Iran will suspend all oil exports, pushing global crude prices higher, if the U.S. and Europe tighten sanctions further on the OPEC member’s economy, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi warned. | Bloomberg

The head of Iran's judiciary Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani has fired back at embattled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying the president does not understand his constitutional powers. The dispute between the two branches of government was sparked by Ahmadinejad's attempt to visit a prison where an aide is being held. | Associated Press


President Ahmadinejad has reportedly rejected a Turkish proposal for a transitional government in Syria led by Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. According to the Al-Anbaa newspaper, Ahmadinejad told journalists in Kuwait, “This means we are imposing a foreign solution on the Syrians." | EA WorldView

Both the White House and the Iranian Foreign Ministry have dismissed a New York Times report claiming that a final agreement on direct talks between the United States and Iran had been reached. The White House affirmed that it remained open to such contacts. | New York Times

Iran’s parliament has revised its budget law in a bid to curb the populist policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid criticisms that these policies have made the country more vulnerable to sanctions. | Financial Times


President Ahmadinejad has reportedly rejected a Turkish proposal for a transitional government in Syria led by Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. According to the Al-Anbaa newspaper, Ahmadinejad told journalists in Kuwait, “This means we are imposing a foreign solution on the Syrians." | EA WorldView

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque in southern Iran on Friday, killing one other person, Iranian media reported. An attack by two suicide bombers of the Sunni rebel group Jundollah at the same mosque killed 39 people in 2010. | Chicago Tribune


Western economic sanctions may cut the supply of Iranian currency. At least three European companies that have been providing currency production services to Iran say they have stopped doing business there. | New York Times

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that there is no solution to the Syrian crisis other than developing “national understanding” and holding a “free election.” He made the remarks during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the 12th ECO Summit of Heads of State or Government in Baku on Tuesday. | Tehran Times; EA WorldView

The U.N. nuclear chief said on Wednesday that Iran's allegation his agency may have been infiltrated by saboteurs was baseless. He also voiced concern about "intensive activities" at the Parchin military installation that his inspectors want to examine. | Reuters


On Tuesday the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast criticized the new European Union sanctions, vowing they will not force any retreat on the country’s nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the European Union’s move. | Washington Post

Iran has been asked to persuade the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to implement a ceasefire. Lakhdar Brahimi, the envoy for the UN and Arab League, used a weekend visit to Iran to appeal for help in securing a ceasefire to mark Eid al-Adha, the four-day Muslim holiday later this month. | Guardian

One of Europe's leading satellite providers on Monday ended its contract with Iran's broadcast company, IRIB, immediately pulling nineteen state-owned television and radio channels off the air. Eutelsat said it stopped broadcasting the Iranian channels in light of the new European sanctions. | Wall Street Journal


EU member states have announced a new package of sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program. The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told reporters before Monday's meeting that there was still "room for negotiations" between Iran and the P5+1 - the UK, US, France, China, Russia and Germany. | BBC News

Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi has given visiting UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi a proposal aimed at ending the 19-month-long conflict in Syria. He did not go into details about the proposal, which was also submitted to representatives of Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, only adding that Iran would support efforts by the international envoy. | Al Jazeera

Iran says it will cut imports of nonessential goods. Authorities have divided imports into 10 categories based on how essential they are and will provide importers with dollars at a subsidized rate to buy basic goods, Hamid Safdel, deputy industry minister, was quoted as saying Sunday. | Washington Post


Ahmad Tavakkoli, an influential MP for Tehran and former presidential candidate, has accused the government of intentionally weakening the rial in order to pay for the second round of subsidy reform. | Iran Pulse

Three Iranian border guards were killed in clashes with armed drug traffickers near the border with Pakistan, Iranian media reported on Thursday, citing a border official. | AFP


In televised speech on Wednesday Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Iranian officials of government divisions after the rial plunge. He further insisted Iran could withstand the sanctions and brushed off last week's street protests. | Reuters

Iran is providing crucial equipment and technical help to Syria in its effort to track opposition forces through the Internet and other forms of electronic surveillance, according to U.S. officials. | Washington Post

Iran yesterday denied reports that it warned of cutting diplomatic ties with the UAE over the occupied islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb. | Gulf News


Iran has implemented strict new procedures for currency trading after protest. Now only those traders licensed by Iran’s Central Bank may buy and sell the rial, and all luxury imports have been forbidden. | New York Times

Iran will manage to bring down its high inflation and return to growth next year despite Western sanctions over its nuclear program, according to projections from the International Monetary Fund. | Reuters

According to the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to arm a nuclear bomb within two to four months, but would still face serious “engineering challenges” before it succeeds in making the other components needed for a functioning warhead. | Washington Post


Shops in Tehran's Grand Bazaar stayed shut and police patrolled the area on Thursday as authorities struggled to restore normalcy a day after security forces clashed with anti-government protesters angered by the collapse of the currency. | Reuters

The IAEA director general Yukiya Amano urged Iran to engage in fresh talks on its nuclear ambitions in an effort to end months of stalemate that has denied inspectors access to the country's key nuclear facilities.The U.N. atomic agency has yet to agree a date for further talks with Iran. | Wall Street Journal

The European Union is poised to ban imports of Iranian gas into Europe. Diplomats from EU member states have started preparing a package of sanctions against Iran with a goal of formally adopting them at a meeting of foreign ministers on Oct. 15 in Luxembourg. | Reuters


Iranian riot police deployed in Tehran after rial protests. Iranian riot police sealed off parts of downtown Tehran and fired tear gas rounds after street protests triggered by the country’s tumbling currency. | Businessweek

A petition to the government signed by 10,000 Iranian workers shows rising economic worries as sanctions bite. | Washington Post

Cyber attackers have targeted Iranian infrastructure and communications companies, disrupting the Internet across the country, a state official was quoted as saying on Wednesday. | Reuters


The Iranian government blames speculators for yesterday’s plunge of the rial to record lows, after the currency lost about a third of its value in the past week. | Reuters

A petition to the government signed by 10,000 Iranian workers shows rising economic worries as sanctions bite. | Washington Post

The UN human rights office says it is deeply worried that Iran is cracking down on human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday that several recent arrests and detentions in Iran are evidence of a “further severe clampdown.” | Washington Post


Iranian authorities have reopened access to Google’s email service a week after blocking it, a government official said on Monday. The block on Gmail had even prompted complaints in parliament. | Reuters

Iran’s rial hits an all-time low against the U.S. dollar. The rial fell almost ten percent on Monday to a record low against the dollar, leaving it with a loss of 25 percent in one week. The latest slide appears to have been triggered by a government move to supply dollars to importers of certain basic goods at a special rate. | BBC News

President Ahmadinejad has said in a CNN interview on Sunday that talks over Iran’s nuclear program will result in a “very important decision” after the U.S. presidential election. He expressed optimism that the two sides will “be able to take some steps forward” after November 6. | Tehran Times


Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: Iran could have bomb by next summer if it does not face a ‘red line.’ In his speech to the UN on Thursday, Netanyahu said that a firm ultimatum to Iran is the only peaceful way to stop Tehran from getting atomic weapons. | Washington Post

World powers decided Thursday that they are open to another round of negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said, but they want a significantly improved offer from the Islamic republic. | Washington Post

Iran’s revival of a multiple-rate currency system has so far failed to curb a currency crisis caused by international sanctions over its nuclear program. The rial has fallen around six percent since Monday in anticipation of continued economic difficulties. | Financial Times


Iranian authorities have shut down Shargh, a leading reformist daily newspaper, and detained its managing director for publishing a cartoon which allegedly insulted the volunteer fighters during the country’s war with Iraq. | Financial Times

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s top press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, has been jailed for six months for publishing material said to be insulting to Iran’s top leader. | BBC News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the UN General Assembly on Wednesday for what was likely to be the last time, denouncing military threats against Tehran by “uncivilized Zionists” and attacking Western leaders. However, the Iranian leader’s speech was deemed less provocative than his previous appearances at the UN. | Washington Post, EA WorldView


Iran has unveiled what it says is a new “indigenous” long-range drone capable of flying over most of the Middle East, state media reported. | BBC News

Iran condemned the planned removal of the Iranian dissident group Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK) from the United States’ list of terrorist organizations, Iranian media reported on Wednesday. | Ahram Online

The next round of European Union sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program will focus on the financial industry and trade, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. | Reuters


Oil prices rise after calls for more Iran sanctions. Crude prices rose in Asia on Tuesday after the United States, Britain, France, and Germany moved to apply more restrictions and sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, analysts said. | Al Arabyia

President Obama will use his address to the UN General Assembly to warn Iran that the time for diplomacy to curb the looming nuclear crisis is running out. | New York Times

On Monday Iranian President Ahmadinejad played down the prospects of an Israeli military strike on his country's nuclear installations, but made clear that Tehran would hold the United States responsible if such an attack occurred. |  Wall Street Journal


Iran displayed a new air defense system on Friday, saying it was designed to confront American warplanes in case of a U.S. attack on the country. The system was on show during a military parade in Tehran commemorating the start of the Iraq-Iran war 32 years ago. | Washington Post

Researchers say that the cyberwar on Iran is more widespread than first thought. A study of Flame malware used in Middle East and North Africa reveals programmers were probably created by national governments or governments working together. | Guardian

Western members of the UN Security Council attacked Iran on Thursday for providing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad with weapons to help him crush an eighteen-month-long uprising. | Reuters


Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, called negotiations with European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton over his country’s disputed uranium enrichment program “constructive and helpful,”the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Wednesday. | New York Times

Iran’s foreign minister met embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday, calling for a Syrian solution to the civil war. Salehi added this should be done in “partnership with international and regional organizations.” | Al Arabyia

The Iranian government appears to have laid the technical foundations for a national online network that would be detached from the Internet and permit tighter control over the flow of information. | Washington Post


Negotiators for Iran and the West met for the first in three months seeking to revive stalled talks over Iran's nuclear enrichment policies, officials said. | UPI

Iranians are reeling under tough economic sanctions imposed by Western countries and inflation is running at 25 percent. Economists say hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs as trade embargoes have curbed export prospects and made it difficult for many Iranian companies to obtain vital raw materials. | Reuters

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will visit Syria on Wednesday as part of an international campaign to help resolve the crisis in the Arab country. | Guardian


Iran’s most senior atomic energy official said on Monday that separate explosions targeted Iranian nuclear sites last month, including the deep underground site that American and Israeli officials say is the most invulnerable to bombing. He also contended that the I.A.E.A. had been infiltrated by “terrorists and saboteurs,” suggesting they were responsible for the attacks. | New York Times; PBS Tehran Bureau

The IAEA renewed pressure on Iran to address concerns about suspected bomb research, saying it was ready for talks soon and avoiding any mention of Tehran's allegation that "terrorists" may have infiltrated the Vienna-based watchdog. | Reuters

Tehran deployed one of its Russian-made submarines in the Persian Gulf, just days after the United States and more than two dozen allies began naval exercises nearby, Iranian state television reported Tuesday. | Washington Post


Iran acknowledged elite troops in Syria. Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards are helping the Syrian government, the force’s head said on Sunday, but he refused to say whether Iran would intervene militarily to help Damascus in the event of foreign military intervention. | Financial Times

Lebanon asks Iran to explain Revolutionary Guards’ presence. On Sunday, the Guards commander said members of his elite special operations unit, the Quds Force, were in Syria and Lebanon but only to provide “counsel.” | Al Arabyia

The United States and its allies have launched a major naval exercise in the Gulf. The start of the event came as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told U.S. television viewers on Sunday that Tehran was close to being able to build a nuclear bomb. Military officials and diplomats as well as Iran itself all sought to play down the significance of the timing and to stress the defensive aspects of the exercise. | Reuters


The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency passed a resolution on Thursday rebuking Iran for defying demands to curb its uranium enrichment and failing to quell mounting concerns about its suspected research into atomic bombs. | New York Times

President Obama rejected an appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to spell out a specific “red line” that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program, a senior administration official said, deepening the divide between the allies over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. | New York Times


An attack on Iran would halt nuclear bid for four years at most while uniting its citizens and alienating the Muslim world, says a report released today by the “Iran Project,” a bipartisan group of former national-security officials and foreign-policy specialists. | Businessweek

Iran watches warily as the US and its allies prepare for biggest yet anti-mine naval exercises in the Middle East. U.S. Navy officials insist that the anti-mine exercise is not about any specific country or a response to Iranian threats to shut the narrow Strait of Hormuz, but the drills will likely be perceived around the world as a challenge to Tehran. | Washington Post

South Africa throws UN nuclear meeting on Iran into disarray, as it proposed a last-minute change to a IAEA resolution rebuking Iran on Thursday. | Reuters


According to diplomats, the United States and its Western allies have persuaded Russia and China to support a resolution critical of Iran’s nuclear defiance in an effort to show Israel that diplomacy is an alternative to military force. The resolution, which will be passed on to the IAEA, demands that Iran stop activities that could be used to make nuclear arms. | Washington Post

The White House is denying reports of a U.S. rift with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he and President Barack Obama spoke for an hour Tuesday night and reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to preventing a nuclear Iran. | Associated Press

Iran weighs reform to stem currency crisis. Authorities have proposed establishing a currency exchange that would bring together major traders and replace the small, scattered money changers which dot Iran's cities. | Reuters


The IAEA demanded access to the disputed Parchin military site where they believe Iran may have conducted tests tied to the development of nuclear weapons. | VOA

Iran is reducing its dependence on oil by developing an “economy of resistance” to circumvent international sanctions over its nuclear program, according to a senior regime adviser. | Financial Times

Iran’s foreign ministry says U.S.-led military drills planned for next week in the Persian Gulf may shake up the “sensitive” region. The exercises are to include minesweeping operations seen as a direct response to Iranian warnings earlier this year that it could close the strategic oil shipping routes through the Strait of Hormuz. | Washington Post


IAEA demands access to the disputed Parchin military site where they believe Iran ran may have conducted tests tied to the development of nuclear weapons. | VOA


Iran hosts Islamic resistance festival. Representatives from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Amal movements, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Palestinian territories, gathered on Wednesday in Isfahan for the start of the third International Conference and Festival of Islamic Resistance. | Washington Post

Iran reiterates sovereignty over disputed Gulf Islands‎. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterated this week that the disputed islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb, claimed by both Iran and the United Arab Emirates, “will remain Iranian forever.” | Al Arabiya

Iranian activist Zhila Bani-Yaghoub heads to Evin prison to serve one-year sentence. The award-winning journalist and women's rights activist was sentenced on charges of "spreading propaganda against the regime" and "insulting president" because of the articles she wrote during the campaign period at the time of Iran's 2009 presidential elections. | Guardian


The tightening of U.S. banking sanctions against Iran is increasingly hitting vulnerable medical patients. According to medical experts, deliveries of medicine and raw materials for Iranian pharmaceutical companies are either stopped or delayed, affecting cancer patients and those treated for complex disorders or organ transplants in particular. | Washington Post

According to unnamed U.S. officials, Iran is shipping military equipment to Syria via Iraq. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham expressed these concerns to Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during their visit to Baghdad. Tehran denies the claims, insisting all items transported through Iraq are humanitarian goods. | New York Times; Ahram Online


The leader of Hezbollah said on Monday that Iran could strike US bases in the region if Israel attacks—even if American forces played no role in the attack. Speaking with the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen television station, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah added that he does not expect an Israeli strike in the coming months. | Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that military action against Iran’s nuclear program could be averted if the international community sets a clear “red line” it will not permit Iran to cross. Netanyahu’s comments came as the U.S. is reportedly considering making such a declaration to head off a possible Israeli strike on Iran. | Businessweek

Turkey has accused Syria and Iran of backing Kurdish terrorist attacks on military outposts in the south-east of the country that left 30 dead. Turkish newspapers last week reported claims that more than 100 Iranian agents were active in Turkey working on behalf of the PKK. | Telegraph


Iran is committed to a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei tells NAM summit. He added, however, that Iran “will never give up” its right to a peaceful use of nuclear energy. | Tehran Times

UN chief Ban Ki-moon criticizes Iran's policies in NAM summit speech. Without naming Iran directly, Ban said in his speech that he “strongly reject(s) threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust.” | Reuters


The IAEA has set up a specialized Iran Task Force to handle its inspections and investigation of the Islamic state's disputed atomic activities, an internal document showed. | Reuters

Iran's opposition has urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to visit political prisoners and press the regime over its human rights record during a controversial trip to Tehran for the NAM summit this week. | Guardian

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to meet Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Tehran on Wednesday on a visit hailed by the Islamic republic as a diplomatic coup over the United States and Israel. | AFP


Iran opened the Non-Aligned summit with calls for a nuclear arms ban. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the weeklong gathering in Tehran by noting the group’s previous commitment to remove the world’s nuclear arsenals within thirteen years. | Washington Post

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Fereydoun Abbasi Davani: The International Atomic Energy Agency must provide a proper argument for why it is seeking to inspect certain sites in Iran. The IAEA said that gaining access to the Parchin military site in southeastern Tehran, where it claims explosives tests relevant for the development of nuclear bombs might have taken place, is a priority for the United Nations nuclear watchdog. | Tehran Times


Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, will join officials from 120 countries in Tehran next week for the summit of the Nonaligned Movement. Mr. Ban’s decision to participate has been interpreted as a setback to U.S. and Israeli efforts to isolate Iran. | New York Times

The U.S. Department of Treasury granted NGOs a temporary permit to help Iranian earthquake victims. The permit will allow NGOs to transfer funds of up to $300,000 to Iran for humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts, but any additional funding will require applying for a specific license. | Huffington Post


As the IAEA tries again to access a suspected Iranian nuclear site, diplomats say the evidence of nuclear weapons-related experiments is nearly gone. Iran has denied experts of the IAEA permission to visit the Parchin site despite multiple requests from the agency this year. The agency said a new meeting with Iranian officials was planned for Friday “to resolve issues relating to Iran’s nuclear program.” | Washington Post

Asia's imports of Iran crude are set to return to pre-EU ban levels. Top Asian buyers China, India, Japan, and South Korea together take more than half of Iran's crude oil exports . These countrieshave worked around the European Union embargo, and crude imports from Iran are set to recover in September to levels reached before July 1. | Reuters

Iran looks to Armenia to skirt bank sanctions. Western diplomats and intelligence reports allege that the Iran is seeking to expand its banking foothold in Armenia to make up for its increasing international isolation. Armenian officials have denied illicit banking links to Iran. | Reuters


Iran unveils upgraded short-range missile and plans for new air defense site. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi attended the unveiling ceremony, in what appeared to be a move to show the world that Iran is prepared for an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. | Reuters 

Iran’s military is at the highest level of alert and will respond to any attack by Israel with a “crushing response.” The Iranian FARS News Agency reports that Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi dismissed Israeli war rhetoric against the Islamic Republic as “worthless,” saying the Israeli regime makes such assertions out of fear. | FARS News Agency

Iran and Egypt are moving toward restoring diplomatic relations. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in comments reported in Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that Tehran was keen on establishing relations of “friendship and brotherhood” with Cairo. | AFP


Universities in Iran put limits on women's options. According to the Iranian news website Rooz Online, 36 universities in Iran have banned women from 77 fields of study, including engineering, pure chemistry, natural resources, and mathematics. | New York Times

Egypt’s president Morsi is scheduled to visit Iran later this month, the first such trip for an Egyptian leader since relations with Tehran deteriorated decades ago. The visit could mark a thaw between the two countries after years of enmity, and it could signal Egypt’s increasingly important political role in the region. | AP


Iran is now open to earthquake aid from abroad, officials said in a statement that represents a shift from earlier in the week, when the Iranian Red Crescent turned away a rescue team from Turkey that had arrived without advance coordination. | Los Angeles Times

Europeans remain skeptical of Israeli war talk. Leading European newspapers have leaned toward the view that the threat of an imminent conflict with Iran is “scarcely credible” and that Israel is only trying to increase pressure on the Obama administration ahead of November’s U.S. presidential election. | New York Times

Iran says Syria's OIC suspension is "unfair." Iran’s foreign minister Salehi deplored the fact that Syria was not invited to the Mecca summit, and objected to the OIC’s decision because it “is against the very charter of the organization.” The United States, on the other hand, commended Muslim states for suspending Syria's membership in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. | Ahram


In the aftermath of the earthquakes, Iranians use Facebook to mobilize support. Journalists, the majority of them based in Iran, initiated a Facebook group to gather and spread reliable news and information related to the disaster. | Radio Free Europe

According to the Pentagon, Iran is training pro-regime militias in Syria. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta accused Iran of training pro-Assad militias in Syria in an increased effort to prop up the embattled Syrian president. | CNN

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose former security chief Avraham Dichter as his new civil defense minister amid heightened public debate over a possible strike on Iran. Dichter has said in the past that he would prefer Israel not stand alone in any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. | Reuters


Earthquake recovery began in Iran while official sources continue to downplay earthquake devastation. While the Iranian government claims that 306 people died as a result of the earthquakes on Saturday, Aftab News, a website close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, reports that the actual death poll might be much higher. | PBS

Israeli media speculation over an Iran strike reaches fever pitch. In the past few days, the Israeli public has been hit by a series of speculative articles in major Israeli newspapers suggesting a military strike against Iran’s nuclear sites is unavoidable and now a matter of weeks rather than months. | Guardian

Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismisses “hollow, baseless” threats of Israeli attack. According to Agence France-Presse, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramim Mehmanparast dismissed discussions of a possible Israeli attack as "hollow and baseless." | Jerusalem Post


Tehran criticized for response to disaster. While Iranian officials announced that all rescue operations had finished, members of parliament as well as residents of the affected regions have criticized the government for not responding effectively to the crisis. | Guardian

Iran's Ahmadinejad urges Muslim unity ahead of Syria meeting. Speaking to reporters before he departed for Mecca to meet with leaders of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation states, Ahmadinejad said the emergency meeting would be a chance for Iran to express its opinions and “for efforts to be made towards the convergence and protection of the interests of Muslim nations,” according to the Iranian Students' News Agency. | Reuters

President Obama signed stiffer Iran sanctions on Friday. The bipartisan sanctions aim to pressure Iran into abandoning its alleged nuclear weapons program by significantly tightening sanctions against the country's energy, shipping and insurance sectors. | The Hill


Iran initiates international conference on Syria in Tehran. According to Iranian state media, twenty-nine nations were present at the meeting, including the foreign ministers of Iraq and Pakistan and lower-ranking diplomats from Russia and Algeria. Foreign minister Salehi called for a "national dialogue” between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government and stated that Iran opposed any foreign interference or military intervention. | FRANCE 24

Egypt's president holds talks with Iran's vice president. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met with Iran's vice president in Cairo on Wednesday for a largely symbolic meeting that represents the highest-level official contact between the two nations in decades. | Los Angeles Times


Iran pledges support as Syria battles rebels. Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who met with President Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, vowed that Iran would continue to back the Syrian government, stating that the Syrian conflict was “not an internal issue.” | Al Jazeera

Turkey issues "frank, friendly" warning to Iran. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu warned Iran against blaming Ankara for violence in Syria after meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday. He reacted to comments this week by Iran's top general Hassan Firouzabadi, in which he accused Ankara of helping the "war-raging goals of America." | Reuters

Retired Revolutionary Guards Among Kidnapped in Syria. Iran's foreign minister stated that some of the 48 Iranians kidnapped by Syrian rebels are retired members of the Revolutionary Guards and the army and were in Damascus on a religious pilgrimage. Iran denies accusations by Syrian rebels that the Iranians have a current military connection. | Voice of America


Iran launches diplomatic offensive to free Iranian hostages in Syria. Saeed Jalili, Iran's security chief, is in Damascus for talks with President al-Assad, and Iran's foreign minister is in contact with Turkey and Qatar to ask for their cooperation in securing the release of the 48 hostages kidnapped by Syrian rebels last weekend. | Los Angeles Times

Iran's foreign minister to visit Turkey for previously unscheduled Syria talks. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has confirmed the Tuesday visit, which according to Iranian diplomats will focus on Syria, the situation of the pilgrims kidnapped in Damascus, as well as bilateral issues. | Reuters

Standard Chartered shares trade sharply lower following U.S. allegations of money laundering for Iran. The U.K. bank saw around $12.5 billion wiped off its market value on Tuesday after the New York state regulator alleged that the bank schemed with the Iranian government to launder $250 billion from 2001 to 2007, leaving the U.S. financial system “vulnerable to terrorists.” | Washington Post


Iranian state television aired what it described as confessions of individuals accused of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, saying they worked as Israeli agents to sabotage the country's nuclear program. | Reuters

Iran's currency plunged five percent on Monday in trading after the central bank announced its decision to revise upwards its official fixed exchange rate used as a market reference. | AFP

Iran plans to host its own regional summit on Syria violence. The official IRNA news agency reports that Iran will invite countries with 'realistic stances' on Syria in order to find 'ways out of current crisis,' although the report did not state which countries were invited to the meeting. | Haaretz


U.S.-led sanctions are costing Iran $133 million a day. Exports have dropped 52% since July 1. | Bloomberg

Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi announced that confessions of the assassins of Iranian nuclear scientists will be broadcast on state TV. | Tehran Times


President Obama announced new sanctions on banks that help Iran sell oil. | Reuters

Federal Magistrate Judge Frank Maas ruled that al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iran and Hezbollah should pay $6 billion in damages to the families of victims killed on September 11, 2001. | CNN


Congress reached agreement on increased sanctions for Iran. The new bill would impose sanctions on anyone who mines uranium with Iran; sells, leases or provides oil tankers to Tehran; or provides insurance to the National Iranian Tanker Co., the state-run shipping line. | Fox News

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran should stop exporting crude oil and focus on refined products. "We must stop the exports of crude oil," he said. "We must go in such a direction that we do not export crude oil, and this is doable through the development of refineries and distribution." | Reuters


