Mordad 13 1399 - August 03 2020
UN's Bachelet alarmed by threats against prominent Iranian NGO

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said today she was alarmed by the Iranian Government's increased pressure on a prominent civil society group working on poverty and social protection, and the arrest of its founding member. Iranian authorities have pressured Imam Ali Popular Students' Relief Society (IAPSRS) to change its structure, in what appears to be an attempt to close down the organisation. 7/31/20

Iranian and Turkish women join black-and-white Instagram challenge

Iranian Instagram feeds have been overrun with black-and-white photos of women joining an international online campaign against gender-based violence, using the hashtags #WomenSupportWomen and #ChallengeAccepted. The campaign follows an outcry against a number of high-profile "honor killings" in Iran over the last two months. -ABC News 7/31/20

Iran: Leaked official letters reveal state denial of COVID-19 crisis in prisons

The organization reviewed copies of four letters signed by officials at Iran's Prisons Organization, which operates under the supervision of the judiciary, to the Ministry of Health, raising the alarm over serious shortages of protective equipment, disinfectant products, and essential medical devices. The Ministry of Health failed to respond, and Iran's prisons remain catastrophically unequipped for outbreaks. -Amnesty International 7/31/20

Supreme leader says Iran won't negotiate with US

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday his country will not negotiate with the United States because America would only use talks for propaganda purposes. The Trump administration has said it is willing to talk with Iran "with no preconditions," but that the U.S. will continue its campaign of pressure against the Islamic Republic. -AP 7/31/20

US frowns upon Iranian supermarket in Venezuela's capital

U.S. officials frowned upon the opening of an Iranian supermarket in Venezuela's capital, saying Thursday that any presence of Iran in the Western Hemisphere is "not something we look very favorably on." The new Megasis supermarket, in the east of Caracas, was launched Wednesday amid a tightening of the coronavirus quarantine. -AP 7/31/20

Iran struggles to buy food in a world wary of touching its money

Iran, creaking under the impact of U.S. sanctions, a collapse in oil sales and a severe COVID-19 epidemic, is scrambling to buy food and medicine to avoid a supply crunch. But it's a struggle. Despite such supplies being exempt from sanctions, banks and governments are reluctant to transfer or take Iranian money because they fear unwittingly breaching the complex U.S. restrictions, according to five trade and finance sources. -Reuters 7/30/20

Iranian Communities Should Stand With Black Lives Matter

As federal police pour into U.S. cities, the Trump administration's crackdown on racial justice protests has taken its most authoritarian turn yet. At the same time, during a global pandemic, the Trump administration has continued to ratchet up devastating sanctions on Iran, while edging toward more overt military confrontation. Iranian-Black Solidarity is a must now more than ever. -Niloofar Adnani, FPIF 7/30/20

Iranian Workers Strike Amid Worsening Economy, Deadly Coronavirus Crisis

Amid crushing economic conditions, demonstrations and strikes by workers have sprung up in Iran recently over unpaid wages and poor working conditions. Factory and city employees, coal miners, as well as health-care workers are among those who have been protesting in Iran in recent weeks. -RFE 7/30/20

Iran imposes fresh limit on cash withdrawals from banks

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has ordered a new limit on withdrawal of cash from banks amid toughening of rules on money laundering and also concerns about hoarding money because of the new coronavirus pandemic. A CBI decree issued on Tuesday said banks should observe a daily limit of 150 million rials ($652) for all customers, meaning that companies and legal entities would also be covered by the new law. -Press TV 7/30/20

Iran's Judiciary Has Blocked Prominent Jailed Lawyer's Bank Account, Husband Says

Iran's judiciary has blocked the bank account of prominent imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in a move aimed at adding pressure on her and her family. Sotoudeh, the co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, was sentenced last year to 38 years in prison over her defense of political prisoners 7/29/20

Iran launches underground ballistic missiles during exercise

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched underground ballistic missiles as part of an exercise involving a mock-up aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, state television reported Wednesday. It was the latest barrage in a drill that the previous day saw two American bases temporarily go on alert over the launches. -AP 7/29/20

