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April 19 2018
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EU Stops Short Of Imposing Additional Sanctions On Iran

- Meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers strongly defended the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and declined to impose new sanctions against Iran over its role in the Syrian conflict. "There is no consensus at the moment on the fact that these measures would be useful in this moment or appropriate in this moment," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after the April 16 meeting. -RFE/RL - 4/17/18

Iranian forces foil attack on border watchtower in southeast, kill three terrorists

- Iranian forces have thwarted an attempt by Pakistan-based terrorists to storm and seize a security watchtower in the country's southeastern border region, killing three terrorists in the operation. During the operation, two IRGC forces also lost their lives and two other were wounded when their vehicle hit a booby trap, the statement said, adding that an Iranian border guard was also killed in the abortive attack. -Press TV - 4/17/18

Keeping Iran nuclear deal in place vital for EU: Foreign Policy Chief Mogherini

- The European Union has reiterated its strong and unequivocal commitment to the full implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran by all sides, saying preserving the deal is vital. "The Europeans have always made it clear, the European Union has always made it clear that for us, keeping the agreement in place is vital. It is a strategic interest for the European Union and we will stick to it," EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogheri, told reporters on Monday ahead of the bloc's Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg. - 4/16/18

Rasoul Khadem returns to Iran Wrestling Federation

- Rasoul Khadem, who had announced his retirement as the president of Iran Wrestling Federation, has returned to the federation after two months. Khadem had resigned after saying authorities should reconsider their policy of not allowing Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis. - 4/10/18

Russia, China Denounce U.S. Efforts To Change Iran Deal, World Trade Rules

- The foreign ministers of Russia and China have jointly denounced what they described as efforts by the United States to unilaterally change negotiated treaties ranging from the Iran nuclear deal to the global-warming pact and world trade rules. - 4/6/18

Germany's Merkel Set To Visit U.S. As Trump's Iran Deadline Nears

- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to the United States to meet with President Donald Trump in the coming weeks, the White House says. The meetings would come shortly before a May 12 deadline that Trump has set for adjustments to the 2015 nuclear deal signed by the United States and other world powers with Iran. Germany, France, and other signatories have urged the United States to remain in the pact. - 4/6/18

Ankara Hosts Iran, Russia Leaders as Cooperation Deepens to End Syria Conflict

- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ankara Wednesday for a second trilateral summit, part of ongoing efforts to end the Syrian civil war. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 4/5/18

Russia to invest $50 billion in Iran oil, gas: Official

- Russian investment in developing Iran's oil and gas fields could total more than $50 billion, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has said. "Energy is the most promising sphere for cooperation between Russia and Iran. Leading Russian oil and gas companies such as Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Rosneft, Lukoil, Zarubezhneft and Tatneft are systemically working on development of fields in Iran. The expected amount of investments is over $50 billion," he told reporters in Moscow Monday. - 4/5/18

Leaders of Turkey, Russia, Iran Gather in Ankara to Discuss Syria End Game

- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosts his counterparts from Russia and Iran Wednesday for a second trilateral summit on Syria. The three, whose countries have a significant military presence in Syria, are increasingly cooperating to resolve the civil war under the auspices of the so-called "Astana Process." The deepening cooperation comes in the face of intense rivalries. - 4/4/18

Putin To Visit Ankara This Week For Talks With Turkish, Iranian Leaders

- Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to make a two-day visit to Turkey this week for talks with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts. Putin is to meet with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on April 3 as part of the Turkish-Russian High-Level Cooperation Council. - 4/2/18

Russia Denies Israeli Fighter Jets Reached Iran Airspace Undetected

- An unnamed source affiliated with the Russian Defense Ministry has denied a report by a Kuwaiti daily claiming two of Israel's F-35 fighter jets flew over Syria and Iraq last week to reach Iranian airspace without being detected by Russian radars based in Syria. Iraq's Defense Ministry also denied Israel's jets had violated its airspace. - 4/2/18

