Videos released on social media show security forces arresting a citizen in Karaj city, near tehran on Wednesday, February 4, for protesting the killing of fuel mules in Sistan-Baluchistan province last week.
The videos show the citizen climbing a charity box protesting the shooting of people carrying small amounts of fuel to Pakistan and the suppression of protesters in Sistan-Baluchistan province. Security forces pulled the man down, arrested and took him away.
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the security forces making the arrest faced protests from the people present at the scene, and one of the security forces, “without facing any provocation or threat of violence attempted to shoot in the air in a populated area of the city in order to cause panic.”
Security forces facing protests by onlookers initially released the man but a few minutes later arrested him again and took him to an undisclosed location.
The protests in Sistan-Baluchistan followed an incident at the border with Pakistan on Monday when at least ten Baluchis were killed and more injured. A video posted on Twitter on Monday showed heavy gunfire in a field. Some social media sources have claimed that more than 35 Baluchis were killed by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, after soukhtbar (‘fuel carriers’) tried to take fuel into Pakistan.
Iran Has Enriched Uranium To Up To 63% Purity, IAEA Says
VIENNA, May 11 (Reuters) - "Fluctuations" at Iran's Natanz plant pushed the purity to which it enriched uranium to 63%, higher than the announced 60% that complicated talks to revive its nuclear deal with world powers, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.
Iran made the shift to 60%, a big step towards nuclear weapons-grade from the 20% previously achieved, last month in response to an explosion and power cut at Natanz that Tehran has blamed on Israel and appears to have damaged its enrichment output at a larger, underground facility there.
Iran's move rattled the current indirect talks with the United States to agree conditions for both sides to return fully to the 2015 nuclear deal, which was undermined when Washington abandoned it in 2018, prompting Tehran to violate its terms.
The deal says Iran cannot enrich beyond 3.67% fissile purity, far from the 90% of weapons-grade. Iran has long denied any intention to develop nuclear weapons.
"According to Iran, fluctuations of the enrichment levels... were experienced," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in the confidential report to its member states, seen by Reuters.
"The agency's analysis of the ES (environmental samples) taken on 22 April 2021 shows an enrichment level of up to 63% U-235, which is consistent with the fluctuations of the enrichment levels (described by Iran)," it added, without saying why the fluctuations had occurred.
Tuesday's report said the Islamic Republic was now feeding the tails from the IR-4 cascade into a cascade of 27 IR-5 and 30 IR-6s centrifuges to refine uranium to up to 5%.
Iran Spokesman Says Talks In Vienna And With Saudi Arabia Are Going Well
President Hassan Rouhani’s spokesman Tuesday told reporters that Iran’s nuclear talks in Vienna and negotiations with Saudi Arabia are progressing well and called for national unity at a sensitive time for the country’s diplomacy.
Referring to talks with Riyadh Ali Rabiei said Iran is hopeful that “fake issues” can be resolved in Iran’s regional relations and tensions reduced.
Asked about reaching an agreement in Vienna before May 24 when a temporary Inspection agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog ends, Rabiei expressed hope that all parties would do their best to reach conclude a deal in time.
The government spokesman however reiterated that all decisions and policymaking in this regard are the prerogative of “higher authorities.” This is a clear reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has the final say in all important policy matters.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a leaked audio recording published by Iran International on April 25, said that the military has hijacked Iran’s foreign policy and the foreign ministry has no input in policy making.
Rabiei said that there are some positive signs in talks with “regional countries”, but there is still work to be done to make sure that appropriate condition are created for stability and peace.
Iran's Guards Blame US Navy For Warning Shots Incident In Persian Gulf
Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday accused a US Coast Guard ship of "provocation" after it fired warning shots against Iranian military boats that approached it in the Persian Gulf.
The Pentagon said on Monday the US Coast Guard ship Maui fired about 30 warning shots after 13 fast boats from the Revolutionary Guards' navy came close to it and other American Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
A Revolutionary Guards statement accused US naval ships of "unprofessional behavior such as flying helicopters, firing flares and aimless and provocative shooting".
"It would be better for the Americans to avoid unprofessional behavior and not to endanger the security of the Persian Gulf by obeying the rules and regulations of the sea," said the statement carried by Iranian media.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday the Iranian vessels had been acting "very aggressively". The Iranian speedboats approached within 100 meters of the American ships.
It was the second time within the last month that US military vessels have fired warning shots because of what they said was unsafe behavior by Iranian vessels in the region, after a relative lull in such interactions over the past year.
The latest incident comes as world powers and Iran seek to speed up efforts to bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord.
US officials returned to Vienna last week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.
Reporting by Reuters
Iran Reportedly Agreed To Pay Hamas For Intelligence On Israeli Missiles
Israel’s Channel 12 reported Monday that the Islamic Republic of Iran has agreed to provide $30 million financial support monthly to the Palestinian Hamas in return for information on Israel’s missile capabilities and its missile locations.
The report says the agreement was reached in a meeting two weeks ago between nine senior members of the militant group and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran.
Reports in the past put Iran’s financial support for Hamas at $70 million annually, but increasing the support to $30 million a month is unprecedented.
Iran is currently under tough US sanctions and its foreign currency reserves have evaporated. It faces serious economic problems, with very high inflation impoverishing nearly 60 percent of its population.
The US is currently negotiating to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran that former president Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, and lift most the sanctions the previous administration had imposed. Critics say that lifting sanctions will enable Iran to boost its financial support for militant groups across the region.
Iran has been supporting Hamas and other militant groups, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, in what it calls support for the “resistance front” against Israel. The leaders of the Islamic Republic have called for the annihilation of Israel in the past and threats to destroy the Jewish sate continue periodically by Iran’s hardliners and military leaders.
US Says Nuclear Deal Possible Soon If Iran Takes Political Decision
Reuters - Agreement could be reached within weeks on a path for Washington and Tehran to resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if Iran made the political decision to do so, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday, adding gaps still remain.
"Is it possible that we'll see a mutual return to compliance in the next few weeks, or an understanding of a mutual compliance? It's possible yes," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity during a telephone briefing.
"Is it likely? Only time will tell, because as I said, this is ultimately a matter of a political decision that needs to be made in Iran," the official added.
U.S. officials return to Vienna this week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.
The crux of the agreement was that Iran committed to take steps to rein in its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain the fissile material for a nuclear weapon in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions.
Tehran denies having nuclear weapons ambitions.
The U.S. official said it might be possible to revive a nuclear deal before Iran's June 18 elections but, again, put the onus on Iran to make such a political decision and to avoid asking Washington to do more than what is envisaged in the agreement while Tehran would seek to do less.
Iran Calling On International Organizations To Provide Vaccines For Foreign Nationals
The spokesman for Iran's National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce, Alireza Raeesi (Raisi), on Thursday said Iran has asked "international organizations" -- presumably the World Health Organization (WHO) -- to arrange for other countries to contribute some of their own vaccine ration from WHO's Covax program for vaccination of "foreign nationals" in Iran so that these individuals can be vaccinated free of charge.
Iran has given city cleaners and rubbish collectors priority in vaccination, but municipalities of Tehran and some other cities have excluded its many "foreign national" employees from the vaccination program on the grounds that they are not officially registered in Iran and do not have a social security number. The number of Afghan municipality workers is not known.
According to Iran's general census of 2016, more than 95 percent of foreign nationals residing in Iran are from neighboring Afghanistan which has led to "foreign national" being used almost synonymously with Afghan in Iran. Officials say there are also around 1.5 million undocumented Afghan migrants in addition to the nearly 1.6 million who have refugee or other legal status.
According to the Iranian Customs Organization, so far 3.1 million doses of vaccine purchased from Russia (720,000), China (1,650,000), India (125,000), and South Korea (700,800 doses through Covax) have reached Iran, but vaccination is moving slowly. Slightly over 1 percent of the population – mainly health and other essential workers – have received jabs.
Iran's efforts were hindered by controversy over importing US and British vaccines after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned vaccine imports from western countries on the grounds that they could not be trusted.
The tardiness of the program has fed popular concern at various reports from around the country that local government and medical officials have jumped the queue, or bumped up favored family members, thereby delaying jabs for essential workers.
