In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues — particularly its nuclear program — by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails reported for the first time by Semafor and Iran International. The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: At least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.
Iran's judiciary announced on Tuesday that its prosecutors had issued indictments against US President Joe Biden and over 50 other American officials over their supporting and hosting of a US-based exiled opposition group. At a press briefing in Tehran, judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said the list also included former presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush as well as secretaries of state Mike Pompeo, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. Setayeshi argued that the sitting and former officials had long supported the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, also known as Tondar, "a dissident group which promotes the restoration of the monarchy to Iran to replace the theocratic Islamic Republic." According to the Iranian judiciary, the indictments have been under review by a Tehran court, and the verdicts are forthcoming.
Iraq hopes to complete its first railway link with neighbouring Iran within 18 months, largely to help facilitate the transport of millions of pilgrims that visit Shi'ite Muslim shrines in Iraq each year, a senior transport adviser said. The roughly 30-kilometre (18.64 miles) line will run between Iraq's southern city of Basra and the Iranian border-town of Shalamja, linking nations with ties that have deepened since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, after which pro-Tehran Shi'ite Muslim parties enhanced their influence in Baghdad. "We should see the trains moving in about 18 months because it's a small distance," Nasser Al-Asadi, transport advisor to the Iraqi prime minister, told Reuters. He added the government also planned a metro link between Karbala and Najaf, the seat of Iraqi Shi'ite clergy.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Daniel Roth from the United Against Nuclear Iran group said on X that “Miller doesn't 'know the entire context' but is confident there's nothing to see here,” pointing to revelations in the detailed report. Another UANI fellow Jason Brodsky said that “dismissing the story due to the time period in question and the fact that some do not work in the US government is an inadequate response.” “Some who do not hold USG jobs and don't have security clearances are regularly quoted in media as being briefed on ongoing negotiations with Iran's regime," he underlined.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Mohammad Eslami, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, demanded an end to “illegal sanctions” and pressure on its “peaceful nuclear program” in a statement to the 67th International Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference in Vienna. Eslami also critiqued Western countries in a meeting with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi in Vienna, according to Iranian state media. "Now is the time to reverse the course of action and avoid any further political and psychological pressure on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program which proved to be fruitless. It is incumbent upon those who have created such conditions to stop unproductive acts, remove illegal sanctions and drop unfounded allegations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” Eslami said in a statement to the IAEA.
Washington has “always” indicated to Tehran that it would be “open to diplomacy” over the country’s contentious nuclear program but that Tehran must first take “de-escalatory steps” to reduce high tensions and “create a space for diplomacy,” a US State Department spokesperson said Tuesday. Matthew Miller said in a press briefing that the US was “committed to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon, and we would prefer to address our concerns about Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy.” The comment was in response to a question about a recent report that Japan has proposed an initiative to resume talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said earlier Tuesday that a Japanese initiative that would align with “Iran’s interests” would be welcome by Tehran and praised the “constructive role of Japan in reviving the nuclear deal,” according to Arab News which cited Japanese news agency Kyodo News.
Iran has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of issuing a threat in his UN General Assembly speech last week to use nuclear weapons against the Islamic Republic, citing a line in which the premier’s office has clarified he misspoke. Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, sent a letter of complaint to the UN secretary general and the presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council, expressing “strong condemnation” of Netanyahu’s Friday address, the official IRNA news agency reported early Wednesday. In the Monday letter, which Iravani said was sent at the order of the Islamic regime, he noted the “alarming and serious threat by the prime minister of the Israeli regime to make use of nuclear weapons against Iran.”
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iranian children are being forced out of school and into the workplace as families struggle to make ends meet in the country's worst economic crisis in decades. Bahram Zonoubi Tabar, the head of the Labor Coordination Council in Fars Province, said that the escalating inflation rate and the steep costs of essential goods are causing significant hardships meaning children are increasingly being forced into the workplace. Recently, Iran's Parliament Research Center released a report indicating a concerning surge in the number of working children. The report revealed that 15% of school age children are now working, depriving them of crucial educational prospects.
