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It's unclear whether the nuclear negotiators, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (right), actually received the alleged threats.
Iranians who believe Tehran's nuclear negotiators are capitulating in their talks with world powers are taking a new, lyrical, approach of attack.

In recent days, a number of threats, in the form of poetry, have been published on Iranian news sites, while nuclear negotiators have reportedly been sent e-mails warning of "revenge."

The resulting attention led Iran's deputy police commander, Mohammad Reza Radan, to deny on January 29 that there have been any credible threats against the negotiating team. But reports have claimed that the poetic warnings were sent "extensively" via e-mail. It wasn't clear from the reports whether they were sent directly to the nuclear negotiators, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who leads the team.

"If there have been slogans against the nuclear team," Radan was quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying, "it is the result of agitation by some individuals." However, he added that the police would deal with any potential cyberthreats against the negotiators.

Under the deal that came into force on January 20, Iran has committed itself to curb its sensitive nuclear work in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

While many inside Iran, including some citizens, have welcomed the deal, a number of hard-liners have criticized it, saying that the negotiators made too many concessions and that the country's nuclear rights have been trampled on.

One hard-line newspaper went as far as calling the deal a "nuclear Holocaust."

The poetic threats also reflect the hard-liners' discontent over the deal.

"We swear to God, we will seek revenge," reads one of the verses.

It continues:
"We will take revenge through prayers,
We are going to let go of your blood
We will take revenge [for] the martyrs
Go to the negotiating table
We will take our revenge from you."


Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani suggested in an interview with the parliament's news agency, ICANA, that Iran's cyberpolice should take action against those behind the threats.

Mohseni Sani said some of the threats come from those opposed to the Islamic republic, adding that some inside the country were also creating problems for the negotiations.

"Unfortunately these groups connected to Western intelligence services and political interests are after causing chaos and disturbances in the country. Although there are also some inside the country who don't believe in the work of the nuclear negotiating team toward resolving [nuclear] issues," he said.

The lawmaker added that Iran's "enemies" have misused the situation.

The popular conservative website Tabnak was also critical of the threatening poetry. It asked, "In reality, which of these poems help advance the national interests of the Iranians? Can a threat be called criticism?"

For now ultra-hard-liners critical of the deal and nuclear negotiators appear to be in the minority. Even their use of poetry, which is highly popular among Iranians, is not likely to change the minds of those of their compatriots who want an end to sanctions and better ties with the West.

Iran's highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also expressed support for the nuclear negotiating team and called the nuclear negotiators "sons of the revolution."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
Young members of the Basij militia display their truncheons as they sit streetside and eat ice cream in an undated photo from Iran.
Iran's paramilitary Basij force has published a report about the human rights situation in the United States.

The report has been issued in Persian, English, and Arabic.

The Basij force, which has been accused of brutality and involvement in state repression against opposition activists in Iran, says the United States is "one of the main violators of human rights."

"As soon as we all hear the phrase 'human rights,' the painful memories of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram prisons remind us of the human rights violations committed by the U.S. government," the report says.

The paper goes on to say: "However, these violations are not limited to the violent incidents after 9/11. The United States, which has presented itself as the sole protector of humanity and for that claim threatens and even attacks other countries, is violating human rights inside its own borders in terms of torture of prisoners, police brutality, and racial discrimination."

The report has several sections that include the situation of detainees, the violation of online privacy, and death sentences.

The face of a masked Basij member during a paramilitary forces parade (file photo)
The face of a masked Basij member during a paramilitary forces parade (file photo)
The hard-line Fars news agency, which is said to have ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), says Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naghdi; the head of the judiciary's human rights commission, Mohammad Javad Larijani; and senior lawmaker Alaedin Borujerdi were among officials present at the unveiling of the of the report, which took place at Tehran University.

The report appears to be a tit-for-tat move for criticism of the human rights situation in Iran by the United States. It comes amid criticism by hard-liners in the Islamic republic of a nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, which includes the United States. Hard-liners have in recent months gone to great lengths to demonstrate that despite talks over the nuclear issue, the United States remains Iran's enemy.

Iranian officials often reject criticism of the human rights abuses in the country by rights groups and other countries as interference in Iran's internal affairs.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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