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Zarif Rejoins Iran Nuclear Talks
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif returned to Vienna to rejoin the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program Tuesday, the day of the original self-imposed deadline for an agreement. Zarif arrived with Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, who has been recovering from illness, after returning to Iran for consultations Sunday. Upon their return, Zarif met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 6/30/15

Grassroots Groups Representing Millions of Americans Urge Congress to Support an Iran Deal
NIAC Action signed a letter sent today by grassroots organizations representing millions of Americans urging Congress to support a strong final nuclear deal with Iran. "Every single poll shows that the American public supports an Iran deal and yet Congress seems hellbent on voting to kill it," said NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi. - 6/30/15

Critiquing a Critique of Obama's Approach to Iran
Last week, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) posted a "statement" on the Iranian nuclear negotiation. The statement attracted attention because some of the parties appeared to be finding fault with the Obama administration despite past service in that administration. -Peter Jenkins - 6/30/15

Open Letter to 2016 Presidential Candidates from Prominent Iranian Americans
Thirty-seven prominent Iranian Americans, consisting of current and former government officials, foreign policy experts, scientists, business leaders, authors and media personalities, sent an open letter urging the 2016 presidential candidates to refrain from broad generalizations about the Iranian people when discussing the prospective nuclear agreement taking shape between the P5+1 and Iran. - 6/30/15

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify
As Iran and world powers negotiate a deal to lift international sanctions in exchange for curbing the Iranian nuclear program, economists say the deal could inject more than $100 billion into Iran's coffers. The money is not enough to entirely rescue Iran's ailing economy, they say, but it may be enough to create an "economic momentum" to solidify the leadership's power base. -Heather Murdock, VOA - 6/30/15

Iranian Teachers' Leader Arrested, Pressured Over Protests
The head of the Iranian Teachers' Association, Esmail Abdi, was arrested when he reported to court in response to a summons. The Kaleme website reports that Abdi tried to board a plane to Armenia last week and only then did he realize he was under a foreign travel ban. - 6/30/15

Iranian Parliament outlines extent of water crisis devastation
Iranian Parliament announced that recent research indicates repeated droughts have led to the desertification of two-thirds of the country. The Shahrvand daily reports that the statement from Parliament also indicates a significant decline in the country's water resources in the past 20 years. - 6/30/15

Average temperatures across Iran rise by one degree centigrade
Iran Meteorological Organization announced that nine provinces have so far registered average temperatures three degrees centigrade higher than normal in June. The report adds that the month of June was one average one degree centigrade higher all across the country. - 6/30/15

Don't Fear Iran's Impending Windfall
As Iran and the P5+1 look set to complete a historic nuclear agreement this week, the policy community in the US and Europe is very fearful that sanctions relief will provide Iran a dangerous windfall that it can use to expand its interventions in the region. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, LobeLog - 6/30/15

Iran's nuclear talks: Five reasons why a deal would be good for the U.S.
The criticism of the pending nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is intensifying. Opponents of the deal will spend millions of dollars on ads pushing the U.S. public and Congress to kill the deal in the next few days. -Trita Parsi, CNN - 6/30/15

Saudi Arabia's Quagmire
Three months after Saudi Arabia rounded up a few allies and began an intensive bombing campaign against the rebels known as Houthis across the border in Yemen, a conventional wisdom has developed. "It has not worked," as The New York Times put it in a front-page article, and it probably can't work because the strategic goals are too murky, ... -Thomas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 6/30/15

Russia Undermining U.S. in the Middle East
The Ukraine crisis and the resulting deterioration of Russia's ties with the West have fomented a level of geopolitical instability in Europe unseen in decades. Yet, the Middle East is arguably where Moscow and Washington's tension is most significant -Daniel Wagner and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 6/30/15

Iran Talks: Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few
By the morning of July 1, we should know whether President Barack Obama has achieved one of his presidency's central foreign policy goals: an agreement to deal effectively with the Iranian nuclear program. -Robert E. Hunter - 6/29/15

Poland volleyball team defeats Iran 3-1 in FIVB match in Tehran
Poland's volleyball team has defeated Iran's squad in a pool B match of the 2015 FIVB World League. The Iranian team lost the match against the world champion, disappointing over 12,000 fans in Tehran's indoor Azadi stadium on Sunday, - 6/29/15

Prospects Dim for Iran Nuclear Talks to Make Deadline
With the prospects dim for an Iran nuclear agreement on the original June 30 deadline, U.S. officials launched a new round of talks, on Monday, with a chief nuclear regulator. Secretary of State John Kerry led a delegation, in Vienna, that met with Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. As he headed into the talks at the ornate Palais Coburg hotel, Kerry said, "We are just working and it is too early to make any judgments." -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 6/29/15

Iran: Draconian amendment further erodes fair trial rights
The Iranian authorities have put another nail in the coffin of justice by making a retrogressive amendment in Iran's new Code of Criminal Procedures which limits the right to access an independent lawyer of one's choice during primary investigations in certain criminal cases, including those related to national security. The authorities must immediately amend the law to ensure that any person charged with a criminal offence has access to a lawyer of their own choosing from the time of arrest. -Amnesty International - 6/29/15

As Potential Deal Draws Near, Iran Talks Critics Out in Force
As world powers and Iran continue nuclear negotiations in Vienna, many observers are optimistic a deal will be reached soon. But hardliners are amping up the rhetoric on both sides. And while a deal that can be implemented successfully may be difficult to reach, analysts say out-dated ideas are simply no longer a practical factor in negotiations. -Heather Murdock, VOA - 6/29/15

Dastan Ensemble shuns Iran over concert cancellations
To protest the cancellation of concerts in Iran, the Dastan Music Ensemble says it will no longer schedule any concerts in Iran. The Etemad daily reports that ensemble member Saeed Farajpouri said: "Although we were planning on holding a number of concerts in Iran in the coming year, in light of the recent problems with concerts, we decided that we will not hold concerts in Iran for the time being." - 6/29/15

Germany's petchem giant Basel to invest in Iran
Iran's media reported on Sunday that Germany's Basel petrochemical giant plans to invest above $300 million in Iran. Reports say the investment will be made in an Iranian petrochemical project and will also include the transfer of technology. - 6/29/15

Refugee World
According to the latest UN report, we face an unprecedented refugee crisis. Nearly 60 million people are now classified as refugees, more than at any time since such records have been kept. Perhaps our civilization won't end with a bang or a whimper. We'll all simply become, failed state after failed state, refugees in a heartless world. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 6/29/15

Iran Negotiations to Go Beyond June 30 Deadline
A senior U.S. official says all parties at the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna plan to continue negotiating past the June 30th deadline. The official added that Washington is not troubled by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif's decision to briefly return to Tehran for consultations with his government before the deadline that is two days away. The U.S. official said it was expected that participants in the talks would come and go from Vienna during the negotiations. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 6/28/15

Iran holds world's largest gas reserves
World proven natural gas reserves at end-2014 stood at 187.1 trillion cubic metres (tcm), sufficient to meet 54.1 years of global production. Proved reserves grew by 0.3% relative to end-2013. Growth in Russia (+0.4 tcm), Azerbaijan (+0.3 tcm) and the US (+0.2 tcm) accounted for all of the gross increase in global proved reserves in 2014. Iran (34.0 tcm) and Russia (32.6 tcm) hold the largest proved reserves. - 6/28/15

Iranian human rights lawyer succeeds in reducing licence suspension
After months of protest, prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has finally managed to reduce the suspension of her licence from three years to just nine months. Sotoudeh's Facebook page reports that because nine months have elapsed since the order was issued, she will be applying for her licence at the Bar Association in the next few days. - 6/28/15

Record rise in foreign investments in Iran
Iran's media reported on Saturday that foreign investments in the country had seen an unprecedented three-time rise in the second quarter of 2015. Foreign investments in Iran over the period had reached as high as $3 billion. The figure was higher than the total of $2.1 billion of foreign investments made in the country from March 2014-2015. - 6/28/15

Foundation of noted palace discovered in Isfahan
Archaeologists report that the foundation of the 250-year-old Jahan Nama Castle, described in texts of the era as a recreation site, has been found. Jahan Nama Palace was built at the time of Shah Abbas of the Safavid and provided a panoramic view of the city at the time. However, Zel-ol-Soltan gave orders to destroy it, claiming the site provided a view of Hasht Behesht Palace, where his sister lived. - 6/28/15

Kerry, Zarif in Agreement on Iran Nuke Deal: Hard Work Ahead
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said "we're hopeful" days ahead of a deadline for a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program. "I think it's fair to say that we're hopeful. We have a lot of hard work to do. We have some very tough issues, and I think we all look forward to getting down to the final effort here to see whether or not a deal is possible," Kerry said Saturday in Vienna as he met with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. -VOA - 6/27/15

Iranian volleyballers edge past Poland in 2015 FIVB World League
The Iranian volleyball team has edged past world champion Poland in a Pool B match of the 2015 FIVB World League. On Friday night, the Iranian squad defeated its guests 3-2 at Tehran's Azadi stadium, packed with more than 12,000 passionate fans. - 6/27/15

The 2nd Europe-Iran forum: on September 24-25, 201 in Geneva, Switzerland
In October 2014, the 1st Europe-Iran Forum became the first major international business conference dedicated to Iran's private sector commercial opportunities. Building on the success of the first event, BHB Emissary and its partners are proud to host the 2nd Europe-Iran Forum on September 24-25, 2015 at the prestigous Grand Hotel Kempinski in Geneva, Switzerland. - 6/27/15

