Category : Iran

(BBC) Iran's President-elect Rouhani vows transparency on nuclear issue

In his first news conference since Friday’s election, Mr Rouhani described as “unfair” sanctions imposed on his country. He also said Tehran would not suspend uranium enrichment activities.

The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its programme is entirely peaceful.

The UK said it hoped Mr Rouhani would act on his pledge to resolve the issue.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(SMH) Google uncovers Iranian spy campaign

Google says it has uncovered a vast Iranian spy campaign that had been targeting tens of thousands of Iranian citizens over the past three weeks.

“These campaigns, which originate from within Iran, represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region,” the company said in a blog post. “The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.”

The company said that thousands of its users inside Iran had been the targets of a sophisticated email phishing campaign in which attackers sent users a link that, when clicked, sent them to a fake Google sign-in page where the attackers could steal login credentials.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/security-it/google-uncovers-iranian-spy-campaign-20130614-2o7rh.html#ixzz2W8gG8bct

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Globalization, Iran, Middle East, Science & Technology

(NY Times) Israeli Airstrike in Syria Was Directed at Missiles From Iran, U.S. Officials Say

The airstrike that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese organization, American officials said Saturday.

It was the second time in four months that Israel had carried out an attack in foreign territory aimed at disrupting the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, according to an American official.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Syria

Pastor Saeed Abedini Praying for Boston Bombing Victims From Iranian Prison

U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently suffering from internal bleeding in Iranian prison, said that he is praying for America in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and left over 200 injured last week.

“Pastor Saeed told family members he had heard about the terrorist bombings in Boston on the prison radio, expressed his concern, and told them he is praying for the victims and their families during this very challenging time for our nation,” the American Center for Law and Justice revealed on Monday.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East, Spirituality/Prayer, Sports, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence, Young Adults

Pastor Saeed Abedini's Letter from Evin Prison, Iran

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

(BBC) Iran's Khamenei rejects US nuclear talks offer

Iran’s supreme leader has dismissed a US offer of one-to-one talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech posted online that the US was proposing talks while “pointing a gun at Iran”.

On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden suggested direct talks, separate to the wider international discussions due to take place later this month.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, History, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(VOA) Egypt's Top Cleric Rebuffs Iranian President on Gulf

Egypt’s top Muslim cleric told visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday that his Shi’ite-led government must refrain from interfering in the affairs of Gulf Arab states and must give full rights to Sunnis living in Iran.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of the al-Azhar mosque, also urged Mr. Ahmadinejad to “respect Bahrain as a sisterly Arab state” and rejected “the spread of Shi’ism” in Sunni countries.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Iran, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(ACLJ) Free Saeed Abedini: Time for a Unified National and International Response

Our government is coalescing around Pastor Saeed, but it is still moving too slow and engaging at too low a level. Two weeks ago 49 Members of Congress (37 from the House and 12 Senators) sent letters to the State Department urging “strong and sustained” advocacy on Saeed’s behalf. On Friday we reported that the State Department and White House made near-identical comments within moments of each other that clearly and unequivocally called for Pastor Saeed’s release.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church/State Matters, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

American Pastor Saeed Abedini Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison in Iran

The U.S. State Department says an American pastor who has been jailed in Iran since September has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Spokesman Darby Holladay said Sunday that the department is calling on Iran to respect Saeed Abedini’s human rights and release him.

Read it all and also read ACLJ comments there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Tariq Ramadan–Whatever happened to the 'Arab spring'?

The people must be alert, analytically and democratically. Populist movements are gaining strength, forcing emotional, hasty, binary and often blind reactions. Political and religious leaders, intellectuals and students, women (in the heart of their legitimate struggles) as well as ordinary citizens bear a heavy responsibility. They must become the masters of their fate. If democratisation is to mean anything at all, it must be in terms of freedom and responsibility. Time has come to stop blaming the West, the neighbouring countries and the “powers” for the crises they continue to suffer.

