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Iran in JUNE 2023

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Iran in JUNE 2023

June 01, 2023

  1. Secret Talks in Oman Suggest the US is Preparing Deals with Iran (Iran International). It is more likely that the US is stepping up talks to kick-start nuclear negotiations with Iran despite denials from senior diplomats…As Brett McGurk, President Biden’s senior Middle East adviser, took a low-profile trip to Oman earlier this month for talks on possible diplomatic outreach to Iran, it seems this is more than ‘talks.’
  2. Hardliners In Iran Dismiss Government Hijab Bill, Demand Harsher One (Iran International). Heated debates over a new bill about dealing with women who refuse to observe compulsory hijab continue inside and outside the Iranian parliament.
  3. Khamenei Says Iran and Turkmenistan are “Relatives” Who Share Cultural Affinities (Tehran Times). The Supreme Leader made the remarks during a Wednesday meeting in Tehran with former Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who is now chairman of the People’s Council of the National Assembly of Turkmenistan.

June 02, 2023

  1. A US Hostage in Iran Reportedly Says He Will Be Freed Soon (Iran International). American hostage in Iran, Siamak Namazi, has informed his family that Iranian authorities have told him he will be freed soon, media in Iran reported Thursday. (Editor’s note:  Namazi’s family later denied this communication had taken place.)
  2. Iran Carried Out More than 300 Death Sentences in 2023 (Al Nahar). Three hundred seven people have been executed since January 1, 2023, 75 percent more than the first five months of 2022…In May alone, 142 people were executed, or four people per day in the Islamic Republic, according to the Norway-based Human Rights Organization in Iran.

June 03-05, 2023

  1. Iranian Navy Claims Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Others will form Naval Coalition in Northern Indian Ocean (Tehran Times).  Iran’s Navy commander has announced that a naval coalition will be formed in the northern Indian Ocean with the involvement of Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan and India, Tasnim reported on Saturday.
  2. Direct Talks Between Robert Malley and Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Financial Times reported, quoting diplomatic sources, that the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Saeed Erwani, recently held several meetings with the US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, at a time when the US administration says that the 2015 nuclear deal is “not on the list of works.”
  3. Top Diplomats Arrange for Revival of Iran-Saudi Ties (Tasnim News).The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia held a meeting in South Africa to weigh plans for the full restoration of relations and broaden regional and economic cooperation between Tehran and Riyadh.
  4. Iran Releases Two Iranian-Austrian Prisoners and One Danish (Tehran Times). The Iranian Judiciary on Friday released two Iranian-Austrian nationals and one Danish prisoner.
  5. Russian Firms Invest $2.7 Billion in Iran’s Oil Industry: Official (Tasnim News). Russian firms have invested $2.7 bln in Iran’s oil industry, the chairman of Iran-Russia Chamber of Commerce said. Hadi Tizhoush Taban made the comment on Friday and emphasized that use of national currencies of the two countries of Iran and Russia in rials and ruble has thus far increased by 60 percent using the removal of US dollar in bilateral transactions.
  6. US Sanctions Iranian Firm Over Internet Censorship (Al Monitor). The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions Friday targeting an Iranian company accused of supporting internet censorship…The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said Iran-based technology company Arvan Cloud has close relationships with Iran’s intelligence services and its executives have ties to senior Iranian officials.

June 06, 2023

  1. US, UK Navies Act As Iran Harasses Commercial Vessel (Iran International). US and UK navies acted when a merchant ship was being harassed by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz in a sign of a more aggressive policy in the Persian Gulf. The vessel sent a distress call on June 4…“The internationally flagged merchant vessel made a radio distress call at 4:56 p.m. local time while transiting the narrow strait. The civilian crew reported three fast-attack craft with armed personnel approached and followed the merchant vessel at close distance. The fast-attack craft were assessed to be from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy,” a US navy statement said. US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul and UK Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster both received the distress call, and Lancaster launched a helicopter to provide surveillance. US 5th Fleet also directed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to monitor the scene, the Navy said.
  2. IRGC Refutes Story on Presence of Foreign Ships as It Responded to Distress Call (Tasnim News). The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy rejected media stories on the presence of extra-regional naval vessels near the Strait of Hormuz when the Iranian forces responded to a distress call from a Marshall Islands-flagged ship.
  3. Iran Cashes In On Russia Running Low On Munition (Iran International). Documents seen by the UK’s Sky News suggest that Iran is profiteering from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Overpriced ammunition shows the cash-strapped regime is able to charge over the going price as fellow sanctions-hit Russia runs low on supplies. The 16 pages of top-secret documents, dated September 14, 2022, appears to be for samples of varying sizes of artillery and tank shells and rockets worth just over $1m.

June 07, 2023

  1. Iran Set to Reopen Embassy in Saudi Arabia after 7 Years of Closure (Al Monitor). Iran will reopen its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, months after the two countries signed a China-brokered agreement to restore ties after a seven-year rupture.
  2. Iran Unveils Claimed Hypersonic Missile, Says it Can Evade All Air Defenses (Times of Israel)Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had created a hypersonic missile capable of traveling at 15 times the speed of sound, adding a new weapon to its arsenal as tensions remain high with the United States and Israel over Tehran’s nuclear program.
  3. Iran, Turkey Weigh Plans for Closer Regional Cooperation (Ground). The Iranian foreign minister and his new Turkish counterpart discussed ways to promote interaction between the two neighbors, including their regional cooperation.
  4. Iran-Afghan Water Tensions Surge Amid Drought, Complicating Taliban Ties (Al Monitor). Tensions have escalated between Tehran and the Taliban regime in Kabul over the distribution of their shared waters. As Iran faces increasing water scarcity issues, Afghanistan is trying to dam water sources as much as possible to generate electricity and irrigate agricultural land.

June 08, 2023

  1. French, German, and British statement: Iran continues to develop its nuclear program and install centrifuges (Alarabiya). In a joint statement on Tuesday, France, Germany, and Britain announced that Iran continues to install advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium and that its stockpile of enriched uranium is more than 21 times the permissible limit.
  2. E3, US Issue Statement On Iran As UN Nuclear Meeting Opens (Iran International). As the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors began its quarterly meeting Tuesday, countries expressed concerns over Iran’s activities.
  3. Iran’s President to Visit Latin America (Tasnim News). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will leave Tehran on June 11 for a three-nation tour of Latin America.

June 09, 2023

  1. China Hosts Rare Counterterrorism Talks With Iran, Pakistan (VOA). China, Iran, and Pakistan held their first trilateral counterterrorism and regional security consultations on Wednesday in Beijing. “The delegations held detailed discussions on the regional security situation, particularly the threat of terrorism faced by the region,” said a post-meeting statement in Islamabad, which shared no further details…Pakistan, Iran, and China are also concerned about growing terrorist attacks in neighboring Afghanistan. The violence is mainly claimed by Islamic State’s regional affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan. The three countries have stepped up diplomatic engagement with the conflict-ravaged country’s Taliban rulers to help them tackle the threat and bring economic stability to Afghanistan.
  2. Zarif’s Latest Statements Ignite Controversy In Iran (Iran International). Iranian former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s statements this week on various issues have led to discussions in Tehran about his intentions and plans. Reactions to Former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s five-hour appearance in a chatroom on Club House on June 6, and the statements he made about the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, relations with the United States, as well as Russia’s and China’s role in Iran’s foreign policy and a few domestic political issues have given way to varying interpretations of why he chose to speak and the timing of his move.