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran should wean itself off oil sales. "Crude sales are a trap which we inherited from the years before the Revolution," Khamenei said. "Unfortunately, the country has been stuck and efforts must be made so that the people of Iran are freed from that trap.” | Reuters


Children's rights activist and blogger Mohamad Hassan Yousef Pourseif was sentenced to over five years in prison for charges including assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security; membership in Human Rights Activists in Iran; assistance to political prisoners and facilitating their “illegal” exit from Iran; and raising “illegitimate” funds for the families of jailed dissidents.| Enduring America

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said he believed Iran was behind the bus bombing in Bulgaria. He said: “I believe there were certainly elements of Hezbollah [involved] and I believe it was under the direction of their masters in Iran.” | Hill

Iran’s vice president for international affairs Ali Saeedlou said Iran is ready to share “experience and capabilities” with the Assad regime in Syria. | New York Daily News


A delegation of Syrian ministers and officials arrived in Tehran to meet Iranian officials. | Fars

The United States State Department said the UnitedNation's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) did not violate UN sanctions when it sent technical equipment to Iran. |Reuters


Israeli President Shimon Peres says Iran is in an “open war” with Israel. Peres blamed Iran for last week’s bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis. Iran called the allegations “baseless.” | CNN; Fars News

Revolutionary Guards commander said any foreign powers intervening in Syria would suffer "decisive blows", specifically referring to Arab countries
. "Not yet one of Syria's friends and the large resistance front has entered this arena, and if this were to happen, decisive blows would be struck against the enemy's front and specifically against the hated Arabs," said Masoud Jazayeri. | Reuters


Alireza Tangsiri, a deputy naval commander in the Revolutionary Guards, has downplayed the Iranian threat to block the Strait of Hormuz: "The enemies constantly state that the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to close the Strait of Hormuz but we say that common sense does not dictate that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz as long as it makes use of it," he said. | Reuters

Protests broke out in northeastern Iran over rising food prices.
Prices are up between 18 percent and 100 percent, with an average increase of over 40 percent. | Enduring America


Iran offered to insure international ships that enter its waters, said Seyyed Ataollah Sadr, the managing director of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization. |Reuters

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani said 20% of Iran’s economic problems are due to sanctions. | Enduring America


Iran criticized a U.S. navy ship that shot at an approaching Indian fishing boat off the United Arab Emirates, saying the incident showed foreign forces threatening regional security. | New York Times; Reuters

Secretary Clinton said the United States and Israel were “on the same page” in their stance on Iran. Clinton said the United States would “use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” She called Iran’s recent proposals at nuclear talks “non-starters.” | CNN; Reuters

Iran shut down 87 coffee shops in a crackdown on immoral and un-Islamic behavior. | Reuters

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran is ready to host negotiations between the Syrian government and the country’s opposition. He added that Iran supports Kofi Annan’s plan but that “the Syrian issue should be resolved through a Syrian-Syrian solution, and nothing, no rule, and no government, should be imposed (on Syria) from outside.” | Tehran Times


The United States is seeking to tighten sanctions on Iran by designating the National Iranian Tanker Company, 58 of its vessels and 27 of its affiliates as government-controlled entities, countering Iran's attempts to use renamed vessels to evade sanctions. | Reuters

Turkey is struggling to import Iranian oil in July because of sanctions on ship insurance, trading and shipping sources told Reuters. | Reuters


Abdollah Nouri, a former Iranian interior minister and opposition figure, called for a national referendum on Iran’s nuclear program, saying the government must make a rational decision to exit a “dead end.” | Bloomberg; RFERL

Iran is opening a public debate over its approach toward Syria's crisis, with some diplomats publicly questioning whether Tehran should continue supporting Syria's regime. | WSJ

Kofi Annan said Iran and Iraq supported a plan for a political transition in Damascus led by Syria and that they would use their influence to try to push all parties in that direction. | Chicago Tribune; VOA


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei dismissed the recent European Union embargo imposed on Iran on July 1, saying Iran was “100 times stronger compared with 30 years ago.” | Reuters

Iran’s government postponed the second phase of energy and food subsidy cuts until the next Iranian year that starts March 21, 2013, Shargh News reported, citing Saeed Arbabi, a member of the parliament’s economic committee. | Enduring America; Bloomberg

Iranian oil output fell to its lowest level in more than 20 years last month as U.S. and European sanctions closed off Iran’s export markets, a monthly report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries showed. Iraq’s crude production overtook Iran’s in June for the first time in more than two decades. | Wall Street Journal; Bloomberg


Kofi Annan said Iran must be “part of the solution” to Syria. He said he "received encouragement and cooperation" from the Iranian government but did not offer specifics. | Fox News

India gave state-run insurers approval to provide limited cover to its ships transporting Iran's oil. | Reuters


German police are investigating a claim of sex abuse by an Iranian diplomat. Iran said the diplomat is the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by an Iranian opposition group and the German newspaper Bild. | Fox News; Boston Globe

Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said China agreed to invest $20 billion in developing oil fields which will produce 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day. | PressTV

The Swiss government will not match EU sanctions on Iran. Not an EU member and traditionally neutral, Switzerland has no legal obligation to follow EU sanctions. Switzerland exempted Iran’s central bank from its asset freeze last year. | Reuters


Iran threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes of being attacked. Commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division Amir Ali Haji Zadeh said that 35 US bases “are all in range of our missiles, and the occupied lands (Israel) are also good targets for us." | Reuters; Fars News

Iran's daily oil exports in July could fall below half the average shipped in 2011. Under U.S. and EU sanctions, exports will fall to a maximum of 1.1 million barrels per day, which translates to a loss of $3.4 billion in government revenue. | Reuters


Iran dismissed a European Union oil embargo which took effect on Sunday. Central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani called the sanctions “malicious” and said Iran can counter the impact of sanctions with $150 billion stored in foreign reserves. | Reuters; Business Day

Iran said it successfully tested medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel in response to threats of military action against the country. The United States moved military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter any Iranian attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz. | Reuters; New York Times

Expert-level talks began in Istanbul between Iranian scientists and their Western counterparts over Iran’s nuclear program. | Guardian


Iran dismissed a European Union oil embargo which took effect on Sunday. Central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani called the sanctions “malicious” and said Iran can counter the impact of sanctions with $150 billion stored in foreign reserves. | Reuters; Business Day


Revolutionary Guards commander Ali Fadavi said Iran expects to equip ships in the Straight of Hormuz soon with shorter-range missiles. Iran has threatened to shut the Strait if Western sanctions block its exports. | Reuters

China and Singapore earned exemptions from US financial sanctions because they “significantly reduced” their purchases of Iranian oil. 20 countries now have exemptions. | Bloomberg

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran will not tolerate opposition groups meeting in foreign countries. In an interview he said that “The diplomatic apparatus will deal with counter-revolutionary meetings being held in certain Western countries.” | Tehran Times


Britain condemned Iranian vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimi’s anti-Semitic remarks at a UN drugs control conference. British foreign minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said: "We condemn utterly the baseless comments from Iran's vice president Rahimi about the Talmud and the Jewish faith." | Guardian

Iran's attempts to secure wheat via sanction-beating barter deals with India and Pakistan are deadlocked and Tehran is poised to pay premium prices on international markets. Trade sources said talks over a 1 million metric ton wheat barter deal are stalled over issues including uncompetitive pricing. | Reuters


Iran urged the EU to reconsider an embargo on Iranian oil, saying it wanted engagement and not confrontation with the bloc. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called the sanctions “on the wrong track.” | Reuters; Bloomberg

Iran’s Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi delivered a highly anti-Semitic speech at an international drug conference in Tehran, saying that the Talmud teaches to “destroy everyone who opposes the Jews” and that “the Zionists play a key role in the production and distribution of narcotics across the globe.” | New York Times; Press TV


Iran urged the EU to reconsider an embargo on Iranian oil, saying it wanted engagement and not confrontation with the bloc. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called the sanctions “on the wrong track.” | Reuters; Bloomberg

United Nations envoy Kofi Annan proposed inviting Iran to a multinational meeting to discuss Syria, but will allow United States and Russia to decide whether Iran can participate. Annan has previously said that Iran “should be part of the solution” to the Syria crisis. | Boston Globe; Tehran Times

Israeli President Shimon Peres urged visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program. Peres asked Putin to “raise your voice against a nuclear Iran.” Putin said their talks covered Iran and Syria but added that negotiations are the only solution. | Fox News; MSNBC


President-elect Mohamed Morsi said in an interview with Iran's Fars News Agency published on Monday that he wanted to expand ties with Tehran to create a strategic "balance" in the region. | al Masry al Youm

Egyptian President-elect Mohammed Mursi said that renewed relations with Tehran would create “strategic balance in the region.” Both countries have expressed interest in improved relations. | Fars News; Reuters


India’s oil ministry is speeding up efforts to insure tankers carrying Iranian crude a week before the onset of EU sanctions. Oil Secretary G.C. Chaturvedi asked the shipping ministry to allow Iranian ships to bring crude to India, which would effectively free refiners from arranging insurance. Turkey cut imports of Iranian crude by 20%. | Wall Street Journal; Reuters

Iran's Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said the US, Israel and Britain planned a “massive cyber attack” on Iran. He said Iran took “necessary measures” to defeat the virus. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Reza Taqipour said Iran complained to relevant international organizations about cyber attacks. | Reuters; Tehran Times


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said China is moving to cut Iranian oil imports in order to win an exemption from U.S. sanctions. Eight countries have already received exemptions and Clinton said China is “also moving in that direction.” | Reuters

Iranian officials accused the West of “enmity” and “bullying” policies toward Iran. President Mahmoud Amadinejad declared that Iran offered “legal, constructive, fair and friendly proposals” during the Moscow nuclear talks. | Washington Post

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) published a satellite picture that it says shows further “sanitization” activity at the Parchin military site. Iran refuses to grant the IAEA access to the facility. | Reuters


EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the differences between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program were so significant that negotiators did not commit to another high-level meeting. Instead, technical experts from both sides will meet next month. | New York Times; Los Angeles Times; Tehran Times

The United States and Israel developed a computer virus nicknamed Flame to collect intelligence to slow Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. Flame is the most complex computer spying program ever developed. | Washington Post; Reuters

China and Japan, two of Iran’s biggest Asian oil consumers, will continue to import oil despite an EU ban on insuring tankers carrying Iranian oil. Japan will provide its own insurance to tankers, while China is asking Iran to take on the risk. | Reuters


Iran and world powers blamed each other for lack of progress in nuclear talks. A spokesman for the EU called negotiations “intense and tough.” | Reuters; New York Times

India's Bharat Petroleum Corp bought Iranian oil in rupees, becoming the first refiner to use a payment channel that avoids Western sanctions. India is Iran's second-largest oil buyer. | Reuters

Seyed Mohammad Karimi, president of Central Insurance of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said that insurers will offer coverage to tankers passing through Iranian waters. “When international insurance companies began refusing to insure ships carrying Iran's oil, domestic companies formed a consortium to fill that void," Karimi said. | Fars


World powers began two days of talks in Moscow over Iran’s uranium enrichment program. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would stop enriching uranium at a high level if the powers agreed to meet its needs for the fuel. Experts and diplomats said a breakthrough was unlikely. | Reuters

China’s biggest oil refiner raised monthly crude imports from Iran to 2011 levels. The largest buyer of Iranian crude, China faces US sanctions for continuing to import Iranian oil. | Bloomberg

Iran arrested 20 suspects in investigations surrounding the death two Iranian nuclear experts. Tehran has accused Israel of plotting the assassinations. | Bloomberg; Reuters


Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghazemi declared that the oil embargo “will not have any negative impact on Iran” and that Iran’s exports “remain as before.” He warned the US and the EU that sanctions will cause market volatility and increasing prices. | Bloomberg

Japan’s lower house passed a bill to provide coverage of up to $7.6 billion for Iranian tankers carrying oil to Japan. Japan received a waiver for US financial sanctions and is the first of Iran’s big Asian oil buyers to get around EU sanctions. | Reuters

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said Iran is "very serious and prepared" to hold talks with world powers, calling the meeting “an opportunity to reach agreement.” Speaker Ali Larijani said Iran’s negotiators should not show “leniency” in the talks. | Fars; Tehran Times


Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said Iran would not compromise on its right to enrich uranium. His statement cast doubt on whether the country could reach a deal during talks with international powers in Moscow this month. Iran reiterated its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation act and the IAEA. | Wall Street Journal; Fars


The Obama administration announced that seven countries-India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan-would be exempted from sanctions against Iran. China, Iran’s largest customer, did not receive a sanction. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin defended China’s continued imports, saying the transactions were “completely legal and fair.” | Tehran Times; New York Times; Tehran Times

Hillary Clinton said world powers will outline a “very clear path” for Iran to resolve disputes over its nuclear program at talks in Moscow next week. Clinton said the threat posed by Iran "is real" and it was clear "we are dealing with a regime which has hegemonic ambitions." | Times of India


OPEC’s monthly report says that Iran’s oil production has fallen to 3.138 million barrels a day from 3.706 mbpd in 2010 and decreased by 72,000 barrels since April. Iran has denied the drop, announcing that it produced 3.760 mbpd in May. | Trend

The deputy commander of the Iranian Navy Admiral Abbas Zamini announced plans to build nuclear submarines. | Tehran Times


Iran’s oil output has sunk to its lowest in 20 years due to Western sanctions. Production is down more than a quarter and Tehran has lost more than $10 billion in oil revenue. India, the world’s fourth-largest importer of oil, will halt imports of 173,000 barrels a day when EU sanctions take effect in July. | Reuters; Reuters

Iran’s military is denying UN claims that it demolished buildings at the Parchin military base to cover up nuclear testing. Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said the allegations were “irrelevant and unwise.” | Washington Post

Talks on Iran's nuclear program ended with "no progress,” according to the IAEA. Iran's Supreme National Security Council Undersecretary Ali Baqeri blamed world powers for the slow pace of the talks, citing a lack of preparation. | BBC; Fars


Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency began a new round of talks aimed at securing access to suspected atomic weapon research sites. | Reuters; New York Times

During a bilateral meeting during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed to pursue the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. President Ahmadinejad also said that Tehran is ready to barter its gas and electricity for Pakistani goods. | Tehran Times

France will host a third “Friends of Syria” meeting on July 6 but said it would not include Iran in attempts to resolve the worsening crisis. UK Foreign Office minister Alastair Burt said that international attempts to end the violence in Syria would be “unworkable” if they involved Iran. UN envoy Kofi Annan has proposed creating a contact group of countries, possibly including Iran, which could help resolve the crisis. | Reuters; UKPA


India cut oil imports from Iran by 38 percent in May from a year ago in a second month of steep reductionsas they switch suppliers to cushion the impact of new U.S. sanctions on Tehran. India imported 243,000 barrels per day last month. China and India are the two biggest consumers of Iranian crude oil. | Reuters

The United States will "very soon" announce a new list of countries that will receive waivers to sanctions on oil trade with Iran, a U.S. official said on Thursday. The latest round of U.S. sanctions come into effect on June 28. The U.S. can exempt countries from sanctions if they make significant reductions to crude imports, and granted a waiver to Japan and ten European countries in March. | Reuters

Iran threatened to delay further nuclear talks with the big powers, scheduled on June 18 and 19, because of what it called dithering by the other side in holding preliminary meetings. Western diplomats said they believed the Iranian requests were a deliberate attempt to slow the process. Secretary Clinton said that Iran should “come prepared to take concrete steps” when it discusses its nuclear program. | New York Times; ABC


Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s IAEA envoy, accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of spying and vowed never to suspend nuclear enrichment. | Business Week

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting Iranian President Ahmadinejad that Beijing opposes any Middle Eastern country seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and that the Iranian nuclear issue should be addressed through impartial diplomatic channels. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that further sanctions on Iran would be “counter-productive.” | AFP; France 24

Iran invited the European Union to bilateral talks prior to the meeting between Iran and the world powers scheduled for June 17 and 18 in Moscow. Ali Bagheri, the deputy to the Head of Iran’s Supreme Council of National Security, was quoted as saying: “The success of the Moscow meeting depends on paving the way with necessary preparations and developing a comprehensive and mutually accepted agenda.” | Enduring America; Radio Zamaneh


South Africa's elite Hawks police unit has opened an investigation into allegations of corruption at mobile phone giant MTN relating to its purchase of a cellular license in Iran. MTN Irancell also managed to obtain sophisticated U.S. computer equipment despite sanctions that prohibit sales of American technology to Iran, interviews and documents show. | Reuters; Ahram

Iran’s parliament re-elected Ali Larijani as house speaker. Larijani got 177 votes in favor of keeping the post for another year, while Gholam Ali Hadad Adel got 89 votes in the 290-seat assembly. | Washington Post


Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that any Israeli attack against Tehran would be answered with a “lightning” response. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed Iran's latest threats against Israel as “nothing new,” insisting she would judge Tehran by its actions at upcoming nuclear talks in Moscow. Clinton also said earlier that the major powers will know within a few weeks if Iran plans to take concrete action to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.| Washington Post; AFP; Reuters

International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano called on Iran to sign a deal giving greater transparency on its nuclear drive and announced that new talks with Tehran would be held this week. Amano also urged Tehran to allow access to the Parchin military site. | AFP

Brigadier-General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the United States not to resort to military action against it, saying U.S. bases in the region were vulnerable to Iran’s missiles. | Reuters


Numerous sources in European grain trading centers and the Middle East agreed that Iran is likely to offer the Syrian authorities a short-term food lifeline with vital grains purchases. | Reuters

Italy's oil company Eni, which has been receiving payments in oil from Iran for debts, is reworking the deal and is unlikely to import crude in July after European Union sanctions on Tehran take effect, market sources said. | Reuters

Iran's Government Trading Corporation (GTC) is expected to play a bigger role in sugar imports in coming months as the country tries to secure stocks. | Reuters

MAY 31

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that those responsible for last week’s massacre of more than 100 people in Syria should be punished. Ahmadinejad declined to say in an interview with the France 24 television station who he believed was behind the attack. | Washington Post

Iranian state TV said the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, visited three disputed islands in the Gulf that are held by Iran but claimed by the United Arab Emirates. | AP

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) published satellite images which it said increased concerns that Iran was trying to “destroy evidence” of suspected past research relevant for developing a nuclear weapons capability. ISIS said its images from May 25 show that two small side buildings at the Parchin military facility “have been completely razed.” | Reuters

MAY 30

According to a statement by deputy head of Iran's Quds force Ismail Gha’ani to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), with its “physical and non-physical presence” in Syria, Iran prevented “big massacres” in the country. | Al Arabiya; Huffington Post; Guardian

Japan's crude imports from Iran fell 65.5 percent in April from a year earlier. | Reuters

Iran's oil industry was briefly affected by the powerful computer virus known as “Flame” that has unprecedented data-snatching capabilities and can eavesdrop on computer users, Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads an Iranian military unit in charge of fighting sabotage, said. Iran's National Computer Emergency Response Team said in a statement that the detection and clean-up tool for “Flame” was finished in early May and is now ready for distribution. | AP; New York Times

MAY 29

Iran and world powers agreed to meet again on June 18 and 19 in Moscow to try to ease the long standoff over its nuclear work despite achieving scant progress at talks in Baghdad. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, leader of this week’s Friday prayers in Tehran, said that Iran will not give up its right to produce uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent. | Reuters; Tehran Times

Ali Larijani was re-elected speaker of the parliament, rebuffing a challenge from former Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel. In the vote, 173 legislators supported incumbent Larijani, defeating Adel who gained 100 votes. | Washington Post; Bloomberg; FT

A Russian-based digital security provider Kaspersky Lab reported that a powerful computer virus with unprecedented data-snatching capabilities has attacked machines in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. Iran has not disclosed any damage done by the new spyware virus, dubbed “Flame,” and its origin has not been identified. | AP; BBC

MAY 25

Iran and world powers agreed to meet again next month in Moscow to ease the standoff over Iran’s nuclear work despite little progress at Baghdad talks; Iran insists on right to enrich uranium and the lifting of economic sanctions before it shelves nuclear activities. | Reuters; Al Jazeera

UN nuclear inspectors in Iran found trace amounts of uranium enriched beyond the highest previously reported levels. | New York Times

The US will not ease sanctions on Iran before a third round of talks about Tehran's nuclear program and the EU will go ahead with sanctions against Iran beginning July 1 even though some “progress” was made in nuclear talks in Baghdad. | Reuters; Bloomberg

MAY 24

Diplomats from Iran and six world powers pressed on with nuclear negotiations Thursday, after a stalemate pushed talks in Baghdad into a second day; diplomats on both sides offered little insight as to why the talks were extended. | CNN; Reuters

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to show that Iran has installed more uranium enrichment centrifuges at its Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant - but that they are not yet being used to refine uranium. | Reuters

With most foreign combat troops set to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, Iran is using the media in the war-ravaged nation to gain influence as nearly a third of Afghanistan's media is backed by Iran, either financially or through providing content. | Reuters

MAY 23

Iran and six world powers have started talks in Baghdad aimed at defusing the long-running escalating crisis over Tehran's nuclear program where world powers will seek concessions from Iran over its higher grade uranium enrichment. | Al Jazeera; Reuters

Russia said that Iran appears ready to agree to specific steps to end a standoff over its nuclear program; meanwhile Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that any efforts by Western powers to put pressure on Iran at talks in Baghdad would be futile. | Reuters; Reuters

Iran’s national currency has recovered its value against the dollar in expectation that today's nuclear talks in Baghdad between the country's officials and the world's major powers could defuse tensions over a military strike on the regime's nuclear facilities. | Guardian

MAY 22

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says he will sign an agreement soon with Iran over its nuclear program, a sign that Iran may have agreed to broader inspections. | CNN; Reuters

Iran said it had delivered two batches of domestically made nuclear fuel to a research reactor in an attempt to trumpet nuclear advances before negotiations on Wednesday; if confirmed, Iran's ability to run the reactor with its own fuel could remove any basis for a deal under which Iran would send enriched uranium abroad in exchange for such fuel, reducing its stockpile of potential atom bomb material. | Reuters

The U.S. Senate approved new sanctions against Iran allowing President Obama to impose sanctions on any country or company that enters joint ventures with Iran to develop its oil or uranium resource, or provides technology or resources to help Iran with such development. | AFP

MAY 18

Iran summoned Bahrain's ambassador in Tehran after Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa told Iran to stop interfering in his nation's internal affairs, Iranian state media reported. Iranian state television also aired footage of thousands of people protesting against the proposed union between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.| AFP; Reuters

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation for new economic sanctions on Iran's oil sector, saying they needed more time to study the bill. Separately, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 401-11 to reject the idea of containment of Iran. | Reuters; Washington Post

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) published a report stating that Iran’s oil production fell by 12 percent in the first three months of the year and is likely to fall even more, according to industry experts. The OPEC report is at odds with the statistics provided by Iran’s Oil Ministry that register no significant change in output over the past year. | OPEC; New York Times

MAY 17

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said that Iran rejects Western pressure over its nuclear activities and will never give up its rights, stressing that he is seeking cooperation from world powers. Talks over Iran’s nuclear program are scheduled for Baghdad on May 23. Western diplomats reported that Iran is installing more centrifuges in an underground plant but does not yet appear to be using them to expand higher-grade uranium enrichment. | AFP; Washington Post; Reuters

An expert United Nations panel reported that Syria continues to be the main destination for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a UN Security Council ban on weapons exports by Iran. The confidential report, submitted to the UN Security Council's Iran sanctions committee, said the panel investigated three illegal shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year. | Al Jazeera; VOA; Reuters

Iran said it will sue Google over dropping the name of the Persian Gulf on Google Maps. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that if Google does not restore the name, the company will face “serious damages.” | AP

Iran’s parliament signed off on a $462 billion budget bill for the current Iranian year that is about 9 percent less than the budget approved in the previous calendar year, a consequence attributed to the new exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. | Washington Post

MAY 16

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that the two sides will meet again in Vienna on May 21 for another round of talks. | Reuters; Tehran Times

Iran criticized plans by Gulf Arab leaders to form a closer political, economic, and military union. Iran’s Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organizes state-backed protests, urged Iranians to protest against what it described as a U.S. plan to annex Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Bahrain’s foreign ministry denounced Iran’s interference in the country’s domestic affairs. | Reuters; AFP; Gulf News

Iran’s oil exports have the potential to fall another 300,000 to 500,000 barrels a day or more when the European Union’s embargo takes effect in July, according to Barclays Plc. | Bloomberg

MAY 15

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said that the nuclear talks in Vienna have been “very constructive” as Iran and the IAEA begin the second day of negotiations. Some Western diplomats, however, expressed doubt that inspectors would gain access to the Parchin military site. | VOA; Reuters

India said it would cut purchases of Iranian oil by 11 percent following pressure from the United States. | AFP; Reuters

Iran hanged Majid Jamali Fashi, who was convicted of killing one of Iran’s nuclear scientists, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, in 2010, Iranian state media reported. Fashi was reportedly an agent for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. | Reuters; New York Times

MAY 14

IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts urged Iran to allow access to sites, people and documents the International Atomic Energy Agency seeks in its probe of suspicions that Tehran conducted secret research into nuclear weapons development. The IAEA is expected to push Iran for access to the Parchin military site during the current talks in Vienna. | AP; Reuters; Bloomberg; Washington Post

Safa Nicu Sepahan Co., a privately owned Iranian company, reached an agreement with Syria’s government to renovate two hydroelectric power stations in northern Syria, the state-run Press TV reported. | Bloomberg

Enduring America reported that Iran’s former president Hashemi Rafsanjani said that “monopolism is the main problem of domestic political activity.” He called for more space for youth and women in the system. Former president Mohammed Khatami and reformist groups like the Assembly of Combatant Clerics have reportedly welcomed the proposals. | Enduring America

