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Iran Worried Ukraine Crisis Could Derail Nuclear Talks

In Tehran, concern is growing that tensions between Western capitals and Moscow over the showdown in Ukraine could undermine progress on resolving Iran's own standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

Several political observers worried about the possible weakening of Russian influence should it face sanctions or diplomatic isolation concerning in response to its challenging of the new Ukrainian government, and given its ostensible support for Iran in the diplomatic arena.

Tehran University lecturer Sadeq Zibakalam said that confrontation between Russia and the West would not benefit Iran since "Russia's position is weakening," and presumably, it could lose its ability to thwart Western pressures on Iran.

Nevertheless in comments published by the reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd, Zibakalam described the recent protests "boosting democracy" there as "very positive." He apologized to Ukrainians for official media's coverage of events with a distinct bias in favor of Russia, and deplored how "certain media" in Iran "take the Russians' side in every issue."

The daily cited a former reformist parliamentarian, Ahmad Shirzad, as saying "we shouldn't imagine all popular protests to be the result of Western maneuvering."

Commentators oberved that the issue was "big enough" to impact Iran's own talks with the West. Specialist Hassan Hanizadeh said that in any confrontation with the West, the Russians "will definitely use Iran's potential and move closer to Iran," and "stand up to America" in the context of the nuclear dossier. Still, in the short term, pressures on Iran would decrease while tensions in Ukraine remain high.

Former parliamentarian Shirzad said Iran may win "greater room to maneuver" on the nuclear dossier, but this should not be overestimated. Not for the first time, his comments showed one of the divisions existing among Iranian politicians, in this case in their attitude to Russia: Hardliners tend to favor Russia.

Shirzad cautioned against trusting Russia, saying it might "appear to move toward us" to "strike at America," but could later "come to an agreement" with the West just when Iran needed its backing.

"We have to be vigilant and make sure we do not become an instrument in the settling of accounts between them," he said. Iran needed "serious planning" he said, to duly exploit divisions between the world's major powers.

Another former legislator, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, also cautioned that the Russians had so far "played too much" in favor of Western interests when it came to Iran's nuclear program.

Separately, Russia's Deputy Prime-Minister Dmitry Rogozin stressed the importance of ties and continued collaborations with Iran, in a meeting Wednesday with Iran's ambassador in Moscow, Mehdi Sanayi. Rogozin deplored the "negative role of certain powers in raising tensions" in Ukraine and Afghanistan, and urged "vigilance against Western plots," the semi-official ISNA agency reported.

— Ahmad Shayegan

Photo: Iranian and Russian presidents meeting last September — Source: Kremlin.ru

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Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

As objective as any man

Anto Magzan/ZUMA
Rachel E. Gross

-Essay-

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mystery played out across news headlines: Men, it seemed, were dying of infection at twice the rate of women. To explain this alarming disparity, researchers looked to innate biological differences between the sexes — for instance, protective levels of sex hormones, or distinct male-female immune responses. Some even went so far as to test the possibility of treating infected men with estrogen injections.

This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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