# Iran
Khamenei calls for high turnout in Iran vote; field shrinks to four candidates

DUBAI, June 16 (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader urged voters on Wednesday to turn out in large numbers for the June 18 presidential election, saying such a show of strength would reduce foreign pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Two hardliners and one moderate quit the field of seven officially permitted candidates on Wednesday, leaving what is shaping into a straightforward contest between the hardline head of the judiciary and a moderate former head of the central bank.

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, 60, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is widely tipped as the favourite to succeed Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist stepping down after two terms.

"In less than 48 hours, a crucial event will take place in the country... By your presence and vote, you actually determine the fate of the country, in all major issues," Khamenei said in a televised speech.

Supporters of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi hold posters of him during an election rally in Tehran, Iran June 16, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Under Iran's ruling system, the supreme leader has the final say over state affairs, while the elected president governs the country day-to-day.

Last month, the hardline Guardian Council disqualified several prominent moderate and conservative candidates, leaving a field dominated by hardliners, with Abdolnasser Hemmati, who stood down as central bank chief to run, as Raisi's main moderate challenger.

Wednesday's announcement that former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and hardline lawmaker Alireza Zakani had dropped out will help consolidate the hardline vote behind Raisi. Moderate Mohsen Mehralizadeh also stood aside in a boost for Hemmati. Two other hardline candidates remain on the ballot, though they could step aside or back Raisi before Friday's vote.

The restricted field may further dim the clerical establishment's hopes of a high turnout amid growing popular frustration over economic hardship and political restrictions.

A banner of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi โ€‹is seen in Tehran, Iran June 16, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS


Some prominent pro-reform politicians in Iran and activists abroad have called for an election boycott, and the hashtag #NoToIslamicRepublic has been widely tweeted by Iranians inside and outside the country in the past weeks.

Official opinion polls suggest turnout could be as low as 41%, significantly lower than in past elections.

The election comes as Iran is negotiating in Vienna with world powers to revive a 2015 deal under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

U.S. President Joe Biden hopes to revive the agreement, which his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned. Although the agreement was a signature achievement of outgoing president Rouhani, the election is not expected to have a major impact on Iran's negotiating position, which is set by Khamenei.


But a strong mandate for Raisi could strengthen Khamenei's hand at home, and affect the search for an eventual successor to the 82-year-old supreme leader, in power for 32 years.

"If the new president is elected by a significant majority of the votes, he will be a powerful president and can carry out great tasks," Khamenei said. "If we have a fall in the election turnout, we will have an increase of pressure from our enemies."

Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by William Maclean and Peter Graff
# Middle East # Iran
Front-runner for Iran presidency is hardline judge sanctioned by U.S.

Ebrahim Raisi's record of fierce loyalty to Iran's ruling clerics helps explain why the senior judge is a front-runner in Friday's presidential election, a contest the authorities have limited almost exclusively to hardline candidates like him.

A win for Raisi, 60, an implacable critic of the West whose political patron is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would burnish his chances of one day succeeding Khamenei at the pinnacle of power, analysts say.

Accused by critics of human rights abuses stretching back decades -- allegations his defenders deny -- Raisi was appointed by Khamenei to the high-profile job of judiciary chief in 2019.

Later that year, Raisi headed the legal system as authorities used the courts to suppress the bloodiest political unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran says its legal system is independent and not influenced by political interests.


"Raisi is a pillar of a system that jails, tortures, and kills people for daring to criticize state policies,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of New York-based advocacy group the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), in a statement.

Iran denies it tortures prisoners.

A mid-ranking figure in the hierarchy of Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim clergy, Raisi has been a senior judiciary official for most of his career. He served as deputy head of the judiciary for 10 years, before being appointed prosecutor-general in 2014.

Gaining a reputation as a feared security hawk, he was one of four judges who oversaw executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, rights groups say. Amnesty International has put the number executed at around 5,000, saying in a 2018 report that "the real number could be higher".



The CHRI said that those executed were "buried in unmarked mass and individual graves, based on the committee’s determination of their 'loyalty' to the newly established Islamic Republic. These prisoners had already been tried and were serving their issued prison sentences".

