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Friday’s Iran Mini Report – December 30, 2018

Friday's Iran Mini Report - December 30, 2018

• Nine Evangelical Christians Reported Arrested During Christmas Week In Iran

Tasnim news agency connected with Iran regime’s Revolutionary Guards reported on Sunday that nine evangelical Christians have been arrested in recent days in Alborz province, neighboring the capital Tehran.

Tasnim had already reported the arrest of four Christians on Saturday and on Sunday it said five more were arrested on December 26, a day after Christmas. It is not clear when exactly the first four were detained.

• German Company Linked With Iran’s Rockets Stops Business With Tehran
A spokesman for the German company Krempel, which provided construction material to Tehran businessmen that was used in rockets produced by the Iranian regime to gas Syrians earlier this year, told on Thursday that the global business firm has stopped trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran. “Since several months ago, Krempel no longer delivers goods to Iran,” Rainer Westermann said.
• Hunt: Iran Imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe For Diplomatic Reasons
The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has accused Iran of using Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned for 1,000 days, as a pawn for diplomatic leverage. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national from Hampstead, north London, has been held in Iran since April 2016. Tehran, which accused her of seeking to overthrow the government, has ignored repeated calls from her family and UK officials to release her.
• Asia’s Iran Crude Imports Hit More Than Five-Year Low In November As Sanctions Bite
Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit their lowest in more than five years in November as U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports took effect last month, government and ship-tracking data showed. China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported about 664,800 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, according to the data, down 12.7 percent from the same month a year earlier.
• After US-Taliban Talks, Iran Also Confirms Dialogue
Just one week after American officials reportedly met with a Taliban delegation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Adm. Ali Shamkhani confirmed for the first time that Iran has also held talks with the Taliban. Shamkhani made the comments during a Dec. 26 visit to Kabul to meet with Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib, to discuss regional and bilateral security issues.
• Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: British Woman Jailed In Iran Allowed Visit From Daughter To Mark 40th Birthday
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British mother jailed in Iran was allowed to meet with her daughter on her 40th birthday. Four-year-old Gabriella, who has been staying in Iran with family, said she “wished her mum was free” as the pair shared cake in jail, her father Richard Ratcliffe said. He added that Nazanin had been involved a “long battle” with prison authorities over recent months about health matters:Independent reported.
• A Small U.S. Base Gets In Iran’s Way-But Maybe Not For Long
The Wall Street Journal .When U.S. forces leave Syria, the plan is for troops from neighboring Turkey to take their place. One exception: a small, remote U.S. base in southern Syria that has made it more difficult for Iran to project power across the Middle East. More than 200 U.S. troops have been advising local Syrian fighters at the al-Tanf garrison, which they have used to combat Islamic State and which sits in strategically important terrain astride a potential Iranian supply route through Iraq to Syria.

• Less Budget For Iran’s Defense Ministry, More For IRGC
Not many details about Iran’s budget bill for the next year, presented to the parliament on December 25, have been publicly released. However, a few key points about Iran’s defense budget for the next year were leaked the day after President Hassan Rouhani presented the bill amid heckling and protests by a group of hard-line MPs. Many Iranians on social media, mainly regime supporters, protested against what they called “a dramatic decline” in Iran’s military budget.
• Iran Consumer Prices Remain Stubbornly High Despite Rial Recovery | Al-Monitor
Following months of turbulence this year, the Iranian rial has regained a significant portion of its lost value in the past several weeks. However, this trend has not been seen in consumer prices, leading to increasing public discontent. The depreciation of the rial has led to sharp jumps in the prices of imported products, ranging from vehicles, audio-visual devices and cellphones to iron and aluminum. Given the import tariffs levied by the authorities, these kinds of products were already sold in Iran at prices often higher than the global average.
• The Syria Fallout | The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
The implications of Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria will play out over many months, but a portent was apparent Wednesday. While Mr. Trump was defending his Syria pullout during his visit with U.S. troops in Iraq, Russia was condemning Israel’s defensive air strikes in Syria. This is only some of what will fill the vacuum left by America’s departure.
• Israeli Military Releases Video Showing Explosion, Says Another Hezbollah Tunnel Has Been Destroyed
The Israeli military on Wednesday destroyed another cross-border tunnel it says was built by Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, sending a loud explosion throughout the volatile area. Israel this month announced the discovery of the tunnels, which it says were part of a Hezbollah plot to sneak across the border and carry out attacks in Israel:AP reported.
• Iranian FM Takes Flak For Claiming Tehran Has Never Called For Destruction Of Israel | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
When Iranian officials say Israel will be wiped off the map, does it mean they are suggesting that Iran should be the one to do it? The debate was renewed last week by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. When an interviewer from a French news magazine suggested that Paris might be reluctant to sell weaponry to Iran because the Islamic republic had called for Israel’s destruction and had missiles that carried the inscription “Death to Israel”, Zarif objected.
• Satellite Shows Damage To Iranian Bases In Syria After Alleged Israeli Strike

New satellite images of an Iranian weapons storehouse outside the Syrian capital of Damascus showed significant damage done to site following Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets earlier in the week. The images, taken by ImageSat International (ISI), showed the complete destruction of the 60×15 meter storehouse which supposedly held Fajr-5 missiles at an Iranian base in the Syrian regime’s 4th Division camp in the Al-Muna area