For the first 15 years of the U.S. war on terror, one of America’s greatest advantages was the killer drone. With names like “predator” and “reaper,” these unmanned aerial vehicles delivered deadly strikes from the sky against suspected terrorists with no risk of a human pilot being shot down. Things began to change during President Barack Obama’s final year in office. Houthi rebels in Yemen began using crude drones, whose parts were supplied by Iran, against Saudi Arabia. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, these low-budget drones were more akin to the Japanese kamikaze planes of World War II, crashing into their targets.
Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud discussed the Iran nuclear talks with the European Union envoy coordinating talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, Enrique Mora, the Saudi Foreign ministry said on Thursday. "They discussed developments regarding the Iranian nuclear program talks, and international efforts to ensure that Iran does not violate international agreements and treaties in this regard," it added in a statement.
Rights groups have criticised Iran after a senior official said the fate of a condemned man convicted of a murder he committed at the age of 17 is in the hands of the victim’s family. Arman Abdolali, now 25, is facing the gallows for killing his girlfriend following a 2015 trial marred by confessions obtained under torture, according to Amnesty International. Iran has cancelled the planned execution on at least two occasions after international outcries. Abdolali has been moved in and out of solitary confinement at Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, over the last week in preparation for his execution.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
World powers should censure Iran for stonewalling the United Nations nuclear inspectors, according to the watchdog agency’s chief. International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi's call for the global rebuke of Iran comes after months of Western powers avoiding action, fearing it might jeopardize President Joe Biden’s bid to broker a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Grossi, who spent the week briefing U.S. lawmakers and officials on Iran’s violation of multiple agreements with the IAEA, was asked in public if he believes that “censure [is a] good idea” now and gave an affirmative, if laconic, answer.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The Biden administration’s announcement that it will limit economic sanctions as a tool of foreign policy could prove significant, since it follows two decades in which policymakers of both parties dramatically increased the use of sanctions against governments, individuals, and entities that they considered bad actors. “After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks,” the Treasury Department wrote in a new report after a nine-month review, “economic and financial sanctions (‘sanctions’) became a tool of first resort to address a range of threats to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran on Thursday awarded a prestigious prize in the study of science and technology to two physicists based in the United States. Harvard University physics professor Cumrun Vafa received The Mustafa Prize in the field of “All Areas of Science and Technology.” Vafa is an Iranian-American. The award, he said, reminds him “that there is no border for science and technology and they belong to all human beings.” He donated his award to an Iranian science foundation. A quantum professor at Princeton University, Bangladesh-born M. Zahid Hasan, received the prize, too.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Israeli Air Force has resumed training for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, Israeli television reported Thursday. According to Channel 12 news, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered that budgetary funds be set aside for drilling such a scenario, after a two-year hiatus. The network said Kohavi had also ordered that the air force train “intensely” in simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear program. The orders were reportedly given during a meeting Kohavi held at his office in recent days.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Azerbaijan has released two Iranian truck drivers whose arrest last month on charges of illegally entering the country strained ties between the two neighbors. The release of the Iranian citizens on October 21 comes a week after Azerbaijan and Iran's foreign ministers agreed to dial back heated rhetoric and engage in dialogue to defuse diplomatic crises. Azerbaijan's customs department said it had handed over the drivers to the Iranian Embassy in Baku in a decision "guided by principles of humanitarianism, mutual respect, and good neighborliness."