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Explainer: Iran’s Presidential Election

May 12, 2021
Updated: May 27, 2021
Iran’s presidential election is scheduled for June 18. Registration for candidates began on May 11, and seven candidates were selected to run on May 25. The poll will be pivotal to Iran's future since President Hassan Rouhani cannot run again; the Islamic Republic has a limit of two consecutive…

Seizures of Iranian Weapons at Sea

May 12, 2021
Between 2015 and 2021, the United States and its allies intercepted at least seven shipments of weapons allegedly originating from Iran and headed to Yemen. The vessels were either unflagged dhows, wooden boats or fishing vessels. Their cargoes varied in size, and the weapons varied in lethality.…

News Digest: Week of May 10

May 12, 2021
May 10 Diplomacy: E.U. foreign affair chief Josep Borrell said that he was "optimistic" about indirect negotiations in Vienna aimed at getting the United States and Iran back in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. "There is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks, (…

Timeline: U.S.-Iran Naval Encounters

May 6, 2021
Updated: May 10, 2021
Iranian and U.S. naval forces have had sporadic and occasional hostile encounters since the 1980s. Most encounters – largely by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG), not Iran’s regular navy -- involved Iranian harassment of U.S. ships, not live fire. Many encounters have occurred in or…

News Digest: Week of May 3

May 5, 2021
May 3 Cyber: Iran was likely behind cyber attacks on a logistics company and H&M's Israel branch, JNS reported.   Diplomacy: The British government denied reports that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual national detained in Iran, was set to be released. “It’s incumbent on Iran unconditionally…

The Zarif Tape and the Fallout

May 4, 2021
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad ZarifOn April 25, Iran International TV, a Persian-language station based in London, aired three hours of a leaked interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that triggered a political firestorm. Zarif candidly said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard…

Secret Iran-Saudi Talks

May 4, 2021
Updated: July 6, 2021
On April 9, Iran and Saudi Arabia held direct talks five years after severing diplomatic relations. The talks in Baghdad were mediated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi. The Iran delegation was led by Saeed Iravani, deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. The Saudi…

Explainer: Issues in Vienna Nuclear Talks

April 21, 2021
Updated: May 7, 2021
On April 6, the world’s six major powers launched new diplomacy in Vienna to get the United States and Iran back into full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The logistics were unusual because Iran refused to meet directly with the U.S. delegation. So the Joint Commission—the body tasked with…

News Digest: Week of April 19

April 21, 2021
April 19 Military: Gen. Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi, the deputy commander of the Qods Force, died of heart disease, the Revolutionary Guards announced.  Nuclear: The IAEA and the Iranian government began expert-level talks in Vienna over uranium particles discovered by the nuclear watchdog at…

IMF: Iran’s Economy Grew in 2020

April 21, 2021
Iran’s economy grew by 1.5 percent in fiscal year 2020-2021, despite historically low oil prices, crippling U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported in April 2021. Iran’s economic growth outperformed most of its neighbors. The economies of Iraq, Saudi…

U.S. Intelligence on Iran

April 19, 2021
Updated: April 22, 2021
On April 9, the annual U.S. intelligence assessment reported that Iran has not taken the steps necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. But it also warned that the Islamic Republic might expand its nuclear program if the United States does not lift sanctions. “Iranian officials probably will consider…

Israel-Iran Conflict at Sea

April 14, 2021
Updated: August 2, 2021
Since 2019, Israel and Iran have reportedly engaged in tit-for-tat attacks on each other’s cargo ships. The onset of the shadow war at sea is unclear, but the first well-publicized incident was the suspicious breakdown of an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea in May 2019.  Israel has sabotaged at…

Poll: Americans, Iranians Support 2015 Nuclear Deal 

April 14, 2021
In February 2021, most Americans and Iranians said that they supported the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six major world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But Iranians were skeptical that the United States would ever fully comply with the accord even if the…

News Digest: Week of April 12

April 14, 2021
April 12 Sanctions: The European Union sanctioned eight Iranian security officials involved in a deadly crackdown on protesters in November 2019. The travel bans and asset freezes were the first E.U. human rights sanctions on Iran since 2013. Diplomacy:  Speaking in a meeting with Iraqi…

Khamenei on Vienna Talks

April 14, 2021
On April 14, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spurned the initial ideas to get the United States and Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. “The suggestions they make are often arrogant and degrading, thus they aren’t even worth looking at,” he said a day before diplomatic talks in Vienna …

E.U. Sanctions Iran on Human Rights

April 13, 2021
On April 12, the European Union sanctioned eight Iranian security officials involved in a deadly crackdown on protesters in November 2019. The travel bans and asset freezes were the first E.U. human rights sanctions on Iran since 2013. In late 2019, Iran experienced mass protests after the…

Iran Reacts to Nuclear Sabotage

April 13, 2021
Updated: April 14, 2021
On April 12, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif vowed that Iran would ramp up its nuclear program in response to the sabotage of the Natanz nuclear facility. A day earlier, an explosion destroyed the power supply and damaged underground centrifuges used to enrich uranium at Natanz. “This most…

Israeli Sabotage of Iran’s Nuclear Program

April 12, 2021
Since 2010, Israel has been widely linked to a least a dozen attacks on Iran’s nuclear program. Jerusalem and Tehran are nearly 1,000 miles apart. Yet Israel has reportedly penetrated deep into Iranian territory and its most secure facilities in two waves. The first wave, mainly cyberattacks and…

Poll: Iranians Disappointed in Rouhani

April 12, 2021
In February 2021, Iranians largely disapproved of President Hassan Rouhani but were divided over who should succeed him. Iran will hold presidential elections on June 18, 2021. Rouhani was ineligible to run again after serving two consecutive terms in office. But “nearly two-thirds of Iranians say…

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: July 12, 2021
In April 2021, the European Union convened indirect talks between the United States and Iran 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. The other five countries that negotiated the Joint Comprehensive…

New Talks: Iran Statements

April 5, 2021
Updated: July 28, 2021
In April 2021, Iran attended indirect talks on its nuclear program hosted by the European Union in Vienna. The talks included the other five participants to the 2015 nuclear deal—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—and the United States. Iran did not meet directly with the United States but…

New Talks: U.S. Statements

April 2, 2021
Updated: July 15, 2021
In April 2021, the United States attended indirect talks on returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal hosted by the European Union in Vienna. The talks include the other five world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – and Iran. “Our focus is on looking for a diplomatic path forward…

Timeline of Diplomacy Under Biden

April 2, 2021
Updated: August 2, 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…