Tag Archives: iran

Uranium enrichment: Iran slams UN watchdog chief.

Iran on Saturday slammed the United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi after the agency in a report raised concerns over substantial covert changes to equipment at its Fordo uranium enrichment plant without prior notice, state media reported.

The criticism of Grossi comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency director-general said he plans to visit Tehran in February for talks on getting it to increase cooperation over its activities, amid stalled negotiations to revive a landmark deal over Iran’s nuclear program.

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The IAEA said in a confidential report seen by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday that Iran had substantially modified an interconnection between two centrifuge clusters enriching uranium to up to 60% at Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), without giving prior notice.

Iran said later an inspector had “inadvertently” reported the changes, and that Grossi had issued the report despite the matter being resolved – a response that the United States and its allies criticized as “inadequate.”

“We gave a letter to the agency that an inspector… made a mistake and gave an incorrect report,” Mohamad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

“But yet again the director-general of the agency released this issue to the media,” he said, labelling it “unprofessional and unacceptable” behavior. “We hope that this practice will not be continued… because this is not acceptable for his reputation and the agency.”

The IAEA had said that during an unannounced Fordo inspection on Jan. 21 it found “two IR-6 centrifuge cascades… were interconnected in a way that was substantially different from the mode of operation declared by Iran to the agency.”

Since late last year, the two cascades had been used to produce uranium enriched to up to 60%, the report to member states added.

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In the report, Grossi expressed concern that Iran had “implemented a substantial change in the design information of FFEP in relation to the production of high enriched uranium without informing the agency in advance.”

In a statement on Friday, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany said Iran’s response to the report was “inadequate.”

“Iranian claims that this action was carried out in error are inadequate,” they said. “We judge Iran’s actions based on the impartial and objective reports of the IAEA, not Iran’s purported intent.”

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Grossi told the European Parliament on Jan. 24 that he plans to visit Tehran this month “for a much-needed political dialogue, or reestablishment thereof, with Iran.” The IAEA chief noted the “big, big impasse” on the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The deal with world powers collapsed after the U.S. withdrew from it in 2018 under former president Donald Trump.



Negotiations that started in April 2021 to revive the agreement have since stalled.

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Satellite photos show damage at Iran site hit by drone attack.

An analysis of satellite images appears to show damage to an Iranian military facility in a drone attack last week, including holes in the building’s roof, according to The Associated Press news agency.

Cloudy weather had prevented satellite pictures of the site of the facility from showing the effect of the attack on January 28.

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While Iran has offered no explanation yet of what the facility in the city of Isfahan manufactured, the assault threatened to again raise tensions in the region, with Tehran blaming Israel for the drone attack, a conclusion that was also reached by United States officials.

Video taken of the attack showed an explosion at the site after anti-aircraft fire targeted the drones, likely from one of the drones reaching the building’s roof. Iran’s military has claimed that it shot down two other drones before they reached the site.


Images taken on Thursday by Planet Labs PBC showed the facility in Isfahan, some 350km (215 miles) south of Tehran. An AP analysis of the image, compared with earlier images of the workshop, showed damage to the structure’s roof.

That damage corresponded to footage aired by Iranian state television immediately after the attack that showed at least two holes in the building’s roof.

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The Iranian state TV footage, as well as satellite photos, suggest the building’s roof also may have been built with so-called “slat armour”.

The structure resembles a cage built around roofs or armoured vehicles to stop direct detonation from rockets, missiles or bomb-carrying drones against a target.

The installation of such protection at the facility suggests Iran believed it could be a drone target.

Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence in July claimed to have broken up a plot to target sensitive sites around Isfahan.

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A segment aired on Iranian state TV in October included purported confessions by alleged members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition party that is exiled from Iran and is now based in Iraq, in which they said they planned to target a military aerospace facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.

It remains unclear whether the military facility targeted in the drone attack was that aerospace facility.

A letter published on Thursday by Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, said early investigations had suggested that Israel was responsible. The letter, however, did not elaborate on what evidence supported Iran’s suspicion.

Ongoing attacks
There have been several explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities in the past few years.

Iran blamed Israel for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in 2020, as well as an attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility in April 2021 that damaged its centrifuges.

The attack comes as Iran’s government faces challenges both at home and abroad.



Nationwide protests have shaken the country since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who had been detained by the country’s morality police. Its rial currency has also plummeted to new lows against the US dollar

Iran calls Ukraine envoy over top aide’s drone strike comments. (Footage)

Iran has summoned Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires to protest “biased” remarks by a presidential aide in Kyiv over a recent drone strike in Iran, the Islamic republic’s foreign ministry said.

Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, linked in a tweet on Sunday Iran’s support for Russia’s invasion of his country with the night-time strike on a military site.

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“Explosive night in Iran – drone and missile production, oil refineries,” he said. “War logic… bills the authors and accomplices strictly.”

“Ukraine did warn you,” Podoliak added.

Iran’s foreign ministry said Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran had been summoned to provide “an official and immediate explanation from the Ukrainian government.”

It called Podoliak’s remarks “strange and biased,” adding in a statement it hoped “such positions will not be repeated.”

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Iranian authorities reported an “unsuccessful” drone attack late Saturday night that targeted a defense ministry “workshop complex” in the central Isfahan province, home to the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

An anti-aircraft system destroyed one drone and two others exploded, the defense ministry said, adding that there were no casualties and only minor damage to the site.


Dramatic video footage widely shared on social media and published by Iranian state media showed a fireball lighting up the night sky, with people outside seen running and emergency service vehicles speeding towards the site.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Iran of supplying military drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine, a claim that is denied by Tehran



Earthquake in northwestern Iran kills three, 800 injured.

At least three people were killed and 800 more injured on Saturday when a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Iran near the border with Türkiye, state officials and media said Sunday.

Panicked residents fled their homes as buildings collapsed and rubble crushed cars, with hundreds seeking shelter from freezing winter conditions in evacuation centers as more than 20 aftershocks rattled the region.

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The shallow quake hit the city of Khoy, with a population of around 200,000, in West Azerbaijan province at 9:44 p.m. (6:14 p.m. GMT) Saturday, said the Seismological Center of the University of Tehran.

“This incident has left 816 injured and three dead,” West Azerbaijan Gov. Mohammad Sadegh Motamedian was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency.

People were seen wrapped in blankets and huddling around fires in the snow-dusted region, in images published by Iranian media, as state TV broadcast footage of major damage to residential buildings, including half-destroyed houses.

Buildings in 70 villages suffered quake damage, the state news agency reported, with rescuers clearing rubble to free those trapped in the area around 800 kilometers (500 miles) northwest of the capital Tehran.

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Iran’s Red Crescent Society chief, Pirhossein Koolivand, later announced the search and rescue operations had finished, with no more survivors or bodies believed trapped.

Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, traveled to Khoy to observe the situation, where he said water, power and gas connections were impacted but being restored, IRNA reported.

Meanwhile, Türkiye Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said no damage or casualties have been reported in Van province, which borders Iran.