Iran: UNSC, ICAO must break silence on US aerial terrorism

President Hassan Rouhani has denounced the US harassment of an Iranian civilian flight over Syria as an act of "aerial terrorism," calling on the UN Security Council, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and regional states to break their silence on Washington's "dangerous mischiefs." On Thursday, two US F-15 warplanes conducted a dangerous maneuvering close to Mahan Air's Flight 1152 that had taken off from Tehran and was heading to Beirut. -Press TV 7/29/20

Iran missiles target fake carrier as US bases go on alert

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched missiles Tuesday targeting a mock aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a drill that included such a barrage of fire the U.S. military temporarily put two regional bases in the Mideast on alert amid tensions between the two countries. 7/29/20

The Beginning of the U.S.-Iran Hot War?

In the face of overt aggression from the Trump administration, Iran has alternated between restraint and careful counter-escalation. As the Iranian economy has come under a brutal chokehold, Iran has responded in calibrated fashion to demonstrate the costs of maximum pressure while isolating the U.S. internationally and keeping the nuclear deal alive. -Sina Toossi, Juan Cole 7/28/20

Booming stock market in Iran is a national security project

Against this gloomy backdrop, something bizarre is happening. The benchmark Tehran Stock Market index (TEDPIX) is booming. It has surged seven-fold during the past year. In the spring of this year stock prices increased 1.6 percent per day on average. One may ask how that might help the Iranian population? -Shahir Shahidsaless, Atlantic Council 7/28/20

A China-Iran partnership would make China the Middle East arbiter

If President Obama succeeded in bringing Israel and the Gulf Arabs closer together in the face of their common Iranian enemy, President Trump is on the verge of successfully bringing China and Iran together in the face of their own common enemy - the United States. As has been widely reported, the Iranian parliament is reviewing a 25-year agreement between Tehran and Beijing that, if approved, would provide for $400 billion in Chinese investment, the discounted supply of Iranian oil, and joint military and technological cooperation. -Dov S. Zakheim, The Hill 7/28/20

Kylie Moore-Gilbert: Lecturer jailed in Iran moved to remote prison

A British-Australian woman serving a 10-year sentence in Iran for espionage has been transferred to a notorious prison in the desert, officials say. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at Melbourne University, has been in jail since September 2018. She was tried in secret and strongly denies all the charges against her. -BBC 7/28/20

First Swiss deal with Iran via humanitarian channel has gone through: Swiss government

A Swiss pharmaceutical company has completed the first transaction under a new humanitarian trade channel with Iran, the government in Bern said on Monday. The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) channel to bring food and medicine to Iran started trial operations in January, helping supply Swiss goods to the struggling population without tripping over U.S. sanctions. -Reuters 7/27/20

Will Foreign Investment Return to Iran's Automotive Sector?

Iran produced just 770,000 automobiles in 2019, down from 1,418,550 just two years prior. The re-imposition of U.S. secondary sanctions interrupted new investment in Iran's automotive sector, particularly by European automakers such as Renault, Peugeot, and Volkswagen. -Hassan Karimi Sanjari, Bourse & Bazaar 7/27/20

How will Iran respond to renewed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been longstanding. The last time the two states clashed and exchanged fire was a set of skirmishes in 2016, which lasted for four days. Now, the conflict has heated up again, but in different way. This time, the clashes are taking place outside the disputed district of Nagorno-Karabakh and have spilled over to the territory of Armenia. -Saeid Jafari, Responsible Statecraft 7/27/20

It is time for the US to pursue a new path in the Middle East

Why, after three decades of heavy U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, is the region more insecure and unstable than before? That is the question motivating a new report by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, "A New U.S. Paradigm for the Middle East: Ending America's Misguided Policy of Domination." Currently the U.S. has 55,000 troops spread across 53 bases and shared military installations, and engaged in direct combat in at least three countries while waging proxy war in others. -Sara Bakhtiar, Responsible Statecraft 7/27/20

Iran moves mock aircraft carrier to sea amid US tensions

Iran has moved a mock aircraft carrier to the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with the United States, satellite photographs released on Monday show, likely signalling the Islamic Republic soon plans to use it for live-fire drills. Iranian state media and officials have yet to acknowledge bringing the replica out to the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil passes. -AP 7/27/20

Strange Bedfellows: Iran's Ex-President Woos Saudi Crown Prince as Pen Pal

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known in the West for his Holocaust denial and disputed re-election in 2009, writes a warm letter to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, calling him a man of peace. -Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times 7/27/20

Passengers injured as US fighter jet comes close to Iranian plane

Several passengers on an Iranian airline have been injured over Syria after the pilot changed altitude to avoid collision with a US fighter jet, according to Iranian media, but the United States military said its F-15 kept a safe distance. -Al Jazeera 7/24/20

Iran, sanctions, and the COVID-19 pandemic

This week, Iran announced its highest single-day death toll from COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak in February. The uptick in cases and deaths is the result of a new wave of infections that began May 3rd, two weeks after the gradual easing of the country's partial lockdown in mid-April. Coincident with the upsurge has been a drop of 13% this past month in the value of Iran's currency, reflecting not only the economic impact of the virus, but a disinclination by exporters to repatriate their foreign currency. -Roxane Farmanfarmaian, ELN 7/24/20

Iranian foreign minister's visit aggravates Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement

All the details were carefully planned for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's first foreign tour since taking office. Saudi Arabia, strongly supported by the United States, was selected as the first destination for the untested Iraqi leader, who is facing insurmountable challenges on the home front...The Iranians, who want to aggravate the Iraq-Saudi rapprochement, sent their Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to Baghdad two days prior to Kadhimi's travel to Riyadh... -Abbas Kadhim, Atlantic Council 7/24/20

Mysterious events in Iran raise questions about Trump strategy

While US news feeds are dominated by unspeakable tragedies and trivial Trump pursuits, a series of events unfolding in Iran warrants close attention. Over the last few weeks, as the world has grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, multiple explosions and fires have occurred at Iranian nuclear military and industrial facilities. Alleged cyberattacks have targeted other sites in Iran - including a port - and standoffs with Iran are happening in other theaters, including at sea. -Sam Vinograd, CNN 7/24/20

Iran urged to release rights activist with COVID-19 symptoms 'before it is too late'

A group of independent UN human rights experts has called for Iran to urgently release an activist who reportedly is ill with COVID-19 symptoms "before it is too late". They said Narges Mohammadi appears to have contracted the virus in Zanjan Prison, located in the capital, Tehran, where she is serving a 16-year sentence stemming from her work on human rights. 7/23/20

How a hawkish Washington 'think tank' is promoting ethnic strife in Iran

As Iran is riled by a series of incidents, of which some bear all the hallmarks of a novel, and audacious, sabotage campaign, traditional forms of pressure on the country persist. Among those are attempts to promote ethnic strife in a society where various minority groups account for almost half of the population. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 7/23/20

The JCPOA at 5: How the U.S. squandered an unprecedented diplomatic opening with Iran

Why are governments willing to invest more time in sanctions and war than they do in diplomacy? I pondered this question as the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal, passed last week. What would relations between the United States and Iran look like had diplomacy been given its due, and the Iran deal honoured for longer? -Mahsa Rouhi, Responsible Statecraft 7/23/20

Iran, Russia to devise long-term strategic cooperation agreement: FM Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran and Moscow have agreed to devise and conclude a long-term strategic cooperation agreement. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Zarif said the agreement was made during his Tuesday visit to Moscow, where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and talked with President Vladimir Putin on the phone for one hour due to the coronavirus pandemic. -Press TV 7/23/20

History repeats itself in Iran's currency exchange market

The Iranian rial continues to lose value against foreign currency, as exporters face high costs due to sanctions and the government continues a policy of forcing them to accept low exchange rates. -Ali Dadpay, Al Monitor 7/23/20

Iran-China Deal Must be Green

Iran has not been "lost" to China. The Iranian nation is an independent, highly educated, resource rich country with vast potential hobbled by a long list of critical problems it has to solve. And it has to do this without the interference of regime change warmongers or traitors that falsely claim they are patriots. The Iran-China deal can be a mutually beneficial arrangement if great care is taken in drafting an agreement that is not lopsided and exploitive plus avoids a debt-trap for Iran. -Daryan Rezazad, Counterpunch 7/22/20

