Canada Lists Iran's Revolutionary Guards As A Terrorist Group

TOP STORIES 

Canada Lists Iran's Revolutionary Guards As A Terrorist Group | BBC 

Canada has listed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, after years of pressure from opposition legislators and some members of the Iranian diaspora. Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc called it a “significant tool in fighting global terrorism”. The move will mean that thousands of senior Iranian government officials, including top IRGC officials, will be barred from entering Canada. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by Iran's Fars news agency, has condemned what he described as the "unwise and unconventional" step. The IRGC is a major military, political and economic force in Iran, with close ties to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is estimated to have more than 190,000 active personnel with its own ground forces, navy and air force that oversee Iran’s strategic weapons.  

Iran Signals A Major Boost In Nuclear Enrichment At Key Site | The Washington Post 

A major expansion underway inside Iran’s most heavily protected nuclear facility could soon triple the site’s production of enriched uranium and give Tehran new options for quickly assembling a nuclear arsenal if it chooses to, according to confidential documents and analysis by weapons experts. Inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed new construction activity inside the Fordow enrichment plant, just days after Tehran formally notified the nuclear watchdog of plans for a substantial upgrade at the underground facility built inside a mountain in north-central Iran. Iran also disclosed plans for expanding production at its main enrichment plant near the city of Natanz. Both moves are certain to escalate tensions with Western governments and spur fears that Tehran is moving briskly toward becoming a threshold nuclear power, capable of making nuclear bombs rapidly if its leaders decide to do so.  

Iran’s Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Narges Mohammadi Sentenced To Another Year In Prison | Associated Press 

Iran’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Narges Mohammadi, has been sentenced to another year in prison over her activism, her lawyer said Wednesday. Mostafa Nili, Mohammadi’s lawyer, told The Associated Press that his client was convicted on a charge of making propaganda against the system. Nili said the sentence came after Mohammadi urged voters to boycott Iran’s recent parliamentary election, sent letters to lawmakers in Europe and made comments regarding torture and sexual assault suffered by another Iranian journalist and political activist. Mohammadi is being held at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, which houses political prisoners and those with Western ties. She already had been serving a 30-month sentence, to which 15 more months were added in January. Iran’s government has not acknowledged her additional sentencing.  

UANI IN THE NEWS 

The “Sunflowers” Affair: The Villejuif Trafficker, The Terrorist Attack In Spain And The Shadow Of Iran | Le Monde 

On November 9, 2023, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a senior Spanish politician, escaped an assassination attempt in broad daylight in Madrid. He immediately accused the Iranian regime. According to information from “Le Monde”, the main suspect, a delinquent from Val-de-Marne, was arrested on June 6 in the Netherlands. The French police had been looking for him for almost two years in connection with a narchomicide case in Val-d'Oise. While the hypothesis of a state crime perpetrated by a drug cartel may at first seem disconcerting, it does not surprise experts on the Iranian regime. “Tehran is a specialist in subcontracting and regularly uses criminal groups to eliminate opponents abroad. In return, it offers asylum and protection to their leaders,” explains Jason Brodsky, a researcher specializing in Iran and policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran.  

Proscribing The IRGC Will Be Starmer’s First Real Test | UANI IRGC Research Director Kasra Aarabi For The Jewish Chronicle 

The Labour Party has pledged to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and, if elected, this will be Sir Keir Starmer’s first real policy test on antisemitism. The IRGC is the most antisemitic armed Islamist group in the world. “But what about Hezbollah and Hamas?” you ask. Jeremy Corbyn’s infamous “friends” are the IRGC’s offspring. It created Hezbollah and co-opted Hamas. Think of the IRGC as the Godfather of these two proscribed UK terrorist groups – and today it operates as their biggest supporter militarily, financially and ideologically. Yet Whitehall bureaucrats seem to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to recognising the nature of the IRGC, its violent Islamist extremist and antisemitic activities and how proscription would inhibit their ability to operate in Britain.  

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

Iran Set To Dramatically Increase Uranium Enrichment | Jewish News Syndicate 

An expansion underway at Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant could allow the regime to accumulate several bombs’ worth of nuclear fuel every month, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing confidential documents. According to the report, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its plan to install some 1,400 new centrifuges at the heavily guarded underground facility, which would triple the production of enriched uranium at Fordow alone. The new equipment was to be installed within four weeks, as similar expansion plans were underway at the main enrichment plant near the central Iranian city of Natanz, according to the report, which cited IAEA documents and European diplomats. While Tehran has restricted IAEA inspectors’ ability to monitor the country’s nuclear advancement, inspectors witnessed technicians installing advanced IR-6 centrifuges last week, per a confidential memo shared with the U.N. agency’s member states.  

