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Part 3: Iran's Surge in COVID-19 Cases

July 7, 2020
Iran experienced a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in early June following the gradual reopening of businesses, mosques, schools and government offices in April and May. On June 2, Health Minister Saeed Namaki expressed concern that Iranians had become "completely careless" with health…

Hardliners Boo Zarif in Parliament

July 6, 2020
On July 5, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared before Iran’s new parliament, where conservative factions have assumed the majority over reformers and centrists, to discuss foreign policy and the economic challenges triggered by U.S. sanctions. The session quickly became personal. Several…

Iran’s Arsenal of Cruise Missiles

July 6, 2020
Since 2004, Iran has developed cruise missiles capable of targeting U.S. ships, foreign oil tankers and the fleets of Arab allies in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Its arsenal of anti-ship missiles has changed the balance of naval power between Iran’s conventional navy – which is comprised of small…

Profiles: Iranian Opposition Groups

July 2, 2020
Iranian opposition groups reflect diverse political grievances, ethnic tensions, and ideological trends. The regime’s most visible opponents are partially or entirely based outside Iran. Their goals are either regime change or self-determination for an ethnic group inside Iran. The government has…

Masks Mandatory in Iran—Five Months Late

July 1, 2020
Updated: July 7, 2020
Almost five months after the first reported COVID-19 deaths, Iran made masks mandatory at all indoor gatherings from July 5 until July 22. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged citizens to wear face coverings to stem a second wave of COVID-19 infections. He called on government officials to…

Part 4: Pompeo, Zarif Spar on U.N. Arms Embargo

June 30, 2020
On June 30, 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif clashed over the future of the U.N. conventional arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire in October. The two officials spoke at a virtual meeting of the Security Council convened to debate whether to…

News Digest: Week of June 29

June 29, 2020
June 29 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 225,205 cases and 10,670 deaths, including 162 new fatalities, from COVID-19. It was the highest daily death toll in Iran since April 4, when the country reported 158 new deaths. Justice: Iran asked Interpol to enforce an arrest warrant for…

U.S. Report on Human Trafficking in Iran

June 26, 2020
In 2019 and 2020, Iran failed to prevent human trafficking, prosecute its perpetrators or protect victims, the State Department said in the annual report released on June 25, 2020. Iranian officials often condoned crimes. They were also involved in recruiting children to fight for Iranian-led…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Metal Industry

June 25, 2020
On June 25, the United States sanctioned four companies in Iran’s metals sector, a key source of export revenue for the regime. The Treasury Department also sanctioned four sales agents—one based in Germany and three based in the United Arab Emirates—that are owned or controlled by Mobarakeh Steel…

U.S. Report: Iran’s Support for Terrorism

June 24, 2020
In 2019, Iran supported terrorist organizations across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite groups in Iraq and Palestinian groups in Gaza, the State Department said in the annual report on terrorism released on June 24, 2020. The report also accused Tehran of helping the Assad…

Iran’s Ambitious Space Program

June 23, 2020
Since 2003, Iran’s space program has steadily evolved – from a limited initiative to launch research satellites into a more ambitious project to enhance space reconnaissance capabilities and test military rockets. The program, still in its adolescence, has progressed through three phases: research…

News Digest: Week of June 22

June 22, 2020
Updated: June 24, 2020
June 22 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 207,525 cases of COVID-19, including 9,742 deaths. Health Minister Namaki said that 87 percent of Iranians who had died from COVID-19 were obese or had underlying medical issues.  Health/Education: Education Minister Mohsen Haji Mirzaei announced…

Iran Obstructing IAEA Investigation

June 22, 2020
Updated: June 24, 2020
On June 19, the U.N. nuclear watchdog and the United States rebuked Iran for denying access to two suspect sites where it may have used or stored undeclared nuclear material. The resolution, which passed 25 to 2 with seven abstentions, called on Iran to fully cooperate with an investigation into…

Iran’s Defense Spending

June 17, 2020
How much does Iran spend on its military? How has defense spending changed over the past two decades? Between 2015 and 2019, Iran annually spent 4 percent to 5 percent—or $18 billion to $22 billion—of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. Defense spending was around $18.4 billion in 2019,…

U.S. Hostage Accountability Act

June 16, 2020
On June 15, the Senate unanimously approved the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act (S.712). The bipartisan legislation aims to strengthen U.S. government efforts to repatriate Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained abroad. It would establish a Special…

News Digest: Week of June 15

June 15, 2020
June 15 Health: Iran recorded 189,876 cases of COVID-19, including 8,950 deaths. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei warned that Iran may have to reimpose restrictions after a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. “In the (Tehran) subway, although 90 percent of passengers use masks, social…

CENTCOM: Iran Recalculating Strategy on U.S.

