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March 28 2015
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Iran, US Continue Nuclear Talks Ahead of Deadline

- U.S. and Iranian negotiators are set Friday to continue a final round of talks on Tehran's nuclear program, as a March 31 deadline to reach a framework deal draws closer. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Lausanne, Switzerland. Both sides have expressed optimism a deal can be reached. - 3/27/15

Iran President Speaks With French, British, Russian Leaders

- Iranian President Hassan Rohani spoke by telephone March 26 with the leaders of France, Britain, and Russia in an attempt to break an impasse that has held up a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. - 3/27/15

Iran, P5+1 hold deputy-level nuclear talks in Lausanne

- Iran and the P5+1 group of countries have held a new round of talks at the deputy level in Switzerland to bridge differences on the outstanding issues pertaining to Tehran's nuclear program. Representatives of Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany took part in the Thursday talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne. - 3/27/15

House Letter is Careful to Leave Door Open For Iran Deal

- In a signal of a shifting political landscape in Congress for nuclear talks with Iran, a House letter sent to the President and endorsed by the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) outlines a position closer to the Obama Administration approach rather than the hardline demands favored most prominently by Benjamin Netanyahu. -Jamal Abdi and Ryan Costello, NIAC - 3/27/15

Journalist Who Backed Rohani Flees Iran

- An Iranian journalist who campaigned for President Hassan Rohani and who had traveled to Lausanne with Iranian negotiators to cover talks on Tehran's nuclear program is seeking political asylum in Switzerland. Amir Hossein Motaqi, editor of Iran's ISKA news agency, told RFE/RL he decided to seek asylum after being hampered in his journalistic work by Iranian officials. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 3/27/15

Iran, US kick off fresh nuclear talks

- Iranian and US diplomacy chiefs have kicked off a fresh round of talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne as part of broader negotiations between Iran and six world powers aimed at clinching a final deal over Tehran's nuclear program. - 3/26/15

The plausible normalization of U.S.-Iran Diplomatic Relations: Who are the losers and winners?

- As the nuclear negotiations between the P+5 countries and Iran approach the deadline of March 31st, two divergent groups have emerged worldwide which envision the possible outcome as contrary or affirmatory to their special interests. Whereas the ones opposing such a breakthrough are highly organized, well financed and combatively vocal, those gaining from the plausible affirmative outcome are agnostically ambivalent or low keyed in ensuring their voices are clearly and loudly heard. -Rachel Eliasi Kohan - 3/26/15

Fearing Success of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement

- Those determined to kill any agreement with Iran have trotted out a succession of rationales for doing so but have kept their focus firmly fixed on the U.S. Congress. That is hardly surprising, given that both houses of Congress are now controlled by the anti-Obama party and Congress is where the lobby that acts on behalf of the right-wing government in Israel exerts its power most directly. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/26/15

Iran Condemns Saudi-Led Air Strikes In Yemen

- Iran has condemned regional rival Saudi Arabia for launching air strikes against Shi'ite Huthi rebels in Yemen, calling it a "dangerous step" that would exacerbate the upheaval in the Arabian Peninsula nation. Iran's Foreign Ministry said on March 26 that military action would "further complicate the situation" and "remove opportunities for a peaceful resolution" in Yemen. - 3/26/15

Challenging Iran's women's rights narrative

- Earlier this month, Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran's Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, led an official delegation to the United Nations in New York to attend the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. -Faraz Sanei, CNN - 3/26/15

Resolving the Remaining Issues in Iran Talks

- Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council and Germany) left the negotiating table in Lausanne last week without agreeing to a path toward a Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (CJPOA). They are scheduled to resume their talks on March 26. The most pressing issues remain: -Adnan Tabatabai, LobeLog - 3/25/15

US Officials React to Allegations of Israeli Spying

- U.S. President Barack Obama said when it comes to the negotiations to secure an agreement ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, the U.S. has been briefing the U.S. Congress on developments as well as Israel and other partners around the world. - 3/25/15