June 10-12, 2023

  1. Iran Ex-Security Chief Received $3.5 Million Per Year from IRGC-Backed Drug Lord (Iran International). Iran International has obtained information about links between Iran’s former security chief Ali Shamkhani and a top drug lord, Naji Sharifi-Zindashti. According to an Iran International source, Shamkhani received about $3.5 million in bribes yearly from Zindashti, in addition to the narcotics drug baron personally providing for the secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council.
  2. Khamenei Says Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure Cannot Be Negotiated (Iran International). A deal with the West can be accepted if it does not impact Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, Islamic Republic’s 84-year-old authoritarian ruler Ali Khamenei said Sunday. Khamenei, who was addressing a group of Iranian nuclear scientists and officials,”n Tehran, also claimed that Iran will not opt for nuclear weapons simply because of Islamic principles, “otherwise, they could not have prevented us.”
  3. Iran’s Raisi Travels to Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela in Anti-U.S. Blitz (Real Clear Defense). Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi will depart on Sunday for a Latin America tour to bolster relations with “like-minded and friendly states.” Accompanied by a delegation, Raisi is scheduled to sign multiple political, trade, industrial and scientific agreements with Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
  4. Iran is Helping Russia Build a Drone Factory, the White House Says (The National). Iran is providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow…In a telephone call, French President Macron underlined “the serious security and humanitarian consequences of Iran’s drone deliveries and urged Tehran to immediately end the support it thus gives to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
  5. Despite the Denials, Indirect Negotiations between Washington and Tehran (Al Arabiya)While an Iranian parliamentarian hinted at secret negotiations between Tehran and Washington in New York, three informed sources revealed that US and Iranian officials held indirect talks in Oman last month…In addition, the sources said that the indirect exchange of messages between the Biden administration and Iran aims to reach an “understanding” of ways to calm the Iranian nuclear program, Iran’s behavior in the region, and its involvement in the war in Ukraine.

June 13, 2023

  1. Iran Not Seeking Interim Deal With US, Negotiates For Prisoner Swap (Iran International). Iran has rejected speculation about an interim deal with the US, saying indirect talks via Oman took place to kickstart negotiations to revive the original 2015 accord…During his weekly press conference on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said: “We confirm no such thing as negotiations for an interim agreement or new arrangements to replace the nuclear deal”…His remarks came only a day after Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei said reaching a deal would be acceptable if the country’s nuclear infrastructure remains intact.
  2. Pahlavi Says There Are No Legal Obstacles for the EU to Sanction IRGC (Iran International). Iran’s exiled prince Reza Pahlavi, citing a group of French-Iranian lawyers, says there are no legal obstacles for the EU to sanction the Revolutionary Guard…In a tweet on Sunday, Reza Pahlavi urged the European authorities to reconsider their current position and proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist group, based on a report the lawyers have presented to his office and heads of governments.

June 14, 2023

  1. Iran Intends to Commercialize Nuclear Products (Tehran Times).  The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has an ambition to bring its nuclear research to an industrial level and ultimately commercialize it, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Sunday. In a televised interview, Kamalvandi stated that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s remarks during a meeting with AEOI officials on Sunday “gave all of us extra energy to move quickly.”…“The vision of the organization is to be able to have a strong organization that can bring research to the industrial stage and then to business,” he stressed.
  2. Iran, Venezuela Sign 19 Pacts (Tasnim News). Iran and Venezuela signed 19 cooperation documents and memoranda of understanding during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s official visit to Caracas…Cooperation and participation in areas such as communications and information technology, energy, insurance, maritime transport, higher education, agriculture, medicine, cultural exchanges, and the development of mineral cooperation were among the essential documents signed between the two countries on Monday.
  3. Iran Holds Nuclear Talks with European Diplomats in UAE (The New Arab). Iran’s nuclear negotiator on Tuesday said he had met with diplomats from three European countries in Abu Dhabi to discuss some issues, including the country’s atomic energy program. “Following diplomatic consultations with regional and extra-regional parties, we met with our German, French, and British counterparts in Abu Dhabi and discussed a range of issues,” deputy foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri tweeted.
  4. Islamic Republic’s IRGC Clashes with Kurds in Western Iran (The Jerusalem Post). According to opposition-affiliated organizations, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) clashed with residents of Kurdish areas of western Iran on Tuesday. In Dehlor, a village in the Kermanshah Province, Iranian forces attacked residents, with armed clashes breaking out at the scene, according to Hengaw. According to the report, the attack came in light of the killing of a Basij paramilitary force member in Kermanshah on Sunday.

