Iran has failed to answer questions about the discovery of uranium particles at former undeclared sites in the country, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Monday, calling on Tehran to provide information “without further delay.” Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been pushing Iran for answers on three sites dating back many years where inspections had revealed traces of uranium of man-made origin, suggesting they were once connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
Iranian state actors are intensifying their disinformation campaign on social media to spread discord and anti-Semitic tropes inside the U.S., two U.S. intelligence officials say. Social media accounts tracked to troll farms run by the Iranian government have ramped up disinformation after several major events this year, including Biden’s effort to return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal, the April 14 announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin on April 20, and the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas that started on May 10.
The United States still does not know whether Iran is ready to resume compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal and if Tehran continues to violate the pact, the "breakout time" it needs to amass enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon will shrink to weeks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday. "It remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do come back into compliance," Blinken told lawmakers.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
It is becoming harder for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to negotiate extensions to its monitoring deal with Iran that cushioned the blow of Tehran downgrading cooperation with the agency, its Director General Rafael Grossi said on Monday. “I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult,” Grossi said when asked how likely it is that the two sides will again extend the agreement later this month. The two sides announced on May 24 that they were extending the three-month accord by a month.
Iran’s talks with world powers over reviving their nuclear accord are entering a “decisive phase,” the agency monitoring Tehran’s atomic sites said, warning that failure to reach an agreement could have perilous consequences for its work. Diplomats will reconvene this week in the Austrian capital for a sixth round of talks aiming to resurrect a 2015 accord that capped Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting sanctions. The possibility of a deal has traders anticipating a potential flood of Iranian oil exports in the second half of the year.
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency accused Iran on Monday of failing to answer questions about the discovery of uranium particles at undeclared nuclear sites in the country. Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has for years been trying to get Iran to provide answers about the uranium particles found at three sites, on the chance that they were linked to Iran’s nuclear program. But Grossi said in Vienna, "My expectations about this process, of course, were not met.”
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
An article in Iranian media looked to a Russian political analyst to understand how Russia might aid Iran in its own ambitions in the region. “The main goal of the United States in the Middle East and Central Asia at the moment is to create problems for strong political and economic partnerships,” the article notes. Iran’s media frequently have long interviews when they try to project their own beliefs through the interviewed expert. This interview should be seen in that light.
What’s the deal with President Joe Biden and Iran? This part-time president is a full-time appeaser of Tehran — and he is determined to give the terrorist regime the keys to a nuclear-armed empire. No other regime has connived at the deaths of so many American service members, as Iran did when it trained Iraqi militias and supplied them with improvised explosive devices — and as Iran still does, by supplying the increasingly accurate drones and missiles that have struck US bases in Iraq in the last six months.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Hossein Aryan, a British-trained former officer in the Iranian Navy, was the original operations officer on the Iranian ship Kharg, the navy's largest vessel, which debuted in 1980. The ship sank on June 2 in the Gulf of Oman near the port city of Jask after a fire reportedly broke out in the engine room. The Kharg was built in Britain and launched in 1977. It was the latest in a string of naval accidents involving Iranian ships in the last two years. Aryan -- a longtime editor at RFE/RL -- spoke with Golnaz Esfandiari and RFE/RL's Radio Farda about the Kharg and circumstances of its demise, which he thinks are questionable.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran’s first election debate took place June 5. The topic of discussion was the economy. The seven approved candidates revealed very little new or surprising details regarding their party platforms. The conservative candidates insisted that focusing on domestic policies and capabilities was the key to improving the economy, while the moderate candidates claimed that settling the nuclear issue with the West would open up the country’s economy.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, an influential Iranian politician and Shia cleric who survived an assassination attempt in 1984, has succumbed to COVID-19. Mohtashamipour, 74, was until his death considered one of the last living members of a generation of Iranians who played essential roles in the founding of Iran’s largely theocratic state, following the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah. During the 1980s, Mohtashamipour was a confidant and former student of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, the future Iranian supreme leader. Mohtashamipour, then a young cleric, accompanied Khomeini into exile, first in Najaf, Iraq, and later Paris, France.
Iran and Russia signed a visa waiver agreement geared toward tourists on Monday. The Islamic Republic’s Tourism Minister Ali Asghar Mounesan met with his Russian counterpart Zarina Doguzova in Moscow to sign the deal. The agreement allows tourists in groups of five to 50 people to enter the other country on a single visa as opposed to all the potential visitors obtaining individual visas. The deal was first signed in 2017 and was finalized on Monday, according to Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim News Agency.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Britain's foreign minister Dominic Raab met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom on Monday and discussed Iran in addition to bilateral ties and climate change, the British foreign office said. Raab's visit comes as global powers work to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that Saudi Arabia had opposed for not addressing Tehran's missile programme and support for regional proxies, including in Yemen.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran has amassed considerable soft power in Britain through a series of political and religious networks, a think tank report has found. The Henry Jackson Society said a number of UK-based charities, schools, and mosques have ties and shared objectives with figures in Iran. It said Iran sought to take advantage of sympathisers across the spectrum of British politics, including on the far left and far right.