U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are scheduled to address a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday on the implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — the accord that the Trump administration pulled out of more than two years ago. The long-scheduled open meeting of the U.N.’s most powerful body comes a day after Iran issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad earlier this year.
A roadside bomb hit two Revolutionary Guard vehicles in southeast Iran but no one was killed, the official IRIB news agency reported, citing a parliamentarian from the region. A local commander from the Revolutionary Guards was wounded in the explosion in Sistan and Baluchistan province, Fadahossein Maleki, a parliamentarian from the city of Zahedan in Sistan and Baluchistan province, told IRIB. He said the Sunni militant group, Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), had issued a statement taking responsibility for the attack. Reuters has not received a statement from the group.
Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday, according to the Fars news agency. The United States killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, with a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3. Washington accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region. Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action.
UANI IN THE NEWS
On October 18, 2020, the international arms embargo on Iran under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 will expire. This concession by the P5+1 was part of the broader negotiations that led to the inking of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA was sold as a nuclear agreement—temporary restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for nuclear-related sanctions relief. As a result, the inclusion of a sunset provision pertaining to conventional weaponry with the lack of any binding reciprocal Iranian pledge in changing its malign regional posture was most troublesome.
…In the past, Iranian officials have had to contend with extradition warrants while on foreign travel. Argentina issued warrants for former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati over his role in the AMIA bombing in 1994 while he was travelling, and former Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi had to interrupt a trip to Bolivia after another Argentine warrant. Iran is clearly now attempting to use those kinds of tactics against the United States, Jason Brodsky, Policy Director at United Against Nuclear Iran, told me.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Saudi and U.S. officials on Monday urged the international community to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran, saying that letting the ban expire would allow Tehran to further arm its proxies and destabilise the region. The 13-year-old arms curbs on Iran are due to expire in October under the terms of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Russia and China have signalled they oppose extending the embargo. Both wield vetoes on the U.N. Security Council, which will decide the matter.
When the JCPOA was under debate in the United States in the summer of 2015, a chief criticism put forth by skeptics was that the restrictions the deal placed on Iran were to expire over several years. The first of these sunsets is now at hand, with the embargo on Iran’s import and export of arms set to expire in October of this year. While President Trump’s distaste for the JCPOA is well-known, the expiration of the arms embargo would likely prove troubling for any US president.
The Iranian missile operator who shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet in January shortly after takeoff fired without permission from commanding authorities, Tehran’s military prosecutor said following a preliminary judicial investigation. Gholam Abbas Torki said human error was responsible for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which killed all 176 people on board. He ruled out cyber attacks on Iranian defense systems, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency, and said three people were in custody over the disaster.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
The Middle East and the wider world had been at peace with Iran until the clerics took power in 1979. They hijacked the popular uprising and implemented an ideology that incited religious and sectarian tensions and wars. In addition, they deployed militias and mercenaries to target different ethnic and religious groupings in the region. The Iranian regime’s project pivots around exporting its extremist sectarian “revolution.” Or, to put it more bluntly, the Wilayat Al-Faqih regime has, since its inception, sowed the seeds of terrorism and sectarianism in the Middle East.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran sentenced a once-exiled journalist to death over his online work that helped inspire nationwide economic protests that began at the end of 2017, authorities said Tuesday. Ruhollah Zam’s website and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had spread the timings of the protests and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy. Those demonstrations represented the biggest challenge to Iran since the 2009 Green Movement protests and set the stage for similar mass unrest last November.
Iran has sentenced to death a journalist whose online work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017. Ruhollah Zam had returned to Iran under unclear circumstances and was subsequently arrested. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced Zam’s sentence on Tuesday. Zam had run a website called AmadNews that posted embarrassing videos and information about Iranian officials. He had been living and working in exile in Paris before being convinced into returning to Iran, where he was arrested in October 2019.
Iran’s appeals court has confirmed a five-year prison sentence for Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah on security charges, the Mizan news agency reported on Tuesday. Adelkhah was sentenced in May to a total of six years in prison and her lawyer said she would appeal against the sentence. Earlier this month, France demanded that Adelkhah be released immediately, saying her detention was harming trust between the two countries.
Father of a young man killed in Iran’s November 2019 protests has called on the UN to set up a commission to investigate the "bloody crackdown on protesters” that left hundreds dead across Iran. Manouchehr Bakhtiari's petition was published on the website of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on Monday, June 29. "Suppressing the mid-November protests in Iran was the deadliest repression of critics in the streets since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979," he has stressed in his letter to the UN.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
When a major explosion lit the skies on the edge of Tehran last week, the Iranian government was quick to dismiss the episode as a gas explosion at the Parchin military base, which was once the focus of international nuclear inspectors. It turned out that was false: Satellite photographs show the explosion happened at a missile production facility not far from Parchin, a base laced with underground tunnels and long suspected to be a major site for Iran’s growing arsenal.
Iran recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 within a 24-hour period, official health ministry figures showed on Monday. The 162 deaths reported on Monday exceed the previous record on April 4, when the health ministry reported 158 deaths in a day. The Islamic Republic has recorded a total of 10,670 deaths and 225,205 infections from the coronavirus, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV. There have been 186,180 recoveries, she said.
Heated debates during last week's parliament meeting in Tehran are fueling concerns among millions of Iranians that the newly elected conservative lawmakers are prioritizing restrictions on social media over more urgent economic woes, which they had promised to address upon taking their seats. The session saw Iran’s young Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi cornered and grilled by powerful hard-line parliamentarians, including the speaker, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani will hold a video conference on Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Syria, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The three countries held talks in the Kazakh capital Astana in 2018, aimed at reducing tensions in Syria.
Hezbollah in Lebanon is working to recruit Israeli civilians in order to carry out terror activities for the Shi'ite terror group, an investigation by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency has found. The Hezbollah cell, as well as the identity of Hezbollah detainees and recruits, was discovered following the June 6 arrest of two Israeli civilians from the northern Arab town of Majdal Krum and their subsequent interrogation by the agency.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Saudi and US officials on Monday urged the international community to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, warning that letting the ban expire would allow Tehran to further arm its proxies and destabilise the region. Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel Al Jubeir, and US Iran envoy Brian Hook were speaking at a joint news conference in Riyadh. The venue displayed weapons, including drones and missiles, that Saudi authorities accuse Tehran of sending to Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement and which they said were used in cross-border attacks on Saudi cities.
IRAQ & IRAN
Following the raid by the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) against the Kataib Hezbollah headquarter in Baghdad in the early hours of June 26, pro-Iran militias and their political allies are threatening the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, warning him to not continue taking actions against militias targeting US bases. Qais al-Khazali, head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, warned the prime minister to refrain from further actions against the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).