Iran has never acknowledged the mass executions. However, some clerics have said the trials of the prisoners were fair, and those judges involved should be rewarded for eliminating the armed opposition in the revolution's early years. Raisi himself has never publicly addressed allegations about his role.

In 2020, U.N. human rights experts called for accountability over the 1988 deaths, warning "the situation may amount to crimes against humanity” if the Iranian government continued to refuse to hold responsible those involved.


The United States in 2019 sanctioned Raisi for human rights violations, including the 1980s executions and his part in the suppression of unrest in 2009.

Raisi, who lost to pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani in 2017, has offered no detailed political or economic programme during his election campaign, while wooing lower-income Iranians by promising to ease unemployment.

However, by promising not to "waste a single moment" in removing U.S. sanctions, Raisi signalled his support for talks with world powers aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

A Raisi presidency would strengthen Khamenei's hand at home, and rights activists fear it could usher in more repression.


"He would not have registered as a candidate if his chances were not all but certain, and Raisi's decision to register would have almost certainly been guided by Khamenei himself," said Kasra Aarabi, a senior analyst on Iran & Shia Islamist Extremism at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.


With the rejection of prominent moderate and conservative candidates by a hardline vetting body, voters will have a choice only between hardliners and low-key moderates in the election.

Turnout is expected to be a record low amid rising anger over economic hardship and curbs on personal freedoms.


"By taking its exclusionary strategies to a new height, the Guardian Council has left no space for surprise," said Ali Vaez, senior adviser at the International Crisis Group.

An election win could increase Raisi's chances of succeeding Khamenei, who himself served two terms as president before becoming supreme leader upon founder of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1989 death, analysts say.

"Raisi is someone that Khamenei trusts ... Raisi can protect the supreme leader's legacy," said Sanam Vakil, deputy director of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

Born in 1960 to a religious family in Iran's holy Muslim Shi'ite city of Mashhad, Raisi was active in the 1979 revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah and continues to proclaim his fidelity to the "fundamental values" of Khamenei.


"The deep state is willing to go as far as undermining one of its pillars of legitimacy to ensure that Ayatollah Khamenei's vision for the revolution's future survives him when Raisi takes over the Supreme Leader's mantle," said Vaez.

Vaez was referring to the republican pillar of Iran's dual system of clerical and republican rule. Critics say a hardline election body's rejection of leading moderate and conservative hopefuls to enter the election race has cleared the way for tyranny, a charge Iranian authorities deny.

# Iran
Nuclear Iran
Iran Says it Produced 6.5 kg of Uranium Enriched to 60%

Iran has made 6.5 kg (14 lb) of uranium enriched to up to 60%, the government said on Tuesday, detailing a move that rattled the country's nuclear talks with world powers by taking the fissile material a step towards nuclear weapons grade of 90%.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted by state media as saying the country had also produced 108 kg of uranium enriched to 20% purity, indicating quicker output than the rate required by the Iranian law that created the process.

Iran said in April it would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move that would take the uranium much closer to the 90% suitable for a nuclear bomb.

# Middle East # Iran Deal # Iran
Khamenei set to tighten grip in Iran vote as frustrations grow

Iranians elect a new president on Friday in a race dominated by hardline candidates close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with popular anger over economic hardship and curbs on freedoms set to keep many pro-reform Iranians at home.

The race to succeed President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist, will be between five hardliners who embrace Khamenei's strongly anti-Western world view. 

# Iran
The Iranian Threat
Who is Ibrahim Raisi who will probably be the next president of Iran?

On June 18, the 13th presidential election of Iran will take place. A poll by the TV channel Press TV indicates a landslide victory of the candidate Ibrahim Raisi over the other candidates.

Ibrahim Raisi was born in 1960 in the Nu'an area near the city of Mashhad. Already at a young age he connected with religion, and at the age of 15 he enrolled in a seminary that trains Shiite clerics in the city of Kom. After completing his contract, he began his academic studies at various institutions in Iran, but studied for his doctorate in jurisprudence and the foundations of Shiite Islamic law at the martyrdom of the martyr Muthari in Tehran (some Iranian sources claim that his degree is controversial).

