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September 05 2015
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Looking Back At The Shiraz Arts Festival

- There is something surreal about finding a piece of history in a room - specifically in a confined space on the first floor of London's Whitechapel Gallery next to the reading room. The exhibition is entitled: A Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts Shiraz-Persepolis. -Cyrus Kadivar 9/4/15

Iran conquers Guam 6-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifier

- Iran men's national soccer team has demonstrated an outstanding performance in its 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match staged on home soil, trouncing the squad from Guam - a US island territory in the Western Pacific - with a comfortable six-goal margin. 9/4/15

Iran basketball team suffers defeat against US in William Jones Cup

- The Iranian national men's basketball team has suffered its first loss at the 2015 William Jones Cup in Taiwan, going down to USA Overtake Select squad. The Iranian side lost out to the American representative by 15 points (66-81) in a match played at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City on Wednesday. 9/4/15

Cardin, the Iran Deal, and the Future of Plan B

- As most readers of this blog know, three more Democratic senators came out in support of the JCPOA today -- Heidi Heitkamp, Mark Warner, and, most significantly, Cory Booker. That definitely puts the administration within reach of the magic 41 votes that would make it unnecessary for Obama to veto a resolution disapproving the Iran agreement. That said, my understanding is that AIPAC's Plan B is still very much in play... -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 9/4/15

Iranian Lawmakers Say Efforts Under Way To Free U.S. Reporter

- Iranian lawmakers attending a conference in New York have divulged that efforts are underway to free Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was jailed over a year ago on espionage charges. Separately, Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's Parliament, told National Public Radio that there are "practical" ways to release Rezaian, such as through a swap of prisoners with the United States. 9/4/15

Iran's 'red gold' output to hit 300 metric tons

- Iran's production of saffron, the world's most expensive spice known as "red gold," is expected to hit 300 metric tons this year thanks to better rainfall, officials said. -Iran is the world's largest producer and exporter of the ingredient staple used to flavor food and pastries, with further application in medicine and cosmetics. First harvest of the reddish, aromatic plant dates back to 3,000 years ago in Iran. 9/4/15

Iran's elite military is entangled in regional wars. Mission creep?

- The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps projects Iranian military power across the Middle East, to the alarm of critics of the nuclear deal. But it has become entangled in protracted conflicts that are testing its limits. - Scott Peterson, CSM 9/4/15

Khamenei: No Nuclear Deal Unless Sanctions Are Lifted

- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said world powers must lift international sanctions as part of a landmark nuclear agreement. In remarks broadcast live on state television on September 3, Khamenei warned that "there will be no deal" if the sanctions are not lifted. 9/4/15

The New Middle Passage

- During the slave trade, which forcibly transferred 12.4 million Africans from their homeland between the late 15th and 19th centuries, as many as 1.8 million died during the infamous "middle passage" to Europe and the Americas -- a casualty rate of around 15 percent. Today's migrants are not slaves. They're coming to Europe voluntarily. Indeed, they're desperate to leave their homelands and find even the lowest-paying jobs in Europe. -John Feffer, LobeLog 9/4/15

Shahrzaad's Tale From Iran's First Woman Filmmaker, Actress, Dancer And Poet To A Wandering Homeless

- Shahrzaad's Tale is a story of a lost era and a forgotten star of pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema; it is the story of an accomplished poet, filmmaker and cultural critic who was tragically silenced by the political storms of the period. 9/3/15

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Shahrzaad's Tale

The Iran Deal: And Mikulski Makes 34. Now What? - As we predicted yesterday, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski has said that she will vote against any resolution to reject the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), thus making it certain that a veto cast by Obama against such a resolution will be sustained. But no one should believe for a minute that this marks the end of the struggle. -Jim Lobe 9/3/15

Kerry Pushes for Public Support of Iran Nuclear Deal - Secretary of State John Kerry is appealing to the American public to support the Iran nuclear deal. "I believe, based on a lifetime's experience, that the Iran nuclear agreement is a hugely positive step," Kerry said in a speech Wednesday to a group that included religious organizations and students in Philadelphia. -Pamela Dockins, VOA 9/3/15

Two more Iranian teachers arrested - Mohmmadreza Nikzad, an executive member of the Tehran Teachers' Association, and Mehdi Bohlouli, an independent teacher activist, were arrested in their homes by security forces on Monday August 31. 9/3/15

