Microsoft: Iran unit behind Charlie Hebdo hack-and-leak op
After the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s launched a cartoon contest to mock Iran’s ruling cleric, a state-backed Iranian cyber unit struck back in early January with a hack-and-leak campaign intent on striking fear with the claimed pilfering of a big subscriber database.
Protests galvanize Iranians abroad in hope, worry and unity
As anti-government protests roil cities and towns in Iran for a fourth week, tens of thousands of Iranians living abroad have marched on the streets of Europe, North America and beyond in support of what many believe to be a watershed moment for their home country.
Israeli PM and Biden postpone meeting because of Afghanistan
President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have postponed their White House meeting as Biden focused his attention on dealing with the aftermath of deadly explosions near the Kabul airport that targeted U.S. troops and Afghans seeking to flee their country after the Taliban takeover.
US: Putin approved operations to help Trump against Biden
The document makes clear that even while Trump has cried foul about the legitimacy of the election, intelligence officials believe Russia sought to influence people close to Trump as a way to tip the election in his favor. The primary threats instead came from Russia and Iran, albeit with different intentions and through different means, according to intelligence officials. The report also says Putin authorized influence operations aimed at denigrating Biden, boosting Trump, undermining confidence in the election and exacerbating social divisions in the U.S. Intelligence officials did not single out any Trump ally in that effort. U.S. officials have said they regard Derkach as an “active Russian agent,” and Tuesday's report said Putin is believed to have “purview” over his activities.
Iran starts trial of new homegrown vaccine as campaign lags
Iran says that its third homegrown vaccine has reached the phase of clinical trials, even as details about its production remained slim. AdBut details are scant about the Islamic Republic's vaccine production efforts. Two other Iranian vaccines are also in the phase of clinical trials, with the most advanced, called Barekat, tested on 300 people so far. Earlier this week, the government launched a vaccine production factory it claims can make 3 million doses a day. Iran formally launched its limited vaccination campaign last month, doling out Russia's Sputnik V vaccine to health workers and those with chronic health conditions.
Israeli-owned ship docked in Dubai after mysterious blast
The Israeli-owned cargo ship, Helios Ray, sits docked in port after arriving earlier in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. The ship has been damaged by an unexplained blast at the gulf of Oman on Thursday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)DUBAI – An Israeli-owned cargo ship that suffered a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman came to Dubai's port for repairs Sunday, days after the blast that revived security concerns in Mideast waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran. Associated Press journalists saw the hulking Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray sitting at dry dock facilities at Dubai's Port Rashid. An Emirati coast guard vessel was seen sailing behind the ship, with Dubai police and Emirati armed forces vehicles parked nearby.
Iran officially imposes curbs on UN nuclear inspections
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)TEHRAN – Iran officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday, a bid to pressure European countries and President Joe Biden's administration to lift crippling economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. AdIn a show of defiance, Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei outlined further developments in Iran's nuclear program on Tuesday. On Monday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also signaled Iran would refuse to capitulate to U.S. pressure over its nuclear program. Tehran has long insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, such as power generation and medical research. Before Iran implemented its new restrictions on IAEA inspections, the agency's director-general, Rafael Grossi, negotiated a temporary deal during an emergency weekend trip to Tehran.
EXPLAINER: Iran restricts UN atomic agency to pressure West
Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi from Argentina, speaks to the media after returning from Iran at the Vienna International Airport, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)DUBAI – Iran will begin restricting the ability of United Nations nuclear inspectors to monitor Tehran's nuclear program. Restricting IAEA inspections, a cornerstone of ensuring Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, provides Iran a way to grab the West's attention. Without success at the negotiating table, Iran could bar IAEA inspectors or withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. ___Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.
The superspreaders behind top COVID-19 conspiracy theories
Legitimate questions about the virus created perfect conditions for conspiracy theories. COVID CLAIM: Boyle says the coronavirus is a genetically engineered bioweapon that escaped from a high-level lab in Wuhan, China. COVID CLAIM: Nikulin argues the U.S. created the virus and used it to attack China. He first voiced the belief in a Jan. 20, 2020, story by Zvezda, a state media outlet tied to the Russian military. EVIDENCE: There is no evidence that the U.S. created the virus or used it as a weapon to attack Iran.
