Iranian and European Union diplomats will meet on Thursday in Brussels to discuss how to break a monthslong deadlock with the U.S. over how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian gave the date at a parliamentary briefing on Sunday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing lawmaker Ahmad Alirezabeygi, who didn’t give any further details. The meeting in the Belgian capital follows a visit by top EU envoy Enrique Mora to Tehran on Thursday. Iran’s recently elected government has delayed resuming the indirect negotiations with the U.S. since June, citing the change of administration under hardline President Ebrahim Raisi and a need to finalize its negotiating strategy.
A court sentenced the former governor of Iran’s central bank to 10 years in prison for violating the country’s currency system, a judiciary spokesperson said Saturday. Besides violating the currency system, Valliollah Seif also had a role in smuggling foreign currency, judiciary spokesman Zabihollah Khodaeian told state TV. Ahmad Araghchi, a then-deputy to Seif, was sentenced to eight years on the same charges, Khodaeian said. Eight others were also sentenced to various prison terms, he said. All of the defendants have the right to appeal.
Energy traders weighing the probability of a revived nuclear accord between Iran and world powers might do better to train their gaze on Beijing rather than negotiations in Vienna. That’s the conclusion reached by top security analysts using game theory to forecast the next moves in the star-crossed talks. Calculating whether the U.S. and Iran will agree to rejoin the 2015 agreement, which limits Iran’s atomic work in exchange for sanctions relief, is key for oil markets facing tightening global supply.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iran’s advancements in drone technology are a strategic threat to the U.S. and its allies (“Iranian Drones Reshape Mideast Security,” World News, Oct. 7). Gaps in sanctions are partially to blame for Iran’s strengthened capabilities. The business community, too, shoulders a measure of responsibility. To stymie Iran’s efforts, the U.S. should expand sanctions on Iran’s drone program, and businesses should adopt enhanced-due-diligence and know-your-customer’s-customer practices. This would reduce the risk of commercial products being used to surveil and attack innocent civilians and U.S. forces.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Friday that Iran's acceleration of its nuclear activities is putting the world in "a very dangerous place" amid efforts to bring Tehran back into a 2015 nuclear deal. Speaking at a news conference in Washington a day after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, bin Farhan called for a "quick suspension" of Iranian activities in violation of the agreement under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for economic sanctions relief.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
An Iran-flagged supertanker on Saturday was about to set sail from Venezuelan waters carrying 2 million barrels of heavy crude provided by state-run oil firm PDVSA (PDVSA.UL), according to documents seen by Reuters and vessel tracking services. The shipment is part of a deal agreed by PDVSA and its counterpart National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) that exchanges Iranian condensate for Venezuela's Merey crude. The swaps aim to ease an acute shortage of diluents that has cut Venezuela's oil output and exports, Reuters reported last month.
Iran may sit atop a vast reserve of natural gas, but the Persian Gulf state has been busily trying to build up a buffer of petroleum to help keep the lights on this winter. Iran has a larger petroleum stockpile now than it did this time a year ago, the semi-official Tasnim news service reported Friday. The stash will help the country to generate electricity despite a shortage -- projected at 200 million cubic meters per day -- of the natural gas it usually burns, according to Tasnim.
British financial investigators have examined a series of suspected breaches of the UK’s sanctions programme that targets Iran’s nuclear programme. Britain’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (Ofsi) said in its annual review of £12.2 billion ($16.79 billion) frozen assets that it considered 132 potential sanctions breaches in the year to April 2021, with Iran-linked cases a “significant proportion of those reports received”. The UK used to be part of a broader European Union sanctions programme but in 2021 launched its own autonomous system after Brexit, albeit with many of its targets similar to the EU programme.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
An Iranian appeals court has upheld a verdict sentencing an Iranian-British woman long held in Tehran to another year in prison, her lawyer said Saturday. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has already served a five-year prison sentence in the Islamic Republic. Her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told The Associated Press that the appeals court upheld a verdict issued earlier this year sentencing her to another year. The verdict additionally includes a one-year travel ban abroad, meaning she cannot leave Iran to join her family for nearly two years.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iranian-Americans slammed Oberlin College for whitewashing the alleged “crimes against humanity” carried out by the college’s religion professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati during a 1988 massacre of innocent Iranian political prisoners. Amnesty International declared in its 2018 report – which examined Mahallati’s role as the former Iranian regime ambassador to the UN at the time of the 1988 mass murder – that he was “actively involved in denying the mass killings in media interviews and exchanges with the UN to shield those responsible from accountability.”
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, arrived in Moscow on Sunday afternoon for talks with Russian officials, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, without giving more details. Last week Bagheri visited Pakistan where he met military officials and Prime Minister Imran Khan. Both visits come amid tensions with Azerbaijan over Iran’s access to a crucial trade corridor to Armenia and over Israel’s presence in the former Soviet republic. Iran and Azerbaijan share a non-contiguous, 785 kilometer (487.78 miles) border, parts of which were close to last year’s conflict between Baku and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Iranian naval forces intervened on Saturday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, Iran's state media reported. Pirates in five speedboats attacked the unidentified tanker, but they fled after facing heavy fire from Iran's navy, the state broadcaster IRIB said on its website. Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirate attacks.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
During Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Moscow on Oct. 5, one of the main topics of the talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov was rising tensions in Iranian-Azerbaijani ties. At a press conference in the Russian capital, Iran’s top diplomat voiced a range of complaints against Baku, focusing on Azerbaijan's dealings with Israel. In turn, Lavrov made it clear that Russia is "against the buildup of military activity" in the South Caucasus and "against provocative exercises,” which should have been a signal to the Iranian side about the need to reduce the tension.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran and Azerbaijan are in a war of words again, this time over drug smuggling. On Friday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed that the country had closed a drug route from Iran to Armenia and onto Europe. The purported route supposedly passed through southwest Azerbaijan as well, according to Azerbaijani media outlets. Iranian officials reacted angrily to the claim. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh called the assertion “baseless” and said it was “in the interests of the Zionist regime,” referring to Israel. The diplomat also stressed Iran’s role in the drug war, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.