Relevant AFAD teams were still carrying out fieldwork to determine damage in the area, AFAD president Yunus Sezer said on Twitter.

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History of major quakes
Iran sits astride the boundaries of several major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity.

On Jan. 18, a previous, 5.8-magnitude quake near Khoy left hundreds injured.

In February 2020, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck the western Türkiye village of Habash-e Olya and killed at least nine people.

Iran’s deadliest recorded quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless in the country’s north.

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In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeastern Iran leveled the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.

In November 2017, a 7.3-magnitude quake in Iran’s western province of Kermanshah killed 620 people.

And in December 2019 and January 2020, two earthquakes struck near Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbors have raised concerns about the reliability of the country’s sole nuclear power facility and the risk of radioactive leaks in case of a major earthquake



Iran executes British dual national over espionage.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak slammed Iran’s execution of a British-Iranian national. He condemned it as a killing “by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their people.”

Earlier on Saturday, Iran announced the execution of Alireza Akbari, a former deputy defense minister, days after he was sentenced to death on charges of spying for Britain.

“I am appalled by the execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari in Iran. My thoughts are with Alireza’s friends and family,” Sunak said on Twitter.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also issued a statement following the execution, saying it would not go “unchallenged.”

“This barbaric act deserves condemnation in the strongest possible terms. The Iranian regime has again shown its callous disregard for human life through this politically motivated act.

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“We will be summoning the Iranian Charge d’Affaires to make clear our disgust at Iran’s actions. Our thoughts are with Akbari’s family,” he said shortly before the top Iranian diplomat in Britain was summoned.

According to Iran’s Mizan News Agency, Akbari has executed corruption charges and “extensive acts against the country’s internal and external security.”

In an audio recording purportedly from Akbari and broadcast by BBC Persian on Wednesday, he said he had confessed to crimes he had not committed after extensive torture.

U.S. condemns Iran’s execution
On Saturday, the U.S. ambassador to London said the United States condemned the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, describing it as “appalling.”

“The execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari in Iran is appalling and sickening,” Ambassador Jane Hartley said on Twitter. “The United States joins with the U.K. in condemning this barbaric act. My thoughts are with Alireza’s family.”

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Germany calls execution ‘another inhumane act’ by Iran
The German Foreign Office expressed solidarity with the U.K., calling the execution “another inhumane act” by Tehran.

“The execution of Alireza Akbari is yet another inhumane act by the Iranian regime,” the office said on Twitter. “We stand with our British friends and will continue to closely coordinate our measures vis-a-vis the regime and our support for Iran’s people.”

French President Macron: Iran’s latest execution is a heinous and barbaric act
The execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari is a heinous and barbaric act, French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday.

Macron said he stood in solidarity with Britain, which has condemned the execution and defied British and U.S. calls for the 61-year-old Akbari’s release after he was handed a death sentence on charges of spying for Britain

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Iran Jails Ex-President’s Daughter For ‘Propaganda’

Iranian activist Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been sentenced to five years over “propaganda” and acts against national security, her lawyer told AFP on Monday.

Hashemi was arrested in the capital Tehran on September 27 for encouraging residents to demonstrate amid nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death.

“My client, Ms Hashemi, was sentenced to five years in prison by the preliminary court,” her lawyer Neda Shams said, adding she plans to appeal the verdict.

The 60-year-old former lawmaker and women’s rights activist was charged with “collusion against national security, propaganda against the Islamic republic and disturbing public order by participating in illegal gatherings”, the lawyer said.

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“The decision, which is not final, was communicated to me on Wednesday, and we will appeal it within the time frame allowed by law,” added Shams.

Hashemi has faced similar charges before, and in 2012 was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic republic”.

Last October, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi said without elaborating she had been sentenced in March “to 15 months in prison and two years of additional punishment including the prohibition of activities on the internet”.

Hashemi’s late father, president between 1989 and 1997 who died in 2017, was considered a moderate and advocated improved ties with the West.

Iranian authorities say hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed and thousands arrested in connection with the protests, which they generally describe as “riots”.

Four people have been executed, and the judiciary has said 13 others have been sentenced to death over the unrest. Six of these defendants have been granted retrials.

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Iran executes two more men in connection with protests

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Iran on Saturday executed two men for killing a paramilitary force member during unprecedented protests sparked by the death in custody of a young woman.

The latest hangings double the number of executions to four over the nationwide protests, which escalated since mid-September into calls for an end to Iran’s clerical regime.

Two men were put to death in December, sparking global outrage and new Western sanctions against Iran.

Judicial news agency Mizan Online reported, “Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, the main perpetrators of the crime that led to the martyrdom of Ruhollah Ajamian, were hanged this morning.”

Prosecutors said the 27-year-old militiaman was stripped naked and killed by a group of mourners who had been paying tribute to a slain protester, Hadis Najafi.

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The executions come in defiance of a campaign by international rights groups for the lives of the two men to be spared. Karami’s father had also begged the judiciary not to kill his son.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR), said both men “were subjected to torture, sentenced after sham trials… without the minimum standards for due process.”

Like other activists, he called for stronger international action after the latest executions.

On Twitter, Amiry-Moghaddam specifically urged “new and stronger sanctions against individuals and entities.”

Authorities have arrested thousands of people in the wave of demonstrations that began with the September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22.

The Iranian Kurdish woman had been arrested by morality police for allegedly breaching the regime’s strict dress code for women.

– Fear for others –
Ajamian belonged to the Basij paramilitary force linked to the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

He died in Karaj, west of Tehran, on November 3 after being attacked with “knives, stones, fists, kicks” and dragged along a street, a judiciary spokesman said at the time.

The court of first instance had sentenced Karami and Hosseini to death in early December, Mizan said.

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On Tuesday the Supreme Court upheld the sentence.

Karami’s parents had in December issued a video pleading with the judiciary to spare his life.

“I respectfully ask the judiciary, I beg you please, I ask you… to remove the death penalty from my son’s case,” said Mashallah Karami, describing his son as a former national karate team member.

Karami’s father told Iranian media that a family lawyer had not been able to access his son’s case file.

Mohamad Aghasi, whom the family wanted to handle the case, wrote on Twitter that Karami had not been allowed to have a final meeting with his family and had foregone food and water in protest.

IHR gave Karami’s age as 22. Hossein was 39, according to another Norway-based rights group, Hengaw.

They were among 14 people courts have sentenced to death over the unrest, according to an AFP count based on official information.

Four have now been executed, two others have had their sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court, six are awaiting new trials and two others can appeal.

Dozens of other protesters face charges punishable by death, IHR said in late December.

British actor of Iranian origin Nazanin Boniadi, an ambassador for Amnesty International in the United Kingdom, said on Twitter that the “political cost of Iran executions” must increase.

Foreign nations must withdraw their ambassadors from Iran and call for a moratorium on executions and state violence against peaceful dissent, New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said.

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“We are mourning as a nation,” prominent US-based dissident Masih Alinejad said in a Twitter post. “Help us save others.”

– ‘Even more hardliners’ –
Nearly four months into the authorities’ crackdown on the unrest triggered by Amini’s death, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday appointed a new police chief.

General Ahmad-Reza Radan took over from Hossein Ashtari, said a statement posted on the leader’s official website.

Khamenei ordered the police to “improve its capabilities”.

Iran expert Mehrzad Boroujerdi said before the announcement there had been “rumours that Khamenei has severely criticised the performance of Hossein Ashtari”.

Boroujerdi, vice provost and dean of Missouri S&T’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Education, told AFP on Wednesday that he expected people like Ashtari to be replaced by “even more hardliners to maintain a tight grip of the security forces”.

The latest executions were the first linked to the demonstrations in almost a month.

Iranian officials describe the protests as “riots” and accuse hostile foreign powers and opposition groups of stoking the unrest.

On December 12 Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, was hanged publicly from a crane after his conviction for killing two members of the security forces, Mizan reported.

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Rahnavard’s execution came four days after Mohsen Shekari, also 23, was put to death in connection with the wounding of a security forces member

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Protesters chant ‘No going back’ as unrest hits 100 days in Iran.

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The anti-government protests which began on September 17 in Iran have reached a hundred days as protesters vowed not to back down despite the government clampdown on them.

CNN reports the demonstrations which had claimed more than 500 lives including 69 children are the longest-running anti-government protests in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution has shaken the regime. (Watch Video Here)

The unrest began when a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini died in police custody on September 16 having been arrested and detained for breaching women’s hijab dress code.

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Iran hangs protester, accuses him of injuring security operative

Iran publicly hangs second protester

Iran arrests actress, Taraneh Alidoosti for supporting protests

Recently, two protesters were executed by hanging and at least 26 others face the same fate, after what Amnesty International calls “sham trials.”

Some Iranian celebrities have taken irrevocable steps to support protests, leading to their arrest or exile, as Taraneh Alidoosti, a well-known Iranian actress, is being held in the notorious Evin prison for condemning the execution of a young protester. (Watch Video Here)

Previously, she published a photo of herself without a mandatory headscarf, holding a sign with the protesters’ slogan.

Another prominent Iranian actress who has left the country, Pegah Ahangarani, told BBC Persian: “Both sides have been radicalised, the regime in its crackdown and people in the film industry in their response.

“Iran cannot go back to pre-Mahsa Amini era,” Ahangarani said. (Watch Video Here)

Hamid Farrokhnezhad, another well-known Iranian actor, moved to the US earlier this month and immediately called Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei a “dictator”, comparing him to Franco, Stalin and Mussolini.

Ali Karimi, one of Iran’s most celebrated former footballers living in Dubai, also supported the protests. He said Iranian intelligence agents threatened to kill him, eventually leading him to move to the US.

Iran’s Generation Z has been at the forefront of these protests, defying strict religious rules and setting new trends such as burning headscarves. (Watch Video Here)



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Stars “around the globe” flag for release of jailed Iranian actor.

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Hundreds of high profile figures from the global cinema industry called Wednesday for Iran to release actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who was jailed over her support for the country’s three-month-old protest movement.

Actors Emma Thompson, Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen and directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh were among a host of luminaries to sign an open letter demanding the star of “The Salesman” be freed.

“As members of the international arts community, we demand the immediate release of Academy Award-winning actress, mother and activist Taraneh Alidoosti, who was arrested on 17 December 2022 and has been taken into custody at Evin prison, Iran, where many other political prisoners also remain,” the letter says.

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Alidoosti, 38, was arrested on Saturday, official media said, after making a string of social media posts supporting the protest movement — including removing her headscarf and condemning the execution of protesters.

The actor is one of the most prominent figures arrested in a crackdown by Iran’s hardline regime that has seen the detention of lawyers, cultural figures, journalists and campaigners.

“The Iranian authorities have strategically chosen to arrest Taraneh before Christmas to ensure her international peers would be distracted,” the letter continues.

“But we are not distracted. We are outraged. Taraneh Alidoosti, like all citizens of Iran, has a right to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

“We hereby stand in solidarity with her and demand her immediate release and safe return to her family.”

The Islamic republic has been shaken by protests since Amini’s September 16 death in custody after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress rules for women.

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At least 14,000 people have been arrested since the nationwide unrest began, the United Nations said last month.

The United States on Tuesday condemned Alidoosti’s arrest as “part of the regime’s effort to sow fear and suppress these peaceful protests.”

The open letter comes after “The Salesman” director Asghar Farhadi took to Instagram to demand Alidoosti’s freedom.

Alidoosti appeared in two of Farhadi’s earliest films before he won international renown, “Beautiful City” (2004) and “Fireworks Wednesday” (2006).

She then appeared in the 2009 film “About Elly,” which earned Farhadi the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin film festival, before reuniting for “The Salesman” in 2016.

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“The Salesman” won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017

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Iran starts reviewing mandatory headscarf law amid deadly protests.

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Iranian authorities announced that they have started reviewing the decades-old mandatory headscarf law, as it struggles to suppress more than two months of protests linked to the dress code.

Protests have swept Iran since the Sept. 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish descent arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting the Shariah-based law.

Demonstrators have burned their head coverings and shouted anti-government slogans. Since Amini’s death, a growing number of women have not been observing the headscarf policy, particularly in Tehran’s fashionable north.

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“Both parliament and the judiciary are working (on the issue)” of whether the law needs any changes, Iran’s attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said.

Quoted by the ISNA news agency, he did not specify what could be modified in the law by the two bodies, which are largely in the hands of conservatives.

The review team met on Wednesday with parliament’s cultural commission “and will see the results in a week or two,” the attorney general said.

President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday said Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations were constitutionally entrenched.

“But there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible,” he said in televised comments.

The headscarf became obligatory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed monarchy.

It remains a highly sensitive issue in a country where conservatives insist it should be compulsory, while reformists want to leave it up to individual choice.

After the law became mandatory, with changing clothing norms it became commonplace to see women in tight jeans and loose, colorful headscarves.

But in July this year Raisi, an ultra-conservative, called for the mobilization of “all state institutions to enforce the headscarf law.”

Many women continued to bend the rules, however.

In September, Iran’s main reformist party called for the mandatory headscarf law to be rescinded.

The Union of Islamic Iran People Party, formed by relatives of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, on Saturday demanded the authorities “prepare the legal elements paving the way for the cancellation of the mandatory hijab law.”

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The opposition group is also calling for the Islamic republic to “officially announce the end of the activities of the morality police” and “allow peaceful demonstrations,” it said in a statement.

Iran accuses its sworn enemy the United States and its allies, including Britain, Israel and Kurdish groups based outside the country, of fomenting the street protests which the government calls “riots.”

A general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week, for the first time, said more than 300 people have lost their lives in the unrest since Amini’s death.

Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, on Saturday said the number of people killed during the protests “exceeds 200.”

Cited by state news agency IRNA, it said the figure included security officers, civilians and “separatists” as well as “rioters.”

Oslo-based nongovernmental organization Iran Human Rights on Tuesday said at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests.”