Iran may pursue nuclear weapon, intel minister warns West
Iran's supreme leader said the U.S. must lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to return to its commitments to the nuclear deal with Western powers. The remarks by Mahmoud Alavi mark a rare occasion that a government official says Iran could reverse its course on the nuclear program. A 1990s fatwa, or religious edict, by the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei states that nuclear weapons are forbidden. AdIsrael has long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers put strict limits on Iranian nuclear activities to prevent it from reaching weapons capabilities. Israel, which has been suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has repeatedly declined to comment on the attack.
Iran starts limited COVID vaccinations with Russian shots
Parsa Namaki son of Health Minister Saeed Namaki receives a Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in a staged event at Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. At a ceremony marking the start of the campaign, Parsa Namaki, son of Health Minister Saeed Namaki, received his first dose. Last Thursday, Iran received its first batch of foreign-made coronavirus vaccines from Russia. Iranian media have reported that a total of 2 million Russian vaccines will arrive in Iran in February and March. Iran is also planning to import some 17 million doses of vaccine from COVAX and millions from other countries.
Iran’s leader: US must lift sanctions before return to deal
FILE - In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. in Tehran, Iran. Twitter says on Friday, Jan. 22, it has permanently banned an account connected to the office of Irans supreme leader. Other accounts thought to be tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneis office remained active. He was asked if the US will lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the bargaining table. The supreme leader, 81, has the final say on all matters of state in Iran and approved the efforts at reaching the nuclear deal in 2015.
Iran receives its first batch of foreign coronavirus vaccine
Iran on Thursday received its first batch of foreign-made coronavirus vaccines as the country struggles to stem the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East. (Saeed Kaari/IKAC via AP)TEHRAN – Iran on Thursday received its first batch of foreign-made coronavirus vaccines as the country struggles to stem the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East. Also Iranian state TV quoted Tehran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, as saying that Iran has ordered 5 million doses from Russia. ISNA quoted Mohammadreza Shanehsaz, head of Iran’s food and drug organization, as saying Thursday’s shipment included only 10,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. It is also planning to import some 17 million doses of vaccine from COVAX and millions from other countries.
Twitter bans suspect Iran account after post threatens Trump
FILE - In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. in Tehran, Iran. Twitter says on Friday, Jan. 22, it has permanently banned an account connected to the office of Irans supreme leader. Other accounts thought to be tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneis office remained active. Other accounts tied to Khamenei's office that did not tweet the golf-drone photo, including his main English language account, remained active. In his speech, Khamenei did not call out Trump by name, but reiterated a vow for vengeance against those who ordered and executed the attack on Soleimani.
Diary shows how quest for love landed Navy vet in Iran jail
The Navy veteran kept a handwritten document detailing the nearly two years he spent imprisoned in Iran. The love interest he'd gone to visit had stopped seeing him and he'd idled away hours in his hotel room by himself. “I don’t want the government of Iran to think that, 'Oh, Mike White's out of here, he's going away, he's going to be quiet,'" he said in a recent interview. White ultimately faced various charges, including posting private images, collaborating with the U.S. against Iran and disrespecting Iran's supreme leader. He writes in his manuscript that he has indeed made social media posts about Iran but denies having disparaged Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Religious leaders worldwide, across faiths who died in 2020
They were among many religious leaders — some admired worldwide, others beloved only locally — who died in 2020. It occurred in April, during a period in which numerous Church of God in Christ bishops and pastors died of COVID-19. 2 leader, Bishop Amfilohije -- who also died after COVID-19 complications -- both downplayed the dangers of the pandemic and avoided wearing masks in public. Edward Kmiec, 84, who between 1992 and 2012 served as the Roman Catholic bishop of Nashville, Tennessee, and Buffalo, New York. John Yambasu, 63, a bishop of the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone who died in a traffic accident in August.
Iran's president opposes bill that would boost enrichment
TEHRAN – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday expressed his opposition to a bill approved by parliament the previous day to suspend U.N. inspections and boost uranium enrichment, saying it would be “harmful” to diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal and easing U.S. sanctions. Under the law, if the president refuses to sign the bill, it will be automatically singed by the parliament speaker to go into effect. Tuesday's approval by lawmakers appeared to be a show of defiance after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a key figure in Iran's nuclear program, was killed in an attack Iranian officials have blamed on Israel. Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. The U.S. imposed crippling sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement in 2018.
