Iran has agreed to temporarily halt its nuclear program, thanks to an accord struck with the United States and other world powers.
While Iran has indicated it may be willing to give up its ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon, the country’s regime still poses a threat to the West and its own people. Here are three examples:
1. State sponsor of terrorism
Despite the nuclear deal, the United States government still views Iran as the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
Iran is the primary benefactor of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, funneling between $100 million and $200 million to the group each year. And Hezbollah has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon and Israel.
Hezbollah has also spread beyond the Middle East to Latin America, where they’ve set up operations for training and financing.
Iran is also one of the top allies of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. The White House has accused Assad’s government of using chemical weapons against its own people multiple times, including during an August attack that killed 1,400 people. A United Nations report confirmed the attack and implicated the Syrian government.
The State Department reaffirmed Iran’s status as a state sponsor of terror in a recent report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to BuzzFeed.
“The United States continues to consider Iran to be a state sponsor of terrorism,” the State Department report reads. “Iran remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism which it often uses as a strategic tool of its foreign policy.”
Almost half of the 500 most popular sites on the Internet are censored in Iran, according to The Washington Post. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have been blocked since the nation’s popular uprising in 2009. Ironically, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reportedly has an official Twitter account.
There are some signs that the Rouhani government may relax some censorship restrictions, specifically on bookstores.
3. Persecution of Minorities
The Islamic revolutionary government that took control of Iran in 1979 has cracked down on the ability of religious minorities to live and pray in the country.
Rouhani has sent signals that he may take steps to limit religious persecution. For example, his official Twitter account recently wished Iranian Jews a “blessed” new year, but there are still glaring examples of persecution by the country’s government.
Oppression of members of the Baha’i faith has run rampant during the last 34 years and persists to this day. The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion, which was founded in Iran during the 19th century. But the religion is considered a heresy by Muslim clerics in Iran.
There are an estimated 300,000 Baha’i living in Iran, a small community in the country of 76 million. Many have been arrested or killed for practicing their faith, their businesses have been closed down by government officials, and they are banned from attending university, according to The Washington Post.
Judaism and Christianity are recognized religions in Iran. But members of those faiths also are subject to persecution, according to a 2006 State Department report.
“All religious minorities suffer varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and housing,” the report found.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.