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News Digest: Week of April 5

April 7, 2021
April 5 Espionage: Iran claimed that it arrested an Israeli spy in its East Azerbaijan province, Reuters reported.  Health: More than 700,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, purchased through the World Health Organization, arrived in Iran. The vaccines were produced in South Korea and…

Why Lifting U.S. Sanctions is So Complex

April 7, 2021
The most complicated issue in U.S.-Iran diplomacy is the overlapping network of U.S. sanctions that punish the Islamic Republic on multiple counts, from activities related to the nuclear program and support of terrorism to missile proliferation and human rights abuses. Some of Iran’s major…

What Iran Has to Reverse on Its Nuclear Program

April 6, 2021
On April 6, the European Union convened indirect talks between Iran and the United States in Vienna. The goal was to create two separate roadmaps to bring Iran and the United States back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Tehran…

New Talks: World Statements

April 5, 2021
Updated: April 9, 2021
On April 2, the European Union announced that it would convene indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna on April 6. The goal was to create two separate roadmaps to bring Iran and the United States back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The other five countries that…

New Talks: Iran Statements

April 5, 2021
Updated: April 10, 2021
On April 2, Iran agreed to attend indirect talks on its nuclear program hosted by the European Union in Vienna on April 6. The talks were slated to include the other five participants to the 2015 nuclear deal—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—and the United States. Iran would not meet…

New Talks: U.S. Statements

April 2, 2021
Updated: April 9, 2021
On April 2, the United States announced that it would attend indirect talks on returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal hosted by the European Union in Vienna on April 6. The talks were slated to include the other five world powers—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—and Iran. “This is a…

Timeline of Diplomacy Under Biden

April 2, 2021
Updated: April 7, 2021
In 2021, the Biden administration launched new diplomacy to get both Tehran and Washington to fully comply with the 2015 nuclear deal. On February 18, it announced three opening moves: It accepted an invitation from the European Union to meet with the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France,…

News Digest: Week of March 29

March 31, 2021
March 29 Judicial: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned or reduced sentences for more than 1,800 prisoners. The commutations were issued to celebrate the birth of Imam Muhammad ibn al Hasan al Mahdi, who Twelver Shiites believe is the Mahdi.  Oil: China could receive nearly one million…

Nowruz 2021: Celebrating Amid COVID

March 31, 2021
On March 20, Iran commemorated the Persian New Year – normally the most joyous time of the year – amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far infected 1.8 million Iranians and killed more than 62,000. The government prohibited travel to the cities most impacted by the coronavirus and imposed a…

State Department Report on Human Rights in Iran

March 30, 2021
Iran’s human rights record was extremely poor in 2020, the State Department reported. Security, judicial and political officials carried out extrajudicial killings, conducted torture and arbitrary detention, restricted free expression and religious freedom, recruited child soldiers and…

Gallup: Americans on Iranian Threat

March 29, 2021
Iran is the third most critical threat to the United States because of its nuclear program, according to a Gallup public opinion poll of American attitudes about foreign policy. But only four percent view Iran as the “greatest enemy” of the United States, down from 19 percent in 2020. The decrease…

Congress Split on Diplomacy with Iran

March 26, 2021
Updated: April 8, 2021
In early 2021, Congress was divided about whether President Joe Biden should launch new diplomacy with Iran—and, if so, over what issues. But Iran is one issue that does not break down neatly on partisan lines. The strongest bloc, although not necessarily the majority, has urged the administration…

News Digest: Week of March 22

March 24, 2021
March 22 Afghanistan: Iran's special envoy for Afghanistan spoke with the U.N. Secretary General's office about the Afghan peace process. "The two sides reviewed various aspects of Afghanistan developments, and highlighted the necessity of mitigating the pains of Afghan people and accelerating the…

One Year of COVID: Economic Impact

March 24, 2021
Virtually every aspect of Iran’s economy has been impacted by the global pandemic. In the year since the first case of COVID-19 in February 2020, Iran’s economy has faced new challenges exacerbated by longstanding problems, including years of punitive U.S. sanctions. The main consequences have been…

One Year of COVID: Timeline

March 23, 2021
Iran reported its first deaths from the new COVID-19 virus on February 19, 2020. It soon became one of the world’s early epicenters. The coronavirus spread across Iran’s 31 provinces within a month. Over the first twelve months of the pandemic, nearly 1.6 million Iranians were infected and more…

