Civil Rights activist Atena Daemi was transferred to Ward 2-A in Evin prison which is under the control of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence.
She was transferred after her sit-down with seven other female prisoners in protest to the massacre of protesters in November Iran protests.
Narges Mohammadi, another prisoner was transferred to Gharchak prison after the sit-down.
Zarif Attacks France, Germany, UK For Criticizing Iran's Nuclear Escalation
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lambasted his French counterpart Jean-Yves La Drian and three major European countries for criticizing Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program.
“Dear colleague: You kick-started your cabinet career with arms sales to Saudi war criminals. Avoid absurd nonsense about Iran. Reality check: YOU are destabilizing OUR region. Stop protecting criminals who chainsaw their critics and use YOUR arms to slaughter children in Yemen”, Zarif told La Drian in a tweet on Sunday.
The French foreign minister in an interview on Saturday said, "This has to stop because Iran and - I say this clearly - is in the process of acquiring nuclear (weapons) capacity", referring to Iran's escalatory steps.
The French foreign minister in an interview on Saturday said, “Iran is in the process of building up its nuclear weapons capacity,” and added, "This has to stop because Iran and - I say this clearly - is in the process of acquiring nuclear (weapons) capacity."
Zarif also in a similar tweet attacked Germany, the United Kingdom and France who on Saturday had issued a joint statement urging Iran not to proceed with producing uranium metal, which can be use in the core of nuclear bombs.
“3 leaders—who rely on signature of OFAC functionaries to carry out their obligations under JCPOA—have done ZILCH to maintain JCPOA”, Zarif tweeted, referring to the Office of Foreign Asset Controls that often issues sanctions against Iran.
Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment and threatened other actions after the US presidential elections, as Joe Biden has indicated he would return to the 2015 nuclear deal that Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
British-Iranian Woman Detained In Iran Hoping To Be Freed Within Weeks
The husband of a British-Iranian dual national who is under house arrest in her parents’ house in Tehran has said that she is hoping to be freed in seven weeks when her five-year jail term comes to an end.
Richard Ratcliffe, Nazain Zaghri-Ratcliffe's husband, said that he has written to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office asking for further details about the end of her jail term and arrangements for receiving the correct documentation.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News on Saturday that he would leave “no stone unturned” to have Zagahri-Ratcliffe released on time. Britain is "pushing as hard as we can to get the immediate release, not in seven weeks, but as soon as possible, of Nazanin and all of our other dual nationals", Raab said on Sunday.
The jail sentence of the 42-year-old mother and former project coordinator at Thomson Reuters Foundation will officially end on March 7. She has been under house arrest since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic and has been living at her parents' house in Tehran. She must wear a electronic tag and remain within 300 meters of the house. She spent nearly four years in prison in Iran after being arrested while visiting her family in 2016 and sentenced on political charges without a fair trial.
On September 8 Iranian state media said new charges had been brought against Zaghari-ratcliffe. She attended a court hearing on November 5 during which she was again accused of engaging in "propaganda against the regime" but she has not been sentenced for the new charges.
Asked about reports Zaghari-Ratcliffe is set to be freed, Raab said: “I think that’s based on the existing sentence."
FBI Says Iran Cyber Actors Still Threatening US Election Officials
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday issued another alert about continued threats to US election officials by Iranian actors "to create fear, divisions, and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the US electoral process.".
"The FBI is issuing this announcement to help the public recognize Iranian activity intended to create fear, divisions, and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the US electoral process," the alert said.
Iranian cyber actors are continuing their "Enemies of the People" (EOTP) online operations by using direct email and text messaging to threaten the lives of these officials and intimidate them and are exposing officials' personal information and photographs on websites, the statement said.
The cyber actors are also using social media sites "to promote and disseminate messaging about the EOTP operation," the FBI claimed.
On December 23, US security agencies said they had highly credible information indicating that Iranian cyber actors were responsible for creating a website featuring death threats aimed at US election officials.
"The post-election creation of the 'Enemies of the People' website demonstrates an ongoing Iranian intent to create divisions and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the US electoral process," the FBI had said in an earlier alert on December 23.
Iranian officials have vehemently denied claims over election interference in the US. The Iranian foreign ministry on October 22 summoned the Swiss ambassador, who heads the US Interest Section in the Iranian capital, and told him that it made no difference to Iran who won the election in the United States.