June 15, 2023

  1. Iran and Egypt’s Foreign Ministers Will Meet, Followed by a Presidential Meeting (Sahafahh). A meeting between the foreign ministers of Egypt and Iran will be followed by a session at the level of the two countries’ presidents. Maliki said, in statements reported by the Asr Iran website, that the foreign ministers of Iran and Egypt will meet soon, and in the next stage, there will be a meeting at a significant level.
  2. Iranian President Attacks Trump from Venezuela (Al Sharq Al Awsat)Before leaving Venezuela, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attacked a speech recently made by former US President Donald Trump, claiming that he had revealed his “true face and imperial intentions,” calling for a “new world order.”…Raisi arrived in Nicaragua, the second leg of his tour in Latin America, where he was received on Tuesday evening by Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, before meeting his counterpart Daniel Ortega.

June 16, 2023

  1. Under Omani Sponsorship, US and Iran Near an Agreement for Release of American Hostages (Al Hadath). Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi said in an interview with Al-Monitor news website that Iran and the United States are close to finalizing an agreement on the release of Americans detained in Tehran…”I can say they are close…the issue is limited to technical matters,” al-Busaidi said in the interview, which was published early Thursday, of the two countries’ possible agreement over the detainees.
  2. Saudi Foreign Minister to Meet Iranian Officials in Tehran (Tasnim News). Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud will travel to Tehran Saturday for talks with senior Iranian officials…Sources reported earlier that the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran would reopen during the ministerial visit to Iran.
  3. Iran, Qatar Emphasize Boosting Banking and Monetary Cooperation (Tasnim News). Highlighting the numerous economic capacities and various fields of trade cooperation between Iran and Qatar, the chief bankers of Iran and Qatar stressed the need for increasing banking and monetary cooperation…Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Mohammad Reza Farzin, who has traveled to the Qatari capital of Doha, met and held talks with his Qatari counterpart Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani on Wednesday to discuss bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest.
  4. American Official Says Iran Experimented with A Suicide Drone Against a Training Ship in the Gulf (Aljazeera). Reuters quoted a US official as confirming that Iran had tested a “suicide” drone against a training ship in the Gulf…The US official described the move as a rehearsal for striking commercial ships, according to Reuters…He said, citing US intelligence information, that the drone launched from the Iranian Jask region on Wednesday, between 8 and 9 miles at sea within the territorial waters, and targeted an Iranian training barge.

June 17-19, 2023

  1. Iran Eyes Rise in Trade with New Terminal on Turkish Border (Tasnim News).  Iran will launch a new terminal on its border with Turkey to increase international trade via its territory. Iran’s Road Maintenance & Transportation Organization (RTMO) said on Saturday that Razi Border Terminal would be officially inaugurated within days in a ceremony that senior government officials will attend.
  2. Saudi-Iran Detente Offers Dubious Economic Benefits, Say Analysts (Al Monitor). Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Fatih claims he is “optimistic” about the economic potential of the detente announced on March 10 between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China… In an interview with CNBC earlier this week, the minister said he was “very hopeful” that Saudi Arabia’s normalization with Iran will go beyond the two countries and address the concerns the international community has expressed to Tehran.
  3. Iran’s Oil Exports Reach Highest Level in Five Years (Al Mayadeen). Iran’s crude oil exports hit their highest levels in 2023 despite US sanctions, according to economic consultants and data reported by Reuters…According to the data, Iranian oil exports exceeded 1.5 million barrels per day in May, the highest monthly rate since 2018, before the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal…Last May, Iran announced that it had increased its crude production to more than 3 million barrels per day. This represents about 3% of global supply and will be the highest since 2018, according to figures from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
  4. Iran Constructing 120-Megawatt Power Plant in Sri Lanka: Energy Minister (Tasnim News). The capacity of hydroelectric power plants in Iran exceeds 13,000 megawatts, the Iranian energy minister said, revealing salient progress in the final stage of construction of a 120-megawatt power plant by the Iranian experts in Sri Lanka…in a meeting with Sri Lanka’s Minister of Irrigation Chamal Rajapaksa on Sunday, Ali Akbar Mehrabian pointed to the amicable historical relations between the two countries. He hoped that expert Iranian engineers were building the power plants.