Two Turkish journalists who went missing while reporting on the uprising in Syria two months ago were released on May 12 with Iran's help, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. | Reuters

MAY 11

Enduring America reported that Iran’s parliament finally approved the government's 2012/13 budget with a 128-40 vote and 21 abstentions. The approval was only in principle, without a defined level of expenditure. More than one-third of the 290 MPs were absent from the vote. | Enduring America

Tension between Iran and the West is likely to keep oil prices high despite a dramatic improvement in world supply and a big build in stocks, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported. Iran’s energy outlook remain unclear; Iran’s crude output was unchanged at 3.3 mbd in April, but tracking Iranian exports has become increasingly difficult following reports that the National Iranian Tanker Company had ordered its vessels to shut-off their communication beacons. | Reuters; AFP

MAY 10

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised the country's subsidy reform plan and described it as the start of a major economic development in Iran. | Fars

The National Iranian Oil Co. found “vast” crude oil reserves in the Caspian Sea, the state-run Mehr news agency reported. | Bloomberg


The head of Iran’s Exporters of Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products' Syndicate, Hassan Khosrojerdi, said that the syndicate would assume the task of exporting 20 percent of the country's oil exports to new markets. | Fars

Iran’s Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei said that 12 more defendants in the $2.6 billion bank fraud case have been charged. | Enduring America

Britain is trying to persuade European Union countries to postpone by up to six months a ban on providing insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil, arguing that the ban could lead to a damaging spike in oil prices, European diplomats said. | Reuters


Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Reza Taghipour, sent a letter to the head of the Central Bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, asking him to instruct banks to refrain from sending bank statements to e-mail addresses administered by foreign providers, including Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail and MSN. | RFERL

A South Korean International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official believed to be part of a nuclear inspection team working in Iran was killed in a car accident while traveling near the Arak heavy water plant, Iranian media reported. IRNA identified the victim as Seo Ok-Seok. The semiofficial news agency ISNA reported that another inspector from Slovakia was injured in the crash and taken to a hospital. | Reuters; Washington Post

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was working with India to find alternative crude supplies and praised India's refiners for their cuts in crude imports from Iran. Indian officials said that India plans to cut annual oil imports from Iran by 20 percent. | Bloomberg; Reuters; AFP

Iran is accepting yuan for some of the crude oil it supplies to China, industry executives in Beijing and Kuwait and Dubai-based bankers said, and spending the currency on goods and services imported from China. | Financial Times; Reuters


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s support dissolved as runoff election results showed conservative rivals consolidating their hold in Iran's parliament. BBC reported that Ahmadinejad's supporters won only 13 of the 65 seats in the runoff election, while the Financial Times reported that the picture remains unclear as many supporters hid their affiliation during the campaign to avoid vetting procedures. AFP published a detailed breakdown of the new parliament: the Unity Front–65 seats, Islamic Constancy Front–25, joint Unity and Constancy Front–61, other conservatives–15, reformists–21, independents–98, and minorities–5. | AP; BBC; Financial Times; AFP

The Iranian parliament’s Integration committee rejected a plan by President Ahmadinejad’s government to implement its subsidies reform plan and further increase the prices of subsidized energy and food, the state-run Mehr news agency reported. | Bloomberg; National

Speaking in Calcutta, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India to do more to reduce its oil imports from Iran. | FT; Reuters; AFP


Iranians voted in a run-off election on May 4, with 130 candidates contesting 65 of 290 seats in the parliament. Loyalists of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are set for a victory over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supporters. Spokesman of Iran's Guardian Council Abbas Ali Kadkhodayee said that the final results of the elections will be announced on May 11 after the approval of the council, although preliminary election results will be publicized Saturday night. | Reuters; Fars; BBC

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged China to play a responsible role in helping to deal with challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program and to support a U.S. call for countries to cut back on imports of Iranian oil. | Washington Post; RFERL


Ali Baqeri, deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and the country’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, held talks with Chinese and Russian officials ahead of the next round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program. | Tehran Times; Fars

Iran plans to send the Fajr (Dawn) satellite into space within a month, Director of the Iran Space Agency Hamid Fazeli announced. | Tehran Times

Europe’s oil embargo on Iran is having unforeseen consequences in the shipping market, making it almost impossible to determine if vessels are using fuel that violates the sanctions. Oil supplies from Iran are a “vital blending component” to make ship fuel, known as bunkers, according to Barclays Capital. | Bloomberg


In a recently released analysis of press restrictions by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Iran ranked fourth on a list of the world's most censored countries. | CPJ

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an order giving the U.S. Treasury Department more power to go after individuals and groups who attempt to evade sanctions against Iran and Syria. | Reuters

Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. and Essar Oil Ltd., India's top two importers of crude oil from Iran, will reduce shipments by at least 15 percent this financial year, after India’s government asked the companies to reduce imports. | Wall Street Journal


One third of the members of the People’s Assembly have expressed their opposition to People’s Assembly Speaker Mohamed Saad al-Katatny’s decision to suspend parliamentary sessions until Sunday, with some MPs alleging that Katatny’s proposal did not receive the required number of votes. | Al-Ahram

Egyptian security services arrested three Iranians planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Cairo, according to a quote from Sami Jamal, a legal advisor to Saudi Arabia’s embassy, in al-Hayat. The arrests were made three months ago, but the Saudi government chose not to make the incident public, Jamal said. | Gulf News; al Arabiya

Indian state-run insurers agreed to give limited coverage to local ships for carrying Iranian oil, Sunil Thapar of Shipping Corp of India said. | Reuters


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the chances “appear low” that the Iranian government would bow to international pressure and halt its nuclear program. | New York Times; Reuters

Deputy Oil Minister Hamdollah Mohammadnejad announced that the recent cyberattack against Iran’s Oil Ministry did not result in the hackers gaining access to the ministry's confidential data. | Fars

The U.S. State Department called for the release of more than 90 journalists in Iranian prisons, specifically noting the case of Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, who has been held in Evin prison since July 2007. | U.S. State Department; Enduring America


Iranian companies could develop phase 11 of the South Pars gas field, Musa Souri, general manager of the Pars oil and gas company said, if the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) does not meet Iran's ultimatum to move ahead with the project in the next 30 days. CNPC was given a month's deadline by Iranian Oil minister Rostam Ghasemi to make a serious start on the project after 32 months of delay. | Reuters

China, Japan and South Korea significantly cut imports of Iranian crude in the first quarter of 2012 after the United States and the European Union moved to tighten sanctions against Iran, turning to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for oil exports. The senior vice president of Japan's top refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, Tsutomu Sugimori, said that JX will not be able to continue importing oil from Iran as sanctions make it tough to pay for, ship and insure the oil. | WSJ; Reuters; Reuters; Reuters

Iranian political factions started campaigning for the second round of legislative elections, with 135 candidates vying for the remaining 65 parliamentary seats not decided in the first round of elections. Iran is due to hold a run-off election on May 4 for the 65 remaining seats. | Fars

Iranian Culture Minister Seyed Mohammad Hosseini announced that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states approved Iran as the host of the first-ever International Quds Day Summit in 2013. | Fars


In an interview with Haaretz newspaper, Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz said that he does not think Iran will develop nuclear weapons or that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the final decision yet regarding whether to build a nuclear weapon. | BBC; Haaretz; Reuters; AP

Reporters Without Borders stated that Iran arrested Narges Mohammadi, a close associate of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and former spokeswoman for Ebadi’s now-banned Center for Human Rights Defenders. Mohammadi was reportedly brought to Tehran’s Evin prison to begin serving a six-year sentence following a conviction in 2010 for anti-government crimes. | Washington Post

Iran's Mehr news agency said four troops from Iran's Revolutionary Guards were killed in clashes with Kurdish rebels in western Iran. Eight others were wounded. | Fox News; Trend


Hamdolah Mohammadnejad, a deputy oil minister heading up a crisis committee to counter what officials described as a “cyber attack,” told the official IRNA news agency that the data-deleting virus caused no lasting damage and that the system should be back up in 2-3 days. | AFP; Reuters; CBS News

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned that new U.S. sanctions targeting its access to surveillance technology were “negative” and could adversely affect talks next month in Baghdad. | AFP

A new draft law, which was discussed in the Committee of Municipalities and Internal Policy, proposes the establishment of a new province with Abu Moussa, one of the three islands disputed with the UAE, as its capital and will be submitted to the parliament, said committee member Wally Ismail. | al-Arabiya


Iran claimed to have extracted intelligence information from a U.S. drone aircraft that crashed in Iran in December 2011. The air force commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, suggested that Iran had or would soon reverse-engineer the aircraft, though American intelligence officials and experts have discounted the country’s ability to do so. | New York Times; CNN; VOA

Iran’s Oil Ministry’s computer network came under attack from hackers and a computer virus, prompting the country to disconnect the main oil export terminal from the Internet as a preventative measure, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported. The cyberattack reportedly affected some data, but the ministry said oil operations were otherwise unaffected. | Washington Post

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order, enacting sanctions and visa bans for companies and individuals providing goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to help disrupt, monitor, or track individuals through computer or Internet networks. | Telegraph; Chicago Tribune; Washington Post


Iranian General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, leader of Iran’s ground forces, threatened military action to preserve Tehran’s control over three islands also claimed by the United Arab Emirates. | Financial Times

European Union member states may review the embargo on Iranian oil imports in the next two months, a senior EU official said. | al-Arabiya; Wall Street Journal; Reuters


Iran delivered a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on holding new discussions, but has not said definitively whether the IAEA will be granted access to the Parchin military site. | Chicago Tribune

Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi threatened to stop crude oil exports to Europe if sanctions are not lifted during talks over its nuclear program next month. | FT

Japan’s government may insure tankers carrying Iranian oil, joining China and India in responding to European sanctions blocking private providers. The Japanese transport ministry held discussions with the Japan Shipowners’ Association about providing insurance. | Bloomberg


Iran’s state media announced that 15 people, including Iranians and unspecified foreigners, were arrested in connection with what the country’s Intelligence Ministry described as a “Zionist-regime-linked” plot to assassinate one of its “specialists.” Iran’s Intelligence Ministry also said that an Israeli spy base in a neighboring country was discovered. | New York Times; Press TV

The Iranian military announced that the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi, was appointed commander of the Crisis Management Center for Nuclear and Radiation Accidents. | New York Times; Jerusalem Post

The Swiss government extended its financial sanctions to include eight additional companies and three individuals but stopped short of freezing the assets of Iran's central bank and imposing an oil embargo. | Washington Post; Reuters


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed Iran's offer to resolve international concerns about its nuclear program if the West starts lifting sanctions, saying the “burden of action” is on Tehran to make the first move. | VOA

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed that it recently launched a “hack-proof communications network” for its high-level commanders. The details of the system remain unclear, though it may involve special relay towers and passcodes. | Huffington Post

Porsche, Hyundai, and Toyota have all recently pulled out of Iran. | Motor Authority


Western diplomats reported that while Iran did not make any concessions regarding its nuclear program at the talks in Istanbul, Iran also did not set tough conditions on continuing the talks. Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran is ready to resolve all nuclear issues in the next round of talks in Baghdad on May 23 if the West starts lifting sanctions. He also hinted that Iran could make concessions on its higher-grade uranium enrichment. | Reuters; Tehran Times; Financial Times; Bloomberg; Washington Post; CNN

The United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash summoned Iran's ambassador to Abu Dhabi to denounce a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa, a disputed island in the Gulf, the Emirates news agency (WAM) reported. Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned the Gulf Cooperation Council states that things could become “very complicated” if they do not act cautiously over the islands dispute. | Al Jazeera; Economic Times

Iran officially launched the $1-billion first phase of a project to pump water from the Caspian Sea to the desert city of Semnan, state media reported. The initial phase will see a desalination plant and pipes built over the next two years. | AFP; Bloomberg; Tehran Times


The Iranian government ordered the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) to switch off the black box transponders that are used in the shipping industry to monitor vessel movements, making it difficult to assess the destination and amount of Iranian oil exports, oil industry, trading and shipping sources said. | Reuters

Iran’s Minister of Higher Education and Science Kamran Daneshjoo warned that students with ties to the protest movement and the Green Movement will be barred from entering universities. | Enduring America; Green Voice of Freedom

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi published an op-ed in the Washington Post, in which he argued that the key issue between Iran and the United States is the lack of trust and called for a comprehensive, long-term dialogue. | Washington Post


The official IRNA news agency reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that “the Iranian nation is standing firm on its fundamental rights and under the harshest pressure will not retreat an iota from its undeniable right,” referring to Iran’s position ahead of the upcoming nuclear talks. | Telegraph

India has overtaken China as Iran’s top oil customer after a first quarter buying surge ahead of tighter sanctions against Tehran this summer, data compiled by Geneva's Petrologistics showed. However, Iran’s oil production may decline by as much as 950,000 barrels a day by the middle of 2012, the International Energy Agency said. | Reuters; Bloomberg

Japanese insurers are warning ship owners that they will only cover one tanker at a time carrying Iranian crude oil through the Persian Gulf due to tightening sanctions, industry sources said. Tehran Times reported that China Ocean Shipping Group Co. (COSCZ) said a government-backed insurer will cover oil shipments from Iran. | Reuters; Tehran Times


Speaking at a news conference with Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, UN special envoy Kofi Annan said that Iran, given its special relations with Syria, could help solve the crisis in Syria. | AP

Iran’s official Press TV said that Iran halted oil exports to Germany. This move comes a day after the country reportedly stopped crude exports to Spain and Greece. | Washington Post; Bloomberg

Reuters reported that documents show that China's ZTE Corp, a Chinese trading firm and a unit of the consortium that controls the Iranian telecom, Telecommunication Co. of Iran that recently sold Iran's largest telecommunications firm a powerful surveillance system, later agreed to ship to Iran millions of dollars worth of embargoed U.S. computer equipment. | Reuters


Official news agency IRNA reported that the Iran’s intelligence department dismantled an Israeli-linked assassination and sabotage network. The report said several “mercenaries” were arrested in different parts of the country and that large quantities of weaponry and telecommunications equipment were seized. | Washington Post; Al Arabiya

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran can manage its economy for two to three years even without crude exports as Tehran extended its oil embargo to Greece, the third European country after France and Britain to be hit by Iranian retaliatory action. | AP; Reuters; Fars News

Japanese trading houses are reducing Iranian crude imports from April, industry sources said, joining Japan’s refiners in deepening cuts to Iranian oil. Japan's trading houses and refiners will reduce Iranian crude imports by about 60,000 barrels per day in April, industry sources said. The reduction is the equivalent to about 18.5 percent of the 322,900 bpd that Japan imported in the first two months of the year, according to the latest government data available. | Reuters

President Ahmadinejad’s aide Saeed Mortazavi was reportedly summoned by Iran’s judiciary. It was also announced that the cases of Vice President Hamid Baghaei and Ahmadinejad's media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr “would be enforced.” Separately, Iran’s parliament reportedly passed a bill that allows it to impeach the President Ahmadinejad if he does not answer more than six questions satisfactorily. | Enduring America


Nuclear talks will resume on April 14 in Istanbul between Iran and Russia, China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Michael Mann said in a statement. Iran's Supreme National Security Council announced that the first round of talks will be in Istanbul, while the second round will be in Baghdad. The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi, was quoted as saying Iran was prepared to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity “just to meet its own needs” for a research reactor and not further. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would not agree to any pre-conditions ahead of the talks. | CNN; New York Times; Press TV; Tehran Times

Iran's parliament approved the general outline of the national budget bill for the current calendar year which began on March 21, 2012, Iran’s Press TV reported. The bill was passed by a special parliamentary committee with 20 votes in favor, five against and four abstentions. The bill was initially rejected by lawmakers on April 8, but after modifications to the bill, the earlier vote was nullified. | Press TV; Enduring America

The Tehran Prosecutor’s office announced that several government officials and MPs have been indicted in Iran’s recent $3 billion bank fraud. Iranian media sources reported that members of the Melli Bank and the Bank of Saderat management boards are also charged in the case. The charged government officials and MPs will not be named at this time in order to protect the national interest. | Enduring America; Radio Zamaneh


Washington said that it expects the next round of talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 to resume next week, but at the same time added that the details of the meeting have not finalized yet. | FARS

Iran's crude oil production could fall 1 million barrels per day by the end of June to below 2.5 million bpd, JPMorgan said in note to clients on Thursday, saying refiners have cut demand for oil from the Islamic Republic faster than previously expected. | Reuters

Companies that trade with Iran are struggling to get paid and the biggest Asian countries are scrambling to work around U.S. sanctions that aim to deprive Tehran of revenue needed to develop its nuclear program. | Reuters


Crucial nuclear talks due to take place next week between Iran and world powers have run into disagreement over the host city, with Tehran saying it no longer wants Istanbul as the venue, suggesting Baghdad instead for the April 13-14 negotiations. | AFP; Reuters

Japanese refiners will cut Iranian crude imports yet again in April as they shy away from renewing annual contracts, showing continued commitment to U.S.-led sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program. | Reuters

The Iran sanctions effort led by the United States appears to be causing new fractures in the Iranian economy, with leading oil companies in South Africa and Greece suspending imports of Iran’s crude oil. | New York Times


Iran banned the importation of about 600 goods and only importers of essential items will benefit from preferential exchange rates, the Iranian newspaper Sharq reported. Sharq quoted Hamid Safdel, director of Iran's Trade Promotion Organization, as saying that the 600 items temporarily banned have domestic equivalents. It did not specify the goods in question. | Daily Star

Greece's top refiner Hellenic Petroleum suspended purchases of Iranian crude in April as approaching sanctions have made banking payments virtually impossible, a senior source at the firm said. Petroliam Nasional Bhd. (PET)’s Engen unit, the biggest South African importer of Iranian crude, announced it suspended imports of oil from Iran. | Reuters; Bloomberg

A group of 19 Iranian parliamentarians are seeking to impeach Iran’s Labor, Cooperatives, and Social Welfare Minister Abdolreza Sheikholeslami after he appointed former prosecutor-general Saeed Mortazavi as the head of the country’s Social Security Organization, the state-run Fars news agency reported. | Bloomberg


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed Iran’s nuclear program with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and urged Iran to back up its declaration that Islam bars weapons of mass destruction by agreeing to a plan that would prove it does not intend to develop nuclear arms. The United States and its international partners have agreed to new talks with Iran on April 13-14. | AP; Arab News; Washington Post

South Korean officials said that they will continue working with the United States to reduce oil imports from Iran after U.S. President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for sanctions against countries that continue to buy Iranian oil. At least three Japanese firms including two oil refiners will not lift any Iranian crude in April as Japan comes under pressure to curtail purchases, industry sources said. | Bloomberg; Reuters

Iran’s Minister of Communications Reza Taghipour said Iran will introduce the first phase of its domestic Internet network by May 21. | Enduring America


Syria dominated talks between Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian officials during Erdogan’s visit. During Erdogan’s meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khamenei said Iran strongly opposes any foreign intervention in Syria's conflict. Following his visit, Erdogan said there is no reason to expect the Syrian government to implement a UN-backed peace plan. | Washington Post; CS Monitor; Today’s Zaman

According to an industry source, Iran is helping Syria circumvent sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, identified as Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, potentially giving the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million. | Reuters

The Iranian government has suspended the press accreditation for Reuters staff in Tehran after the publication of a Reuters video story on women's martial arts training which wrongly characterized the women as “assassins.” | Reuters; New York Times; Huffington Post


The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan will not travel to Tehran next week, said his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi, refuting the earlier statements by the Iranian foreign minister. | Eurasia Review

Officials from Pakistan’s petroleum ministry are planning a trip to Russia in April for talks with Gazprom OAO (GAZP) as Pakistan seeks financial and technical help to finance and finish the $1.3 billion gas pipeline from Iran. | Bloomberg; RFERL

A recent report by analysts at the U.S. Congressional Research Service states that Israel and U.S. do not know exact location of Iran nuclear facilities, which may be dispersed in such a way that an Israeli strike would not be successful. In addition, Iran could likely rebuild most of its centrifuge workshops within six months after an attack. | Bloomberg; Haaretz


Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced that talks between Iran, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany are scheduled for April 13, but that a venue had not yet been determined. The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior European Union diplomat who said talks were likely to start on April 14 in Istanbul. | New York Times; Wall Street Journal; AFP

Iran supports the United Nations-sponsored peace plan for Syria that calls for the withdrawal of troops but does not demand the removal of Tehran ally President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, adding that UN special envoy Kofi Annan will visit Iran next week. | Chicago Tribune

The Obama administration added Iranian cargo airline Yas Air, three officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and a Nigerian trading agent to its Iran sanctions blacklist, citing evidence they had conspired to funnel illicit weapons shipments to Syria and Africa disguised as humanitarian aid and building materials. | New York Times; Payvand; Wall Street Journal


Iran and six world powers are expected to resume talks over Iran’s nuclear program in April, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday. The venue and date are unconfirmed. | Reuters; Tehran Times

Financial Times Deutschland published an article highlighting how German companies are still trading with Iran by way of suitcases filled with money or third country partners, despite the tightening sanctions on the Islamic Republic. | Enduring America; FT

The fourth hearing in the trial of 32 defendants in the $2.6 billion bank fraud scandal started on March 27 in Tehran. | Enduring America


Speaking from South Korea, U.S. President Barack Obama urged North Korea and Iran to step away from their nuclear weapons programs, rather than follow a path toward greater isolation and economic distress. At a regional conference on Afghanistan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the United States could no longer dictate policy to the rest of the world and warned of growing instability in the West's relations with Pakistan. | AP; Los Angeles Times; Haaretz

The U.S. government granted Sri Lanka, which is heavily dependent on Iranian oil imports, a waiver from sanctions for six months. Sri Lanka’s Minister of Petroleum Industries, Susil Premajayantha, said Sri Lanka promised to reduce its supplies of Iranian crude by 15 percent this year. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia will halt imports of crude oil from Iran, the official news agency Bernama reported. | Enduring America; LBO; IOL

Anticipating the delayed introduction of the second phase of its subsidy cuts, the Ahmadinejad government added roughly $15 to monthly support payments to cover higher prices, but members of parliament criticized the increase in the support payment as illegal. | Enduring America


The Obama administration wants China, India and 10 other countries to present specific plans of how they will decrease Iranian oil imports, saying past cuts are not enough to win them an exemption from new U.S. sanctions. | Bloomberg


According to documents and interviews, a $130 million contract between Shenzhen, a China-based telecommunications equipment company, and the Telecommunication Co. of Iran (TCI) for a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile, and internet communications was signed in December 2010. | Reuters

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the threat of a military strike on Iran is preventing Iran from taking the final steps towards developing a nuclear bomb. Barak also stated that Israel and the United States disagree on what would be a realistic timetable for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. | AFP; AP

Iran is seeking to buy more agricultural commodities from India after agreeing to import soybean meal used in livestock feed, said an exporters’ group. Ajay Sahai, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, said that Iran is interested in importing wheat, sugar, soybean meal, and tea from India. | Bloomberg


The Obama administration exempted Japan and ten European nations from sanctions intended to punish countries that continue to buy oil from Iran because the countries had “significantly reduced” their purchases. The administration left open the fate of other major importers, including China, India, and South Korea. The Indian government is privately demanding state-run refiners make 15 to 20 percent cuts in imports, which could help the country qualify for an exemption. China cut oil imports from Iran by 45 percent in February, but it is unclear if those cuts will continue. | New York Times; VOA; Reuters; Bloomberg

Amir Hossein Ardebili, an Iranian national who pleaded guilty in 2009 to plotting to ship sensitive U.S. military technology to Iran, was deported back to Iran after he had completed his prison sentence, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department confirmed. | Washington Post


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a statement marking the Iranian new year, calling for more support for domestic industrial production in order to counter Western sanctions. | Washington Post; Euronews

U.S. President Barack Obama, in a Nowruz message to the Iranian people, criticized the electronic curtain around Iran that prevents the free flow of information and said that Iran and the United States, despite tensions, share a “common humanity.” | AFP; Politico; NPR; AP

Iran has assured Kuwait it will not try to close the Strait of Hormuz shipping route, Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said in remarks broadcast by the state-run news agency KUNA. | Reuters


Dissident blogger and physician Mehdi Khazali was reportedly freed on bail after continuing his hunger strike in prison for 68 days. Rah-e-Sabz news said the release was ordered by a Revolutionary Court. | Enduring America

Iran’s central bank eased restrictions on the Iranian rial and allowed trading in the currency at market levels after fixing the exchange rate in January. | Bloomberg

Israel’s President Shimon Peres sent Iranians his traditional greeting for the Persian New Year. Peres’ greeting for Nowruz was broadcast in both Farsi and Hebrew over Israeli Radio’s Farsi service. | Washington Post


India issued arrest warrants for three Iranians, Houshang Afshar Irani, Seyed Ali Mahdiansadr and Mohammadreza Abolghasemi, who were identified as suspects in last month’s attack on an Israeli diplomat. Police last week arrested an Indian journalist, Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, who is believed to have worked for Iranian media. | Bloomberg

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as Swift, announced that it will stop providing services to Iranian banks subject to European Union sanctions, including Iran’s central bank. The halt to Swift services for sanctioned Iranian banks will take effect March 17 at 4 p.m. GMT, Swift said in a statement. | Bloomberg


The New York Times reported that Iranian smugglers backed by Iran’s Quds Force have been increasing arms smuggling into Yemen over the past several months. The smugglers are using small boats to ship AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades, and other arms to the country, although Yemeni and Indian coastal authorities have seized some shipments. | New York Times

An Iranian aircraft carrying 40 tons of “medical aid” for the Syrian Red Crescent arrived in Syria, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the Iranian ambassador to Syria, Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani. | Now Lebanon; Press TV; Enduring America

In an interview in Geneva, Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, said that allowing inspectors to visit the Parchin military base before the start of new talks would “not contribute to confidence” and denied that any nuclear-related activities are taking place at Parchin. | CNN


Iran’s parliament questioned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over a long list of grievances, including the state of Iran’s economy and Ahmadinejad perceived defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Ahmadinejad is the first president in the country’s history to be interrogated before the Iranian parliament. | Washington Post; New York Times; VOA

ILNA news reported that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani will retain his position as head of the Expediency Council for another five years, thanks to an order from the Supreme Leader. | ILNA; Enduring America

Iran’s oil exports will probably decline by 50 percent when European sanctions take full effect in July, the International Energy Agency said. Iran exported just below 2 million barrels a day last month, compared with 2.6 million in November 2011, the IEA said in a recent report. | Bloomberg; AFP; Fox; Ahram; FT


Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied reports that Iran attempted to clean up radioactive traces possibly left by secret nuclear work at the Parchin military site before granting inspectors permission to visit the facility. Satellite images that circulated last week appeared to show trucks and earth-moving vehicles at the location, which set off assertions by diplomats about a cleanup operation. | Washington Post

Iran’s media issued conflicting reports on whether lawmakers have abandoned an effort to summon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for questioning. The official IRNA news agency quoted pro-Ahmadinejad MP Mohammad Hossein Farhangi as saying that eleven colleagues withdrew their request, but MP Ali Motahari told the Hamshahrionline news website that the IRNA report is a lie. | Washington Post


Iranian state television quoted Iran's deputy foreign minister for western Asia affairs, Ahmad Sobhani, as saying that Iran and India have agreed to boost bilateral trade and replace the dollar partially with the rupee in their transactions. | Platts; Financial Times

The United Nations called on Iran to ban the death penalty in cases that do not meet standards of “serious crime” as defined by international law, according to a report by special UN rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed. The UN report was quickly dismissed as politicized and fabricated by Kazzem Jalali, a member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission. | AFP; Fars; Press TV

Iranian authorities canceled a ceremony in honor of Asghar Farhadi, whose movie, “A Separation,” won an Oscar in February. The event was canceled after Iran’s authorities denied the organizers a permit, according to the semi-official ILNA news agency. ILNA said two cinema groups, the Center for Directors of Iranian Cinema and the High Council of Producers of Iranian Cinema, issued a statement decrying the cancellation. | Washington Post; ILNA


The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany used an International Atomic Energy Agency governors' meeting to urge Tehran to grant prompt access to its Parchin military facility. Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh emphasized that a wider agreement on a range of issues must first be reached between Iran and the United Nations before nuclear inspections can begin.| Huffington Post; AFP; CNN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will give international sanctions against Iran an opportunity to take effect and is not planning an attack on its nuclear facilities in the coming “days or weeks.” Separately, an Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, claimed that satellite images raised suspicions that Iran is trying to conceal a key nuclear test on the road to developing a nuclear weapon. | VOA; Haaretz

European oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC will stop buying crude oil from Iran ahead of July 1, when a European Union embargo of Iranian oil takes effect, a company spokesman said. | Marketwatch


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lauded U.S. President Obama for saying he was trying to avert war with Iran, according to state television. Khamenei also criticized Obama’s threat to impose further sanctions. | Washington Post; Guardian; CNN; AFP

United Nations human rights investigator Ahmed Shaheed released a report of Iran’s human rights record based on over 80 interviews. The report criticizes the Iranian regime for evidence of “a striking pattern of violations of fundamental human rights guaranteed under international law,” including violations of due process in the courts, illegal detentions, extensive accusations of torture of prisoners, and maltreatment of dissidents, minorities, journalists, and women. | New York Times; Wall Street Journal

Iranian President Ahmadinejad challenged the Guardian Council by appointing members to a supervisory panel to oversee the constitution, a move the Guardian Council called illegal. | Enduring America


Indian police arrested Syed Mohammed Kazmi after investigations showed he had been in touch with a suspect they believe may have stuck a bomb on an Israeli diplomat's car, India’s police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said. The Press Trust of India said the suspect had claimed to work for an Iranian news organization. | AP; Reuters

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Salah Bardawil, a member of Hamas’ political leadership in Gaza, said Hamas will not get involved in a possible military conflict between Iran and Israel over Tehran’s nuclear program. Mahmoud Zahhar, another senior leader of Hamas, reiterated that position in an interview with the BBC. | al-Arabiya; BBC

According to Iranian state media, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the creation of an Internet oversight agency that includes powerful figures in the security establishment such as the intelligence minister and the commander of the Revolutionary Guard. | Washington Post


The five permanent UN Security Council members, Germany, and Iran are planning to hold fresh talks on Tehran's nuclear program, the EU announced. One of the outstanding obstacles to new negotiations has been access to the Parchin military site, but Iran's mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency said if the IAEA “combined all related issues” then “access would be granted.” A date and venue for talks have not been decided. | BBC; Reuters; Los Angeles Times

Iran will hold run-off between 130 candidates for 65 seats in 33 constituencies, Iran’s state media said, after loyalists to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei won a dominating majority at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Twenty-five of the seats going into run-off are in Tehran. | Reuters


MARCH 5Preliminary results in the Iranian parliamentary election show that the rivals of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad are leading. Khabar news agency published a list of the 163 candidates that reached the 290-member parliament, with the remaining seats going into a second round of voting. Iran’s interior minister announced that voter turnout nationwide was over 64 percent. | al-Arabiya; Khabar; Radio Zamaneh; AP; New York Times

According to Fars news agency, Iran's Supreme Court dismissed the death sentence against Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American man accused of spying for the CIA. INSA news agency quoted a state prosecutor as saying that shortcomings had been found in the case and that a retrial was ordered. | Guardian; New York Times;VOA

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the IAEA board of governors that Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and that the IAEA has “serious concerns” about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear activities. | Reuters; Washington Post


Voting in the parliamentary elections in Iran took place today. Elections results are expected within three days. Iran’s State media reported that voting was extended by two hours because of a high turnout, while Deutsche Welle reported that the turnout was not impressive. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies encouraged high voter turnout to show continued support for Tehran’s regime, in contrast to the opposition, which called for a boycott. | FT; Washington Post; BBC; Fars; Deutsche Welle

As Iranian state media claimed a high voter turnout in the parliamentary election, the opposition that is boycotting the election took to cyberspace to criticize the vote as pointless and unrepresentative. The opposition site Kalemeh claimed that Iran’s Ministry of Education distributed forms to students, asking them to get the papers signed at a polling place in order to ensure that the parents of the students vote. | Reuters; Enduring America; Kalemeh

India's largest shipping company was forced to cancel an Iranian crude oil shipment last month because its European insurers refused to provide coverage for the vessel on the grounds of tightening sanctions on Iran, industry sources said. | Reuters


The Financial Times published a feature that argued that the fate of Iran’s speaker of the parliament Ali Larijani in Friday’s parliamentary poll is a test of the balance of power within Iran’s senior clergy. While Larijani appears to be assured of a seat in the parliament, analysts in Qom say, he is facing an uphill battle to receive an absolute majority of the vote as he did four years ago. His main rival in Qom is Mojtaba Zonnouri, a cleric who served 30 years in the Revolutionary Guard. | Financial Times

Fatemeh Karroubi, allowed out of her house arrest to pay condolences to a bereaved family, said that she has not seen her husband, opposition figure and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, in three months, and she is very concerned about his health. | Enduring America

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar said Pakistan will continue to pursue a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran despite U.S. pressure as it is vital to overcome the country's energy crisis. | AFP; Wall Street Journal; RFERL; CNN


Exiled Iranian Kurdish opposition groups declared a boycott of the March parliamentary elections. The United Kurdish Front, which includes Kurdish activists within Iran, fielded nominees to run but they were rejected by the Guardians Council. Abdullah Sohrabi, a former Kurdish MP from the western town of Mariwan, was recently disqualified by authorities, along with the Kurdish lawyer Massoud Shamenzadeh. | Rudaw

Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, as saying IAEA inspectors could visit the country's nuclear sites “whenever they want.” Abbasi-Davani added, however, that access to the Parchin military facility will only be granted by Iran’s military. | Reuters

Iran organized a press tour of the Alborz Space Center, a key space facility, in an apparent effort to show its willingness to allow glimpses at sensitive technology even as Tehran and U.N. inspectors trade accusations about access to nuclear sites and experts. | Washington Post


Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters after the U.N.-hosted Conference on Disarmament that he expected talks with the IAEA to continue and is optimistic that the upcoming meeting with IAEA officials will resolve a recent impasse over the agency’s monitoring program. | Washington Post; Reuters

India will consider steps including providing sovereign guarantees to local shipping companies so that they continue to get insurance cover for transporting crude oil from Iran, India’s Shipping Secretary K. Mohandas said. | Wall Street Journal

Iran has “dramatically escalated” a crackdown on dissent in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, arresting lawyers, students and journalists and targeting electronic media, human rights group Amnesty International said. The report also stated that there were around four times as many public executions in Iran in 2011 than in 2010, and hundreds of people are believed to have been sentenced to death in the past year. | Reuters; Washington Post; Asharq Alawsat


According to the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report, Iran is significantly stepping up its uranium enrichment, but does not yet seem ready to deploy advanced enrichment equipment for large-scale production, despite years of testing. The IAEA document showed Iran was preparing to install more centrifuges based on an erratic and out-dated design. | Reuters

Pirouz Mousavi, managing director of the Iranian Oil Terminals Co, said there had been no change to Iran’s oil shipment to Greece or any other country, denying earlier reports Iran had blocked shipments in retaliation to the EU phasing in a ban on its key export, the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA) reported. | Reuters

Internet activists are drawing attention to the case of Mehdi Khazali, the jailed editor of a blog called Baran who has been on a hunger strike in Iran for about 50 days. Khazali was arrested on January 9 on unclear charges and recently received a sentence of 14 years in prison, 10 years in exile, and flogging. He reportedly said that his hunger strike would continue until his release. | Al Jazeera


The U.S. government offered to help India get alternative supplies for Iranian crude as it tries to squeeze Iran’s oil revenue, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The U.S. may help broker deals with suppliers such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. | Bloomberg

was extradited to the United States. Tappin protested his innocence and said he should have been tried in Britain. | AFP; Washington Post; VOA

Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran wants more talks with the IAEA. | Reuters

The Los Angeles Times reported that a highly classified U.S. intelligence estimate circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms the view that Iran is not actively trying to build an atomic bomb. The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so. | Los Angeles Times



Iran's week-long parliamentary election campaign period began on February 23, with 3,444 candidates competing for 290 seats. With none of the leading pro-reform groups participating in the election, the competition is primarily between loyalists of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and backers of President Ahmadinejad. Tabnak news agency reported that candidates for the parliamentary elections are prohibited from appearing in televised debates. | Daily Star; Monsters and Critics; IINS; Tabnak; Enduring America

Iran is believed to be carrying out preparations to expand nuclear activity at its Fordow site, which is deep inside a mountain, diplomats say. The International Atomic Energy Agency is due to issue another report on Iran, expected to include information on the Tehran talks as well as more detail on the status of the Fordow plant. | Reuters; Bloomberg

In a recent report, the Committee to Protect Journalists characterizes Iran as “the world's worst jailer of journalists,” pointing to 42 journalists imprisoned in Iran and 18 forced into exile. | CPJ


Speaking on state television shortly after the International Atomic Energy Agency declared a collapse in talks, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran's nuclear course would not change regardless of international sanctions, assassinations, or other pressures. The IAEA said that Iranian authorities have denied IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military site and that the U.N. officials were unable to reach an agreement with Iran on a basic work plan for addressing the questions about past nuclear experiments. | Reuters; France 24; CS Monitor; Washington Post

The U.S. Department of Defense press secretary George Little said the U.S. military saw no indication that the Iranian ships docked or delivered any cargo in the Syrian port of Tartus. Little said Tehran's ships went through the Suez Canal and appear to be going back through the canal again. | Newsday

Refiners in Japan are holding off from signing annual oil-supply contracts from Iran, four people with knowledge of the talks said, while China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co. agreed to most terms of a 2012 deal with Iran, according to three other people. At least three Japanese refiners haven't renewed annual contracts with National Iranian Oil Co. and are awaiting direction from the government. | Bloomberg


The Iranian government ordered a halt to oil exports to Britain and France, after an order from the Iranian oil minister Rostam Qassemi. Tehran also said it was considering extending the oil embargo to other European Union countries. On February 21, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast laid out conditions for future oil exports to other European countries, saying that Tehran seeks guarantees of payments, long term contracts, and a ban on unilateral cancellation of contracts by buyers. | New York Times; Washington Post

The two days of scheduled talks over the Iran’s nuclear program between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iranian officials began on February 20. While Iranian state radio reported that the IAEA team asked to visit the Parchin military complex, Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that the nuclear inspectors in Iran will not visit any nuclear sites during their visit. | CNN; Christian Science Monitor

Thai police have named a sixth suspect over an alleged Iranian bomb plot to attack Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast announced Tehran's preparedness to cooperate with Thailand's probe into the bombings in Bangkok. | BBC; Fars; IBN Live; Hindustan Times


Thai police said they are looking for a fifth suspect in the Bangkok explosions investigation. Thai media reported that the fifth suspect, possibly a bomb-making expert, was seen on security cameras entering and leaving the rented house a few hours before the blast. Thai authorities also issued an arrest warrant for the fourth suspect, an Iranian woman who rented the house, believed to have left the country. | Los Angeles Times

The authorities in charge of online censorship in Iran, believed to be close to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his powerful Revolutionary Guards, have blocked access to a number of news websites sympathetic to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies. | PBS; Guardian

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which operates the bulk of global cross-border payments, said it was ready to implement sanctions against Iranian financial institutions as part of new U.S. and European restrictions against Tehran. | Reuters; Khaleej Times


Iran proposed a resumption of nuclear talks with world powers, according to a letter dated February 14 from Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. | Reuters

Thailand’s chief of police General Prewpan Dhamapong and Israeli Ambassador to Thailand Itzhak Shoham said the bombs discovered in a Bangkok house after a series of blasts were similar to those used in attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia, indicating that the attack was likely intended for Israeli diplomats. Malaysia is reportedly prepared to extradite an Iranian national arrested over suspected links to the attempted bomb attack in Bangkok. | Haaretz; New York Times; NPR

Iranian traders in Oman, struggling to secure financing because of Western economic sanctions against Tehran, are raising loans from Omani businessmen in order to ship foodstuffs to Iran, the traders said. | Reuters


Iran proposed a resumption of nuclear talks with world powers, according to a letter dated February 14 from Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. | Reuters

Thailand’s chief of police General Prewpan Dhamapong and Israeli Ambassador to Thailand Itzhak Shoham said the bombs discovered in a Bangkok house after a series of blasts were similar to those used in attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia, indicating that the attack was likely intended for Israeli diplomats. Malaysia is reportedly prepared to extradite an Iranian national arrested over suspected links to the attempted bomb attack in Bangkok. | Haaretz; New York Times; NPR

Iranian traders in Oman, struggling to secure financing because of Western economic sanctions against Tehran, are raising loans from Omani businessmen in order to ship foodstuffs to Iran, the traders said. | Reuters


Iranian state TV announced that Iran has taken two major steps toward mastering the production of nuclear fuel. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad oversaw the insertion of the first domestically-made fuel rod into Iran’s nuclear research reactor in Tehran. It was also reported that more efficient uranium enrichment centrifuges had been installed at the country's main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, adding 3,000 more centrifuges to its uranium enrichment effort. | NPR; Reuters; BBC

The Bangkok bombing suspect, identified as Saeid Moradi, has been charged with illegal possession of explosives, causing explosions, attempted murder, and assaulting a police officer. A second Iranian man was arrested at the Bangkok airport but has not yet been charged. A third was arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport as he tried to board a plane to Tehran, Malaysian police said. The suspect had evaded authorities at the Bangkok airport. Iran denied any role in the blasts, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said. | Al Jazeera; Reuters

Iran’s Press TV reported that Iran cut oil supplies to six European countries – the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Portugal. A spokesman for Iran's Oil Ministry denied these reports and said that if such a decision is made, it will be announced by Iran's Supreme National Security Council. | NPR; Reuters


An Iranian man seriously wounded himself in Bangkok when the bomb he was carrying exploded, according to police and government officials. The officials declined to comment on any possible connection with a wider group, although the man was reportedly accompanied by two other Iranian men. Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak accused Iran of being behind the bombing. | NPR; AP; Los Angeles Times

Iran’s Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei announced that the prosecution of Saeed Mortazavi, who is the former Tehran prosecutor general and currently an adviser to President Ahmadinejad, has been dropped. He was under investigation for the abuses and deaths in the Kahrizak detention center in 2009. | Enduring America


Assailants targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia in near-simultaneous strikes, wounding two people in a car bombing in New Delhi, officials said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran. On February 12, Iran summoned the Azeri ambassador to Tehran over a claim that Azerbaijan has been aiding Israeli spies plotting against Iran. | Jerusalem Post; BBC; Washington Post; Fars

Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, has been sentenced to six months in jail. | AP

Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG), Frontline Ltd. and owners controlling more than 100 supertankers said they would stop loading cargoes from Iran. OSG said that the pool of 45 supertankers from seven owners in which its carriers trade will no longer go to Iran. Nova Tankers A/S and Frontline, with a combined 93 vessels, said they won’t ship Iranian crude. | Bloomberg


The European Union wants India to use its influence to draw Iran into talks over its nuclear program, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said a day after New Delhi announced it would send a business delegation to Iran to boost bilateral trade. India was the biggest buyer of Iranian oil worldwide last month according to Dow Jones Newswires. | AFP; Reuters; VOA; New York Times

China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu will travel to Iran for talks on Iran’s nuclear program on February 12, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said, reiterating Beijing's emphasis on diplomacy over sanctions to resolve the issue. | Reuters

The Iranian regime is holding a series of debates for the March parliamentary elections, but has decided to limit them to radio. In a recent debate, MP Ali Motahari criticized the regime for its behavior after the 2009 elections, saying that its response took the country into crisis. | Enduring America


India's Trade Secretary Rahul Khullar said a private Iranian buyer is interested in importing “a very large quantity” of wheat as sanctions-related payments problems become evident. Payment problems have also caused a slow in Indian tea imports. Khullar also announced that a large Indian business delegation will be visiting Iran shortly to explore business opportunities. | Reuters; Economic Times; Reuters

Singaporean firms stopped supplying Iran with Indonesian palm oil on concerns over Iran’s ability to make payments in the wake of sanctions, trading sources in Singapore said. The sanctions have also put a squeeze on Iran's seaborne trade as many international trade and shipping companies are hesitant to make new deals with Iran, industry sources say.| Reuters; Reuters

Two U.S. officials told NBC News that the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists have been carried out by Iranian opposition group People’s Mujahedin of Iran with logistical and financial support from the Mossad. The report was based on a testimony by one of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's senior advisers who detailed the intimate relationship between Israel and the opposition group MEK, which “two senior U.S. officials” confirmed as accurate. | Jerusalem Post; NBC


Reuters reported that serious disruptions to Iran’s commodities imports and rising food prices have become evident. Most recently, Malaysian palm oil exporters stopped supplying Iran with most of the 30,000 tons of the palm oil Iran buys each month, or about half its demand, two trading sources said. | Reuters; Reuters

The United Arab Emirates' main exporter of crude oil, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., will fulfill all supply contracts to Asia for March, for the first time since May 2011, to help the region's top buyers cut their dependence on oil from Iran. Iranian lawmakers went into a near month-long recess without taking any action on a threat to impose a pre-emptive oil embargo on the European Union. | Reuters; France 24

Mohammad Zare Qomati, head of the "Popular Reformist Front", announced a third “reformist” list for the March parliamentary election. The Workers House and Mardomsalari already announced intentions to post lists. Ali Abbaspour Tehrani, one of the three MPs who are leading a breakaway principlist election list after being excluded from the United Front List, said the “Critics of the Government Front” will now be called "The Voice of the Nation" party. | Enduring America

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the 11 Iranian nationals abducted in Syria would be delivered to Iranian embassy in Turkey. | ISNA; Washington Post


Iranian state radio reported that around 100 members of Iran’s 290-seat parliament signed a petition to summon President Ahmadinejad for questioning about his handling of the country’s economy. | Reuters; New York Times

Iranian buyers defaulted on payments for about 200,000 tons of rice from India, exporters and rice millers said. The default prompted the head of the All India Rice Exporters' Association to call on members to stop rice exports to Iran based on credit, which would be a fresh blow to Iran as imports of staple foods are already being hampered by international sanctions. | Reuters

Iran’s Ambassador to India Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh said that officials from the central banks of the two countries met last week and agreed that India will make 45 percent of payments for Iranian crude oil in rupees and invest in Iranian infrastructure, while Iran will use the currency to buy Indian goods. An Indian external affairs ministry official in New Delhi said he was not aware of the purported agreement. | Washington Post


President Obama is ordering new U.S. sanctions on the government of Iran, including Iran’s Central Bank. In a statement accompanying his order, he said the sanctions are warranted because of the “deceptive practices” of the Central Bank and the “unacceptable risk” posed to the international financial system by Iran’s activities. | Washington Post

Iran’s state TV reported that the Iranian navy opened fire on pirates to foil an attack on an Iranian oil tanker near the Gulf of Aden. | Washington Post

Iranian MP Ali Motahari, who has been omitted from the slate of Principlist candidates for March's parliamentary elections, will pursue a separate campaign, 'The List of Government Critics,' along with Ali Abbaspour, Hamireza Katouzian, and Hojatoleslam Navab. It now appears that the principlists will have five competing lists - the Unity Front, the Islamic Constancy Front, the List of Government Critics, a separate “Experts Council” list, and a possible list of Ahmadinejad supporters on a list titled “Supporters of Islamic Revolution Discourse.” | Enduring America


In a speech to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would retaliate over Western-backed oil sanctions and any threat of attack, after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was cited as saying he feared a possible Israeli strike as early as April. | Reuters; Christian Science Monitor; Fars

The central banks of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar told lenders to stop financing trade with Iran, bankers said. This move cuts another important source of credit for Iran. Japan may be granted some waivers from the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambitions in exchange for promising to cut its oil imports from Iran, Kyodo News reported, citing Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba. | Reuters; Market Watch

Iran’s state-run media reported that Iran successfully launched its domestically-built Navid-e Elm-o Sanat satellite into orbit following a decree by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. | Press TV; Washington Post


International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are preparing for further talks over Iran’s nuclear program, scheduled to take place February 21 and 22 in Tehran. Diplomats said that the talks in Iran at the end of January appear to have made little concrete progress. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China to use its influence to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. | Reuters; Bloomberg; New York Times

Iran’s Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini announced that foreign exchange will only be given to travelers at airports electronically, after presentation of a cash voucher. There are also reports of undercover police officers arresting several money changers in Tehran.| Enduring America; Washington Post

Iran's state-run Press TV reported that gunmen in Syria have kidnapped 11 Iranian pilgrims traveling from Hama to Damascus. State news agency IRNA said this case raised the number of Iranians abducted in Syria since December to 29. The Iranian government advised its citizens to avoid bus trips into Syria, acknowledging that Iranians traveling in Syria face an increasing risk of abduction. | AP; AFP; New York Times


Senior International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are planning another trip to Iran after holding what both sides described as "good" talks about suspicions that Iran is seeking the means to develop nuclear weapons. | Reuters; ISNA; Washington Post; Fars

President Ahmadinejad set out a $416 billion budget for Iran's calendar and fiscal year, which runs from mid-March. The proposed budget is 5.6 percent smaller than the plan for the current year, but it allows for a 127 percent increase in spending on defense, according to Mehr. Ahmadinejad also predicted that Iran's economy would grow eight percent over the next 12 months despite severe Western sanctions. | AFP; Bloomberg; Washington Post

Delegations from South Korea and Japan will meet U.S. officials in Washington to discuss details of the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran, government officials said. | Yonhap; Reuters


Iranian students staged a silent gathering to protest a visit by UN nuclear inspectors on their first visit in two years, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. The report said a group of students gathered at the gate of the country’s atomic agency but did not say how many participated in the protest. | Washington Post

Iran is stepping up its support for international terrorism and its intelligence operations against the United States, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee. | Bloomberg; Washington Post

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially launched a Spanish-language satellite TV channel, Hispan TV, saying it would deal a blow to “dominance seekers” in an apparent dig at the United States and the West. | Guardian; New York Times; Fars; BBC


Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi offered to extend the current visit of UN nuclear inspectors and expressed optimism their findings would help ease tensions despite international claims that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. | Washington Post; New York Times

The opposition Syrian National Council accused Iran of "participation" in the bloody crackdown on protests in Syria and called on Tehran to stop supporting the Damascus regime. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to hold free elections and allow multiple political parties to operate in the country, but said he must be given time to implement these reforms. | AFP; al-Arabiya; Reuters

Iran’s state TV reported that the country produced laser-guided artillery shells, capable of hitting moving targets with high accuracy. The report cited Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi, who added that the shell was an “intelligent” munition with the capability to identify its own targets. The report did not give details on specifications of the shell and could not be independently verified. | Washington Post; Tehran Times


Twenty-eight people were killed and a further 50 wounded when a bomb exploded near a Baghdad marketplace in the latest attack on a mainly Shi’ite neighborhood. The blast hit the funeral procession of casualties from another attack in Baghdad the previous day. More than 200 people have been killed in attacks since American forces completed their pullout on December 18, according to an AFP tally. | Al Arabiya

The Free Syria Army posted a video featuring Iranian soldiers and officers from the Revolutionary Guard who they captured during fighting in Homs, they claimed. An Enduring America correspondent linked the video of the Iranian soldiers with the case of five Iranian “engineers” reportedly kidnapped in Syria in December. | Enduring America; Haaretz

