The U.S. has circulated a new resolution to United Nations Security Council members calling for an extension of the UN’s arms embargo against Iran, according to a copy of the text obtained by Bloomberg News. It asks UN members states to stop all sales of weapons to and from Iran and to refrain from providing any “technical training, financial resources or services, advice, other services or assistance related to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, maintenance, or use of arms” to Iran.
Residents of Beirut confronted a scene of utter devastation on Wednesday, a day after a massive explosion at the port rippled across the Lebanese capital, killing at least 100 people, wounding thousands and leaving entire city blocks flooded with glass and rubble. Smoke was still rising from the port, where a towering building of silos was half destroyed, spilling out mounds of grain. Hangars around it were completely toppled. Much of the downtown area was littered with damaged vehicles and debris that had rained down from the shattered facades of buildings. An official with the Lebanese Red Cross said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded. George Kettaneh said the toll could rise further.
Hezbollah kept three metric tons of ammonium nitrate, the explosive thought to be behind the mega blast in Beirut this week, in a storehouse in London, until MI5 and the London Metropolitan Police found it in 2015. The Beirut explosion took place at a warehouse that held 2.7 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been confiscated from a ship. The Iran-backed terrorists kept the explosive in thousands of ice packs in four properties in northwest London, according to a report in The Telegraph last year.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Lebanon analyst David Daoud said that he thought it was unlikely that Israel was involved in the explosion, saying that Israel has no interest in escalation at this point. At the same time, he noted that much still remains unclear about the situation. “I’m skeptical that this is an airstrike. It’s not impossible, but we know the rules of the game between Israel and Hezbollah. If the Israelis did this, it is a declaration of war. What we know for certain is that there was a preliminary explosion and a secondary explosion, which is commonly associated with an airstrike…but it’s still very unclear,” Daoud said. “This could just be a perfect storm of noise,” Daoud added.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
China and Russia are likely to veto an American effort to extend a United Nations arms embargo against Iran before it expires in October, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said. Although the U.S. circulated a resolution to Security Council members last month to continue the embargo, Craft said on Tuesday that the U.S. has little faith it can bring Russia and China around. That could spell a crisis at the UN, with Craft and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo threatening to invoke a “snapback” provision in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to reimpose all UN sanctions against Tehran.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
In Iraq's Kurdistan region and at the country's Muslim Shiite holy sites, trading US dollars for rials from Iran was once big business. But the money exchange trade has been hard hit by lockdown restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19, and by deep economic woes in both countries. Traders in Sulaimaniyah, the second city of Iraqi Kurdistan and close to the border with Iran, have seen dramatic changes.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Australia’s ambassador to Iran visited a British-Australian academic being held in a notorious Iranian desert prison and found that she “is well,” Australia’s government said Tuesday. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Melbourne University, has been detained in Iran since September 2018, serving a 10-year sentence for espionage. She has denied the allegations. She was transferred last week to Qarchak prison, a remote jail that is known to hold the country’s political prisoners along with inmates convicted of murder and drug offenses.
Authorities on Wednesday executed an Iranian for killing an elite soldier during anti-government unrest in 2017, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said, drawing condemnation from a rights group. Mostafa Salehi, one of several men sentenced to death for their roles in anti-government protests in recent months, was convicted of shooting Sajjad Shah-Sanai, a member of the Revolutionary Guards. His execution was carried out as a retribution sentence demanded by the victim’s parents, ISNA said.
The "Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Prohibiting Vice" in Iran's Khorasan Razavi Province has enforced a ban on women riding bicycles in public places. The capital city of the province is Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city with a shrine considered by Shiites as the holiest religious venue in the country, where their eighth Imam, Ali bin Mousa al-Reza (766-818 CE) is buried. The head of the Khorasan-e-Razavi Province Cycling Board, Mehdi Roozbehaneh, says the Headquarters has obtained "relevant permits" for the ban.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
A California-based member of an Iranian opposition group in exile was abducted by Iran while staying in Dubai, his family said told The Associated Press (AP). The suspected cross-border abduction of Jamshid Sharmahd appears corroborated by mobile phone location data, shared by his family with AP, that suggests he was taken to neighboring Oman before heading to Iran. The Iranian authorities said they detained a member of a militant opposition group in exile. As soon as the announcement of his detainment was revealed, reports circulate claimed that he was abducted in Turkey.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A fire erupted at an Iranian industrial facility this morning, state TV reported, marking the latest in a wave of unexplained blasts at civilian and military sites across the country. "The fire broke out at the industrial area of the Jajrud district in the Pardis county this morning. ... There were no casualties. ... Firefighters are trying to contain the fire," it said, according to Reuters. Since late June, Iran has seen an increasing number of mysterious explosions and fires.
Iran confirmed Tuesday over 2,700 new COVID-19 infections, its highest single-day count in more than a month, as the health ministry called for those without masks to be fined. Deaths and infections from the novel coronavirus have been on a rising trajectory in Iran since hitting a months-long low in May. This has prompted Iran to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed spaces and reimpose restrictions lifted gradually since April to reopen the economy.
An exclusive video-taped interviews sent to Radio Farda by citizen-journalists from Iran, residents of Karaj -- the capital city of Alborz Province -- say the situation with COVID pandemic is more critical now and allege that the government is hiding the true numbers. Alborz Province is currently experiencing a second and more intense wave of the pandemic. Even according to the authorities – who many accuse of downplaying the crisis – so far the province of 2.7 million has had 13,000 cases and around 750 deaths since the outbreak in February.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran’s president offered on Wednesday to send medical aid to Lebanon and treat people injured in the massive blast that killed at least 100 people in Beirut. “Iran announces its readiness to send medical aid to Lebanon and also offers treatment of the injured and other necessary medical assistance,” Hassan Rouhani said, according to state TV. “We hope that the circumstances of this incident will be determined as soon as possible and that peace will return to Beirut.
CHINA & IRAN
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest warning that China would destabilize the Middle East by deepening ties with U.S. foe Iran is raising questions about how far Beijing will go to boost its partner Tehran in an emerging deal that would heighten U.S.-China tensions. “China’s entry into Iran will destabilize the Middle East. It’ll put Israel at risk. It’ll put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates at risk as well,” Pompeo told U.S. TV network Fox News in a Sunday interview, as he urged the three U.S. allies and other regional countries to beware of Beijing, one of Washington’s main international rivals.
Iranian conservatives have been justifying the Chinese government's suppression of Uyghur Muslims in China and keeping silent in the face of systematic violence against Chines Muslims in Xinjiang Province. During the past days two tweets by Ali Motahari, a former member of the Iranian Parliament, about the situation of Uyghur Muslims in China has stirred a lot of controversy among conservative political figures close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.