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We survived the 72nd United Nations General Assembly! 🎉
Week of September 22nd

“Unfortunately, if nothing changes, this deal will turn out exactly the same way. That's why Israel's policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it. Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability. Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is a suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause. And beyond fixing this bad deal, we must also stop Iran's development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region.”

- Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during UNGA speech

Here's a good breakdown of the nuclear sunset clauses (LobeLog).

 Domestic Affairs

A new survey finds that Iranians generally want to see economic reform and support the nuclear deal (LobeLog). According to the IranPoll survey conducted in August, 62.5 percent of Iranians want “increased trade between countries in goods, services, and investment.” 61.7 percent of Iranians approved of the Iran Deal. While 57 percent of Iranians believe that European countries will live up to their obligations, but 70 percent believe foreign companies “are moving slower than they could” in terms of engaging with Iran, and 76.7 percent believe the biggest reason for that is “pressure or fear of the United States.”

An Iranian filmmaker’s passport was confiscated after returning to Tehran from Colorado's Telluride Film Festival (Hollywood Reporter). Mohammad Rasoulof wasn’t given a reason for his passport being seized, but was ordered to appear in court. Rasoulof has long been subject to harassment by Iranian authorities. His film, Lerd (A Man of Integrity), won the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Eight years after the 2009 post-election protests, Iranian officials are still trying to justify their brutal crackdown and the subsequent house arrests of the Green Movement leaders (IranWire).

 Foreign Policy

The U.S. president delivered his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and called the Iran Deal “an embarrassment to the United States” (VOX). While Donald Trump didn’t specify whether his administration would pull out of the deal or not, he called it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions.” During his speech, Trump described the Iranian government as “a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy” that has “turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.” Trump also said that the “longest-suffering victims” of the Iranian government were its own people and that they wanted regime change. He added that, instead of improving Iranian livelihoods, Tehran was funding terrorist groups in the Middle East. The U.S. president also called on Iran to release imprisoned Americans. (See HUMAN RIGHTS)

Trump then told reporters three times on the sidelines that “I have decided,” when asked if he intends to pull out of the nuclear deal (Bloomberg).

Tehran reacted to Trump’s speech with anger and ridicule (IranWire). Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Tweeted, “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times, not the 21st Century UN. Unworthy of a reply. Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one.” But Zarif did reply in a Fars News Agency interview: “Trump’s shameless and ignorant remarks, in which he ignored Iran’s fight against terrorism, displays his lack of knowledge and unawareness.” Some Iranians took to Twitter to express their dismay at the U.S. president’s comments with hashtag #ShutUpTrump.

During his fifth trip to New York to attend UNGA, President Hassan Rouhani attacked Trump, saying the “ignorant, absurd, and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations that was uttered before this body yesterday was not only unfit to be heard at the UN,” but also contradicted what the United Nations stood for (Haaretz). On the Iran Deal, Rouhani said it would “be a great pity if this agreement would be destroyed by rogue newcomers.” The Iranian president said that by violating the commitments of the deal, “the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it.” Rouhani asked the audience to imagine a world without the nuclear deal and explained that its missile capabilities were “solely defensive deterrence” as Iranians could not forget Saddam Hussein’s attacks on Iran. He added that Tehran “will never allow our people to become victims of such catastrophic delusions again.” Rouhani praised his country’s history and cultural contributions to the world, and that “Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others, or export its revolution through the force of arms.” Most importantly, the Iranian president said, “moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path of the great Iranian people… We believe in dialogue and negotiation based on equal footing and mutual respect.”

Before heading to UNGA, Rouhani described the Americans as "sitting in another room" at the party (AP).

A day after Rouhani’s speech, the supreme leader lashed out against Trump’s UNGA speech, describing it as full of “gangster and cowboy” rhetoric (Tasnim News Agency). Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told members of the assembly experts that “The American elite should be ashamed of having such a president.”

Did Trump just make Iran more popular? (New Yorker)

Iranian reformists welcome Rouhani’s speech at UNGA (Al-Monitor).

The U.S. government is lobbying on the sidelines of UNGA to build an anti-Iran “coalition of the willing” (IranWire).

 Iran Deal

The U.S. secretary of state said Washington continues to have “significant issues” with the nuclear deal, after his first talks with his Iranian counterpart (BBC News). During his meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Rex Tillerson said, “It was a good opportunity to meet, shake hands. The tone was very matter of fact. There was no yelling, we didn't throw shoes at one another.” Tillerson also acknowledged Iran was complying with the deal.

Trump’s national security adviser pushed back against reports that Tillerson was caught off guard by the president's unclear decision on the nuclear deal (The Hill). H.R. McMaster was responding to reports that the U.S. secretary of state was unaware that Trump had made a decision on whether or not to remain in the Iran Deal. He told CNN's "New Day" that discussions about the agreement and Iran’s larger influence in the Middle East had been taking place in the White House for quite some time.

The European Union foreign policy chief said all parties of the P5+1 agree that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal, including the United States (CBS News). Federica Mogherini said that U.S. complaints about other Iranian behavior should be discussed outside the context of the agreement.

Rouhani told reporters on the sidelines of UNGA that he didn’t think Trump would “walk out of the deal despite (his) rhetoric and propaganda” (Reuters).