Iran Asks IAEA Not To Publish 'Unnecessary' Details About Its Nuclear Program
The Islamic Republic has urged the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog not to publish “unnecessary” details on its nuclear program, a day after France, Germany and the United Kingdom warned Iran not to produce uranium metal, which has “no credible civilian use”.
Iran’s state TV quoted [Jan. 17] a statement Sunday from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) that asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid publishing details on Iran’s nuclear program that may cause confusion.
“It is expected the international atomic energy agency avoid providing unnecessary details and prevent paving ground for misunderstanding” in the international community, the statement said, without elaboration.
Iran announced on January 13 that it intends to produce uranium metal as fuel for a research reactor, prompting concern. Uranium metal is also used in the core of nuclear bombs.
The three European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran on Saturday called Iran’s move, “the latest planned violation” of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal,” they said in a joint statement. “The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications.”
Tehran reacted to the European statement Sunday saying Iran informed the IAEA nearly two decades ago of its plans for the “peaceful and conventional” production of uranium metal. It also said it provided updated information to the agency two years ago about its plans to produce silicide advanced fuel.
The statement said uranium metal is an “intermediate product” in the manufacture of uranium silicide, a fuel used in nuclear reactors that is safer and has more power capability than uranium oxide-based fuel, which Iran currently produces.
With reporting by AP
Iranian Long-Range Missile Lands 20 Miles From Commercial Vessel
Fox News reported that at least one Iranian missile landed 20 miles from a commercial ship and 100 miles away from the American aircraft career USS Nimitz currently located in the Indian Ocean.
American officials have not offered any further information but a source said that although 20 miles distance from a commercial ship is concerning, the United States Navy does not consider it a threat.
According to Fox News, at least once long-range Iranian ballistic missile hit about 20 miles from the commercial ship and two other missiles exploded after hitting the ocean about 100 miles from the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group.
One American official told Fox News: We were expecting the missile launch, but there was concern about just how close Iran was willing to push its limits.”
January 3 marked the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Pentagon had put American forces in the Middle East on alert about the possibility of retaliation from the Islamic Republic.
Earlier this week, in a show of force, an American guided-missile submarine armed with more than 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles cam eclose to Iranian naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz.
Nimitz has remained in the northern Arabian Sea on the orders of President Donald Trump.
“Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other US government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment,” Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said on January 3.
US: Iran's Threat To Expel Nuclear Inspectors Goes Beyond Violating JCPOA
The US State Department released a statement on Saturday [Jan. 9] saying Iran’s decision to expel International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors “goes much further than violating” the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iran’s parliament in December passed a law requiring the government to expel all IAEA nuclear inspectors unless all sanctions are lifted. A memberof Iran's parliament presidium on Saturday threatened that if US sanctions are not lifted International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspectors will be expelled. The 2015 nuclear deal set clear requirements for UN inspectors to monitor Iran's nuclear activities.
The statement reads: “Iran’s threat goes much further than violating the JCPOA. Iran has a legal treaty obligation to allow IAEA inspector access pursuant to Iran’s NPT-required safeguards agreement. Violating those obligations would thus go beyond Iran’s past actions inconsistent with its JCPOA nuclear commitments.”
It goes on to say all nations, including the US attach great importance to Iran’s compliance with these obligations, and that such actions will not help its position but only further its isolation.
“This threat follows on the heels of the Iranian regime announcing it has resumed 20% uranium enrichment at Fordow, the fortified, underground facility Iran originally constructed in secret, further breaching its nuclear pact. The world’s top sponsor of terrorism should not be allowed to enrich uranium at any level,” the statement continues.
The State Department adds: “The United States fully supports the IAEA’s continued professional and independent verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s expulsion of international inspectors must be met by universal condemnation.”
Iran's Leader Under Fire From Rights Groups For Banning US & UK Vaccines
The leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s decision to ban the import of coronavirus vaccine from the US and the UK amid high mortality in the country has drawn outrage from human rights groups and international organizations for placing politics above people.
In a video released on Friday, Khamenei stated: “They can’t be relied on and trusted. Sometimes they want to test [their products] on other nations…Importing the American and British vaccines is banned.”
Dr Bruce Aylward, the senior advisor to the WHO’s director-general said: “It’s really time to put any kind of politics aside and make sure that vaccines get to the people that need them.”
There were unconfirmed reports from Iran yesterday claiming that the leader and his entire family have already been vaccinated.
Iran researcher at Amnesty International, Mansoureh Mills, told Arab News that the ban “is in step with the authorities’ decades-long contempt for human rights, including the right to life and health.”
