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Iran in May 2023

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Iran in May 2023

May 1, 2023

  1. US No Friend of Iraq, Not Even Loyal to Europe, Ayatollah Khamenei Warns (Tasnim News)President of Iraq Abdul Latif Rashid and his accompanying delegation met with Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran on Saturday… The Leader asserted that the Americans are not Iraq’s friends, adding, “The US is not Iraq’s friend. The US is not anyone’s friend. They are not even loyal to their European friends. The presence of even one single American in Iraq is too much.”
  2. Iran Urges Trade with India in Own Currencies (Tasnim News)Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani called for plans to conduct trade transactions with India using the two countries’ currencies, namely the rial and rupee. For his part, Ajit Kumar Doval stressed the need for independent states to realize the characteristics of the new global developments and strengthen their domestic capabilities to promote regional cooperation and play a more active international role. Meanwhile, Iran’s rial hit its lowest point in one month on Monday, falling by 10 percent against the US dollar amid strikes.
  3. Labor Strikes Escalate: Tehran Faces Potential Expulsion of 4,000 Gas Company Workers (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Labor strikes have resumed in oil and gas companies across numerous Iranian cities as workers protest deteriorating living conditions and inadequate wages. Additionally, they demand improvements in housing and transportation. According to Iran’s Etemad newspaper, the strikes have recently involved up to 10,000 workers.
  4. Practical Steps Mending Tehran-Baku Ties (Tasnim News).  Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said reasonable steps had been taken to clear up misunderstandings with the Republic of Azerbaijan based on goodwill. Following an agreement between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan and three rounds of talks, the media atmosphere of the two neighbors has de-escalated.
  5. US Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Permanently Authorize Sanctions On Iran (Iran International). A bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced legislation Monday to give permanent authorization to the president to implement sanctions on Iran.
  6. Iran Ready for Joint Naval Drills with SCO Members (Tasnim News)General Ashtiani proposed the formation of the ‘Shanghai Maritime Security Belt mechanism with the participation of the armed forces of all SCO member states to protect the security of maritime routes and ensure the safety of global trade with collective efforts.

May 3, 2023

  1. Iran, Russia Working on Draft Agreement to Upgrade Ties (Tehran Times)The parties believe that according to the developments in the international arena, what was stated in the previous agreement is not at the level of current relations; Therefore, it was agreed at the high level of the leaders of the two countries to update this agreement,” Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali said in an interview with IRNA.
  2. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Suggests Role in Arming West Bank Palestinians (Memri)Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that “invisible hands” – hinting at the Iranian regime – are arming Palestinian organizations with automatic weapons against Israel. Salami’s statements came several days after rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, and Israeli civilians were killed in shooting attacks during the Passover holiday. Iran directed the rocket fire concerning Israel’s killing of two IRGC members in Syria.
  3. Iran Says It May Sell Southern Islands to Pay Pensioners’ Arrears (Iran International)Iran is mulling the idea of selling the two southern islands of Kish, Qeshm, and Khuzestan province to pay pensioners’ arrears. However, the director general of social insurance in Iran’s Ministry of Labor, Sajjad Padam, said: “Even if we sell two to three million barrels of oil with sanctions removed, we still cannot solve the pensioners’ issues.”
  4. Revealed: Secret Files Show Iran’s Globetrotting Killers Have Seized its Economy (The Times)Obtained by an opposition group, the documents offer an intriguing glimpse into the workings of the Resistance Economy Headquarters, a body set up after Soleimani’s assassination to provide further control to the military over economic affairs. It is led by Mohammad Bagheri, an IRGC commander under UK sanctions for supplying military drones to Russia. Russian ships, it emerged last week, are also ferrying large quantities of Iranian artillery shells and other ammunition across the Caspian Sea to resupply troops fighting in Ukraine.

May 4, 2023

    1. Exclusive: Iran Importing Phosphates from Syria to Extract Uranium (Iran International). While President Ebrahim Raisi is in Syria, classified information obtained shows Tehran is procuring uranium from phosphate mines in Syria to make yellowcake… Syria is among the world’s largest exporters of rock phosphate, a raw material used to produce phosphatic fertilizers. The primary use of phosphate is the production of fertilizers. However, the rock is also an unconventional source to extract uranium, as explained in another document attached to the letter… On Wednesday, Iran and Syria’s presidents signed a long-term strategic cooperation agreement, including a memorandum of understanding on oil industry cooperation.
    2. Ukraine Shoots Down a Barrage of Iranian Drones in Dawn Attack (Iran International)Russia launched 26 Iranian-made Shahed drones against Ukraine overnight Wednesday, but the Ukrainian air force said it downed 21 out of 26 suicide UAVs.
    3. Iran’s IRGC Seizes Foreign Oil Tanker in Strait of Hormuz (Tehran Times)The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said the oil tanker is a Panama-flagged merchant vessel… The foreign oil tanker collided with an Iranian fishing boat in the Persian Gulf on the night of April 26, the public relations department of the Iranian Army said on April 27.

