Iran Chat: Interview with Ultra-Runner Kristina Paltén of "Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust"

Iran Chat: Interview with Ultra-Runner Kristina Paltén of "Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust"

Our latest Iran Chat is with Swedish ultra-runner, coach and motivator, Kristina Paltén, who holds the World Record in 48 hour treadmill running, covering a distance of 322.93 kilometers. She is also the first woman to have run across Iran, and the star of a film that covers that journey called Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust.

We spoke with Paltén about her experience running across Iran, from Turkey to Turkmenistan, and how that experience, and now her film, are helping to challenge prejudices and misconceptions about the country and its people.  To download Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust, you can visit the the film website www.alonethroughiran.com and request a private screening. For more information about Kristina Paltén, or to hire her for motivational coaching, you can visit her website www.palten.se.

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Iran Digest Week of June 2 - 9

Iran Digest Week of June 2 - 9

Iran FM Zarif Slams 'Repugnant' Trump Statement on Tehran Attacks
Iran's foreign minister has denounced as "repugnant" a White House statement on Wednesday's terror attack in Tehran that said Iran was a "terror sponsor"
President Trump had said he was praying for the victims, but added that "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote".
But Javad Zarif said Iran "rejected such claims of friendship" and claimed the attackers from so-called Islamic State had been "backed by US clients". (BBC)

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Dr. Amirahmadi Returns as President of AIC

Dr. Amirahmadi Returns as President of AIC

Dear AIC Leaders, Administrators and Friends,

As you were informed in April, I took a leave from the AIC to work on my campaign for President of Iran this May.  I was successful in officially registering my candidacy with the Interior Ministry but did not receive approval from the Guardian Council to stand for the vote. I believe if I had been given that chance, I would have won the election. I take this opportunity to congratulate President Hassan Rouhani for winning a second term.

During my absence, Mr. Michael Caridi, my great friend and a Board Member of the Council, served as Acting President. Now that I am back, he wishes me to return to the job and I am accepting his kind request. I remain deeply appreciative of Michael’s hard and strategic work during my absence. This transition has the approval of our Chairman, Senator J. Bennett Johnston.

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Iran Digest Week of May 26 - June 2

Iran Digest Week of May 26 - June 2

Rouhani Vows to Shed Iran Sanctions as Trump Piles on More

A day after winning re-election last month, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani reaffirmed a campaign pledge: that he’ll find a way to free his country from sanctions that hobble its economy.
That’s a vow President Donald Trump and U.S. lawmakers are making harder than ever to keep.Trump used his first overseas trip last week to portray Shiite-led Iran as the embodiment of evil, the common enemy that could bring America’s Sunni-led Gulf allies together with Israel to achieve Middle East peace.
In Washington, Republicans in Congress are also doubling down, pressing for legislation to add more sanctions, not lift those that remain after the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. (Bloomberg Politics) 

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AIC Statement on the Terrorist Attacks in Tehran

AIC Statement on the Terrorist Attacks in Tehran

The American Iranian Council joins the global community in strongly condemning the horrifying terrorist attacks perpetrated today in Tehran at the Parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. The AIC also sends its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who died or were injured in the attacks.

We appreciate the fact that the US State Department has joined in condemning these murderous acts and has expressed sympathies for the Iranian people.  During this difficult time, we also urge the government of Iran to be patient and perform a careful review of the evidence before making unproductive accusations against other countries in the region.  Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tehran, and the focus now should be on countering these radical extremists and on improving the safety and security of the Iranian people. 

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ISIS Claims Deadly Attacks in Iran

ISIS Claims Deadly Attacks in Iran

By Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times

Iran, one of the few countries involved in the Syria conflict not to have been affected by relentless terrorist attacks, woke up to a new reality on Wednesday, when armed men and perhaps one woman simultaneously staged attacks on the Parliament and on the landmark mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

At least two people were killed and 35 others wounded in the assaults, according to the state-sponsored Iranian Students’ News Agency. While the Islamic State immediately issued a claim of responsibility, suspicions in Tehran were also directed at Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional nemesis, newly emboldened by a supportive visit from President Trump last month.

Saudi Arabia recently raised the volume of criticism against Iran, and the country led a regional effort on Monday to isolate Qatar, the one Persian Gulf country that maintains relations with Tehran.

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AIC's President: 'CIA's New Iran Chief Appointment is Bad News for Iran-US Ties'

AIC's President: 'CIA's New Iran Chief Appointment is Bad News for Iran-US Ties'

Originally published on Trend News Agency
By Hooshang Amirahmadi, AIC President

The appointment of Michael D' Andrea, a professional CIA field operator, is certainly a bad news for US-Iran relations and signals a determined shift in Washington D.C. towards regime destabilization and possible change in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump himself was not originally for regime change in Iran but the team he has created in CIA, National Security Council, Pentagon, and to some extent in the State Department, is all extremely hawkish towards Iran.

