News Digest: Week of July 31

July 31

International: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said that Iran would “never hold talks with the U.S. on the basis of trust” and would only enter negotiations “to fulfill the country’s national interests.” At a press conference, Kanaani added, “we are making efforts to have the cruel sanctions lifted and make all parties, including the US, return to the JCPOA responsibly.”

Diplomatic: Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi met with his Iraqi counterpart at a border crossing between the two countries. The two discussed border security in the region and preparations for Iranians making the pilgrimage to Iraq for the upcoming Arba’een holiday, which marks the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. 

Economic: Kepler Analytics reported that Iran’s oil exports to China had tripled since 2020. The tanker-tracking service specified that in 2020, Iran’s oil sales to China slumped to 324,000 barrels per day but rebounded in the following years, reaching a record 1.3 million bpd in November 2022.

International: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that Israel would build a security barrier along its border with Jordan. Gallant cited an “increase in Iranian involvement in attempted arms transfers and intelligence gathering in the West Bank,’ via the border. He added that “Iran and terrorist organizations identify Judea and Samaria as the soft underbelly and direct many resources there with the aim of directing attacks.”


August 1 

Diplomatic: Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani met with his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Gennadievich Khrenin in Tehran to discuss the war in Ukraine and sign a memorandum of understanding on defense. Neither ministry provided further details, but the memorandum reportedly included cooperation on Iranian Shahed drones, per state media. Ashtiani commented that “Belarus holds a special place in Iran’s foreign policy,” at the conclusion of the meeting.

Domestic: Iran announced a two-day holiday due to scorching temperatures. It shut down government organizations and schools.


August 2 

Military: The Revolutionary Guard’s Navy unveiled new combat vessels equipped with missiles capable of traveling up to 600 km (373 miles). The IRGC Navy made the announcement during surprise military drills off the coast of Abu Musa island, territory claimed by Iran and the United Arab Emirates. IRGC Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri said that “the islands of the Persian Gulf are part of Iran's honor and we will defend them.” The armaments and exercises came as the United States deployed thousands of marines as well as combat aircraft and destroyer vessels due to rising tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Domestic: IRGC Chief Hossein Salami stated that the 2022 protests after the death of Mahsa Amini were “the strongest, most dangerous, and most serious” protests in the history of the Islamic Republic during a meeting of Basij paramilitary leaders. Salami also called the protests “the most unequal and broadest global fight against Iran's Islamic system.”  

Domestic: A large fire erupted in the industrial zone of Doroud, a city in Iran’s southern Lorestan province. The fire began at an oil refinery, but the cause was unknown.


August 3

Domestic: Iran executed 11 men on drug-related charges between July 31 and August 1, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) organization.

International: President Ebrahim Raisi formally invited his Emirati counterpart, Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, to visit Tehran in a sign of warming bilateral ties.

International: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian invited his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Salem Abdullah al Jaber al Sabah, to Tehran to settle a dispute over the offshore Durra gas field. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed a joint agreement in 2022 to exclusively develop the field, while Iran also claimed a stake and contended that the agreement was illegal. 

International: Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian called on Pakistan to complete a gas pipeline between the two countries during a visit to Islamabad. “We do believe that the completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is definitely going to serve the national interests of our two countries,” said Amir-Abdollahian. Pakistan’s construction of the project has stalled since 2014 over fears that the pipeline could infringe upon sanctions on Iran.

International: Five anonymous U.S. officials claimed that the U.S. military was considering placing armed troops on commercial ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has engaged in a series of ship seizures along the strait since 2019. The plan's goal was to deter Iran from such behavior. 

Domestic: The judiciary confirmed that Iran had shuttered Karaj’s Rajaei-Shahr Prison. The announcement did not give a reason for the closure but added that the prison’s 300 inmates would be transferred to provincial prisons. 


August 4 

Domestic: Narges Mohammadi, a prominent Iranian human rights activist, was sentenced to an additional year in prison by a Revolutionary Court. Mohammadi was sentenced to 30 months in prison in June 2021 for “propaganda against the system, prison sit-in, mutiny against prison authorities, breaking glass, and defamation.” The new charges accused her of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” and increased her total sentence to ten years and nine months in prison as well as 154 lashes.

Domestic: The judiciary reported that a wildfire caused by hot temperatures detonated landmines around the security zone of Tehran’s Evin prison. It added that the fire was “immediately brought under control” without any damage to the facilities.  

International: The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had invited domestic and foreign officials to observe debris that presented “undeniable” evidence that Iran had supplied suicide drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine. The DIA presented drone debris collected from Ukraine and Iraq to publicly refute Tehran’s claims of non-involvement in Russia’s war, according to the DIA.  


August 5  

Military: The IRGC displayed a new range of enhanced military hardware and missiles on state television for the second time in a week. IRGC chief Hossein Salami explained that “we showcase part of our increasing power in order for the enemy to be accurate in its calculations.” The second display came days after renewed sovereignty disputes with the United Arab Emirates and increasing tensions with the United States in the Persian Gulf.

Military: Iran had reportedly outfitted the IRGC Navy with drones and long-range missiles as tensions with the United States increased in the Persian Gulf. Iranian Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi commented, “What do the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean have to do with America? What is your business being here?" 

In a speech to the crew of the Navy’s 86th Flotilla the next day, Supreme Leader Khamenei derided the United States for “attacking oil tankers and helping maritime smuggling gangs in our region and other regions, which is a great violation and a violation of international and humanitarian laws."


August 6  

Domestic: The Supreme Court appointed Mohammad Jafar Montazeri as its chief judge. The United States sanctioned Montazeri in December 2022 for his role prosecuting protesters after nationwide demonstrations erupted in September.  

Domestic: Soheila Mohammadi, a Kurdish woman imprisoned in northwestern Urmia, sewed her lips shut and began a hunger strike in protest of her treatment in the prison. The woman had been arrested for her alleged membership in the armed group Kurdistan Free Life Party, an affiliate of the outlawed PKK. 




Some of the information in this article was originally published on August 4, 2023.