Kavous Seyed-Emami, a prominent Canadian-Iranian environmentalist and academic, was quickly buried without an independent autopsy due to pressure by authorities, according to his family. Officials said Seyed-Emami had committed suicide in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on February 9, seventeen days after his arrest.
He was not the first to die under suspicious circumstances in prison during recent weeks. Two protesters—Vahid Heidari and Sina Ghonbadi—who participated in the nationwide unrest last month were also said to have committed suicide in prison. Their deaths sparked public outrage.
The US, referring to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified the 2015 nuclear deal, has repeatedly called on Iran to refrain from testing ballistic missiles and dramatized what it says is evidence of the transfer of Iranian rockets to Yemen in violation of the resolution. Iran has rebuffed the US demands, arguing that its missile program is for defensive purposes and noting that the UN resolution is not binding with regard to testing. European countries have been consulting with both the US and Iran but remain unsure what the Trump administration wants and are fearful of being asked to make continual new demands on Iran to preserve the JCPOA.
The Iranian port on the Gulf of Oman is a key project for the two countries. Originally agreed to in 2003 during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami and the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the project was suspended during the George W. Bush and early Barack Obama administrations due to US sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
Iranian expatriates ranging from physiotherapists to rocket scientists offered analyses on Twitter, alongside non-Iranians with an interest in the political dynamics of the country. A majority asserted that the protests were the precursors to the final days of the Islamic Republic. Now, that the dust has settled, it is perhaps easier to gauge what happened and what should come next.
Iran’s increasingly sophisticated ballistic arsenal has become a major concern for its neighbors and the United States. The Trump Administration sees the missile program as a regional and global threat that was not adequately addressed by the JCPOA and has set up a working group with Britain, France and Germany to deal with missiles and other issues not covered by the nuclear deal.
The decision to continue to waive sanctions, announced today, preserves the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) until the next deadline a few months from now but perhaps not much longer. A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters “this is the last such waiver.” The US will work with Europe, he said, on a follow-on agreement that would renegotiate the terms of the accord so that its restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would never expire.
But another more peaceful kind of competition could benefit both societies and have wider implications for the Muslim world at large.