Bahman 5 1400 - January 25 2022
Will Iran be able to normalize ties with the West in 2022?

Even though both Iran and the US seem interested in reviving the nuclear deal, deep distrust and decades-long animosity mean both sides are unlikely to normalize their relationship in the near future, say experts. -DW 12/31/21

Iran says nuclear talks in Vienna are seeing 'satisfactory' progress

Ongoing talks in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran have seen "relatively satisfactory progress," Iran's negotiator Ali Bagheri said Thursday. "Some written changes on the lifting of sanctions were established between the two parties and relatively satisfactory progress has been made over the first days of the eighth round of negotiations," Bagheri said in a video published by Tasnim news agency. -Times of Israel 12/31/21

Iran's Soccer Federation Supports National Star Over Israeli Flag Criticism

Iran's soccer association chief has backed former national team captain Mehdi Mahdavikia after he faced criticism from ultraconservatives for wearing a jersey bearing an Israeli flag during a friendly game coached by an Israeli. "He is one of the greats of Iranian football" and "a symbol of pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran," Secretary-General Hassan Kamranifar said in a statement published by the official state news agency IRNA on December 29. -RFE 12/31/21

Israel Is Trying to Push War With Iran - and the US Press Barely Cares

Top Israeli officials, now on an official visit to Washington, are pushing for US military action against Iran. It's a dangerous provocation that should be mainstream news. Look it up and you'll find next to no coverage in the US media about top Israeli officials visiting Washington this week to push for military strikes against Iran, raising the risk of sparking war. Yet that's exactly what happened. -Branko Marcetic, Jacobin 12/30/21

The Looming Threat of a Nuclear Crisis with Iran

The Biden Administration faces a potential confrontation with a longtime rival that is better armed and more hard-line than at any time in its modern history. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 12/30/21

Biden's first year in foreign policy was a master class in continuity

To be successful in 2022, he needs to take more risks, and think less about political backlash from hawks and the Blob. The Biden administration's foreign policy in its first year was mostly defined by an unwillingness to make major policy changes and to take significant political risks to follow through on the president's campaign pledges. -Daniel Larison, Responsible Statecraft 12/30/21

Analysis: As US focus wanes, Mideast turns inward for talks

After years of looking abroad for answers, countries in the Middle East now appear to instead be talking to each other to find solutions following two decades defined by war and political upheaval. The American withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq have played a part in that change. -AP 12/30/21

Iran-US: faltering nuclear talks enter dangerous phase

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bided his time before publicly offering his seal of approval to the 2015 nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers. But as moderate Iranian politicians and their supporters celebrated, hoping the deal would usher in a new era for the pariah state, the supreme leader made clear his mistrust of the US, the other prime actor behind the agreement. -Financial Times 12/29/21

Iran wants a sustainable nuclear deal. Only the lifting of US sanctions can achieve this

Thanks to Trump's ill-advised maximum-pressure strategy, Iran is close to being a nuclear-weapon threshold state. This is easily reversed - but only if Iran feels it can trust the West. The only way out of this crisis is for the US to lift the economic sanctions with which it has been strangling Iran and thereby ensure the sustainability of the deal. If it does, Iran, for its part, will fully implement its commitments under the JCPOA permanently. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian, MEE 12/29/21

U.S. Sounds Caution Against Optimism by Iran, Russia Over Nuclear Talks

The United States on Tuesday expressed caution over upbeat comments by Iran and Russia about talks in Vienna to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying it was still too soon to say if Tehran had returned to the negotiations with a constructive approach. Iran and Russia both gave upbeat views on Tuesday about talks that kicked off this week to salvage Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with global powers, although Western nations have said the negotiations are going too slowly. -Reuters 12/29/21

Out of sight, out of mind: Afghanistan vanishes from US news

New data shows stunning plunge in coverage, just as the humanitarian crisis - much of it caused by Washington sanctions - peaks. Despite unprecedented levels of hunger and starvation for which U.S. sanctions bear important responsibility, Afghanistan has once again virtually disappeared from the most important single source of world news for most Americans. -Jim Lobe, Responsible Statecraft 12/29/21

Israeli Military Presents Iran Strike Scenarios, but Can't Say What They'll Achieve

