Wednesday's Iran Mini Report - January 16, 2019
• Iran Could Enrich Uranium To 20 Percent Within Four Days: Atomic Chief
Reuters: Iran can enrich uranium up to 20 percent within four days, its atomic energy chief said on Tuesday, a comment apparently aimed at showing Tehran could quickly expand its enrichment program if its nuclear deal with world powers collapses. Iran's 2015 accord with world powers caps the level to which it is able to enrich uranium to 3.67 percent purity, well below the 20 percent it was reaching before the deal, and the roughly 90 percent suitable for a nuclear weapon.
• US Says Satellite Attempt Shows Iran Threat
AFP: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of posing a missile threat after Tehran defied his warnings and tried to put a satellite into orbit, albeit unsuccessfully. Pompeo renewed his charge that the launch defied UN Security Council resolution 2231 of 2015, which endorsed an international agreement, from which the United States has withdrawn, on ending Iran's nuclear weapons. "In defiance of the international community & UNSCR 2231, Iran's regime fired off a space launch vehicle today," Pompeo tweeted.
• India's Soymeal Sales To Iran Surge To Offset Rupees-For-Oil Imbalance | Reuters
India's soymeal sales to Iran are set to spike as the oil producer uses the rupees it receives for its crude exports to cover its animal feed demand amid U.S. sanctions that have crimped the country's ability to import necessities. Iran has agreed to sell crude oil to India, the world's third-largest oil consumer, in exchange for rupees after sanctions imposed by the United States blocked its access to the global financial system.
• U.S. 'Tough Line' On Iran Depends On Crude Prices
Oil Price: The U.S. government is planning on taking a tougher line on Iran in the months ahead, redoubling its efforts to cut Iran's oil exports down to zero. Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, boasted earlier this week about the U.S.' success in curtailing Iran's oil exports to date. In an interview with Bloomberg, Hook noted that when the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last May, Iran was exporting 2.7 million barrels per day (mb/d). Now, he says, Iran's exports are down near or below 1 mb/d.
• My Wife's Iran Prison Hunger Strike Is An Act Of Despair, Not Defiance | Richard Ratcliffe For Independent (U.K.)
How does it feel when your wife is on hunger strike? It is fine to support their right to do it in theory. It feels different as the days roll on. Nazanin and I had a long autumn. She regularly despaired that nothing was moving, warned that she couldn't cope anymore stuck in an unjust imprisonment while governments haggled. She threatened a hunger strike as a last resort. I kept getting her to postpone, saying that we weren't at last resort yet. That got us past Christmas and even her 1,000 days.
• Iran Must Provide Care To Detainees On Hunger Strike: UN Experts
AFP: UN human rights experts urged Iran on Wednesday to grant urgently needed medical attention to two detainees, including British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who launched a hunger strike over a lack of care. The six UN experts also appealed on behalf of Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who was arrested in 2015 and jailed for 10 years for "forming and managing an illegal group" and who has joined Zaghari-Ratcliffe's hunger strike.
• Iranian Ambassador To Britain Rejects Pleas To Free Jailed Mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe And Tells Jeremy Hunt To Stop 'Meddling In Country's Affairs'
Daily Mail: The Iranian ambassador to Britain has rejected Jeremy Hunt's pleas to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The Foreign Secretary summoned Hamid Baeidinejad over the case for the first time on Monday to complain about a lack of medical treatment for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41. The ambassador said little to Mr Hunt at the time, but later denounced Britain for 'meddling in Iran's internal affairs'.
• Iran State TV's English Channel Says Anchorwoman Held In US
Associated Press: The English-language arm of Iran's state television broadcaster is reporting that its prominent American-born news anchor was arrested after flying into the United States. Press TV broke into its broadcast on Wednesday to report that Marzieh Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin of New Orleans, was arrested after arriving at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Sunday. The broadcaster, citing her family, said Hashemi was taken into FBI custody and brought to the Washington area.
• Helping Lebanon Succeed Is More Than About Countering Iran
The National Interest: As tensions increase on the Israeli-Lebanese border following the discovery of Hezbollah-built tunnels last month and with President Donald Trump announcing a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, the possibility is growing that a confrontation with Iran may move from Syria to Lebanon. Lebanon is increasingly viewed within the prism of containing Iranian influence, mainly as an arena to pushback on Iran's key no state ally Hezbollah.
• Houthis Regret Accepting Sweden Agreement
Asharq Al-Awsat: The Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen expressed on Tuesday their regret at accepting the conditions of the Sweden ceasefire deal on Hodeidah that was reached in December. A minister in the Houthis' illegitimate government, Hassan Zeid, said that the militias committed a "strategic error" in agreeing to the deal because they lost several humanitarian cards that they were exploiting for their interests before the international community and United Nations.
• Germany Accuses Army Linguist Of Spying For Iran Over Afghan Missions
BBC News: German police have arrested a 50-year-old Afghan-German man suspected of passing military secrets to Iran. Federal prosecutors named the army linguist only as Abdul Hamid S. He is understood to have known details of German military operations in Afghanistan. Prosecutors said he was suspected of "having passed on his knowledge to an Iranian intelligence service".
• Iran Is Wreaking Terror In Europe | Con Coughlin For Gulf News
Following a wave of terror plots on European soil, the EU has finally woken up to the growing threat Iran poses to global security. Last week, it announced new measures against Tehran - yet when compared with the robust sanctions regime Washington has implemented in recent months, Brussels' response is hardly likely to cause the Iranian clerics any sleepless nights. The sanctions come after a series of Iranian-sponsored plots that have been uncovered in Europe since the signing of the controversial nuclear deal with Tehran in 2015.
• Iran Publicly Hangs Man in Isfahan, Video Emerges
A man was hanged in public in Isfahan, central Iran, on Tuesday, the judiciary’s website Mizan reported.
The man identified as Mohammad Javad Shams.
The execution was carried out in Falavarjan, in Isfahan, bringing the number of those publicly executed in January to five.
The state-run websites shared a video showing the brutal execution of Mohammad Javad Shams, surrounded by his hangmen on a crane.
• CPJ Denounces Iranian Journalist’s 'Sham Trial, Harsh Sentence'
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the prison sentence recently imposed on Iranian journalist Hamed Aynehvand and urged the country’s authorities to “stop persecuting the media for doing their job.”
Aynehvand's “sham trial and harsh sentence demonstrate the flawed nature of the Iranian justice system," Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the New York-based media rights watchdog, said in a statement on January 14.
Agents of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' intelligence unit arrested him in Tehran in June last year and kept him in solitary confinement at Evin prison for a month and a half, CHRI said.
Eight journalists were found to be imprisoned in Iran in direct relation to their work at the time of the CPJ's December 2018 prison census.
• Germany Detains Man Suspected Of Spying For Iran
Associated Press: Prosecutors in Germany say an army employee has been detained on suspicion of spying for the Iranian intelligence service. The federal prosecutor's office said in a statement that the 50-year-old German-Afghan dual citizen, whose name was only given as Abdul Hamid S. in line with German privacy rules, was detained Tuesday in the Rhineland in western Germany. He worked as a translator for the German army and is accused of having passed on information to the Iranian intelligence service.