The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday "good words" from Iran are not enough to satisfy international inspectors and he hopes Tehran is ready to be transparent about its nuclear program, which was "moving ahead very, very fast". International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi spoke when asked about the IAEA's role in monitoring any revival of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers under which it curbed its nuclear program in return for economic sanctions relief.
Iran's ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi plans to travel to New York for the UN General Assembly next month despite US sanctions against him, the government's spokesman said on Tuesday. "The preliminary planning has been done for the president's attendance at the UN General Assembly session," Ali Bahadori-Jahromi told a weekly press briefing. Raisi, who has been under US sanctions since November 2019 for "complicity in serious human rights violations", missed last year's General Assembly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A pre-recorded video of his address was played to the meeting instead.
The US asked Argentina to seize a Boeing 747 cargo jet that has been grounded outside Buenos Aires since June while authorities investigated ties between crew members and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Department of Justice said in a statement Tuesday that the plane was sold by Iran’s Mahan Air to Emtrasur, the the cargo division of Venezuelan carrier Conviasa, in violation of US sanctions. Argentinian authorities in June detained the aircraft to determine whether Iranian crew members had ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iran is more frequently deploying its own tankers as competition for the so-called “dark fleet” intensifies. United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a New York-based group that supports the US sanctions regime, identified 16 ships that switched from carrying Iranian oil to Russian oil, pushing Iran to deploy nine of its own ships to pick up the slack. “Notable in July was a marked increase in Iran’s use of its National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) vessels and other Iranian-flagged tankers versus non- sanctioned foreign-flagged tankers,” the organisation said in its monthly tanker tracking note.
Iran is overcoming trade barriers and sustaining a high level of crude oil exports by deploying more of its own sanctioned tankers, according to watchdog United Against Nuclear Iran. The nation's petroleum industry is heavily sanctioned by the United States, but it continues to export a steady flow of about one million barrels a day into the global market; in fact, it is earning more money than it has in years thanks to rising oil prices. Its clandestine trading network relies on a small number of private shipowners who are willing to violate U.S. sanctions and evade detection in exchange for outsize financial returns.
…In New York, the American association United Against Nuclear Iran (United against nuclear Iran) welcomed Monday this new arrest and declared by the voice of its president, the former Ambassador Mark Wallace that Americans will never tolerate elements of a hostile power threatening to carry out attacks on United States soil. Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations since 1980 following the Islamic Revolution the previous year.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Spokesperson for Iran's Foreign Ministry Nasser Kanani criticized fresh American sanctions targeting his country's economy, pledging "a decisive, firm and immediate response" from the Islamic Republic. "Iran will adopt all necessary measures to neutralize those sanctions' possible negative impacts on its trade," Kanani said in a statement. On Monday, the US Treasury announced new sanctions hitting some Chinese and Emirati companies facilitating Iran's sale of its sanctioned oil and petrochemical products.
Iran’s nuclear program is “moving ahead very, very fast” and “good words” from Tehran are not enough for international inspectors, said the head of the UN nuclear watchdog on Tuesday. Speaking at UN headquarters Tuesday, IAEA head Rafael Grossi said, “”When it comes to nuclear, good words will not do it. What you need to do is to be transparent and compliant and work with us. We are ready and I hope they will be as well,” Reuters reported. Iran, he said, has a “very ambitious nuclear program that needs to be verified in the appropriate way.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran on Tuesday slammed as “destructive” new US sanctions targeting its crucial energy sector and vowed a response, at a time when nuclear talks have stalled for months. US President Joe Biden’s administration “is not stopping this unproductive and destructive action even at a time when efforts are underway to resume negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal,” said foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani. Iran will “show a firm and immediate response” to the sanctions announced the previous day and “take all necessary measures to neutralize” their potential impacts on the country’s trade, Kanani vowed in a statement.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian courts have sentenced three people to be blinded in one eye under the Islamic republic’s retribution laws, a newspaper reported Tuesday. Hamshahri, the Tehran municipality’s daily, said a woman was among the three sentenced to the eye-for-an-eye punishment. She had hurled acid at another woman in a 2011 dispute, causing her to lose an eye, it said. Hamshahri said the supreme court has upheld the sentence of having her right eye gouged out, on top of a jail term and a fine.
Rights activist Maryam Karimbeigi has been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for attending a concert by the popular Iranian singer Ebi in Turkey. Amir Raisian, Karimbeigi's lawyer, told the Modara website on August 1 that the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran recently handed down the sentence for the charge of "assembly and collusion with the intention of committing a crime against national security." She also was sentenced to one year in prison for the "crime of propaganda against the system," and for a charge of "possessing alcoholic beverages" she was sentenced to one year in prison plus a fine and 74 lashes.
Executions on a scale not seen for years. Mass arrests of regime critics including top film-makers. Trials of foreign nationals denounced as a sham by their families. Activists argue Iran is in the throes of an intensified crackdown affecting all sectors of society from trade union activists, to campaigners against the enforced wearing of the headscarf for women, to religious minorities. The repression comes one year into the rule of President Ebrahim Raisi, the ultra-conservative former judiciary chief who in August 2021 took over from the more moderate Hassan Rouhani.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The Biden administration on Tuesday approved two massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help them defend against Iran. The more than $5 billion in missile defense and related sales follow President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East last month, during which he met with numerous regional leaders in Saudi Arabia. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been hit in recent months with rocket attacks from the Iran-backed Houthi rebel movement in Yemen.
IRAQ & IRAN
A power struggle in Iraq between the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and rivals aligned with Iran is testing Tehran's ability to stave off a conflict that could damage its interests and further destabilise the oil-rich country. With Sadr supporters camped out in parliament and his opponents protesting in the streets, the tussle over a new government has put fresh strain on a political system that has been buffeted by crises since U.S.-led forces toppled dictator Saddam Hussein two decades ago.