In an interview, President Rouhani said that Washington would pay a "high cost" if Trump scraps the nuclear deal (CNN). Echoing his UNGA speech, Rouhani said such an action by the Trump administration "will yield no results for the United States but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in” America.

The supreme leader said Tehran would not be bullied by the U.S. and would react strongly to any “wrong move” on the nuclear deal (Reuters).

Also, France made a new plea for Washington to preserve the deal and suggested its provisions expiring after a decade could be strengthened (Reuters).

France’s president said during an interview that Iran risked becoming a rogue nuclear state like North Korea without the deal (CNN).

Rouhani tries to talk Europe into saving nuclear deal (Al-Monitor).

Former President Barack Obama aides are holding meetings, contacting lawmakers and working the media in an urgent bid to prevent the dismantling of the Iran Deal (Politico).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new financial sanctions on eleven individuals and firms for supporting Iranian activity the Trump administration considers hostile (Bloomberg). The entities included those with support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, cyber-attacks on U.S. financial institutions, and Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

How much longer will the Iran Deal last under Trump? (The Atlantic)

 Human Rights

A day before Trump’s UNGA speech, an imprisoned U.S. citizen was rushed to a hospital to have a pacemaker put in (Washington Post). Despite recommendations by a cardiologist, it took five days before Evin Prison’s staff physician allowed 81-year-old Baquer Namazi to go to the hospital. Namazi has been imprisoned for eighteen months now on convictions of espionage. Before the dual national’s arrest, Namazi had undergone a triple bypass surgery, which raises concern that he might die in prison. His son, Siamak, is also imprisoned in Iran.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Iran to immediately release the Namazis, describing their imprisonment as a violation of international law (New York Times).

A Baha’i leader was released after serving a decade in prison (CHRI). Mahvash Sabet was one of the seven Baha’i leaders arrested in 2008, and sentenced to twenty years in prison on national security-related charges. Their sentences were later reduced to ten years. The Baha’i community is one of the most persecuted religious minorities in Iran.

An exclusive interview with the freed Baha'i leader (IranWire).

Here is a list of nationals currently detained by Iran:

Kamal Foroughi (British-Iranian), since May 2011
Nizar Zakka (Lebanese, U.S. permanent resident), since September 2015
Siamak Namazi (Iranian-American), since October 2015
Baquer Namazi (Iranian-American), since February 2016
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (British-Iranian), since March 2016
Karan Vafadari (Iranian-American) along with Iranian wife, since July 2016
Robin Shahini (Iranian-American), since July 2016
Xiyue Wang (American), since August 2016

 + Crowd cheers as Iran hangs man for rape, murder of young girl.
+ Wife of man imprisoned for Facebook posts loses job after pressure from IRGC.
+ Kurdish activists detained for protesting killing of border couriers.
+ Judge refuses to take action against father suspected of sexually abusing daughter.
+ Two political prisoners on 48th day of hunger strike at Rajaee Shahr prison.
+ Workers peacefully demanding unpaid wages beaten and arrested in Arak.
+ Intelligence Ministry arrests woman for asking about brother’s disappearance.
+ Imprisoned for producing music, Yousef Emadi sentenced to another year behind bars.
+ How to talk to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about human rights.
+ Iran to destroy graves of executed political prisoners.
+ Wife of Princeton scholar jailed in Iran calls on U.S. to do more to free him.
+ Asylum seeker lashed 80 times after being deported to Iran from Norway.

+ Iran freedom movement names new head
+ Iran’s ‘father of all bombs’ dwarfs U.S. biggest non-nuclear bomb.
+ Tehran’s Sunnis still waiting for their own mosque
+ A trip through Iran’s Sunni heartland
+ Containment and strike: Iran’s drone program.
+ Iranian sex workers in Dubai: Can we return home?

+ Iran army chief threatens to destroy Tel Aviv if Israel makes ‘tiniest mistake’.
+ Saudi Arabia stuck with self-inflicted wounds in battle with Iran
+ Iran recruits Afghan and Pakistani Shiites to fight in Syria
+ Tehran sends 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria’s Deir ez-Zor.
+ Russia says close to Syria deal with Turkey and Iran
+ School in Christian town east of Mosul named after Ayatollah Khomeini.
+ Once called ‘kittens’ in the cyberspy world, Iran gains prowess.

+ Trump is conflating Pyongyang with Tehran. The results could be catastrophic.
+ Netanyahu is meeting Trump to push for war with Iran.
+ Could North Korea help Iran develop nuclear weapons?
+ Bloomberg Editorial Board: Allow Iranian entrepreneurs to sell their apps
+ Tehran sees oil exports rising as joint fields get a boost.
+ Iran faces challenges realizing natural gas potential
+ UK’s Quercus plans €500 million solar power farm in Iran.
+ PricewaterhouseCoopers to establish an Iran presence.
+ French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel opens Tehran office.
+ China provides $10 billion credit line to Iran.
+ At $80 an ounce, it's not for everyone, but Iranian caviar is coming back to the U.S.

Iranian entrepreneur vows to develop electric fuel for urban bus.

+ Iranian artist Ramin Haerizadeh on his latest solo show in Dubai.
+ Where to eat and go for a perfect day in Tehran.

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