Swiss humanitarian trade deal with Iran faces delay, questions

Swiss "good offices" between Tehran and Washington have brought about a humanitarian aid channel allowing Swiss-based companies to send medicines and other vital goods to Iran despite US sanctions. But it remains to be seen to what extent the now-delayed deal will help the Iranian people versus Swiss political and economic interests. 7/22/20

Iraq PM vows he 'won't allow threats' to Iran from Iraqi soil

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on a trip to Tehran on Tuesday that Iraq would not allow any aggression against Iran coming from its territory. Speaking at a news conference alongside Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, al-Kadhimi alluded to Iraq's concern not to become a battlefield between arch-enemies Iran and the United States. -Al Jazeera 7/22/20

When China Met Iran

Leaked news this month that China and Iran had come to the verge of signing a 25-year trade and military partnership agreement struck like a geopolitical storm in Washington - a rising rival of America and a longtime foe joining forces to threaten the United States's predominant position in the Middle East. The agreement ambitiously promises to bring a huge Chinese presence into Iran's economic development, in exchange for a regular supply of heavily discounted Iranian oil. -Michael Singh, New York Times 7/22/20

THE FAIRIES: An opera banned in Tehran is released in Amsterdam

The Persian Dutch Network presents a recording which has been banned in Tehran for three decades: an opera based on a famous poem by Ahmad Shamlu, known as the 'Poet of Freedom' in Persia (Iran) Shamlu was an outspoken advocate for freedom of speech in his homeland, which caused serious restrictions to his activities, imposed by both the monarchy and the Islamic regime. Shamlu was given a Freedom of Expression award by Human Rights Watch in 1991. His poems have been translated into various languages. 7/21/20

Iraq's new premier visits Iran, his first visit abroad

Iraq's new prime minister was in Iran on Tuesday, his first official visit abroad since taking office more than two months ago, Iranian media reported. State television showed footage of Mustafa al-Kadhimi landing at Tehran's Mehrabad airport. The TV said al-Khadhimi would meet top Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. 7/21/20

Iranian Health Officials Play Down President's '25 Million Infected' Estimate

Iranian health officials have tried to play down President Hassan Rohani's estimate that as many as 25 million Iranians could have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak. Rohani on July 18 cited a new study by the Health Ministry in offering the unprecedentedly high number of 25 million coronavirus cases. Iran's population is around 81 million people. 7/20/20

Iran stays execution of anti-government protesters on death row

Iran's supreme court has agreed to suspend the executions of three men on death row for their participation in anti-government protests in November, whose sentences sparked an online outcry last week. Lawyers for the men - Saeed Tamjidi, 26, Mohammad Rajabi, 28, and Amirhossein Moradi, 26 - said in a statement on Sunday the country's supreme court had agreed to examine the men's application for a retrial. -Guardian 7/20/20

Commentary: Trump's epic fail: His gambit with Iran drives Tehran toward China

In May 2018, President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal because it was "defective at its core." But if Tehran were willing to negotiate a better agreement, he would be "ready, willing and able" to join them. Last week, Iran announced that it was ready for a new deal. Unfortunately, that deal would be with China, rather than the United States. -Ivo Daalder, Chicago Tribune 7/20/20

Iran FM visits Baghdad ahead of Iraq PM trip to Saudi Arabia

Iran's foreign minister on Sunday stressed that Iran-Iraq relations would not be "shaken" ahead of the Iraqi prime minister's planned visit this week to Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival. Zarif's visit to Iraq was the first since the American assassination of top Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani outside Baghdad's international airport in January. The drone strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a U.S.-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East. -AP 7/20/20

Iran makes arrests over last week's anti-government protests

Iranian police say they have arrested a number of people behind protests that broke out last week in the southwest of the country, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday. "All the perpetrators of an illegal and norm-breaking gathering in Behbahan [city] were identified and arrested," Khuzestan province's police chief, Heydar Abbas Zadeh, was quoted as saying. -Al Jazeera 7/20/20

Israel keeps blowing up military targets in Iran, hoping to force a confrontation before Trump can be voted out in November, sources say

Israel is involved in an extended campaign to pressure or damage Iran before President Donald Trump can be voted out of office in the November election, a former Israeli defense official and a current European Union intelligence official told Insider. -Mitch Prothero , Business Insider 7/17/20