The Israeli military has presented the country's political leadership with several possible scenarios for striking targets in Iran, but emphasized that it would be difficult to determine the outcome of such strikes or assess how it would affect Tehran's nuclear program. The military says that as part of its preparations in past months for a possible attack on Iran, it has been acquiring advanced weapons, conducting air force training exercises and collecting new strike targets for Military Intelligence's target bank. -Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz 12/29/21

Delegates at new round of Iran nuclear talks strike hopeful note

The eighth and possibly final round of talks in Vienna to restore Iran's landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers has commenced on a cautiously hopeful note. A Joint Commission meeting of the remaining participants of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is formally known, concluded on Monday night in the Austrian capital, with a slew of bilateral and trilateral meetings between the different delegations. -Al Jazeera 12/28/21

Ignorance and mistrust have put the U.S. and Iran on a collision course

Since 1979, we've been told that the enmity that persists between the United States and Iran is based in mistrust. But that's not the whole story. It's about a shared ignorance of the other, a lack of self-awareness about that self-inflicted ignorance, and the mutual hubris in Tehran and Washington that these blind spots have long incubated. -Jason Rezaian, Washington Post 12/28/21

Iran says Vienna nuclear talks to restart around joint document

The eighth round of Iran nuclear talks will start on Monday in Vienna based on a new joint document that incorporates key Iranian demands such as guarantees and verification on the lifting of sanctions, Iran's foreign minister has said. Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters in the capital Tehran on Monday that an "acceptable" joint text has been agreed which includes talking points on sanctions and nuclear issues. -Al Jazeera 12/27/21

Iran fires ballistic missiles during drills in warning to Israel

Iran's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has fired 16 surface-to-surface ballistic missiles at the close of five days of military drills that generals said were a warning to archenemy Israel. The official IRNA news agency on Friday reported that the names of the missiles fired during the military exercise across the country's south were Emad, Ghadr, Sejjil, Zalzal, Dezful and Zolfaghar and that their ranges vary between 350km and 2,000km. -Al Jazeera 12/27/21

The promise of wealth brings Iran and Azerbaijan together after Armenia tensions

Iran and Azerbaijan were quick to escalate their rhetoric when a heated war of words broke out between the two countries on the first anniversary of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Tehran accused Baku of offering its territory to Israel to spy on Iran and of deploying Syrian mercenaries in the 44-day war against Armenia. Baku accused Tehran of "briefly invading" parts of southern Azerbaijan during the war and allying with Armenia for organised drug trafficking to Europe. -MEE 12/27/21

U.S. foreign policy hawks, with decades of disaster behind them, call for a threat to attack Iran

Seven U.S. foreign policy hawks, with decades of disaster behind them, are urging the Biden administration to threaten a military attack on Iran. The headline should read: "Arsonists Call for Setting Controlled Fires in Iran." Seven U.S. foreign policy hawks, with decades of disaster in the Mideast behind them, just published a statement urging the Biden administration to threaten a military attack on Iran. -Mondoweiss 12/23/21

Talks on Iran nuclear deal to resume in Vienna on Monday

Negotiators from Iran and five world powers that are trying to revive a tattered 2015 nuclear deal will resume talks in Vienna next week, the European Union said Thursday. The talks were adjourned nearly a week ago after a round marked by tensions over new demands from Tehran. They are chaired by EU diplomat Enrique Mora. -AP 12/23/21

What does an Azerbaijani-Iranian detente hold for the region?

After months of serious diplomatic divisions, strains between Azerbaijan and Iran look to be easing. But what is behind this apparent detente, and what are the implications for the Caucasus and beyond? On 28 November, on the sidelines of the Economic Cooperation Organisation summit in Ashgabat, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi signed an energy cooperation deal with Turkmenistan. - Rovshan Mammadli, OC Media 12/23/21

Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train launched

The Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) railway project, or ECO freight train, was inaugurated with the first freight train moving on Tuesday during a ceremony attended by Iranian and Pakistani officials. Pakistani Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood inaugurated the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train at Margalla railway station, in Islamabad. -Tehran Times 12/23/21

