Week of June 12, 2023 | Iran Unfiltered is a digest tracking Iranian politics & society by the National Iranian American Council
- Khamenei Announces that a Nuclear Deal is Acceptable, Provided that Nuclear Infrastructure Remains Intact
- Police Reportedly Kill Another Young Member of Kian Pirfalak’s Family
- Ebrahim Raisi’s trip to Latin America; Signing 25 contracts with Venezuela
- Legacy of the Stars: Celebrating the Life and Contributions of Firouz Naderi, NASA Luminary and Iranian Icon
- Mohammad Khatami Stands Against Forcible Implementation of Hijab
- Mysterious Death of Amirkabir University Student Raises Concerns
- Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi to stand trial at Branch 29 of the Revolutionary Court
- Large number of plaintiff families in Kurdestan arrested by Iranian security agents
- Saeed Madani and Hossein Razzagh Face New Accusations Following Participation in ‘Save Iran’ Online Forum
Khamenei Announces that a Nuclear Deal is Acceptable, Provided that Nuclear Infrastructure Remains Intact
In a major development on June 11, Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, indicated his willingness to accept an agreement that preserves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. This has been viewed as an endorsement of indirect U.S.-Iran negotiations reportedly underway to address the nuclear issue, Americans detained in Iran, and frozen Iranian funds in lieu of efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been frozen since last summer.
Khamenei maintained that the infrastructure developed by officials and activists in the nuclear industry in recent years “should not be compromised in the agreements.” His comments stressed the need for continued cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), though strictly within safeguarding regulations. He also advised nuclear program managers to resist pressure and allegations that Iran’s nuclear materials would be used for military purposes.
In his statement, the Supreme Leader reaffirmed his support for a law passed by the 11th parliament related to the nuclear program, which he stated was beneficial to the country and to the nuclear industry. The law, ratified in December 2020 following the assassination of lead nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by Israeli agents, mandated Hassan Rouhani’s government to recommence 20% uranium enrichment. It also restricted IAEA inspections, and increased uranium reserves, unless U.S. sanctions were lifted during Biden’s first month in office, which they were not. Since then, the past few months of 2023 have seen an increased enrichment of Iran’s uranium to 60%, and in one case up to 84%, which has escalated global concerns and led to a visit by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi’s to Tehran this past March.
These near-weapons-grade levels of enriched uranium have caused alarm within the global community, which Khamenei countered in his statement on June 11, saying, “Based on our Islamic principles, we do not intend to develop weapons. If we had chosen to do so, they wouldn’t have been able to stop us, as they have been unable to stop our nuclear advancements thus far.”
Despite these claims, global actors like the U.S. have been driven by these growing nuclear circumstances to engage in unofficial negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program, among other factors at play.
Consequently, on June 12, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanani, confirmed ongoing negotiations with the United States and the potential for a prisoner exchange in the near future. Despite Iran’s focus on neutralizing sanctions through internal capabilities and relationships with neighboring countries, Kanani stated that diplomatic efforts to lift sanctions were still underway.
The likelihood of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. hinges on the “right intentions” of the other party, Kanani added. Iran currently holds several high-profile American detainees, including Siamak Namazi, and co-founders of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz.
In related news, Reuters reported that Iraq had been granted U.S. approval to repay debts to Iran. An anonymous senior official in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry revealed the release of $2.76 billion from Iran’s frozen assets as payment for Iran’s electricity and gas exports to Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Fawad Hussein subsequently received approval for the exchange from his U.S. counterpart, Anthony Blinken, during a meeting on June 8.
Following the announcement of Iran’s unblocked assets in Iraq, Iranian media outlets have reported a drop in the U.S. dollar rate on the open market to 47,000 tomans. The secretary of Iran’s money changers association told the Tasnim news agency that “buyers and importers” were being cautious because they believed that the currency price would fall further.
During a gathering this past weekend in Parchestan village to commemorate what would have been Kian Pirfalak’s 10th birthday, Pooya Moulairad, a relative of Kian’s mother, Mahmunir Mulairad, was fatally wounded in an altercation with local police. Upon returning from the birthday tribute to Kian, who was fatally shot at just 9 years old during last year’s protests, Pooya’s vehicle collided with a member of the local police force, killing the officer.
