Payvand Iran News

Bahman 27 1399 – February 15 2021

Bandar Khamir on its way to become sustainable travel destination

The southern Iranian port city of Bandar Khamir, which has recently joined the UNESCO Network of Learning Cities, seeks to be a sustainable travel destination. Situated in Hormozgan province and bounded by the Persian Gulf, Bandar Khamir is the only city located on the coasts of the Khorkhoran Wetland, one of the largest and most important marine environments in Iran. 02/12/21

The evil empire

The title of this exhibition is a bit misleading. Forgotten Empire, the British Museum calls its spectacular resurrection of ancient Persia. Yet the Persians are as notorious in their way as Darth Vader, the Sheriff of Nottingham, General Custer, or any other embodiment of evil empire you care to mention. They are history’s original villains. -Jonathan Jones, Guardian 02/12/21

Dismantling the ‘sanctions wall’ myth

Since President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, Iranian and U.S. officials have postured in public remarks over who should make the first move in returning to the Iran nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Underlying this debate, however, are questions of how each party can come back into compliance with the deal and what barriers stand in the way. Iran will need to reverse a number of steps it has taken in ramping up its nuclear program. The Biden administration, on the other hand, must contend with a series of sanctions and designations that were inherently designed to make returning to the JCPOA more difficult. -Shervin Ghaffari, Responsible Statecraft 02/12/21

The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Deal on Poverty in Iran

The Iran nuclear deal is once again becoming a focus of foreign policy discussions because of President-elect Biden’s desire to rejoin it. A renewed deal and the sanction relief that would come along with it, could help the millions of Iranians who live in economic turmoil. Even a “freeze-for-freeze” policy – a temporary easing of U.S. sanctions in exchange for a temporary ceasing of nuclear activity on Iran’s part, could help to stabilize the economy, especially in the wake of the disruption that COVID-19 has caused. -Brooklyn Quallen, Borgen 02/12/21

Regime changers love to think Iran is always on the ‘brink of collapse’

February 11 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution of 1979, which ousted a despotic monarch and ushered in what many Iranians hoped would be the independence and freedom they had fought to attain for so long. These hopes were not fulfilled, however, and under the Islamic Republic, Iranians have had to continue their fight for freedom. Their efforts have at times been undermined by outside pressure, driven by the false narrative propagated by opponents of diplomacy in the United States that the Islamic Republic is on the brink of collapse. -Assal Rad, Responsible Statecraft 02/12/21

Analysis: Iran oil output faces race against time as U.S. sanctions linger

Iran’s oil reserves risk becoming stranded assets unless the new U.S. administration eases sanctions that have left the country lagging rivals in output capacity and losing a race against time as the transition to low carbon energy gathers pace. Iran, which sits on the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, relies heavily on oil revenue, but sanctions have prevented it from pumping at anywhere near capacity since 2018. -Reuters 02/12/21

British-Iranian anthropologist who fled Iran accused of sexual abuse

A number of women have accused a prominent British-Iranian anthropologist who recently fled Iran of being a sexual predator who should not be allowed to continue working with women, or with the vulnerable groups that are a focus of his research. Kameel Ahmady, known for work on child marriage, female genital mutilation and LGBT communities in Iran, denies the allegations of sexual assault and harassment, which led to his suspension from Iran’s Sociology Association. -Guardian 02/12/21

Encyclopedia of Iranian herbs, medicinal plants unveiled

An encyclopedia of herbs and medicinal plants endemic to Iran was unveiled in a ceremony on Wednesday. In this line, data related to 7,400 different plants in the fields of botany and ecology, pharmaceutical plants, and edible plants have been gathered in the encyclopedia along with some 9,000 pictures, ISNA reported. 02/11/21

After U.S. Immigration Battle, Musician Kayhan Kalhor Returns To Iran

When Kayhan Kalhor first left Iran, at age 17, he walked – more than 2,500 miles, to Italy. He carried only two items with him: a small backpack and his main musical instrument, the kamancheh. This was during the Iranian Revolution. Kalhor was the only one of his family – who are of Kurdish descent – to leave the country. -Julia Gunther, NPR 02/11/21

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Kick Off Drills Near Iraq Border

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has launched ground forces drills in the southwest of the country near the Iraqi border. IRGC Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said on February 11 that drones, helicopters, and artillery are to be used in the drills, dubbed Great Prophet 16, according to Press TV. 02/11/21