Iranian Judoka Pulls Out Of Grand Prix To Avoid Facing Israeli Athlete

- Once again, an Iranian judoka has pulled out of an international competition to avoid facing an Israeli athlete because of a controversial Iranian government policy. Mohammad Abbas Nejad was set to face Israeli athlete Yarin Mnagid on March 30 in the 66 kilogram weight category at the Tbilisi 2018 Judo Grand Prix. - 3/31/18

Iranian Receives U.S. Visa To Help Brother With Cancer

- An Iranian man has been allowed to travel to the United States to donate bone marrow to his U.S. citizen brother with blood cancer, the family's lawyer says. Kamiar Hashemi was granted a visa by the U.S. State Department, obtaining a rare waiver to President Donald Trump's travel ban, Mahsa Khanbabai said on March 29. -Radio Farda - 3/30/18

Trump's Silence On A Saudi Nuclear Bomb

- It's said that the only two people Donald Trump does not criticize are Vladimir Putin and Stormy Daniels. You can add Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to that list. With the prince's two week trip to the United States coming to a close, Trump remained stone silent after the heir apparent to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced his nuclear plans on American television. "Without a doubt," MbS told CBS host Norah O'Donnell, "if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible." Not a single voice of protest was heard from the Trump administration. -Joe Cirincione - 3/30/18

There Will Be War With Iran If Sanctions Do Not Work, Crown Prince Warns

- Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has once again urged the international community to squeeze Iran economically and politically, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 29. The Saudi crown prince told the WSJ that sanctions "will create more pressure on the regime". Meanwhile Prince Mohammad insisted that Riyadh was trying to avoid military conflict with Tehran. - 3/30/18

Even If US Doesn't Exit Iran Nuclear Deal, Risk Of War Remains

- When the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany signed a deal that effectively prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons, those in Iran and in other signatory states who did not want to see another war erupt in the Middle East sighed with relief. This sense of relief was short-lived. When Donald Trump became president, anxieties about a potential war with Iran reemerged.-Shireen T. Hunter - 3/29/18

Iran-Azerbaijan relations beneficial to entire world: President Rouhani

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has hailed amicable ties between Iran and Azerbaijan, saying cooperation between the two neighbors is beneficial to the entire world. Addressing an Iran-Azerbaijan business forum in Baku on Thursday, Rouhani said, "We are today witnessing the best of ties between the two nations and governments." The outcome of such bilateral relations, Rouhani added, will be "in the interest of the region and the whole world." - 3/29/18

Looming US Showdown With Iran Puts Ankara in Tight Spot

- Top diplomats from Turkey and the United States are working hard to bridge the deep gulf between the two NATO allies. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow is in Ankara for talks this week, while Turkey's top diplomat, Umit Yalcin, will visit Washington this weekend. However, the effort may be complicated, as Ankara improves ties with neighboring Iran while America prepares a tougher approach to that nation. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 3/29/18

Natural gas: An underrated driver of Saudi hostility towards Iran and Qatar

- Debilitating hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about lots of things, not least who will have the upper hand in a swath of land stretching from Central Asia to the Atlantic coast of Africa. While attention is focused on ensuring that continued containment of Iran ensures that Saudi Arabia has a leg up, geopolitics is but one side of the equation. Natural gas is the other. -James M. Dorsey - 3/28/18

Iran cements ties with neighbors ahead of Trump D-day

- Iran and Turkmenistan appear to have put a snowballing gas debt dispute behind them following President Hassan Rouhani's visit which culminated in the signing of 13 documents for broadening of relations. Rouhani began his first visit abroad in the new Iranian year to Ashgabat where the two sides held "very constructive and valuable" talks and made "good decisions" in line with the interests of the two nations. - 3/28/18

End Of Hope For Trump's Middle East Policy

- This past week could go down as the worst for the US role in the world since the misbegotten 2003 invasion of Iraq, whose tragic consequences still bedevil us. In both cases, the damage has been almost entirely self-inflicted, the result of abysmal judgment at the top of the US government, plus the failure of other institutions-Congress, the media-to do their proper jobs. -Robert E. Hunter - 3/27/18

Iran Calls Trump's Move To Appoint Bolton 'A Matter Of Shame'

