Khordad 18 1399 - June 07 2020
Managing director of Iranian news agency convicted on false news charges

On May 31, 2020, Branch 6 of Tehran's Media Court convicted Ali Motaghian, the managing director of the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), on charges of "spreading false news," according to a report by the news agency. CPJ could not determine what sentence Motaghian received or whether he is in custody. The semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency reported that the court determined he was not eligible for a reduced sentence, but did not specify the sentence he received. 6/5/20

US Navy veteran detained in Iran has been released after deal with Tehran

Michael White, an American detained in Iran, was released on Thursday after more than a year in custody in a deal with Tehran. His mother, Joanne White, confirmed in a statement that he has been freed, saying "the nightmare is over." As part of the deal to free Michael White, the US agreed to release Matteo Taerri, also known as Majid Taheri, an Iranian American doctor who had violated US sanctions against Iran, according to a US official. -CNN 6/5/20

Gruesome Death Of Iranian Teenager Shows Shame Of 'Honor' Killings

Romina was only 14-years-old when she was reportedly beheaded by her father in a horrific case of a so-called "honor" killing that has shocked Iran. Reza Ashrafi, her dad, reportedly failed to convince Romina's mother to force their daughter to commit suicide, so he decapitated her with a sickle as she slept at the family home. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 6/5/20

Analysis: How Saudi Arabia and Iran became rivals

So, contemporary Saudi Arabia sees itself as the leader of the Muslim world ... and then along comes Iran with a very different idea of what the Muslim world should be. Iran firmly believes that political currents in the Muslim world need to be viewed as forces of change in a region long exploited by the US and other Western powers. Naturally, as a Shia Muslim nation it backs other Shia Muslim groups, but also vocally throws its weight behind the Palestinian cause. -Imran Khan, Al Jazeera 6/5/20

Israel and Iran Just Showed Us the Future of Cyberwar With Their Unusual Attacks

In late April, Israeli media reported on a possible cyberattack on several water and sewage treatment facilities around the country. Israel's national water agency initially spoke of a technical malfunction, but later acknowledged it was a cyberstrike...Then, on May 9, a cyberattack targeted the computer systems at Iran's busiest hub for maritime trade, Shahid Rajaee Port in Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz. -Foreign Policy 6/5/20

Iran President Says Coronavirus Restrictions To Be Restored If Warnings Not Heeded

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said restrictions will be restored if warnings are not heeded and the coronavirus outbreak peaks again. "People and businesses must take officials' warnings very seriously that there will be another peak if regulations and social distancing are not observed," Rouhani said and warned that restrictions will be restored wherever the virus spreads quickly. 6/4/20

Politics hinder growth in Iran's poultry sector

Iran could be a poultry production power house, with Iranian poultry farmers having the potential to boost exports to 500,000 tons of meat per year, but sanctions and national politics remain an invincible obstacle on this path. Recently this culminated in birds being killed due to lack of feedstuffs entering the country. -Poultry World 6/4/20

The legacy of the Iraq sanctions regime is alive and well in US foreign policy today

The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council, from 1990 to 2003, may well lay claim to be the worst humanitarian catastrophe ever imposed in the name of global governance. The unconscionable human damage done by those sanctions is routinely dismissed as the unintended consequence of a well-intentioned policy from the past, which has since given way to more nuanced and humane measures. But in fact, the Iraq sanctions program is the template for the systemic, devastating sanctions we see in place today applied in a subtler and more circuitous form - although Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran is neither subtle nor circuitous. -Joy Gordon, Responsible Statecraft 6/4/20

Iran turns to bonds to solve budget crisis

The Iranian government opted in mid May to issue domestic bonds to fill the enormous budget deficit that is expected in the current year. The plan is to sell a total of 2,400 trillion rials in new bonds (equal to about $13.5 billion at the free market rate). Incidentally, the current state budget already included the issuance of 900 trillion rials in domestic bonds and the government plans to secure the approval for an additional 1,500 trillion from the Economic Coordination Council to use the same tool to fill the expected budget deficit. Yet what the overall impact will this policy have on the country's economy? -Bijan Khajehpour, Al Monitor 6/4/20