Photos: Tehran Bazaar on 4th February

Although officials have warned about the beginning of the fourth wave of the coronavirus, crowds of people still go shopping in the Tehran Bazaar. The reported cases of the coronavirus are on the rise, but lots of people go shopping in this part of Tehran, while most of them do not follow social distancing and health protocols. -Erfan Khoshkhoo, ISNA 02/11/21

IAEA Confirms Iran Produces Uranium Metal, Despite Western Warnings

Recent focus on Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been centered on them producing uranium metal, which is being done in spite of warnings from other parties to the nuclear deal that the deal forbids them from doing so. The clause in the deal specific to this is that “Iran will not engage in activities, including at the R&D level, that could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device, including uranium or plutonium metallurgy activities.” -Jason Ditz, Antiwar 02/11/21

Iran’s vaccination drive becomes ensnared in geopolitics

With huge national fanfare, Iran rolled out its Covid-19 vaccine campaign with a television broadcast of the health minister’s son receiving Russia’s Sputnik V jab. “My father would not have let me have this vaccine if there was any problem with it,” said Parsa Namaki, the son of health minister Saeed Namaki and a student in Iran’s top engineering school. “I insisted,” he added, “in case it can have any impact to help build public trust.” -Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times 02/11/21

Biden policies the same as Trumpism, says Iran’s only presidential candidate

The only declared candidate in Iran’s presidential elections this June has accused Joe Biden of continuing Donald Trump’s international policies, and warned that Tehran is preparing retaliatory measures to force the US to change its diplomatic trajectory. In an interview with the Guardian, Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Washington was not in a position to set preconditions for Iran’s return to the 2015 nuclear deal and called for guarantees that the US will not leave the agreement again. -Guardian 02/11/21

Call me maybe? Nervous Israelis fear a Biden snub

It’s been three weeks, and he still hasn’t called. Israelis are expressing growing concern that President Joe Biden has yet to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following his inauguration. Some fear that it could forecast a chillier relationship between the two close allies after President Donald Trump’s warm embrace. -AP 02/11/21

How To Repair The U.S.-Iranian Relationship

The U.S.-Iranian relationship is at one of the lowest points in its history. In the last few years, there have been several incidents that brought the two countries closer to open war than ever before. The lack of diplomatic relations and normal channels of communication make it likely that there will be more near-misses in the future unless there is a fundamental change in that relationship. The Biden administration has a short time to salvage the nuclear deal… -Daniel Larson, American Conservative 02/10/21

A Toast to Everything Yara Shahidi Accomplished Long Before Her 21st Birthday

Actress and activist Yara Shahidi hasn’t been idling away her youth. In honor of her 21st birthday Feb. 10, we’re celebrating all the ways the Grown-ish star has made her mark. The eldest of three kids, Yara grew up immersed in the arts and became a voracious reader thanks to her Black model mom Keri Salter Shahidi and Iranian-American photographer dad Afshin Shahidi, who made sure their daughter was absorbing a diverse array of perspectives. -E 02/10/21

Wheels only, please: Iran marks 1979 revolution anniversary

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani urged the West on Wednesday to restore the 2015 nuclear deal as the nation marked the anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution – on wheels this time, rather than traditional rallies and marches amid the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the Middle East. Rouhani said the “era of sanctions” was over and that the agreement is the only way forward. -AP 02/10/21

A Death on the Anniversary of the Iranian Revolution

Haleh Lajevardi, an Iranian professor of sociology, died last week in Tehran at the age 56. Her brother who tweeted the news of her passing did not reveal the cause of death. People close to her knew that she had dealt with bouts of depression for many years, particularly after she was dismissed from her position at Tehran University more than 10 years ago. -Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi, Counterpunch 02/10/21

China is still brimming with Iranian oil

Even with occasionally reduced oil imports, Beijing has been Tehran’s lifeline to circumvent oil sanctions for years, providing a stable source of cash while nearly all countries dialed down their reliance on energy supplies from Iran. This was crucial when Iran’s oil output halved to just 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020. Now, the crude-based relationship between Iran and China is stronger than ever, particularly since China is on overdrive to catch up with the United States economically, fueled by a steady stream of oil delivered from all corners of the world, including Iran. -Brendon Hong, Atlantic Council 02/10/21