- Iran has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to appoint former UN Ambassador John Bolton as national-security adviser, with a senior official saying that it is shameful and is a sign that Washington hopes to overthrow the government in Tehran. - 3/26/18

A Madman on the National Security Council

- What makes Bolton unique among hawkish operators is that he doesn't feel the need to hide any of these machinations. The man wants to pulverize Tehran and he's not afraid to say so. In 2015, Bolton wrote a piece for the New York Times subtly titled "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran." Never mind that the adverbial clause in that sentence had no definitive evidence in its favor -Matt Purple, American Conservative - 3/26/18

Trump's Insincere Nowruz Message

- Reading President Trump's Iranian New Year's (Nowruz) statement reminded me of what our granddaughter used to say when her diaper was full: "Yuck." It is a strange message. The reader is left asking, "What's the purpose?" Similar messages by Trump's predecessors usually said to Iranians, "We love you but we hate your government" or "We love you and we need to engage with your (difficult) government." -John Limbert - 3/25/18

Trump's New War Cabinet

- On Thursday, President Trump moved one step closer to completing his preferred cabinet. General H.R. McMaster, whom Trump called boring, was replaced as national security advisor by ultra-hawk John Bolton. This is the same John Bolton who wrote the forward for Pamela Geller's hate-filled book about President Obama, called on Israel to nuke Iran, ... -Shahed Ghoreishi, LobeLog - 3/25/18

With Bolton Pick, Trump is Assembling an Iran War Cabinet

- Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement regarding the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor: "Donald Trump may have just effectively declared war on Iran. With the appointment of John Bolton, and nomination of Mike Pompeo at State, Trump is clearly putting together a war cabinet. As the world awaits Trump's May 12 decision as to whether he will abandon the Iran nuclear deal, all of the signs now point to a decision to move to war footing. - 3/23/18

The Iran Deal Is Dead, Long Live The Iran Deal

- With the news that John Bolton will be Trump's new national security advisor, the death of the Iran Deal is all but assured. Bolton has vocally advocated for war with Iran, which he sees not as an option of last resort but as the only appropriate course of action. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, LobeLog - 3/23/18

US Announces $1 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

- The State Department approved nearly $1 billion in new arms sales for Saudi Arabia as the kingdom's crown prince continued his American tour. Some critics of the kingdom have raised concerns about arms sales to Riyadh as its forces remain involved in Yemen's three-year civil war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Critics have condemned Saudi Arabia for airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen. -VOA - 3/23/18

U.S., Europeans Wary As They Discuss Creating Iran Nuclear Side Deal

- The United States has had "constructive" talks with France, Britain, and Germany about creating a side agreement to the Iran nuclear deal but is making contingency plans should the effort fail, the lead U.S. negotiator has said. "We have had constructive talks with the Europeans towards a supplemental agreement, but I can't predict whether we will reach an agreement with them or not," Brian Hook, a U.S. State Department policy director and lead U.S. negotiator, told reporters on March 21. - 3/22/18

The Untold Story of John Bolton's Campaign for War With Iran

- But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy. -Gareth Porter, American Conservative - 3/22/18

China's Silk Road fires up Iran's rail revolution

- Iran's rail industry gets a fresh boost from China's dedication of $845 million to build a train line connecting Tehran to the western cities of Hamadan and Sanandaj. A Wednesday report said China National Machinery Industry Corp, known as Sinomach, signed a contract worth 5.35 billion yuan with Iran which is on a railway modernization and expansion drive. -Press TV - 3/22/18

Does The Road To Korean Denuclearization Run Through Tehran?

- The March 15 edition of the Wall Street Journal carried an op-ed by Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg that seeks to make trouble for Iran by exploiting President Donald Trump's decision to meet North Korea's supreme leader in May. Dubowitz and Goldberg have two aims. The first is to insinuate that Iran, like North Korea, wants to acquire nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The second is... -Peter Jenkins - 3/21/18

Trump Touts Arms Sales To Saudi Crown Prince, Discusses Iran

- President Donald Trump has praised U.S. defense sales to Saudi Arabia at a meeting with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman at the White House, where the two discussed simmering tensions with Iran. During the March 20 meeting, the powerful Saudi crown prince, who is likely to succeed King Salman, spoke with Trump about their perceived flaws with the Iran nuclear deal and countering Iran's involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. - 3/21/18