U.N. rights chief Volker Turk said last week that 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested in the protest crackdown.

The campaign of arrests has snared sportspeople, celebrities and journalists.

Among the latest figures to be arrested was film star Mitra Hajjar, who was detained at her home on Saturday, according to the reformist newspaper Shargh.

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The Supreme National Security Council said that in addition to the human toll, the violence had caused damage valued at trillions of rials (millions of dollars).

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Iran asks Klinsmann to resign amid ‘gamesmanship’ remarks.

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Iran and coach Carlos Queiroz on Sunday pulled no punches back when they called for Jurgen Klinsmann’s resignation from a FIFA panel of experts after the former Germany striker did not shy away when he criticized Iran of gamesmanship in their World Cup victory against struggling Wales.

Klinsmann, a member of FIFA’s seven-member technical study group that is analyzing the World Cup in Qatar, took aim at Iran’s antics following their 2-0 Group B win against Wales on Friday.

The former U.S. coach said a series of niggling fouls and the conduct of the Iranian coaching staff during the game was part of a deliberate strategy to make opponents “lose their focus.”

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“This is not by coincidence. This is all purposely. This is part of their culture, that’s how they play it,” Klinsmann said while working as a studio analyst for the BBC.

“They work the referee – you saw the bench always jumping off and working the linesman and the fourth referee on the sideline.

“Constantly in their ears, constantly in your face on the field … this is their culture.

“They make you lose their focus, make you lose your concentration and what’s really important to you.”

Klinsmann’s remarks drew a furious response from Iran’s football federation and Queiroz, who branded the German World Cup winner’s remarks a “disgrace to football.”

“Even not knowing me personally, you question my character with a typical prejudiced judgment of superiority,” Queiroz wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.

“No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran culture, Iran national team, and my players are a disgrace to football.”

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“Nobody can hurt our integrity if it is not at our level, of course,” the veteran former Portugal coach added.

Queiroz invited Klinsmann to visit the Iranian camp at the World Cup to “listen to how much they love and respect football” despite the “outrageous” criticism.

However, he said Klinsmann would only be welcome if he stepped down from his FIFA role.

“We just want to follow with full attention to what will be the decision of FIFA regarding your position as a member of Qatar 2022 Technical Study Group,” he wrote.

“Because, obviously, we expect you to resign before you visit our camp.”

Iran’s federation meanwhile drew attention to Klinsmann’s reputation for “famous dramatic dives” during his career, as well as Germany’s involvement in the infamous 1982 World Cup clash with Austria known as the “Disgrace of Gijon,” when both sides appeared to agree on a mutually beneficial result that eliminated Algeria.

“Iran Football Federation already asked for FIFA’s immediate clarification on this matter, demanding Mr. Klinsmann’s apologies and the resignation of his duties as FIFA Technical Study Group member,” the Iran Football Federation said.

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Iran face the U.S. in a politically charged final Group B game on Tuesday, where a win would put them through to the last 16.

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England defeats Iran 6-2, Bale saves Wales in draw with US.

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England started their World Cup campaign with a 6-2 victory against Iran while Gareth Bale rescued a 1-1 with the United States in Wales’ return to the tournament after 64 years in opening Group B action in Qatar on Monday.

Teenager Jude Bellingham opened the scoring with his first England goal and the rampant Three Lions also delighted in a brace from Bukayo Saka, and further strikes Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish handed Iran their biggest World Cup defeat.

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“I told you I was saving that goal, really good day and game for us. Six goals in a World Cup game is really impressive, regardless of who you play against,” Borussia Dortmund’s Bellingham told the BBC.

Captain Bale then rescued Wales in their first World Cup game since a 1958 debut by converting an 82nd-minute penalty against the U.S. who had led from Timothy Weah’s 36th-minute strike.

England were dominant from kick-off but lost a bit of momentum after Iran keeper Ali Beiranvand suffered a head injury and received medical treatment for around eight minutes.

The keeper decided to stay on the pitch but then went down to the ground and was finally substituted in a game that saw 24 minutes of official stoppage time over the two halves.

“It was not clear at first if he had to come off,” said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz. “He is now on his way to hospital to undergo further tests.”

England were quick to focus back on the game and after hitting the woodwork, broke the deadlock in the 35th minute through Bellingham. Saka’s first and Sterling before the break gave them a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Saka got his second in the 62nd minute before Iran pulled one back through Mehdi Taremi. But any possible threat was soon swept away once Rashford and a Grealish effort sealed the triumph, with a late Taremi penalty making it 6-2.

“I can’t describe the feeling, it is amazing. I am so happy and so proud. We got the win as well so it is a really special day,” Saka said.

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“There was a lot of talk and speculation about our form but we showed everyone how much quality we have and what we can do.”

Coach Gareth Southgate was happy with the win, but pointed out that his side “shouldn’t be conceding two goals. It’s a great start, but we have to be better.”

Queiroz defended his players against some fans although it was not clear who exactly he meant.

“Please, the teachers, the moralists, let the kids play the game. These kids only want to play the game,” Queiroz said.

The lead-up to the match was overshadowed by the captain’s armband row between some European nations and the football governing body FIFA.

England’s Harry Kane – and Bale later – wore official FIFA captain’s armbands with the slogan No Discrimination after the ruling body had threatened seven European teams with sanctions should they wear a not sanctioned One Love armband.

English players still took a knee in a now-familiar anti-discrimination stance while Iran players didn’t sing the national anthem – believed to be a gesture of support for the anti-government protests in the country.

In the other game, a determined US team took the lead against Wales when Lille winger Weah, the son of former World Player of the Year George Weah who is now President of Liberia, converted with a low shot off a superb pass from Christian Pulisic.

Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales improved the break and came close twice before superstar Bale himself stepped up to clinch the draw in the 82nd from the spot into the top right corner after being brought down by Walker Zimmermann.

“It was a great team performance, especially in the second half when we showed that real grit and determination to get back into the game. We are proud of that. We have things to build on and things to work on,” Bale said.

Coach Robert Page told ITV: “It was 64 years but worth the wait.

“When we got the penalty we knew who was taking it, one million percent. He’s never let us down has he? It’s all about Bale and rightly so.”

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Group B continues on Friday with Wales v Iran and England v U.S.

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World Cup: England confirm they will take the knee against Iran.

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England have confirmed they will be taking the knee in their opening World Cup group stage game against Iran on Monday.

Much has been made of what steps the Three Lions will take to combat issues surrounding diversity and inequality in Qatar, with team captain Harry Kane already confirmed to be wearing a OneLove armband instead of the standard one.

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The act of taking the knee has been largely reduced in the Premier League this season over fears its message and impact had become weakened, but manager Gareth Southgate confirmed in a press conference that his side would be doing so.

“It’s what we stand for as a team,” he explained: “Of course we understand in the Premier League that the clubs have only decided to do that for certain games, big occasions. We feel this is the biggest.”

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Southgate added: “We think it is a strong statement that will go around the world, for young people in particular, to see inclusivity is very important.”

