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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…

Iran’s New Parliament Holds First Session

May 27, 2020
Iran’s new parliament held its opening session on May 27 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers were required to follow health protocols, but many did not practice social distancing or wear masks. The 268 members of parliament who attended the session had all tested negative for the virus,…

Iran, Venezuela Increase Ties Amid U.S. Sanctions

May 27, 2020
Updated: August 14, 2020
Iran and Venezuela have formed a strategic partnership to circumvent punitive U.S. sanctions imposed on both countries by the Trump administration. In October 2019, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani commended Venezuela’s “praiseworthy” resistance to U.S. pressure. “All their [U.S.] conspiracies…

Report: State Violence Against Protestors in Iran

May 27, 2020
On May 27, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) released a report documenting Iran’s violent crackdowns on protestors in November 2019 and January 2020. Dozens of victims and witnesses described use of lethal force, massive arrests, due process violations, press censorship and prolonged…

U.S. Fact Sheet on Iran’s “Terrorist Activity” Abroad

May 27, 2020
On May 22, the State Department issued a fact sheet accusing Iran of waging a “global campaign of terror” that has included up to 360 targeted assassinations, and mass bombing attacks. The fact sheet was released several weeks after senior Turkish and U.S. officials said that Iran appeared to be…

News Digest: Week of May 25

May 25, 2020
May 25 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 137,724 cases of COVID-19, including 7,451 deaths. President Rouhani announced the country's fourth phase of COVID-19 containment. “In this stage, we will proceed with diagnosis activities using diagnostic kits and other devices to separate the…

Experts on COVID-19, Oil Crisis and U.S. Tensions

May 20, 2020
On May 19, three experts discussed the intersection of crises for the Islamic Republic, which was one of the original epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus coincided with economic and political challenges that have created a perfect storm for Tehran. Speakers included:  Robin Wright (…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Interior Minister for Human Rights Abuses

May 20, 2020
On May 20, the United States sanctioned nine Iranian officials, including the interior minister, and three entities for human rights abuses. The new measures “send a message of support to the Iranian people that we will continue to support their demands for transparent and accountable governance…

Mosques Reopen for Ramadan Celebrations

May 19, 2020
Updated: June 3, 2020
On May 12, Iran temporarily reopened all mosques for three days during the holy month of Ramadan. Iranians celebrated the nights of Laylat al-Qadr, which commemorates the Quran being revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Prayer services were held in mosques, public parks and hospitals. Worshippers were…

Iran’s Schools Begin to Reopen

May 19, 2020
Updated: June 16, 2020
On May 16, Iran reopened schools in 130 cities with low infection rates after nearly three months of closure due to COVID-19. Students were required to wear masks and gloves during class. But students were not required to return to school. Parents could choose to continue their children’s lessons…

U.S. Sanctions Chinese Firm Connected to Iranian Airline

May 19, 2020
On May 19, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned a China-based company for providing services to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline blacklisted in 2011 for supporting the elite Qods Force. Mahan Air has transported fighters, weapons, equipment and funds to support the Syrian regime and Iranian proxies across the…

News Digest: Week of May 18

May 18, 2020
May 18 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health recorded 122,492 cases, including 7,057 deaths from COVID-19. It was the largest increase in new daily cases since April 5. But government spokesman Ali Rabiei reported that 280 cities and towns had been declared low-risk white zones. He said that Khuzestan…

U.S. Issues Global Maritime Advisory

May 14, 2020
On May 14, the United States alerted the maritime industry to the deceptive shipping practices used by Iran, North Korea and Syria to evade sanctions. The joint advisory, issued by the State Department, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, also provided “best practices” for shippers…

Pompeo in Israel on Iran

May 13, 2020
On May 13, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Iran would “foment terror” while the rest of the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Pompeo blasted the Islamic Republic during a visit to Jerusalem, his first trip abroad since he visited Afghanistan in March. “Even during this pandemic…

News Digest: Week of May 11

May 13, 2020
Updated: May 15, 2020
May 11 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 109,286 cases of COVID-19, including 6,685 deaths. Police had shut down 1,300 websites and arrested 320 people for spreading rumors about the coronavirus, according to state news agency IRNA. Health/Aviation: IranAir, the country's flagship…

