Iran is in a “full-fledged human rights crisis” as authorities clamp down on anti-regime dissidents, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Chief Volker Turk. Turk called for “independent, impartial and transparent investigative processes” into violations of human rights in Iran during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday. The Islamic Republic has been gripped by a wave of anti-government protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained by the morality police in September allegedly for not wearing her hijab properly.
The Iranian drones that Russia has used to attack military targets and civilians in Ukraine are built with parts almost exclusively made by companies with headquarters in the United States, Europe and Asia, according to a report issued Tuesday by a weapons research group. Most of the parts that the researchers examined, including semiconductors and other advanced electronic components, had markings indicating they were manufactured in recent years while Iran has been under sanctions meant to deprive it of such matériel, the report said. One drone-fired guided missile appeared to have been made as recently as May.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's niece, a well known rights activist, has called on foreign governments to cut all ties with Tehran over its violent crackdown on popular unrest kindled by the death in police custody of a young woman. A video of a statement by Farideh Moradkhani, an engineer whose late father was a prominent opposition figure married to Khamenei's sister, was being widely shared online after what activist news agency HRANA said was her arrest on Nov. 23.
UANI IN THE NEWS
A Taiwanese technology company has halted its business in Iran while it investigates whether it violated international sanctions, as the US ramps up scrutiny of Iran’s military and weapons production amid the Russia-Ukraine war. The Hill has learned that ATEN International has immediately stopped accepting orders from Iran and exporting its products to the country following concerns raised by the nonprofit group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).
…Norman Roule, a senior adviser to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), told JNS the protests’ duration is a product of the deep dissatisfaction of many Iranians with the regime. According to Roule, a former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Tehran has failed to develop a strategy to improve support for it among Iranians. It is too early to say that the duration of protests indicates a weakening of the regime, he said. “The world is watching unrest at multiple universities where students routinely show courage and determination in open defiance of the Islamic Republic. They’re standing up for their principles,” said Roule, who served for 34 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing programs relating to the Middle East. “But we have yet to see crowds of parents and other relatives blocking access to security forces at universities, saying, ‘Don’t touch our children.’ ”
UANI Policy Director Jason Brodsky interview.
…The US-based organisation ’United Against Nuclear Iran’, which follows the Iranian oil trades closely, estimates the dark fleet had grown from 70 vessels in November 2020 to 257 just two years later. Reputable shipowners do not want to get involved in these trades, which limits the supply of vessels available to those trading in sanctioned oil and products. This shortage in vessel supply has also made moving sanctioned barrels extremely lucrative. While this market is by nature very secretive, estimates from knowledgeable observers suggest that shipping rates for Venezuelan or Iranian barrels can be two or three times the market rate for legitimate voyages.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said all measures should be deployed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, amid a deadlock in talks with Iran. Negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA stopped in August after the United States rejected demands by Iran. Scholz said that "everything must be done to ensure that Iran does not get nuclear bombs and also no carrier rockets with which it can transport them." Following a meeting with French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, German Chancellor Scholz said in Berlin Friday that both countries want to further strengthen their cooperation in face of the energy crisis. They had signed a joint declaration to this effect. Germany already exports electricity to France and receives gas supplies in return, Scholz said, which will now be expanded further. Scholz underlined the "exceptionally close and rich" ties between the France and Germany, adding that the two countries are also working closely together in many other areas, such as the ambitious joint advancement of the European Union's climate policy.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
As Iran last week began enriching uranium to 60 percent at a second site, its chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani was in India talking economics. High on the agenda for the Iranian deputy foreign minister was energy, which increasingly figures in diplomatic or ‘political’ talk as the December 5 deadline looms for an international price cap on Russian oil. Proposed by the United States through the G7, this will bar European and British services, including insurance and tankers, to any worldwide purchaser of Moscow’s crude paying above the cap.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran will reject a newly-appointed independent U.N. investigation into the country's repression of anti-government protests, the foreign ministry said on Monday, as demonstrations showed no sign of abating. "Iran will have no cooperation with the political committee formed by the U.N. Rights Council," ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said. The U.N. Rights Council voted on Thursday to appoint a probe into Iran's deadly crackdown on protests. Volker Turk, the U.N. rights commissioner, had earlier demanded that Iran end its "disproportionate" use of force in quashing protests that erupted after the death in custody of 22-year old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16. Activist news agency HRANA said 450 protesters had been killed in more than two months of nationwide unrest as of Nov. 26, including 63 minors. It said 60 members of the security forces had been killed, and 18,173 protesters detained.
As antigovernment protests swept across Iran last month, its top leaders made a secret appeal to two of the Islamic Republic’s founding families, the moderate Rafsanjani and Khomeini clans that hard-liners had pushed out of power, said people familiar with the talks. Iran’s national-security chief, Ali Shamkhani, asked representatives of the families to speak out publicly to calm the unrest. If that happened, he said, liberalizing measures sought by demonstrators could follow, the people said.
