Iranian journalist Sajjad Shahrabi remains in jail at Tehran's Evin prison despite posting bail, a lawyer familiar with the case told VOA. Shahrabi, who worked as a reporter and host for the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, was arrested at his father's house last month in Tehran. His sister Shima, a journalist who lives outside of Iran, said her brother was detained due to her own media activities. She is a journalist for the website IranWire.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela next week, Iran's state news agency IRNA announced on Wednesday, adding that the upcoming tour stemmed from invites from the presidents of each of the Latin American nations. IRNA said documents to expand bilateral cooperation will be signed between Iran and the three countries during Raisi's visit, mentioning economic, political and scientific issues, but without going into further detail. The state news agency said Raisi will leave Tehran on June 11.
The critical importance of blacklisting the Iran regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group becomes evident as Iran’s regime deepens its involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The IRGC has been providing technical support to Russian pilots, equipping them with Iranian-made drones to carry out bombings on civilian targets. The devastating impact of these Iranian drones in Ukraine cannot be overstated, as they are being used as kamikaze weapons, causing havoc, and claiming innocent lives across the country. The Shahed-136 drones, supplied by Tehran to Russia, have proven to be highly destructive.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, describes the Islamic Republic’s enmity today towards Israel as “an aberration in Iranian history”. Not only do the two countries not share any border or have any territorial disputes, but Jewish people have been living in Persia for more than 2,700 years. A 1985 CIA report declassified in 2011 highlighted the deep security partnership the countries enjoyed prior to 1979: “Israel regularly sold armaments to Iran during the shah’s reign, mainly small arms, mortars and ammunition… the arms sales gave a significant boost to Israel’s fledgling defence industries.” Brodsky adds that the security partnership extended to advanced weaponry, citing Project Flower, a joint Israeli-Iranian military effort focused on developing advanced missile systems.
The Biden administration is reportedly making a major push for a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia by the end of the year, including the installation of a new State Department envoy to lead the effort. It would expand the Abraham Accords of 2020, a groundbreaking achievement that normalized relations between Israel and Arab powers, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and later Morocco and Sudan. Before that, the last similar agreements were reached in 1979 and 1994, with the peace treaties between Egypt and Israel and Jordan and Israel, respectively.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The US State Department Wednesday dismissed media reports about secret talks with Iran for a possible nuclear deal, calling them rumors. Principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel in response to a question about a Haaretz report saying talks have made progress said, “I’m certainly not going to respond to rumors or leaks of diplomatic conversations, which of course have a tendency to be false and misleading.” In recent weeks the State Department has used the same exact formulation to characterize many media reports about some sort of indirect negotiations with Tehran, whether on the nuclear issue or securing the release of American hostages.
Five years after the United States withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal, Iran is reportedly building a nuclear facility inside the Zagreb mountains, located deep enough to potentially evade even the strongest U.S. bunker-busting bomb. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that Iran is now a full nuclear weapons state, it does mean that the U.S. needs to rethink its strategy when it comes to this particular region. The new construction, if reports are accurate, might allow the nation to rapidly produce nuclear weapons. Diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear ambition have so far been unsuccessful, with Iran refusing new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigations and demanding future sanctions relief.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran is looking to set up a natural gas hub in the Persian Gulf and is cooperating with Russia, Qatar, and Turkmenistan to that end, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said on Wednesday. “With the cooperation of Russia, Turkmenistan, and Qatar, we are trying to have a gas hub in the Asaluyeh region, and its preparations are being planned,” Iranian media quoted Owji as saying today. Asaluyeh is a port and energy hub in the southern Bushehr province in the Gulf. Iran will also continue its natural gas swap deals with neighboring countries, the Iranian oil minister added. Iran is estimated to hold the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves, second only to Russia, and ahead of Qatar, Turkmenistan, and the United States.
Iran unveiled what it described as its first domestically made hypersonic ballistic missile on June 6, claiming it can travel up to 15 times the speed of sound. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, posted images of the new Fattah missile. The weapons system was unveiled at a ceremony attended by President Ebrahim Raisi and commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC's aerospace force, claimed the missile has a range of 1,400 kilometers and can reach a speed of 15,500 kilometers per hour. He boasted that the missile is capable of evading any anti-missile defense system. Western military experts say Iran sometimes exaggerates figures for the capabilities of its weapons.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
As the U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes his first visit to the White House on June 8 to renew the “special relationship,” it is crucial that President Biden urges him to take decisive action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The time to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organization is now. As an advocate for human rights and freedom of speech, I have first-hand experience with the IRGC’s reign of terror. Last month, during my visit to London, I was placed under 24-hour armed guard by the Metropolitan Police due to credible threats on my life.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A group of human rights organizations warned Tuesday about executions in Iran and said the situation demands an “urgent and united response from the international community.” Impact Iran and 11 member organizations issued a joint statement condemning “the chilling surge in executions by the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past few months, including the recent wave of executions targeting protesters.” The groups called on the United Nations to “hold accountable those responsible for these arbitrary deprivations of life” including using “targeted measures and restrictions” against the people and entities involved.
CONGRESS & IRAN
According to reports, as of February 2023, Chinese refineries were processing, refining, or engaging with approximately 1.2 million barrels of Iranian oil per day. Iranian oil sales to China’s genocidal regime fund the Ayatollah’s ability to repress Iranian protestors. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum (SHIP) Act, which would sanction illicit purchases of Iranian oil and hold the regime’s enablers accountable.
CHINA & IRAN
China, Iran and Pakistan held their first trilateral counterterrorism and regional security consultations on Wednesday in Beijing. "The delegations held detailed discussions on the regional security situation, particularly the threat of terrorism faced by the region," said a post-meeting statement in Islamabad, which shared no further details.The Pakistani and Chinese foreign ministries said the three nations had decided to institutionalize and hold the meeting regularly. Senior Chinese, Pakistani and Iranian counterterrorism officials, each from their respective foreign ministries, led their teams at Wednesday's dialogue.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
All eyes are on Saudi Arabia yet again, largely due to its effectively purchasing the sport of golf. The Saudis have made themselves a regular in the pages of National Review recently, too. They have survived Biden’s fury. They invited a South American dictator out for a visit. Most ominously, they announced in conjunction with Iran and China that they would be forming a joint navy in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia has, in the words of Jim Geraghty, rarely had it so good. The nation’s good fortunes increased even more Tuesday, when it was announced that Iran would be reopening its embassy in Riyadh after seven years of diplomatic freeze.
IRAQ & IRAN
An Iraqi official confirmed on Tuesday that the Iraqi border forces embarked on a security plan to close illegal smuggling routes in areas in eastern Diyala governorate near the borders with Iran. The mayor of the town of Qazaniyah in Diyala governorate, Mazen Akram Al-Khuzai, said that the Iraqi border guards continue to close more than 20 smuggling passages or routes on the borders with Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. Al-Khuzai confirmed that around 20 smuggling routes are distributed in Qazaniya town, 115 kilometers east of the city of Baquba, and in the town of Mandali, in Diyala governorate, east of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.