Iran Launches COVID-19 Inoculation Campaign With Russian Vaccine

Iran has kicked off its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 using the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine. “The first person to receive the Russian Sputnik vaccine is my own child,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said at a ceremony at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Hospital, broadcast live on television on February 8. 02/9/21

Iran Foreign Minister Tells Biden US ‘Violated’ Nuclear Deal, So It Is US ‘That Has to Return’

While U.S. President Joe Biden insisted Sunday that Tehran must halt its uranium enrichment program before the U.S. rejoins the Iran nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif countered that it was former President Donald Trump who abandoned the agreement and deprived Iranians of food and medicine-and therefore the onus is on Washington to bring the U.S. back into compliance with the pact by lifting all sanctions on Iran. -Common Dreams 02/9/21

Ruins of majestic historical gateway unearthed near Persepolis

The ruins of a majestic historical gateway, built upon the order of Cyrus the Great, who was the founder of the mighty Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550 – 330 BC), have been unearthed near the UNESCO-registered Persepolis in southern Iran, Iranian researchers said on Monday. Supervised by a joint mission of Iranian and Italian archaeologists and cultural heritage experts, the dig uncovered vestiges of a massive gateway measuring 30 by 40 meters with a height of approximately 12 meters. 02/9/21

U.S. may weigh baby steps to revive Iran nuclear deal

The United States is weighing a wide array of ideas on how to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, including an option where both sides would take small steps short of full compliance to buy time, said three sources familiar with the matter. Such a modest approach could slow the deterioration in relations since former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and freeze Iran’s subsequent violations, which have brought it closer to enriching weapons-grade uranium. -Reuters 02/9/21

In a U.S.-Iran standoff, Biden must be willing to take a little political heat

The new Biden administration has put the Iran File at the top of its “must dos” in foreign policy because of two factors. First, it is imperative to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability or even to get close to it. Indeed, Washington will not let that happen even if it means resorting to military action. Second, the intensity of U.S. media coverage and political commentary on the Iranian nuclear program requires that it be dealt with post-haste. -Robert E. Hunter, Responsible Statecraft 02/9/21

Iranian Professor Jailed After Attending Training Course In Prague

A Revolutionary Court in Iran has sentenced a law professor to seven years in prison after convicting him of “cooperating with an enemy state.” The U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on February 8 that Reza Eslami, a professor at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University, had been also banned from teaching and leaving the country. 02/9/21

Iran may pursue nuclear weapon, intel minister warns West

Iran’s intelligence minister has warned the West that his country could push for a nuclear weapon if crippling international sanctions on Tehran remain in place, state television reported Tuesday. “If a cat is cornered, it may show a kind of behavior that a free cat would not,” he said and added that Iran has no plans to move toward a nuclear weapon under current circumstances. -AP 02/9/21

Biden, Iran’s Khamenei Issue Dueling Demands Amid Nuclear Talks Stalemate

Iran and the United States have deepened their standoff over Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers as the leaders of both countries demanded the other side act first. U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated he will not lift sanctions to get Iran back to the negotiating table, saying Tehran must first adhere to its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal. 02/8/21

Regime changers don’t want Biden to re-join the Iran nuclear deal

Several proponents of regime change and war – as well as a Saudi prince and intelligence chief – signed a letter asking President Joe Biden to be “bipartisan” by continuing the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against Iran. The letter was organized by United Against Nuclear Iran, a pressure group that received funding from recently-deceased Republican Party megadonor Sheldon Adelson, and Thomas Kaplan, an investor whose companies looked to profit from unrest in the Middle East. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 02/8/21

Involving regional states in Iran talks is a recipe for failure

In an interview with the Saudi-owned television channel, Al Arabiya, last Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that Saudi Arabia should be included in any future negotiations with Iran. He added that excluding regional states from nuclear talks that culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, with Iran in 2015 was a big mistake. -Shireen Hunter, Responsible Statecraft 02/8/21

Young Artist Uses Rubik’s Cubes as Preferred Medium

She can solve it with her eyes closed, but not too long ago 11-year-old Sasha Aminpour, who has a thing for puzzles of all kinds, had not even heard of a Rubik’s Cube. Invented in 1974 by Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik, the Rubik’s Cube remains a popular toy to this day, which means Sasha was able to learn how to solve it online. -Kristopher Gee, Spectrum News 02/8/21