A pragmatic partnership: Why China and Iran try to collaborate

Iran's rumoured talks with China on a partnership agreement could have significant economic benefits and provide it with valuable geopolitical bargaining chips. -Ellie Geranmayeh, ECFR 7/17/20

Internet disrupted in Iran province as police disperse rally

Police dispersed protesters in southwestern Iran angry over the Islamic Republic's anemic economy amid a U.S. sanctions campaign, a news report Friday said, and internet access to the wider region was disrupted as demonstrators shared videos of the rally. Internet-access advocacy group reported the disruption affecting Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province late Thursday. -AP 7/17/20

Why Iran Wants To Help Build Up Syria And Iraq's Air Defenses

Iran has recently taken a notable interest in helping Iraq and Syria build up their limited air defenses, aiming to give them the capability to counter Israeli airstrikes. An agreement struck in July to improve Syrian air defenses authorizes Iran to deploy two of its air defense missile systems on Syrian soil, according to a report by the newspaper Raialyoum cited by The Tehran Times -Paul Iddon, Forbes 7/17/20

The undeclared war against Iran

A series of violent attacks, involving explosions and fires, has been hitting Iran. The incidents have been too frequent and intense to be random accidents. They are part of an organized effort. Caution is always advisable in attributing responsibility for such unclaimed acts, especially for all of us outside the government channels that possibly have better information about what is going on. But circumstances point strongly, as some mainstream press reporting reflects, to either or both of two suspects: the Netanyahu government in Israel, and the Trump administration in the United States. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 7/16/20

To understand the China-Iran deal, forget the hype and look at the context

The news of a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement secretly signed between the Iranian government and China has been the hot topic of the last few weeks, generating a considerable amount of speculation, exaggeration, and politically biased interpretation. In reality, the accord does not seem to have the potential to revolutionize the path of China-Iran relations, which has been quite consistent since 1979. -Jacopo Scita, Responsible Statecraft 7/16/20

Lawyer Says Iran Could Halt Three Executions After #Don't_Execute Social Protest

Iran could overturn death sentences issued against three young men who were arrested at anti-establishment protests last November, one of their lawyers has declared. "Wait for the news that the implementation of the sentence has been halted," lawyer Babak Paknia tweeted late on July 15, adding that defense attorneys have been given complete access to prosecutors' files in the case. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 7/16/20

Seven vessels catch fire in southern Iranian shipyard

At least seven vessels have caught fire in a southern Iranian shipyard, in the latest in a series of explosions and fires that analysts speculate could be part of a state-sponsored sabotage campaign targeting the country's industrial, nuclear and military sites. No casualties were reported at the port of Bushehr, the city that hosts Iran's only nuclear power plant -Guardian 7/16/20

Big Leak Reveals Iran Targeting US Military With Super Speedy Google Account Hacks

A leak from a suspected Iranian hacker crew has revealed just how it's snooping on American officials' online lives by taking control of their Google accounts, according to IBM researchers. The same hackers have reportedly been linked with attacks on President Trump's campaign staff, according to an IBM report shared with Forbes. -Thomas Brewster, Forbes 7/16/20

Iran denies 'dropping' India from key railway project

Iran denied an Indian newspaper report that New Delhi was dropped from a key rail project along the border with Afghanistan after it showed reluctance in investing fearing American sanctions. A deputy to Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, Farhad Montaser, called the story "totally false because Iran has not inked any deal with India regarding the Zahedan-Chabahr" railway. -Al Jazeera 7/16/20

Outcry after Iran's judiciary upholds death penalty for three protesters

Iran's judiciary has upheld the death penalty for three men accused of involvement in last November's massive anti-government protests, sparking an outcry from human rights groups and a swell of activism against capital punishment on social media. The confirmation that their death sentences had been upheld on Tuesday sparked a surge of online protests including from prominent Iranian social media influencers, actors, film-makers, reformist politicians and athletes, who posted the men's names or the hashtag "Don't execute" in Farsi. -Michael Safi, Guardian 7/15/20

US relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran need a rethink, not reset