America’s top diplomat for Iran has highlighted CNN’s investigation into sexual violence that revealed sexual assaults on male and female activists, describing the reports as “unspeakable.” Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, said the the regime would not succeed in its efforts to crush protests that have spread across the country in the past two months. “This report describes unspeakable acts of sexual violence by Iranian officials in detention centers,” US Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley wrote Thursday in a tweet about CNN’s investigation. “It’s a reminder of what is at stake for the Iranian people – and of the lengths to which the regime will go in its futile attempt to silence dissent.”
Tensions ran high at Iran’s second match at the World Cup on Friday as fans supporting the Iranian government harassed those protesting against it and stadium security seized flags, T-shirts and other items expressing support for the protest movement that has gripped the Islamic Republic. Some fans were stopped by security guards from bringing in Persian pre-revolutionary flags to the match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Others carrying such flags had them ripped from their hands by pro-government Iran fans, who also shouted insults at fans wearing T-shirts with the slogan of the protest movement gripping the country, “Woman, Life, Freedom.” Unlike in their first match against England, the Iran players sang along to their national anthem before the match as some fans in the stadium wept, whistled and booed. The national team has come under close scrutiny for any statements or gestures about the nationwide protests that have wracked Iran for weeks.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The U.S. Soccer Federation briefly displayed Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying the move supported protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations’ World Cup match Tuesday. Iran’s government reacted by accusing America of removing the name of God from its national flag. The USSF decision added yet-another political firestorm to the Middle East’s first World Cup, one organizers had hoped would be spared of off-the-field controversies. It occurred as the U.S. prepared to face Iran in a decisive World Cup match already freighted by the decades of enmity between the countries and the nationwide protests challenging Tehran’s theocratic government. The USSF said in a statement Sunday morning it decided to forego the official flag on social media accounts to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”
Over the past few days, Iran has told international inspectors that it plans to begin making near bomb-grade nuclear fuel deep inside a mountain that is hard to bomb, and dramatically expand its nuclear fuel production at a plant that Israel and the United States have repeatedly sabotaged. Iranian forces have shot or locked up antigovernment protesters, provided Russia with drones for its war in Ukraine and, some Western intelligence agencies suspect, may be negotiating to produce missiles as well for Russia’s depleted arsenal. The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of once again violating Iraqi territory to conduct attacks in the Kurdistan region. A new era of direct confrontation with Iran has burst into the open. Its emergence was hidden for a while by more dramatic events — including the Ukraine invasion and rising U.S. competition with China — and negotiations with Tehran dragged on, inconclusively, for 18 months.
Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran’s flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran. The federation had temporarily displayed Iran’s national flag on its official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. A now-deleted graphic of the Group B standings posted on Saturday displayed the Iranian flag only bearing its green, white and red colors. US Soccer told CNN on Sunday that it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights” but always planned to go back to the original flag.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The U.S. military on Tuesday said debris analysis has concluded that the same type of Iranian drone that Tehran has supplied to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine was used to attack a commercial tanker off the coast of Oman a week ago. The U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet published photos and details of its investigation into the attack on the Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon tanker, including debris from the Shahed-136 drone itself.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
An explosion in Syria has killed an official with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, the force said on its website Wednesday, blaming Israel for the killing. The force identified the officer killed as Col. Davoud Jafari, who it said was working for the Guard’s aerospace division. The statement warned that Israel will answer for what it called the “crime.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said Jafari was a drone and air defense expert adding that he was killed along with his Syrian guard when a roadside bomb struck their car in the southern Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab.
The United States and Israel have discussed a joint military drill that would simulate a possible attack against Iran and its Middle East proxies. Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley are considering holding a joint Air Force drill in coming weeks that would be meant to train soldiers for a possible conflict between Israel and Iran or Iran’s military proxies in the region, Fox News Digital has learned.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
A British-Iranian citizen was arrested in Iran's Isfahan province on Wednesday for allegedly sharing information with foreign-based news channels, Iranian state media reported. "The Revolutionary Guards' Intelligence Organisation arrested a British-Iranian citizen who communicated with the BBC and Iran International," the Islamic Republic of Iran's News Network said, before adding the person was born in Britain. Tehran accuses foreign-based Persian language channels of supporting a nationwide protest movement that has been ongoing for more than two months and was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Kazakhstan wants to handle greater volumes of cargo moving between Russia and Iran, a senior Kazakh official said on Monday, an increasingly important trade route as Russia's isolation over its invasion of Ukraine grows. Iran, also targeted by Western sanctions over its nuclear programme, has become a key ally for Russia, providing it both with much-needed goods such as military drones, and with access to Gulf ports from which Russian goods can reach Asia. Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, has distanced itself from Moscow politically, but Russia remains its biggest trading partner and Deputy Prime Minister Serik Zhumangarin said Astana was keen to boost its transit role in the so-called North-South corridor between Russia and Iran.