Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a struggle for dominance that has turned much of the Middle East into their battlefield. Rather than fighting directly, they wield and in that way worsen the region’s direst problems: dictatorship, militia violence and religious extremism.
The first news report, to a nation usually kept in the dark about military matters, was shocking: 13 Iranian soldiers, all with links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, had been killed in an ambush near the Syrian city of Aleppo. What followed this spring may have been even more surprising. Details about the soldiers appeared extensively in the Iranian news media, which not only gave the names of the dead but lionized them with sweeping life stories. Poster-size portraits were plastered all over their hometowns.
American commandos are on the front lines in Syria in a new push toward the Islamic State s de facto capital in Raqqa, but in Iraq it is an entirely different story: Iran, not the United States, has become the face of an operation to retake the jihadist stronghold of Falluja from the militant group. The battle over Falluja has evolved into yet another example of how United States and Iranian interests seemingly converge and clash at the same time in Iraq. Both want to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But the United States has long believed that Iran s role, which relies on militias accused of sectarian abuses, can make matters worse by angering Sunnis and making them more sympathetic to the militants.
More than 30 college students were arrested, interrogated and within 24 hours were each given 99 lashes for attending a graduation party that included men and women, Iran s judiciary has announced. The punishments, which were believed to be part of a wider crackdown by a judiciary dominated by hard-liners, were meted out in Qazvin, about 90 miles northwest of the capital, and were carried out in record time, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, reported on Thursday, citing the city s prosecutor.
The 80-year-old father of an Iranian-American detained in Iran since last fall has himself been arrested in Tehran, his family said on Wednesday. Baquer Namazi, a former United Nations Children s Fund official and the father of Siamak Namazi, was taken into custody on Monday, his wife, Effie Namazi, announced in a Facebook post. Ms. Namazi said she believed her husband, also an American citizen, had been taken to Tehran s infamous Evin Prison, where their son has been in custody since October.
They clapped and cheered, and many shouted for the release of their political leaders under house arrest for the past five years. Some held up pictures of a popular former president, Mohammad Khatami. Pictures of his hands, to be exact, because displaying his portrait is illegal. A decade of relentless pressure from the judiciary, the Revolutionary Guards and clerical councils dominated by hard-liners has confined Iran s reformists. The reformists were a force during the presidential contest of 2009, but the movement was decapitated after its political leaders voiced support for the millions of people who took to the streets to challenge the fairness of the vote.
With three Americans long held in Iran flying to Europe on Sunday, President Obama urged young Iranians to 'pursue a new path' with the West as he imposed modest new sanctions on the country for banned missile tests. Mr. Obama also announced the resolution of another argument between Tehran and Washington that dates to the Iranian revolution, this one over $400 million in payments for military equipment that the United States sold to the shah of Iran and never delivered when he was overthrown. The Iranians got their money back, with $1.3 billion in interest that had accumulated over 37 years.
The United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran and released roughly $100 billion of its assets after international inspectors concluded that the country had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear program. "Iran has undertaken significant steps that many people - and I do mean many - doubted would ever come to pass,: Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.
Iran's release of 10 United States Navy sailors on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after they were detained on the Persian Gulf, is being hailed in both countries as a sign that their relations have evolved since the signing of the nuclear accord last summer. Secretary of State John Kerry thanked the Iranians "for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter" and suggested in a statement that the quick resolution of the issue was a product of the nearly daily back-and-forth that now takes place between Washington and Tehran, after three decades of hostility and stony silence.
The crews of two small United States Navy patrol boats in the Persian Gulf were being held by the Iranian authorities on Tuesday and accused of spying. The Pentagon said the boats had been on a routine training mission, but the waters where they were stopped are a frequent location for intelligence collection by the United States, Iran and many Gulf countries. An official said that the boats appeared to have drifted into Iranian territorial waters after one of them experienced mechanical problems.