May 5, 2023

  1. Syrian Regime Media Hail Iranian President Raisi as Leader of the Arab “Resistance” Axis (Shahrekhabar). A 15-second song went viral after the Iranian Foreign Ministry published it on Iranian regime platforms. The piece shows lines of people in Syria waving Iranian and Assad regime flags, greeting Iranian President Raisi as he visited the shrine of Zainab in Damascus. The lyrics include, “Welcome to Raisi from the [resistance] axes in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Jerusalem, from Syria a thousand welcomes.” There is also a second video depicting Raisi performing prayers at the shrine.Iranian President Met with Syrian
  2. Business Forum Without Assad Present (Al Mayadeen). During the recent meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian president confirmed that several decisions were taken, as 15 documents were signed to facilitate the required procedures and develop relations between the two countries. Raisi said, during a businessmen forum in Damascus, that…” the volume of trade exchange between the two countries does not amount to the importance of political relations between us, so the importance of exchange must be expanded in a way that is more compatible with our relationships.”Iranian Regime Advises
  3. France to Listen to French Protesters and Avoid Violence (Keyhan). Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani expressed his regret over the violent treatment of Labor Day demonstrators by the French police and advised French politicians to listen to the voice of the demonstrators and avoid resorting to violence

May 8, 2023

  1. Arab League Readmits Assad Regime After 12 Years, Setting Stage for Assad to Attend May 19 Arab Summit (Al Jazeera).  Ties with Damascus are being normalized, as the bloc hopes for an ‘Arab-led political path’ to solve the Syrian crisis. Foreign ministers from Arab League member states have agreed to reinstate Syria’s membership after its suspension more than 10 years ago, according to Iraqi state media. The ministers voted for Syria’s return into the fold at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo on Sunday. The decision was made in advance of the Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19 and amid a flurry of regional normalisation of ties with Damascus in recent weeks.
  2. Qatar Says Its Stance on Normalization with Syrian Regime Remains Unchanged (Syria TV)The official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Majid bin Muhammad Al-Ansari, stated that the State of Qatar continually strives to support Arab consensus and will not act as an obstacle to it. However, Qatar’s official position on normalization with the Syrian regime primarily depends on progress in a political solution that fulfills the aspirations of the brotherly Syrian people.
  3.  Iran Smuggled Weapons into Syria under the Guise of Earthquake Aid (Al Arabiya).  According to the Washington Post, intelligence sources suggest that Iran has used the weapons it smuggled into Syria to target the American base in eastern Syria… Speaking anonymously, a US defense official declined to comment on the document’s authenticity but stated that the activity it describes aligns with previous attempts by the IRGC “to use humanitarian aid destined for Iraq and Syria” to deliver materials to IRGC-affiliated groups.

May 9, 2023

  1. Iran Executes Two Men for ‘Insulting Islam’ (Al-Monitor). The judiciary’s Mizan news agency said in a report that Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were hanged in Arak prison in central Iran over crimes including insulting the religion of Islam and the prophet and promoting atheism. According to the report, the duo ran several anti-religious social media accounts, and both men had “clearly confessed to their crimes.”
  2. Iran Says It’s Possible to Revive Nuclear Deal if US Doesn’t ‘Procrastinate’ (Times of Israel). An agreement “is possible both in terms of the technical and political aspects,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Monday…Kanani said Iran’s policy “is not to allow issues related to Iran’s peaceful nuclear activity to become an obstacle in the process of Iran’s cooperation” with the UN nuclear watchdog.
  3. Tehran-Riyadh Détente Throws Cold Water on The Abraham Accords (Tehran Times). The Saudi-Iranian normalization deal brokered by China has sent shockwaves throughout the region. Regional actors did not expect China to seek a political role in the Persian Gulf. Others were skeptical of Beijing’s diplomatic capacity and skills. Few, however, were surprised by the United States’ actions and missteps that created the opportunity for Beijing to mediate and the environment that compelled regional actors to sue for peace.
  4. How Iran Turned Regional Hourglass Upside Down (Tehran Times). Israel was on a normalization spree in the West Asia region only two and a half years ago, touting anti-Iranian alliances with some of the region’s countries. However, that trend is bucked with Iran’s rapidly improving ties with many countries, including those that forged relations with Israel.
  5. Sudden Fall in Tehran Stock Market Stops Trading on Monday (Iran International). A five-percent fall in Iran’s stock market index in two days has led to a ban on trading. Media reported that the index fell by more than two percent on Monday alone. Following a similar fall on Sunday, the decline led to most shares being locked and traders forming long lines to sell unwanted stocks.

