News Digest: Week of April 25

April 25

Nuclear: Iran called for a face-to-face meeting “as soon as possible” to finalize an agreement on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “It is not yet decided where and when to have this meeting and at what level it should be held, but it is on the agenda,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said. Negotiators from the world’s six major powers and Iran left Vienna in March and have yet to reconvene.

Nuclear: Former lawmaker Ali Motahari said that, from the beginning, the goal of Iran’s nuclear program was to build a bomb. “But we could not maintain the secrecy of this issue, and the secret reports were revealed by a group of hypocrites,” he said in an interview with the Iran Student Correspondents Association.

Diplomacy: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed that Iran and Saudi Arabia held their fifth round of talks in Baghdad on April 21. “The talks were progressive and positive,” he said. On the same day, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said that the two countries agreed on a 10-point memorandum of understanding. He did not provide specifics but said that officials “discussed the continuation of the ceasefire in Yemen” and that they agreed to hold another round of talks at the “diplomatic level.”  


Human Rights: Amirhossein Moradi and Ali Younesi were sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for “corruption on earth” and “collusion and propaganda against the regime.” The two men were students at Sharif University of Technology when they were detained in April 2020. Human rights groups had reported that they were arbitrarily held for some two years without trial and abused while in Evin prison in Tehran. 


April 26

Diplomacy: During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Senator Todd Young (R-IN) asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to commit to not removing the Revolutionary Guards from the State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) as part of an agreement on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “The only way I could see it being lifted is if Iran takes steps necessary to justify the lifting of that designation. So it knows what it would have to do in order to see that happen,” Blinken said.

Afghanistan: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Khatibzadeh confirmed that Iran’s embassy in Kabul had received Taliban diplomats. But he said that Iran still had not formally recognized the Taliban government. “The ruling body in Afghanistan will win recognition if showing responsible action.” For months, Iranian officials have urged the Taliban to form an inclusive government that includes members of Afghanistan’s diverse religious and ethnic groups.


April 27

Diplomacy: President Ebrahim Raisi called for deepening ties between Iran and China during a visit to Tehran by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. “Confronting unilateralism and creating stability and order is possible through cooperation of independent and like-minded powers,” Raisi said during a meeting. Fenghe also met with Iranian Defense Minister General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani. 

Diplomacy: A delegation of Iraqi lawmakers, including Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al Halboosi, traveled to Tehran. Al Halboosi visited, President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and other senior Iranian officials. Al Haboosi stressed Iraq's commitment to regional de-escalation and support for talks between Iran and regional rival Saudi Arabia. “We see negotiation and understanding as the solution to problems between neighbors,” he said. “Many problems require dialogue and consultation.”


April 28

Diplomacy: Iraq and Iran reached an agreement to resume the supply of Iranian gas to Iraq. Reduction in Iranian supplies caused a power loss in Iraq of 3,400 megawatts in December 2021. Under the new agreement, Baghdad will pay Tehran for previous debts. 

Energy: Iran exported an average of 870,000 barrels of oil per day in the first quarter of 2022, according to data provided by Kpler to The Wall Street Journal. The output was 30 percent higher than the 2021 yearly average of 668,000 barrels per day. China, Iran's largest oil buyer, cut purchases of Russian oil by 14 percent in March 2022. 

Drones: The “Stop Iranian Drones Act” passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 424 to 2. The bill, if approved by the Senate and signed by the President, would expand the government’s authority to sanctions individuals and entities who help Iran acquire or develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “Time and again, Iran has used UAVs to threaten global stability and US interests,” co-sponsor Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweeted about the bill. “Congress countered this destabilizing behavior and passed the Stop Iranian Drones Act.”