Laying Zero Enrichment to Rest
With the self-imposed deadline for Iran nuclear talks looming, obstacles to reaching a deal are emerging mostly from the Iranian side. The majles, or parliament, passed a bill seeking to restrain inspections on Iranian soil. More importantly, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader who has final word on all matters of state, laid out onerous conditions for a deal that, if he holds to his red lines, would make an accord difficult for world powers to agree to. -Ali Gharib - 6/27/15

U.S. To Continue Rights Sanctions Against Iran, Regardless Of Nuclear Deal
The U.S. State Department says sanctions imposed against Iran in response to its violations of human rights will remain in place regardless of any nuclear deal brokered by Tehran and six world powers. Tom Malinowski, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, made the announcement on June 25 in Washington during the presentation of the State Department's 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. - 6/27/15

Wikileaks Strikes Again: Saudi Meddling in Lebanon
Last Saturday morning, Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese daily opposed to the West- and Saudi-friendly March 14 movement, once again helped Wikileaks disseminate material, this time with 70,000 diplomatic cables from the Saudi foreign ministry. And nearly half a million more are lined up for publication through the holy month of Ramadan. -Aurelie Daher, LobeLog - 6/27/15

Iran Nuclear Agreement Deadline May Slip
U.S. and Iranian officials depart Friday for a final round of nuclear talks in Vienna, even as U.S. officials conceded a deal may not be able to be reached by a June 30 deadline. A senior U.S. administration official said Thursday negotiators are expected to be "close" to an agreement on the 30th, if they "can get there at all." -William Gallo, Pamela Dockins, VOA - 6/26/15

Saudi Leaks Expose 'Checkbook Diplomacy' in Battle With Iran
Saudi Arabia's willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. WikiLeaks has not revealed its source, but a group calling itself the "Yemen cyber army" has claimed it hacked government servers. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA - 6/26/15

Iran: Poachers face higher fines for hunting endangered species
The Department of the Environment has managed to push through an initiative to impose heavy fines on illegal hunting activities. The new fines are on average five times bigger than they were in the past, and some are even 10 times bigger for those caught hunting certain species. - 6/26/15

Why Iran Suspects Western Calls for Transparency
On May 20, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spoke at the Imam Hussein Military University in Tehran. Referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. watchdog mandated to deal with nuclear issues, he said that foreigners would not be permitted to inspect Iran's military sites or interview Iranian nuclear scientists. -Emma Scott, LobeLog - 6/26/15

Iran building major port near Hormuz Strait
Iran is building a multi-purpose port near the Strait of Hormuz with 700 million euros of foreign investment, the state news agency IRNA reported on Thursday. The new port on the shores of Suza on the Qeshm island "will definitely become a shipping hub for international trade and transit", deputy head of the Qeshm Free Zone Organization Farzin Haqdel said. - 6/26/15

The Day After a Nuclear Deal
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani may soon discover that negotiating a nuclear deal was the easy part of his job. He is likely to have a much more difficult time in office--with pressure from his opponents and his supporters--once the initial euphoria of a deal passes. -Hooman Majd, Politico - 6/26/15

Iran accelerates drilling of largest oilfield
Iran has accelerated drilling of its largest oilfield which it shares with Iraq in order to catch up with its western neighbor in production, an energy official has said. The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) has completed the drilling of six wells since taking over from the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation's (CNPC) which had its contract cancelled in May 2014 due to repeated delays. - 6/26/15

Public eating during Ramadan sparks crackdown in Tabriz
Tabriz police have arrested 92 people for eating in public during the fasting month of Ramadan. The detainees were eating at the Shahryar Hotel coffee shop. Eastern Azerbaijan police told the Fars News Agency on Wednesday that the Shahryar Hotel had been serving food since the beginning of Ramadan and has been shut down by judicial order. - 6/26/15

Nuclear Talks: Paradigm Shift in Iran Foreign Policy?
During my recent trip to Tehran I had a chance to listen to and participate in discussions on both the political and societal levels about the final stages of the nuclear talks. As I discussed here in mid-February, the level of anxiety in Iran could not be higher. More importantly, the overall debate about the talks and all its details goes far beyond factional politics. -Adnan Tabatabai - 6/25/15

Kerry Heads to Vienna in Final Push for Iran Nuclear Agreement
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will return to Vienna Friday for the final phase of negotiations on a comprehensive international agreement on Iran's nuclear program. On Wednesday, Kerry warned, "It may be that the Iranians will not fill out the full measure of what was agreed on" in the framework agreement reached in April. -Victor Beattie, VOA - 6/25/15

US universities on symbolic visit to Iran
A group of senior United States university representatives has visited Iran, in what is believed to be the biggest academic delegation since the 1970s. As relations between the two countries begin to thaw, the delegation met representatives of 13 Iranian universities and research institutes. -Sean Coughlan, BBC - 6/25/15

From the Damavand Vote to Nuclear Talks in WikiLeaks: Mohajerani Remains Silent; the Three Islands in the Persian Gulf
In the wake of the most recent leaks of classified intelligence diplomatic cables belonging to Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry - posted on the WikiLeaks site - Iran's minister of culture and Islamic guidance during reformist president Mohammad Khatami's administration is mentioned to have received money from Saudi Arabia. When approached, Mohajerani chose to remain silent and said he would respond at a "suitable" time. -Fereshteh Ghazi - 6/25/15

Not Waiting For Nuclear Deal, Shell, Other Oil Firms In Talks With Iran
Executives from Royal Dutch Shell and Eni have met Iranian officials in Tehran to discuss investing in the country's energy industry, the first time international oil firms have publicly confirmed such talks ahead of a possible nuclear deal with the West, the Financial Times has reported. - 6/25/15

Social Media Analysis: How an Iranian Kurdish Woman's Death Triggered a Regional Social Media Conflict
Farinaz Khosrawani was a 25-year-old Kurdish chambermaid who fell off of a hotel room balcony on May 4 while allegedly escaping a sexual assault. The incident resulted in protests from Kurds in Mahabad, who set Hotel Tara on fire in reaction to her death. -Simin Kargar, Global Voices - 6/25/15

Iran: Mass firing of ILNA labour reporters draws criticism
Following the mass firing of the reporters in the labour section of the Iranian Labour News Agency, a group of teachers, activists and workers has issued a letter protesting their dismissal. The reporters of the Labour section of ILNA say they have had constant tension with ILNA management, the House of Workers and the Ministry of Labour over the past five years. The reporters were also prevented from fully covering teacher protests. - 6/25/15

Tehran Talks Tough with India
The Iranians, sensing a nuclear deal or a thaw at the very minimum, have in recent months become more assertive in their dealings with India. This toughening stance is most visible in sectors poised to attract tremendous foreign investment (particularly European) if sanctions are lifted. For Indian companies hoping to engage with Iran on energy, particularly upstream, recent months have been tough. -Sumitha Narayanan Kutty, LobeLog - 6/25/15

San Francisco Docunight to screen "Going Up the Stairs" and "Behjat Sadr" on July 1st
Every last Wednesday of every month, Docunight screens a documentary about, around, or in Iran, or made by Iranians. In collaboration with several local organizations and groups, the screenings will take place on the same night across several cities in North America. - 6/25/15

Iran's Supreme Leader Rejects Long-term Limits on Nuclear Program
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made clear in an address Tuesday night that Iran will not accept any long-term curbing of its nuclear program as negotiators from his country and a group of world powers close in on a deadline for reaching a comprehensive agreement. - 6/24/15

POLL: Iranian Public Opinion on Nukes, the U.S., Politics
A major new poll of Iranian public opinion with important and fascinating results was released here and in Tehran Tuesday and deserves much more attention than it is likely to get (at least in the United States). -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 6/24/15

Shirin Neshat wins Farhang Heritage 2015
Farhang Foundation is honored to announce that the recipient of the 2015 Farhang Heritage Award is Shirin Neshat. The Iranian-born artist will be recognized for her "enrichment of society through her extraordinary artistic contributions to the world" at the 5th Annual Farhang Foundation Fundraising Gala on November 7, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. - 6/24/15

PAAIA Releases National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans and the American Public
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today released the findings of a national public opinion survey examining the attitudes of both Iranian Americans and the American public at large toward a number of issues related to the nuclear negotiations with Iran and U.S.-Iranian relations. The results show that both Iranian Americans and American voters are supportive of a nuclear agreement with Iran. - 6/24/15

Pro-Israel Lobby Prepares to Battle Obama Over Iran
As U.S. and Iranian negotiators approach the June 30 deadline to reach a nuclear deal, America's largest pro-Israel lobby is campaigning to kill such an accord in Congress. -Eli Lake, Bloomberg - 6/24/15

"Would you believe that I'm a woman from Iran?"
Author Nina Ansary's new book Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran is being released this week, and a trailer the book's publisher uploaded to YouTube is both gripping and features a clever thought-provoking twist. -NY Times - 6/24/15

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov interested in Iran business
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital is interested in business in Iran and has already started scoping out opportunities in the country. The top-ranked investment bank is evaluating equity trading, deals and analyst coverage for Iran and is informing clients for possible ventures. - 6/24/15

National Iranian broadcaster denies reports of gender segregation
The Public Relations Manager of Seda va Sima radio programming says reports of gender segregation in the national broadcaster's offices are not true. ILNA reports that Ali Akbar Khodabakhsh said on Tuesday June 23: "Do you think Seda va Sima is a school where you can separate the genders." - 6/24/15

Sistan Baluchistan MP lists distressing stats about province
Seventy percent of people in Sistan Baluchistan province are living below the poverty line, the Khash representative to Parliament reports. He added that in that past three decades, the province has been ranked last among the country's 31 provinces in terms of development. The reports adds that unemployment remains very high. Two-thirds of the province's population does not have access to drinking water, and only 50 percent of students continue their education. - 6/24/15

