Reuters Q&A with Scott Lucas on Nuclear Talks and Tehran’s Next Steps

As the drafting of a final nuclear text continues in Vienna, Iran has publicly challenged “excessive demands” by the US.

Ayatollah Jannati (pictured), the head of the Guardian Council, led the rhetoric on Friday: “We are suspicious…of the other side [in the nuclear talks]….[The US and its allies] want to frustrate us so that we are forced to give up.”

Demonstrations on the second day of Ramadan, such as a protest in Birjand in northeastern Iran, supported the message.

Meanwhile, the head of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, restated that a nuclear agreement must not permit inspections of military sites:

The country’s national and security interests necessitate that under no condition can strangers, and those who have done their best in animosity towards the Islamic Revolution and the sacred systems of the Islamic Republic of Iran, be allowed to enter our military centers under any protocol or agreement under the name of inspection or access.

All of us should be cautious about this red line.

The political deputies of Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) are in their eighth round of discussions since a nuclear framework was announced on April 2. They are seeking a final agreement by June 30, although that deadline is likely to be extended by days if a resolution is imminent.

Both Iranian and 5+1 negotiators have said that slow but notable progress has been made. Despite Firouzabadi’s statement, backed by the Friday demonstrations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that a compromise will permit inspection of some but not all military sites.

VP Molaverdi Criticizes Hardliners Blocking Women From Attending Volleyball Matches

Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi has criticized hardliners who are blocking the attendance of women at international volleyball matches.

Two hundred tickets for Iran’s match with the US at the Azadi sport complex in Tehran were reserved for women, but security officials refused entry. An Iranian volleyball official said tickets had not been approved.

Women have been banned from attending sporting events since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Hardliners have challenged the Rouhani Government’s attempts to open up sporting events with protests and posters in central Tehran branding female sports fans as prostitutes and sluts.

Molaverdi, whose brief covers women and family affairs, wrote on Facebook that her conservative opponents were “from those who were denounced two years ago by voters” — during the election of Hassan Rouhani as President — “and who had crawled into their cave of oblivion””.

She said the “crowd of sanctimonious people who published one notice after another denouncing the modest and decent girls and women of this land” had “used obscene and disgusting insults that only befit themselves”.

The issue of women’s attendance has become more prominent in recent years with attempts to integrate crowds, countered by arrests. Last summer, several women were detained outside a stadium in Tehran before a male volleyball match and a British-Iranian law graduate, Ghoncheh Ghavami, was eventually sentenced to a year in prison for propaganda against the government and having contacts with opposition groups.

Children’s Rights Activist Alishenas Given 10-Year Prison Sentence

Children’s rights activist Omid Alishenas has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “assembly and collusion and propaganda against the state” and “insulting the Supreme Leader”.

Alishenas was arrested in September and tried in March by a Revolutionary Court. His “crimes” apparently included visiting the families of political prisoners and making jokes on his cellphone.

The activist taught children how to paint, setting up exhibitions for them.

Alishenas was interrogated in the same case as children’s rights activist Atena Daemi, given a 14-year sentence, and artist Atena Farghadani, handed a term of 12 years and 9 months.

See Iran Feature: Rouhani Watches as Judiciary Imprisons Artists

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