After the revolution he was appointed general prosecutor of Hamadan province, then rose through the ranks and became deputy prosecutor of the city of Tehran. But the action that made headlines for the first time was the killing of dissidents in 1988. Raisi was one of four key people who executed between 4,500 and 30,000 (there is too much misinformation in the execution data) from the Mujahideen Khalq organization. At that time he was very close to Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, and the latter gave him special powers independent of the Iranian legal system.

After Khomeini's death and Khomeini's rise, he was appointed the chief prosecutor of Tehran for about 5 years. In 1994 he was appointed head of the General Supervision Office. From 2004 he served for a decade as the First Vice President of the Supreme Court of Iran, and in 2014 he was appointed Chief Prosecutor of Iran. In parallel with his special role as Iran's Chief Prosecutor, he began serving as chairman of Astan Quds Razawi (the institution of trust in the Temple of Imam Rida and in charge of the Iranian charitable system).

In the 2017 election he was a candidate on behalf of the Popular Front Party of the Islamic Party (a party belonging to the Conservative current), but lost to incumbent President Hassan Rouhani when Rouhani received about 57.1% of the vote. During the 2017 election campaign, Raisi said "that Iran will establish ties with any country except Israel," which shows his hostile attitude toward the State of Israel.

In 2019 the writer Said Glucker on Al-Jazeera called Raisi as "Khamini's most likely successor" as Iran's future leader. In 2020 journalist Dexter Filkins wrote in the New Yoker "Most of the people I talk to in Iran mention Ibrahim Raisi's candidacy as Khamini's successor ". 

There have been speculations in the past about the possibility that Qassem Suleimani will replace Khamenei after the latter passes away, but with his assassination in January 2020, Raisi's candidacy for the position of supreme leader grew stronger. It is important to clarify that even as Khamenei's own son Mujathaba Khamenei has been seen as a leading candidate for the position, but his religious and political status is still not strong enough so at this time Raisi is the leading candidate to succeed Khamenei.

Ibrahim Raisi will probably be the next president of Iran and maybe one day also the supreme leader of Iran, but it is important to remember that Raisi will not change his extremist attitude towards Israel or the West and therefore Israel and the West must start getting to know the people operating in Iran who directly affect the Middle East in general and us in particular.

# Middle East # Iran
Middle East analysis
Foreign news site: The Assad regime provides Israel with intelligence information to attack Iranian sites in Syria

The news site A-Nas News reported that a Western diplomat said that Bashar al-Assad had been assisting "for a very long time", directly or through a third party, Israel by providing it with intelligence on military sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia in Syria, for the purpose of attacking them.

The source stressed that although Israel has excellent intelligence on the locations of the Iranian militias, Assad's partnership with Israel comes from a search for a "quick breakthrough" for the Assad regime, which will rescue him from isolation at the regional and international level, and thus bring Syria's return to the international community.

The source, who refused to reveal his name to the newspaper, referred to the growing chasm and rupture in the bilateral relations between the Assad regime and Tehran, and the rupture of trust between the two sides. Evidence of this was that the Iranian militias, he said, had increased security operations in their areas of control and treated Syrian officials more carefully.

In this context, an Israeli strategic expert revealed that Syria, during Assad's rule, does not pose any strategic threat to it, and attributed this to the strengthening of Syrian-Israeli relations through understandings between Israel and Russia.

The announcement comes as Iranian militia defense ministries witness radical changes in the structure of institutions and the appointment of new commanders, and recent press reports say Tehran has succeeded in building an integrated military security empire in the areas it controls Syria.

Meanwhile, Israeli fighter jets have escalated their military operations and attacks on sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia since the beginning of the year, when Israel began 2021 with three airstrikes aimed twice at Iranian sites in the Al-Kiswa area west of Damascus and the western western region of Damascus. In southern Syria.

Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes on sites in the rural areas of Damascus and Homs last Wednesday, attacks that were the first to be carried out by Israel after the Assad regime's fake elections at the end of last month. In this context, press reports in Israel have revealed its intention to continue attacking military sites where Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia are staying in Syria to prevent an Iranian deployment near its borders.