June 20, 2023

  1. Leaked Documents Show Iran Expected Consequences For Sending Arms To Russia (Iran International). Documents leaked by a hacktivist group show that Iran expected Ukraine to sever diplomatic ties over Tehran’s supply of weapons to Russia. Confidential letters published by the group Uprising till Overthrow revealed that the regime officials are aware their support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine may lead to criminal cases against Tehran for its involvement in the war…Referring to the annulment of at least five agreements between Iran and Ukraine over the issue, the documents pointed out that Kyiv has also sanctioned a large number of Iranian officials and also rejected calls for negotiations by the Islamic Republic.
  2. IRGC Intelligence Chief Claims 20 Countries Involved In Iran Protests (Iran International). Mohammad Kazemi, who took over from Hossein Taeb in July 2022, made the remarks in an interview format with Khamenei.ir, the website of the Supreme Leader…The brigadier general accused 18 countries that supported “the riots” across the country sparked after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. He named the US, the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Albania, Australia, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Norway, Bahrain, New Zealand and Israel.
  3. Ayatollah Khamenei Says Iran Can Provide Uzbekistan Access to the Sea (Tasnim News Agency)In a Sunday meeting with Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and his accompanying delegation in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the common grounds between Iran and Uzbekistan should be used to expand relations in different sectors. “The Islamic Republic of Iran can easily connect Uzbekistan to open waters through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Furthermore, the areas of cooperation (between the two countries) are beyond trade and transportation, and more cooperation can be done with various initiatives in science and technology and other sectors,” the Leader stated.
  4. An Iranian Cargo Plane Lands 6 Times at “Hmeimim” Airbase:  What is Iran Sending to Russia? (Syria TV). An Israeli Institute suggested that in light of the recent news, there is a possibility that the Russians are transporting such equipment/weapons to Ukraine and the Iranians delivered them, or that the military base is used as a “main passage for Iranian weapons to Syria and Hezbollah.”

June 21, 2023

  1. Soleimani Debacle Casts Shadow on Landmark Saudi Visit to Iran (Amwaj Media). Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud visited Tehran, meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and President Ebrahim Raisi to improve bilateral relations. The visit resulted in the agreement to establish joint political and economic committees, focusing on border security, countering drug trafficking, and expanding commercial ties. The controversy over the venue for the joint press conference, due to a portrait of Qasem Soleimani, sparked discussions, while Arab reactions hailed the change of venue as a victory. The future holds potential cooperation in the nuclear field and a reciprocal trip by Amir-Abdollahian to Saudi Arabia.
  2. Israeli Study Identifies Iranian Scientists Behind Russia’s Kamikaze Drones in Ukraine (Iran International). According to a study by the Israeli research center ALMA, the Iranian scientists responsible for manufacturing the Shahid 136 drones used by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine have been identified. The report reveals two civilian companies in Tehran, allegedly operated by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), that produce drone components. The companies periodically change their names to evade sanctions imposed by Western countries potentially.
  3. IRGC Hired Hitman to Kill Sunni Leader of Zahedan (Iran International). IRGC intelligence has allegedly assigned a hitman to assassinate Mowlavi Abdolhamid, a prominent Sunni cleric in Zahedan. The security guards of Makki Mosque apprehended a man disguised as a religious student who intended to poison and kill the Sunni leader. The suspect confessed to receiving a weekly salary for carrying out the operation. Mowlavi Abdolhamid has been facing pressure from Iranian security forces due to his critical sermons and participation in protests against government actions and repression. Zahedan has witnessed ongoing demonstrations against discrimination and repression in the Sistan-Baluchestan province.

