Iran said it added a warship capable of carrying helicopters, drone aircraft and missiles to its fleet, signaling an intent to extend its naval influence beyond its native Persian Gulf. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detailed the 150-meter-long Shahid Rudaki in a statement on its website, Sepah news reported. The IRGC’s naval fleet is mostly made up of small speed boats deployed close to Iranian shores and around the Strait of Hormuz. The Shahid Rudaki will improve the security of Iran’s maritime transportation lines, according to the statement.
Iran is preparing for a wide-ranging lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19, listing more than 300 cities and towns for strict new restrictions that will likely inflict more pain on its sanctions-battered economy. The government imposed a lockdown on Tehran in October but for months had resisted sweeping curbs outside the capital, hoping to avoid deepening a financial crisis that has pummeled ordinary households and sparked massive protests. But infection rates have accelerated dramatically over the past month, leaving it no choice, officials said.
The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday cited the Iranian regime’s hanging of the champion Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari in a resolution that condemned the regime for its widespread human rights violations. The sponsors of the resolution called on the “Islamic Republic of Iran to launch a comprehensive accountability process in response to all cases of serious human rights violations, including allegations of excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against peaceful protesters and political prisoners, failure to respect fair trial guarantees, and the use of torture to extract confessions, such as in the case of Navid Afkari and others.”
UANI IN THE NEWS
Former Connecticut and United Against Nuclear Iran Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman discusses U.S. foreign policy and need for an incoming Biden administration to maintain a tough stance on Iran, to “achieve real peace in the Middle East.” Senator Lieberman expressed his concerns over the Joe Biden administration ‘rushing back into negotiations with Iran,’ claiming it would 'slide' the U.S. ‘back to a much worse time.'
Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman warned on Thursday that the U.S. would go back to a “much worse time” if President-elect Joe Biden moves to quickly rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. In an appearance on Fox Business’s “Mornings with Maria,” the former Democratic senator turned independent said he was “concerned” about the incoming Biden administration’s approach to Iran. He argued that the Obama-era nuclear deal was a "mistake" and that the U.S. would be better off applying “maximum pressure” against Tehran. He pointed to recent peace accords signed by Arab countries and Israel, saying, “These are real peace agreements that are taking shape."
…United Against Nuclear Iran policy director Jason Brodsky (no relation to Matt Brodsky) said the drawdowns "are inconsistent with a strategy of maximum pressure on Iran." "In Iraq, Iran's Axis of Resistance wants to see Washington gone. Withdrawing also reduces US leverage and influence in Baghdad. Iraq's government remains trapped between an American rock and an Iranian hard place," he said. "Iraqi officials who are allies of the United States are already concerned about a premature return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as that would empower Tehran in the country as a result of sanctions relief."
UANI Senior Advisor Norman Roule joined The John Batchelor Show to discuss the assassination of a top Al Qaeda commander Abu Mohammed al Masri, the Iran-Israel encroachment and the impact of the Abraham Accords.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The head of the U.N. watchdog responsible for inspecting Iran’s nuclear program has warned against launching a military strike on Iran. “I would hope there would never be a time for a military attack,” the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, told NBC News in an interview Wednesday in Vienna. His comments come after The New York Times, citing four current and former U.S. officials, reported Monday that President Donald Trump had asked advisers last week what options he had to take military action against Iran’s main nuclear site.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are under fire for suggesting that Iran could continue talks with the United States after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. In a video recently released by Iranian media, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Esmail Ghaani criticizes the idea of speaking with the United States. Ghaani, who took over the Quds Force after the United States assassinated the previous commander, Qasem Soleimani, said that Iran is under a new era in the region and would be on the defensive.
An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader who is a possible 2021 presidential candidate is warning that any American attack on the Islamic Republic could set off a “full-fledged war” in the Mideast in the waning days of the Trump administration. Speaking to The Associated Press, Hossein Dehghan struck a hard-line tone familiar to those in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, a force he long served in before becoming a defense minister under President Hassan Rouhani.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A fire in a petrochemical factory in southwestern Iran on Thursday led to the death of one worker and injured four others, Iranian state TV reported. The report said the worker died after jumping off a platform where the blaze erupted during the unloading of carbohydrate materials. It said firefighters put out the fire after two hours. The TV broadcast footage showing smoke rising from the facility. The incident happened on Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf, which is home to Iran’s biggest crude export terminal. The report did not elaborate as to what caused the fire.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani flew into Ben Gurion Airport late Wednesday morning on the first-ever official visit to Israel by a minister from his country, and spent the day in Jerusalem meeting with Israeli leaders and participating in a tripartite summit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Such developments would have been unthinkable until very recently.
Iran is more isolated in the wake of the Abraham Accords between Israel and two Gulf states, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. This, along with messages about new sanctions, was part of the narrative put forth on Wednesday during his visit to Israel. The peace deals have certainly shifted the region and provide an important new step in Israel-Arab relations, as well as cementing an emerging strategic system of nations that includes Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, India, Greece and Cyprus.
State-sponsored programs from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea pose the greatest high-tech threats to Canada, a report from the nation's authority on cyber security warned Wednesday, saying it feared foreign actors could try to disrupt power supplies. "The number of cyber threat actors is rising, and they are becoming more sophisticated", the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and its Canadian Center for Cyber Security said. The center found that those four countries are very likely attempting to build up capacities to disrupt key Canadian infrastructure -- like the electricity supply -- to further their goals.