Iran has let the U.N. nuclear watchdog inspect one of the two sites it agreed last week to grant access to after a protracted standoff, while Tehran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has risen further, quarterly reports by the agency said on Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency inspected one of the sites and took environmental samples there, one of the two reports obtained by Reuters said, referring to samples aimed at detecting traces of nuclear material that may have been present. The agency’s inspectors will visit the other site “later in September 2020 on a date already agreed with Iran, to take environmental samples”, the report said.
The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on 11 foreign companies, accusing them of helping to facilitate Iran’s export of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemicals in violation of American sanctions. The Treasury said it slapped sanctions on six companies based in Iran, the United Arab Emirates and China that it said enable the shipment and sale of Iranian petrochemicals and support Triliance Petrochemical Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-based company blacklisted by the United States.
In his third report to the General Assembly of the United Nations, Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman has said that he is alarmed and shocked by the violence used against protesters in Iran during the November 209 civil unrest. "The Special Rapporteur expresses his shock at the unprecedented use of excessive and lethal force by State security forces during the November 2019 protests, including by the police, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Basij militia," the report said, adding that according to credible sources, at least 304 people were killed between November 15-19 in 37 cities, including 23 children and 10 women.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium in violation of limitations set in a landmark deal with world powers, but has begun providing access to sites where it was suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material and possibly conducted nuclear-related activities, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency said Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press that Iran as of Aug. 25 had stockpiled 2,105.4 kilograms (2.32 tons) of low-enriched uranium, up from 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons) last reported on May 20.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
In unprecedented remarks, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the Vice President of Iran and Head of the Budget and Planning Organization, lamented that "Tehran cannot sell even a drop of oil." In unprecedented remarks, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the Vice President of Iran and Head of the Budget and Planning Organization, lamented that "Tehran cannot sell even a drop of oil." Speaking at a meeting in the Hamedan Province of Iran, the Iranian government's official news agency, IRNA, quoted Nobakht on Thursday as saying, "Everyone, especially the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, knows that we have a tough year ahead."
Iran’s own media has bragged that Tehran will soon become an exporter of weapons as the arms embargo on the country ends. The arms embargoes on Iran are ending despite US calls for them to be extended. The embargo on Iran exporting arms was supposed to be in force for five years after the Iran Deal, the JCPOA, was adopted in October 2015. Iran’s Press TV says the country produces 90% of its arms locally and that Iran is one of the leading top 10 countries in the world in terms of indigenous production.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Wednesday that her country supports Amnesty International's call for a full investigation of alleged human rights violations following the 2019 protests in Iran Linde tweeted that the Amnesty International report released Wednesday painted a grim picture of serious violations following the protests, adding, "[We] support the call for a full investigation into the allegations. Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly must be ensured."
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran’s health ministry on Monday reported 2,152 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily increase in 10 days, bringing the country’s nationwide tally of infections to 388,810. Iran’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 117 to 22,410, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV. Iran began the new school year on Saturday despite concerns by medical professionals and many parents over increased spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, one of the countries worst-hit by the pandemic in the Middle East.
An explosion late on September 4 has injured more than 200 people in western Iran, Iranian news agencies reported on September 5. No fatalities were reported in the incident, which happened in the rural Ilam Province. Officials said the blast was caused by the explosion of a chlorine canister being transported by truck. Driver “carelessness” was suspected, the state IRNA news agency reported. No other details were reported. Several suspicious fires and explosions have struck military and civilian sites throughout Iran over the course of the summer.
Abolhassan Firoozabadi, the secretary of Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace (ISCC), says that if Internet platforms are not compatible with the laws and standards of the Islamic Republic, they will be censored. Firoozabadi said on Sunday that filters may be implemented on Internet content "if the platforms do not comply with Iranian law" or "create cultural, social, political and security issues" for Iran. Speaking on a TV show, Firoozabad praised China as a successful "model" in censoring the Internet for its citizens, which it implemented through simulating applications and tools, he noted.
Upon being elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2013, Hassan Rouhani was heralded by Western leaders and the media as a harbinger of a new era. White House press secretary Jay Carney said that his election “represented a call by the Iranian people for change.” The Washington Post called Rouhani a “moderate cleric” whose ascension delivered “an unmistakable rebuke” to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The New York Times described Rouhani as “mild-mannered” and took his advocacy of “greater personal freedoms” at face value.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
A Syrian opposition war monitor said airstrikes on eastern Syria believed to have been carried out by Israeli warplanes early Thursday killed 16 Iranian-backed fighters. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit positions of Iranian-backed fighters near the towns of Mayadeen and Boukamal close to the Iraqi border. There was no official comment from Syrian state media, which reported an airstrike late Wednesday on the T4 air base in the central province of Homs.
IRAQ & IRAN
Readers visiting websites for Al-Etejah TV, a satellite television channel affiliated with Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah (KH), find an unusual English-language message instead of the group’s propaganda material. “This website has been seized,” reads the bold message placed on a red background atop two logos for the U.S. Department of Commerce. The U.S. seizure of two domain names, “Aletejahtv.com” and “Aletejahtv.org,” last Wednesday represented the latest move by Washington against the radical Iran proxy group in cyberspace.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
A fugitive Iranian judge whose corpse was found in a Bucharest hotel in June had committed suicide by jumping from a hotel’s 5th floor, Romanian prosecutors said on Friday. Gholamreza Mansouri, 52, fled corruption charges in Iran last year, one of several judges accused during a high-profile trial. He was found dead on June 19 in the lobby of a hotel in Romania’s capital. He had been under Romanian judicial supervision ahead of court hearings scheduled for July over a request by Tehran to extradite him.
France’s foreign policy is not identical to that of the US in much of the Middle East and North Africa. And yet, some co-ordination in the two countries’ diplomatic initiatives in the region has become evident, particularly from the recent visit to crisis-hit Lebanon by French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by that of David Schenker, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. How effective this co-ordination proves to be is, of course, an open question. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy.