President Biden on Monday condemned the violence against protesters in Iran and said the U.S. will be imposing further costs on perpetrators of the violence against demonstrators. The president in a statement said an announcement on the “further costs” will come this week and that the U.S. plans to hold Iranian officials accountable and support the rights of Iranians to protest freely. “For decades, Iran’s regime has denied fundamental freedoms to its people and suppressed the aspirations of successive generations through intimidation, coercion, and violence.
Iranian state media said Tuesday the government has launched a space tug capable of shifting satellites between orbits. State TV said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched Monday by the Defense Ministry. Hassan Salarieh, chief of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told state TV that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. A space tug can transfer a satellite from one orbit to another. Iran has long pursued a space program saying it is aimed at peaceful purposes. The country has both a civilian and a military space program, which the U.S. fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program.
After Elon Musk said his Starlink satellite-internet system was activated in Iran on Sept. 23, two men climbed onto the tiled roof of a residence in the Iranian city of Ahvaz and aimed a Starlink terminal into the sky. A faint signal was detected by the device for several seconds, then it disappeared. The men were seeking to help an Iranian protest movement struggling under a government crackdown on online communication, said Saeed Souzangar, a network engineer and one of the Iranian men. After three hours of tinkering with the Starlink kit smuggled into the country on a boat from Dubai, they gave up for the day, unable to establish a satellite link.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Shipbroker Braemar said last week that 33 tankers in the 200-plus ship fleet moving Iranian oil had loaded Russian crude, up from the 16 identified by pro-sanctions group United Against Nuclear Iran in early August. BRS did not publish details on the ships it identified as dark fleet candidates. VesselsValue lists 11 crude tankers 15 years or older sold last month. All but one — the 150,000-dwt shuttle tanker Nordic Rio (built 2004) — were sold to unknown or undisclosed buyers.
…The ship-to-ship transfer was stopped after Maersk was contacted about the cargo’s origins by US lobbying group United Against Nuclear Iran. WS Shipping was designated to operate and manage a vessel that has transported Iranian petroleum products, the US State Department said. Lloyd’s List Intelligence data shows that WS Shipping is the technical and ISM manager of the 1997-built, Panama-flagged, 7,245 dwt LPG carrier GC Princess (IMO: 9143506), formerly known as Glory Harvest. The vessel was sanctioned in August, when it also changed its name. The US Treasury Department also sanctioned Iran-based Middle East Kimiya Pars Company and Iran Chemical Industries Investment Company; India-based Tibalaji Petrochem Private Limited, and Hong Kong-based Sierra Vista Trading Limited in relation to ties with Iran’s Triliance.
…"We're all alarmed & appalled by Iran's behavior," Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, tweeted in response. "But instead of contracting these statements out to the State Department and White House spokespersons, [Biden] should make remarks or at least issue a statement in his name." Days earlier, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, said that seeking to revive a nuclear deal with Iran "will not stop us in any way from pushing back and speaking out on Iran's brutal repression of its citizens and its women." The nuclear deal, however, would provide a windfall of cash to the IRGC, which both dominates Iran's economy and coordinates domestic repression, according to Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
It is still possible to revive Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, the foreign ministry said Monday, despite long-stalled talks over the 2015 accord. "There is still a possibility and a chance to resume the implementation of the nuclear deal," ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said at his weekly news conference. "Efforts are underway with the European coordinator and other mediators, including the foreign ministries of neighbouring countries, to exchange messages to reach an agreement," he added.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Canada imposed fresh sanctions on Iran on Monday for alleged human rights violations, including the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iranian Kurdistan who died while in custody of Iran's "morality police," the Canadian government said. "These sanctions are in response to gross human rights violations that have been committed in Iran, including its systematic persecution of women and in particular, the egregious actions committed by Iran's so-called 'Morality Police,' which led to the death of Mahsa Amini while under their custody," the Canadian government said in a statement.
