A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of September 9th

"Throughout the reporting period, Iran had no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water ... Iran's total enriched uranium (up to 3.67 percent purity) stockpile did not exceed 300 kg."

                                                – International Atomic Energy Agency's quarterly report                                                    says Iran is sticking to the nuclear deal (Reuters)

 Domestic Politics

Two Iranian banks have declined to work with companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC (Bloomberg). According to hardliner newspaper Keyhan, Bank Mellat and Bank Sepah are refusing to do business with the IRGC’s engineering wing, Khatam Al-Anbiya Construction Company, over sanctions concerns. Kayhan said Iranian officials were pandering to the international community by self-sanctioning themselves to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations, which promotes policies that combat terrorist financing and money laundering. Despite the Iran Deal, many western firms are hesitant to do business with Iran due to worries of accidentally crossing the line with the U.S. Department of Treasury.

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration is working hard to get Iran removed from the FATF blacklist (IranWire). Hardliners argue that FAFT counters Sharia law and accuse the Rouhani administration of treason. They worry that if FAFT is implemented, it would force the country to surrender its sovereign rights to the West. 

Also, Iran banks to set up shop in Munich, Germany (AP).

 Foreign Policy

Ahead of this week’s annual Mecca pilgrimage, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the Saudis of murdering pilgrims during last year’s Hajj (BBC). In a speech, he said: “The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers- instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them. … The world of Islam, including Muslim governments and peoples, must familiarize themselves with the Saudi rulers and correctly understand their blasphemous, faithless, dependent and materialistic nature. They must not let those rulers escape responsibility for the crimes they have caused throughout the world of Islam.”

The supreme leader urged the Muslim World to reconsider Saudi Arabia's management of the holy sites in Mecca and Medina as well as the annual pilgrimage. He also demanded an international inquiry into the deaths of Iranian pilgrims and mentioned that compensation has yet to be paid to the families of the dead. The 2015 Hajj stampede killed over 2,000 pilgrims in Mina, including 472 Iranians.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh responded to the supreme leader, saying the accusations weren’t surprising and insinuated that the Iranians weren't Muslims (Independent). He said:  "We must understand these are not Muslims. They are the son[s] of the Magi [Zoroastrians] and their hostility towards Muslims is an old one, especially with the People of the Tradition [Sunnis]." Zoroastrianism was once the dominant religion of Persia—what is now known as Iran—before the Islamic conquest.

President Hassan Rouhani echoed the supreme leader and called on the Muslim World to “punish” Saudi Arabia for its actions (AP). He added that Saudi authorities acted as "bystanders rather than rescuing" those who were caught in the stampede.

Read about how one of the deadliest Hajj accidents unfolded (New York Times).

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the Saudi foreign minister’s recent comments about the country were “boundlessly hackneyed and dull" (PressTV). Bahram Qassemi added that “it seems that the country which needs to change the incorrect and unconstructive attitudes in the region and the world is the Saudi government.” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had accused Iran of carrying out acts of “aggression” in the Middle East.

 Iran Deal

Congress is in a gridlock over Iran sanctions (The Hill). A group of republicans led by chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), unveiled a bill to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), which would also include new sanctions. Only days later, democrats—led by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL)—introduced a bill that would renew ISA for 10 years with no additional changes added. For the time being, talks over a bipartisan bill have been “fruitless”. Apparently, the members of Congress who want tougher sanctions are unhappy about President Barack Obama’s use of national security waivers, which gives the White House flexibility on enforcing sanctions.

Last week, after the Institute for Science and International Security released a controversial report about potential loopholes in the nuclear agreement, the democratic and republican presidential campaigns both issued statements regarding the Iran Deal (Times of Israel):

The Trump campaign: “The deeply flawed nuclear deal Hillary Clinton secretly spearheaded with Iran looks worse and worse by the day. It’s now clear President Obama gave away the store to secure a weak agreement that is full of loopholes, never ultimately blocks Iran from nuclear weapons, emboldens our enemies and funds terrorism."

The Clinton campaign: “Hillary Clinton supports a clean reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act and believes Congress should get this done in short order when they return from recess. And as president, she will also continue to enforce, and strengthen as necessary, sanctions on Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile activity.

Donald Trump claimed that if he’s not elected president, the Iran Deal will destroy Israel (Newsweek).

NBC’s Matt Lauer gets Hillary Clinton's opinion on the nuclear deal (NBC).

FYI: The Iran nuclear deal is likely to survive next administration (Real Clear World).


 Trade + Economy

Iran is ready to pump more oil, while there continues to be speculation over an OPEC freeze deal (Bloomberg). According to Mohsen Ghamsari, director of international affairs at state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Iran can raise its production to 4 million bpd in two to three months time. Currently, the daily level is about 3.8 million bpd. The news comes after Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to work together to ensure market stability.

After speaking to OPEC’s secretary-general, Iran’s oil minister announced the country would support any decision made by the international oil cartel that would help bring stability to the market (RFERL). Bijan Zangeneh said that most OPEC members want an oil price of $50 to $60 a barrel. "This price makes production of oil by OPEC members profitable, economical, and useful, while preventing the rivals from raising their output,” he added.