Iran newspaper: Strike Haifa if Israel killed scientist
An opinion piece published by a hard-line Iranian newspaper has suggested that Iran must attack the Israeli port city of Haifa if Israel carried out the killing of a scientist. U.S. intelligence agencies and U.N. nuclear inspectors have said the organized military nuclear program that Fakhrizadeh oversaw disbanded in 2003. Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear weapons. The nuclear watchdog has provided an unprecedented, real-time look at Iran’s civilian nuclear program following the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.
Iran’s supreme leader vows revenge over slain scientist
Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian scientists a decade ago amid earlier tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, has yet to comment on Fakhrizadeh's killing Friday. Iran’s civilian atomic program has continued its experiments and now enriches a growing uranium stockpile up to 4.5% purity in response to the collapse of Iran's nuclear deal after the U.S.' 2018 withdrawal from the accord. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful. Iran also could throw out inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, who have provided an unprecedented, real-time look at Iran's nuclear program since the deal. Iranian state television said an old truck with explosives hidden under a load of wood blew up near a sedan carrying Fakhrizadeh.
US hits Iran with new sanctions as Pompeo defends strategy
(Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – The United States hit Iran with new sanctions on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the case that undoing the actions of the Trump administration would be foolish and dangerous. At the same time, Pompeo released a statement titled “The Importance of Sanctions on Iran,” which argued that the Trump administration's moves against Iran made the world safer and should not be reversed. But they come as the administration seeks to ramp up pressure on Iran before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. In an apparent nod to the incoming Biden administration's stated plans to rejoin or renegotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from, Pompeo said sanctions imposed against Iran had been “extraordinarily effective" in reducing the threat from the country. “These sanctions are a critical tool of national security to preserve the safety of the region and to protect American lives.”
Fascinated and trepidatious, world braces for America's vote
“America votes and gives the world a president,” tweeted the editor in chief of the Ashraq Al-Awsat newspaper, which is Saudi-owned and published from London. As ballots were cast, global onlookers both fascinated and trepidatious braced for the butterfly effect of America’s choice and its knock-on effects big and small. A very real feared repercussion for some was the prospect of a reelected Trump further closing pathways to immigrants and some visitors. “The incumbent president ... says this is the most-rigged U.S. election throughout history,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address Tuesday. “I’d like to have a president in France who thinks a bit like him,” Tanne said.
Iran's supreme leader, quoting Trump, mocks US election
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech marking the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Irans supreme leader mocked Americas presidential election in a televised address. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)TEHRAN – Iran's supreme leader mocked America's presidential election Tuesday in a televised address, quoting President Donald Trump's own baseless claims about voter fraud to criticize the vote as Tehran marked the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis. Our policy is clear and well-calculated and people coming and going will have no impact on it.”Khamenei, 81, as supreme leader has final say on all matters of state in Iran. The supreme leader accused France of harboring “terrorist” groups targeting the Islamic Republic after earlier supporting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980s war against Iran.
Wary of angering public, Iran has few ways to contain virus
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2020, file photo, people wear protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Tajrish traditional bazaar in northern Tehran, Iran. In the last week, Iran shattered its single-day death toll record twice and reported daily infection highs three times. He demanded for the first time they prioritize public health over “the security and economic aspects” of the pandemic, without elaborating. Only in late March — with infections skyrocketing — did Iran impose a two-week shutdown of offices and nonessential businesses. ___Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.
Months into pandemic, Iran sees worst wave of virus deaths
In this Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, photo provided by the Iranian Health Ministry, medics tend to a COVID-19 patient at the Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital in Tehran, Iran. The single-day death toll hit a record high three times this week. On state TV, gravediggers can be seen breaking new ground in vast cemeteries for virus victims, as the daily death toll shattered records Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. A top health official announced that overall hospitalizations in Tehran, the capital, were up 12% more than in even previous virus surges. “There is not an empty bed for any new patient.”Contradictory messages and measures have plagued the government’s virus response, helping propel the country's toll of 29,600 reported deaths to No.