Iran / by Lewis McKinnon

The United States (US) government confirmed that it initially withheld a $400 million cash payment to Iran in January in order to maintain leverage over the release of American prisoners. British Prime Minister Theresa May discussed concerns with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over cases involving British-Indian nationals, including the imprisoned aid worker Nazain Zaghari-Ratcliff. Rouhani agreed via telephone conference that Britain and Iran should take steps to improve their relationship. Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani was arrested for suspected espionage involving Iran’s nuclear negotiations but has not been formally charged. The Iranian judiciary released a report confirming the execution of Shahram Amiri, an alleged spy who was convicted of sharing state secrets. Iran announced that it has completed the first phase of a government plan to launch a national internet. Authorities deemed the current system “inefficient” and have been working to limit peoples’ access to different parts of the internet. Uncertainty surrounding the question of how the US Department of Justice will treat banks who engage in business with Iran has prevented the country from reaping the full potential economic benefits of the nuclear deal. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh will attend a meeting of minister for the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algeria in September 2016. Oil prices have increased since confirmation that Iran will attend. The Swiss Federal Tribunal ordered Israel to pay $1.1 billion to Iran after it lost an appeal in a dispute over the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company. Iran announced that it will hold its first tender of an oil field for development under the new contract model on 21 October.