Missiles trained on Iran won't revive foundering Iran nuclear deal

As negotiations to renew the nuclear deal between Iran and the United States in Vienna grind on, commentators have begun to seriously float the idea of a military strike on Iran to prevent it from going nuclear. Leon Panetta, Michele Flournoy, Dennis Ross and others wrote that the threat of a strike would be necessary to convince Iran "it will suffer severe consequences if it stays on its current path." Regional experts Eric Brewer and Henry Rome reached the same conclusion: the threat of a strike should be kept in reserve to convince Iran to rein in its activity. -Gregory Brew, Responsible Statecraft 12/22/21

What Do Iranians Think? Not Much of America, Thanks to Donald Trump

Negotiations over restoring the nuclear agreement with Iran aren't quite moribund, but the Biden administration has begun to sound a bit like its predecessor in muttering threats of military action. War with Iran would be a catastrophe, much worse than with Iraq. And sending in bombers would only delay, not halt, construction of nuclear weapons, if that became Tehran's objective. -Doug Bandow, Antiwar.com 12/22/21

Iran, unlike West, is upbeat about nuclear talks, experts say

Iran believes it has scored points in the Vienna talks meant to revive its tattered 2015 nuclear deal by managing to include sanctions relief in discussion documents for the next round, experts say. The lifting of the punishing sanctions regime then-US president Donald Trump imposed when he pulled Washington out of the agreement in 2018 has been Tehran's top priority. -AFP 12/22/21

US Special Envoy for Iran warns of "escalating crisis" if talks fail to revive Iran nuclear deal

The time left to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is running out and raising the risk of an "escalating crisis," the United States Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, told CNN's Becky Anderson on Tuesday. "At some point in the not-so-distant future, we will have to conclude that the JCPOA is no more, and we'd have to negotiate a wholly new different deal, and of course we'd go through a period of escalating crisis," Malley, who is indirectly negotiating with Iran a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the agreement. -MSN 12/22/21

US official to travel to Israel to discuss Iran nuclear programme

United States national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will visit Israel this week for detailed discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Iran's nuclear programme, a senior Biden administration official has said. The visit, which is expected to begin on Tuesday, comes as negotiations in Vienna over Iran returning to the 2015 nuclear deal have shown modest gains, but remain far from a breakthrough. -Al Jazeera 12/22/21

Iran suggests Saudis hindered effort to save ambassador from Covid

Iran has implied that its regional foe, Saudi Arabia, may have blocked efforts to save the life of its ambassador to Yemen, who contracted coronavirus there but was unable to be repatriated immediately for urgent medical treatment. The ambassador, Hasan Irlu, "was evacuated in poor condition due to delayed cooperation from certain countries", the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, told state media. -Guardian 12/22/21

Iran's Guard fires cruise missiles in military exercise

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday fired cruise missiles during a major military exercise across the country's south, media reported. The semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to the Guard, did not specify the type and range of the missiles. But it said five cruise missiles and an unspecified number of attack drones successfully hit their targets. -AP 12/21/21

Top Iranian commander: Israel can't strike us without US 'green light'

A senior Iranian commander said Monday that Israel does not have the ability to strike Iran's nuclear or military bases without US approval and boasted that any Israeli aggression will be met with a powerful response that can accurately target the infrastructure used for the attack. Gholamali Rashid, chief of the Iranian armed forces central command headquarters, made the remarks as Iran began a large military exercise. -Times of Israel 12/21/21

Saudi, Iranian FMs hold 'informal' meeting

In a major diplomatic breakthrough between Saudi Arabia and Iran, foreign ministers of both the countries met on the sidelines of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers session. "Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Amir Hussain and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud met informally and briefly," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said yesterday. -Nation 12/21/21

Two Former CIA Directors Call on Biden to Threaten Iran Militarily

A HAWKISH GAGGLE of former U.S. national security officials, lawmakers, and diplomats has launched a public campaign to pressure the Biden administration into militarily threatening Iran. The statement, headlined by former CIA chiefs Leon Panetta and retired Gen. David Petraeus as well as former Obama-era senior Pentagon official Michele Flournoy asserts that "it is vital to restore Iran's fear that its current nuclear path will trigger the use of force against it by the United States." -Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept 12/20/21

Saudi allows medical evacuation of Iran Yemen envoy

Iran's ambassador flew out of the rebel-held Yemeni capital to receive Covid treatment Saturday in a rare exemption from an air blockade enforced by a Saudi-led coalition, Saudi and Iranian officials said. 12/20/21

