In The News

Nobel Peace Prize, Iran Nuclear Talks, 700-Year-Old Pollution

👋 Bonġu!*

Welcome to Friday, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to two journalists risking their lives in Russia and the Philippines, the U.S. pushes the Iran nuclear deal back on the table, and a Swiss CEO is ousted after offering a different kind of COVID incentive to employees. From rural Sweden, we also look at how a new-age festival has become a touchstone for debate among new-age communities who don't trust the COVID vaccine.

[*Maltese]

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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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Pandora Papers, Japan’s New PM, Spicy Medicine Nobel

👋 Bom dia!*

Welcome to Monday, where the financial secrets of the rich and powerful are exposed in a massive data leak, the two Koreas get on the phone for the first time in months, Japan has a new prime minister and there's a spicy Nobel prize winner for medicine. For Paris-based daily Les Echos, we have Anna Rousseau reporting on how fashion-famous France is finally starting to catch up with the plus-size market.

[*Portuguese]

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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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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin & Bertrand Hauger

North Korea Fires Missiles, R. Kelly Guilty, New John Lennon Song

👋 Hyvää huomenta!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where North Korea conducts its third weapon tests in just over two weeks, R&B singer R. Kelly is found guilty of sex trafficking, and an unearthed John Lennon tape is up for auction in Denmark. Meanwhile, we take a look at why despite being an oil- and gas-rich country, Iran has been marred by widespread blackouts in recent years.

[*Finnish]

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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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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank & Bertrand Hauger

Catalan Leader Arrested, Kim Jong-Un’s Peacemaking Sister, Kindergarten Thief

👋 Բարև Ձեզ!*

Welcome to Friday, where Kim Jong-un's sister extends an olive branch to South Korea, top Catalan separatist leader is arrested in Italy, and a kindergarten thief gets busted by technology. Meanwhile, we bid an international auf wiedersehen to Angela Merkel's through iconic front pages that featured the German chancellor over the years.

[*Barev dzez, Armenian]

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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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Geopolitics
Kayhan London

Reports: U.S. Arms Abandoned In Afghanistan Moved To Iran

Weaponry belonging to the Afghan army is moving into Iran, though it is not clear if it is smuggled, or moved in a deal between the Taliban and Iran's regime.

LONDON — With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, much of the U.S.-supplied military hardware formerly used by the country's armed forces have fallen into their hands. This terrorist group that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, and gave refuge to other terrorists, especially al-Qaeda, now has its hands on advanced military weaponry and know-how.

It has also become clear that neighboring Iran was keen and ready to get its own hands on this material, either to use directly or to copy the weapon design.

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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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Geopolitics

In Iran, The Pandemic Has Prompted A Spike In Suicides

The pandemic has made things seem even bleaker for a population already struggling with serious economic woes and government repression.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed a staggering number of people worldwide. But it's also had a profound impact on people's mental health, including in Iran, where dire economic conditions and strict curbs in individual liberties caused significant psychological hardship even before the current health crisis.

Now, with the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to spread, officials says that there's an even greater incidence of mental disorders, suicides and physical fighting, Kayhan London reports, citing sources within Iran.

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Geopolitics
Hamed Mohammadi

Is Iran Behind The Outbreak Of Israeli-Palestinian Violence?

Israel had struck Iranian interests in recent months without significant reprisals. Meanwhile, Iran is growing impatient that nuclear talks in Vienna are stalling, and may have turned to the Palestinian groups it arms to provoke the violence.

-Analysis-

LONDON — Heavy rocket fire on Israel from Gaza began four days after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared in a speech on Quds Day that "fighting the Zionist regime is a general duty." He was addressing the youth of the Muslim world, and told them to "build suitable weapons and strengthen the line of holy war and martyrdom."

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WHAT THE WORLD

Iranian Man Divorces Wife For Using Instagram, Remarries ... Happens Again!

TEHRAN — An Iranian man who divorced his first wife over her "secretive" use of Instagram is now ending his second marriage for the same reason.

Tehran-based Shargh daily cited the anonymous man from an unnamed city as admitting he had a "good life" with his first wife, until he found she was on Instagram without his knowing.

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