Chomsky On The Middle East

- Noam Chomsky is a linguist and an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy. This interview took place on February 28 in his office at the University of Arizona's Department of Linguistics in Tucson, Arizona. -Fariba Pajooh, LobeLog - 3/21/18

Iran And The Middle East

- As Mike Pence said on March 13: "President Trump has called on the Congress and our European allies to enact real and lasting restraints on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions... make no mistake about it: This is their last chance. Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately." This is bullying language directed at close allies, inspired not by sober determination of US interests and capabilities, but by hatred of President Obama and disdain for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its protocols. -Richard Dalton, LobeLog - 3/21/18

Trump Lambastes Iranian State, 'Hostile Army' IRGC In Norooz Greeting

- U.S. President Donald Trump has used an annual message to Iranians and others celebrating Norooz, the Persian New Year, to sharply criticize Iran's government and the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). - 3/20/18

Pompeo's Appointment Bodes Ill For The Middle East

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's departure and his replacement--current CIA director Mike Pompeo--will not move the Middle East to a better place. Nor will the possible elevation of the current deputy director of the CIA Gina Haspel to the director of the Agency bring clarity to American policies and intentions in the region. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 3/19/18

U.S. Senator Says Trump Likely To Withdraw From Iran Deal

- A senior U.S. senator says he believes President Donald Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in May. The comments by Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a television interview broadcast March 18 came less than two months before Trump must decide whether to extend U.S. sanctions relief to Tehran under the landmark deal. - 3/19/18

U.S. Negotiating 'Supplement' To Iran Nuclear Deal With European Allies

- The United States and European powers are negotiating over a possible "supplemental" agreement to the Iran nuclear deal that would address Iran's ballistic-missile development and involvement in Middle East conflicts, a U.S. diplomat said. U.S. envoy Brian Hook said the allies had "very good" talks about a "supplemental" accord in Vienna on March 16 as Reuters reported that Britain, France, and Germany have proposed new European Union sanctions against Iran over its ballistic-missile program and its role in the Syrian civil war. - 3/18/18

Signatories to Iran nuclear deal meet in Vienna amid Trump's threat

- Signatories to Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers have held a new round of their periodic meetings to review its implementation amid US threats to kill the multilateral accord. Representatives from Iran, the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany convened in the Austrian city of Vienna on Friday for a meeting of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission, or JCPOA. - 3/16/18

Saudi Prince Says Kingdom Will Build Nuclear Weapons If Iran Does

- Saudi Arabia's crown prince asserted on March 15 that the kingdom will develop nuclear weapons if Iran does, in a television interview immediately denounced by Tehran. Iran signed a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015 that prohibits it from developing nuclear weapons, and beyond that. Tehran has said it has no ambition to develop such weapons of mass destruction. However, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal, and Tehran has said that, if the United States withdraws, it will no longer be bound by the deal. - 3/16/18

Trump's And Pompeo's Path To Nuclear Crisis

- The prospective replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo clears one of the last apparent hurdles between Donald Trump and his destruction of a significant diplomatic achievement that has been squarely in the interests of the United States, of nuclear nonproliferation, and of the containment of conflict in the Middle East. This is, of course, the multilateral agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/16/18

Railroad Project to Connect Iran With Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan

- The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Iran held the first-ever quadrilateral meeting in Baku to discuss regional cooperation. At the center of the discussions was the construction of Rasht-Astara railroad, the 180-kilometer-long rail line that will connect the Iranian and Azerbaijani cities. The project is expected to be completed in three years. -Asgar Asgarov, VOA - 3/16/18

U.S. Reports Major Drop In Encounters With Iranian Vessels In Persian Gulf

- The Pentagon says the U.S. Navy has experienced a major, unexplained drop in close encounters with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf since August. "They don't seem to be engaging in the same provocative behavior" seen in previous years, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on March 15 as he returned from a trip to the Middle East. - 3/16/18

