News Digest: Week of September 21

September 21

Health: Iran recorded 425,481 cases and 24,478 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 361,523 patients had recovered from the virus.

Sanctions: The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran that targeted 24 government organizations, companies, officials and suppliers connected to conventional arms, nuclear and missile program. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien announced the sanctions at a joint press conference.

Society: On the 40th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed on September 21 that the eight-year war was an Iranian victory against the major powers. He delivered a speech honoring war veterans and "martyrs"  from one of the grizzliest conflicts in Middle East history.

Khamenei also used the occasion to pay homage to Qassem Soleimani, the Qods Force general who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in December 2019. “No one has yet understood the extent of his activities,” the leader said. “Perhaps in the future, we will gradually come to know what he did.” 


September 22

Diplomacy: Hassan Rouhani delivered a defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly in his eighth and final address to the world body as president. He blasted the Trump administration for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal and for its refusal to lift sanctions on Iran during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that whichever U.S. presidential candidate won the November 2020 election would "have no choice but to surrender to the resilience of the Iranian nation." Rouhani's term ends in August 2021.

Health: Iran recorded an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases. Health Ministry spokesperson Sima-Sadat Lari said that 3,712 new case were identified within a 24-hour period.  

Society: Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said that Iran would not hold processions to celebrate the Shiite holiday of Arbaeen due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a separate statement, the Iraqi ambassador to Iran reiterated that no Iranians would be granted pilgrim visas this year for Arbaeen. 


September 23

Health: Iran recorded 432,798 cases and 24,840 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 365,846 patients had recovered from the virus.

Oil: Venezeula's state-run oil company loaded an Iranian flagged tanker with crude oil for export, Reuters reported. The tanker arrived in Venezuela earlier this month and will transport 2 million barrels of heavy crude.