Iran to build hybrid electric cars
Iran Khodro has signed an agreement with two local universities to produce hybrid and electric cars, with the first models expected to roll down the production line in the next three years. The Middle East's leading automaker inked a memorandum of understanding with Iran's prestigious Sharif and Amir Kabir Universities of Technology for design and production of the county's first hybrid electric cars. - 6/24/15

Iran, EU Hold Talks as Nuclear Deal Deadline Approaches
Iran's foreign minister and his European Union counterparts are meeting in Luxembourg for a final round of nuclear talks aimed at completing a deal before a June 30 deadline. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif met privately with ministers from Germany and France before a larger meeting with EU leaders. - 6/23/15

iBridges: The Iranian Runaway Singularity
iBridges, a non-profit organization incubated at the University of California, Berkeley, and powered by leading Iranian-American technology entrepreneurs, investors, and academicians, reached another milestone this month. It convened the largest- ever gathering of Iranians focused on high-tech entrepreneurship, on June 4-6 in Berlin - the start-up capital of Europe. -Jahandad Memarian, Huffington Post - 6/23/15

Obama's Three Hard Choices in the Middle East
The first steps in righting US policy and actions in the Middle East are recognition and acceptance of what we have wrought and what we can or cannot do to alter the current political realities. Clarity is required above all. -Charles Naas - 6/23/15

"Portals" Opens New Channel Between U.S. and Iran
I "visited" Iran the other day but didn't need a visa or a plane ticket. Through the magic of the Internet and sophisticated audiovisual technology, I chatted for 20 minutes with a young man in Tehran about the mood there in anticipation of a historic nuclear agreement with the U.S. and five other nations. - 6/23/15

A tribute to Iranian scholar Dr Chahryar Adle: 1944-2015
It is with great regret that Iran Heritage Foundation notes the passing of Dr Chahryar Adle in Paris yesterday on 21st June 2015 at the early age of 71 years. He achieved international distinction for his work on the archaeology and art history of Iran and Afghanistan in the Islamic period, but he was far from being a reclusive scholar. - 6/23/15

Iranian Ex-President Says U.S. Seeks Arrest Of Hidden Imam
Iran's former hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has reportedly said that the United States is working to arrest the Hidden Imam, who according to Shi'ite belief went into hiding in the 10th century and will reappear to bring justice to Earth. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 6/23/15

Report: Child Refugees Face Obstacles in EU, Iran
An international rights organization has called on European Union nations to better provide for children from Afghanistan, Syria, and other nations seeking asylum in Europe. Human Rights Watch released a report saying many children who have fled Afghanistan to avoid recruitment by the Taliban or conscription by the Syrian army are traveling alone to refugee centers, where they can be held for weeks while awaiting space in children's shelters. - 6/23/15

Iran Navy sends 35th flotilla to high seas
The 35th flotilla of the Iranian Navy has set off for high seas to safeguard naval routes for the country's vessels operating in the region. The flotilla, consisting of Bandar Abbas auxiliary ship and Alvand destroyer, left the country on Monday after the 34th fleet completed its mission and returned home. - 6/23/15

Why is Michael Oren Trashing Obama?
Michael Oren, Israel's former ambassador to the US and currently a member of the Israeli parliament, is promoting his book Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, which will be released on June 23. It's an autobiographical tell-all about his four years as Israel's top diplomat to the US between 2009-2013. -Marsha B. Cohen, LobeLog - 6/23/15

Host Iran blanks US volleyball team 3-0 in Tehran
On Sunday, the Iranian squad defeated the reigning FIVB Volleyball World League champion in three straight sets (25-20, 25-21, 25-19), dealing them their second loss in this year's season in Tehran's Azadi stadium, packed with some 12,000 enthusiastic fans. - 6/22/15

High Hopes, Tempered Expectations: Views from Iran on the Nuclear Negotiations
Civil society in Iran remains steadfast and unequivocal in its support for the nuclear negotiations, and its members hope for an agreement that will end years of sanctions and isolation, according to a new study by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 6/22/15

Good nuclear deal more important than meeting deadline: Iranian FM Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says reaching a good deal with the P5+1 group of countries on Tehran's nuclear program has priority over meeting the self-imposed June 30 deadline, Press TV reports. - 6/22/15

Iran's Supreme Leader tells broadcaster to separate workers by gender
The new head of Iran's national broadcaster Seda va Sima has launched its plan for gender segregation in the workplace under orders from the Supreme Leader. ILNA reports that the deputy head of Seda va Sima, Nargess Abravani, has announced that men and women working for Seda va Sima will be separated in the workplace. - 6/22/15

Iran implements domestic IDS against malware
Iran has implemented a domestic Intrusion Detection System (IDS) which is capable of protecting production lines in industrial organizations against cyber attacks and malwares. - 6/22/15

World yoga day celebrated as practice grows in Iran
Millions of people across India gathered to mark the first International Yoga Day by engaging in mass yoga sessions, but reports indicate that the celebrations triggered tensions in some part of the country. - 6/22/15

The Contradictions of Elliott Abrams
Elliott Abrams was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the "Arab Spring," but he also loves the kingdom that has done (and spent) the most to suppress it. It's the kind of contradiction that has often afflicted neoconservatives like Abrams who profess both a passion for democracy and human rights and a deep devotion to Israel's security. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 6/22/15

Female Iranian Official Attacks Volleyball Ban
A female Iranian vice president has criticized what she called "sanctimonious" men's groups, whose threats prevented women from watching Iran play the USA in a volleyball match. Although about 200 tickets were reportedly reserved for women at the Azadi sports complex in Tehran, security personnel around the stadium refused to allow any of them to see the match. - 6/21/15

Iran Lawmakers Propose Conditions For Nuclear Deal, Curtail Veto Powers
Iran's parliament has voted to ban access to military sites and scientists as part of a future deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program. But shortly after 199 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, the parliament added amendments that would curtail its power to veto a deal between Tehran and six-world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany. - 6/21/15

National-Religious activist on hunger strike in Evin prison
Reports indicate that Hossein Rafii, an Iranian Nationalist-Religious activist in Evin Prison, is in a grave state of health.A National-Religious website reports that Rafii is refusing food and medicine to protest the failure of authorities to provide him with due process. - 6/21/15

Let's Take A Deep Breath on BDS
Yair Lapid, Israel's former Finance Minister, told a hawkish "pro-Israel" gathering in New York that the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS) are anti-Semites and their followers are "bleeding heart, so-called intellectuals." -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 6/21/15

FIVB World League: Iran volleyball team stuns US in Tehran
Iran's national volleyball team has beaten US in straight sets in a Pool B match of the 2015 FIVB World League. Iranian volleyballers landed the defending champions their first loss of the 2015 season to send a packed 12,000-seater Azadi stadium to cheers late on Friday night. - 6/20/15

Iranian Child Rights Activist's Mother Pleas for Help for Son's Ten-Year Prison Sentence
Ten months after his arrest, children's rights activist Omid Alishenas has been sentenced to ten years in prison for "assembly and collusion and propaganda against the state," and "insulting the Supreme Leader." Mr. Alishenas' mother told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the family is in shock following the sentencing. "This sentence is unfair and cruel. Omid's activities should not have brought him 10 years in prison," she said. - 6/20/15

Controversies haunt Iran's volleyball victory over US: Women barred from stadium
Friday's game stirred controversies regarding the presence of female spectators in stadiums. Despite assurances from Hassan Rohani's advisor on Women and Family Affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, that women would be allowed to watch the game in the stadium, last week the minister of the interior announced that the ban on women in stadiums is still in effect. - 6/20/15

Ending the Iranian-Saudi Cold War
While unprecedented diplomacy has changed the face of United States-Iran relations over the past two years, the opposite has plagued Iranian-Saudi Arabian relations. A diplomacy deficit between the two regional powers has exacerbated volatility across the Middle East. -Reza Marashi - 6/19/15

Extraordinary bail gets ill Iranian blogger released from jail
Jailed activist and blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was temporarily released on the exorbitant bail of 1.4 billion toumans (about 500 million dollars) after repeated requests for his release due to health complications. - 6/19/15

12th death of Iranian leopard reported in Zanjan
Local people in Sorkhabad, Zanjan, have found the remains of an Iranian leopard partly eaten by the carnivores of the region. The remains of the leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) were found in Darband Kalasar by the local Department of Environment units; the animal had reportedly died 10 days ago. - 6/19/15

The Great Iran PMD Freakout
It was always going to happen this way. As talks between Iran and key world powers approached a June 30 deadline, the toughest issues would emerge not only as sticking points in the negotiations themselves but as political footballs to be fought over by opponents of talks on both sides. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 6/19/15

Persian Classical Performance Live from Tehran Through Portals!
Portals, a global public art initiative created by Shared Studios, has has created an innovative forum which individual Americans and Iranians have the chance to speak to one another as if in the same room. While the Portal is open in D.C. now through June 21, you are also invited to join Shared Studios for their first ever community event and fundraiser. This will be an evening performance of classical Persian music live from Tehran -NIAC - 6/19/15

Vast majority of Iranians don't get regular exercise
Iran's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports warns that only about 20 percent of Iranians incorporate exercise and sports activities in their daily lives. IRNA reports that a ministry spokesman expressed concern regarding the small percentage of the population engaging in daily exercise, saying that in most countries, at least 60 percent of the population have exercise as part of their daily routine. - 6/19/15

