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

“The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation. America is the number one enemy of our nation. . . We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal. Americans are using all the wickedness to damage the result of the nuclear talks. Any retreat by Iran will make America more blatant and impudent. Resistance is the only option.”

- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during a speech on Thursday


ROUHANI CABINET COMPLETE
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

The Iranian parliament approved President Hassan Rouhani’s latest cabinet picks (AP). Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said lawmakers voted for Reza Ardakanian to serve as energy minister, and Mansour Gholami to serve as science minister, which also oversees universities. University students and reformist MPs had come out strongly against Rouhani’s science minister pick, claiming Gholami supported a conservative agenda and previously collaborated with security agencies. With Sunday’s vote, Rouhani’s 18-minister cabinet is now complete.

Iran said it foiled an online plot led by foreigners to spark dissent near the tomb of Cyrus the Great on the celebratory day that marks the ancient Persian king’s birth (AP). State media reported that the Intelligence Ministry disrupted plans for an “illegal gathering.” Pasargadae is the burial place of the ancient Persian King Cyrus the Great. Last year, over 15,000 people gathered at the site, with some even chanting against the Iranian government. Online videos show that a fence was put up around the tomb and roads to the area were shut down, while the paramilitary force that executes orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, held a drill in the area.

According to two top military commanders, the supreme leader has restricted the range of their ballistic missiles to 2,000 km (Radio Farda). It is the first time that high-ranking Iranian officials have mentioned a range limitation imposed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, said, “We believe this range is enough for the Islamic republic as most of the U.S. forces and most of their interests in the region are within this range.” General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, echoed this statement, adding that Iran’s missiles “have a 2,000-kilometer range, based on a limit prescribed by the commander-in-chief.” President Rouhani said in a speech that Tehran has not stopped building missiles and has no intention of doing so (Los Angeles Times). Rouhani insisted that no international agreements prohibited the development of non-nuclear weapons, and that Iran has a right to produce them for its own defense.

The Iranian air force held an annual military exercise to demonstrate its ability to safeguard the country’s airspace (AP). The drill took place near Esfahan, a region that is home to the country’s key nuclear facilities, including the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.


RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VISITS IRAN
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Tehran for a day to discuss the Syrian crisis and the Iran Deal (AP). He met with President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Khamenei. Putin also attended trilateral talks with his Iranian counterpart and lham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan. The Russian president’s visit signaled he won’t turn his back on Iran amid U.S. hostility (CNBC).

Khamenei told the visiting Russian president that Tehran and Moscow must step up cooperation to isolate the U.S. and stabilize the Middle East (Reuters). The supreme leader told Putin, “Our cooperation can isolate America . . . The failure of U.S.-backed terrorists in Syria cannot be denied but Americans continue their plots.” Iran and Russia are the main allies of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, while the United States, Turkey, and most Arab states support rebel groups fighting to overthrow him.

Here’s how Iranian state media covered Putin’s visit to Tehran (Al-Monitor).

Russia and Iran signed $30 billion in energy agreements (Financial Times).

Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that Washington requested a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Rouhani (Bloomberg). The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said at a press conference that “a request indeed was made by the U.S. side, but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani.” Ghassemi denied earlier reports that French president Emmanuel Macron had been prepared to mediate a meeting between the two leaders.

The White House denied the Iranian government’s claim that Trump asked to meet with his counterpart (NBC News).

However, the State Department confirmed that the U.S. made a pitch to Iran for a high-level meeting (Radio Farda). Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had floated the idea of a top-level meeting and Iran had rejected it.


A trove of Bin Laden documents reveal Iran’s secret dealings with Al-Qaeda (Telegraph).

CIA documents linking Iran to Al-Qaeda timed to serve political purpose (Think Progress).

Switzerland to represent Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia and Saudi interests in Iran (IranWire).


SANCTIONS PILE ON
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would hit Iran with fresh sanctions on its ballistic missile program (Vox). The House bill requires the Trump administration to identify companies and individuals who are supplying the ballistic program. The sanctions would freeze the U.S. assets of suppliers, restricting their travel to the U.S., and banning imports from them.

