want the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators to forge a framework accord by the notional deadline of March 24 to be followed by a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear program by July 1. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 2/6/15

Netanyahu and Boehner Tag-Teaming on Iran Could Backfire On Both of Them
Professor Vijay Prashad says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a high risk gambler whose relationship with the Obama administration has hit rock bottom -RNN - 2/5/15

Labor Protests Sweep Iran
A wave of labor protests has been sweeping through Iran over the past ten days. The protests are focused on workers' demands for wage increases to keep up with the growing rate of inflation, payment of back wages, and other issues such as layoffs and non-renewal of labor contracts. - 2/5/15

Is Iran the Leader of a Shia International?
This time, however, the fear of a Shia Crescent has been accompanied by talk of a rising Iranian Empire, based on the assumption that Iran controls the Shias throughout the world. For example, some commentators have mentioned that Iran now controls four capitals in the Middle East: Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and now Sanaa. -Shireen Hunter, LobeLog - 2/5/15

Iran's missile program not negotiable: Nuclear Negotiator
Abbas Araqchi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, said on Tuesday that Iran's missile program has totally defensive nature and is not negotiable. Araqchi's remarks came as a response to U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki who said on Monday that Iran's missile issue has been discussed and will continue to be discussed as part of the negotiations. - 2/5/15

GOP Mega-Donor Sheldon Adelson Funds Mysterious Anti-Iran Pressure Group
Nearly one-third of anti-Iran pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran's 2013 budget came from the country's foremost Republican megadonor, a man who invested a reported $98 million to defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 election, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson routed his $500,000 donation to UANI through his family foundation, according to tax documents. -Eli Clifton, Nation - 2/5/15

Iranian government confirms larger bonus for public servants
The Iranian administration has announced that the bonus for public servants in the new Iranian calendar year will be 603,500 toumans. The government traditionally pays a bonus to its employees and retirees on the occasion of Norooz, though it's usually paid about four to six weeks prior to the new year. - 2/5/15

Both Sides Need to Concede to Get an Iranian Nuclear Deal
Early in Diplomacy 101, one learns how international negotiation consists of give-and-take between two or more states, with each side yielding on some points in order to reap the benefit of the other side doing its own yielding. Also early in the course, one learns how this sort of mutual bargaining, by leading to mutually beneficial agreements, is an important tool for any state in advancing its own national interests... -Paul Pillar - 2/4/15

Tehran galleries hold Sirak Melkonian's Paintings Retrospective
Two galleries in Tehran are holding a retrospective of painter Sirak Melkonian in a joint project. A collection of paintings created over the past 70 years by the 85-year-old artist are on display at the Aria and Ab Anbar galleries. Born in 1930 in Arak, Melkonian was the winner of the first prize for the Paris Biennial in 1959 and has held many exhibitions in Iran, France, Canada and the United States. - 2/4/15

Iran Drafts Law To Resume Nuclear Activities In Response To Sanctions
Iran's parliament voted on February 3 to speed up discussions of a motion that asks the government to resume all its nuclear activities if fresh sanctions are passed by the United States. Out of 205 lawmakers present, 173 voted in favor of giving the motion an emergency status, Iranian news agencies reported. - 2/4/15

Iran's wetlands: A smile amid grief
"About 10 years ago things were very different," says Hassan a resident of the Hamouns situated in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan. "Boats were bobbing in the water," he continued, "fishermen were making their daily catches. As far as the eye could see, there was water and greenery. The Hamouns were alive." -Gary Lewis - 2/4/15

Iran Filters Outspoken Lawmaker's Website
The website of conservative Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari has been filtered by Iran's judiciary, according to the hard-line Fars news agency. The report says no official explanation has been provided for the decision to block Motahari's website, which is also inaccessible from outside the country. - 2/4/15

Iran, Russia agree to measures for business cooperation
The Iranian ambassador to Russia says the Mir Business Bank and the Melli Bank will cooperate in order to facilitate business transactions between the two countries. - 2/4/15

Toward a New Israel-Hezbollah War?
Reacting to the January 28 Hezbollah attack that killed two Israeli soldiers and injured seven more, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened retaliation, declaring, "Whoever tries to challenge Israel on its borders will find out that we are ready to react with force... Those who play with fire get burned." -Aurelie Daher, LobeLog - 2/4/15

Photos: Kerman holds biggest Zoroastrian Sadeh Festival
The Zoroastrians marked Sadeh, an ancient feast celebrating the creation of fire, in Kerman last Friday. Sadeh has been observed since the days when Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in the powerful Persian empire. -Photos by Laleh Khajouyi - 2/3/15

Iran and the West on Revolution Anniversary: 36 Years of Futile Estrangement
February 2nd marks the 36th anniversary of the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran after 14 years of exile. After ruling Iran for 37 years as a staunch U.S. ally, Mohammad Reza Shah left Iran on January 16, 1979, never to return. Demonstrations against his rule that had started from October 1977 intensified from the beginning of 1978, and a combination of strikes and civil disobedience that took place between August and December 1978 made it impossible for him to stay in power. -Farhang Jahanpour - 2/3/15

