News Digest: Week of June 15

June 15

Health: Iran recorded 189,876 cases of COVID-19, including 8,950 deaths. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei warned that Iran may have to reimpose restrictions after a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. “In the (Tehran) subway, although 90 percent of passengers use masks, social distancing is not being observed,” Rabiei said during a news conference.

Nuclear: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mariano Grossi, called on Iran to grant full access to additional sites where undeclared nuclear material may be stored. He added that Iran had refused access “to two locations and that, for almost a year, it has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify our questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.”


June 16

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 192,439 infections and 9,065 deaths from the coronavirus. Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that at least 152,675 patients had recovered from the virus.

Health/Economy: President Rouhani said that Iran was engaged in two separate battles, one against COVID-19 and another against “cruel and inhumane” U.S. sanctions. He lauded the government’s handling of both challenges. “We prevented the inhumane dream of those imposing sanctions from coming true, which was causing problems and distress in the daily economic lives of people and the supply of items they need for livelihood,” Rouhani said. 

Diplomacy: The United States hoped for a face-to-face meeting to discuss future prisoner exchanges with Iran. “We’d love to have an in-person meeting to have a consular dialogue so that we can move faster than we have,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said at a Council on Foreign Relations event. “The door for diplomacy on our side is wide open, not just on these matters but on ... all the issues that have been bedeviling the US-Iran bilateral relations for 41 years.”

Justice: Seyed Sajjad Shahidian, an Iranian national, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran. Shahidian was CEO of Payment24, an internet-based financial services company with offices in Iran. The company was accused of conducting financial transactions with companies in the United States to illegally import computer software, software licenses and servers. He was arrested in London in November 2018 and extradited to the United States in May.


June 17

Health: Iran reported 195,051 cases and 9,185 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry Spokeswoman Lari said that nearly 1,320,000 Iranians had been tested for the virus, about 1.6 percent of the population.