Kaveh Farnam’s reel story

Best known in Dubai as the CEO of Advanced Media for the last two decades, in recent years he has also garnered awards for some of the films he has backed. Kaveh Farnam, producer of award-winning Iranian films including ‘There is no Evil, Son-Mother and Leakage’, interviewed by Vijaya Cherian and the article is written and compiled by Ritika Sharma. -Broadcast Pro 02/8/21

SPYING ON THE U.S.: How Iran Tried to Recruit Spies Against the U.S. in Iraq

THE IRAQI HAD a lot to prove to his Iranian spy handler. For years, the Iraqi had secretly spied for Iran, providing valuable intelligence about American operations in Iraq. But when the United States withdrew most of its troops and reduced its presence in Iraq in 2011, he had little new information that interested his Iranian minders. With the Americans pretty much gone, the Iraqi was cut loose by the Iranians. -James Risen, Intercept 02/8/21

Blocked by Iran, Signal App Moves to Decentralize Servers

When in doubt, decentralize. Open-source messaging app Signal today encouraged privacy proponents to run proxy servers to overcome censorship in Iran. Signal has recently run afoul of Iranian authorities because of what it represents: an encrypted communications tool for sending messages the government can’t access. -Decrypt 02/8/21

Iran Gets First Batch Of Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine As It Shuns West

The first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has arrived in Iran as the country prepares to launch a COVID-19 inoculation campaign aimed at curbing the usage of Western medicines. The state news agency IRNA showed video of the vaccine delivery being transferred off a Mahan Airline flight at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran on February 4. 02/5/21

90 percent of Chabahar coral reefs are dying: Iranian official

Up to 90 percent of coral reefs in Chabahar waters along the Sea of Oman have been bleached and are dying, an official with the Department of Environment has said. A rise in temperature of the water has had a negative effect on the ecosystem so that 90 percent of coral reefs in this region have been bleached and are dying, IRNA quoted Davood Mirshekar, deputy chief of the Department of Environment for marine ecosystems, as saying on Wednesday. 02/5/21

Legends Of Tomorrow’s Zari Is A “First” The MCU Should Learn From

Originally hailing from a very grim future that saw her parents persecuted and ultimately killed because they were Muslim, Zari joins the Legends on their time traveling adventures at the beginning of Legends of Tomorrow season 3. In an alternate timeline, the original Zari is replaced by a version who grew up with her family in season 5. It’s kind of complicated, but it works. As an Iranian-American, Zari is the first Middle Eastern superhero on television and in DC Comics’ live-action slate. -Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant 02/5/21

How to avoid the ‘you first’ quandary on reentering the Iran nuclear deal

After years of bludgeoning during Donald Trump’s presidency, the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, the most intrusive and comprehensive nuclear inspection regime imposed on any nation, is on life support. Although both the Iranian government and the new Biden administration are eager for the deal to survive, neither side appears willing to take the crucial first step towards ensuring its survival. -Sajjad Safaei, Responsible Statecraft 02/5/21

36 Human Rights Groups Appeal for Release of Kurdish Detainees and Other Minorities in Iran

We, the undersigned 36 civil society and human rights organizations, call for the urgent attention of the international community to an ongoing wave of arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, and enforced disappearances by the Iranian authorities, targeting scores of people from Iran’s disadvantaged Kurdish minority in the provinces of Alborz, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Tehran, and West Azerbaijan. -CHRI 02/5/21

U.S. Should Pay Iran Reparations

Ignoring Iran was a long Congressional tradition before the establishment of the tradition of claiming Iran is a threat to the world. Now lying about Iran is a major industry. US now imposes deadly sanctions on the entire nation of Iran, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Iran made an agreement for more thorough inspections than any other nation on earth to get sanctions relief. US violated and tore up the agreement, and now says that Iran had better change its ways if it wants the agreement back. -David Swanson, Counterpunch 02/5/21

Macron supports U.S.-Iran dialogue, floats himself as ‘honest broker’

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday welcomed the renewed U.S. willingness to engage with Iran, offered himself as an honest broker and said Saudi Arabia and Israel must ultimately be involved somehow. “We do need to finalize, indeed, a new negotiation with Iran,” Macron told the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank in a video conference from Paris. -Reuters 02/5/21

How bad US foreign policy blows back on its allies

The Joe Biden administration may be only a few weeks old, but the first challenge to the U.S.-South Korea alliance is already here, and it has nothing to do with North Korea or China. On January 4, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized Hankuk Chemi, a South Korean oil tanker that was sailing in the Strait of Hormuz, ostensibly because the ship was polluting the waters. -S. Nathan Park, Responsible Statecraft 02/5/21

