On April 4, more than 80 people died after planes reportedly dropped chemical bombs on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria. At least 100 others were later treated in hospitals in Idlib province while several dozen were transferred to Turkey. The victims included women and children. The United States, Britain, France, and the European Union held the Syrian regime responsible for the attack.
On March 27, the Islamic State group released a rare Farsi-language video threatening Iran. The nearly 40-minute clip, issued on social media by the group’s Diyala Province in neighboring Iraq, is titled “The Farsi Land: From Yesterday ‘till Today.” The Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) accuses Iran of being a repressive state that persecutes Sunnis while providing protection for Jews and cooperating with Israel and the United States. The clip clearly expresses the organization’s goal to conquer Iran and make it Sunni, as it was in the past.
On March 27, President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Moscow with a large political and economic delegation for a two-day visit. Iranian and Russian officials signed 14 memoranda of understanding to cooperate on a range of security, economic, scientific and cultural issues. Putin highlighted that bilateral trade had increased 70 percent compared to last year. Banking officials from both countries discussed creating a joint bank account to facilitate trade in rubles and rials, which could further boost trade.
On March 26, Iran imposed sanctions on 15 U.S. companies for alleged human rights violations and support for Israel. The retaliatory move came two days after the United States sanctioned 11 entities and individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates for transferring sensitive items to Iran’s ballistic missile program. The following are excerpts from the Foreign Ministry’s statement with the list of U.S. companies.
On March 21, the United States imposed sanctions on 11 entities and individuals for “transfers of sensitive items to Iran’s ballistic missile program.” Washington considers Tehran’s missile program a threat to regional security. Since Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile in January 2017, the U.S.
On March 22, President Donald Trump issued a statement marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year. "On behalf of the American people, I wish you freedom, dignity, and wealth," he said in remarks directed to the Iranian people. On March 20, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had also issued a Nowruz message. It mentioned more than a dozen countries where the holiday is observed, including Iran, but did not include a special message to the Iranian people. The full text of Trump and Tillerson’s statements are below.
On March 17, the U.S. State Department sanctioned two Bahrainis with ties to Iran for supporting terrorism. One was affiliated with the al Ashtar Brigades, which has received funding and support from the Iranian government and carried out attacks in Bahrain. Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi, however, dismissed the allegations as political.
The following are summaries of reports and updates released by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear program since January 2016, when the nuclear deal went into its implementation phase.
On March 6, President Donald Trump issued a new executive order banning people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the United States for 90 days. The move comes about a month after a panel of federal judges blocked enforcement of his initial executive order. The original January order barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen — from entering the United States for 90 days. The new ban will go into effect on March 16 and does not include Iraq on the list of countries of concern.
On March 3, the U.S. State Department released its annual human rights report. The following is the executive summary of the Iran country report, which covers 2016.