Lies, Spin, and Campaign Rhetoric

- A headline in Monday's New York Times tells us, "Netanyahu Aides Cite Iran as Source of U.S. Tensions." Talk about the Great Satan! These coolly analytical aides understand that Tehran is responsible for all the evils that afflict the Middle East and give the US a giant headache. And if we concentrate on worrying about Iran, maybe we'll forget about the Palestinians. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Meet Our Man in Tehran

- In a new video series, Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran bureau chief for The New York Times, interviews the people of Iran, a country that is slowly changing and where nothing is as it seems. This is the first video in a seven part series rolling out over the next 7 weeks. - 3/25/15

Iran, North Korea, and the Congress that Says No

- Negotiators are rushing to meet an end-of-March deadline to reach a nuclear framework deal with Iran. The Obama administration and its P5+1 partners (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are willing to lift economic sanctions as long as Iran agrees to substantially curb its nuclear program for at least 10 years. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Another Likud Republican: Jeb Bush Pledges "Unwavering" Support for Bibi

- More evidence that multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has effectively gained control of the Republican Party leadership came today with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's assertion that his "support for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwavering..." -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Israel Reportedly Spying on Iranian Nuclear Talks

- As the United States and a group of five other world powers held nuclear negotiations with Iran, U.S. ally Israel used espionage to glean details of the secret talks and work behind the scenes to scuttle any potential agreement, according to a report posted late Monday by The Wall Street Journal. -VOA - 3/24/15

Cost of Living Increased by 20-50 Percent In The Last Iranian Year

- According to government statistics, the rate of inflation dropped in the Persian calendar year that is ending on March 21th. But a look at media news agency reports along with the pronouncements made by authorities, cost of living continued to rise in the last twelve month period. In fact, a new wave of price hikes is expected to hit the pockets of ordinary Iranians in the coming year that begins on March 21st. -Nazanin Kamdar - 3/24/15

Wounded from terror attacks in Yemen treated in Iran

- A number of people wounded in the suicide attacks in Yemen on Friday March 20 have been transferred to Iran for treatment. On Friday, two mosques in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, were targeted by suicide attacks that killed 137 people and left 340 wounded. Sanaa and a number of northern parts of Yemen are currently under Hothi control. - 3/24/15

Russian-Iranian Relations in the Shadow of Ukraine

- Prior to Russia's annexation of Crimea in early 2014, Washington's relations with Moscow were never worse than Washington's relations with Tehran after the 1979 revolution. Indeed, occasionally in the 1990s and 2000s Russian-American relations seemed to be improving while Washington's ties to Tehran remained poor. -Mark N. Katz, LobeLog - 3/24/15

Netanyahu's misrepresentation of Iran

- I believe that the congressional invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint meeting of Congress was misguided, since he was totally unaware of the ideological outlook of Iran and ignorant of Iran's conflict with the forces of ISIS. His talk was sheer propaganda about Iran. He said that "Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad." -Professor R.K. Ramazani - 3/23/15

Obama says Iran falling short in nuclear talks

- U.S. President Barack Obama says Iran has not yet agreed to what he feels is necessary to achieve a final nuclear agreement. In an interview with Huffington Post, Obama commented on the progress of the nuclear talks with Iran, saying: "They have not yet made the kind of concessions that are I think going to be needed for a final deal to get done. But they have moved, and so there's the possibility." - 3/23/15

Too Clever by Half: Netanyahu Strengthens Obama's Hand

- When the British say that someone is "too clever by half," they are not paying a compliment. This week, that expression can be applied to the thrice-and-future prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. -Robert E. Hunter - 3/23/15

Azerbaijanis Strive to Build Civil Society Away from Home

- The space for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan is now roughly the same size as a jail cell, watchdog groups say. Azerbaijani rights activists and journalists are accordingly fleeing the country in growing numbers. -Nargiz Rashid, EurasiaNet - 3/23/15