# Iran # Syria # Israel Defense Forces
Middle East News
Saudi-led Coalition Intercepts Houthi Drone

Saudi Arabian air defenses intercepted and destroyed an armed drone launched by Yemen's Houthi group towards the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait, state television said on Monday.

It cited the Saudi-led military coalition, which has been battling the Houthis for over six years, as saying it was taking operational measures to protect civilians from such assaults.

On Sunday, Saudi state media said a drone rigged with explosives fell on a school in the kingdom's Aseer province but that no injuries were reported.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have frequently launched cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities in the war. 


# Yemen # Middle East # Iran # Houthi Terrorists # War in Yemen # Saudi Arabia
Middle East News
Houthis Say Drone Launched at Saudi Airport

Yemen's Houthis said on Monday they had launched a drone at Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, according to a post on Twitter by a spokesman of the Iran-aligned group.

The was no immediate confirmation of the attack by the Saudi authorities.

# Yemen # Iran # War in Yemen
Iran's response to Israelโ€™s new government

Iran does not expect Israeli foreign and security policy to change under its new government, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, a day after Israel's parliament ended Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as prime minister.

"Iran's enemies are gone and powerful Iran is still here. I don't think Israel's policies will change with the new government.” 

# Iran
How Does the Assad Regime Pay for Iranian Oil?

Iran, which regularly supplies the Assad regime with crude oil shipments. This repeatedly raises the question of how Assad pays the price, at a time when his country's treasury is in short supply.

Similarly, Iran supplies the Assad regime with almost regular oil shipments, about 3 million barrels a month. That amount covers, at most, only half the quantity that the Assad regime needs.

Today, three Iranian oil tankers are expected to arrive at the Banias port, carrying about one million and 700,000 barrels of crude oil, according to sites that specialize in tracking maritime traffic.

Although it is known that Iran does not provide anything to Assad for free, the information on the compensation that Iran receives for these oil shipments is contradictory and almost unavailable.

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Majid, a researcher at the Center for Iranian Studies in Ankara, told "Orient Net" that Iran does not receive money for oil, but contracts, investments in energy, flour mills, and phosphates.

He adds that the sanctions imposed on Iran make it difficult to sell oil, so it sells at a price lower than the world market price. Iran prefers to sell it to Assad, even if the price is not in cash but investments.


# Middle East # Iran # Assad
The Real Blow Iran is Suffering From

According to Iranian media reports, since the beginning of the year, drought damage has caused about $ 3 billion in damage to the local agricultural industry.

The Iranian Ministry of Agriculture claims that according to data collected from 30 provinces in the country, there has been a 43% decline in agricultural output.

According to meteorological models, this situation is not expected to improve over the next five years and may even become more severe. In Iran, it is reported that the amount of precipitation this year decreased by about 55% compared to last year, and only in 4 provinces was an average amount of precipitation recorded.

Experts in Iran are urging the government to adopt a national plan to tackle the lack of precipitation, but so far this does not seem to be at the top of the leaders' priority. 


# Middle East # Iran
The Iranian Threat
Iranian Militias Refuse to Evacuate Checkpoints in Eastern Syria

During a meeting, Syrian regime forces asked the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to remove checkpoints they had set up on the al-Bukmal-Dir a-Zour road, but their request was denied.

A Syrian news site reported that the meeting, which took place in the security district in the Iranian-controlled city of Albuqmal, was attended by the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Albuqmal, and an officer with the rank of Brigadier General from the regime forces.

The website added that the senior Syrian officer had asked to remove these checkpoints because Revolutionary Guardsmen violated prior agreements by working against smuggling trucks belonging to Mahar al-Assad, the president's brother, and several smuggling figures that have the support of the regime.

It is worth noting that the Syrian regime and the Iranian militias are engaged in smuggling cannabis throughout the Deir a-Zor district, where the Iranian militias have already brought into the al-Bukhamal area several trucks loaded with narcotics.

# Middle East # Iran # Syria
Middle East News
Syria: Widespread Corruption at the Top

Military police patrols arrested the most senior officer in charge of military fuel in Syria, known as the "King of Oil", an officer with the rank of general in the Assad regime.

