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Could Runoffs Tilt Iran's Balance Of Power?
Iran's fractious political camps clash on April 29 in runoff votes to finalize the makeup of parliament two months after a split result dealt a blow to hard-liners but failed to produce a majority. There are reasons to watch the voting again this time around, even if the contests make less of an international splash than when reformists and moderates came back in from the political cold in late February. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL - 4/29/16

Four Iranian Rights Activists Summoned to Appear Together at Appeals Court
Rights activists Omid Alishenas, Atena Daemi, Ali Nouri and Aso Rostami have been summoned to appear together at an Appeals Court in Tehran on July 5, 2016 to appeal the prison sentences they received from a preliminary court. - 4/29/16

Saving Iran's Precious Lake Urmia
Many of Iran's once flourishing wetlands have dried dramatically in recent years. Lake Urmia in particular, the sixth largest salt lake in the world and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is dangerously receding and threatens to vanish entirelly. Spanning an area larger than the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake combined, the dwindling lake lies tucked in the Zagros Mountain range in northwest Iran near the Turkish border. -Ramin Skibba, Scientific America - 4/29/16

German firms cite troubles in Iran deals
German industries on Thursday refreshed complaints that obstacles are still hampering a smooth business with Iran even though the international sanctions that had kept them away from the Iranian market were effectively lifted in January. - 4/29/16

Iran Asks UN Chief To Intervene To Prevent U.S. Diversion Of Funds
Iran has asked the United Nations to intervene to prevent the United States from diverting $2 billion in frozen funds to victims of terrorism under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on April 28, asking him to convince the United States to stop what he said would be a violation of state immunity. - 4/29/16

U.S. Arrest Awakens Ghosts Of Turkey's Iran-Gold Scandal
Reports of shoe boxes stuffed with $4.5 million in cash hidden in the home of a Turkish state bank head, plus a money-counting machine in the bedroom of a government minister's son. And allegations that state funds are being used illegally to buy and funnel gold to Iran to help it evade international sanctions over its nuclear program. Welcome back to 2013, when Turkey was rocked by a corruption scandal that implicated some of the closest associates of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Charles Recknagel, RFE/RL - 4/29/16

Public Outcry in Iran Over Plan for Increased Morality Police Prompts Review
Deploying 7,000 undercover morality police in Tehran contradicts the principle of the presumption of innocence, Iranian lawyer Ali Rambod told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "We should move towards interpreting laws on the basis of innocent until proven guilty," he said. "It appears this principle has been overlooked in regards to the undercover police force." - 4/28/16

Human Rights Groups Condemn Journalists' Prison Sentences in Iran
U.S. human rights groups are condemning the sentences imposed by an Iranian court on four journalists who were arrested late last year. The four were accused of "paving the way for U.S. infiltration of the country."The Iranian judiciary has handed down sentences of five to 10 years in prison to the journalists who were arrested last November in the period leading up to parliamentary elections. - 4/28/16

Minister intervenes in plot to block winning Isfahan candidate
Iran's interior minister has written to the head of the country's three branches of government to say the Guardian Council's cancellation of the votes obtained by parliamentary candidate Minoo Khaleghi's is "an error" that needs to be examined by Parliament. - 4/28/16

Iran, Russia draft military cooperation roadmap
Iran and Russia have developed "specific plans" for bolstering the two countries' military and technical cooperation, says Iran's defense minister. Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the announcement following a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held on the sidelines of the 5th Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) in the Russian capital on Wednesday. - 4/28/16

Hadi Heidari, creator of controversial "Blindfold" cartoon, finishes serving sentence
In September of 2013, several Iranian MPs maintained that the cartoon was intentionally released during the week of Holy Defence, which is the term used in Iran to refer to the eight-year Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. They maintained that the blindfolds reflect the black headband worn by Iranian soldiers and that the cartoon suggests the soldiers went to war blindly. - 4/28/16

U.S. Senate Democrats Block Bid To Kill Heavy Water Deals With Iran
U.S. Senate Democrats blocked an attempt by Republicans on April 27 to prevent future purchases of Iranian "heavy water" by the U.S. Energy Department. Republicans offered an amendment to a department spending bill to bar future purchases after an $8.6 million deal to buy 32 metric tons of heavy water from Iran was announced on April 22 to help Tehran carry out its obligations under a nuclear deal with world powers. - 4/28/16

Gold Trader Pleads Not Guilty To Helping Iran Evade U.S. Sanctions
A Turkish gold trader pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions to help the Iranian government evade U.S. sanctions. Reza Zarrab, a dual citizen of Turkey and his native Iran, entered the plea at a hearing before Judge Richard Berman in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He was arrested last month in Miami. - 4/28/16

Has The American Age of Decline Begun?
"Low-energy Jeb." "Little Marco." "Lyin' Ted." "Crooked Hillary." Give Donald Trump credit. He has a memorable way with insults. His have a way of etching themselves on the brain. And they've garnered media coverage, analysis, and commentary almost beyond imagining. Memorable as they might be, however, they won't be what last of Trump's 2016 election run. -Tom Engelhardt, LobeLog - 4/28/16

Four Iranian Journalists Jailed For 'Acting Against National Security'
Four Iranian journalists have been given prison sentences of between five and 10 years on charges of acting against Iran's national security. Lawyers for the journalists announced the sentences to Iranian state media on April 26. - 4/27/16

Revolutionary Guards' Cyber Attacks Now Directed at Rouhani Cabinet Members
Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who have long waged cyber attacks against the country's activists and journalists, have extended their hacking attacks to Rouhani administration officials, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned, including close associates of President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet members. To date, the Rouhani administration has not publicly criticized the Guards' cyber attacks. - 4/27/16

Terror Payout Latest Challenge to U.S.-Iran Reconciliation
Chances for a more constructive U.S.-Iran relationship in the aftermath of a landmark nuclear deal are eroding with new disputes over missiles, Iran's access to its assets in foreign banks and now a Supreme Court judgment allowing distribution of $2 billion in Iranian government money to relatives of U.S. victims of alleged Iran-backed terrorism. -Barbara Slavin - 4/27/16

Noted director Abbas Kiarostami leaves hospital after long stay for cancer operations
Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami was released after 50 days in hospital and will reportedly continue to receive treatment at his home. Kiarostami was reportedly released on Tuesday April 26 after four surgeries said to be related to complications caused by intestinal cancer. - 4/27/16

Iranian Hard-Liners Link Afghan Girl's Killing To Telegram Messaging App
After a horrifying crime sent shock waves through Iranian society, hard-line conservatives found the perfect scapegoat -- technology. "When there are pornography websites and Internet freedom, any underage child can easily buy a SIM card and access this material," the ultraconservative news outlet Rajanews.ir wrote in a recent commentary. "The result is the bitter tragedy that we are witnessing today." -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 4/27/16

Iran's Foreign Exchange Reserves Surges: IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pointed to a significant rise in Iran's foreign exchange reserve. In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the IMF said the Iranian reserve of foreign exchange rose by 14.3 billion dollars in 2015, registering a record of 125.9 billion dollars. - 4/27/16

Iran's Chabahar port to harbor Chinese industrial town
The Iranian city of Chabahar is all set to host a Chinese-built industrial town as part of China's role to develop Iran's sole ocean port. A technical team of CMI of China visited Chabahar in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan on Tuesday for the launch of the Chinese industrial town project, according to IRNA. - 4/27/16

