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Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamiar Alaei: Conveying a Message of Hope through Education
PAAIA interviewed Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamiar Alaei to discuss their imprisonment in Iran, their ambitions to provide medical education to displaced Syrian refugee students, as well as their aspirations to inspire the next generation of students to become doctors. - 9/30/16

Iran-Europe nuclear cooperation growing: Atomic Organization Chief
Iran's nuclear chief says cooperation with Europe in the area of nuclear technology is on the rise, more than a year after a landmark nuclear deal was inked between Tehran and six world powers. Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi made the remarks after visiting a nuclear hospital in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday. - 9/30/16

With civilian drone competition, Iran battles against brain drain
At a manicured technology park outside Tehran, drone builders vied for prize money. But the contest also sought to provide team members with hope for a future in Iran. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 9/30/16

Iranian Union Leader: Less Pressure on Teachers Thanks to Rights Activists
The leader of Iran's largest teachers' rights organization has said that due to pressure from civil rights activists, the government of President Hassan Rouhani has been less repressive towards teachers' rights activists since the signing of the nuclear deal in July 2015. - 9/30/16

Iran Unveiled: The Street Photography Collective That Shows the Softer Side of Iran
Iran Unveiled, an artist collective made up of nine Iranian photographers in their 20's and early 30's, aims to show a side of Iran that's often missing from its portrayals in Western media by inviting its viewers on a walk through Iran, one photograph at a time. -narratively - 9/30/16

This is what climate change is doing to Iran
Lake Urmia, in the mountains of northwestern Iran, was once a source of national pride and one of the country's top tourism destinations. It's emerging now as something else entirely: Iran's most visible symbol of the damage being wrought by global climate change. -Yochi Dreazen, Vox - 9/30/16

Under the Shadow: feminist Iranian film is one of the best horrors of the year
Under the Shadow, a horror set in 1988 Tehran and Iranian director Babak Anvari's first feature, took Sundance by storm. Out this week, it is not only one of the best horror films this year but also the newest feminist reading of the genre. -The Conversation - 9/30/16

Upholding 16-Year Prison Sentence of Iranian Political Prisoner Narges Mohammadi is Indefensible
The upholding of the 16-year prison sentence against human rights defender Narges Mohammadi by Iran's Appeals Court for her peaceful work is cruel and indefensible, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a statement today. Mohammadi, winner of the 2011 Per Anger Prize for her activism in human rights, was arrested in 2009 - 9/29/16

OPEC Agreement Overcomes Saudi-Iran Rift, Spurs Rally On Global Markets
OPEC's agreement to mend an internal rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran and curb production surprised global markets and sparked powerful rallies from Wall Street to Hong Kong. Oil analysts said the deal was a major breakthrough as it included a major concession by Saudi Arabia to let Iran keep increasing its production to levels that prevailed before international sanctions. - 9/29/16

Donald Trump: The American version of Ahmadinejad?
Broadly, in assessing the likely direction of policy under either of the two (U.S. presidential) candidates, one has to expect that Trump would follow through on his rhetoric and take a hard line on Iran. Trump is plainly populist and unpredictable - an American version of Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But even to him, a US policy initiative to tear up the nuclear deal must look like only adding to the problems of a murderously chaotic region. -Michael Axworthy - 9/29/16

2016 Annual Mehregan Conference at University of California, Irvine
Join Farhang Foundation and the Jordan Center for Persian Studies at the University of California, Irvine for the 2nd Annual Mehregan Conference! Featuring: THE MANY VOICES OF MOWLANA by Professor Alan Williams of the University of Manchester; ATTAR AND HIS SOCIETY by Dr. Soheila Saremi of Saddleback College; Musical Perforamnce by the Traditional Persian Quartet - 9/29/16

In memory of Iranian American physicist Ali Javan: 1926-2016
A respected and accomplished Iranian American physicist, Javan was a professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Co-inventor of the gas laser in 1960, he secured his spot among the great scientific minds of the 20th century, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1964 for his contributions to the fields of laser spectroscopy and quantum physics. - 9/29/16

The world's fastest animal is in a race for survival in Iran
The three-acre hilltop park overlooking Iran's smog-blanketed capital might seem like a nice spot for romance. But the couple has not been in the mood. Delbar, a 4-year-old female Asiatic cheetah, was brought to the fenced enclosure at Tehran's Pardisan park by conservation officials who hoped she would mate with Koshki, a 10-year-old male. -Los Angeles Times - 9/29/16

Foreign tourist visits fetches Iran $24B in 3.5 years: Official
Some $24 billion came into Iran over the past three and a half years because of foreign tourists, the deputy director of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), Morteza Rahmani-Movahhed, said on Monday. More than 16 million foreign tourists have visited the country during the mentioned period, ISNA quoted him as saying. Each traveler has, therefore, spent $1,500 on average in the country, Rahmani-Movahhed explained. - 9/29/16

'It's wonderful to be home,' Homa Hoodfar says after landing in Montreal
Homa Hoodfar arrived in Montreal this morning to hugs and cheers after being detained in an Iranian prison since June. "It's wonderful to be home and united with family and friends again," Hoodfar said at a news conference at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, as she smiled and clutched the hand of her niece, Amanda Ghahremani. -CBC/Radio-Canada - 9/29/16

Iranian Kurds Bolster Anti-IS Forces in Iraq, Syria
Hundreds of Iranian Kurds are bolstering Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq as volunteers in the fight against the Islamic State, according to fighters and Kurdish sources in Iraq and Syria. The Iranian Kurds are choosing to volunteer, working outside Iran's official military involvement in the region. -Mehdi Jedinia and Sirwan Kajjo, VOA - 9/29/16

Austria's OeKB raises Iran export financing
OeKB's export insurance cover for exports to Iran has increased to 1 billion euros from 280 million euros. The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CBI) says Austrian export credit agency OeKB has raised its cover for Iran transactions to 1 billion euros - 9/29/16

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2016: Russia outlast Iran to make final
Russia booked their place in the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 final after outlasting Iran 4-3 in Tuesday's semi-final in Medellin. Iran will play in Saturday's third-place match against the loser of Wednesday's semi-final, also in Cali. - 9/28/16

'I'm Lake Urmia' campaign seeks international support to save Iran's salt water lake
The "I'm Lake Urmia" hashtag is a newly initiated campaign spearheaded by the public aims to collect one million signatures to push the United Nation to take serious measures to restore the lake. Launched in late August in the platform of social media, the campaign was first supported by actor Reza Kianian and later was taken up by other actors, politicians, and athletes. - 9/28/16

Oil Prices Plunge As Saudi-Iran Split On Output Freeze Resurfaces
Oil prices plunged anew as signs of discord reemerged between Iran and Saudi Arabia over an oil production freeze being pushed by the Saudis and Russia. At a meeting of the OPEC oil cartel in Algeria on September 27, Iran rejected an offer by the Saudis to cut their oil production if Tehran agreed to freeze its output at its current level of 3.6 million barrels a day, OPEC officials said. - 9/28/16

Australia hails 'dawn of new age' in Iran ties
Iran and Australia have signed fresh agreements to forge closer ties, with Austrian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo announcing the dawn of a new age of relationship. Ciobo is leading a trade delegation of more than 20 companies to Tehran, seeking out opportunities, buoyed by the prospects in Iran's mining, oil and gas, and other industries as well as the near 80 million population. - 9/28/16

Baha'i Student Expelled and Banned from University for His Faith
Iranian authorities have ignored requests to reinstate a student expelled from a university because of his faith. Nineteen-year-old Faraz Karin-Kani Sisan was expelled from Ghiyaseddin Jamshid Kashani Institute for Higher Education (GJKI) in Abyek, Alborz Province, 62 miles northwest of Tehran, after completing his second term in development studies. - 9/28/16

Iran's gas exports up 3.4% in first half of 2016
Iran's gas exports reached near 4 billion cubic meters in the first six months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-September 21), registering a 3.4 percent rise compared to the same period in the preceding year, Shana quoted a gas official as saying on Tuesday. - 9/28/16

Did AIPAC Pocket Its Iran Deal Fundraising Revenue?
Last year, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) led the charge against the Obama administration's efforts to reach a diplomatic resolution to concerns about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Indeed, in many ways, AIPAC became the face of the opposition to Obama's signature second-term foreign policy initiative. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/28/16

President Rouhani: Governments encouraging citizens to visit 'safe' Iran
Iran's huge investment in security has borne fruit which include drawing foreign investment and tourists, said President Hassan Rouhani. Speaking at a ceremony to mark World Tourism Day (Sept. 27), he said, "Today, even the governments which used to issue warnings to their citizens against traveling to Iran, now acknowledge that Iran is a secure tourist destination." - 9/27/16

Tehran on Mastercard's top ten fastest growing destinations list
Tehran comes ninth among the top ten fastest growing destination cities, according to the annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index report which released on September 22. The bustling yet historical Iranian capital has witnessed a growth of 12.98 percent in terms of the international overnight visitor arrivals - 9/27/16