May 10, 2023

  1. Exclusive: Iran’s Quds Force Media Arm Laundering Money in Iraq (Iran International). Hamid al-Husseini is an Iraqi-born Shiite cleric who heads Iraq’s section of the Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), an affiliate of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that is practically run by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The union has more than 200 media outlets in 35 countries, including 100 satellite TV channels, 30 radio stations, and dozens of websites — several of which are in Iraq.
  2. Iran Issues Arrest Warrant for US Officials over Death of Soleimani (Iran International). Tehran has issued arrest warrants for former US President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and 71 others for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. Ali Salehi, Tehran’s prosecutor general, issued arrest warrants on Monday for dozens of US officials involved in the assassination, including Trump, Pompeo, and former Head of CENTCOM General Kenneth Franklin McKenzie.Iran’s 
  3. Economy Hurtling Towards Hyperinflation (Iran International). After two months delay, the Iranian government has finally released inflation data for the previous year, putting it at 45.8 percent… Although the official inflation rate announced by the authorities is usually less than what it seems in the market, even 46.5 percent inflation is among the highest in Iran in more than 30 years.
  4. United Nations: Iran Has Executed More than 200 People This Year (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The United Nations estimated that the actual number of executions in Iran is higher than those monitored, primarily due to the government’s lack of transparency. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said, “On average, since the beginning of the year, over ten people have been executed weekly in Iran, making it one of the countries with the highest number of executions globally.” He further noted, “At this pace, it is alarming to see that Iran is following the same trajectory as last year when around 580 people were executed,” describing the situation as “horrific.”
  5. Raisi Applauds Resistance Front for Helping Syria to Abort US, Israeli Plots (Tehran Times). Raisi also emphasized how many nations that had previously worked together against Damascus had changed their minds about the Arab country in light of its effective resistance to the extensive campaign of terrorism supported by foreign powers. In other parts of his interview, Raisi cited statements by many U.S. officials that Washington had founded Daesh.

May 11, 2023

  1. Swedish Parliament Votes To Designate Iran’s IRGC as a  Terrorist Organization (Iran International). The Swedish Parliament voted in favor of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization on May 10. The decision came after the execution of Swedish-Iranian Habib Chaab.
  2. Syria-Turkiye Row Has No Military Solution: Iranian FM (Tasnim News). Foreign Minister of Iran Hossein Amirabdollahian warned that resorting to military action won’t resolve the disputes between Syria and Turkiye and will only complicate the conflict further after incurring humanitarian and financial losses. Addressing a quadrilateral meeting with his Syrian, Turkish, and Russian counterparts in Moscow on Wednesday, Amirabdollahian said any political solution for Syria’s issues must consider the country’s full sovereignty over its territory.
  3. Iran, Iraq Serious in Demanding Justice against Assassins of Gen. Soleimani: Raisi (Tasnim News). Raisi said during a meeting with Faeq Zaidan, the visiting head of the Supreme Judicial Council in Iraq, that “Pursuance of the case until the achievement of result will show that Iran and Iraq stop at nothing in their bid to enable administration of justice” towards those behind the assassinations.
  4. Seven More Hanged As Iran Continues Execution Spree Despite Outcry (Iran International). In the early hours of Wednesday morning, families of prisoners sentenced to death gathered outside Iran’s largest prison, hoping for mercy from the regime, but by sunrise, their loved ones were hanged… The charges for the executed prisoners were announced as drug trafficking and rape and have been part of a spree of killings by the Islamic Republic in recent weeks… Prominent Sunni Imam in Iran, Mawlavi Abdolhamid,
  5. expressed concern over the rising number of executions in his country, stating in a tweet: “The recent arbitrary executions are deeply appalling and intolerable.”

May 12, 2023

  1. US Seizes $80M Worth Of Heroin Departing From Iran (Iran International). US Central Command said on Thursday that USCGC Glen Harris was operating in support of the Combined Task Force when a team discovered 1,964 kilograms of heroin on a vessel transiting international waters after departing Chabahar, Iran…So far this year, the Navy’s Combined Task Force 150 has seized illegal narcotics worth $200 million.
  2. Iran’s Non-Oil Trade with BRICS Countries Surpasses $38 Billion (Kayhan). Drawing from the Iranian Customs Authority data, China stands as Iran’s leading trading partner. Trade between the two countries reached $30.32 billion, indicating a 37% growth. India comes in second, with a trade exchange of $4.99 billion. Russia follows with a trade exchange of $2.32 billion.
  3. Syria’s Debts to Iran Surpass $50 Billion, Including $11 Billion in Oil; Iran Expresses Concern Over Collection Ability (Iran International). A collective of hackers, operating under the name ‘Revolution until the overthrow of the regime,’ recently released a series of documents reportedly obtained through infiltrating the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs systems… These documents suggest that the significant pact signed between Iran and Syria in 2018 ‘has not and will not be ratified by the parliaments of either nation.’ The reason attributed to this lack of approval is Syria’s reluctance to jeopardize its access to free oil. At the same time, the National Security Council is hesitant to forward the agreement for legislative review due to several confidential clauses contained within it.
  4. Iran Urges the Muslim World to Stand with Palestinian People against Israeli Aggression (Tasnim News). In multiple posts on his Twitter account on Thursday, Spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Kanaani reacted to the Israeli regime forces’ renewed air raids on the besieged territory of Gaza, saying that the Israeli forces targeted around 200 locations in the Gaza Strip over two days.

“The main targets were residential areas, resulting in over 25 martyrs and dozens of casualties, particularly among children and women,” he wrote.