Iran and UN inspector reach agreement on cameras at nuclear facility

Iran and the UN inspector have reached an agreement on the imminent reinstallation of cameras at the Karaj nuclear facility, a move that is seen as indispensable to keeping alive the broader nuclear talks and the lifting of US sanctions on Tehran. Those negotiations appear to be hanging by a thread judging by a string of negative comments from European diplomats when they discussed the progress of the talks at the UN security council on Tuesday. -Guardian 12/17/21

Iran nuclear talks due to pause on Friday, diplomats say

The remaining parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal plan to meet on Friday at 1300 GMT to adjourn talks on salvaging the deal, three diplomats said on Thursday. The indirect U.S.-Iran talks on bringing both back into full compliance with the deal are in their seventh round. One of the diplomats said they were due to resume on Dec. 27, while another gave a time frame between Christmas and the New Year. -Reuters 12/17/21

Playing the blame game won't resolve the nuclear impasse with Iran

The JCPOA is hanging by a thread and European diplomats appear to have focused their efforts on calling out Tehran. As negotiations to restore the JCPOA continue in Vienna, the European participants - the UK, France, and Germany (known as the E3) - issued on December 14 a stark warning before the U.N. Security Council meeting on the implementation of resolution 2231 (which enshrined the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015). -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 12/16/21

The US Foreign Policy Comedy

In what seems to be a talking point in the script handed to all the players, the US has accused Iran of not being serious at the reopening of the JCPOA nuclear talks in Vienna. "What we've seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "The Iranians have not been taking the negotiations seriously at this point," said CIA Director William Burns. -Ted Snider, Antiwar.com 12/16/21

Amid a crackdown, Afghan refugees in Iran fear the 'unthinkable': Being sent back

Unlike most of his compatriots, Jamal Papoli didn't have to worry about being stuck in Afghanistan when the Taliban sped to power in August. Papoli had quit his homeland years ago to set up shop as a stonemason here in neighboring Iran, just outside Tehran. But instead of relief, what the 30-year-old father of two feels these days is fear. -Los Angeles Times 12/16/21

A Better Way in the Middle East

Convinced that the U.S. has lost faith in the strategic value of the Middle East, prime ministers and kings alike are scrambling to find their strategic footing in the region. Amidst the confusion and uncertainty of a world without American protection, two models are emerging. -Trita Parsi, American Prospect 12/16/21

The International Consensus on How to Prevent a Nuclear Iran That Is Never Discussed in the US

This bipartisan framing of the issue, deferentially accepted by establishment media, entirely excludes a third option from the discourse: a common-sense proposal which has nearly unanimous international support. So, what is this international consensus? Simple: a nuclear weapons-free-zone in the Middle East, where all nuclear materials would be under the direct control of the International Atomic Energy Agency. -Jacob Batinga, Common Dreams 12/15/21

Israel Finds Planes That Could Be Key to a Strike on Iran Badly Back-Ordered

Israel asked the Biden administration last week to speed up the delivery of refueling tankers that could prove critical to striking Iran's nuclear facilities, but it was told that the aircraft were back-ordered and it was unlikely that its first one would be ready until late 2024, according to U.S. and Israeli officials. -New York Times 12/15/21

Reports: Iran will allow new UN cameras at nuclear site

Iran will allow the United Nations' nuclear watchdog to reinstall cameras damaged at a site where it has centrifuge parts and manufacturing material, semiofficial Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday. The decision will see cameras put back at Karaj, which came under what Iran describes as a sabotage attack in June. Iran since had refused the International Atomic Energy Agency access to replace cameras damaged in the incident. -AP 12/15/21

Iran and Europeans trade barbs as Vienna nuclear talks continue

World powers are continuing private talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Iran's 2015 nuclear deal but disagreements between Iran and the West have kept on spilling into public view. In a tweet early on Tuesday, Iran's chief negotiator wrote that some counterparts still "persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy". -Al Jazeera 12/14/21

Why bombing Iran (is still) a bad idea

With JCPOA talks not looking promising, Israel is pressuring Biden to turn to a military option that will only make things worse. Israeli officials in Washington on Thursday reportedly urged the United States to launch strikes against Iranian targets, in what would be an unprecedented escalation of hostilities. -Annelle Sheline and Bruce Riedel, Responsible Statecraft 12/14/21