One Year of COVID: Public Opinion

March 23, 2021
In February 2021, Iranians largely approved of their government’s handling of COVID-19, even though almost four out of five reported that they knew someone who was struck with or died from the disease. Public opinion polling conducted one year into the pandemic revealed contrasting trends. On…

U.S. Officials on Nowruz

March 23, 2021
On March 20, President Joe Biden and top officials wished a happy Nowruz, the Persian New Year, to Iran and other countries celebrating the ancient holiday around the world. Biden, unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, did not use the occasion to comment on the state of U.S.-Iran…

Iranian Leaders on Nowruz

March 23, 2021
On March 20-21, Iran’s senior leaders marked Nowruz, the Persian New Year and the first day of spring, with optimistic messages about the economy. President Hassan Rouhani declared that three years of “cruel and ruthless imposed economic war,” a reference to U.S. sanctions, against Iran would soon…

One Year of COVID: Politics of Vaccination

March 22, 2021
Updated: April 12, 2021
In March 2021, one year after the outbreak of COVID-19, Iran was just starting its vaccination campaign, which began on February 9, 2021. But most Iranians were warned that they would have to wait until early 2022 due to a vaccine shortage. Over the first twelve months of the pandemic, nearly 1.6…

DNI: Iran Tried to Influence U.S. Election

March 18, 2021
In a new report issued on March 16, U.S. intelligence charged that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei authorized a covert cyber campaign to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The campaign’s goal was to “undercut former President Trump’s reelection prospects – though without…

U.S. Sanctions Two Iranians for Torture

March 9, 2021
On March 9, the United States designated two Revolutionary Guards interrogators in the first new sanctions imposed by the Biden administration on Iran. Ali Hemmatian and Masoud Safadri were involved in torturing political prisoners and protesters detained during anti-government protests in 2019 and…

News Digest: Week of March 1

March 3, 2021
March 1 Shipping: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for an explosion on an Israeli ship last week. An Israeli official told Reuters that limpet mines were used in the attack.  Sports: Iran's suspension from international judo events was lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.…

Sanctions 7: Iran’s Economy by the Numbers

March 3, 2021
Iran’s economy has gyrated, often coinciding with the success or failure of international diplomacy. The fluctuations have been reflected in all basic data points, including the value of its rial currency, oil exports, gross domestic product (GDP) and inflation. U.S. sanctions have added to the…

Sanctions 8: Timeline of Sanctions

March 3, 2021
Since 2005, the United States has designated Iranian individuals, companies, and organizations for involvement in nuclear proliferation, ballistic missile development, support for terrorist groups, and human rights abuses. These designations have been made under the following presidential executive…

Sanctions 5: Trump's "Maximum Pressure" Targets

March 3, 2021
Between 2018 and 2021, the Trump administration imposed more than 1,500 sanctions on Iran or on foreign companies or individuals who did business with Iran. They targeted big institutions, such as the supreme leader’s office, the Revolutionary Guards and the Central Bank, as well as individuals.…

U.S. Sanctions Two Houthi Commanders

March 2, 2021
On March 2, the United States sanctioned two Houthi rebel commanders, Mansur al Saadi and Ahmad Ali Ahsan al Hamzi, for orchestrating attacks “impacting Yemeni civilians, bordering nations, and commercial vessels in international waters.” Al Saadi and al Hamzi “command forces that worsening the…

What Sanctions Iran Wants Lifted

March 2, 2021
The U.S. Institute of Peace interviewed Dr. Kenneth Katzman, a former CIA analyst, who is now an Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service. His responses are made in his personal capacity, not for the Library of Congress. Related Material: Sanctions 1: Impact of Iran's Oil Exports…

U.S. Strikes Iran-Backed Militias in Syria

February 26, 2021
Updated: March 2, 2021
On February 25, the United States conducted airstrikes in eastern Syria against Iran-backed militias in the first military action by the Biden administration. The Pentagon said that warplanes struck “several facilities” used by Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al Shuhada, two Iraqi Shiite…

News Digest: Week of February 22

February 24, 2021
February 22 Health: Tehran and Tokyo discussed using frozen Iranian financial assets in Japanese banks to purchase coronavirus vaccines. The Japanese ambassador in Tehran suggested the move during a meeting with Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdonnaser Hemmati, state media reported. Nuclear: …

Part 4: Restoring Limits on Iran's Nuclear Program

February 23, 2021
In February 2021, the Arms Control Association outlined the steps Iran would have to take to pull back from its breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal, initiated in May 2019, and return to full compliance. The following is its detailed rundown.   A year after former U.S. President Donald Trump…