Part 2: Iran on U.N. Arms Embargo

May 12, 2020
Updated: August 31, 2020
The U.N. ban on conventional arms sales to Iran is set to expire on October 18, 2020. If the arms embargo is not extended by the Security Council, Iran will be able to import weapons – including battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack…

Part 1: U.S. on U.N. Arms Embargo on Iran

May 11, 2020
Updated: August 10, 2020
In late April 2020, the United States announced a new diplomatic initiative to extend the U.N. embargo limiting Iran’s ability to purchase conventional weapons, which is due to expire on October 18, 2020. The embargo limits all U.N. member states from selling weaponry – including battle tanks,…

Iranian Warship Struck by Friendly Fire

May 11, 2020
Updated: May 15, 2020
On May 11, an Iranian warship mistakenly fired a missile at another Iranian naval vessel, killing at least 19 sailors and wounding 15 others. The accident took place during a military training exercise near the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman.  The Jamaran, one of Iran’s most advanced…

Pompeo, Zarif on Two Years After JCPOA Pullout

May 11, 2020
Two years after the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marked the anniversary by comparing the Islamic Republic to Nazi Germany and calling on the international community “stop the world’s leading state sponsor of anti-Semitism.” In a statement, Pompeo said…

Iran Revamps and Renames Currency

May 7, 2020
On May 4, Iran’s parliament approved plans to replace the rial, the national currency, by shaving four zeros off the end and renaming the primary bill the toman. Each toman will be worth 10,000 rials. The currency changes include creation of the parseh as a smaller currency. One toman will be worth…

COVID-19 by the Numbers: U.S. versus Iran

May 6, 2020
Updated: September 23, 2020
The United States and Iran have both been epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic. The United States reported its first confirmed case, in Washington state, on January 21. Iran’s first cases, both deaths, were reported on February 19. The U.S. population is 331 million, roughly four times larger…

Iran Showcases Medical Gear at Army Day Parade

May 5, 2020
On April 17, Iran celebrated National Army Day in a parade showcasing medical equipment used in the fight against COVID-19 instead of the tanks, missiles and warplanes usually put on display. The parade—dubbed “Defenders of the Homeland, Helpers of Health”—featured troops dressed in hazmat gear,…

Iran Opens First Drive-In Theater Since Revolution

May 5, 2020
Updated: May 19, 2020
On May 1, Iran opened a drive-in movie theater for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The pop-up cinema was set up in the parking lot of Tehran’s iconic Milad Tower. Tickets were sold online for 40,000 tomans each, equivalent to about $10. Only two people were allowed in each car,…

U.S. Sanctions Businessman for Arms Smuggling

May 4, 2020
On May 1, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Amir Dianat, a dual Iranian-Iraqi national, for supporting Iranian arms smuggling operations. Dianat’s company, Taif Mining Services LLC, was also blacklisted as a front company for the Qods Force, the elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (…

News Digest: Week of May 4

May 4, 2020
Updated: May 7, 2020
May 4 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 98,647 cases, including 6,277 deaths from COVID-19. Iran reopened mosques in 132 cites and towns deemed “white” zones, which signaled that they had consistently been free of new COVID-19 cases. Worshippers were required to wear masks and gloves and…

COVID-19 Spreads from Iran to the Gulf

April 29, 2020
The first cases of COVID-19 in five Arab sheikhdoms — Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia—were all traced to travelers from or transiting through Iran, an early epicenter of the pandemic. The United Arab Emirates traced its first case to China. By April 30, the Gulf states reported more…

The COVID-19 Blow to Iran’s Economy

April 29, 2020
Updated: May 18, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has created new challenges and exacerbated old ones for Iran’s economy. The outbreak of COVID-19, first announced on February 19, forced businesses nationwide to close just before Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on March 20. Trade slowed due to border closures. By mid-April,…

U.S. Condemns Iran’s Satellite Launch

April 27, 2020
On April 22, the IRGC announced that it had launched the country's first military satellite into orbit from the Dasht-e Kavir desert in central Iran. The "Noor" satellite was launched using a "three-stage Qased satellite launcher" and "a combination of solid and liquid fuels,” according to state…