Gantz Tells US He Ordered Israeli Military to Prepare an Attack on Iran

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told reporters that he notified US officials during meetings in Washington last week that he ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to prepare to attack Iran. The order he gave was to "prepare for the Iranian challenge at the operational level," Gantz said on the sidelines of a conference in Miami, Florida, that was held Friday. -Antiwar.com 12/14/21

Houthi hysteria breaks out at the Wall Street Journal

The famously hawkish editorial pages are doing PR for the Saudis. Who knew that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the biggest importer of sophisticated weaponry in the developing world going back a generation and more, is SO fragile? Apparently, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board thinks so. Last week, it published an alarmed editorial that relayed the Saudis' urgent pleas "for America for help as it runs out of ammunition to defend against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen."-Jim Lobe, Responsible Statecraft 12/14/21

Israel Is Hell-Bent on Sabotaging US Nuclear Negotiations With Iran

One would think that Israel, which receives $3.8 billion annually from the U.S., would feel obligated not to drag the U.S. and their own people into such a disaster. But that doesn't seem to be the case. -Ariel Gold and Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams 12/13/21

'Haaretz' publisher says Israel is 'an apartheid state' - as his paper continues to warn against an Israel-Iran war

Amos Schocken is Israel's equivalent of the latest Sulzberger to inherit control of the New York Times. Schocken, in his mid-70s, is the third generation of his family to run Haaretz, the most respected newspaper in Israel, and he speaks out regularly in columns and on social media. Just the other day, Schocken called Israel "an apartheid state." -Mondoweiss 12/13/21

Biden's efforts to appease Israel on Iran have failed on all fronts

It's not the nuclear deal that's the problem for Tel Aviv, but the very idea that Washington and Tehran would reach any detente at all. Diverging Israeli and American views on the JCPOA is nothing new. But senior officials on the Biden team thought President Obama could have handled the Israelis better by coordinating more closely with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and actually heeding some of his hawkish advice. This belief, however, is unfounded. -Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 12/13/21

Satellite images, expert suggest Iranian space launch coming

Iran appears to be preparing for a space launch as negotiations continue in Vienna over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers, according to an expert and satellite images. Satellite images taken Saturday by Planet Labs Inc. obtained by The Associated Press show activity at the spaceport in the desert plains of Iran's rural Semnan province, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of Tehran. -AP 12/13/21

High stakes at the Vienna nuclear talks with Iran

Tehran's negotiators must consider the wider political and strategic implications of every move they make. The ongoing indirect US-Iran negotiations in Vienna on the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have thus far made little progress. Already ailing when Ebrahim Raisi was elected to the presidency in June 2021, negotiations were effectively suspended by a new hard-line government determined to jettison what was determined to be a "failed" negotiating strategy by former President Hassan Rouhani. -Daniel Brumberg, Responsible Statecraft 12/13/21

Iran cautions against reported U.S.-Israeli military drills

Iran cautioned the U.S. on Saturday against going through with reported planned military drills in coordination with Israel. "Providing conditions for military commanders to test Iranian missiles with real targets will cost the aggressors a heavy price," an unnamed military official said, according to Nournews, Reuters reported. -The Hill 12/13/21

Iran nuclear talks pulled back from brink as Tehran shifts stance

Efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal have been hauled back from the brink of collapse as Tehran revised its stance after pressure from Russia and China and clear warnings that the EU and the US were preparing to walk away. The cautiously optimistic assessment came at the start of the seventh round of talks on the future of the nuclear deal in Vienna. -Guardian 12/10/21

US 'privileging path of diplomacy' with Iran, Biden's envoy says

The Biden administration is prioritising diplomacy in its relationship with Tehran, the US special envoy for Iran has told Al Jazeera, stressing that reviving the Iran nuclear deal remains in the "mutual interest" of both countries. In an interview on Thursday, Robert Malley said restoring the nuclear pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is still possible. -Al Jazeera 12/10/21

US, Israel ratchet up warnings on Iran as nuclear talks resume

Talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed on Thursday with the United States and Israel ramping up rhetorical pressure on Tehran about the possible economic or military consequences if diplomacy fails. -AFP 12/10/21