June 22, 2023

  1. Iran Agrees to Omani Initiative on Frozen Funds in South Korea (Tehran Times). Iran has agreed to an Omani offer to de-escalate tensions with the United States, according to a senior Iranian lawmaker. The Omani initiative has also gained the support of South Korea. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian is currently visiting Qatar and Oman as part of diplomatic efforts to include Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the discussions. The visit aims to enhance regional rapprochement and address common interests, including nuclear negotiations and a potential prisoner exchange deal.
  2. Iranian Regime Executes Kurdish Political Prisoner (Iran International). A Kurdish political prisoner, Hayman Mostafaei, was executed in Iran’s Sanandaj Central Prison. The Iranian judiciary has not yet responded to reports of the execution, which sparked a rally in front of the prison to protest the decision. Mostafaei had been accused of killing an IRGC member in 2012, but his case was marred by allegations of torture to obtain a forced confession. The execution is part of a concerning trend of increased executions in Iran, with many executed individuals accused of killing security forces while cases of security forces killing protesters remain unaddressed. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern over the rise in executions and ongoing discrimination against women and girls in Iran.
  3. Iran’s Nuclear Expansion: Gaining Leverage or Part Of Wider Ambition? (Iran International). Recent talks on Iran’s nuclear expansion have raised questions about whether it is a negotiating tactic or part of a broader plan. As Iran advances its program, it is expected to demand more in return for reversing its gains. Media reports suggest a limited nuclear deal may be on the horizon, with Iran capping uranium enrichment at 60 percent while the US provides some sanctions relief. However, time is running out as the expiration of clauses imposing sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program approaches. Iran continues to sell weapons to Russia, and the situation remains uncertain as the Biden administration tries to calm tensions. The future of the nuclear deal is uncertain, and Iran’s actions and economic crisis add complexity to the situation.
  4. Iran has Talks with EU’s Mora Amid Efforts to Save Nuclear Pact (Reuters). Iran and the European Union mediator, Enrique Mora, held a meeting in Qatar to revive the 2015 nuclear pact with world powers. Both Tehran and Washington are seeking to ease tensions and find a mutual understanding to break the deadlock. Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani described the meeting as serious and constructive, discussing various issues including negotiations on lifting sanctions…Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently expressed openness to a new nuclear deal with the West.
  5. Iran-China Trade Hits $6.5 Billion in Five Months (Tasnim News Agency). Trade exchanges between Iran and China in the first five months of 2023 amounted to $6.5 billion, according to China’s Customs. China’s exports to Iran during this period reached $4.6 billion, showing a 40% increase compared to the same period last year…Overall, the trade volume between Iran and China in this period remained relatively stable compared to the previous year.
  6. Iran Expects Big Jump in Trade with Arab States amid Détente with Saudi Arabia (Tasnim News Agency). Iranian businesses are optimistic about a potential surge in trade with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf following the recent political reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The improved relations are expected to create trade opportunities for Iranians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key re-exporting hub in the region. Trade between Iran and the UAE has already witnessed significant growth, reaching $3 billion in the two months leading up to late May. Additionally, Iran’s exports to Saudi Arabia have increased to around $15 million since the restoration of diplomatic relations in March, with expectations of reaching an annual trade volume of $2 billion in the near future.

June 23, 2023

  1. Controversy Continues Over Fragile Tehran-Riyadh Relations (Iran International). The recent visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to Iran has sparked heated debates regarding Tehran’s ties with Riyadh. A controversy arose when the venue for their joint press conference was abruptly changed…Iranian reporters claimed that the Saudi delegation objected to a portrait of Qassem Soleimani. Critics argue that the Iranian Foreign Ministry should have anticipated Saudi sensitivities and canceled the news conference.
  2. US House Moves To Make 1996 Iran Sanctions Permanent (Iran International). The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives has unanimously passed a resolution known as the Solidifying Iran Sanctions Act of 2023 to make specific punitive measures against Iran permanent. The bipartisan bill seeks to remove the “sunset clause” in existing legislation, making sanctions against Iran permanent. The sanctions target Iran’s weapons programs, ballistic missile development, and support for terrorism…Critics argue that this move may complicate the Biden administration’s negotiations with Iran and potentially reduce sanctions.
  3. Hamas Leader Meets Iran’s Khamenei Amid West Bank Tensions (Iran International). Hamas Political Chief Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran and met with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shortly after the group claimed responsibility for killing four Israelis near the West Bank settlement of Eli…Hamas described the attack as a heroic response and suggested that more actions against Israelis may follow.
  4. Iran’s Pro-Reform Camp Warns Against End to ‘Republicanism,’ Low-Turnout Polls (Amwaj Media). Prominent reformist figure and former president Mohammad Khatami has warned that Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament is targeting “republicanism” in the country. Khatami criticized a bill that would amend parliamentary election laws, claiming it would render elections meaningless and consolidate more power in the Guardian Council. Former president Hassan Rouhani also raised concerns about low-turnout elections and stressed the importance of maximum-turnout elections for problem-solving. Conservative outlets speculate that reformists are planning a political comeback in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The low voter turnout and dissatisfaction with the state of the economy have contributed to growing disillusionment with the Islamic Republic.