It’s reckless that Iran’s supreme leader is toying with millions of lives by placing politics above people,” she added. “The Iranian authorities must stop shamelessly ignoring their international human rights obligations by wilfully denying people their right to protection from a deadly virus that has killed more than 55,000 people in the country.”
Iran’s Red Crescent said the ban means that 150,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that was donated by American philanthropists will no longer be entering the country.
Iran has had the worst mortality rate from coronavirus in the Middle East, with 1.2 million cases reported and a death toll of over 56000.
It was announced on Friday that Cuba has signed a deal with Iran to transfer the technology for its most advanced coronavirus vaccine candidate and to carry out last-stage clinical trials of the shot in the Islamic Republic.
Reuters: Cuba Will Do Vaccine Test Trials In Iran As Part Of New Accord
According to Reuters, communist-run Cuba announced on Friday that it has signed a deal with Iran to transfer the technology for its most advanced coronavirus vaccine candidate and to carry out last-stage clinical trials of the shot in the Islamic Republic.
Both Iran and Cuba are under heavy US sanctions that exempt medicine. But the leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei has banned import of vaccines from the US and UK. So the government is looking for alternative suppliers of vaccines.
Cuban officials say when Cuba’s most advanced vaccine candidate, Soberana (Sovereign) 2, completes Phase II trials, it will be tested in Phase III trials in around 150,000 people in Havana. But Cuba will need more late-stage trials abroad too and Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East.
Cuba's Finlay Vaccine Institute said on Friday it has signed a deal with Iran's Pasteur Institute to collaborate on testing of Soberana 2.
"This synergy will enable both countries to advance more rapidly in the immunization against the SARS-CoV-2 virus," it said on its Twitter account.
Cuba says several countries have expressed interest in its coronavirus vaccines but this is the first such accord it has reached.
According to Iranian media, Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said 50,000 volunteers would be recruited to carry out the Phase III clinical trials. Technology transfer and joint production were preconditions for allowing human testing in the country, he said.
Some Iranian officials, including the Health Minister in the past had boasted about Iran’s ability to produce the vaccine, but recently several Health Ministry officials criticized the minister for making unrealistic claims for the cameras.
Lawmakers In Iran Propose To Tighten Control Over Foreign Social Media
Members of the Iranian parliament have proposed a bill that would require all social media companies, foreign and domestic, to follow Iranian laws to operate in the country.
The bill is presented as a plan to “protect Iranian users” and “bring order” to influential social media messaging platforms. They would be required to receive the permission of a special supervisory board.
Iran heavily censors the Internet by blocking tens of thousands of websites both for their political as well as their social and cultural content. All news and political sides based abroad are blocked in Iran. Similarly, Twitter, Facebook YouTube and Telegram are blocked. Only Instagram has not been blocked so far. Almost every Iranian is using VPNs or other circumvention tools to get access to various foreign-based sites or social media.
All other media being tightly controlled by the state, foreign-based social media is the only platform for Iranians to easily have easy access to uncensored news and information, exchange views and criticize officials.
It is not clear how the authorities can force foreign social media companies to register in Iran when users get access through circumvention tools and proxies. One possible hint lies in the proposed bill that says the military should control the internet gateway to the country, meaning they can block any social media platform they want, perhaps in a more stringent way.
The bill would also ban the publication of any state documents, including any data on social media.
Some of the ideas in the bill have been mentioned before and have led to concerns by international rights organizations.
After Losses, Shareholders Toss Eggs At Tehran Stock Exchange
Tens of investors facing losses after a fall in the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) over the past two weeks protested in front of the TSE headquarters in Tehran Saturday chanting slogans against officials. Videos posted to social media show them insulting TSE Chairman Hassan Ghalibaf and “corrupt officials.” Some threw eggs at the building.
In the past Iranian calendar week (Saturday to Friday), the TSE index dropped 6.5 percent and by the end of trading Saturday [January 9], it fell another 1.89 percent to 1.2 million points. The volume of trade on Saturday was the lowest in the past two months.
Many small investors were attracted to the TSE when it reached an all-time high in early August, with Tedpix, the main index, topping 2 million points despite the struggling economy, United States sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. The upward trend quickly reversed.
Protesters allege that the government has failed to stop institutional investors from using their influence to manipulate prices. They blame the government for encouraging people to buy shares in what they now see as a bubble that has now burst and reduced the value of their investments. Institutional investors, many of which are government or quasi-state entities, include pension funds, and entities owned by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) or religious foundations control around 90 percent of the shares listed on the exchange.