According to sources close to the family, Pooya Moulairad, who was 19 years old, had failed to spot the security officers because of his speed. In response to their approach, he stopped, ostensibly signaling surrender, only to be shot multiple times. A total of six bullets were fired at his body.
According to the Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, Pooya Moulairad had deliberately rammed into the officers with his car, killing Captain Mohammad Qanbari.
The incident triggered a siege-like situation in Parchestan village, with an already-increased security presence in Izeh surrounding Kian’s 10th birthday. As part of nationwide protests, the city has been a hotbed of contention between protesters and government agents, with several casualties reported. But Kian Pirfalak’s case received significant attention, which is why Kian’s mother, Mahmunir Mulairad, chose to broadcast Kian’s 10th birthday commemoration live on Instagram. Iranians living outside Iran attended via livestream.
Following Kian’s tragic death in November 2022, Kian’s parents had initially filed a complaint against the officers allegedly involved in the shooting, according to Sajjad Pirfalak, Kian’s uncle. The family, while seeking to rescind death sentences for other prisoners, maintains that they hold no grievances against some of the detainees known as Abbas Mujahid Korkour, Bahman Bahmani, and others accused of shooting Kian.
However, on April 7, the Islamic Republic of Iran Judiciary News Agency announced that Abbas Mujahid Korkour, one of the imprisoned protestors, had been sentenced to death after being introduced as the prime suspect in the shooting of Kian Pirfalak. Kian’s mother, however, has publicly stated that Korkour was not the man who murdered her son. The Pirfalak family’s lawyer indicated that the Iranian authorities were trying to remove the name of the Judicial Branch Officer from the murder case and present another person (Abbas Korkour) instead.
Between the shooting that killed young Kian, the trial that followed, the loss of at least 13 other young lives in the recent protests, and now the shooting that killed Pooya Moulairad, the city of Izeh has been experiencing a growing climate of unrest and violence.
President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Venezuela as part of his Latin American trip that also includes Cuba and Nicaragua – all countries under U.S. sanctions. State TV broadcasted Raisi’s arrival at an airport near Caracas as well as his entrance into the presidential palace which displayed Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s warm reception of Iran’s president. Notably, previous Iranian presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani had also visited Venezuela and Cuba during their terms.
Raisi’s visit involved a meeting and the subsequent signing of 25 bilateral agreements on June 13, which bolstered Raisi’s proposal of increasing the annual trade volume between Iran and Venezuela from $3 billion to $20 billion as well as enhanced collaboration in the petrochemical sector, as reported by Reuters.
Following his meeting with Raisi, Maduro, in a televised address on state television, hailed Iran as one of the world’s new technological and scientific powers and expressed the readiness of his government to cooperate with Iran. Maduro also strongly criticized the United States, citing recent statements by Donald Trump in which the former president claimed his administration had sought to collapse the Venezuelan government in order to seize the country’s oil.
Concurrently, Raisi referred to Venezuela as a “friend,” indicating that the relationship between the two nations is strategic. Raisi also hinted at sharing ‘common enemies’ with Venezuela, although he did not name them.
Apart from the most recent agreements that have been made between Iran and Venezuela, their relationship has been ongoing. In the past year, Iran and Venezuela signed a 20-year plan for cooperation in Tehran. This plan involves joint oil projects, defense, and other matters, including the restoration of Venezuelan refineries. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that this alliance could engage in potential sanctions circumvention.
Despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela has struggled with gasoline and diesel production for local consumption, which has resulted in shortages and long refueling lines. A €110 million contract was signed in May 2022 by Iran’s National Oil Products Refining and Distribution Company to repair Venezuela’s smallest refinery, El Palito, which boasts a daily capacity of 146,000 barrels.
Reports also suggest Iran’s involvement in a project to upgrade Venezuela’s largest refinery complex, encompassing Amway and Cardon.