Iran signs new deal with Iraq for export of electricity

Iran and Iraq have agreed on a two-year contract for supply of Iranian electricity to the Arab country as the neighbors keep deepening energy ties despite American sanctions that forbid such exchanges. Iranian state-news agency IRNA said late on Wednesday that Iran's Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian and Iraqi minister of electricity Majid Mahdi Hantoush had signed a two-year contract for export of Iranian electricity to Iraq. -Press TV 6/4/20

Rouhani: EU must take stand against illegal US moves against Iran

President Hassan Rouhani has once again censured the unilateral American sanctions that are disrupting imports of medical supplies into Iran, renewing a call for the European Union to take a stand against such illegal US moves. "The Americans have taken the health of 83 million Iranians hostage by imposing cruel sanctions [on them] and preventing the transfer of medicine and essentials to Iran" at a difficult time when a coronavirus outbreak has hit the country, Rouhani said in a phone conversation with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday. 6/3/20

Iranian Scientist Arrives Home After Being Released From U.S. Custody

An Iranian scientist who had been detained in the United States has landed in his homeland amid denials from both countries that his release is part of a prisoner swap. Sirous Asgari, a materials science professor at Tehran's Sharif University of Technology, arrived in Iran on June 3, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. 6/3/20

Huawei hid business operation in Iran after Reuters reported links to CFO

China's Huawei Technologies acted to cover up its relationship with a firm that had tried to sell prohibited U.S. computer gear to Iran, after Reuters in 2013 reported deep links between the firm and the telecom-equipment giant's chief financial officer, newly obtained internal Huawei documents show. -Reuters 6/3/20

Women's Boxing Banned In Iran's Khuzestan Province

Khuzestan has become Iran's first province to officially ban women's boxing. "Any activity in women's boxing is prohibited in the province," the head of Khuzestan's boxing board, Hamid Zanganehmanesh, said on May 31, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency. Referring to a recent letter from the president of the Iranian boxing federation, Zanganehmanesh said all women's boxing activities were prohibited in Khuzestan, including coaching, training, and theory classes. 6/2/20

The true objectives of Trump's counterproductive foreign policy

What do human rights in Hong Kong and nuclear reactors in Iran have in common? Answer: both have been the subject of recent announcements by the Trump administration that run directly and obviously counter to the very objectives that ostensibly were the purpose of the moves. President Trump's statement following Beijing's imposition on Hong Kong of mainland security strictures correctly described China's action as a "tragedy for the people of Hong Kong" and a blow against Hong Kong's status as a prosperous and free society. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 6/2/20

Iranian lawmaker says 230 killed in November protests

An Iranian lawmaker said Monday that 230 people were killed in November's anti-government protests in Iran, the official news agency reported. This is the first time a prominent Iranian lawmaker has given a death toll figure for November's protests. The unrest was the most widespread and violent Iran had seen since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. -AP 6/2/20

Venezuelan President Says He Will Visit Iran To Sign Energy Agreements

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he will visit Iran shortly to sign cooperation agreements in energy and other sectors after Iran sent five fuel tankers to the South American country. "I am obliged to go to personally thank the people," Maduro said on June 1 in an address broadcast on state television. He did not provide a date for his visit to the Islamic Republic. -RFE/RL 6/2/20

Iranian scientist acquitted of stealing research deported by US

An Iranian scientist detained in the United States has left the country and is on his way back to Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said. Sirous Asgari, a materials science professor from Tehran, was charged in 2016 with trying to trade secrets research from an American university. He was acquitted by a federal court in November. -BBC 6/2/20

Team Trump's new move on Iran puts the nuclear deal in jeopardy and risks a new Middle East nuclear crisis