Airplanes collide in minor accident in Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport
Two Iranian passenger planes belonging to Mahan Air and Iran Air collided in Imam Khomeini Airport on Tuesday, an official said. Spokesman for the Civil Aviation Organization Reza Jafarzadeh told IRNA that the incident was a minor one which caused no casualties. - 9/27/16

Ahmadinejad Confirms He Won't Seek Reelection
Former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad says he will not seek reelection in the country's 2017 presidential vote, one day after media reported that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had told him not to run. - 9/27/16

Shiraz in Shiraz: Why wine is integral to Persian culture
IT IS easy to assume that Iran has never been a site of drunken revelries. Westerners imagine Iranians to be a homogenously pious and modest group, and so suppose that viticulture is wholly foreign to them... Yet suggesting that drinking is a quasi-blasphemous act obfuscates the fact that alcohol-and wine in particular-has been an inextricable part of Iranian culture and identity for millennia. Indeed, current estimates suggest that Iranians imbibe around 60m litres of alcohol a year despite the government crackdown. -Economist - 9/27/16

Iran, Japan seal deal to fund petrochemical plans
Iran says Japan has agreed to fund the development of some of its petrochemical projects - a groundbreaking move that could open the way for similar funding mechanisms for other sectors in the future. - 9/27/16

Raag and Roll
Qais Essar doesn't play in a rock and roll band, nor does he want to; he's too cool for that. He'd rather stick to his guns and play the twangy lute he was born to strum: the robab, which, like he himself, hails from beautiful Afghanistan. Qais has long been plucking the strings of his robab, and has just released a new album, Tavern of Ruin, as well as a charming and otherworldly promotional video for one of its songs, which is enjoying its debut, well ... here on REORIENT. -Joobin Bekhrad - 9/27/16

Iran Releases Canadian-Iranian Professor Detained on 'Security Charges'
Iran says it has released a retired Canadian-Iranian professor, who had been detained on "security charges." A foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, said Homa Hoodfar was released on humanitarian grounds. - 9/26/16

Opposition against Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) gains momentum in Iran
Iran is seeing its most vociferous outcry yet over the use of genetically-modified ingredients in food production. Opponents of food products with GMOs have recently elicited fatwas from top clerics, declaring commercial sale and cultivation of genetically-altered crops "not permitted." - 9/26/16

PHOTOS: Iran launches production line for Zolfaqar missiles
Iran launched production line for its first solid-fuel pin-point precision and long-range missile dubbed Zolfaqar on Sunday. Zolfaqar missile is the first Iranian missile using solid fuel with a range of 700 kilometers and high-precision guide capability. - 9/26/16

Iran to dispatch 3,500 skilled manpower to Ireland: Deputy Minister
Deputy Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Amin Sazegarnejad said on Saturday that somer 3,500 Iranian skilled manpower in the fields of Hoteliering and culinary will be dispatched to the Republic of Ireland. Iran and Ireland have signed a memorandum of understanding to that effect. - 9/26/16

Iran's first online census gets into high gear
Iranians have begun taking part in the country's first national online census, with one official saying general response on the first day was "unprecedented". Ashkan Shabbak, head of the supervisory committee on the census, told IRNA news agency on Sunday that he expected 35% of Iranians to fill out online version of the survey. Those who do not use the Internet will be surveyed in October. - 9/26/16

​Iran introduces own credit cards
Iran has introduced credit cards for the first time in what appears to be a plan to encourage spending by the public. The credit cards will be presented to applicants with three limits of Rials 100 million ($3,000), Rials 300 million ($10,000) and Rials 500 million ($15,000). They can be used for purchases in shops or online, the media reported. - 9/26/16

Congress: DIY Approach to Saudi Arabia
If there were a "basket of deplorables" for foreign countries, Saudi Arabia would surely be in it. The Saudi government holds one of the world's worst records on religious freedom and women's rights, and harbors one of the most repressive media environments. Saudi forces have committed "gross and systemic" violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen... -Diana Ohlbaum, LobeLog - 9/26/16

Defying prejudice, Islam's mystical, musical strain appeals to New Yorkers
Every Thursday night, the music of a tanbour, a long-necked stringed instrument, resounds across the wooden floors of a Manhattan room, wrapped with warm Persian rugs. Barefoot men and women create circles and sway to the cadence of the melody. -Economist - 9/26/16

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2016: Drama as Iran clinches win at the death to reach semifinals
Iran clinched a FIFA Futsal World Cup semi-final place for the first time since 1992 as Ahmed Esmailpour struck deep into extra time to see off Paraguay 4-3 in an incredible climax during Bucaramanga's final game of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. - 9/25/16

Italian Navy Ship Docks In Iran
An Italian navy ship has docked in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the first official visit by a Western naval vessel to the country in 15 years. The Italian Navy said the visit comes as part of the resumption of "historic and excellent relations" between the two navies. - 9/25/16

Syria as Metaphor
Syria is a nightmare for individuals, millions of them. But it's not just that. If states could dream, then Syria would be their nightmare as well. This scenario might seem unique. It isn't. Disharmonious pluralism has become the new global standard. Other countries - Turkey, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the EU, even the United States - gaze upon the Syrian example and tremble. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 9/25/16

US vows to change course on JCPOA: Iran's President Rouhani
Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Tehran from New York on Friday, Rouhani added that the ministerial meeting of a commission established to monitor the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) confirmed that the US is not complying with the nuclear agreement. "The Joint Commission verified the Islamic Republic of Iran's stance and did not see the US conduct as consistent with the JCPOA," the Iranian president said. - 9/24/16

Director of "Kami's Party" asks Iranians to download his banned film and donate to charity
Protesting against the banning Ali Ahmadzadeh put a copy of his film on the internet for free download and asked those who downloaded it and were eager to pay, to donate the money to the Children's Charity Refaah. According to the director, Kami's Party attempts to depict the relationships between young members of today's Iranian upper class which, for reasons unknown, have never been depicted in any other Iranian film. - 9/24/16

Iran not interested in any provocation with US: FM Javad Zarif
The Iranian minister made the remarks in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, on Friday, in response to a quote, raised by the interviewer, from US Republican presidential nominee Donald trump, who had said he would shoot the Iranian ships out of the Persian Gulf. - 9/24/16

Saudis offer oil production cut deal if Iran freezes output
Saudi Arabia has reportedly announced that it is ready to reduce its oil production provided that Iran agrees to cap its own output over the remaining months to the end of 2016. Reuters has quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Saudi offer, which is yet to be accepted or rejected, was presented to Tehran earlier this month. - 9/24/16

Iran: The Calligraphic Challenge
Mehdi Saeedi turns words into art. The Iranian graphic artist has transformed Farsi script into posters, paintings, and other works. He has taken a traditional form, calligraphy, and made something even more startling and beautiful from it. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 9/24/16

Inside Iran: Middle East marvel has been off limits for years but is now welcoming Westerners with open arms
The scorching desert sun has just set behind the majestic, centuries-old Khaju Bridge. But its ancient arches now glow bright yellow in the night sky and set the scene for a wonderful spectacle. The people of Isfahan meet beneath the lights here - and on the Zayandeh River's other crossings - every evening to socialise. -Ben Rankin, The Mirror, UK - 9/24/16

Apple iPhone Has A One Billion Dollar Market in Iran
There are 5M to 6M iPhones in Iran. With the recent report from the Iranian officials, 100 thousand new smuggled iPhones get activated in the country each month. That's about 1.2M new iPhones being imported illegally into the country each year which is a one Billion dollar market in Iran. -Techrasa - 9/24/16

Iran's President Rouhani Urges Implementation of Nuclear Deal at UN
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani used his speech at the U.N. General Assembly to urge the United States to step up implementation of the landmark nuclear deal and to rebuke Saudi Arabia for its actions in the region. "The lack of compliance with the JCPOA on the part of the United States in the past several months represents a flawed approach that should be rectified forthwith," Rouhani told the annual gathering of leaders - 9/23/16

Iran Complying With JCPOA: EU Foreign Policy Chief
Speaking at a press briefing following a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1 group of countries - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, Federica Mogherini said the common assessment was that Iran was living up to its commitments under the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). - 9/23/16

Kahrizak Torture Victim Rejects Former Tehran Prosecutor's Apology for Detainees' Deaths
Reza Zoghi, who was tortured at the Kahrizak Detention Center in south Tehran where three young men died as a result of the torture, has rejected an apology from then-Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi. "His apology is an insult," Zoghi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 9/23/16

Ahmadinejad advised by the Supreme Leader not to run for president: Report
On Monday Fars published a note by its former director Mehdi Faza'eli in which he said former president Mahmud Ahmadinejad has been advised not to run for the next year's presidential election. - 9/23/16

​Iran, Japan to devise economic roadmap
Iran says it is ready to work with Japan on devising a 10-year roadmap to expand economic relations between the two countries. The announcement was made by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during his meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York. - 9/23/16

Ancient Settlement Uncovered In West-Central Iran
According to Ghafour Kaka, the head of exploration expedition at the site of Sarsakhti castle hill in an eponymous village in Shazand: the results of cultural findings of archaeological excavation of the area and its surrounding show it has been inhabited since Neolithic age (8000 years ago) until the Qajar Era. - 9/23/16