When the New York Times Becomes a Shill for Iran's Hardline Press - The headline in The New York Times Story on Iran on August 31 was succinct. It stated: "Iranian State Media Reports Arrest of Reformist Politician." Although the headline later changed to "Reformist Politician Is Said to be Held," the only problem was that by the time the story came out in the newspaper of record the reformist politician, Ali Shakurirad, was already released. -Farideh Farhi 9/3/15

Spain ministers due in Iran with big delegation - Three Spanish ministers will begin an official visit to Iran on Sunday along with a 70-member delegation, including representatives of major businesses such as global energy company Repsol. 9/3/15

Iran's Justice Minister attempts to explain persistence of house arrests - Mostafa PourMohmmadi said on Wednesday September 2 that the decision to arrest the challengers of the 2009 president election results came after a social conflict, adding: "Therefore, we cannot argue the issue of house arrests in the context of legal and judicial provisions." 9/3/15

AIPAC's Plan B? - A summary of a draft bill, which I obtained from a source who asked to remain anonymous, is circulating that is designed (almost certainly by AIPAC) to appeal to those Democrats eager to "kiss and make up" after their defiance of Washington's most powerful foreign-policy lobby group (whose reputation for omnipotence just took a very heavy hit) and its funders. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 9/3/15

Ten Iranian provinces suffering seven-year drought - The head of drought and crisis management for the Iranian Meteorological Organization reports that 10 of the country's provinces have been grappling with seven consecutive years of drought. 9/3/15

Photos: Iran's Basij Force Stages Drill In Tehran - Iran's Basij paramilitary force has held a two-day exercise in the capital, Tehran. Some 50,000 members of the force took part in the drill, which culminated on September 3. Basij spokesman General Nasser Shabani said the exercise was intended to "prove the security forces' ability to safeguard national security." 9/3/15

Leading Societal Figures in Iran Urge Americans to Support Nuclear Deal - More than fifty prominent members of Iranian society have written an open letter to the American people urging them to ask their Congressional representatives to support the nuclear agreement reached with Iran in July 2015. Describing themselves as "a group of Iranian civil society activists, intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, university professors, religious [scholars], senior members of political parties and reformists," the letter implores the people of the United States to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and "raise our collective voices in support of peace and diplomacy." 9/2/15

Game Over? With Sen. Casey, Pro-Deal Forces Win Over Key Iran Deal Vote - Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey's announcement Tuesday that he supports the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA) merits special notice. According to my calculations, Casey's announcement, which was coupled with a lengthy and thoughtful memorandum on why he reached his decision, makes it a virtual certainty that Obama will have enough support among Senate Democrats to sustain his veto - if one proves necessary - of any resolution to reject the nuclear deal. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 9/2/15

Top Officials Visit Hospitalized Persian Music Maestro Mohammadreza Shahjarian - Shajarian faced a performing ban in Iran following his criticism of the Iranian government for the events in the aftermath of the presidential election in 2009. In a presidential debate in 2013, Rouhani called Shahjarian "a cultural ambassador of Iran". In his campaign film, he also spoke about his deep interest in Shajarian's songs. However, Shahjarian has not yet been allowed to perform in his homeland under Rouhani. 9/2/15

Obama Closes In on Votes to Clinch Iran Deal - Supporters of the international nuclear agreement with Iran moved to within one vote Tuesday of mustering enough support to protect the deal in the U.S. Congress when two more Senate Democrats said they would support the pact. 9/2/15

The Effort to Destroy the Iran Agreement: Chapter Two - Anyone tired of hearing about the agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program is not going to get relief soon, despite the Congressional voting this month that is supposed to decide the matter. It now appears likely that even if the Republican-controlled Congress enacts a resolution of disapproval, any such resolution would not survive a presidential veto, which means the agreement itself will come into force. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 9/2/15

Iran's 'Death To America' Graffiti Reappears After Vanishing Act - New "Death to America" graffiti has appeared, disappeared, and reappeared on the walls of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran in recent days, according to reports and photographs published by Iranian media. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/ 9/2/15