Pompeo: Springtime For Irano/Islamophobes

- "Great news for the Republic!" tweeted Sebastian Gorka, on hearing the news that CIA Director Mike Pompeo is replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Gorka, who was forced to resign from his position as a former deputy assistant to the President in major part due to his apparent membership in a Hungarian "knighthood" that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, thinks quite highly indeed of the former Kansas congressman. -Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 3/15/18

Pentagon Voices Support For Iran Nuclear Deal Amid Tillerson Exit

- A top U.S. military commander expressed the Pentagon's continued support for Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, hours after the announced departure of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a top defender of the deal in the U.S. administration. U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 13 that he shares the views of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joe Dunford that the deal is still in the best interests of the United States. - 3/14/18

Europe, Iran Baffled By US Position On Nuclear Deal

- During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) "the worst deal ever" for the US. In his first State of the Union address in January, Trump called on Congress to "fix the terrible flaws" of the Iran nuclear deal. The president has threatened to withdraw from the accord if Congress and Europe fail to amend it by May 12. -Mohammad Ghaderi and Javad Heiran-Nia, LobeLog - 3/14/18

Iran's Cultural Cleavages And The Need For National Compromise

- Popular demonstrations in Iran at the end of 2017 reflected economic and other grievances along with a growing frustration and impatience with the Islamic system's shortcomings. However, the demonstrations also revealed deep cultural cleavages in Iranian society. Some of Iran's cultural divides are very deep rooted and are related to Iran's Islamization after the Arab/Islamic conquest of the Sassanid Empire in 642 CE. Others are of more recent origin and developed with the start of Iran's modernization in the late nineteenth century. -Shireen T. Hunter - 3/13/18

Iran Accuses US of Supporting IS in Afghanistan; Washington Denies Allegation

- Iran has accused the United States of helping Islamic State militants in Afghanistan to fuel regional terrorism and threaten neighboring countries. Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the allegations while speaking to a gathering of diplomats, scholars and journalists in Islamabad. -Ayesha Tanzeem & Ayaz Gul, VOA - 3/13/18

Iran Finds Black Box, Bodies From Turkish Plane Crash

- Iranian state media reports that authorities have recovered the black box from a Turkish private jet that crashed in southwestern Iran on March 11, killing all 11 people onboard. Turkish media reports said the plane was carrying Mina Basaran, the 28-year-old daughter of Turkish businessman Huseyin Basaran, along with seven of her friends and three crew members. - 3/12/18

Will EU Blacklist All Of Hezbollah?

- When President Donald Trump threatened not to waive sanctions on the nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) unless the agreement's supposed flaws were "fixed," he also issued a number of demands directed specifically at European allies. One of them was that the EU put the Lebanese organization Hezbollah on the terrorist list. At the moment, just Hezbollah's military wing is on the list. Trump demanded that the EU extend the designation to all of Hezbollah including its political wing. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 3/11/18

Netanyahu launches another tirade against Iran at AIPAC

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Iran is responsible for "darkness descending" on the Middle East, hailing the US administration's threat to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries. - 3/7/18

The Middle East's nuclear technology clock starts ticking

- The Middle East's nuclear technology clock is ticking as nations pursue peaceful capabilities that potentially leave the door open to future military options. Concern about a nuclear arms race is fuelled by uncertainty over the future of Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement, a seeming US willingness to weaken its strict export safeguards in pursuit of economic advantage, and a willingness by suppliers such as Russia and China to ignore risks involved in weaker controls. -James M. Dorsey - 3/7/18

Kremlin Confirms Putin, Rohani, Erdogan To Meet in April

- The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet for talks during April. A March 7 Kremlin statement about the gathering did not specify the exact date or where the meeting would take place. Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all deeply involved in the war in Syria. - 3/7/18

All to regret nuclear deal failure: Iranian President tells visiting French FM

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says everyone will regret the possible collapse of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 as the US continues its efforts to sabotage the deal and issues threats to pull out of it. In a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Tehran on Monday, the Iranian president added that it is imperative to save the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in order to improve regional security, stability and cooperation. - 3/6/18

