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Latest on the Race: Jalili on the Issues

May 15, 2013
      Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is a major conservative candidate for Iran’s presidency. The secretary of the Supreme National Security Council seems to share the supreme leader’s hardline outlook on all key issues. The following are excerpts from various interviews, public remarks and…

Top US Officials on Sanctions Impact

May 15, 2013
            On May 15, two top officials in the Obama administration claimed U.S. sanctions are having a growing impact on the Iranian economy, the regime’s political calculations and Tehran’s foreign policy. The following are excerpts from the testimony of Under Secretary of the Treasury David S.…

Latest on the Race: Heir Apparent Esfandiar Mashaei

May 13, 2013
Kourosh Rahimkhani       Although never elected to office, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei has become a major political figure as chief of staff to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is also one of Iran’s most controversial politicians. Ahmadinejad appointed him vice-president in 2009, but the political…

Latest on the Race: Mashaei on the Issues

May 13, 2013
      Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei is the most controversial of the 686 candidates who have registered to run for president. He shares President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s populist and nationalist outlook on all key issues. The following are excerpts from various interviews and…

Sport I:Iran and US Wrestle--in a different way

May 13, 2013
Garrett Nada           Iran and the United States have at least one urgent interest in common: Their wrestling federations have teamed up to salvage wrestling for the 2020 Olympics after the Olympic Committee recommended dropping the sport in February 2013. The Iranian and American teams were…

Sport II: The Basketball Bridge

May 13, 2013
Garrett Nada      For more than a decade, Iran has looked to the United States to improve its caliber of basketball. In 2000, the national team even hired American coach Gary LeMoine. Since then, dozens of Americans ― reportedly 37 during one season ― have played on Iranian teams. Jonas Lalehzadeh…

Report: Obstacles to Containing a Nuclear-Armed Iran

May 13, 2013
            The United States may be pressed to adopt a containment strategy if efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran fail, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security. U.S. intelligence officials have testified that Tehran has not yet decided whether or not to pursue…

Nukes Unlikely to Change Iran’s Strategy

May 12, 2013
            Nuclear arms would be unlikely to change Iran’s fundamental interests and strategy in the Middle East, according to a new report by the Rand Corporation’s Alireza Nader. Tehran is primarily concerned with survival. So it probably would not attack Israel or U.S. interests in the Persian…

Latest on the Race: Candidates on U.S. Ties

May 8, 2013
Garrett Nada       After the economy, the most controversial issue in the presidential election is normalizing Tehran’s ties with the United States. For the first time, both major conservative and reformist candidates actually embrace the idea that direct talks could bring Iran out of isolation…

Iran Calls for Syrian Dialogue With Opposition

May 7, 2013
            In talks in Damascus and Amman in early May, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on the Syrian government to engage in dialogue with its “peaceful opposition.” But he made clear that Tehran still fully backs the government of President Bashar Assad. “Iran stands at the side…

Iran Urges U.N. Response to Israeli Strikes

May 7, 2013
      On May 6, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee condemned the Israeli airstrikes on Syria as “blatant acts of aggression” and demanded an international response. The letter warned that Israel’s attacks will further destabilize the region.      “Nothing can justify the use of force and act of…

How Deeply is Iran Enmeshed in Syria?

May 6, 2013
Will Fulton            Israel carried out two airstrikes on Syrian targets in early May that significantly expanded the regional dimensions of Syria’s internal conflict. In the first strike on May 3, Israeli warplanes reportedly hit a convoy of Iranian Fateh-110 missiles destined for Lebanon’s…

Iran and Syria React Angrily to Israeli Strikes

May 6, 2013
      Iran and Syria both lashed out angrily at Israel for two reported airstrikes on Syrian military targets on May 3 and 5, 2013. Both also warned of possible retaliation. The following are select quotes from senior officials in Tehran and Damascus.  Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, foreign minister…

New U.S. Sanctions on Nuclear Program, Bank and Shipping

May 6, 2013
            On May 9, the State Department imposed new sanctions on four Iranian companies and one individual for providing “goods, technology, and services that increase Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and/or construct a heavy water” research reactor. U.N. Security Council Resolutions prohibit…

Report: Religious Freedom Abuses

May 3, 2013
            Iran continues to engage in “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused,” according to an annual report by the U.S. Commission on International…

