Geopolitics

Iran's Hard Line On Nuclear Talks Keeps Getting Harder

In spite of the toll sanctions have taken on its economy, Iran wants a deal on its nuclear program that addresses none of the West's concerns about its military ambitions. It is also moving forward with new uranium enrichment technology.

-Analysis-

After a four-month hiatus, Iran has resumed talks on its nuclear program with other signatory countries of the suspended, multilateral pact of 2015. These are Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, and the European Union (EU). The talks that began this week in Vienna exclude the United States, an original signatory that withdrew from the pact in 2018 — and while the U.S. administration under President Joe Biden says it favors a deal, it is only indirectly involved, through the EU.

Prospects for this round remain dim, given Iran's preconditions and the stated objectives of Western states. The Iranian deputy-foreign minister, Ali Baqeri-Kani, said on a recent trip to several EU states that Iran would only resume talks to discuss ending sanctions on it, and there would be no discussions for a nuclear agreement. He was suggesting that an end to all sanctions — whether for Tehran's nuclear program, rights violations or terrorism abroad — was the central condition for more talks.

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Iran Registers Record Number Of Child Brides

Numbers are rising of girls aged 14 and under getting married, as well as births from very young mothers.

Nearly 10,000 girls aged 10 to 14 years were married off in Iran in the first months of 2021, the highest recorded rate of child brides for a country already criticized for limiting the freedoms of women and girls.

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Iranians Used To Flee For Politics, Now It's Economics

The desperation to leave Islamic Iran has spread from writers, dissidents and minority groups to hundreds of thousands of Iranians willing to live and work "anywhere that isn't Iran."

-Analysis-

Not so long ago, people leaving Iran did so temporarily, and were from specific social groups like students or persecuted minorities. Today, emigration has become a crucial life choice weighed by many, if not most, Iranian families.

The principal destinations in previous years were Europe, the United States, Canada or Australia. Iranians were ready to pay the price required to buy themselves a better life in "first world" destinations. Today, they're no longer eyeing the most advanced countries but anywhere "that isn't Iran."

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COVID Spikes In EU, Bulgaria Bus Crash, Uber Weed

👋 Tere!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where EU countries face a sharp rise in COVID cases and conflict, at least 25 die in a Bulgarian bus crash, and Uber starts delivering weed. Bogota-based daily El Espectador takes us through the return of gang violence taking over the streets of Medellín, Colombia, which became notorious during the 1970s thanks to drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

[*Estonian]

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Society
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Iran's New Law To Boost Birthrate Takes Aim At Condoms, Raises HIV Risks

An Iranian public healthcare official warns that a parliamentary bill to boost birth rates will cut access to condoms, and could fuel sexually-transmitted diseases like AIDS.

TEHRAN — Facing the lowest birth rate in the Middle East, the Iranian government has passed legislation that will end the distribution of free contraceptives in the public health care system unless a pregnancy would threaten the woman's health.

The law, called Rejuvenate the Population (Tarh-e javani-e jam'iat), has already faced pushback from NGOs for its attempt to undermine woman's reproductive rights. But now an Iranian public health official has also voiced his opposition, warning that discouraging the use of condoms will increase the spread of AIDS/HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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Geopolitics
Yusef Mosaddeqi

Interests Or Ignorance? What Drives The West's Appeasement Of Iran

Whether out of cynicism, greed or basic lack of knowledge, the West has willingly embraced the fabricated vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a slightly unruly, but essentially legitimate government with which it can do business.

-OpEd-

LONDON — Since the 1979 revolution in Iran, there has been strong support in the West for the idea of talking to and working with the Islamic Republic. For starters, this can be explained by Western governments' considerable economic interests in Iran, which endures to this day.

In turn, inside Iran, some politicians swiftly adopted the "good cop/bad cop" approach to dealing with the West. They would play the role of liberals, and keep open the door to a sham dialogue between the "infidel" West and the self-styled homeland of Shia Muslims.

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Geopolitics

Israel Blamed For Cyberattack On Iran Gas Stations

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

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Society

Iran To Offer Master's And PhD In Morality Enforcement

For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat and Hamed Mohammadi

Plan B? Why Iran Thinks It Has The West Cornered On Nuclear Deal

The U.S. is calling for "imminent" return to talks. But Tehran has made advances on its nuclear program that could force the West to accept, in a new pact, its bomb-making capacity, which Iran will "freeze" if Western powers lift sanctions.


