News Digest: Week of February 1

February 1

Health: The government warned that most Iranians would have to wait until February or March 2022 to be vaccinated. Vaccinations for the elderly, health workers, people with disabilities and war veterans would begin in spring 2021.

Space: Iran successfully tested a new space rocket, the defense ministry said. The Zoljanah was similar to prior space rockets; it could lift a 220 kg (or 485 pounds) satellite 500 km (or 310 miles) into orbit. The satellite was launched from a facility in Semnan province.


February 2

Budget: The Majles rejected President Hassan Rouhani's proposed budget, by a vote of 148 to 99. Hardliners argued that the proposal was unrealistic and would cause high inflation. The government had two weeks to submit a new draft budget.

Nuclear: Iran installed 174 IR-2M advanced centrifuges at the Natanz facility, the IAEA reported. The Iranian ambassador to the IAEA threatened to install more centrifuges at Fordo, the underground site where Iran has been enriching uranium up to 20 percent since January.

Maritime: Tehran released the crew of a South Korean flagged tanker seized in Iranian waters. The crew, who had been held since late-January, were released "following a request by the South Korean government," an Iranian government spokesperson said. Seoul said that it would "work to resolve the issue of frozen Iranian assets in South Korean banks," a key sticking point in Korean-Iranian relations.


February 3

Health: Iran would begin receiving 4.2 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in February, the health ministry said. The doses were secured through the World Heath Organization's COVAX scheme, in which Iran was participating.

Legal: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) agreed to hear Iran's claims arguing that U.S. sanctions imposed in 2018 had violated international law. Iranian lawyers has argued that the U.S. sanctions violated the 1955 Treaty of Amity between Tehran and Washington. The Biden administration said that it opposed the ICJ ruling. “In the next days of this case we’ll explain why Iran’s claim has no merits,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.