A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of February 3rd

“President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama Administration, as well as the United Nations—as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

- U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, on Iran’s ballistic missile test


(Former deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote on Twitter: “Agreement wasn't meant to make Iran “thankful to the US”—it was intended to peacefully rollback Iran's nuclear program, which it did.”)


The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iran spoke to The Iranist about climate change, preservation efforts to save Lake Urmia, and what might surprise you about the Islamic Republic.

 Domestic Affairs

Thousands of Iranians attended the funeral of 16 firefighters who perished in the Plasco building collapse (Los Angeles Times). Initial state media reports claimed 50 firefighters had been killed, but only 15 bodies were recovered; one person died in the hospital. The services were held at a heavily secured mosque in Tehran to deter protests by Iranians who accused the government of negligence. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the firefighters national heroes and even likened them to soldiers who died fighting in the Iran-Iraq War. An electric short circuit was the main cause of the fire. 

The final death toll of the Plasco building fire is 26, including 16 firefighters (AP).

The key to fire safety in Iran is an organized workforce (IranWire).

 Foreign Policy

Last Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order barring refugees and immigrants with ties to seven-Muslim majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for 90-days. This doesn’t impact U.S. citizens, but visa holders, refugees, green card holders (although the White House now says they’re exempt), and dual nationals (not those with U.S. citizenship). During those 90-days, Washington and said countries are to share information to grant entrance to the U.S. again, but if no agreement is reached—citizens will be unable to return. In the past decade, Iranian and Iraqi citizens received over 250,000 green cards (ProPublica).

President Hassan Rouhani called Donald Trump a political novice during an address (Reuters). The Iranian president said, “[Trump] is new to politics. He has been in a different world. It's a totally new environment to him. It will take him a long time and will cost the United States a lot, until he learns what is happening in the world.” Rouhani added that, “Today is not a time for separating nations by walls,” referencing to the barrier wall between the U.S. and Mexico border and possibly the recent travel ban.
Amid continuing criticism by hardliners over the U.S. visa ban, Rouhani lashed out, asserting that independence is not equivalent to isolation (Al-Monitor). Speaking at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum ahead of the 1979 revolution anniversary, the Iranian president added, “We are neither xenophiles nor xenophobes … we are Muslim, revolutionary and Iranian.”

In response to Trump's ban, Tehran will no longer issue visas to U.S. citizens (Wall Street Journal). Exceptions will be made for specific cases and will be reviewed by a foreign ministry committee.

Iranian officials and media reacted harshly to Trump’s executive order (Al-Monitor).

Trump’s travel ban is a gift to Iran’s rulers, writes founder of the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (Washington Post).

Iran established a committee to deal with the affairs of Iranians outside the country following the U.S. travel ban (PressTV). Several directives were sent to Iranian embassies all over the world to help Iranians affected by the ban.

Foreign airlines have agreed to reimburse Iranians who purchased tickets to the United States on or before 28 January (Financial Tribune).
Iran's President Rouhani left exposed by Trump's travel ban (TIME).
Since the travel ban, countless stories are being shared in the news and on social media, here are just a few that caught our eye:

Iranian Jews, Christians, and Baha’i now stuck after transit point in Europe shut down (Daily Beast).

U.S. travel ban leaves Iranian LGBT refugees in limbo (The Guardian).

An Iranian veteran of the U.S. Marines, feeling tested (Chicago Tribune).

Iranian student deported under Trump ban is 'kindest person you'll ever meet,' instructor says (Los Angeles Times).

U.S. Travel ban stands between Iranian cancer patient and her grandmother (RFERL).

With his wife blocked from returning from Iran, a Columbia University student eyes quitting his program to be with her (Washington Post).
'No one warned me': This Clemson Ph.D. grad is stuck in Iran (CNN).
Trump's Muslim ban 'will rip our family apart' (Al Jazeera).

Iranian scientist taking job at a Harvard Medical School lab sued Trump after she was denied entry into the U.S. (AP).

Family of 4-month-old set to have surgery at OHSU impacted by Trump's executive order (KPTV).
Mother from Iran and 5-year-old son reunited after he was detained at Dulles Airport (ABC News).
Residents of Los Angeles' Little Persia denounce Trump's 'unjust' travel ban (The Guardian).

 Iran Deal

Tehran conducted its first ballistic missile test since Donald Trump became president (New York Times). The missile traveled about 600 miles before reportedly exploding. It’s unclear whether the detonation was accidental or part of the exercise. This prompted the White House to put “Iran on notice” (See QUOTE OF THE WEEK). U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said the test was part of a chain of provocative actions by Iran and violated a United Nations Security Council resolution restricting the country’s ballistic missile program, which is denied by Tehran. Iran has carried out several such tests since the nuclear deal. Flynn did not indicate a response by the Trump administration. However, sources say Washington intends to issue new Iran sanctions (Reuters).

Republicans in Congress are cheering Flynn, marking a rare point of unity with the Trump administration over foreign policy (Washington Post).

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did not confirm whether Tehran conducted a missile test, but said that it was not hindered by the nuclear deal (AP). During a press conference with visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Iranian foreign minister added, the missiles are “not designed for the capability of carrying a nuclear warhead ... [Iran’s] ballistic missile was designed to carry a normal warhead in the field of legitimate defense.” Zarif also warned Washington not to escalate tensions. At the same conference, Agence France-Presse reported that Ayrault said the French government “expressed its concern” over the missile test.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister warned the country would return to pre-deal nuclear activities if other parties do not honor their commitments (PressTV). Abbas Araqchi, who is also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said Tehran’s top priority is security and that his country does not require permission to launch missiles.