As the chances are growing that a Biden administration could take the reins in Washington come January 2021, so is the scrutiny of its prospective policy proposals. When it comes to foreign affairs, there seems to be little doubt among his supporters that some reassessment of U.S. priorities in the Middle East is in order. At the heart of it lies what Daniel Benaim, fellow at the Democrat-aligned Century Foundation calls in a recent paper the failure of President Donald Trump's twin policies of the "maximum pressure" against Iran and "maximum latitude" towards Saudi Arabia. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 7/15/20

The Iranian case, an uncontrolled U.S. foreign policy, a new threat for the world

The assassination of General Soleimani on January 3, 2020 and the ensuing declarations of the Trump administration have plunged the entire international community in a new era of uncontrolled and rogue U.S. policy. On January 13, in his "Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example" speech at the Hoover Institute, State Secretary Mike Pompeo made a declaration that strangely went unnoticed by media. -Lionel Vairon, CGTN 7/15/20

Back to square one, as the JCPOA turns five

On July 14, 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was finalized in Vienna between Iran, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, and the European Union as the arbiter of the negotiations. Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted about the deal being "not a ceiling but a solid foundation" to build on. Three months earlier - after the political agreement of the nuclear talks was reached in Lausanne - Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had characterized this process as an "experience" which "if the opposite side gives up its misconduct" can be continued on "other issues." -Adnan Tabatabai, Responsible Statecraft 7/14/20

Death Sentences for Three Protestors Confirmed by Supreme Court in Iran

The death sentences against three young men for their participation in the November 2019 protests that swept through Iran have been confirmed. The sentences against Amirhossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, which were upheld by Iran's Supreme Court on July 10, 2020, reflect the increasing use of the death penalty in politically motivated cases in the country. -CHRI 7/14/20

Tehran Has Executed Alleged Iranian Spy For CIA

Iran's judiciary says a a former defense ministry worker convicted of selling information to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been executed. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on July 14 that Reza Asgari had been in touch with the CIA during his last years serving at the Defense Ministry and sold the agency information about Iran's missile program. 7/14/20

China: World must stop US push to reinstate Iran sanctions, kill JCPOA

China has reaffirmed its firm support for the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and five other world states, calling on the international community to put pressure on the US - which left the deal in 2018 - to abandon a hostile push to reinstate sanctions against Tehran and deal even more blows to the multilateral accord. -Press TV 7/14/20

Iran's Rohani Calls For Temporary Ban On Weddings, Funerals As Coronavirus Cases Rise

Iranian President Hassan Rohani called for large public gatherings such as weddings and funerals to be temporarily banned to slow a rise in coronavirus infections, but he shied away from recommending another round of curbs on economic activity. The country's Health Ministry on Monday reported more than 203 new fatalities and almost 2,349 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total infections to 259,652, with 13,032 dead. 7/13/20

Sabotage, sanctions and the bullying of Iran is bound to backfire on the west

t now seems fairly certain that Israel or its agents blew up Iran's main nuclear fuel enrichment facility at Natanz on 2 July. A "Middle Eastern intelligence official" who told two American newspapers that Israel was behind the explosion was identified in Israeli media reports last week as Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad spy agency and a close confidant of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. -Simon Tisdall, Guardian 7/13/20

Defying U.S., China and Iran Near Trade and Military Partnership

Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors, undercutting the Trump administration's efforts to isolate the Iranian government because of its nuclear and military ambitions. -New York Times 7/13/20

Pompeo's Flimsy Case for Extending the Arms Embargo on Iran

As part of its continued "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, the Trump administration is pushing to extend a UN arms embargo on the Islamic Republic that is set to expire in October. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently presented the UN Security Council with a list of grievances against Iran, a list full of unsubstantiated claims and half-truths. And like most things Washington accuses Tehran of, the U.S. and its allies in the region are guilty of similar or worse offenses. -Dave DeCamp, 7/13/20

Q&A: UN's Agnes Callamard on drone strike that killed Soleimani

The United Nations's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings presented a new report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Agnes Callamard's investigation focused on the legality of armed drones including one that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad's airport on January 3. It concluded the United States acted unlawfully in carrying out the attack. The US, meanwhile, denounced her findings. -Al Jazeera 7/13/20

