Obama State Dept Blocked FBI From Arresting Supporters Of Iran Nuclear Program In US: Emails

TOP STORIES 

Obama State Dept Blocked FBI From Arresting Supporters Of Iran Nuclear Program In US: Emails | Fox News 

The Obama-Biden State Department "actively interfered" to prevent the FBI from executing arrest warrants on individuals illegally in the United States who were allegedly supporting Iranian financial efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, whistleblowers told Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson. Fox News Digital obtained letters Grassley, R-Iowa, and Johnson, R-Wis., sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Merrick Garland on the matter. The Obama-Biden administration began its Joint Plan of Action, which served as the negotiating process for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, that was signed by then-President Obama in 2015. At the time, Obama said broader sanctions would remain in place, which the administration would "continue to enforce... vigorously."  

Houthis Are Using Weapons That Can Reach The Mediterranean Sea, US Says | Bloomberg 

The Houthi militants in Yemen have weapons that can reach as far as the Mediterranean Sea, according to a senior defense official, lending some credence to the group’s threats that it can expand its attacks on shipping beyond its immediate borders. The US government is concerned that the Iran-backed group has the capability to extend strikes on shipping beyond the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean, said the official, who asked for anonymity to discuss private talks. The official said Houthis have access to advanced weaponry and that their deployment of anti-ship ballistic missiles is virtually unprecedented. The group has also used drones in its attacks. The assessment comes as defense officials from the US and the Gulf Cooperation Council meet Wednesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The US will seek to use the gathering to pursue further integration of air and missile defenses, including sharing radar data and developing early-warning capabilities. 

As Crowds Mourn Iran’s Raisi, Others Celebrate Behind Closed Doors | The Washington Post  

Thousands of people gathered in the Iranian capital Wednesday to mourn the sudden death of President Ebrahim Raisi. But behind closed doors, some Iranians were quietly celebrating his demise, saying the hard-line cleric and stalwart regime figure symbolized the worst elements of the country’s Islamic leadership. Raisi’s career — as a prosecutor, chief justice and later president — was defined as much by instability as by the harsh tactics he used to protect the Islamic republic. He presided over decades of repression as a senior member of Iran’s judiciary and was president when security forces brutally cracked down on anti-government protests in 2022 and 2023. In 2021, soon after he was elected, Amnesty International said his rise to the presidency was “a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”  

UANI IN THE NEWS 

Making Sense Of Raisi’s Helicopter Crash: All You Need To Know | Iran International 

…Not everyone agrees with this interpretation. In a piece published in the Telegraph, UANI’s Kasra Aarabi and Mark Wallace argued that the chaotic nature of the reporting revealed the "utter incompetence" of the authorities. They asserted that the government failed to control communications, did not adhere to well-rehearsed emergency protocols, and ultimately entered into full panic mode. This perspective highlights a critical view of the government's handling of the situation, suggesting that the conflicting reports result from mismanagement rather than a deliberate strategy. 

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

Death Of Iran's President Has Delayed Talks With IAEA, Grossi Says | Reuters 

The deaths of Iran's president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash have caused a pause in the U.N. nuclear watchdog's talks with Tehran over improving cooperation with the agency, the watchdog's chief Rafael Grossi told Reuters on Wednesday. "They are in a mourning period which I need to respect," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Grossi said in Helsinki, where he spoke at a nuclear conference. "But once this is over, we are going to be engaging again," he said, describing it as a "temporary interruption that I hope will be over in a matter of days". Grossi said the IAEA was planning to continue technical discussions with Iran but they had not yet taken place due to last weekend's helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.  

TERRORISM & EXTREMISM 

Khamenei Hails Global Anti-Israel Rhetoric In Meet With Hamas Leader | Iran International 

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has once again hailed the spread of anti-Israel sentiment at protests worldwide in a meeting with the leader of Hamas. Khamenei even applauded the chanting of “Death to Israel” in Persian at a rally in Japan as the wave of antisemitism globally reaches record highs. Khamenei's remarks in a Wednesday meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas's political bureau, have stirred controversy as he portrayed such demonstrations as a divine victory for Palestine, heralding them as the precursor to the "eradication of the Zionist regime." Khamenei confirmed that Iran's foreign policy towards Palestine would remain consistent, stating that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, who stepped in following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, would adhere to Raisi’s strategies.  

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS 

IRGC, Khamenei Representative Pushing For Execution Of Iranian Jew | The Jerusalem Post 

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the local representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are pushing for the execution of Iranian Jew Arvin Nathaniel Ghahremani, the Kurdish Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported on Wednesday. Ghahremani, who is being held in the Dizelabad Prison in Kermanshah, was arrested for the killing of Amir Shokri in an incident in which Ghahremani reportedly acted in self-defense. He was set to be executed earlier this week, but his execution was postponed for a month in a last-minute decision on Sunday. In Iran, the family of a murder victim can choose to accept blood money and grant clemency to the person charged with the murder. The murder of a Muslim and the murder of a non-Muslim are not treated equally by Iranian law. For example, if a non-Muslim kills a Muslim, they are subject to the death penalty unless the family of the victim accepts blood money. But if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, the law leaves it up to the judge to decide what punishment should be implemented, if any. 

