News Digest: Week of June 13

June 13

Defense: Two men involved in Iran’s aerospace industry were “martyred” in separate incidents while on duty, according to local media. Ali Kamani, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, was killed in a “driving accident.” He was stationed in Khomein in central Markazi province. And Mohammad Abdous, who worked for the defense ministry, died in northern Semnan province. No details about his death were reported.  

Israel: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that Iranian agents were plotting to kidnap or murder Israeli citizens in Istanbul, a popular vacation destination. “We are calling on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul – and if you don’t have a vital reason, don’t fly to Turkey. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” he said in a televised statement. “I want, from here, to relay a message to the Iranians as well. Whoever harms Israelis will not get away with it. Israel’s long arm will get them, no matter where they are.” Lapid also said that Israeli security forces, in cooperation with Turkish authorities, had saved lives in “recent weeks.”

Diplomacy: In Tehran, the Iranian and Iraqi tourism ministers signed an agreement to increase tourist visits in each other’s countries. Both countries are home to numerous sites holy to Iranian and Iraqi Shiites.

Industry: An explosion occurred at a chemical factory in the southern city of Firouzabad in Fars province after the factory suffered an ammonium leak. Most of the 133 people who were injured were factory workers, according to Vahid Hosseini, head of the provincial health department. 

 

June 14

Diplomacy: Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedow arrived in Tehran for a two-day visit at the invitation of President Ebrahim Raisi. The trip commemorated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Turkmenistan, which share a 700-mile border.  

 

June 15

Diplomacy: President Raisi and his Turkmen counterpart President Berdimuhamedow observed the signing of nine agreements to expand bilateral cooperation on economic, trade, cultural, environmental, scientific, and transportation issues.

Defense: Satellite images from Maxar Technologies indicated that Iran was preparing to launch a rocket at Imam Khomeini Space Center.

Domestic: Six magnitude 4 and one magnitude 5.3 earthquakes occurred off the coast of Iran’s southern Kish Island, near the Strait of Hormuz. No damage or casualties were reported. 

Security: Authorities arrested an individual who worked for Tehran municipality in connection with a cyberattack on the municipality’s website.

 

June 16

Economy: The central bank allowed private, licensed foreign currency exchange offices to resume buying and selling to individuals for the first time since 2018. The offices had been limited to doing business with government-approved importers and exporters.

Energy: Iranian authorities seized a vessel smuggling 90,000 liters of fuel near Kish Island and arrested six crew members, including the captain. 

Domestic: Thousands of teachers across Iran protested deteriorating economic conditions and the arrest of teachers and activists. In chants, the protestors said that they "preferred death over humiliation." Protests occurred Tehran and other major cities including Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Rasht, Sari, and Sanandaj. “Public service employees, laborers, teachers and retirees have all lost the power to battle the untamed inflation, with their purchasing power waning on a daily basis,” the teachers said in an open statement to the government.

 

June 17

Economy: The United States sanctioned a network smuggling Iranian petrochemical products, a class of chemicals derived from oil and natural gas essential to manufacturing paints, plastics, solar panels, medicine and mobile phones that facilitate modern life. The goods were exported to China and other countries in East Asia. The Treasury Department named two men and nine companies operating in Iran, China, and the United Arab Emirates. The move marked a tightening of U.S. sanctions on both Iran and third parties that deal in Iranian goods.

Iran said that the new sanctions would have little impact. “Our petrochemical industry and its products have long been under sanctions, but our sales have continued through various channels and shall continue to do so,” Mehdi Safari, the deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy, told state television.

United States: The Twitter account of Zainab Soleimani – the daughter of General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2020 – threated former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo “whines about Iran on Saudi TV. Home of 9/11 plotters," the account tweeted. “Live in fear liar.” A graphic with Pompeo in a bird cage was included with the tweet. Another Twitter account, linked to the Iranian government, repeated the message in Arabic two days later.

 

Updated