Iran’s president on Wednesday warned the U.N. nuclear watchdog to expect a “stern response” from his country regarding the agency’s demands for Iran to provide access to sites where Tehran is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material. In a televised speech, President Hassan Rouhani said a stern response “is easy” for Iran but that the country prefers cooperation with the U.N. watchdog. The remarks reflect Tehran’s irritation at a resolution adopted last week by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency demanding access to the sites.
At the edge of the desert in North Khorasan province in northeast Iran, near the country’s largest deposit of bauxite, sits an aluminium production complex that the government has publicly hailed as a key part of its efforts to boost output of the metal. But the site near the city of Jajarm is also home to a secret facility set up by Iran’s elite security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, that has been producing aluminium powder for use in its missile programme, according to a former Iranian government official and documents relating to the facility he shared with Reuters. Aluminium powder, derived from bauxite, is a key ingredient in solid-fuel propellants used to launch missiles.
A U.S. Navy ship navigated near the Venezuelan coast on Tuesday in what the U.S. military’s Southern Command called a “freedom of navigation operation,” a day after a cargo ship from U.S. foe Iran docked at a port of the South American country. In a post on its website, the Southern Command said the USS Nitze, a missile destroyer, sailed in an area outside Venezuela’s territorial waters - which extend some 12 nautical miles from its coasts - but within an area the Venezuelan government “falsely claims to have control over.”
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Iran has sent Shia militias to this sensitive area around Deir Ezzor. There have been several incidents in this area and allegations that Afghan and Pakistan Shi’ite volunteers for the IRGC are residing in villages here. They have threatened Israel and they are part of Iran’s “axis of resistance.” The US-led Coalition is across the river from Deir Ezzor. In February 2018 pro-regime contractors attacks US-backed SDF forces across the Euphrates river. Jason Brodsky, Policy Director at United Against a Nuclear Iran noted on social media that the air defense activation near Deir Ezzor comes days “after drone strikes killed 12 Iran-backed Afghan and Iraqi fighters in Deir Ezzor.”
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran would be open to talks with the United States if Washington apologises for exiting a 2015 nuclear deal and compensates Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, cautioning that U.S. calls for discussions were insincere. The confrontation between arch foes Tehran and Washington has worsened since 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
In its annual report on global adherence to arms control treaties, the U.S. Department of State has called on the Islamic Republic of Iran to fulfill all its obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "without denial, deception, and wasting time.” The report, titled "2020 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments (Compliance Report), and published on Tuesday, June 23, insists that the Iran should refrain from obstructing and disrupting the IAEA's operations to verify Iran's nuclear program and to act "responsibly."
Iran's president warned Wednesday that the U.N. nuclear watchdog risks losing its independence after it adopted a resolution urging access to two sites alleged to have hosted past nuclear activities. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed the resolution put forward by European states last week, calling on Iran to help clarify whether undeclared nuclear activities took place at the sites in the early 2000s. But the Islamic republic says the IAEA's requests for access were based on allegations from its arch-enemy Israel and had no legal basis.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The slump in Iran's rial will be temporary, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday after the currency sank to its lowest ever before recovering slightly. A U.S. dollar was offered for about 205,000 rials in morning trade on Tuesday, up from 188,200 rials on Friday and 198,000 rials on early Monday, foreign exchange site Bonbast.com, which tracks the unofficial market, said. The Iranian rial firmed to 198,200 against the U.S. dollar in later trade on Tuesday. The official rate, cited by the central bank website, is 42,000.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran Human Rights News Agency (HRANA) on Wednesday reported that the Supreme Court of Iran has upheld the death sentences of three young men who were arrested by security forces during the November 2019 protests. The confirmation of the death sentences passed on Amir-Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, who had all been sentenced to prison, lashes and a death sentence by the Revolutionary Court for various charges brought against them has not been officially announced.
An Iranian fugitive judge whose body was found in a hotel in Romania last week died of the impact from a fall, a Romanian autopsy said. Gholamreza Mansouri, 52, had fled corruption charges in Iran last year, one of several judges accused by the Iranian authorities of graft during a high-profile trial. He was found dead on Friday in the lobby of a hotel in Romania’s capital Bucharest. He had been under Romanian judicial supervision ahead of court hearings scheduled for July 10 over a request by Tehran to extradite him.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump introduced a long-awaited U.N. Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution extending an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October, setting the stage for a great-power clash and likely veto in the U.N.’s principal security body, according to a copy of the draft obtained by Foreign Policy. The U.S. draft resolution would oblige nations, including the United States, to take active measures to prevent Iran from supplying, selling, or transferring arms to other countries, unless the Security Council committee overseeing U.N. sanctions approves such transfers.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran’s Islamic Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced Monday that they plan to set up a permanent base in the Indian Ocean by the end of next March. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tasked the IRGC with permanent presence in waters far away from the country,” IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said. The IRGC commander said that “pirates and some foreign vessels had, in the past, created disturbances for the Iranian trawlers and dhows in the country’s southern waters.”
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran on Tuesday reported 121 new coronavirus deaths, its highest daily toll in over two months, as it battles to contain the region’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak. Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told a news conference that the new fatalities brought the overall virus death toll to 9,863. That is Iran's highest single-day fatality rate since April 11, when 125 deaths were recorded. Lari also announced another 2,445 people had tested positive for COVID in the past 24 hours, raising the country's caseload to 209,970.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
For Israel, this coming November will be a turnaround month. With all due respect to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s West Bank annexation plans, Israel’s security forces are eyeing a far more distant issue, still the main strategic threat facing the country: The ayatollah regime in Iran. Israel is awaiting the US presidential elections, and so are the Iranians. The tense waiting period is unlikely to see any changes in the war the two sides are waging against each other — Iran with Hezbollah’s backing and Israel with US support.
TURKEY & IRAN
One Turkish soldier was killed and two others were wounded in southeast Turkey as they came under fire from the Iranian side of the border, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday in a statement that did not say who had shot at its soldiers. The soldiers were conducting reconnaissance and surveillance mission at the border town of Yuksekova in Turkey’s southeastern province of Hakkari, the ministry said. Turkey has been fighting against Kurdish militant group PKK along its borders with Syria and Iraq for several decades.