US seizure of USD 2 billion in Iranian assets highway robbery: FM Zarif
Iran says the seizure of around $2 billion in frozen assets recently authorized by a US court ruling is "highway robbery," vowing that the Islamic Republic will retrieve the sum anyway. "It is a theft. Huge theft. It is highway robbery. And believe you me, we will get it back," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told The New Yorker in an interview published on Monday. - 4/26/16

Iran Nuclear Deal at Risk
Concern has recently grown over the ultimate sustainability of the Iran nuclear accord. Having withstood the full-frontal attack of congressional hawks last summer, the Obama administration faces the challenge of securing the agreement's viability beyond its own tenure in office. -Tyler Cullis - 4/26/16

Iranian Judiciary insists ailing physicist's sentence for espionage is final
The spokesman for Iran's judiciary says Omid Kokabi's sentence is final and he is "being provided with all necessary facilities". ISNA reports that on Sunday April 24, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said that Omid Kokabi, the physicist who has served five years in jail, was tried for espionage and his 10-year sentence is final. - 4/26/16

Iran Said Ready To Release Jailed Cartoonist Farghadani Soon
A lawyer for prominent jailed Iranian artist and activist Atena Farghadani has said that the authorities will soon release his client. In June 2014, a court sentenced her to 12 years in prison for a cartoon that depicted Iranian politicians who passed a law limiting women's access to birth control as goats and monkeys. - 4/26/16

U.S. Sanctions Spite Europe, Not Just Iran
Evidence continues to mount on how lopsided has been the implementation so far of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a.k.a. the Iran nuclear agreement, with Iran's rigorous carrying out of its obligations regarding its nuclear program being unmatched by the sort of financial and commercial opening to Iran that was a fundamental part of the bargain that was struck. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 4/26/16

Rate of Iranian road deaths triple that of developing countries
The number of people killed in road accidents in the past year across Iran is 16,500, according to Taghi Mehri, the head of National Road Traffic. Road accidents are the third-highest cause of death in Iran after cardiovascular diseases and cancer. - 4/26/16

Washington-Riyadh Chill: The Sequel
After three months on the road, I returned to work on the eve of President Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia to discover that in my absence the decades-long strategic partnership between the kingdom and the United States had vaporized. It had passed into history, finito, kaput, done. -Thomas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 4/26/16

Iran's Final Vote: Battle Beyond the Ballot Box for Rouhani's Reformers
For Iran's reformists, it's been a long couple of months. Despite a widely-expected victory in February's first-round parliamentary election, the final runoff has been repeatedly delayed. Contrary to popular belief, Iran does have real political debates. Noisy elections have been routine since the 1979 Islamic revolution. -Natela Outtier - 4/25/16

Statue of Persian poet Omar Khayyam unveiled at the University of Oklahoma
On March 30, 2016, the University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced a $4 million gift for the College of International Studies, and the establishment of a new center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies. At the announcement, Boren also unveiled one of OU's newest pieces of artwork, "Omar Khayyam," inspired by the Persian polymath, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet of the Islamic Golden Age. - 4/25/16

Health care denied to jailed Iranian cleric who championed internet
Jailed Iranian cleric Mohammadreza Nekounam is suffering from health problems, and the special court for the clergy refuses to let him to be hospitalized. Nekounam was arrested entenced to five years in jail after he reacted to statements by Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi declaring high-speed internet service was "haram" (religiously forbidden). - 4/25/16

Bombardier to set up own airline in Iran: Report
Canada's global aviation firm Bombardier is reportedly planning to launch its own airline in Iran - a groundbreaking move that could help boost air trips between Iran and Northern America. - 4/25/16

Iranian people: The friendliest in the world?
I had heard a few things about Iran before I began my journey, that the country is beautiful, its history rich, the architecture is second to none and also that the people of Iran were some of the kindest you could hope to meet. -Lucy Grant-Sturgis, Wild Frontiers - 4/25/16

Is Trip To Iran On President Obama's Agenda?
US President Barack Obama will likely not visit Iran before his term in office ends, White House official Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser, told reporters on Thursday April 21, 2016. "Oh, Iran. Yes. Well, I think the trip to Cuba was probably enough in terms of breaking a longstanding taboo." - 4/24/16

Mehdi Karroubi: Despite Five Years of House Arrest, He Continues to Speak Out against Abuse of Power in Iran
Former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who has been living under extrajudicial house arrest for over five years for contesting the result of Iran's widely disputed 2009 presidential election, has written an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani calling on him to convince the "ruling dictatorship" to allow Karroubi to stand trial. - 4/24/16

Iranian Women's Issues Advisor Says Mothers Fear "Morality Police"
Shahidokht Molaverdi, the Iranian president's advisor on women and family affairs, says the new plan to deploy 7,000 "undercover morality police" on the streets of Tehran is causing serious concern for families. - 4/24/16

South Africa's trade with Iran to rise to $8B: President Zuma
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said in Tehran on Sunday that his country plans to increase the volume of trade with Iran to as high as $8 billion by 2020. Zuma told a meeting of Iranian and South African businessmen that the figure had been agreed on in his meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani earlier in the day. - 4/24/16

Farhadi Film "The Salesman" Gets Last-Minute Acceptance At Cannes
Asghar Farhadi's latest film, The Salesman (Foroushandeh), has been accepted into the Cannes Film Festival. The film follows the story of a couple acting in a production of Arthur Miller's Death of Salesman in Tehran. - 4/24/16

Kerry Says U.S. Won't Block Foreign Firms Doing Business With Iran
"The United States is not standing in the way, and will not stand in the way, of business that is permitted in Iran since the [nuclear deal] took effect" in January, Kerry said on April 22 before meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York. - 4/23/16

Public demand cited as reason for undercover morality policing in Tehran
The Tehran police chief says the deployment of undercover morality police has been initiated due to public demand. Hossein Sajedinia said on Wednesday April 20 that the public expects the police to act against "harassment in the streets" and "inappropriate behaviour and hazardous traffic acts". - 4/23/16

Iran, P5+1 meet for 1st time after JCPOA implementation
Representatives of Iran and the P5+1 group of countries hold their first joint commission meeting to discuss framework for the implementation of the historic nuclear agreement they struck last year. - 4/23/16

Iran's Foreign Minister signs Paris Agreement on climate change
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has signed the historic Paris Agreement on climate change during a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York. French President Francois Hollande was the first leader who signed the deal on Friday. According to UN, a record 175 countries, including the world's top producers of greenhouse gases China and the United States, inked the accord, raising hopes of restraining global warming. - 4/23/16

EU Must Not Ignore Iran's Human Rights Record, Says Former Political Prisoner
Saeed Razavi Faghih, a reformist journalist who was released from Evin Prison on April 6, 2016 after serving two years for his political beliefs, has issued an open letter urging the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to not "sacrifice human rights for commercial greed" during her April 16, 2016 trip to Tehran. - 4/23/16

US to Buy Iranian Heavy Water as Part of Nuclear Deal
STATE DEPARTMENT-The United States is purchasing 32 tons of a key component in the development of atomic weapons from Iran, in a bid to help Tehran implement provisions in the landmark nuclear deal. The U.S. Energy and State departments confirmed Friday the purchase of heavy water, which can be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 4/23/16