The Trump administration's policy toward Iran reached a new level of recklessness when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that Washington would no longer waive sanctions for certain cooperative projects outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. With this move, it is increasingly clear that the Trump administration is bent on killing the multilateral nuclear accord and ensuring that there is no agreement for a future U.S. administration to return to, irrespective of the consequences for nonproliferation, regional stability, and U.S. credibility. -Kelsey Davenport, Responsible Statecraft 6/1/20

Speaker: Iran's new parliament views talks with US 'harmful'

Iran's newly-formed parliament deems any negotiations with the United States as harmful, its speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf said in his first main speech at the chamber on Sunday. Qalibaf, a former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)'s air force, said the new parliament's agenda is to complete Iran's revenge for the US assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. -Press TV 6/1/20

Iran ready to ship more fuel to Venezuela despite US 'threats'

Iran has said it will continue fuel shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more supplies, despite criticism from the United States of trade between the two nations, both under US sanctions. "Iran practices its free trade rights with Venezuela, and we are ready to send more ships if Caracas demands more supplies from Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told a weekly news conference broadcast live on state television on Monday. -Al Jazeera 6/1/20

Who Are the Secret Puppet-Masters Behind Trump's War on Iran?

On May 6th, President Trump vetoed a war powers bill specifying that he must ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iran. Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign of deadly sanctions and threats of war against Iran has seen no let-up, even as the U.S., Iran and the whole world desperately need to set aside our conflicts to face down the common danger of the Covid-19 pandemic. -Medea Benjamin, Nicolas J.S. Davies, Common Dreams 5/29/20

13 Organizations to DNC: Support JCPOA Reentry

NIAC Action and a dozen other organizations - including Foreign Policy for America, J Street, MoveOn, Our Revolution and Truman Center for National Policy - sent a letter jointly calling on the Democratic National Committee to support an unequivocal U.S. return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, in the Party's 2020 Democratic Platform. While there may be divisions on some issues within the Democratic Party between the center and the left, the breadth of organizations backing this letter demonstrates a political consensus on this key foreign policy issue. 5/29/20

Does Trump Want Iran to Try to Go Nuclear?

Despite a pandemic, a looming cold war with China, and the harshest economic crisis since the Great Depression, President Donald Trump still has room on his plate for provoking a war with Iran. That is the only plausible interpretation of his decision, reported by the Washington Post this week, to end the sanction waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European companies to do work at Iranian nuclear sites. -Fred Kaplan, Slate 5/29/20

Mystery Submarine May Reveal A Major New Capability For Iran

It was only a matter of time before this happened. A new vessel, shown in public for the first time this week, is either a very small submarine or a very large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV). It appears to be the latter. If correct, this will add a new dimension to Iran's systematic warfare capability. It will also mean that Iran joins an elite club with only the U.S. Navy and Britain's Royal Navy having such large UUVs. -H I Sutton, Forbes 5/29/20

Iran's Rohani Calls For Stricter Laws On 'Honor Killings' After Beheading Of 13-Year-Old Girl

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has called for harsher laws to tackle so-called "honor killings" after the particularly shocking slaying of a teenage girl, allegedly by her father, prompted a nationwide outcry. Rohani on May 27 pushed for the speedy adoption of relevant bills, some which have apparently circulated for years among various Iranian decision-making bodies without any tangible results. The call comes after 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi was killed last week in Hovigh, some 320 kilometers northwest of Tehran. 5/28/20

U.S. Ends Sanctions Waivers On Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program

The United States will end sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European firms to carry out civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran, effectively scrapping the last remnants of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But critics of the Trump administration say that its policy of "maximum pressure" has failed to convince Iran to negotiate a "better deal." Instead, the strategy is to completely eliminate the nuclear accord, making it harder for other signatories or a future president to save the JCPOA. 5/28/20

Real and imagined problems of the Middle Eastern arms trade

One of the latest steps in the Trump administration's never-ending pressure campaign on Iran is its attempt to extend a United Nations-imposed embargo prohibiting the export to or import from Iran of conventional arms. At a rhetorical level, the administration's pitch is easy to make - no American politician ever lost votes by arguing against arms going to Iran. But the administration says nothing about the background and context of the embargo, which it would if it really were concerned about arms and insecurity in the Middle East. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 5/28/20