The Great Powers undoubtedly played a role in the uprisings – they continue to wield great influence and have not stopped promoting their interests, dictatorships or not, democracy or not. Engaged as they are in a painful transition, the MENA countries must now face their destiny. However, beyond the strategic planning of the Great Powers – both the western countries and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) – these countries have a historic opportunity to take their destinies in their hands; to create a new regional balance of power, new ways of handling the religious reference. They can profit from the emerging multi-polar economic order to celebrate cultural and artistic creativity, and take seriously the welfare and the superior interests of their peoples.

Where to begin? With a true process of liberation, an intellectual and psychological revolution that must first overcome the obsession with western approval, as if, once liberated, these countries must still seek legitimacy and tolerance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, History, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria

(NPR) What Gaza Says About Possible Iran-Israel Showdown

In the Gaza Strip fighting, where a cease-fire was reached Wednesday, the Israeli military pounded Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes. Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel.

The weeklong battle temporarily diverted attention from Iran, the archenemy of Israel and a key ally of Hamas. Israeli leaders have threatened to strike Iran over its nuclear program.

Yet the Gaza fight may offer insights into what a possible confrontation between Israel and Iran would look like.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Israel, Middle East, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(AP) Iran ready to ramp up nuke program

Iran is on the threshold of being able to create weapons-grade uranium at a plant it has heavily fortified against Israeli attack, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday, calling into question an Israeli claim that Iran had slowed its nuclear time table.

One of three diplomats who discussed the issue said Iran was now technically ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium at its Fordo facility by nearly 700 centrifuges. That would double present output, and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months.

Such a move would raise the stakes for Israel, which has said it believes the world has until next summer to stop Iran before it can get nuclear material and implied it would have time to decide whether to strike Fordo and other Iranian nuclear facilities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Sudan: the new battlefield in Iran and Israel's covert conflict

Iranian warships have arrived in Port Sudan in an apparent show of support for the government in Khartoum, one week after it accused Israel of bombing an arms factory in the Sudanese capital.

Iran’s state news agency confirmed yesterday that two vessels, a destroyer and a helicopter carrier have docked in Sudan’s main port on the Red Sea and their commanders will be meeting Sudanese officials.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --North Sudan, --South Sudan, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Poverty, Sudan, Violence

(CNN) Israel eyes Lebanon after drone downed

Israeli military experts Sunday worked around the clock to examine the remains of a mysterious drone that was shot down after penetrating Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli military announced Saturday that the unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down over the northern Negev Desert. They say the drone did not take off from Gaza, leading them to consider the possibility that it originated in Lebanon.

Israeli security experts point the finger at Israel’s longstanding rival Hezbollah, the Shiite militia based in southern Lebanon.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Syria, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(Der Spiegel) Syrian War Threatens to Spread to Neighbors

Events in recent days have illustrated just how quickly the violence in Syria could spiral into a regional war. After Syrian mortar bombs once again fell on Turkish soil, this time killing five civilians, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan felt compelled to act. The Turkish military’s retaliation on Wednesday and Thursday startled the international community.

With its actions, Turkey obviously proceeded with caution: It answered the repeated attacks from Syria with a few artillery shots — not missiles. And the permission for further military action granted to Erdogan by his parliament is intended primarily as an intimidation measure. There is no apparent intent to declare all-out war — at least for the time being. The United Nations Security Council, meanwhile, has strongly condemned the Syrian attack on Turkish soil and called on both sides to show restraint.
The fact of the matter is that the longer Syrian civil war continues, the more often incidents like that seen earlier this week will occur — particularly in Turkey and Lebanon. A large part of the border region around Syria has already become a war zone. Previously, the international community had worried that a military intervention could fuel a regional wildfire, but now it is being forced to look on as this increasingly appears to be the reality — without it ever even having gotten involved.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Violence

Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s Master of Iraq Chaos, Still Vexes the U.S.

When a senior Iraqi intelligence official traveled to Tehran in the summer of 2007 to meet with the Iranian leadership, he quickly figured out who was in charge of Iran’s policy toward its neighbor to the west.

