Iran / by Lewis McKinnon

The second round of Iranian parliamentary elections were held on 29 April. Moderates and allies of reformist President Rouhani sought to secure seats from hardliners following gains in the primary elections in February. An annual review by Amnesty International of capital punishment in Iran led to the renewal of sanctions by the European Union (EU) over the country’s human rights record. The Iranian government accused the United States (US) of being in violation of the nuclear deal by attempting to prevent American companies from investing in Iran. Iran is planning to conduct an important ballistic missile test in February 2017, coinciding with the inauguration of the next US president. Russia has begun delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran as the first stage of a weapons contract between the two countries. Iran unveiled a new main battle tank, the Tiam, earlier this month that appears to combine Chinese and US tank designs circa 1960. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia declared that they can reach an agreement to freeze oil production without Iran. Crude oil futures dropped on 26 April. Analysis warned of an intensifying producer race between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran signed new oil contracts with European companies on oil export. The country’s crude oil sales are expected to surpass 300,000 barrels per day once all agreements go into effect. Iran set a new record in steel production by exporting 4.1 million tonnes of steel in the past Persian Calendar year.