The act first came into football during it’s return behind closed doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, where players and clubs made a stand against racial injustice following the Black Lives Matter movement.

England have kneeled before games continually under Southgate despite the Premier League adopting a more reduced approach to the action.

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They kick off their Group B campaign at 13:00 GMT on Monday.

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Türkiye conducts air raids against PKK terror targets in Iraq, Syria.

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Türkiye conducted an air operation against the PKK and its offshoot YPG in northern parts of Syria and Iraq, the Defense Ministry said Sunday.

The Claw-Sword Air Operation was conducted in northern Iraq and Syria, which are used as bases for attacks against Türkiye by terrorists, the ministry said in a statement.

It said the operation was carried out in line with the right of self-defense arising from Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

“Terror nests are being destroyed with direct hits,” it said in an earlier tweet as it shared the first images of the operation.

It announced the operation on Twitter with a photograph of a Turkish warplane taking off and said: “Time for reckoning! The scoundrels are being held accountable for the treacherous attacks!”

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At least 89 YPG/PKK terror targets were hit during air raids, the ministry said later in the day.

“With the Operation Claw-Sword, 89 terror targets, 81 targets in the first stage and eight others this morning, including shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots, and so-called headquarters and training camps belonging to terrorists, who threaten our country, nation and border security, were destroyed,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said Türkiye carried out a “successful operation” in the Qandil, Asos and Hakurk regions of northern Iraq and Arab Spring, Tal Rifaat, Jazira, and Derik regions of northern Syria.

“Among the terrorists neutralized in the air operation were the so-called leaders of the terrorist organization,” the ministry added.

It was carried out to eliminate the terrorist attacks against Turkish people and security forces from the northern areas of Iraq and Syria, and to ensure Türkiye’s border security, the ministry said.

“After the operation, in which mostly domestic and national ammunition was used, all of our aircraft returned safely to their bases,” it added.

Türkiye will continue the fight against terrorism for the security of the country and nation with determination until the last terrorist is eliminated, the ministry stressed.

Türkiye “successfully” destroyed terrorists’ hideouts during the new air operation in northern regions of Iraq and Syria, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also said on Sunday.

“Terrorists’ shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels and warehouses were successfully destroyed. We followed them closely. The so-called headquarters of the terrorist organization were also hit and destroyed,” Akar said in his address to the operations center from the capital Ankara.

“Only terrorists and hideouts belonging to them were targeted … The claw of our Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was once again on top of the terrorists,” Akar said.

Türkiye will continue to call to account those who target the country’s security, he vowed.

“Our aim is to ensure the security of our 85 million citizens and our borders, and to respond to any treacherous attack on our country,” Akar stressed.

Vice President Fuat Oktay said the TSK called the terrorists to account. “We will continue to make traitors pay the price,” Oktay said on Twitter.

Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said Türkiye has the full sovereign right to determine and eliminate any terrorist threat wherever it may come from.

“Türkiye conducts its anti-terror operations in line with international law and will continue to do so with or without the support of its allies,” Kalın said on Twitter.

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Separately, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun reiterated that terrorists’ targets were “successfully” destroyed at the operation.

“We will continue to defeat the efforts of terrorism and its sponsors to destabilize Türkiye, and to destroy terrorism at its source,” Altun said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Presidency shared photos of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordering the start of the air operation on his return from Indonesia where he visited to attend the G-20 summit.

The operation follows last Sunday’s terrorist attack on Istanbul’s crowded İstiklal Street that killed at least six and left 81 injured. The Turkish government said the attack was carried out by the PKK/YPG terrorist organization.

Recent terrorist attacks targeting Turkish cities are parts of an attempt to pull Türkiye back into the grip of global instability, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Friday, adding that both terror attacks were carried out by terrorists that came from northern Syria’s Manbij.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S., Türkiye and the European Union and Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara. The YPG has controlled much of northeastern Syria after the forces of Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad withdrew in 2012. The U.S. primarily partnered with YPG terrorists in northeastern Syria in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Türkiye strongly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria.

Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns. Underlining that one cannot support one terrorist group to defeat another, Türkiye conducted its counterterrorism operations, throughout which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.

Türkiye is ready to rid northern Syria’s Tal Rifaat and Manbij areas, near the Turkish border, of terrorist elements in a bid to eliminate the terror threat from the region, President Erdoğan said earlier this year.

“We are taking another step in establishing a 30-kilometer (18.64-mile) security zone along our southern border. We will clean up Tal Rifaat and Manbij,” he said adding that the planned military operations will gradually continue in other parts of northern Syria.

Erdoğan has said as the U.S. and Russia failed to live up to their commitments to provide such a safe zone in the border region. In October 2019, Russia expressed commitment to removing the terrorist group from Tal Rifaat and Manbij after reaching an agreement with Türkiye during Operation Peace Spring. Moscow also promised that the terrorists would be removed 30 kilometers from the border on the M4 road and in the area outside the Operation Peace Spring area. Likewise, then-U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged to Türkiye that the YPG/PKK terrorist group would withdraw from the region of Operation Peace Spring.

Ankara has launched several cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and controls some territories in the north with the goal of pushing away the YPG and establishing a 30-kilometer-deep safe zone. Since 2016, Türkiye has launched a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

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Also, the PKK terrorist group often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Türkiye’s southern border, to plot terrorist attacks in the country. The Turkish military regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq. Türkiye has long been stressing that it will not tolerate terrorist threats posed against its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy away from targeting terrorist threats.

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Mahsa Amini: Iran sentences first protester to death

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Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced a protester to death and handed down jail terms to five others.

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The ruling likely marks the first death sentence in the trials of those arrested for participating in protests that have swept Iran over the past weeks demanding an end to clerical rule.

Anti-government demonstrations have been going on for weeks in Iran and were sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained after allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

Thousands of peaceful protesters have been arrested since 16 September, including many women, children and youth, lawyers, human rights defenders and activists.

Judicial authorities have announced charges against more than 2,000 people in Iran. Some have been accused of “corruption on earth” and “war against God,” offenses that carry the death penalty.

Eight people were charged on 29 October by the Islamic Revolution Court, in Tehran province. Two days later, the Tehran prosecutor announced that some 1,000 indictments had been issued in connection with recent protests in Tehran province alone and that trials were scheduled in the Islamic Revolutionary Court for cases against a number of individuals. Public trials would take place “in the coming days”, the prosecutor said.

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On 6 November, in blatant violation of the separation of powers, 227 members of Parliament called on the judiciary to act decisively against people arrested during the protests and to carry out punishment carrying the death penalty, experts said.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the first death sentence was handed down to a protester.

The accused, who has not been named, was sentenced in a Tehran court to death for the crime of “setting fire to a government building, disturbing public order, conspiracy to commit a crime against national security, waging war against God and corruption on earth”, one of the most serious offences under Iranian law, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported.

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Another court in Tehran sentenced five others to prison terms of between five and ten years for “gathering and conspiring to commit crimes against national security and disturbing public order”.

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Baku summons Iranian envoy over anti-Azerbaijan propaganda.

