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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of September 2nd
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I think the big concern here is miscalculation. I am concerned about rogue commanders, rogue Iranian Quds force naval commanders who are operating in a provocative manner and are trying to test us.”

                               – 
Commander of U.S. Central Command General Joseph Votel,                                      on Iran’s swarming of a U.S. naval warship in the Persian Gulf last week


DEFENSE SYSTEM FOR UNDERGROUND FACILITY
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Politics

Iran deployed a surface-to-air defense system around its Fordo underground nuclear facility (New York Times). The Russian-made S-300 system, which is inferior to the latest S-400 model, was delivered to Tehran earlier this year under a contract signed in 2007. Moscow claims it canceled the contract in 2010 under pressure from the West over Iran’s nuclear program. President Vladimir Putin lifted the self-imposed ban in April 2015 after the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

"The S-300 system is a defense system, not an assault one, but the Americans did their utmost to prevent Iran from getting it,” said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, only hours before state media posted images of the defense system’s deployment (Reuters).

It is unclear why Iranian officials decided to place the outdated defense system at Fordo. Per the JCPOA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was given access to the complex. It was also converted into a technology and science center for the production of medical isotopes and research. According to General Farzad Esmaili, the commander of Iran’s air defense, “Since they are national achievements of Iran, they must be vigorously protected.” He added, “We carry out defense exercises in non-nuclear facilities once a month, but we do them several times a month in our nuclear facilities.”

Meanwhile, Khamenei also announced WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) are the country’s redline for its defense program (PressTV).


Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan claims Tehran exports every type of Iranian radar (PressTV).


EXEMPTIONS TO NUCLEAR DEAL?
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal

A Washington-based think tank revealed the P5+1—Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, plus Germany—and the European Union agreed “in secret” to allow Tehran to evade some restrictions in the nuclear deal to meet a deadline for sanctions relief (Reuters). The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) released this information in its report, JCPOA Exemptions Revealed. The institute's findings cannot be verified and its founder and president, David Albright, who is a co-author of the report and a former United Nations weapons inspector, declined to identify the officials involved. Albright noted, “The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran.”
 
The White House and U.S. Department of State quickly denied the report’s findings (Washington Post). State Department Spokesman John Kirby explained, “There’s been no loosening of the commitments and Iran has not and will not under the JCPOA be allowed to exceed the limits that are spelled out in the JCPOA.”


 

HALAL INTERNET NOW OFFICIAL
FILED UNDER: Technology

After much talk about the intranet or halal Internet over the past decade, Iran rolled out the first phase this week (BBC). According to Iranian state media, the National Network of Data would offer “high quality, high speed” connections at “low costs”. The network intends to encourage less dependency on the world wide web and also promote Islamic content. The program will be rolled out in three phases. The second phase, which will add domestic video content, is set for February 2017. The third phase, which will introduce services and support for businesses in international trade, will go live in March 2017. If all goes according to the Iranian government’s plan, the intranet will be completed by August of next year.

Critics are concerned the aim is to tighten the Iranian government’s control over its citizens.

The Onion had its own take on American reactions to the Iranian intranet.



ANOTHER DUAL NATIONAL BOOKED?
FILED UNDER:
 Human Rights
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced an Iranian-American was arrested during mid-July in the Iranian city of Gorgan (Al-Monitor). The IRGC accused the individual of “cooperating with hostile governments, actions against national security and communication with anti-revolutionary agents and media.” The name wasn’t revealed, but the description fits that of imprisoned dual national, Reza "Robin" Shahini of San Diego, California.
 
Fars News Agency then published a story about Shahini with specific accusations such as links to anti-Iranian government groups, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and their news outlets (Fars News Agency). The Iranian state media outlet also posted photos of Shahini meeting with Iranian opposition figures including Reza Pahlavi—the son of the last shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi—as well as Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first president after the 1979 revolution, who was impeached after one year for openly defying Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. They also included pictures of Shahini participating in the 2009 post-election protests known as the Green Movement.

Reza Pahlavi (left), unknown individual (center), Robin Shahini (right)
Shahini (center), behind masked Iranian woman

Iran officially revealed an individual close to the country’s nuclear negotiating team was arrested on accusations of espionage (New York Times). Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi said the unnamed person was arrested and released on bail after a few days. Few details were revealed about the nature of the person’s arrest, but as reported last week, the individual was likely Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani.

New York Times reporter Rick Gladstone notes: “The disclosure, reported in the state news media, appeared to be the latest sign of the Iranian leadership’s frustration over the agreement, which has failed so far to yield the significant economic benefits for the country that its advocates had promised. Iranian officials have blamed the United States for that problem.”

Also, imprisoned Canadian-Iranian professor was hospitalized after only three months of solitary confinement (CBC News). The family of Homa Hoodfar, an anthropologist at Concordia University, claims she can hardly walk or talk, and is barely conscious.

Some good news: Omid Kokabee was released on parole after spending five and a half years in Evin Prison (IranWire). The physicist and PhD student was serving a 10-year sentence on charges of “illegal earnings” and “communicating with a hostile government [i.e. USA].” Kokabee claims he was being punished for refusing to work on Iran’s nuclear program.