The label paving the way for Iran’s nascent fashion industry

Founded by two self-taught sisters Shiva and Shirin Vaqar, LVMH Prize-shortlisted Vaqar is dispelling conservative perceptions of what Iranian fashion looks like. Like so many of the much-feted, independent designers you’ll speak to in London, Paris, New York or Berlin, running their own label was a dream that dated back far into the Vaqar sisters’ youths — one that eventually came true in 2013. -Mahoro Seward, i-D 02/4/21

Persian New Year Festival to unveil ‘Haftseen’art

In honor of the Celebration of Life Nowruz – Persian New Year – the third annual Arizona Persian New Year Festival will unveil interactive art installations for public viewing instead of hosting an in-person festival. -Scottsdale Independent 02/4/21

New Iran envoy shows Biden is serious about reviving nuclear deal

Malley appointment, alongside Mr Biden’s selection of seasoned diplomats involved in the 2015 nuclear deal, such as Antony Blinken as secretary of state and William Burns as CIA director, is a strong statement of intent. It could hardly be more different to the outgoing US envoy for Iran, Elliott Abrams, one of a cohort of Trump aides who acted more as lawyers for Israel than mediators. – David Gardner, Financial Times 02/4/21

Iran expects 4.2 million AstraZeneca shots under COVAX scheme

ran will receive more than 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot from mid-February under the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme, the health minister said on Wednesday. “The AstraZeneca company has announced that it will start delivering 4.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Iran in February in the form of COVAX scheme,” Saeed Namaki told state TV, without referring to the Anglo-Swedish company’s British ties. -Reuters 02/4/21

Iranian family hoping to reunite in Kentucky now dealing with pandemic roadblocks

Fatemeh Alamdari has been fighting with the U.S. immigration system for years. In 2014, Alamdari won the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery, a program established by the Immigration Act of 1990 which gives 55,000 immigrant visas every year. The lottery granted visas for Alamdari and her two children, but not for her husband, Farshad Amirkhani. -LEX18 02/4/21

UN court says it can hear case brought by Iran against US

The United Nations’ highest court ruled Wednesday that it can hear a case brought by Iran against the United States in a bid to end sanctions the Trump administration re-imposed in 2018 after pulling out of an international deal aimed at curtailing Tehran’s nuclear program. -AP 02/4/21

Iranian diplomat convicted of planning attack on opposition

An Iranian official identified as an undercover agent was convicted Thursday of masterminding a thwarted bomb attack against an exiled Iranian opposition group in France in 2018 and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court that rejected his claim of diplomatic immunity. -AP 02/4/21

A brush with… Tala Madani

Ben Luke talks to Tala Madani, the Tehran-born, Los Angeles-based artist, about the influences and cultural experiences behind her remarkable paintings and animations. She talks about art’s role in shaping her experience in the US after she had moved to Oregon from Tehran as a teenager, … -Art Newspaper 02/3/21

City Lights: The 25th DC Festival of Films from Iran Goes On, Virtually

The Smithsonian museums may be closed due to the pandemic, but that isn’t stopping the Museum of Asian Art from hosting its 25th annual Festival of Films from Iran. The festival is now online with a slate of eight films which explore how people cope with subjects including environmental destruction, terminal cancer, the 1953 coup in Iran, and the death penalty. -Washington City Paper 02/3/21

Iran: Women’s share of national budget rises by 61%

The budget proposed for women and family affairs has increased by 61 percent in the national budget bill for the next calendar year. The budget, which directly covers women and family affairs, is equivalent to 37 trillion rials (nearly $880 million), which increased by 61 percent compared to the current year’s budget. -Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times 02/3/21

Biden’s Iran Dilemma: Serve Obama’s Third Term – or Trump’s Second?

