Week of September 11th
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Human Rights Watch's Tara Sepehri Far on why Nasrin Sotoudeh is on hunger strike to protest Iran’s dire prison conditions.

INSS' Raz Zimmt explains how Iran’s reformists don’t have a strategy yet—let alone a candidate.
Iran over ten times limit
On September 4, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Iran had more than ten times the amount of enriched uranium permitted under the 2015 nuclear accord (BBC News). A year after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran has slowly breached aspects of the deal to pressure remaining signatories to offset US sanctions. On September 8, Iran’s nuclear chief announced that it was building an advanced centrifuge production hall in the mountains near its underground Natanz nuclear facility (Reuters). The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, said the move to build “a more modern, larger and more comprehensive hall” was to replace the production hall at Natanz that burned in a fire caused by an act of sabotage on July 2. Natanz is one of the facilities monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On September 9, the AEOI spokesman said the Iranian government identified the saboteurs responsible for the July 2 explosion at Natanz nuclear facility (Al-Monitor). The AEOI spokesman didn’t provide further details. 
Many analysts believe Israel was behind the incident.
Iranian hackers target Trump
According to Microsoft, Chinese, Iranian, and Russian hackers are targeting individuals and organizations involved in US-European policy debates and the US presidential election(Politico). The Iranian hacking group known as “Charming Kitten” or “Phosphorus” attempted to breach the accounts of President Donald Trump’s administration officials and campaign staff, in an attempt to undermine the president. Microsoft says that none of the cyberattacks have succeeded. In a blog post, Microsoft wrote, “Microsoft was again given permission by a federal court in Washington DC to take control of twent-five new internet domains used by the Phosphorus. Microsoft has since taken control of these domains. To date, we have used this method to take control of 155 Phosphorus domains.” As CNN reports, “[W]hile the intelligence community has assessed that China and Iran prefer Trump to lose in November, officials have offered no indication, to date, that either country is acting on that preference in the same way as Russia.”

Iran begins naval exercises
On September 10, Iran began its three-day war games in the Sea of Oman (Al-Monitor). The annual war games, known as Zolfaghar-99, are being held near the Strait of Hormuz and involve air, naval, and ground forces in a 2 million square meter zone. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian army warned US drones to leave the area (IRNA). “Since the start of the drills, the Iranian Army forces witnessed different concentrated activities done by the US unmanned aircraft to collect information about the war game[s],” said the Iranian army spokesman. Meanwhile, Iran will participate in the Caucus 2020 military exercises in southern Russia later this month (CBS News).

New UN report on Yemen
In a new report released on September 9, United Nations investigators said that weapons provided by Iran and Western powers to warring parties in Yemen are perpetuating the six-year-old conflict (Reuters). According to the report, “Coalition airstrikes in the past year may amount to war crimes, while the Iran-aligned Houthi movement carried out killings and other abuses that may also constitute war crimes.” The findings cover June 2019 to June 2020. The UN investigators called on both sides to stop transferring arms to warring sides. A day before the report was released, Iran-backed Houthi rebels aimed several drones at Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport (Reuters).
Iranian children with various face masks (ISNA)
Coronavirus updates
On September 4, Iran’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 22,000, the highest in the Middle East (Reuters). As of September 11, Iran’s official death toll from the coronavirus is 22,798 with at least 395,488 cases of infections (WorldoMeter). On September 10, there were over 2,000 new cases identified within 24 hours (Iran Front Page). This week, Iranian schools reopened for the new school year with social distancing measures and mandatory face masks (Al Jazeera). On September 5, President Hassan Rouhani criticized “friendly” countries for not defying US sanctions during the pandemic (Reuters). 

World sports groups are galvanizing to ask Iran for the pardon of an Iranian wrestler allegedly charged with murder, and may be executed soon (CBS News). Navid Afkari, 27, took part in the December 2017 – January 2018 protests and is accused of stabbing a security guard during the unrest. Afkari was handed two death sentences, though there is no evidence of his role in the guard’s death. Many believe Iran wants to make an example out of the athlete. The World Players Association (WPA), a global union representing 85,000 athletes, said that if Afkari is executed, Iran will be expelled from world sport (Reuters). Global Athlete, a lobbying group for athletes, has said the same. Both organizations are calling on the International Olympic Committee and United World Wrestling—the international governing body for amateur wrestling—to warn Tehran that it would be suspended from competitions should Afkari’s execution take place (CBS News). On September 4, US President Donald Trump tweeted: "To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man's life, and not execute him. Thank you!" Two days after Trump’s tweet, state media aired Afkari’s confession. According to activists and the wrestler’s family, Afkari was forced to make false confessions under torture. There is a social media campaign underway under #SaveNavidAfkari to call on the Iranian government to grant Afkari clemency. 

New charges for Nazanin
New charges are being brought against a British-Iranian mother imprisoned in Iran since 2016 (CNN). On September 8, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to the “Branch 15” court to face additional charges, though it’s unclear what the new charges are. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation—the news agency’s charitable arm—was detained in April 2016 while on a family visit to Iran with her toddler. She has since been serving a five-year sentence on alleged charges of espionage. The British government condemned the decision to bring new charges (CNN). Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband believes she is being held hostage for a four-decade legal dispute with the Iranian government over hundreds of Chieftain tanks that Iran bought from the UK in 1976, but never received because of the 1979 Revolution. The British defense secretary acknowledged that the UK is seeking to pay the Iranian government the £400 million debt to secure the release of British dual nationals including Zaghari-Ratcliffe (The Guardian).
Celebrated artists and authors join online campaign to free imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (CHRI).
Iranian anti-hijab activist says she is safe—for now—after fears of deportation to Iran (Independent).
Fresh calls for Mousavi to face criminal investigation over 1988 massacre (IranWire).
+‌ Iran is having its #MeToo moment  (Al Jazeera).

Iran's foreign minister plans visit to Europe (NHK Japan).
Swiss top diplomat holds 'fruitful' talks in Iran on peace, rights (AFP).
Iran infuriated as Charlie Hebdo reprints 'sacrilegious' cartoons (Al-Monitor).
Iraq’s pro-Iran militia TV active after US seizes website (VOA).
Indian FM meets Zarif in Tehran (Financial Tribune).

Khamenei-controlled company to develop Iran’s Marun oil field (Bloomberg).
Shahram Mokri: Iran sanctions big obstacle to joint film projects (Tehran Times).

Iranian director calls Venice premiere ‘like a new life’ (AP).
A chef’s childhood in Iran shaped his cooking in the pandemic (New York Times).

...تا هفته بعد

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