News Digest: Week of December 12

December 12

International: Iran’s foreign ministry announced sanctions on 13 British individuals and entities as well as 10 E.U. individuals and five entities for allegedly interfering in Iran's domestic affairs. The designated individuals included spy chiefs, defense officials and politicians. Iran also named Radio Farda, Zamane Radio and Charlie Hebdo Magazine. They were banned from entering the country and subject to asset freezes if they owned property in Iran. The move came in anticipation of fresh E.U. sanctions on Iran for the government crackdown on protests. 

International: The European Union sanctioned 20 Iranian individuals, mostly security officials, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting for human rights abuses amid the crackdown on protests. It also sanctioned four individuals and entities for involvement in providing drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.    

International: Britain sanctioned four Iranian businessmen and officials involved in producing or supplying drones to Russia for use against Ukraine. It also sanctioned 12 Russian military commanders.  

Diplomacy: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned China’s ambassador to express “strong dissatisfaction” with a joint statement issued by China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The statement, released after Xi Jinping met with GCC leaders on December 9, called for a diplomatic solution to a territorial dispute over three islands claimed by Iran and the United Arab Emirates. The islands are “inseparable parts of Iran’s pure soil” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted.  


December 13

International: Iran dismissed Ukrainian claims over deliveries of Iranian drones to Russia as “baseless.” In November, Iranian and Ukrainian officials met to discuss the allegations, but “the Ukrainian side did not present any evidence suggesting Russia's use of Iranian drones in its war on that country,” said Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, Iran’s defense minister. 


December 14

International: Russia launched 13 Iranian-made suicide drones at Kyiv and the surrounding region. Ukrainian forces shot down all of the Shahed drones, but debris damaged two government buildings and at least four houses. No casualties were reported.  

Human Rights: Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne announced that Iran had sentenced Olivier Vandecasteele, a Belgian aid-worker, to 28 years in prison for what he described as a “fabricated ​​series of crimes.” Van Quickenborne alleged that Vandecasteele was sentenced in retribution for Belgium’s 2021 sentencing of an Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, to 20 years in prison. Assadi was involved in a failed plot to bomb the rally of a France-based dissent Iranian group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.  

Diplomacy: Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced that he would summon the Iranian ambassador to condemn the government’s crackdown protestors. 

Diplomacy: Iran and Russia signed an agreement to cooperate in the space industry, including on the construction and launching of satellites. The move followed a joint launch of an Iranian satellite in August 2022. 


Some of the information in this article was originally published on December 12, 2022.