-Analysis-

It was a declaration of excessive optimism. Speaking in Doha on Sep. 30, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said that nuclear negotiations with Iran would resume "within an acceptable period of time." Talks on reviving the 2015 pact to keep checks on Iran's nuclear program had ground to a halt before June's election of the very conservative Ibrahim Raisi as Iran's president. That has left the country under international sanctions, and its contested nuclear activities without outside supervision.

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Geopolitics
Kayhan-London

Iran-Azerbaijan Tensions: How Khamenei Overplayed Islamic Ties

Azerbaijan's flourishing ties with Turkey and Israel threaten Iran's regional trade and strategic security after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei overestimated his ability to woo Azerbaijan leader, Ilham Aliev, because both nations are predominantly Shia Muslim.

-Analysis-

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have sent armored and artillery units for maneuvers Friday close to the Islamic Republic's northern border with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

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Economy
Roshanak Astaraki

Why The Power Keeps Getting Cut In Oil-Rich Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has no shortage of oil and gas. And yet, its people and industries are having to contend right now with regular power cuts. The question, then, is why, and what — if anything — the Iranian government can hope to do about it.

Analysis-

LONDON — Repeated power cuts in Iran have made lives a misery in recent months and are pushing industry, production and services to critical limits. In early July, when President Ibrahim Raisi officially began work as head of the 13th government of the Islamic Republic, he asked the outgoing energy minister Reza Ardakanian why this was happening.

Sources within the energy sector have given some clues and warn that shortages will continue into the winter. Mostafa Rajabi-Mashhadi, a spokesman for the electricity industry, has said there is a "20% shortage in fuel" needed for power production, while Nosratollah Kazemi, a member of the sector's main trade union, recently blamed a "lack of correct planning in energy," warning that even if policies were rectified now, outages could continue for two or three more years.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

As Hopes For Iran Nuclear Deal Fade, Uranium Enrichment Accelerates

Institute for Science and International Security concludes that Iran is enriching uranium at a 60% level, with new centrifuges meaning that Tehran is a month away from obtaining arms-grade material to move toward its first weapon.

-Analysis-

The U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security, which includes independent nuclear power experts, concludes from information issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is enriching uranium at a 60% level — and thanks to new types of centrifuges, Tehran is barely a month away from obtaining weapons-grade material. The specialists caution that weapons-grade uranium is not the same as a nuclear bomb, for which delivery weapons and assemblage are needed. That would require another two years.

The Institute's experts believe Iran could produce material for a second bomb within a three-month time frame and that unless its activities are slowed, it may have enough enriched uranium for three bombs in the next five months.

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Ideas
Ahmad Ra'fat

Iran Protests Are Real, But Is The West Willing To Listen?

Keen to revive the 2015 nuclear pact, Washington and its allies are turning a blind eye to what's really taking place in the Islamic Republic.

-OpEd-

Protests and strikes are continuing in Iran, as are the clerical regime's relentless efforts to crush them. The government sees such popular actions as a grave threat to its survival. It knows it can no longer claim to enjoy public support, and sees repression as the only way to survive — at least for a while longer.

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Geopolitics
Hamed Mohammadi

Why Iran Is Actively Backing The Taliban For The First Time

Iran's clerical Shiite regime has seemingly overturned its long-held hostility to the Taliban, and may be readying itself to welcome the 'enemies of America' as Kabul's new masters.

-Analysis-

There can be no doubt the situation in Afghanistan is critical. As U.S. and allied troops depart, the Taliban are exploiting the Kabul government's weakness to capture districts and towns, especially in the north.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

Raisi's Iran: Tougher Talk With West, Warmer Ties With Russia

​The arch-conservative Ibrahim Raisi's election to the Iranian presidency is pushing its regime closer to Russia and farther from the West — and leaving a big question mark on relations with China.

-OpEd-

LONDON — Reactions have varied in the two weeks since the election of Seyyed Ibrahim Raisi as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For starters, no Western government (save Austria) has congratulated Raisi, and the various statements by spokes people have mixed some surface criticism with observations on Raisi's presence in the "death committees' that signed prisoner death warrants after the 1979 revolution, as well as his record in the judiciary over the past four decades.

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Sources
Roshanak Astaraki, Hamed Mohammadi and Azadeh Karimi

Iran’s Fixed Elections And The State Of The Islamic ''Republic''

By denying the right to moderate candidates for the upcoming presidential elections, the regime shows it has little interest in even a semblance of democracy.

-Editorial-

The failure of reformist candidates to win vetting approval for Iran's 13th presidential elections slated for June 18 is dividing reformists, and pushing them further away from participating in Iran's politics.

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