Major European Union banks halted financing for grain shipments destined for Iran, hampering trade with the major importer of maize, banking and trade sources said. Iran imports around 4.5 million tons of grain a year, including about 3.5 million tons of corn, according to International Grains Council figures. | Reuters


In a speech made in Kerman and broadcast on state television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government does not oppose negotiations with Western powers about its nuclear program. | VOA; BBC; Washington Post

An Iranian F-14 military plane crashed in the early morning of January 26 near the city of Bushehr, the Fars news agency reported, saying no reason had yet been given for the incident. | Reuters; Washington Post

The head of Iran’s Central Bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, announced a single exchange rate of 12260 Iranian Rial to $1, which will come into effect on January 29. Bahmani warned that currency exchanges can only sell dollars in a band 3 to 5% above the rate; otherwise, they will lose their trading permits. | Enduring America


Iran’s parliament will begin debating a draft bill requiring the government to immediately halt oil exports to Europe, Iranian lawmaker Hasan Ghafourifard said, as Tehran weighs its options following the European Union’s decision to stop importing oil from the country. Oil prices began rising after the possible legislation was announced. | Washington Post

South Africa's Sasol Ltd. is starting to diversify oil sources away from Iranian imports, it announced. Sasol, the world's largest producer of motor fuels from coal, relies on Iranian oil imports for about 20% of its crude requirement, or 12,000 barrels a day, at its Natref refinery. | Wall Street Journal

The details of the EU sanctions on Iran include: suspended oil imports, restrictions on Iran's exports of gold, and suspended relations with the Central Bank and Bank Tejarat. It also named 11 more firms for an assets freeze, including five shipping companies and three more individuals, including Ali Ashraf Nouri, a Revolutionary Guards deputy commander and head of the Guards' Political Bureau. | Daily Star


The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Danish ambassador to Tehran, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, to protest the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on Iran. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said the EU sanctions were unfair and called on the world powers to try to find negotiated solutions to problems. Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told IRNA news agency that the sanctions were not a threat. | Fars News Agency; Reuters; VOA; Tehran Times

Australia will follow the European Union and ban oil imports from Iran, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced during a visit to London. | RFERL


The European Union formally approved an embargo on Iranian oil. The boycott takes effect immediately, cancelling any new or proposed oil contracts between EU countries and Iran. Existing contracts can run through the end of June but then must be suspended. Iranian MP Ali Fallahian, a former minister of intelligence and a member of the Assembly of Experts, said Iran should halt all oil sales to the European Union immediately, pre-empting EU plans for the start of the embargo on July 1. | Los Angeles Times; Christian Science Monitor; BBC

British and European Union officials have convinced some U.S. lawmakers to ensure that any new sanctions against Iran exempt a BP PLC-led natural-gas project, as Western governments try to isolate Tehran without harming their own energy security. The $20 billion project in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan, known as Shah Deniz II, is seen as key to alleviating Europe's dependence on Russia as its largest supplier of natural gas. | Wall Street Journal; Reuters; NASDAQ

Iran asked India to pay for oil partly in Japanese yen as the two nations seek an agreement on how to maintain trade amid tightening global sanctions, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. | Bloomberg


French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that time was running out to avoid a military intervention in Iran and appealed to China and Russia to support new sanctions. Sarkozy stressed that a military intervention will not solve the problem, but rather increase instability in the region. The major powers, including Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, are expected to issue a statement laying out what Tehran would need to do return to talks, a diplomat said. | Reuters; Washington Post; Reuters

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Israel for a one-day visit with the country’s top leaders that focused on Iran’s nuclear program. | New York Times; Washington Post; Reuters

Japan pledged to keep cutting purchases of Iranian crude marking the clearest public offer of support yet among Asia's big buyers or Iran’s oil. Officially, South Korea says it has yet to determine its response. But government and industry sources say the government is trying to line up alternative supplies of crude in case it is forced by the U.S. sanctions to reduce Iranian crude imports. Greece is seeking assurances from the EU that a potential embargo on oil imports from Iran won’t push the Greek economy over the brink by forcing it to seek higher-cost oil elsewhere, said a European diplomat. | Reuters; Bloomberg


Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned Arab neighbors not to put themselves in a “dangerous position” by aligning themselves too closely with the United States. Salehi also said that the United States should make it clear that it is ready to hold talks without conditions and reported that Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili wrote a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton asking to revive talks Iran’s nuclear program. The letter will be submitted by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.| Reuters; VOA; Bloomberg

EU foreign ministers are expected to agree on an oil embargo against Iran and a freeze on the assets of its central bank at a meeting scheduled for Monday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said. Japan is likely to cut Iranian crude purchases in about three months, Akihiko Tembo, president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), said. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao defended China’s extensive oil trade with Iran, but also warned Tehran against any effort to acquire nuclear weapons or shut off the Strait of Hormuz. | Reuters; Reuters; Guardian; VOA

Iran’s currency fell by six percent on January 18 after President Ahmadinejad’s refusal to sign off on a move to raise bank interest rates, state news agencies reported. The semiofficial ISNA news agency said the rial was trading at over 18,000 to the U.S. dollar on the black market, compared to 16,950 on January 17. | Washington Post; New York Times; Xinhua


Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters in Turkey that Iran was in touch with major powers to hold new talks soon but a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton denied it. Salehi arrived in Turkey for talks with Turkish leaders expected to focus on Tehran's controversial nuclear program, an embassy spokesman said. Iranian MP Ali Motahari was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying that President Obama has called for direct talks with Iran in a secret letter to Iran’s supreme leader that also warned Tehran against closing the Strait of Hormuz. | Reuters; RFERL; AFP; Xinhua; Washington Post

Spain said it will back a possible EU oil embargo against Iran even though it would inflict "huge damage" on its two major oil importers. Japan's Finance Minister Jun Azumi expressed concern about the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Iran and their potential impact on Japanese banks. | Boston Globe; AP


Senior United Nations nuclear officials will hold three days of talks in Tehran from January 29 - 31, Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters. | Reuters

Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, urged South Korea to reduce its imports of Iranian crude oil. South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said that South Korea would have difficulty replacing Iranian crude supplies. India is not seeking a waiver from the United States that would protect buyers of Iranian oil from sanctions, and New Delhi continues to import from Tehran, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said. | New York Times; Reuters; Reuters; Market Watch

Denmark, which holds the European Union presidency, proposed that EU states launch a full embargo on imports of Iranian crude oil starting July 1, allowing a grace period of six months for existing contracts, EU diplomats said. | Reuters


Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it is ready to answer the agency's questions to remove "any ambiguities" about its nuclear work and clear up the issue once and for all; a high-level team from the IAEA is expected to visit this month. | Reuters

Russia has warned the United States that moves to tighten sanctions on Iran would be perceived as an attempt at "regime change" and said that any military intervention linked to Iran's nuclear program is a threat to its own security. | Al Jazeera; Reuters

U.S. government officials said that the Obama administration is relying on a secret channel of communication to warn Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, that closing the Strait of Hormuz is a “red line” that would provoke an American response. | New York Times


The Iranian government called on the United Nations to condemn the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist; US officials have denied any role in the killing and condemned the bomb attack which Tehran said was linked to Washington and Israel. | AP; Al Jazeera

The U.S. military said that a new aircraft carrier strike group arrived in the Arabian Sea and that another was on its way to the region, but denied any link to recent tensions with Iran and portrayed the movements as routine. | Reuters

Japan will reduce its oil dependency on Iran while Italian, Spanish and Greek companies have extended most of their oil supply deals with Iran for 2012; Iran's supplies to the European Union will likely be exempted from sanctions for at least the first half of the year. | BBC; Reuters


Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was assassinated in Tehran; Roshan was working at one of the country's main uranium enrichment facilities and Iran has blamed Israel and the IAEA for the bombing. | Guardian; Fars News Agency

Iran’s Ministry of Interior has banned at least 32 Ministers of Parliament from standing as candidates in March's Parliamentary elections; lawmakers are criticizing the move as inappropriate and a violation of Iranian law. | Enduring America; Payvand

Continuing his Latin America tour, Iranian President Ahmadinejad attended the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega; Ortega offered support to Ahmadinejad on Iran’s dispute with the international community over the Iranian nuclear program. | Radio Free Europe


Former White House aide Dennis Ross said that while diplomacy is preferred, nobody should rule out Western military action against Iran as the United States and Europe tighten the economic screws on Iran as punishment for a controversial nuclear program. | UPI

Turkish customs officials have reportedly intercepted four trucks suspected of carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria at a border crossing into Syria. | Radio Free Europe; Daily Star

An American ship rescued six Iranian mariners in the Gulf after their vessel broke down, the Pentagon said, for the second time in less than a week. | Daily Star; AP


Iran confirmed it has started uranium enrichment at a second facility; Iran said that all its nuclear activities are under IAEA watch. | Voice of America; AFP

An Iranian court sentenced an American man to death on charges of spying for the CIA; Fars news agency said the judgment against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was for CIA ties and for cooperating with a “hostile country.” | Voice of America; Fars News Agency

Beijing rejected sanctions on Iranian oil saying that although China supports global nonproliferation efforts, “trade relations have nothing to do with the nuclear issue.” | Washington Post


China, the biggest buyer of Iran's oil, has publicly rejected U.S. sanctions aimed at Tehran's energy industry while American allies Japan and South Korea are scrambling to find a compromise to keep critical supplies flowing. | AP

The U.S. Navy rescued 13 Iranians held hostage by pirates in the Arabian Sea, the military confirmed on Friday; the rescue was performed Thursday by forces from the 5th Fleet that was warned by Tehran not to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. | CBS

Iran's Revolutionary Guards will hold new naval exercises in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in February, the passageway for about a third of the world's oil tanker traffic; these naval maneuvers fall under close international scrutiny because some Iranian officials have threatened to close the strait should the West strike the country's nuclear facilities or embargo oil exports. | AP


EU member states have agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian crude oil to put pressure on the country over its nuclear program. The move is expected to be announced formally at an EU foreign ministers' meeting at the end of January. China will reduce crude imports from Iran for a second month, sources said, as the two remain divided over payment terms. | BBC; VOA; Wall Street Journal; Daily Star

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is planning to travel to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador for a Latin America tour beginning January 8. The complete itinerary of the tour has not been made public. | Los Angeles Times

Iran's cyberpolice issued new guidelines for Internet cafes that appear to be part of the Iranian government’s efforts to tighten its control of the Internet. According to the new rules, the personal information and sites visited of patrons at cybercafés must be registered and kept on file by the cybercafé owners for six months. Cybercafe owners are also required to install closed-circuit TV cameras and keep the video recordings for six months. | RFERL; Guardian

Esmail Gerami-Moghaddam, a spokesman for the Etemade Melli party of Mehdi Karroubi, confirmed that the party will not be running candidates in the March parliamentary elections. | Enduring America


European Union countries have reached a preliminary agreement to ban imports of Iranian crude oil to the EU but have yet to decide when such an embargo would be put in place, EU diplomats said. Timothy Geithner, U.S. treasury secretary, will travel to China and Japan next week to discuss tougher sanctions against Iran, the U.S. Treasury Department announced, just after China said it opposed unilateral U.S. measures. | al-Arabiya; Reuters

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu traveled to Tehran to discuss Iran's nuclear plans and the developments in neighboring Syria and Iraq with Iranian officials. A Turkish energy ministry official also told Reuters that Turkey will seek a waiver from the United States to exempt its biggest refiner Tupras from new U.S. sanctions on institutions that deal with Iran's central bank. | Today’s Zaman; VOA; Reuters

Iran’s Central Bank tried to impose an “open-market” exchange rate of 14000:1 for the Iranian rial vs. the U.S. dollar, but traders continued to operate at 15700:1. A Central Bank official has reportedly said that exchange traders who sell dollars “too high” will lose their permits. | Enduring America; AFP; Reuters


Iran threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf. The threat comes after new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on Iran’s economy, particularly its currency. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe urged EU countries to follow the U.S. in freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing an embargo on Iranian oil exports. | Washington Post; Reuters; Wall Street Journal; BBC

Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been sentenced to six months in jail and a five-year ban on political activities after being found guilty of "spreading propaganda" against the country's regime. Faezeh is a former member of the Iranian parliament whose views are close to those of the reformists. | Guardian; BBC

The registration phase for Iran’s March parliamentary elections began December 24 and ended on December 30. The government announced that more than 3,000 applicants had asked to be considered. The Guardian Council is expected to release its final list of approved candidates in late January or early February. | New York Times


The United States asked Iran to free Amir Mirzai Hekmati, a U.S. man of Iranian descent described by Tehran as a CIA spy. A spokeswoman for the State Department told the BBC the U.S. had requested access to Mr. Hekmati through the embassy of Switzerland. Mr. Hekmati’s family denied their son was involved in espionage. | BBC; Washington Post; Guardian

Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Reuters that Iran sent a letter to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano earlier this month, inviting the IAEA to visit for talks. | Reuters

The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that Iran will suspend bilateral trade with the United Arabic Emirates. Speaking to Fars news agency, Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Rahimi denied that trade ties have been cut with the UAE, saying that the UAE was only warned. | Enduring America


Iranian state television aired a video of an American-Iranian, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, accused of spying for the United States. Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced on December 17 that it captured Hekmati and claimed he had received training in the U.S. Army's intelligence units and spent time at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. | Enduring America; New York Times; al-Arabiya

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahi told Al Alam television that Iran welcomed an Arab peace deal signed by Syria as “acceptable.” | Reuters

Iranian state TV reported that Russia’s Tatneft and Iran have signed a $1 billion preliminary deal to develop the Zagheh oil field. The Zagheh oil field, located outside of Deilam in south Iran, contains an estimated three billion barrels of heavy crude oil. Tatneft, in a statement on December 19, denied it made any deal with the Iranians. | Bloomberg; RT; UPI


The Obama administration has given in to legislation that would apply sanctions on Iran's Central Bank. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated that Obama administration officials are looking at how to implement sanctions so they hurt Iran without causing undue economic pain for America's international allies. | Bloomberg

The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance said it has added 99 Iranian entities and six Iranian individuals to its financial blacklist, expanding multinational efforts to pressure Iran into ending its nuclear program. | Wall Street Journal; Washington Post; Bloomberg

A man trying to smuggle radioactive sodium isotopes to Iran has been detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. | Russia Today


Mehr news agency reported that Iran plans to display several U.S. and Israeli spy drones in the near-future to journalists and foreign ambassadors, citing an informed source. The source also said Iran has four Israeli and three U.S. drones. | Enduring America

Iran is to insert its first domestically produced uranium fuel, which is produced with the 20 percent enriched uranium, into its Tehran reactor by mid-February, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in comments published by the IRNA state news agency. The Obama administration is concerned that Iranian nuclear scientists at the Fordow facility appear to be within weeks of producing 20 percent enriched uranium, according to Iran analysts and nuclear specialists who are in close communication with US officials and atomic inspectors. | AFP; Jerusalem Post

A rare visit by Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi to Saudi Arabia sought to refute U.S. claims that Tehran planned to kill the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said. Mehmanparast stated Iran also wanted to convince Saudi Arabia that the United States and Israel are seeking to sow seeds of discord between the two regional powers.| Washington Post


Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi dismissed remarks by other Iranian officials against Turkey, which threatened to target NATO’s missile shield in Turkey if threatened, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. | Haaretz; Khaleej Times

Officials in the United States, France, Britain and other European countries have been lobbying Saudi Arabia to produce billions more barrels of oil to provide an alternative source for buyers of Iranian oil, in order to squeeze Iran's vital oil sector without driving up world energy prices and damaging the global economy. Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi said that his Saudi counterpart had agreed not to up crude production to replace Iranian oil in case an international embargo on Iranian oil impacts Tehran's ability to sell its petroleum. | Los Angeles Times; Miami Herald

Gholam Reza Jalali, the head of civil defense for the Revolutionary Guards, said that Iran is prepared to move uranium enrichment facilities to safer locations if necessary. Diplomatic sources in Vienna stated that Iran could soon launch sensitive atomic activities in an underground facility deep inside a mountain. | Washington Post; Haaretz; Reuters


The Obama administration has delivered a formal request to Iran for the return of the U.S. surveillance drone captured by Iranian armed forces, but said it is not hopeful that Iran will comply. Iran rebuffed the request, saying the U.S. should first apologize for violating Iran’s airspace. | Washington Post; Los Angeles Times

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi traveled to Riyadh for talks with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef, who is also the Saudi interior minister; Saudi intelligence director Prince Muqrin; and other top Saudi royals, the Saudi Press Agency reported. | Wall Street Journal; AFP

Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabdi said that 15 people have been indicted on charges of spying for the US and Israel. Doulatabadi gave no further details. | Enduring America


Iran will reverse-engineer the U.S. drone it has in its possession, and is in the “final stages” of unlocking the aircraft's software secrets, MP Parviz Sorouri, a member of the parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, said. General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard, said earlier that Iran will not return the drone. | AFP; AP

The European Union “definitely” will not impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports because such a measure would harm the global crude market, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi stated. Any EU move to impose a ban on Iranian oil imports would cripple the economies of Spain, Greece and Italy, said Seyed Emad Hosseini, spokesman of the Iranian parliament's Energy Commission. | Daily Star; UPI; Reuters

Parviz Sarvari, a member of the Iranian parliament's National Security Committee, said that the military was set to practice its ability to close to the Strait of Hormuz, but there was no official confirmation. Contacted by Reuters, a spokesman for the Iranian military declined to comment. | Reuters


The Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 channel aired the first video footage of a U.S. RQ170 drone that Tehran says it downed. The images show Iranian military officials inspecting the aircraft, which appears to be undamaged. | BBC; Fars News

The U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone that crashed in Iran last week was part of a surveillance program that has frequently sent the hard-to-detect aircraft into Iran to map suspected nuclear sites, according to foreign officials and American experts who have been briefed on the effort. | New York Times; AFP

Nasim Online reported that Chinese and Russian military experts have asked to visit Iran to see the remains of the crashed U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone, citing an “Iranian military source.” | Enduring America


Residents of Tehran said that the Obama administration’s virtual embassy for Iran, which was launched on December 6, has been blocked by the Iranian authorities. The English- and Farsi-language website was briefly available to Internet users in Tehran, but could not be accessed less than a day after it went online.| Washington Post; Reuters; Fars News

Iran’s Central Bank put the country’s official inflation rate for the past year at 19.8 percent. | Enduring America

Iranian state radio reported that the unmanned U.S. RQ-170 drone captured in Iran earlier this week was deep inside Iran’s airspace, flying over the eastern town of Kashmar, roughly 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan. | Washington Post


The unmanned surveillance aircraft lost by the United States in Iran was an RQ-170 stealth drone, a part of a CIA reconnaissance mission which involved the intelligence community and military personnel stationed in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials confirmed to CNN. It was unclear whether the drone's mission took it over Iran or whether it strayed there accidentally because of technical malfunctions.| Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; Fars News Agency

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement that Australia has expanded sanctions against people and companies involved in Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. | Washington Post; AFP

The Financial Times reported that a senior U.S. official visited the United Arab Emirates and met bank representatives to push for further isolation of Iranian economy and financial institutions. | Enduring America


Iran announced that it shot down a RQ-170 Sentinel, the U.S. Air Force's stealth drone, near Iran’s eastern border, but U.S. officials in Afghanistan said the craft could instead be an unmanned reconnaissance plane that veered off course and crashed last week. | Wall Street Journal; Fars News Agency

Iran is pressuring Hamas not to abandon Damascus as the organization’s headquarters and threatened to halt its funding for the organization if it leaves Syria, Israeli daily Haaretz reported, citing Palestinian sources. | Haaretz; NOW Lebanon

Speaking at an international conference on Afghanistan, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would oppose the presence of foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan after 2014. | Reuters


The U.S. Senate passed a bill unanimously that would give the president the power starting July 1 to bar foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank from having correspondent bank accounts in the U.S. The Obama administration opposes the legislation. | Bloomberg; Los Angeles Times

Vice President Joe Biden urged Turkey to pass new sanctions against Iran. | Reuters; VOA


EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed on new sanctions that apply to 143 entities and 37 individuals, said a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, EU’s foreign policy chief. France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands announced that they were pulling their envoys out of Tehran. | CNN; BBC

German authorities are investigating possible plans by Iran to attack U.S. military forces based within Germany, the Federal Prosecutor's Office announced on Thursday in Karlsruhe. | Spiegel; AP

Iran released 11 of the protesters detained in connection with the attack on the British embassy in Tehran without explanation. | Christian Science Monitor


British Foreign Minister William Hague announced that Britain has closed its embassy in Iran and withdrawn all of its diplomats. Britain has also closed the Iranian embassy in London and expelled its entire staff. | BBC; Christian Science Monitor 

Norway announced it has closed its embassy in Tehran, citing security concerns. Germany also announced that it has recalled its ambassador to Iran, Bernd Erbel. Iranian news agencies have reported that over ten protesters were detained yesterday by the Iranian police. | New York Times; Enduring America

A satellite image, released by the Institute for Science and International Security, has captured apparently extensive damage from the November 12 explosion at a Revolutionary Guards base near Tehran. Some buildings at the base appear to have been completely destroyed in the explosion. | BBC; New York Times


Protesters in Tehran broke into the UK embassy compound during an anti-British demonstration and are said to have removed the British flag and replaced it with Iran's flag. Iranian state TV showed youths smashing embassy windows. The demonstration is in response to new sanctions imposed by the UK. | BBC; New York Times; Reuters; Enduring America

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi canceled a trip to the Hague this week after Hungary refused to allow his plane to enter its airspace, Iran’s Shargh newspaper reported. Hungary said the refusal to give clearance was due to technical problems. Iran’s Foreign Ministry has requested an explanation from the Hungarian ambassador in Tehran. | Bloomberg; Tehran Times

Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency retracted its report of an explosion in Isfahan. Fars initially quoted deputy governor Mohammed Mehdi Ismaili as confirming the blast, but Ismaili later told the official news agency IRNA that reports of an explosion were baseless and fabricated. | UPI


On November 19, Iranian President Ahmadinejad's media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr made several statements attacking Ahmadinejad's critics. Iranian news sources then reported his arrest. On November 20, Javanfekr was sentenced to a year in prison and banned from journalism over a publication which was deemed to have offended public decency. On November 21, it was reported that Iranian security forces attacked the headquarters for the newspaper run by Javanfekr, and Javanfekr denied recent reports that he had been arrested by the judiciary. | Jerusalem Post; Washington Post; Reuters

The UK has imposed new sanctions against Iran which require all UK credit and financial institutions to cease all transactions with Iranian banks including the Central Bank of Iran. | BBC

The Obama administration is probing whether Iran supplied the Libyan government of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi with special artillery shells for chemical weapons, reports the Washington Post. | al-Arabiya; Washington Post


China's permanent representative and ambassador to the United Nations Cheng Jingye said that dialogue and cooperation are the right way to solve the Iranian nuclear issue. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in Moscow to discuss Iran and Syria, stressing that use of force against Iran was unacceptable. | Xinhua; RT; IRNA; IRNA

Swiss authorities have tightened sanctions against the Iranian regime, adding 116 names to those on a blacklist for financial and travel embargoes, including Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. | Daily Star; Enduring America

Digarban news published the names of 36 victims of the recent blast at a Revolutionary Guards base west of Tehran, while the official number of casualties announced by the IRGC remains 17. | Digarban; Enduring America


Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he wanted to send a high-level mission to Iran to investigate a report by his agency that Iranian scientists had engaged in secret and possibly "ongoing" efforts to construct a nuclear weapon. | New York Times

Turkey’s Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz told journalists that an Iranian offer of cooperation over the construction of nuclear power plants was not currently on Turkey’s agenda. | Enduring America

Saudi Arabia called for a UN vote on November 18 on a resolution condemning an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States and calling on Iran to cooperate with the investigation. The draft resolution is backed by the United States. | AFP


An open letter, signed by 175 expatriate dissidents and endorsed and publicized by the Iranian student activist website Daneshjoonews, called on the Iranian government to suspend uranium enrichment, adding to the international effort to convince Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program. | Wall Street Journal

Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, told the student news agency ISNA that the explosion that killed 17 troops last week took place during research on weapons that could strike Israel, denying that Israeli or U.S. sabotage was to blame. | Jerusalem Post; Fars

Director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control Adam Szubin told a House of Representatives committee that the Obama administration was still looking into imposing new sanctions aimed at Iran's central bank, but was still exploring whether the sanctions could have unintended consequences such as alienating young Iranians or increasing the price of oil, which would boost Iran's cash reserves. | AFP; Wall Street Journal


European Union foreign ministers ruled out a military option for Iran, urging Israel to not pursue the a military strike on Iran. The EU ministers also discussed tightening the sanctions against Iran but said they would wait until their next meeting in December before taking further action. | Christian Science Monitor; VOA

Head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization Gholamreza Jalali said Iran had detected the Duqu computer virus that experts say is based on Stuxnet. Jalali told the official IRNA news agency that computers at all main sites at risk were being checked and that Iran had developed software to combat the virus. | Reuters

Iran's ambassador to Damascus Mohammad Reza Raouf Shaibani stated that Iran supports Syria as a “pillar of resistance.” He said Syria "needs essential reforms" but criticized the Arab League's suspension of Syria. | Enduring America


News reports linking Israel's Mossad to the November 12 blast at the Bid Ganeh military base in Iran, in which 17 people were killed, including Revolutionary Guards' Brigadier General Hassan Moghaddam who was in charge of the Guards’ missile inventory, have gained widespread coverage in the Israeli media. Iranian officials insist the explosion at the base was accidental, caused by the movement of ammunition. | Guardian; Telegraph; BBC; Washington Post

