U.S. Weighs Sanctions For Chinese Companies Over Iran Surveillance Buildup | Wall Street Journal
The U.S. is considering new sanctions on Chinese surveillance companies over sales to Iran’s security forces, officials familiar with the deliberations said, as Iranian authorities increasingly rely on the technology to crack down on protests. U.S. authorities are in advanced discussions on the sanctions, according to the officials, and have zeroed in on Tiandy Technologies Co., a surveillance-equipment maker based in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin whose products have been sold to units of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a hard-line paramilitary group. Chinese customs data shows exports of video-recording equipment to Iran jumped last year amid mass protests sparked by the September death of a young woman while in police custody for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Iran's Supreme Leader Issues Pardon For 'Tens Of Thousands' Of Prisoners | Reuters
Iran's supreme leader has pardoned "tens of thousands" of prisoners including some arrested in recent anti-government protests, state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, after a deadly state crackdown helped quell the nationwide unrest. However, the pardon approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came with conditions, according to details announced in state media reports, which said the measure would not apply to any of the numerous dual nationals held in Iran. State news agency IRNA said those accused of "corruption on earth" - a capital charge brought against some protesters, four of whom have been executed - would also not be pardoned.
Iran Behind Hack Of French Magazine Charlie Hebdo, Microsoft Says | Reuters
An Iranian government-backed hacking team allegedly stole and leaked private customer data belonging to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, security researchers at Microsoft said on Friday. The magazine was hacked in early January after it published a series of cartoons that negatively depicted Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The caricatures were part of a media campaign that Charlie Hebdo said was intended to support anti-government protests in the Islamic nation.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iran Runs Series On State TV Featuring Holocaust Deniers, Antisemites | Jerusalem Post
… Jason Brodsky, the policy director for the US-based United Against Nuclear Iran, told The Jerusalem Post that “it is sadly true to form. The Iranian system is showcasing its antisemitism. The Islamic Republic was birthed in antisemitism and this is just its latest manifestation. Kayhan last year published a guest column praising Hitler, so this year's selection fits into that framework.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Pardons Thousands Linked To Headscarf Protests | The Telegraph
…For analysts, the pardon does not equate to a shift in policy for the regime’s crackdown on the protest movement. “The regime’s repressive apparatus is firmly in place,” said Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran. This “propaganda ploy” was designed “to quash the revolutionary sentiment inside the Iranian population [and] trick the West into thinking that reform is possible when it’s not”, he said.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
U.S., Allies Say IAEA Report Shows Iran Inconsistent In Meeting Nuclear Obligations | Reuters
A U.N. watchdog report shows Iran is being inconsistent in meeting its nuclear obligations, the United States, Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement on Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) criticized Iran on Wednesday for making an undeclared change to the interconnection between the two clusters of advanced machines enriching uranium to up to 60% purity, close to weapons grade, at its Fordow plant. Iran said the IAEA's position on Tehran's nuclear work was not correct.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
U.S. Sanctions Board Of Directors Of Iranian Drone Maker | Reuters
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on the board of directors of Iranian drone maker Paravar Pars, the U.S. Treasury Department said, adding Iranian drones were being used by Russia to attack Ukraine's critical infrastructure. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated eight senior executives of Paravar Pars, the department said in a statement. The drone maker was previously sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for making drones for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.
Eight Million Tons Of Essential Goods Stuck Off Iran Due To Payment Issues | Iran International
Iran’s Customs Administration says at least eight million tons of essential goods have been piling up on ships anchored off the country's southern ports apparently mainly due to payment issues. According to a report by Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, the deputy head of the Customs Administration has recently said that ships are stranded at ports – mainly at Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni (Imam Khomeini port) in the Khuzestan province and Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan province -- waiting to unload their cargo. The official said that the goods, a large part of which are food and animal feed, cannot be unloaded also due to a lack of permits necessary for them to be cleared. Some of the essential goods need three or four permits from the Ministry of Health, Standard organization and Plant Protection Organization, which oversees the quarantine processes.
Reuters: Exclusive: Iran To Start Revamp At Venezuela's Largest Refining Complex Within Weeks – Sources
State firms from Iran and Venezuela will start in the coming weeks a 100-day revamp of the South American nation's largest refining complex to restore its crude distillation capacity, four sources close to the plan said. The effort by state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and the state-owned National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) to boost fuel output at the Paraguana Refining Center marks a step toward ending Venezuela's reliance on U.S. refinery technology, the sources said. Venezuela, which has the world's largest crude reserves, has struggled in recent years to produce enough gasoline and diesel due to refinery outages, a lack of investment and U.S. sanctions that create obstacles for imports. Long lines at gasoline stations have been common since 2020.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
‘They Used Our Hijabs To Gag Us’: Iran Protesters Tell Of Rapes, Beatings And Torture By Police | The Guardian
On the evening of 15 October 2022, when the street protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini were at their peak, 25-year-old Dorsa* was stopped at a checkpoint while driving through a city in the country’s northern Gilan province. The checkpoint was chaotic; 25 to 30 heavily armed security officers were shouting and screaming at people to get out of their vehicles. Dorsa was with her sister and two male friends. Their car was searched and when two cans of spray paint were found in her sister’s bag, all hell broke loose.
