November 8th, 2012
02:11 PM ET

Iran fighter jets fired on U.S. drone, officials tell CNN

Two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf last week, CNN has learned.

The incident raises fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.

You can read more about the incident on our Security Clearance blog.

White House denies nuclear report
Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
October 20th, 2012
07:46 PM ET

White House denies nuclear report

The White House denied a report Saturday that said the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks over Iran’s nuclear program.

Such talks, as reported by The New York Times, would be a first.

“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” White House National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

“The President has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that. It has always been our goal for sanctions to pressure Iran to come in line with its obligations. The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure."

Citing an anonymous senior official within the Obama administration, The New York Times reported earlier Saturday that Iranian officials insisted the talks not start until after the presidential vote.

Secret discussions between U.S. and Iranian officials date almost to the start of Obama’s term, the newspaper said.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and to fill energy shortages, but Western leaders believe Tehran is an aspiring armed nuclear power. U.N. inspectors have also expressed doubts about the program's aims.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Iran • Middle East • World
Suspect in Saudi ambassador assassination plot pleads guilty
Mansour Arbabsiar says he conspired with members of the Iranian military to plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.
October 17th, 2012
01:04 PM ET

Suspect in Saudi ambassador assassination plot pleads guilty

Manssor Arbabsiar once denied that he participated in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Now he says he did.

Arbabsiar, a 57-year-old Iranian-American man from Texas, pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to recruit a Mexican drug cartel to bomb a Washington, D.C., restaurant while Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir dined there.

Arbabsiar, who was arrested in September 2011 after an undercover informant's tip to authorities, said in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday that he conspired with members of the Iranian military in the formulation of the plot. The admission comes nearly a year after he pleaded not guilty.

Federal authorities say Arbabsiar and cohorts hired someone they thought was a cartel contact to assassinate the ambassador, but the contact was an undercover government informant who kept in contact with Arbabsiar until there was enough evidence for his arrest, according to federal court documents.

Timeline: Alleged plot to kill Saudi ambassador

Arbabsiar is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year dismissed allegations that Iran was connected to the plot.

FULL STORY
U.S. delegation will not attend Ahmadinejad's U.N speech, spokeswoman says
September 26th, 2012
10:49 AM ET

U.S. delegation will not attend Ahmadinejad's U.N speech, spokeswoman says

The U.S. delegation "has decided not to attend" the speech to be delivered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the United Nations General Assembly, Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Over the past couple of days, we've seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the U.N. not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel," Pelton said.

The Iranian leader's addresses to the assembly have often generated controversy in the past. The tensions over Tehran's disputed nuclear program and speculation over a possible attack on Iran by Israel offer ample material for drama this time around.

In previous years, several delegations have walked out during Ahmadinejad's speeches, which have assailed the United States and criticized countries that he said used the Holocaust as an "excuse to pay ransom to Zionists."

Five things we learned from Day One of the U.N. debate

He will be taking to the podium Wednesday, a day after President Barack Obama told the assembly that while Washington remains committed to a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program, the United States "will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and to fill energy shortages, but Western leaders believe Tehran is an aspiring armed nuclear power. U.N. inspectors have also expressed doubts about the program's aims.

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Filed under: Iran • United Nations
September 24th, 2012
11:51 AM ET

Iran blocks YouTube, Google over Mohammed video

Iran blocked YouTube and its owner Google over the weekend because of an inflammatory movie trailer about the Prophet Mohammed that has infuriated Muslims in many countries around the world.

The sites were blocked "because of public demand," Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency said Monday.

"Google and YouTube continued to carry the film clip that insulted our people's sacred beliefs," the agency said, citing an unnamed source in Iran's Internet Authority.

Iran was responding to a 14-minute online trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," a once obscure film that mocks Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.

FULL STORY
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Comments: Some cultural exchange after girls clobber cleric over hijab
Iranian women can be subjected to harsh punishment for small infractions of the country's Islamic dress code.
September 20th, 2012
07:46 PM ET

Comments: Some cultural exchange after girls clobber cleric over hijab

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here's a few exchanges we noticed today.