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AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Interviewed by Tehran Times

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Interviewed by Tehran Times

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston was interviewed by Javad Heirannia from Tehran Times. The interview was originally published in the Tehran Times.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your assessment of Trump’s foreign policy?

A:  Critics of President Trump say that he has no foreign policy (or domestic policy for that matter), that it is all made up off-handily from day to day.  The best face for his foreign policy is that it resides in the hands of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (the “Big Four”).

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Announcement: AIC Partners with Educational Non-Profit ProjectExplorer.org to Create Film Series in Iran

Announcement: AIC Partners with Educational Non-Profit ProjectExplorer.org to Create Film Series in Iran

Dear AIC Community,

I am excited to announce that AIC is partnering with the award-winning educational non-profit, ProjectExplorer.org, to send a small film crew to Iran in Spring 2018 to produce a series of short, high-quality, educational videos about everyday life in Iran. 

These videos will be distributed free of charge to classrooms and educators in the US and around the world so that students can learn about Iran as part of their standard curriculum.  ProjectExplorer.org content currently reaches over 6 million students (ages 8-18) annually.  Additionally, we plan to share the Iran Series widely on social media and with a major television broadcast partner that has millions of viewers.

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Iran Digest Week of May 19 - 26

Iran Digest Week of May 19 - 26

Senate Panel Backs Bill to Authorize New Sanctions on Iran

A Senate panel overwhelmingly backed bipartisan legislation that would authorize President Donald Trump to put new sanctions on Iran while keeping the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in place.
The Foreign Relations Committee voted 18-3 on Thursday despite concerns from former Secretary of State John Kerry and several Democrats that the measure could nonetheless lead to the unraveling of the nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration.
Kerry cautioned lawmakers to “tread carefully” in pushing ahead with new sanctions against Iran in the wake of President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election last week to another four-year term. Rouhani is a political moderate who scored a resounding victory over a hard-line opponent. (PBS)

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Iran Digest Week of May 12 - 19

Iran Digest Week of May 12 - 19

Iran Denounces New U.S. Sanctions, Adds Some of Its Own

Iran struck back against new Trump administration sanctions against its ballistic missile program, calling them illegal and announcing sanctions of its own.
In a tit-for-tat move, Iran sanctioned seven entities and two individuals on Thursday, including Horacio Rozanski, chief executive officer of Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., alleging human rights violations because the management consulting firm does work in Israel, a U.S. ally that Iran calls an oppressor of Palestinians. Kimberly West, a spokeswoman for Booz Allen, said the company had no comment.
The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would continue waiving sanctions -- including restrictions on oil sales -- eased under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. (Bloomberg Politics)

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AIC Congratulates President Rouhani on Winning Re-Election

AIC Congratulates President Rouhani on Winning Re-Election

Dr. Rouhani has won a second term in the 2017 Presidential Election in Iran. Nearly 70% of Iranian voters turned out on May 19 to cast their ballots for the next President. Vote tallies placed incumbent President Hassan Rouhani as the winner with 23 million votes, overshadowing the runner-up, Mr. Ebrahim Raisi who received 15.7 million. With the support of 57% of voters, President Rouhani will have a strong mandate to continue his moderate policies and outreach to the West.

The American Iranian Council congratulates President Rouhani on his victory, wishes him luck in his second term, and hopes that he will be able to effectively lead the country towards prosperity in this turbulent time. President Rouhani must now move beyond the competition and become the President for all Iranians, defending their rights and solving their problems. We also urge his competitors in this election to accept the result and cooperate with President Rouhani towards a better Iran.

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Iran Digest Week of May 5 - 12

Iran Digest Week of May 5 - 12

Latest: U.S. Sees Iran Working to Preserve Nuclear Deal
The latest on the Senate intelligence committee's hearing on global threats: The Trump administration's national intelligence director says the U.S. sees Iran working to maintain last year's nuclear agreement. Tehran's rationale is that by sticking to the deal, it gets relief from U.S. sanctions and preserves some nuclear capabilities.
Dan Coats tells the Senate intelligence committee that the deal extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon.
He cites the Obama administration's estimates that the timeline has been delayed from a few months to about a year. Coats also says the deal has enhanced transparency of Iran's nuclear activities. (U.S. News)

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Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 5

Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 5

Iran and U.S. Discuss Issue of Americans Imprisoned by Tehran

Iran said Monday that it had discussed the issue of Americans with dual citizenship held in Iranian prisons during a meeting last week with the United States.
The discussion, during a meeting in Vienna on compliance with the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, was the first face-to-face exchange between emissaries from Iran and the United States since President Trump took office.
A State Department spokesman, Mark C. Toner, had suggested on April 25 that the imprisonments would be raised at the meeting, which was held while both sides were attending a session of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nonproliferation monitor. (The New York Times)

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Iran Digest Week of April 21 - 28

Iran Digest Week of April 21 - 28

U.S. Destroyer Forced to Alter Course by Iranian Vessel Acting "Provocative"

An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship acted "unprofessional but also provocative" while approaching the USS Mahan, an American destroyer in the Persian Gulf on Monday, according to a US official.
The official said the Iranian vessel had its weapons manned and came within approximately 1,000 yards of the US destroyer.
The Mahan attempted bridge-to-bridge communication with the Iranians but got no response. The US destroyer then fired a flare but despite the obvious signs from the Mahan, the Iranian ship continued on its course, forcing the US ship to alter direction, the official said. (CNN)

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Iran Digest Week of April 14 - 21

Iran Digest Week of April 14 - 21

U.S. Accuses Iran of 'Alarming Provacations'

The US secretary of state has accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and undermining America's interests.
"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Rex Tillerson said.
The US has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal, although it admits Iran is complying with its commitments.Iran's foreign minister dismissed Mr Tillerson's criticism as "worn out". (BBC)

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Iran Chat: Interview with David Collier, Author of "Democracy and the Nature of American Influence in Iran, 1941-1979"

Iran Chat: Interview with David Collier, Author of "Democracy and the Nature of American Influence in Iran, 1941-1979"

Our latest Iran Chat is with Dr. David Collier, author of the new book, Democracy and the Nature of American Influence in Iran 1941-1979.  Dr. Collier is also a research consultant in Washington DC and teaches democracy and democratization in Boston University's Washington DC program.

The first half of our conversation focuses on Dr. Collier's usage of linkage and leverage to analyze and better understand the history of the period; the second half addresses how his analysis of the history applies to current issues in US-Iran relations and US foreign policy more generally.  Dr. Collier's book is being published this month; you can purchase a copy on Amazon or Syracuse University Press.

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AIC's Emad Kiyaei speaks with Reason.com about Iran's compliance with the JCPOA

AIC's Emad Kiyaei speaks with Reason.com about Iran's compliance with the JCPOA

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to Congress that Iran was complying with Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, before a statutory midnight deadline, while also insisting Iran remained "a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods" and indicating that the Trump administration would evaluate the JCPOA-related suspension of sanctions and whether it was "vital to the national security interests of the United States."

"President Trump… has realized that tearing up a highly complex and multinational agreement is not a wise thing to do at this time," Farideh Farhi, an independent scholar and affiliate graduate faculty member at University of Hawaii-Manoa, told Reason.

"Note that under the Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the president has to provide certification every 90 days. Had the Trump administration not done so, it would have triggered legislative procedures and potential reimpositions of sanctions, which would then declare the U.S. intent to renege on its JCPOA obligations," she added.

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Iran Digest Week of April 7 - 14

Iran Digest Week of April 7 - 14

Iran Joins Russia in Denouncing U.S. Strike on Syria, but Stops There

The punitive American missile strike on Syria for the chemical weapons attack a week ago brought Syria’s most important backers, Russia and Iran, publicly closer together — whether the Iranians want to be or not.
Far from accepting the Trump administration’s version of the chemical weapons assault, the Iranians joined the Russians in rejecting it and doubling down on their expressions of support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Nonetheless, Iran and Russia do not see eye to eye on everything in a relationship shaped by mistrust, a legacy of Iranian resentment of Russia’s historical expansionism and Soviet-era attempts at domination. (NY Times)

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The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy

The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy

By Michael Schwartz, Kriyana Reddy, and Dr. Reza Ghorashi

Over one year has passed since the formal implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the US and P5+1 members (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK), which lifted certain “nuclear-related secondary sanctions,” on various Iranian business sectors.[1] All parties to the JCPOA agreed to implementing it “in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere” and to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to ... affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.”[2]  While initially the JCPOA was met with optimism, critics in both Tehran and Washington have challenged the effectiveness and potential benefits of the agreement.  Iranian public opinion remains steadfastly in support of the deal, but the reality of Iran’s long transition from economic isolation has curbed some enthusiasm.  While the JCPOA has created significant opportunities for economic growth and normalization, the Iranian public has not yet seen many tangible economic benefits.

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