Iran and the U.S.’s increasingly differing views about how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal raised concerns among U.S. officials this week, after initial talks in Vienna appeared to show signs of progress.

Conflicting opinions about which sanctions to lift and which steps Iran would take to come back into compliance with the deal, have left the outcome of the negotiations uncertain, according to a senior US official.

Tehran’s decision to enrich Uranium beyond limits set out in the nuclear deal and the addition of several new centrifuges at its nuclear plant in Natanz have also complicated the talks.

A growing number of Israeli air strikes on suspected Iranian missile and weapon production centres in Syria follow mounting tensions between Israel and Iran. The strikes are believed to be a defensive measure by Israel, to stop Iran from advancing its military operations across the Middle East.

Iran, which is closely aligned with Syria, has been relocating its missiles and weapons to underground compounds in Syria, which are within firing range of Israel, according to intelligence sources in the area.

A report on the use of the death penalty around the world by Amnesty International, said Iran came second only to China for the number of executions it carried out in 2020.

Amnesty said that Iran had executed more than 246 people last year, and that while the number of executions in Iran were lower than pervious years, the death penalty was increasingly being used as a “weapon of political oppression” to silence dissidents and protesters. The report also held that Iran, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia accounted for 88% of all known executions in 2020.

And a decision by the United Nations to elect Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women — which was set up to promote gender equality and empower women — caused an outcry on social media platforms around the world. Iran’s election also angered human rights activists, who have documented the regime’s ongoing refusal to acknowledge women’s rights in the country.

Iranian women’s rights campaigner Masih Alinejad called the decision “surreal” on Twitter, citing the Iranian government’s refusal to allow women to travel without their husbands’ permission, to enter football stadiums, or sing, as examples of the regime’s discrimination against women.

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