In a small Iranian town, a cleric asked a girl to cover herself more completely. She refused, and then eventually she and a friend double-teamed the man and clobbered him. The man, Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti, says he asked politely, but ended up in the hospital. He ultimately declined to file a complaint, but said he didn't mind the prosecutor's investigation. This incident has many readers talking.

Girls beat up Iran cleric over dress code

Many readers cheered the girls' reaction, and others wondered what would happen next.

Johnusmc: "You go girls!!"

Superstition: "My thoughts exactly! I'm so happy to finally hear a version of this story that goes the other way. It’s too bad I now have to fear for their safety ..."

There were some theories about the cleric's intentions. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comments • Iran • Religion • World
Anti-U.S. demonstrations worldwide
September 13th, 2012
02:47 PM ET

Libyan official: Suspect in consulate attack arrested

Editor's note: Several protests stemming at least in part from an anti-Islam film produced in the United States are unfolding outside U.S. embassies around the world. Thursday's protests follow ones in Cairo and Benghazi and an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya on Tuesday night that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others. Follow along with the live blog below for all of the developments around the world.

[Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said the U.S. government should bring to justice those behind the anti-Islam film.

Khameini on Thursday called the making of the film a "criminal act," according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. His comments came the same day university students protested outside the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, blaming the United States and Israel for the American-made film. The Swiss Embassy represents U.S. interests in Iran.

[Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET] At least one person has been arrested in the killings of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Libya's prime minister said Thursday.

One person was arrested early Thursday in Benghazi, Mustafa Abushagur said on CNNI's "Amanpour." "Three or four are currently being pursued," he said.

Earlier, the Libyan state-run news agency LANA said more than one person had been arrested. It cited the deputy minister of interior in the eastern region, Wanees al-Sharif, as its source.

The announcement came as the United States is struggling to determine whether a militant group planned the attack that killed the four Americans, even as warships head toward the north African country as part of a mission to hunt down and punish the killers.

[Updated at 3:11 p.m. ET] Four people were killed Thursday during protests near the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, according to two Yemeni security officials. They reported 11 injuries among protesters.

FULL POST

Family of Marine imprisoned in Iran plead for his release
August 30th, 2012
07:43 PM ET

Family of Marine imprisoned in Iran plead for his release

Relatives of a former U.S. Marine jailed in Iran for allegedly spying for the CIA say they are pleading with the leaders of the Islamic Republic to show mercy and set Amir Mirzaei Hekmati free.

"I just want to ask President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, these two are our only hope. These two can bring Amir home," pleaded Behnaz Hekmati, Amir's mother.

"We just want (him) to come home, I think one year is enough. If you want to punish us, if you want to punish Amir, for whatever reason he is there, just one year is enough. Please let him come home," his mother added.

With reluctance and much apprehension, the Hekmati family opened their home to CNN and sat down for an exclusive interview, their first since Hekmati was arrested on August 29, 2011.

FULL POST

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U.S. announces new sanctions against Iran
The Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran. Iran faces new sanctions over its nuclear program.
July 31st, 2012
02:17 PM ET

U.S. announces new sanctions against Iran

President Barack Obama announced new U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's oil Tuesday, warning Tehran that it faces "growing consequences" for refusing to answer international questions about its nuclear program.

The first set of sanctions announced will target the Islamic republic's energy and petrochemical industries, a move designed to "deter Iran from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent existing sanctions," a White House statement explains.

The statement continues, "Sanctions are also authorized for those who may seek to avoid the impact of these sanctions, including against individuals and entities that provide material support to the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company, or the Central Bank of Iran, or for the purchase or acquisition of U.S. bank notes or precious metals by the government of Iran."

The second set of sanctions will target banks, "a significant step to hold responsible institutions that knowingly enable financial transactions for designated Iranian banks," the statement said.

The Department of Treasury specifically targeted Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq. The two financial institutions are alleged to have facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars for Iranian banks that are under sanctions because of the country's nuclear proliferation activities, according to the statement.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Energy • Iran • Nuclear • U.S. • World
July 13th, 2012
02:33 PM ET

2 indicted for allegedly trying to supply Iran with nuclear-related items

A federal grand jury has indicted two people for their alleged attempts to supply Iran with U.S. materials for gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, the Justice Department said Friday.

