Iran said it’s exchanging messages with the US via the European Union to break an impasse in nuclear talks, after UN inspectors warned the 2015 accord could be dead within a month. “We put forward a new political package and initiative” via the EU’s top foreign envoy Josep Borrell, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said at a press conference in Tehran, without giving details of the proposals. “Negotiations and diplomacy are the best way to reach agreement,” he said, adding that Tehran has also considered stopping talks.
Iran acknowledged Wednesday it plans two tests for its new solid-fueled rocket after satellite photos showed preparations at a desert launch pad previously used in the program, even as tensions remain high over Tehran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program. The Islamic Republic will launch its satellite-carrying Zuljanah rocket twice more after conducting a previous launch, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini as saying. He did not elaborate on a timeframe for the tests, nor said when the previous launch occurred. Each of the Zuljanah’s three stages will be evaluated during the tests, Hosseini said.
Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation (PMO) said on Tuesday the Iranian-flagged Lana tanker ship seized in April by Greece is no longer impounded and its oil cargo will be returned to its owner, according to Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency. "With the swift and authoritative action of Iran, the Greek government finally issued an order and we are now witnessing the lifting of the ship's seizure and the return of its cargo to its owner," the PMO told Mehr.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Mahan Air managers hold similar positions at Qeshm Fars Air and provide technical and operational support to that airline. They are the same company. The peculiarity of these aircraft that operate under the name of Qeshm is that most of their operations are centered on the transport of weapons and security personnel between Tehran and Damascusaccording to a study by the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) center, made up of Democratic and Republican analysts and legislators from Washington.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The United States said on Tuesday it awaits a constructive response from Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal without "extraneous" issues, a possible reference to Iran's demand its Revolutionary Guards be dropped from a U.S. terrorism list. "We await a constructive response from the Iranians, a response that leaves behind issues that are extraneous to the JCPOA," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, referring to the deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Iran on Tuesday said it still believes that negotiations can succeed to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, despite a recent rebuke from the UN nuclear watchdog. Tehran last week condemned as "unconstructive" a move by the International Atomic Energy Agency to censure the country for failure to cooperate over its nuclear programme. It also disconnected some of its cameras at nuclear sites, a move the IAEA warned could deal a "fatal blow" to negotiations to revive the nuclear deal.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Police officers on Tuesday searched the hotel where the Venezuelan and Iranian crew of a mysterious plane that remains stuck at Buenos Aires’ main international airport have been staying as authorities blocked its exit amid suspicions about its crew and U.S. sanctions against Iran. Federal Judge Federico Villena ordered the raid at Hotel Plaza Canning, outside Buenos Aires, which has housed the crew of the Venezuelan-owned Boeing 747 cargo plane loaded with automative parts. The plane has been stuck at Argentina’s largest airport since June 6 as Argentine authorities have seized the passports of the five Iranians who are among the at least 17 crew members who arrived in Argentina aboard the plane.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February this year, Iranian tour guide Ali’s business has boomed. But where once he hosted Russian tourists interested in Persian art, food and culture, now he welcomes businesspeople. Following a flood of western sanctions on Russian entities, they are “very interested to know how Iranians have been living under US sanctions”, he said. Last month alone, Ali, an entrepreneur who does not want his full name published, brought 160 Russians, mostly businesspeople, to Tehran, up from the 40 mostly Russian tourists he brought in a typical month before the pandemic.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran's labour minister resigned on Tuesday amid daily nationwide protests by pensioners, merchants and workers against soaring living costs. While it was not clear if Hojatollah Abdolmaleki’s resignation was directly related to the month-long protests, a senior MP blamed his “incompetence” for the unrest. The semi-official Tasnim news site said his resignation followed "mounting criticism for his handling of the labour market and a meagre rise in the retirement pensions."
Pensioners and retired public employees have again taken to the streets in the southern city of Ahvaz amid growing discontent over living conditions in Iran and the government's failure to address the problem. Videos released from the June 14 rally in front of the Ahvaz governor's office showed demonstrators chanting against what they called the "lies" and "hypocrisy" of the Islamic republic's officials. "You talk about Imam Husayn, but you act like thieves," referring to Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and the third Shia Imam.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran appears non-plussed over reports about the recent deaths of two members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran’s Tasnim news lashed out at The New York Times and Iran International TV in reports about the deaths, accusing these two outlets of spreading “false” information. Yet Iran’s media also admitted that the foreign reports were based on an unnamed Iranian official. It noted that this official had said that the two men who died were working on “building and developing weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israel and Arab countries that share its worries about Iran should build up their military capabilities under Washington's aegis, the Israeli defence minister said on Tuesday ahead of a visit to the region by U.S. President Joe Biden. Biden's July 13-16 tour will include Israel, the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia, a U.S. official said. According to Saudi state television, Biden will attend a summit with the leaders of Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. Iran's nuclear programme, and so-far fruitless international negotiations to revive a 2015 deal capping it, are among issues likely to be on the agenda.
Iran has claimed it has uncovered details of a recent cyber attack on the municipality of Tehran – but no information was lost due to the attack. The claims were made in an article at Iran’s Tasnim News and are based on comments by Brig.-Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, commander of the Civil Defense Organization. In 2019 he said that, “in the area of such threats, we have achieved remarkable capabilities and can easily thwart these types of attacks.” He warned back in 2017 about US cyber threats to Iran.