When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

Why Ukraine War Won't Slow Iran's Quest To Become A Nuclear Power

A new round of comments from inside Iran's leadership ranks reaffirms its intention to produce a nuclear bomb, a decades-long cat and mouse game between the regime and an ever cautious West that hasn't seemed to change even as the Russia-Ukraine war brings in a new world order.

-OpEd-

Ali Mottahari, a former deputy-speaker of the Iranian Parliament, recently revealed that "right from the start of our nuclear activity, our aim was to build a bomb and strengthen our deterrent force. But we couldn't keep this a secret." It appeared he was admitting to what regional and Western states have long suspected and Iran's regime denies — that it wants to make nuclear bombs.

Mottahari's father, Morteza Mottahari, was a prominent theologian and confidante of the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This has allowed his son to speak with relative freedom under the Islamic Republic. In comments to a local press outlet broadcast on April 22, Mottahari blamed the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a Marxist opposition group, for revealing Iran's supposed nuclear plans.

Watch Video Show less

Quds v. Revolutionary Guards: Why U.S. Sees Iran's Two "Terrorist" Forces Differently

Is there calculated diplomacy or just confusion behind the Biden administration's ambivalent positions on what can only be defined as 'terrorism' of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards?

-OpEd-

For weeks now there has been talk of removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from the West's list of international terrorists, to meet one of Iran's conditions for renewing the 2015 pact on its nuclear program, or agreeing on a similar pact. Tehran says removing the terrorist label from the Guards and lifting all sanctions on this key military force constitute a 'red line' that must be included in any deal in ongoing, though stalled, talks on its program.

Recently U.S. President Joe Biden and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, voiced opposition, without specifically citing the Revolutionary Guards, to ending the terrorist label for one particular unit of the Guards, the Quds Force. This is a regional task force suspected of meddling in the affairs of several neighboring states, and the previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump took out its powerful leader Qassem Soleimani in 2020, saying he was a threat to U.S. forces.

Keep reading... Show less

Iran's Secret 25-Year Trade Pact With China May Really Be A Military Deal

Iranians only have online speculation to guess how much the country's clerical regime has conceded to China as part of the New Silk Road initiative. There are now reports of 5,000 Chinese security agents being deployed in Iran to "protect" Chinese personnel working in the oil sector.

A member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce recently cited unconfirmed reports of some 5,000 Chinese security agents deployed in Iran, under the pretext of protecting Chinese personnel working in the oil and gas sectors.

The presence of Chinese forces inside Iran would be within the framework of the 25-year cooperation pact between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China. Reza Padidar, head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture's energy committee, says the reports are fueling concerns about the mechanics of implementation of the Iran-China pact.

Keep reading... Show less

Don't Underestimate Russian Influence Over Iran's Military

Russia's role in in Iranian affairs goes to the highest levels of its military and security structures. But will anyone in Iran dare question Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in spite of the grave risks to the country's national security?

-Analysis-

LONDON — Several sources recently reported on the sale of 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets to Iran. These were initially to be sold to Egypt, but that deal was thwarted by the threat of U.S. sanctions on Egypt. Since 15 of the planes were reportedly ready for delivery, they may be sent to the Iranian regime in early 2022.

Reports of sales of Russian commercial or military planes to Iran are not new, though some now qualify them as a consolation for Tehran to make amends for Russia's suspected approval of the strikes that have targeted Iranian Revolutionary guards bases, allied militias and Iranian war material in Syria.

Keep reading... Show less
Geopolitics

Taliban And Iran: The Impossible Alliance May Already Be Crumbling

After the Sunni fundamentalist Taliban rulers retook control of Afghanistan, there were initial, friendly signals exchanged with Iran's Shia regime. But a recent border skirmish recalls tensions from the 1990s, when Iran massed troops on the Afghan frontier.

The clashes reported this week from the border between Iran and Afghanistan were perhaps inevitable.

There are so far scant details on what triggered the flare up on Wednesday between Iranian border forces and Taliban fighters, near the district of Hirmand in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province. Still, footage posted on social media indicated the exchange of fire was fairly intense, with troops on both sides using both light and heavy weaponry.

Watch Video Show less
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.

Watch Video Show less
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.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Roshanak Astaraki

As Iran's Economy Tanks, Leaders Remain Defiant

The leaders of the Islamic Republic say the economy will soon improve. But the numbers — the result of sanctions but also decades of economic mismanagament — paint a far more dismal picture.

-Analysis-

While Iranian officials trumpet the country's strength abroad, its economy continues to tailspin. And yet, rather than sound the alarm, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is sending a much different message. Sanctions on Iran, he recently said, will "make the economy truly resistant."

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Christophe Ayad with Assal Reza


Chicken Bans, Bank Runs And Ramadan - Sanctions Start To Squeeze Iran

In Iran, the shortage of poultry has become the symbol of the economic "war" imposed on the Iranian regime by the West to pressure the country into abandoning its nuclear program.

Since a new round of European and American-led economic sanctions were enforced on July 1, the price of chicken has soared in Iran, rising from 3,000 tomans ($1.70) to 9,000 tomans ($4.90).

Watch Video Show less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS