The protests started small, outside the Tehran hospital where a 22-year old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died last week after being detained by the “morality police” for an untold violation of the country’s harsh strictures on women’s dress. By Tuesday, the protests were racing across the country, in a burst of grief, anger and defiance. Many were led by women, who burned their headscarves, cut their hair and chanted, “Death to the dictator.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dismissed Western criticism over women’s rights after a young Iranian woman died in police custody, as the death toll rose amid growing unrest over the Islamic Republic’s morality laws. “We have this double standard where attention is solely focused on one side and not all,” Mr. Raisi said Wednesday, pointing to deaths of indigenous women in Canada and Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories. Mr. Raisi, addressing the United Nations General Assembly in person for the first time since coming to power last year, also blamed the U.S. for the stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran’s president insisted Wednesday that his country is serious about reviving a deal meant to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear bomb but questioned whether Tehran could trust America’s commitment to any eventual accord. The U.S. had already “trampled” on a previous deal, President Ebrahim Raisi told the U.N. General Assembly, referring to America’s decision to pull out of the accord in 2018. Ever since Iran’s 1979 revolution that overthrew its Western-backed shah, Tehran has been at odds with the United States and has sought to project itself as a counterweight to American power.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Monaco, speaking to the non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), whose advisory board includes multiple former U.S. government officials, additionally warned of Iran's growing reach in cyberspace. "Here again, this is an evolution in an increasingly concerning threat from Iran," she said, citing Tehran's "increasing willingness to, frankly, seek to punch above their weight" with attacks on big targets, including U.S. critical infrastructure.
…“These protests are very different than anything we’ve seen before,” she said responding to National Review’s question during a press conference. “They’re much more aggressive. They’re much more upset about what the regime is doing, and they’re fighting back.” Haley made the comments just before she appeared at the United Against a Nuclear Iran annual summit in New York City, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly where Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi spoke this morning.
…Speaking at an event in Midtown Manhattan organized by US-based advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, Erdan warned that a “nuclear Iran” would pose an “existential threat” to Israel. Referring to continuing attempts led by the US and Europe to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, he said that “the international community remains committed to reviving a fundamentally flawed deal that doesn’t prevent the one thing it is meant to prevent: A nuclear Iran.”
…The chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Jim Risch, both spoke out on Twitter about the protests. Mr Risch called Amini's death a “murder”, while also criticising the Biden administration for continuing to try to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran. Former US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley called the protests on Wednesday “heroic”. “We have an obligation to tell the Iranian people’s stories,” Ms Haley said at an event at the United Against Nuclear Iran organisation, while urging the Biden administration to sanction human rights abusers in Iran.
…Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, at a summit in Midtown Manhattan organized by US-based advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, the journalist said she feels guilty about the murder of Amini. Her comments echoed those of other activists who have said they regret the fact that despite their efforts there has yet to be any change in the way Iran is governed. Alinejad, who in 2019 launched legal proceedings against the Iranian government in a US federal court for harassment of her family, delivered a wide-ranging speech at the summit in which she condemned the regime for its litany of crimes.
…Iranian-Americans and others are planning to protest near U.N. headquarters on Wednesday, when Raisi is scheduled to address the General Assembly (five speaking slots before Biden). Advertised speakers at one protest event include former Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran, and Sam Brownback, former governor of Kansas and senator, and former ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
The Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog has reaffirmed his country’s cooperation and expanding relations with the GCC nations, describing them as a staunch resistance to Iran. Speaking at the United Against Nuclear Iran summit in midtown Manhattan, the ambassador pointed to the “Middle East Air Defense” initiative as a strong example of the many multilateral links that are developing between Israel and the GCC. The ambassador was joined on stage in conversation with Norman Roule, a 34-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who now works as a consultant in the Middle East. Roule remarked that Bahrain, the UAE and Israel in particular are now linked in several fields, which he said often goes unreported in the Western media.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan told a meeting of the United Against a Nuclear Iran organization on Wednesday in New York that sanctions alone will not be enough to stop the Islamic Republic from a nuclear breakout. Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Erdan said economic sanctions against “a cruel regime such as the Iranian regime” will not be effective. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s said in his speech to the UNGA delegates that his country has built economic relations with other states – and these connections will enable the Islamic Republic to neutralize the impact of sanctions.
