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Hostage Robert Levinson Died in Iran

March 25, 2020
Updated: December 14, 2020
On March 25, the wife and children of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, announced “with aching hearts” that U.S. officials informed them that he had died in Iranian custody. Levinson had been on a rogue CIA mission when he disappeared on Kish Island. He was the…

U.N., World Urge U.S. to Lift Iran Sanctions

March 25, 2020
On March 24, the United Nations called on the international community to lift sanctions on countries, such as Iran, with a coronavirus crisis.  “At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral…

Timeline: Iran's Death Toll from COVID-19

March 25, 2020
Iran has scrambled to deal with the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic amid claims that it is seriously underreporting the numbers. In February and March video and satellite images showed mass graves dug in Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak, to keep up with the pace of deaths. A…

U.S. Charges Iran Lying on COVID-19 Facts

March 24, 2020
On March 23, the State Department issued a fact sheet disputing Iran’s claims on the scope of its COVID-19 crisis. It came one day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected U.S. aid to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. Khamenei also had cited a baseless conspiracy theory that COVID-…

New Digest: Week of March 23

March 24, 2020
Updated: March 26, 2020
March 23 Medicine: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 23,049 cases of coronavirus, including 1,812 deaths. President Hassan Rouhani called on the United States to lift sanctions to help Iran fight the coronavirus outbreak. “American leaders are lying ... If they want to help Iran, all they need to…

Khamenei Refuses U.S. Help on COVID-19

March 23, 2020
In a televised address, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected U.S. aid to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. “You might give us a medicine that would spread the disease even more or make it last longer,” he said on March 22. Khamenei also cited a baseless conspiracy theory that COVID-19…

Nowruz Curtailed by COVID-19

March 23, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has significantly dampened celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Across the country, signs implored families to stay home instead of traveling to see friends and family for the holiday. Media coverage reflected the somber tone during what is usually the most festive…

Rouhani Calls on Americans for Help on U.S. Sanctions

March 23, 2020
In an open letter addressed directly to the American people, President Hassan Rouhani appealed for their help in pressuring President Donald Trump and Congress to lift economic sanctions on Iran. Sanctions are “collective punishment” on the Iranian people that have hampered his country’s ability to…

Iran's Leaders on Nowruz amid COVID-19

March 20, 2020
In his annual address marking the Persian New Year, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged that Iran had faced a difficult year “that began with the floods and that ended with the coronavirus.” He also listed the physical toll from earthquakes, the economic pressure of sanctions, and…

Trump, Pompeo on Nowruz amid COVID-19

March 20, 2020
On March 19, President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wished a happy Nowruz, the Persian New Year, to all those celebrating around the world, including in Iran. Trump blasted Iran’s leaders for corruption and human rights abuses. “The Iranian people deserve leaders who listen to,…

Iran Releases U.S. Veteran on Medical Furlough

March 19, 2020
Updated: March 25, 2020
On March 19, the U.S. State Department announced that Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran detained in Iran, was temporarily released from prison on a medical furlough.  His release was facilitated by the Swiss, who represent U.S. interests in Iran. White was required to remain in Iran throughout his…

Iran Shuts Down

March 18, 2020
Daily life in Iran has been increasingly disrupted by COVID-19, which was first reported in the country on February 19. On February 28, Iran closed schools and universities. Students were forced to watch their lessons on television. On March 3, Iran suspended parliament sessions indefinitely…

U.S. Sanctions Oil Smugglers, Nuclear Program

March 17, 2020
Updated: March 18, 2020
On March 17, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions on a petrochemical smuggling network and Iran’s nuclear program. He also blasted Tehran's response to the coronavirus outbreak. “The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” Pompeo said. He urged the regime…

News Digest: Week of March 16

March 17, 2020
Updated: March 23, 2020
March 16 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 14,991 cases of coronavirus, including 853 deaths—129 more than the previous day. It was the largest one-day increase in fatalities since the outbreak was first reported on February 19.  Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, a senior cleric and…

General Kenneth McKenzie on Iran

March 16, 2020
Updated: August 12, 2020
After months of tension with Iran, the United States has “reestablished a rough form of deterrence” in limiting the impact of “state-on-state attacks,” General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command, said in congressional testimony on March 12, 2020. McKenzie has repeatedly…

U.S. Hits Iran-backed Militia for Third Time

March 13, 2020
Updated: March 16, 2020
Early on March 13, the United States struck five weapon storage facilities belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian militia in Iraq linked to the attack on the Camp Taji base that killed two U.S. and one British service members and injured 14 others. “The United States will not tolerate…

Zarif Demands U.N. Help on U.S. Sanctions

March 12, 2020
On March 12, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the United Nations to demand that the United States lift sanctions on Iran. In a letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Zarif alleged that the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign was hampering Iran’s ability to cope with the…

Photos: Life in the Time of COVID-19

March 11, 2020
Iranian life has been profoundly transformed since the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the three weeks since the first case was reported on February 19. Government officials now wear masks when they hold meetings. The military has been hauled out to disinfect major sites, build field…

Iranian Officials Infected by COVID-19

March 11, 2020
Updated: December 9, 2020
Dozens of high-ranking Iranian officials have contracted COVID-19, which originated in China in late 2019 and was first reported in the Islamic Republic in February. Two vice presidents were among the early cases. The virus has since swept through the ranks of the executive branch, parliament, the…

State Department Report on Human Rights in Iran

March 11, 2020
Iran’s human rights record remained dismal in 2019, according to an annual report by the State Department. Issues included executions of juvenile offenders, denial of fair trials, poor prison conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, invasion of privacy, restrictions on freedom of expression,…

U.S. Demands Release of American Detainees

March 11, 2020
On March 10, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iran to release “all wrongfully detained Americans being held in Iran.” He warned that the United States would hold Iran accountable if any of the American prisoners died from coronavirus, which had spread to at least three Iranian prisons by…

Global Map: Coronavirus Traced to Iran

March 10, 2020
The spread of COVID-19, widely believed to have originated in China, has had severe repercussions across the globe. Coronavirus cases traced to Iran have shown up in at least 23 countries – from the United States and Europe to the Middle East and New Zealand – spread either by their own nationals…

News Digest: Week of March 9

March 10, 2020
Updated: March 13, 2020
March 9 Health: Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced 7,161 cases of coronavirus, including 237 deaths. Chief of Iran’s Crisis Management Organization Esmail Najjar tested positive for the infection, according to a statement from the organization. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali…

Pompeo on Disappearance of Robert Levinson

March 9, 2020
March 9 marked 13 years since Robert Levinson went missing in Iran. Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared on March 9, 2007, during a visit to Kish Island. “For 13 years, the Iranian government has denied knowledge of his whereabouts or condition, a claim that defies credibility,” said Secretary…

Iran’s Roster of Political Influence Abroad

March 9, 2020
Since the 1980s, Iran has forged a network of political alliances across the Middle East that now give it more influence than its Gulf rivals and the United States. Tehran has exploited local grievances, sectarian identity, and conflicts to create or foster political parties, most visibly in…

Iran’s Foreign Policy After 2020 Election

March 6, 2020
On February 26, four experts discussed the victory by conservative factions in Iran’s parliamentary elections and the impact on its foreign policy. Speakers included: •    Robin Wright (moderator) – Distinguished Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center  •    Ali Vaez – Iran…

Iran Mobilizes Military to Fight Coronavirus

March 4, 2020
Updated: April 27, 2020
On March 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the mobilization of the military to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities said that 300,000 troops from the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its Basij paramilitary force would deploy to help sanitize public places, direct traffic,…

Iran’s Response to Coronavirus

March 4, 2020
Updated: April 9, 2020
Iran’s government was initially slow to react to the spread of coronavirus, which was first reported in Qom on February 19. But as the death toll rose, Iran upped its efforts to contain the disease, which had reached all 31 provinces by March 5. The government closed schools, universities and…

How Iran's Public is Responding to Coronavirus

March 4, 2020
Updated: April 8, 2020
The Iranian public coped with the outbreak of the coronavirus in a wide variety of ways. Some made personal sacrifices for the benefit of society.  The chief nurse of a Tehran hospital postponed her wedding ceremony so that she could continue working. Others responded by trying to keep public…

IAEA Rebukes Iran for Nuclear Violations

March 3, 2020
Updated: March 5, 2020
On March 3, 2020, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released two reports that criticized Iran for violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In the first report, the U.N. nuclear watchdog found Iran had tripled its stockpile of low enriched uranium since its last…