Iran Sentences Executed Protester's Father To 6 Years In Jail | Iran Wire 

The Islamic Republic has sentenced the father of an executed protester to six years in prison. Mashallah Karami was sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Karaj following the execution of his son, Mohammad-Mehdi Karami, for participating in the 2022 protests. On May 20, Mashallah Karami was sentenced to five years for "assembly and collusion against national security" and an additional year for "propaganda against the Islamic Republic," the Human Rights Activists News Agency reported. Karami's lawyer, Sharifzadeh Ardekani, disclosed that Karami also faces pending charges of "acquisition of illegal property" and "money laundering" in the Criminal Court of Nazarabad. Karami was arrested in August last year by Ministry of Intelligence agents at his home in Karaj and taken to the Intelligence Department's detention center.  

How Refugee Dorsa Yavarivafa Fled Iran For Her Love Of Badminton | Reuters 

On a rainy November morning in 2018, 15-year-old Dorsa Yavarivafa and her mother left Tehran for Turkey with fake German passports – the first thing she grabbed when she was told they were leaving at 4 am was her badminton bag. The pair flew a month later to Germany, then to Belgium and eventually to France. Yavarivafa would be jailed three times -- once entirely alone for a day, crying and taken from her mother -- before she made it to Birmingham, England at the end of 2019 and finally found a home. She said she fled her country for two reasons: her mother wanted to change her religion and Yavarivafa had repeatedly been rejected by the national badminton team without being told why. "I was really scared because I didn't know what was going to happen to me," said Yavarivafa, who will turn 21 in July while competing at the Paris 2024 Games as part of the largest refugee Olympic team to date, with 36 athletes from 11 countries. "I didn't know where I was going. My mum just said we were going to go to another country, but she never told me how or where," Yavarivafa added.  

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS 

Trump Re-Election Bigger Risk To Iranian Crude Supply Than Raisi's Death, Experts Say | The National 

Iran is expected to maintain consistency in its oil policy following the death of president Ebrahim Raisi, industry experts have said. However, they warned that Iranian crude supply faces a greater threat from a potential return of Donald Trump to the White House. Iran has managed to endure US sanctions imposed in 2018, aimed at crippling its oil exports – a major source of revenue for the country. Since President Joe Biden assumed office in 2021, sanctions enforcement has relaxed, leading China to become a significant purchaser of Iranian oil, often at discounted prices. “In terms of energy policy, this is a period where Iran needs as much consistency as possible. They need continued revenue flows [and] they need to be able to count on resources to be able to support this internal political transition,” said Carlos Pascual, senior vice president, geopolitics and international affairs at S&P Global Commodity Insights.  

Pentagon Looks To Increase Air Defense Systems In Gulf As Iran Threats Increase | Al Arabiya 

Pentagon officials kicked off meetings in Riyadh with GCC counterparts on Wednesday to discuss what a senior US defense official said was one of the region’s “most challenging periods” in recent years, including persistent threats from Iran and its proxies. “As we all know, the region is experiencing one of the most challenging periods in recent years. Threats from Iran and its proxies are pervasive, demonstrated by an unprecedented number of Iran-backed attacks since October,” the senior defense official said ahead of the meetings, which Al Arabiya English first reported on last week. The main goals of the meetings will be to look at ways to strengthen cooperation on integrated air and missile defense, including increased early missile warning data sharing, the official said. “These conversations are really more important than ever.”  

Iranian Crowd Chants 'Death To America' At Funeral For Dead President | Fox News 

Mourners chanted "Death to America" at the funeral service for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday in the nation's capital of Tehran. President Raisi, Iran's foreign minister and others were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei presided over the service at Tehran University, where caskets of the dead draped in Iranian flags were seen with pictures of the deceased on them. A black turban was placed on Raisi's coffin, signifying him as a direct descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, according to The Associated Press. "Oh Allah, we didn’t see anything but good from him," Khamenei said, quoting the standard prayer for the dead from the Quran, Islam's holy book. The supreme leader left after he finished the prayer, and members of the crowd reached out to touch the coffins. Iran's acting president, Mohammad Mokhber, stood nearby and openly wept during the service.  