Iran sets goal to be second place gas producer in the world
Iran expects its gas production to grow 71% in the next four years, putting the country on course to take over as the second biggest gas producer, an official said on Thursday. - 6/19/15

First Silk Road rail cargo enters Iran
The first cargo carried on the Silk Road railway has entered Iran from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, local officials said. The cargo, including 45 freight wagons, crossed the Incha-Burun border with Turkmenistan into Iran, local officials in the Golestan province said. - 6/19/15

Iranians unite in burial of 270 Iran-Iraq War veterans
This funeral consisted of 175 Iranian divers who were buried alive with their hands tied, news that shocked Iranians and served as a unifying event in remembrance of a painful era. -Arash Karimi, Al Monitor - 6/19/15

Benevolent Matchmaker Or Intrusive Busybody? Iran Takes Marriage Drive Online
Worried that Iranians are staying single too long, the authorities are backing a new matchmaking website meant to help more people get hitched. But some members of the target audience are treating the initiative with all the enthusiasm of a dubious blind date arranged by an overbearing relative. -Farangis Najibullah and Hossein Ghavimi, RFE - 6/18/15

Iran's President Rouhani pledges continued support for Iraq in fighting terror
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic will continue supporting Iraq in its fight against terrorism, noting that the country's security is intertwined with that of Iran. "The main responsibility for combating terrorism and finally defeating it falls undoubtedly on the shoulders of the Iraqi nation and army," President Rouhani said in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Wednesday. - 6/18/15

Iranian Lawyer and Client Accused of "Illegitimate Relations" for a Handshake in Prison
Mohmmad Moghimi was charged with "non-adultery illegitimate relations" for shaking hands with his female client. He had gone to Evin Prison to meet Ms. Faraghdani and to prepare an appeal request for her 12-year prison sentence. - 6/18/15

Europe courting Iran for business bonanza
Western governments have started wooing Iran as their draconian sanctions on the resource-rich country - an energy superpower - appear all but crumbling. "Iran is a big country which has been for many years under a tough embargo regarding aircraft. So it would suggest there is a big potential," Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier said. - 6/18/15

Iranian Hard-Liners Protest Women's Presence in Sports Stadiums
Iranian hard-liners demonstrated in front of the Sports Ministry in Tehran on June 17 to protest the possible presence of women in sports stadiums. The protest followed reports that a limited number of Iranian women could be allowed to attend two upcoming international male volleyball matches, including one on June 19. - 6/18/15

The Imperative of a Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Violent Extremism
Violent extremism is probably the most critical challenge that is not only menacing our region, but in fact the entire world, where threats recognize no borders. It is a grave threat that has already ravaged Iraq and Syria and cast gloom over the region's horizons. Its global reach and stated worldwide ambitions make it clear that it has major implications for the geopolitical and security environment, not only in our immediate neighborhood, but also in many other parts of the world. -Javad Zarif, Harvard International Review - 6/18/15

Iran Nuclear Talks Impeded by Disagreement on All Main Elements
Iran and six powers are still apart on all main elements of a nuclear deal with less than two weeks to go to their June 30 target date and will likely have to extend their negotiations, two diplomats tell The Associated Press. -AP - 6/18/15

The New World Order Rebooted
America's fool's errand in Iraq continues, with depressing daily headlines suggesting that the United States is doubling down yet again on previously failed attempts to build another Iraqi Army with more advisers and more sophisticated arms. -James A. Russell, LobeLog - 6/18/15

Why Alberto Nisman Is No Hero for Argentina -- or the Jews
It is widely believed, particularly outside Argentina, that special prosecutor Alberto Nisman died because he was about to expose a criminal pact between President Cristina Kirchner and the Iranian government to cover up the latter's responsibility in the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires's Jewish community center. -Graciela Mochkofsky, Forward - 6/18/15

Bahrain's Latest Sham Trial and Conviction
Now that the Bahraini regime has exacted its revenge by sentencing Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of the predominantly Shi'ite pro-reform al-Wefaq party, to four years in prison, the al-Khalifa ruling family should decide which of the two available paths to take. It could remain on the current path of repression and increasing international isolation. Or it could explore creative, peaceful strategies to engage the Shia majority on the basis of human dignity, respect, and fairness. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 6/18/15

How Sanctions Relief Can Help and Hurt the Iranian Economy
Removal or relaxation of international sanctions will benefit Iran's economy just as surely as they hurt it when they were imposed. But not all sanctions have the same effect, and removing some will have a faster impact than others. President Rouhani has staked his political fortunes on reviving the economy, so how a nuclear deal benefits the economy and how quickly is of critical importance for Iran's politics, especially for the coming parliamentary elections in March 2016. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani - 6/17/15

Three Concerts Cancelled by Iranian Police and Judiciary despite Protests by Rouhani
In his latest reaction to consecutive cancellations by the Iranian Police and the Judiciary of music concerts, President Hassan Rouhani condemned the cancellations and said such actions violate the people's rights. - 6/17/15

Iran's Nuclear 'Diplomatic Warriors' Are Back In Vogue
"Diplomatic warriors" who defend Iran's interests, or "traitors" who sell out their country to enemies. Both are recent labels given domestically to Iran's negotiators at sensitive international talks on a comprehensive nuclear deal that would curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 6/17/15

US House Resolution Urges Iran to Free Detained Americans
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution calling for Iran to release three American citizens being held in custody. The non-binding resolution, which passed late Monday by a vote of 391-0, urged Tehran to free Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati. - 6/17/15

Iran's Interior Minister announces persistence of ban on women in stadiums
ISNA reported on Monday June 16 that according to Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, no new directives have been issued regarding women attending sports events in stadiums, and the authorities will continue to deal with the matter as they have in past. - 6/17/15

An Iran Accord for Stability
In Yemen, there are foreign Arab coalition airstrikes counteracting a domestic sectarian and political uprising. In Iraq and Syria, there is the customary news of ISIS and its horrific doings. In the United States, there is entrenched partisan bickering vis-a-vis the Middle East's unceasing tumult. And in Iran, there is the befuddling confluence of a leadership with inherent distrust for anything beyond its borders and its desire for the ever-elusive concept of domestic stability. -Arash Irani and Omid Irani - 6/17/15

The Power of "Iran Derangement Syndrome"
On Sunday evening The Daily Beast published a first-person account by its senior intelligence and national security correspondent, Shane Harris, with the gripping title "Iran's Spies Tried to Recruit Me." No, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence didn't ask Harris to steal any classified documents or carry out any covert operations on US soil. -Derek Davison - 6/17/15

U.S. No Longer Demanding Disclosure Of Iran's Past Nuclear Work
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Washington would no longer insist that Iran fully disclose its past nuclear activities as part of a nuclear pact with Tehran. Kerry said the past is past, and the nuclear deal will be focused on preventing Tehran in the future from engaging in activities that could lead to its acquisition of a nuclear bomb, rather than any previous such activities. - 6/17/15

Iranian children's rights activist arrested once again
Solamz Ikdar, the Iranian journalist and children's rights activist, was arrested on Monday June 15 after complying with a summons to appear in court. Ikdar works for the Farhikhtegan daily and also has a history of journalistic activities with the Shargh and Bahar dailies. - 6/17/15

Russian Official: Nuke Deal Can Be Reached with Iran before June 30 Deadline
Russia's TASS news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov as saying he "categorically" wants to stop any talk of a deadline extension, and that it is "quite possible" to reach an agreement before the deadline. - 6/16/15

Iran Launches Official Matchmaking Website
Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahmud Golzari said in a ceremony launching the site, "We have high demand for marriage and 11 million bachelors who are increasing every day. This is a significant issue for the ruling system." - 6/16/15

Iranian students to sue Norway over nuclear claims
Two Iranian students plan to take the Norwegian government to court after Oslo blocked university access for many Iranian students under the pretext that they might be learning nuclear weapons-related technology, Press TV reports. - 6/16/15

Iran expects 'tsunami' of foreign tourists
Iran will face a "tsunami" of foreign tourists once a nuclear agreement is concluded and sanctions on the country are lifted, an official said on Tuesday. "Nearly 20 million foreign tourists will probably visit Iran within the next five years," head of the Iran Touring and Tourism Investment Company (ITTIC) Mohsen Qarib said. - 6/16/15

Banned Iranian journalists' group blasts Labour Minister
The Association of Iranian Journalists has accused Labour Minister Ali Rabii of preventing the reopening of the organization. HRANA reports that a statement from the association alleges that the minister is using indirect policies to prevent the organization from resuming its activities. - 6/16/15

A New Round of Intimidation, Arrests, and Prosecution of Social Media Users in Iran
Iranian Cyber Police and Judiciary officials reported a new wave of arrests of Internet users this week. Colonel Gholamreza Kazemzadeh, Chief of Iran's Cyber Police, told reporters on June 8 that an individual he claimed managed 23 groups on the WhatsApp and Line social media networks had been arrested. - 6/16/15

Wrestling's Curby Cup next move in US-Iran sports diplomacy
American wrestler Jacob Curby died before he could fulfill his dream of competing in the Olympics. But a competition established in his name will mark another milestone in the accelerating sports diplomacy between Iran and the United States. -Barbara Slavin, Al Monitor - 6/16/15

Iranian MP requests reason for media ban on former reformist president
Iranian MP Ali Motahari has called on the Tehran Prosecutor to announce the grounds and produce the warrant for the media ban on former president Mohammad Khatami. On Saturday, President Hassan Rohani told a news conference that the media ban on Mohammad Khatami is by no means warranted by the National Security Council. - 6/16/15

