International monitors are watching Iran’s fast-expanding nuclear program with growing alarm, as Tehran refuses to extend an expired inspections pact and insists the experts must trust that it’s accurately documenting uranium-enrichment activities. Iran claims it’s still preserving data captured by International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring equipment, the agency’s director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. But officials won’t give his investigators access to it until Iran concludes stalled talks with world powers to restore a broader 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions.
Syria's air defenses on Monday intercepted an Israeli attack on Al-Safirah area in the southern countryside of Aleppo, Syrian state TV and news agency SANA reported. An unidentified military official quoted by SANA said Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles in the attack that occurred just before midnight and that the targets are still being identified. The reports offered no further details. There was no immediate comment from Israel.A footage of the alleged Israeli strike southeast of Aleppo by Syrian state news SANA. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has activists on the ground in Syria, said the Israeli strikes targeted weapons depots that belong to Iranian-backed militia operating in Al-Safirah.
Over the past week, protesters have taken to the streets in south-western Iran, chanting anti-regime slogans as they demand greater access to water for drinking, their farmlands and their cattle. The demonstrations in places such as Ahvaz, Shadegan and Susangerd in the province of Khuzestan come on the back of recent protests in cities including the capital, Tehran, and Kordkuy, about power cuts — the worst since the war with Iraq in the 1980s — where Iranians chanted “down with the dictator”. At least one person has been killed in the water protests, a death the government blames on rioters, not the security forces.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Experts say that while U.S. sanctions have succeeded in blocking the movement of money through banking channels, they achieved little success in stopping Iran from selling crude at reduced prices for cash. Energy analysts have seen a steady rise in Iran’s oil exports since late last year. According to United Against Nuclear Iran, an advocacy group and a critic of the 2015 nuclear deal, Syria received the second-most oil barrels from Iran since December 2020; many times more were exported to China. Under recently unseated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel was accused of attacking a dozen Iranian ships, mostly those carrying fuel to Syria and some supplying arms to Iran’s proxies, but none headed toward China.
Nikki Haley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during the first two years of the Trump administration, cautioned the Biden administration against returning to the nuclear deal with Iran, in a speech to supporters of Israel on Sunday. Iran’s prime goal, by funding its proxies in the Middle East region, is to target the U.S. and destroy the state of Israel, Haley said in remarks at the annual Christians United for Israel leadership summit in Dallas, Texas. “Iran is the sugar daddy of Hamas. The 11-day war that Israel just fought, wasn’t just with Hamas,” she added. “Israel was fighting against Iranian weapons, Iranian money and Iranian trained terrorists, and everyone knows it.” Haley urged the Biden administration to change course in its diplomatic approach to Iran. “There is never a time to sign a deal with the devil who wants to destroy America and Israel,” she said.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
A pause in negotiations to salvage Iran's nuclear deal with world powers has placed the International Atomic Energy Agency in an "uncomfortable position," its boss told AFP on Monday. An Iranian official announced Saturday the talks in Vienna will not resume before a new government takes office in August, following presidential elections last month won by ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi. "We still have a number of questions, issues that we are trying to clarify with Iran, and we will have to wait and start anew with the new team when they are in office," IAEA director general Rafael Grossi told AFP in an interview in Rio de Janeiro during an official visit to Brazil.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said the country’s draft agreement with world powers over how to restore the 2015 nuclear deal is incompatible with Iranian law. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the council has concluded that the draft didn’t comply with a law ratified last year that compelled Iran’s government to significantly expand atomic activity and limit nuclear inspections. The legislation was designed to pressure the Biden administration into lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s oil and banking sectors. Rabiei didn’t give further details in the statement published on the government’s official website. It’s not clear whether the council’s position will affect negotiations that have been delayed until hardliner president-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office on Aug. 3.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
On the fourth night of protests in Iran’s Khuzestan Province, Defenders of Human Rights Center sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, asking her to use all the means possible to prevent the use of force by Islamic Republic security forces against protesters. In the letter, one of the oldest and most important Iranian human rights NGOs said that people of Khuzestan who began protesting peacefully according to article 27 of the Iranian constitution against government mismanagement were fired upon by security forces. Three people have so far been killed, several injured and many arrested, the letter said.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said an Iranian American journalist targeted in what the Justice Department called an Iranian kidnapping plot “has demonstrated tremendous courage.” Blinken tweeted Monday that he had a “good conversation” with Masih Alinejad, a VOA Persian TV host and outspoken Iranian government critic. “I affirmed that the U.S. will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world,” Blinken posted. “We won’t tolerate efforts to intimidate them or silence their voices.”
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used his address marking the start of the holy Hajj season to condemn U.S. policy in the Middle East, even as major protests erupt in the south of the country following severe drought and power outages. Khamenei posted a series of tweets on his English-language account early on Monday, dismissing the U.S. as aggressive and "arrogant" and urging Muslim nations in the region to resist Washington, D.C. and its allies in Israel.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran on Tuesday broke another record in the country’s daily new coronavirus cases, even as Tehran and its surroundings went into lockdown, a week-long measure imposed amid another surge in the pandemic. The country’s health ministry announced 27,444 new cases and 250 deaths over the past day, bringing the overall death toll to 87,624 from among more than 3.5 million confirmed cases in the pandemic. On Tuesday, Iran embarked on another lockdown — the nation’s fifth so far — that is meant to last until next Monday. All bazars, markets places and public offices closed, as well as movie theaters, gyms and restaurants, in both Tehran province and the neighboring province of Alborz. On Monday, Tehran Province governor Anoushiravan Bandpay announced a code red, saying all hospitals in the province have reached their full capacity.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Iranian regime's ayatollahs constitute the world's leading state sponsor of anti-Semitism, but Iranians reject their government's hateful ideology. The delegation we will lead today, organized by the Iranian-American Institute for Voices of Liberty (iVOL), is living proof that peace some day is possible among the United States, Iran and Israel. It will be the first time that non-Jewish Iranian expatriates and former political prisoners, side-by-side with American friends, visit the Jewish state. This solidarity mission is to the same Israel that the Iranian regime seeks to wipe off the face of the earth with a nine-point plan tweeted by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei aims to finish Hitler's work of annihilating the Jews and denies the Holocaust as a matter of formal state policy.
Military officials disputed reports that a U.S. drone attack destroyed an Iran-backed militia’s truck in eastern Syria, calling them an attempt to discredit the U.S.-led coalition. The news came as U.S. and Iraqi leaders are expected to meet in Washington next week, where they will discuss the battle against the Islamic State group and other militants. The coalition “has not conducted airstrikes of any nature in the Combined Joint Operations Area today or yesterday,” spokesman U.S. Army Col. Wayne Marotto said in a statement Sunday, following reports that a drone had fired a missile that destroyed the vehicle but caused no casualties.
TURKEY & IRAN
Security forces in eastern Turkey have conducted a major operation against people traffickers bringing migrants across the Iranian border, the provincial governor’s office said Monday. More than 1,450 migrants were found in abandoned buildings around Mount Erek, which towers over the city of Van, since July 10, Van governor’s office said. Eleven “organizers” were detained, six of whom have been held in prison by a court order. The statement added that 11 “barrack-style” buildings for holding migrants had been demolished. The operation comes amid concerns over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan before the U.S. pullout and intense fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces. Describing earlier operations by police and border agents, backed by aerial drones, the governor’s office said 27,230 migrants had been caught crossing the Iranian border so far this year.