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The Iran Podcast

The Iran Podcast

By Negar Mortazavi
Conversations on Iran with Negar Mortazavi.
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Sanctions Are Forever Wars

The Iran Podcast

Nuclear Talks in Vienna
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Laura Rozen, journalist and member of the editorial board of Just Security, about the status of nuclear negotiations in Vienna and the past decade of diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
July 17, 2021
Iran’s Labor Movement
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Peyman Jafari, a historian at Princeton University, about recent strikes by oil and petrochemical workers across Iran, and the history of Iran’s labor movement from the Constitutional Revolution to the present.
July 9, 2021
Reporting from Tehran
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Reza Sayah, journalist and filmmaker in Tehran, about Iran’s presidential elections, where the country will go under Raisi, and the fate of the nuclear deal and Iran’s engagement with the West.
June 28, 2021
The Iranian Election: A Debrief
The June 18th presidential election will bring significant changes for Iran and its relations with the West. With a hardliner taking power in August, questions remain: Will Ebrahim Raisi change Iran’s foreign and domestic policies? What will be the prospects for continued engagement between Iran and the West? This is a special episode of the Iran Podcast recorded during a panel discussion hosted by the National Iranian American Council featuring Negar Mortazavi, Bijan Khajehpour, Shervin Malekzadeh, and Sina Toossi, and moderated by Sanam Shantyaei of France24.
June 22, 2021
Iran Elections Under Microscope
This is a special episode about Iran’s presidential election. It was recorded at a panel discussion hosted by Friends of Europe, with two Iran experts Azadeh Zamirirad and Rouzbeh Parsi, and moderated by Negar Mortazavi.
June 18, 2021
Iran’s Next President
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Rouzbeh Parsi about the significance of Iran’s upcoming presidential election, deep voter apathy and frustration, and why the hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi should thank Donald Trump if he wins the election. (Music by 127 - Design by Mina Jafari)
June 17, 2021
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Nazanin's husband Richard Ratcliffe, and their member of parliament Tulip Siddiq, about Nazanin's five-year detention in Iran, the pattern of hostage diplomacy by the Iranian government, the UK's £400m tank debt to Iran, and a family's years-long fight for freedom. (Music by 127 Band - Design by Mina Jafari) 
June 11, 2021
Four Decades of Sanctions
Negar Mortazavi talks to Tyler Cullis about four decades of U.S. sanctions on Iran, the effectiveness of this policy tool, the human cost of sanctions, and how the Iranian-Americna community and the civil society have been pushing back against sanctions.
June 5, 2021
Iran’s Presidential Election
Negar Mortazavi talks to Sina Toosi about the upcoming presidential election in Iran, the mass disqualification of moderate and reformist candidates, and how the hardliner Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is seen as the candidate set to win the race.
May 28, 2021
Comedy and Covid with Maz Jobrani
Negar Mortazavi speaks to comedian Maz Jobrani about comedy in the Covid19 era, being an immigrant in America and a Middle Easterner in Hollywood, and how Maz lost some friends and fans in the Trump era.
May 21, 2021
Human Rights in Middle East
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN, about the latest cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, what the United States can do to help improve human rights and peace across the Middle East, and the Biden administration’s policy towards friends and foes in the region.
May 14, 2021
Washington’s Problem of Iran Expertise
Negar Mortazavi speaks to political anthropologist Negar Razavi about the systemic problem of “Iran expertise” in Washington, how the U.S. foreign policy establishment has created a culture of expert impunity when it comes to Iran, the role of these experts and think tanks in shaping U.S. policies, and why those who provide nuance on Iran are constantly attacked and smeared.
May 7, 2021
Iran Podcast on Foreign Policy Playlist
Foreign Policy magazine has a podcast called Foreign Policy Playlist, which picks the best podcasts from around the world and introduces them to their listeners. And our Iran Podcast was recently featured on Foreign Policy Playlist. Jonathan Tepperman, Editor at Large of Foreign Policy, talked to Negar Mortazavi about the Iran Podcast, then played one of our episodes: The Ayatollahs No Longer Differ, a conversation with Hooman Majd.