Iran talks chair sees new 'sense of purpose' as talks resume

Negotiations between Iran and world powers aimed at salvaging a tattered 2015 nuclear deal resumed in Vienna on Thursday, with tensions high after Tehran made demands last week that European countries strongly criticized. The talks' chairman said he detected "a renewed sense of purpose." Diplomats from Britain, France and Germany had urged Tehran to come back with "realistic proposals" after the Iranian delegation made numerous demands last week that other parties to the accord deemed unacceptable. -AP 12/9/21

US delegation to head to Vienna for indirect Iran nuclear talks

The United States will resume indirect nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, the State Department has confirmed, saying the Biden administration is giving diplomacy "another chance" after little progress was made in discussions last week. US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that the Biden administration's special envoy on Iran, Robert Malley, and his delegation "will plan to join the talks over the weekend". -Al Jazeera 12/9/21

The Iran War That Obama Tried to Avoid Is Now Around the Corner

That conclusion seems unavoidable watching President Joe Biden fail to revive the Iran nuclear deal from which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew in 2018. The Iranian side has demanded the removal of sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, as well as a guarantee that a future U.S. administration will not once again abruptly pull out of the nuclear deal, which is known as the JCPOA. -Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept 12/8/21

US sanctions won't create leverage in nuclear talks, Iran warns

Iran and the United States exchanged barbs on Tuesday after the Biden administration imposed fresh sanctions on Iranian entities and officials, with Tehran warning Washington that the measures would not "create leverage" in nuclear deal talks. The US Treasury Department blacklisted the Special Units of Iran's Law Enforcement Forces and Counter-Terror Special Forces and several officials linked to the agencies, accusing them of human rights abuses. -Al Jazeera 12/8/21

Will Democracy summit examine US role in perpetuating authoritarianism?

The Biden administration's upcoming Summit of Democracy sets out a noble goal: bringing together democratic governments to defend against authoritarianism, address and fight corruption, and promote respect for human rights. The cruel irony is Washington supports most of the world's autocratic nations with weapons and money. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 12/8/21

No evidence Iran has decided to weaponize nuclear program, CIA chief says

The head of the Central Intelligence Agency said Monday that the United States does not have evidence that Iran has made a decision to weaponize its nuclear program. The US spy agency "doesn't see any evidence that Iran's Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] has made a decision to move to weaponize," CIA Director William Burns told the Wall Street Journal's annual CEO Council, according to CBS News. -Times of Israel 12/8/21

The Iran nuclear deal will be kept alive - but barely

Everything unfolded according to the script at the Iran nuclear talks last week in Vienna. Iran, led by new President Ebrahim Raisi's government, adopted a much harsher negotiating position, which the U.S. and the Europeans predictably rejected as the blame game officially began. Despite the harsh rhetoric from the Biden administration, this is how everyone expected this round to start and end. -Trita Parsi, MSNBC 12/7/21

Illegal Attacks on Iranians Won't End the Impasse

If the nuclear deal isn't going to be salvaged, that does not have to mean war or proliferation, but it will give Iran hawks an opening to start a war that will likely end with more proliferation. Salvaging the nuclear deal was still the best way forward, but there is clearly no political will in Washington or in European capitals to do what is necessary to save it. -Daniel Larison 12/7/21

Top Israeli military officials say Trump's Iran deal exit was a 'mistake,' bad for Israel

The United States, its allies, and Iran have returned to negotiations this week in Vienna aimed at restoring the JCPOA. All parties are expressing pessimism regarding the current round of talks. President Joe Biden is feeling pressure from Congress and from Israel to find ways to "improve" the deal, while the new, more hardline Iranian leadership is holding firm to its demands that Washington lift all sanctions imposed since 2018 immediately and offer a guarantee that it will not renege on its commitment to the deal, as President Donald Trump did. -Mitchell Plitnick, Responsible Statecraft 12/7/21

On bombing Iran, Israel needs to cool its threats

Today, as Iran and global powers carry on past the seventh round of this year's nuclear negotiations in Vienna, which ended on December 3, Israel has been calling on all parties to halt the talks at once. But it would behoove the Israelis to understand that a revived JCPOA is now the most realistic pathway toward ensuring that Iran freezes and, if possible, reverses its nuclear program to the levels prescribed by the 2015 nuclear deal. -Giorgio Cafiero, Responsible Statecraft 12/6/21

