Iran

Regional News • Middle East
U.S. unilaterally declares U.N. sanctions on Iran are back in force
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Credit: Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The United States unilaterally proclaimed on Saturday that United Nations sanctions against Iran are back in force. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Pompeo also stated "If UN member states fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity."

In a joint letter to the U.N. Security Council, France, Germany, and United Kingdom said "Any decision or action taken with a view to re-installing [the sanctions] would be incapable of legal effect."

And the Russian foreign ministry stated "The illegitimate initiatives and actions of the United States by definition cannot have international legal consequences for other countries."

Regional News • Americas • United States
Microsoft finds Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting US elections
Microsoft finds Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting US elections
Credit: Element5 Digital

Hackers from China, Russia and Iran are targeting the 2020 presidential elections, Microsoft found. In a blog post, Microsoft stated that the three hacker groups Strontium (Russia), Zirconium (China) and Phosphorus (Iran) have launched attacks aimed at both the Democratic and Republican party. The groups have attacked "more than 200 organizations including political campaigns, advocacy groups, parties and political consultants", "high-profile individuals associated with the election" including associates of Biden's campaign and "personal accounts of people associated" with the Trump campaign.

"The majority of these attacks were detected and stopped by security tools built into our products. We have directly notified those who were targeted or compromised so they can take action to protect themselves," so Microsoft

Regional News • Middle East
Iran enriched uranium stockpile '10 times limit' set in the nuclear deal
The ministers of foreign affairs and other officials from the P5+1 countries, the European Union and Iran while announcing the framework of a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme
The ministers of foreign affairs and other officials from the P5+1 countries, the European Union and Iran while announcing the framework of a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme Credit: United States Department of State (Public Domain)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said Tehran continues to violate the limitations set in the 2015 nuclear deal with the US, Germany, France, the UK, China and Russia. The limit was set at 300kg of enriched uranium, while the country now has 2,105kg.

The watchdog noted, however, that Iran's stockpile remains far below the many tons of enriched uranium Iran had amassed before the 2015 deal and that its stockpile of heavy water had decreased and is now back within the JCPOA limits.

Regional News • Middle East
Iran's Covid-19 death toll three times as high as reported, BBC investigation finds
Iran's Covid-19 death toll three times as high as reported, BBC investigation finds
Credit: BBC research (Reproduction)

An investigation by BBC's Persian service found that Iran's death toll is three times as high as reported by the country's health ministry. While Iran had officially reported 14,405 Covid-19 related deaths and 278,827 infections, Iran's government records show almost 42,000 deaths and 451,024 confirmed cases. BBC obtained the data from an anonymous source, who wanted to "shed light on truth", included daily hospital admissions and patient information.

Regional News • Middle East
US pressures Assad with new round of sanctions

The US has introduced new sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The sanctions fall under the Caesar Act, which went into effect in June, 2020 and targets industries and entities that deal with the Assad administration, including those in Iran and Russia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the purpose of the sanctions is to pressure Assad into ending the war, which has entered its ninth year.

Syria is currently facing an economic crisis, with many struggling to find food and other basic goods. Syrian officials have blamed the worsening conditions on American and EU sanctions.

Kelly Craft, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, stated the sanctions are not meant to harm civilians, nor do they target humanitarian efforts.

Regional News • Middle East
Iran: Blast at power plant in Isfahan province

According to a report from IRNA news agency, an explosion occurred at a power plant in Iran's central Isfahan province on Sunday, causing a power interruption that lasted two hours.

The blast, which was said not to have caused any injuries, was caused by wear and tear on a transformer at the power plant, the managing director of the Isfahan power company told the official IRNA news agency.

Regional News • Middle East
Hassan Rouhani estimates 25 million Iranians had Covid-19
President Hassan Rouhani
President Hassan Rouhani Credit: Hosseinronaghi (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech Saturday that around 25 million Iranians may have been infected with Covid-19. The number is an estimate from a health ministry research report and corresponds to more than 30% of the country’s population.