Pakistan and Iran's trade volume exceeds $2 billion (€1.9 billion) annually, with Pakistan selling rice and other products to its neighbor, while people living in the border area of Balochistan save money by buying Iranian food and goods from traders across the border. There is a tradition of bartering goods — exchanging rice for cement, steel, fruits, dry milk, cooking oil and a number of other commodities — going back decades, according to Rahim Zafar, a trader and politician based in Pakistan's port city of Gwadar. "In the past, borders would be open and people could just walk into the Iranian territory exchanging commodities," Zafar said. But now, according to Zafar, authorities have fenced most of the 904-kilometer-long (562-mile-long) border between the two countries.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards successfully launched a third military satellite into orbit on Wednesday, state media reported, citing Minister of Communications Issa Zarepour. The Noor 3 imaging satellite orbits at an altitude of 450 kilometres (280 miles) above the earth's surface and was launched by the three-stage Qased, or messenger carrier, state media said, which launched its predecessor Noor 2 in 2022. The U.S. military says the same long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also allow Tehran to launch longer-range weapons, possibly including nuclear warheads. Tehran denies U.S. assertions that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Tom Tugendhat, UK's security minister and an MP, welcomed the reopening of Iran International's office in London, after threats had led to a temporary relocation earlier this year. In a post on social media platform X in Persian, Tugendhat addressed Iran International saying, "Welcome back." Following security threats emanating from Iranian agents against Iran International last year, Tugendhat was among British officials who provided extensive support to the network. After the closure of Iran International's London office, Tugendhat strongly condemned the Iranian government's threats against the network in a parliamentary session, stating that the UK would continue to support the network and provide a secure space for its activities.
CONGRESS & IRAN
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after reports in Semafor and Iran International revealed the existence of an extensive Iranian regime influence operation that involved current administration officials, including those linked to Robert Malley, the administration’s long-time Special Envoy to Iran: “These reports and the emails they expose are indescribably troubling. When Joe Biden was elected, the Iranian regime’s nuclear program was in a box, their economy was on the brink of collapse, and their oil exports had cratered. President Biden and Biden officials have allowed the regime to get within reach of a nuclear arsenal, restore their economy, and export millions of barrels per day of oil worth hundreds of billions of dollars. They have agreed to secret nuclear side deals that are being kept from Congress, including ransom deals worth additional billions of dollars.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Iran is now warming up to a joint Turkish-Azeri plans to set up a transport corridor connecting Turkey to Azerbaijan via Armenia. Speaking on his way back from the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan, Erdogan reiterated his country’s resolve to set up the corridor through which Ankara is seeking to boost its trade ties with Azerbaijan and Central Asia. “Establishment of this corridor is very important for Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is a strategic issue and must be completed,” he said. Iran has in the past opposed the plan on the grounds that it would cut off the transport routes connecting its territories to Armenia. Without elaborating on the nature of the positive signals now coming out of the country, Erdogan said “it is pleasing to see positive signals from Iran on this issue."
The accounts of several Russian, Chinese and Iranian state media outlets saw a 70 percent increase in engagement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after it removed labels identifying them as “state-affiliated,” according to a new report released Tuesday. The recent analysis from NewsGuard, which analyzes media trends and disinformation, found that 12 state media accounts from the three countries saw the number of likes and reposts on their content jump from 2.93 million in the 90 days before X removed the “state-affiliated” labels to 4.98 million in the 90-day period afterward.
Earlier this month I interviewed exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi to discuss what’s happening in Iran. You can watch the 25 minute video here. We cover a lot of topics mostly to do with economics. The first thing I asked was what had changed since we last spoke five years ago. Its unlikely that most Iranians will not see the light of freedom in Iran if the current regime remains in place, Pahlavi says.But he also says there is now a lot more bravery among the Iranian popes standing up to the regime. I questioned him about the wisdom of the Biden administration announcing that it had cut a deal with Iran to release $6 billion of cash to the regime in Tehran and agreed to a prisoner swap which would result in the release of six U.S.-Iranian dual nations.