Iran

Iran by Alistair Galloway

Rescue workers recovered 35 bodies from a coal mine in northern Iran after an explosion led to the collapse of a tunnel. Hassan Rouhani was re-elected in Iran’s presidential election, garnering 57 per cent of the vote. Iran sanctioned nine U.S. linked businesses and organisations in response to American sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile program. The head of Iran's armed forces, Major-General Mohammad Baqeri, declared that Iran will attack areas sheltering terrorists in Pakistan unless it tightens control over its borders and prevents insurgent cross-border attacks. According to US defence officials, Iran failed in its attempt to launch a cruise missile from an Iranian Yono- class “midget” submarine in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will continue production of its missile program, according to a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guard. The US administration confirmed that it will continue to waive certain sanctions against Iran, as required under the 2015 Nuclear Deal. The first four ATR 72-600s were handed over to Iran Air in a ceremony on 15 May. On 24 May, Iran signed a deal worth $615 million with a Spanish-Iranian under which the group will provide pipes for use in Iran's oil industry. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh stated that Iran sees $55 per barrel as an appropriate price for crude oil. 

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

Floods killed at least 30 people in north-west Iran as torrential rains hit four provinces. Companies from China and Iran signed the first commercial contracts to redesign an Iranian nuclear plant as part of an international deal reached in 2015 over Iran's nuclear program. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was barred from standing in next month's presidential election by the Guardian Council. The European Council extended sanctions against Iran in response to human rights violations. An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship had its weapons manned and came within approximately 1,000 yards of the USS Mahan, an American destroyer in the Persian Gulf destroyer. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said a government-wide review of American policy on Iran was underway during a meeting with Saudi leaders. Ten Iranian border guards were killed by Sunni militants in a cross-border attack on the frontier with Pakistan. European airplane manufacturer ATR announced on 13 April that it has signed a $536-million deal with Iran Air for at least 20 aircraft. The Boeing Company announced a tentative agreement on 4 April to sell up to 60 737s to Aseman Airlines, an Iranian carrier. 

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

Iran’s judiciary indicted a member of the country’s team that negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of espionage. Two Iranians were sentenced to death in Iran on 12 March on charges of founding a “cult” and promoting moral corruption. On 26 March, Iran sanctioned 15 American companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression, and Israel’s occupation of land Palestinians want for a future state. Iran will not issue visas to Americans as long as the U. S. refuses to issue visas to Iranians, according to its Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi. An Iranian government official claimed that its Russian-made air defences were compromised by Moscow, leaving Iran and its allies defenceless against Israeli airstrikes. Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told the House Armed Services Committee in the United States that Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region. A report issued by the group Conflict Armament Research (CAR) states that Houthi forces are using a type of drone probably built by Iran to attack Saudi and UAE missile defence sites in Yemen. ISIS released a video threatening Iran for supporting military campaigns against the self-proclaimed caliphate and for Tehran’s tolerant views on Jews. Iran successfully tested the Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system. Russia signed multiple bilateral agreements with Iran on 28 March as President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for his first official visit to Moscow. On 11 March, the second of the 100 planes Iran had purchased from Airbus following its nuclear deal with world powers landed in the capital Tehran. Iran’s oil minister confirmed the country will keep its oil production cap at 3.8 million barrels per day in the second half of 2017, as long as other OPEC members stick to the output level they agreed in November. Indonesia announced its plans to increase its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports from Iran. On 5 March, Azerbaijan officially launched a rail link with Iran by sending a train across the border to Iran’s northern city of Astara. 

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

Iran’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that it will take legal, political, and reciprocal measures in response to United States (US) President Donald Trump's executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and acting head of the Expediency Council, died at the age of 82 on 8 January. Thirty firefighters were killed and 84 people were injured after the Plasco building caught fire and collapsed on 19 January. Arash Sadeghi, a jailed Iranian activist, ended a 71-day hunger strike after his wife was granted temporary release from prison. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced on 16 January, that Iran has obeyed its deadline set by its nuclear deal with world powers, by removing hundreds of centrifuges from a site buried deep inside a mountain. A murder suspect on bail shot dead six people and wounded four others in the central city of Arak on 11 January. Iran detained 21 crew members of three fishing boats in the Persian Gulf, for illegally entering the country’s territorial waters and fishing rare and endangered species. Iran's foreign minister refused to confirm whether his country recently conducted a missile test. A United States navy destroyer fired warning shots at four armed Iranian patrol boats as they sped toward the warship at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Iran, Russia, and Turkey signed an agreement to enforce a partial cease-fire between the Syrian government and rebel fighters. Iran and Syria signed several economic agreements during a visit by Prime Minister Imad Khamis to Tehran. BP has opted out of the first wave of agreements to develop oil and gas reserves in Iran after the lifting of international sanctions. Iran’s parliament passed a five-year economic development plan on 15 January that includes a sharp rise in foreign investment. The first Airbus passenger plane ordered by IranAir in decades, after the lifting of international sanctions on Iran, landed in Tehran on 12 January

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

Mehdi Karroubi, an Iranian Cleric who has been under house arrest since 2011 for his role in the Green movement, resigned from his party, the National Trust Party. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a warning during a speech at the University of Tehran saying he would not allow United States (US) President-elect Donald Trump to dismiss the long-term nuclear deal Iran signed with six global powers. Iranian general Abbas Farajpour announced that Iran’s air defences had warned off 12 fighter jets and drones during an ongoing military drill. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced that Russia and Iran plan to establish a joint Islamic bank. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani declared that Tehran and Moscow will continue to cooperate in the Syrian war until terrorism was eradicated and peace in the region is achieved. The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus completed a deal on 22 December to sell 100 jetliners to Iran. Turkmenistan managed to avert the loss of one of its only two buyers of natural gas with a last-minute deal with Iran. The National Iranian Oil Company and South Korea's construction conglomerate Daelim Industrial Company reached an agreement to cooperate on improving oil refining facilities in Isfahan Province. Iran’s currency, the rial, hit a record low against the US dollar. The number of automobiles manufactured in Iran during the first nine months of the past Iranian calendar year registered a 39.1 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

The United Nations (UN) released its annual report on Iran, condemning its human rights abuses, which Iran responded to with accusations of bias. Iran sentenced multiple Iranian-American citizens to jail, charging them with collaboration with a foreign government. German-Iranian talks were called off following the German economic minister’s requirement of Iran to formally recognise Israel. From 28 October to 30 October, the European Union (EU)’s foreign policy chief visited Tehran for talks on the conflict in Syria. On 28 October, Iranian diplomats met with Syria and Russia in Moscow to discuss the Syrian conflict. In the Red Sea American and Iranian military forces met with increasing tension. United States (US) forces were fired upon by Iranian-backed Houthis, and the US destroyed Iranian radar stations in Houthi territory. Houthi forces directly supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired missiles into Saudi Arabia, only 50 miles from Mecca. Iran unveiled two new drones, one of which was copied from a captured American drone, and the other of which can be deliberately crashed into targets while loaded with explosives. On 3 October the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a statement after their visit to Iran, predicting positive economic growth. From 3 October to 5 October a German trade delegation visited Iran, resulting in the signage of multiple economic agreements, including one with German company Siemens. On 3 October Iran reported that it had sold fuel condensate to British Petroleum (BP) and on 8 October AT&T verified that it was providing service to American cell phones in Iran. 

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

The United Kingdom (UK) restored diplomatic relations with Iran by appointing an ambassador to Tehran. Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri expressed concerns over the implementation of the nuclear deal, stating that Iran has fully complied with its agreements and the West has failed to deliver on its promises. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that in order for the nuclear deal to remain in effect both side have to fulfill their commitments. Former President Ahmadinejad released a statement saying that he will not make a presidential comeback bid in next year’s election. The German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel will discuss Iran’s role in war in Syria and Iran’s human rights record on his upcoming visit to Tehran. The Vice Chancellor is also leading a large delegation of business executives to Iran to discuss potential business deals. Thousands of Iranians marched through the streets to protest against Saudi Arabia before the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Iranians will not be taking part in this year’s Hajj due to tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran. United States (US) resident Nazir Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in jail over allegations of espionage and fined $4.2 million after being detained for one year in Iran. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member states struck a deal to limit crude output in an effort to raise prices worldwide. Iran has decided to decrease output by 700,000 barrels per day. French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to sell over 150,000 vehicles in Iran in the remainder of 2016 with a target of over 300,000 sales in 2017. French carmaker Renault signed a deal with Iran to enter into a new joint venture which involves a new manufacturing plant with the capacity to produce 150,000 vehicles per year. Iran urged the US to remove the remaining obstacles to the country’s purchase of passenger planes. Critics in the US Congress argue that Iran could potentially use passenger jets for military purposes such as to battle United States troops in Syria or potentially transfer aircrafts to airlines in Iran still subject to sanctioning by the United States.

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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. 

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Iran by Lewis McKinnon

Iranian public approval of the nuclear deal has declined since it was finalised one year ago. After one year, 74 per cent of Iranians say that there has been no tangible economic improvement, and three out of four Iranian citizens accuse the United States government of actively preventing other countries from normalising economic relations with Iran. Iran reached an agreement with France to take part in a multi-national nuclear fusion project. Trials commenced for the 48 people charged with storming the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. Iran denied claims by Washington that three senior al-Qaida figures are currently based in Tehran, stating that the country has no knowledge of their presence. Iranian forces foiled an attempted terrorist infiltration from Turkey. Iran is exploring a return to the bond market for the first time since 2002, in an attempt to finance an economic recovery. The United States House of Representatives approved two amendments to a financial services spending bill, aimed at blocking Boeing’s planned sale of over 100 commercial aircraft to Iran. Iran resumed petrochemical exports to Britain for the first time since economic sanctions were lifted in accordance with the nuclear deal. Iranian Petroleum Contracts are expected to replace the current buy-back model. The new contracts could ease investment risks which could open new doors for foreign investment. 

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Iran by Lewis McKinnon

Iran appealed to the United Nation’s (UN) highest courts against a United States Supreme Court ruling that $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be paid to American victims of terror attacks blamed on Tehran. The defence ministries of Iran, Russia, and Syria met in Tehran to finalise a plan of action against opponents of Syrian president al-Assad. Iranian defence minister General Hossen Dehghan said that the allies are aiming to develop a comprehensive plan for combating ‘all terrorist groups’ in the region. Iran was listed as a top state sponsor of terror by the United States State Department’s annual report on global terror activity. A plan to carry out bombings in Tehran by Sunni extremists was thwarted. Ten terrorists were arrested in Tehran and surrounding provinces. The Financial Action Task Force will decide whether or not to keep Iran on its blacklist of high-risk countries. European banking sources stated that they are not ready to do business with Iran regardless of their status on the blacklist because of potentially high risks. Iran reached a historic deal with Boeing to buy commercial airliners in an effort to modernise their passenger fleet. Italian energy companies Saras SpA and Iplom SpA signed long term contracts with the National Iranian Oil Company to purchase and import crude oil from Iran. Iran rejected the proposed oil output cap as advocated for by the leading member states of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. 

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