According to an expert report by the United Nations, Iran’ is illegally supplying Houthis in Yemen with fuel and oil.
Based on the report, Houthis in Yemen sell the Iranian oil to pay for the war. This illegal supply of oil to Houthis by Iran could be in violation of international laws by both sides. Iran has not responded to the report yet.
In 2014, Houthis who were backed by Iran overthrew the government of Yemen and started shooting Iranian rockets into Saudi Arabia which started a war in that region that continues to this day.
The report states that by selling Iranian oil, Houthis are generating $30 million dollars in revenues each month.
IRGC Navy Holds Parade With Hundreds Of Fishing Boats
In an unorthodox military move, Iran’s Navy conducted a naval parade in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday using hundreds of local fishing boats and its military speed boats.
The parade was on the 41st anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war that the Islamic Republic calls “Holy defense”. Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard presided over the naval parade that took place in the Bandar Abbas region.
The local fishing boats are dubbed by the Iranian military as “naval Baseej” or paramilitary, as regular Baseej (Basij) under IRGC’s command is known throughout Iran. One naval commander told local media that 650 civilian boats took part in the show.
It is not clear what kind of a military role the “naval Baseej” can play. It is made up of slow-moving fishing boats with civilian crews, lacking proper military training or heavy weapons.
Lacking a strong navy capable of facing US naval power, Iran has been relying on speed boats that have often come close to US vessels to show their defiance. Iran has also been developing various missiles and drones to beef up its naval power.
Iran Says Ready To Buy Pfizer Vaccines 9 Months After Khamenei's Ban
Iran has decided to import two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine made in Belgium nine months after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned the purchase of American and British Covid-19 vaccines.
An official of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration told Tasnim news agency on Tuesday that the government intends to buy the Pfizer vaccines if it can transfer the money, given US banking sanctions on Iran.
Khamenei banned the importation of American and British vaccines in January saying that he does not trust the United States and the United Kingdom. He brought up a conspiracy theory that the West can manipulate the vaccines to destroy “the Iranian gene”.
After a fourth and a fifth wave of the pandemic killed tens of thousands of people, the Islamic Republic in August changed course, saying that Khamenei had only banned vaccines made in US and UK, and if manufactured in other countries, it can be imported.
Iran’s claims that it can produce its own domestic vaccines also proved to be unrealistic, despite huge investments by the government.
Until the end of April, the United States never exported vaccines made in the US, supplying international markets from production plants overseas, but Iran still refused to place orders. As a result, its vaccination program seriously lagged behind until this month when China began shipping large quantities of its vaccines.
Iran Releases Dissident Rapper On Bail After Social Media Outcry
Prosecutors in Iran on Tuesday freed a dissident rap singer from jail on bail after whose arrest led to a social media storm and controversy among Iranian activists and journalists abroad.
Toomaj Salehi an underground rapper living near Esfahan was arrested reportedly by Iran’s intelligence ministry on September 13. After a few days the family and his lawyer found out that he was in Esfahan’s central prison and charged with propaganda against the regime.
Toomaj had recently released a song, “Buy a Rat Hole”, on social media that harshly criticized the Islamic Republic for its violations of human rights and also those that he said were aiding the regime in covering up its crimes. The song’s title and lyrics implied that people applying or supporting injustice one day must answer for their crimes.
Some journalists abroad accused the rapper of threatening those who cover up the government's injustices, while others said such an accusation could endanger the artist's life.
Thousands of Iranians on social media condemned his arrest and Amnesty International demanded his immediate release in a statement on September 17.
In a video Toomaj released immediately after he was freed, he thanked all those who supported him, and he expressed astonishment that his arrest had led to a large public outcry.
Iran Wants Nuclear Talks That Lead To Lifting Of US Sanctions -Raisi
Iran wants a resumption of nuclear talks with world powers to lead to the removal of US sanctions, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) told the annual UN General Assembly on Tuesday in a pre-recorded address.
"The Islamic Republic considers the useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive (US) sanctions," Raisi said in his address.
Hardline cleric Raisi, who is under personal US sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in his past as a judge, said the US sanctions, imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, "were crimes against humanity during the coronavirus pandemic."
The official government news website IRNA quoted Raisi as saying, the January events at the US Capitol and images of Afghans falling from American planes in Kabul sent a message to the people of the world that “America’s domination both at home and abroad is not credible.”