Iran says purchases from Boeing 'easier'
Iran says it expects the proceedings to purchase planes from US aviation giant Boeing to proceed faster than those with Airbus. "Negotiations with Boeing started much longer [after Airbus] but it appears they will lead to success sooner," said Asghar Fakhriyeh Kashan, Iran's deputy minister of roads and urban development. - 9/23/16

With Boeing Deal, Americans Are Coming to Iran
Long before the first newly purchased Boeing airliner lands at Imam Khomeini International Airport, Iran and the United States will have had to come to terms with a new reality: American citizens will once again be taking up residence in Tehran, the first to do so since the Islamic Revolution and subsequent hostage crisis in 1979 and 1980. -Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times - 9/23/16

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2016: Iran heads to quarterfinals after stunning win over Brazil
Iran defied the odds against Brazil in a match that also defied belief. As expected, A Selecao controlled the early exchanges and went two goals up thanks to Falcao. The Asian champions quickly pulled a goal back and remained in contention through to the closing stages, eventually forcing extra time and penalties, where they finished the job off and ended an era. - 9/22/16

Airbus, Boeing Get U.S. Approval To Sell Planes To Iran
The U.S. Treasury Department has granted licenses to Airbus and Boeing to sell jet planes to Iran in multibillion-dollar deals. - 9/22/16

Iran's Nuclear Program and International Law
Anyone who took an interest in the diplomatic twists and turns that finally resulted in last year's Iran nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) are likely to enjoy Iran's Nuclear Program and International Law by Daniel H. Joyner, professor of law at the University of Alabama. -Peter Jenkins - 9/22/16

UN aid covers less than 3% of Iran's spending on refugees: Interior Minister
The Iranian interior minister says the UN has failed to provide Tehran with sufficient aid to help the country cover the expenses of the services it is offering to refugees on its soil, particularly Afghan nationals. Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli made the remarks in a Tuesday meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi in New York. - 9/22/16

Iran: Ailing Reformist Journalist's Prison Sentence Reduced
Prominent reformist journalist Issa Saharkhiz's prison sentence has been reduced based on Article 134 of the New Islamic Penal Code, his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaee, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 9/22/16

Iran's President Rouhani demands political settlement of Syria conflict
"What is of utmost importance is to understand that Syria doesn't have a military solution. And the Syrians' problems must certainly be resolved politically. Only politically," Rouhani said in an interview with NBC television news network on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. - 9/22/16

Women in Iran defy fatwa by riding bikes in public
Women in Iran have been posting photos on social media of themselves riding bicycles, defying a fatwa forbidding them from cycling in public. It had been understood women that could cycle as long as religious concerns were respected. But when asked recently, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said women were not allowed to cycle in public or in the presence of strangers. -BBC - 9/22/16

Persian Food Primer: 10 Essential Iranian Dishes
A visit to Iran yields a stunning variety of culinary delights. Between the familiar kebab and the decidedly outré grilled lamb's testicles, there's a vast spectrum of foods: caviar, pickle, and smoked fish in the north; samosas, falafel and hot and sour shrimp in the south; noodles, flatbread and rosewater-scented ice cream across the country. -Louisa Shafia, Food Republic - 9/22/16

Iran president arrives in New York for 71st UN General Assembly session
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has arrived in New York to participate in the 71st annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. Heading a high-ranking politico-economic delegation, Rouhani arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday - 9/21/16

Females outnumber males in 2016 university admissions in Iran
As the final results for the Iranian university entrance exam, also known as Konkur, was announced, females who got admitted into the universities outnumbered males. According to Sanjesh Organization, an Iranian organization in charge of coordinating and administrating Konkur, 57 percent of those admitted into the universities are females. - 9/21/16

Reformist Editor Arrested Ahead of President Rouhani's Trip to the United Nations
Sadra Mohaghegh, the social affairs editor of the reformist Shargh newspaper, was arrested on September 19, 2016, but the circumstances surrounding his arrest and the charges against him are unclear, according to his lawyer. - 9/21/16

Iran Marks War Anniversary With Military Parades
Various divisions of Iran's Armed Forces are holding annual military parades on the first day of the Sacred Defense Week, which marks the 36th anniversary of the eight-year Iraqi war on Iran. - 9/21/16

Mark Kirk's Surprising Disinterest In Boeing's Iran Sales
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) opposes pretty much anything that might take the pressure off Iran. He called Obama the "drug dealer in chief" for delivering $400 million in cash to the Islamic Republic as part of a settlement for money owed to Iran since 1979. He has gone so far as to say that "it's okay to take food out of the mouths" of the Iranian people to punish their government for its behavior. -Eli Clifton - 9/21/16

Our Hardliners Are Still Helping Iran's Hardliners
The unrelenting urge among American politicians to keep punishing Iran--or more precisely, to be seen supporting steps with that objective--continues to work against sensible statecraft and U.S. interests in multiple respects. One of those respects concerns how measures taken by the United States affect political competition within Iran. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 9/21/16

Smoking ban in public places in Iran to go into effect from September 22nd
Iran will start banning smoking in public spaces from September 22, a decade after a relevant legislation was ratified, IRNA quoted the secretary general of Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association as saying on Monday. "Smoking claims 65,000 lives in Iran annually," Masjedi regretted, an alarming figure that has to concern the public. - 9/21/16

Ending the Iran-Saudi Cold War
In January, Saudi Arabia severed formal diplomatic ties with Iran after a row over its execution of a prominent Shia cleric ended with angry protestors attacking its Tehran embassy. Diplomacy has since been replaced by an ever-escalating war of words, and tensions have reached an all-time high. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Sina Toossi - 9/20/16

President Rouhani visits Havana, urges enhanced Iran-Cuba trade ties
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the need for the promotion of all-out relations between the Islamic Republic and Cuba, particularly trade ties, following a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers. Rouhani arrived in Havana on Monday September 19, 2016 and was officially welcomed by President Raul Castro - 9/20/16

IRAN: On Hunger Strike, Imprisoned Music Distributors' Health Deteriorates
Imprisoned music distributors Mehdi Rajabian and Hossein Rajabian are in poor health after starting a hunger strike on September 8, 2016 in Tehran's Evin Prison. The brothers are protesting being held in separate wards and the denial of access to medical care. - 9/20/16

Journalist With Reformist Daily Arrested In Iran
A journalist with Iran's reformist Sharq daily has been arrested in Tehran. Sadra Mohaqeq was arrested on September 19 at his home in the Iranian capital, reports said. The reason for his arrest is not clear. - 9/20/16

Iran's exports to EU rise despite hurdles
Official figures show Iran's non-oil exports to Europe are increasing in what is interpreted as a sign of growing interest of European consumers in Iranian products. Figures released by Iran's Customs Administration show that the value of the country's non-oil exports to Europe stood at $643 million over a period of five months starting March 20, 2016. - 9/20/16

The Subtle Secrets Of Persian Home Kitchens
It's a little strange to ponder how closely Naomi Duguid's cookbooks track with President Obama's foreign policy initiatives; those aren't typically two topics one discusses in the same breath... Today, as her new book Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan is released, the U.S. and Iran have signed a comprehensive nuclear deal and newly relaxed sanctions have sent waves of Western tourists to Tehran and beyond. -Roads and Kingdoms - 9/20/16

First Boeing Jet Joins Iran's Naft Airline: Report
Iranian Naft Airlines, a homebound charter airline providing passenger and cargo services to Iran's Ministry of Petroleum, says it has received the first Boeing jet. The aircraft, one of the four Boeing 737 single-aisle jetliners bought from the US aviation company, was delivered to Naft Airlines on Sunday - 9/20/16

Iran Sentences Lebanese IT Expert To 10 Years In Prison
A Lebanese information-technology (IT) expert detained in Iran for more than a year has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $4.2 million, his supporters say. Nizar Zakka, a Washington resident, was detained in September 2015 in Tehran after attending a government-organized conference on entrepreneurship and employment, where he was a panelist. - 9/20/16

Utah State Senator's Summer Visit to Iran Sparks Firestorm
A Utah state senator who traveled to Iran last week has set off a firestorm there, where hard-liners accuse him of being "part of a major Western project to infiltrate'' the country as authorities imprison others with ties abroad. -AP - 9/20/16

Persian Gulf incidents spike, sending message from Iran hardliners
Iran and the US have been provoking each other militarily for more than 30 years, engaging in a volatile tug-of-war in the Persian Gulf, where one-third of the world's seaborne oil supply travels through the Strait of Hormuz. But threatening incidents have spiked recently, with at least 32 reported so far this year, compared with 23 in all of 2015. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 9/20/16

Contesting the U.S.-Saudi Bromance With 1,000 Cuts
On September 8, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a bipartisan resolution, SJ Res 39, to disapprove the $1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia notified to Congress on August 8. New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich joined SJ Res 39 as a co-sponsor on September 13. -Robert Naiman, LobeLog - 9/20/16

