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.
Araghchi Says 1,500 Sanctions Must Be Removed Before US Can Rejoin JCPOA
The United States must remove 1,500 sanctions in order to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the Iranian state broadcaster on Saturday.
The negotiations in Vienna this week were about preparing the list of these sanctions, Araghchi said. He added that all sanctions lifted by the JCPOA, as well as all sanctions imposed by the previous US administration must be removed. These include sanctions related to areas of activities, as well as against individuals and entities.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 and launched his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against the Islamic Republic, imposing and reimposing hundreds of sanctions. Some of those are designated as terrorism sanctions and lifting them would be politically difficult for the new administration.
US State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter has told Iran International of sanctions “inconsistent” with JCPOA that can be removed, but it is not clear what those are.
A senior US State Department official told reporters on Friday that "If Iran sticks to the position that every sanction that has been imposed since 2017 has to be lifted or there will be no deal, then we are heading towards an impasse.”
In a separate appearance, Araghchi told Iran’s Press TV that negotiations should reach a conclusion in six weeks, when still a three-month temporary agreement of inspections is in place with the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. Otherwise, the restoration of the nuclear agreement will become more complicated.
With Covid Surge, 335 Writers Want Prisoners Of Conscience Released
More than 330 Iranian writers and poets have written to judicial and government authorities demanding the release of prisoners of conscience amid a surge in the Covid-19 pandemic in Iran.
The signatories of the letter, made public on Saturday [April 10], have reiterated that “freedom of speech and freedom of pen” are not crimes. “Considering the terrible news about the spread of coronavirus in prisons and infection of some of our detained colleagues, the full responsibility for their lives and health is on your shoulders,” they write.
The signatories have urged officials to allow temporary release from prison of writers and other political prisoners as the minimum action required to protect their lives. The letter names several writers jailed on vague charges, some for insulting officials or sanctities, who have Covid.
Last October, PEN International asked sympathizers to write to Iran’s authorities over the imprisonment of three prominent writers − Baktash Abtin, Kayvan Bazhan, and Reza Khandan − who were summoned to serve six-year prison terms. The three were charged with membership of the banned Writers Association of Iran. Abtin has contracted the coronavirus in prison.
Although Iran’s constitution and laws recognize freedom of speech, the latest Amnesty annual report on Iran, published on April 7, said “hundreds of people remained arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their human rights…[including] protesters, journalists, media workers, political dissidents, artists, writers and human rights defenders.”
Concerned Over Nuclear Talks, Saudi Prince Denounces Iran’s ‘Dogs’
Prince Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud, the former intelligence minister of Saudi Arabia often seen as reflecting official views, has said Vienna talks over Iran’s nuclear program do not alleviate concerns of Gulf Arab states about threats posed by Iran. In an online forum hosted by the Bahraini newspaper Al-Bilad on April 9, Prince Turki said that all these concerns should be considered by world powers negotiating with Iran.
“We cannot ignore the dangers of the regional behavior of the Iranian leadership and separate it from the dangers of its nuclear program,” the Prince said. He added that Iranian ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads added to concern.
Both the Gulf Arab states and Israel have asked the Biden administration to be involved in any new talks with Iran, and Biden officials promised to consult “partners” in the region. It is not clear how far Washington has opened its playbook to regional allies, while Israel has continued to oppose a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal and lifting United States sanctions.
“We live every day in such a danger, as this [Iranian] leadership did not hesitate to provide its dogs in the region with the means to target us with long-range missiles,” Turki al-Faisal said, “and we know what they can do in the future.”
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal separated Iran’s nuclear program from other matters. Saudi Arabia itself has long maintained an arsenal of ballistic missiles and operates advanced US-supplied strike aircraft. In its six-year intervention in the Yemen war, Saudi Arabia has faced Houthi forces with missiles believed to have been supplied by Iran.
Zarif Says Iran Played A Role In Iraqi Arrest Warrant For Trump
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said his ministry played a major role in securing the arrest warrant for President Donald Trump issued by an Iraqi court last week for killing Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, head of the Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Committee and an ally of Tehran. He died alongside Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a United States drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.
The website of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council said the warrant followed investigations into the death of Muhandis and his “colleagues,” leaving it unclear whether the warrant included Soleimani, one of five Iranians killed.
Speaking on Wednesday to government and military officials in Tehran, Zarif said that both Iranian and Iraqi courts should pursue accountability for the killing of Soleimani, commander of Iran’s extra-territorial Al-Qods (Quds) Force, who was a national Iranian figure due to his role organizing forces fighting the Islamic State group (Isis, or Daesh) in Iraq.
Trump announced that he authorized the missile attack, claiming the US got “two for the price of one.” But the United Nations special rapporteur on extraterritorial killings Agnes Callamard deemed the action “unlawful killing” as the US advanced no evidence of the imminent threat Trump alleged.
