Iran executed over 250 people, including at least four child offenders, in 2020 and so far this year has carried out 230 executions that included nine women and one child who was executed in secret, the U.N. independent investigator on human rights in Iran said Monday. Javaid Rehman told the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee that Iran continues to implement the death penalty “at an alarming rate” and said “the absence of official statistics and lack of transparency around executions means that this practice escapes scrutiny resulting in serious abuses preventing accountability.”
Iran and the European Union will hold talks in Brussels on Wednesday designed to clear the way for a wider diplomatic push to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic’s lead negotiator said. Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani said in a series of tweets that he’ll meet EU’s deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora, adding that other signatories to the accord should “call out” the U.S. on its sanctions record. Tehran is “determined to engage in negotiations” that would remove sanctions, he said.
U.S. officials say they believe Iran was behind the drone attack last week at the military outpost in southern Syria where American troops are based. Officials said Monday the U.S. believes that Iran resourced and encouraged the attack, but that the drones were not launched from Iran. They were Iranian drones, and Iran appears to have facilitated their use, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not been made public. Officials said they believe the attacks involved as many as five drones laden with explosive charges, and that they hit both the U.S. side of al-Tanf garrison and the side where Syrian opposition forces stay.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran is expanding its enrichment of uranium beyond the highly enriched threshold of 20% purity at a Natanz plant where it is already enriching to 60%, but the new activity does not involve keeping the product, the U.N nuclear watchdog said on Monday. The move is likely to help Iran refine its knowledge of the enrichment process - something Western powers generally condemn because it is irreversible - but since this time the product is not being collected it will not immediately accelerate Iran's production of uranium enriched to close to weapons-grade.
The Biden administration said Monday that diplomatic efforts to get Iran back to nuclear negotiations are at a “critical place” and that international patience with Iranian delays in returning to the talks is “wearing thin.” The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, told reporters there is a “deep and growing” concern about Iran’s continued intransigence and refusal to commit to a date to resume the negotiations in Vienna. Malley said the U.S. and its partners still want a diplomatic solution to bring both America and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from.
The United States said on Monday that it supported the European Union's engagement with Iran as coordinator of the lapsed 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but stressed that the "ultimate destination" to try to revive the accord was to resume talks in Vienna. "The EU is the JCPOA coordinator. And we are very supportive of the EU's engagement with Iran in that capacity," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, referring to the deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "That said ... the ultimate destination needs to be Vienna," Price added.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday after trading down earlier, looking set to sustain a rally driven by strong demand in the United States, the world's biggest consumer of oil and its products. Brent crude was up 13 cents or 0.2% at $86.12 a barrel by 0427 GMT, after gaining 0.5% on Monday. U.S. oil gained 5 cents or 0.1% to $83.81 a barrel, having finished unchanged the previous session after testing new highs. While China's red-hot power and coal markets have cooled somewhat after government intervention, energy prices remain elevated worldwide as temperatures fall with the onset of the northern winter.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A lawyer who is said to have bitten off part of his tongue after being injected with an unknown substance. Videos showing guards freely beating detainees. A prisoner re-arrested after alleging rampant abuse in women’s jails. There has long been concern about abuse in prisons in Iran but a slew of recent allegations concerning high-profile detainees and claims disseminated on social media have amplified the anxiety. “Iran’s intelligence apparatus, in close collaboration with the revolutionary court, have turned the justice system into a cornerstone of repression,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
A human rights expert described executions carried out in Iran as “an arbitrary deprivation of life,” as he called on Tehran to reform its laws and abolish the death penalty. He said the punishment is often used as a political tool. Javaid Rehman, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, told the General Assembly on Monday that the death sentence in the country is often imposed on “vague and arbitrary grounds.” He highlighted in particular three criminal charges used to target peaceful demonstrators and political opponents: waging war against God, corruption on earth, and armed rebellion.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Gas stations across Iran on Tuesday suffered through a widespread outage of a government system governing fuel subsidies, stopping sales in an incident that one semiofficial news agency referred to as a cyberattack. An Iranian state television account online shared images of long lines of cars waiting to fill up in Tehran. An Associated Press journalist also saw lines of cars at a Tehran gas station, with the pumps off and the station closed. State TV did not explain what the issue was, but said Oil Ministry officials were holding an “emergency meeting” to solve the technical problem.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Israeli Air Force will begin practicing for a strike on Iran’s nuclear program beginning next year, having set aside funding and updated its training schedule for the mission, The Times of Israel has learned. In light of growing uncertainty regarding a return by Iran to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, amid long-stalled negotiations with the United States, the Israel Defense Forces in recent months has ramped up its efforts to prepare a credible military threat against Tehran’s nuclear facilities.
Iran has begun deploying advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries to the region, including in Syria where Israeli jets routinely carry out airstrikes, in an attempt to challenge Israel Air Force jets. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in an attempt to thwart Iranian entrenchment and the smuggling of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon, according to foreign reports, and in countries like Iraq and even further as part of its war-between-wars campaign against Iran.
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