  1. Riyadh’s New Envoy to Tehran Named, Iran FM Says (Tasnim News). Under the agreement signed on March 10, both countries agreed to appoint new ambassadors and reopen their embassies within two months. “My colleagues have been working for weeks to prepare the embassy and consulate for reopening,” said Amirabdollahian.

May 15, 2023

  1. Iran & Egypt to Restore Ties, Reopen Embassies (Tasnim News) Fadahossein Maleki, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said the two countries’ embassies in Tehran and Cairo would reopen soon, adding that the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will hold a meeting after the reopening of embassies.
  2. Iran Frees 2 French Citizens (Tasnim News). The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry explained that Iran had released the two French nationals in response to the requests that France had submitted at various levels and following negotiations, including a Friday telephone conversation between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and his French counterpart Catherine Colonna.
  3. Tehran Refuses To Comment As Chinese Ports Ban Iranian Shipping (Iran International). China has handed over most main ports to private sector and foreign companies. These operators do not allow Iranian ships to dock for fear of US sanctions. Iranian shipping can dock in Chinese government-controlled ports, but their inadequate facilities and equipment increase loading and unloading time.
  4. Iran Summons Iraqi Envoy over Hostile Moves in KRG (Tasnim News). The Iraqi ambassador was called in by the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday in protest at an invitation given to the members of separatist groups to take part in an official meeting in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and at the ongoing activities of terrorist groups in that region.

May 16, 2023

  1. Over 200 Foreign Companies from 13 Countries to Participate in Iran Oil Show 2023 (Tehran Times). Foreign companies participating in the exhibition are from Russia, China, Belarus, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, India, UAE, Oman, and Turkey…[T]he number of foreign participants in this year’s event has doubled compared to the previous year. At the same time, the number of Iranian companies that will participate in the event has also increased by 35 percent.
  2. Ukraine Downs Four Iranian Drones (Iran International). Ukraine’s Air Force Command says it brought down the Shahid pilotless vehicles overnight, along with a Russian-made Orlan-10 drone. The crash took place in the air in the northeast of Ukraine.
  3. Baghdad, Tehran Sign MoU to Fight Illegal Drugs (Bas News). Iraq’s ministry of health on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran’s Secretary-General of the Anti-Narcotics Authority to combat the making, transit, and possession of illicit drugs.
  4. Iran & Qatar Meet on the Sidelines of the International Middle East Rail Conference (Tasnim Agency). During the meeting, the two sides stressed the need to implement the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) inked previously between the two countries to remove barriers on the path of bilateral trade.

May 17, 2023

  1. Persian Gulf Countries Are Eager For Closer Transport Ties With Iran (Tehran Times). Secretary-General of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, Jassim Muhammad Al-Budaiwi, has said Persian Gulf nations are seriously willing to expand transport cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  2. Exports to India Rise 12% in Q1 (Tehran Times).  Iranian exports to India increased by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2023 to reach $188 million, up from $168 million in the same period of 2022, according to the data released by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry…The ministry data indicate that trade between Iran and the South Asian nation reached $510 million in January-March this year, IRNA reported.
  3. Azerbaijan Arrests at Least Nine Suspected of Being Linked to Iran’s Secret Services (Al Arabiya). According to a joint statement by the interior ministry, security service, and the prosecutor general office, the group was plotting a “violent overthrow of the government and the assassinations of prominent personalities and senior officials.”
  4. Silk Road to Be Revived, Iran Roads Minister Says (Tasnim News). Iranian minister of roads and urban development wrote in a post on social media on Tuesday that good agreements were made in the 17th annual exhibition and conference of ‘the Middle East Rail’ held in Abu Dhabi regarding Iran’s export of technical and engineering services and participation of Iranian companies in rail projects of regional countries as well as the investment of finance-credit associations of neighboring countries in Iran’s rail and port projects.
  5. Iran Hosts Russian Navy Chief, Seeks to Boost China Triangle (Al-Monitor). Russia’s naval commander Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov visited Tehran on Tuesday, discussing boosting bilateral cooperation with his Iranian counterpart Shahram Irani. The Iranian navy chief called for a joint committee in training and technical fields. “The enemy is trying to disrupt the Iran-China-Russia triangle and block trilateral cooperation, but the three countries have managed to move forward together.”
  6.  Spokesman Refutes US’ Anti-Iran Comments on Maritime Security (Tasnim News) On May 13, NSC spokesman John Kirby said the US “will work to bolster” its “defensive posture” in the Persian Gulf after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy seized two invading foreign oil tankers in the country’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz in recent weeks. The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed baseless remarks by American officials against Iran about the safety of maritime navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

