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Kerry, Zarif to Meet on Key Iran Nuclear Disputes

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna Friday on key disputes that have prevented nuclear negotiators from meeting a June 30 deadline. The discussions follow IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's trip to Tehran where he met with President Hassan Rouhani and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. -Mary Alice Salina, VOA 7/3/15

Yet-To-Be-Fully-Released Poll Suggests Solid Support for Iran Deal

- The Chicago Council for Global Affairs (CCGA) has just released the highlights of a public opinion survey taken in late May and early June concerning public opinion on Iran's nuclear program. The numbers should encourage the Obama administration in its drive to conclude a deal between the P5+1 and Tehran in the next week. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 7/3/15

The Father Of Iran's Nuclear Program Recalls How It All Began

- It was late in 1973 when Akbar Etemad got the call -- the shah wanted to discuss ways to launch a nuclear program that would cement Iran's place among the world's modern nations. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi had reached the conclusion that Iran needed to diversify its energy sources for the future in order to provide for a rising population. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 7/3/15

Russia Says Iran Nuclear Deal In Sight

- Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said Iran and world powers are close to a nuclear agreement. TASS news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying in Vienna on July 2, "All parties are of the opinion that this matter will be resolved in the coming days." 7/3/15

Law to let volunteers enforce morality worries Iranian administration

- Iranian Justice Minister Mostafa PourMohammadi says the legislation regarding the Islamic tenet of "Enforcing Good Behaviour and Forbidding Bad" is breaking rules about the branches of government and their jurisdictions. 7/3/15

No Official Reason Given for Arrest of Former Professor and Activist by Security Agents in Tehran

- The family of former chemistry professor and activist Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, 71, has not been given an official explanation for why he was arrested and imprisoned nearly two weeks ago. 7/3/15

Shiraz Arts Academy 3rd Anniversary Concert in Sunnyvale, California

- An evening of music performances by Shiraz Arts Academys' talented students and prominent instructors. Sunday, August 16, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Sunnyvale Theatre 7/3/15

Are We Negotiating With Iran or Persia?

- Much more than a name is involved. In terms of a national state of mind the two identities sit side-by-side-but not quietly. "Iran" and "Persia" diverged a long time ago as cultural and political concepts but one cannot exist without the other-and wishing won't make the harsher one go away. -Clive Irving, Daily Beast 7/3/15

The Islamic State and the Terrible Twos

- The Islamic State celebrated its one-year anniversary in customary fashion. Other organizations might sponsor parades and make speeches. ISIS spilled blood. A beheading in France, the murder of 38 tourists at a resort in Tunisia, and a bomb blast at a mosque in Kuwait all reminded the world, if it had somehow forgotten, that ISIS isn't merely interested in securing sovereignty over a particular stretch of territory. It has much grander ambitions. -John Feffer, LobeLog 7/3/15

Chicken in Vienna

- With the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program in its final days (and seven days of overtime having just been announced), a broken leg is not the most serious impairment to Secretary of State Kerry's ability to conclude an agreement that will ensure Iran remains a non-nuclear-weapons state and advances U.S. interests in other respects... -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog 7/2/15

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"Improvisation in Dastgah Nava on Kamancheh" by Kayhan Kalhor

Amherst University Reverses Ban On Graduate Students - Facing a backlash from international students, the U.S. state of Massachusett's flagship university said it is lifting a ban on Iranian nationals in certain graduate programs. Instead, the university said it is instituting monitoring measures to ensure compliance with U.S. sanctions against Iran. 7/2/15

Mansoureh Shojaee' letter to the Chief of Justice of Islamic Republic of Iran - In protesting the unlawful action that has taken place in processing my lawsuit in the Revolutionary Court, I Mansoureh Shojaee, journalist, researcher, woman's activist, address this letter to you. At the present time, I am a resident scholar at Hague, Netherlands, a research scholar in the area of social justice, human rights, and gender studies. 7/2/15

Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison - As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage. Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly four years. -Heather Murdock, VOA 7/2/15