Iran's national currency, the rial, fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar amid a wave of protests triggered by the death in custody of a young woman. The rial traded at 331,800 to the dollar on October 3, according to traders in Tehran and the Bonbast.com foreign-exchange website, down from the quoted price of 316,800 a week ago. At the start of September, the rial was at 298,200 to the dollar. The weakening of the currency has intensified since widespread protests over the death of a young woman in police custody for reportedly improperly wearing a hijab, along with reports about the end of hopes for a revival of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and global powers.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Protesters have gathered in cities around the world in recent days in a show of solidarity with women in Iran. The gatherings are an echo of the protests that have erupted in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country's so-called morality police. Whether in Istanbul or Los Angeles, protests are marked by the striking words and images that have typified the protests rocking Iran: chants of "Women, life, freedom!" and in some cases, women taking scissors to their hair.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday appealed for national unity and tried to allay anger against the country’s rulers, even as the anti-government protests that have engulfed the country for weeks continued to spread to universities and high schools. Raisi acknowledged that the Islamic Republic had “weaknesses and shortcomings,” but repeated the official line that the unrest sparked last month by the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the country’s morality police was nothing short of a plot by Iran’s enemies. “Today the country’s determination is aimed at cooperation to reduce people’s problems,” he told a parliament session. “Unity and national integrity are necessities that render our enemy hopeless.”
Protests erupted in more than 80 cities across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, known by her first Kurdish surname Jina, after her detention by the morality police under the so-called hijab law. Footage of the demonstrations posted to social media has become one of the primary windows into what is happening on the ground and revealed what is different about this latest show of resistance inside Iran. The New York Times analyzed dozens of videos and spoke with experts who have followed the country’s protest movements to understand what insights the often blurry, pixelated footage contains about what is propelling the demonstrations.
The third week of nationwide protests in Iran turned particularly violent Sunday when security forces besieged Sharif University, a prominent university in the country, and closed the main gates of the facility where hundreds of students were protesting. The violent confrontation led to arrests and injuries, according to eyewitnesses who shared their accounts on social media sites such as Vahid Online. The unrest swept the country after the suspicious death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of the morality police, which arrests women for not wearing a hijab properly. Protests, however, soon went beyond the condemnation of the morality police and turned into a movement against the Islamic Republic, with slogans demanding the toppling of the regime.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Iranian government amended the terms of its free trade agreement with Syria Sunday night. What happened: Iran’s governmental Cabinet, headed by President Ebrahim Raisi, decided to lower the tariff on goods specified in its free trade deal with Syria from 4% to 0%. The Cabinet made the decision during a session, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The Syrian government did not appear to immediately comment. What it means: Iran and Syria signed a free trade agreement all the way back in 2010; however, it has yet to be implemented.
IRAQ & IRAN
As U.S. officials roundly condemn the ongoing series of Iranian strikes against Kurdish rivals in northern Iraq, Washington has also expressed concern over a separate Turkish campaign against Kurdish forces in the same region. In the wake of the fourth and latest round of strikes against targets tied to exiled Kurdish dissident groups such as the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces commander General Mohammad Pakpour hailed the results of attacks against "about 40 targets with more than 70 missiles and dozens of suicide drones, with 99% accuracy" in some areas, as reported by the Iranian Labour News Agency.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry told Iran International on Monday that the country is working bilaterally and multilaterally to protect human rights in Iran. In response to our correspondent, Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pierre-Alain Eltschinger said that "Switzerland is following current developments in Iran closely.” The ministry said that Switzerland on September 26 called for a rapid, impartial and independent investigation into the death of Mahsa Amini -- the Iranian girl whose death in police custody sparked an uprising across Iran -- within the framework of the Human Rights Council.
Albanian authorities on Monday denied the country’s police system was hacked after local media reported that data on people being investigated for crimes was released from an Iranian hacking group. Albanian media reported a leaked file with a list of suspected people, from allegedly the police database, who are being probed on different crimes. Ervin Karamuco, a criminology professor, was quoted in social media as saying a channel called Homeland Justice had published 1.7 gigabytes of criminal data from the Memex police system.