IRANIAN CHEETAH ON VERGE OF EXTINCTION
FILED UNDER:
 Environment

August 30th marked National Asiatic Cheetah Day in Iran (United Nations). The Asiatic cheetah or "Iranian cheetah" is a critically endangered species. Unfortunately, only two female Asiatic cheetahs are known to be alive today in Iran (The Guardian). According to the United Nations office in Iran, “Due to pressures of modernization, the encroachment of humans, roads and settlements, plus the lethal shooting – by poachers – of both the Asiatic Cheetah and their prey, have all caused the number of these emblematic creatures to dwindle to fewer than 100."

The Persian lion no longer exists in Iran, while the Caspian tiger is extinct worldwide.

French Environmental Minister Segolene Royal announces partnership to help tackle Iran's environmental problems (AFP).

Read about Mahlagha Mallah, Iran's environmental pioneer (IranWire).


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

Execution fever at Rajaei Shahr prison.
 
Death penalty failing to deter drug trafficking in Iran.
 
Hijab patrols are coming to a hospital near you.
 
The Islamic Republic’s war on women under President Hassan Rouhani.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

Malware found at Iran petrochemical plants not linked to recent fires.

Iran to start building two new nuclear plants on September 10th.
 
Tehran officials behind 1980s executions defend decision.
  
The Mehr Project and the legacy of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
 
Fire in mental hospital in Tabriz kills one, wounds 35.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

+ IRGC commander Ahmad Gholami in coma (not killed) after fighting in Aleppo.

Israeli who dealt arms to Iran to be extradited to U.S.                       

 
Some Iran analysts are confident Saudi Arabia's regional role is declining.
 
Tehran denies Saudi allegations it gave Yemen rebels missiles.
 
KSA continues to withhold compensation for Mecca stampede, according to Hajj official.
 
Tehran rejects ‘meddlesome’ remarks by Arab League chief.
 
Iran investigates 1,500 young men at risk of being recruited by ISIS.
 
Tehran rejects UK’s allegations that Iran is fomenting tension in the Middle East.
 
Top Iranian admiral says U.S. lacks the power to confront Iran militarily.

Why Tehran keeps making anti-American propaganda videos.
 
 + Foreign minister to attend UN General Assembly, President Rouhani may also join in.
 
Armenia to extradite eight Iranian prisoners convicted of carrying illicit drugs.
 
Why Russian warplanes might return to Iran.
 
Iran-India relations can help eradicate terrorism.
 
21 Iranian prisoners delivered to officials in Kabul.
 
Iran eyes enhanced political-economic ties with Chile.
 
Iran-South Korea technology exchange center inaugurated.
 
President Rouhani voices concern about situation of Iranian asylum-seekers in Australia.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

+ British Airways resumes flights to Tehran after sanctions lifted.
 
How Iran's Revolutionary Guards learned to love the nuclear deal.
 
Why Iran is desperate for U.S. passenger planes, but can't have them.
 
A year after the nuclear deal, Iranians await economic recovery.
 
Russian diplomat says U.S. sanctions continue to hinder Iran after nuclear deal.
 
Banks cannot invest in Iran without U.S. guarantees.
 
Turkish gold trader seeks U.S. judge's recusal in Iran sanctions case.
 
Little precedent for $400 million cash payment to Iran.

ECONOMY + TRADE

+ Tehran to seek investment bids in October under new oil contracts.

Iran sets terms for cooperating with OPEC to stabilize oil market.
 
Tehran’s oil exports to Asian clients up 61 percent.

With economy reeling, Iraq to sell oil through Iran if talks with Kurds fail.
 
India firm raises Iran oil imports, pays debt.
 
‘Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline must be top priority’.
 
Orange starts talks with Iranian phone carrier for cooperation.
 
Persian rugs enjoy post-sanctions boom.
 
German businesses blame U.S. for Iran trade disappointment.
 
Tehran-Baku to jointly build hydropower plants.
 
Iran and Pakistan agree to ditch dollar and carry out transactions in local currencies.
 
Iran's central bank won’t bite off more than it can chew.
 
Iran-Venezuela bi-national bank’s bleak future.
 
+ Tehran and Seoul to begin trade in euros.
 
Why cheaper rial could actually help Iran.

HISTORY

+ Inside ‘the Citadel,’ Iran’s forgotten red-light district.
 
Book unveiled on concerns of Iranian woman in World War II.
 
ARTS + CULTURE

+ 30 beautiful photos of Iran—as British Airways resume flights to the country.
 
Renowned Iranian actor and producer Davoud Rashidi producer passes away at 83.

+ On censorship, cultural destruction and the power of music.
 
Curious about Iranian food? Don’t miss these top 10 dishes.
 
‘Feathers of Fire’: Spectacular shadow play.
 
Varto Terian, Iran’s first theater actress.

SPORTS

Iran ranks seventh in volleyball world ranking.
 
Tehran bags three Asian chess excellence awards.

SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

New particle accelerator project brings Iran, Israel, and Pakistan together.

DIASPORA

Iranians in America battle over U.S. rapprochement with Tehran.

Designer Bijan’s property on Rodeo Drive sells for $19,000 a square foot.
 
How Iranian-American DJ Lady Faith Became the "Queen Bitch" of Hardstyle.
 
ABC buys Iranian-American family comedy from Andrew Reich and Reza Aslan.

EVENTS
...تا هفته بعد
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