News Digest: Week of November 29

November 29

Nuclear: The world’s six major powers and Iran opened the seventh round of talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. Enrique Mora, the E.U. coordinator for negotiations, said that Iran agreed to build on the previous rounds. But Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s lead negotiator, said that all issues were still open for negotiations.

Nuclear: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged world powers to “not give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail” in talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. He alleged that Tehran seeks “to end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing.” 

Technology: The Iran Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association, under the supervision of multiple state agencies, began operations. Board member Mohammad Reza Sharafi said that the group aims to reduce barriers for domestic cryptocurrency businesses.


November 30

United States: The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced the bipartisan Stop Iranian Drones Act, which would specify that sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) should include “the supply, sale or transfer to or from Iran of unmanned combat aerial vehicles.”  

Nuclear: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had begun to enrich uranium to 20 percent using advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Fordo, an underground facility near Qom. The 2015 nuclear deal banned uranium enrichment at the site until 2031.

Economy: Iran’s government introduced a budget proposal that assumes U.S. sanctions will remain in place during the upcoming fiscal year, which starts in March 2022.  

Regional: Anwar Gargash, an advisor to the Emirati president and a former minister of state for foreign affairs from 2008 to 2021, told reporters that an Emirati delegation would visit Iran in the near term - and “the sooner the better.” Gargash said, “There is a recognition by the Iranians that they need to rebuild bridges with the Gulf. We are picking that up positively.” 


December 1

Cyber: Check Point Research, Israeli-American cybersecurity company, reported hackers likely based in Iran were stealing billions of dollars from Iranian civilians. The hackers impersonated Iranian government agencies and sent text messages that prompted victims to download malicious applications. The average victim reportedly lost between $1,000 and $2,000.

Afghanistan: Tasnim News Agency reported a clash between Iranian forces and Taliban fighters over a “border misunderstanding.” Tasnim alleged that the Taliban were the first to open fire near Afghanistan’s Nimroz province.

Oil: Oil Minister Javad Owji told Parliament that oil exports had “impressive growth” compared to the prior year and despite U.S. sanctions. He did not elaborate.