At a meeting of the United Against a Nuclear Iran organization on Wednesday, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, spoke of the need for countries around the world to refuse to rule out a military option against Iran. Also speaking at the conference were the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, the Bahraini ambassador the UN, and former US Senator Joe Lieberman. "Economic sanctions against a cruel regime such as the Iranian regime will not be effective," Erdan stressed during his speech. "Just this morning, [Iranian President Ebrahim] Raisi noted that his country has built economic relations with additional states and that these connections will enable it to neutralize the impact of sanctions.
Former US envoy to UN, Nikki Haley, slammed Joe Biden administration for allowing Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to attend the UN General Assembly in New York and give a speech. She said US must resist becoming a “stupid host” by inviting to the country Iranian leaders who plot against America’s national security and other interests, Arab News reported. Speaking at the 2022 summit of United Against Nuclear Iran, on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, the former governor of South Carolina said that Iran is the world’s “number one state sponsor of terrorism” and yet the current US administration is “falling over itself” to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, it was reported.
…The Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog has reaffirmed his country’s cooperation and expanding relations with the GCC nations, describing them as a staunch resistance to Iran. Speaking at the United Against Nuclear Iran summit in midtown Manhattan, the ambassador pointed to the “Middle East Air Defense” initiative as a strong example of the many multilateral links that are developing between Israel and the GCC. The ambassador was joined on stage in conversation with Norman Roule, a 34-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who now works as a consultant in the Middle East. Roule remarked that Bahrain, the UAE and Israel in particular are now linked in several fields, which he said often goes unreported in the Western media.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Outstanding issues between Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog will not be wished away, agency chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday, while Tehran insists on the closure of the agency's probes for revival of a 2015 nuclear pact. "These issues are not going to be wished away," Grossi told reporters at the United Nations, adding that he hoped to meet with Iranians in a few days. "The IAEA has limited access to Iran's nuclear facilities. ... We are ready to re-engage with Iran".
Iran's president told the United Nations on Wednesday that his country was not seeking an atomic weapon and demanded US guarantees it would abide by any revived nuclear deal. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is not seeking to build or obtain nuclear weapons and such weapons have no place in our doctrine,” President Ebrahim Raisi told the UN General Assembly. Raisi, a hardline cleric, addressed the world body just hours before US President Joe Biden was set to take the stage, amid a surge of tension over an Iran nuclear deal that remains blocked despite months of negotiations, and mounting pressure over the country's human rights record.
The Biden administration decided to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran in hopes of stopping the nation from attaining the bomb, even at the cost of overlooking the regime’s humans rights violations. "We've been focused … to do everything we can to permanently and to verifiably see to it that Iran is never able to acquire a nuclear weapon," State Department Spokesman Ned Price told Fox News Digital, Tuesday. "That's a commitment that President Biden has made, and it's a calculation that not only the State Department has made, but the international community and our own intelligence community has determined that, at least for now, the JCPOA … is the most effective means by which to permanently and verifiably ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon."
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran will use cash assets provided by the Biden administration as part of a new nuclear accord to fund regional terror groups and enhance the capabilities of a militant network committed to assassinating U.S. officials, according to written testimony to Congress from a top U.S. military commander exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who led U.S. Africa Command until August of this year, in March warned Congress that Iran is certain to use "at least some of the resources gained from sanctions relief to" increase its illicit shipment of advanced weapons to terror groups operating in Africa and the Near East region, according to written information he provided to Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) after a public hearing before Congress.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranians experienced a near-total internet blackout on Wednesday amid days of mass protests against the government over the death of a woman held by the country's morality police for allegedly violating its strictly-enforced dress code. An Iranian official had earlier hinted that such measures might be taken out of security concerns. The loss of connectivity will make it more difficult for people to organize protests and share information about the government's rolling crackdown on dissent. Iran has seen nationwide protests over the death of 22 -year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely.
Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which protesters use to share information about the government’s rolling crackdown on dissent, continued on Thursday. Authorities also appeared to disrupt internet access to the outside world, a tactic that rights activists say the government often employs in times of unrest. The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outpouring over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strictly enforced dress code. Her death has sparked sharp condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. The police say she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, speaking Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly, sought to position his country at the center of what he called a growing international movement against unilateral powers, such as the United States, that “equate militarism with security.” “America has pursued their interests at the expense of other countries,” Raisi said, and “cannot accept the fact that certain countries have the right to stand on their own two feet.” He hailed what he said was the arrival of “a new world order” to replace U.S. “hegemony.”
The United Nations' annual gathering of world leaders gets underway this week, with a lineup of speeches from Middle East heads of state including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Both US President Joe Biden and Raisi will give remarks on Wednesday, but the two men are not expected to meet face-to-face while in New York. Ahead of his planned address, Raisi told CBS he didn’t believe such a meeting would be “beneficial.”
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
A member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Aerospace Force was killed during a "mission" in the Sistan and Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran earlier this week, according to Iranian media. The operative, named Ali Mohammadi, was part of the Ansar al-Reza Corps which is based in the South Khorasan Province, according to the governor of South Khorasan. The cause of the operative's death was not published. The death is the latest in a series of deaths among IRGC officials and civilians who work with the terrorist organization in recent months.
CONGRESS & IRAN
A new bill from a pair of Republican lawmakers would prevent the Biden administration from lifting key sanctions on Iran over the country's alleged support of efforts to assassinate high-profile Americans and critics on U.S. soil. The bill, set to be introduced Wednesday by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and Florida Rep. Mike Waltz, would codify Trump-era sanctions imposed on Iran -- specifically, on major industries and financial institutions -- according to legislative text shared first with ABC News.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Ukraine asked Israel to share intelligence on any support Iran is giving to the Russian military in the war, senior Israeli officials told Axios. Driving the news: Russia in recent days attacked several Ukrainian military positions with “Kamikaze drones” that Ukraine's military said were repainted Iranian Shahed-136 drones. The U.S. and Ukraine have accused Iran of sending hundreds of sophisticated attack drones to Russia — an allegation Tehran denied. Ukrainian military commanders told the Wall Street Journal the Iranian drones gave the Russians a significant advantage in several areas.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Speaker of the Saudi Shura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh said on Wednesday the Kingdom “calls on Iran, as a neighbor, with whom our people share religious and cultural ties, to cooperate with regional countries.” The cooperation must take place through “respecting international principles and refraining from meddling in the affairs of other countries,” he added, while calling on Tehran to also cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and its commitments towards it.
NATO sent a senior-level delegation to Albania on Wednesday to help the tiny Western Balkan country cope with the consequences of recent cyberattack that the government blamed on Iran. NATO said James Appathurai, the alliance's deputy assistant secretary general, led a team of experts to offer the member nation “political and practical support” and to tell officials from Albania’s defense and other security institutions they were not dealing with the attack alone. Albania cut diplomatic ties with Iran over a July 15 cyberattack that temporarily shut down numerous Albanian government digital services and websites.
The IDF’s Cyber Defense Directorate has thwarted close to two dozen cyber attacks against the Israeli military in the past year. The IDF’s network, said to be the largest in the Middle East, is constantly being threatened, and the military has identified an increase of 70% in hostile activity in recent years. Though the majority of attacks were identified and thwarted ahead of time, the significant increase in attempts worries the IDF. "In the past year, the IDF thwarted dozens of attempts by Iran to carry out cyber-attacks. The IDF and the defense community have developed groundbreaking capabilities to defend against our enemies."