May 18, 2023

  1. Iran, Russia Ink Deal to Complete Major Transport Network (The Moscow Times)Iran and Russia agreed to collaborate on constructing the final part of a commercial transport network linking to the Gulf and India while avoiding Western sea lanes…”The delivery of goods from Saint Petersburg (in Russia) to Mumbai (in India) will take about ten days, compared to the journey through traditional trade routes that take 30 to 45 days.” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak visited Iran on Tuesday and met with the Islamic Republic’s oil minister to discuss “new projects” in oil and gas exploration.
  2. UK Government Split Over Calls For IRGC Terror Ban (Iran International) The UK government is split over whether to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terror group, according to press reports…Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Security Minister Tom Tugendhat are both said to back the move and bring Britain in line with policy in the US. But Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is believed to be holding out against the change. Critics say he is being badly advised by civil servants, claiming he is “too closely led by officials”.
  3. Iran-UK Trade Value Triples after Brexit (Tasnim News). In its latest report, the British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the value of trade exchanges between Iran and Britain tripled after Brexit and reached £696 million in 2022.
  4. Qatar Signs $10B Contract to Develop Joint Gas Field with Iran (Iran International). Qatar Energy signed the deal with French-owned Technip Energies to develop the world’s largest natural gas field. The Iranian part, South Pars, supplies 70% of Iran’s gas. On Tuesday, QatarEnergy stated that the project would include two giant liquefied natural gas (LNG) production lines with an annual capacity of 16 million tons.

May 19, 2023

  1. Secret Documents Unveil Multi-Million Dollar Contracts Between Iranian Communications and Chinese Contractors (Iran International). Confidential documents leaked from the Iranian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology revealed that it had signed contracts for projects and plans with Chinese contractors, with financing amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars…The documents also contain details about projects to enhance telephone networks and develop fourth and fifth-generation mobile communication infrastructures. Additionally, they include three space projects involved in producing smartphones and messaging applications.
  2. Regime Politicians In Iran Wrangle Ahead Of 2024 Parliamentary Vote (Iran International). Ten months ahead of parliamentary elections in Iran, the ‘reformist’ and centrist factions of the regime are already concerned about an electoral purge…Hardliners, who packed the parliament in 2020 with help from the Guardian Council, which barred most other candidates, are seen as determined to hold on to power.
  3. Iran Sends Stern Warning to Taliban Over Water Share (Tasnim News).  Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi cautioned the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan that they will have to accept the consequences of their failure to provide Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchistan with its share of water from the Helmand River.
  4. Iran Rejects Claims on Azeri Nationals Arrested in Azerbaijan (Mehr News). The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry roundly dismissed any connection between Iran and the Azeri nationals recently arrested on a charge of links with Iranian organizations…The Azerbaijan Republic’s interior ministry, security service, and the office of the prosecutor general said in a joint statement on Tuesday that at least nine Azeri nationals have been arrested, suspected of being “linked to Iranian secret services and of plotting a coup and assassinations.”
  5. Don’t Let Us Die, Plead ‘Esfahan House’ Prisoners Facing Execution (Iran International). Three political prisoners on death row in Iran have written from jail urging the people to stop their execution.
  6. Iran Nears 70% Inflation, Marking Highest Rate in Half a Century (Iran International). The “Aku Iran” website announced, quoting an “informed source” in the Central Bank of Iran, that inflation in April reached about 69%, recording the highest rate of inflation during the past half century in Iran. This follows a recent shift in practice by the Central Bank and the Iranian Statistical Center, which have adopted a new method for disseminating inflation data in the country without providing additional details about the inflation rates.

May 20, 2023

  1. IRGC Chief Commander Says US Has Yet To Receive ‘Final Blow’ (Iran Intl). The United States will be forced to leave the Middle East, and Iran’s “last blow” is yet to come, the chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) said Thursday.
  2. Iran Brushes Off US’ Concerns over Cooperation with Russia ( Tasnim News). The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson dismissed the concern the US has expressed about the cooperation between Iran and its foreign partners, including Russia after Tehran and Moscow signed an agreement to complete a railroad section of the North-South Corridor.
  3. Is Iran’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Running Out of Money? (Amwaj). The chairman of Iran’s National Development Fund (NDF) has sparked controversy after saying that frequent withdrawals have diminished accessible fund assets. In response, a former top government official has insisted that Iran’s supreme leader always sanctioned leaves.
  4. Iran Executes Three Men Linked to Anti-government Protests (Aljazeera). Iran has executed three men accused of deadly violence against security officers during last year’s anti-government protests despite objections from human rights groups.
  5. Leaked Document Reveals Iran’s Multiple Telecom Deals With China ( Iran International). A whistleblower active in the IT industry has leaked documents revealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of telecommunications contracts between Iran and China.

May 21-22, 2023

  1. Iran Might Restore Ties If US Apologizes (Iran International). A member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security Committee says Washington has suggested holding talks with Tehran without the presence of other JCPOA partners. The lawmaker, Shahryar Haidari, did not name his source, but said face-to-face negotiations is the new US approach. He added that Washington wants to get more concessions from Tehran during direct negotiations. Haidari said: “Iran’s condition for taking part in direct negotiations with the United States is that Washington should apologize to Tehran for its mistakes during the past 44 years.” He added that “Iran might restore its ties with Washington if America offers the apology.”
  2. Iranian Military Delegation in Afghanistan for Talks (Tasnim News). A high-ranking Iranian military delegation has traveled to Afghanistan for talks with the Taliban rulers about border issues and cooperation.
  3. Iran’s Intelligence Minister Reveals the Arrest of a “Terrorist” Group Linked to Israel (Al Jazeera). Iranian Intelligence Minister Ismail Khatib revealed that the security services recently arrested a “terrorist” group linked to Israel on the country’s western border.
  4. Five Iranian Border Guards Killed in Southeastern Iran (Tasnim News). The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry denounced a fatal terrorist attack on the country’s border guards at a post near Pakistan as a targeted action against the security and interests of the two neighbors.
  5. IRGC Releases Photos of US Destroyer in Hormuz Strait (Tasnim News). The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy released the photos of the US Navy’s USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) destroyer, which it has been monitoring in the Strait of Hormuz south of Iran.
  6. Iranian Expats Hold Rallies to Slam Regime’s Execution Spree (Iran International). Iranians at home and abroad staged protests Saturday against the Islamic Republic execution spree, the latest victims of which were three people hanged Friday.
  7. IRGC Urges Iraq to Honor Commitment on Expulsion of Terrorists (Tasnim News). The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Ground Force warned that its strikes against the Kurdistan region-based terrorist groups would resume if the Iraqi government failed to meet its commitment to disarm and evict the terrorists. Speaking to Tasnim in Iran’s western city of Sanandaj on Saturday, IRGC Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said the Baghdad government has undertaken, under an agreement, to disarm and expel the terrorist groups that act against Iran along the border regions. “We are waiting for the government of Iraq to honor its commitments and have given them some time (to evict the terrorists). Otherwise, and if nothing happens, the IRGC’s attacks will go on,” the commander warned. Asked if the Baghdad government has a deadline of months or days, the general said the Iraqi government itself knows the given time.
  8. Iranian Supreme Leader Describes Nuclear Agreement As “Taqiyya” [Dissimulation] and Stresses “It Is Necessary to Be Flexible Sometimes” (Iran International).  Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated during a meeting with several senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the “heroic flexibility” he mentioned about the nuclear agreement was “misunderstood” domestically and internationally…In his remarks today, the Iranian leader alluded to accepting the nuclear agreement under the “taqiyya,” a term that means being wary of revealing one’s true intentions to others…Khamenei explained, “Taqiyya means that when you are walking on a path, and you encounter a rock…you should look for another path next to the rock to cross it…This does not mean that we avoid continuing the path and resort to retreat.”

May 23, 2023

  1. EU Slaps More Sanctions on Iran After G7 Warning (Iran International). The European Union imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials and entities for their role in the violent crackdown on widespread protests…The sanctions included the Revolutionary Guards’ Cooperative Foundation, the body responsible for managing the IRGC’s investments and funneling money into the regime’s repression machine.
  2. Ali Shamkhani, Architect Of Iran-Arab Relations, Quits (Tehran Times). Ali Shamkhani, the former secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, announced on Sunday that he was leaving his top job after ten years…In January this year, Shamkhani’s reputation was overshadowed by the noisy execution of one of his close aides as defense minister. Ali Akbar Ahmadian, an IRGC commander, was appointed on Monday by the Iranian president as the new secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
  3. Iran Faces Huge Budget Deficit It Tries to Conceal (Iran International). Rahim Mombeini, the deputy head of Iran’s Planning and Budget Organization, said Saturday that Iran’s budget deficit for the previous Iranian year –which ended on March 20 – was about 8,000 trillion rials (about $16 billion in today’s exchange rates).
  4. 26 Iranian Vessels Prepared for Transporting Cargo to Russia (Tasnim News). Signing an agreement to buy ships from the North-South Corridor Convergence Club in Russia is in line with the Rasht-Astara railway construction agreement, the CEO of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) said. Mohammad-Reza Modaress Khiabani added that 26 vessels, with 3,600 TEU capacity, are ready to transport cargo to Russia.
  5. Iran Rocked By Fresh Wave Of Street Protests Over Hangings (Iran International). The execution of three political prisoners in Iran has sparked a resurgence of nationwide street protests…The Tehran neighborhoods of Tehransar, Shahrak Ekbatan, Sattarkhan, and Aryashahr were rocked by demonstrations Saturday evening that continued until the early hours of Sunday.
  6. An Iranian Nuclear Facility So Deep Underground that US Airstrikes are not Likely to Reach (AP News). Near a peak of the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, workers are building a nuclear facility so deep in the earth that it is likely beyond the range of a last-ditch U.S. weapon designed to destroy such sites, according to experts and satellite imagery analyzed by the Associated Press.