Iran minister, Airbus CEO meet amid row
Iran's Minister of Transportation and Housing Abbas Akhundi has met Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier and French government officials in Paris for talks, local media have reported. Iran's recent acquisition of nine used Airbus jets has become a contentious issue, with the US government saying it was actively working to block them. - 6/16/15

Iran volleyball team defeats Russia giants again
Iran's national volleyball team have served Russia's title-toting Olympians their second back-to-back defeat, taking on the giants in the fifth week of FIVB Volleyball World League 2015. The Sunday clash saw Iran trouncing Russia in three successive sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-21) in Kazan, Russia, bagging a total of seven points. - 6/15/15

Rohani Hints At Extension Of Nuclear Talks, Cites 'Many Differences'
President Hassan Rohani has suggested that "many differences over details" remain in talks with world powers on Iran's nuclear activities but added that a deal is "entirely feasible" even if it requires more time. In a live television appearance, Rohani also said he will not permit commitments under any eventual deal to jeopardize Iranian state secrets. - 6/15/15

Saudi stake in Iran firm under scrutiny
A Saudi food producer's domination of the Iranian market for a basic staple is raising hackles in the Persian country, prompting the company's local partners to deny rumors that it was linked to ISIL terrorists. - 6/15/15

Head of Iranian police defends barring women from stadiums
"These days we are being criticized for preventing women from entering sports stadiums or canceling concerts, while many of these actions are carried out under legal warrants and we are merely acting within the limits of the law," Ashtari said in a meeting with Ayatollah Makarrem Shirazi, a senior member of the clergy. - 6/15/15

Iran's Communications Minister lauds internet service growth under Rohani
Iran's minister of communications says that since the new administration took the helm of the government in 2013, the number of Iranian internet users has gone from three million to six million. - 6/15/15

Whither the Proposed Middle East Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone?
In late May, the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) concluded without the adoption of a proposed plan of action for a Middle East nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ). Although sighs of relief could be heard across Israel, that feeling may prove premature, as the full implications of this failure have not been properly assessed here in Israel. -Shemuel Meir, LobeLog - 6/15/15

Iran's President Says He's Following Washington Post Reporter's Case
Iran's president says he is following the case of the American-Iranian bureau chief for The Washington Post who is accused by Iran of espionage and propaganda. President Hassan Rohani told a June 13 press conference that he is committed to ensuring the rights of all Iranians and 39-year-old Jason Rezaian's case is no exception. - 6/15/15

Iran's crude exports bounce back after sanctions stranglehold
The International Energy Agency reports that Iran's crude exports in May of 2015 made a big jump after being dragged down three years ago by the tightening of international sanctions on the country's petroleum exports. - 6/15/15

Innovators Under 35: Roozbeh Ghaffari
Inspired by the courage of his younger brother, MC10's cofounder is finding ways to create novel electronic devices that improve human health. -MIT Technology Review - 6/15/15

New US Demands Complicate Iran Talks
On June 5-7, a cross-party group of members of the European Parliament visited Iran as a confidence-building measure ahead of the June 30 deadline for a final deal on Iran's nuclear program. The fact that both sides took this opportunity seriously is illustrated by the level of meetings in Tehran and the presence in the delegation of a number of senior EU lawmakers. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 6/14/15

Iran hits new record in natural gas production
Managing director of the Iranian Gas Transmission Company says the country has hit a new record in natural gas output by producing a total of two billion cubic meters of gas per year. - 6/14/15

The United States Department of Justice Turns the Clock Back Sixty Years to Reinstate "Separate but Equal"
DOJ's disqualification of Judge Tabaddor from all cases involving Iranians is premised on Judge Tabaddor being a member of the Iranian American community and her participation in community service and professional activities outside the courtroom. -Leila Golestaneh Austin & Soroush Richard Shehabi, Huffington Post - 6/14/15

Remembering Iran: Zoroastrian Themes in Pahlavi, Persian and Gujarati Texts
Lecture by Dr Sarah Stewart at Asia House in London: Although relations between Zoroastrian Iran and India go back to at least the Sasanian period, Parsi tradition dates the migration from Iran and early settlement of Zoroastrians on the west coast of India to either the 8th or 10 centuries CE. - 6/14/15

Diplomatic Sources: Iranian Nuclear Talks Showing Little Progress
Diplomatic sources close to the Iranian nuclear negotiations say progress has slowed considerably just weeks before a deadline on a historic agreement between Iran and six world powers. The sources told Russian news agencies the slowdown is worrying because the final stage of negotiations is approaching with the June 30 deadline. - 6/13/15

Iranian scientists create world's first hybrid heart valve
Two Iranian scientists have successfully created the first hybrid tissue-engineered heart valve with the use of a metal alloy. Hamed Alavi, PhD, and Arash Kheradvar, MD, PhD, from the University of California in Irvine, developed the new valve, which can become a replacement for current valves thanks to its durability, the Mehr news agency reported on Monday. - 6/13/15

Kerry Leaves Hospital, Will 'Totally Engage' In Iran Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ended his 10-day stay at a Boston hospital on June 12 and said he will fully engage in the Iran nuclear talks at the end of the month. Appearing in public for the first time since surgery to repair his leg broken in a cycling accident in France, Kerry sought to dispel doubts about his involvement in the negotiations. - 6/13/15

Iran Deal Can Help Disentangle Regional Conflicts
A successful nuclear deal with Iran would enable the US to begin to adopt a more balanced foreign policy approach in the Middle East, helping it to finally disentangle itself from the ever-widening conflicts of the region. That was according to Mark Fitzpatrick, the director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and Dr. Trita Parsi, the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, in discussion at the IISS last week. - 6/13/15

Everyone should help Iran nuclear negotiators succeed: Senior cleric
A senior Iranian cleric has urged support for the country's negotiators involved in nuclear talks with six world powers, saying potential criticism should not undermine the negotiators. While everyone is entitled to express their views about the negotiations, Ayatollah Khatami said, everyone should help the negotiators - "warriors on the diplomacy front" - to accomplish their tasks. - 6/13/15

Iran: Hardliners to work against lifting of ban on women in stadiums
After years of debate over the attendance of Iranian women at sports venues to watch athletic events, and recent announcements by the administration that the ban against their presence is now lifted, extremists in the Islamic Republic establishment have begun a campaign to exclude women from entering sports stadiums. - 6/13/15

Protocols of the Hackers of Zion?
Just how diversified and developed Israeli hi-tech innovation has become was revealed the very next morning, when the Russian cyber-security firm Kaspersky Labs, which claims more than 400 million users internationally, announced that sophisticated spyware with the hallmarks of Israeli origin (although no country was explicitly identified) had targeted three European hotels that had been venues for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. -Marsha B. Cohen - 6/12/15

POLL: American Jewish Support for Iran Deal Exceeds Support Among General Population
American Jewish support for an agreement with Iran exceeds support for the deal among the general US population, according to a new poll. American Jews express strong support for a final agreement with Iran that increases inspections in exchange for economic sanctions relief. Fifty-nine percent say they would support such a deal, compared to 53 percent of American adults in an April CNN poll that asked the same question. -J Street - 6/12/15

Deal or No Deal, Iran's Economy Will Continue to Grow
"The official response of [Iran] to sanctions has been framed as the Economy of Resistance, but essentially, it is a blueprint for economic reform," said Dr. Bijan Khajehpour, Managing Partner at the Vienna-based Atieh International Consultancy, speaking at the Wilson Center last week on the economic significance of a nuclear deal for the Iranian economy. -Ala Hashami-Haeri, NIAC - 6/12/15

Gas superpower Iran to invest $100 billion
Iran says it needs $100 billion of investment in its gas industry as updated BP data put the energy superpower's reserves above those of Russia as the world's largest. "Natural gas will be the main fuel in the next 20 to 30 years," international affairs director at National Iranian Gas Co. Azizollah Ramezani has said. - 6/12/15

Son Of Iranian Ex-President Rafsanjani To Be Jailed For Ten Years
An appeal court in Iran has upheld a 10-year jail sentence against Mehdi Hashemi, the son of Iran's ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, following his conviction on corruption and security crimes, a judiciary spokesman said on June 10. - 6/12/15

The Illusory Sectarian War in Yemen
The Houthis' advance through much of Yemen has defied most expectations. Even those powers most strongly invested in the country's future misjudged the group. Leading the pack is Saudi Arabia, whose air campaign-meant to germinate an effective coalition of adversaries-has backfired, as the Houthis gained further ground. The other major power pegged to this conflict, Iran, likewise failed to grasp the full potential of the Houthis. -Henry Johnson, LobeLog - 6/12/15

Street Fighting Man
Ali Ettehad on performance art in Iran and his struggle to bring it to the public --- When it comes to contemporary art in Iran, one often hears about the country's bustling gallery scene, its innumerable painters, photographers, and sculptors, and the prices set by local artists in auctions both at home and abroad. What one rarely hears about, however, is performance art, a medium with a relatively shorter history in Iran, and one that has been given far less attention by artists and audiences alike. -Joobin Bekhrad, Reorient - 6/12/15

Behnaz Shafiei rides bikes against laws and convention in Iran
Women are banned from riding motorcycles in public in Iran, but Behnaz Shafiei is working hard to break the status quo. -The 26-year-old has been riding for 15 years and, under the veil of her helmet, is regularly thought to be a man by onlookers. -BBC - 6/12/15

Acclaimed Iranian Musician Denied Tehran Concert In Brewing Culture Row
An iconic U.S.-based Iranian musician was set to delight music lovers in Tehran this week in what reportedly would have been his first concert in the country of his birth for several years. For fans of Kayhan Kalhor, it sounded too good to be true. And unfortunately for them, it was. - 6/11/15