Alarming Discovery Of Iran Nuclear Activity Could ‘Upend’ US Assessment Of Weapons Capability: Expert | Fox News 

U.S. and Israeli officials will hold a meeting at the White House on Thursday to discuss Iran's nuclear program after intelligence agencies discovered concerning information about Iran's capabilities, Axios reported Tuesday. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies reportedly uncovered information about a computer modeling program Iran has acquired that could be used to assist in developing nuclear weapons. The purpose of the program remains unclear, with officials reportedly split on whether it is innocuous or it represents further nuclear ambition in Iran. "For years now the intelligence community has assessed Iran is not actively working to build a nuclear weapon, that it might be building out the assembly line for fissile material but that we had no indication of active weaponization work. If true, this would upend that assessment and suggest Iran has a shorter runway to a bomb than previously reported," said Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based nonpartisan national security think tank.  

US And Israel To Meet Over New Iranian Nuclear Intelligence | Iran International 

For the first time in more than a year, US and Israeli officials will reportedly meet on Thursday to discuss the state of Iran’s nuclear program, according to a report by Axios. The reason for the meeting of the US-Israel strategic consultative group (SCG) could be to discuss whether Iran has begun active measures to develop nuclear weapons. Apparently, Iran has obtained computer modeling that could be used for research and development of nuclear weapons, Axios quoted former and current US and Israeli officials as saying. However, there is no unanimous agreement on whether the new capability means Tehran has begun the final process to build weapons, or it does not represent a major shift. Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium to build at least three bombs if it decides to weaponize, and it has expelled most UN inspectors from the country. The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, has admitted that it has lost its ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear activity.  

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS 

In First Debate, Iran’s 6 Presidential Contenders Clash Over Sanctions, Ailing Economy | Al Monitor 

Iran's sanctions-hit, ailing economy was at the center of the first televised debate late on Monday, which brought together six contenders running in the county's snap presidential election slated for June 28. The candidates — three hard-liners, a traditional conservative and one Reformist — exchanged views, often with scathing comments aimed at one another, as they were asked about their future plans to address US and European sanctions that have targeted the Iranian economy for decades. Masoud Pezeshkian, a senior lawmaker who represents Iran's pro-engagement Reform movement, along with Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a cleric and a former judge hailing from the traditional conservative factions, both argued that Iran's economy had been severely battered by sanctions and reiterated the urgent need for diplomacy to change course.  

Iran Chokes On Polluting Fuel Surplus | Iran Wire 

Iran has been grappling with a costly dilemma since new international regulations for lower-sulfur marine fuel oil took effect in 2020. It is burning its surplus of high-polluting fuel oil domestically while spending hundreds of millions importing cleaner fuel allowed at its ports. The Islamic Republic finds itself stuck between the mandates of the UN International Maritime Organization, which capped allowable sulfur content in shipping fuel at 0.5 percent as of January 1, 2020, and crippling economic sanctions limiting the country's ability to export its oil products or invest in refinery upgrades. Before the regulatory change, a significant portion of Iran's fuel oil production, which tends to be higher in sulfur content, was absorbed by the global shipping industry as bunker fuel.  

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS 

Iran Slaps One-Year Prison Term On Nobel Winner Mohammadi: Lawyer | AFP 

An Iranian court has sentenced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi to a year in prison for "propaganda against the state", the jailed activist's lawyer said on Tuesday. Mohammadi, 52, has been jailed since November 2021 over several past convictions relating to her advocacy against the obligatory hijab for women and capital punishment in Iran. Lawyer Mostafa Nili said on social media platform X that "Mohammadi was sentenced to one year in prison for propaganda against the system." Nili said "the reasons for issuing this sentence" include calls to boycott parliamentary elections, letters to Swedish and Norwegian lawmakers and "comments about Mrs Dina Ghalibaf". Rights groups have said that Ghalibaf, a journalist and student, had been taken into custody after accusing security forces on social media of putting her in handcuffs and sexually assaulting her during a previous arrest at a metro station. Ghalibaf has since been released.  