Iran backs any move to stabilize oil market: Zangeneh
Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says Iran will support any initiative to stabilize the oil market after recent talks in Qatar failed to freeze production. Zangeneh told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with his South African counterpart in Tehran on Saturday that the meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in Doha was a "good step." - 4/23/16

Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia on the Hill
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran. -LobeLog - 4/23/16

U.S. Congressional Leaders Warn Kerry Over Moves To Help Iran
U.S. congressional leaders warned Secretary of State John Kerry against going too far in his effort to help Iran realize the economic benefits of its nuclear accord with world powers. The warning came on the eve of an April 22 meeting between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York that Kerry had said was aimed at addressing Iranian concerns that remaining U.S. sanctions are blocking economic relief for Tehran. - 4/22/16

Fajr Film Festival Showcasing Bright Lineup of World Cinema
A vibrant lineup of movies, documentaries and shorts by directors from around the globe will be screened during the 34th Fajr International Film Festival, which opened on Wednesday at Tehran's Charsu Cineplex. - 4/22/16

Imprisoned Iranian Physicist Loses Kidney to Cancer, Must Be Released Permanently
Omid Kokabee, the young physicist who has been imprisoned in Iran for over 5 years for his refusal to work on military research, underwent surgery on April 20, 2016 to completely remove his right kidney, which was in an advanced stage of cancer. - 4/22/16

Environmental awareness measures come to Iranian universities, schools
Iran's Department of the Environment has announced that two Environmental Studies credits have been approved as requirements for the completion of all university degrees. Universities have also reportedly been working with nursery and elementary schools to train early childhood educators and teachers to introduce environmental knowledge and awareness in the early stages of children's education. - 4/22/16

Iran slams US Supreme Court ruling as money theft
Iran has strongly condemned a ruling by the US Supreme Court granting some two billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets to the families of victims of a 1983 bombing in Beirut, saying it violates international law. - 4/22/16

Where are the censors? Popular TV drama flouts Iran's Islamic taboos
"Shahrzad", a slick, new Iranian TV series set in the Shah era, is raising eyebrows and wowing audiences across the country. But it's also sparking fears of a crackdown to come. -France24 - 4/22/16

Saudi Arabia and Obama: Time to Reset Relations
President Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia comes in the midst of a changing kingdom with a different outlook on its regional role and its relations with the United States. The US-Saudi relationship is becoming less "special," which is not a bad thing. Washington cannot remain slavishly dependent on the Kingdom. Nor can the Saudis expect to ride on the American coattails freely. According to The New York Times, Obama will find Saudi Arabia "deep in turmoil." -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 4/22/16

Obama in Saudi Arabia, Exporter of Oil and Bigotry
I'm glad that President Obama is visiting Saudi Arabia, for engagement usually works better than isolation. But let's not let diplomatic niceties keep us from pointing to the insidious role that Saudi Arabia plays in sowing instability, and, for that matter, in tarnishing the image of Islam worldwide. -Nicholas Kristof, NY Times - 4/22/16

Obama Discusses Security With Gulf Allies
At talks with King Salman, Obama's aids said he made it clear he would like the Sunni-led states to "share the neighborhood" with Iran. "The president and King discussed the challenges posed by Iran's provocative activities in the region, agreeing on the importance of an inclusive approach to de-escalating regional conflicts," the White House said. - 4/21/16

Former French embassy employee held in solitary in Tehran's Evin prison
Nazak Afshar, a former staff member of the French Embassy in Tehran who was arrested upon returning to Iran last March for a visit, is reportedly being held in solitary confinement for questioning in Evin Prison. Also, Sabri Hassanpour, the executive and host of an online network has reportedly been arrested in Iran. Hassanpour, who currently resides in the Netherlands, had reportedly travelled to Iran to visit relatives. - 4/21/16

Russia, Iran Poised to Break Syrian Opposition Toehold in Aleppo
Russia and Iran are gearing up around the key northern Syrian city of Aleppo in what appears to be the beginning of a renewed push to shore up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. -Jeff Seldin, VOA - 4/21/16

Iranians May Soon Be Able to Make International Online Transactions
A global payment service provider based in the U.S. has announced that it has made its platform available to Iranians, enabling them to make international online transactions, which was previously almost impossible. But a representative from the Central Bank of Iran reportedly denied the announcement, raising questions over whether the deal would be completed. - 4/21/16

US High Court Awards $2B in Damages for Iran-Sponsored Terrorism
The U.S. Supreme Court says Iran must pay nearly $2 billion in frozen assets to American families of people killed by Tehran-sponsored terrorism. Iran's Bank Markazi argued that congressional passage of the law specifically directing the damages be awarded to victims' families intruded on U.S. courts that were already considering the damage claims. - 4/21/16

Hye Times
Armenian and Persian tales on vinyl, as dangerously funky as ever. Just don't call them 'exotic'. -Joobin Bekhrad, Reorient - 4/21/16

What Have the Saudis Done For Us Lately?
The president of the United States is going on a foreign trip, and that means it is time for another surge in temperature-taking regarding the state of relations between the United States and some of its "allies." -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 4/21/16

Rouhani clashes with Iranian police over undercover hijab agents
Iran's president criticized the use of thousands of undercover morality police in Tehran to report on young women who are not wearing a full Islamic hijab or those who play loud music in their cars. -Reuters - 4/21/16

Top US, Iranian Diplomats Confer on Sanctions Relief for Tehran
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks Tuesday in New York with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, aimed at ensuring that Iran gets the sanctions relief promised in the landmark nuclear deal reached in January. - 4/20/16

Announcing The 8th Annual Farhang Foundation Short Film Festival Celebrating Iranian Heritage
Now in its eighth year, the 2016 Farhang Foundation Short Film Festival has officially been announced. Calling on filmmakers worldwide to submit short films visualizing some aspect of Iranian art,culture, and heritage, Farhang Foundation's annual online short film festival offers contestants the opportunity to compete for $10,000 (first prize), $5,000 (second prize), and $3,000 (third prize). - 4/20/16

U.S. Senate Effort to Lift Dual Nationals Restrictions Blocked
Washington, DC - The Senate voted Tuesday afternoon to approve legislation authorizing the Federal Aviaton Administration, but an amendment authored by Sen. Jeff Flake that would repeal discriminatory Visa Waiver Program (VWP) restrictions on certain dual nationals was blocked from consideration. - 4/20/16

NIAC and PayPal Take Steps to Address Payment Concerns Within Venmo
The National Iranian American Council ("NIAC") and PayPal Inc. issued the following joint statement regarding certain difficulties Iranian Americans were having using Venmo during the Persian New Year - 4/20/16

President Rohani accused of folding to U.S. during nuclear talks
The Iranian president tried to defend his administration's record on the nuclear agreement as the ultra-right factions of the Islamic Republic heightened their criticism of the significance of the deal with the world powers. - 4/20/16

EU considering lifting Iran Air sanction: WSJ
The European Union (EU) is reportedly considering removing its air travel restrictions on Iranian national carrier, Iran Air. According to the Wall Street Journal, the EU will send aviation security experts to Iran in May to investigate the airline's security status. - 4/20/16

Iranian dentist examines people on the street
Shafi Ja'fari is a young dentist who visited and examined people around Enqelab square, central Tehran, for three hours on Thursday, ISNA news agency reported. What Ja'fari, a Tehran University graduate, did, was a symbolic act of criticism centered on the widespread ignorance of prevention. - 4/20/16