An Iranian nuclear official on Tuesday denied a report that technicians had removed the core of the country s only heavy-water reactor and poured concrete into the cavity, a final step toward the completion of the historic nuclear agreement in July and the lifting of sanctions on Iran. The official, Ali Asghar Zarean, Iran s deputy nuclear chief, told state television that a report about the Arak reactor by the semiofficial Fars News Agency on Monday was baseless. He added that Iran planned to sign an agreement next week with China to modify the reactor, which is capable of producing the plutonium needed to build an atomic weapon.
Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Thursday of an aerial attack on its embassy in Sana, the capital of Yemen, escalating a conflict between the rivals that has put the region on edge, although witnesses said the building was not hit. But guards at the Iranian Embassy and witnesses said the mission itself had not been bombed. Witnesses said the airstrike hit a home across the street from the embassy, a residence that was said to belong to a son of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president who was overthrown in 2012.
Iranian protesters ransacked and set fire to part of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Saturday after Saudi Arabia executed an outspoken Shiite cleric who had criticized the kingdom's treatment of its Shiite minority. The protest against the execution of the cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, turned violent after participants began throwing Molotov cocktails at the embassy and then broke into the compound.
Iran's president denounced the United States on Thursday for suggesting the possibility of new sanctions over Iranian missiles, and he ordered his Defense Ministry to respond by swiftly building more of them. Hours after circulating a draft of proposed sanctions on Wednesday, however, the White House did not provide a timetable or even say that they would be put into effect.
fter two recent Iranian ballistic missile tests made clear that Tehran had no intention of obeying a United Nations prohibition on such launches, Obama administration officials on Wednesday handed Congress a draft list of fresh sanctions they are preparing against Tehran - to be imposed even as separate nuclear-related sanctions are lifted in coming weeks. The new sanctions are designed, administration officials say, to make clear that the United States remains committed to containing Iran s regional ambitions, which have so rattled its Arab neighbors.
The nations controlling the world's nuclear inspection agency voted on Tuesday to close its decade-long investigation into the work it suspected Iran of conducting to design a nuclear weapon, and instead to move ahead with fulfilling the deal signed in July to limit Iran's production of atomic material for at least 15 years. The unanimous vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors ends the agency's long-running, and largely unsuccessful, effort to get Iran to fully answer a series of questions about suspected activities.
Argentina's new government will not try to revive a voided pact with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center here, Justice Minister Germ n Garavano said Friday night. Mr. Garavano said the Justice Ministry would not appeal a court's decision last year that declared the pact, signed in 2013 by the previous government, unconstitutional in a signal that it wants to put an end to the matter.
The Obama administration is facing another difficult choice with Iran: As Tehran takes apart much of its nuclear infrastructure to win sanctions relief, how vocally should the White House condemn Iranian violations of United Nations resolutions on other issues? Before the Iran nuclear accord, the White House regularly condemned Tehran's tests. But now, officials say privately, they believe that the tests may be the work of angry elements in Iran's military who hope to derail the nuclear accord and preserve their atomic infrastructure.
Iran's president publicly criticized its hard-line media on Sunday, hinting that some outlets are connected to the security forces responsible for a wave of recent arrests in the country aimed at crippling Western influence. President Hassan Rouhani, in a speech broadcast live, accused some outlets of acting as "undercover police" and said that they even tell their audience who is going to be arrested tomorrow." Since Ayatollah Khamenei's speeches began, five activists and journalists have been arrested, with a member of the intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Guards Corps explaining on state television that they are accused of being pens for hire and that they had been working - some unwittingly - for the Central Intelligence Agency.
An Iranian-American scholar and consultant who has advocated improved relations between the United States and Iran has been arrested in Tehran, according to people close to him. The arrest appeared to signal increased risks for dual citizens from the United States who are visiting or living in Iran after the nuclear agreement was reached in July. Word of Mr. Namazi s arrest has come as the political atmosphere in Iran is again taking a turn toward the same strident anti-Americanism that prevailed before the talks that led to the nuclear accord, which Iran negotiated with six world powers, including the United States.
Russia has urged the inclusion of Iran, the only other major power giving military support to President Bashar al-Assad, and top American officials have recently acknowledged that no serious discussion of a possible political succession plan in Syria could occur unless Tehran were involved.
Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday publicly endorsed for the first time the July nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, state news agencies reported. But the provisional endorsement was accompanied by a warning that Tehran expected all sanctions to be lifted or it would walk away from the deal. The support of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the final step in an approval process involving the Supreme National Security Council, the Iranian Parliament and the Guardian Council. Iran can now begin putting in place the measures outlined in the agreement, including dismantling thousands of centrifuges used for enrichment and downsizing a heavy water plant so that it can no longer produce plutonium.
Iran tested a new guided long-range ballistic missile on Sunday, hours before Parliament, in a rowdy session, approved the generalities of the nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran and world powers, the state news agency IRNA reported. Hard-line Iranian officials had for months been demanding new missile tests, a common practice before the negotiations over the country's nuclear program began in 2013. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, who had gone to Parliament to defend the deal, said in a speech that a member had threatened to kill him and bury his body "in the cement of the Arak heavy-water reactor."
Four cruise missiles in a barrage of 26 fired by Russia from warships in the Caspian Sea at targets in Syria crashed in a rural area of northern Iran, senior United States officials said on Thursday. Russian and Iranian officials dismissed the claim as nonsense. Iran s semiofficial Fars News Agency described the report as part of the West's "psychological warfare" against the Russian-Iranian alliance with Mr. Assad.
Iranians have always enjoyed rich private lives, some following Western trends and fashions, but behind closed doors. The state tolerated that, but insisted that people adhere to the strict laws on appearance and behavior in public spaces that were laid down after the Islamic revolution in 1979. But now, following the election of a moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and the signing of the nuclear agreement this summer, Iranians are increasingly taking to the streets, this time not to challenge the government but to reclaim public spaces.
Khamenei and Rohani are offering starkly opposing visions of Iran's post-deal future, reflecting their divergent attitudes toward the "Great Satan." "We have announced that we will not negotiate with the Americans on any issue other than the nuclear case," Mr. Khamenei said this month. By contrast, Mr. Rouhani said on Sunday that the nuclear agreement was "not the end of the way," but "a beginning for creating an atmosphere of friendship and cooperation with various countries."
Addressing a gathering of Shiite clerics, Ayatollah Khamenei said that Parliament "should not be bypassed" in the review of the nuclear deal, which would lift sanctions against Iran in exchange for a series of restrictions on the country's nuclear program. As he has been all along, the supreme leader was careful not to tip his hand, saying it was up to the "representatives of the nation" to decide whether to accept it. Sounding a more cautionary note, Ayatollah Khamenei expressed doubt about whether the world powers would lift all of the sanctions and warned that Iran would cancel the deal if any of them remained in place.
Iran's judiciary sentenced two people to 10 years in prison on Sunday for spying for the United States and Israel, but their names were not released, local media reported. It was not clear if the Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian, who faces similar charges, was one of them. It is not uncommon in Iran to hand down sentences without revealing names of the convicted, especially in matters involving national security. Judiciary spokesman Gholami Hossein Mohseni Ejei told reporters that a revolutionary court, which is also handling Mr. Rezaian's case, had sentenced the two "due to their espionage for the United States and Israel," he said according to the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency.
A growing number of Iranian human rights activists and artists, including a Nobel laureate and people who have spent time in prison for their views, are asking Americans in a social media campaign to support the nuclear deal with Iran. "For Iranians, it s quite clear that almost all major human rights activists and pro-democracy activists are supporting this deal," said Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, a former political prisoner and organizer of the opposition Green movement, the target of a crackdown after the disputed 2009 elections in Iran
The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking to a group at his downtown Tehran office complex, warned that Iran would remain as vigilant as ever in guarding against the "economic, political and cultural influence" of the United States, according to his website, Khamenei.ir. "We will block all attempts of penetration of Iran," he said. That message is at odds with the one emanating from many other officials, led by President Hassan Rouhani, who are saying it is time for new relations with the United States. Supporters of the government have been arguing that the revolution s trademark slogan of "Death to America," still shouted during Friday prayers and at state-backed demonstrations, has become obsolete.
In the crystalline waters of the Arabian Sea, it is spy versus spy between the United States and Iran. Ever since the United States, Iran and other world powers signed a pact to rein in Tehran s nuclear ambitions, skeptics of the deal - which is subject to congressional approval - have feared that the United States and Iran, longstanding regional adversaries, might let up on decades of vigilance. For the Obama administration, it was important to signal to skeptics that even though the United States was in the final stages of negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran, the administration would continue to back its regional allies against Iran - particularly Saudi Arabia
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told thousands of American Jews in a webcast that the agreement was fatally flawed and dangerous, charging that proponents were trying to muzzle criticism of it with deceitful claims. "As a result of this deal, there will be more terrorism, there will be more attacks, and more people will die," Mr. Netanyahu said. He also angrily rejected Mr. Obama's claims about the accord, particularly his argument that its opponents have no alternative other than war for reining in Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, calling it "utterly false."
What the president and his aides do not talk about these days - for fear of further antagonizing lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have cast Iran as the ultimate enemy of the United States - are their grander ambitions for a deal they hope could open up relations with Tehran and be part of a transformation in the Middle East.
On a spring day in March 2014, his wife and a female photographer were stopped in broad daylight in their car on a busy Tehran highway and taken into a van, where, friends say, a dozen men and a woman interrogated them about the photographer's personal connection to the office of Iran's president. "They had official accreditations and a feeling that they were protected by those who gave them the accreditations," one of the friends said.
The commander of Iran s Revolutionary Guards objected on Monday to the United Nations Security Council resolution that is part of the landmark nuclear agreement, asserting it crossed some "red lines" concerning Iranian defenses. The objection, by Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, was not expected to derail the nuclear agreement reached last week between Iran and world powers. But it appeared to open a new point of contention within Iran s political hierarchy.
In his first speech since his country s nuclear agreement with world powers was announced, the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, voiced support for the negotiators and did not criticize any details of the agreement. It is not certain yet whether the agreement struck in Vienna on Tuesday between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, will be ratified, he said without elaborating.
Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States said they had reached a historic accord on Tuesday to significantly limit Tehran s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. The agreement culminates 20 months of negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran that President Obama had long sought as the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency.
ranian and American negotiators made significant progress on Monday toward a historic nuclear agreement and have narrowed the list of final issues, several diplomats involved in the talks said. While the negotiators have moved closer to announcing an accord - an announcement could be as early as Tuesday - they said the deal remained fragile and warned that last-minute hitches could emerge as they reviewed pages of text that define limits on Tehran s nuclear capacity and the lifting of Western and United Nations sanctions.
Persian carpets were rolled out in the Beit-e Rahbar, the downtown Tehran offices of Iran s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday, a sign that important guests were on their way. One by one, members of Iran s establishment, politicians, clerics and commanders filed in, many exchanging the perfunctory greetings of committed rivals. They sat cross-legged and waited anxiously, knowing a crucial week of nuclear negotiations with Western powers lay ahead and not knowing what to expect from Mr. Khamenei. Afterward, most in the audience were confused, friend and foe. Did Iran s leader just derail the talks by making impossible demands days before the June 30 deadline to reach a deal?
The State Department issued a dismal assessment of Iran s record on human rights on Thursday, hours before Secretary of State John Kerry was to leave for Vienna to try to conclude a nuclear accord with Tehran. The annual assessment, part of a broad overview of human rights practices around the world, said that the Iranian authorities had stifled dissent and engaged in "unlawful killings."