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS 

Sheikh Abdullah Takes Part In Tehran Mourning Ceremony For Iranian President Raisi | The National 

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday led a UAE delegation in Iran that took part in an official mourning ceremony for Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi. Mr Raisi, foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and several other officials were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, while returning from the inauguration of a dam on the border with Azerbaijan. Funeral ceremonies for the Iranian leader began on Tuesday, with thousands of people turning out to pay condolences at events across the country. Mr Raisi is to be buried in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on Thursday. Sheikh Abdullah's visiting party in Tehran included Khalifa Al Marar, Minister of State, Dr Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee at the Federal National Council and Saif Mohammed Al Zaabi, the UAE's ambassador to Iran.  

Raisi Helicopter Crash: Who Makes The Call To Fly In Bad Weather With Vips? | The National 

As Iran investigates the helicopter crash that killed president Ebrahim Raisi, foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other government officials, a key factor has emerged: the weather. Mr Raisi’s chief of staff, Gholam Hossein Esmaili, who was in one of the helicopters that did not crash, said on Tuesday that the weather was clear when the group departed, before conditions changed suddenly while they were in the air. Rapidly changing weather is a notorious risk in mountain microclimates, where sudden gusts of wind or cloud movement can threaten helicopters. According to the government-linked Tasnim news agency, there was an orange weather alert on the day of the flight, which warned that rainy and cloudy weather was approaching – potentially deadly conditions for mountain flying.  

Iran Supreme Leader Leads Prayers At Raisi Funeral As Election Looms | Reuters 

Iran's Supreme Leader led prayers in Tehran on Wednesday at the funeral of the late President Ebrahim Raisi, as the clerical establishment hurried to organise an early election that could further erode its legitimacy amid growing public discontent. The June 28 vote to replace Raisi, killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, will need to galvanise a population that showed little interest in the 2021 ballot that gave the hardline cleric the presidency, a role that oversees day-to-day government. Raisi died at a time of worsening strains between the clerical leadership and wider society, aggravated by tightening political and social controls and a worsening economy. Growing numbers of voters have shunned recent elections, a worrying sign for the leadership, which sees turnout as a credibility test for the 45-year-old Islamic Republic. "The establishment lacks options to secure a high turnout in such a short period of time," said a former Iranian official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.  

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN 

Putin Ally Attends Raisi Commemorations, Delivers Message Of Support From Moscow | Reuters 

A senior ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin attended commemorations in Tehran for the late President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday and passed on a message of support for the Iranian leadership from the Kremlin chief. Russia and Iran have developed close ties in recent years, pushing against what they see as pernicious US foreign policy in an effort to establish what they say would be a fairer multipolar world order. Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday appeared to shock Moscow, which quickly offered its condolences and support. Putin sent Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia’s State Duma lower house of parliament and a close ally, to Raisi’s commemorations, the Duma said in a statement. It said he had met interim president Mohammad Mokhber and passed on a message from Putin “to the leadership and people of Iran.”  

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN 

Saudi Foreign Minister Arrives In Iran For Raisi’s Funeral | Al Arabiya 

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to attend the funeral of Iran’s late President Ebrahim Raisi. Raisi, along with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and six other passengers and crew were killed in a helicopter crash in Iran on Sunday. Qatar’s emir and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also travelled on Wednesday to Tehran to attend Raisi’s funeral. Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei led prayers for the deceased officials. Iran’s acting president, Mohammad Mokhber, later received heads and representatives of countries from the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Funeral ceremonies for Raisi and his entourage began on Tuesday with processions through Tabriz and the Shia clerical center of Qom, drawing tens of thousands of black-clad mourners.  

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS 

President Raisi's Death Could Set Back Normalisation Of Relations Between Iran And Egypt | The National 

The death of Iran's president and his foreign minister in Sunday’s helicopter crash could significantly set back the process of normalising relations between Tehran and Cairo and ending decades of tension, sources have told The National. They said relations between the two regional powerhouses had cooled off before President Ebrahim Raisi's death, with the normalisation process stalling, mostly over Iran’s seeming reluctance to persuade its Houthi allies in Yemen to halt attacks on Red Sea shipping. The attacks, carried out to show solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Iranian-backed Hamas in Gaza, have cost Egypt 60 per cent of its revenue from the Suez Canal so far this year, a significant blow to a country whose economy is struggling to recover from its deepest crisis in living memory.  

Families Of Israeli Female Hostages Release Video Showing Their Capture | The Washington Post 

The families of five female Israeli soldiers taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 released video footage of their loved ones’ first minutes of captivity, surrounded by gunmen in military fatigues barking orders and threatening them before finally shoving them into the vehicles to take them off to imprisonment in Gaza. The families say they are seeking to remind the public of the brutality with which their family members were taken, in hopes that it would push Israeli leaders to restart negotiations for their release. The body-cam footage was among the tens of thousands of hours of video generated on Oct. 7, when many of the 3,000 Hamas gunmen posted images and videos of the 1,200 men, women and children they killed and tortured, and the more than 250 others they took hostage.