Iran Digest: Week of June 5-June 12, 2015

Iran Digest

AIC’s Iran digest project covers the latest developments and news stories published in Iranian and international media outlets. This weekly digest is compiled by AIC Outreach Coordinator Kayvan Vakili and Communications Associate Alexander Benthem de Grave.


Drying lake Urmia threatens environment in Middle East

Dying Lake Urmia is endangering the broader negative environmental impacts in the entire Middle East after becoming one of sources of sandstorms in Iran.

The sandstorms negatively affect the air condition in the Iranian province of West Azerbaijan, the Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Jabbari as saying.

It appears in five zones which are the source of sandstorms on the territory of the Urmia Lake, Jabbari added. If the dying Urmia Lake is not revived, parts of Iran will face serious problems.

Some Iranian experts believe that the Urmia Lake can turn into a swamp unless serious measures are undertaken. (AzerNews)

Nuclear Deal

POLL: American Jewish Support for Iran Deal Exceeds Support Among General Population

American Jewish support for an agreement with Iran exceeds support for the nuclear deal among the general US population, according to a new poll.

American Jews express strong support for a final agreement with Iran that increases inspections in exchange for economic sanctions relief. Fifty-nine percent say they would support such a deal, compared to 53 percent of American adults in an April CNN poll that asked the same question.

The question comes from a poll of American Jewish attitudes on the US’ Middle East policy, released today by J Street, just weeks ahead of the June 30 deadline for negotiations. (J Street)

Duqu 2.0: computer virus ‘linked to Israel’ found at Iran nuclear talks venue

A powerful computer virus linked to Israel is thought to have been used to spy on the recent Iran nuclear talks after being found in the networks of three hotels that hosted the negotiations.

The security company Kaspersky discovered the virus, which it said was a new variant of the Duqu worm, itself a variant of the state-sponsored computer virus Stuxnet, used to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in 2010.

Known as Duqu 2.0, the new worm was, Kaspersky said, used to attack three European hotels where the P5+1 talks involving the US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, and China with the EU concerning Iranian nuclear capabilities were held over the last 18 months. (The Guardian)

Iran has fulfilled its commitments: U.S.

A senior US official has said that Iran has met all of its obligations under an interim nuclear agreement with the negotiating countries.

"Iran has halted process on some aspects of its nuclear programme and has rolled it back in a certain way," Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Monday.

Blinken had recently said that the P5+1 countries -- US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- are making efforts to reach a final deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme.

The deadline was agreed upon by the negotiators in November 2014 after their failed attempt to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal due to a huge divide in opinions about how to limit Iran's uranium enrichment capacity and how to lift sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy. (The Economic Times)

Inside Iran

Iran to allow women at male sporting events later this month

A limited number of Iranian women will be allowed to watch Volleyball World League games in Tehran later this month, a senior government official has told The Associated Press.

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi, part of the Cabinet of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, said the government hopes to avoid a showdown with hard-liners over the issue. However, the issue already has garnered worldwide attention on Iran with the detention of a British-Iranian woman trying to attend a men's match last year.

Molaverdi, a reformist politician and women's rights activist, said women will be allowed into stadiums to watch men's matches in specific sports such as volleyball, basketball, handball and tennis. However, she said women still won't be allowed into soccer, swimming and wrestling matches. (Chicago Tribune)

American angel investor has his eye on Iran’s startup market

Top American startup investor David McClure has expressed interest in investing in Iran's nascent startup market.

“I hope to visit Iran in the future. We will see how that arrangement plays out,” said McClure, who has invested in more than 1,000 startup firms all around the world and is often described as one of the super angel investors.  

“We had a few invitations and are trying to find out the right time and place to come and visit. If we could go to Iran that would be great,” he has said in an interview with IRNA.

McClure, who has founded and runs the business incubator 500 Startups in the San Francisco Bay Area, says he has around 24 investments in the Middle East, among them Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Dubai. (albawaba)

Behnaz Shafiei rides bikes against laws and convention in Iran

Women are banned from riding motorcycles in public in Iran, but Behnaz Shafiei is working hard to break the status quo.

The 26-year-old has been riding for 15 years and, under the veil of her helmet, is regularly thought to be a man by onlookers.

But when the helmet comes off, those same people are left stunned by the reality.

In a country where some conservative clerics denounce the idea of women attending men's sporting events, Shafiei is making bold moves. (BBC)

American muscle car owners in Iran await revival

As negotiators work to finalize a deal over Iran's nuclear program, industries and consumers hit hard by U.S. sanctions are eager to feel the benefits of normalized relations. Among them are Iran's car enthusiasts.

Amir Bagheri's 1965 Mustang has an on-board turntable and plenty of juice. His is not your average ride on the roads of the Islamic Republic. Bagheri says his love for cars runs so deep that his wife is sometimes jealous of the vehicles. He first fell head over heels in love with his dad's Mustang when he was just a kid. (CBS)


Endgame in the Iran negotiations: The choice is Tehran’s

Now that the Corker-Cardin legislation has been adopted without poison pills attached, it is virtually certain that Congress will be unable to block President Obama’s ability to conclude and begin implementing a nuclear agreement with Iran that he believes meets U.S. requirements. The main domestic impediment to a deal lies in Iran. If negotiations are to be brought to a successful conclusion, Supreme Leader Khamenei must decide that he wants an agreement, that he is willing to make the hard choices necessary to achieve one, and that he is prepared to use his authority to bring Iranian critics on board. (The National Interest)

Read the full report.