Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Monday, Newsweek reported that the head of the Iranian army, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi had issued both general and specific threats against the Israel, via the Iranian Students News Agency. Mousavi reportedly declared that the Jewish state would likely not exist 25 years from now if its government continued along the current geopolitical path. This is reminiscent of a number of similar claims made by various Iranian officials over the years, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

On Friday, it was reported that Iran, Russia, and Turkey had finalized the framework of an agreement by which observers from each of the three nations will be positioned around Idlib Province in Syria, ostensibly to enforce de-escalation in the area that is still largely controlled by militant rebel groups. The details of this agreement have yet to be finalized, both with regard to Idlib itself and with regard to the three other deconfliction zones that will supposedly be set up by the three parties.

It was widely reported on Thursday that the United States had made two contrasting moves with regard to Iran sanctions and the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. These come as the White House faced a deadline for reauthorizing the suspension of sanctions identified by the JCPOA. In absence of presidential reauthorization, those sanctions would be automatically retriggered at the end of any given 120 day period. The Trump administration elected to grant reauthorization in this case but also imposed new sanctions while it continues to wrestle with the prospect of withholding certification of Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal.

On Saturday, the Center for Human Rights in Iran published an update on the situation of hunger striking political prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison, also known as Gohardasht Prison. The article indicates that 15 of the prisoners had by then been on the hunger strike for 40 days, having begun at the end of July, when dozens of inmates were stripped of their personal belongings and forcibly transferred to an area of the prison with upgraded repressive infrastructure, including 24/7 video surveillance.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had urgently reiterated his critical view of the Iran nuclear deal ahead of a planned visit to Washington. In advising US President Donald Trump to either fix or bring an end to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Netanyahu called specific attention to the sunset clause whereby Iran can begin running more nuclear enrichment centrifuges in less than 10 years and can start stockpiling more enriched material in less than 15. CNN noted that the Israeli Prime Minister suggested the loosening of restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program should be based on changes in Iran’s malign behavior and not merely on the passage of time.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Iran had upheld the sentence of another person targeted for links with the United States. The Iranian judiciary announced the sentencing via its own news website. Identifying the individual only as “Alireza,” the judiciary said that he had been sentenced to two years in prison for “collaborating with a hostile government.” This charge has been used in a number of instances of political imprisonment in recent years, and its legal veracity has been challenged based on the inherent vagueness of both the word “hostile” and the word “collaborating.”

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