Even before winning the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden began hedging his bets on US policy toward Iran. While correctly blaming Donald Trump for violating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran nuclear deal, he tried to fob responsibility for restoring that deal off on the Iranians rather than accepting the job himself. -Thomas Knapp, 02/3/21

Iran’s achievements in fight against cancer

development of cancer caregivers and specialists, increasing the number of service providers, and implementation of early diagnosis programs, along with support by NGOs and charities are the major steps Iran has taken in the fight against cancer. Although the country is far from the ideal situation, the development trend has been appropriate, Ali Ghanbari-Motlagh, head of the cancer prevention department of the Ministry of Health said. -Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times 02/3/21

U.S. cool to, but does not reject, Iran’s idea on reviving nuclear deal

The U.S. State Department reacted coolly on Tuesday to an Iranian suggestion that Washington and Tehran take synchronized steps to return to the Iran nuclear deal, though a U.S. official said the stance should not be seen as a rejection. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said one way to bridge the impasse with Washington was for an EU official to choreograph their steps to restore the 2015 pact abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump. -Reuters 02/3/21

Tehran hosting national festival of creative, entrepreneur women

Iran’s first national festival of creative and entrepreneur women opens on Tuesday in Tehran both in person and virtually, according to the National Innovation Fund. Coinciding with National Women’s Day, the two-day event is held aiming to emphasize the successful presence of women in the development of a sustainable economy in recent years and honor those who are working toward a sustainable economy. 02/2/21

Iran state TV airs launch of new satellite-carrying rocket

Iranian state TV on Monday aired the launch of the country’s newest satellite-carrying rocket Zuljanah, which it said was able to reach a height of 500 kilometers (310 miles). The footage of the solid-liquid-fueled rocket showed the launch taking place during daytime in a desert environment. The report did not say when or where the launch happened. -AP 02/2/21

Biden Meets Iran: The Upcoming Diplomatic Battle

President Biden has offered the first hope in four years for Iran. There are early signs, though, that that hope could be threatened or illusory. Biden’s secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, has made two recent statements that are of interest to Iran but also to Saudi Arabia. -Ted Snider, 02/2/21

Iran’s hard-line parliament rejects president’s budget draft

Iran’s parliament, dominated by hard-liners, rejected on Tuesday a budget bill proposed by the country’s relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani, state TV reported. The move is part of a political struggle between moderates and conservative hard-liners in Iran’s parliament ahead of June elections, which hard-liners hope to win. -AP 02/2/21

How Iran lured a dissident from France to execution

In October 2019, Iranian dissident Ruhollah Zam was running a widely followed news site based in France, accompanied by his family and benefitting from refugee status as well as security in his country of exile. But just over a year later, on December 12, 2020, Zam was hanged in Iran, an execution that prompted international condemnation. -AFP 02/2/21

Talks with Taliban done with knowledge of Afghan government: Tehran

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said on Monday that the talks Iran had with the Taliban were all coordinated with the Afghan government. Speaking at a weekly press briefing on Monday, Khatibzadeh said, “All talks have taken place either at the request or with the knowledge of the government of Afghanistan.” 02/2/21

Who goes first? Biden’s first JCPOA hurdle

He’s only been president for a bit more than a week, but Joe Biden’s promise to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has already hit a roadblock. While the United States and Iran both publicly favor returning to the nuclear deal, they both also insist that the other must take the first step. As heated as some of the rhetoric has been between the two sides, the “who goes first” problem has been prevalent throughout diplomacy on Iran’s nuclear program, so there are nonetheless good reasons to remain calm. -Trita Parsihew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 02/1/21

Photos: Sadeh Festival celebrated in Yazd

Zoroastrian Festival of Sadeh was celebrated in Yazd, Iran late on Friday with a limited audience and observing health protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic. The photos pertain to Zoroastrian Youth Club beside Zoroastrians Fire Temple in Yazd. -Masoud Mir Jalili 02/1/21

Biden presidency ‘may herald new start for Saudi-Iranian relations’

An opportunity for a new beginning between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been presented by Joe Biden’s presidency, two leading Saudi and Iranians close to their diplomatic leaderships are proposing in an article in the Guardian today. The article is co-written by Abdulaziz Sager, the Saudi Arabian chairman and founder of the Gulf Research Center, and Hossein Mousavian, a former senior Iranian diplomat and now a nuclear specialist based at Princeton University. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 02/1/21

Biden will contend with divergent Middle East preferences on Iran

The Middle East is experiencing a period of diplomatic and strategic readjustment that will create both challenges and opportunities for the Biden Administration and its friends in the region… The tricky task may have been on the mind of the newly confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken when, during his Senate confirmation hearings, he declared that the United States would not “rush” to reach an agreement with Tehran. -Daniel Brumberg, Responsible Statecraft 02/1/21