Iran Wrestler Defects To Avoid Death Penalty For Supporting Revolt | Jerusalem Post
A decorated Iranian wrestler fled to Germany to avoid a possible death sentence or being blinded by the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran for his social media posts in support of the revolt against the Iranian theocratic state. The star wrestler Mohammad Namjoo-Motlagh told the US government news outlet RFE/RL's Radio Farda in late January that "It was clear where this was going" and "I would either lose my life or they would blind me, or in the best-case scenario, I would be sent to prison." Namjoo-Motlagh added he faced "constant threats and psychological pressure" from the Iran Wrestling Federation and other state entities.
Iran Detains Reformist Journalist Whose Sister, Also A Reporter, Already Held | Times of Israel
Iranian authorities have detained a journalist at a reformist publication, local media reported Sunday, as her sister, also a journalist, remains in custody after reporting on Mahsa Amini’s death. Iran has been gripped by nationwide protests since the September 16 death in custody of Amini, a 22-year-old ethnic Kurd, who had been arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women. Elnaz Mohammadi, a reporter for reformist newspaper Hammihan, was detained at the Evin prosecutor’s office in Tehran after she had gone there “for an explanation,” reported Shargh, another reformist daily.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
US-Israel Ties Strengthening, Iran Needs To Plan Next Move Carefully | Jerusalem Post
The last week of January saw important developments in Iran-Israel tensions and also US-Israel ties. The triangular puzzle of relations between Iran’s threats, Israel’s attempts to interdict those threats and US support for Israel is one of the pillars of the Middle East’s current situation. Iran is hinting it may retaliate for a drone attack this week. Several drones reportedly struck a military facility in Isfahan, Iran, on the night of January 28-29. Iran claimed it was an unsuccessful attack, but our report at The Jerusalem Post said it was a phenomenal success.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Opposition Figure In Iran Calls For Fundamental Change, New Constitution | Iran International
A prominent opposition figure says Iran needs a “fundamental change” based on “Woman, Life, Freedom” and constitutional change, in a statement released on Saturday. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was a presidential candidate in 2009 and has been under house arrest since 2011, referring to government violence against protesters, said that such events have “demonstrated major truths for the nation.” The rulers of the Islamic Republic are not willing “to take the smallest step to meet the demands of the people.”
Opinion Survey Reveals Overwhelming Majority Rejecting Iran’s Regime | Iran International
An opinion survey involving 158,000 people in Iran showed that more than 80 percent of respondents reject the Islamic Republic and prefer a democratic government. The Netherlands-based Gamaan institute conducted the survey from December 21-31, which also included a sample of 42,000 respondents in the diaspora, revealed very similar attitudes between those in the country and abroad. “In response to the question “Islamic Republic: Yes or No?” 81% of respondents inside the country responded “No” to the Islamic Republic, 15% responded “Yes,” and 4% were not sure. Of the Iranian respondents abroad, 99% responded “No,” opting against the Islamic Republic,” GAMAAN reported.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran-Syria Friction On Economic Issues Appears To Strain Ties | Voice Of America
Arab media report that relations between Iran and Syria have taken a turn for the worse after Tehran stopped providing subsidized petroleum products to Damascus. Repeated Israeli attacks on pro-Iranian militia forces are also leading Tehran and its militia allies to question whether some Syrian military commanders aren't informing Israel about their movements.A drone strike in late January on a pro-Iranian militia truck convoy near the Syrian-Iraqi border appears to have made both Iran and Syria nervous about their strategic relations, after some reports claimed that Syrian sources have been giving Israel information about Iranian weapons shipments inside Syria.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Yemeni Minister Condemns Iran’s Escalated Arms Smuggling To Houthis | Arab News
Iran has escalated its arms smuggling operations to the Houthi militia since the United Nations-backed truce ended last October, said Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture, and tourism. The minister pointed to a recent operation, jointly carried out by US and French forces, that intercepted an Iranian shipment of weapons heading to Yemen through the Gulf of Oman. Reports earlier said the vessel carried 3,000 assault rifles, 20 anti-tank missiles, and around 500,000 rounds of ammunition en route to the Houthi militia.
Iran Singer Who Faces Prison Wins Grammy For Protest Anthem | Associated Press
An Iranian singer who faces possible prison time for his song that’s become an anthem to the ongoing protests shaking the Islamic Republic wept early Monday after seeing he’d won a Grammy. Shervin Hajipour appeared stunned after hearing Jill Biden, the wife of President Joe Biden, announce he’d won the Grammy’s new song for social change special merit award for “Baraye.” An online video showed Hajipour in a darkened room, wiping tears away after the announcement.