Iran's National Orchestra resumes activities after 3-year hiatus
Iran's National Orchestra has resumed its activities after a 3-year hiatus in the capital, Tehran. Conducted by maestro Farhad Fakhreddini, the orchestra celebrated its return with a concert held at Tehran's Vahdat Hall on Wednesday. - 6/11/15

Tehran gallery holds "Mourning for Trees of Vali-e Asr Avenue"
An exhibition underway at Tehran's Jinus Gallery explores an environmental catastrophe by displaying 60 photos of the dried out stumps of cut down plane trees that once adorned both sides of Vali-e Asr Avenue, the longest street of the city. The photos are from Hassan Qadyani's collection "Mourning for Trees of Vali-e Asr Avenue". - 6/11/15

Anti-Iran Crowd Label Lew a "Chamberlain"
Amid this sort of contempt for American presidents and pro-Israel stalwarts like Dershowitz, it should come as no surprise that attendees at the latest Post conference in New York over the weekend booed U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Lew appeared at the conference to make a case for Obama's diplomacy with Iran. -Ali Gharib - 6/11/15

Fourth Persian leopard found dead
Head of North Khorasan provincial Department of Environment office has announced the discovery of the corpse of fourth Persian leopard since the beginning of the current solar year (beginning March 2015). - 6/11/15

The Bomb Iran Lobby Gears Up for 2016
In a recent TV ad, a van snakes its way through an American city. As the driver fiddles with the radio dial, dire warnings about the perils of a "nuclear Iran" spill out of the speaker from Senator Lindsey Graham and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The driver then steers the vehicle into a parking garage, drives to the top level, and blows it up in a blinding flash of white light. Words shimmer across the screen: "No Iran Nuclear Treaty Without Congressional Approval." -Sina Toossi, LobeLog - 6/11/15

Iranian film 'Cechanok' to screen at Open City Documentary Festival in London
This observational, almost wordless documentary takes us into the strange & fascinating world of Arabic falconry, from the catching of a field mouse in Iran through to the competitive falcon shows of Abu Dhabi. - 6/11/15

Switzerland, Austria Investigate Alleged Spying At Iran Nuclear Talks
Authorities in Switzerland and Austria say they have started investigating possible espionage at nuclear talks involving Iran and six major powers that were hosted by both countries. The announcements come after Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab said on June 10 that a computer virus was used to hack into venues linked to the negotiations. - 6/11/15

Preserving Traditional Persian Cooking Is This Young Iranian Chef's Mission
In the bustling metropolis of Iran's capital city of Tehran, one afternoon TV show still manages to draw thousands of viewers, even after nearly two decades. Bahooneh - or "an excuse" in Farsi - is the nation's longest running cooking show, hosted by Iran's first male Chef, the 45-year-old Saman Golriz. -Jackie Abramian, Huffington Post - 6/11/15

A Rapprochement or Just Wishful Thinking?
Not until his second term in office was secured, did President Obama dare to openly redress America's foreign policy trends in the turbulent Middle East, especially with regard to Iran. I say "openly" because the mismanagement of America's policies in that region has been less the result of a misreading of the issues, but more due to the fact that implementing corrective measures that best suited America's best interests would run against the powerful and influential special interest lobbies that control the Congress and help formulate the public opinion. -Kam Zarrabi - 6/10/15

Mike Rostampour: A rising basketball player
Following is an interview with Michael Maziar Rostampour, a young Iranian-American and a rising basketball player: "Life inspires me. Every day I have two goals. To be the best person I can be, and to be the best basketball player I can be. I truly believe I will play in the NBA some day soon; whether it is next year or in 5 years. That is the ultimate goal and that is where I know I will be. I believe that in my heart and soul." - 6/10/15

Iranian official calls for day to promote abolition of child labour
Shahindokht Molaverdi, the vice president of Women and Family Affairs, is pushing to include a date on Iran's official calendars to focus attention on the abolition of child labour. June 12 is registered on many countries' calendars as a day to mark the Abolition of Child Labour. - 6/10/15

Iranian scientists unveil domestically made surgery robot
Iranian scientists have unveiled the first domestically made high precision remote surgery robot. Avicenna, specifically designed to carry out laparoscopic operations, was unveiled during Iran's Second International Innovation and Technology Exhibition (INOTEX 2015) on Tuesday. - 6/10/15

Iran, China, Indonesia finalize refinery deal
Iran, China and Indonesia have reached a final agreement on building a refinery on the East Java island to process 150,000 barrels per day of heavy crude oil, an Iranian official said on Wednesday. - 6/10/15

Dust storms in Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran force residents inside
Storm winds reaching up to 115 kilometres per hour have forced residents in Sistan-Baluchistan Province to stay in their homes due to high volumes of dust and particles in the air. Sixteen years of drought in the Sistan-Baluchistan region and seasonal winds that now last 180 days per year instead of 120, have aggravated the problem of dust storms in the region. - 6/10/15

EU Delegation In Iran 'Blocked' From Speaking To Media
Reports say Iranian security personnel stopped a delegation from the European Parliament from speaking to foreign media in Tehran on June 7. The delegation, headed by Germany's Elmar Brok, had planned a press conference at their hotel at the end of a two-day visit. - 6/10/15

Washington's Great Game and Why It's Failing
For even the greatest of empires, geography is often destiny. You wouldn't know it in Washington, though. America's political, national security, and foreign policy elites continue to ignore the basics of geopolitics that have shaped the fate of world empires for the past 500 years. -Alfred McCoy, LobeLog - 6/10/15

Iran Threatens to Take Legal Action If US Stops New Mahan Planes
Iran will take legal action if Washington tries to stop newly-acquired Iranian passenger planes flying international routes, the head of the country's aviation authority said on Tuesday. -Reuters - 6/10/15

Iran is opening 150 alcoholism treatment centers, even though alcohol is banned Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options Resize Text Print Article Comments 3
The Iranian government is stepping up its attempts to tackle alcoholism, a senior health ministry official told the ISNA news agency on Monday, with more than 150 outpatient alcohol treatment centers slated for opening in the near future, six of which will also have facilities for inpatient detoxification. -Adam Taylor, Washington Post - 6/10/15

No, Iran Isn't Destabilizing the Middle East
As the nuclear negotiations with Iran enter what may be their final lap, diehard opponents of any agreement with Tehran have been leaning more heavily than ever on the theme that Iran is a nasty actor in the Middle East intent on doing all manner of nefarious things in the region. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 6/9/15

Jailed Washington Post Reporter Defends Himself Before Secret Iranian Court
The mother of detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian said on June 8 that Iran has charged her son for "reporting on a country that he loves," as he addressed the judge overseeing his closed-door espionage trial. - 6/9/15

Former Ahmadinejad aide arrested on unknown charges
Iran's judiciary has announced that Hamid Baghai, who was the executive assistant to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was arrested on Monday June 8. When the Rohani administration took over in 2013, financial fraud charges were brought against a number of top officials in the Ahmadinejad administration. - 6/9/15

Longtime Iranian television producer gets jail sentence
Mostafa Azizi, the Iranian television producer who has been jailed in Iran since February, has been sentenced to eight years in jail. News of Azizi's sentence was confirmed on the Facebook page of his son, Arash Azizi. Mostafa Azizi is reportedly charged with "assembly and collusion against national security, acting against national security and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic". - 6/9/15

Reviving the Iran-North Korea Axis
When George W. Bush put Iraq, Iran, and North Korea into his infamous "axis of evil" speech in 2002, the three countries seemed to have little to do with one another- except that Washington didn't like them (and they didn't like Washington). Iran and Iraq were enemies, not allies, and the inclusion of North Korea was meant largely to underscore that the "global war on terror" was not a war on Islam. -John Feffer - 6/9/15

US exports to Iran rise sharply
Figures published by the US Census Bureau reveal that US exports to Iran in the first four months of 2015 have seen a sharp year-on-year increase. According to the data, the US exports to Iran between January and April 2015 reached $98.2 million, some 60% higher than the same period in the previous year. - 6/9/15

More Iranians arrested due to social media activity
The spokesman for Iran's judiciary announced that five people have been arrested for their activities on social media networks. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a press conference on Monday June 8 that five individuals who used online networks and mobile phones to rally people to the streets have been arrested. - 6/9/15

Iranian Oil Minister: US, European firms welcome
International oil companies have told Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh they would return quickly to Iran if sanctions were lifted, he has said. Zangeneh said both US and European companies are welcome. "Of course, Americans are higher in terms of technology. The Europeans don't have any particular advantage. But we are open for all." - 6/9/15

The Campaign to Save Iran's Endangered Noses
How is beauty defined? What pressures do women face when trying to live up to these definitions and established standards? A Facebook page called "Iranian Women Up Close" has taken on these questions and concerns, offering a place for Iranian women to debate the concept of beauty and share their experiences. -Mahrokh Gholamhosseinpour, Daily Beast - 6/9/15

The gender politics of Iran's nuclear policy
Defenders of Iran's nuclear programme speak in terms of protecting female honour from the 'inspections' of intrusive foreigners -Maysam Behravesh, Guardian - 6/9/15

Photos: Baluch girls wearing "Chakan" dresses
The dresses of these baluch girls are ornamented by the art called 'Chakan-douzi,' which is a tradition among girls and women in Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeastern Iran. - 6/8/15

Evin Memorial Campaign
On Monday May 11, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the former Tehran police chief and current mayor of Tehran, made statements about the need for green spaces in the capital, then expanded on recent speculation about the transformation of Evin Prison into a public park. - 6/8/15