Pop music star Benyamin Bahadori to celebrate "Iranian week of love"
Benyamin Bahadori told reporters on Monday that his concert in London on February 14 will coincide with Saint Valentine's Day (globally celebrated by lovers). Bahadori added that the day also coincided with the Iranian ancient day of love, Sepandarmazgan, which is the celebration day of love and earth in the ancient Persian culture. - 2/3/15

Iranian President supports freedom and independence of universities
In the seventh Farabi Festival, Iranian president Hassan Rohani defended freedom and independence in the study of Humanities stressing that political interference in science and academic pursuits is not in the interest of the government or universities. - 2/3/15

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings
Guggenheim Museum, New York (March 13-June 3) -- This is the first U.S. museum exhibition of mirror works and drawings by Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (b. Qazvin, Iran, 1924). Considered in relation to the Guggenheim's historical commitment to abstraction, this presentation examines the artist's rich body of work in its own right and as part of a transnational perspective on artistic production and its reception. - 2/3/15

Iranian wrestlers win gold medals at Paris Grand Prix
Junior world champions from Iran claimed three gold medals in the final day of the Paris Grand Prix wrestling tournament. Iran finished in a tie for second with USA and Poland with 56 points. Azerbaijan won the team title in men's freestyle with 67 points. - 2/3/15

Iranian Teachers Protest Wages That Are Below the Official Poverty Line
Teachers in the cities of Marivan, Baneh, and Shahrood, who have refused to attend class since January 20 in protest against wages that are below the official poverty line, have announced that they would not abandon their protest until their demands for salary increases are taken into consideration, according to labor activist Mansour Osanloo. - 2/3/15

Special Guest Star: Bibi!
You know that a TV show has hit a bad stretch when the producers bring in a controversial guest star to boost ratings. A reality show about a two-year-old beauty pageant star is tanking in the ratings? Bring in Sarah Palin to serve as her life coach. Saturday Night Live on a long spiral downward? Invite Anthony Wiener to host -- or better yet, Kim Jong Eun. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 2/3/15

Photos: Iran Successfully Sends 'Fajr' Satellite into Orbit
Iran successfully sent domestically-made Fajr (Dawn) satellite into orbit on Monday as the country prepares to mark National Day of Space Technology. This is the fourth homegrown satellite launched successfully into space by the Iranian experts at the Defense Ministry's Aerospace Industries Organization and Iran Electronics Industries. - 2/2/15

Tehran court to hear case against two media outlets
The trial for the shut down of Sharqh daily newspaper and Setareh Sobhmagazine will take place on Sunday February 1, IRNA reports. The report indicates that the session will take place with the Press Supervisory Board as jury and Siyamak Modir acting as judge. - 2/2/15

Fact-checking Bibi and Company's Talking Points on Iran
There's been considerable media buzz in the past several days about Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer's role in engineering an invitation from Republican leaders for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address both Houses of Congress about Iran. Dermer's partisan machinations deliberately excluded the White House and State Department from any knowledge of the invitation. -Marsha B. Cohen, LobeLog - 2/2/15

Facebook users charged for alleged threat to "Iranian lifestyle"
A group of Facebook users has been arrested for the charge of "spreading corruption and degeneration of the Iranian lifestyle." The Mehr News Agency reported on January 31 that the detainees were the chief figures in an active network and were identified in a project referred to as "ankaboot" (spider). - 2/2/15

American photojournalist to complete her collection of photos on Iran
U.S. photojournalist Randy Hope Goodman has come back to Iran to take photos of Iranian citizens and their daily lives to complete her collection of photos on Iran taken over 30 years ago. - 2/2/15

Iran ready to transfer Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan gas to Europe
Iran has proposed to transfer natural gas from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to Europe. "We propose that gas be transferred from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to Iran and then be exported from there to Europe through Turkey. This is the most economical and cost-effective way of transferring gas to Europe" IRNA News Agency quoted Azizollah Ramezani, the international affairs director of National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) as saying. - 2/2/15

Incentives and Impediments to Iran-Russia Military Cooperation
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently paid a visit to Iran, which was the first of its kind in the past 15 years, during which he and his Iranian counterpart signed an agreement to stress their countries' determination to boost high-level security and military cooperation both at bilateral and regional levels. -Alireza Noori - 2/2/15

Turkmen Navy Sinks Iranian Fishing Boat
Iranian media has reported that Turkmen naval vessels fired on an Iranian fishing boat killing one of the fishermen and sinking the boat. The Tehran Times reported on February 1 that the incident happened in December when Turkmenistan's navy "shot a number of fishermen in the Caspian Sea without prior warning." - 2/2/15

NASA's SMAP Satellite Launched for Tracking Soil Moisture
Scientists opine that this would help the forecasters and policy-makers to take effective steps during flood or drought in specific regions. Dara Entekhabi, lead scientist of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory stated "It's the metabolism of the system." -Daily Science Journal - 2/2/15
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