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Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian envoy to protest a “smear campaign” against the country and “threatening rhetoric” from high-ranking civilian and military officials.

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In a statement, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said it summoned Ambassador Sayed Abbas Mousavi to express Baku’s “dissatisfaction and concern regarding the recent propaganda against the Republic of Azerbaijan, the smear campaign, the threatening rhetoric of the high-ranking political and military officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is not in line with the spirit of the relations between the two countries.”

The ministry statement said officials told Mousavi it was unacceptable that conditions were created for Azerbaijani fugitives from the law, who had committed crimes against the country’s Constitution, to live in Iran.

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They underlined the need for such individuals who were arrested by court decision and put on an international wanted list, to be extradited to Azerbaijan, added the statement.

This came amid strained ties between the two countries, with Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoning Azerbaijan’s ambassador in Tehran earlier on Thursday to protest against “anti-Iranian propaganda” spread by Azerbaijani officials and the media against Tehran.

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The Iranian Foreign Ministry conveyed the country’s displeasure to Ambassador Ali Alizada over “unfriendly remarks” by senior Azerbaijani officials and a “smear campaign” against Iran in Azerbaijani media.

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Iran confirms drones to Russia but ‘months’ before Ukraine war.

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Iran for the first time confirmed it sold drones to Russia, but said this happened “months” before the start of the war in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Tehran on Saturday, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian addressed claims by Western officials that Iranian drones were supplied to Moscow for its invasion, and that surface-to-surface missiles may also be on the way.

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“Their comments on the missiles part are completely wrong, and the drones part is correct. We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months and before the war in Ukraine,” Amirabdollahian said.

Iranian officials had previously said on numerous occasions that Tehran had “defence” cooperation with Russia, but had not supplied the Kremlin with arms “for the purpose of being used in the war in Ukraine”.

Amirabdollahian reiterated on Saturday that Iran has not been a supporter of either side in the war and is ready to talk to Ukraine.

“We have emphasised to Ukrainian officials that if there is evidence about the use of Iranian drones in the Ukraine war by Russia, they should present it to us,” he said.

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‘We won’t be indifferent’
According to the diplomat, an Iranian political and military delegation travelled to an unnamed European country two weeks ago to hold a meeting with Ukrainian counterparts, but they refused to attend “at the 11th hour” as a result of pressure from the United States and Europe, especially Germany.

“They had told the Ukrainian side that we want to sanction Iran for the issue of drones, and now you wish to participate in a meeting with the Iranians in Europe and drink coffee with them,” he said.

Amirabdollahian said Iran still expects Ukraine to present the evidence in the coming days and “if it is proven to us that Russia has used Iranian drones in the Ukraine war, we won’t be indifferent to it.”

The US and the European Union have imposed sanctions on a number of Iranian entities and officials over the drone sales to Russia, as Ukrainian officials have repeatedly condemned Tehran and downgraded diplomatic ties.

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Moscow has said the unmanned aerial vehicles it used in the war have been Russian-made, and has warned the United Nations against investigating its use of drones in Ukraine.

Iran has also denounced efforts by the West to use UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which underpins its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, to prompt the UN to investigate the issue.



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94yo Iran Hermit who did not bath for 60years died after forceful bath.

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An Iranian Hermit and former Guinness world record holder for the “world dirtiest man” has died at the age of 94.

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Reports from Irna news agency (Islamic Republic News Agency), said the Hermit was known as “Amou Haji”, a nickname for an elderly person in the community.

Haji died on Sunday in the village of Dejgah in the southern province of Fars.

The Iranian became an internet sensation after local media reported that the hermit had never had a bath in 60 years.

The 94-year-old was always seen covered in black dust, eating from road kills, taking a smoke from an animal excreta, and lived alone with no family until his death.

The Irna news agency reported that Haji was always sad when asked to take his bath, while locals claimed that he never had his bath due to “emotional setbacks” he experienced in his youth.

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“World Dirtiest Man” dies at 94.

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An Iranian Hermit and former Guinness world record holder for the “world dirtiest man” has died at the age of 94.

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Reports from Irna news agency (Islamic Republic News Agency), said the Hermit was known as “Amou Haji”, a nickname for an elderly person in the community.

Haji died on Sunday in the village of Dejgah in the southern province of Fars.

The Iranian became an internet sensation after local media reported that the hermit had never had a bath in 60 years.

The 94-year-old was always seen covered in black dust, eating from road kills, taking a smoke from an animal excreta, and lived alone with no family until his death.

The Irna news agency reported that Haji was always sad when asked to take his bath, while locals claimed that he never had his bath due to “emotional setbacks” he experienced in his youth.

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UK imposes sanctions on Iran.

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The United Kingdom imposed new sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses involved in supplying kamikaze drones to Russia, which were used to hit Ukraine.

Russia is using the drones “to attack both civilian targets and critical infrastructure in Kyiv and across Ukraine, with the intention of cutting off Ukrainian people from energy, heating, and water,” a statement from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

The statement further said Iran was “actively warmongering, profiting off Russia’s abhorrent attacks on Ukrainian citizens, and adding to the suffering of the people and the destruction of critical infrastructure” by supplying those drones.

“Both Russia and Iran are violating a U.N. Security Council Resolution that controls the transfer of these weapons from Iran,” it read.

“Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

“Today we are sanctioning those who have supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians. This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in global security,” he added.

“These cowardly drone strikes are an act of desperation. By enabling these strikes, these individuals and a manufacturer have caused the people of Ukraine untold suffering. We will ensure that they are held to account for their actions,” he concluded.

U.S. also mulls sanctions against Iran
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian drones to attack Ukraine, adding that Washington was looking at imposing new sanctions on Tehran.

Kirby added that the Biden administration would look for ways to make it harder for Tehran to sell such weapons to Russia, adding that it was no longer focused on diplomacy and nuclear talks with Iran at this point.

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Iran says ready to talk to Ukraine on claims of arming Russia.

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Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government says it is ready to talk to Ukrainian officials to address allegations that it is arming Russia and plans to ramp up military cooperation with it, as the war in Ukraine nears the end of its eighth month.

In a statement issued late on Tuesday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani reiterated Tehran’s denials about sending drones to Russia to be used in the conflict, and for the first time expressed readiness for “dialogue and negotiation with Ukraine to clear these allegations”.

It came shortly after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday he had proposed to President Volodymyr Zelenksyy the formal breaking of diplomatic ties with Iran after Russia’s latest attacks, which killed several people and damaged infrastructure.

Kuleba said the Ukrainian government had no doubts that Iranian Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones were used in Monday’s attacks, and believed Tehran would possibly continue supplying arms to Moscow.

Separately, The New York Times on Tuesday cited unnamed US officials as saying that Iran, after selling drones to Russia, had sent trainers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the Russian-annexed Crimea Peninsula to help Russian forces operate them. It followed reports by other Western media that Tehran was preparing to send more drones, in addition to transferring short and medium-range surface-to-surface Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles.

Ukraine accuses Russia of using the Shahed-136, albeit re-branded as Geran-2 with its own tail numbers.

The relatively cheap and fairly accurate drone is able to fly long distances before crashing into its targets with built-in explosives.

Ukraine, which downgraded diplomatic ties with Tehran last month, has been vocal about the purported use of the Iranian drones, with Zelenskyy and his top officials directly blaming them several times for attacks on the capital Kyiv and elsewhere.

“Shahed killer,” wrote Ukraine’s defence ministry in a tweet last week showing the image of a young pilot who had supposedly downed several of the drones.

The Kremlin on Tuesday said that Russian technology with Russian names was “being used” in Ukraine, and referred questions to the defence ministry.

On Monday, Ukraine called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Iran for the alleged arms sales, with Kuleba saying he was prepared to offer evidence. The bloc’s foreign ministers did not take action during a meeting in Luxembourg, but foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU was reviewing evidence at its disposal and would impose new sanctions if it could independently verify arms sales to Russia for the war.

The bloc, however, imposed sanctions on a slew of Iranian officials and entities for what it called “the brutal repression of protests” that erupted across Iran a month ago following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s so-called “morality police”.

While repeatedly denying any arms sales to Moscow for the purpose of being used in Ukraine, Iranian officials have said the country has active “defence cooperation” with Russia, without elaborating.

Iran and Russia are growing increasingly closer, with Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian saying on Tuesday a long-term cooperation agreement that has been in the works since last year will be finalised by the end of the current Iranian calendar year in March 2023

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“Hide in safe keep”: Iran shut borders.

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The violence threatened to deepen the political crisis, though streets elsewhere in the country largely remained calm and the country’s vital oil continued to flow. Neighboring Iran closed off its borders to Iraq and urged its citizens to avoid traveling there, a senior official said, a sign of Tehran’s concern that the chaos could spread.

Iran’s state television said flights had also been halted “until further notice because of the unrest there.”

Millions of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Karbala every year for the ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein. Arbaeen falls on Sept. 16-17 this year.

“The border with Iraq has been closed. Due to safety concerns, it is necessary for Iranians to refrain from travelling to Iraq until further notice,” state TV quoted Iran’s deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi as saying.

Live television footage showed supporters of al-Sadr firing both heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades into the heavily fortified Green Zone through a section of pulled-down concrete walls. Bystanders, seemingly oblivious to the danger, filmed the gunfight with their mobile phones.

As al-Sadr’s forces fired, a line of armored tanks stood on the other side of the barriers that surround the Green Zone. Heavy black smoke at one point rose over the area, visible from kilometers (miles) away.

At least one wounded man was taken away in a three-wheel rickshaw, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry visible in the background.

At least 30 people have been killed and over 400 wounded, two Iraqi medical officials said. The toll included both al-Sadr loyalists killed in protests the day before and clashes overnight. Those figures are expected to rise, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information to journalists.

Members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim sect were oppressed when Saddam Hussein ruled the country, but the U.S.-led invasion reversed the political order. Now the Shiites are fighting among themselves, with Iranian-backed Shiites and Iraqi nationalist Shiites jockeying for power, influence and state resources.

Al-Sadr’s nationalist rhetoric and reform agenda resonates powerfully with his supporters, who largely hail from Iraq’s poorest sectors of society and were historically been shut out from the political system under Saddam.

His announcement that he is leaving politics has implicitly given his supporters the freedom to act as they see fit.

Iranian state television cited unrest and a military-imposed curfew in Iraqi cities for the reason for the border closures. It urged Iranians to avoid any travel to the neighboring country. The decision came as millions were preparing to visit Iraq for an annual pilgrimage to Shiite sites, and Tehran encouraged any Iranian pilgrims already in Iraq to avoid further travel between cities.

Kuwait, meanwhile, called on its citizens to leave Iraq. The state-run KUNA news agency also encouraged those hoping to travel to Iraq to delay their plans.

The tiny Gulf Arab sheikhdom of Kuwait shares a 254-kilometer- (158-mile-) long border with Iraq.

The Netherlands evacuated its embassy in the Green Zone, Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra tweeted early Tuesday.

“There are firefights around the embassy in Baghdad. Our staff are now working at the German embassy elsewhere in the city,” Hoekstra wrote.

Dubai’s long-haul carrier Emirates stopped flights to Baghdad on Tuesday over the ongoing unrest. The carrier said that it was “monitoring the situation closely.” It did not say when flights would resume.

On Monday, protesters loyal to al-Sadr pulled down the cement barriers outside the government palace with ropes and breached the palace gates. Many rushed into the lavish salons and marbled halls of the palace, a key meeting place for Iraqi heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Iraq’s military announced a nationwide curfew, and the caretaker premier suspended Cabinet sessions in response to the violence.

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al-Sadr’s Quit: Iran shut borders.

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The violence threatened to deepen the political crisis, though streets elsewhere in the country largely remained calm and the country’s vital oil continued to flow. Neighboring Iran closed off its borders to Iraq and urged its citizens to avoid traveling there, a senior official said, a sign of Tehran’s concern that the chaos could spread.

Iran’s state television said flights had also been halted “until further notice because of the unrest there.”

Millions of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Karbala every year for the ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein. Arbaeen falls on Sept. 16-17 this year.

“The border with Iraq has been closed. Due to safety concerns, it is necessary for Iranians to refrain from travelling to Iraq until further notice,” state TV quoted Iran’s deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi as saying.

Live television footage showed supporters of al-Sadr firing both heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades into the heavily fortified Green Zone through a section of pulled-down concrete walls. Bystanders, seemingly oblivious to the danger, filmed the gunfight with their mobile phones.

As al-Sadr’s forces fired, a line of armored tanks stood on the other side of the barriers that surround the Green Zone. Heavy black smoke at one point rose over the area, visible from kilometers (miles) away.

At least one wounded man was taken away in a three-wheel rickshaw, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry visible in the background.

At least 30 people have been killed and over 400 wounded, two Iraqi medical officials said. The toll included both al-Sadr loyalists killed in protests the day before and clashes overnight. Those figures are expected to rise, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information to journalists.

Members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim sect were oppressed when Saddam Hussein ruled the country, but the U.S.-led invasion reversed the political order. Now the Shiites are fighting among themselves, with Iranian-backed Shiites and Iraqi nationalist Shiites jockeying for power, influence and state resources.

Al-Sadr’s nationalist rhetoric and reform agenda resonates powerfully with his supporters, who largely hail from Iraq’s poorest sectors of society and were historically been shut out from the political system under Saddam.

His announcement that he is leaving politics has implicitly given his supporters the freedom to act as they see fit.

Iranian state television cited unrest and a military-imposed curfew in Iraqi cities for the reason for the border closures. It urged Iranians to avoid any travel to the neighboring country. The decision came as millions were preparing to visit Iraq for an annual pilgrimage to Shiite sites, and Tehran encouraged any Iranian pilgrims already in Iraq to avoid further travel between cities.

Kuwait, meanwhile, called on its citizens to leave Iraq. The state-run KUNA news agency also encouraged those hoping to travel to Iraq to delay their plans.

The tiny Gulf Arab sheikhdom of Kuwait shares a 254-kilometer- (158-mile-) long border with Iraq.

The Netherlands evacuated its embassy in the Green Zone, Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra tweeted early Tuesday.

“There are firefights around the embassy in Baghdad. Our staff are now working at the German embassy elsewhere in the city,” Hoekstra wrote.

Dubai’s long-haul carrier Emirates stopped flights to Baghdad on Tuesday over the ongoing unrest. The carrier said that it was “monitoring the situation closely.” It did not say when flights would resume.

On Monday, protesters loyal to al-Sadr pulled down the cement barriers outside the government palace with ropes and breached the palace gates. Many rushed into the lavish salons and marbled halls of the palace, a key meeting place for Iraqi heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Iraq’s military announced a nationwide curfew, and the caretaker premier suspended Cabinet sessions in response to the violence.

— Sign Up For 𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕽𝖊𝖕𝖔𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘 𝕸𝖊𝖉𝖎𝖆 —

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Ebrahim Raisi says “no way back” to nuclear deal, state reason.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Monday warned that any road map to restore Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers must see international inspectors end their probe on human-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites in the country.

In a rare news conference marking his first year in office, Raisi also issued threats against Israel and tried to sound upbeat as Iran’s economy and rial currency has cratered under the weight of international sanctions.

Despite the international attention on the deal as talks in Vienna hang in the balance, it took Raisi well over an hour before fully acknowledging the ongoing negotiations. Tehran and Washington have traded written responses in recent weeks on the finer points of the roadmap, which would see sanctions lifted against Iran in exchange for it restricting its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for years has sought for Iran to answer questions about human-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites. U.S. intelligence agencies, Western nations and the IAEA have said Iran ran an organized nuclear weapons program until 2003. Iran long has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons.

As a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is obligated to explain the radioactive traces and to provide assurances that they are not being used as part of a nuclear weapons program. Iran found itself criticized by the IAEA’s Board of Governors in June over its failure to answer questions about the sites to the inspectors’ satisfaction.

Raisi mentioned the traces – referring to its as a “safeguards” issue using the IAEA’s language.

“Without settlement of safeguard issues, speaking about an agreement has no meaning,” Raisi said.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran could enrich uranium to 3.67%, while maintaining a stockpile of uranium of 300 kilograms (660 pounds) under constant scrutiny of IAEA surveillance cameras and inspectors. Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, setting the stage for years of rising tensions.

As of the last public IAEA count, Iran has a stockpile of some 3,800 kilograms (8,370 pounds) of enriched uranium. More worrying for nonprofileration experts, Iran now enriches uranium up to 60% purity – a level it never reached before that is a short, technical step away from 90%. Those experts warn Iran has enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

Amid the tensions, Israel is suspected in carrying out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites, as well as a prominent scientist. On Monday, Raisi directly threatened Israel.

Raisi said if Israel decides to carry out its threats to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, “they will see if anything from the Zionist regime will remain or not.”

At his first news conference, Raisi famously simply said “no” when asked if he would meet with President Joe Biden. Asked again Monday as the U.N. General Assembly looms next month, Raisi stuck to his earlier answer.

“There is no benefit for a meeting between us and him,” the president said. “Neither for the Iranian nation nor for the interests of our great nation.”

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Tehran nuke deal limbo may serve interests of both US, Iran.

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Whether or not Tehran and Washington accept the European Union’s “final” offer to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, neither is likely to declare the pact dead since keeping it alive benefits both sides’ interests, diplomats, analysts and officials said.

Their reasons, however, are radically different.

For U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, there are no obvious or easy ways to rein in Iran’s nuclear program other than the agreement, under which Iran had restrained its atomic program in return for relief from United States, United Nations and EU economic sanctions.

Using economic pressure to coerce Iran to further limit its atomic program, as Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump attempted after abandoning the deal in 2018, will be difficult when countries such as China and India continue to buy Iranian oil.

The rise in oil prices brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s public support for Tehran have thrown Iran economic and political lifelines that have helped to convince Iranian officials that they can afford to wait.

“Both sides are happy to endure the status quo,” said a European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We are in no rush,” said a senior Iranian official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We are selling our oil, we have reasonable trade with many countries, including neighboring countries, we have our friends like Russia and China that both are at odds with Washington … our (nuclear) program is advancing. Why should we retreat?”

When Trump reneged on the deal he argued it was too generous to Iran and he reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions designed to choke off Iran’s oil exports as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.

After waiting about a year, Iran began violating the deal’s nuclear restrictions, amassing a larger stockpile of enriched uranium, enriching uranium to 60% purity – well above the pact’s 3.67% limit – and using increasingly sophisticated centrifuges.

After 16 months of fitful, indirect U.S.-Iranian talks, with the EU shuttling between the parties, a senior EU official on Aug. 8 said they had laid down a “final” offer and expected a response within “very, very few weeks.”

Deadline
Regional diplomats said the EU told the parties it expected an answer on Aug. 15, though that has not been confirmed. There are no signs if Iran intends to comply or to accept the draft EU text. The United States has said it is ready to quickly conclude a deal based on the EU proposals, is studying the text and will respond “as asked.”

“The Ukraine war, high oil prices, the rising tension between Washington and China, have changed the political equilibrium. Therefore, time is not of the essence for Iran,” said a second senior Iranian official.

After months of saying time was running out, U.S. officials have changed tack, saying they will pursue a deal as long as it is in U.S. national security interests, a formulation with no deadline.

Biden, a Democrat, is sure to be criticized by Republicans if he revives the deal before the Nov. 8 midterm elections in which his party could lose control of both houses of Congress.

“If the Iranians tomorrow came in and said, ‘OK, we’ll take the deal that’s on the table,’ we would do it notwithstanding the midterms,” said Dennis Ross, a veteran U.S. diplomat now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“It’s not like the administration is out there touting this as a great arms control deal. Their position is that it’s the least bad of the alternatives that are available,” he added.

While Biden has said he would take military action as a last resort to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Washington is loathe to do so given the risk of sparking a wider regional war or of Iran attacking the United States or its allies elsewhere.

Domestic criticism of the administration is likely to be fiercer after last week’s indictment of an Iranian man on U.S. charges of plotting to kill former White House national security adviser John Bolton and the knife attack on novelist Salman Rushdie. The writer has lived under an Iranian fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to kill him for his novel “The Satanic Verses,” viewed by some as blasphemous.

Dangling
The lack of better policy options for Washington, and Tehran’s view that time is on its side, could leave the deal dangling.

“Both the U.S. and Iran have compelling reasons to keep the prospect of a deal alive, even though neither appears willing to make the concessions that would actually facilitate its revival,” said Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome.

“It is unclear whether Iranian leaders have decided not to revive the deal or have not made a definitive decision, but either way, continuing this limbo period likely serves their interests,” Rome said.

“The fact that the West has long threatened that time was running short has likely undermined its credibility in insisting that the deal on the table is final and non-negotiable,” he said.

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