It was not the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was Qassim Suleimani, the shadowy commander of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force, who calmly explained that he was the “sole authority for Iranian actions in Iraq,” according to an account the Iraqi official later provided to American officials in Baghdad.

A soft-spoken, gray-haired operative who carries himself with the confidence that comes from having the backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, General Suleimani is the antithesis of the bombastic Iranian president. Now a major general ”” the highest rank in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ”” after a promotion last year, he has been the mastermind behind two central Iranian foreign policy initiatives, exerting and expanding Tehran’s influence in the internal politics of Iraq and providing military support for the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria

(Reuters) Netanyahu draws "red line" on Iran's nuclear program

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday despite a U.S. refusal to set an ultimatum, saying Tehran will be on the brink of a nuclear weapon in less than a year.

By citing a time frame in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu – who has clashed with President Barack Obama over the urgency of military action against Iran – appeared to suggest no Israeli attack was imminent before the November 6 U.S. presidential election….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(RNS) Activists hail release of Christian pastor in Iran, teen in Pakistan

Religious rights activists are hailing the release over the weekend of an Iranian pastor accused of apostasy and a Pakistani girl who was charged with blasphemy.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released Saturday (Sept. 8) after a six-hour hearing, reported the American Center for Law and Justice, which worked to garner American support for the minister’s release. The Christian convert had faced possible execution.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Israel Blasts U.S. Over Iran

The rift between top U.S. and Israeli leaders appeared to deepen Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leveled the sharpest attacks in years by an Israeli leader against Washington, over differences on how to address Iran’s nuclear program.

Tensions had so escalated that President Barack Obama spent an hour on the phone with the Israeli leader in a hastily arranged call hours after both governments said the White House wouldn’t agree to an Israeli request for a meeting between the two leaders at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this month.

The Israelis said their request was refused; the White House said there was a scheduling conflict and there could be a meeting elsewhere at another time.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

(BP) Iranian pastor Nadarkhani acquitted, freed

Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been acquitted of apostasy and released, ending a saga that drew international attention and saw him spend more than 1,000 days in jail in the face of a death sentence — simply for being a Christian.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported Saturday (Sept. 8) that Nadarkhani, in jail since 2009, was acquitted of apostasy — that is, converting from Islam to Christianity — but found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. CSW said Nadarkhani was sentenced to three years in prison for that latter charge, but released due to time already served. Nadarkhani said he never was a Muslim.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(NY Times Op-Ed) Thomas Friedman–Mohamed Morsi’s Wrong Turn

I find it very disturbing that one of the first trips by Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will be to attend the Nonaligned Movement’s summit meeting in Tehran this week. Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason the Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran’s people that the world approves of their country’s clerical leadership and therefore they should never, ever, ever again think about launching a democracy movement ”” the exact same kind of democracy movement that brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General

(CSM) Why optimism is low before Iran nuclear meeting: a tent and centrifuges

A brightly colored tent suspected of shielding the site of nuclear activities from the prying eyes of satellites and an apparently growing number of underground centrifuges to create enriched uranium are among the items the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog will want to discuss with Iran when the two meet Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is playing down the prospects of getting what it wants from the meeting. The IAEA is seeking a go-ahead from Iran to inspect a military research-and-development site south of Tehran known as Parchin. The international body suspects Iran has used the secrecy-cloaked site to develop military applications for its nuclear know-how, a claim Iran denies.

The lead-up to Friday’s meeting has provided a window into Iran’s activities that suggest, as IAEA director general Yukiya Amano indicates, that Iran has something to hide.

Read it all and there is more there as well.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

([London] Times) Amir Taheri–Religious schism could wreck the Arab Spring

The West often sees Islam as a monolith but in reality it is a patchwork of sects, schools and ways, not to mention some fully fledged religions wearing Islamic masks to avoid persecution. And as always in Islam, religious differences are a cover for political rivalries.

Involved in the schism are three camps. One consists of traditional Sunni Muslims who have just won a share of power in several countries, notably Egypt. The second camp is that of Salafis, Sunni Muslims who dream of reconquering “lost Islamic lands” such as Spain and parts of Russia and to revive the caliphate. In the third camp are Shia militants who hope to overthrow Sunni regimes and extend their influence in southern Asia, Africa and Latin America….