Hard-line former Tehran mayor named Iran parliament speaker

Iran's parliament elected a former mayor of Tehran tied to the Revolutionary Guard as its next speaker Thursday, solidifying hard-line control of the body as tensions between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic remain high over its collapsed nuclear deal. Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf's assumption of power comes after a string of failed presidential bids and 12 years as the leader of Iran's capital city, in which he built onto Tehran's subway and supported the construction of modern high-rises. -AP 5/28/20

Iran changes tack in Iraqi politics after mastermind's assassination

Two diplomats are quietly leading Iran's push to influence politics in Iraq, in a departure from the more blunt enforcement employed by Qassem Soleimani, a top commander slain in a U.S. air strike. -Reuters 5/28/20

I Belong In This Country, But The Census Doesn't Recognize That

A couple weeks ago, my friend sent me a TikTok of someone ranting about whether they should be considered a person of color as a Middle Easterner. Her text read something along the lines of, "I feel like this is you in a nutshell." I laughed, knowing full well that I've shared the same gripes with her countless times. I also instinctively looked over at the U.S. census postcard collecting dust and cat hair on the floor of my foyer and cringed. -Nicki Ghafari, Huffington Post 5/27/20

Second Iranian Oil Tanker Arrives At Venezuela's Largest Refinery

A second Iranian tanker carrying gasoline and oil derivatives has arrived at crisis-stricken Venezuela's main oil refinery, amid escalating tensions between Washington and the two U.S.-sanctioned countries. The Forest docked at the Paraguana refinery complex in northwest Falcon state on May 26, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami wrote on Twitter, also sharing photos of the vessel at the dock. 5/27/20

Iran's president pushes for harsher laws on honor killings

Iran's president urged his Cabinet on Wednesday to speed up harsher laws in so-called honor killings, after a particularly disturbing slaying of a 14-year-old girl by her father shocked the nation. President Hassan Rouhani pushed for speedy adoption of relevant bills, some which have apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran. 5/27/20

The strategic implications of the brewing Iran arms embargo crisis

In the last few weeks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed a new initiative to extend the arms embargo on Iran. According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted following the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, United Nations restrictions on conventional arms sales to Iran would expire after five years, on October 18, 2020. Washington plans to claim that it legally remains a participant state in the JCPOA, which President Donald Trump officially withdrew from in May 2018... -Gawdat Bahgat, Responsible Statecraft 5/27/20

Iran's newly elected parliament convenes despite pandemic

Iran's newly elected parliament convened on Wednesday, dominated by conservative lawmakers and under strict social distancing regulations, as the country struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has hit the nation hard. Iranian state TV said all 268 lawmakers who were in attendance had tested negative for the virus. -Nasser Karimi, AP 5/27/20

Iran-China trade falls 40% in first 4 months of 2020 yr/yr

Based on the data released by the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China, Iranian imports from the Asian country reached $2.92 billion in the January-April period, indicating a three percent rise compared to the same time span in 2019. The exports to China, however, fell 61 percent to stand at $2.34 billion. 5/26/20

Venezuela celebrates docking of tanker with Iran gasoline

Venezuelan authorities celebrated Monday as the first of five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline docked in the South American country, delivering badly needed fuel to the crisis-stricken nation that sits atop the world's largest oil reserves. The gasoline shipments are arriving in defiance of stiff sanctions by the Trump administration against both nations, and they mark a new era in the burgeoning relationship between Venezuela and Iran, which is expanding its footprint in the Western Hemisphere. -AP 5/26/20

COVID-19: Iran Reopens Religious Shrines After Two Months

Iran has reopened its religious shrines, some two months after closing them due to the Middle East's deadliest coronavirus outbreak. The shrines were reopened on May 25 amid a gradual easing of restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic, which has killed 7,451 people and infected over 137,000, according to official figures. Real numbers are believed to be significantly higher. 5/25/20