Conference - Sovereignty and Imperialism: Non-European Powers in the Age of Empire - In the heyday of empire, most of the world was ruled, directly or indirectly, by the European powers. On the eve of the First World War, only a few non-European states had maintained their formal sovereignty: Abyssinia (Ethiopia), China, Japan, the Ottoman Empire, Persia (Iran), and Siam (Thailand). Some others kept their independence for a while, but then succumbed to imperial powers, such as Hawaii, Korea, Madagascar, and Morocco. 9/2/15

Iran welcomes cooperation with US companies in petchem sector: Official - Managing director of Iran's National Petrochemical Company (NPC) says the country welcomes cooperation with US companies in petrochemical sector considering that American petrochemical firms are also interested in working with Iran. 9/2/15

Iranian Exiles Embrace Israel's Drive Against Nuclear Deal - Since July 14 when the Vienna nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 - the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany - was announced, its opponents have been waging an all-out war against it. In particular, the same pundits who lied to us to lead the United States to a catastrophic war in Iraq are doing the same again, this time against Iran. But, one opposition group is most interesting because it consists of some of the Iranian exiles living in the United States. -Muhammad Sahimi 9/1/15

Prominent Iranian actor Ali Tabatabaei dies of heart attack at 32 - Ali Tabatabayi, a 32-year-old Iranian actor, died on Sunday August 30 from a heart attack. ISNA reports that the death of Tabatabayi, who began his film career at the age of 22, has shocked the Iranian film community. 9/1/15

Iran Reformist Leader Detained, Released - Iranian media reports say that the leader of the newly established reformist National Unity Party has been released after being detained for several hours in Tehran. The state news agency IRNA on August 31 cited a member of the party's central council as saying that Ali Shakouri-Rad was released on bail. The reason for his detention was not clear. 9/1/15

Obama: Iranian Economy Won't Recover from Sanctions Until 2022 - President Barack Obama says it will take the Iranian economy until 2022 to get back to its pre-sanctions level after the recently negotiated nuclear deal comes into force. The president said in an interview with the Jewish newspaper Forward, published Monday, that Iran is going to have to use the $50 billion in unfrozen assets just to prop up its badly-sagging economy. 9/1/15

New Survey Indicates Majority Support for Iran Deal - After assessing detailed arguments for and against the pending Iran deal, as well as alternatives proposed by its critics, a majority of a representative sample of registered voters concluded that Congress should approve the July 14 agreement if it comes to a vote next month, according to a major new survey released Tuesday. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 9/1/15

PERSIAN 101: Farhang Foundation Partners with Star Education to Launch After School Program - Farhang Foundation, in collaboration with STAR Education, a leading nonprofit at the forefront of innovative education programs and community-based cultural enrichment projects for more than 25 years, will be launching "Persian: 101", an after school Persian language program for K-6 students. 9/1/15

Dissidents Join Iranian Majority in Supporting Nuclear Deal - Seventy-four prominent Iranians living abroad who self-identify as opponents or critics of the Iranian government have signed the following letter urging Congress to support the nuclear agreement with Iran. -Jasmin Ramsey, LobeLog 9/1/15

Obama Decries Accusations Iran Deal Backers Are 'Anti-Semitic' - U.S. President Barack Obama said he's hurt and angered by people who say supporters of the Iran nuclear deal are "anti-Semitic." In response to a question from Forward, a Jewish newspaper, Obama said "of course" he's bothered by such accusations. 9/1/15

Iran's Interior Ministry says new reformist party needs permit for political activity - Iran's Ministry of Interior announced on Monday August 31 that the Union of Islamic Iran People party does not have the necessary permit to begin political activities. The new party elected Ali Shakourirad as its leader on August 20 in its first congress and also elected the 30 executive members to run the party activities. 9/1/15

Iran's foreign debt rising - The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has announced that the country's foreign debt has been on the rise during the first three months of the Persian calendar year. According to a new report released by the CBI, Iran's total foreign debt reached 5.48 billion dollars in the first quarter of the current Iranian calendar year (which started on March 21st). 9/1/15

Behind the Congressional Disagreements over the Iran Nuclear Deal - The hysterical campaign launched against the Iran nuclear deal by the flag-waving militarist partisans in and around the US congress has terribly obfuscated the issues included in the deal. Not surprisingly, the campaign has created a number of misconceptions regarding both the actual contents of the deal and the main disagreements between the advocates and opponents of the deal. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh 8/31/15