Tehran Center For Female runaways Funded Mostly By Donations - Iran's minister of labour and social welfare says a center for homeless and runaway women will soon open in Tehran. ILNA reports that the center has been funded mainly by various charitable donations from within the country. 7/2/15

Iranian Chess Grandmaster Crested at DC International 2015 - Iranian chess grandmaster Ehsan Ghaem Maghami stood on the top of the podium at DC International 2015. On Tuesday and in the last round of the blitz section of the 9 round Swiss competitions held in Washington DC, the 32-year-old Iranian national came first with the overall score of 7 out of 9. 7/2/15

IAEA Chief, Iranian Officials Work to Resolve Nuclear Issues - The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog met with Iranian officials Thursday in Tehran in the latest effort to resolve long-standing questions about the country's nuclear program. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano held talks with the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, and was also due to meet with President Hassan Rouhani. 7/2/15

Iran's Alliance of Convenience with the Taliban? - Ismail Kosari, a conservative member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and the chair of Defense Committee of the Iranian parliament, confirmed in early June the Taliban's trip to Tehran: "I can't divulge any details, but what I can say is that they have declared their readiness to talk." -LobeLog 7/2/15

Iran repatriates 13 tons of frozen gold - Iran has secured the release of 13 metric tons of its gold assets blocked in South Africa under US-led sanctions, central bank Governor Valiollah Seif has said. The repatriation came thanks to the Iranian negotiating team's follow-up of the matter in the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) said in a statement. 7/2/15

Iran Nuclear Negotiators Eye New Deadline - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif sit down for more talks in Vienna, on Wednesday, a day after Iran nuclear negotiators extended their deadline for an agreement to July 7. Their talks come a day after both President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani commented on the negotiations underway in Vienna. -Pamela Dockins, VOA 7/1/15

The WINEP Letter and the Bipartisan Fallacy - For the past week, a letter from a varied group of policy experts has been making the rounds, mostly as a case against doing a deal with Iran. More particularly, many of these experts have been opposed to doing this deal currently being hashed out in Vienna. -Ali Gharib 7/1/15

Iran's Supreme Leader sets growth target at 8% - Iran's new development plan, unveiled by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday, envisages sustainable growth of eight percent over the next five years. The Leader's blueprint for the years 2016-2021, communicated to President Hassan Rouhani and heads of the judiciary and legislature, also calls for economic diplomacy, notably in Southeast Asia, to "revive foreign investment and enter global markets". 7/1/15

IAEA's chief Amano due in Iran Thursday for nuclear talks - Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano is due in Iran on Thursday for talks on Tehran's nuclear program. During his stay in Iran, the IAEA chief is expected to hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. 7/1/15

Cyrus Copeland Investigates in New Book, Was Dad a Spy? - Searching for the truth behind allegations that his American father was a CIA spy in Iran, Cyrus Copeland has crafted a gripping memoir. Off the Radar: A Father's Secret, A Mother's Heroism, and A Son's Quest (Penguin/Blue Rider, 2015) takes readers through a dramatic, yet witty journey in understanding his dual Iranian and American identity. 7/1/15

Congress on Iran and Israel - As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran. 7/1/15

French firm snaps up Iran railway deal - France's architectural firm AREP signed an agreement on Wednesday for redevelopment of three railway stations in Iran, marking a return of European companies as nuclear negotiations with Tehran are reaching a climax. 7/1/15

Iran's Communications Minister says Telegram not restricted by government - Following reports of disruptions in access to Telegram social networking site, Iran's minister of communications denied any involvement from government censorship in blocking the site. ISNA reports that Mahmoud Vaezi the communications minister said on Tuesday the ministry has no plans on restricting social networking sites. 7/1/15

Iran: Police and Basij crackdown on eating, drinking during Ramadan - Shiraz and Hamadan officials reports that since the beginning of the month of Ramadan, 600 people in total have been arrested in the two cities for breaking their fast in public. 7/1/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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last updated on Fri Jul 3 18:00:38 GMT 2015