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS 

No Future US Government Can Prevent Iran Oil Exports, Minister Says | Reuters 

Iranian oil exports will continue regardless of who is elected as the next U.S. president, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said on Wednesday, amid concerns that a Donald Trump presidency could curb Iranian crude sales. "Whatever government comes to power in the United States will not be able to prevent Iranian oil exports," Owji said in comments quoted by Iran's official news agency IRNA. In 2018, then-President Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and re-imposed sanctions which hurt Iran's oil sector, with production dropping to 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd). U.S. President Joe Biden took office in 2021 and since then Iran has managed to raise output to 3.5 million bpd while tripling exports, according to Owji. Iran has expanded oil trade with China.  

Iran’s Reformist Presidential Candidate Eyes Improved Relations With US | The Guardian 

The sole reformist candidate in Iran’s presidential elections this month has said he wants improved relations with the US, as he accused his conservative rivals of blighting the Iranian economy by not doing enough to revive the a nuclear deal with the west that had led to the lifting of some sanctions. Masoud Pezeshkian, who has unveiled the combative former foreign minster Javad Zarif as his foreign policy adviser, also suggested under his presidency he might also review its relations with Russia, arguing eastern powers should not think that they are Iran’s only option. Pezeshkian, a former heart surgeon and health minister, is battling to win over millions of Iranians who believe that despite being allowed to stand in the vote, he would not be permitted by the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, to take the country on a new course in the event he won.  

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS 

Zarif Makes Bold Entrance Into Iran's Presidential Campaign | Iran International 

Former Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif’s fiery speech at the end of a televised roundtable discussion of the pro-reform candidate Masoud Pezeshkian has sparked a lot of pro and con reactions. Zarif revealed Tuesday morning that he would accompany Pezeshkian to the roundtable discussion at the national TV. The former foreign minister, who has consistently maintained that he does not belong to either the reformist or conservative/hardliner camps, remained silent for much of the discussion. However, he broke his silence with a fiery speech in defense of Pezeshkian’s proposed foreign policy advocating improved ties with the West aimed at ending sanctions that have crippled the country's economy. At the same time, addressing the hardliners who have controlled the government since 2021, Zarif asserted that their ability to sell more oil since 2021 was solely due to US President Joe Biden loosening the sanctions.  

Economic Policies Dominate Iran's Presidential Debate Ahead Of June 28 Vote | The National 

Iran’s six presidential candidates spoke about ways to solve the country's economic issues in a four-hour televised debate ahead of the June 28 election to pick a new leader. The country is set to choose a new head following a helicopter crash last month that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials. The debate on Monday was the first of five planned for the next 10 days, before Iranians head to the polls amid heightened regional tension and political and economic issues, worsened by US sanctions. Without much time to prepare their campaigns, the candidates put forward plans to cope with international sanctions, promising to introduce to reforms and fight corruption – without providing any tangible detail. The June 28 vote also comes against the backdrop of increasing pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, crackdown on opposition and support for regional proxy groups.  

IRGC's Hidden Links To Iran's Presidential Candidates | Iran International 

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) spokesperson reiterated last week that the Revolutionary Guard would refrain from any involvement in the election process despite the close affiliations of most candidates with the organization. Ramezan Sharif emphasized that the IRGC would remain neutral and abstain from supporting or opposing any candidate but while the IRGC officially denies fielding candidates in Iran's upcoming presidential snap elections, the majority of contenders appear to maintain close ties with the organization. Even when the president is not affiliated with the IRGC, its influence remains profound. Former President Hassan Rouhani famously dubbed the IRGC a "shadow government with guns," lamenting its extensive control over political, military, and economic realms.  

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN 

US Calls For 'Urgent' De-Escalation Of Israel-Hezbollah Clashes | Voice Of America 

The United States has called for a de-escalation of cross-border exchanges between Israel and Lebanese group Hezbollah as threats of a full-blown war loom. The comments Tuesday by U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein in Beirut were made as attacks continued to escalate on both sides of the border. Israel and Hezbollah began exchanging fire on October 8, a day after Hamas’ deadly attack on southern Israel. Recent attacks, including Tuesday's Hezbollah drone strike on an Israeli tank, took place after an Israeli strike that killed a senior Hezbollah commander last week. Iran-backed Hezbollah, which allied with Palestinian militant group Hamas, has said that it will only stop attacks if there is a cease-fire in Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that he hopes for an end to the conflict but is prepared to move forward if Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “insists” on war.  

