As Iran enters its eighth week of public unrest following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the country’s Revolutionary Court issued its first known death sentence on Sunday over participation in the anti-regime protests. According to the judiciary’s website Mizan Online, the unidentified accused set a government building on fire, and was sentenced on the charge of “disturbing public order and comfort, community and colluding to commit a crime against national security.” Jail terms ranging from five to 10 years have been handed down to five other individuals, the ruling stated, on charges of national security and public order violations. The rulings are subject to appeal, and further details of the case will not be published until the final verdict.
Fresh European Union sanctions will target the "inner circle of power" of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Germany said on Monday as the bloc convened to respond to what it has condemned as Tehran's widespread use of force against peaceful protesters. The protests, triggered by the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, mark one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. So far, 336 demonstrators have been killed in the unrest and nearly 15,100 detained, according to the activist HRANA news agency. "We will adopt another sanctions package to send a clear message to those who think they can suppress, intimidate and kill their own people without consequences," Baerbock told reporters as she arrived for a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels.
The U.N. atomic watchdog said Thursday it believes that Iran has further increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium and criticized Tehran for continuing to bar the agency’s officials from accessing or monitoring Iranian nuclear sites. In its quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that according to its assessment, as of Oct. 22, Iran has an estimated 62.3 kilograms (137.3 pounds) of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity. That amounts to an increase of 6.7 kilograms since the IAEA's last report in September. That enrichment to 60% purity is one short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Russia and Iran, two of the world’s most deeply entrenched autocracies, both led by megalomaniacs, are facing serious anti-regime unrest. Russians have fled the country to avoid conscription into Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and protests against Iran’s clerical regime are in their second month. The chasm that separates U.S. and European policy towards these respective regimes is as unseemly as it is strategically unsound. The Western allies must apply their Russia playbook to Iran or risk charges of double standards or, worse still, enabling the Iranian regime’s continued rule.
…The Omani minister’s current activities “raises questions on whether messages are being exchanged,” the policy director at the United Against Nuclear Iran think tank, Jason Brodsky, tells the Sun. They may discuss further releases of Americans held in Iran, he adds, but “the nuclear deal has been overtaken by events, I just can’t see it happening.” Even if Mr. Biden decided to forget human rights and renew the JCPOA, he would still need to overcome Tehran’s refusal so far to make even the slightest compromise.
Tougher sanctions enforcement against tankers involved in Russian trades will boost rates for the mainstream fleet, according to analysts. Norwegian investment bank Fearnley Securities highlighted the case of the Young Yong that ran aground on 26 October, a week before it was listed by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) for alleged links to the Iranian regime. The 306,300-dwt Young Yong (built 2001) was one of 11 ships that Ofac linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, which the US regards as terrorist organisations. The Young Yong was carrying Venezuelan crude according to cargo data analyst Vortexa and tanker tracking group United Against Nuclear Iran.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The United States, Britain, France and Germany want the U.N. nuclear watchdog's board to pass a resolution calling it "essential and urgent" for Iran to explain uranium traces found at three undeclared sites, their text seen by Reuters showed. The draft resolution was sent to other countries on the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors on Friday ahead of a quarterly meeting that starts on Wednesday. It also comes the day after the IAEA issued a report, also seen by Reuters, on the years-long investigation into the traces.
Iran has agreed to a visit by the U.N. nuclear watchdog this month to start giving answers the agency and its 35-nation board have long called for on the origin of uranium particles found at three sites, an IAEA report on Thursday seen by Reuters said. Iran has yet to provide new material, however, and its offer came before next week's quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors at which diplomats say they expect Western powers to push for a resolution calling on Iran to cooperate, a move that Tehran usually bristles at.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday that he favours a new round of European Union sanctions on Iran next week. "We want to continue to step up the pressure on the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the political leadership," he said in a video posted on Twitter.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian security forces have killed at least 326 people since nationwide protests erupted two months ago, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights NGO (IHRNGO) group has claimed. That figure includes 43 children and 25 women, the group said in an update to its death toll on Saturday – saying that its published number represented an “absolute minimum.” CNN cannot independently verify the figure as non-state media, the internet, and protest movements in Iran have all been suppressed. Death tolls vary by opposition groups, international rights organizations, and journalists tracking the ongoing protests.