Former Iran and Persepolis midfielder Minavand dies due to Covid-19

Former Iran and Persepolis football team midfielder Mehrdad Minavand was laid to rest on Thursday. Minavand passed away at the age of 45 Wednesday night after losing battle against COVID-19. Former Persepolis coaches and players including Ali Parvin, Ali Daei, Ali Karimi, Mohammad Khakpour, Afshin Peyrovani, Yahya Golmohammadi and Karim Bagheri attended the funeral. 01/29/21

Why horror flick “The Night” is the first American film to be released in Iran in four decades

Filmmaker Kourosh Ahari & star Shahab Hosseini spoke to Salon about the eerie psychological thriller set in a hotel. n the eerie Iranian horror film, “The Night,” Babak (Shahab Hosseini, of “The Salesman”), Neda (Niousha Jafarian) and their baby, Shabnam (Leah Oganyan) check into the Hotel Normandie to get some rest. But that soon proves impossible – and not just because Babak is suffering from a throbbing toothache. -Gary M. Kramer, Salon 01/29/21

Publication of ‘Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period’

The Iran Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce the recent publication of a book entitled Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period, edited by John Curtis, the Academic Director of IHF. The book is published by James Clarke & Co and has been sponsored by IHF. 01/28/21

Iran Calls Threat From Israel’s Military ‘Psychological Warfare’

A day after the head of Israel’s military said he ordered new plans to be drawn up to strike Iran, an Iranian official dismissed the comments as “psychological warfare.” “They talk more and seek psychological warfare, and they have virtually no plan, no ability, and no capability to do so,” Mahmoud Vaezi, the chief of staff to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said on Wednesday. -Antiwar 01/28/21

‘Good’: Anti-War Democrats Applaud Biden for Freeze on US Arms Sales to Saudis and UAE

Peace-loving people around the world and anti-war Democrats in Congress hailed reports Wednesday that the Biden administration is imposing a temporary freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pending a review of billions of dollars worth of weapons deals with the repressive regimes approved during the presidency of Donald Trump. -Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams 01/28/21

Houston Festival of Films from Iran 2021

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s 28th annual Festival of Films from Iran features award-winning films, from social documentaries to dark comedies, plus conversations with two of Iran’s most prominent filmmakers. Come celebrate with us online from January 22 to February 7. This online festival is co-curated by Tom Vick of the Freer and Sackler; Marian Luntz and Tracy Stephenson of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and independent film programmers Kristen Hoskins and Carter Long. 01/27/21

Yale Program in Iranian Studies – Spring 2021 Iran Colloquium

The Iran Colloquium is a forum of the Yale Program in Iranian Studies, directed by Professor Abbas Amanat. Currently in its 13th year, the Iran Colloquium provides a platform for scholars (and some practitioners) in fields related to Iran, Persian and Persianate studies to share their scholarship and other work with the Yale community. 01/26/21

Iran offers to help Iraq reconstruct damaged archaeological masterpiece

Part of a famed arch that was part of an ancient Persian palace in Iraq collapsed around the beginning of the year, and Iran has expressed its readiness to help rebuild it. Iran’s minister of cultural heritage, Ali Asghar Mounesan, said Iranian archaeologists are ready to help rebuild the ancient Taq Kasra arch following the collapse of a section of it. -Adnan Abu Zeed, Al Monitor 01/26/21

Artist to Watch: Nazanin Amiri Meers

A Love of Pattern Drives the Iranian-Born Artist’s Work, from Textiles to Public Art to Tilework Celebrating Women. “So, you make clothes, right?” is a question that fiber artist Nazanin Amiri Meers is accustomed to hearing. And the answer is always the same. “No,” she says, with a hint of patient bemusement. “I don’t even know how to sew. I design prints or patterns that go on the textile – upholstery, clothing, sheets, wallpaper – anything with a surface that needs a pattern.” -Matthew Thompson, KC Studio 01/26/21

Dark-Money Think Tanks Dominate House Foreign Affairs Committee Witness Table

When expert witnesses appear before congressional committees, they must disclose certain details about their funding, including federal grants or contracts or money they’ve received from foreign governments. That applies to the expert and the institution they’re representing. These Truth in Testimony rules are intended to ensure that committee members and the general public are given a full picture of the financial interests behind witness testimonies. It is a federal crime to withhold information from the committees. -Eli Clifton, American Prospect 01/26/21