Five former members of President Obama's inner circle of Iran advisers have written an open letter expressing concern that a pending accord to stem Iran s nuclear program "may fall short of meeting the administration's own standard of a good agreement" and laying out a series of minimum requirements that Iran must agree to in coming days for them to support a final deal.
Iran continued its terrorist-related activity last year and also continued to provide broad military support to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the State Department said Friday in its annual report on terrorism. The assessment suggests that neither the election of President Hassan Rouhani nor the prospect of a nuclear accord with the United States and its negotiating partners has had a moderating effect on Iran s foreign policy in the Middle East.
With only one month left before a deadline to complete a nuclear deal with Iran, international inspectors have reported that Tehran s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations, partially undercutting the Obama administration s contention that the Iranian program had been "frozen" during that period.
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent who has been detained in Iran for almost 10 months and accused of spying for the United States, will go on trial on May 26, the judicial authorities told the state news media on Tuesday. Mr. Rezaian; his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who is also a journalist; and a third defendant will appear before the Revolutionary Court in what is expected to be a closed proceeding.
Demonstrating suave fluency in English and a familiarity with American history and law, Iran s foreign minister said Wednesday that the United States would risk global ostracism if it were to scrap a signed international pact that resolves the Iranian nuclear dispute. The foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran s top diplomat in the nuclear negotiations, also said he was optimistic that the final phase of talks to achieve that agreement would succeed by a June 30 deadline.
When diplomats at the Iran talks in Switzerland pummeled Department of Energy scientists with difficult technical questions - like how to keep Iran's nuclear plants open but ensure that the country was still a year away from building a bomb - the scientists at times turned to a secret replica of Iran s nuclear facilities built deep in the forests of Tennessee. There inside a gleaming plant at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation were giant centrifuges - some surrendered more than a decade ago by Libya, others built since - that helped the scientists come up with what they told President Obama were the "best reasonable" estimates of Iran s real-life ability to race for a weapon under different scenarios.
WE made important progress in Switzerland earlier this month. With the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, we agreed on parameters to remove any doubt about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program and to lift international sanctions against Iran. But to seal the anticipated nuclear deal, more political will is required. The Iranian people have shown their resolve by choosing to engage with dignity. It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion.
President Obama on Friday directed his diplomats to use creative negotiations to bridge a sharp divide with Iran over the fate of sanctions if it agrees to curb its nuclear program, signaling flexibility in hopes of keeping a tentative agreement from unraveling. Iranian leaders have insisted in recent days that the punishing sanctions be lifted as soon as a written accord is signed, a position that the country s foreign minister reinforced on Friday. Mr. Obama did not repeat past American assertions that sanctions would be removed only in phases as Tehran follows through on obligations to scale back its nuclear facilities.
In February, a year after the Las Vegas Sands was hit by a devastating cyberattack that ruined many of the computers running its casino and hotel operations, the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., publicly told Congress what seemed obvious: Iranian hackers were behind the attack. Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire chief executive of Sands, who is a major supporter of Israel and an ardent opponent of negotiating with Tehran, had suggested an approach to the Iran problem a few months before the attack that no public figure had ever uttered in front of cameras.
Iran's president on Wednesday dismissed the compromise worked out between the Obama administration and Congress over an impending nuclear agreement as internal American politics, saying the Iranians were negotiating with six countries, not just with the United States. The president, Hassan Rouhani, also repeated Iran s position that onerous economic sanctions that have been imposed on the country for years by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union must be lifted with the signing of any final agreement.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday that the panel had reached an accord on a bipartisan bill giving Congress a vote on an international deal to rein in Iran's nuclear program. The compromise measure would shorten a review period for a final deal and soften language that would make the lifting of sanctions dependent on Iran s ending support for terrorism.