How Iran Ranks on World Press Freedom Day

May 3, 2013
            Iran’s crackdown on the press, including detention of 24 journalists, was highlighted by two reports to mark International Press Freedom Day on May 3. Iran ranks among the world’s worst-rated countries on press freedom, according to a new index by Freedom House. The organization assigns…

Iran Takes Tough Stance on Chemical Weapons in Syria

May 2, 2013
            On at least one issue—and at least rhetorically—Iran and the United States agree. Both Tehran and Washington are now on the record in calling the use of chemical weapons “a red line.” Iran’s toughening position may reflect its own experience when Saddam Hussein repeatedly used several…

Supreme Leader on Women

May 1, 2013
      The West has committed an “unforgivable sin” against women by defining them as merely objects of pleasure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Iran’s National Women’s Day. The supreme leader claimed that Islam grants women equal rights and honor, while Western lifestyle degrades them. He also…

Latest on the Race: Economy Top Election Issue

May 1, 2013
      The economy is a pivotal issue in Iran’s presidential campaign, since the country now faces its most serious crisis since the 1980-88 war with Iraq. Virtually everyone—including both supporters and critics of the regime—is demanding change. Most candidates are too.       But the economy…

Khamenei: West Fueling Syria Conflict

April 30, 2013
            Western intelligence services are fomenting “bloody sectarian, ethnic and national conflicts” in Syria and countries in transition, Iran’s supreme leader said on April 29. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Western propaganda and “mercenary media” in the region are falsely portraying…

Latest on the Race: Leader’s Ideal President

April 29, 2013
            In a strong speech six weeks before the election, the supreme leader admonished presidential candidates against making empty promises or creating tension. Ayatollah Khamenei also defended the Guardian Council, which usually disqualifies 99 percent of candidates. In 2009, the council…

Part II: Sanctions Hit Iran’s Oil Production

April 29, 2013
            Iran’s oil production dropped 17 percent in 2012, according to a new according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But Iran managed to remain the second-largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on average. Consumption…

Part I: Iran Oil Sales Plummet

April 29, 2013
            In 2012, Iran’s oil exports dropped to their lowest level since 1986, according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Exports declined 39 percent between from 2011 to 2012 alone due to tightened U.S. and E.U. sanctions. Production of crude oil and condensates…

Al Qaeda and Iran: Enemies with Benefits

April 25, 2013
Matthew Duss             On April 22, Canadian authorities arrested two men who allegedly planned to derail a U.S.-bound passenger train. Officials said al Qaeda elements in Iran gave “direction and guidance” to Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35. But police have not found evidence of…

Politics and Art of Iran’s Revolutionary Tulips

April 23, 2013
Garrett Nada       Their petals are on the national flag. They line the dome above Ayatollah Khomeini’s tomb. They adorn billboards of martyrs from the war with Iraq. They have been depicted on coins and postage stamps. And hotels, parks and restaurants are named after them…

Hagel: Arms Deal Clear Signal to Iran

April 23, 2013
            U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is a “clear signal" that all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. Hagel arrived in Israel on April 21 for his first visit as defense…

Latest on the Race: Khamenei’s Do’s and Don’ts

April 23, 2013
            The supreme leader has warned presidential candidates against demeaning each other and promising more than they can accomplish. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has published a list of 25 campaign do’s and don’ts ahead of the June presidential election. At least 30 candidates have indicated their…

Iran’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

April 23, 2013
            Iran is facing double-digit inflation, high consumer prices, rising unemployment, and anemic economic growth, according to a new report by Jahangir Amuzegar, a former executive board member of the International Monetary Fund. But not all of Iran’s economic problems are caused by…

U.S. Slams Iran in New Human Rights Report

April 19, 2013
            On April 19, the State Department’s new human rights report charged that Iran engaged in “egregious” abuses, including “cruel, inhuman or degrading” punishments as well as “judicially sanctioned” amputation and flogging. It cited “beatings and rape” as evidence of Tehran’s politically…

Report: Sanctions Backfiring, Try Direct Dialogue

April 18, 2013
            A new report by top former U.S. officials concludes that sanctions are backfiring. Punitive economic policies have hardened Tehran’s resistance to pressure and instead “contributed to an increase in repression and corruption,” warns the Iran Project report. As a result, efforts by the…