After being stripped of his rank he was taken to a military court for questioning on various charges, including embezzlement, sabotage, and co-operation with outsiders.

This arrest comes shortly after a fire broke out in an Iranian oil tanker off the Syrian coast, and amid speculation at the time that this was deliberate arson- even before sources claimed the tanker was bombed by unidentified drones.

Several sources in the Syrian media have reported on the arrest of the general and the seizure of his, and his wife's, property. These sources (intentionally or unintentionally) portrayed Assad's regime as anti-corruption.

The Assad regime tries, from time to time, to present itself as an effective force operating in a state with a rule of law, at a time when the militias dominate all aspects of life and ignore Syria's security services.

# Middle East # Iran # Syria
Israeli Politics
"Blue and White" Chairman Bnei Gantz at the Knesset swearing-in session

"Israel's security has never depended on one person, and will never depend on one person.

Mr. Prime Minister, we both know very well who has run the defense establishment in the past year, we both know very well who is working with the Americans in the face of the emerging agreement with Iran.

I promise the outgoing Prime Minister and all of you - we will continue to strengthen relations with the United States, which is our most important ally, and work together with the government so that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.

We will continue to influence that the agreement, if signed, will push Iran back. We will oppose a bad agreement."

# Biden Administration # Iran # Benny Gantz
The Iranian Threat
EU universities are helping with a program to develop Iranian drones


Iran currently stands as a formidable drone power despite the strict adherence to the UN arms embargo. Iran has invested heavily in the production of domestic drones and has enjoyed accessible technological advances in the commercial drone market. This allowed the country to acquire an arsenal of unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVs) that wreaked havoc around the Middle East.

Research at Iranian universities

Studies on Iranian drones are also being conducted at Iranian universities. Isfahan University of Technology (UIT) is closely linked to AEOI (Iran's Atomic Energy Organization or Atomic Energy Organization of Iran - AEOI). The IUT includes the Nuclear Technology Center (INTC) (Managed by AEOI) with about 3,000 scientists (approximately) .InTC has many nuclear capabilities including uranium enrichment.INTC operates three small nuclear power plant reactors operated by China.

Partners at Isfahan University of Technology

Despite working with Atomic Energy Organizations in Iran (AEOI), the Defense Industries Organization (DIO) and the terrorist organization IRGC, according to the official website of Isfahan University of Technology they are collaborating with:

Lethbridge College
Shenzen Technology University
University of Florence
IUT and Sabaanci Nanotechnology Research and Application Center (IUT and Sabaanci University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center)
IUT And Zurich University of Applied Sciences
IUT And University of L-Aquila (Italy) (IUT And University of L-Aquila)
IUT And Slaerno (Italy)
IUT And University Of Sherbrooke (Canada)
IUT And Polytechnic University of Madrid
IUT and University of Brescia (Italy)
IUT and Lulea University of Technology (LTU) Sweden (IUT and Lulea University of Technology Sweden)
IUT and the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL)
IUT and Sigma Clermont, France
IUT and the Brest National School of Engineers (IUT and the Ecole nationale d’ingenieurs de Brest)
IUT and the International Center for Relative Astrophysics Network (IUT)
IUT and the Regional Center for Urban Water Management
IUT and North - Caucasus Federal University
IUT and Cheikh Anta Diop University of Senegal (IUT and Cheikh Anta Diop University of Senegal)
IUT and Ulsan institute of South Korea
IUT and INFN Italy
IUT and ETH- Zurich
IUT and ParisTech
IUT and Sulaimani University
IUT and University of Koya, Iraq
IUT and University of Passau, Germany
IUT and Kurdistan Institution for Strategic Studies
IUT and the Xiamen University of China
IUT and Taiwan National University of Science and Technology
IUT and the Alliance of 4 Universities of Spain
Fulda University


# Iran # European Union
Iran "goes to the polls"

Iran goes to the polls, and if there are no surprises - the president will be elected Ibrahim Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Khamenei and a leading candidate to succeed him. He will replace Hassan Rouhani.

