Iran attacked northern Iraq on Wednesday with more than 40 ballistic missiles and armed drones, one of which was shot down by a U.S. warplane as it headed toward the city of Erbil where American troops are based, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. The strikes were by far the largest and most deadly in recent days by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has carried out repeated bombardments of Kurdish areas in northern Iraq since last week, after publicly blaming Iranian Kurdish separatist groups based there for fomenting unrest that has swept across Iran.
The Biden administration’s negotiations with Iran over a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal have hit a dead end, jeopardizing the likelihood of a new agreement, senior U.S. officials informed Congress during a classified briefing. A deal seemed within reach earlier this month as U.S. officials presented Iran with a proposal that would significantly unwind economic sanctions and provide the regime with somewhere near one trillion dollars over the lifetime of the agreement. Iran, however, balked and negotiations are at a standstill, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who participated in the closed-door briefing held two weeks ago for members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Iran is open to reviewing how it applies strict Islamic laws at the heart of widespread protests -- but not the values that underpin them, the president said. “We should pursue the best methods for the implementation of the law - every law,” Ebrahim Raisi told state TV in an interview, adding that “what isn’t subject to change are values.” The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by so-called morality police who enforce Islamic laws on women’s clothing sparked deadly protests that have channeled widespread discontent over the rules. “I always said officials should raise the threshold of their tolerance,” Raisi said.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…It is also revenue from the Chinese government which “has kept Iran’s hardline regime afloat as it grapples with the largest outbreak of nationwide protests in years” adds the Beacon. Newly released figures calculated by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an advocacy group that tracks Iran’s illicit oil trade, China “has proven to be the savior of Tehran by continuing to import millions of barrels of oil every single day.”
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran's demand that the International Atomic Energy Agency close its investigations into its alleged past undeclared nuclear activity is the last "huge obstacle" to restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a senior European diplomat tells Axios. Behind the scenes: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi focused his address to the UN General Assembly on the need for guarantees that the U.S. won't abandon the deal again. But in private meetings on the sidelines of the summit, his only demands concerned the IAEA probe, according to a senior European diplomat.
As the latest round of talks in Vienna is declared to have failed, what seems a side issue in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal may in fact be as important as the agreement itself. The role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in exporting the revolution was always at the table, either directly or indirectly, and is fundamental to Iranian policy in the region. The regional role of the IRGC is included in the preamble of Iran’s constitution of 1979, in which it is given the responsibility for “fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.”
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday said that the death of a young woman in custody had "saddened" everyone in the Islamic Republic, but warned that "chaos" would not be accepted amid spreading violent protests over Mahsa Amini's death. Amini's death two weeks ago has sparked anti-government protests across Iran, with protesters often calling for the end of the Islamic clerical establishment's more than four decades in power. "We all are saddened by this tragic incident ... (However)Chaos is unacceptable," Raisi said in an interview with state TV, while protests continued around the country.
The protests that have erupted across Iran in the past two weeks are rooted in anger at the country’s morality police, an unpopular vestige of the 1979 revolution that represents a weak point for the government, according to protesters and human-rights advocates. The death of Mahsa Amini, 22, on Sept. 16, while in the custody of the morality police has touched a nerve among many Iranian families, who have had their own humiliating experiences with officers tasked with enforcing the country’s strict Islamic codes for clothing and behavior.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The United States on Wednesday condemned Iran's use of ballistic missiles and drone attacks against the Iraqi Kurdistan region and called it "an unjustified violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity." Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they fired missiles and drones at militant targets in the Kurdish region of neighbouring northern Iraq, where an official said nine people were killed. "Moreover, we further condemn comments from the government of Iran threatening additional attacks against Iraq," the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Two Republican lawmakers from the Committee of Education and Labor called for an inquiry Wednesday into Oberlin College’s religion studies professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati due to his reported ties with the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran and his alleged role in the cover-up of a massacre of up to 5,000 Iranian political prisoners, Fox News Digital can exclusively report. "Mr. Mahallati’s current association with and his open loyalty to the Iranian regime causes serious national security concerns.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
After months of being hammered on Ukraine’s battlefields by US kamikaze drones and longer range rocket systems, Russia is striking back with a new capability if its own, attacking the southern port city of Odesa almost daily with winged missiles from Iran. That’s leading some Ukrainians to begin to flee Odesa again for the first time since before the summer. Russia has hit the port and the military’s Southern Command, both in the center of the city of 1 million, plus an ammunition depot and other targets outside the city.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they fired missiles and drones at militant targets in the Kurdish region of neighbouring northern Iraq, where authorities said 13 people were killed. The strikes were reported after Iranian authorities accused armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents of involvement in unrest now shaking Iran, especially in the northwest where most of the country's population of over 10 million Kurds live. Thirteen people were killed and 58 wounded in the attacks near Erbil and Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq's state news agency said citing its counter-terrorism service in Kurdistan.
Iran has attacked an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, killing 13 people and injuring several others, officials said. The missile and drone attacks on Wednesday focused on bases in Koya, some 60km (35 miles) east of Erbil, said Soran Nuri – a member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. The group, known by the acronym KDPI, is a left-wing armed opposition force that is banned in Iran. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency and broadcaster said Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces targeted some bases of a separatist group in the north of Iraq with “precision missiles” and a “suicide drone”.