Here's an Iranian twist to Socar’s gas import story (Natural Gas Europe).

 Human Rights

An Iranian court charged the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri with “acting against national security” (BBC Persian). Last month, Ahmad Montazeri released audio files of his father’s criticism of Iranian officials involved in the 1988 massacre. Montazeri was released on a 70 million toman bail (approximately $23,000) and is scheduled to reappear in court in the coming days. Since releasing the audio file, he has been interrogated five times.

A hundred prominent Iranians in the diaspora were signatories to a letter asking the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court to label the 1988 massacre a crime against humanity (ICHRI). The individuals included composer Esfandiar Monfaredzadeh, several prominent academics, as well as civil and human rights figures such as Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Read more about how Grand Ayatollah Montazeri came back to haunt Tehran over the mass killings (RFERL).


Iran's Team Melli is competing with 111 athletes in 12 fields at the 2016 Rio de Janiero Paralympics (IranWire).

Here are some names to keep an eye out for:

Siamand Rahman, Men's Powerlifting

Zahra Nemati, Women's Archery

Peyman Nasiri, Men's Track and Field

Mohammad Khalvandi, Men's Javelin Throw

Javad Harandi, Men's Discus and Javelin Throw

Did you know that one of the two athletes making up the Refugee Paralympic Team is Iranian (Times of Israel)? Shahrad Nasajpour, an Iranian asylee in the United States, has cerebral palsy and will be competing in the men's discus.


You can now fly direct from London Heathrow to Tehran’s famous Evin Prison.
UNICEF Statement on detention of Baquer Namazi.
Baha’is to President Rouhani: “Stop economic apartheid in Iran now”.
Fears for activists and journalists as Telegram still popular in Iran.
Informal activism and new subjectivity in authoritarian settings: Iran’s “new activists”.


+ Soldiers of the revolution: A brief history of the IRGC.
Iran blocks news sites following corruption reports.
Hardliners attack Rafsanjani after he allegedly calls for downsizing of Iran’s military.
Why President Rouhani may become Iran's first one-term president.
Did Rouhani just nip Tehran mayor’s presidential challenge in the bud?
Deepak Chopra, Insta weddings and other signs of change amongst the middle class.
Afghan migrants and Iran's burgeoning workforce.
Iran's police shut 800 clothes shops for "unconventional and inappropriate" attire.
Heavy rain hits Sari and Gorgan in northern Iran.

How the U.S. cash payments story played out in Iran.
Does Iranian law green light encounters with U.S. warships?
Security forces kill three ISIS terrorists in western Iran.


+ Iran vessel 'harasses,' sails close to U.S. Navy ship in Persian Gulf.
UK and Iran appoint ambassadors for first time since 2011.

+ Iran and the new Monroe Doctrine.

 + Foreign Minister Zarif: Europe must play more active role in Syria crisis.
Iran’s Great Game in Syria.

+ How Iran conned the Internet into believing a fake ISIS story.

Iran is the country that is holding its own against ISIS.

 + Iran urges collective fight against terrorism, extremism.

Russia’s foothold in Iran: Why Tehran changed its mind.

+ To Iranian eyes, Kurdish unrest spells Saudi incitement.

+ Battle in Yemen shows Iran is intent on dominating Middle East, writes UK general.

+ Italian military delegation visits Iran’s army units.

+ Iran's intelligence head welcomed by German officials.

Israel-Iran work to uncover fate of Israeli Air Force navigator shot down over Lebanon.

Drones deterred from entering Iranian airspace.


U.S. transferred $1.3 billion more in cash to Iran after initial payment.

Iran's financial long game to beat the nuclear deal.
As sanctions ease, European carriers land in Iran.
Rabbi Shmuley on Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) brazen defense of Iran.

+ Israel's Iran policies after the nuclear deal.


+ Iran produces 94 percent of the world’s saffron.

+ As Iran reopens to the international oil business, risks abound for foreign companies.

+ Time for French firms to enter Iranian market.


Iran marks 38th anniversary of Black Friday.


Is the Islamic Republic embracing Iran’s ancient past?
Western legends fight Eastern heroes in new Iranian animation.
Marjan Satrapi talks ice cream and Omar Khayyam to REORIENT Radio.
U.S.-based Iranian auteur Amir Naderi on making ‘Monte’ in Italy.
Scripts and sensibility: Iranian-American artist Pouran Jinchi.
Help the works of 9 Iranian photographers get put on display in Berkeley


Tehran unveils first home-made engine to develop motoshop.

Iran’s pistachio farms dying of thirst.
Iran and FAO sign agreement to save Lake Urmia


British-Iranian on her life in post-Brexit Britain.                       
Meet Seema Ghiassi Kennedy, Britain’s first MP of Iranian descent.
Iranian-born Vaqar sisters draw acclaim at Paris Fashion Week.
Success for young Iranian who scooped top GCSEs after just one year in UK.
Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour’s latest, “The Bad Batch”.
I was jailed for getting caught wearing a mini-skirt—and now I design bikinis.

Zucchini frittata takes on a Persian vibe.

...تا هفته بعد
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