The United Nations Security Council will vote next week on a U.S. bid to extend an international arms embargo on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, despite the warnings of some diplomats that the measure lacks support. The arms embargo on Iran is currently set to end on Oct. 18 under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration quit in 2018. The U.S.-drafted resolution needs at least nine votes in favor to force Russia and China to use their vetoes, which Moscow and Beijing have signaled they will do.
A member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce has said that China’s Kunlun Bank is refusing to deal with Iran, as warnings from the international watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regarding banking ties with the Islamic Republic have become tougher this year. Ali Shariati told local news website ILNA August 5 that for Iran the toughest challenge is in importing basic goods from China and occasionally Russia. “China is reverting to excuses regarding [sanctions on] shipping and money transfers,” Shariati said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Lebanese government to disarm the militant group Hezbollah in a report he intends to present to the United Nations Security Council next Tuesday. “The maintenance of unauthorized weapons outside State control by Hezbollah and other non-State armed groups represents a persistent violation of resolution 1701 (2006) and is of serious concern,” wrote Guterres in a report that was posted on the UN website earlier this week, prior to the Beirut explosion.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Beirut, once dubbed the Paris of the Middle East, has experienced its fair share of violence. Yet, even compared to the Lebanese capital’s turbulent history, the explosion that rocked the city on Tuesday was of a different order altogether. According to Lebanese officials, 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at warehouse 12 in Beirut's port exploded under still-unclear circumstances, wreaking devastation reminiscent of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war in adjacent neighborhoods.
…Others told Lebanese MTV that foreign donors should not give money to the government, because the government would “steal all the foreign aid as they stole it before.” “This [Prime Minister Hassan] Diab government has never been popular,” said Lebanon analyst David Daoud, a researcher at United Against A Nuclear Iran. He noted that the government had seen waves of protests against it since it was formed in January 2020.
“I think Lebanon is ill-equipped financially now to deal with the fallout from this explosion. They’re talking about five billion dollars at least in damages. That’s in addition to dead, wounded people who have lost their livelihoods. This is going to just stoke some real tension. I am wary of giving an exact picture of where this is going to go towards, because I’m not a prophet. What I can say is we’re already seeing anger bubbling on the Lebanese street against the authorities. They want accountability,” said UANI Research Analyst David Daoud.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The US special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, on Wednesday said he expected the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers to be dismantled as its clauses continued to expire. “This deal is going to … keep expiring until there's no deal left," Mr Hook told the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday. The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, placed limits on Iranian nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. The administration of President Donald Trump, which took the US out of the agreement signed by Barack Obama in 2015, would like a new deal, Mr Hook said.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The latest data provided to Radio Farda by Kepler, an international data intelligence firm to Radio Farda, show that Iran's crude oil exports in July reached 101,000 barrels per day. Before the United States imposed sanctions in 2018, Iran used to export 2.5 million barrels per day. Reuters has also reported that Iran's oil production dropped to 1.9 million BPD last July. That is half the volume before the U.S. sanctions and is used domestically or stored. Iran has more than 120 million barrels of unsold crude stored on land and oil tankers anchored in the Persian Gulf.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian journalist who has been jailed in her country since 2015 for human rights advocacy and who told supporters last month she was showing coronavirus symptoms, appears to have recovered from them, according to her husband. In a written message sent to VOA Persian on Tuesday, Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani, living in exile in Paris, said the dangerous phase of his wife’s illness had passed. Rahmani said his wife had been at risk of serious health complications if the illness had spread to her lungs, which already had been hobbled by a preexisting disease.
Iran’s judiciary said Mostafa Salehi, a protester detained during anti-government demonstrations in December 2017, has been put to the gallows. The execution by hanging was carried out in the early hours of Wednesday at Dastgerd Prison, in the central city of Isfahan. One day before the execution, HRANA News Agency — run by a group of Iranian human rights advocates, whose activities are banned by the Islamic Republic — renewed calls for a halt to the order.
Mehrdad Oskouei’s latest documentary, “Sunless Shadows,” is a startling, raw confrontation with Iran’s patriarchy. A poignant follow-up to his 2016 “Starless Dreams,” about teenage girls in a Tehran juvenile detention center, the new movie focuses on a group of adolescent girls and older women imprisoned for murdering male relatives. (Both documentaries are part of a virtual Oskouei retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image, running Aug. 5-30.) The killers in “Sunless Shadows” are destigmatized. In day-to-day vérité footage, they are seen caring for one another and communally raising a baby in the detention center.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani must be released. As a religious prisoner of conscience in Iran, Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years. In the first half of this year, Iranian authorities have furloughed criminals, while those wrongly imprisoned for their religious beliefs remain locked up. In light of these circumstances, we call on the government of Iran to show mercy by releasing Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and return him safely to his family.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The Iranian military accidentally sunk a target barge used as a mockup U.S. aircraft carrier in recent exercises while towing it back to port, according to a report by Forbes, causing a major sea-lane hazard. The barge in question was built around six years ago and originally explained as a prop for Airbus, a never-released film about the 1988 destruction of Iran Air Flight 655 with all 290 people on board by the USS Vincennes. (The film was supposedly being directed by Sean Stone, but apparently never came to fruition.)
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Tehran turns off the lights of its highest monument, the Milad Tower, Wednesday night August 5 in solidarity with Lebanon, as analysts and politicians in Tehran have reacted to the Tuesday's massive blast in Beirut. At the same, Iran Air is to send two airplanes to Beirut to repatriate visiting Iranians. Reports from Beirut say that the international airport in Beirut has already issued the permits for the airplanes to land. In an interview published on the website of IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency, hardliner analyst Saadollah Zarei, close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office, said that the blast in Beirut will have political repercussions.
CHINA & IRAN
Outspoken former lawmaker Ali Motahari on Wednesday said a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official has admitted to him that Iran remains silent about the suppression of Chinese Muslims -- mainly Uyghurs -- because of economic dependence on China. Speaking to Asr-e Iran news website, Motahari said he asked the official about the reason of Iran's silence a while back. "We are forced to silence because of needing [China] economically, the official said according to Motahari.
TURKEY & IRAN
Turkey has suspended all flights to Iran and Afghanistan until Sept 1 despite its previous announcement that flights between the two countries for passengers who hold Turkish citizenship or permanent residency will resume on August 4, the secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, Maqsoud Asadi-Samani told Fars News Agency. On July 19, Turkey cancelled flight permits to and from Iran and Afghanistan due the coronavirus pandemic. IranAir, Meraj Airlines and Iran Airtour Airlines were scheduled to resume flights between the two countries last month after a four-month hiatus.