June 24-26, 2023

  1. Iran Discusses Foreign Interference in Russia after Wagner Mutiny (Tasnim News Agency). Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian expressed support for the rule of law in Russia and condemned foreign interference in countries’ internal affairs during a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Amirabdollahian considered the developments in Russia as an internal matter and expressed confidence in the country’s ability to overcome the situation. Lavrov emphasized the importance of imposing the rule of law in Russia and discussed the need to pursue bilateral agreements between Russia and Iran. The Wagner mutiny, led by the Wagner Group, lasted for a day and involved the group’s attempt to advance towards Moscow, described by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a betrayal and act of treason.

June 27, 2023

  1. Iranian President Expresses Full Support for Putin over Wagner Munity (Iran International). Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after the failed mutiny. The Iranian president expressed full support for the Russian leadership, surpassing the sentiments of Iran’s Foreign Ministry…Iranian officials expressed cautious support for Putin but criticized the alignment of Iranian interests with Russia’s internal affairs.
  2. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani highlighted the positive outlook for economic cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, stating that the future of their economic relations is bright and promising. He mentioned that the two countries have agreed to expand economic and trade interaction alongside political relations, emphasizing the existence of good frameworks for such cooperation.
  3. Iran Tells US to Change ‘Hostile Behavior’ For A Shift In Relations (Iran International). Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, stated that Iran expects a “fundamental” change in behavior from the United States before any shift in their relations can occur. He emphasized that Iran’s approach to the U.S. is based on its perceived hostile behavior and that Iran’s attitude will remain unchanged if the U.S. does not fundamentally change its behavior. While reports of secret talks and an “understanding” between Iran and the U.S. have circulated, Kanaani stated that Iran does not link its foreign policy and pursuit of national interests to any one country or issue. However, he mentioned that the U.S. should release Iranian citizens imprisoned on alleged sanctions violations, arguing that U.S. sanctions are illegal. If an interim deal is being discussed, releasing frozen funds and exchanging prisoners could potentially become entangled with the nuclear issue.

June 28, 2023

  1. Saudi Aramco and Total Launch $11B Project Near Offshore Field Shared With Iran (Iran International). Saudi Aramco and TotalEnergies have signed an $11 billion contract to build a petrochemicals complex near an offshore field shared by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Iran has significant oil and gas reserves. Iran has objected to the development, claiming it breaks international laws without consent.
  2. Iran’s Police Chief Visits Russia to Boost Cooperation (Tasnim News Agency). Commander of the Law Enforcement Command of Iran, Brigadier General Ahmadreza Radan, has traveled to Russia to discuss and sign an agreement on security and police cooperation between the two countries. The visit aims to strengthen collaboration in combating terrorism, human trafficking, and drug smuggling, as well as in scientific and research fields. General Radan highlighted the willingness of Iran and Russia to share experiences and use standard equipment in the fight against various crimes.
  3. Iranian Security Official In Qatar To Deepen Ties (Iran International). Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister, Majid Mirahmadi, visited Doha to discuss expanding security cooperation with Qatari officials. The talks focused on security and law enforcement collaboration, including the possibility of establishing a joint security commission in Iran. The release of Iranian fishermen and their boats and finding solutions to combat drug smuggling were also addressed. Iran and Qatar have been strengthening bilateral ties, and the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia signals a shift towards closer regional cooperation among Persian Gulf Sunni Arab states.

