News Digest: Week of May 31

May 31

Health: Iran's Food and Drug Administration said that it would issue authorization for two domestically produced vaccines "over the next few days." The vaccines - Soberana-02 (jointly developed by Iran and Cuba) and CovIran Barekat - have yet to complete clinical trials. But both met "acceptable" safety and efficacy standards, agency spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said. "We cannot announce the exact efficacy rate before trials conclude but both figures are somewhere between 80 to 90 percent," he said.

Nuclear: The IAEA said that Iran had failed to provide a "necessary explanation" for the presence of uranium particles at three undeclared sites previously inspected by the agency. "The lack of progress in clarifying the Agency's questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report to member states. The IAEA estimated that Iran had 3,241 kilograms of enriched uranium, an increase of 273 kg since the last quarterly report. The estimate was the smallest increase in Iran's nuclear stockpile since August 2019.  

Oil: Iran could produce 6.5 million barrels per day if U.S. sanctions were lifted, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said. "Increasing Iran's oil production capacity increases Iran's security and political power," he said. "Oil is not just economic power."


June 1

Maritime: Iran's largest warship caught fire and sunk while in the Gulf of Oman. The fire onboard the Kharg started at 2:25 a.m. The cause was most likely the main or secondary boiler, according to Farzin Nadhimi of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in the The 400-man crew was rescued, but efforts to save the vessel were "unsuccessful," Fars News Agency reported. The Kharg, used by Iran for refueling and helicopter launches, was originally built in Britain in 1977 before entering service in the Iranian navy in 1984. 

Military: An Iranian F-5 fighter jet malfunctioned before takeoff, killing two pilots. The cause of the malfunction was unknown. 



June 2

Diplomacy: The fifth round of talks in Vienna designed to get Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal ended. The parties would reconvene on June 10. Differences between the parties were "not insolvable," according to Iran's deputy foreign minister. Enrique Mora, the E.U. coordinator for the talks, said that he was "sure" there would be a deal in the next round of talks. 

Maritime: Two Iranian navy ships - a frigate and a converted oil tanker - were expected to round the Cape of Good Hope. Biden administration officials believed that the vessels were headed to Venezuela, Politico reported. The Makran, the converted tanker, was carrying seven high-speed missile-attack craft after it left port, USNI reported on June 1. 

Oil: A fire broke out at an oil refinery south of Tehran and sent black smoke over the capital city, the Associated Press reported. The immediate cause of the fire was unknown. 


June 3

Diplomacy: Iran lost its voting rights in the U.N. General Assembly because it was behind on paying dues to the world body. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Iran needed to pay more than $16 million to restore its voting rights. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration for Iran's arrears. "This decision is fundamentally flawed, entirely unacceptable and complete unjustified," Zarif wrote in a letter to Guterres. 

Some of the information in this article was originally published on June 2, 2021.