Tributes paid to late Iranian cyclist Golbarnezhad at Closing Ceremony Of 2016 Paralympics
Athletes and spectators observed a minute of silence in memory of Iran's cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad who died after crashing in a road race during the Paralympic Games, during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday. - 9/19/16

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Iran sitting volleyball crowned
Iran's national team of sitting volleyball has been crowned as the gold medalist of Paralympic Games in Brazil. The Iranian outfit managed to beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 at Riocentro, Rio de Janeiro, on Sunday, winning the prestigious gold for the sixth time in the Paralympics. - 9/19/16

PHOTOS: The 4th "Art For Peace" Festival at Iranian Artists' Forum in Tehran
The fourth term of "Art for Peace" Festival opened at Iranian Artist Forum on 15 September 2016. 140 artists are exhibiting their works in painting, photography, Sculpture, installation, video art, music and performance at various galleries of Iranian House of Artists. - 9/19/16

Iran urges U.S. to unblock aircraft deals, seeks investors
Iran urged the United States on Sunday to remove remaining obstacles to buying passenger planes following the lifting of international sanctions and it spread out the welcome mat to foreign investors as it seeks to boost its aviation sector. -Reuters - 9/19/16

Lecture by Homa Sarshar at UC Davis - Incast and Outcast: Yesterday, Today, and Everyday A Story of Personal Experience
Homa Sarshar is a published author, award-winning journalist, writer, media personality, philanthropist, and arts advocate. She is the author of four books and the editor of eleven other volumes, including five volumes of the Iranian Women's Studies Foundation Journal and four volumes of The History of Contemporary Iranian Jews. Herlatest book Sha'ban Jafari was the number one best seller Persian book in Iran and abroad in the year 2003. - 9/19/16

Sen. Dabakis returns from Iran with hopes of healing divide
Utah state senator Jim Dabakis just returned from a summer trip to Iran. "The people in Iran love Americans. We could not go down any city street without people following us, talking to us and inviting us to their home," said Dabakis. He believes the people of Iran are ready to mend relations even if their government is not. -Heidi Hatch, KUTV - 9/19/16

Iranian Paralympic Cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad Dies Day Before Closing Ceremony
A minute of silence will be held at the Sunday's 2016 Paralympic closing ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in honor of an Iranian cyclist who died in a road race on the penultimate day of the Rio Games. Bahman Golbarnezhad crashed in the C4-5 event at the first portion of the Grumari loop on a mountainous descent of the cycling course. - 9/18/16

Pouran Derakhshandeh's "Hush, Girls Don't Scream" wins two awards in U.S.
Iranian film 'Hush, Girls Don't Scream', by Pouran Derakhshandeh, won the Best Feature Film and Best Actor awards at the 12th Action on Film Festival held in Monrovia, California. - 9/18/16

Iran's largest aviation event opens in Tehran
Airline companies from around the world are attending a major conference in Tehran, scoping out what many believe is set to be a promising market. The two-day CAPA Iran Aviation Finance Summit opened at Novotel Imam Khomeini International Airport on Sunday with the participation of business leaders and representatives of 150 aviation companies such as Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer. - 9/18/16

Tabriz carpet, conveying message of peace and friendship, to be unveiled at WCC 2016 in Isfahan
The carpet being woven by Hamid Kazemnia under the auspices of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization will be unveiled at the 18th General Assembly of the World Crafts Council, which will be held in the city of Isfahan from September 24 to 27. - 9/18/16

Absolute distrust in US important part of Iran's soft power: Supreme Leader
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says absolute distrust in hegemonic powers topped by the United States is an important component of Iran's soft power and this distrust must increase on a daily basis. The Leader made the remarks in a meeting on Sunday with commanders and high-ranking officials of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran on on Monday - 9/18/16

NAM indisputable part of solutions to world crises: Iran's President Rouhani
"At the current juncture, NAM member states more than ever require solidarity, convergence and coordination. The truth is that as a bloc that comprises about two-thirds of the United Nations members, we are an undeniable part of the solutions to the challenges facing today's world," Rouhani said at the opening ceremony of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela, on Saturday. - 9/18/16

Powell Acknowledges Israeli Nukes
According to hacked emails reviewed by LobeLog, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged Israel's nuclear arsenal, an open secret that U.S. and Israeli politicians typically refuse to acknowledge as part of Israel's strategy of "nuclear ambiguity." Powell also rejected assessments that Iran, at the time, was "a year away" from a nuclear weapon. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/18/16

PHOTOS: Mass Daf Performance In Sanandaj
A thousand players of Daf musical instrument have performed together at 6th National Daf Festival in the city of Sanandaj for the first time in Iran's history. The group included thousands of men and women of various ages from Sanandaj, wearing traditional Kurdish clothes. - 9/17/16

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Iran's sitting volleyball team cruises into final
Iran's sitting volleyball players have managed to book a place in the final fixture of the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, following a sweeping victory over the hosts. On Friday evening, the Iranian squad achieved a remarkable 3-0 win, with set scores of 25-20, 25-19 and 25-17, against the Brazilian side at the massive Riocentro - Pavilion 6 indoor stadium. - 9/17/16

Iran's Entry For The Academy Awards: "The Salesman"
Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi's acclaimed movie "The Salesman" was selected on Saturday as Iran's submission to the 89th Academy Awards in the best foreign language film category. A committee of nine film experts was assigned by Iran's Farabi Cinema Foundation to choose the county's submission to the Oscar race. "The movie was selected by a majority vote," committee spokesman Amir Esfandiari said in a press release. - 9/17/16

Can International Cooperation Revitalize Wetlands on Afghanistan-Iran Border?
Efforts to revive the Hamoun wetlands on the Iran-Afghanistan border are intensifying. A recent panel at the Atlantic Council described international involvement as vital both to help resolve this environmental challenge and to raise awareness about the devastating impact of climate change on the region. -Fatemeh Aman - 9/17/16

12 Organizations Write Congress on Potential Iran Sanctions Act Debate
Washington, DC - A dozen national organizations that have supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) delivered a letter to Congress today outlining key considerations for any potential debate over legislation to extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (ISA), which is set to expire at the end of the year. - 9/17/16

Iran parliament endorses new oil contract
Iran's parliament has given the go-ahead to the government to put a new oil contract model into effect, the Ministry of Petroleum's Shana news agency reported on Saturday. The new formula, which has drawn criticism from some politicians and experts, was reviewed by a parliamentary panel but not voted by lawmakers. - 9/17/16

Israel Gives Up Little to Get Largest Ever U.S. Arms Deal
Despite the tensions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the United States and Israel have finally signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). After pushing off negotiations until the Iran deal concluded, Netanyahu has "settled" for the largest military aid package to any country in the history of U.S. security assistance. The deal will provide Israel $38 billion over ten years starting in 2019. -Seth Binder, LobeLog - 9/17/16

Iranian Woman Archer Zahra Nemati Takes Paralympic Gold
Iran won their second archery gold at Rio 2016 on Thursday (15 September), after Zahra Nemati claimed the women's individual recurve open title. "There was just a feeling that I had that I knew I was going to win today," Nemati said. "That's why I was very calm and relaxed. I just knew I could do it. - 9/16/16

World's Strongest Paralympian: Iranian powerlifter Siamand Rahman breaks world record
Iran's heavyweight powerlifting champion Siamand Rahman has smashed three world records and won the gold medal at the Rio Paralympics. In his first attempt in the +107kg category, Siamand Rahman lifted 270 kilograms and broke the Paralympics record at Rio's Riocentro Pavilion 2 on Wednesday. - 9/16/16

Remembering Akbar: Inside The Iranian Revolution
Nearly 40 years ago, a major revolution took place in Iran to overthrow the Western backed-Shah. The Iranian revolution was a pivotal moment in world history that continues to have repercussions today. A legacy of the late 1970s that remains intact in today's Iran, is the imprisonment of dissidents. Iran's infamous practice of incarcerating people for political reasons forms the basis of a beautifully written story by Behrooz Ghamari called Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution. - 9/16/16

Trump: Americans Have 'Big Hearts' But Cannot Risk a Flow of Refugees
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Tuesday that the American people have "big hearts" but cannot "take the risk of refugees." Trump answered questions before a primarily pro-military crowd in Virginia Beach, Virginia with retired General Michael Flynn, a strong Trump supporter, doing the asking. - 9/16/16

Iran rejects UN rights chief statements as 'untrue'
Iran has dismissed as "untrue" a recent statement by the UN human rights chief, in which he has criticized what is said to be Tehran's lack of interactions with his office in recent years. - 9/16/16

Iran's Qassem Soleimani rejects remarks over presidential candidacy plan as deceitful
Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, in comments on Thursday lambasted "the enemies" for what he called "deceptive and divisive remarks," rejecting speculations over plan to run for the upcoming presidential election in Iran. - 9/16/16

