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News Digest: Week of June 10

June 10International: Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani reasserted Iran’s claims to three islands and a disputed oil and gas field in the Persian Gulf. "The Iranian islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb are an inseparable and eternal part of the territory of the Islamic…

Candidates: Iran's 2024 Presidential Election

The Guardian Council approved only six out of 80 candidates from across the political spectrum who registered to run for president in Iran's June 28, 2024 presidential election. The unelected body of six clerics and six scholars cleared five conservatives and one reformist.Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh…

IAEA Board of Governors Censures Iran

On June 5, 2024, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s 35-member board of governors censured Iran for failing to cooperate with the agency. Britain, France and Germany sponsored the resolution, which was also backed by the United States. The vote was 20 in favor, 12 abstentions and two against. Russia and…

Primer: Iran’s 2024 Presidential Election

Updated: June 10, 2024
Iran will hold snap elections on June 28, 2024 after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19. The next president will inherit a daunting set of challenges. At home, the unpopular government faced persistent inflation, high unemployment, and discontent over the lack of…

Amnesty International: Executions Spike in Iran

Iran executed at least 853 people in 2023, a 48 percent rise compared to 2022, according to Amnesty International’s annual report on the death penalty. Iran executed more people than any other country except China. “The Iranian authorities showed complete disregard for human life and ramped up…

U.S. Sanctions Suppliers of Iran’s Drone Program

On May 31, 2024, the United States sanctioned four Iranian companies and one executive for involvement in procuring parts for or producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The firms were linked to Rayan Rosh Afzar Company, which the Treasury Department had sanctioned for weapons proliferation in…

Timeline: Iran's Nuclear Challenges and the IAEA

Updated: June 5, 2024
The U.N. nuclear watchdog's inspections and monitoring regime for Iran is considered the toughest ever negotiated. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is tasked with monitoring and verifying a series of commitments made by Tehran—first in 1974 under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (…

Raisi's Death: Photo Essay

On May 19, 2024, President Ebrahim Raisi inaugurated a dam on the border with Azerbaijan with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev. On the way back to the Iranian city of Tabriz, about 80 miles to the south, his helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of East Azerbaijan province. Raisi, Foreign Minister…

Raisi’s Death: Iran & Allied Reaction

Iranian leaders mourned the loss of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the other officials who died in the helicopter crash on May 19. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lauded Raisi, “the people’s president,” for his decades-long career in public service.…

News Digest: Week of May 20

May 20Domestic: Officials confirmed that President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and six other passengers had died in a helicopter crash the previous day. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Raisi’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, as interim president…

Raisi's Death: What's Next for Iran?

On May 19, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and six other passengers and crew died in a helicopter crash. The aircraft went down in dense fog in a mountainous region of East Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran. The officials were returning from the…

Raisi’s Death: World Reaction

The death of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash elicited condolences from across the world, including the United States, a key adversary. But U.S. officials were quick to stress that Raisi was responsible for human rights abuses and complicit…

U.S. Report: Religious Persecution in Iran

In 2023, Iran restricted freedom of belief and persecuted religious minorities, according to an annual report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released on May 1, 2024. The Islamic Republic, a Shiite theocracy, conducted mass arrests of Baha’is, a minority that the…

U.S., Britain & Canada Sanction Iran's Drone Program

On April 25, the United States, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program. They designated individuals, entities and vessels involved in the production, transfer and sale of drones, including those used by Russia against Ukraine. The coordinated action…

News Digest: Week of April 22

April 22Domestic: Iran’s foreign ministry reiterated that nuclear weapons have no place in the country’s nuclear doctrine. "Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program only serves peaceful purposes,” spokesperson Nasser Kanaani stressed. The statement followed a warning less than a week earlier by…

U.S. Report: Abuse of Refugees in Iran

Iranian security forces and authorities mistreated refugees, largely from Afghanistan, though physical abuse, detention, forced labor, separating families, restricting movement within Iran and restricting access to jobs, education and other services, the State Department reported. Iran has absorbed…