April 30, 2021
Congressman Ro Khanna Interview
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Congressman Ro Khanna about U.S. policy in the Middle East, the Biden administration’s diplomacy with Iran, the impact of U.S. sanctions on tech companies and users, increasing toxicity on social media and platform accountability, the rise of far right extremism in the United States, and the chances of Donald Trump becoming President again.
April 23, 2021
Decolonizing the Conversation on Foreign Affairs
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Terrell Starr, host of the Black Diplomats podcast, about US foreign policy and media. Then we will hear an episode of his podcast about Building Peace with Iran, where Negar Mortazavi was a guest.
April 16, 2021
Viewing Iran Through the Arts
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Roya Khadjavi, a New York-based curator who showcases young and emerging artists from Iran. Roya talks about her mission to introduce new generations of Iranian artists to the West, and how US-Iran tensions impact her work and the life of these young artists.
April 9, 2021
Sanctions Are Forever Wars
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Peter Beinart about sanctions and how the United States has been using this tool to choke weaker adversaries, pressuring large populations without much policy gain. Subscribe to The Beinart Notebook on Substack:
April 2, 2021
Grassroots Against Sanctions
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Sima Shakhsari and Assal Rad about a new grassroots movement in the US against sanctions on Iran. A coalition of Iranian-American academics, activists, and artists is trying to pressure the Biden administration to lift sanctions on Iran. *Music by Aida Shahghasemi.
March 26, 2021
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif about the current impasse in diplomacy between Tehran and Washington and a sequence of return to the nuclear deal; President Biden’s interest in follow-on negotiations on Iran’s missile program, regional presence and human rights; Iran’s fight against Covid19 and plans for mass vaccination; the IRGC shooting down of the Ukrainian plane last year; and whether Zarif will run for president. *This interview was recorded for Politico magazine on March 15, 2021.
March 23, 2021
A War Correspondent in the Middle East
Negar Mortazavi talks to Borzou Daragahi, International Correspondent for The Independent who has been covering conflicts in the Middle East for two decades. They discuss the current impasse in US-Iran diplomacy, the war in Syria, corruption in Lebanon, rivalry between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and new friendships between Israel and Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
March 19, 2021
Revisiting the 1979 Revolution
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Mohsen Milani, Founding Executive Director of Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies at University of South Florida, about the 1979 revolution in Iran, America’s position towards the revolution and the significance of the hostage crisis, and today’s situation in Iran and similarities and differences with the years leading to 1979.
March 12, 2021
Iranian Public Opinion in Biden Era
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Nancy Gallagher, Director of the Center for International and Security Studies at University of Maryland, about Iranian public opinion on Covid19, economy, nuclear policy, regional security, and domestic politics, based on two in-depth surveys fielded in September-October 2020 and January-February 2021.
March 4, 2021
Restraint in US Foreign Policy
Negar Mortazavi speaks to John Glaser, director of foreign policy at the Cato Institute, about America's role in the world and the case for Restraint in US foreign policy that calls for reducing America's global military presence and decades of wars and armed intervention in the Middle East. (Interview was recorded on February 23) Producer: Joshua Barlow - Music: 127Band 
February 26, 2021
Cultural Exchanges with Iran
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Fatemeh Keshavarz, Director of School of Languages and Cultures at University of Maryland, about the importance of people-to-people exchanges with Iran, the role of arts and culture in making bridges, how the poetry of Rumi and Hafez and other prominent Persian poets has lived on for centuries, and about her life growing up in the city of Shiraz. Music by 127Band
February 19, 2021
US & Iran: Wrestling Ghosts of History
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Ambassador John Limbert, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and one of the last US diplomats to serve in Tehran where he was taken hostage in 1979. They discuss four decades of animosity between Tehran and Washington and how both sides have been wrestling with the ghosts of history.
February 12, 2021
Returning to the Nuclear Deal
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation at the Arms Control Association, about the current state of Iran’s nuclear program, the limits set by the JCPOA, Iran’s past nuclear activities, and the path forward for a full return to the Iran nuclear deal.
