The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said he met with his Iranian counterpart in Vienna for talks about an ongoing investigation into manmade uranium particles found at undeclared sites in Iran. “Dialogue has restarted with Iran on clarification of outstanding safeguards issues,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tweeted Monday night. He said he had met with Mohammad Eslami, vice president and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. Along with the statement, Grossi posted photos of himself, Eslami and other negotiators.
Iranian riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in dozens of cities on Tuesday, state media and social media said, as protests raged on over the death of young Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in police custody. Amini, 22, from the northwestern Kurdish city of Saqez, was arrested on Sept. 13 in Tehran for "unsuitable attire" by the morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. She died three days later in hospital after falling into a coma, sparking the first big show of opposition on Iran's streets since authorities crushed protests against a rise in gasoline prices in 2019.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they fired missiles and drones at militant targets in the Kurdish region of neighbouring northern Iraq, and warned of more attacks to come. Nine people were killed and 24 wounded in the attacks near Erbil and Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan, its health minister Saman Barazanchi said in a statement. The strikes were reported after Iranian authorities accused armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents of involvement in a spate of unrest now shaking Iran, especially in the northwest where most of the country's population of over 10 million Kurds live.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…China "has proven to be the savior of Tehran by continuing to import millions of barrels of oil every single day," according to newly released figures calculated by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an advocacy group that tracks Iran’s illicit oil trade. "Chinese imports have likely even exceeded the purchases made when the trade was not subject to U.S. sanctions." Iran's oil trade is heavily sanctioned by the United States as part of measures aimed at curbing the hardline regime's revenue sources.
…Two anti-regime Kurdish-Iranian groups, Komala and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, are based in the Iraqi Kurdish area. Tehran seems intent on pinning the unrest on those groups. “It reinforces the regime’s narrative that the protest is foreign-controlled,” a senior researcher at United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, tells the Sun. The idea, he adds, is “to distract and deflect” from the nationwide anti-regime uprising. Yet, he adds, “the protesters see right through it.” The idea that outsiders instigate, finance, and control the unrest, then, may be honed for the ears of regime supporters, rather than its opponents.
…One of the tankers that arrived this month in Venezuelan waters is the Iran-flagged very large crude carrier (VLCC) Huge, operated by National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), according to the document. Non-profit organization United Against Nuclear Iran and monitoring service TankerTrackers.com confirmed its identity. For the second cargo, the PDVSA document used the name of a ship that was scrapped, according to ship registries. The Middle Eastern country has this year ramped up exports to U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela, including South Pars condensate, mostly using its own tanker fleet.
…In an effort to protect themselves, many protesters have been forced to try to obscure their identities or dismantle surveillance cameras. Despite the Iranian government’s crackdown on internet access, footage of the protests continue to surface on social media. “We’ve seen videos of protesters attacking police cars, chasing after police officers, throwing different kinds of incendiary devices at the police,” Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, told the Dispatch.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have restarted over a probe into nuclear material found at nuclear sites in Iran, which has been at the centre of the stall in efforts to restore the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. “Dialogue has restarted with Iran on clarification of outstanding safeguards issues,” tweeted Rafael Grossi, the director general of the global atomic watchdog late on Monday. Grossi had met with Iran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami in Vienna earlier on Monday following the General Conference of the agency, where both men delivered speeches.
Iran’s exiled crown prince, Reza Pahlavi, accused Iran’s ayatollahs of using “nuclear blackmail” to get their way in indirect nuclear talks with the United States, saying a newly signed deal would be “worse” than the one signed in 2015. “The Iranian regime has the capability, the technology and the material to fabricate a bomb,” Pahlavi said, joining Christian Malard in an interview that aired Tuesday. “The bigger problem has always been and remains the same: it’s the finger on the trigger that is the problem. And as such, obviously this regime is a threat.”
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
As members of Parliament debate how to stop Iran's violent crackdown on human rights, experts say Canada has limited leverage to pressure the regime. Large protests have erupted across Iran since Mahsa Amini died in police custody earlier this month. Iran's morality police had detained the 22-year-old, allegedly because her head scarf was too loose. In response, women have burned their hijabs during large scale protests across the country that have prompted Iranian security forces to push back with a brutality unseen for years.
The ramping up of production from its hugely oil-rich West Karoun cluster of oil fields to at least 1 million barrels per day (bpd) remains one of Iran’s core strategic economic priorities, along with maintaining gas production of at least 1 billion cubic metres per day, and continuing to build out its value-added petrochemicals production to at least 100 million metric tons per year. Two of these West Karoun fields – North Azadegan, and South Azadegan – are now the focus of a concerted US$7 billion fast-track development plan, involving Russian oil firms at the forefront, with some support from China.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
As protests in Iran over the rights of women expand, the Islamic establishment is now attempting to suppress the voices of the most visible supporters of a movement that so far has been leaderless: celebrities. Many prominent Iranian actors, directors, artists, poets and sports professionals have publicly backed those protesting the Islamic Republic’s morality laws, after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says he is telling Western diplomats that the protests in his country will not destabilize Iran. Protests erupted across dozens of cities in Iran in recent days, triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody in mid-September. Tehran's morality police — who roam the streets enforcing dress codes in line with the government's view of Islam — detained Mahsa Amini earlier this month for allegedly violating dress rules.
At least 76 people have been killed so far in protests that have rocked Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody of the hijab-enforcing morality police, the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported. The IHR says it has documented the toll based on death certificates, verified family and witness accounts, and other pieces of evidence on the ground. All the victims, according to the report, were killed after direct gunfire from security forces as the protests morphed into wider anti-government protests, with demonstrators calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic and the departure of its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Pentagon on Tuesday confirmed that Russia is currently using Iranian-made drones for strikes and reconnaissance in its attack on Ukraine. “We do assess that the Russians now are using the Iranian drones that we’ve talked about in the past — that were delivered to Russia — we do assess that they are now using them in Ukraine,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters. Ryder would not comment on the effectiveness of the weapons, only saying that the Russians are employing them the way “they indicated they would use them.”
IRAQ & IRAN
The Iraqi government is playing a role in “bringing opposites together and creating a situation that promotes dialogue” among neighboring countries, especially Arab Gulf states, Türkiye, and Iran, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York. Hussein emphasized that Saudi Arabia plays a vital role on the Gulf, regional, Arab, Islamic, and international levels. He also voiced his belief that if the Kingdom’s relationship with Iran improves, its role will “be bigger and stronger.”
Israeli defense and cyber intelligence unit commanders announced that the conflict with Iran has no parallel in the cyber-realm. They explained that since its outbreak in 2013, this war has become increasingly complex, noting that Israel is the strongest party, but the enemy must never be underestimated. Colonel Uri Stav, deputy head of the 8200's offensive unit, and Colonel Omer Grossman, Vice President of the same brigade for defense affairs, said Iran's offensive capabilities are also improving. Iran is also activating several of its arms and militias, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, and it mobilizes support in this field for the Islamic Jihad and Hamas organizations in Palestine.