Legacy of the Stars: Celebrating the Life and Contributions of Firouz Naderi, NASA Luminary and Iranian Icon
Dr. Firouz Naderi, an outstanding Iranian scientist renowned for his significant contributions to NASA, passed away at 77 years old on June 9 in a U.S. hospital. Before his death, he served both as Deputy Director General and Director General of Solar System Exploration at NASA. He recently had suffered severe nerve damage and partial paralysis following a debilitating accident.
On June 4, Dr. Naderi had revealed that he had lost consciousness due to an unexpected drop in his heart rate and suffered a head injury.
Dr. Naderi moved to the United States to pursue higher education after receiving his secondary education in Shiraz, Iran. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa, Dr. Naderi earned a doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of Southern California. Following his studies and military service, Dr. Naderi returned to Iran to work at the Remote Sensing Center.
After returning to the U.S. in July 1979, following Iran’s revolution at the time, Naderi began his tenure at NASA where he held both technical and managerial positions.
Dr. Naderi was appointed Deputy and Chief Planning Officer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory due to his exceptional leadership skills. In this role, he developed the center’s strategic vision. Using his extensive Mars experience to further our understanding of the universe, he initiated solar system robotics research in 2011. His aptitude for innovation had been long-recognized throughout his career, notably through the highest medal of honor awarded by NASA in 2005 for Dr. Naderi’s contributions to space, science and exploration.
As a tribute to Dr. Naderi’s contributions to NASA following his retirement in 2016, Asteroid 1989-EL1 was renamed Naderi-5515 in honor of his indelible impact on space exploration.
In the final hours of his life Dr. Naderi was surrounded by the love and respect of his family. A formal announcement was made on Dr. Naderi’s Twitter and Instagram accounts following his official passing on June 9.
His accomplishments as an Iranian-American in NASA made him a beacon of inspiration for many Iranians. Iranians around the world, including many prominent figures in Iranian society, have expressed their condolences and paid tribute to Dr. Naderi.
Apart from his scientific legacy at NASA, Dr. Naderi was also regarded as a figure who elevated Iranian status in scientific circles worldwide, despite negative perceptions about Iran.
It is with deep regret that the scientific community and global Iranian community mourns the passing of Dr. Naderi, a towering figure in the field of space exploration. His inspirational journey and monumental legacy will continue to motivate aspiring scientists and space enthusiasts for generations to come.
Mohammad Khatami, former Iranian president and leader of the reform movement, has recently stated that Islamic chastity is not equivalent to wearing a hijab. He also stated that Islamic head coverings should not be forced upon women. Khatami invoked a Quranic verse which states that there is no compulsion in religion, questioning the logic behind compulsory hijab as a religious mandate. His comments were made at an event in which women’s rights activists criticized Iranian compulsory hijab.
According to the former president, women have been oppressed and deprived throughout history, emphasizing the need to change traditional views and redefine women’s status in light of modern social realities. In contrast to traditional perceptions of women as ornamental, Khatami emphasized a paradigm shift in understanding their potential and role in society.
A historical remark made by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini concerning men’s spiritual growth prompted Khatami to pose this thought-provoking question: “Why should women not be able to advance spiritually independently, rather than merely serving as catalysts for men’s development?” According to him, every human being is valuable, regardless of their gender or religion. He criticized any notion that undermines human dignity based on gender.
Yusuf Soizi, a graduate student in mining engineering at Amirkabir University, was found dead in the Sheikhul Islam dormitory on campus in a concerning sequence of events. It is believed that Soizi’s death was due to a heart attack, raising suspicions.
Another student at the same university, Basir Ebrahimpour, also succumbed to a heart attack a week earlier. These incidents have stirred unease among the student community and have prompted calls for an investigation.
Amidst this climate of suspicion, student union councils have pointed out a significant delay in ambulance response time surrounding the two students’ deaths. Despite the presence of the university’s medical emergency officials within university grounds, an ambulance from outside the university was necessitated. The ambulance’s delayed response time led to a crucial response time loss. These circumstances raised further questions about the adequacy and efficiency of emergency response measures at the university, adding to the overall atmosphere of concern for safety since the 2022 protests.
