On February 19, the health ministry announced that two elderly people in Qom had died from the coronavirus. On February 23, Iran’s health minister Saeed Namaki blamed an Iranian merchant from Qom who had frequently traveled between Iran and China. On March 25, Alireza Raeesi, Iran's deputy health minister, claimed that COVID-19 was brought to Iran by Chinese nationals who studied and worked in Qom. Many of them studied at Al Mostafa University, a state-funded seminary with many international students. Raeesi added that Iranian students returning to Gilan from Wuhan may have created a second epicenter, which spread independently from the outbreak in Qom.
The Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, welcomed a new approach by London toward the possible release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, speaking in an interview with Iranian Etemad newspaper. [...] Besides, Baeidinejad revealed that authorities of Iran and the UK are in talks regarding a multibillion debt owed by the United Kingdom to the Islamic republic, and looking at novel ways to get the debt paid. The United Kingdom owes Iran roughly 400 billion pounds ($490 mln) for Chieftain tanks, which it sold to Tehran in the last century but never delivered.
This rebuke, however, does not mean that the system is about to crumble. There is no evidence that Iranians are willing to compound their current woes with major and bloody disruption that a new revolution would bring. However hopeless many may feel about the prospects of reform, there is no credible alternative to the Islamic Republic in sight. The heir to the Pahlavi dynasty, the so-called “crown prince” Reza Pahlavi and Mojahedeen-e Khalk (MEK), a widely despised exiled cult, qualify as such only in febrile imagination of neoconservative schemers. Such grassroots opposition as there exists, like the association of “United Students,” both called for boycott of the elections and denounced the “corrupt monarchical opposition” on their Telegram channel. This lack of alternatives means that the international community will have to deal with Iran as it is, not as it would like it to be. The task will become even more difficult if the conservatives, with wind in their sails, will succeed in capturing the presidency in the next year’s elections — the one institution of the state still controlled by the moderates around the President Hassan Rouhani. For all the divisions among the conservatives and focus on economic issues, it is safe to assume that their foreign policy will be more defiant towards the West. They will feel less compunction about abandoning the JCPOA for good and withdrawing Iran from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), all this accompanied by more assertive regional posturing and more repressive domestic environment.
Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has turned up the heat on Tehran. Way up. As part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at curbing the malign international activities of Iran’s ruling regime, the White House has dramatically intensified sanctions, blacklisted the country’s clerical army, and put foreign buyers of Iranian crude on notice that they need to pull out of the Iranian market or face potentially catastrophic consequences.
With the campaign season ending Thursday morning, the countdown to the 11th vote for the Islamic Consultative Assembly has begun. For over a week, candidates were trying hard to appeal to nearly 58 million Iranians who are eligible to cast votes in the country of 83 million.
Recent remarks by the Iranian and Saudi officials on the dialogue between the two countries highlights significant points regarding the prospects for bilateral relations between Tehran and Riyadh. […] US, Zionist regime, UAE and Turkey will not approve better relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and do whatever they can to stop it. Ultimately, if Saudi Arabia seeks to strengthen its regional position and reduce tensions in the Middle East to safeguard its economic and political interests, there is no other way except working with regional countries, especially Iran.
The United Nations Women, a UN entity for gender equality and women's empowerment, have honored seven women scientists, including Iran’s Maryam Mirzakhani, who have made significant contributions to the field of science, highlighting their world-altering and trailblazing careers.
Last November, eight members of the House and Senate met privately with a representative of a group that advocates for the “overthrow of the Islamic Republic in Iran.” Six of these members of Congress had received maximum contributions from the regime-change activist during the previous election; two of them, Senators Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn, sit on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, respectively.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran's politics have changed dramatically from a one-party system heavily dominated by clerics to a multi-party system dominated by lay politicians. Iran’s parliament is illustrative. Iranians will head to the polls on Feb. 21, 2020 to elect the 11th parliament.
Answering a question about the performance of the petrochemical industry, the petroleum minister said, “We hope that the second petrochemical leap will be achieved by the year 2021, with the realization of which the annual petrochemical production capacity will be around 100 million tonnes and the value of the produced items will be close to $27 billion.” He further said the projects that would reach fruition after then would be categorized in the third leap of the industry. By the end of the leap, Iran’s petrochemical production capacity is envisaged to cross 136 million tons per annum and the value of the produced items will generate $37 billion for the country.