Update on Iran-Related Legislation

- The following is the latest update from Americans for Peace Now. It provides a summary of a number of Iran-related issues, including the latest legislation in Congress. -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 3/23/15

The 47 Republican Ronin Take on Iran

- In traditional Japanese culture, a samurai without a master is known as a ronin. The most popular tale featuring these leaderless samurai is the 18th-century Chusingura. It tells of a feudal lord who must commit ritual suicide after assaulting the court official who had insulted him. Of the lord's several hundred retainers, 47 loyal samurai plot their revenge on the haughty court official. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 3/23/15

Britain, France, Germany, U.S. Affirm Unity In Iran Nuclear Talks

- Britain, France, Germany, and the United States have affirmed their "unity of purpose" in the Iran nuclear talks, saying the Islamic Republic had to take "difficult decisions." The Western powers' top diplomats met in London on March 21 to discuss progress in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. - 3/22/15

Nowruz Resolution Introduced in the U.S. Congress

- On March 18, 2015, Congressman Michael M. Honda (CA-17th) introduced a resolution in honor of the Iranian New Year into the House of Representatives. The legislation recognizes the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz and wishes Iranian Americans, the people of Iran, and all those who celebrate the holiday a prosperous new year. - 3/22/15

Kerry to Iran: It's Time for Tough Decisions on Nuclear Program

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Iran to make difficult decisions now to enable agreement on the future of its nuclear program by the deadline at the end of this month. He told reporters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday that important gaps remain in reaching an agreement. "Fundamental decisions have to be made now, and they don't get any easier as time goes by," Kerry said. -Al Pessin, VOA - 3/22/15

Iranian Children's Rights Activist Charged with "Acting against National Security"

- Civil and children's rights activist Atena Daemi has been formally charged, after six months of "temporary detention" in Evin Prison, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/22/15

Iran's Green Movement: Jaras new site shutting down though goal still unmet

- Jaras began operation in July of 2009 outside of Iran. In a statement, the website reports that its aim had been to continue operating the news and analysis website until the house arrest of the Green Movement leaders in Iran was ended. It adds, however, that "religious despotism has shown greater endurance". - 3/22/15

In Nowruz message to Iranian People and Leaders, Obama Urges Progress on Nuclear Deal

- President Obama sends best wishes to everyone celebrating Nowruz. In his video message, the President speaks directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran about a path of greater opportunity for the Iranian people. - 3/20/15

Europe stepping up its game on Iran

- A decisive stage in the nuclear talks is approaching, as world powers aim to reach a political agreement with Iran this month. Europeans have cautiously but noticeably stepped up their game to safeguard the negotiations and, ultimately, their future relations with Iran. -Ellie Geranmayeh - 3/20/15

Iran Warns Against Pressure On Nuclear Deal

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States and other world powers should not "pressure" Iran to reach an agreement restricting its nuclear program. Zarif said in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 20 ahead of talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that it was time for the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia to choose between "pressure or agreement." - 3/20/15

Iran's Influence in Iraq Deeper Than Assumed

- Just five years ago, the United States was involved in nearly every aspect of Iraq's life, from economic reconstruction to political development to military cooperation. Now, analysts say, regional power broker Iran dominates the Iraqi landscape. -Sharon Behn, VOA - 3/20/15

Iran agrees to tackle persecution based on sexual orientation

- Iran has announced it will implement some of the recommendations provided to it in the latest Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Iran. More specifically, Iran has committed itself to ending the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation. - 3/20/15

US: Netanyahu Win Will Have No Impact on Iran Nuclear Talks

- The U.S. State Department says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection will have no impact on nuclear talks with Iran. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday the U.S. has long been familiar with Netanyahu's opposition to a possible deal with Iran. She again said that meetings with Iran have been "difficult but constructive." However, she said the talks on the technical side have been "professional and fruitful" in clarifying and sharpening the issues. - 3/19/15

Human Rights: Under scrutiny, Iran Shows Increased, but Limited Cooperation with UN Mechanism