Raisi is an extremist conservative, supporting the separation of men and women. A tape from 1988 revealed his part in the deaths of 5,000 political prisoners.


# Middle East # Iran
Nuclear Iran
Ex-Mossad Chief Signals Israel Behind Iran Nuclear Attacks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The outgoing chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence service has offered the closest acknowledgment yet his country was behind recent attacks targeting Iran's nuclear program and a military scientist.

The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 investigative program “Uvda” in a segment aired Thursday night, offered an extraordinary debriefing by the head of the typically secretive agency in what appears to be the final days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule.

It also gave a clear warning to other scientists in Iran's nuclear program that they too could become targets for assassination even as diplomats in Vienna try to negotiate terms to try to salvage its atomic accord with world powers.

“If the scientist is willing to change career and will not hurt us anymore, than yes, sometimes we offer them" a way out, Cohen said.

Among the major attacks to target Iran, none have struck deeper than two explosions over the last year at its Natanz nuclear facility. There, centrifuges enrich uranium from an underground hall designed to protect them from airstrikes.

In July 2020, a mysterious explosion tore apart Natanz's advanced centrifuge assembly, which Iran later blamed on Israel. Then in April of this year, another blast tore apart one of its underground enrichment halls.

Discussing Natanz, the interviewer asked Cohen where he'd take them if they could travel there, he said “to the cellar" where “the centrifuges used to spin.”

“It doesn't look like it used to look,” he added.

Cohen did not directly claim the attacks, but his specificity offered the closest acknowledgement yet of an Israeli hand in the attacks. The interviewer, journalist Ilana Dayan, also seemingly offered a detailed description in a voiceover of how Israel snuck the explosives into Natanz's underground halls.

“The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to supply to the Iranians the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed,” Dayan said. "As they install this foundation within the Natanz facility, they have no idea that it already includes an enormous amount of explosives.”

They also discussed the November killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who began Tehran's military nuclear program decades ago. U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran abandoned that organized effort at seeking a nuclear weapon in 2003. Iran long has maintained its program is peaceful.

While Cohen on camera doesn't claim the killing, Dayan in the segment described Cohen as having "personally signed off on the entire campaign.” Dayan also described how a remotely operated machine gun fixed to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and later self-destructed.

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from taking part in the program, which had seen some abandon their work after being warned, even indirectly, by Israel. Asked by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications if they didn't stop, Cohen said: “They see their friends.”

They also talked about Israel's operation seizing archival documents from Iran's military nuclear program. Dayan said 20 agents, none Israelis, seized material from 32 safes, then scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically taken out of Iran.

Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to go public with the results of the operation, going against a long-standing practice of secrecy involving Mossad activities.

“It was important to us that the world will see this, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to tell them, ‘Dear friends: One, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you.. Three, the era of ... lies is over,'” Cohen said.

Media in Israel operate under a decades-old policy that requires journalists to clear stories involving security matters through military censors. That Cohen's remarks apparently cleared the censors suggests Israel wanted to issue a new warning to Iran amid the Vienna nuclear negotiations.

Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel's attacks, with Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning as recently as Thursday that the incidents “not only will be responded to decisively, but also certainly leave no option for Iran but to reconsider its transparency measures and cooperation policy.”

Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment over the comments by Cohen, who was replaced by former operative David Barnea. Cohen in the interview acknowledged he might one day seek the prime minister's office himself.


# Mossad # Iran
The Iranian Threat
Dr. Dori Gold: No matter which government is sworn in in Israel, the borders of the defensible cannot be waived

Dr. Dori Gould, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public and State Affairs and former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressed the political issue in the context of the change of government in Israel today at a conference of the "Security Movement" a group of hundreds of ex-army officers.

“When we talk about Iran we focus on the atomic bomb, but its involvement in other countries of our region is much more worrying. "Netanyahu's speech to Congress in 2015 reviewed the situation in the region and the influence of the Iranian regime, and exposed the world to the hybrid fighting of the Revolutionary Guards through proxy forces," said Dr. Gould.