February 5, 2021
A Progressive Foreign Policy
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders, about a progressive vision for US foreign policy towards the Middle East, two decades after 9/11 and the global war on terror.
January 29, 2021
Humanitarian Impact of Sanctions
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Erica Moret about the effectiveness of sanctions as a foreign policy tool, the various different types of sanctions, and their humanitarian impact on targeted countries.  (Music by 127)
January 22, 2021
Ukrainian Flight PS752
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Michael Page from Human Rights Watch about the Ukraine International Flight PS752 that was shot down by IRGC missiles over Tehran on 8 January 2020, and the year-long fight for truth and justice.
January 15, 2021
Assassinations in Iran
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Paul Pillar, veteran CIA analyst, about heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, the possibility of a military conflict, and the future of US-Iran diplomacy after Trump.
January 8, 2021
The Execution of Ruhollah Zam
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Mani Mostofi, Director of Miaan Group, about the recent execution of Ruhollah Zam, the international mechanism of human rights, and how to hold abusers accountable. *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
December 30, 2020
Continuity in Iran’s Nuclear Program
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Sina Azodi from the Atlantic Council about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the history of continuity in the country’s nuclear program since it started under the Shah and continued under the Islamic Republic. *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
December 11, 2020
Europe's Role in US-Iran Diplomacy
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Azadeh Zamirirad, Deputy Head of Middle East and Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, about Europe’s role in diplomacy between Iran and the US, how the Europeans helped nuclear negotiations succeed in the past and what they can do to help deescalate tensions and restart diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
December 3, 2020
The Ayatollahs No Longer Differ
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Hooman Majd, an Iranian-American author and journalist, about contemporary Iranian politics. He was born in a diplomatic family before the 1979 revolution in Iran, attended school in Europe, and now lives in New York. He has written three books on Iran; The Ayatollah Begs to Differ (2008), The Ayatollahs’ Democracy (2010), and The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay (2013). *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
November 29, 2020
America and Iran: A History
Negar Mortazavi speaks with John Ghazvinian, Executive Director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, about the history of US-Iran relations over the past few centuries since 1720, and how the two countries went from mutual admiration and close ties to mutual hatred.  *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
November 19, 2020
Iran Disinfo & Heshmat Alavi
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Murtaza Hussain from The Intercept and Eli Clifton from Responsible Statecraft about a State Department project called IRAN DISINFO that attacked journalists and academics who were critical of Trump's Iran policy, as well as a fake online persona called Heshmat Alavi that is run by the MEK and has been retweeted by Donald Trump. *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
November 2, 2020
The Muslim Ban
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal and Advocacy Director at Project South, about Donald Trump’s Travel Ban on Iranians and other nations, how political tensions between Washington and Tehran impact Iranians living in and traveling to the US, and FBI’s surveillance of Iranians and other Muslim communities in the US. *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. Music by 127.
October 26, 2020
Politics of Music in Iran
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Nahid Siamdoust, visiting Assistant Professor at Harvard University, about music after the 1979 revolution in Iran through the Iran-Iraq war, the post-war era of pop music, political music inspired by the 2009 green movement, and today's musicians in the diaspora, in memory of legendary Iranian singer the late Mohammadreza Shajarian. (Music by Shajarian, Koveitipoor, Shabpareh, Parnaz&Ashkan). *This episode was made possible with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation. 
October 15, 2020
Iran Nuclear Deal
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Joe Cirincione, nuclear policy expert and former President of Ploughshares Fund, about the Iran nuclear deal as part of the global nonproliferation movement, why the JCPOA was a good deal, and how a potential Biden administration can revive this agreement.
October 10, 2020
An Iranian-American on Television
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Asieh Namdar, a news anchor at CGTN America and a former anchor at CNN, about immigrating to the U.S. as a child in the height of the 1979 revolution and the hostage crisis in Iran, being one of the first Iranian-Americans on television, and dealing with toxic attacks on journalists online. (Music by 127)
October 2, 2020
Islamic Republic & Human Rights
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Hadi Ghaemi, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, about the execution of a young wrestler named Navid Afkari in Iran, ongoing protests against the government, how the state is using violence to crack down on protesters, and human rights violations in the Islamic Republic since the eve of the 1979 revolution.