Killing Of Afghan Girl Prompts Outrage In Iran
In Iran, which hosts at least 1 million Afghan refugees and seasonal laborers, the fate of an Afghan migrant doesn't normally make media headlines. The slaying of a 6-year-old girl outside Tehran is a tragic exception. -RFE - 4/20/16

Iranian crude output to reach pre-sanctions level by July
A deputy to the Iranian petroleum minister says the country's crude oil production will reach pre-sanctions levels of 2011 within a couple of months. Tehran has expressed concern over market oversupply and low oil prices but also reiterated its right to regain pre-sanctions market level. - 4/20/16

Obama in the Arab Lions' Den
President Barack Obama would surely not compare himself to a Biblical prophet. But by going this week to Riyadh to take part in a summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, he might as well be like Daniel in the Old Testament, thrown into the lions' den. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 4/20/16

Does the US Really Want Iran to Moderate Its Policies?
Only three months after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the success of the nuclear deal with Iran already appears in doubt. The underlying reason is that those in the United States and Iran who opposed the agreement in the first place remain determined to sabotage it. -Shireen T. Hunter - 4/19/16

Iran, US at Odds Over Nuclear Sanctions Relief
STATE DEPARTMENT-Iran's concerns about its perceived lack of sanctions relief and Syria's faltering political talks will be focal points for Secretary of State John Kerry when he sits down for talks Tuesday with his Iranian counterpart. - 4/19/16

Imprisoned Young Iranian Physicist Stricken with Cancer after Years of Denied Medical Care
Prisoner of conscience Omid Kokabee, the young physicist who has been imprisoned in Iran for over five years for his refusal to work on military research for the Islamic Republic, has been diagnosed with kidney cancer after years in which prison authorities denied him treatment for his kidney illness. - 4/19/16

Iran Launches Undercover Morality Unit
Iranian authorities have launched a new undercover police unit that will be tasked with monitoring citizens' morality in the Iranian capital and reporting transgressions to authorities. - 4/19/16

Iranian Political Prisoner in Critical Condition Vows to Continue Hunger Strike
Prisoner of conscience Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, who has been on dry and wet hunger strikes since March 26, 2016 to protest being denied crucial medical treatment, is in critical condition, but has vowed to continue until his situation changes. - 4/19/16

UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema: Apr 30-­May 22
For more than two decades, UCLA Film & Television Archive has showcased the ever-unfolding film tradition of Iran for Southern California audiences. This adventure has been a journey of constant discovery, as the Archive has tracked Iran's national cinema, its evolving modes of storytelling and the perspectives and achievements of its leading talents. - 4/19/16

Tehran Police Prevent Commemoration For Murdered Afghan Girl
Police in Tehran have reportedly prevented a planned gathering in front of Afghanistan's embassy in memory of a young Afghan girl who was raped and murdered earlier this month in Varamin, near the capital. - 4/19/16

Oil Price Falls In Asian Trading After Doha Talks Fail
Russia's Energy Minster Aleksandr Novak said at the end of the April 17 Doha meeting that the Kremlin was not optimistic about an agreement to freeze production because of "heated debates" at the conference and "Iran's position." - 4/18/16

First Air France jet lands in Iran after eight years
Iran's media said on Sunday that the first Air France plane had landed in capital Tehran after a hiatus of eight years. The plane - an A330 - has reportedly landed in Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA). It is carrying the French Transport Minister Alain Vidal as well as the CEOs of Air France and Boeing among others, reported iribnews.ir, the news agency of Iran's state broadcasting IRIB. - 4/18/16

India Between Iran and Saudi Arabia
Continuing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the subsequent deteriorating security situation challenge India's interests. Saudi-Iran tension and its impact in Yemen have forced India to evacuate thousands of its citizens from Yemen. Therefore, it is in India's interest to maintain an effective balance between the two countries, and both countries seem to understand that. -Fatemeh Aman - 4/18/16

Business Leaders around the World Call for an End to Iran's Closure of Baha'i Businesses
In a signed statement addressed to Iran's supreme leader, 54 leading business people and economists from countries around the world asked Ayatollah Khamenei to stop the harassment and discrimination against Baha'i business owners in Iran. - 4/18/16

In Loving Memory of the late Professor Houman Younessi
O'Saadia, our righteously just Houman will eternally be remembered.... It's others who did not care for humanity, that are trusted to oblivion bin - 4/18/16

Principle and Pragmatism, Here and Abroad
In a story out of Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani, who in the Iranian political context merits the labels "reformist" and "moderate", is being pushed by others in the reformist camp who believe he has not been aggressive enough in challenging Iranian hardliners across the full spectrum of issues that separate hardliners from reformists. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 4/18/16

Parts Of S-300 Missile System Unveiled At Iranian Army Parade
Iran has showcased parts of S-300 air-defense missile systems ordered from Russia during its annual National Army Day parade in Tehran. S-300 missile tubes and the radar equipment were shown during the April 17 military parade, according to pictures by the semiofficial ISNA news agency. - 4/18/16

Iran cracks down on use of animals in circuses
Bears, tigers, crocodiles and lions can breathe a sigh of relief as their use as circus animals has been outlawed due to pressure from animal rights groups. Iran's Environmental Protection Agency announced that the bill has taken effect six months earlier than planned. - 4/18/16

Nail Polish and Mascara - Beauty Brands Eye up Iran
When Dubai businesswoman Negin Fattahi-Dasmal opened the first branch of her luxurious nail salon chain in Iran this year, it was met with both excitement and skepticism among image-conscious young Iranians. Despite - or perhaps partly because of - strict Islamic dress codes, cosmetics sales in Iran are among the highest in the Middle East. -AP - 4/18/16

Iran-EU statement urges full commitment to JCPOA
Iran and the European Union say last year's nuclear agreement reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries has opened a new chapter in bilateral relations, urging all parties to fully carry out their commitments stipulated in the deal. - 4/16/16

Flood problems spread across Iran
Iran's meteorological reports warn of floods in 14 provinces including Tehran. Meanwhile the death toll from floods in western Iran has reached three. Khuzestan has so far sustained the worst damage, and most of its northern townships have been evacuated. - 4/16/16

She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World
This landmark exhibition of more than 80 photographs and a video installation challenges stereotypes surrounding the people, landscapes, and cultures of Iran and the Arab world. She Who Tells a Story refutes the conventional idea that Arab and Iranian women are oppressed or powerless, illuminating the fact that women are creating some of the most significant photographic work in the region today. - 4/16/16

Iran, Turkey must up anti-terror efforts: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran and Turkey have minor differences on certain regional issues but must boost cooperation in the campaign against terrorism. Rouhani was talking to to reporters in Ankara on Saturday after he and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan oversaw the signature of eight documents for cooperation.  - 4/16/16

Iran sends OPEC governor to Doha oil freeze talks
Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh will not attend upcoming talks between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in Doha to find a solution to tumbling oil prices, but will send Iran's OPEC governor to the meeting. - 4/16/16

Unclear on US Rules, Banks, Corporations Wary of Doing Business in Iran
Three months after the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, banks and other corporations are wary of doing business in the country due to concerns over running afoul of U.S. sanctions, especially as U.S. lawmakers ponder a clampdown over Iran's missile development. -Luis RamirezT, VOA - 4/16/16