First Iranian Tanker 'Fortune' Reaches Venezuelan Coast Escorted by Bolivarian Armed Forces

Iran has sent five ocean-going tankers loaded with an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, a move that has reportedly received threats from Washington. Tehran, in response, promised "retaliation" if the US moves to act against the ships. The first of five Iranian fuel tankers, the 'Fortune', entered the Venezuelan exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on late Saturday, according to data from Refiniv Eikon. -Sputnik 5/25/20

Iranian spending spree on arms unlikely if UN embargo expires

One of the most important outcomes of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - signed in 2015 between the U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Iran - is the planned expiration of a U.N. arms embargo imposed on the Islamic Republic. The first major sanctions on Iran were adopted by the U.N. Security Council in March 2007, and reinforced in June 2010 with a U.N. embargo on the export of most major conventional weapons to Iran. -Robert Czulda, Responsible Statecraft 5/25/20

Detained Iranian Lawyer's Husband Criticizes Iran's Refusal to Furlough Her

The husband of one of Iran's most prominent jailed dissidents has strongly criticized authorities for not furloughing her from a coronavirus-plagued prison where he says her health is in danger. In a Thursday phone interview with VOA Persian from Tehran, Reza Khandan faulted the Iranian government for temporarily freeing thousands of common criminals from jails since late February in part to protect them from the virus, while refusing to do the same for dissidents such as his wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh. -VOA 5/22/20

Iran and the US 'meet' again over Afghanistan

In an administration short on diplomatic talent, Zalmay Khalilzad stands out. His title is US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation and he is charged with extricating the United States' military presence in that country. Tangentially, Khalilzad's deep background as a multilingual former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations-and his nature as an inveterate schmoozer-have put him in a position to revive US diplomatic engagement with Iran and to help de-escalate what had been a dangerous rise in tensions. -Barbara Slavin, Atlantic Council 5/22/20

Where the Small Things Are: Thoughts on Writing Revolutions and their Histories

Somewhere on the border between Oman and Yemen lies the body of Rafat Afraz. Rafat had been a school administrator at the Refah school for girls in Tehran, a site of Islamic revolutionary activism in the early 70s and the temporary headquarters of the Khomeini-led revolutionary forces in 1979. Rafat and her younger sister Mahbubeh[1] joined the Sazman-i Mujahedin-i Khalq (the People's Mujahedin Organization or Mujahedin) in 1970, a guerilla organization that at its moment of founding was, simply put, a "combination of Islam and Marxism." -Naghmeh Sohrabi, Jadaliyya 5/22/20

Why Iran has the world's best-performing stockmarket

There seems to be no end to Iran's suffering. It has struggled with one of the world's worst outbreaks of covid-19. As it opens back up there are signs that it is being hit by a powerful second wave. Last year the economy shrank by almost 8%. It may do worse this year. American sanctions had largely cut if off from the global market. The coronavirus has just about finished the job. Yet, somehow, the Iranian stockmarket is booming. -Economist 5/22/20

Turkey eyes leverage as it drags feet on Iran gas pipeline repairs

Turkey is delaying the completion of repairs to the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, which was blown up at the end of March, in an apparent attempt both to curry favor with Washington and to pressure Tehran to reduce its prices, according to industry sources. Register Now Flows through the pipeline were halted early on March 31 following an explosion. -S&P Global 5/22/20

Iran's population growth drops to less than 1% for first time

The country's population growth rate has decreased to less than one percent for the first time over the past four decades, Seyed Hamed Barakati, deputy health minister for family and school population has said. The marriage rate in the country has dropped by 40 percent since 10 years ago, which is an alarm that threatens the country's future in all economic, social and even security dimensions, he lamented. 5/21/20

Iranian journalist Nejat Bahrami begins 1-year jail term

On May 5, Bahrami, a freelance columnist who has written for publications including the Iran Daily and Etemad newspapers and the weekly Tejarat-e Farda and Seda magazines, wrote on Twitter that he had received a written notice from the judiciary summoning him to prison within five days. -Committee to Protect Journalists 5/21/20

Will the US try to interdict Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela?