According to her Instagram account, prominent human rights advocate Narges Mohammadi was scheduled to be tried by the Revolutionary Court’s Branch 29 on June 10.
According to the Security Prosecutor’s Office Branch 2, Judge Haji Moradi brought the charges against Mohammadi, which include ‘holding a sit-in protest against executions’, ‘publicly decrying executions’, ‘objecting to the abuse of female detainees’, and ‘protesting torture of suspects in security cells’ solitary confinement’. Mohammadi has been an active voice in the Woman, Life, Freedom movement and in speaking out against the Islamic Republic for the past few decades.
Previously, Taghi Rahmani–Mohammadi’s husband–had stated that his wife would not attend the court hearing. However, it remains uncertain whether the court actually proceeded with the hearing.
A group of petitioning families from Sanandaj, Divandareh, and Dehgolan was apprehended by Iranian intelligence forces on Friday, June 9. The families had traveled to Saqqez and Bukan in order to track down the relatives of those tragically killed during last year’s protests. The arresting forces left many of these families stranded on the streets late into the night, with the motives behind the arrests unclear.
As Amjad Hossein Panahi – a relative of the deceased Ramin Hossein Panahi, who was executed by the Islamic Republic in 2018 – confirmed during their return journey, the petitioners’ families were detained at a Saqqez city checkpoint. Among those arrested were Ramin Hossein Panahi’s mother, Nanny Sharifeh. According to Panahi, security forces subjected both families to derision and physical abuse during the confinement.
As a result of their continued resistance and protest against the Iranian authorities, these petitioning families are facing increasing tensions in Iran’s Kurdistan region. According to Panahi, the Iranian government perceives the unity and solidarity of these families as a direct threat that would result in reprisals.
Concurrently, a group known as the “Mothers of the Revolution” has actively worked to preserve the memory of those executed and killed during various protests. Composed of the mothers and family members of the petitioners from Sanandaj, Divandareh, and Dehgolan, the organization aims to strengthen ties among the petitioners’ families.
Recently, members of the “Mothers of the Revolution” visited the grave of Mahsa Amini, whose killing by Iran’s Morality Police kickstarted the series of Woman, Life, Freedom protests in 2022. In light of recent closures of the Mausoleum and evidence of excavation near the gravesite, concerns have been raised regarding the possibility of erasing Amini’s grave; members of the “Mothers of Revolution” group have expressed strong objections to any alterations to Amini’s grave, which has functioned as a pilgrimage site for many grieving families and citizens across Iran over the past several months.
The recent arrests of these petitioner families is not the first instance of such arrests. Reports of arrests against grieving families and against those visiting the gravesites have been noted since the November 2019 protests.
Saeed Madani and Hossein Razzagh Face New Accusations Following Participation in ‘Save Iran’ Online Forum
In a digital forum titled “Save Iran,” prominent sociologist Saeed Madani and political activist Hossein Razzagh now face fresh charges following their participation in the forum this past April. Their charges are based on allegations of collusion against national security, for which Madani was fined 500 million tomans. Both figures are already in prison and now face additional charges. Razzagh in particular has been charged with propagandizing against the regime in addition to the national security charges.
The “Save Iran” virtual conference was held on April 21st and 22nd and featured 42 significant political and human rights figures. A major topic of discussion was Mirhossein Mousavi’s referendum proposal, delivered from his house under arrest. Apart from Madani and Razzagh, other activists were also arrested in connection with the conference, including Keyvan Samimi, Alireza Beheshti Shirazi and Abdullah Momeni; though Beheshti and Samimi have since been released.
An avid voice within the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, Madani wrote in a recent article advocating for non-violence on the reasons for protests, their nature, future prospects, and their benefits and disadvantages.
He also predicted in his article that “the next wave of protests should be expected from the day the current protests die down.” He foresaw that the subsequent protests would span a wider geographical range, continuing from major cities to smaller ones, and would perhaps adopt a more aggressive and radical attitude.
Although both Madani and Razzagh have historically backed reformists, their critical stance has intensified in recent years.Back to top