Iran rejects Bahrain’s allegations that a terror cell uncovered in Bahrain has links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, an Iranian deputy foreign minister said. The Bahraini News Agency quoted the Bahraini public prosecutor's office as saying that the cell planned attacks against high profile sites, such as the Saudi Embassy in the Manama. | Washington Post; VOA; Guardian

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain does not exclude military action against Iran in the long term failing progress on its controversial nuclear program, whereas German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Germany is not taking part in the discussion on military intervention. The European Union foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the possibility of new sanctions on Iran. Spokesman for Iran's parliamentary committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Kazem Jalali said that the Iranian MPs might call for revision of Iran's cooperation with the IAEA due to negligence of the body to its international commitments. News outlets in Northeast Asia are reporting new details of alleged cooperation between Iran and North Korea on nuclear weapons development. | al-Arabiya; IRNA; VOA


In a nationally-televised speech to military cadets, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the United States and Israel not to attack Iranian nuclear sites, saying his country will respond to such action with “strong slaps and iron fists.” | Voice of America; New York Times; Washington Post

European Union diplomats said preliminary discussions among EU capitals on new sanction measures against Iran have already begun and plans may be ready for EU foreign ministers to approve on December 1. | Reuters

Aftab news reported that Iran’s government budget deficit for 2010/11 was roughly $20 billion. | Enduring America


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its latest report on Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Iranian leaders quickly dismissed the reported as an American fabrication and a pretext for military action. President Ahmadinejad said Iran will not retreat from its nuclear program. | New York Times; Washington Post; Voice of America

Oil rose for a sixth day in New York on speculation that Iran’s nuclear plans threaten Middle East stability. It is possible that the U.S. will pursue additional sanctions against Iran following the release of the recent IAEA report. | Bloomberg


U.S. President Barack Obama extended the U.S. national emergency with respect to Iran. The state of national emergency regarding Iran was declared by former President Carter on November 14, 1979. | KUNA; Economic Times

British MP David Alton called on the British government to stop the sale to Iran of mobile-phone software that assists in the tracking, arrest, and repression of opposition activists. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has faced increased criticism for his links to a British firm that sold software to Iran. | Enduring America; eWeek; Telegraph; Bloomberg

Iran does not need a nuclear bomb to stand up to the United States, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said in response to growing accusations that Iran has mastered nuclear weapons technology. | CNN; BBC


China's Foreign Ministry urged Iran to be flexible with the International Atomic Energy Agency, but strongly denounced the use of force amid growing talk of strikes against Iran. | CNN

The Obama administration will not tighten sanctions through measures against Iran's Central Bank. U.S. officials have decided that a proposed move against Iran's central bank could disrupt international oil markets and further damage the American and world economies. | LA Times; Enduring America

MP Rouhollah Hosseinian, formerly a backer of President Ahmadinejad, said that the Islamic Constancy Front has broken contact with President Ahmadinejad after "doubts" that he is following the line of velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy). | Enduring America


U.S. President Barack Obama says Iran's nuclear program poses a “continuing threat” and that he and French president Nicolas Sarkozy agree regarding the need to maintain international pressure on Tehran to meet its nuclear obligations. | VOA; Reuters; Washington Post

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO has "no intention whatsoever" of intervening in Iran, responding to reports that some governments may be planning a military strike against Tehran's nuclear program. | AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi responded to reports claiming Israel is planning a military attack against Iran, stating Tehran is “ready for war" with Israel and would not hesitate to retaliate for any attack. Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered an investigation into alleged leaks of plans to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. | Haaretz; Fars News Agency; Guardian


Iran's parliament voted against removing Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini from office over the recent bank scandal. 141 of the 244 parliamentarians voted against unseating the minister, parliament speaker Ali Larijani stated. | Reuters; Financial Times

Deputy Economy Minister Asghar Abolhassani resigned from his post. Abolhassani is also a board member of Bank Saderat, which is at the center of the $2.6 billion bank fraud scandal. | Enduring America

Iranian and U.S. government representatives have held back-channel talks on Syria, French daily newspaper Le Figaro reported on October 30, quoting a Syrian opposition figure in exile. The paper said the back-channel diplomacy between American and Iranian diplomats occurred at two meetings, one at the end of August and one at the beginning of September. | al-Arabiya


Iran's parliament renewed its threat to call in President Ahmadinejad for questioning over the recent $2.6 billion bank scandal and his economic policies, with more lawmakers signing a summons for him to appear before the parliament. | Reuters; Washington Post

Iran sent a formal complaint to the U.S. over claims that the Iranian government was involved in an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, a U.S. official said Sunday. The diplomatic note was delivered through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. | AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi criticized reported U.S. plans to build up American military forces across the Middle East, particularly the Gulf, after withdrawing from Iraq, calling on Washington to be more prudent or risk more unrest in the region. | AP; Reuters; Xinhua


Prosecutor Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei told a press conference that two more arrests had been made in the $2.6 billion bank fraud, bringing the total number of suspects to 33. Aftab reports that Seyed Mohammad Pourmohammadi, the vice president of Iran's Central Bank, has been arrested. | Enduring America

Pakistan’s Minister for Petroleum Asim Hussain dismissed speculation that there is pressure from international community, specifically from the U.S., to delay the completion of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, stating that the project will be done by 2013. | Nation (Pakistan); Fars News Agency


The United States plans to open a “virtual embassy” for Iran that will give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced. Secretary Clinton also said that Iran was “morphing into a military dictatorship” and that confusion about who has the power in Tehran has also complicated U.S. efforts to communicate with the Iranian leadership, although the Obama administration remains open to front and back channel talks. | al-Arabiya; Washington Post; Radio Free Europe; AFP

Under a new bill introduced this week in New York by Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, companies and individuals that invest in Iran's energy sector would be barred from doing business with New York state and its municipalities. | Reuters

Iranian MP Shokur Akbarnejad called for the release of opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both held since mid-February under strict house arrest. | Enduring America


Five people and four companies have been indicted for smuggling 6,000 radio control devices into Iran, some of which were found in improvised explosive devices in Iraq, the Justice Department announced. Authorities in Singapore arrested four people and said they will begin extradition procedures. The fifth defendant is a resident of Iran who remains at large. | New York Times; Washington Post

During a visit to Japan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Iran that it should not meddle in Iraq when American forces leave the country at the end of this year. | AFP

Iran's parliament dropped a summons calling President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in for questioning, Iranian media reported. One hundred of parliament's 290 members signed a motion in June summoning Ahmadinejad to face questions, but now only 69 signatures remain, too few for a summons. | Reuters


Manssor Arbabsiar, one of two men implicated in an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, entered a plea of not guilty in federal court in New York. | CNN; Wall Street Journal

In a recent diplomatic note to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, Russia and China urged Amano to scrap or delay U.S.-backed plans to reveal intelligence on Iran’s alleged nuclear arms experiments. | Washington Post

Iran’s state prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei stated that Iranian authorities have widened the $2.6 billion bank fraud investigation, arresting nine more suspects on October 24. A total of 31 people have been detained. | Wall Street Journal; al-Arabiya


The U.S. sent Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen to Europe to discuss increased economic sanctions against Tehran with his European counterparts in an effort to win support for tough measures on Tehran's central bank, and Iranian airlines and port companies ahead of America's troop withdrawal from Iraq. | Wall Street Journal

Iran's parliament launched an impeachment process against Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini for alleged laxity in monitoring banks, in fallout from a $2.6 billion fraud scandal. Impeachment proceedings were also initiated against Energy Minister Majid Namjou. | AFP; Reuters

In a response to an offer of talks from Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili last month, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, announced in a letter on October 21 that the 5+1 group is willing to resume talks with Iran within weeks if Tehran is prepared to “engage seriously in meaningful discussions.” On October 23, the European Union warned Iran that it risks new sanctions if it fails to return to international talks aimed at easing concerns about its disputed nuclear program. | PBS; Reuters; Tehran Times; AFP


A U.S. grand jury has formally indicted Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, both suspected of being part of an alleged Iranian plot to kill the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the U.S. | Al Jazeera

Turkey and Iran have vowed to cooperate to defeat separatist Kurdish militants operating in the Iraqi border region. | BBC; Washington Post; AlJazeera

Iran plans to soon start moving nuclear material, including uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6), to the underground Fordow site for the pursuit of sensitive atomic activities, diplomatic sources say. | Reuters


Following the United States and Britain, Canada has frozen the assets of five Iranian nationals accused by Washington of plotting to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, officials said. | Saudi Gazette

Iran’s intelligence chief Heidar Moslehi dismissed U.S. allegations that Iranian agents plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, saying that no professional intelligence agency would issue orders to an agent in a foreign country over the phone, nor would it transfer money to drug cartels through a New York bank. | Washington Post

Russia fears a planned International Atomic Energy Agency report which is expected to heighten suspicions about Iran’s nuclear aims will undermine Moscow’s initiative to resolve the nuclear dispute with Tehran, diplomats said on Wednesday. | al-Arabiya


Following U.S. actions, Britain also froze the assets of Mansoor Arbabsiar, Gholam Shakuri, Qasem Soleimani, Hamed Abdollahi, and Abdul Reza Shahlai, who the U.S. and UK believe are linked to the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States. | Saudi Gazette

French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed serious concern over the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador and said the West should harden sanctions against Tehran. | NOW Lebanon; AFP

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Oman today to thank the Gulf state’s ruler for his role in securing the release of the American hikers jailed by Iran and to discuss U.S. concerns about Iran's behavior, particularly following the alleged plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador. | AFP; Bloomberg; AP


Mehr News Agency reported that Gholam Shakuri, who the U.S. stated was the Quds Force officer working with Manssor Arbabsiar to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., is a senior member of the banned Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) organization. | Enduring America

Although Iran's nuclear program is plagued by low-performing enrichment equipment, it would still be able to produce material that could be used for nuclear weapons, according to a recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). The report states that tougher sanctions could complicate or delay Iran’s ability to build key parts for its uranium enrichment work. | Reuters; Washington Post; ISIS; ISIS

The Iranian Foreign Ministry sought to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia after the U.S. accused Iran of plotting to murder the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast accused the U.S. of trying to create a rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia. | Bloomberg; Fars News Agency


Ayatollah Khamenei warned that any “inappropriate action” by America in response to the supposed plot against the Saudi ambassador will be met with a decisive response from the Iranian people. | Enduring America; New York Times; Reuters

U.S. President Obama is calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency to release its data showing Iran is designing nuclear weapons technology in a bid to further isolate Tehran, the New York Times reported. | AFP; New York Times

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that direct election of the president is not necessary in Iran and stated that a return to a parliamentary system in Iran is possible. | Enduring America; AFP


The diplomatic fallout over U.S. accusations that Iran plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington may hurt any possibility of resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, according to a recent Reuters analysis. | Reuters

Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Deputy Secretary Burns in Washington today. | CNN

Deputy Science Minister Mohammad Mehdinejad-Nouri publicly acknowledged that Iran failed in its attempt to send a live monkey into space last month. Mehdinejad-Nouri stated that the launch was not publicized because “all of its anticipated objectives were not accomplished.” | AFP


The U.S. Justice Department accused two Iranians, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, of conspiring with elements in the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and assassins from a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir. | Voice of America; Reuters; Jerusalem Post; Saudi Gazette; New York Times

Iranian government officials rejected the United States’ accusations that Iran had planned the assassination of Adel al-Jubeir, calling the case a fabrication meant to vilify Iran and distract Americans from their economic woes. Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a complaint to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which is responsible for monitoring United States interests in Iran. | New York Times; ISNA; ISNA; Fars News Agency

The United States is discussing further sanctions against Iran with Britain, Saudi Arabia and other allies. There are ongoing discussions regarding whether to bring the case to the UN Security Council. | Reuters; Jerusalem Post; Reuters


The European Union expanded its individual sanctions against Iran to include 29 officials, prison staff and members of the judiciary who it says are guilty of serious human rights violations. | France 24; Enduring America

Mohammad Dadkhah, the attorney for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian convert sentenced to death for apostasy, told CNN that the court has asked Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to give his opinion on the case. Reuters reported that Iran’s Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court that originally tried him. | CNN; Arab News

Iranian authorities have set the timetable for the upcoming parliamentary elections in March 2012. Candidate registration will begin on December 24 and the authorities will assess candidates’ backgrounds between December 31 and January 9. | Bloomberg; Enduring America


Hundreds of students at the University of Zanjan, 170 miles west of Tehran, gathered on the campus to protest the gender-based segregation of the school. | PBS

Mohammad Reza Khatami, former secretary-general of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the largest reformist group that has been outlawed by the hardliners, said that the reformists will not take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections. | PBS

Central Bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani said that he will not resign under pressure in the wake of the $2.6 billion bank scandal. | PBS


Iran has reportedly arrested, questioned, and intimidated relatives of journalists working for BBC Persian Television in the country. | Guardian; New York Times

Rah-e Sabz reported that Médécins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has been banned from giving medical aid to Iranians and Afghans in Zahedan in southeastern Iran and that its offices have been closed. | Enduring America

Iran and India have agreed to a new payment mechanism to settle trade issues between the two countries, particularly for Iran’s sale of crude oil to India. | UPI; Business Standard


According to MP Hossein Nejabat, the eleven MPs that filed a complaint against President Ahmadinejad over the $2.6 billion bank scandal have withdrawn their complaint in deference to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s wishes. The Article 90 Commission will continue to investigate. | Enduring America; PBS

In a national televised interview, President Ahmadinejad reiterated that his administration will achieve its promise that it will create 2.5 million new jobs by March 2012, saying that it has already realized 40-45 percent of goal over the first half of the year. Reformist MP Dariush Ghanbari said that currently the true rate of unemployment is close to 30 percent. | PBS

Several Iranian websites posted an interview with the wife of Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei in which she discusses, among other things, her life with Ayatollah Khamenei. Very little is known about his wife.|  Radio Free Europe


Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei announced on state TV that 15 more suspects in the $2.6 bank scandal will be summoned to court in addition to the 22 already detained. Some news outlets report that the additional suspects have already been arrested. | Enduring America; Bloomberg; Trend

Omid Kokabi, an Iranian University of Texas researcher studying nuclear physics, went on trial in Iran on October 4 for having contact with "hostile countries," his lawyer Saeed Khalili said. Kokabi has been detained in Iran since February. | Reuters; AP

At a recent ceremony, Iran displayed its latest electronic warfare products including Shahed Electronic Warfare Simulator, an electronic warfare tester of Radar systems called ‘Sabah’ and a GPS jamming system. | Fars News Agency


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an address on state TV that there should no mercy for those involved in the $2.6 billion bank scandal. He also blamed government officials for defying his instructions to combat corruption in the country. In a meeting with a group of officials, however, Khamenei cautioned against allowing the press to blow the scandal out of proportion. | Washington Post; Reuters; Fars News Agency; PBS

Iranian MPs have asked Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to launch an inquiry into the actions of President Ahmadinejad, the Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani and, some other top officials over a $2.6 billion bank fraud incident. | Trend; Enduring America; PBS

Masoud Shafie, the lawyer for Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, has been barred from leaving Iran, a judiciary official told the ISNA news agency. | Reuters


Iran's Inspection Organization announced that it has opened new offices covering banks and insurance, energy and communications, and the economy in response to the current $2.6 billion bank scandal. | Enduring America

After an eight-day pause, Iran resumed its export of gas to Turkey on September 30. | Tehran Times; Press TV


Masoud Shafiee, the lawyer who represented Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer in Iran, said his home was raided by security forces, who also took him to Evin prison for questioning before releasing him. | UPI; New York Times

Iranian Navy Admiral Habibollah Sayari announced that Iran plans to send ships near the Atlantic coast of the United States. State-run Press TV said Sayari had announced similar plans in July. White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the idea as not reflective of Iran’s true naval capabilities. | CNN; Enduring America


The Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs announced that, in addition to the dismissal of Bank Melli Director Mahmoud Reza Khavari, a member of the bank’s Board of Directors, Farzad Ahmadi, was fired as a result of the $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal. The Central Bank also fired the heads of Bank Saderat and Bank Saman, Mohammad Jahromi and Valli-ollah Zarabieh. | Enduring America

An official of Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government reported that Iran and the Kurdish insurgency PJAK have agreed to a cease-fire, brokered by former Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. | Enduring America

The parliament has approved legislation that establishes greater limits on freedom of speech for parliamentarians. | Enduring America


Iranian state media reported that the head of Bank Melli Iran Mahmoud Reza Khavari has resigned over the $2.6 billion bank fraud scandal and that his resignation was accepted by Iran’s finance minister Shamseddin Hosseini. There are also reports that the manager of Saderat Bank, Mohammad Reza Jahromi, has been dismissed. | Washington Post; Reuters; Enduring America

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa met in New York for their first talks since the two countries withdrew their ambassadors during the protests in Bahrain earlier this year. | AFP; Voice of America

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Mualem met in New York to discuss the latest developments and reforms in Syria. | Fars News Agency


American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer described themselves as “hostages” and “political prisoners” during a recent press conference in New York. The pair reiterated their innocence, saying they were convicted simply because they are American. | Reuters; Guardian

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said that the Intelligence Ministry had summoned an unspecified number of people for their alleged links to the BBC’s Persian service. | AFP; CNN

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that cross-border military operations against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq will continue in cooperation with Iran. | Voice of America; CBS


UN delegations from more than 30 countries, including the United States and France, walked out during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s UN General Assembly speech after he repeated his suspicion that the September 11 attacks were a conspiracy. | ABC News

In an interview with the Associated Press, Ahmadinejad said that the opportunity for improved relations between the United States and Iran had not been lost yet, but that President Obama had not yet replied to a personal letter Ahmadinejad had sent him or agreed to meet him in New York. | Washington Post

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated that Russia will continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran and has not ruled out the construction of another nuclear plant. | Voice of Russia; Fars News Agency


American hikers Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal arrived in Oman late on September 21. | CNN

In an interview with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated an offer to stop all nuclear enrichment if the West would supply nuclear fuel enriched to a 20 percent level. | New York Times; Transcript of the interview


American hikers Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were released on $1 million bail. The men were seen leaving Evin prison in a diplomatic convoy with Swiss and Omani officials. IRNA reported that the two will be flown to Oman before returning to the United States. | New York Times; CNN; Fars News Agency; IRNA

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interviewed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, discussing the president’s position on Syria, protests in Iran, a direct military hotline, and the UN vote on Palestine. | ABC News; Enduring America


Masoud Shafiei, the lawyer for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, returned to court seeking a second judge’s signature on a bail deal that could free the Americans. The judge is reportedly on vacation.| CBS News; Enduring America

Iran’s nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani accused British spies of shadowing him in order to gather information on him and criticized the West for attacks on Iranian scientists. | Reuters

The Norwegian oil company Statoilhydro has ceased all activities in Iran. | Enduring America


A U.S. defense official reported that the United States is considering setting up a direct military hotline with Iran in order to prevent a military confrontation that could result from a misunderstanding between U.S. and Iranian forces in the Gulf. | AFP; Voice of America

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stated that the Iranian judiciary is considering commuting the sentences of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, but did not indicate a date. A U.S. interfaith delegation including members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations returned from Iran on September 19 after meeting with President Ahmadinejad to seek the release of Bauer and Fattal. | PBS; Politico; Washington Post


Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated that Iraq’s leaders, including the president and prime minister, have repeatedly called on Iran to release Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. | AFP

Judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani appointed Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei to head the investigation into the roughly $3 billion embezzlement scandal linked to Amir Mansoor Khosravi. The chairman of Parliament’s Economic Affairs Commission, Arsalan Fathipour, said the committee will hold a special meeting on September 19 on the scandal. | Enduring America; PBS

Iran’s Ambassador to Libya Ali Asqar Nasseri returned to his post in Tripoli, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced. | Fars News Agency


An Omani Foreign Ministry official reported that Oman has sent a plane to Tehran amid efforts for a bail-for-freedom deal for Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal. Iran’s judiciary stated that the release of the Americans is still under review. | CBS; Washington Times; Today’s Zaman; Enduring America

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague called for the United Nations General Assembly to approve sanctions against Iran for Iran’s human rights violations. | AFP; BBC

Iran’s UN mission denied an earlier report that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would visit Columbia University during his upcoming trip to New York. | Fars News Agency


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC’s “Today” show that Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal will be freed in the next few days on bail of $500,000 each. | New York Times; Tehran Times; CNN; Fars News Agency

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Fereidoon Abbasi will reportedly travel to Vienna for the 59th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency scheduled to begin on September 19. | UPI

Head of the Tax Revenue Organization Ali Askari announced that Tehran bazaar merchants have until September 22 to register for payment of the value-added tax, increasing pressure on merchants to end their strike. | PBS


Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast criticized Turkey’s plan to host a NATO early-warning radar system, saying it could lead to increased regional tension and will not improve regional security. | Yahoo News; Fars News Agency

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife were permitted to visit their children for the first time after seven months of house arrest, according to the opposition site Kaleme. | PBS; Radio Free Europe

The United States, Britain, France, and Germany accused Iran of violating UN sanctions prohibiting the use of ballistic missile technology, specifically when Iran launched the Rasad 1 satellite. | Washington Post


Iranian state news outlet IRNA reported that Germany’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Michael Steiner, has invited Iran to take part in an international conference on Afghanistan in December. | IRNA

Employees of the Zhaveh Dam and of the company that is building a light rail system for Ahvaz are on strike and reportedly have not received their wages for several months. | PBS


In a report by security firm Fox-IT, up to 300,000 Iranian Internet users and the websites of intelligence agencies including the Mossad and the CIA may have been monitored using security certificates stolen from the Dutch firm DigiNotar. | BBC; PC World; Haaretz; Reuters

Iranian media reported that the head of Iran’s Organization for the Protection of the Environment has confirmed that 950 billion tomans (about $900 million) has been allotted to redirect water from the Aras and Kurdistan Rivers to Orumiyeh Lake. | Enduring America

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards killed or wounded 30 Kurdish rebels in an assault on the border with Iraq on September 3, Colonel Hamid Ahmadi told the official IRNA news agency. | Reuters; ISNA


Ayatollah Khamenei said that the parliamentary election scheduled for early next year posed a potential risk to the country’s security and called for national unity. He declared that any unrest would be evidence of foreign interference.| Reuters; IRNA; Fars News Agency; Enduring America

Seyed Ahmad Avaei, a member of Parliament’s National Security Commission, said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s support for President Bashar al-Assad’s Syria was wrong and that the protest of religious people in the country is genuine. | Enduring America

Syria’s Central Bank rejected allegations that it received $6 billion from Iran. | PBS


Iranian engineers have completed the construction of a combined-cycle power plant in the Central Isfahan province and the plant is ready for inauguration, Director-General of Isfahan's Power Department Houshang Fallahian said. | Fars News Agency

Iran will no longer negotiate a nuclear fuel swap with some of the world powers, Iran Atomic Energy Organisation chief Fereydoun Abbasi Davani said in an interview with the official IRNA news agency. He added, however, that Iran is ready for closer cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). | AFP

Security researchers are warning that a web certificate issued by the Dutch company DigiNotar could let hackers steal passwords and data from apparently secure connections to Google websites. Internet users in Iran, especially dissidents, are believed to be at particular risk. | Guardian; Enduring America


Speaking to the semi-official ISNA news agency, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to heed the "legitimate demands" of civilians. | Independent

Masoud Shafiee, the lawyer for American hikers Shawn Bauer and Josh Fattal, said that he had filed an appeal in the case and expects it could take from two days to two months for the court to respond. | Global Post; Arab News

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pardoned approximately 100 political activists imprisoned for their part in the 2009 protests. The pardons did not include Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi. | Los Angeles Times; PBS


In honor of al-Quds Day, many top Iranian officials issued statements in of support for the Palestinian people. President Ahmadinejad stated that the potential UN recognition of a Palestinian state would be a step towards the "full liberation" of Palestine. | Enduring America; IRNA

Abd al-Hossein Bayat, deputy oil minister, says the petrochemicals industry is in need of $50 billion investment. | AEI

JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay $88.3 million as part of a settlement with the Treasury Department for sanctions violations involving Cuba, Iran and Sudan. | New York Times


IrMahmoud Reza Sajjadi, Iran's ambassador in Russia, said that Tehran has filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice against Russia for its refusal to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Iran. | Enduring America; China Daily; Fars News Agency

President Ahmadinejad called for dialogue between the Syrian regime and the opposition to end months of violence. | Enduring America; Haaretz

The European Union expanded Syria sanctions to target the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard for helping Syrian security forces crush the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. | LA Times; Enduring America; Voice of America; PBS


Iran's Mehr News Agency reported that the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) Deputy DirectorGeneral Herman Nackaerts recently inspected Iran's nuclear facilities. | Bernama; Payvand; Reuters

The French government accused Iran of violating UN Security Council resolutions because of the installation of centrifuges at the Ferdoo plant. Western delegations to the IAEA governing board are considering referring Iran to the UN Security Council. | KUNA; Global Security Newswire


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled new Iranian-built cruise missiles, sea engines, and torpedoes at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University. | Jerusalem Post; IRNA; AFP

Iranian state news reported that Defendant Ali Jamali Fashi confessed that he had connections with Israel's Mossad and that he assassinated Iranian physicist, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi. | Payvand; Reuters; Fars News Agency; BBC

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani cabled a message congratulating the Libyan people on their triumph in ousting Muammar Qadhafi. Iran’s Foreign Ministry urged Libyans to prevent foreign interference. | IRNA; Bloomberg


Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were sentenced to three years for entering Iran illegally and five additional years for spying for the United States, according to Iranian state media. They reportedly have 20 days to appeal. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi added that Sarah Shourd will be put on trial in absentia. | New York Times; Enduring America; Enduring America; PBS; Fars News Agency

