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News Digest: Week of May 18

May 18, 2020
May 18 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health recorded 122,492 cases, including 7,057 deaths from COVID-19. It was the largest increase in new daily cases since April 5. But government spokesman Ali Rabiei reported that 280 cities and towns had been declared low-risk white zones. He said that Khuzestan…

U.S. Issues Global Maritime Advisory

May 14, 2020
On May 14, the United States alerted the maritime industry to the deceptive shipping practices used by Iran, North Korea and Syria to evade sanctions. The joint advisory, issued by the State Department, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, also provided “best practices” for shippers…

Pompeo in Israel on Iran

May 13, 2020
On May 13, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Iran would “foment terror” while the rest of the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Pompeo blasted the Islamic Republic during a visit to Jerusalem, his first trip abroad since he visited Afghanistan in March. “Even during this pandemic…

News Digest: Week of May 11

May 13, 2020
Updated: May 15, 2020
May 11 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 109,286 cases of COVID-19, including 6,685 deaths. Police had shut down 1,300 websites and arrested 320 people for spreading rumors about the coronavirus, according to state news agency IRNA. Health/Aviation: IranAir, the country's flagship…

Part 2: Iran's Wish List of Weapons

May 12, 2020
Updated: October 21, 2020
The U.N. ban on conventional arms sales to Iran expired on October 18, 2020. It opened the way for Iran to import weapons – including battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems and spare parts –…

Part 1: History of Arms Embargos on Iran

May 11, 2020
Updated: October 21, 2020
The international community has long been concerned about Iran’s military arsenal. Since the 1979 revolution, the United States and the United Nations have imposed several embargoes on Tehran’s purchase of conventional weapons. The last U.N. embargo on Iran’s purchase of conventional weapons was…

Iranian Warship Struck by Friendly Fire

May 11, 2020
Updated: May 15, 2020
On May 11, an Iranian warship mistakenly fired a missile at another Iranian naval vessel, killing at least 19 sailors and wounding 15 others. The accident took place during a military training exercise near the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman.  The Jamaran, one of Iran’s most advanced…

Pompeo, Zarif on Two Years After JCPOA Pullout

May 11, 2020
Two years after the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marked the anniversary by comparing the Islamic Republic to Nazi Germany and calling on the international community “stop the world’s leading state sponsor of anti-Semitism.” In a statement, Pompeo said…

Iran Revamps and Renames Currency

May 7, 2020
On May 4, Iran’s parliament approved plans to replace the rial, the national currency, by shaving four zeros off the end and renaming the primary bill the toman. Each toman will be worth 10,000 rials. The currency changes include creation of the parseh as a smaller currency. One toman will be worth…

COVID-19 by the Numbers: U.S. versus Iran

May 6, 2020
Updated: October 21, 2020
The United States and Iran have both been epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic. The United States reported its first confirmed case, in Washington state, on January 21. Iran’s first cases, both deaths, were reported on February 19. The U.S. population is 331 million, roughly four times larger…

Iran Showcases Medical Gear at Army Day Parade

May 5, 2020
On April 17, Iran celebrated National Army Day in a parade showcasing medical equipment used in the fight against COVID-19 instead of the tanks, missiles and warplanes usually put on display. The parade—dubbed “Defenders of the Homeland, Helpers of Health”—featured troops dressed in hazmat gear,…

Iran Opens First Drive-In Theater Since Revolution

May 5, 2020
Updated: May 19, 2020
On May 1, Iran opened a drive-in movie theater for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The pop-up cinema was set up in the parking lot of Tehran’s iconic Milad Tower. Tickets were sold online for 40,000 tomans each, equivalent to about $10. Only two people were allowed in each car,…

U.S. Sanctions Businessman for Arms Smuggling

May 4, 2020
On May 1, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Amir Dianat, a dual Iranian-Iraqi national, for supporting Iranian arms smuggling operations. Dianat’s company, Taif Mining Services LLC, was also blacklisted as a front company for the Qods Force, the elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (…

News Digest: Week of May 4

May 4, 2020
Updated: May 7, 2020
May 4 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 98,647 cases, including 6,277 deaths from COVID-19. Iran reopened mosques in 132 cites and towns deemed “white” zones, which signaled that they had consistently been free of new COVID-19 cases. Worshippers were required to wear masks and gloves and…

COVID-19 Spreads from Iran to the Gulf

April 29, 2020
The first cases of COVID-19 in five Arab sheikhdoms — Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia—were all traced to travelers from or transiting through Iran, an early epicenter of the pandemic. The United Arab Emirates traced its first case to China. By April 30, the Gulf states reported more…