September 21, 2020
National Iranian American Council
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, about political participation in the Trump era and why the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization decided to endorse Biden for President. (Music by 127)
September 16, 2020
Iran's #MeToo Moment
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Sussan Tahmasebi, Iranian-American feminist and Director of FEMENA, about a Me Too moment in Iran as a large number of women and men on social media are breaking taboos and sharing stories of sexual abuse. (Music by 127)
September 7, 2020
When IRGC Tried to Recruit a Spy
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Behdad Esfahbod, an Iranian-Canadian computer engineer who has worked for Facebook and Google. Behdad was arrested on a personal trip to Iran and was pressured by the IRGC to spy for them. He was imprisoned and put in solitary confinement for one week and asked about internet freedom and activists outside Iran who work to help Iranian users circumvent government censorship in Iran.  *This special episode was recorded live on Instagram.
August 28, 2020
Successful Diplomacy with Iran
We speak with Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute on how Obama’s diplomacy with Iran succeeded, why Trump has not been able to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and how a Biden administration should engage with Iran.
August 25, 2020
Trump vs Tehran
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Michael Singh, Managing Director at the Washington Institute, about the Trump administration’s Iran policy and the future of the JCPOA under a second Trump term or a Biden presidency.  (Music by 127)
August 17, 2020
Iran and Canada
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Thomas Juneau, associate professor at the University of Ottawa and former analyst at Canada's Department of National Defence, about diplomatic relations between Iran and Canada over the past decades and key events that have impacted Ottawa's policy towards Tehran. (Music by 127)
August 10, 2020
Media and Cultural Products in Iran
Negar Mortazavi speaks to Narges Bajoghli, an anthropologist and professor at Johns Hopkins University, about how the Islamic Republic uses media to shape narratives in Iran and beyond its borders, how diaspora media provide competitive narratives, how American media cover Iran, and why Iran is still poorly understood in the US. (Music by 127)
July 29, 2020
Human Rights in Iran
We speak with Tara Sepehri Far, researcher at Human Rights Watch, about the three young men sentenced to death for November 2019 protests, the efficacy of online campaigns and domestic civil society organizations against the death penalty, the successful effort to reduce the executions for drug offenses, and the impact of sanctions on human rights.
July 25, 2020
Growing up Iranian in America
Description: We speak to Yara Elmjouie, an award-winning journalist at Aljazeera, about growing up as an Iranian-American in a small town in California, how the 2009 Green Movement impacted his views on Iran, his television shows about food and social justice, and how US sanctions have led to American companies censoring the identities of Iranian-Americans.
July 14, 2020
Internet Freedom in Iran
We speak to Mahsa Alimardani at Oxford University about internet freedom in Iran, how the state censors the internet, how Iranians use circumvention tools to go around the censorship, and how US sanctions on technology limits access to internet for Iranians.
July 5, 2020
Iran’s role in the Middle East
We speak with Vali Nasr about Bolton’s book and Iran, on Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, the costs and benefits for Iran should they hold talks with the US, possibility of return to JCPOA if Biden wins 2020, Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, Iran’s regional policies, Iran’s position against Israel and the consequences of it.
June 30, 2020
Protests in the US and protests in Iran
We speak to Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at University of Denver, about ongoing protests in the US and how they have inspired anti-racism movements around the world, recent protests in Iran and across the Middle East, and how US foreign policy towards the region impacts movements for democratic governance.
June 11, 2020
Can Trump make a deal with Iran?
We speak to Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future Iran initiative at Atlantic Council, about Iran's reaction to racial justice protests across the US, prisoner swaps between Iran and the US, Iran’s loan request from IMF and US attempts to block it, US trying to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran, and the future of US-Iran tensions if Biden is elected. (Music by 127)
June 5, 2020
Iran's Economy under Covid19
Negar Mortazavi speaks with Bijan Khajehpour, an economist and a managing partner at EUNEPA, about Covid19 in Iran and how the pandemic combined with US sanctions have seriously impacted Iran's economy. (Music by 127)
May 26, 2020