The European Union warned Tehran not to “deepen mistrusts” by continuing ballistic missile tests (Times of Israel).

Israel’s prime minister said the missile test was a “flagrant violation” of a UNSC resolution (BBC). Benjamin Netanyahu said he would be raising the issue of renewing sanctions when he visits Trump in February.


Oil prices shot up after the White House put Tehran “on notice” (CNBC). Michael Flynn’s comment aroused concerns the Trump administration might try to take action against the nuclear deal, thus hindering efforts to revive Iran’s oil and gas industry, as well as causing possible tensions in the oil supply routes in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran oil exports are set to rise slightly this month, after Indonesia takes its first shipment since sanctions were lifted (Reuters).

Also, Iran may cancel its $ billion peace pipeline project with Pakistan over lengthy construction delays (Oil Price).

Is Tehran planning on breaking its OPEC pledge? (Oil Price)


Donald Trump pulls the red carpet from underneath Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi at the Academy Awards (Fars News Agency).

Iranian director of “The Salesman” will not be attending the Academy Awards, even if granted an exception to Trump’s travel ban (New York Times). Asghar Farhadi issued a statement saying: “I believe that the similarities among the human beings on this earth and its various lands, and among its cultures and its faiths, far outweigh their differences. I believe that the root cause of many of the hostilities among nations in the world today must be searched for in their reciprocal humiliation carried out in its past and no doubt the current humiliation of other nations are the seeds of tomorrow’s hostilities. To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity.”

The American Film Institute has issued a statement of support for Asghar Farhadi (Variety).

In case you’re wondering: Here’s where to stream Farhadi’s Iranian dramas (New York Times).

+ Editor detained by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry pleads for help from Evin Prison.
+ Iranian-Dutch dual national and dissident imprisoned in Tehran denied medical care.
+ Iran’s Intelligence Ministry arrests mother of Green Movement gunshot victim.
+ Facebook satirist Soheil Babadi exiled to town after serving prison sentence.
+ Baha’is banned from education: The case of Mona Houshmand.
+ Journalist groups condemn flogging of two journalists.
+ Leading poet Mehdi Ghazali says state broadcaster sidelines literature.
+ Culture Minister says they will not interfere with Fajr Festival.


+ Why Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s real lasting legacy in Iran isn’t in politics.
+ Why pension funds in Iran could face bankruptcy tsunami.
+ The harrowing experience of end-of-life care for a grandmother in an Iranian hospital.


+ Trump's response to a naval confrontation could indicate future of U.S.-Iranian relations.
+ Donald Trump adopts aggressive posture toward Iran after missile launch.
+ White House aide: Trump's moves don't embolden ISIS and Iran.
+ Pre-emptive attack Iran bill active in U.S. House of Representatives.
+ U.S. lawmakers promise MEK tougher action against Iran.
+ Trump cannot afford to shut out Iran if he wants to defeat ISIS.
+ Why are Syrian rebels stepping up efforts to isolate Iran?
+ Gulf of mistrust mars Kuwaiti initiative for Iran-GCC dialogue.

Tehran starts injecting UF6 into new IR-8 centrifuges for research and development.
+ Trump should get tough on Tehran, but canceling nuclear deal would be a disaster.
+ Are we safer? One year later, Iran nuclear deal in Trump crosshairs.
+ Iran’s Bank Tejarat sues EU for sanctions.


+ Iran's oil minister says no ban on American companies working in country’s oil industry.

Iran plans to sign $8.6 billion contracts with China, Japan, and South Korea.

+ Lukoil eyes start of oilfield development in Iran this year.
+ Iran to ditch U.S. dollar in official reports.
+ Bank Mellat loses 37.5 percent in share value in one day.
+ Luxembourg businesses tread new ground with Iran.
+ German engineering giant sees opportunity in new Iran market.
+ Tehran says channel to export carpets to U.S. open.
+ Sanctions lift opens door to €10 billion of energy projects in Iran.
+ Iran-France trade sees threefold rise post sanctions.
+ Bilateral trade with India hit by banks’ reluctance to transact with Iran.
+ First Iran-owned oil tankers head to Rotterdam post-sanctions.
+ Female developers and consumer demand drive fashion tech startups in Iran.
+ Digital ad spending in Iran accounts for more than $53 million.


+ Documentary "100 and Counting" looks at the extraordinary life of Iranian grandparents.


+ Fascinating photos reveal life in Iran before the revolution.

+ Abdolhossein Sardari: An Iranian hero of the Holocaust.
+ Ibrahim Morady: the carpet dealer who helped fool the Nazis.
+ Abdolhossein Sardari, the Iranian Muslim who saved Jews from the Holocaust.
+ A proud Jewish-Iranian killed by the Iranian government, the story of Plasco.

+ Does Shiraz wine come from Iran

+ 14 Iranian artists explore just how complex immigration and identity can be.

+ Life in Iran: Contemporary photography exhibit tries to build a cultural bridge.


+ U.S. wrestlers to compete in Iran next month.

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