Russia Says Ready For Cooperation With Iran After UN Arms Embargo Expired | Iran International

Russia Says Ready For Cooperation With Iran After UN Arms Embargo Expired

In the first international reaction to the expiration of Iran’s UN arms embargo on October 18, Russia has pledged “cooperation in military-technical sphere” with the Islamic Republic.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov is quoted by TASS news agency that Russia is developing multi-aspect cooperation with Iran and “cooperation in the military-technical sphere will proceed depending on needs of the parties and mutual readiness to such cooperation in a calm fashion.”

The UN arms embargo on Iran was inscribed in resolution 2231 of the Security Council, which formalized the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers. The embargo was set for five years to expire on October 18, 2020. The United States attempted to extend it, arguing that Iran cannot be trusted with arms trade, because of its destabilizing role in the region. However, Russia, China and European powers opposed the US move.

Washington has announced it considers the arms embargo and all previous UN sanctions tied to Iran’s nuclear program still to be in effect and will enforce those sanctions. It is yet to be seen if the US will act against any companies doing arms trade with Iran.

Kazem Jalali, Iran’s ambassador in Moscow in a tweet in Russian on Sunday said, “the international community is disturbed by unilateral measures and insists on executing international agreements.”

Iran is claiming a diplomatic victory against the United States, but to what extent the end of the UN arms embargo can benefit Iran remains unclear. The country is in a financial crisis and can hardly afford large weapons purchases.

 

Letter Of 24 Iranian Authors To PEN Pleading For Release of Four Iranian Authors

In a letter to PEN international association of writers and human rights organizations, 24 Iranian authors, translators, and university professors pleaded with them to make efforts to release three Iranian authors and a journalist in Iran.

The signatories of the letter asked for the immediate release of Bektash Abtin, Kayvan Bazhan, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, three members of the Iranian authors association, and also Khosrow Sadeghi Boroujeni, journalist and social researcher.

“Let the world hear the voice of our incarcerated colleagues and use all your resources to demand their immediate release from prison,” the letter pleads.

Yervand Abrahamian, Dariush Ashouri, Sohail Asefi, Babak Ahmadi, Sohrab Behdad, Azadeh Parsapour, Akram Pedram Nia, Saeed Hariri, Nasim Khaksar, Mehrdad Darvishpour, Moirou Ravanipour, Faraj Sarkouhi, Reza Allamehzadeh, Morad Farhadpour, Farshin Kazemi Nia, Arash Kia, Amir Kianpour, Iman Ganji, Mehran Mostafavi, Akbar Masoum Beigi, Farhad Naamani, Azar Nafisi, Payman Vahabzadeh, and Mohsen Yalfani are the signatories of the letter.

The signatories state that the charges against these four prisoners are “baseless and pure lies” and say the main purpose of these arrests and convictions are to put more pressure on the authors and the people.

The authors also express concerns in the letter about the crisis of the rising number of coronavirus patients in Iranian prisons.

Previously, PEN International had expressed “deep concerns” about the three Iranian writers' trial. PEN had also demanded the release of Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh earlier.

 

Police Intervention Leads To Injuries In Iran Workers Protest

In a protest of Iranian National Oil Company retirees and a group of current workers in Tehran, police intervention lead to altercations and some of the protesters were wounded.

Retirees and veterans of the Iran-Iraq war employed by the company gathered outside its headquarters to demand unpaid pensions, salaries and veteran benefits.

Police and security guards of the oil company intervened to disperse the crowds leading to physical confrontations injuring several protesters.

In videos published on social media some people are seen with bloody faces and wounded.

A woman and a few men try to climb the iron fence of the building to enter the offices and complain, shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is great).

Similar protests had taken place in July and August at the same location, when protesters were carrying signs demanding the government and politicians not to “illegally” touch their pension fund and leaving the funds to be managed by its beneficiaries.

There were lao reports of teachers protesting in the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and share holders of Tehran’s stock market. After a phenomenal rise since earlier this year, the stock market has gone down more than 30 percent, leaving small investors, who were trying to protect their savings from runaway inflation, with huge losses.

Ghalibaf Follows Khamenei In Muting Rouhani Criticism

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf), the speaker of Iran’s Parliament (Majles), says he and parliamentarians will keep their complaints about the Rouhani administration to themselves and will not air them in public.

Ghalibaf was responding to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who on Saturday criticized differences among Iranian officials and insisted that “certain recent measures to denigrate the administration and President Hassan Rouhani were wrongful.”