Iran, the leading Shia power, and Saudi Arabia, its Sunni rival, have been fighting sectarian proxy wars for years, notably in Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Last year more than 5,000 people died in sectarian clashes in Pakistan. Under its neo-Ottoman leadership Turkey has abandoned the ringside to join the fray, notably in Libya and Syria. Now Egypt is also testing the waters….

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Egypt, Foreign Relations, History, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Violence

(BBC Today Programme) Will Israel launch an attack on Iran?

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called Israel “an insult to humankind”. It follows a week in which Israel has been carrying out an increasingly public debate about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Some people have suggested that an attack is more likely to happen before America’s presidential election in November, because it would be harder for President Obama to stop it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Haaretz) New National Intelligence Estimate–Iran making big progress toward nuclear capability

This NIE report on Iran was supposed to have been submitted to Obama a few weeks ago, but it was revised to include new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran’s nuclear program. Haaretz has learned that the report’s conclusions are quite similar to those drawn by Israel’s intelligence community.

The NIE report contends that Iran has made surprising, notable progress in the research and development of key components of its military nuclear program.

The NIE reports are the most important assessments compiled by the U.S. intelligence community and are submitted to the president and other top governmental officials. This NIE report was compiled by an inter-departmental team headed by director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Its contents articulate the views of American intelligence agencies.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Washington Post) Iran expands ability to strike U.S. Navy in gulf

Iran is rapidly gaining new capabilities to strike at U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, amassing an arsenal of sophisticated anti-ship missiles while expanding its fleet of fast-attack boats and submarines, U.S. and Middle Eastern analysts say.

The new systems, many of them developed with foreign assistance, are giving Iran’s commanders new confidence that they could quickly damage or destroy U.S. ships if hostilities erupt, the officials say….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General

(ABC) Has the U.S. Declared (Cyber) War on Iran?

Said [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta: “Well, there’s no question that if a cyber attack, you know, crippled our power grid in this country, took down our financial systems, took down our government systems, that that would constitute an act of war.”

The comment takes on added resonance given the scoop in David Sanger’s new book, “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” to be published by Crown on Tuesday and excerpted in today’s New York Times.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Globe and Mail) The undeclared war on Iran’s nuclear program

Over the past 28 months, assassins have targeted at least five Iranians scientists or engineers, men linked by Western intelligence agencies to the country’s controversial nuclear program.

One was Darioush Rezaeinejad, an Iranian electrical engineer working at a national security research facility. Last July, he was driving home with his wife after picking up their daughter from kindergarten. Outside the front gate of the family home, two gunmen in sunglasses approached, pulled out handguns and opened fire.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Iran Nears Deal on Inspecting Atomic Site, U.N. Chief Says

On the eve of international talks in Baghdad over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, the leader of the United Nations nuclear monitoring arm announced what appeared to be a significant concession from Tehran, saying that, despite unspecified differences, he expected a deal “quite soon” on arrangements for an investigation into potential military applications of the program.

The comments by Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, came after his first visit to Iran since his appointment in 2009. Iran’s invitation to Mr. Amano, announced unexpectedly on Friday, and the apparent shift by Tehran he announced on Tuesday, offered significant signals of Iranian flexibility.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(CDN) Iranian Officials Heighten Control on Farsi-Speaking Church

Leaders of the Assemblies of God’s (AG) Central Church of Tehran told its congregation on May 6 that authorities have demanded a list of names and identification numbers of church members, a major risk to converts from Islam.

Church leaders then asked members in attendance to volunteer their information. The AG church holds two Sunday services, both conducted in Farsi. It is the only church remaining in Tehran that offers Farsi-language worship on Sundays.

“This [government move] is basically to make sure the church is not taking in new members and to make it difficult and risky for non-Christians to attend,” Monsour Borji, an Iranian Christian and advocacy officer for rights initiative Article 18, told Compass. “It is an effort to limit the church, basically.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture