3M has agreed to pay more than $9.6 million to settle a probe by the U.S. Treasury Department into sales to an Iranian entity controlled by the country’s law enforcement forces. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that between September 2016 and September 2018, a 3M subsidiary allegedly sold reflective license plate sheeting to a sanctioned Iranian entity, police foundation Bonyad Taavon Naja. The sales occurred even after outside due diligence staff had flagged potential problems, OFAC said. 3M came forward to disclose the conduct and cooperated throughout the investigation, OFAC said, adding the company had fired several employees and cut off a Germany-based intermediary involved in the sales.
Russia's defense minister has eyed a new Iranian-built missile during a visit to the country on Wednesday, as Moscow promises relations with Tehran are "reaching new highs" amid the war effort in Ukraine. An unspecified cruise missile with a range of around 1,500 kilometers, or 930 miles, was spotted in footage of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visiting Iranian military facilities, according to a clip posted to X, formerly Twitter. The missile "appears identical" to the Quds-3 missile used by Tehran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen, the unofficial "Iran Defense" account wrote, adding such a cruise missile "would be well suited to Russia."
The Saudi crown prince has confirmed his country would seek to acquire a nuclear arsenal if Iran developed one, throwing fresh doubt on a possible US-Saudi nuclear cooperation deal currently under negotiation. Joe Biden’s Democratic allies in the US Senate have warned his administration will face a tough battle for approval of a deal normalising relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia if it includes substantial nuclear cooperation with Riyadh, because of distrust of Saudi intentions. In an interview on Wednesday, Mohammed bin Salman added weight to suspicions that an ostensibly civilian nuclear programme could be diverted to military purposes if Saudi Arabia felt under threat. Questioned by Fox News about the prospect of an Iranian bomb, the crown prince said “we are concerned of any country getting a nuclear weapon”, adding that if Iran did successfully develop a weapon “we will have to get one”.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Hundreds of European companies are to be 'outed' over their links to Iran in a bid to shame them into cutting ties. A pressure group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has embarked on a campaign to persuade hundreds of businesses to sever links with Iran and will hold events in European capitals to publicly name companies that do business in the country. UANI said that research had led to the identification of 2,500 businesses around the world, suspected of having involvement with Iran, with hundreds in Europe. They will publish their names if they do not receive satisfactory answers. The companies have been contacted to seek “clarification” about their dealings in the country. The pressure group has chosen Sweden, which has at least two citizens being held by Iran, to launch its campaign.
… Critics of Biden policy on Iran say his soft approach has emboldened the Islamic Republic to pursue a more aggressive strategy in the region, especially after receiving $6 billion in frozen oil revenues. “The West may think providing carrots—$6 billion—to Khamenei’s regime will lead to de-escalation,” Kasra Aarabi, director of United Against Nuclear Iran, posted on X, “but it’s having the opposite effect. It’s resulted in an overinflated sense of confidence in Tehran, which will increase the regime’s recklessness & strategic errors.” Last month, Netanyahu blamed Iran for a terror attack that killed a mother of three near Hebron. “We are in the midst of a terrorist assault,” he said, directed and financed by Iran and its proxies”.
…Kasra Aarabi, the director of the US-based campaign and research organisation United Against Nuclear Iran, said: “Mesbah-Yazdi was the principle architect of the doctrine propagated by Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which says Israel and global Jewy must be annihilated in order to permit the return of Imam Mahdi, the 9th-century figure messianic figure whom Shia Muslims believe will reappear one day to wage an apocalyptic war against non-Muslims. He was one of the regime’s most violent, Islamist extremist clerics.”
…Jason Brodsky, policy director at the US non-profit advocacy organization United Against Nuclear Iran, criticized such “unacceptable behavior” and called on the US State Department to “address instances of transnational repression by Iran's regime against the Iranian diaspora” in New York. “Raisi should not have such a large delegation in the future,” he wrote on X. The Islamic Republic of Iran is among the world's top oppressors of journalists and free speech. The incidents in New York came after Intelligence Minister Esmaeil Khatib said that Persian-language media outlets operating outside of Iran are "enemy media" and "will not be safe."
…Kasra Aarabi, with the United Against Nuclear Iran advocacy group, shared the video of the physical assault on Iran International’s Amini, saying, “This is what happens when you grant a mass murdering president and terrorist entourage entry to the West.” One of the controversial figures who accompanied Raisi was a leader of a government vigilante mob who carried out the 2011 storming of the British embassy in Tehran. Now he is an advisor to the culture minister.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday that relations with the United States can move forward if the Biden administration demonstrates it wants to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, and a first step should be easing sanctions. He told a news conference that the Americans have reached out through several channels “saying they wish to have a dialogue, but we do believe that it must be accompanied by action.” Action on sanctions can be “a solid foundation for continuing” discussions, he said. The Iranian leader added: “We have not left the table of negotiations.” Raisi said the American withdrawal from the 2015 agreement, aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program, trampled on U.S. commitments including sanctions.
Elon Musk has said that X (formerly Twitter) might start charging its users “a small fee” and insisting that the aim is to “combat vast armies of bots." It’s hard to tell if that’s the real intention – or if it’s just about money. It’s also hard to tell how effective it would be in keeping out the bots. One thing is almost certain, however: that any ‘monthly payment’, no matter how small, would keep out thousands of users living in Iran. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Islamic Republic since its inception, Iran is completely isolated from the global financial system. There’s no Visa or Mastercard in Iran. Those inside can’t even use PayPal, due to the US sanctions regime.
Iran on Friday paraded its military hardware on the anniversary of its 1980s war with Iraq, including "the longest-range drone in the world" along with ballistic and hypersonic missiles, Iranian state media said. They said the drone "was unveiled” in the parade, which was broadcast live, and that drones displayed in the event were named Mohajer, Shahed and Arash. The Islamic Republic said last month that it had built an advanced drone named Mohajer-10 with an enhanced flight range and duration as well as a larger payload.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Iran and its agents appear to be orchestrating a Europe-wide campaign of harassment, surveillance, kidnap plots and death threats targeting political activists who are protesting against the regime. The Guardian has spoken to 15 Iranian campaigners who have been targeted in similar acts of repression across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden. In most of the cases, the activists have been warned by western police or security agencies that Iran is behind credible threats to their life in retribution for their activism on European soil. The attacks include hacking, cyber-attacks and online harassment that can include thousands of death threats sent over a week, and real-world threats.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The prisoner swap was all arranged, or so the American negotiators thought. After years of painstaking negotiations with Iran, secretly mediated by Persian Gulf nations, top aides to President Biden had finally struck a deal on June 6 that would free four Americans held in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons. In exchange, the United States would unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue and drop charges against Iranians accused of violating U.S. sanctions. The U.S. negotiators knew there could still be last-minute hiccups, but things were moving forward. The prison guards in Tehran rounded up the Americans, brought them to the warden’s office and told them to pack their belongings — their release was imminent. They should be ready to go home within three days
The diplomatic breakthrough that brought five wrongfully detained Americans home from Iran followed two years of quiet negotiations led by Qatar that could pave the way for future dialogue, a senior Qatari official told Al-Monitor. On Tuesday, a US government plane carrying a group of Americans, including longtime prisoners Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi, arrived in the United States as part of an agreement that also saw Tehran gain access to billions in frozen funds to be used for non-sanctioned purposes. “The beginning [of the negotiations] was very difficult,” Majed Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Qatari prime minister, said during the Al-Monitor/Semafor Middle East Global Summit in New York on Wednesday. “The discussion was always one-sided,” he said. “It was very difficult to get points across. “You had two sides completely at odds with each other.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The wife of the president of Iran defended a law passed this week designed to impose harsher sentences on women who do not wear hijabs in public, comparing the rules to "dress codes everywhere" in an interview with ABC's "This Week." You can see Martha Raddatz's full interview with Jamileh Alamolhoda on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday at 9 a.m. EDT. Raddatz asked Alamolhoda about the subject, but the Iranian president's wife did not directly answer when asked about what the punishment for noncompliance should be. "What do you think should happen to women who choose not to wear a hijab?" Raddatz asked.
Reacting to the news that Iran’s parliament has passed a new bill that would impose further draconian penalties severely violating women’s and girls’ rights as well as increasing prison terms and fines for defying Iran’s degrading and discriminatory compulsory veiling laws, Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said: “This bill is a despicable assault on the human rights of women and girls that will further entrench violence and discrimination against them in Iran. If approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, it will further exacerbate the already suffocating surveillance and policing of women’s bodies and require the Islamic Republic’s various political, security and administrative arms to obsessively observe compliance with compulsory veiling laws and control women’s and girls’ lives.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Qaani, appointed Quds Force commander after a US drone strike on Baghdad killed its revered leader Qasem Soleimani in 2020, met senior Syrian officials in Damascus, Tasnim news agency reported late Thursday. They held discussions on ways to "confront the military and security challenges facing Syria" and supervised a joint Iran-Syria military exercise, Tasnim said. Qaani also praised Syria and Iran's "brotherly relations" said Iran "will stand by the Syrian people and leadership in facing its challenges", the news agency added. The Quds Force is the foreign operations arm of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
An Iranian court has sentenced to death a Tajik man convicted of carrying out a deadly gun attack on a Shiite Muslim shrine in August, the judiciary said Thursday. The attack on the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz, capital of Fars province in Iran's south, came less than a year after a mass shooting at the same site that was later claimed by the Islamic State group. Nine suspects — all of them foreigners — were arrested after the August 13 attack, which killed two people and wounded seven others. The convicted attacker, identified as Rahmatollah Nowruzof from Tajikistan and described as an IS member, was handed two death sentences, the judiciary's Mizan Online website reported.
A fire in a storage area of an Iranian defense ministry’s car battery factory north of the capital has been extinguished, state TV reported Friday. The fire happened around midnight in a 2-square-kilometer (about 500-acre) storage area of plastic items in the factory north of Tehran. The TV footage showed a black column of smoke rising in the nighttime sky. Firefighters were able to put out the fire with no casualties and the cause is under investigation, the report said. It did not mention any potential damage from the fire. Iran’s defense ministry has long owned the biggest and oldest car battery factories in Iran. Incidents at the country’s defense industry sites have increased in recent years, and Iran has blamed Israel for attacks or sabotage.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani tells Becky Anderson that cultural similarities with Iran and joint interests like fighting terrorism help form the basis of their countries' relationship.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said a meeting of the Iranian and Egyptian foreign ministers in New York could pave the way for a restoration of ties. "The Islamic Republic of Iran does not see any obstacle in establishing relations with Egypt, and this issue has been announced to the Egyptian side as well," Raisi told a press conference at the end of his trip to New York for the United Nations leaders meeting, according to the website of the Iranian presidency. "Today's meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries can also be a chapter to start and revive relations between the two countries.” Earlier on Wednesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian at the headquarters of Egypt's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.