Iran is transferring centrifuges from its Natanz nuclear facility to a site at Fordoo, in the mountains near Qom, reported Fereydoun Abbasi, head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization. | UPI; Enduring America; Fars News Agency

Iranian member of parliament Hassan Nowroozi said that presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai and Vice President Hamid Baghaei have refused to come to parliament to answer questions and have filed a complaint against him and another member of parliament. | Enduring America


A group of hardline supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad formed the Jebheh Paaydaari-ye Enghelab-e Eslami (Front for Durability of the Islamic Revolution or Islamic Constancy Front). The formation of the front has been criticized by other hardliners and conservatives as promoting disunity. | PBS; Enduring America

The medical examination of Mir Hossein Mousavi confirmed that he is healthy, the Iranian opposition website Kaleme reported. | Trend

Iranian natural gas shipments through a pipeline to Turkey have resumed after deliveries were interrupted by an attack on the pipeline by Kurdish rebels, an Iranian official said. | UPI; Fars News Agency


According to Serat News, Mir-Hossein Mousavi is in critical condition and undergoing medical treatment. | AEI

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Firuddin Abbas, has asserted that Tehran can produce sufficient uranium to power the Amirabad Nuclear Research Reactor before next March. | Enduring America

Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi said oil executives will be given freer hands to circumvent the sanctions. | AEI


Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said during a news conference in Moscow that he agrees on the need to begin talks on the nuclear issue. Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, welcomed the Russian proposal as a possible basis for new negotiations. | New York Times; Voice of America; Fars News Agency; ISNA

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards said they killed dozens of Kurdish rebels in a military campaign along the Iraqi border. Colonel Hamid Ahmadi denied Iran had shelled villages in Iraq during its pursuit of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). | Reuters

MP Mousalreza Servati said Parliament's Economy Committee had met the head of Iran's Statistics Center, who revealed inflation is now 19.6% --- rather than the 16.3 % put out by the Central Bank. | Enduring America


The reformist newspaper Emruz claimed that it possesses a taped "confession" by Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, advisor of President Ahmadinejad, in which he admits that Mir Hossein Mousavi had received 15 million votes, rather than the 11 million "official" return in the 2009 presidential election. | Enduring America

Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met with his Iranian counterpart Saeid Jalili to discuss Iran's nuclear program and persuade Tehran to resume six-way nuclear talks on the basis of a new Russian proposal. Under the proposal, Iran could address questions about its activities in exchange for the reduction of international sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will travel to Moscow this week for nuclear talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. | Haaretz; AFP; Enduring America

After a two-month lapse in any official mention of inflation, the Iranian Central Bank announced that the rate is 16.3%, up from 14.5% in April/May. | Enduring America


The pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Iran caused a further rift between Ahmadinejad’s supporters and adversaries when it published a special section about Islamic hijab called “Khatoon Nameh,” which contained a controversial interview with Mehdi Kalhor, a supporter of the president, in which he criticized the chador. | PBS; Enduring America

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Director Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be connected to the national grid by the end of the month. | Payvand; China Daily

The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the recent explosion in the pipeline between Iran and Turkey. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Parliament's National Security Council, denied Turkish media claims that Iran arrested the deputy leader of the PKK. | PBS; Enduring America


The three-year prison sentence of journalist Mehdi Jalil-Khani has been confirmed. | Enduring America

Commander of the Basij forces Mohammad Reza Naghdi said that al-Ashura and al-Zahar battalions are ready to be dispatched to London as peacekeeping forces. Additionally, the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued an alert for travel to the UK.| IRNA; UPI

Britain responded to the criticisms by Iranian officials with a letter saying that the UK has a standing invitation to all UN special rapporteurs and that it urges the Iranian government to extend a similar courtesy to the UN special rapporteur for Iran, Ahmed Shaheed. | Enduring America; Jerusalem Post


The Iranian authorities have imposed a one-year ban on the journal Rouyesh and put the publications Jam-e Jam and Donya-ye Javanan each on a one-year probation. | Enduring America

Numerous Iranian leaders have condemned the government’s use of violence in the UK, including President Ahmadinejad and Zohreh Elahian, the head of Parliament's Human Rights Committee. | Enduring America; Fars News Agency

Khabar Online reports that economic stagnation has hit Iran's import sector, with a 13% decrease from March 2010 to March 2011. The site also says that Iran's balance of trade deficit was $38 billion during the year. | Enduring America


Newly appointed Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi selected Amir-Hamed Sohrabi as his chief of staff. | AEI

Hassan Allahverdinejad of the Islamic Welfare Party said his faction supports Ahmadinejad's chief-of-staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai as the next president, predicting that anti-Ahmadinejad hardliners will not get enough votes to control Parliament. | Enduring America


The hardliners and conservatives are trying to form a coalition to prevent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters from taking control of the next parliament. The coalition includes: the Society of Militant Clerics of Tehran; the Society of Teachers and Scholars of Qom Seminaries; the Front of Followers of Imam and the Leader; and Resistance Front of the Islamic Revolution. | PBS

Managing Director of National Iranian Oil Company Ahmad Ghalehbani told reporters that a new gas field with a reserve of 495 billion cubic meters of natural gas was discovered in Assaluyeh in the Bushehr province. The reserves are valued at roughly $133 billion. | IRNA; KUNA

Mohammad Reza Tabesh, a member of parliament, said that reformists will run for elections only if the demands for greater political freedom are met. Masoumeh Ebtekar, a member of the Tehran City Council, and Ahmad Khorram, a former minister in the Khatami administration, also called for changes prior to the reformists’ participation in elections. | Enduring America; PBS


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published a positive assessment of Iran’s economy, reporting 3.2 percent growth in 2011. This new report is based on official Iranian data rather than independent analyses and contradicts the IMF’s April regional report on the Middle East and Central Asia, which predicted a 0 percent growth rate. | Wall Street Journal; Enduring America

In a recent interview, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Dannaie Fir, said he expects two U.S. hikers to be released soon. He stated that while he has no specific details about their release, there is growing sympathy for them, especially during Ramadan. | AP

Member of Parliament Ali Motahari criticized the Revolutionary Guards’ growing involvement in Iran’s political and economic affairs during the parliamentary debate before the vote to confirm Brigadier General Rustam Qassemi as the new oil minister. In addition to his position as oil minister, Qassemi will also take over the presidency of OPEC. Qassemi is currently subject to U.S., EU, and Australian sanctions. | Guardian; PBS


Iran’s parliament voted to confirm President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s four new ministerial appointees, including Revolutionary Guards commander Rustam Qassemi as Iran’s next minister of oil. Qassemi is subject to international sanctions for his involvement in Iran’s nuclear program; Iran’s speaker of parliament called a vote for him a symbolic gesture against U.S. sanctions. | AFP; IRNA

International sanctions continue to make it difficult for Iran to receive payment for its oil exports. Iran reportedly has close to $4 billion in oil payments in South Korean banks, but cannot bring the money into Iran because of restrictions on financial transactions. India has also had trouble paying Iran for its oil imports and some sources claim that Iran has suspended oil exports to India as a result. | Reuters; American Enterprise Institute

Three Kurdish cultural figures have been arrested for unknown reasons, including poet Jamal Khani, teacher Farhad Vakilinia, and student Naeem Najafi. | Enduring America


A 10-year-old Iraqi Kurd was killed in shelling by Iran, making him the third Iraqi death from Iranian military operations against Kurdish separatist bases in Iraq. Iraq’s foreign minister demanded that Iran stop shelling Kurdish positions in Iraq, saying it would damage Iran-Iraq ties. | AFP

The U.S. Treasury Department accused Iran of assisting al-Qaeda in sending money and people to Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying Iran was a “core pipeline” for al-Qaeda. But the United States did not provide additional details on a supposed “secret deal” between Iran and al-Qaeda to transport resources. | New York Times; The National Interest

The identity of a man shot dead in Tehran last Saturday—initially thought to be a high-level nuclear scientist—remains unclear. Official news sources have identified him both as a nuclear physics professor and as an engineering student with no connection to the nuclear program. Three Iranian nuclear scientists have already been assassinated this year, all in similar fashion. | Haaretz


The Coordinating Council of the Green Path released a list of demands before reformists will participate in upcoming parliamentary elections, including the release of political prisoners, neutral supervision of elections, freedom to campaign, an end to restrictions on labor unions, media, and civil society, and neutrality by security services. | Enduring America

A new Zogby poll shows a large drop in Iran’s favorability ratings in the Arab world, with majorities in all countries surveyed, except Lebanon, expressing unfavorable views toward Iran and being opposed to Iran as a nuclear power. | Arab American Institute

Former President Mohammad Khatami was prevented from leaving Iran, according to unconfirmed reports. Khatami was reportedly planning to visit his children abroad and attend a seminar in Ireland. | Haaretz


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominated a Revolutionary Guards commander, Rostam Qasemi, as the new minister of oil. Qasemi is a target of international sanctions. He currently runs the Khatam al-Anbiya branch of the Guards, which is heavily involved in Iran’s oil sector. | AFP

Iran’s foreign ministry expressed interest in Russia’s plan for a phased solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and said Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi plans to accept an invitation to visit Russia soon. But Iran noted that it has already “taken big steps towards confidence-building but we believe that confidence-building is a mutual move.” | Enduring America

Clashes continue in Iraq’s Kurdish region between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and a Kurdish separatist group. Three additional Guardsmen were reportedly killed. Iran said it will continue military operations in the Kurdish region until Iraq deploys forces to protect their shared border.| American Enterprise Institute; ISNA


Varying reports have emerged over the killing of Iranian scientist Darioush Rezaie. He was initially reported to be a nuclear physicist involved in Iran’s nuclear program, but Iranian intelligence then said Rezaie had been confused with another person. New reports suggest he may in fact be involved in the nuclear program and Iranian officials may be trying to downplay the significance of his death. | Reuters 

International sanctions are hindering Iran’s ability to receive payments for its oil exports. According to the Financial Times, China owes Iran $30 billion for oil imports but has been unable to pay it because of sanctions on financial transactions to Iran. The head of Iran’s central bank denied that China owes Iran that much money. India also reportedly owes Iran $5 billion.  | Financial Times; Enduring America

Ayatollah Khamenei appointed a Supreme Council for Resolving the Differences between the Three Branches
. The move is an effort to ease tensions between regime factions and was seen as an attempt to bypass former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who heads the Expediency Council.| PBS; Radio Free Europe


Iranian forces shelled the Iraqi town of Sidkan, killing two Iraqi civilians and reportedly forcing over 800 people to flee. Iran has been conducting military operations in Iraq’s Kurdish region for over a week in an attempt to weed out Kurdish rebels who Iran claims have sought shelter there. | AP

An Iranian scientist killed Saturday was initially wrongly identified as a physicist involved in Iran’s nuclear program. The slain man, an electric engineering student, had a similar name to a nuclear physicist. Iranian officials accused Western countries of assassinating him, and, after his true identity emerged, some say he may have been killed by mistake.| PBS; Voice of America; NPR

Iran’s military denies that it shot down a U.S. drone over Iran, contradicting previous state news reports. An Iranian parliamentarian had claimed that the Revolutionary Guards shot down a drone, but the Guards spokesman said that report was a mistake caused by a training exercise. | CNN


Clashes continue between Iranian forces and Kurdish separatists in Iraq, with multiple casualties reported on both sides, including a Revolutionary Guards commander. Iraq's foreign minister called on Iran to stop artillery attacks against targets inside Iraq, which have reportedly hit villages.| Jerusalem Post; Enduring America

In response to a Russian proposal of a step-by-step solution to the Iranian nuclear program, the Iranian foreign ministry said it is “studying the issue” and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that “we seek a solution to the nuclear issue.” | Enduring America

In a sign of continuing tensions between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and conservative hard-liners, the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards said that the president must “recognize his mistakes since the expectations of the people have not been met.” | American Enterprise Institute


In response to Russia’s proposal for a step-by-step solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran has already taken steps to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and said, “now, you should take your step.” | IRNA

Former President Mohammad Khatami and other prominent reformists again emphasized that they will not participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections unless conditions are met to ensure the elections are free and fair. | PBS

Complaints have been filed against Vice President Hamid Baghaei and Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, in the Iranian parliament’s Article 90 Commission, according to an Iranian member of parliament. The commission oversees the government. The complaint is reportedly 144 pages long. | PBS


An Iraqi parliamentarian called on the Iraqi government to condemn Iran’s incursion into Iraqi Kurdish territory over the weekend. Iranian forces have reportedly taken control of three camps inside Iraq, which belonged to the Iranian opposition, Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). The Iraqi prime minister has remained silent on the raid. | The National

Iranian state media claims that Iran has shot down a U.S. drone flying near its Fordo nuclear enrichment plant. According to CNN, three U.S. officials said there was no indication or information that a U.S. drone was downed. | CNN

India has been unable to pay Iran for oil imports due to international sanctions. India reportedly owes Iran $5 billion. A U.S. official said that the U.S. Treasury Department is working with India to resolve the payments problem and is close to a solution. India is also reportedly trying to import more oil from Saudi Arabia to replace a possible loss in Iranian oil supplies. | American Enterprise Institute; Reuters; Reuters


Authors of the “New Green Manifesto,” a letter written in support of the Iranian opposition that appeared last week on an American-based website, have written again to answer suspicions from critics and to clarify their positions. | Enduring America

Ignoring international calls to halt its nuclear activities, Iran reported today that it is installing upgraded nuclear centrifuges designed to improve the speed and quality of the uranium enrichment process at the Bushehr plant. | BBC

The Iranian navy announced plans to deploy warships to the Atlantic Ocean as part of its recent effort to increase its presence in international waters, in particular in the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Indian Ocean. Earlier this year, Iran raised the ire of Israel when it sent two ships across the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. | AFP


A parliamentarian from Fars Province criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for failing to appoint a governor-general for the province, saying Fars is in a state of disorder. He blamed the “deviant current” for preventing responsible people from filling key provincial positions and said he will call on the Supreme Leader to intervene if the president does not resolve the issue. | Enduring America

Four complaints against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are scheduled to be read this week in parliament. These include the dispute over the conduct of Iran’s Ministry of Sports, the case of the minister of intelligence whom Ahmadinejad tried to force to resign, the merger of ministries, and 50 claims of malfeasances by the government. | Enduring America

Eleven Baha’is and two prominent actresses, Pegah Ahangaran and Marzieh Vafamehr, have been arrested in recent weeks. Reporters Without Borders also called for the release of seven bloggers arrested last year; each was sentenced to between five and seven years in prison. | PBS; Enduring America; Reporters Without Borders


A parliamentarian from Fars Province criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for failing to appoint a governor-general for the province, saying Fars is in a state of disorder. He blamed the “deviant current” for preventing responsible people from filling key provincial positions and said he will call on the Supreme Leader to intervene if the president does not resolve the issue. | Enduring America

Russia proposed a “step-by-step” approach under which Iran could address questions about its nuclear program and be rewarded with a gradual easing of sanctions. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with the Russian foreign minister about the plan, but are reportedly hesitant about any move to ease sanctions. | Reuters

Iran has upgraded its Internet censorship system. The upgrade is aimed at preventing users from bypassing censorship through proxy networks or VPNs. | Guardian


A group of intellectuals from the Green Movement within Iran issued a new manifesto for the opposition, saying reform is no longer possible given the crimes of the regime. The manifesto calls for greater coordination within the opposition and specific actions such as strikes, boycotts, and silent demonstrations, as well as a name-and-shame campaign against regime officials. The full text is available here. | Inside Iran

Former President Mohammad Khatami said reformists will not participate in future elections unless they are free, the security environment is lifted, and political prisoners are freed. He added that the military must not intervene in elections and the Guardian Council’s vetting power must be addressed. | PBS

Allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and conservatives in parliament will not unite for the upcoming parliamentary elections, according to the deputy speaker of parliament. He added that there is no official group that supports Ahmadinejad. | PBS


After a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on regional governments to respect the rights of their people, saying “the people of the region must enjoy equal rights, the right to vote, security and dignity, and no government can deprive them of freedom and justice or refuse their peoples’ demands.” | AFP


Several members of Ahmadinejad’s government have been arrested. This is the latest move against the “current of deviation,” a term used to refer to Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and his inner circle. Those arrested reportedly include staff at the Organization of Tourism and Cultural Heritage and a staffer at the national museum. | AFP

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman rejected allegations by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Iran has armed rebels in Iraq. American officials say that nine of the fifteen U.S. troops who died in Iraq in June were killed by rockets supplied by Iran. | AFP, New York Times


Two close associates of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested: Azadeh Ardakani, the private English tutor of Mashaei and Vice President Hamid Baghaei, and Tahmineh Ardakani, deputy head of the Organization for Cultural Heritage and Tourism. | PBS

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the plan to summon Ahmadinejad for questioning has been postponed for now. But he added that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has emphasized that parliament has the right to question and even impeach Ahmadinejad. | PBS

The grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini and the brother of former President Mohammad Khatami both criticized recent statements by the commander of the Revolutionary Guards about who will be allowed to run for parliament, saying that the Guards should stay out of politics. Separately, the Ministry of Interior announced that nine Revolutionary Guards officers have resigned to run for parliament. | Enduring America


The commander of the Revolutionary Guards acknowledged that the Guards have detained several advisors to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the judiciary’s recommendation, admitting that the military is being used for law enforcement purposes. He also said that reformists who have not crossed “red lines” can participate in the 2012 parliamentary elections; supporting the “sedition” of 2009 is one example of a red line. | Enduring America&

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said forensic testing on weapons used in deadly attacks in Iraq show that Iran is supporting Iraqi insurgents with weapons and training. Jeffrey said U.S. officials are seeing more lethal weapons, more sophisticated deployment options, and better-trained insurgents as well as weapons with identification numbers suggesting they come from Iran. | Washington Post

Citing intelligence sources, Le Monde reports that Iran may be aiding Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in order to thwart NATO efforts in Libya and divert international attention from its nuclear program and the unrest in Syria. The sources claim that a group of Revolutionary Guard commanders provided advice to the Libyan regime on monitoring communications and gathering intelligence. | Le Monde


Three former ministers were acquitted of charges of squandering public funds. Former ministers of finance, information, and housing, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, Anas al-Fiqqi and Ahmed al-Maghrabi, respectively, all faced charges of spending money for publicity campaigns for the dissolved National Democratic Party in the 2010 elections and selling state-owned land at a lower price than its value. The public prosecutor appealed the court decision. | Al-Masry Al-Youm; Al-Ahram

Prominent attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, spokesman for the League of Defenders of Human Rights in Iran, was convicted of plotting the “soft overthrow” of the government. He was sentenced to nine years of incarceration, a ten-year ban on practicing or teaching law, and five lashes. | PBS

The world’s largest container firm, Maersk, has suspended operations at several Iranian ports due to sanctions. This move could disrupt critical food shipments to Iran. Maersk may divert shipments to Dubai and partner with other companies not bound by U.S. sanctions. | Reuters


U.S. officials claim Iran is contributing to an increase in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq. Pentagon and military officials say the rising death toll is directly connected to increasingly sophisticated weapons used by insurgents and Iran-backed militia groups. They do not have evidence that the Iranian government is ordering attacks against U.S. forces but believe the groups are trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. | Boston Globe

Iran is believed to be using communications equipment acquired from foreign firms to monitor and interfere with Internet and phone communications within Iran. U.S. sanctions against Iran impose a procurement ban on any entities found to have exported sensitive technology to Iran, but neither the State Department nor the Government Accountability Office has identified a single firm subject to the procurement ban. | Washington Post

The families of two U.S. hikers detained in Iran met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ki-moon reportedly told the families that the detention of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer was “totally unacceptable” and promised to urge Iran to release the two men. Iran rejected claims that the two men have been abused in prison and says they have been allowed consular access and phone calls. | CNN; AFP


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that he will resist with all his “legal, moral, and national power” if a member of his cabinet is arrested. His inner circle is reportedly concerned that Vice President Hamid Baghaei may be imminently arrested on corruption charges. Three parliamentarians have filed a 100-page complaint against Baghaei and Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff for alleged corruption. | PBS

The United States imposed new sanctions against senior Iranian officials accused of training and arming Syrian forces to assist their crackdown on protesters. Sanctioned individuals include the head of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and his deputy, as well as several Syrian institutions and individuals.  | Washington Post; Voice of America

Sharif University in Tehran plans to impose total gender segregation of new students. A website linked to the president’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, criticized this plan as “the stupidity of the totalitarians.” | Enduring America


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the arrests of several allies on corruption charges were politically motivated and designed to pressure the government. Four senior government officials were arrested last week. Ahmadinejad said he would remain silent and continue his duties. | Washington Post; Enduring America

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly urged Iran’s political leaders to refrain from public political fights. He has asked the press to limit coverage of the arrests of Ahmadinejad allies and has discouraged criticism of official economic statistics. Some reports suggest Khamenei was displeased with the parliament’s public moves against Ahmadinejad, but Speaker Ali Larijani said Khamenei told him that questioning and impeaching Ahmadinejad was within the rights of the parliament.| Enduring America; PBS

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague claimed Iran is covertly testing ballistic missiles capable of transporting nuclear warheads. Iran is currently conducting a ten-day series of mid-range missile tests; it says these missiles can hit Israel and U.S. bases in the region. It also recently revealed a network of underground missile silos.| Reuters; Washington Post; Tehran Times


One hundred parliamentarians have called for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be questioned before the assembly, but now lawmakers are pressing to delay the action until after the summer holidays. | Enduring America; AEI

The Supreme Leader has called for a meeting of the board of the parliament to discuss Ahmadinejad’s recent controversial appointment of Hamid Sajjadi as minister of sport. | Enduring America


Rah-e Sabz reports that the eighteen protesting detainees at Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons have ended their hunger strikes. | Enduring America 

Over the weekend, Iran held an anti-terrorism conference and participated in talks with the leaders of Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Following closely on President Barack Obama’s announcement of the large-scale troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Tehran emphasized the increased role it would like to play in the region. | Wall Street Journal

Reports continue to surface of prison authorities intentionally facilitating the rape of jailed activists by providing other inmates or guards with condoms. Prisoners and their family members, with the support of human rights groups, have written a series of letters to the government, but officials continue to deny the allegations. | Guardian 


Former deputy foreign minister and ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, has been arrested on charges of financial corruption. Malekzadeh’s resignation two days ago came after his appointment sparked massive uproar within the parliament and a petition signed by 30 ministers requesting his removal. | Al Jazeera; Enduring America

Iran announced that it arrested 30 people in May on suspicion of spying for the United States. A Press TV report claimed that the spy ring planned to disrupt daily life and foment popular dissatisfaction by targeting information about cash machines, the Tehran subway system, and nuclear issues. | New York Times


Abbas Amirifar, a cleric and head of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Cultural Commission, was released after 50 days in prison. He was arrested because of his involvement in producing a controversial DVD on the imminent return of the twelfth imam. | Enduring America

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said Saudi Arabia may seek to supplant Iran’s oil exports if the nation doesn’t constrain its nuclear program. He said Saudi Arabia could “almost instantly replace all of Iran’s oil production” if Iranian oil exports were limited by sanctions or other measures. Iran’s oil minister said Iran will resist any move to play with oil prices through a production hike. | Wall Street Journal; Fars News

In a setback to Ahmadinejad, his plan to merge the oil ministry into a larger energy ministry has been cancelled, according to the Iranian parliament. The parliament says the merger was aborted after representatives of the parliament and the government agreed that the oil ministry should be independent. | AFP


Newly appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh resigned after intense opposition by parliament, including a threat to impeach the foreign minister over his appointment. Malekzadeh is a close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial chief of staff and is accused of corruption. The parliament also rejected Ahmadinejad’s nominee to head the Ministry of Sports. | AFP; Washington Post; Guardian

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Iran and Cuba have forced more journalists into exile than all other countries combined. Both countries have forced eighteen journalists into exile. The survey says the majority of the journalists left their country out of fear of arrest while others left after physical assaults or harassment. | AFP

A New York grand jury indicted eleven companies in Iran, Singapore, the UAE, and the UK on charges of falsifying documents and using fake identities to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran. The companies are accused of being fronts for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which the indictment claims tricked U.S. banks into sending and receiving over $60 million in payments. | PBS; New York Times


Detained American hikers Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, originally taken into custody in 2009, will be tried on the two-year anniversary of their arrest, July 31. | Los Angeles Times

The UN Human Rights Council appointed Ahmed Shaheed, former minister of foreign affairs of the Maldives, as the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The Human Rights Council asked Shaheed to present a preliminary report on the Iranian human rights situation by September and a final report by March 2012. The head of the parliamentary commission on human rights said that Shaheed will not be allowed to travel to Iran because he has “political goals.” | PBS; Tehran Times 

New divisions have emerged between the parliament and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration over the appointment of Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh as deputy foreign minister for financial affairs. Malekzadeh is a close aide to controversial presidential chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and part of what hardliners call the “deviant current.” He is accused of corruption and is currently under investigation for suspected financial mismanagement while head of the Supreme Council of Iranian Expatriates. | PBS; Press TV 


Tehran University’s Islamic Association wrote an open letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary demanding punishment for those who attacked university dorms two nights after the 2009 presidential elections. The letter notes that students detained in the raid have been sentenced to prison but the attackers have not been punished. Iran’s largest reformist student group claims five students were killed in the attack. | Enduring America

Hardline clerics once again attacked the “perverted group” around Ahmadinejad and a member of the parliamentary National Security Committee warned against legislative candidates organized by the “current of deviation.” Abbas Amirfar, a close Ahmadinejad associate arrested 40 days ago, was released and promptly re-arrested. His family says he has spent all 40 days in solitary confinement. | PBS; American Enterprise Institute