Khamenei was referring to a motion tabled by over 40 Iranian lawmakers to impeach Rouhani over his economic management and foreign policy. The motion was led by the head of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Mojtaba Zolnouri.

Zolnouri also led a public demonstration against Rouhani in Qom, and in a tweet called on Khamenei to have Rouhani executed. Following the statement by Khamenei, Zolnouri immediately announced that he regarded the Leader’s words as a religious mandate.

Although the impeachment motion has been removed from the agenda of the Majles, several lawmakers have continued criticism of the Rouhani administration despite Khamenei’s comments.

Khamenei has said at least twice since June that he wants Rouhani to stay in office until the end of his presidency. Khamenei called impeachment “a costly and time-consuming process” and said little time remained before Rouhani’s term of office expires in the summer with him ineligible to stand for a third consecutive time.

Lawmaker Says Government Has Lost Control Of Iran's Economy

A member of Iran’s parliament has said that the government “has lost control of the economy and the markets,” and President Hassan Rouhani has isolated himself in his office and does not appear in public.

Eghbal Shakeri representing Tehran in the Iranian Majles blamed the impasse on “lack of planning” on Sunday [October 25] and said “the purchasing power of the people is now one-third of last year” and the government has no plans that could help the people to come out of the current economic hardship.

Iranian hardliners and even many reformists are harshly criticizing Rouhani for the worsening of Iran’s economic situation amid harsh US sanctions. But few are able or willing to say that all key foreign policy and economic decisions are made by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has vehemently opposed negotiating with the United States.

Washington demands a more solid nuclear agreement with Tehran that would restrict the country permanently from acquiring nuclear weapons and demands a fundamental change in Iran’s foreign policy. Khamenei is not ready to make such far-reaching concessions.

The current Iranian parliament was elected in February, with the overwhelming victory of hardliners in a low-turnout election. The solid majority promised to “rescue Iran’s economy” but nothing much has been done.

Shakeri said that managers of many state-controlled enterprises are waiting for guidance from the parliament, while it is the government that should come up with plans and the Majles only has a role to oversee the executive branch. He complained that “middlemen” have taken over the markets.

Australia Asks Iran About Report Academic Moved From Prison

AP Canberra – 26 October 2020 - Australia is seeking information from Iran on reports that a British Australian academic who was convicted of espionage has been moved to a mystery location, the foreign minister said on Monday.  

Kylie Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was arrested in Iran and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018.

She was moved in August to Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran, but the Iranian Association of Human Rights Activists reported she was moved to an unknown location on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australian Ambassador to Iran Lyndall Sachs had a consular visit with Moore-Gilbert at Qarchak "a short time ago" and Australian officials "are seeking further information" on the reports she had been moved.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade describes securing Moore-Gilbert's release as an "absolute priority."

Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged Moore-Gilbert was moved.

She is among a number of Westerners and dual nationals held by Iran that activists and UN investigators believe is a systematic effort to gain leverage in negotiations with the West.

Moore-Gilbert has gone on hunger strikes and pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her.

Those pleas include writing to the prime minister that she had been subjected to "grievous violations" of her rights, including psychological torture and solitary confinement.

 

Saudi Arabia Says Intercepts Houthi Drones Aimed At Southern Region

DUBAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) -

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Sunday night it intercepted and destroyed a second, explosives-laden drone launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement towards southern Saudi Arabia, Saudi state media reported.

No casualties or damage were reported.

The coalition said earlier it had intercepted the first drone launched by the Houthi movement towards the southern region after the group said it had struck the kingdom's Abha International Airport.

The coalition, in statements carried by Saudi state media, said the attacks were aimed at civilian targets but did not specify the sites or mention any damage.

In recent days the coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed several explosive-laden drones launched by the Houthis towards southern border areas.

The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

The United Nations is trying to secure a nationwide ceasefire to pave the way for reviving political negotiations to end the conflict, which is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system.

Iran Central Bank Not To Increase Interest Rates To Fight Inflation, Governor Says

Iran' Central Bank (CBI) Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati on Sunday said to lower inflation the CBI is looking for other methods rather than pushing up interest rates.

"At the moment increasing interest rates [to absorb superfluous liquidity in the market] is not a policy that can have definite success. For this reason, [the CBI] is seeking other methods to reduce the pressure of inflation in the markets," Hemmati said in an Instagram statement on Sunday.

In his statement Hemmati stressed that in the past two years the CBI has come under increasing pressure and enumerated the increasing impact of US sanctions, budget deficits, the pandemic and a drop in investment as factors contributing to the increase in liquidity and inflation.