Netanyahu to Trump: Israel, US Have a Common Challenge to Stop Iran

- "Iran must be stopped; that is our common challenge," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday. The two leaders, sitting alongside each other in the Oval Office, discussed how to thwart Iran's military advances in the Middle East and the 2015 international accord designed to curb Tehran's nuclear weapons development. Both Trump and Netanyahu have deemed it inadequate. -Steve Herman, VOA - 3/6/18

US upholds ruling to seize Bank Melli Iran's assets

- The US Supreme Court has turned down Bank Melli Iran's appeal against American claims to millions of dollars of the state-owned lender's frozen assets held abroad. A number of Americans have been seeking $17.6 million of Iranian assets which Visa Inc and Franklin Resources Inc owe to Bank Melli. They are among some 90 Americans who have been granted by a US lower court to seek nearly $1 billion of Iranian money in compensation for its alleged role in militant attacks. - 3/6/18

How A Persian Gulf Security Agreement Could Serve U.S. Interests

- At the Munich Security Conference in February, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif repeated his administration's proposal to engage Iran's Persian Gulf neighbors with the goal of creating a Persian Gulf Security Agreement. According to Zarif, the talks for such an agreement would be "founded on dialogue, common principles, and confidence building measures" with the goal of avoiding "turmoil or potentially far worse." -Shahed Ghoreishi, LobeLog - 3/6/18

UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran-Accord Failure Would Be 'Great Loss'

- The failure of a landmark 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to restrict Tehran's nuclear program would represent a "great loss," the head of the UN's atomic watchdog has said. "As of today, I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments" under the deal, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said in a speech opening a quarterly meeting of the IAEA's board of governors. - 3/5/18

French Foreign Minister in Tehran for potentially tense talks

- Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is in Tehran for a two-day visit which is expected to be far from easy after a series of harsh statements made by French leaders about Iran's missile program and its role in the Middle East. The top French diplomat was greeted by a group of protesters as his flight touched down at Tehran's Mehrabad airport mid-night Sunday. The protesters carried placards which read "Iran is not Libya," in an apparent reference to France's role in NATO's bombing of the African country and the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. - 3/5/18

Professors to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: Use Persian New Year Norooz as opportunity to promote peace

- A group of distinguished professors and intellectuals have written a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling on him to use Norooz, the Persian New Year, as an opportunity to remove "structural violence" in international system in order to achieve true peace (Positive Peace). Inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a cultural tradition observed by numerous peoples, Norooz is an ancestral festivity marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. It promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighbourliness... - 3/4/18

Selling Saudis The Nuclear Rope To Hang US

- Selling nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia and allowing them to build massive uranium-enrichment facilities and plants to extract plutonium is a stupendously dumb idea. So, it is perhaps fitting that the Trump administration is sending Rick Perry to discuss all this with the Saudis. -Joe Cirincione, LobeLog - 3/4/18

French FM Takes Tough Line On Iran's Missiles Before Visit

- French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said ahead of a March 5visit to Tehran that the country needed to address concerns over its ballistic-missile program or risked new sanctions. "Iran's defense program is not the concern of other countries such as France, that they should come and tell us what missiles we can have. Do we tell France how it should defend itself?" said Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - 3/4/18

Oh, Magog!

- Welcome back, Gog and Magog. I can't say that I've missed you. You might remember the Gog and Magog story from 2003, when George W. Bush was making plans to invade Iraq and assembling a "coalition of the willing." French President Jacques Chirac was quite unwilling, so Bush went to great lengths to break down his resistance. What Trump does care about, however, is Iran. The administration wants to keep U.S. troops in Syria to block Iran from expanding its influence in the country. Add to that the various indications that the Trump administration is gearing up for a direct confrontation with Iran, and you've got a perfect recipe for Gog and Magog. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 3/2/18

Iranian Wrestling Officials Quit Over Israel Policy

- The head of Iran's wrestling federation has resigned after criticizing the authorities for letting athletes be punished because of the country's ban on facing Israeli opponents. After news of Khadem's resignation, the councils for freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling said they were resigning en masse, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. - 3/1/18