Ramblings of an Iranian Wino
I was at that little hole in the wall again, as usual. I winced at the sensation of cool droplets trickling down my back and sides, yet didn't doff my tweed blazer or the green scarf tossed around my neck in beggarly fashion; somehow, they seemed to complement the mood of the evening. If you listened hard enough, you could hear, amongst the clanking of bottles and boorish banter, the Kinks playing on the stereo. -Joobin Bekhrad, Reorient - 9/16/16

Soft Power is Key to Iran's Success
While much is made of Iran's hard power, the recent nuclear deal hints at the prospect of the country's untapped soft power being far more central to its long-term success in the 21st century. As the 13th-century Persian poet, Jalal ad- Din Muhammad Rumi, wrote: "Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder." - Sam Sasan Shoamanesh, Huffington Post - 9/16/16

Flowers for Ahmadinejad
The Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") today fined a company a whopping $4,320,000 for selling things to Iran. Oh wow, you say, this must have been some really bad stuff like, say, high-powered computers or drones, right? Yep, really dangerous stuff -- flower seeds. As in, the things you bury in your backyard and hope sprout up as zinnias. -Export Law Blog - 9/16/16

To repeat, my main interest in the Clinton/Trump rivalry in their campaign for the presidency of the United States is how each candidate might affect the prospects of a rapprochement between the world's greatest economic and military superpower, and the Middle East's most consequential counterweight, Iran. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 9/15/16

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Iran's Sareh Javanmardi wins 2nd shooting gold medal
Iranian female sports shooter Sareh Javanmardi has received a second gold medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. -On Wednesday, the 31-year-old sportswoman participated in P4 mixed 50-meter pistol SH1 competitions at the Olympic Shooting Center in the western Rio neighborhood of Deodoro. She racked up 189.5 points to claim the top position and finish as champion. - 9/15/16

Group Photo Exhibition in Berkeley, California: Iran Unveiled
A unique photo project, curated by San Francisco local Mahya Jaberiansari, and co-curated by local artist Arash Shirinbab. The collection allows you to experience the country up close and personal, through the lens of 9 Iranian photographers residing in Iran and America. - 9/15/16

Calling Iranians "Descendants of the Magi" Is Actually a Compliment
Recently, the chief mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh, said that Iranians are Majus. This is the Arab name for Iran's Zoroastrians, who were the majority of the people at the time of the Arab invasion of Persia in the 7th century AD. The mufti was implying by this statement that Iranians are not Muslims. This belief is neither new nor limited to the Saudis or the Wahhabis. -Shireen T. Hunter - 9/15/16

Iranian Military Threatens To Shoot Down Two U.S. Planes Over Gulf
Tehran's military threatened to shoot down two U.S. Navy planes over the Strait of Hormuz in the latest tense encounter in the Persian Gulf. Iranian air-defense stations warned the U.S. aircraft as they were flying in international airspace on September 10 that they were nearing Iranian airspace and "we will fire Iranian missiles" if they did not change course, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Commander Bill Urban said on September 13. - 9/15/16

Is Wahhabism to Blame for al-Qaeda and ISIS?
Late last month, Microsoft apologized after online users observed that Bing's translation of Daesh-what many Arabs call the Islamic State (ISIS or IS)-was "Saudi Arabia." According to Microsoft's official apology, Bing relies on a crowdsourcing translation method in which it promotes an alternative translation if at least 1,000 users suggest it. Despite Microsoft resolving the issue, which caused many Saudis to lash out against the multinational technology giant on social media, the episode highlighted an argument made by many pundits: Wahhabism (the kingdom's dominant sect of Sunni Islam) and IS/al-Qaeda's extremist ideology are one in the same. -Joseph Cozza and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 9/15/16

Iran sitting volleyball defeats Ukraine to book a place at Paralympics semis
Iran's sitting volleyball team defeated Ukraine 3-0 (25-22, 28-26, 25-20) in Pool B of the 2016 Paralympic Games. Hadi Rezaei's team has been scheduled to face host Brazil on Friday. - 9/15/16

Iranian MP backs FATF deal, calls it a banking must
The opponents say if Iran becomes a member of the FATF, then it should consider restrictions for some organizations, including the IRGC-controlled Khatam al-Anbiya construction company, as long as they are backlisted by the U.S. There are others who also cite accession to the money laundering body a national security threat, fearing disclosure of the Iranians' banking information. - 9/15/16

UK blocks Iran's gas revenues over sanctions
The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) says Britain has blocked the revenues it has been paid from selling the natural gas of a field it jointly owns with BP in the North Sea. - 9/15/16

There Is No Military Path to Victory in Afghanistan
Few will say it, but the facts are indisputable: America's war in Afghanistan has failed. There comes a time when persisting in a lost cause amounts to foolishness, indeed irresponsibility. That time has arrived. -Rajan Menon, LobeLog - 9/15/16

Notorious former Tehran prosecutor issues public apology for prisoner killings
Former Tehran Prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, accused of orchestrating the abuse and death of political detainees during the election protests of 2009 in Iran, has issued a public letter addressed to the judge apologizing to the survivors and families of the victims. - 9/14/16

On the Eve of Hajj, Saudi and Iranian Officials Try to Define "Muslim"
Top Iranian and Saudi officials traded barbs earlier this week over who is and isn't a true Muslim, deepening the Middle East's most prominent, longest-running, and deadliest diplomatic crisis. On September 6, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, pronounced that Iranians, no doubt to the great surprise of many of them, are not actually Muslim -Derek Davison - 9/14/16

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Iranian archer Gholamreza Rahimi grabs the gold
Iranian Paralympic archer Gholamreza Rahimi has collected another gold medal for the Iran at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On Tuesday, Rahimi recorded an impressive performance in the final match of men's individual recurve section - 9/14/16

Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism
Saudi Arabia's effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran. The fanciful notions that regional instability will help to "contain" Iran, and that supposed rivalries between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are fueling conflicts, are contradicted by the reality that the worst bloodshed in the region is caused by Wahhabists fighting fellow Arabs and murdering fellow Sunnis. -New York Times - 9/14/16

Iranian Translator in Prison for One Year Without Knowing Charges; Her Lawyer Denied Access to Case File
Translator Marjan Davari has been held in Evin Prison's Women's Ward for almost a year without knowing the formal charges against her and while being denied proper legal counsel and medical treatment, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. - 9/14/16

4 injured as fire breaks out at petrochemical plant in southern Iran
Fire has erupted at a petrochemical plant in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr, injuring four people, one of whom is in critical condition. The blaze engulfed the pressure control station at a facility belonging to the Mobin Petrochemical Co. at around 11:00 local time in the province's Asaluyeh County on Wednesday. The incident came in the wake of at least three fires at petrochemical and oil installations in recent months. - 9/14/16

Ex-IRGC chief: Iran should not intensify tension with Saudis
A senior advisor to the Supreme Leader on military affairs has urged elevated relations with the three Arab countries of Oman, Kuwait, and even Qatar amid reservations over already tense ties with Saudi Arabia. "We should increase our relations with Oman, Kuwait, and even Qatar while avoiding intensifying tension with Saudi Arabia," said Yahya Rahim Safavi - 9/14/16

Stealth Sectarianism
Not a week goes by without Saudi Arabia and Iran ratcheting up their war of words. In the latest round of colorful insults, the Iranian leader called Saudi leaders "puny satans" incapable of managing Hajj while the Saudis retorted that Iranians are not real Muslims but, rather, Zoroastrians or "sons of Magi" (no mention was made of Iranian women). -Sanam Naraghi Anderlini - 9/13/16

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Iranian athletes collect four more medals
Iranian sportsmen have collected four medals, including two golds, at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On Monday, Majid Farzin took part in the men's minus 80-kilogram Group A competitions of the tournament at the 6500-seat indoor Riocentro-Pavilion 2 arena, and raised 240 kilograms overhead to stand atop the podium. - 9/13/16

Iran's President Rouhani to pay visits to Caracas, Havana and New York
"At the final stage of the trip, Rouhani will travel to New York for a two-day visit and deliver a speech at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly," Esmaeili said. Rouhani plans to meet world political and religious leaders, political and economic elites and speak to media in New York. - 9/13/16

Isfahan Music Museum: "Captivating, Wonderful"
Isfahan Music Museum features roughly 300 traditional musical instruments, those that are currently being played or used to be practiced across Iran. The private museum, named after the central Iranian city, has been divided into two main sections dedicated to the national and regional musical instruments. - 9/13/16

Five-Year Prison Sentence for Dual National Woman Casts Shadow Over Iran's Opening to World
The five-year prison sentence for Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, a dual citizen of Iran and the UK who has been inside Iranian prisons for the past five months, lacks any legal justification, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a statement today. The Campaign asked the Iranian government to immediately release Ms. Zaghari, as well as the other dual citizens imprisoned in similarly politicized cases. - 9/13/16

FIFA Futsal World Cup: Spain defeats Iran 5-1
Iran men's national futsal team has sustained a stinging defeat at the preliminary round of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Futsal World Cup in Colombia, slumping to two-time world champions Spain. - 9/13/16

IRGC Navy showcases long-range fast cruising vessel
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy has unveiled a domestically-designed and -manufactured long-range and fast cruising vessel with a helipad on its deck to accommodate a helicopter gunship. - 9/13/16

