An Iranian patrol boat tried to temporarily blind US Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz by shining a spotlight toward the vessels and crossing within 150 yards of them on Monday night, US Central Command said in a statement. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat acted in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner,” CENTCOM said, which violated international standards for safe maritime behavior. The guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans and expeditionary sea base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller deescalated the situation by using audible warnings and non-lethal lasers, according to CENTCOM.
Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday called for "revolutionary reconstruction of the country's cultural system", state media reported, as nationwide protests kept up pressure on the authorities. "It is necessary to revolutionise the country's cultural structure... the supreme council should observe the weaknesses of culture in different fields of the country," Khamenei said during his meeting with a state cultural council. Iran has been rocked by unrest since the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 in police custody after her arrest for “inappropriate Islamic attire”.
Iranian authorities sentenced five people to death for allegedly killing a member of a paramilitary force affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, state media said Tuesday. Eleven others received prison sentences. The 13 men and three minors had been charged with killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer branch of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, according to the report from IRNA, Iran’s state news agency. The five sentenced to death Monday were charged by Iran’s Revolutionary Court, along with eight others. Three boys were charged by Iran’s Criminal Court, according to the report.
UANI IN THE NEWS
An Iranian tanker carrying about 2 million barrels of ultra-light oil arrived this week in Venezuelan waters, non-government organization United Against Nuclear Iran said on Tuesday. Venezuela and Iran, both under United States sanctions, have recently expanded cooperation mainly through a swap that provides Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA with light oil for refining and diluents to produce exportable crude grades. PDVSA in return supplies Iran with Venezuelan heavy oil and fuel.
…“Initially it was very problematic, the way [media] covered it,” Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, told the DCNF. “That’s just a complete misunderstanding of the Iranian system and the primacy that the hijab (head covering) has.” Even the revised framing of Montazeri’s statement — that it signals openness to concessions — could mask the regime’s intent in allowing speculation over the status of the Guidance Patrol to fester, experts told the DCNF.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran announced that it does not wish to negotiate with Western countries over its nuclear program or to make concessions "under any pressure or threat." Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that the US must be responsible and accountable for its actions regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Kanaani asserted that US officials know that "Iran is not ready to negotiate and give concessions under pressure and threats. (Reaching) an agreement has its logic, and Iran's stance towards the JCPOA talks is quite clear."
Nine people will face the death penalty in Iran over the assassination of one of the country’s top nuclear scientists, the judiciary said Tuesday. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed when his car was ambushed on a highway outside Tehran in November 2020, in an attack Iran blamed on its regional arch-foe Israel. The nine defendants were charged with “corruption on earth” and collusion with Israel, both capital offenses in the Islamic Republic, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi said.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Protesters in Iran held a second day of a three-day strike as part of a wave of civil unrest triggered by the September death of an Iranian Kurdish woman who had been detained by the country's morality police. The protesters had called for shop owners to close their businesses through Wednesday in order to bring about government reform. Witnesses said large numbers of businesses were shut down across the country on Tuesday. VOA's Persian service reported market closures in at least 80 cities, including Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd, Ilam, Mashhad and Karaj.
Facing a serious challenge from ongoing widespread unrest, Iran's government is blaming Kurdish separatists for inciting the unrest, an Iranian academic has said. Protests demanding the overthrow of Iran's clerical rulers are now in their fourth month, which erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman, while in custody of the morality police. "For the government it's useful to say this is Kurdish separatists," Yassamine Mather, an academic, said. The Oxford University scholar told Sky News: "The protesters see themselves as part of a much bigger Iran protest."
Activists reported sweeping strikes in two-thirds of Iranian provinces on Tuesday, the second day of a civil disobedience campaign against the ruling Islamic Republic establishment. Markets at several locations in the capital Tehran, and in other large cities including Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz, witnessed widespread closures. The most sweeping strikes were reported in Kurdish areas, which have borne the brunt of the government crackdown on the unrest that began in mid-September, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody of morality police after being arrested over her alleged failure to abide by Iran's strict headscarf rules.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A former Iranian president has made rare public comments praising anti-government protesters and urging the authorities to heed their demands "before it is too late". Mohammad Khatami, 79, said the "beautiful slogan" of "woman, life, freedom" showed Iranian society was moving towards a better future. He also criticised arrests of students in the security forces' crackdown. The comments came in a statement to mark Student Day on Wednesday. Students have been at the forefront of the unrest that began in mid-September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, "improperly".
A sister of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned his crackdown on nationwide protests and called on the widely-feared Revolutionary Guards to lay down their weapons, according to a letter published by her France-based son. Iran has been gripped by unrest since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in police custody on Sept 16., and is facing a three-day general strike movement which started on Monday. Badri Hosseini Khamenei, who lives in Iran and is the sister of Ayatollah Khamenei, criticised the clerical establishment starting from the time of the Islamic Republic's late founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to her brother's rule, the letter, dated "December 2022", said.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran has so far not delivered ballistic missiles to Russia and may not do so, as a result of diplomatic pressure and Iran’s own internal political turmoil, a senior Ukrainian presidential adviser has said. Mykhailo Podolyak also told the Guardian that Russian forces had run short of their first batch of Iranian drones – and only had enough of their own cruise missiles in their stockpile for “two or three” more mass strikes against Ukraine. Russia has sought to replenish its arsenal with an offer to buy Iranian missiles.
British lawmakers have been warned to be on alert for cyber-attacks and possible harassment from Iranian operatives, according to correspondence sent to lawmakers in both the upper and lower chambers last month. In letters sent on November 21, which were obtained by CNN, the speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords reminded members of parliament to increase the security of their mobile devices. The speakers said the police and intelligence agencies had not discovered “any hostile Iranian activity specifically focused on Parliamentarians.”