Momeni Foundation is accepting applications for the year 2016 Academic Scholarships
Momeni Foundation is dedicated to providing scholarships to graduating high school students and full time college students of Iranian descent anywhere in the world. - 4/16/16

Governor of Iran's central bank holds western states responsible to keep JCPOA alive
Governor of Central Bank Valiollah Seif attended a Council of Foreign Relations meeting Friday saying that the western governments are responsble to keep alive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. - 4/16/16

The New Normal in U.S.-Saudi Relations
Next week's U.S.-GCC summit in Riyadh is the last opportunity for the Obama administration to recalibrate the U.S.-Saudi relationship. While officially a multilateral summit between the United States and the six Gulf monarchies, all eyes will be on President Obama and King Salman. Both leaders will seek to project an image of comity. -Perry Cammack and Richard Sokolsky, LobeLog - 4/16/16

A NOTE TO MY READERS: Read the Last Paragraph First
The good thing is that, contrary to what the neocon-driven foreign policy engineers in the US Congress would like us to believe, Iran's fate does not hang on American politics alone. There is bigger world out there in that parallel universe where not everything that is done is with the knowledge and approval of one superpower. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 4/15/16

Iran's president slams any 'divisive' measure at OIC
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has slammed as unacceptable "any divisive move" at the ongoing Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference. Rouhani made the remark in an address to the 13th OIC summit in the Turkish city of Istanbul, which kicked off on Thursday. - 4/15/16

Lawyer Released from Prison in Iran Describes Grim Conditions for Political Prisoners
Mohammad Seifzadeh, the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer who for years defended political prisoners in Iran and railed against the inhumane conditions of their incarceration, was freed on March 10, 2016 after serving his own five-year prison sentence, and spoke at length about the harsh conditions he experienced first-hand as a political prisoner. - 4/15/16

American Party System or Lack Thereof
It seems like not a day goes by that we don't hear about Donald Trump making "crazy" comments. It is election time in America but it sure looks and feels different from all the previous elections that I remember - going back 1976 election between Ford and Carter. What gives...why is this election different from the other ones. -Sina Alavi - 4/15/16

Tehran, Rome pen deals on major economic exchange
The Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy have signed 12 major agreements in various sectors of economy. The agreements were inked on Wednesday in the presence of Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh and visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Tehran. - 4/14/16

Half of schools in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province need rebuilding now
The director-general of Sistan-Baluchestan School Revitalization says 56 percent of schools are in immediate need of complete rebuilding. Alireza Rasheki told Tasnim News on Saturday that 576 schools in need of rebuilding are mud buildings and are in constant danger of collapsing. - 4/14/16

EU Restrictions on American Travel Delayed, Congress Must Act
NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement after the European Commission delayed a decision to suspend the Visa Waiver Program for American travelers by three months - 4/14/16

Iranian VP Summoned to Judiciary for Commenting on High Execution Rate of Drug Traffickers
Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, Iran's vice president for Women and Family Affairs, has been summoned to the Judiciary to explain a comment she made in February about all the men in a village being executed for drug offenses. - 4/14/16

How Sanctions Can Reduce U.S. Leverage: The Case of Iran
Attention has increased recently to sanctions against Iran and relief from sanctions under the terms of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to limit Iran's nuclear program. As usual whenever this set of subjects comes up, commentary in the United States reflects different agendas, some of which are not congruent with U.S. interests or the interests of international security. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 4/14/16

Europeans' visits to Iran must yield tangible results: Supreme Leader
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has criticized visits by European delegations to Iran for failing to yield tangible and practical results, saying Tehran must be able to sense the outcome of such expeditions. Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his accompanying delegation in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Tuesday. - 4/14/16

EU mulls opening permanent diplomatic mission in Tehran: Official
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will discuss the opening of a permanent EU diplomatic mission in Tehran during her coming visit to Iran, a senior EU official says. "This is about us re-engaging gradually," the official said, adding that issues of bilateral interest will be discussed during the trip by Mogherini and seven EU commissioners to Tehran on Saturday. - 4/14/16

Rising dust particles force school closures in Iran's Khuzestan province
Schools in Abadan and Khoramshahr have once again been shut down due to the rise of airborne dust particles during the afternoon shift of Tuesday April 12. IRNA reports that provincial officials say the concentration of dust particles has risen beyond 12 times the acceptable level. - 4/14/16

Iran: Discovery of ancient kilns in suggests early trade in goods
An archeological dig at Yalda Hill in Sistan has unearthed 5,000-year-old kilns with a capacity for the surplus production of ceramics. The Shahrvand daily reported on Wednesday April 13 that the archeological team consisted of 25 archeology graduates headed by Hosseinali Kavosh, supervisor of the fourth season of archeological excavations from Zabol University. - 4/14/16

Iranian Parliament Approves Subsidy Cuts To 24 Million Iranians
The parliament in Tehran has approved a bill to cancel cash subsidies to 24 million Iranians, according to local reports. Analysts say the action by the conservative-dominated parliament on April 12 has angered President Hassan Rohani, who will have to figure out how to put the unpopular measure into effect. - 4/14/16

Women in Bukan, Iran weaving 'Peace Carpet' for UN
A group of carpet weavers in Bukan, in the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, is weaving 'Peace Carpet' which they plan to send to the United Nations to convey the Iran's message of peace to the world community. - 4/14/16

Some 386,000 foreign students go to schools in Iran
Some 386,000 foreign nationals are studying at schools in Iran, while 360,000 of them are Afghan nationals, said Shahin Noushabadi, the deputy education minister for international affairs. - 4/14/16

Want to Eat Like the Shahs? Check Out These 10 Mouthwatering Iranian Dishes
We tapped chef Hoss Zaré, who melds traditional Iranian flavors with ideas from the Mediterranean at his San Francisco restaurant The Fly Trap, to guide us to the best dishes from his Iranian homeland. Look for them on a menu or a family dinner table near you. -Tamara Palmer, Bravo TV - 4/14/16

Pope Francis--Overturning the Concept of "Just War"
Pope Francis is on a roll. He has already roiled the waters of western thinking on economics and society by touching on the dangers of western capitalism drifting into socially destructive greed. He has now turned his focus to an even grander theme- the place of warfare in human life and the hallowed concept of a "just war." -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 4/14/16

'Fahrenheit 451' Movie in the Works at HBO From '99 Homes' Director
"99 Homes" filmmaker Ramin Bahrani is set to write, direct and executive produce a new take on Ray Bradbury's classic novel "Fahrenheit 451" that is in development at HBO Films, TheWrap has learned. -The Wrap - 4/14/16

Iran, Italy seek to restore ties as Renzi visits Tehran
President Hassan Rouhani says Iran would like to see its trade ties with Italy restored to the level that existed before the Islamic Republic came under nuclear-related sanctions. President Rouhani made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Tehran on Tuesday. - 4/12/16

Iran drawn in Group A of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers
During the draw ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, the Islamic Republic of Iran landed in Group A of the forthcoming sports event, and was pitted against South Korea, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar and Syria. - 4/12/16

CHARSHANBEH SOURI: Never-Before-Released Works by Samin Baghcheban Out in Tehran
"Chaharshanbeh-Souri," a collection of Persian pieces for choir and orchestra composed by Samin Baghcheban (1925-2008), was released in Tehran. The release coincided with the 8-year anniversary of the composer's death in exile. - 4/12/16