Penelope Cruz accepts role in next Farhadi film - Penelope Cruz is reportedly acting in Asghar Farhadi's next film, which will be shot in Spain in October of 2016. The Shargh daily reports that veteran Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is one of the film's producers. 8/31/15

Iran: Rohani seeks discretion around house arrests - President Hassan Rohani said in reference to the house arrest of Iranian opposition leaders that repeatedly raising the issue does not help his administration's efforts to end the situation. At a press conference on Saturday August 29, Rohani spoke of his campaign promise to end the house arrest of MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, the leaders of the Green Movement. 8/31/15

Iran says negotiating with Russia for Sukhoi fighter jets - Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says Tehran is in talks with Moscow for the purchase of Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets. "We are discussing the purchase of Sukhoi fighter planes" from Russia, Dehqan said in an interview withLebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news networkon Sunday. 8/31/15

Shelter owner, dozens of cats die in fire - Fire at an animal shelter near Eshtehard led to the death of 200 cats and the owner and operator of the shelter. A spokesman for the local fire department reports that the fire occurred at 6 AM, killing one person and 200 cats. 8/31/15

Revealed: The Lessons of Khobar Towers - Saudi Arabia reportedly has taken custody of Ahmed al-Mughassil, accused of being a central figure in the truck bombing at Khobar Towers in eastern Saudi Arabia in 1996 in which 19 American airmen died. The report immediately raises questions about the timing of this story, the motives behind it, and the circumstances of the reported arrest. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 8/31/15

Iran Sentences 2 on Spy Charges - Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced two people to 10 years in prison Sunday for spying, but did not identify the suspects or their nationalities. A court spokesman said the two spied for the United States and Israel. 8/31/15

Dick Cheney Never Disappoints - Previewing his September 8 address on the Iran deal to (who else?) the American Enterprise Institute, Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have published a lengthy op-ed ("Restoring American Exceptionalism") in Saturday's print edition of The Wall Street Journal. It's predictably over the top, apocalyptic, and entirely Manichean in word and spirit. Appeasement, Chamberlain, Hitler, Hiroshima, Nagasaki--it's all there. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 8/31/15

Photos: World soccer stars team sinks Iran's 3-0 in Tehran charity match - The team of world's retired professional footballers has produced a dazzling performance against Iran's football stars of the past in a charity match, the proceeds of which went to the Iranian society that supports MS patients. 8/29/15

Sunni Scholars Call For Ban On Iranian Prophet Muhammad Film - Prominent Sunni Muslim scholars are demanding that Tehran ban a film on the life of the Prophet Muhammad that was released on August 27, though it is expected to break box-office records in Shi'ite Muslim Iran. 8/29/15

Obama Assures American Jewish Leaders on Iran Deal - President Barack Obama told American Jewish leaders the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran is the best option for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, saying that "true friendship," like that between the United States and Israel, allows room for debate. Speaking in a live webcast Friday, the president delivered remarks about the disputed deal and how it will impact the relationship between the United States and Israel. -Katherine Gypson, VOA 8/29/15

MP seeks solutions to house arrests, media ban of Iranian opposition leaders - Iranian MP Ali Motahari has written a letter to the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, urging him to review the matter of the house arrest of MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi and also the media ban on former president Mohammad Khatami. 8/29/15

Some Dubious Characters, Connections Among Ex-Military Foes of Iran Deal - When something big happens in the foreign policy world-especially a political issue that requires a vote in Congress-advocates try to shore up their positions with what are called, in public relations terms, "validators." On issues of national security, of course, the military validator is of particular importance. -Ali Gharib and Grace Cason, LobeLog 8/29/15

Iranian security officers block memorial for executed political prisoners - Iranian intelligence and security officers prevented a gathering of families and activists from taking place at Khavaran Cemetery on August 28. Khavaran is the burial ground of some of the thousands of political prisoners who were executed in the late eighties following an edict by the late leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini. 8/29/15

Hundreds of thousand migrants have fled Middle East, Africa for Europe - A UN report reveals that more than 300,000 migrants have taken the hazardous route across the Mediterranean Sea to escape to Europe this year, and 2,500 of them are estimated to have lost their lives en route. 8/29/15

The Molten Three: Israel's Aborted Strike on Iran - I must admit that Moshe ""Bogie" Ya'alon did not top the list of my favorite politicians. The former army Chief of Staff and present Minister of Defense looked to me like a mere lackey of Netanyahu and a one-dimensional militarist. Many people call him a "bock", a non-complimentary German-Yiddish term for billy goat... -Uri Avnery, Counterpunch 8/29/15