Several economists have questioned an IMF report commending Iran for successfully bringing down inflation and cutting subsidies. They note that the IMF report was based on official government statistics, which tend to understate the inflation rate, and that the Iranian economy suffers from other serious problems. | PBS


Iran announces it launched its second satellite into orbit on Wednesday. The satellite is designed to produce high-resolution maps, according to state news. Iran’s space program has prompted fears in the West that the same missiles used to launch satellites could be used for nuclear warheads. | Guardian

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers condemned Iran’s “flagrant” intervention in the internal affairs of member states and expressed their alarm at Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s foreign ministry rejected the allegations as unfounded and said they are meant to divert public attention away from the GCC military actions against the legitimate demands of their nations. | Gulf News; IRNA

Iran’s military says it will create a cyber command to combat soft warfare against Iran. The announcement comes following a New York Times report on the Obama administration’s efforts to create independent cell phone and Internet networks to help dissidents evade censors. | Press TV


The death of political prisoner Reza Hoda Saber has provoked calls for an investigation. Hoda Saber died of a heart attack following a ten-day hunger strike, but fellow prisoners claim he was neglected by prison officials after complaining of chest pains. Ten reformist parliamentarians asked the minister of justice to investigate his death. One account of Hoda Saber’s burial claims his family and mourners were attacked by security forces.| PBS; Enduring America

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad removed Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi from Iran’s Money and Credit Council, one of the country’s highest economic bodies. The intelligence minister is always on the council, and the removal cut Moslehi’s authority. Ahmadinejad unsuccessfully tried to fire Moslehi several weeks ago, prompting a power struggle with the Supreme Leader. | Haaretz

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement accusing Iran of assisting Syria’s “vicious assaults” on peaceful protesters and commemorating the second anniversary of the 2009 elections in Iran. Iran denies any involvement in the Syrian crackdown and accused the United States and Israel of supporting terrorists in Syria | AFP; Voice of America


Eyewitness accounts of the June 12 silent protests describe an overwhelming security presence and dozens of arrests in Tehran and other cities. The British foreign ministry called on Iran to release detained demonstrators and deemed the crackdown on protests “deeply worrying.” | Khaleej Times; PBS; Asia Times

Tensions continue between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Majlis (parliament). Ahmadinejad nominated a new minister of sport in a letter complaining about the current status of the ministry, which he would like to merge with the Ministry of Youth. Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said Ahmadinejad’s letter was “a pretext for government illegal action.” Separately, over 200 members of parliament demanded that the government postpone its planned merger of ministries.| Enduring America; American Enterprise Institute

Prominent Iranian legislator Ahmed Tavakoli claimed that the judiciary is preparing the trial of Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi for massive insurance fraud. A newspaper linked to Tavakoli accused Ahmadinejad of preventing a prosecution of Rahimi and called Ahmadinejad a thug and an idol-maker. | Enduring America


Thousands of reformist demonstrators marched silently around Tehran to mark the second anniversary of the June 2009 elections. Crowd estimates range from several thousand people to tens of thousands. Security forces reportedly dispersed crowds with batons and made dozens of arrests.| PBS 

Political prisoner and journalist Hoda Saber died of a heart attack after a ten-day hunger strike to protest the death of Haleh Sahabi. Sahabi died following a confrontation with security forces at her father’s funeral. Some reports say prison officials failed to bring Saber to the hospital promptly.| BBC; Enduring America

The powerful Guardian Council rebuked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying that he would not sign legislation he deemed went against “religion and the Constitution,” reminding the president that only the Guardian Council can make constitutional determinations. It also ruled that legislation to create a new Ministry of Infrastructure was unconstitutional. | PBS


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to come under pressure from hardliners within the regime. An Iranian member of parliament claimed that 90 legislators have signed a draft resolution to summon Ahmadinejad for questioning. A senior Revolutionary Guards official said the Guards are ready to intervene if necessary to counter the “current of deviation,” a common reference to the inner circle of Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff. | PBS; American Enterprise Institute

A senior adviser to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said that the Green Movement will hold a silent protest on June 12 to mark the second anniversary of the 2009 presidential elections. He added that national reconciliation is not possible as long as opposition leaders are under house arrest and the regime does not respect basic human rights. Former President Mohammad Khatami had earlier called for national reconciliation. | PBS

Iranian state news services claim that the Ministry of Intelligence foiled a U.S. plan to create a government-in-exile for Iran. Intelligence officials say that U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden met with Iranian exiles and the United States gave $7 billion to support this project. News sources disagreed about whether the designated head of the government-in-exile was a counterrevolutionary or had infiltrated the U.S. plot on behalf of Iran. | PBS


Iran plans to triple its output of enriched uranium later this year by moving work to a plant in Fordo, said the head of its nuclear agency. The nuclear chief said that the move would be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He added that Iran expected to produce nuclear fuel in the form of plates by September. France called the announcement a provocation. | AFP; New York Times

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted publicly that his government has come under attack from conservatives. He said that the government stance is to remain silent in the face of criticism, “a silence that is to inspire unity.” Ahmadinejad emphasized that the government is working toward the same principles as when it was elected in 2005. | AFP

Tensions continue between Ahmadinejad and the Iranian parliament. The speaker of parliament sent Ahmadinejad several letters alleging that 26 government projects are illegal. The pro-Ahmadinejad official state news agency, IRNA, accused the parliament’s news website of disregarding the recommendations of the Supreme Leader by stoking dissent within the regime and attacking Ahmadinejad. | PBS; Radio Zamaneh


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s brother, Davoud, said that the deviant current—which is widely used to refer to the inner circle of President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei—is serving as the infantry of the hegemonic system and is the “anti-Christ” of the era. The Supreme Leader’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards said that the “current of deviation” is the gravest danger in the history of Shi’i Islam. | Enduring America; Tehran Times; American Enterprise Institute

A statement by over 700 women’s rights and democracy activists protesting the death of Haleh Sahabi has been translated into English and is available here. The activists say that Haleh was stolen from them and vow to continue struggling for peace, freedom, and equality. Sahabi died on June 1 after a confrontation with security forces at her father’s funeral. | Change for Equality

British officials claim that Iran is supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The UK Mission to the United Nations sent a letter to the Security Council saying it has evidence Iran supplied rockets to the Taliban. British Foreign Minister Alistair Burt called Iran’s policy “hypocritical, two-faced, and highly dangerous.” | BBC


Iranian security forces reportedly dispersed a crowd of several hundred people protesting the death of Haleh Sahabi Saturday and arrested dozens. Sahabi died at her father’s funeral Wednesday, in what opposition sources claim was the result of a clash with security forces.  Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi called her death “intentional murder.” The Ministry of Communication has reportedly blocked the words “Haleh” and “Sahabi” from text messages. | AFP; PBS; Al Jazeera

Supreme Leader Khamenei called for unity at the memorial of Ayatollah Khomeini, saying that those who are loyal to the Islamic system should be tolerated even if they have different political views. Nevertheless, President Ahmadinejad’s speech at Khomeini’s mausoleum was interrupted by chants from the audience criticizing his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. | AFP; PBS

Despite Khamenei’s call for unity, attacks against Ahmadinejad and his inner circle continued over the weekend. Khamenei’s deputy representative to the Revolutionary Guards accused the “deviant current” of trying to weaken the foundations of the Islamic Republic. Another leading conservative said that the deviant current had latched onto the executive branch like a virus.| Enduring America; AFP


Leading reformist groups condemned the death of activist Haleh Sahabi at the funeral of her father, Ezatollah Sahabi.  Opposition sources contradicted state reports that she died of a heart attack, claiming she was killed after a confrontation with security forces. A physician who claims to have examined Haleh said she died of a ruptured spleen. The U.S. State Department released a statement saying she was killed as a result of the “reprehensible actions” of security forces. | PBS; Enduring America; State Dept

Security forces reportedly prevented a memorial service for opposition leader Ezatollah Sahabi and beat mourners with batons. Several people were arrested both at the memorial service and at the funeral on Wednesday.   A group of university students announced that they will hold traditional Islamic mourning on the seventh day after Sahabi’s death in front of the UN offices in Tehran.| PBS

Following intense parliamentary pressure, President Ahmadinejad appointed a caretaker oil minister, Mohammad Aliabad. Aliabad is an Ahmadinejad ally and former head of Iran’s National Olympic Committee. The head of Parliament’s Energy Commission condemned the nominee as lacking any experience in energy. | Wall Street Journal; Enduring America


In an effort to avert protests, Iranian security forces reportedly prevented a funeral service for human rights activist Haleh Sahabi. Sahabi died Wednesday at the funeral of her father, opposition leader Ezzatollah Sahabi. State news said she suffered a heart attack, but opposition sources claim she died after a confrontation with security forces. The U.S. State Department called on the Iranian government to investigate the circumstances of her death.| Enduring America; CNN

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said that Israel does not have the ability to stop Iran’s nuclear program. He also said an attack on Iran would mean a regional war and provide further justification to Iran to continue its nuclear program. Separately, Israeli President Shimon Peres called on NATO and regional countries to create a missile defense system to protect it from attacks by Iran. | CNN; Haaretz

The head of the Tehran Revolutionary Guards said that the Guards and other institutions will prevent members of the “deviant current” from running in the parliamentary elections. He added that the Guards are monitoring this group of people and are ready to take action against them if necessary. | American Enterprise Institute


The Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope called for a silent march from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 12 to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the 2009 elections and call for freedom for political prisoners, free elections, and effective action against inflation and unemployment. | Enduring America

Human rights activist Haleh Sahabi, 54, died at the funeral of her father, prominent opposition leader Ezatollah Sahabi, 81. State news claimed Haleh died of a heart attack, but opposition activists said she died after being pushed to the ground by security forces. Five people were arrested at the funeral.| Washington Post

Iran’s parliament filed a legal complaint against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for refusing to step down as interim oil minister. Iran’s Guardian Council has already ruled that Ahmadinejad may not serve as oil minister. One hundred sixty-five of 198 members present voted in favor of the complaint. | Financial Times

Bolivia expelled Iran’s minister of defense, Ahmad Vahidi, following a complaint from Argentina. Vahidi was in Bolivia at the invitation of the Bolivian defense ministry but is wanted in Argentina for masterminding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires. | BBC

MAY 31

Demonstrators backing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed in the province of Shiraz after the provincial governor was fired. The pro-Khamenei governor was reportedly dismissed after criticizing Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff. | PBS

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on Iran’s nuclear program highlighted several possible military dimensions of the program, including work on technology to turn uranium into bomb fuel and design nose cones for missiles. Yet the IAEA did not find conclusive proof that Iran’s program has military intentions. | New York Times

In a speech to parliament, Supreme Leader Khamenei warned that public officials must work together and not allow Iran’s enemies to take advantage of divisions within the regime. Yet public disputes continue. Khamenei’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards said the government has been infected by a “perverted group” and a Guards commander reportedly said Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff will soon be arrested. | San Francisco Chronicle; PBS; PBS

The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran is moving toward establishing a national “halal” Internet, which could disconnect Iranian Internet users from the rest of the world and allow greater censorship by the government. The new Internet would initially operate in parallel to the regular Internet before gradually replacing it. | Wall Street Journal

MAY 27

Contrary to tradition, President Ahmadinejad will not speak at the June 4 commemoration of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. The ceremony usually features speeches by the President, Supreme Leader, and Khomeini’s grandson. Ahmadinejad’s exclusion is seen as another sign of the rift between him and the Supreme Leader. | PBS

Parliamentarian Ali Akbar Olia said a parliamentary investigation found that the government paid $80 each to nine million people right before the 2009 presidential elections without any apparent justification. | PBS

Corruption allegations continue to build against President Ahmadinejad’s associates. One news source claimed that the presidential chief of staff holds regular meetings to plot how to profit from hotel contracts and other business opportunities. The head of the Revolutionary Guard Political Bureau said the President must face a deviant and economically corrupt current within his administration.| Enduring America; American Enterprise Institute

MAY 26

The funeral of football star and regime critic Nasser Hejazi sparked new demonstrations against the Iranian regime. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people attended the funeral and many chanted opposition slogans. Hejazi’s son reportedly spoke out against the regime in a speech to the crowd. Several people were arrested. | Radio Free Europe

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended one of his vice presidents, Hamid Baghaei, and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, against corruption allegations. The two have been accused of using their influence to grant lucrative contracts to friends. Baghaei is currently fighting another legal conviction, which resulted in a four-year ban from holding any government positions. | Press TV

Iranian Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani warned that Ahmadinejad was seeking to concentrate power in the executive and was “paving the way for dictatorship.” | Enduring America

MAY 25

Outgoing Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby held talks with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Indonesia to discuss the possibility of exchanging ambassadors. Elaraby also told his counterpart that “Egypt is opening new chapters with everyone.”| Al-Masry al-Youm

Ahmadinejad will not attend the June 8 meeting of OPEC in his capacity as acting oil minister, Iranian officials announced. Separately, Ahmadinejad is facing criticism for pushing an unsafe oil refinery to open prematurely. A recent explosion at the refinery killed at least four people and wounded over 25 others. | New York Times; Los Angeles Times

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it has evidence that Iran worked on sophisticated nuclear-triggering technology, which can only be used for setting off nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the United States not to rule out military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program. | New York Times

A senior military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that some of the “perverted groups” within the presidential staff are connected to foreign intelligence services. A website linked to the president’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, warned of increasing pressure from hardliners for Mashaei’s arrest. | PBS

MAY 23

An Iranian court has banned Vice President Hamid Baghaei from government work for four years after he ignored a previous conviction for legal violations. Vice President for Legal Affairs Fatemeh Bodaghi rejected Baghaei’s conviction, as well as the Guardian Council’s ruling that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cannot serve as interim minister of oil. | PBS

The offices of an online Bahai’i university in Iran were raided and its leaders arrested. The government accused them of using the university to promote the Bahai’i faith, which is illegal in Iran. Bahai’i are banned from attending university or serving in the Iranian government. | AFP

The Ministry of Intelligence declared that it uncovered a CIA espionage network in Iran and has identified 42 CIA officers and arrested 30 people, including senior government officials. Intelligence officials claim that the CIA recruited Iranians through its embassies in the UAE, Turkey, and Malaysia, and tried to gather information on Iran’s energy and defense programs, but it was not successful. | Los Angeles Times; Fars News

MAY 20

U.S. President Barack Obama declared during his speech on the Middle East yesterday that the situation in Bahrain is unacceptable and urged the ruling family to open dialogue with the opposition. The United States continues to support the government and accuses Iran of taking advantage of its internal turmoil. | The National; Reuters

The European Union agreed to new sanctions on over 100 Iranian companies as well as five individuals suspected of aiding Iran’s nuclear program. The new sanctions are expected to be announced on Monday. | AFP

Two defectors from Iran’s intelligence services have claimed that Iran had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks and may have been involved in planning the attacks. The two testified in New York court as part of a federal lawsuit seeking damages for Iran’s support of 9/11. The identities of the defectors and their full testimonies are sealed. | New York Times

Conservative news sources report the arrest of Kazem Kiapasha, a top Ahmadinejad aide and close associate of the president’s controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Mashaei himself has come under heavy attack from hard-liners within Iran in recent weeks, with some accusing him of spying and calling for his arrest. | The Guardian

MAY 19

The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating whether Iran hacked into the electronic equipment of inspectors monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities. Officials noticed that the cell phones and computers of inspectors were tampered with and are worried Iran may have gained access to information about people within the country who cooperated with the agency. | Wall Street Journal

Conservatives continue to criticize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for appearing insufficiently submissive to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and have compared him to Iran’s first president, who was forced out of office. Hard-liners have called on Ahmadinejad’s controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, to be arrested and have accused Mashaei’s inner circle of corruption, religious deviance, and ties to Israel.| PBS; New York Times

Former President Mohammad Khatami issued a statement expressing concern over the “toxic atmosphere” of Iranian politics and urged the government not to consider every criticism as sedition and to stay true to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini. He also called for political groups to be able to organize freely.| PBS

MAY 18

Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz has been freed from detention in Iran and is back in Qatar. Parvaz was deported to Iran after trying to enter Syria nineteen days ago to report on protests there. She was not allowed any contact with the outside world since landing in Syria but says she was treated well by Iranian authorities. | Al Jazeera

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will most likely lead the Iranian delegation to the June 8 OPEC meeting in his capacity as acting oil minister, according to Iranian officials. Ahmadinejad took over the Oil Ministry after firing the minister, and it is unclear when he will name a replacement. Iran currently holds the rotating presidency of OPEC.| Washington Post

The head of Iran’s Human Rights Council said Iran will allow the UN special rapporteur on human rights to visit the country. The UN Human Rights Council voted on March 24 to appoint a rapporteur to investigate the human rights situation in Iran following concerns over the oppression of dissidents and an increase in executions. | Radio Zamaneh

MAY 17

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Dorothy Parvaz, an Al Jazeera journalist deported from Syria to Iran, attempted to enter Syria without a journalist visa to report “clandestinely” on protests there. Parvaz has not been able to contact anyone since arriving in Damascus on April 29. | Financial Times

An Iranian humanitarian aid convoy to Bahrain was turned back by warships from the Gulf Cooperation Council. The convoy carried 120 activists from the Islamic Revolution Supporters Association and was meant to show solidarity with Shia protesters in the Gulf country. | Washington Post; Reuters

A leaked UN report claims that North Korea has been sending ballistic missile technology to Iran through a third country, presumed to be China. The Iranian Foreign Ministry called the allegations “fabrications” and insisted Iran is self-sufficient in missile technology. Chinese officials said the report has not been approved by the Security Council and claim they have fully enforced sanctions. | AP; Reuters

MAY 16

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired three cabinet members and moved to merge their ministries with others. He named two temporary replacements and has taken personal control of the Oil Ministry. The Majlis (Iranian Parliament) and the Guardian Council have argued that it is illegal for Ahmadinejad to merge ministries without parliamentary approval. | PBS; AFP

Several senior clerics criticized Ahmadinejad’s administration over the weekend. Ayatollah Yazdi said the president had almost certainly been “bewitched” by his controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Friday Prayer leaders in Tehran, Eilam, and Shiraz also accused Ahmadinejad of trying to reduce the influence of the clergy in government. | Washington Post; PBS; AEI

Student protests took place at several Iranian universities, including Tehran University, with some chanting “Death to the Dictator.” The Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope, the leadership of the Green Movement, issued a statement expressing support for university students in Iran. | EA; PBS

MAY 11

The Speaker of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) has said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s move to merge eight ministries into four is illegal without parliamentary approval. The powerful Guardian Council agreed. Ahmadinejad has defended the decision as within his presidential powers. He has also refused to establish a ministry of sports and youth affairs, despite a longstanding parliamentary requirement that he do so. | Press TV; PBS

The Majlis has reportedly approved a commission that will monitor legislators and have the power to declare a deputy unfit for duty in the middle of his or her term. Critics say this commission will prevent any dissent and render the Majlis useless. | PBS

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife were reportedly allowed to meet with family members outside their home for about an hour, according to a pro-Mousavi website. Mousavi and fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi have been under strict house arrest with severely restricted communications since calling for anti-government demonstrations on February 14. A site linked to the security forces claimed that Karroubi was recently hospitalized with heart palpitations; sources close to Karroubi deny this.| PBS

A group of Iranian parliamentarians and private citizens are planning a humanitarian aid convoy to Bahrain to express solidarity for protesters in the Gulf country. The group is planning to leave Iran for Bahrain on May 16 and will try to meet with Bahrain’s parliament and the families of those killed in protests. | Bloomberg; Xinhua

The trial of three U.S. hikers captured in Iran was postponed after the two defendants still imprisoned in Iran were not brought to court. The Iranian authorities did not provide a reason for keeping the defendants from court. The trial has been postponed in the past because of the failure of Sarah Shourd, who was released on bail, to return for trial. Their defense lawyer has lodged a formal protest against the delays. | New York Times

A new UN report reportedly contends that international sanctions have slowed Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but warns that Iran is continuing to use front companies, financial transactions, and concealed shipping to circumvent sanctions. The report will be made public by the Security Council as early as Thursday. A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton said that Iran’s letter on resuming nuclear negotiations contains nothing new and does not seem to justify another meeting. | Haaretz; Reuters

MAY 10

In response to a February letter from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, declared that Iran was willing to re-enter talks only if they were just and no pressure was exerted on Iran. This likely means Iran will again refuse to negotiate its right to enrichment.  | Reuters


Three controversial Iranian ministers are leaving the cabinet as part of a plan to merge several ministries. Those leaving include the minister of oil, who reportedly filled the ministry with associates who lacked oil expertise; the minister of industries and mines, who was convicted of stealing an invention and registering it under his own name; and the minister of welfare and social security, often referred to as the “billionaire minister.” The Iranian Parliament has warned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he must get parliamentary approval before naming the heads of the merged ministries. | PBS

Thirteen provincial governors-general have signed a letter expressing support for Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Yet conservative criticism of Mashaei continues. Alef, a site linked to prominent legislator Ahmad Tavakoli, released a report alleging widespread financial irregularities at a company founded by Mashaei and claiming nepotism has allowed two of his nephews to accumulate fortunes. | PBS

Iranian Intelligence Minister Moslehi claimed that he had accurate reports that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden died from an illness some time ago and was not killed by U.S. forces on May 1. He questioned why the United States had refused to show pictures of bin Laden’s body if they had really killed him. | ISNA


For the first time in the three weeks since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attempted to fire Moslehi, both men attended Sunday’s cabinet meeting. Ahmadinejad’s office denied reports that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave him an ultimatum to accept Moslehi back into the cabinet or resign. | Washington Post;  PBS

Conservatives have continued to criticize Ahmadinejad over his supposed disobedience of the supreme leader in the Moslehi affair. The commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps told an audience in Fars that anyone who prefers his own views to those of the supreme leader has violated the constitution. Friday Prayer sermons emphasized the power of the supreme leader and the importance of total obedience to him.  | PBS


Ninety legislators have signed a petition to question Ahmadinejad over alleged legal violations. Conservative legislator Mohammad Reza Bahonar has reportedly proposed a plan to bypass questioning and directly impeach Ahmadinejad. The alleged violations include Ahmadinejad’s decision not to release money for Tehran’s subway system and not submitting to the Majlis the names of candidates to head the new ministries created by the merger of former ones. | PBS


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s position within the regime remains tenuous after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei overturned his decision to fire Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi. Almost one-third of parliament members have signed a petition calling for his questioning and several legislators have threatened impeachment hearings. The head of the pro-Ahmadinejad state news agency has been summoned for questioning for his coverage of the Moslehi affair. | EAPBS

Conservatives continue to attack supposed religious deviance in Ahmadinejad’s inner circle. Several Ahmadinejad associates have reportedly been arrested and charged with sorcery. Conservatives are angry at Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei’s comments on the need for an Iranian school of Islam and the release of a documentary proclaiming the imminent return of the Hidden Imam. | GuardianEA 

The United States has proposed a new plan to resettle members of the Iranian opposition Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO) currently living at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The plan calls for a temporary move to a new location in Iraq and then to a third country. The MKO is designated as a terrorist organization by Iran, Iraq, and the United States, and Iraqi officials have pledged to close the camp by 2011. The U.S. State Department is considering removing the MKO from its terrorist blacklist. | Reuters; AFP

Divisions within the Iranian regime continue after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei intervened to prevent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from firing his intelligence minister. Prominent conservatives have criticized Ahmadinejad for his supposed lack of deference to Khamenei. Several close associates of Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have reportedly been arrested. Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi did not appear in the cabinet photograph on Wednesday and his attendance was uncertain. | PBS

Iran has filed a legal case against Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. Faezeh is a critic of the government and has already been arrested twice for participating in opposition rallies. She recently said that Iran is run by thugs and criminals. | Bloomberg, PBS


Iran and Iraq have both called for closer relations with the other. During talks with Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraq’s armed forces chief of staff proposed a new regional security organization that would include Iran.  Iran’s Parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, also called for increased Iran-Iraq ties at a parliamentary forum on May 3. | Voice of America 

Several members of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s staff have reportedly been arrested. Hojjat al-Eslam Amiri-Far, the head of the President’s Cultural Council, was detained for questioning on May 1 for his role in distributing a controversial CD on the imminent return of the Hidden Imam. Abbas Qaffari, another close Ahmadinejad associate, was reportedly arrested on Monday. | EA;  AEI

Iranian officials and press have raised doubts about the death of Osama bin Laden. Several press sources claimed the announcement of bin Laden’s death was timed to benefit U.S. President Barack Obama’s reelection. Iran’s defense minister questioned why the United States did not allow an impartial observer to see bin Laden’s body before burying it at sea. He added that bin Laden’s death, if true, removes any justification for the United States to maintain troops in the region. | FarsPBS


Iran’s foreign minister called on Syria to look into the case of a missing Al Jazeera journalist, Dorothy Parvaz. Parvaz has not been heard from since she landed in Damascus on the afternoon of April 29. She is a U.S.-Canadian-Iranian citizen. | Al Jazeera

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that Osama Bin Laden’s death should remove any excuse for foreign troops to remain in the Middle East. An Iranian legislator claimed that Bin Laden was killed in order to cover up information of joint U.S.-al Qaeda terrorist operations. | IRNAFars 

Iran’s military chief of staff declared on April 30 that the “Persian Gulf has always, is and shall always belong to Iran.” He criticized Gulf Arab regimes as dictatorial and said they should relinquish power to their people. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Monday denounced the statements as aggressive and expansionary. | AFPAhram


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad backed down after a dispute with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over control of his cabinet. Ahmadinejad chaired his cabinet meeting on May 1 for the first time in over a week and declared that everyone should obey the Supreme Leader. The crisis was reportedly triggered by revelations that Iranian intelligence services were spying on Ahmadinejad’s controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. In response, Ahmadinejad tried to fire the intelligence minister but he was overruled by Khamenei. | LA TimesPBS