Chabahar-Zahedan railway work begins

The track-laying operations of Chabahar-Zahedan railroad was started on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami and Deputy Transport Minister Kheirollah Khademi. As reported by IRNA, the project which is aimed to connect Chabahar to Zahedan (the capital city of southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province) is planned to be completed by the end of the Iranian calendar year of 1400 (March 2022). 7/10/20

Mystery swirls around explosion at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility

An explosion at the heart of Iran's nuclear programme in the dead of night. An obscure group called the Cheetahs of the Homeland takes credit for it. Then there are fires and gas leaks at key infrastructure around the country. In recent days, speculation has flourished about what exactly happened at Natanz, an assembly plant for centrifuges used to enrich uranium, and other facilities around Iran. -Financial Times 7/10/20

Series of 'explosions & power outages' reported near Tehran

A series of explosions have rocked the outskirts of the Iranian capital Tehran, as well as the cities of Garmdareh and Quds, Iranian media reported amid speculation that missile depots were the intended target. Citing social media, official news agency IRIB reported an explosion in western Tehran in the early hours of Friday local time. More explosions were reported in Garmdareh and Quds, the Mehr News Agency added. -RT 7/10/20

Canada should lift sanctions on Iran now

Canada's Liberal government is still sustaining economic sanctions on Iran despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As public health officials now struggle with rising infection rates in what appears to be a second wave in Iran, Canada's sanctions must come to an end. Economic sanctions are hindering the ability of Iran's public healthcare system to deal with the pandemic and have detrimentally impacted public health for years in key areas, including cancer care. -Stefan Christoff, 7/9/20

Why Iranians, rattled by suicides, point a finger at leaders

First the wounded veteran, then the unpaid security guard, then the hungry child. The powerful images of hopelessness came one after another, creating mounting waves of shock for Iranians who may have thought themselves inured to tales of desperation, destitution, and political angst. Yet decades after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution seized power in the name of "social justice" for the poor and "oppressed," and amid deepening economic collapse, Iran is battling a surge of suicides seen as a barometer of the ever-widening gap between the political leadership and society.-Scott Peterson, CSM 7/9/20

As Iran applauds BLM, Afghan minority short on rights

While politicians and intelligentsia in Iran often blame the US government for racism towards minorities, their track record at home is far from perfect. The Afghans' experience is a case in point. When American George Floyd was killed on the street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in late May, his death sparked a global movement demanding justice for minorities. However, the movement has not fully reached the Middle East in general, and Iran in particular. -Ali Dadpay, Al Monitor 7/9/20

Iran Signs Military Deal with Syria to Boost Air Defenses, Challenge U.S.

Iran has signed a new military agreement with Syria, vowing to boost the war-torn country's air defense power and challenge the U.S. presence there. Iranian Major General Mohammad Bagheri, Revolutionary Guard commander and chief of staff of the Islamic Republic's armed forces, met Wednesday with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub to sign a new deal to strengthen defense ties between the two allies. -Tom O'Connor, Newsweek 7/9/20

Tehran Mayor Sees 'Threat' in Iranians' Dissatisfaction

Iran's low voter turnout reflects a wider malaise in a country long buckling under sanctions and more recently also hit hard by the coronavirus, spelling "a threat for everyone," Tehran's mayor Pirouz Hanachi told AFP. "The turnout at the ballot box is a sign of people's satisfaction level," said Hanachi, mayor of Iran's political and business centre and largest city, with more than eight million people. -Amir Havasi, AFP 7/8/20

South Korea releases parts of frozen Iranian funds: Businessman

South Korea has agreed to release a part of funds belonging to Iran and frozen in the country's banks under pressure from the United States, says a businessman leading trade between the two countries. Hossein Tanhayi, who chairs Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Tuesday that the two countries had agreed to use a first installment of the funds for Iran's purchase of drugs and medical equipment. -Press TV 7/8/20

Currency crisis impoverishes Iranians, strains economic defenses

Desperate to afford her daughter's overseas university fees, 58-year-old retired Iranian teacher Maryam Hosseini withdrew all her savings from the bank to buy U.S. dollars. It was not enough. With three years of study still to do, her daughter is heading back home, her future now on hold. Hosseini's tale of growing poverty is an increasingly familiar one among Iranians, who have long bought U.S. dollars to support their children financially or squirrel away savings. -Reuters 7/7/20

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