Uber CEO: Trump is ruining America's most valuable brand

- Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has lived the American Dream. Now he thinks President Trump is ruining it. "I'm incredibly lucky to have emigrated to the United States at a time when the US was welcoming," said Khosrowshahi, who came to the country as an Iranian refugee at the age of 9. -CNN - 3/1/18

Iranian Wrestling Federation President Says Iranian Athletes Should Compete Against Israelis

- The president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation, Rasoul Khadem, says authorities should reverse their policy of not allowing Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis. The Islamic Republic does not recognize the state of Israel, and has an unwritten rule that Iranian athletes should not compete against Israelis in international sporting events. In practice, this means Iranian athletes feign injury or throw matches to avoid facing Israelis in competition. - 2/28/18

Does Iran's Constitution Promote Export Of Islamic Revolution?

- Some claims are repeated unchallenged so often that they end up becoming part of the conventional wisdom. Such is the case with the assertion that the Iranian constitution mandates the export of the country's Islamic revolution and bestows on the Islamic Republic the responsibility to protect all Shia Muslims in the world regardless of citizenship. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir made such claims in his speech in the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament (EP) on February 22. Before that, he claimed the same thing in the Munich Security Conference and on many other occasions. -Eldar Mamedov - 2/28/18

A Nuclear Standard For Saudi Arabia

- Later this week Secretary of Energy Rick Perry will lead a U.S. delegation to negotiate a possible nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. The subject already has been a point of contention between Riyadh and Washington. Saudi Arabia wants to establish a large-scale nuclear power program and also wants to be free to engage in nuclear activities such as the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of spent reactor fuel. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 2/28/18

A Nuclear Deal With Iran Remains The Least Bad Option

- Abbas Araghchi was in London last week. Araghchi, one of Iran's deputy foreign ministers, was a negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the July 2015 agreement designed to resolve international concerns about the nature and intent of Iran's nuclear program. Toward the end of an interview with the BBC on February 22, he was asked whether the JCPOA would "collapse if the United States [were] not part of it." -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 2/27/18

Russia vetoes anti-Iran UN Security Council resolution

- A UK-drafted resolution aimed at pressuring Iran over alleged weapons supplies to Yemeni fighters has failed at the UN Security Council. On Monday, the resolution gained 11 favorable votes at the 15-member Security Council but was halted by Russia's veto. - 2/27/18

Unearthing Memory, Recollecting Dust: An ongoing project by Maryam Ashrafi & Barbad Golshiri

- In late winter of 2002, Iranian social documentary photographer Maryam Ashrafi and Iranian artist and writer Barbad Golshiri, at the time unknown to each other, were waiting to hear from the well-known Iranian photojournalist and documentary maker Kaveh Golestan. Maryam was looking forward to meeting Kaveh and learning the scrupulous method of photojournalism he was renowned for, and Barbad was hoping to join him on a trip to war-torn Iraq. Both never heard back from him, as on 2nd of April 2003, while on assignment for the BBC, Golestan stepped on a landmine in Iraqi Kurdistan and was killed instantly. - 2/26/18

Iran basketball team defeats Iraq in 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifier

- The Iranian men's national basketball team has achieved a resounding win in the Asian qualification round of the 2019 Federation Internationale de Basket-ball (FIBA) World Cup, beating the Iraqi side. On Sunday evening, the Iranian outfit overcame the Iraqi team 83-53 in its fourth Group D fixture of the tournament in the Iranian capital city of Tehran. - 2/26/18

Daesh (ISIS) not over, US relocating it: Iranian FM Zarif

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States is regularly relocating Daesh terrorists to outside of the Middle East, where they had been based before losing all the territory they had occupied. Foreign Minister Zarif made the remarks during an event called the Patterns of Regional Order in the Post-ISIS Era at the Tehran University on Saturday. - 2/25/18

The Dismantling Of The Middle East State System

- Following the end of World War II, Middle Eastern countries consolidated their state structures. By contrast, over the last two decades, those structures have largely been dismantled. This process began in 2003 with the US-led invasion of Iraq. Since then, the Iraqi state as a viable institution has nearly disappeared. The country has been plunged into turmoil and civil war. -Shireen Hunter, LobeLog - 2/25/18

Inge Morath: Iran

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