May 24, 2023

  1. Iran & Indonesia Agree to Use National Currencies in Bilateral Trade Transactions (Tasnim News). Pointing to the target of raising the volume of bilateral trade exchanges to $20 billion, Raisi said in a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Tuesday that the senior officials of the two countries have decided to carry out the trade exchanges using the national currencies.
  2. Iran Names New Envoy to Saudi Arabia (Tasnim News). Alireza Enayati was named as the Iranian envoy to Riyadh…According to Press TV, Enayati had previously served as Iran’s ambassador to Kuwait, assistant to the foreign minister, and director-general of Persian Gulf affairs at the Foreign Ministry.
  3. Josep Borrell Announces New European Union Sanctions on Tehran Over The Ukraine War (Iran International). The European Union’s decision to impose new sanctions on Iran concerning the Ukraine war follows previous sanctions enacted on Monday. These were implemented in response to the execution of three demonstrators in Iran, alongside a noticeable uptick in executions and repression against citizens.
  4. Spy Network Linked With Foreign Espionage Agency Busted in Iran (Tasnim News). In a statement released on Tuesday, the ministry said that the spy agency had been monitoring the Iranians with responsibility in different positions or unique expertise in various fields and those with access to critical information in the country’s sensitive institutions.
  5. Iran Using Civilian Ships As ‘Floating Terror Bases’ – Israel (Iran International). Israel accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) of turning commercial ships into platforms for launching missiles, drones, and commandos. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant added the objective was to spread Tehran’s clandestine naval clout well beyond the Persian Gulf.

May 25, 2023

  1. Iranian Supreme Leader Lauds ‘Revolutionary Parliament’ for Passing Law to Boost Uranium Enrichment (Iran International). The bill authorized higher-level uranium enrichment to force the United States to lift economic sanctions imposed in 2018 when former President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA nuclear agreement. The bill also mandated restrictions on nuclear monitoring by the United Nations watchdog.
  2. Iran Denies Allegations of Building an Underground Nuclear Site in Zagros Mountains (Mehr News). Rejecting the allegations, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, said that the Zionists raise such claims whenever their position in the region or their internal situation is worsened.
  3. Israeli National Security Council: All of Iran’s Nuclear Sites Are Within Range of Our Military Capabilities (Iran International). Tzhi Hanegbi, head of the Israeli National Security Council, remarked on Iran’s underground nuclear site, “This is typical of Iran – moving facilities underground for protection. It limits our ability to strike, but nowhere is unreachable.” He added, “We hope not to use military action against Iran’s nuclear program but are ready if needed.”
  4. Chinese Company to Build Strategic Road between Iran and Russia (Mehr News). On Wednesday, Jilin Jinguan Electric Co Ltd, listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, announced signing a memorandum of understanding. The agreement entails the construction of a 3500 km road between Iran and Russia, paving the way for establishing new energy facilities.
  5. US Denies Ties to Iranian Journalists Who Reported Mahsa Amini’s Death (Iran International). The US has denied any ties to the two journalists detained in Iran for breaking the news on how Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody…Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, the two journalists arrested for publicizing the death of Mahsa Amini, will stand trial as of May 29, according to the Judiciary Spokesman Masoud Setayeshi. One of the charges against them is collaboration with the United States, which the Islamic Regime deems as a hostile enemy. Rejecting the charges, State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said, “They are obviously not true.”

May 26, 2023

  1. Zelensky Urges Iranian People to Oppose Regime to Halt Drone Supplies to Russia (Iran International). In a video message, Zelensky reported that since the beginning of the war, Russia had dispatched approximately 1,600 Iranian drones toward Ukraine, with Ukrainian air defenses intercepting 900 of them. He underscored that Russia indiscriminately targets various sites, including homes, hospitals, markets, power stations, and humanitarian service centers.
  2. Ukraine Shoots Down 36 Iranian Drones in Fresh Russian Attack (Iran International). Ukraine said Thursday it had shot down all 36 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks probably targeting critical infrastructure and military facilities.
  3. Iran Unveils Unique 2000-km Precision Guided Missile (Tehran Times). The projectile, powered by liquid fuel, can carry a 1,500 kg warhead. The missile was unveiled on the 41st anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr. It has an extended range, advanced guidance, and control system.
  4. Iran is Taking New Measures to De-dollarize Transactions Among Asian Clearing Union Members (Tehran Times). The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has been holding talks with senior banking officials from various Asian countries on the sideline of the 51st Asian Clearing Union (ACU) summit to encourage getting new members and de-dollarize the economic transactions among ACU members.
  5. UK Shuts Down London Islamic Center Linked to Iranian Regime (Al Arabiya). The center has yet to elucidate the reasons for this closure, and there has been no response from the Iranian authorities thus far. Previously, the Sunday Times had labeled the views of the clergy managing the center as “offensive,” alleging they incorporated the slogan “Death to Britain” in their sermons…The center is headed by the cleric Hashem Mousavi, who was appointed to the post by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
  6. Iran Says Syria Is Not Included in its Agreement with Saudi Arabia (Syria TV). In an interview with Arab TV, Enayati said, “We did not discuss the Syrian file during any talks with the Saudis,” as those talks resulted in an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations and reopen the embassies of the two countries after nearly 7 years of severing relations between the two sides. Furthermore, he stated that Iran welcomed the return of the Syrian regime to the Arab League, adding that Tehran’s vision of what is happening in the region can be settled through political solutions.

