The Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on Wednesday with planning to assassinate John R. Bolton, who served as the national security adviser to President Donald J. Trump, as payback for the killing of a senior Iranian official. The charging document, filed in federal court, read like the synopsis of an international espionage novel — but the scheme, had it been carried out, would have resulted in the murder of a prominent American critic of the government in Tehran, and the plot’s disclosure has further jolted an already shaky relationship between the United States and Iran at a critical moment in negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The United States does not believe charges against an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps member for allegedly plotting to murder former White House official John Bolton should affect nuclear diplomacy with Iran, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. "In our view, it shouldn't," said the official on condition of anonymity, adding that the Justice Department pursued charges against Shahram Poursafi independent of U.S. diplomacy with Iran. Washington is seeking to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal under which Tehran had curbed its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions.
Iran has begun training Russian officials to use its advanced drones, according to the Biden administration, the latest sign that Moscow plans to use Tehran’s military weapons to try to seize a new aerial advantage in Ukraine. Iranian officials launched the training in recent weeks as part of an agreement for Tehran to send hundreds of drones to Russia, according to a U.S. official, who cited recently declassified U.S. intelligence. The Biden administration first released intelligence last month on the secret talks between Russia and Iran in an effort to deter the two countries from following through on plans to use the drones against Ukrainian forces.
UANI IN THE NEWS
The Iranian government confirmed last week that President Ebrahim Raisi will seek an entry visa to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. The Biden administration should reject his request given Mr. Raisi’s bloodstained record and Iran’s continuing threats against U.S. citizens. On Wednesday the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, for plotting a murder-for-hire scheme against John R. Bolton, who formerly served as U.N. ambassador and White House national security adviser.
Former national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday slammed the Biden administration for negotiating with Iran on a new nuclear deal after it was revealed he was targeted in an Iranian assassination attempt, saying attempts to “appease” Tehran are encouraging threats against U.S. officials. Bolton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on the “Situation Room” that because the nature of the Iranian regime “drives it to this kind of action,” President Biden should not be trying to revive a 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear abilities in exchange for easing U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.
The Belgian parliament's recent decision to ratify its prisoner-exchange treaty with Iran is a grave mistake, and one which exemplifies the many downfalls of dealing with Iran's human-rights abuses on a case-by-case basis. As many as two dozen dual-national citizens, including five Americans and 15 Europeans, remain in captivity in Iranian prisons, in total violation of international law. These individuals have suffered unspeakably at the hands of the Iranian regime, often being subjected to humiliating show trials, before being isolated, tortured and starved for long periods of time, for no other reason than to publicly demonstrate the power the regime holds over them.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
After yet another round of talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal last week, the country's negotiators are now consulting with the leadership in Tehran on how to proceed. European Union officials say they have presented a "final," take-it-or-leave it text for the US and Iran to consider. The draft has been met with guarded optimism in Iran. Mohammad Marandi, adviser to Iranian negotiators in Vienna, told CNN that the text to resuscitate the agreement that former US President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018 has "evolved significantly" in recent months. But he also said that supplementary negotiations will be needed over a sticking point that emerged earlier this summer.
Before signing the nuclear deal, Iran wants the IAEA to end its investigation — just like 2015. EU presents ‘final text.’ As negotiators inch closer to a renewed nuclear agreement, Iran is seeking the shutdown of a yearslong investigation by the UN’s atomic energy agency into nuclear material found at the country’s undeclared sites. On Monday, the European Union handed Iran and the United States what it described as a “final text” to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) following four days of intense negotiations in Vienna.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran’s IRGC-affiliated Fars news website has lashed out at Tehran chamber of commerce for “under-reporting” oil exports to China that hardliners take credit for. The chamber of commerce regularly published trade statistics, but Fars angry at the low figure cited in the latest report asks why the organization is allowed to even speak about oil exports to China. The figures published by the chamber of commerce show just $350 million in crude shipments to China through the end of May this year.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Hundreds of civil activists in the western Lorestan Province have issued a statement calling on the Iranian authorities to release a woman who was arrested for protesting the mandatory head scarf and was apparently beaten to force a televised confession from her. The signatories of this letter described Sepideh Rashno's "forced confessions" on state television as a "ridiculous display" and condemned the "producers" of the television program and their "insulting behavior" toward Rashno.
Iranian authorities have warned manufacturers and sellers of women's clothing that they will shut down their businesses if they keep using "loud" colors in their products. In a statement to the Roydad24 website, Majid Emami, who heads Iran's fashion and clothing organization, quoted the Ministry of Industry and Trade as saying that women's clothing manufacturers could lose the right to manufacture knee-length open cloaks -- the Iranian women's most common piece of clothing that is usually worn over a shirt and with long pants or jeans -- unless they stick with colors not deemed to be "loud."
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The White House warned Iran against attacking U.S. citizens on Wednesday after the Justice Department revealed that a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) hatched plans to assassinate former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton. "We have said this before and we will say it again: the Biden Administration will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
A senior commander says Iran's navy repelled an attack on an Iranian vessel in the Red Sea overnight on August 9-10, but he didn't identify the type of ship or its attackers. Rear Admiral Mustafa Tajeddini said a destroyer-led flotilla responded to a distress call "and engaged with the attacking boats.” He said the attackers "made off." The resulting damage was unclear. Piracy and other minor incidents are not unusual in the oil-rich region, but while seizures and other more serious confrontations are less frequent they can threaten shipping on one of the world's busiest commercial cargo routes.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
A new Iranian satellite has surveillance capabilities that present a serious problem for Israel due to its ability to monitor sensitive sites in the country, snapping high-resolution images of objects on the ground, experts have warned. The Khayyam satellite, built and launched by Russia on behalf of Iran, lofted into orbit on Tuesday from the Russia-controlled Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Hours later Iranian media reported that the first telemetry had been received from the spacecraft.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday accused Iran of funding Palestinian Islamic Jihad to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year, a week after Israel fought a three-day battle with the terror group in the Gaza Strip. PIJ launched 1,175 rockets and mortars at Israel between Friday and Sunday. According to the Israel Defense Forces, some 200 rockets of them fell short inside the Gaza Strip. In several cases, failed rocket launches killed Palestinian civilians.