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Israel-Iran Conflict at Sea

April 14, 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: April 16, 2021
From April 6 to 9, 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…

New Talks: Iran Statements

April 5, 2021
Updated: April 13, 2021
From April 6 to 9, 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…

New Talks: U.S. Statements

April 2, 2021
Updated: April 15, 2021
From April 6 to 9, 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…

Timeline of Diplomacy Under Biden

April 2, 2021
Updated: April 16, 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 14, 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 15, 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.…