News Digest: Week of December 13

December 13

Regional: Iran condemned Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s landmark visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh warned that such moves would strengthen Israel’s “destructive and seditious presence” in the Middle East. Bennett met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the UAE. Their respective countries normalized relations in 2020 as part of the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords.


Nuclear: Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani accused unspecified parties in talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal of playing the “blame game” instead of engaging in “real” diplomacy. “If there's real will to remedy the culprit's wrongdoing, way for quick good deal will be paved,” he tweeted.  


December 14 

Nuclear: Iran “has to choose between the collapse of the JCPOA and a fair and comprehensive deal,” French Ambassador to the United Nations Nicolas de Riviere said. He warned that Tehran’s “nuclear escalation means that we are rapidly reaching the end of the road.” 

Regional: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud urged Iran to commit to meaningful, productive dialogue in Vienna. “So far the reports show there is some stalling by Iran, and we hope this will turn to progress in the near future,” he said following a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh. Saud suggested that Saudi Arabia should have a presence at the nuclear talks to “allow us to be close to solutions since we are one of the countries most threatened.”

Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman stressed “the importance of seriously and effectively dealing with the Iranian nuclear and missile program in a way that contributes to achieving regional and international security and stability.”


December 15

Regional: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Khatibzadeh called on Arab Gulf countries to change their posture toward Iran. “We call on the few countries who express unconstructive views in the name of the Gulf Cooperation Council to reconsider their approach to regional issues by replacing repeated accusations with cooperation,” he said.

Domestic: Parliament approved legislation to raise teachers’ salaries by 33 percent after several days of nationwide demonstrations and a three-day strike by thousands of educators. The bill had previously been introduced but failed to gain enough support for passage. 

Nuclear: Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reached an agreement to allow the U.N. nuclear watchdog to replace surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility that produces parts for centrifuges. Centrifuges are machines that spin uranium gas at high speeds to produce fuel for nuclear reactors or weapons. The deal appeared to at least temporarily avert a showdown between Iran and the IAEA Board of Governors.