Harsh sanctions reimposed by Trump since 2018 have prompted Tehran to violate the deal's limits. However, Tehran says its nuclear steps are reversible if Washington lifts all sanctions.
Indirect talks between Iran and the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear pact stopped two days after Raisi was elected as Iran's president in June. Parties involved in the negotiations have yet to announce when the next round of negotiations will resume. However, Tehran said on Tuesday that talks with world powers in Vienna to reinstate the nuclear pact would resume in a few weeks.
Biden Says US Will Prevent Iran From Getting Nukes, But Ready To talk
The United States will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, President Joe Biden told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York, at the same time reiterating his intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal.
The President who pledged to rely on diplomacy in international affairs, said, “The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. We are working with the P5+1 to engage Iran diplomatically and seek a return to the JCPOA. We’re prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same.”
Biden during last year’s presidential campaign repudiated president Donald Trump’s decision to leave the 2015 nuclear agreement and pledged to return to it if Iran stopped its retaliatory activities since 2019 violating the deal.
His administration entered indirect talks with Iran in April to reach an agreement on how the two sides could restore the JCPOA, but the talks so far have failed to make a breakthrough.
Diplomats were expecting a meeting of JCPOA members this week in New York, but since Monday both the European Union and Iran have said only bilateral talks would take place. Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is scheduled to meet his French and British counterparts.
India Seizes $2.72 Billion Of Afghan Heroin Shipped From Iran
Indian officials said on Tuesday they had seized nearly three tonnes of heroin originating from Afghanistan worth an estimated 200 billion rupees ($2.72 billion) amid the chaos following last month's takeover of the country by the Taliban.
Afghanistan is the world's biggest illicit opiate supplier, but since taking power, the Islamist Taliban have said they plan to ban the drug trade, without giving details on how.
The containers had been declared as containing semi-processed talc stones from Afghanistan and had been shipped from Bandar Abbas Port in Iran to Gujarat Mundra port, the Gujarat official said, adding that forensic tests confirmed the presence of heroin.
Two people had been arrested in connection with the haul and investigations were ongoing, an official in Gujarat said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak publicly.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), India's top anti-smuggling agency, seized two containers at western Gujarat's Mundra Port on Sept. 15 after receiving intelligence they contained narcotics, the official said.
"Investigation conducted so far has also revealed the involvement of Afghan nationals, who are under investigation."
The narcotics were headed to Delhi and the two arrested people had sought an import-export licence based on a house address in Vijayawada, police in Vijayawada said in a statement on Monday.
More than 2,988 kg of heroin was recovered in one of India's biggest such hauls to date.
Reporting by Reuters
Iran Says Nuclear Talks Will Resume 'In A Few Weeks'
Iran said on Tuesday that talks with world powers over reviving its 2015 nuclear deal would resume in a few weeks, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
"Every meeting requires prior coordination and the preparation of an agenda. As previously emphasized, the Vienna talks will resume soon and over the next few weeks," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to IRNA.
Khatibzadeh added that the Iran’s foreign policy team must complete its final overview about the nature of the talks, before returning to negotiations.
The world powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to try and work out how both can return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. The talks stopped in June, pending the start of Iran's new government, but one month after the cabinet was formed Tehran has not issued an exact date about its return to the negotiations.
Asked if the nuclear issue will be discussed in a multilateral framework in New York, the spokesman reiterated that Iran would hold bilateral talks with the parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement, JCPOA. Earlier, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had said no collective talks would take place.
Russia To Supply Iran With Advanced Satellite -Washington Post
WASHINGTON, June 10 (Reuters) - Russia is preparing to provide Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The plan would deliver a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera which could be launched from Russia within months, the Post said.
The report was published days before U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva and as Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.
The satellite would allow "continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops," said the paper, which cited three unnamed sources - a current and a former U.S. official and a senior Middle Eastern government official briefed on the sale.
While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have made several trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the agreement, the Post said.
Russian experts traveled to Iran this spring to help train crews who would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near Karaj west of Tehran, it added.
The satellite would feature Russian hardware, the Post said, "including a camera with a resolution of 1.2 meters — a significant improvement over Iran’s current capabilities, though still far short of the quality achieved by U.S. spy satellites."
The Revolutionary Guards said in April 2020 that they had successfully launched the country's first military satellite into orbit, prompting then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable because he believed the action defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.