7 Iranian companies join United Nations Climate Technology Centre and Network

Seven Iranian companies and technology groups have joined the United Nations Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). The CTCN is the operational arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism, hosted by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). 01/25/21

Sanctions, visas, and the pandemic: One Iranian student’s bumpy path to SF State

Visa interviews at consulates surrounding Iran – which has no United States embassy of its own – are hard to come by during the pandemic, but Hasti Jafari Jozani managed to nab one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in October, in a process that required her to quarantine there for two weeks. So when her visa was granted to study at San Francisco State University this spring, after she had already deferred fall admission and a prestigious scholarship, she jumped with joy. -Ida Mojadad, San Francisco Examiner 01/25/21

How the US and Europe can show restraint in the Middle East

As the Biden administration sets out its views on foreign policy, including relations with Europe and the Middle East, the European Parliament adopted its annual report on EU common foreign and security policy. While the document duly reflects the panoply of liberal internationalist themes, from a need to counter Russian and Chinese disinformation and to bolster cybersecurity and climate diplomacy, European lawmakers took some noteworthy positions on the Middle East. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 01/25/21

Petition to U.S. President Joe Biden: End Sanctions on Iran

In violation of legal bans on collective punishment, U.S. sanctions on Iran harm ordinary people, not the Iranian government. These crippling sanctions have robbed the people of their livelihood, violating individuals’ right to health, making the Coronavirus pandemic more lethal, and causing unnecessary suffering and death. Many members of the U.S. Congress have expressed their urgent concern. -Action Network 01/22/21

Photos: Vermal citadel In Hamoon, Sistan-Baluchestan Province of Iran

Vermal citadel is one of the greatest archeological masterpieces in the province and is being destroyed by natural erosion. Recent studies show that Vermal citadel due to the fact that it has all the characteristics of traditional Sistan-Baluchestan Province architecture such as ventilation system, space division, beautiful decorations and the presence of Asbad, prison is not seen any other structures of Sistan. -Hamed Gholami, IRNA 01/20/21

Iranian government submits ‘violence against women’ bill to parliament

The Iranian government has submitted a long-awaited bill for the protection of women against violence to the parliament. The bill titled, Protection, Dignity, and Security of Women against Violence, had been under review since September 2019. It criminalizes any act or behavior that causes “physical or mental harm” to women “as a vulnerable gender”. 01/15/21

Archaeologists to make final attempt to unearth Laodicea Temple in Nahavand, Iran

Iranian archaeologists will be making a final attempt to unearth the ruins of the enigmatic Laodicea Temple, believed to be buried under the modern town of Nahavand in Hamedan province, west-central Iran. The sixth and the last archaeology season has been scheduled to possibly unearth the main structure of Laodicea Temple, Nahavand’s tourism chief Mohsen Khanjan announced on Sunday. 01/12/21

Photos: Khuzestan, Iran’s unique haven for birds

The southwestern province of Khuzestan is the most diverse region in terms of different bird species, its unique and pleasant climate, as well as rich natural habitats have turned this province into a paradise for rare and endangered species of birds. 01/11/21

Experts urge swift return to Iran nuclear deal

A group of more than 50 international relations and Middle East experts have signed onto a letter urging President-elect Joe Biden to swiftly return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. President Donald Trump had broken with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, replacing it with an economic and military pressure campaign aimed at the Iranian government. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 01/8/21

Lift U.S. sanctions that block Iran from buying COVID vaccines

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a recurring problem for every American administration since 1979. Seeing how previous administrations’ policies failed, every new administration has wrestled with how to confront, contain, persuade or negotiate with a country that has remained constantly hostile. This moment of a global pandemic, however, offers an unusual opportunity for cooperation. -John W. Limbert & Bahman Baktiari, Los Angeles Times 01/5/21

Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation’s 2020 Report

UK based Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation (PKCF) has been founding many projects and good causes in Iran and elsewhere. Following is a list of the projects funded by PKCF in Iran and elsewhere in 2020 along with a brief report of the ongoing activities. 12/30/20

Exhibition: Epic Iran

Opening in February 2021, Epic Iran will explore 5,000 years of Iranian art, design and culture, bringing together more than 300 objects from ancient, Islamic and contemporary Iran. It will be the UK’s first major exhibition in 90 years to present an overarching narrative of Iran from 3000 BC to the present day. Epic Iran is organised by the V&A with the Iran Heritage Foundation in association with The Sarikhani Collection. -IHF 12/18/20