Sophisticated Phishing Campaign Targets Iranian Diaspora - Civil society activists in the Iranian diaspora community are being targeted with an elaborate and sophisticated phishing campaign designed to steal their email communications and contacts, a group of Canada-based researchers contends in a new report. -Doug Bernard, VOA 8/28/15

Iran and the Third Rail of American Politics - A distinctive feature of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P-5+1 and Iran to limit Iran's nuclear program is that the fate of the plan in Congress rests not on the details of actual arms control agreement but on the dreaded third rail of America's dysfunctional domestic politics. America's "third rail" of domestic politics once consisted of a relatively small number of hot button issues (Social Security, for example) that politicians simply could not touch for fear of retribution by the voters. -James A. Russell 8/28/15

Cheetah Conservation Day aims to protect species in Iran - It is now half a century since the habitat of the Asiatic Cheetah has been reduced to the Iranian plains. Outside of Africa, the Iranian plains are the only place where cheetahs can be found. The ninth annual festival of Cheetah Conservation Day is being observed, even as estimates indicate that only 40 to 70 head of cheetah are left in Iran. The festival is being held from August 27 to 28 in Tehran's Mellat Park in tandem with celebrations in 13 other provinces. 8/28/15

Iran Sees $30 Billion From Future Tourism - The deal struck between Iran and six world powers over its nuclear program should see sanctions against the country beginning to ease by next year - and Iranians are hoping the lifting of travel restrictions could prompt an influx of international tourists. Travel agencies already are seeing an increase in demand. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA 8/28/15

EU working on new deal in rush to Iran - The European Union is said to be working on a political agreement to fast-track plans for future energy deals in Iran. Financial data and news provider Bloomberg on Thursday cited "two people with direct knowledge of the talks" as saying that the deal could be signed as early as November. 8/28/15

Committee for the Liberation of Iraq Members on Iran Deal - "Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal," President Obama observed August 5 at American University in perhaps his most forceful and aggressive speech in favor of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). There really is no question regarding the fundamental truth of that assertion. -Grace Cason and Jim Lobe, LobeLog 8/28/15

Greenhouse gas emissions rising in Iran - The head of National Air and Climate Change at Iran's Environmental Protection Agency reports that 500 million tons of greenhouse gases are produced by the country annually and in the next 10 years it is expected to reach 2 billion tons. 8/28/15

Swiss conference: Iran 'pole of stability' for business - Switzerland, which became the first nation to lift sanctions on Iran last month, has arranged a major conference for its business owners, urging them to make the most of business opportunities in the energy-rich country. Some 500 business people gathered in Zurich to have Swiss Ambassador to Tehran Giulio Haas call Iran "the pole of stability in a very, very unsafe region", media reports from the event said. 8/28/15

Prominent Iranian Activists, Intellectuals Call On Congress To Back Nuclear Deal - Activists who have taken to YouTube and social media in support of the agreement are hoping that it will ultimately strengthen the hands of the moderates and result in an opening up of the political situation inside the country. Many of them are based in Iran -- including student activist Zia Nabavi, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence, and top human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was released from prison in 2013. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 8/27/15

Football: World Stars to Play Iranian Stars in Tehran Charity Match - Players expected to participate in the World Stars team captained by Michel Salgado include Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Fabio Cannavaro, Guti, Fernando Hierro, Fernando Couto, Vitor Baia, Bodo Illgner, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Steve McManaman, Fernando Morientes, Marcel Desailly, Gaizka Mendieta, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen, Christian Karembeu, Boudewijn Zenden and Santiago Solari. 8/27/15

Iran Cultivates Closer Ties with Azerbaijan - After six years of turbulent relations between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, several recent trips by high-ranking Iranian officials to Baku and Azeri ministers to Tehran are the latest signs that the two countries want to forget bad memories and establish closer relations. This rapprochement is in part a response to the mutual security challenges that Iran and Azerbaijan currently face. -LobeLog's Tehran correspondent 8/27/15

Iranian Official: No Reports of Damage, Injury in Tehran Quake - According to a report by Iranian Seismological Center of the Institute of Geophysics of University of Tehran, an earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale shook the city of Firouzkouh on Tuesday night, located about 110 kilometers (68 miles) northeast of the capital city. 8/27/15