American 'super angel investor' says interested in Iran start-up market
Top American start-up investor David McClure has expressed interest in investing in Iran's nascent start-up market. "I hope to visit Iran in the future. We will see how that arrangement plays out," said McClure, who has invested in more than 1,000 start-up firms all around the world and is often described as one of the super angel investors. - 6/8/15

Centuries-old trees in Iran's Fars province destroyed by fire
Reports from Fars Province indicate that forest fires have destroyed 110 hectares of trees, including the 800-year-old trees of Miyanjangal. Miyanjangal is covered by 50 hectares of forest and parts of it are protected. - 6/8/15

Iranian Health Ministry Interferes In Nursing Elections
After a year of protests by the nursing community in Iran and the issuance of open letters and petitions, the ministry of health is now declaring a large number of nurses ineligible to participate in the College of Nursing elections. - 6/8/15

Iran rolls out huge untapped riches
Iran seeks to chisel out a name among the world's major miners, courting international prospectors into a sector which boasts some of the world's most stupendous riches but remains vastly underdeveloped. - 6/8/15

NIAC Welcomes Resumption of Services for Iranian Physicians by ECFMG
National Iranian American Council (NIAC) welcomes the resumption of services for Iranian physicians by the the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the primary organization that verifies educational credentials for Iranian physicians seeking to practice in the U.S. and Canada. - 6/6/15

Report says Iranians spend nine hours a day on social media
Iran's deputy sports minister reports that three-fifths of Iranians use Facebook, adding that they spend an average of nine hours on social media websites every day. The nine hours of daily Facebook use by Iranians is despite the fact that Facebook is filtered by Iranian authorities and users in Iran cannot access it without proxies used to break through such blocks. - 6/6/15

For Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley Is the American Dream
In the maze of offices at Rackspace on Folsom Street, Shahin Shadfar points to a small row of disheveled chairs and overturned computer mice lined up against a grey wall of cubicle space: This is where his team sits. Shadfar walks into a lounge to talk about an app called Zurf, his latest venture, which comes on the heels of several successes in other tech projects across the nation. -Joseph Jaafari, 7x7 - 6/6/15

Iran says welcomes investments by US companies in its oil projects
Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says the country welcomes the participation of American corporations in its oil projects. "We welcome the presence of American oil companies in Iran," Zangeneh has been quoted as saying by the country's local media. "We will definitely prepare the grounds for the presence of American oil companies in Iran". - 6/6/15

The Myth of Iran's Military Mastermind
He's been called the "single most powerful operative in the Middle East today" and nicknamed "Supermani," but is Qasem Suleimani, the suddenly omnipresent commander of Iran's expeditionary Quds Force, suddenly coming down to earth? -Jacob Siegel, Daily Beast - 6/6/15

Iranian entrepreneurs thirst for foreign funding, expertise
The desire to do more is gripping an increasing number of young, tech-savvy Iranians, who have used their country's isolation under U.S. and EU sanctions as well as domestic censorship of foreign rivals to develop home-grown versions of Amazon, eBay or YouTube. -Georgina Prodhan, Reuters - 6/6/15

OPEC holds firm on production quotas despite price collapse
OPEC announced, after a meeting on Friday June 5, that it is not adjusting its production quotas. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said that despite the 40-percent decrease in the price of oil in the past year, it will maintain output at 30 million barrels a day. - 6/6/15

Armenia to sell Iran gas pipeline to Gazprom
Armenia will sell its section of an Iranian gas export pipeline to Russia's Gazprom, Deputy Energy Minister Ara Simonian has said. The takeover of the 41-kilometer-long pipeline, however, will not allow Gazprom to "mess with" gas imports from neighboring Iran, Simonian said. - 6/6/15

Iran startups open biggest event in Berlin
Iranian entrepreneurs and business owners gathered in Berlin Thursday for a three-day startup conference to explore opportunities in Iran's hi-tech sector. Renowned American startup guru David McClure opened the iBRIDGE Berlin conference with a keynote speech to more than 80 business owners coming from Iran, Europe and the US. - 6/5/15

More Distortions on Iran from the Times
On Tuesday, The New York Times published what appeared at first to be a troubling update on the state of Iran's nuclear program. In a piece headlined "Iran's Nuclear Stockpile Grows, Complicating Negotiations," the paper's chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger and science reporter William J. Broad discuss a May 29 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran's compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. -Derek Davison - 6/5/15

Update on ECFMG Sanctions Issue Impacting Iranian Physicians in U.S.
Since news broke that the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates ("ECFMG") has suspended processing requests from Iranian physicians regarding authenticating medical credentials, NIAC has been in contact with ECFMG, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") to urge a speedy resolution to this pressing issue. - 6/5/15

Iranian Nationalist-Religious Activist Given Heavy Jail Sentence
Hossein Rafiei, a Nationalist-Religious political activist, has been sentenced to six years in jail and he is barred from political and media activity for two years. A Nationalist-Religious website reports that Rafiei was charged with "activity and membership in the Nationalist-Religious Council, propaganda activities against the Islamic Republic regime by giving interviews to anti-regime media and issuing statements threatening security and using satellite equipment". - 6/5/15

Congress and Political Prisoners: Condemning Iran, Helping Egypt
On Tuesday morning, family members of three Americans held prisoner by the Iranian authorities and relatives of another, Robert Levinson, who disappeared there years ago, testified before Congress. These are the people who most miss Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, my friend Jason Rezaian-all dual Iranian-American nationals-and Levinson. "For over three years, our family has been living a nightmare," Hekmati's sister Sarah told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 6/5/15

Dust storms hit one Iranian province, will soon hit others
Eastern Azerbaijan Province has been put under emergency alert with dust storms moving into the region on Thursday June 4. Hamid Ghassemi, the head of the provincial Environment Department, said air quality in Tabriz and a number of other cities is cause for concern. - 6/5/15

Israel Military Cautiously Upbeat on Iran Nuclear Deal
The Israeli military cautiously welcomed on Thursday the expected international deal which would curb Iran's nuclear program, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lobbied for tougher terms to be imposed on Tehran. -Reuters - 6/5/15

Samore Strays Off UANI's Reservation Again
It appears, however, that Samore has not yet gotten the memo. At a Wilson Center event on Wednesday that featured a very persuasive new report by the strongly pro-diplomacy Iran Project (covered earlier today by Henry Johnson for LobeLog), UANI's president stood by his support for the deal. He was also optimistic that the remaining gaps between the parties will indeed be bridged. "Both sides are too close to the finish line to turn back now," he said. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 6/5/15

Young Iranians find their footing high above ground in the extreme sport of slacklining
Kiavash Sharifi can hardly describe the feeling of tip-toeing across an abyss on a thin ribbon of webbing that bends ever so slightly downward. He's part of "Iran Slackline," a group of friends who have had to find their own footing in a country with no formal institutions for the sport. They must make much of their equipment by hand or acquire it abroad -- including safety devices. -AP - 6/5/15

The Illogic of Opposing Obama's Nuclear Deal
A new report by the Iran Project elaborates on the basic reasons for supporting the comprehensive nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and the U.S. The report, authored by distinguished former diplomats including Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Paul Pillar, demonstrates why Iran's current leadership is unlikely to violate a final deal. -Henry Johnson - 6/4/15

Iran, P5+1 begin new round of nuclear talks in Vienna
Representatives from Iran and the P5+1 have kicked off a fresh round of nuclear negotiations on drafting the text of a final deal over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. On Thursday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi sat down for talks with European Union deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid - 6/4/15

Female genital mutilation practised in Iran, study reveals
The first authoritative study into female genital mutilation in Iran has found the practice is being carried out in at least four major provinces while officials are silent on the matter. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 6/4/15

Iran, China work to resurrect Silk Road
Iran is participating in an ambitious Chinese plan to resurrect the Silk Road which aims to connect Asia to Europe and Africa through a network of roads, railways, ports and airports. - 6/4/15

Iranians choose leisure over late leader's remembrance
Despite efforts by the Islamic Republic establishment to present the anniversary of the passing of Iran's late leader as a day of public mourning, Iranians are using it as a day for leisure and travel. It's especially true this year as the public holiday falls on Wednesday June 3, creating a long weekend up to Saturday. - 6/4/15

Iran's return to oil market gradual: Oil Minister
Speaking during an address to the 6th OPEC International Seminar in Austrian capital city of Vienna, the Iranian minister added, "Immediately or one month after the sanctions are lifted, we will pump half a million barrels per day to the market and after 6-7 months, we will reach one million barrels [a day] and I don't believe that with the maturity of OPEC it will have a bad effect on the market." - 6/4/15

Ninety percent of Iranian households hooked on satellite programs
Iran's Association of Psychologists reports that over 90 percent of Iranians now watch satellite programming, which includes both secular and religious families. Association member Azim Darayi told ISNA that by virtue of satellite programming, "America has army forces" inside every Iranian household. - 6/4/15

How to succeed in Iran: lessons from Russia and China
As the Hassan Rouhani government woos western capitals in anticipation of a nuclear deal and the end of sanctions, foreign investors eying opportunities in Iran would do well to remember the lessons from the economies of the crumbled Soviet Union circa 1991 or gaizhi-era China over a decade later: strengthen your legal team, treat trust like a commodity, and beware of cephalopods. -Guardian - 6/4/15

Why Israel Will Not Wage War On Hezbollah This Summer
It's been such perennial for nearly a decade now that we can almost call it a tradition. Every year since 2006, at roughly the same time in late spring, some analysts, officials, or other informed observers confidently predict a major rematch between Israel and Hezbollah for the upcoming summer. Why summer? -Aurelie Daher, LobeLog - 6/4/15