Mark Kirk Wanted Release of Americans Held in Iran Before He Was Against It
Back in March 2015, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) placed the highest priority on seeking the release of Americans held in Iran. He, along with 18 of his Senate GOP colleagues, wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry to urge him "to bring up these cases during communications with Iran and demand the unconditional release of these Americans." In a radio interview on Thursday, Kirk completely abandoned his previous stance of prioritizing the release of Americans. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/13/16

Afghan-Iranian joint production "Parting" represents Afghanistan at Oscars
"Parting", an Afghan-Iranian joint production about love and migration, was submitted to the 89th Annual Academy Awards to represent Afghanistan in the best foreign language film category at the 2017 Oscars. - 9/12/16

US claims of warship harassment in Persian Gulf fictitious: Iran
Iran's chief Armed Forces spokesman has dismissed as untrue US claims that an American warship patrolling the Persian Gulf was harassed by Iranian boats, saying the Islamic Republic's naval forces act according to international law. - 9/12/16

Maman Shamsi's Love Songs: A musical performance by Ziba Shirazi and Mehrdad Arabi
Sunday 13 November, 2016 at 06:00 PM at Morgan Wixon Theatre in Santa Monica, California. Ziba Shirazi is an Iranian‐American poet, singer, songwriter and storyteller. Mehrdad Arabi, an internationally acclaimed Master of Persian music, has received numerous awards for his work from the likes of Daytona Symphony Society, University of Borneo, the City of Madrid and the City of Nicosia in Cypress. - 9/12/16

Iran studying Europe gas export plans
Alireza Kameli, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC), says Iran is studying various options for exports of natural gas to Europe thus again reviving an ambitious plan that had been previously shelved due to sanctions as well as technical problems. - 9/12/16

Iranian Women Stoke Surfing Revolution
An intrepid group of women is riding the waves of change in deeply conservative Iran. "We said, 'Let's make a surf culture here and we can make it grow into a surf school and it can grow bigger and bigger and bigger,'" the 32-year-old events manager Mona Seraji told NBC News. "I was really into surfing my entire life. What could be better than that?" - 9/12/16

Congress Returns, Refocuses on Iran
Congress returned this week from its summer recess -- coming back for a very brief session before it goes back into recess for the final period before November elections. Surprising no one, GOP leaders returned to Washington eager to score points against the Obama administration over its Iran policy - immediately introducing 6 pieces of Iran-focused legislation -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 9/12/16

Iran, China finalize deal on $1.2b refinery project
China's Sinopec and Iran's Oil Ministry have finalized an agreement regarding the development project of Iran's Abadan refinery, Mehr news agency reported on Saturday. Based on the report, according to Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for Refining and Distribution of Oil Products Abbas Kazemi, the first phase of the $1.2 billion project will start in the near future. - 9/12/16

The jungles of Iran's northern Caspian Sea coasts have drawn generation after generation of Iranians looking for a getaway from the country's arid central regions. For Iranians, the word shomal-which means simply "north" in Persian-has become synonymous with vacation. Shomal is a verdant paradise of humid green forests covering high mountains and mile after mile of rice paddies skirting the region's beaches. -Alex Shams, Roads & Kingdoms - 9/12/16

PHOTOS: In Memory of September 11 Victims
The following photographs were captured by Mahshid Modares, an Iranian/American visual artist residing in California, in 2005 (at Ground Zero, New York). The artist states: "People's comments and photographs posted on the fences were equally impressive and vivid. I could feel the sorrow and indignation in every word and every object left in the site. I felt they each deserve to become an art piece to become immortal." - 9/11/16

Iran breaks ground on two nuclear power plants to be built with Russian help
"According to the timetable envisaged, the first and second units will be constructed respectively over 108 and 126 months with the cooperation of Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom)," Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said while attending a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the launch of construction of the two new nuclear power plants. - 9/11/16

Iran welcomes truce agreement in Syria: Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Iran has welcomed a Russia-US mediated ceasefire agreement in Syria aimed at putting an end to more than five years of deadly conflict gripping the Arab country. "The Islamic Republic of Iran always welcomes a ceasefire in Syria and the facilitation of the access of all the country's people to humanitarian aid," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, said on Sunday. - 9/11/16

US lawmakers rush to bar returning Iran money
US Republicans are pushing new bills through Congress to prevent further return of Iranian money held since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Those measures are in response to President Barack Obama's cash payments to Iran this year following a nuclear accord which requires Washington to lift its sanctions on Tehran. - 9/11/16

Tourist guides line up for attending WFTGA Convention in Iran
So far, over 20 tour guides from 10 countries have applied for taking part in the 17th World Federation of Tourist Guide Association (WFTGA) Convention which is to be held in Tehran from January 28 to February 1, 2017. - 9/11/16

Iranian Journalist's Prison Sentence Reduced to Two Years, with Two-Year Ban on Reporting
The 10-year prison sentence of newspaper columnist Afarin Chitsaz has been reduced to two years on appeal and she has been banned from practicing journalism for two years according to the ruling issued by Branch 36 of the Appeals Court on September 5, 2016, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. - 9/11/16

9/11 Anniversary: What could have been!
Fifteen years ago on 9/11, Al Qaeda terrorists changed the course of history, and the consequences of what happened on that day are still very much with us, and are arguably even growing more complex and more dangerous. -Farhang Jahanpour - 9/11/16

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Iran's Sareh Javanmardi Dodmani wins historic gold at women shooting event
Javanmardi made history by becoming Iran's first ever female gold medallist in shooting para-sport winning the P2 (women's 10m air pistol SH1) event. "I am very happy that I could get the very first quota for the Islamic Republic of Iran and the very first gold medal for my delegation," said Javanmardi Dodmani. - 9/10/16

IAEA: Iran Is Keeping Its End of the Nuclear Bargain
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is reporting that Iran has so far complied with its obligations under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which went into effect in January and limits Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons. The IAEA report, which is confidential but was apparently shown to the Reuters news agency, "did not point to any violations in Tehran's observance of the deal" -Derek Davison - 9/10/16

Trump Vows To Destroy Iranian Boats That Harass U.S. Navy Ships
At a rally in Florida on September 9, Trump said he would make the U.S. military "so strong that nobody's going to mess with us," and cited recent incidents where the Pentagon said Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps boats acted aggressively toward U.S. ships. - 9/10/16

UK-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe 'jailed on secret charges'
A British-Iranian mother has been jailed for five years in Iran on "secret charges", her husband says. Richard Ratcliffe said charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in April, had called him from prison and said: "I can't bear to be in this place any longer." -BBC - 9/10/16

Iranian Judiciary Must Stop Punishing Media for Reporting Officials' Corruption
Iran's Judiciary must halt the prosecution of media outlets which carried out their journalist duty in publishing reports on alleged corruption in the Tehran Municipality and City Council, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a statement today. Unless they are found guilty of a crime in court, the websites of these news organizations should be unblocked, the statement added. - 9/10/16

Arrested Afghans Put On Display By Police In Iran, Sparking Anger
Some Iranians and Afghans have taken to social media to condemn authorities in the Iranian city of Shiraz for putting arrested, blindfolded Afghan refugees on display. The criticism came after Iranian media, including the semi-official ISNA news agency, published a series of photographs of Afghans -- who had been detained on suspicion of illegally entering the country -- sitting behind barricade fences wearing white blindfolds. - 9/10/16

The Reconstruction of the Southeast and Turkey's War in Syria
Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on September 4 that Turkey would make a massive investment of $3.4 billion to rehabilitate the heavily Kurdish-populated southeast. The inclusion of substantial economic incentives could push the total package to $140 billion over the coming years. The plan has the support of some of Turkey's largest companies. -Robert Olson, LobeLog - 9/10/16

Montazeri Comes Back To Haunt Tehran Over Mass Killings
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, once in line to become Iran's supreme leader, has come back from the grave to haunt the Islamic establishment that punished him for openly criticizing the regime's mass killing of political opponents in the late 1980s. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 9/9/16

Iran respecting commitments under JCPOA: IAEA
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has once again confirmed Iran's commitment to a landmark nuclear deal it signed with six world powers last year. In another quarterly report on Iran on Thursday, the UN nuclear agency, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the nuclear deal, said Tehran has not exceeded the limits set in the accord on its low-enriched uranium and heavy water stockpile - 9/9/16

Farhad Fakhreddini, conductor of Iran'a National Orchestra, submits his resignation
"Last year, I spent one of the best periods of my career and I had the honor to accompany a group of best musicians during several acclaimed performances. But concerning the orchestra, the officials did not address requirements, and all their efforts led it in a direction that I did not approve of, so I no longer felt it appropriate for me to continue working with the orchestra," noted Fakhreddini who founded the orchestra in 1998. - 9/9/16

Iranian Americans await payoff from nuclear deal
One year since Congress allowed nuclear deal with Iran to go ahead, Iranian Americans say life has only become harder. -James Reinl, Al Jazeera - 9/9/16