Iran had already issued its own warrant over Soleimani, while the Iraqi court cited article 406 of Iraq’s penal code, which carries the death penalty for premeditated murder. Iran has held numerous remembrance events for Soleimani and erected statues, often made in an amateurish way that have led to public ridicule. Soleimani supervised Iran’s influence and military presence in regional countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Foreign Ministry Rejects Pompeo Accusation Of Al Qaeda Base In Iran
Iran says that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that al Qaeda now has a safe haven in Iran is a “Hollywood scenario” and a repeat of false accusations.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman of the foreign ministry, said on Wednesday [Jan. 13] that Pompeo made similar accusations during his tenure as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Pompeo Tuesday accused Iran’s government of harboring al Qaeda and said that the terror group has “a new home” in the Islamic Republic.
Pompeo did not offer any details but warned that if the United States ignores the danger of an al Qaeda safe haven in Iran, it will be “at our own peril”. He added that “we must confront it and defeat it.”
Pompeo, referring to some declassified information said that since 2015 Iran has allowed al Qaeda to set up a command post in Iran and facilitates trips by its members to Yemen and and Syria.
In 2017 the CIA published documents trying to prove close relations between the Sunni militant group and the Shiite government in Iran, but Iran has always denied any links.
In August, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an important member of al Qaeda living in Iran was assassinated in Tehran and suspicions fell on Israeli and US intelligence agencies.
Iran Launches Missile Drill Days Before Biden Inauguration
DUBAI, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Iran's military launched a short-range naval missile drill on Wednesday, Iranian state TV reported, at a time of high tension between arch foes Tehran and Washington.
Iran has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against U.S. and other adversaries in the event of war.
The West sees Iran's missiles both as a conventional military threat to regional stability and a possible delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons should Tehran develop them.
The Iranian-made warship Makran, which state media described as Iran's biggest warship with a helicopter pad, and a missile-launching ship called Zereh (armour) were taking part in the two-day exercise in the Gulf of Oman.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have risen since 2018, when President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal. The United States restored harsh sanctions to pressure Iran into negotiating stricter curbs on its nuclear programme, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.
In recent years, there have been periodic confrontations between Iran’s military and U.S. forces in the Gulf, where Tehran holds annual exercises to display the Islamic Republic's military might to confront "foreign threats".
Last week, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters and detained its crew amid tensions between Tehran and Seoul over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions.
In early 2019, Iran heightened tensions in the world's busiest oil waterway by seizing British-flagged tanker Stena Impero two weeks after a British warship had intercepted an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.
Blackouts In Iran Spread From Tehran To Mashhad And Tabriz
The Tuesday blackouts in Tehran have now spread to many parts of Iran with huge parts of Mashhad and Tabriz cities also losing electricity. The director of the Industrial Complexes of Tehran announced that over 2300 industrial plants suddenly lost electricity without warning, and identified mining cryptocurrency and Bitcoin as the cause.
After several hours of blackout in vast areas of Mashhad city in the northeast of Iran on Tuesday morning, the spokesperson for the Mashhad Electricity Distribution Company announced that by the order of the government, the management of electricity load distribution has begun on Tuesday morning, and there will be unpredictable blackouts in different areas.
Alireza Kashi added that the electricity load distribution management is inevitable, otherwise, there will be widespread blackouts.
The chairman of Regional Electricity Company in East Azarbaijan province in the North West of Iran also said the reason for the shortage of electricity is the shortage of natural gas. He said due to the increased natural gas consumption, the natural gas for the powerplants has been cut off and they have been using liquid gas, but some powerplants have also depleted their liquid gas as well.
At the same time, the director of the Industrial Complexes of Tehran announced that over 2313 industrial plants have lost electricity without prior warnings.
Sadeq Parnian blamed Bitcoin mining as the cause of electricity shortage and said the unannounced blackouts in industrial complexes have damaged production lines and destroyed products and raw material.
He went on to say that the officials responsible are not answering to the complaints of manufacturers.
Several ministries have also lost electricity due to extreme consumption, according to the chairman of Tehran’s Electricity Distribution Company.
Pompeo Defending US Policy: "Iranian Regime A Group Of Radical Ideologues"
In a series of tweets of Tuesday using #BadDealWorseThanNoDeal, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced: “Ignoring terror and missiles and a clear path for the Iranian regime to get a nuclear weapon put America at risk. So we confronted them.”
Pompeo once again defended the policies of the Trump administration in recent years regarding Iran, and mainly the maximum pressure campaign.
In one tweet with a picture of the attack on the American embassy in Tehran after the Islamic Revolution, Pompeo wrote: The Trump Administration recognizes the Iranian regime is a group of radical ideologues who have been chanting “Death to America” since 1979.
He once again reiterated that there is no moderate among the Islamic Republic officials: The foreign policy blob constantly looks for a moderate inside the Iranian regime who will “normalize relations.” The reality is you have a better chance of finding a unicorn.
Pompeo also tweeted a picture of the leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei, President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Esmail Ghaani, saying: “The men in these photos threaten America and Israel nearly every day.”
In another later tweet in Persian and English, Pompeo wrote: “We have stood with the Iranian people. We sanctioned their oppressors. We exposed the truth about the regime’s brutality. We deprived the regime of funds they would have used to support terrorism. Beyond a shadow of a doubt maximum pressure works.”
“When the regime killed Iranians in the streets, protesters sent us the proof and we broadcast it for the world to see. We sanctioned their murderers, jailers, and the corrupt judges in their fake courts,” he added.
Pompeo recently expressed hope that the next US administration continues the current policies regarding Iran.