The Biggest Myths About Doing Business with Iran - I've led three delegations of top international CEOs to Iran over the past three years. The first, in 2013, was during Ahmadinejad's presidency and later, in 2014 and 2015, under Rouhani. We met with Iranian business leaders, young entrepreneurs, religious leaders, students, artists and people we would encounter in markets or on the street. -Dick Simon, Huffington Post 8/27/15

Reactivated suspended sentence keeps Iranian activist in jail two more years - Iranian student activist Bahareh Hedayat has to serve another two years in jail, even though her family expected her to be released having served five and a half years in jail. Bahareh Hedayat, born in 1981, was an executive member of the student group Tahkim-e Vahdat and also its spokesperson before going to jail. 8/27/15

Neoconservatives Play the Long Game on Iran - David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, made that declaration to Jack Goldsmith of the Office of Legal Counsel in the months after September 11, 2001. Goldsmith would later recall that Cheney and Addington were the first people he had ever met of a certain kind... -David Bromwich, LobeLog 8/27/15

European companies ignore US, keen on returning to Iran market: Report - London-based The Guardian, in a new report published on Tuesday, noted that the nuclear agreement has actually widened the gap between the two sides of the Atlantic, saying, "The ink was barely dry on the agreement with Iran ... before a German government plane packed with the nation's economic elite touched down in Tehran." 8/27/15

Iran admits interest in Russian Superjet - An Iranian official has admitted Iranian aviation companies' interest in Russia's Superjet passenger planes amid Tehran's quest for new aircraft to build up the country's aging fleet, the Fars news agency says. 8/27/15

Russian Anxieties about the Iranian Nuclear Accord - A great debate is currently taking place in the U.S. about whether the nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 is a "good deal" or a "bad deal" for America and thus whether or not Congress should reject it. Although not nearly as vociferous, a similar debate is taking place in Moscow over what the implications of the Iranian nuclear accord are for Russia. -Mark N. Katz 8/26/15

The Iran Issue and the Exploitation of Ignorance - Polls of American public opinion on the agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program have produced widely varying results. One can find polls to support whatever position one would like to portray as the prevailing public view on this issue. Poll results on this subject are especially sensitive to the wording of the question that is asked. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 8/26/15

Imprisoned Iranian Cartoonist Grateful for International Courage Award - Jailed artist Atena Farghadani has expressed gratitude upon hearing she was awarded the 2015 Courage in Cartooning Award by the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), her father said after visiting her at Evin Prison on August 16, 2015. 8/26/15

Britain Will 'Tread Carefully' as Embassy Reopens in Iran - After reaching a deal with world powers over its nuclear program in July, Iran's apparent diplomatic rehabilitation continues. Britain has reopened its embassy in Tehran, four years after it was ransacked by protesters. Iran has also reopened its embassy in London. After visiting the newly re-opened British Embassy in Tehran, London's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it was vital to open a dialogue with Iran's leaders. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA 8/25/15

Inspection Priorities at Parchin - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed a desire to visit a building at the Parchin Ammunition Plant near Tehran. The IAEA believes that experiments related to nuclear weapons may have taken place there early in the 2000s. The building is an unremarkable rectangular industrial building that would attract no interest whatsoever except that there are rumors about its past uses. -Robert Kelley 8/25/15

Iranian Film Festival in San Francisco: September 26-27, 2015 - Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran, which showcases independent feature and short films made by or about Iranians from around the world, will present 33 films from ten countries at its 8th annual event. The films range from fiction, documentary, animation, short, music... 8/23/15

Banning of Films Continues under Rouhani Administration, 14 Movies Now Forbidden - Despite repeated statements made by President Rouhani regarding the need to allow more cultural freedoms in Iran, the banning of films in the Islamic Republic has continued unabated during his two-year administration. 8/22/15

AP Mangles Parchin Story, Hopes Nobody Notices - On Wednesday the Associated Press published an exclusive that was guaranteed to provide ammunition to those in the United States who are working to defeat the Iran nuclear deal in Congress next month. The story, "UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site," describes a draft of a so-called "side agreement" reached between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the nuclear watchdog agency's planned inspections at Iran's Parchin military base... -Derek Davison 8/21/15