June 29, 2023

  1.  Iranian President and Qatari Emir Vow to Widen Bilateral Ties (Tehran Times). Iranian President Raisi congratulated the Emir and people of Qatar on the occasion of Eid al-Adha and highlighted the potential for expanding cooperation between Iran and Qatar. Both leaders expressed their commitment to enhance regional and international cooperation. Raisi expressed Iran’s gratitude for Qatar’s efforts in advancing joint programs and agreements, emphasizing the importance of strengthening bilateral interactions. Qatari Prime Minister Al Thani congratulated Iran and expressed readiness to increase economic cooperation and investment in Iran.
  2. Iran and Pakistan to Begin Free Trade Talks in September (Tasnim News Agency). Iran and Pakistan are set to begin direct talks for a free trade deal in September to reach an agreement by the end of the Iranian calendar year in March 2024. The trade balance between the two countries is currently in Iran’s favor, which may complicate the negotiations. However, Iranian officials believe a free trade deal would be more beneficial than a barter mechanism proposed by some businesses and government officials. The annual trade between Iran and Pakistan was around $2.4 billion, with Iran’s exports accounting for the majority. The Iranian government expects bilateral trade to increase by up to 20% by March 2025.
  3. Iran Cheers Albania’s Raid on Exiled MEK Group, Wants More (Al Monitor). Iranian officials have expressed support for Albania’s police raid on the dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), despite the MEK’s condemnation of the raid as a “criminal onslaught.” The Albanian Interior Ministry stated that the group had violated the terms of their asylum, leading to the raid. Iran’s Foreign Ministry called for legal action against the MEK and described the group as a terrorist organization.

June 30, 2023

  1. US Iran Envoy Robert Malley Reportedly Leaving Post (Iran International). Iran International has learned that US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley is no longer active and his deputy has assumed his duties at the State Department…According to information obtained, Abram Paley is being presented as the Acting US Special Envoy for Iran in recent meetings within the State Department…When contacted for a statement on Mr. Paley’s new title, the US State Department replied: “We decline to comment.”
  2. Tehran Says it Welcomes Restoration of Ties with Egypt, Morocco (Tehran Times).  Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian expressed Iran’s desire for good relations with Egypt and Morocco while expressing concern over the ongoing civil war in Sudan. He emphasized the importance of unity among Islamic countries and highlighted the significance of the Hajj pilgrimage in addressing issues relevant to the Islamic world. Abdollahian also mentioned the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia and stressed the need for Muslim nations to work together to counter conspiracies aimed at dividing them.
  3. Tehran Takes Canada to Top UN Court for Breaching Iran’s State Immunity (Tehran Times). Iran has initiated legal proceedings against Canada at the International Court of Justice, accusing Canada of breaching Iran’s state immunity by wrongly designating it as a sponsor of terrorism. Iran is seeking a court order to compel Canada to stop violating its sovereign immunity and prevent future breaches of international law…Canada has been accused of violating international law by court rulings that ordered Iranian assets to be handed over to victims of attacks allegedly backed by Iran.
  4. Europeans Plan To Keep Ballistic Missile Sanctions On Iran After Expiration of UN Sanctions (Iran International). European diplomats have informed Iran that they plan to maintain EU ballistic missile sanctions, set to expire in October, despite the collapse of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The decision to retain the sanctions is motivated by concerns over Russia’s use of Iranian drones against Ukraine, the potential transfer of ballistic missiles from Iran to Russia, and Iran’s nuclear deal violations. European powers aim to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, despite the diminishing effectiveness of the nuclear deal.
  5. Mossad Kidnapped Terror Leader From Inside Iran to Thwart Cyprus Attack (Jerusalem Post). The Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, confirmed that it had kidnapped an Iranian terror mastermind, Yusef Shahabazi Abbasalilu, from within Iranian territory as part of a daring mission to thwart a terror plot in Cyprus. Abbasalilu provided detailed information during his interrogation, exposing the terror cell and its plans. The Mossad shared this information with Cypriot authorities, leading to the arrest of other cell members. Israel and Cyprus have previously cooperated to prevent Iranian attacks against Israelis, and Mossad vows to continue thwarting Iran’s harmful intentions worldwide.

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