June 12, 2020
In response to U.S. strikes on Iran, the Islamic Republic has revised its tactics in dealing with the U.S. military in the Middle East, according to General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command. “Right now, we're in a period of what I would call ‘contested deterrence’ with Iran…

Part 3: Europe, China and Russia on U.N. Arms Embargo on Iran

June 12, 2020
Updated: June 29, 2020
In early 2020, Europe, China and Russia rejected the Trump administration’s initiative to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran. The disagreement deepened the divide among the six major world powers – Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States – that negotiated the Iran nuclear…

U.S. Report on Religious Freedom in Iran

June 10, 2020
Iran’s government has continued to imprison, harass and intimidate people based on religious beliefs, according to an annual State Department report on religious freedom released on June 10. At least 90 percent of Iran’s population is Shiite. In 2019, religious minorities, such as Sunni Muslims and…

News Digest: Week of June 8

June 8, 2020
Updated: May 12, 2020
June 8 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 173,832 infections and 8,351 deaths from COVID-19.  Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour urged citizens to wear masks in public places to stem a second wave of coronavirus infections. "Everybody must wear masks when attending places like…

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Shipping Companies

June 8, 2020
On June 8, the United States expanded sanctions on Iran’s shipping industry. The Treasury Department blacklisted Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its Shanghai-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping Company Ltd, along with more than 100 ships and tankers. “IRISL has repeatedly…

After Swap, U.S.-Iran Comments on Future Deal

June 5, 2020
President Donald Trump urged Iranian leaders to negotiate a new nuclear deal before the November presidential election. “Don’t wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal. I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!” Trump tweeted on June 4.  Iran had just released Navy veteran Michael…

In Swap, Iran Frees White, U.S. Releases Taheri

June 4, 2020
Updated: June 8, 2020
On June 4, Iran released Michael White, an American who had been detained for nearly two years. The U.S. Navy veteran was arrested on unspecified charges in July 2018 while visiting his girlfriend in Iran. In March 2019, White was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the supreme leader…

U.S. Deports Acquitted Iranian Scientist

June 2, 2020
On June 2, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that Sirous Asgari, a scientist who had been imprisoned in the United States, was on a plane back to Iran. “Congratulations to his wife and his esteemed family,” he wrote on Instagram. Dr. Asgari was indicted in 2016 on charges of…

Tehran Exploits U.S. Unrest

June 2, 2020
Updated: June 16, 2020
Iranian leaders exploited U.S. unrest over the death of George Floyd—an African American killed in police custody in Minneapolis—to criticize the U.S. government. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. government of racism against African Americans. “If you're dark-skinned walking…

Part 2: COVID-19 Toll on Chemical Weapons Victims

June 1, 2020
Victims of chemical weapons during Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq have proven to be among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In April 2020, veterans accounted for 7.5 percent of the 4,500 COVID-19 deaths, or about 337 people, the Islamic Revolution Veterans Association reported. Tens of thousands of…

News Digest: Week of June 1

June 1, 2020
June 1 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 154,445 cases and 7,878 deaths from COVID-19. Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned that a second wave of infections could be worse than the first. “The outbreak is not over yet and at any moment it may come back stronger than before,” Namaki said at…

Part 1: COVID-19 Toll on Doctors and Nurses

June 1, 2020
Iran’s doctors and nurses have made heavy sacrifices in the fight against COVID-19. In the first three months of the pandemic, more than 100 healthcare workers died and some 10,000 had been infected. The death toll could be much higher, since statistics were still being collected from across the…

Parliament Elects Qalibaf as Speaker

May 29, 2020
Updated: June 1, 2020
On May 28, Iran’s new parliament elected Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a political hardliner and a former Revolutionary Guard, as its new speaker. The former mayor of Tehran, who also ran for the presidency three times, received 230 votes from the 264 lawmakers who attended the session. Qalibaf vowed to …

U.S. Ends Sanctions Waivers for Iran Nuclear Projects

May 28, 2020
Updated: June 1, 2020
On May 27, the Trump Administration announced that it would end waivers – or exemptions from U.S. sanctions – allowing British, Chinese and Russian companies to work at three Iranian nuclear sites. The work focused on ways to contain or limit Iran’s ability to use its nuclear program to build a…