Danish High Court Upholds Conviction Of Norwegian Citizen In Iran Spy Case
COPENHAGEN, May 6 (Reuters) - A Danish high court on Thursday upheld the seven-year sentence given to a Norwegian citizen of Iranian heritage for spying and complicity in a failed plot to kill an Iranian Arab opposition figure in Denmark.
The case, which exposed an intelligence power struggle on Danish soil between Saudi Arabia and Iran, led Denmark to call for EU-wide sanctions on Iran in 2018 following the Norwegian man's arrest.
"A unanimous jury in the Eastern High Court has found an Iranian man guilty of illegal intelligence activities and complicity in an attempted murder of an exiled Iranian in Ringsted," the Danish public prosecutor said on Twitter on Thursday.
The defendant, Mohammad Davoudzadeh Loloei, was sentenced to seven years in prison and permanent expulsion from Denmark, prosecutor Mads Kruse told Reuters.
Loloei was initially sentenced last year by a district court and then appealed that ruling.
"It has been an unparalleled case in Danish legal history, which will probably reverberate beyond Denmark's borders," Kruse said.
"We managed to prove this link between the accused and the Iranian intelligence service, and that is very unusual and can be a difficult task," he added.
Loloei's attorney said he now expected his client to take his appeal to Denmark's Supreme Court.
Loloei was arrested in October 2018 as part of a massive police operation, in which Denmark temporarily closed its borders.
Members of the Iranian opposition group known as the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), including the group's leader, have separately been charged in a Danish court with spying for Saudi intelligence services and financing terrorism in Iran.
ASMLA seeks a separate state for ethnic Arabs in Iran's oil-producing southwestern province of Khuzestan. Arabs are a minority in Iran, and some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want independence or autonomy.
Saudi Arabia, Iran Held Talks More Than Once In Iraq - Iraqi President
BAGHDAD, May 5 (Reuters) - Iraq has hosted more than one round of talks between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Wednesday.
Salih made his remarks during an interview broadcast live online with the Beirut Institute think tank. He gave no more details.
Diplomats hope the opening of direct channels between Iran and Saudi Arabia will signal a calming of tensions across the Middle East after years of hostilities that have brought the region close to a full-scale conflict.
Baghdad hosted talks between officials from its two neighbours and mutual adversaries on April 9 in the only round of talks to have been previously reported.
Asked how many rounds of Saudi-Iranian talks Iraq had hosted, Salih replied: "More than once."
Washington and Tehran have engaged in indirect talks in Vienna that seek to revive an international pact reached in 2015 that constrained Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief.
Iraqis hope for a general regional detente that would allow their country to rebuild instead of being used as an arena for U.S., Gulf Arab and Iranian score-settling.
Iraq is trying to rein in powerful Iran-backed militias and deal with a resurgent Islamic State - the Sunni hardline Islamist group that took over a third of Iraq in 2014 and was beaten militarily in 2017 by U.S. forces, the Iraqi military, Kurdish fighters and Iran-aligned paramilitaries.
He added that he wished to see a solution to the Iran-U.S. rivalry that has fuelled violence in Iraq.
Jail Food Threatens Lives Of Iranian Prisoners, Monitoring Group Says
Low-quality food endangers the lives of detainees in Iran, the monitoring group Iran Prison Atlas (IPA) has said in a report on the Greater Tehran Prison at Fashafouyeh.
The report, which covers September 2020-March 2021, is based on eyewitness accounts that warn of “negligence about prisoner health.” The report also highlights conditions that force prisoners to remain silent over lack of decent food and poor hygiene standards, while prison officials issue false reports to inspectors on food quality.
Prisoners say meat is past its expiry date and that mice roam the kitchen. The report claims that unhealthy water is used, leading to skin conditions, loss of teeth and digestive problems for the prisoners.
The IPA report also says that in one instance a prisoner who lost his index finger while grinding beef was simply sent to the prion’s infirmary instead of a hospital. Mehdi Keshtdar, general manager of Mizan news website affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, in a tweet denied this account and criticized it as “a new imaginary project”.
Fashafouyeh, the largest prison in Iran, was established in 2015. Most prisoners have been convicted over narcotic but there are also political detainees.