The indictment charges Parviz Khaki, an Iranian citizen, and Zongcheng Yi, a resident of China, each with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring to export the goods without the required license.

Both also face one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of smuggling, two counts of illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran in violation of IEEPA and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the Justice Deaprtment said.

Khaki, 43, was arrested in the Philippines in May. Yi remains art large.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: China • Courts • Crime • Iran • Justice
July 10th, 2012
02:42 AM ET

State Dept: Release pastor jailed for 1,000 days, sentenced to death in Iran

It has been more than 1,000 days since a Christian pastor was thrown into an Iranian jail for leaving Islam and sentenced to death for, as the U.S. State Department put it, "simply following his faith."

On Monday, the agency once again called on Iran to release Youcef Nadarkhani.

"Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately," said a statement from State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

His next scheduled court date is September 8.

Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents in the northern Iranian town of Rasht, converted to Christianity when he was 19.

Later he was ordained as a minister and led a network of house churches in Iran.

He was arrested in October 2009 after he lodged a protest with local education officials after learning his child was being forced to read from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in school.

He was charged with apostasy and convicted in a provincial court - which sentenced him to death.

He appealed, and during a trial in a lower court, refused to recant his beliefs.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which said Nadarkhani's sentence could be overturned if he recanted. The 34-year-old pastor has refused.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iran • Religion • U.S. • World
Malaysian court: Iranian can be extradited to Thailand over Bangkok blasts
Bangkok bombs crime scene on Wednesday, February 22, 2012.
June 25th, 2012
04:16 AM ET

Malaysian court: Iranian can be extradited to Thailand over Bangkok blasts

A Malaysian court has ruled that an Iranian man suspected of being involved with a series of bombs that went off in Bangkok in February can be extradited to Thailand.

Masoud Sedaghatzadeh is wanted by the Thai authorities for his alleged involvement in the Bangkok blasts along with several other Iranians.

It is not yet clear when Sedaghatzadeh will be extradited, as he plans to file an application to a higher court in Malaysia, seeking his release from prison.

The explosions in Bangkok did not cause any deaths, but the Thai authorities have said they were intended for Israeli diplomats. The devices used explosive materials that are not available in Thailand and were most likely smuggled in, the police have said.

The Bangkok blasts came a day after a device attached to an Israeli Embassy van in New Delhi exploded, and another device, found on an embassy car in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, was safety detonated.

Israeli officials blamed Iran for the attacks, but Tehran has denied the accusations.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iran • Israel • Malaysia • Terrorism • Thailand
May 23rd, 2012
08:19 AM ET

'Detailed proposal' emerging at Iran nuclear talks

World powers holding talks with Iran on its nuclear aspirations are proposing "confidence-building" and "reciprocal" steps allowing the country to prove its program is solely for peaceful use, a Western official told CNN.

The Wednesday meeting, in Baghdad, is a follow-up to last month's talks between Iran and six nations - the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain - the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - plus Germany.

Western powers fear that Iran may be trying to build nuclear weapons, despite its insistence that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. They have been using sanctions and diplomacy to stop Iran from producing nuclear arms.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iran
May 17th, 2012
09:11 AM ET

Iran threatens legal action against Google for not labeling Persian Gulf

Iran has threatened legal action against Google for not labeling the Persian Gulf on its maps.

"Toying with modern technologies in political issues is among the new measures by the enemies against Iran, (and) in this regard, Google has been treated as a plaything," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Thursday, according to state-run Press TV.

He added that "omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation."

On state-run news agency IRNA, Iranian officials accused Google of having removed the words "Persian Gulf."

Google did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

But a Google spokesperson told Britain's The Guardian newspaper that the Internet giant had not removed the term "Persian Gulf" - it had not labeled it from the beginning, as is the case with many other places.

