News Digest: Week of November 1

Saeed Khatibzadeh
Saeed Khatibzadeh

November 1

Health: Iranian state television said that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Adbollahian had tested positive for COVID-19. But his general condition was “good,” and he continued to work while in quarantine, according to the foreign ministry.

Diplomacy: Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh called South Korea’s donation of 2,000 masks to Atieh Hospital a “joke.” Iranian officials had been pressing Seoul to release billions of dollars reportedly held by two South Korean banks. But South Korea was hesitant to unfreeze the assets due to U.S. sanctions. “No nation will tolerate another nation [stealing] from it,” Khatibzadeh added.

Maritime: Iran’s navy reportedly thwarted an attack by pirates near the Bab al Mandeb strait near the Horn of Africa. The Iranian “tanker was approached by four boats carrying armed men,” but the assailants dispersed after warning shots were fired by an escort ship, according to a state-television report.


November 2

Nuclear: Monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities was becoming increasingly difficult, warned Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “I would say we are flying in a heavily clouded sky,” he said. “We can continue in this way, but not for too long,” he added. Iran curtailed the watchdog’s access starting in February 2021.

Nuclear: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian criticized the imposition of U.S. sanctions on the Iran’s drone program as contradictory to the Biden administration’s “claims to be ready to return to the JCPOA” (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the 2015 nuclear deal). On October 29, the United States sanctioned four men and two companies for supporting Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programs run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its external operations arms, the Qods Force.


November 3

Ali Shamkhani
Ali Shamkhani

Nuclear: Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, warned that negotiations on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal would fail unless President Joe Biden can guarantee that the United States won’t withdraw from the agreement again. “The U.S. President, lacking authority, is not ready to give guarantees. If the current status quo continues, the result of negotiations is clear,” he tweeted.

Maritime: The IRGC claimed that it had thwarted an attempt by the U.S. Navy to detain a tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman. But U.S. officials denied the report and said that Iran actually seized a Vietnamese-flagged tanker on October 24.

Human rights: The hacker group Edalat-e Ali leaked confidential documents that detail the poor conditions for inmates in Evin prison, including punishments for prisoners attempting hunger strikes.