He stressed the danger that the Iranians are working to encircle Israel's borders with the forces identified with it and supported by it. Fortunately for us, that they are not succeeding in the mission despite investing enormous resources and attempts to influence the holy places for Shiites on Israel's eastern border."

The president of the Jerusalem Center added: "The western powers' understandings with the Iranians did not prevent the expansion of the latter and did not lead to regional calm, on the contrary. Tony Blair's research institute revealed that these understandings only accelerated Iranian ambition and influence. It is no wonder that between 2014-2021 Hamas managed to intensify, as their main sponsor, Iran, is also getting stronger. 

Unfortunately, all indications are that the agreement now being formed with Iran will only give them more power. This is exactly the importance of the "Security Movement", to be the gatekeepers and to inspire the public and decision makers. 

At the end of his remarks, he said: “The bottom line is that no matter which government is formed, in the end the Israeli government will not be allowed to give up the defendable borders of the defenders in the Jordan Valley. "The threat from the East has not stopped and it may take on a different character under Iranian influence," said the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public and State Affairs.


# Iran # Israel
Russia to supply Iran with advanced satellite

Russia is preparing to provide Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The plan would deliver a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera which could be launched from Russia within months, the Post said.

The report was published days before U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva and as Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.

The satellite would allow "continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops," said the paper, which cited three unnamed sources - a current and a former U.S. official and a senior Middle Eastern government official briefed on the sale.


While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have made several trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the agreement, the Post said.

Russian experts traveled to Iran this spring to help train crews who would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near Karaj west of Tehran, it added.

The satellite would feature Russian hardware, the Post said, "including a camera with a resolution of 1.2 meters — a significant improvement over Iran’s current capabilities, though still far short of the quality achieved by U.S. spy satellites."

The Revolutionary Guards said in April 2020 that they had successfully launched the country's first military satellite into orbit, prompting then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable because he believed the action defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.

# Iran # Joe Biden # Russia
U.S. drops sanctions on former Iranian officials, step called routine

The United States said on Thursday it had removed sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies that previously traded Iranian petrochemicals, a step one U.S. official called routine but that could show U.S. readiness to ease sanctions when justified.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the U.S. official said that the moves by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) were unrelated to efforts to revive Iranian and U.S. compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"Today, OFAC and the Department of State are also lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies formerly involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products," the Treasury said in a statement.

It said the delisting reflected "a verified change in behavior or status" of those sanctioned and "demonstrate the U.S. government's commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of (such) a change."


A Treasury spokesperson said the three individuals had established "that they are no longer in their positions within entities affiliated with the Government of Iran," adding there was no reason to maintain sanctions on them.

The oil market briefly plunged after being spooked by media reports suggesting sanctions were lifted on Iranian oil officials, showing the potential impact of additional Iranian barrels if a deal is struck and sanctions lifted.

U.S. and Iranian officials are expected to begin their sixth round of indirect talks in Vienna this weekend about how both sides might resume compliance with the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Under the deal, Iran limited its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain fissile material for atomic weapons in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions.


Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, arguing it gave Tehran too much sanctions relief for too few nuclear restrictions, and reimposed sanctions that slashed Iran's oil exports.

Iran retaliated about a year later by violating the limits on its nuclear program.

U.S. President Joe Biden hopes to negotiate a mutual return to compliance, a task that requires defining the nuclear limits Iran will accept, the U.S. sanctions to be removed, and how to sequence these.

Asked about the talks, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters: "We've made progress, but, and you've heard this before; challenges do remain, and big issues do continue to divide the sides."


The Treasury statement did not name the three former Iranian officials or the two companies dropped from its sanctions lists.

However, on its website, OFAC said it removed three men from one of its sanctions lists: Ahmad Ghalebani, a managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Farzad Bazargan, a managing director of Hong Kong Intertrade Company, and Mohammad Moinie, a commercial director of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl.

OFAC said it removed some sanctions on Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited and on Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai Limited.

"This is just a decision by Treasury in the normal course of business – nothing to do with JCPOA," said the U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, describing it as the "regular process of delisting when (the) facts so dictate."

# Biden Administration # Iran # US Government