As five Iranian oil tankers steam toward Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions on both states, President Donald Trump is being presented with options for stopping the delivery of the petroleum fuel they carry. The prospect of killing two "rogue state" birds with one stone must be attractive to Trump. His policy against both countries is "maximum pressure," after all. But what could the U.S. do, would it be legal, and would it make any sense? -Mark Fitzpatrick, Responsible Statecraft 5/21/20

Venezuela's military to escort Iranian tankers bringing petrol

The Venezuelan military will escort Iranian tankers delivering much-needed petrol to the country to prevent any attempt by the US to stop them. Five vessels are on the high seas and are due to arrive in the coming days. Venezuela's defence minister said they would be "welcomed" into its exclusive economic zone, which extends 370km (200 nautical miles) from its shores. -BBC 5/21/20

Iran dismisses new US sanctions as 'fruitless and repetitive'

Iran has dismissed US sanctions on several of its officials, saying they were a sign of the complete inefficiency of Washington's previous sanctions on the country. "Washington's fruitless and repetitive sanctions against Iranian officials is a sign of weakness, despair and confusion of the US administration," state TV quoted Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying on Thursday. -Al Jazeera 5/21/20

Washington's Tall Tale of Iranian-Al Qaeda Alliance Based on Questionably Sourced Book, The Exile

The U.S. assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in January touched off a new wave of disinformation about Soleimani, with Trump administration allies branding him a global terrorist while painting Iran as the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. Much of the propaganda about Soleimani related to his alleged responsibility for the killing of American troops in Iraq, along with Iran's role in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. - Gareth Porter, Antiwar 5/20/20

Iran: Details released of 304 deaths during protests six months after security forces' killing spree

Amnesty International has released details of the deaths of 304 men, women and children killed by Iran's security forces during last November's ruthless crackdown, six months after the protests. The organization found that more than 220 of the recorded deaths took place over just two days on 16 and 17 November. New and extensive research has again concluded that the security forces' use of lethal force against the vast majority of those killed was unlawful. 5/20/20

Iran Quietly Lowers the Temperature With U.S.

After years of increasing tensions that nearly led to war, Iran has moderated its approach to the West, shifting from a policy of provocation to one of limited cooperation. The change reflects an effort to avoid direct confrontation with the United States that the Iranians say could benefit President Trump in the November election. -Alissa J. Rubin and Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times 5/20/20

US tells vessels in Persian Gulf to stay 100 meters away from its warships

The US Navy has warned vessels in the Persian Gulf to stay 100 meters away from American warships or risk "lawful defensive measures," in a move that appears to be aimed squarely at Iran. "Armed vessels approaching within 100 meters of a US naval vessel may be interpreted as a threat," according to the text of the notice issued on Tuesday. -Press TV 5/20/20

Iranian Parkour Athlete Reportedly Detained After Posting Romantic Instagram Photos

Iranian parkour athlete and photographer Alireza Japalaghy has been detained, his brother said on May 18. Japalaghy reportedly said in a video posted before his arrest that he had been summoned by security officials just days after he posted photos and a video where he was seen kissing an unidentified woman who was wearing a sports bra and shorts on a rooftop in the Iranian capital. 5/19/20

Iranian husband, wife sentenced to death for corruption

Iranian Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaeili announced on Tuesday that two of the defendants in corruption cases were sentenced to death. The defendants, a husband and a wife, were involved in manipulating the foreign exchange and gold markets and hoarding cars from Siapa Company. 5/19/20

The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution

Before the revolution remade Iran, Khamenei was a young cleric in the city of Mashhad. He had grown up modestly, the son of a cleric; a slender man, he had a long, thin face adorned by large round glasses that gave him an owlish demeanor. He was a devotee of Persian poetry and literature, and also came to admire Tolstoy, Steinbeck, and especially Victor Hugo, whose "Les MisÚrables" he described as "a miracle...a book of sociology, a book of history, a book of criticism, a divine book, a book of love and feeling." -Dexter Filkins, New Yorker 5/19/20