US Sanctions Network Financing Houthis With Illicit Sale Of Iranian Oil
The US has leveled sanctions against a Yemeni network that the Biden administration accuses of working with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to transfer tens of millions of dollars to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
At the same time, the US also announced that it is lifting sanctions from three former Iranian officials and two companies, saying that the US had “verified a change in status or behavior" on their part.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement announced both decisions Thursday saying the money from the sanctioned network came from illicit sales of Iranian petroleum and other commodities throughout the Middle East.
The moves come as the Biden administration is trying both to press the Iranian-linked Yemen rebels into peace talks for the war in Yemen, and to close a deal returning the United States and Iran to an accord on Iran's nuclear program.
International officials and analysts say Iran has increased its material support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels as the war in the Arab nation of Yemen passes the six-year mark. The Biden administration also has announced it is lifting sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies that it said had been involved in banned petroleum sales.
International officials and analysts say Iran has increased its material support to Yemen's Houthi rebels as the war in the Arab nation passes the six-year mark.
With reporting by AP
US Drops Sanctions On Former Iranian Officials In 'Routine' Step
WASHINGTON, June 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Thursday it had removed sanctions on three former Iranian officials and on two companies previously involved in trading Iranian petrochemical products, a move a U.S. official said had nothing to do with Iran nuclear talks.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the U.S. official said that the moves by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) were routine and unrelated to efforts to revive Iranian and U.S. compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
"Today, OFAC and the Department of State are also lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies formerly involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products," the Treasury said in a statement.
"These delistings are a result of a verified change in behavior or status on the part of the sanctioned parties and demonstrate the U.S. government's commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in behavior or status for sanctioned persons," it added.
The Treasury did not name the former Iranian officials or the companies in its statement.
On its website, OFAC said it removed three men from one of its sanctions lists: Ahmad Ghalebani, a managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Farzad Bazargan, a managing director of Hong Kong Intertrade Company, and Mohammad Moinie, a commercial director of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl.
OFAC also said it had removed some sanctions on Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited and on Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai Limited.
Rouhani Slams 2016 Attacks On Saudi Diplomatic Mission In Iran
President Hassan Rouhani has implicitly criticized those who attacked Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions in January 2016 in Iran, which led to Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic and heightened tensions between the two regional powers.
“May God not forgive those who did not allow us to have good relations with some neighbors,” Rouhani said at a ceremony in Tehran on Thursday, emphasizing the need to have strong ties with regional counties.
Mobs led by hardliners attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad, invading the missions, vandalizing and burning property, on January 2, 2016.
Some groups engaged “in childish and stupid” actions and “attacked diplomatic missions. If these actions had not taken place we would be in a better situation,” the outgoing president who is not eligible to run for a third term in the June 18 elections said.
Saudi Arabia, which already had a tense relationship with Iran over wars in Syria and Yemen, became an ardent critic of Tehran’s influence building in the region after the attack on its embassy and supported former president Donald Trump’s tough policies to isolate the Islamic Republic by imposing tough sanctions in 2018.
Abdolnaser Hemmati, one of the centrist candidates in the upcoming presidential vote has also criticized hardliners for the attack on Saudi missions in Iran.
US Warns Venezuela, Cuba Not To Host Iranian Warships - Politico
The Biden administration has told Venezuela and Cuba not to allow two Iranian navy ships, believed to be carrying weapons and crossing the Atlantic to dock at their ports, Politico reported on Wednesday.
Reports emerged in May that Iran was dispatching two naval vessels to the Western hemisphere and an Iranian official confirmed the destination as Venezuela on June 1. The vessels might be carrying missiles and possibly speed boats to Venezuela according to an arms agreement made last year.
“The delivery of such weapons would be a provocative act and understood as a threat to our partners in the Western Hemisphere,” one senior administration official told Politico. “We would reserve the right to take appropriate measures in coordination with our partners to deter the transit or delivery of such weapons.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened the US Navy in the Persian Gulf region, sending armed fast boats to within 100 yards of warships and once even sank a replica of a US aircraft carrier. But delivering weapons to the Western Hemisphere is a new strategic challenge to the US.
Two defense officials told Politico that the US has sent messages to Caracas and Havana not to allow the ships to dock at their ports.
Both Tehran and Caracas might be using the tactic to pressure the Biden administration over tough sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. So far the US has not reduced pressure on the counties but it is in talks with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal which would mean lifting some sanctions.