Iran said on Monday it awaited the US response to "solutions" discussed with the EU envoy for breaking a stalemate in talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. The European Union's coordinator for nuclear talks with Iran, Enrique Mora, held two days of discussions with the Islamic republic's chief negotiator Ali Bagheri in Tehran last week, leading the EU to say talks had been unblocked. The negotiations, aimed at bringing the US back into the deal and Iran to full compliance with it, had stalled for about two months. "Serious and result-oriented negotiations with special initiatives from Iran were held," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.
The U.N. human rights office's spokesperson on Tuesday urged Iran to halt the imminent execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali and reverse his death sentence. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency has reported that Djalali, sentenced to death on charges of spying for Israel, would be executed by May 21.
Protests in Iran continued Monday as more Iranians took the streets to show their disdain for the regime in Tehran. Over the weekend reports said up to five people were killed following a crackdown by authorities. A semi-official government news agency put the number of dead from the protests at one according to the Associated Press. The protests began last week when the government slashed food subsidies on eggs, milk, chicken, and cooking oil leading to price rises of some 300%. Since then, protests have spread to many areas of the country and according to observers have taken on a much more anti-government current.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Amid stalled nuclear talks with the P5+1, a senior Chinese military delegation, headed by Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe, landed in Iran for a visit in late April. The readouts from Tehran were rather dull, with the usual platitudes about the close relations between Beijing and Tehran. But there is more to this visit than meets the eye. While a new “axis” may not necessarily be forming, there are troubling trendlines, particularly concerning arms transfers; drone, dual-use, and missile technologies; and cyber and intelligence capabilities, that Western policymakers need to counter. In the end, these may undermine China’s own regional interests as well.
Iran’s growing stockpile of enriched uranium and state-sponsored terrorism pose an immediate existential threat to humanity and must be addressed swiftly and resolutely. The consensus on this matter is clear. Yet, in coming to the bargaining table with Iran before demanding accountability for threats against former U.S. government officials, the Biden administration has undermined our nation’s hard-won strength as a global superpower. Throughout history, the United States has cemented its place in the geopolitical landscape as the dominant global power by advocating for democratic values and rule of law not just with rhetoric, but with action.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran signaled a willingness to reopen stalled nuclear talks during two days of meetings last week in Tehran — but it hasn’t dropped a final demand holding up a deal. Enrique Mora, the senior EU official coordinating the nuclear talks, traveled to Iran in an effort to overcome a seven-week stalemate in talks between the U.S., Iran and Western powers. Senior Western officials told POLITICO that the discussions, which spanned Wednesday and Thursday, created new progress, but that an agreement remained far from certain.
Iran is working on advanced uranium centrifuges at new underground sites being built near its Natanz nuclear plant, Israel’s defense minister said on Tuesday, giving figures that appeared to go beyond those published by a UN watchdog. Centrifuges are used to purify uranium for civilian projects or, at higher levels, to make bomb fuel. Iranian progress in the field is being watched by world powers trying to resurrect a nuclear deal with Tehran, which denies having military designs.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani announced that several countries had asked Iran for ways to "neutralize effects of sanctions," noting Tehran is serious about the Vienna negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei insists on neutralizing the effects of sanctions. Speaking on the sidelines of the Iran Oil Show 2022, the chief negotiator said the strategic policy is in line with the smart initiative to lift sanctions and thwarted the “enemy's” efforts in stopping the progress and the comprehensive national development.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran’s state TV on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of two French citizens, saying they met with protesting teachers and took part in an anti-government rally. The report identified the two as Cecile Kohler, 37, and Chuck Paris, 69, and said they were not on a tourist visit to Iran. France had earlier identified the two as a teachers’ union official and her partner on vacation in Iran. The Intelligence Ministry in Tehran last week only said that it had detained two Europeans. The TV broadcast footage of the arrival of the two, saying they landed from Turkey at Tehran airport on April 28.
Human rights organizations and relatives have denounced the recent announcement of the date for the execution of Iranian-Swedish citizen Ahmad Reza Jalali. Vida Mehrannia, Jalali's wife, is calling for his return to Sweden. Some experts have pointed to possible retribution for the trial in Sweden of former Iranian official Hamid Nouri. "Ahmad Reza has not been allowed any direct telephone contact with us in Sweden since November 2020," Mehrannia told DW. Mehrannia, like the representatives of several human rights agencies, believes her husband is innocent and that his trial was completely unfair.
Iran could postpone the death sentence expected later this month against Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmedreza Djalali, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday. ISNA news agency had reported earlier this month that Djalali would be executed by May 21, after he was sentenced to death in 2017 over espionage for Israel. “Mr. Djalali’s sentence is definite, as the judiciary had announced,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. Asked if Djalali and his lawyers had requested a review of the sentence, Khatibzadeh said: “They have requested that the execution be done at another time.”
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Days after a reported Israeli airstrike in Syria, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday vowed to prevent Iran from transferring “advanced capabilities” to other entities in the region. “The State of Israel will continue to act against any enemy that threatens it, and prevent the transfer of advanced capabilities from Iran that endanger the citizens of Israel and harm the stability of the entire region,” Gantz said during a visit to the military’s Northern Command. Israel has long accused Iran of transferring advanced munitions to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, via Syria.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Iran's top diplomat has travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday to pay his respects after the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed, Iranian state media reported, while Tehran welcomed the appointment of the Gulf state's new ruler. The trip by Hossein Amirabdollahian is the highest level visit by an Iranian official to the Gulf country since Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched a deadly strike on the UAE in January.