US sanctions make it harder to fight COVID-19

As the United States works to contain the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, resorting to extraordinary measures to limit health and economic damage to its own population, it should also suspend economic sanctions that are making it harder for some countries to fight COVID-19 and keep their citizens safe. -Hrair Balian, Responsible Statecraft 5/18/20

Iranian-French Academic Fariba Adelkhah Sentenced To Six Years In Prison In Iran

An Iranian court has sentenced a French-Iranian academic to six years in prison on security charges, her lawyer said. The lawyer for Fariba Adelkhah said on May 16 that his client was sentenced to five years for "colluding to commit acts against national security" and one year for "propaganda against the system." Her lawyer, Said Dehghan, said they would appeal the ruling. -RFE/RL 5/18/20

Sanctioning Pandemic-plagued Iran

Sanctions are the US government's go-to foreign-policy tool. Sanctions leverage the United States' economic might and dominance of the international financial system and, especially in contrast to military options, are deemed to be cost-free - cost-free for the US, that is. There are always unintended costs, however, on both sides. When sanctions are applied indiscriminately during a global pandemic, the costs spiral. This is clearly the case today with regard to the Trump administration's sanctions on Iran. -Mark Fitzpatrick, IISS 5/18/20

Iran's businesses struggle to stay afloat amid COVID-19

The global coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on economies around the world. Many years under heavy United States sanctions have forced domestic investment in Iran, which has been good for many local businesses, and domestic brands now dominate this big consumer market. - Zein Basravi, Al Jazeera 5/18/20

Iran FM: Threatening Iranian tankers by US amounts to piracy, jeopardizes intl. peace

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has issued stern warning against the US provocative acts through dispatching its naval forces to the Caribbean Sea with the goal of disrupting the course of Iranian tankers carrying fuel for Venezuela. In a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday, Zarif described "the illegal, dangerous and provocative US threats [against the Iranian tankers]" as a form of piracy and a big threat to international peace and security. -Press TV 5/18/20

Iran's OPEC Governor, A Key Oil Strategist, Dies At 68

Iran's longtime OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, has died from a brain hemorrhage two weeks after falling into a coma. The Iranian Oil Ministry's Shana news agency reported on May 16 that Ardebili died in a Tehran hospital. He was 68. -RFE/RL 5/18/20

Iran Unlocks New Funding Stream For Oil & Gas

A small and tedious-looking announcement of the ratification of a bylaw relating to the issuance of securities appeared on Iranian government-affiliated websites last week and was unsurprisingly ignored by the world's international media but not OilPrice.com. To OilPrice.com the blank statement that Iran's First Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri, signed off on the issuance of Islamic compliant securities in the calendar year of 1399 means Iran will have access to a massive new stream of capital that it will use to drive forward its long-stalled oil and gas development programme. -Simon Watkins 5/18/20

U.S. and Iran Need a Coronavirus Peace Plan

While Americans are rightly focused on handling the coronavirus at home, the government must also remain vigilant to threats around the world. Yet the Donald Trump administration's approach to Iran, in particular, increasingly lacks any clear policy or overarching strategy. The administration is at times threatening and at times conciliatory, giving Iran little sense of what actions the president will take. This could inadvertently lead us to war, and neither the U.S. nor Iran can afford to engage in hostilities that distract us from the pandemic. -Senator Dianne Feinstein, Bloomberg 5/15/20

Iran's FM Zarif likens Trump's 'disinfectant' advice to nuclear deal argument

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has likened Washington's JCPOA argument to U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion to inject disinfectant to treat coronavirus patients. "Those who muse about injecting disinfectant to 'clean' the coronavirus, also argue that they are a 'participant' in a UN Security Council Resolution endorsing a deal that they long ago 'ceased participating' in," Zarif tweeted on Thursday. "Their own words. If only Kafka were around," he added. 5/15/20

Russia, China slam US plan to extend UN arms embargo on Iran

China and Russia have rejected US plans to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran along with a probable push to trigger a return of all sanctions on Tehran at the UN Security Council. "It has no right to extend an arms embargo on Iran, let alone to trigger snapback," China's UN mission wrote in a tweet on Thursday. "Maintaining [the] Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the only right way moving forward," it added. -Press TV 5/15/20

A health crisis as an incentive to foster regional cooperation in the Persian Gulf?

