On March 12, the BBC said its journalists will appeal directly to the United Nations over alleged “persecution and harassment” by Iran of its Persian Service staff. The BBC has said that staff in London and/or their families in Iran have been targets of threats, arrests and travel bans. More than 20 staff or family members have received death threats. The appeal will be made at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.
On March 12, President Donald Trump, like his predecessors, renewed the national emergency with respect to Iran. The following is the full text of the White House press release and Trump’s letter to Congress.
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAN
On March 9, four followers of Grand Ayatollah Sadegh Hossein Shirazi, an outspoken critic of Iran’s clerical leadership, climbed onto the first-floor balcony of Iran’s embassy in London and took down the flag. They waived blue-and-white flags of a U.K.-based Shiite group called Khodam al Mahdi, which reportedly supports Shirazi.
On February 18, former Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back against critics of the Iran nuclear deal, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At the Munich Security Conference, Netanyahu warned that Iran would be on its way to having a nuclear arsenal in 10 years.
On February 11, President Hassan Rouhani proposed a referendum to heal political divisions during his speech marking the 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
On February 10, tensions between two regional rivals escalated after an Israeli combat helicopter reportedly intercepted an Iranian drone that crossed the Syria-Israel border. IDF spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus told CNN that Israel tracked the unmanned craft from its launch from the Iranian T-4 command center near Palmyra, Syria. He said it was the first time an Iranian drone had crossed into Israeli territory since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
On February 11, Iranians celebrated the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The popular uprising, led by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, led to the ouster of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi and ended centuries of dynastic rule. Each year, Iranians hold mass rallies across the country and the president addresses the nation.
On February 2, the U.S. Defense Department released a Nuclear Posture Review at the direction of the Trump administration. The document, a product of a year’s worth of analysis and deliberations across government agencies, describes the roles nuclear weapons play in U.S. national security strategy and gives an assessment of the global security environment. It “reaffirms our commitment to arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, maintains the moratorium on nuclear testing, and commits to improving efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism,” President Trump said.
Support for the nuclear deal among Iranians is slipping, according to a new poll by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and IranPoll.com. Since June 2017, support for the deal fell by 12 points to 55 percent. Three fourths of respondents said the deal has not improved people’s living conditions.
Large majorities of Iranians are critical of the government’s economic mismanagement and want it to do more to fight corruption, according to a new poll by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland and IranPoll.com. Half of respondents said unemployment or youth unemployment are the most important problems facing Iran.