U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to extend an arms embargo on Iran before it expires in October, prompting Russia to slam Washington’s policy toward Tehran as like “putting a knee” to the country’s neck. The United States has circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council that would indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Tehran, but council veto-powers Russia and China have already signaled their opposition to the move.
Nineteen people were killed and six injured on Tuesday in an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the Iranian capital Tehran, the official IRIB news agency reported, quoting state officials. A gas leak caused the blast, Tehran Deputy Governor Hamid Reza Goudarzi told state television. A video posted on social media appeared to show multiple explosions at the north Tehran site and another showed firefighters using a ladder to reach the roof of the building.
Iran is preparing for a great struggle against the United States this summer as it seeks to end an arms embargo by working with Russia and China, and work with Turkey on subverting US sanctions, as well as providing weapons technology to its allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. This is Iran’s own version of the Trump administration’s "maximum pressure" campaign. It kicked off more pressure this month and looks set to continue it into July.
UANI IN THE NEWS
While Tehran’s audacious delivery of oil to Venezuela grabbed the headlines, Iran has been discreetly carrying sanctioned petrochemicals on sanctioned ships to Brazil, Venezuela’s neighbor to the south, for well over a year. On the same day that “Petunia” and “Faxon” docked in Venezuela amid dramatic reports of potential U.S. military intervention, one trade publication flatly announced the departure of yet another cargo of sanctioned Iranian petrochemicals heading to Brazil. And this latter trade is far more critical to the regime’s survival than a fleeting propaganda win over the White House.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The Trump administration’s envoy for Iran said Tuesday that the White House was willing to take military action against Tehran to prevent the regime from acquiring nuclear weapons. Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, said during a visit to Jerusalem that “the military option is always on the table.” “We’ve made very clear, the president has, that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” Hook said in an interview with Channel 13.
Iran will have a range of advanced military equipment it can choose from if the UN arms embargo ends in October. High on Tehran's list will be highly manoeuvrable Russian-made fighter aircraft, as well as some of its most advanced surface-to-air missiles. But Chinese weapons systems are likely to provide tough competition to Russia's offering. Chinese fighter jets and missiles may not be as advanced as those produced in Russia, but their lower cost could prove tempting to cash-strapped Tehran.
In May 2018, when the world learned that Iran had concealed a secret nuclear weapons archive before, during and after negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), supporters of the nuclear deal were quick to excuse Iran’s nuclear prevarication. Two years later, with Iran in full breach of its JCPOA commitments, mounting evidence of undeclared nuclear material and sites inside the country, and the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October, it’s time for the United States and Europe to join together in restoring all of the sanctions and restrictions it once put in place…
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Halkbank will ask the U.S. judge overseeing a criminal case accusing it of helping Iran evade American sanctions to recuse himself, a lawyer for the Turkish bank said on Tuesday. The lawyer, Robert Cary, notified U.S. District Judge Richard Berman of Halkbank’s intention at a hearing, without providing a reason. Berman set a July 14 deadline for a formal request. Halkbank and its lawyers declined to comment. U.S. prosecutors have accused Halkbank and bank executives of using money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook today that more sanctions are needed in order to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions. “I believe it’s time to implement snapback sanctions. I don’t think we can afford to wait. We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon, because then it will be too late for sanctions,” stated Netanyahu at the meeting. Netanyahu warned the Iranian regime that “Israel will continue to take the actions necessary to prevent you from creating another terror and military front against Israel in Syria…”
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Female human rights activists imprisoned in Iran are facing a slew of new charges to prevent them from being temporarily released because of the Covid-19 epidemic, rights groups say. Since Covid-19 spread rapidly through the country in early March, Iranian authorities have been under pressure to release all prisoners who pose no risk to society. Around 85,000 prisoners were temporarily released under a furlough scheme earlier this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak, half of whom were believed to be political detainees.
An Iranian Christian convert sent into internal exile by Iran’s government after it jailed him for six years for his peaceful evangelism has criticized his banishment as a form of harassment. Iranian authorities had ordered 33-year-old Ebrahim Firoozi into exile in the southeastern town of Rask in Sistan and Baluchistan province last November, leaving him about 1,600 kilometers from his home in the Tehran suburb of Robat Karim.
France on Tuesday accused Iran of holding French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah “only for political aims,” after the judiciary upheld a five-year jail sentence against her. Adelkhah, a prominent anthropologist specializing in Shia Islam, was arrested in Tehran on June 5, 2019, and has been held behind bars ever since. “We condemn this decision by the Iranian authorities who persist in holding Mrs.Fariba Adelkhah only for political aims, in the absence of any serious evidence or fact,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Interpol has resoundingly rejected the Iranian government’s request for help in carrying out an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump, in a statement sent to CNBC late Monday. “Under Article 3 of INTERPOL’s constitution ‘it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character’,” the Lyon-based international organization said in the emailed statement.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran will reintroduce lockdown measures on one of its busiest port cities on the Persian Gulf following a major surge in coronavirus cases. Bandar Abbas, the capital of Hormuzgan province and a major trade hub on the Strait of Hormuz, is one of seven cities that will be “closed” for one week from Friday, Fereydoun Hemmati, the provincial governor told reporters, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.
Faezeh Hashemi, a former Iranian lawmaker and the daughter of one of the founders of the Islamic Republic says Iran is neither a religious government, nor a revolutionary state. Taking part in a question and answer program moderated by prominent Iranian academic Abbas Milani, the director of Stanford University's Program in Iranian Studies via video teleconference Hashemi discussed issues relating to the Iranian women's movement.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
In a joint press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said the United States and Israel are working in tandem to prevent a United Nations arms embargo on Iran from expiring. The United States is set to extend the embargo which according to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers is to expire in October. The agreement was sanctioned by the United Nations' Resolution 2231.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The Saudi Foreign Ministry welcomed on Tuesday a report submitted by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Security Council in which he confirmed Iran’s direct complicity and responsibility in sabotage attacks that targeted Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities last year. The ministry underlined the Saudi government’s faith in the UN and the Security Council, trusting that they will preform their duties in safeguarding international peace and security and stand against all systematic violations of international laws and norms, which Iran has been committing for its terrorist interests since 1979.