Iran’s president said Monday the country is exporting twice as much oil as when he took office in August, despite heavy sanctions on oil exports imposed by the U.S. Ebrahim Raisi made the claim in a live interview on state-run TV without elaborating, including on the amount of oil being exported. “Oil sales have doubled,” he said. “We are not worried about oil sales.” Raisi’s remarks came as international markets are seeking alternatives to Russian crude following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing Western sanctions. Iran’s crude, with a similar composition to Russia’s grade, compete in the oil market.
Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian disaster medicine researcher arrested by Iran, will be executed without a possibility of exchange with an Iranian national tried in Sweden, Iran's judiciary spokesperson said on Tuesday. "Djalali has been sentenced to death on several charges and the verdict is final. The sentence will be carried out," spokesperson Zabihollah Khodaian said, without saying when it would take place. Last week, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that the Djalali, sentenced to death on charges of spying for Israel, would be executed by May 21. He was arrested in 2016.
Qatar’s ruler will visit Iran this week before traveling to Europe as part of a diplomatic push to revive faltering efforts to restore the 2015 nuclear deal and discuss selling more natural gas, according to a person briefed on the plans. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s trip dovetails with a European push to break the gridlock. Enrique Mora, the top negotiator for the European Union, is expected to meet with his Iranian counterpart Tuesday in an attempt to resolve “a few but important outstanding issues,” Nour News reported over the weekend.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…“Not all sanctions are created equally. This is the gold standard of counter-terrorism designations,” Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against a Nuclear Iran, told The Dispatch. “It differs from other counter-terrorism sanctions that we have, like the specially designated global terrorist designation under Executive Order 13224, in that there are immigration-related restrictions simply by virtue of membership in the group,” Brodsky added. “There is a criminal prohibition attached to it for material support to a group that’s listed as a foreign terrorist organization, with extraterritorial reach. It also provides additional avenues for victims of the terrorist organization to pursue damages in civil litigation.”
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s chief said on Tuesday he is still hopeful for a deal between Iran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear pact but that talks were struggling and the moment could be lost. "We are, of course, still hopeful that some agreement is going to be reached within a reasonable time frame, although we have to recognise the fact that the window of opportunity could be closed any anytime," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said, speaking to European Parliament committees via webstream.
The EU diplomat seeking to revive a 2015 nuclear deal will visit Tehran this week, Iran announced Monday, as the United States voiced hope for progress. Enrique Mora has played a key role as an intermediary between the United States and Iran during a year of on-off talks in Vienna that have been at a standstill since March. Mora will meet with Ali Bagheri, the Islamic Republic of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press briefing. "Mora's trip moves the talks in the right direction," Khatibzadeh said.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
China's Iranian oil imports in April came off peak volumes seen in late 2021 and early 2022 as demand from independent refiners weakened after COVID-19 lockdowns pummelled fuel margins and on growing imports of lower-priced Russian oil. The easing of Iranian oil purchases, which still make up some 7% of imports by the world's largest crude importer, came as Western diplomats have largely lost hope in reviving a 2015 nuclear pact while high oil prices emboldened Iran to take its time to return to an agreement. A revived nuclear deal would allow Iran to boost its oil sales beyond China - Iran's number one customer for the past two years - to previous clients in South Korea and Europe.
Venezuela has begun importing Iranian heavy crude to feed its domestic refineries, documents from the state-run oil company PDVSA showed, a deal that widens a swap agreement signed last year by the U.S. sanctioned countries. The two nations last year initially agreed to a swap deal, with PDVSA importing Iranian condensate to dilute and process its extra heavy oil for export. In return, Venezuelan crude is being shipped via the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Iran's heavy crude, which is similar in quality to Venezuela's Mesa 30 crude, is set to augment domestic oil fed to PDVSA's refineries, according to the documents.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The Revolutionary Court of Tehran has sentenced an Iranian-Armenian Christian man to 10 years in prison for establishing a house church, which the judge called “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam,” according to reports. Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Afshari, sentenced Anooshavan Avedian, 60, to 10 years of imprisonment, alongside two others who are members of his house church — Abbas Soori, 45, and Maryam Mohammadi, 46 — both of whom are converts to Christianity, Human Rights Activists News Agency reported.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Management has warned staff at a state-run radio station in Iran not to bring up economic hardship, as these is now viewed as a national security matter. In a recent voice message sent to all producers and presenters of Radio Farhang, the radio station's director, Alireza Habibi strongly warns them to avoid reporting economic woes and the government's responsibility and threatens them that mistakes will not be forgiven because these issues are now "viewed as [national] security matters." In an audio recording of the message, which Iran International has acquired, Habibi also says that instead of discussing these problems, in the current circumstances, the media should strive to advance the "psychological security" of the society. "And don't include newspaper headlines that are gloomy, critical, or about high prices in the programs," he tells them.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Reports this week say that Russia is transferring units from Syria to aid its efforts in Ukraine. Claims that Iran might benefit from this by somehow moving its units, or partner forces, to backfill areas the Russians are leaving would appear to underline Iranian benefits from Russia’s movements. But it is not entirely clear if Iran can move units into areas the Russians are leaving, or if the Russians really are moving units out at all, or merely rotating units around.