UAE's top security official visits Iran to develop 'warm ties'

The UAE's top national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan is on a visit to Iran for high-level talks that are seen as a possible sign of thawing relations between the two countries. Sheikh Tahnoon, a brother of the country's de facto ruler and Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, discussed improving bilateral ties and developments in regional affairs in the capital Tehran on Monday. -Al Jazeera 12/6/21

US seeks Russian and Chinese support to salvage Iran nuclear deal

The US is hoping pressure from Russia, China and some Arab Gulf states may yet persuade Iran to moderate its negotiating stance in regards to the steps the Biden administration must take before both sides return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Talks in Vienna faltered badly last week, when the new hardline Iranian administration increased its levels of uranium enrichment and tabled proposals that US officials said at the weekend were "not serious"since they had gone back on all the progress made in the previous round of talks. -Guardian 12/6/21

Iran slams France for selling arms to UAE, 'destabilising' region

Iran on Monday accused France of "destabilising" the Persian Gulf region after Paris signed a record 14-billion-euro deal with the United Arab Emirates for 80 Rafale fighter jets. "We must not ignore France's role in destabilising the region," foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a news conference. "We expected France to be more responsible -AFP 12/6/21

Talks with Iran on restoring 2015 nuclear deal suspended

The first formal talks between western powers and the new Iranian regime on how to restore the 2015 nuclear deal were suspended on Friday, with Europe warning that Iran had walked back all previous diplomatic progress and fast-forwarded its nuclear programme. It now seems possible the talks will collapse next week if Iran does not modify its demands, potentially risking an attack on Iran by Israel. -Guardian 12/4/21

U.S. and Iran pessimistic about reviving nuclear deal

The United States and Iran both sounded pessimistic on Thursday about the chances of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, with Washington saying it had little cause for optimism and Tehran questioning the determination of U.S. and European negotiators. "I have to tell you, recent moves, recent rhetoric, don't give us a lot of cause for ... optimism," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Stockholm, saying he could judge in a day or so if Iran would engage in good faith. -Reuters 12/3/21

Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran

669,492 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2021, of which 15% are families, 21% are women and 59% are children. Afghans continue to make their way to Iran informally through unofficial borders. UNHCR is aware of 23,964 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January to 27 November, though the numbers are much higher. -Relief Web 12/3/21

As Israel bids to nix nuke talks, Iran says delegates not taking orders from Bennett

Iran lashed out at Israel Thursday after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for an immediate halt to talks in Vienna aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry charged that Israel was showing its "true color" by opposing negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which placed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The talks resumed this week after a months-long pause. -Times of Israel 12/3/21

Iran says nuclear deal 'within reach' if West shows goodwill

Iran's top diplomat says an agreement to revive his country's nuclear deal with world powers was "within reach" but that this depended on the goodwill of the West. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Twitter on Thursday that negotiations in the Austrian capital, Vienna, were "proceeding with seriousness" and that the removal of sanctions was a "fundamental priority". -Al Jazeera 12/2/21

Iran preparing to enrich uranium, nuclear deal talks in Vienna told

Iran sought to heighten pressure on western negotiators in Vienna through increasing its use of advanced centrifuges as talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal carried on for a third day on Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Wednesday that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to up to 20% purity with one cascade, or cluster, of 166 advanced IR-6 machines at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant, which is about 20 miles north-east of Qom. -Guardian 12/2/21

Iran and Taliban forces clash in border area

Clashes erupted between Iranian soldiers and Taliban forces near the Afghanistan-Iran border, but appear to have led to no casualties and was later described as a "misunderstanding". Multiple videos on Wednesday showed Taliban troops mobilising. Gunfire can be heard while one shows Iranian forces firing artillery shells in response to Taliban fire. -Al Jazeera 12/2/21

Iran strikes hard line as talks over nuclear deal resume

Iran struck a hard line Tuesday after just one day of restarted talks in Vienna over its tattered nuclear deal, suggesting everything discussed in previous rounds of diplomacy could be renegotiated. Speaking to Iranian state television, Ali Bagheri, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, referred to everything discussed thus far as merely a "draft." It remained unclear whether that represented an opening gambit by Iran's new president or signaled serious trouble for those hoping to restore the 2015 deal that saw Tehran strictly limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. -AP 12/1/21

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