- Four years into his mandate as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed told UN member states at a meeting of the Human Rights Council today in Geneva that although he has yet to be let into the country for a site visit, Iran is demonstrating other signs of cooperation with the mandate. - 3/19/15

Political prisoner's father threatens self-immolation if son not freed

- Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, the father of jailed Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, has threatened to set himself on fire in front of the prosecutor's office in Tehran if the authorities refuse to release his son for necessary medical care. - 3/19/15

Iran Looms as Major US Election Issue for 2016

- No matter what happens with the negotiations over curbing Iran's nuclear program, count on the issue being front and center during next year's U.S. presidential election campaign. The recent letter sent to Iran's leaders by 47 Senate Republicans highlights the sharp divide between the Obama administration's approach to the Iran talks and the skeptical view from conservative critics. -Jim Malone, VOA - 3/19/15

Netanyahu's Latest Challenge to Obama

- Faced with an unexpectedly tough electoral challenge, (at least according to Israeli opinion polls, however unreliable they later turned out to be) Benjamin Netanyahu in the closing days of his campaign decided that his best chance to stay in power would be to tack firmly to the Right-the hardest, narrowest, most intractable, and most prejudiced Right. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/19/15

US Downplays Chances of Quick Iranian Nuclear Deal

- Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday that Iranian officials had reached a mutual understanding with the United States and its negotiating partners on most issues in nuclear talks, but the White House sought to temper optimism about an imminent deal. - 3/18/15

South Pars biggest phase to up Iran's GDP 3%

- The biggest phase of Iran's South Pars gas field, namely the phase 12, was officially inaugurated on Tuesday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Rouhani said the government puts great emphasis on the policies of resistance economy, the Mehr news agency reported on Tuesday. - 3/18/15

Iran Should Release Jason Rezaian

- Last week Jasmin reported on the case of American-Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief who has been detained in Iran since July 22, 2014. Jason turned 39 in Tehran's Evin prison on Mar. 15. Citing both his birthday and the upcoming Persian New Year (Nowruz), when the government traditionally offers gestures of goodwill, his lawyer has submitted a furlough request. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/18/15

U.S. Oil companies taking position against GOP letter will be rewarded: Iranian Official

- Head of Iranian Ministry of Petroleum's Oil Contracts Revision Committee says the U.S. oil companies taking position against Republican senators who recently wrote a letter warning Iran against a nuclear deal with the U.S. will be rewarded. - 3/18/15

Chas Freeman on Reorganizing U.S. Policies in the Middle East: Responding to Failure

- I want to speak with you today about the Middle East. This is the region where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together. It is also the part of the world where we have been most compellingly reminded that some struggles cannot be won, but there are no struggles that cannot be lost. -LobeLog - 3/18/15

Americans broadly support direct negotiations with Iran: Poll

- As Iran and the United States are holding intense talks about Tehran's nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne, a new poll shows that Americans broadly support direct negotiations with Iran. According to a CNN/ORC International Poll, direct diplomatic negotiations between Iran and the US are broadly popular as 68 percent of the total 1,009 respondents voted in favor of the talks. - 3/17/15

The Times Errs on Iran Weaponization

- A recent piece in The New York Times purports to explain why Iran has not been clear about its nuclear bomb aspirations. The article tries to link this alleged silence to the successful agreements in the P5+1 negotiations that have begun again in Switzerland. However, the article is based on misconceptions, innuendo, and technical ignorance. -Robert Kelley - 3/17/15

Iran to hike oil exports by 1mn bpd after sanctions lifted

- Iran says it is ready to increase its oil exports by one million barrels per day a few months after the sanctions against the country are lifted. "The increase in Iran's crude export will not decrease oil prices," Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh was quoted as saying by IRNA. - 3/17/15

Iranian Parliament sets conditions for final nuclear deal: Rapid lifting of sanctions and closing Iran issue at UN

- TEHRAN - 260 Iranian MPs issued a statement on Monday saying that an immediate removal of all sanctions and closing the Iran nuclear issue at the UN Security Council are the preconditions for a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers. - 3/17/15