Iran's authorities reimposed restrictions for a week in Tehran. Religious and cultural functions are banned, boarding schools, cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks and zoos will be closed.

Regional News • Middle East
US report: Iran has most likely put parts of air defense system on "high alert"

After experiencing several explosions at key military and nuclear facilities in Iran the country allegedly put parts of its air defense system on "high alert". According to CNN, the Unites States has "several" intelligence indications from satellites, planes and ships that routinely operate in international airspace and waters.

Following current assessments, the alert status in Iran is not part of a current training exercise but a fear of an unknown threat as the reasons for the recent explosions are still unknown.

Regional News • Middle East
Iran mandates face masks in public amid surge in Covid-19 cases
Iran mandates face masks in public amid surge in Covid-19 cases
Credit: unsplash.com/Go to Kate Trifo's profile Kate Trifo

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has instituted mandatory wearing of face masks in public as the country experiences a rise in Covid-19 cases. The new measure took effect on Sunday. Employees are only allowed to work "if they wear masks and obey different health protocols" and people need to "observe protective and health protocols and wear masks" in order to get service from the state or any other organisation.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Business Insider report: Taliban sources confirm that Russia put bounties on US soldiers

According to a report from Business Insider two active Taliban commanders and one former commander have confirmed that Russia pays for bounties to attack and kill soldiers of the United States in Afghanistan.
All three sources stated that they had not participated in the program and disparaged the practice, but confirmed the existence. According to one source the groups that associate with the Taliban but are not close to the central leadership the Quetta Shura "will do anything for money, and Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and other countries will hire them for operations".

He stated that he wasn't approached by Russia himself as he was based in a different region of Afghanistan as they operate in, but regularly by Iran. According to Business Insider, an official of the NATO military intelligence has also confirmed that the practice is well-known.

Regional News • Middle East
Iran issued arrest warrant for Donald Trump "on charges of murder and terrorist action"
Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qasem Soleimani in 2019
Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qasem Soleimani in 2019 Credit: khamenei.ir / CC BY (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump and more than 30 other unnamed individuals for their alleged involvement in the killing of General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. The warrants have been issued on the charges of murder and terrorist action, and Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr has asked Interpol to put out a "red notice", the highest-level notice by Interpol, for Trump and the others involved.

A red notice allows local authorities to arrests suspects on behalf of the country that made the request. Interpol's involvement is unlikely as the notice forbids "from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political" nature.

Technology • Internet & Web
Messenger app Telegram announces that it will develop anti-censorship tools for Iran and China
Messenger app Telegram announces that it will develop anti-censorship tools for Iran and China
Credit: unsplash.com / Christian Wiediger

The co-founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, has announced that the company will direct "anti-censorship resources into other places where Telegram is still banned by governments — places like Iran and China". In the past Telegram has already developed and provided users with tools to circumvent the Telegram ban in Russia.

Law
Huawei's executive Meng Wanzhou loses fight against extradition to the US

British Columbia's Supreme Court in Vancouver allowed the process for extraditing Meng Wanzhou to the US to continue. The US wants Meng, Huawei's CFO, to stand trial on charges linked to the alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran.

Although Canada and the US have an extradition treaty, Canadian laws only allow extradition if the charges against the person in question would also qualify as a crime on Canadian soil.

Following the ruling, a Chinese embassy spokesperson in Canada told CBC News: "The purpose of the United States is to bring down Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, and Canada has been acting in the process as an accomplice of the United States. The whole case is entirely a grave political incident."

Health
Iranian citizens are getting 100GB of free internet as Covid-19 countermeasure

The Iranian internet service providers have been asked by the  Minister of Information and Communications Technology  Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi to provide 100 gigabytes of internet to their users for free. This comes ahead of the Persian New Year holidays and is aimed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Health
Official says: 23 members of the Iranian Parliament have been tested positive for Covid-19

Out of 290 members, 23 have gotten a positive test result for the coronavirus.