RMJM Arta-Tehran appointed to design Iran Historical Car Museum
Also known as the National Car Museum of Iran, the museum is situated approximately 20km west of the capital city, Tehran. It currently houses one of the largest and most valuable car collections in the region, compromising sports cars, limousines, motorcycles and carriages owned by the last Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty, Mohammad Reza Shah. - 9/9/16

Iran's steel exports up 51% last 5 months
Iran's exports of steel ingots and steel products experienced a 51 percent hike in the first five months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-August 21) compared to the same period of time in the past year. According to WSA, Iran was the biggest producer of crude steel in the Middle East in 2013. The country's rank was 14th in the world in 2014. - 9/9/16

Russian banks ready to rush to Iran: Report
Russian banks say they are ready to enter Iran's banking sector and help facilitate the country's overseas transactions particularly now that Western financial institutions are dragging their feet to do so even though sanctions against the country have been lifted. - 9/9/16

Iranian Millionaire Prince Got American Welfare
The wealthy son of an Iranian prince is under investigation for food-stamp fraud in Ohio, authorities say. But Ali Pascal Mahvi, a 65-year-old businessman who lives between St. Lucia and Geauga County, claims he's innocent. -Daily Beast - 9/9/16

Running Toward Dreams: A touring exhibition, including Iranian and American young artists
The University of Arkansas Student Gallery, sUgAR is featuring Running Toward Dreams, curated by Maryam Amirvaghefi and Ziba Rajabi, from September 1st to 25th. This is a touring exhibition, including Iranian and American young artists. The exhibition first showed in Tehran, Iran. - 9/8/16

100 Prominent Iranians Ask UN to Declare 1988 Massacre "Crime Against Humanity"
In a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, one hundred Iranians living outside Iran, including several prominent civil, academic, and human rights figures, have asked for the recognition of the Islamic Republic of Iran's prison massacre of 1988 as a crime against humanity. - 9/8/16

Muslim nations must unite against Saudi crimes: Iran's President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on the Muslim world to join forces and bring the Saudi regime to justice for its atrocities in Muslim countries of the Middle East. The Iranian chief executive highlighted Riyadh's support for terrorism, adding that the regime is "practically spilling the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen through its crimes in the region." - 9/8/16

Iranian Women's Cycling Barred by Law or Sharia?
Tehran police forcefully dispersed a crowd of cyclists who had gathered in Tehran's Laleh park for a weekly gathering of the Tuesdays: No Car Day. On 6 Sept, Tehran police prevented green campaigners from holding a group ride in Tehran. Javad Heydariyan, reporting from Tehran says that the police's action were despite the fact that some government officials were also among the mixed gender crowd. - 9/8/16

Darugheh House in Mashhad wins UNESCO conservation award
The conservation of Darugheh House in the city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran was among the 13 winning projects of UNESCO 2016 Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. According to UNESCO, the conservation of Darugheh House has reinstated a significant component of the historical townscape of Mashhad. - 9/8/16

Strained History: Iran-Saudi War Of Words Over Hajj
An escalating war of words is reaching fever pitch between bitter regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia ahead of this year's hajj pilgrimage, from which Iranians have been excluded for the first time in decades. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL - 9/8/16

Montreal academics push for release of prof detained in Iran
The colleagues of a Canadian-Iranian university professor jailed in Iran are urging governments to apply pressure as her detention enters a third month with no end in sight. Homa Hoodfar, who taught at Concordia University, has been held at Tehran's notorious Evin prison since June 6 and recent reports suggest her health is deteriorating. -CP24 - 9/8/16

Promised Democracy: The Future of Iraq
The current US presidential campaign debate on Middle East policy has focused disproportionately on the US response to the Islamic State (ISIS or IS). This series will focus instead on five alternative Middle East policy challenges facing the next president. This first part discusses the importance of the future of US policy toward Iraq. -Ryan J. Suto, LobeLog - 9/8/16

2018 FIFA World Cup: Iran, China play out goalless draw in qualifier match
Iran's national football team, known domestically as Team Melli, has played out a goalless draw against China in its second encounter at the third round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament. - 9/7/16

Iranian Attack Boat Forces U.S. Navy Ship To Change Course
A U.S. Navy ship had to change course to avoid colliding with an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps attack boat that came within 100 yards of it in the Persian Gulf, Pentagon officials said on September 6. The incident on September 4 was the fourth such encounter in a month. U.S. officials say they are concerned such incidents could lead to mistakes. - 9/7/16

FAO launches four-year holistic program to save Urmia Lake
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) signed an agreement on Tuesday (6 September 2016), with the Urmia Lake Restoration Commission (ULRC) in Tehran at Sharif University of Technology to lend substantive technical assistance for the execution of an integrated programme that aims ultimately to secure sustainable water resources management in the Urmia Lake basin. - 9/7/16

Iran's Zarif Accuses Saudi Authorities Of 'Bigoted Extremism'
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused Saudi authorities of "bigoted extremism" in a war of words over Iran's exclusion from this year's hajj pilgrimage. "Indeed, no resemblance between Islam of Iranians and most Muslims, and bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric and Saudi terror masters preach," Zarif tweeted late on September 6. - 9/7/16

Acid victim accuses producer of the film "Lanturi" of plagiarism
Amaneh Bahrami, an Iranian woman who was disfigured in an acid attack by a man she refused to marry, has accused the producer of the acclaimed drama "Lanturi" of plagiarism. Bahrami has recently appeared in Tehran court and has filed a lawsuit against Reza Dormishian, the Persian daily Sharq announced in its Tuesday edition. - 9/7/16

Iranian Minister Says Tehran Backs OPEC Moves Toward Stability
Iran's oil minister says Tehran would support any decision by OPEC that would add stability to the international oil market. Bijan Namdar Zangeneh made his comments on September 6 after talks in Tehran with OPEC head Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Iranian state TV reported. - 9/7/16

Is the Islamic Republic embracing Iran's ancient past?
Members of Iran's diaspora community tell the tale of Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali mounting a bulldozer in 1979 and attempting to destroy Persepolis. The story represents the Islamic Revolution as having brought to an end a renaissance in the preservation and appreciation of Iran's cultural heritage. It is undeniable, however, that today there is a political will in Iran for it to emerge stronger in the field of cultural heritage protection. -Sasan Aghlani, Al Monitor - 9/7/16

Inside Iran's museum to its wartime past
The Holy Defense Museum may not be the first place travelers would seek out when visiting Iran. In a country with more than 3,000 years of history they're more likely to see the ancient ruins at Persepolis or take a walk through the vast Naqsh-e Jahan square in the city of Isfahan. -Amir Daftari, CNN - 9/7/16

Filmmaker Tahmineh Milani tries her hand at photography
An exhibition of photos by Tahmineh Milani, the director of "Ceasefire" psychodrama, opened at Tehran's Aryana Gallery on Saturday. A number of actors and artists attended the opening ceremony, which was concurrent with the 56th birth anniversary of the director, who is also a graduate of architecture - 9/6/16

Iran Rekindles Flap with Saudi Arabia Over 2015 Hajj Stampede
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has once again questioned Saudi Arabia's ability to manage Islam's holiest sites, accusing the kingdom of murder in last year's deadly hajj pilgrimage stampede. - 9/6/16

Making History: Seema Ghiassi Kennedy, Britain's First MP of Iranian Descent
Seema Ghiassi Kennedy has earned herself a spot in the history books: she is the British Parliament's first member of Iranian descent, elected in May 2015 as the MP for South Ribble (in Lancashire, North West England). Though she left Iran at the tender age of four, her Persian roots are still a big part of who she is. -Kayhan London - 9/6/16

Italian military invites Iran Navy to Italy waters
An Italian military delegation has traveled to Iran to discuss the enhancement of bilateral military ties, and has invited Iranian naval groups to visit Italy's territorial waters. - 9/6/16

Iranian Labor Activists Put on Trial After Hundreds of Workers Protest Unpaid Wages
Labor activists Jafar Azimzadeh and Shapour Ehsani-Rad have been put on trial for allegedly inciting workers to strike. The first day of their trial was held on August 29, 2016 at Branch 101 of the Second Criminal Court in the city of Saveh, 76 miles southwest of Tehran. - 9/6/16

Iranian Police Shut Down 800 Stores Selling 'Inappropriate' Clothing
Iranian media reported that police have shut down more than 800 clothing stores across the country for selling "unconventional and inappropriate" attire -- believed to mean Western-style outfits and women's clothing that doesn't meet strict Islamic requirements. - 9/6/16

Women's cooperatives in Iran create some 119,000 jobs
Some 119,000 Iranian female employees are working in women's cooperatives across the country, Vahideh Negin, an advisor to the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare said in Tehran on Friday. - 9/6/16

Dogs, Deepak Chopra, Instagram weddings and other signs of change among Iran's middle class
Iran's theocracy -- whose top clerics still lead "Death to America" chants at Friday prayers -- has exercised strict control over public behavior since taking power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But beneath the surface in this country of 80 million people, the hard-liners quietly are being challenged by a large urban middle class that has grown weary of religious strictures and more attuned to global trends. -Los Angeles Times - 9/6/16

