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A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran


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Zarif Rejoins Iran Nuclear Talks

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

Grassroots Groups Representing Millions of Americans Urge Congress to Support an Iran Deal

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

Critiquing a Critique of Obama's Approach to Iran

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

Open Letter to 2016 Presidential Candidates from Prominent Iranian Americans

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

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

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

Iranian Teachers' Leader Arrested, Pressured Over Protests

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

Iranian Parliament outlines extent of water crisis devastation

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

Average temperatures across Iran rise by one degree centigrade

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

Don't Fear Iran's Impending Windfall

- As Iran and the P5+1 look set to complete a historic nuclear agreement this week, the policy community in the US and Europe is very fearful that sanctions relief will provide Iran a dangerous windfall that it can use to expand its interventions in the region. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, LobeLog 6/30/15

Iran's nuclear talks: Five reasons why a deal would be good for the U.S.

- The criticism of the pending nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is intensifying. Opponents of the deal will spend millions of dollars on ads pushing the U.S. public and Congress to kill the deal in the next few days. -Trita Parsi, CNN 6/30/15

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Congress: Seal the Iran Deal, and Vote for Peace!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on Lindsey Graham's Remarks - As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by the sentiments expressed by Senator Lindsey Graham suggesting that all Iranians are "liars". There is no place in our political discourse for such comments and we call on Graham to immediately retract his remarks and apologize. 5/29/15

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last updated on Tue Jun 30 14:39:43 GMT 2015