Hezbollah Threatens Israel After Military Says Lebanon Offensive Ready | AFP 

Hezbollah on Wednesday said none of Israel would be spared in a war, after Israel said it had approved plans for a Lebanon offensive, stoking fears of the Gaza conflict spreading. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said "no place" in Israel would "be spared our rockets", in a televised address broadcast amid spiralling tensions across the Israel-Lebanon border. Nasrallah -- whose powerful Iran-backed group has exchanged near-daily fire with Israel since its ally Hamas's October 7 attack -- also threatened the nearby island nation of Cyprus if it opened its airports or bases to Israel "to target Lebanon". The Mediterranean island is home to two British military bases including an airbase, but they are in sovereign British territory and not controlled by the Cypriot government.  

China, Iran, North Korea 'Countries Of Concern' For Russia Support, Blinken Says | Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described China, Iran, and North Korea as "countries of concern" for their involvement in Russia's war economy at a June 18 joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg said Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine "demonstrates and confirms the very close alliance between Russia and authoritarian states like North Korea, but also China and Iran." Blinken condemned North Korea and Iran for supplying munitions to Russia. He also called on China to stop supporting the Russian defense-industrial base. Blinken said China "can't on the one hand say it wants better relations with Europe while at the same time funding the biggest security threat since the Cold War." Blinken said that China provided 70 percent of Russia's machine tools and 90 percent of microelectronics.  

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS 

Iran Prisoner Says Sweden Left Him Behind In Jail, Daily Expressen Reports | Reuters 

A Swedish-Iranian dual national has accused Sweden's prime minister of leaving him out of a prisoner swap in a call from the Iranian jail where he remains incarcerated, daily Expressen reported on Tuesday. The two countries carried out a prisoner exchange on Saturday, with Sweden freeing a former Iranian official convicted for his role in a mass execution in the 1980s while Iran released two Swedes being held there. Ahmadreza Djalali, an emergency medicine doctor, remains in Tehran's Evin prison after he was arrested in 2016 while on an academic visit to Iran. Djalali was sentenced to death in 2022 on charges of spying for Israel, and Iran's judiciary in the same year ruled out a prisoner swap for him. "You chose to leave me behind, with a high risk of being executed," Djalali said in a telephone conversation with his wife Vida Mehrannia, who recorded it and shared it with the newspaper. His comments were addressed to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.  

Dutch Police Arrest Suspect In Spanish Politician's Shooting | Reuters 

Police in the Netherlands have arrested the suspected gunman in the shooting of a right-wing Spanish politician linked to an Iranian opposition group on a Madrid street last November, Spanish police said on Wednesday. The man, a Frenchman of Tunisian origin with a criminal record, is the sixth suspect to have been arrested during the investigation of the attempted murder, including one in Colombia. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 79, who survived the attack, was shot in the face on a pavement in the wealthy neighbourhood of Salamanca in central Madrid in broad daylight on Nov. 9 by a gunman wearing a helmet and riding pillion on a motorbike. The bullet passed through his jaw. Vidal-Quadras is the former leader of the conservative People's Party in the Catalonia region and a founder of the far-right Vox party. "Dutch agents have arrested in the Netherlands the alleged perpetrator of the shooting against Alejo Vidal-Quadras in Madrid," Spanish police said in a statement posted on X. It did not give his name.  

MISCELLANEOUS 

Quake Kills Four, Injures 120 In Northeastern Iran | AFP

At least four people were killed and 120 injured Tuesday in a 4.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Iran's northeastern city of Kashmar, state media reported. The quake struck at 1:24 pm (0954 GMT), Kashmar's governor, Hajatollah Shariatmadari, who gave the casualty toll, said on state television. Thirty-five people were hospitalised, he said, adding the quake damaged mostly dilapidated buildings in urban and rural areas of the city. State television aired footage of the aftermath of the quake showing first responders working in a street where all buildings were reduced to rubble. The United States Geological Survey said the earthquake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles). Iran sits atop various tectonic plates and is often hit by earthquakes. A 5.9 magnitude quake early last year killed three people and injured over 800 in the country's mountainous northwest, near the border with Turkey.