News Digest: Week of October 24

October 24

International: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that Russia had ordered 2,000 suicide drones from Iran. “The disgusting sound of Iranian drones is heard in our skies every night,” he said. “Iranian instructors came to teach Russians how to use drones.”

 

Nuclear: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told his Omani counterpart, Badr Albusaidi, that Iran was still keen on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. He thanked the sultanate, which has historically acted as an interlocutor between Tehran and Washington, for supporting diplomacy.  “We consider the continuation of efforts to reach an agreement important and fruitful,” Albusaidi said.

International: President Ebrahim Raisi congratulated Xi Jinping on securing a third term as China’s president. He said that the strategic partnership between Iran and China “helps to protect international peace and stability.”

International: A 41-year-old Spanish man, Santiago Sánchez, was reported missing in Iran. His family had last heard from him on October 2, one day after he crossed the border with Iraq. Sánchez had spent the previous nine months hiking through 15 countries. He planned to attend the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.   

Security: Iran’s judiciary claimed that security forces had detained 10 people in West Azerbaijan province for allegedly spying for Israel and attempting to assassinate Iranian security and intelligence forces.

Sports: One of Ukraine’s most popular soccer teams, Shahkhtar Donetsk, called on FIFA to replace Iran with Ukraine at the World Cup. “This will be a fair decision that should draw the attention of the whole world to a regime that kills its best people and helps kill Ukrainians,” Sergei Palkin, the team’s CEO, said.

 

October 25

Security: Judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi claimed that Iran had obtained “strategic information” from two French citizens detained in May for alleged espionage and “collusion to act against national security.”

Cyber: Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali, chief of the Civil Defense Organization, said that Iran was facing a growing number of cyberattacks. He claimed that Iran had foiled 120 cyberattacks in the previous 20 days alone.

Nuclear: President Raisi blamed the United States for the deadlock in nuclear negotiations. “Today, it is the Americans who have to make a decision, but they are delaying and dragging their feet,” he told reporters. “The Islamic Republic wants to obtain the lifting of the sanctions, but at the same time it also has the neutralization of the sanctions on its agenda.”

 

October 26

Domestic: Thousands of protesters gathered at the cemetery in the western city of Saqqez, where Mahsa Amini was buried, to mark 40 days since her death in custody. Security forces reportedly opened fire on demonstrators. Protesters also gathered in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad.  

 

Security: At least 15 people, including two children, were reportedly killed in an attack on Shahcheragh Shrine in Shiraz. State media said that two suspects were detained and that security forces were searching for a third person. The Islamic State, a Sunni jihadist group, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Shiite holy site. It claimed that two fighters killed 20 people. Officials blamed the attack on insecurity due to the protests. 

“The intention of the enemy is to disrupt the country’s progress, and then these riots pave the ground for terrorist acts,” President Raisi said a day later.

International: Iran sanctioned at eight European entities and 12 people – including media outlets, politicians, news editors – in response to the European Union’s imposition of sanctions on October 17 over Iran’s crackdown on protestors.

International: A New Zealand couple left Iran after spending nearly four months in detention, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced. Christopher “Topher” Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray were vloggers attempting to traverse 90 countries in a Jeep. “I’m delighted they’re safe,” Ardern said.  

 

Updated