The COVID-19 Blow to Iran’s Economy

April 29, 2020
Updated: May 18, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has created new challenges and exacerbated old ones for Iran’s economy. The outbreak of COVID-19, first announced on February 19, forced businesses nationwide to close just before Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on March 20. Trade slowed due to border closures. By mid-April,…

U.S. Condemns Iran’s Satellite Launch

April 27, 2020
On April 22, the IRGC announced that it had launched the country's first military satellite into orbit from the Dasht-e Kavir desert in central Iran. The "Noor" satellite was launched using a "three-stage Qased satellite launcher" and "a combination of solid and liquid fuels,” according to state…

News Digest: Week of April 27

April 27, 2020
Updated: May 1, 2020
April 27 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 91,472 cases and 5,806 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry Spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said that 70,933 patients had recovered from the virus. Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health warned citizens against ingesting toxic methanol. False rumors…

What You Need to Know about Iran’s Coronavirus Crisis

April 22, 2020
Iran’s outbreak has been the worst in the Middle East by far and there are concerns that the pandemic’s spread is significantly worse than reported by Iranian authorities. The virus hit at a particularly bad time for Iran with the economy already suffering from the impact of U.S. sanctions. USIP’s…

Iran’s Oil Price Plummets

April 22, 2020
Already hard hit by U.S. sanctions, Iran faced a stunning decline in the price of oil – a major source of revenue – as an unexpected byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic. By April 1, the price of Iran’s heavy crude fell to below $14 per barrel — down from $44 or more per barrel in February. The…

Iran’s COVID-19 Impacts Iraq, Syria, Lebanon

April 22, 2020
Iran’s failure to contain the COVID-19 outbreak at home contributed to spread of the virus in the Arab world. Three countries with close ties to Tehran—Iraq, Syria and Lebanon—were hit hard by the pandemic. The governments of Lebanon and Iraq traced their first known cases of coronavirus directly…

Zarif Visits Syria amid Virus Outbreak

April 21, 2020
On April 20, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Damascus. The high-level meeting was Zarif’s first trip abroad in nearly two months and his first to Syria since April 2019. " Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif with…

News Digest: Week of April 20

April 20, 2020
April 20 Health: Iran recorded 83,505 cases and 5,209 deaths from the COVID-19 virus. Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that 353,012 Iranians had been tested for the virus. Health/Economy: Shopping malls and bazaars reopened in Tehran despite warnings from health officials . The…

Trump Threatens to Shoot Iranian Gunboats

April 16, 2020
Updated: April 23, 2020
On April 22, President Donald Trump threatened to take military action against Iran after recent tensions between U.S. and Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.  I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea…

Parliament: COVID-19 Deaths Nearly Double

April 15, 2020
Updated: April 16, 2020
On April 14, the research arm of Iran’s parliament estimated that the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic could be almost twice the official count due to underestimates and poor testing. Iran’s outbreak was already the worst in the Middle East and its death toll the…

Part 2: Iran Tries to Reopen

April 14, 2020
Updated: May 30, 2020
Iran began to slowly reopen government offices and businesses in early April following a two-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus, which was first reported in Qom on February 19. In early April, President Hassan Rouhani reported that the number of new cases and deaths had begun to decrease. “…

Iran Tries to Reopen: In Pictures

April 13, 2020
Updated: May 19, 2020
In early April, Iran began to reopen after shutting down most of the country for nearly two months after the COVID-19 virus was first reported in Qom on February 19. On April 5, President Rouhani announced that low-risk economic activities would resume in most parts of the country on April 11 and…

News Digest: Week of April 13

April 13, 2020
Updated: April 17, 2020
April 13 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 73,303 cases, including 4,585 deaths from COVID-19. “In six provinces, the trend of coronavirus infections has had an upward movement and in some provinces, including Isfahan, it has not increased or decreased significantly and has almost…

COVID-19 Spreads from Iran to Afghanistan

April 8, 2020
Updated: April 21, 2020
Afghanistan has suffered the spillover of the COVID-19 outbreak in neighboring Iran, with even fewer means of containing its spread. By April 21, Afghanistan confirmed nearly 1,000 cases of the coronavirus with thousands more suspected due to a lack of testing. In late March, the Afghan Ministry of…

Dozens of Countries Send COVID-19 Aid to Iran

April 7, 2020
Updated: April 29, 2020
In the four weeks between February 28 and March 30, more than 30 countries sent medical aid worth tens of millions of dollars to Iran to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first reported in Qom on February 19. The aid ranged from test kits and masks to respirators. China was the first…