Weekend Report May 27-29, 2023

  1. Exclusive – US and Iran Can Reach A Deal ‘Soon’ on Release of Frozen Funds (Iran International). Talks between Iran and the US on releasing Tehran’s frozen assets could result in a deal soon, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told Iran International. The talks that have made progress focused on Iranian funds held in Iraq and South Korea. The money in Iraqi banks could be as much as $10 billion or more by the most recent estimates mentioned by Iranian officials. Iraq imports natural gas and electricity from Iran but is barred by US sanctions from making dollar transfers to Tehran. South Korea holds $7 billion, which it owes for importing Iranian oil before full US sanctions were imposed in May 2019…Iran is expected to show more flexibility on issues related to its nuclear program in exchange for releasing its funds in Iraq and free hostages with dual nationality in exchange for its assets in South Korea.
  2. Belgian Aid Worker Held in Iran Returns Home (Al Monitor). Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who was detained for almost 15 months in Iran, landed in Belgium late Friday, according to images broadcast on television, after being freed in a prisoner exchange.
  3. IRGC Navy Chief Sends a Message to the US: “You Are Terribly Wrong to Be in the Persian Gulf” (Tehran Times). Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said the U.S. and other countries do not need to be present in the strategically vital waterway since only Iran and other regional nations will be able to maintain the security of the Persian Gulf.
  4. Omani Sultan in Iran for Official Visit (Tasnim News). Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said arrived in Tehran on Sunday afternoon for an official visit…The two states are scheduled to sign four cooperation documents in the fields of economy, investment, and energy during the Sultan’s visit.
  5. Advisor to Khamenei in Qatar to Attend Iran-Arab Dialog Conference (Iran International). Kamal Kharrazi, a foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has left Tehran for Doha to attend an Iranian-Arab dialogue conference in Qatar.
  6. Iran Warns of Western Plots Against OPEC (Tasnim News). The president of Iran called for closer unity among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member states to thwart divisive plots hatched by several Western governments. In a meeting with Secretary General of OPEC Haitham al-Ghais, held in Tehran on Saturday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that several Western governments seek to sow division and discord among the OPEC members to achieve their own interests.
  7. IRGC Offers Marriage Counselling and Fertilization Services (Iran International). As part of its interventions in non-military fields, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) promotes fertilization and childbearing…IRGC Commander Hossein Salami said on Saturday that in addition to face-to-face counseling, the military branch would also offer incentives regarding marriage and childbirth.

May 30, 2023

  1. Afghanistan-Iran Border Calm after Clash (Tasnim Agency). The situation at the shared border between Iran and Afghanistan is normal, and the border crossing is open following a recent “brief” skirmish, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said. In comments on Monday, Vahidi said the current fight between the Iranian border guards and the Taliban forces was a brief clash resolved after negotiations with the Taliban.
  2. Iran-Pakistan Cooperation Complicated by Sanctions, Porous Border (Al Monitor). The newly inaugurated power line and border marketplace mark progress, but sanctions hinder the completion of the long-delayed pipeline.
  3. Inauguration of a Sea Shipping Line from Iran to Russia (Al Maydeen). The director of the Maritime Navigation Company in the Caspian Sea, Kambiz Jahanbani, announces the launch of a regular weekly sea freight line from the Iranian port of Anzali to Russia in light of the increase in the rate of freight and transportation from this port.
  4. Iran Congratulates Erdogan on Presidential Victory (Tasnim Agency). In the congratulatory message on Sunday night, Raisi expressed confidence that in the coming period, the friendly relations between Iran and Turkey, which are based on strong historical, cultural, and religious bonds, good neighborliness, mutual respect, and shared interests of the two nations, will further strengthen. Moreover, the close cooperation between the two countries will provide more suitable conditions for maintaining the region’s peace, stability, and development.

May 31, 2023

  1. South Korean Newspaper Says Seoul and Washington Are Discussing the Release of $7 Billion of Iran’s Frozen Funds (Iran International). South Korean government sources told the Korean Economic Daily on Monday, May 29, that Seoul and Washington are looking for ways to release $7 billion of Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks…The possible US approval is based on the fulfillment of conditions by Iran, such as the release of an American citizen detained in Iranian prisons on charges of espionage, and also restricting Iran’s uranium enrichment, which has now risen to 60 percent.
  2. Iranian Media Claims IAEA Resolved Nuclear Issues with Iran (Reuters). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has resolved nuclear issues with Iran relating to one of three sites being investigated over the presence of uranium particles, Iranian media reported on Tuesday. The agency’s alleged case regarding the findings of uranium particles with 83.7 purity has also been closed, a source told the semi-official Mehr news agency. The IAEA is due to issue quarterly reports on Iran this week, ahead of a regular meeting of its 35-nation Board of Governors next week.
  3. Hack Of President’s Office Shows Nuclear Expansion Continues (Iran International). A hacktivist group has broken into servers of the Iranian president’s office and leaked troves of sensitive data, proving corruption, conflicts, and an ongoing nuclear expansion…In one of the documents, the security chief of Fordow nuclear plant — an Iranian underground uranium enrichment facility located 20 miles (32 km) northeast of the Iranian city of Qom – had asked for about 150 hectares of public land to be given to the nuclear facility to increase its security buffer zone as work continues on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

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