Iranian-Americans among awards recipients from the World Affairs Council
Each year, the World Affairs Council and its project the Global Philanthropy Forum hosts an Awards Dinner to honor Bay Area leaders who have significantly influenced the world in which we live, work and learn. Three Iranian-Americans were among this year's award recipients: Noosheen Hashemi, Bita Daryabari and Shervin Pishevar - 6/3/15

The Additional Protocol and Beyond: A Legal and Political Point of View
Nobody knows the exact content of the Additional Protocol signed by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in December 2003. That protocol was designed to complement and reinforce the somewhat outdated Safeguards Agreement signed by the same two parties in 1973, which entered into force the following year. -Francois Nicoulaud - 6/3/15

Young Iranian Activist Sentenced to 12.5 Years in Prison for Facebook Posts
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced artist and civil rights activist Atena Faraghdani to a total of 12.5 years in prison for drawings and content critical of the government that the young activist posted on her Facebook page. - 6/3/15

Families Of Americans Detained In Iran Want U.S. Action
The families of four Americans detained or missing in Iran gave moving testimonies on June 2 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the plight of their loved ones while calling on the U.S government to do more for their release. - 6/3/15

Should the Next President Kill an Iran Deal?
So far, the 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls fall, with the possible exception of Rand Paul, into one camp on Iran policy. They're all against the developing nuclear deal. Some, like Scott Walker, have even already vowed to abandon the deal on "day one" if elected. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 6/3/15

Dozens Of Iraqis Killed In Iran Road Accident
At least 24 Iraqi tourists have reportedly died after their bus plunged off a mountain road into a river valley in northern Iran. Iranian state media said at least 15 passengers were injured in the accident, which happened in the Alborz Mountains late on June 2. - 6/3/15

Russia to build Iran's 2nd, 3rd nuclear power plant units in fall
The head of Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom says Moscow will start the full-scale work on the construction of the second and third units of Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) later this year. - 6/3/15

Americans Scour Tehran for Assets as Iranians Open Doors
He was one of about 20 foreigners brought to Tehran for a tour last month by Turquoise Partners, a local firm which asked that the visitors' names not be published for fear that competitors might swipe clients and because international sanctions remain in place. -Golnar Motevalli, Bloomberg - 6/3/15

Why Iran's Revolutionary Guard backs a nuclear deal: It's just business
The Guard is known for its hard-line rhetoric. But years of presiding over lucrative enterprises have created a more business-first mentality that sees an opportunity in sanctions relief. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 6/3/15

Iran's homegrown treasure: the spice that costs more than gold
It is the most expensive and sought after spice in the world, commonly known as red gold. At $65 per gram for the highest quality crop, Saffron can actually cost even more than the precious metal. Its value has been kept permanently high by labor-intensive harvesting methods that require around 200,000 delicate red strands to be hand-picked from 70,000 Crocus Sativa flowers for each pound. -CNN - 6/3/15

Iranian Conservative Cleric Calls Iran's Veiling Policy Wrong-Headed
A conservative Iranian cleric has sharply criticized enforcement of the obligation for women to wear the Islamic head scarf, or hijab, since the 1979 revolution and the creation of Iran's Islamic republic. Speaking last week on the compulsory hijab at a seminary in Qom, conservative home to many of Iran's senior clerics, Zaeri was quoted by Iranian news sites as saying: "I strongly believe that the policy of mandatory hijab has been totally wrong." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 6/2/15

Obama: No Military Answer to Iran's Nuclear Program
U.S. President Barack Obama says diplomacy, not military action, is the only way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Obama made his comments in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 television, parts of which were broadcast Monday. -Ken Schwartz, VOA - 6/2/15

Luxury train carrying foreign tourists arrives in Tehran
The Thousand and One Nights luxury train carrying more than 70 foreign tourists has arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran. The group of 74 tourists was welcomed by the Deputy Head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Morteza Rahmani-Movahhed and a group of journalists at Tehran's railway station. - 6/2/15

Iran's Medical Heritage: Symposium on a Millennium of Contributions
A one-day symposium in London looking at the contribution of Iranians in the field of medicine from the 9th to the 21st century. From Rhazes and Avicenna to the present day, Iranians have been in the forefront of medical history. - 6/2/15

Iran's Grave Addiction Problem: 33% Rise in Drug Use Among Women
The number two official at Iran's drug control agency (Setade Mobareze ba Mavade Mokhader), Ali-Reza Jazini, announced this week that while urban centers rather than the countryside receive more attention in battling drug abuse, today drug abuse has become a growing issue in provincial rural areas as well. -Niusha Saremi - 6/2/15

Al Pacino's Producer on Iran Nuclear Deal's Possible Effect on Film Industry
Hollywood producer Barry Navidi has returned to his native Tehran after more than 15 years, just as Iran and the U.S. finesse final details of a possible nuclear accord that he and others hope may also help forge closer cinematic ties between the two countries. Navidi spoke with to Variety in Tehran during the International Urban Cities Film Festival. -Variety - 6/2/15

Iranian woman breaks new ground by joining wrestling body
Farnaz Panahizadeh is the first Iranian woman to become a member of the international wrestling federation's Women and Sport Commission. Panahizadeh is the head of the international department of the Wrestling Federation in Tehran and is the first Iranian woman to serve on a United World Wrestling commission. - 6/2/15

Rohani Vows Iran To Back Syria Till End
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has vowed his country will back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until the end. Official Iranian media said Rohani made the remark on June 2 during a visit to Tehran by Syria's parliament speaker, Mohammad al-Laham. - 6/2/15

Iran's Mahan Air to fly Airbus despite US threat
Iran's Mahan Air will begin Wednesday using the first of eight Airbus aircraft purchased recently on the international route, the Fars news agency reported. The US government imposed sanctions on two aviation companies in Iraq and the UAE for selling the commercial aircraft to Iran. - 6/2/15

Iran's military mastermind promises a 'surprise' in Syria
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani has vowed that upcoming developments in Syria will soon "surprise" the world, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported. -Business Insider - 6/2/15

Bayonne's Pavarotti: County park a stage for opera singer practicing his craft Read more: Hudson Reporter - Bayonne s Pavarotti County park a stage for opera singer practicing his craft
He can be seen five nights a week on the wooden pedestrian walkway by Newark Bay in Stephen R. Gregg Park, arms spread apart and singing, like a bird ready to take flight. In his dramatic tenor voice, Hossein Aghabeikzadeh, 72, may seem like a character out of a Broadway play, but he is more the common man's performer in a blue-collar town, practicing his craft and communing with nature. -Joseph Passantino, Hudson Reporter - 6/2/15

FIVB World League: Iran volleyball squad defeated by host US in Los Angles
Iranian men's national volleyball team has been defeated by host US in the second match of the 2015 Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World League. Iran is set to take on Poland on June 5 and 6 and will play against Russia on June 13 and 14. - 6/1/15

Iran Again Rejects International Inspections of Nuclear Sites
Iran reiterated Saturday that international inspectors would not be given access to the country's military sites, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met in Geneva to try to secure a nuclear deal. - 6/1/15

Iran raps Canada for stopping verification of Iranian medical credentials
Iran has criticized Canada's "discriminatory" move to stop verifying the authenticity of credentials issued for the graduates of Iranian medical schools. "Instrumentalizing the right of education, which is among the fundamental rights of humans, is an incorrect and discriminatory measure," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, said on Sunday. - 6/1/15

Sohrab Sepehri's painting sold for $845K at 4th Tehran Art Auction
The fourth Tehran Auction has broken the all-time record of Iran's art auctions thanks to the sale of a painting by Iranian renowned poet Sohrab Sepehri for over $845,000, which brought the total revenue of the sales to over $6.4 million. - 6/1/15

First Christian football captain in Iran as Rouhani puts focus on minorities
"I'm happy that as a Christian I play in a Muslim team," Andranik Teymourian said in a recent interview. "I have Armenian roots but I hold the Iranian passport and I'm proud of that, I hold my flag high. I hope I can enhance the good reputation of Armenian people in Iran." -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 6/1/15

Kerry Spends Night In Swiss Hospital After Cycling Accident
Kerry had met on May 30 with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva for talks on an agreement to curb Iran's controversial nuclear program, which is due by June 30. But Kerry's accident has raised concerns that lengthy rehabilitation could hamper the nuclear talks and other diplomatic initiatives. - 6/1/15

Light Earthquake Hits Town Near Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant
Authorities in Tehran say a magnitude-4.4 earthquake has jolted a sparsely populated district about 110 kilometers northwest of Bushehr, the location of Iran's only operational nuclear power plant. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. - 6/1/15

ISIS calls on Saudi youth to rise up and kill Shias
ISIS forces in Saudi Arabia are calling for the ethnic cleansing of Shias from the Arabian Peninsula. A report from Rueters quotes a U.S. monitoring body saying on Saturday that the Saudi Arabia arm of ISIS is calling on all Saudi youth to join its lines in order to realize this objective. - 6/1/15

Security official says he's among Iranians sought for interviews
Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran's Supreme Security Council, says he is the first person on the list of Iranian figures with whom Western countries are seeking interviews in connection with the nuclear negotiations. - 6/1/15

Can We Continue the Iran Interim Agreement Indefinitely?
Earlier this week, Yishai Schwartz, an associate editor at the legal blog Lawfare, put up a thoughtful post on the Iran nuclear negotiations proposing an alternative to making a nuclear deal with Iran. His proposal? Briefly stated, it is to more or less permanently extend the interim deal struck in November 2013, known as the Joint Plan of Action, or JPOA. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 6/1/15

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