The Trump administration outlined an array of new measures that are intended to preclude China and Russia from selling weapons to Iran and to block the shipment of goods that might be used for its missile programs. The new steps consist of sanctions that were authorized in an executive order signed by President Trump, who said in a statement that his administration would “use every tool at our disposal to stop Iran’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and conventional weapons pursuits.”
The United States issued new economic sanctions against Iran on Monday, inflicting more financial injury on Tehran and insult on American allies as the Trump administration accused other countries of appeasing Iran instead of fostering peace. Four cabinet secretaries, the White House national security adviser and the American ambassador to the United Nations announced the additional penalties at the State Department, two days after the administration said it had unilaterally reimposed U.N. sanctions against Iran — a declaration European allies have balked at and the U.N. Security Council has refused to recognize.
Iran is ready for a full prisoner exchange with the United States, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a virtual address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, amid heightened tension between the longtime foes. Washington has long demanded that Iran release U.S. citizens including Iranian-American father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, who it says are political prisoners. Tehran denies it holds people for political reasons and has accused many of the foreigners in its jails of espionage. It says Iranians detained in the U.S., mostly for breaking sanctions, are being unjustly held.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Immediately after the United States announced the return of international sanctions on Iran on Sunday, the dollar exchange rate set a new record high with a 2.5 percent increase to the rate of 273,000 rials per dollar. The U.S. dollar exchange rate was 160,000 rials at the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year starting March 20, but previously reached 250,000 rials in late July. In the last week leading up to July, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) injected about one billion dollars of foreign exchange into the local market, and the price of the dollar fell to 210,000 rials.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed earlier this month for murder, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday, rejecting assertions by rights activists that the death sentence arose from his involvement in street protests. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking in a virtual address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Iran’s hardline judiciary said last week that Afkari, 27, a national champion Greco-Roman wrestler, was executed for murder.
A man who took part in Iran’s anti-establishment protests in November has died in a detention center in Tehran, the opposition website Kalame reported. Nader Mokhtari, 35, died over the weekend at the Kahrizak detention center, Kalame reported. Iranian officials have not commented on the report. Mokhtari had slipped into a coma after being beaten with truncheons by security forces during a protest in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran, the report said. He regained consciousness in late March and was transferred to Kahrizak, where he was hospitalized despite objections by his family and doctors, the report said.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said his country is capable of setting fire to all US bases in the Gulf “at once” , according to an interview on state TV. General Hossein Salami, the commander of the IRGC - the most powerful and influential branch of Iran’s armed forces - said the US army “is exhausted and doesn’t have the power” to start a ground war with the Islamic Republic.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The U.S. Navy is steaming a massive, highly lethal Carrier Strike Group into strategically vital areas off the coast of Iran, demonstrating solidarity, freedom of navigation, and readiness to launch war should that be necessary. A Navy announcement said the service has sent the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier along with two guided-missile cruisers and one destroyer through the narrow and at times sensitive Strait of Hormuz, a narrow strip of ocean in the Arabian Gulf closely bordering Iran’s Western coastline.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
The number of novel coronavirus infections in Iran has risen by 3,341 in the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally since early June, taking total cases to 425,481, the health ministry spokeswoman told state TV on Monday. Sima Sadat Lari said 177 people had died in the past day, pushing the official death toll to 24,478 in Iran, one of the hardest hit countries in the Middle East. Iran’s deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said last week that the whole country was on coronavirus red alert as daily deaths and cases increased at an alarming rate.
For the first time, Iranian authorities are seriously discussing the possibility of adding Chinese to the foreign languages taught in the nation's schools. Acting Head of the Curriculum Planning Department of the Educational Research and Planning Organization of Iran, Ali Mohebbi, announced on Sunday, September 20, that Chinese and Arabic might be added to the list of foreign languages taught in schools. Speaking to the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), Mohebbi noted that, based on the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution's resolutions, teaching English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian has already been approved as officially recognized in the national curriculum.
NORTH KOREA & IRAN
The United States is concerned about Iran’s cooperation with North Korea and will do whatever it can to prevent it, Elliott Abrams, Washington’s envoy on Iran, said on Monday. Abrams was responding to a reporter’s question on whether the United States had seen evidence that Tehran and Pyongyang had resumed cooperation on long-range missile development. He spoke shortly after the Trump administration slapped new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear and weapons programs.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday said the Islamic republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq showed the country can defend itself, without directly addressing the current circumstances. "Trying for eight years, doing everything they can, and yet achieving nothing -- is there a greater victory for Iran?" Khamenei said. Khamenei made the remarks in a televised video address to top military commanders and war veterans across the country, delivered at the beginning of "Holy Defence" week marking the war's anniversary.
Every Friday, trucks brought the bodies of soldiers from the front lines to the police station in the southern Iraqi town of Samawa. Thousands of parents would rush to see if their sons were among the dead. Many, remembers a doctor who served in the town during the brutal Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, would emerge jubilant and laughing. “They were so glad that they did not identify their sons among the dead,” she said from northern Iraq where she now lives.