U.S. Report: Women’s Rights Violated in Iran

Iran’s poor record on women’s rights further deteriorated in 2023, the State Department reported. They faced “increased discrimination through expanded application of punishments against people who violated the mandatory dress code,” Ambassador Robert Gilchrist, the Senior Official in the Bureau of…

U.S. Report: LGBTQI+ Persecution in Iran

Iran’s laws, based on a conservative interpretation of Shiite Islam, did not provide any protections to or recognize LGBTQI+ individuals, couples, or their families in 2023, the State Department reported. Same-sex sexual activity, consensual and nonconsensual, was criminalized. And “security forces…

U.S. Report: Ethnic & Religious Discrimination in Iran

Iran discriminated against ethnic and religious minorities in 2023, the State Department reported. For example, the death penalty was “disproportionately applied against members of the Baluchi and Kurdish ethnic minorities,” Ambassador Robert Gilchrist, the Senior Official in the Bureau of…

U.S. Report: Rising Executions & Detentions in Iran

Iran increasingly used executions and detentions to suppress dissent in 2023, according to the State Department. Many people were reportedly executed for homicide or drug crimes, but others were killed for criticizing the government. The death penalty was “often applied after sham trials against…

U.S. Report: Restrictions on Civil Liberties in Iran

Iran stifled freedom of expression in 2023 by censoring media, harassing and detaining rights activists, journalists and artists, and restricting access to the internet, the State Department reported. The Islamic Republic “showed blatant disregard to a free and open press and media environment,”…

President Biden Signs MAHSA Act into Law

On April 24, 2024, President Biden signed the Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability (MAHSA) Act into law as part of the national security supplemental package. The bipartisan legislation was a response to Iran’s brutal crackdown on nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of…

U.S. Report: Unfair Judicial System in Iran

Iran’s judicial system, including both civil and Islamic courts, failed to adhere to international standards of fairness in 2023, the State Department reported. Authorities often did not uphold rights guaranteed under the constitution, including access to a lawyer. One major loophole was the…

U.S. Sanctions Iranians Linked to Cyberattacks

On April 24, 2024, the United States sanctioned two companies and four men for launching operations against more than a dozen U.S. companies and government entities on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The “coordinated, multi-pronged campaign intended to destabilize our critical infrastructure…

Limited Strike by Israel, Muted Response from Iran

Israel struck Iran overnight on April 19, 2024, responding to Tehran’s April 13-14 largely ineffective attack of more than 330 drones and missiles. Israel’s retaliation appeared to be limited in scope and calibrated to avoid further escalation. But the targets, weapons used, and extent of damage…

Iran and Israel Trade Barbs at United Nations

On April 18, 2024, Iranian and Israeli officials traded barbs during a U.N. Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East. Iran defended its unprecedented April 13-14 assault on Israel with more than 330 drones and missiles as a “necessary” and “legitimate” response to Israel’s…

U.S. & Britain Sanction Iran's Drone Program

On April 18, 2024, the United States announced new sanctions and export controls on Iran in response to its unprecedented assault on Israel on April 13-14. The Treasury Department targeted leaders and firms connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Defense Ministry, and missile and drone programs.…

Jerusalem: Iran’s Unprecedented Attack on Israel

Israel and its international allies and partners thwarted an unprecedented Iranian attack – by 170 drones, at least 30 cruise missiles, and more than 120 ballistic missiles – launched overnight on April 13-14, 2024. The Israeli military, with major help from U.S., British and Jordanian forces,…

News Digest: Week of April 15

April 15International: The White House denied reports that Iran had warned the United States about its April 13-14 attack on Israel. "Iran never gave us a message giving us the time or the targets," said John Kirby of the National Security Council. "This whole narrative out there that Iran passed…

U.S.: Iran's Unprecedented Attack on Israel

Updated: April 16, 2024
The United States played a major role in deflecting Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel on April 13-14, 2024, reflecting its growing role in the escalating tensions between the Islamic republic and Israel. President Joe Biden had vowed that the U.S. commitment—militarily and diplomatically—was “…