Boeing offers to sell three new aircraft models to Iran
US plane maker Boeing has proposed to sell new models of its 737, 777 and 787 aircraft to Iran and promised after-sales support, a top Iranian aviation official says. Meanwhile, Boeing spokesman John Dern told The Associated Press that the company discussed the "capabilities of Boeing airplanes, along with the support the company provides." - 4/12/16

End Visa Waiver Discrimination!
"We strongly urge Congress to vote in favor of the new 'Flake amendment' to ensure that other countries do NOT reciprocate and treat American travelers as second-class citizens!" - 4/12/16

Resolving the Karabakh Conflict
The problem with frozen conflicts is that they are never actually frozen. They are put in cold storage for a while, and whenever conditions seem propitious or expedient for any of the players they are brought out of storage. Once out, they are liable to begin melting really fast. The dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the mountainous region of Karabakh and several other cities is one such conflict. -Shireen T. Hunter - 4/12/16

Iranian Sponsorship of Terrorism?
"Iran--the foremost state sponsor of terrorism--continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its terrorist partner Lebanese Hizballah, and proxy groups," intoned Director of National Intelligence James Clapper before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9 of this year. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 4/12/16

Protest erupts in Tehran over transfer of contemporary art museum
Protesters gathered in front of Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday April 9 to oppose the handover of the institution to the Roudaki Foundation. The protesters insist that Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art is part of the country's national heritage and should not be transferred to the private sector. - 4/11/16

Iranian opposition leader Karroubi petitions President Rohani for day in court
Mehdi Karroubi has reportedly written an open letter to Iranian President Hassan Rohani calling on him to compel the establishment to comply with the Article 168 of the Constitution and give him his day in court. Karroubi, who has been under house arrest since February of 2011 for challenging the 2011 elections and triggering mass protests - 4/11/16

Iran: Two political prisoners pardoned by Supreme Leader
Iranian political prisoners Mostafa Azizi and Payam Bastani Parizi were released on Saturday April 3 after a receiving a "pardon from the Leader", according to HRANA. Azizi, a 53-year-old television producer, was arrested in 2015 when he returned for a visit to Iran from Canada, where he had been residing since 2010. - 4/11/16

Nazarbaev, Rohani Hold Talks In Tehran
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani have discussed building stronger trade and business ties between their countries at talks in the Iranian capital. Nazarbaev arrived in Tehran on April 11 at the start of a tour that will also take him to Turkey and Uzbekistan. - 4/11/16

Russia Delivers First Part Of S-300 Air Defense System To Iran
Iran's Foreign Ministry says Russia has delivered the first part of its shipment of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran. The announcement was made by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari on April 11. - 4/11/16

India vows to invest $20bn in development of Iran's Chabahar port
India says it is ready to invest $20 billion in the development of Iran's southeastern Chabahar port - a move that would enable New Delhi to dodge Pakistan and establish a strategic connectivity to Afghanistan as well as the Central Asia - 4/11/16

Opposition to Iran Mounts in Congress
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran. -LobeLog - 4/11/16

On the shoulder of giants in southwest Iran - in pictures
Photographer Sabyl Ghoussoub always wanted to take pictures of the country, but he was't interested in veiled women, clerics or the underground scene in Tehran. The road less traveled led to Dezful -Guardian - 4/11/16

Police use cameras to enforce Islamic codes in Tehran cafes and parks
The Tehran police department says it has installed surveillance cameras in parks and coffee shops in the city's western neighbourhoods. The Tasnim website reported on Thursday April 7 that all parks, coffee shops and hookah cafes will be under surveillance to assure compliance with Islamic codes of behaviour. - 4/9/16

Iran says Boeing team coming to Tehran
Iran says a top-level delegation from global aviation giant Boeing will arrive in the country within the next days to discuss potential areas of cooperation with Iranian companies. The country's flag-carrier airline Iran Air has announced in a statement that it will host Boeing for its upcoming trade talks in Tehran. - 4/9/16

Fate of detained Iranian journalist remains unknown
The situation of Afarin Chitsaz, an Iranian journalist who was arrested in Iran last November by the Revolutionary Guards, remains completely in the shadows. A knowledgeable source has informed the International Campaign for Human Rights In Iran that in the more than five months since she was arrested, Chitsaz has not even had access to a lawyer. - 4/9/16

Jailed Iranian tycoon reveals foreign assets in bid to avoid death sentence
Babak Zanjani, the jailed Iranian tycoon accused of financial fraud, has reportedly provided Iran's Ministry of Oil with a list of his foreign assets and the power of attorney to obtain them. His lawyer told the Tasnim daily on Friday April 8 that his client's cooperation is aimed at recovering public funds and compensating the Treasury. - 4/9/16

Iran's $10Bln Mega Canal Could be Game Changer in Global Trade Routes
Russian experts comment on the prospects for the realization of Iran's ambitious 'trans-Iranian' canal, which would run from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. -Sputnik - 4/9/16

This Is What It's Really Like To Be A Musician In Iran
Ninja Tune producer Ash Koosha was imprisoned in Tehran, and sought asylum in the U.K. He talks about pushing boundaries both inside and outside his home country. -Niloufar Haidari, Fader - 4/9/16

Stunning photos by an Iranian physicist capture the Iran outsiders never get to see
Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji is a 25-year-old Iranian physics student. But he spends his free time obsessing over how to make photos that will reveal Iran's architectural heritage and natural beauty to the rest of the world. -Anne Quito, Quartz - 4/9/16

Reimagining Iran: a Persian road trip
On February 26th, as Irish people voted in the general election, 60 per cent of Iranians also voted. The result was a momentous loss of seats for hardliners who had vehemently fought president Hassan Rouhani's attempts to open the country to valuable external investment and much-needed liberalisation. Early the following Monday morning, we arrived in downtown Tehran to a city silent with sleep and apathy. -Aoibheann MacNamara, Irish Times - 4/9/16

Disqualification of Elected Female Reformist MP Sparks Heated Debate in Iran
Two weeks have passed since Minoo Khaleghi's election to Parliament in Iran's recent elections was nullified without an explanation by the Guardian Council, the body charged with vetting candidates. - 4/8/16

Kerry Calls On Iran To Help End Wars In Yemen, Syria
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Iran to use its influence to help end the wars in Yemen and Syria rather than pursue "destabilizing" activities in the region. At a news conference in Bahrain as he visited U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf on April 7, Kerry condemned "the destabilizing actions of Iran, which the United States takes very seriously." - 4/8/16

Unemployment in Iran rises over previous year, youth hit hard
The Statistical Centre of the Islamic Republic reports that the unemployment rate was 11 percent in the past year, which represents an increase of 0.4 percent from the previous year. The unemployment rate for men is reported at 9.3 percent and 19.4 percent for women. - 4/8/16

Iranian political prisoner released from Evin after protests
Iranian political prisoner Saeed Razavi Faqih was released from Evin Prison on Wednesday April 6, 2016. Razavi Faqih had been on a hunger strike over the lack of adequate medical treatment given to him in prison. The Zeytoon website had earlier reported that the political prisoner had also sewn his lips together to protest the unjustified extension of his prison sentence. - 4/8/16

