Canada has imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, targeting individuals involved in alleged human rights abuses and companies it accused of supplying Russia with drones for use in Ukraine, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. It is the fifth package of sanctions Canada has implemented against Iran this year. It targets six individuals and two entities, Shahed Aviation Industries and Qods Aviation Industries, the foreign ministry said. The ministry said Shahed Aviation produces drones used by Russian forces to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure, while Qods Aviation makes drones for Iran's military and armed movements like Hezbollah and develops drones that are exported to Russia for use in Ukraine.
An oil tanker associated with an Israeli billionaire has been struck by an Iranian bomb-carrying drone off the coast of Oman amid heightened tensions with Tehran, officials said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Greece said Iran freed two Greek oil tankers held by Tehran since May. The drone attack on the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Pacific Zircon happened Tuesday night off the coast of Oman, the U.S. military’s Mideast-based Central Command said in a statement. It identified the drone used as an Iranian-made Shahed variant.
Iran has plotted to kidnap or kill at least 10 British nationals or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime this year, Britain’s domestic spy chief said Wednesday. As Iran has used violence to try to stifle a wave of protests at home, the regime has also sought to target political adversaries in the U.K., Ken McCallum, director general of the British security service known as MI5, said in a speech. Iran’s “aggressive intelligence services” are prepared to take reckless action and pose a direct threat to Britain, McCallum said.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Not much is known about Viktor Artemov, the Switzerland-based Ukrainian who landed on the US government’s blacklist earlier this month after allegedly using a fleet of 11 tankers to ship hundreds of thousands of barrels of Iranian oil. But a review of shipping databases, broker reports and corporate registry data carried out by TradeWinds shows Artemov was able to use recently registered companies to acquire much of his fleet, worth more than $260m, in just four months last year. “This was definitely the largest designation of vessels, companies, and individuals under [President Joe Biden’s] administration and probably in the last few years as well when it comes to [Iran] oil smuggling,” said Claire Jungman of United Against Nuclear Iran, a pro-sanctions advocacy group that tracks the ships carrying Iranian oil.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday he hopes a meeting with Iran due later this month to end an impasse over uranium traces found at undeclared sites happens after Iran's nuclear chief reportedly said it was not on the agenda. "I hope our planned technical meeting with Iran takes place," Grossi said on Twitter, adding at a news conference that his tweet was in response to Iranian nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami's comments to state media, but that Iran had not made such remarks to the International Atomic Energy Agency directly.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The United States on Wednesday sanctioned senior employees of an Iranian state-run media corporation it accused of being a "critical tool" in Iran's suppression and censorship of its people, stepping up pressure on Tehran over its crackdown on protests. The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it imposed sanctions on six senior employees of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which was designated by Washington in 2013.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Gunmen opened fire in a bazaar in the southwestern Iranian city of Izeh on Wednesday, killing at least five people, including a young girl, and wounding civilians and security forces, state TV reported. In a separate attack, gunmen shot dead two members of Iran’s paramilitary Basij in the central city of Isfahan, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. In both attacks, the gunmen were reportedly riding motorcycles.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran sentenced three more protesters to death Wednesday, heightening fears that the government will resort to executions to intimidate Iranians from rallying against the country’s clerical leadership, as state media accused shooters of killing several civilians in the southern part of the country. The three unidentified individuals were found guilty of corruption on earth or waging war against God for alleged offenses that included killing or injuring security forces, damaging public property and endangering national security, according to the judiciary’s news agency, Mizan.
They were unarmed and praying in a mosque when security forces fired indiscriminately from a nearby security post. One woman, while praying in full Islamic hijab, was killed by a tear gas grenade as several men hit by bullets were lying dead and wounded inside the same mosque on September 30. It is now called “the bloody Friday” on which, according to human rights groups, about 66 civilians were massacred and more than 100 were injured inside and outside the mosque in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.
The manager of the Iranian men’s soccer team said his players are allowed to protest while they participate at the World Cup in Qatar, as long as those protests do not break FIFA rules. Carlos Queiroz made the comments at a press conference in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday. According to Reuters, Queiroz said: “The players are free to protest as they would if they were from any other country as long as it conforms with the World Cup regulations and is in the spirit of the game.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Republicans on track to wrest control of the House of Representatives plan to use their agenda-setting powers in the lower chamber next year to hammer President Joe Biden on Iran and undermine already fading prospects for a renewed nuclear deal. Republican lawmakers are expected to introduce a wave of standalone bills, as well as measures in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, aimed at further punishing Iran’s rights violators and impeding its illicit revenue generation.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Iran is being increasingly aggressive towards France by detaining its citizens, France's president said on Wednesday, adding that Tehran was also destabilising the region with aggressive actions. "I see an increasing aggressiveness from Iran towards us with its unacceptable hostage taking (and) a regional aggressiveness ..with extremely aggressive acts in the last few days on Iraqi soil," Emmanuel Macron told reporters at the end of a G20 leaders summit in Indonesia. "I urge Iran to return to calm and a spirit of cooperation. I call it to respect regional stability and also French citizens."
IRAQ & IRAN
Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency, which has close links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced today that the attacks on Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in Iraqi Kurdistan will continue until these groups are disarmed or leave the region completely. The IRGC bombed the Koysinjaq area in Iraq’s Kurdistan region Nov. 14, with at least five rockets, causing two deaths and leaving dozens injured. The news agency quoted an unnamed military official as saying that yesterday's attack was the beginning of series of operations under the name of Rabi’ 2, which will continue until Tehran reaches its goal.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Britain faces major security threats from the trio of Russia, China and Iran, which all use coercion, intimidation and even violence on foreign soil to pursue their interests, the U.K.’s domestic intelligence chief said Wednesday. Ken McCallum, director-general of MI5, added to mounting warnings from British authorities about Russia’s aggression and China’s growing assertiveness. But he singled out Iran as the state “which most frequently crosses into terrorism,” saying U.K authorities have uncovered at least 10 “potential threats” this year to “kidnap or even kill British or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime.”
France and Britain accused Iran of threatening their nationals on Wednesday after the Islamic Republic said French intelligence agents had been arrested during anti-government protests. Tehran accuses Western adversaries of stoking the nationwide unrest ignited by the Sept. 16 death of young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini whom morality police had arrested for allegedly flouting the Islamic dress code. "People of other nationalities were arrested in the riots, some of whom played a big role," Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state TV on Wednesday.
Iranian government-sponsored hackers compromised the network of an unnamed US federal government agency starting in February, stealing passwords on the network and installing software to generate cryptocurrency, US officials said Wednesday. Though the hack likely began in February, officials at the Department of Homeland Security responded to the breach in June to clean up the network of the civilian agency, the FBI and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in a public advisory.