Iran, Britain upgrade ties to ambassador level after 5 years
"On Monday evening, Hamid Baeidinejad, our country's new Ambassador to Britain and Nicholas Hopton, the new British ambassador to Tehran, appeared at the countries' foreign ministries simultaneously and met with the two foreign ministers and handed over a copy of their credentials to them," the source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry said. Hopton had previously served as Britain's ambassador to Qatar and Yemen. - 9/5/16

Prominent Activist Bahareh Hedayat Freed In Iran
Prominent student activist and women's rights advocate Bahareh Hedayat has been released in Iran after spending more than six years in jail, her husband says. Amin Ahmadian, announced Hedayat's release in a post on Instagram where he said he couldn't believe that she was finally free. - 9/5/16

Bay Area Iranian-American Democrats Endorse Ro Khanna for Congress
Bay Area Iranian-American Democrats (BAIAD) announced today that its members have voted to endorse Ro Khanna for the 17th District Congressional seat. On August 23, 2016 BAIAD held an endorsement meeting where both Congressman Mike Honda and challenger Ro Khanna sat down with its members and engaged in substantive discussions on issues pertinent to the Iranian American community, the Democratic Party, and the country as a whole. - 9/5/16

Japan agrees to boost Iran investment: Kyodo
Japan has agreed to boost investment in Iran following a visit by a senior Japanese official to Tehran, the Kyodo news agency has reported. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Saturday met his Japanese counterpart Kentaro Sonoura in Tehran where they discussed how to ensure that transactions between the two countries do not fall foul of US laws. - 9/5/16

The Gulf Arab States Buy Influence in Comoros
Comoros, an impoverished West Indian archipelago nation known for its post-colonial history of political instability, rarely enters a discussion about Middle Eastern affairs. Early this year, however, the Arab League's southernmost member made headlines after Comoros expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia by severing ties with Iran, which Comorian officials accused of waging "aggression" against the kingdom and its neighbors. -Emmaline Ivy Johnson and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 9/5/16

Interview with filmmaker Anahita Ghazvinizadeh
I had the pleasure to sit down with Anahita, a vivacious yet calm spirit, who is eagerly gearing up to tell woven tales of childhood-adulthood transitions. I witnessed her as a person, an artist, and as a storyteller. Anahita herself if outspoken but not brazen, opinionated but soft, whimsical and playful, open-minded and open-hearted. -Misha Nasrollahzadeh, TheTehranTimes - 9/5/16

Iranian dance group Aylan crowned at "World Folk 2016"
Iran's Aylan Dance Group won the gold medal and honorary diploma at the World Championship of Folklore 'World Folk 2016' in Bulgaria, said the conductor of the group. Sponsored for the sixth consecutive year by Bulgarian National Folklore Commission, the event hosted 1,200 musicians, singers and artists - 9/3/16

Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra To Perform Concert for Peace
Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra will perform on 24 and 25 September 2016 at Roudaki Hall after 2 years of silence. Directed by Arash Guran Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra will resume its work after 2 years of silence in a new way and context. - 9/3/16

Flash Floods, Thunderstorms Kill 7 In North Iran
Flood and lightning in five provinces of Mazandaran, Golestan, Semnan, Ardebil, and East Azarbaijan claimed seven lives, Rescue and Relief Organization Chief Nasser Charkhsaz has said. Out of the seven victims, four died of drowning in flood and three got hit by lightning, Charkhsaz said, Mehr news agency reported on Saturday. - 9/3/16

World knows Saudi Arabia is source of terrorism: Iran
The world has learned that Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism, the radical ideology freely preached in the Arab country, are to blame for the violent acts of extremism in the Middle East region and elsewhere, says an Iranian official. - 9/3/16

No human rights rapporteur warranted on Iran: Official
The Iranian official made the remarks after the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, said in his twitter account on Wednesday that Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir will replace him. Shaheed also expressed his congratulations to Jahangir and said she will start her work in November. - 9/3/16

Latest Anti-JCPOA Attack Fails to Make Its Case
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and its founder, David Albright, recently released a report on the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Over the years, the Institute has justifiably won the respect of members of Congress and nonproliferation analysts for its technical reports. This is not to suggest that the reports were without flaws - Jim Walsh, LobeLog - 9/3/16

Iran thrashes Qatar 2-0 in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier
Iran's national football team, also known as Team Melli, has achieved a surprise victory over Qatar in its opening match at the third round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament. - 9/2/16

Russian President Putin urges compromise on Iran oil production
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a potential oil output freeze deal among oil-exporting countries should involve some compromise on Iran's production levels. "I think that from the point of view of economic expediency and logic, it would be right to find some sort of compromise" on the Iranian output level, Putin told Bloomberg. - 9/2/16

Christians, Including Pastor's Son, Arrested at Picnic Near Tehran
"The five individuals and their wives were having a picnic in Firoozkooh [90 miles east of Tehran] when Intelligence Ministry agents entered the private garden. The arrested individuals were not conducting a religious meeting and had gathered only for a good time. Three copies of the Bible were confiscated from them," Mansour Borji, the spokesman for the Council of United Iranian Churches (HAMGAAM), told the Campaign. - 9/2/16

White House Disputes Report It Exempted Iran From Nuclear Limits
The White House has disputed a think-tank report saying the United States and its negotiating partners agreed to secret exemptions for Iran in last year's landmark nuclear agreement. - 9/2/16

British Airways Resumes Direct Flights From London To Tehran
British Airways is to resume direct flights from London to Tehran, the latest sign of Iran's closer ties with Western countries since the implementation of its nuclear deal with world powers. - 9/2/16

Why cheaper rial could actually help Iran
To help boost economic growth, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Valiollah Seif has announced that he plans to unify the dual currency exchange rates before the end of the current Iranian calendar year. If realized, the move will be a major step toward effectively floating the rial and ending state control over the foreign exchange market. -Navid Kalhor, Al Monitor - 9/2/16

British grandfather in Iranian prison breaks record no one wants to break
Despite being 76 and in poor health, Kamal Foroughi has spent more than five years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. His 1,948 days in captivity - on an eight year espionage charge - have just made him the longest serving EU prisoner in an Iranian jail. -Metro, UK - 9/2/16

Why Are Afghan and Pakistani Fighters Deploying to Syria on Iran's Behalf?
After long denying that it had deployed any foreign nationals to Syria, Iran now insists that Afghan and Pakistani Shia fighters have traveled to Syria in a spontaneous, voluntary display of religious and ideological conviction. -Fatemeh Aman, LobeLog - 9/2/16

Top Six Finalists Announced for the 8th Farhang Foundation Short Film Festival
Immerse yourself in Los Angeles' most intriguing cinema scene at the 8th Annual Farhang Foundation Short Film Festival at LACMA on September 24th. More than 180 films from around the world have been submitted-the most ever for this festival. The six finalist films will be screened and three winners will be announced, receiving top prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000. Over the festival's history, the Farhang Foundation has granted over $120,000 in cash prizes. - 9/1/16

Federalism and Regionalism in the Middle East, Not Territorial Disintegration
Since the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003, which exacerbated Iraq's ethnic and sectarian divisions and the manipulation of these divisions by regional and international actors, centrifugal tendencies in Iraq have become quite strong... The increasingly common talk of disintegration has not been limited to Iraq. In other Middle East states, similar trends are under way. -Shireen T. Hunter - 9/1/16

EU-Iran trade up 43% in first half 2016: Eurostat
The European Union's trade with Iran amounted to 5.107 billion Euros in the first half of 2016, a 43 percent rise year on year, based on the latest figures released by the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat. - 9/1/16

Iran considers WMDs as redline for its defense program: Ayatollah Khamenei
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran considers development of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear and chemical weapons, as redline for its defense program. - 9/1/16

Iran to start building two new nuclear plants on September 10: Salehi
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says the Islamic Republic will begin the construction of two nuclear power plants in cooperation with Russia within the next few days. "Operations to build two new nuclear power plants in Bushehr will start on September 10," Ali Akbar Salehi said late Wednesday, adding that it will take 10 years for the power plants to be completed. - 9/1/16

Congressional Research Service Expert and Gulf Lobbyist Headline MEK Event
By outward appearances, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the ex-terrorist Iranian opposition group hell-bent on regime change, appears to be losing their influence in the media. The group's allegations about Iran's nuclear program are met with increased skepticism after, for example, photographic evidence of "Lavizan-3," a secret uranium enrichment facility in suburban Tehran, was revealed to be a stock photo from an Iranian safe company. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/1/16

Did arrested Iranian negotiator influence nuclear talks?
A conservative Iranian news agency reported Aug. 23 that Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani, the nuclear negotiator in charge of banking affairs, was arrested for selling economic information to the intelligence agencies of foreign countries. The unconfirmed report cited comments by the Tehran prosecutor that a dual national had been arrested, whom many believed was a British-Iranian national. -Arash Karami, Al-Monitor - 9/1/16

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