The Worst Case for War With Iran You'll Read in a Major Newspaper

- Many opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran simply won't come out and say what they seem to be constantly getting at: that the United States should go to war. Well, kudos to the hawkish opinion pages of The Washington Post and the neoconservative scholar Joshua Muravchik for making just that argument in Sunday's paper. -Ali Gharib, The Nation - 3/17/15

Why Iran Won't Capitulate

- Part of the reason why opponents to a nuclear deal with Iran are so bewildered by President Barack Obama's diplomacy is because their belief that Iran can be forced to capitulate. They adhere to a George W. Bush administration-era argument: If the U.S. only were to ramp up pressure, it can dictate the terms of the deal instead of having to agree to a compromise. Nothing could be further from the truth. -Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi, Huffington Post - 3/17/15

Who's Afraid of the Israel Lobby?

- Congress is the last place to look for "the brightest and the best" or the most knowledgeable. Still, most Senators and Representatives are at least somewhat better informed than people whose window on the world is Fox News. Why then did they make spectacles of themselves listening, yet again, to what Benjamin Netanyahu has to say about Iran? Why would they care? -Andrew Levine, CounterPunch - 3/17/15

Kerry, Zarif Meet For Iran Nuclear Talks

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on March 16 in Switzerland for crucial talks to secure an agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear program. The meeting in Lausanne comes before an end-of-March deadline for the framework of a deal that would curb Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from international sanctions. - 3/16/15

Iranians selling US assets as nuclear deal nears - Report

- "Iranians living here [in America] can seize the opportunity to park their money in Iran while it [the Iranian rial] is strong today. Markets inside Iran have started reacting positively to the good news for the Iranians of a prospective deal by next week," an unnamed Iranian national has told the Breitbart News in an exclusive interview. - 3/16/15

Son Of Former Iranian President Jailed

- Iran's judiciary said on March 15 that the son of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after being tried on security and corruption charges. A judiciary statement did not state the specific charges for which Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani -- known in Iran as Mehdi Hashemi -- was convicted. - 3/16/15

Lingering Questions About Cotton Letter

- I have some lingering questions about the Cotton letter that Bill Kristol is now touting as a brilliant tactic in rallying support for the Corker bill (which, as presently drafted, would also sabotage the P5+1 negotiations). -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/16/15

White House Warns Senate Republicans To Stop Interfering With Iran Nuclear Negotiations

- The White House wants Congress to stop interfering in the negotiations with Iran about its nuclear capabilities. White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough warned Congress in a letter sent late Saturday that pending legislation requiring congressional approval for any deal reached with Iran about its nuclear capabilities could have a "profoundly negative impact" on the negotiations. - 3/15/15

Iran witnesses surprise fall in US dollar rates against rial

- Iran's exchange market on Sunday witnessed an unprecedented appreciation of the Iranian rial against the US dollar in what many see is the result of an overwhelming positive speculation by the country's businesses toward the outcomes of nuclear talks now underway in Lausanne, Switzerland. - 3/15/15

Political will can lead to Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal: Iranian FM Zarif

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran and the P5+1 global powers can reach a deal over Tehran's nuclear program if the six countries show the same political will as Iran. "In my view, if the opposite side has the same political will as the Islamic Republic of Iran, reaching a solution will not be difficult," Zarif said upon his arrival in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Sunday. - 3/15/15

Kerry Says Political Deal Possible 'In Days' At Iran Nuclear Talks

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on the eve of nuclear talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that it is possible "in the next days" to reach a framework political deal with Iran if Tehran can show its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. Kerry is traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland on March 15 for talks with Zarif aimed at resolving remaining differences between Tehran and six world powers on a political deal before an end-of-March deadline. - 3/15/15

Presidential powers called insufficient to fulfill promises of liberty for Iranians

- The head of Iran's expediency council says that while he supports Hassan Rohani, the president made campaign promises about political and social liberties that go beyond the limits of his executive power. - 3/15/15