In a move that is sure to raise hackles in Washington and Jerusalem, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia lifted a ban on sales of sophisticated Russian air defense missiles to Iran on Monday, moving swiftly to take advantage of a possible thaw in relations due to a potential deal curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey accused Iran last month of trying to "dominate the region"" through its proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, suggesting to some that Turkey was shifting toward confrontation with its neighbor and joining a Saudi-led coalition to push back against Iranian influence across the Middle East. That Mr. Erdogan s long-scheduled visit to Tehran came just after a tentative deal was reached between Western powers and Tehran over Iran's nuclear program lent the trip another measure of significance.
Iran s supreme leader on Thursday challenged two of the United States bedrock principles in the nuclear negotiations, declaring that all economic sanctions would have to be lifted on the day any final agreement is signed and that military sites would be strictly off limits to foreign inspectors. The assertions by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be tactical, intended to give both the negotiators and himself some political space to get Iran s hard-liners accustomed to the framework of the nuclear deal reached a week ago with the United States and other world powers.
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian hard-liners have been free to take to the streets and object to any form of compromise with the West, and particularly the United States. But when a conspicuously small group of hard-liners did so on Tuesday morning in front of the Parliament building, holding up placards and shouting slogans against the nuclear framework agreed to last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tehran s Interior Ministry condemned the demonstration as illegal, because the protesters had failed to obtain a permit. There were also very few reporters.
Even after learning about a politically seismic event - a nuclear agreement that could augur an end to the era of sanctions and shouts of "Death to America" - many Iranians appeared reluctant to express happiness or even react to what was, for most people, heartening news. "We have been disappointed so many times, I can't really believe there might be an end to this," said Mohammad Reza, 21.
On the day he took office, President Obama reached out to America s enemies, offering in his first inaugural address to extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. More than six years later, he has arrived at a moment of truth in testing that proposition with one of the nation s most intransigent adversaries. The framework nuclear agreement he reached with Iran on Thursday did not provide the definitive answer to whether Mr. Obama s audacious gamble will pay off. The fist Iran has shaken at the so-called Great Satan since 1979 has not completely relaxed. But the fingers are loosening, and the agreement, while still incomplete, held out the prospect that it might yet become a handshake.
As America talks to Iran, Saudi Arabia is lashing out against it. The kingdom, Iran s chief regional rival, is leading airstrikes against an Iranian-backed faction in Yemen; backing a blitz in Idlib, Syria, by jihadists fighting the Iranian-backed Assad regime; and warning Washington not to allow the Iranian-backed militia to capture too much of Iraq during the fight to roll back the Islamic State, according to Arab diplomats familiar with the talks.
With a negotiating deadline just two days away, Iranian officials on Sunday backed away from a critical element of a proposed nuclear agreement, saying they are no longer willing to ship their atomic fuel out of the country. For months, Iran tentatively agreed that it would send a large portion of its stockpile of uranium to Russia, where it would not be accessible for use in any future weapons program. But on Sunday Iran s deputy foreign minister made a surprise comment to Iranian reporters, ruling out an agreement that involved giving up a stockpile that Iran has spent years and billions of dollars to amass.
Life savings evaporating overnight. International banks no longer accepting transfers, from companies or individuals. Google no longer available. Any one of these developments would be considered a calamity in a Western country, but all three happened in Iran as the Obama administration increased sanctions after 2010, to pressure Tehran to curb its nuclear program.
In comments to the Iranian news media, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that 90 percent of the technical issues had been worked out. Mr. Salehi said he hoped to resolve a remaining "point of difference" in a meeting Tuesday afternoon with Mr. Moniz. A senior American official was far more cautious in comments to reporters Tuesday morning. "We have definitely made progress in terms of identifying technical options for each of the major areas," said the official, who declined to be identified by name under the protocol for briefing reporters.
Iran has deployed advanced rockets and missiles to Iraq to help fight the Islamic State in Tikrit, a significant escalation of firepower and another sign of Iran s growing influence in Iraq. Iran has not yet launched any of the weapons, but American officials fear the rockets and missiles could further inflame sectarian tensions and cause civilian casualties because they are not precision guided.