Iran has been the Middle Eastern epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Islamic Republic was hit early on into the global health crisis. While it is still unclear when and how Iran's 'patient zero' entered the country, it is fair to assume that he or she was part of one of the numerous delegations that kept on traveling between Iran and China even after weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Due to the encompassing US sanctions regime imposed on Iran, China has increasingly become an economic lifeline Tehran simply cannot afford to forego. It, thus, took Iran much longer compared to other states to halt flights to and from China. -Adnan Tabatabai, Responsible Statecraft 5/15/20

Afghan migrants: Unwanted in Iran and at home

Afghans routinely cross the border into Iran and are frequently caught and deported back into Afghanistan. They endure inhumane treatment from smugglers and often lose their savings in the process. In 2019, alone, a total of 451,073 Afghans returned from Iran-a big chunk of them forced through deportation. -Fatemeh Aman, Atlantic Council 5/15/20

Iran reports 2,102 new virus cases, highest in over month

Iran on Friday reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections in more than a month as it warned of clusters hitting new regions. The Islamic republic has struggled to contain the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease since its first cases emerged in mid-February. -AFP 5/15/20

Why Iran's Reverse Engineered TOW Missile Is a Powerhouse

Iran's Toophan missile is so similar to America's TOW anti-tank missile, it can be used interchangeably with the U.S. system. Before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, both the United States and Iran were on friendly terms-so friendly in fact, the U.S. decided to allow Iran to import TOW anti-tank missiles. Iran gladly did, and even had TOW repair facilities built to service the TOW missile and its launchers. The Revolution spoiled Iran's relations with the U.S.-but Iran already had the technology it needed to maintain and grow its American-made arsenal. -Caleb Larson, National Interest 5/15/20

Iran Receives Another Cargo Of Medical Supplies From Germany

An official of the Iranian Customs Organization on Thursday confirmed that a consignment of medical equipment purchased from Germany worth around 749,000 euros (about $800,000) has been delivered to Iran. Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Director-General of Customs Office Sadeq Namdar at the Turkish border said the equipment delivered from Germany consists of haematology testing machines, flow cytometry tubes and autoanalyser machine accessories. 5/14/20

Iranian journalist Hassan Fathi begins 1.5 year jail term over BBC interview

Iranian authorities should release journalist Hassan Fathi from prison and cease arbitrarily jailing members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On May 6, Fathi, a freelance columnist and former editor of the Iranian daily Ettelaat, began an 18-month prison term in Tehran's Evin Prison after his appeal in a 2018 criminal case for speaking with the BBC Persian service was denied, according to a report by the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a U.S.-based outlet that covers news in Iran. -CPJ 5/14/20

Trump Vetoed the Iran War Powers Resolution, but America's No-War Message Is Clear

To no one's great surprise, President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution last week passed by the Senate and the House to prevent him from starting an unauthorized war with Iran. Though the Senate was unable to override Trump's veto, Congress sent a clear message challenging the Trump administration's Iran policy and reasserting a core principle of the Constitution. -Assal Rad, Newsweek 5/14/20

Top 10 books about Iran

Iran is an ancient country with a complex people, among them some of the greatest poets who ever lived. Sadly, the Iranian novel has yet to reach the popularity of the country's poetry. This is perhaps because there is something enigmatic about how Persian prose is written, often using surrealism and magical realism to mimic the playfulness in its poetry. No matter what Iranians do, even if they write historical textbooks, it seems they can never shed the poetic touch. -Nazanine Hozar, Guardian 5/14/20

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