Iran starts mass-producing anti-ship cruise missiles

- Iran on Saturday started the mass production of anti-ship cruise missiles called Qadir. The mass production of the missile, with a range of 300 kilometers, was launched in a ceremony attended by Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and IRGC Navy Force Ali Fadavi. - 3/15/15

Fallout from the GOP47 Letter

- The following is the latest update from Americans for Peace Now. It provides a summary of a number of Iran-related issues, including the responses to and fallout from the letter by Tom Cotton and his 46 Republican colleagues (GOP47). -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 3/15/15

Iran: Fars Governor say MP's attackers now identified

- The statement comes after President Rohani, the interior minister and a number of MPs called for the immediate identification of the attackers. Some MPs have even called for the governor's resignation for the security failure in his province. - 3/15/15

Kerry: Unclear If Iranian Nuclear Deal Will Be Reached

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday again slammed a letter signed by 47 Republican senators that warned Iran about a prospective landmark nuclear deal, calling the letter irresponsible and incorrect. - 3/14/15

Photos: Iranian Assyrians hold rally, condemn ISIL crimes

- Hundreds of Iranian Assyrians have held a demonstration in Tehran, condemning the crimes perpetrated by ISIL militants against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. They gathered in front of the United Nations headquarters on Thursday to condemn the dreadful killings of civilians, especially Assyrians, in Iraq and Syria. - 3/14/15

Proposed Iranian Laws Are Setback for Women

- Proposed new laws in Iran would restrict women's access to birth control and jobs, according to human rights group Amnesty International. The group expressed alarm at two bills, moving through Iran's parliament, that aim to arrest the country's plunging birth rate and declining population, seen in Tehran as major threats to the Islamic Republic's future. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA - 3/14/15

Talks to lift UN sanctions may thwart Republican senators

- World powers have begun talks on lifting US sanctions on Iran as a result of the possible agreement between Iran and the 5+1 to end their nuclear disputes. A report on Reuters indicates that such a move would restrict any attempt by U.S. Congress to undo a deal. - 3/14/15

Facebook Users Arrested, Others Will Be Arrested Soon, IRGC Warns

- More than 30 people have been targeted by the cyber crime unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) this month, including a dozen arrested for their "immoral" activities on Facebook. - 3/14/15

Muhammad Ali joins call to free Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian

- Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali lent his voice to those calling for the release of detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, as Rezaian's family and his newspaper petitioned for his release at a press conference in the United States on Thursday. - 3/14/15

Fifty Pro-Diplomacy Organizations Urge Senate to Reject Dangerous Iran Legislation

- Washington, DC - On the heels of a series of political stunts on Capitol Hill that have heightened partisanship and threatened to sabotage nuclear negotiations with Iran, 50 organizations sent a letter to the Senate today warning against legislation that would entrust Congress with expanded powers to block an eventual nuclear deal. - 3/13/15

Iranian artists call for return of music concerts to Mashhad

- A group of artists and musicians has written to the Governor of Khorasan Razavi, calling on him to cancel the ban placed on all music concerts in Mashhad, the provincial capital. Qods online reports that the signatories maintain that such a ban will lead to the "separation and alienation of the young generation from their local artistic and cultural values." - 3/13/15

Caspian Sea: is Iran changing its position on the Caspian legal regime?

- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister has expressed optimism that the legal status of the Caspian Sea could finally be resolved at the next summit of Caspian littoral states. He said after a meeting of the working group on the Caspian Sea on March 5 the sides have reached complete agreement on six provisions of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 3/13/15

Ford and Helsinki, Obama and Iran

- In July 1975, just weeks before President Gerald Ford planned to travel to Helsinki, Finland, to wrap up more than three years of negotiations with European partners and the Soviet Union, Senate lawmakers moved to block what they believed to be a "one-sided agreement" favoring the Soviets. Like their anti-Iran counterparts in Congress today, ... -Tyler Cullis, NY Times - 3/13/15
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