Insider news & Analysis in Iran

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.”

On Thursday, Fox News published an editorial that was critical both of the 2015 nuclear agreement and US President Donald Trump’s handling of it. Although Trump has repeatedly described the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as one of the worst deals ever negotiated and has recently indicated that he expects to decertify Iran’s compliance with it in October, the editorial accuses him of failing to make Iran’s nuclear program a priority as he has done with the nuclear threats coming from North Korea.

On Thursday, The Iran Project reported that the clerical regime’s Supreme Leader had pardoned or commuted the sentences of 1,166 prisoners following a traditional request from the judiciary which marks the Muslim festivals of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Ghadeer. The first of these is celebrated by all Muslims and represents the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage; the other is a Shiite-specific festival that commemorates the passage of Islamic leadership to Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.

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