Iran hopes for lasting peace between Baku, Yerevan over Karabakh
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has expressed hope that the ceasefire agreed recently between Azerbaijan and Armenia would last to help end clashes in the disputed region of Karabakh. "We hope that the ceasefire would be lasting," Zarif told reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Thursday. - 4/8/16

Norway to launch Iran's first FLNG plan
Iran says it is working on a plan with a Norwegian company to build a floating facility to liquefy natural gas in the Persian Gulf. NIOC chief Rokneddin Javadi said last October that LNG has returned to Iran's energy agenda, stressing that the country has devised serious plans to launch its first liquefaction project by April 2018. - 4/8/16

Rohani Warns Opportunities Provided By Nuclear Deal Will Not Last Forever
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has warned that the opportunities provided by a landmark nuclear deal struck with world powers last year will not last forever. "The opportunity that the nuclear deal has created for us is not permanent and eternal," Rohani said during a live speech on April 7. - 4/7/16

Iran's exports to US increase by six times
Iran's media reported on Thursday that the country's exports to the United States increased six times over a period of 11 months starting March 2015. Reports said the value of Iran's exports to the US over the period stood at $3.6 million. The value of exports to the US for the same period last year stood at $0.48 million. - 4/7/16

Lights, Camera, Revolution: A brief history of Iranian cinema, from Haji Agha to Agha Farhad
To best understand the roots of Iranian cinema, one must perhaps travel back to the early 20th century, when the Qajar monarch Mozaffareddin Shah was shown cinematographic footage during a visit to France. -Zara Knox, Reorient - 4/7/16

Russia, OPEC Said Likely To Freeze Oil Output Without Iran
Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries can reach an agreement to freeze oil production, even if Iran doesn't join in, a top OPEC official told Bloomberg News. Kuwaiti OPEC governor Nawal al-Fezaia's prediction of an output freeze excluding Iran in an interview with Bloomberg helped send oil prices soaring more than 5 percent on world markets on April 6 and 7. - 4/7/16

UNSC resolution does not ban Su-30 fighter jet sales to Iran: Russia
Russia has rejected a US claim that the sales of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets to Iran were prohibited under a United Nation Security Council resolution. On Tuesday, the US Department of State Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said Washington would use its veto power in the Security Council to block the possible sales of the fighter jets to Iran. - 4/7/16

Russia, Iran Join Talks Over Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
BAKU - The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran joined efforts on Thursday to prevent a new war between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, while the sides in the conflict accused each other of violating a two-day-old cease-fire. -AP - 4/7/16

US Official: Iran Will Not Gain Access to US Financial System
A U.S. official on Tuesday denied reports that the Obama administration would grant Iran access to the U.S. financial system, but said Washington would help Tehran gain full benefits from sanctions relief under last year's international nuclear accord. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 4/6/16

Nagorno-Karabakh: Chance for EU-Iran Engagement
What was feared for a long time happened on April 2. Severe clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a disputed, Armenian-majority area legally part of Azerbaijan. The clashes, which claimed the lives of at least a couple hundred people, have gone beyond the regular skirmishes along the truce line established after the war in 1994. -Eldar Mamedov - 4/6/16

Majda Cicic named as Iran's women volleyball coach
Secretary general of Iran's Volleyball Federation has announced the inking of a one-year contract with European coach Majda Leban Cicic to lead Iran's female volleyball team. Mahmoud Afshardoost said "after observing the performance of the Slovenian coach in Tehran during training sessions of the junior team, we orally agreed on a one-year cooperation; later, the contract was prepared and handed over to the federation." - 4/6/16

Rights group champions prominent Iranian activist Nargess Mohammadi ahead of her court date
Amnesty International has called for the release of jailed human rights activist Narges Mohammadi. The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that according to Amnesty International, Mohammadi's court appearance is scheduled for April 22. - 4/6/16

Explainer: Why The Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis Matters
This week's Nagorno-Karabakh crisis might strike most people as nothing more than another minor conflict in a remote, faraway place. But the role of the Caucasus in the global energy trade and the potential for full-scale hostilities between Azerbaijan and archrival Armenia or its clients drawing in major regional powers are reason enough to keep a close eye on whether the April 5 cease-fire holds. -Charles Recknagel, RFE - 4/6/16

How "Young Persian Artists" Heralds a New Wave of Iranian Art
Mahsa Mergenthaler-Shamsaei is a shipping lawyer, living in Switzerland, who moonlights as the founder of Young Persian Artists (YPA). YPA is a platform to highlight young artists from Iran and to bring their work to the attention of art lovers and critics abroad. -Creators Project - 4/6/16

Selling Luxury in Iran
Bypassed for decades by the luxury industry, Iran and its explosive market growth potential have recaptured the attention of global luxury heavyweights in the last 12 months. After more than 30 years of isolation and austerity, the country re-entered the global economy when economic sanctions were lifted in January, something Morgan Stanley described as the biggest thing for the global economy since the fall of the Berlin Wall. -NY Times - 4/6/16

Turkey's Plan to Expand Its Periphery
On March 29, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu caused quite a stir during a visit to Jordan where he stated, "Turkey's security zone starts from Latakia and passes through Aleppo, Mosul and Sulaimani (Sulaymaniya)." This confirmed that Turkey intends to expand its regional geopolitical and geo-economic projected into northern Syria. -Robert Olson, LobeLog - 4/6/16

Iran's feuding top clerics
As Iranians return to work this week after the new year holiday, one talking point is likely to be the serious split that has emerged among the country's top leaders. -Amir Azimi, BBC - 4/6/16

Spring streams through Persian poetry
Spring has always been the focus of Persian poets in various historical periods of Persian poetry and no poet can be found in Persian literature, who does not make direct reference or allusion to the season, which begins with Norooz, the Iranian celebration of the New Year. - 4/5/16

Heroic Iranian teacher killed by crumbing wall while saving students
A crumbling wall at a school in a village near Khash in Sistan Baluchistan Province killed a teacher after he managed to save the lives of all the students. Hamidreza Gongozehi, an elementary school teacher in Nukjoo, was caught under the debris after he rushed to move the students to safety as the classroom wall began to crumble. - 4/5/16

Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons?
President Barack Obama claimed in The Washington Post on March 30 that the United States had made important progress under his leadership toward the vision he outlined in Prague nearly seven years ago: a world free of nuclear weapons. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 4/5/16

US Says No Plans to Give Iran Access to US Banks
The United States says it has no plans to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system in any dollar-denominated transactions between Iran and businesses in other countries. - 4/5/16

The End of the American Empire
I'm here to talk about the end of the American empire. But before I do I want to note that one of our most charming characteristics as Americans is our amnesia. I mean, we are so good at forgetting what we've done and where we did it that we can hide our own Easter eggs. -Chas W. Freeman, Jr., LobeLog - 4/5/16

Saudi attempting to slow Iran oil surge: Report
A new report points to Saudi Arabia's attempts to hinder Iran's efforts to regain its market share of the global oil trade. The Financial Times report on Monday said Saudi Arabia has been banning vessels that transport Iranian crude from entering their waters. - 4/5/16

'It's like having home inside home'
Drive along Pomona Road and you'll find the new home for followers of one of the world's oldest religions. The gleaming square building with an impressive collonaded portico is the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple, or DMZT. It is the meeting place and sanctuary for some 1,000 followers of Zoroastrian faith from across the tri-state area. -Lohud Journal News, NY - 4/5/16

Obama Administration Considers Further Step to Fulfill US Commitments Under Accord
Reports indicate that the Obama administration is considering the issuance of a general license to permit Iran limited and indirect access to certain dollar-clearing services. Under this proposed license, non-U.S., non-Iranian banks would be permitted to set up an offshore facility in order to facilitate currency exchanges in support of Iran-related business so long as such exchanges do not start or end with the U.S. dollar. No Iranian banks would be allowed direct access to such an offshore facility. - 4/4/16

Iranian commandos deployed to Syria
An Iranian military official says commandos from an Iranian army unit have been deployed to Syria on an advisory mission. Amir-Ali Arasteh, the deputy for coordination in the Iranian Army's Ground Forces, told Tasnim news agency on Monday that the Iranian commandos, from Brigade 65 of the Forces, had took on a mission of advising Syrian forces. - 4/4/16

Young Woman's Quest for Higher Education Exposes Iran's Discrimination Against Baha'is
Rouhie Safajoo, a student banned from Iranian universities because of her Baha'i faith and arrested for her online activism, was released on March 27, 2016 on 500 million rials (about $16,500 USD) bail, nearly three weeks after her arrest. - 4/4/16

Iran oil exports surpass 2 million bpd
Iran has sharply raised oil exports since the lifting of sanctions in January, with the sales of crude and condensate standing over 2 million barrels per day, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says. "Iran's exports of oil and gas condensate are now at more than 2 million barrels per day," the minister told the Shana news agency in Tehran on Sunday. - 4/4/16

Fresh Casualties Reported In Renewed Nagorno-Karabakh Fighting
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for years. Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. - 4/4/16

The Biggest Regret of My Life
When President George W. Bush was up for reelection in 2004, I was 17 years old, just one year shy of being able to vote in the elections. I turned 18 one month after Bush was re-elected. His margin of victory in the popular vote was the smallest ever for an incumbent president. It's one of the biggest regrets of my life. -Elham Khatami, NIAC Action - 4/4/16

A New Year brings A New Home for the New York Area Zoroastrian Community
New York, March 26, 2016: Today, six hundred Zarathushtis (Zoroastrians), their friends and families from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut came together to celebrate a once in a lifetime event - the opening of a Zoroastrian religious and cultural community center in Pomona, NY. - 4/3/16

Actress among activists arrested for animal rights protest in Tehran
Iranian actress Hediyeh Tehrani and 16 other environmental activists were briefly arrested for participating in a protest at Tehran's Laleh Park in support of animal rights. The Reporters Club reports that Hediyeh Tehrani and the activists were arrested on Friday April 1. - 4/3/16

EU banks start re-engaging with Iran
European banks have reportedly started to re-engage with Iran after over two months from the removal of sanctions against the country. The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Belgium's KBC, Germany's DZ Bank and Austria's Erste Bank that they have started handling transactions on behalf of European clients doing business in Iran. - 4/3/16

Female Air France Cabin Crews Protest Head Scarves On Iran Flights
Some female Air France flight attendants have been protesting an airline rule that they must cover their hair when Air France resumes flights to the Iranian capital, Tehran, on April 17. - 4/3/16

At Least 32 Killed In Heavy Fighting In Nagorno-Karabakh
Intense fighting has been reported in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh inside Azerbaijan, with heavy casualties reported on both sides and the OSCE expressing its "grave concern" at developments. The Armenian military accused Azerbaijani forces of launching a major offensive, involving tanks, heavy artillery, and helicopter gunships. -RFE - 4/3/16

Pakistan Asks Tehran for Details About Alleged Indian Spy
Pakistani authorities asked Iran to investigate a suspected Indian spy arrested last month in Baluchistan. He had allegedly been living in Chabahar, an Iranian port on the Gulf of Oman, west of Pakistan, before illegally entering Baluchistan. -Noor Zahid, VOA - 4/3/16

Iranians retreat to nature for celebrate Sizdah Bedar tradition
Iranians all over the country have celebrated the ancient tradition of Sizdah Bedar or the Nature's Day by spending some quality time with their loved ones out in the wilderness. The day, which is celebrated on the 13th day of the first Persian calendar month of Farvardin, usually falls on April 1 but in leap years, it coincides with April 2. - 4/2/16

Obama Says U.S. Will Address Some Iranian Concerns Over Sanctions
U.S. President Barack Obama said that his administration is preparing to address concerns that Iran is not getting the full benefit of sanctions relief under its nuclear accord with world powers. "Some of the concerns that Iran has expressed, we are going to work with them to address," he said. - 4/2/16

President Obama and the Saudi Allies: It's Complicated
As candid as only an American president at the end of his second term could be, Obama implied that certain issues regarding Saudi Arabia-social justice, civil and women rights, the kingdom's spread of Wahhabism in foreign countries-aggravate him. Obama went as far as to argue that the kingdom must share the region with Iran. -Cinzia Bianco and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 4/2/16

Head of Tehran orchestra seeks administrative changes or he'll leave
Ali Rahbari, the head of Tehran's Symphonic Orchestra, whose resignation was turned down by the Ministry of Culture and Guidance, says the orchestra needs an independent administration. - 4/2/16

The Next American President And Iran
These days better than 80 percent of news flooding the airwaves is about what the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, trumpeted and what he might have meant by it. The media anchors and their invited guests spend hours dissecting and scrutinizing every word Mr. Trump utters and project how this potential next President of the most powerful empire on earth might put those words into action if he sits at the White House. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 4/1/16

U.S. Considering Easing Curbs On Using Dollars In Deals With Iran
Obama administration officials are considering easing restrictions that prohibit U.S. dollars from being used in business deals with Iran to ensure Tehran gets economic relief promised under its nuclear deal with world powers. - 4/1/16

Iranians Losing Confidence in U.S. Compliance with JCPOA
The Iranian public is losing confidence that the United States will abide by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to the latest in a series of polls undertaken by the Center for International and Security Studies (CISSM) at the University of Maryland. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 4/1/16

Iranian American Organizations Host Norooz Reception In Washington, D.C.
On March 17, 2016, ten Iranian American organizations came together to co-host the second community-wide annual Norooz (Iranian new year) reception in Washington, D.C. Among U.S. Government officials in attendance were Valerie Jarrett, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Leon Rodriguez, Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security. - 4/1/16

Desalination of Persian Gulf waters proposed as solution for Iran's water crisis
Iran's minister of power announced that the government will be implementing a project to produce drinking water from the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman for transfer to 17 provinces in Iran's central plateau. - 4/1/16

Frequently Asked Questions on the Visa Waiver Restrictions
The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (H.R. 158) prohibits citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program from visiting the United States under the program if they are dual nationals of or have recently traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. It was signed into law on December 18, 2015, as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY2016. -NIAC - 4/1/16

Donald Trump finds support among Iran's far-right wing
Iran's ultraconservatives have sounded the trumpet of support for Donald Trump's promise to rescind the nuclear agreement with Iran in case he succeeds in his run for the U.S. presidency. - 4/1/16

A Visual Tour of Iran'sTilework
As the country opens up, it's time to discover its extraordinary decorative tile mosaics, some of the most beautiful in the Muslim world, which seem to grace nearly every building-once you start looking for them. -Elaine Sciolino, Travel & Leisure - 4/1/16
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