 

 

FULL STORY
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Iranian rapper faces death threats, bounty over song
The bounty for the killing of rapper Shahin Najafi appear on the website shia-online.ir.
May 15th, 2012
01:16 PM ET

Iranian rapper faces death threats, bounty over song

An Iranian rapper is facing death threats and has a $100,000 bounty on his head for a song that some say insults an Islamic Shiite imam.

Shahin Najafi, who sings in Farsi and lives in Germany, told the German website Qantara that the song "Naghi" is not about a religious figure but about the state of society in Iran.

"The story with 'Naghi' was just a pretext," Najafi said in an interview with Qantara, which the German Foreign Office funds to promote dialogue with the Islamic world.

"For me it is more of an excuse to talk about completely different things. I criticize Iranian society in the song. It seems as though people are just concentrating on the word 'imam,' " Najafi is quoted as saying.

Religious figures in Iran see it differently.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Germany • Iran
May 8th, 2012
09:13 AM ET

Iran says nuclear inspector killed in car crash

A U.N. nuclear inspector from South Korea was killed Tuesday in a car accident in Iran, state-run media reported.

Ok-Seok Seo was traveling with another inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency near the Khandab nuclear complex in central Markazi province when their vehicle overturned, state news agencies said, citing Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

The IAEA has not commented on the report.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • United Nations
May 7th, 2012
05:17 AM ET

Clinton urges India to go further in reducing Iranian oil imports

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday applauded India's efforts to reduce its imports of Iranian oil but urged it to cut them further to keep pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.

"We think India as a country understands the importance of trying to use diplomacy to resolve these difficult threats and is certainly working toward lowering their purchases of Iranian oil," Clinton said in Kolkata, the first stop on her visit to India. "We commend the steps they've taken thus far and hope they will do even more."

The United States and other Western countries are using economic pressure on Iran, particularly on its oil industry, to try to push Tehran into halting its nuclear program.

They have encouraged Asian countries like India, Japan and South Korea - key consumers of Iranian oil - to cut back their purchases.

U.S. officials say India has lowered the amount of oil it buys from Iran in recent months. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government is also wrestling with stubbornly high inflation and is wary of provoking upward pressure on prices.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: India • Iran • State Department
April 9th, 2012
07:27 PM ET

USS Enterprise heads to Persian Gulf

The carrier group is heading to the Gulf and our CNN national security experts note that this is a typical Navy maneuver that happens as carrier groups rotate to new positions around the globe.

This is the final deployment for the Enterprise, which will be inactivated and eventually decommissioned, according to a Navy press release.

This does come at a time that relations with Iran are fraying. We called the Navy today to ask if there is any connection. They did not get back to us right away. If they do, we will update this.

Do you know anything about the mission of the carrier group? Do you have a view on U.S.-Iran relations? Comment below.


Filed under: Iran • Military • U.S. Navy
March 20th, 2012
01:12 PM ET

Iran, U.S. mark Iranian new year with blistering words

Iran and the United States rang in the Persian new year Tuesday with distinctly different messages for the Iranian people.

President Barack Obama slammed the Islamic Republic's crackdown on electronic communications and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran would not hesitate to strike back in the event of an attack on the Islamic republic.

The beginning of the year 1391 took Khamenei to the massive Imam Reza shrine complex in the eastern city of Mashhad, where thousands jammed the mosque to hear the nation's supreme leader.

Khamenei denied Iran has nuclear capability or that it is trying to develop atomic weapons. But he warned that Iran will defend itself if the United States or Israel attacks - words that only increase anxiety in Iran's nuclear showdown with world powers.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Iran • World
March 20th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Iran, U.S. mark Iranian new year with blistering words

Iran and the United States rang in the Persian new year Tuesday with distinctly different messages for the Iranian people.

President Barack Obama slammed the Islamic Republic's crackdown on electronic communications and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran would not hesitate to strike back in the event of an attack on the Islamic republic.

The beginning of the year 1391 took Khamenei to the massive Imam Reza shrine complex in the eastern city of Mashhad, where thousands jammed the mosque to hear the nation's supreme leader.

FULL STORY
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