While on a visit to Tehran, the director-general of the IAEA confirmed that Iran is fulfilling its commitments under the nuclear deal with world powers (RFERL). The visit by Yukiya Amano comes as the U.S. Congress weighs the agreement.

More than 90 American experts in atomic sciences, including a designer of the hydrogen bomb, publicly support the nuclear agreement with Iran (New York Times). In a letter to Senate and House leaders of both parties that emphasized the “momentous responsibilities” that Congress bears regarding the agreement, the scientists asserted the accord was effective in blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.

Tehran didn’t attend UN conference on nuclear energy in Abu Dhabi, claiming its delegation wasn’t granted visas (AP).

A Harvard poll on renegotiating the nuclear deal used a “blatantly biased question” (The Intercept).


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS
 
+ Judge refuses psychological evaluation that could save man sentenced to death.
+ Man imprisoned on nuclear program-related espionage charges on hunger strike.
+ Agents interrupt labor activist’s dialysis treatment to transport him to prison.
+ Mother sentenced to prison for demanding justice for slain son.
+ Hundreds of activists call on political prisoner Mohammad Nazari to end hunger strike
+ UN experts call on Iran to stop intimidation of BBC staff.
+ What is behind Iran's war on the BBC?
+ British FM finally condemns detention of British citizen and offers to visit her in prison
+ At the UN, Iran stands accused of human rights violations.


DOMESTIC ISSUES
+ Suspension of an elected Zoroastrian city council member in Yazd stirs heated debate.
+ Papers criticize Guardian Council’s decision to ban religious minorities from elections.
+ MP Ali Motahari says the Guardian Council should avoid ‘disrupting order’
+ Iranian vice president tainted by brother's corruption charges
+ Khamenei is encouraging Iranians to reproduce because population numbers are low
+ Check out this restaurant in Sa’adat Abad that is entirely served by robots.
+ Tehranis are enjoying the best air quality during fall for the first time in eight years.

+ Iran moves to save last 'mascot' Asiatic cheetahs.
+ Schools closed in Khuzestan and western parts of Iran amid severe dust storms.
+ State TV says fire at oil rig kills at least two workers.
+ Iran is building air defenses against stealth aircraft.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS
+ IRGC commander rules out war between U.S. and Iran
+ Iranian academics clash on how to deal with Trump
+ The U.S. is on a collision course with Iran in the Middle East.
+ Iraq and Iran, sharing a neighborhood.
+ Three million Iranians expected in Karbala for Arbaeen pilgrimage
+ Iran to reopen border with Iraq's Kurdistan region
+ Saudi FM says Iran major obstacle to peace efforts in Yemen
+ Iran unlikely to sit idle as U.S. targets Hezbollah and PMU.
+ India starts trade route to Afghanistan via Iran.


IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS
+ Boris Johnson to travel to U.S. in bid to save Iran deal.
+ Iranian negotiator says U.S. bad intentions not limited to Trump.
+ Iranian judiciary chief calls for protecting economy in face of sanctions
+ U.S. treasury secretary presses allies to tighten Iran sanctions
+ United States blocks Iran from fusion megaproject.
+ Iran sanction-busting trial may get underway without Zarrab.


ECONOMY + TRADE
+ Iran may consider embracing Bitcoin to counter sanctions.            
+ Tehran rejects Turkmen proposal for gas shipments to Turkey.
+ What Trump’s Iran action means for Japan’s energy interests.
+ Iran seeks $50 billion in mining investment over 5 years.
+ Kenyan banks give Iran wide berth.
+ Iran: The place where the world's rail industry goes to feast.
+ Iran's flower industry ready to bloom globally.
+ Tehran: The world's next luxury hotpot? Not without luxury-level woes.


ART + CULTURE
+ Oscar-nominated director challenges Trump to watch her film to change his Iran views.
+ Christian Lacroix to design a major exhibit focusing on 18th and 19th century Iranian art.

+ United by blood: Afghan artists come together for Iran exhibition.
 

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