A young Iranian man accused of lighting a trash can on fire during a protest could face death row for “waging war against God.” Two female journalists who helped break the story of Mahsa Amini — the 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” — have been in jail since late September, accused without evidence of being CIA agents. In a hearing without his lawyer, a 22-year-old protester was sentenced to death for committing “corruption on earth,” his mother said in an online plea. After an uproar, the judiciary denied that a sentence had been issued.
The U.N.’s top human rights body is poised to hold a special session on Iran in the wake of the government’s deadly crackdowns on protesters, threats against journalists and other alleged human rights violations in the Islamic republic. The Human Rights Council will hold the session in the week of Nov. 21 “if possible on Nov. 24,” following a diplomatic request by Germany and Iceland. Germany sent a letter to the council offices Friday announcing the call for a special session “to address the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially with respect to women and children.”
Demonstrators in southeastern Iran clashed with security forces as they gathered to mourn the deaths of dozens of people during the antigovernment protests that have swept across the country, in one of the most serious challenges to the clerical establishment in decades. More than 82 people died on Friday, Sept. 30, as security forces cracked down on demonstrations in Sistan-Baluchistan, rights groups say. The province is one of the largest and poorest in Iran and home to an ethnic Sunni Muslim minority. In recent days, hundreds of people have gathered in the provincial capital of Zahedan to mark 40 days—an important period in Islamic mourning—since the incident, which protesters have called “Bloody Friday.”
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The job that came in through Michael McKeever’s website was unremarkable, the kind of request he often received in his decades working as a private investigator in New York. An international client wanted his help tracking down a debtor who had fled from Dubai and was believed to be in Brooklyn. Mr. McKeever was to surveil a house and photograph the people coming and going. “Kindly be discreet as they are on the lookout,” he was told. Mr. McKeever and an associate began taking turns conducting the surveillance, but they failed to notice another team watching the same address.
The flight of two U.S. B-52 bombers over the Middle East announced on Thursday was a show-of-force message to Iran as American and Saudi officials continued to monitor an imminent threat to Saudi Arabia, according to a senior Defense Department official. Officials believe Tehran is planning an attack on the Kingdom, likely on energy infrastructure, the official said. American and Saudi officials are also monitoring an increased threat from Iran to Iraq, where the U.S. has thousands of troops and personnel spread across a number of military bases, said a second DoD official.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, with both leaders placing emphasis on deepening political, trade and economic cooperation, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday. It did not say when the phone call took place and made no mention of Iranian arms supplies to Moscow. Russia has stepped up its efforts to build ties with Iran and other non-Western countries since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russia sent cash and stolen Western weapons to Iran in August, the first glimpse of what Tehran has been getting in exchange for helping the Russian war effort in Ukraine. "As always, there’s no free lunch in international politics and not least among the likes of Moscow and Tehran," Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital. "Not only does Iran get to use Ukraine as another testing ground for its unmanned aerial threats, but it gets to empower Putin’s war machine which both distracts world attention from the Middle East as well as imposes a death by a thousand cuts strategy against the West."
IRAQ & IRAN
At least one person was killed and 10 others were wounded on Monday after rockets hit the headquarters of an Iranian Kurdish party in the city of Koye, near the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Erbil, the mayor of Koye Tariq Haidari said. Iran's semi-official Fars news said the country's Revolutionary Guards had targeted the bases of "terrorist groups" in the Kurdish region of Iraq with missiles and drones. The Revolutionary Guards have launched attacks on Iranian Kurdish militant opposition bases in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq since the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 triggered nationwide unrest. Iran has accused Kurdish militants in northern Iraq of fomenting the unrest.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The British foreign office said on Friday it has summoned Iran's most senior diplomat over alleged threats by Iranian security forces to journalists in the UK. "I summoned the Iranian representative today to make clear that we do not tolerate threats to life and intimidation of any kind towards journalists, or any individual, living in the UK," Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement. Iran has responded to widespread internal protests with the suppression of freedom of expression and the targeting of media outlets operating in Iran, the foreign office said, adding that over 40 journalists have been arrested and detained.
Two more French citizens are being held in Iran, taking the total of its nationals detained there to seven, France's foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday, a further sign of deteriorating ties between the two countries. France lashed out at Iran on Oct. 6, accusing it of "dictatorial practices" and taking its citizens hostage after a video was aired in which a French couple appeared to confess to spying, after weeks of unrest that Iran has linked to foreign foes.