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U.S. Lifts Sanctions on Former Iranian Officials, Companies

June 11, 2021
On June 10, the United States lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies previously involved in buying, selling, or transporting Iranian petrochemical products. One company was based in Hong Kong, and the other was based in mainland China. “These actions demonstrate our…

Dull Presidential Debates: 2021

June 9, 2021
Updated: June 15, 2021
The moderator selects a candidate's number from a bowlIn nationally televised debates, the seven candidates vying to win Iran’s presidential election offered limited insight on how they would address critical economic, diplomatic and social challenges. They invoked buzzwords – including “corruption…

Controversy over Nuclear Inspections

June 9, 2021
Updated: June 10, 2021
On June 7, 2021, Rafael Grossi, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, reported that Iran had failed to explain the origin of suspect uranium particles detected at three sites that had not been declared as part of its nuclear program. The traces of uranium were discovered during so-called snap…

News Digest: Week of June 7

June 9, 2021
June 7 Health: Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a former member of parliament, died from the coronavirus. He passed away in a hospital in northern Tehran, IRNA reported. Mohtashamipour previously served as ambassador to Syria from 1982 to 1986 and helped establish Hezbollah, a Shiite Islamist militia, in…

Poll on 2021 Presidential Election

June 9, 2021
In a nationwide public opinion poll, almost half of Iranian voters surveyed said that they favored Ebrahim Raisi, the hardline chief of the judiciary, in the seven-way contest for president on June 18. But less than 42 percent of voters said that they were likely to vote, which would be the lowest…

Flap Over Iran's U.N. Dues

June 8, 2021
Updated: June 11, 2021
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif On June 2, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres reported that Iran will lose its voting rights in the General Assembly after failing to pay its dues. Iran can continue to vote in the current session, which ends in September. But the Islamic Republic would…

News Digest: Week of May 31

June 2, 2021
Updated: June 3, 2021
May 31 Health: Iran's Food and Drug Administration said that it would issue authorization for two domestically produced vaccines "over the next few days." The vaccines - Soberana-02 (jointly developed by Iran and Cuba) and CovIran Barekat - have yet to complete clinical trials. But both met "…

Issues and Stakes in 2021 Election

May 27, 2021
Hadi Semati is a former professor in the faculty of Law and Political Science at Tehran University and a former scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is now an independent analyst.    What are the stakes in the 2021 presidential election?  …

News Digest: Week of May 24

May 26, 2021
May 24 Diplomacy: President Hassan Rouhani spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the phone. The two presidents discussed the Vienna talks over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Tehran's need for COVID-19 vaccines and trade.   Oil: The Syrian Foreign Minister accused Israel of attacking tankers…

Domestic Backlash to Candidate Selection

May 26, 2021
Iran’s presidential election triggered backlash from across the political spectrum after the Guardian Council approved only seven men out of 592 candidates to run for president. Highly anticipated candidates were barred from running. They included Ali Larijani, speaker of parliament from 2008 to…

Presidential Election 2021: Candidates

May 26, 2021
Updated: June 16, 2020
On May 25, Iran approved seven candidates to run for president in the June 18 election. A total of 592 candidates, 552 men and 40 women, had registered to run. The Guardian Council – an unelected panel of 12 Islamic jurists and scholars who vet candidates – said that only 40 men met the basic…

U.S. Sanctions Two Houthi Military Commanders

May 21, 2021
On May 20, the Biden administration sanctioned two Houthi military commanders leading the rebel offensive on Yemen’s Marib province. The Treasury sanctioned Muhammad Abd al Karim al Ghamari, the Head of the General Staff of the Houthi military. The State Department designated Yusuf al Madani, as a…

Iran Transfers Rockets to Palestinian Groups

May 19, 2021
Updated: May 24, 2021
What weapons has Iran provided to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza? Iran first established ties with Hamas and PIJ in the 1980s. Iran has since provided funding, weapons and training to the militant groups. Iran has transferred several types of artillery rockets — including Fajr…

News Digest: Week of May 17

May 19, 2021
Updated: May 21, 2021
May 17 Diplomacy: The top Iranian lawmaker on Parliament's national security committee called on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to deescalate tensions over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. “The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is very clear, unequivocal, and decisive," MP Mojtaba…

Iranian Leaders on Israel-Gaza Conflict

May 18, 2021
Updated: May 22, 2021
In April and May 2021, Iran’s senior leaders unanimously condemned Israel amid clashes in East Jerusalem and Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Tehran expressed staunch support for Palestinians and militant groups in Gaza.  Iran has long supported Hamas and PIJ for geostrategic and ideological…

U.S. Report on Religious Freedom in Iran

May 13, 2021
In 2020, Iran had a poor record on religious freedom, particularly for minorities, the State Department reported in its annual global survey of religious freedom. Non-Muslims faced “societal discrimination and harassment,” while Sunnis living in Kurdistan, Khuzestan and Sistan and Baluchistan…

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
Updated: December 23, 2021
Between 2015 and 2021, the United States and its allies intercepted at least eight 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: June 20, 2022
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 incidents have occurred in or near…

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…

Iran-Saudi Talks

May 4, 2021
Updated: April 25, 2022
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 25, 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…