EXHIBITION: Newsha Tavakolian - Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album - "The family photo album is the showcase for my generation. The yellowed albums and pictures of smiling children dressed up in their best clothes are testament to our hopes and dreams, but they end in blank pages and the moment when our parents stopped taking our pictures (...) 8/21/15

Seventy-Plus Nuclear Non-Proliferation Experts Endorse Deal - The Arms Control Association (ACA) released a joint statement on Tuesday endorsed by 75 of the world's leading nuclear non-proliferation specialists, including a former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and former top U.S., UN, and foreign government non-proliferation officials. The statement concludes that the July 14 agreement "is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear non-proliferation efforts." -Jim Lobe 8/19/15

Reinventing Academic Ties: Opportunities for U.S.-Iran Higher Education Cooperation - The warming of diplomatic relations with Iran marks the beginning of a new era of potential cooperation between higher education institutions in the United States and Iran. After decades of limited academic ties, institutions in both countries are eager to renew relationships and initiate new ones. The Institute of International Education is supporting increased U.S.-Iran academic cooperation by launching the IIE Iran Higher Education Initiative, 8/17/15

Iran Deal: Overture to the Middle East Grand Opera - The US debate on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is in full swing and will not be resolved soon. That must wait until the final vote in the House and Senate on whether to override President Barack Obama's promised veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval. Until then, we can expect only rival commentaries on the merits and demerits of the JCPOA. These will be less about the merits/demerits than about the political power and influence of the various parties to the national discussion. -Robert E. Hunter 8/13/15

Cautious Optimism after the Iran Deal - It is risky to try to discern longer range trends in the Middle East based on a few short term developments. Nonetheless, I can't resist finding some small shards for cautious optimism in the events of the past few weeks. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog 8/13/15

Behind Israel's Hysterical Opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal - In light of the fact that Israel is in possession of at least 200 (surreptitiously-built) nuclear warheads, and considering the reality that, according to both US and Israeli intelligence sources, Iran neither possesses nor pursues nuclear weapons, the relentless hysterical campaign by Israel and its lobby against the Iran nuclear deal can safely be characterized as the mother of all ironies-a clear case of chutzpah. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh 8/10/15

29 U.S. Scientists Praise Iran Nuclear Deal in Letter to Obama - Twenty-nine of the nation's top scientists -- including Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms and former White House science advisers - wrote to President Obama on Saturday to praise the Iran deal, calling it innovative and stringent. The letter, from some of the world's most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control, arrives as Mr. Obama is lobbying Congress, the American public and the nation's allies to support the agreement. -NY Times 8/9/15

President Obama Speaks on the Iran Nuclear Deal at American University - So this (Iran) deal is not just the best choice among alternatives -- this is the strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated. And because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it. The majority of arms control and non-proliferation experts support it. Over 100 former ambassadors -- who served under Republican and Democratic Presidents -- support it. 8/6/15

Keep Expectations of Iran's New Regional Role Realistic - Only a few short weeks ago, Iran was considered the main instigator of all the troubles in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and, according to some, even in Latin America. Some in the US and in the region still continue to believe this fantasy. -Shireen T. Hunter 8/1/15

Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal - As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we welcome the news of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to by the United States, UN powers, and Iran. This historic diplomatic achievement will benefit the American people and the Iranian people alike by taking war off the table and creating the possibility for sustained peace and renewed relations. 7/30/15

The Citadel of the Original Royal Avesta in Persepolis - It is said both in the native and foreign sources that the original Avesta "written on 12,000 prepared cow-skins, and with gold ink," was burnt together with other treasures and books when Alexander of Macedonia set Parsgarde (Persepolis) on fire. In other sources, it is said that there were actually two copies, one kept in Shapigan treasury and the other in the "citadel of writings" dejnebeshteh whose exact location had never been found, thus a mystery. -Khoobchehr Keshavarzi 7/27/15

The Fine or the Crude Art of Window Dressing Hypocrisy at its Best - Those who actually believe (perhaps better than 95% of the public here) that the main purpose of the nuclear agreement reached between the world powers and Iran was to delay and hopefully to stop Iran's clandestine efforts to develop atomic weapons can now be cautiously optimistic that the mission has been accomplished. -Kambiz Zarrabi 7/23/15

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last updated on Fri Sep 4 15:18:04 GMT 2015