Iran s use of the death penalty is rising and its repression of political critics is worsening despite promises by President Hassan Rouhani of a less restrictive society, a United Nations human rights monitor said on Monday. The monitor, Ahmed Shaheed, also raised the possibility that the human rights situation in Iran could improve if progress is achieved in overall relations between Iran and Western governments, a possibility at the current talks on Iran s disputed nuclear program.
The White House on Monday sharply rebuked nearly four dozen Republican senators who sent a letter to Iranian leaders just as nuclear negotiations reach a pivotal moment, characterizing the correspondence as an illegitimate interference in President Obama's foreign policy. The letter, drafted by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and signed by most of the Republican majority in the Senate, suggested to Iran that reaching a deal with Mr. Obama might not stick because Congress would not approve it.
"Iran's most serious verification shortcoming," Olli Heinonen, the former chief inspector, now at Harvard, said recently, "remains its unwillingness to address concerns about the past and possibly ongoing military dimensions of its nuclear program." Investigators at the I.A.E.A., drawing on intelligence from member states as well as their own investigations, have assembled a secret trove of reports, correspondence, viewgraphs, videos and blueprints that purport to show Iran s skill in warhead design.
At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran s nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops.
Iranian and American officials ended a round of high-level nuclear talks here on Monday considering a proposal that would strictly limit for at least 10 years Iran s ability to produce nuclear material, but gradually ease restrictions on Tehran in the final years of a deal. The United States has insisted that Iran s breakout capacity be constrained for as long as possible from producing enough nuclear material to create a bomb in a year.
"Argentina is observing with great concern the increasing frequency with which many countries are used as stages for the intervention of other states to solve disputes in function of their own geopolitical interests," Mr. Timerman wrote in the letter, which he read aloud at a news conference. "My country rejects these actions and tries to ensure they do not happen in its territory." Mr. Timerman, who sent a near-identical letter to the foreign minister of Israel, reminded foreign diplomatic officials that they should not interfere in Argentina's domestic issues.
Iran confirmed Monday that one of its generals was among the dead in an Israeli airstrike that also killed several Hezbollah fighters in southern Syria on Sunday, an announcement that added to the tension and unpredictability in the region after the strike. Less than two years ago, Hezbollah and Iran mostly tried to keep their military roles in Syria quiet. But now Iranian generals and Hezbollah fighters roam Syria, advising and even directly fighting alongside Syrian forces.
"Under sanctions, with nowhere else to invest, building shopping malls is the only lucrative business in Iran," said Jamshid Edalatian, an economist. "The Guards, the police and other institutions are the ones who have money, so it is logical for them to invest in what makes a profit." Together with banks, wealthy individuals and powerful foundations, tax-exempt organizations that are supposed to care for the poor, Iran's security forces are building malls with Western-sounding names such as Rose, Mega Mall and Atlas Plaza. Their bright neon letters stand in sharp contrast to the revolutionary slogans painted on murals in surrounding neighborhoods, labeling consumerism a Western illness and taboo under Iran s rigid ideology.
The Justice Department on Tuesday pressed ahead with the prosecution of a former Central Intelligence Agency official, a day after it said it would not force a reporter for The New York Times to testify at the trial. In the C.I.A. program the agency used a former Soviet nuclear scientist, code-named Merlin, to try to pass blueprints for a nuclear component to Iran. The blueprints were intentionally flawed, which the C.I.A. hoped would lead Iran to invest time and money in a project that was doomed to fail. Mr. Risen's book suggests that the flaws were easily discoverable, a fact the government disputes.
The Michigan family of a former Marine incarcerated for more than three years in Iran has been receiving telephone calls and emails from that country proposing prisoner swaps for Iranians held in the United States, he said in a letter to Iran s president made public by his relatives on Tuesday.