The government's budget deficit in the first six months of the Iranian calendar year which started 21 March is estimated to be between 150 and 250 trillion rials. In the first four months of the year liquidity increased by 225 trillion rials, a report by Eghtesad News said on August 3.  This would be between 1.1-1.5 billion dollars.

In recent weeks many had been speculating that the CBI may push up interest rates in order to create a safer outlet for superfluous liquidity other than the failing investment market and highly volatile foreign exchange and gold markets.

Some experts blame the CBI decision in April to reduce interest rates from 20 percent to 15 for the drop in bank investments and speculation in parallel markets where many small and inexperienced investors are likely to incur losses.

IRGC Commander Warns Iran Will Not Accept A Geopolitical Change In The Caucasus

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards ground forces, General Mohammad Pakpour visiting border regions in the northwest near the battlefield between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday warned, “Iran have no reservations [in how it will treat] anyone.”

Tasnim news agency in Tehran, close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported October 25 that during his inspection tour of the border region Pakpour said, “From the beginning of the [Karabagh] conflict we warned both sides through our border officials that any action disturbing the peace and security of our people in the region will not be accepted.”

More than 100 mortars and rockets have hit Iranian towns and villages since the fighting broke out in late September. Iran has not blamed any of its two northern neighbors but has warned both to be careful during their targeting.

Iran’s army (Artesh) conducted a 24-hour drill involving its ground forces in Western Azerbaijan Province, northwest Iran, bordering Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Fars news agency reported on Sunday, October 25.

A day earlier Pakpour confirmed the deployment of IRGC units to Khoda Afarin county near the border with Azerbaijab “for the protection of national interests and providing for the security and safety of citizens in the area.”

On Sunday Pakpour went a step further and stressed that in addition to the security of its population in the border regions and respect for the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, “We will not accept a change in the geopolitics of borders and this issue is the red line of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Pakpour also added it is obvious that if necessary, the IRGC can boost its build-up on the border.

A few days earlier, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev had announced that his forces have retaken all Azerbaijani territory under Armenian control on the Iranian border since 1994. If Azerbaijani forces reach the international border with Armenia, there could be potential danger of cutting off Armenia from Iran.

Iran Holds Infantry Drills Near Armenia, Azerbaijan Conflict Region

Iran’s army (Artesh) conducted a 24-hour drill involving its ground forces in Western Azerbaijan Province, northwest Iran, bordering Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Fars news agency reported on Sunday, October 25.

Iran’s armed forces are composed mainly of the traditional Army (Artesh) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) or the Revolutionary Guards.

The Fars report does not say when exactly the military exercise took place or how long ago it was pre-planned. Iran has announced the deployment of IRGC units near the battlefield between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on southern banks of the Aras river, which separates Iran from its two neighbors to the north.

Iranian officials have also warned the two countries not to harm civilians in Iran. More than 100 mortars and rockets have hit Iranian towns and villages since the fighting broke out in late September.

General Kiumars Heydari, commander of the army’s ground forces was quotes by Fars as saying that following orders by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is also commander in chief of the armed forces, major restructuring, turning mechanized infantry units into mobile attack forces. He added the exercise had both nighttime and daytime phases.

It is not clear to what extent the army drills are related to the ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Heydari himself was reported to be inspecting the border region four day ago.

Iran has good relations with both of its northern neighbors and is generally neutral in the current conflict, calling for talks and offering mediation. But any significant change in the balance of forces in the Caucasus could be cause for concern for Tehran.

General Kiumars Heydari inspecting Iran's northern border, October 21, 2020

Man Dies After Torture In The Street By Iran Police

After the release of a video showing police forces torturing a man in a street in Mashhad city which led to his death, the military prosecutor in Razavi Khorasan province, northeast Iran, announced that an investigation has been launched for the young man’s death.

The video that was published on social media shows a police officer using pepper spray and electric shocker on Mehrdad Sepehri’s face and body while his hands are cuffed to a metal rod.

Sepehri's brother told Iran Internation Television that he died before reaching a hospital and there are several torture marks on his body. In the interview he asked, "Why did the police behave like that against a defenseless man."

Another family member says he was suffocated with excessive pepper spray in the police car. According to the family, the medical examiner has orally confirmed the cause of death.

The family says Mehrdad was taken to the police car while unconscious.

The military prosecutor of Razavi Khorasan province has ordered an autopsy and sampling of the lungs to analyze the impact of the pepper spray.

Images that were taken during the identification of the body show bruises and injuries.

In recent days, another video of a woman in Abadan being beaten by two women and the security guard of the oil company and her molestation by the security guard caused a massive uproar on social media.