Insider news & Analysis in Iran

Since it struck on Sunday night, there have been numerous reports on the 7.3 magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border, which indicate that it is the deadliest earthquake this year. As of Monday evening, official figures from inside Iran indicated that 413 deaths had been confirmed, while more than 7,000 people had been injured. Furthermore, some relief agencies were indicating that an additional 70,000 people had been displaced and were in need of shelter.

On Monday it was widely reported that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had launched their farthest-reaching missile strike against targets in Saudi Arabia. According to Al Jazeera, Houthi officials quickly took credit for the missile launch, identifying the weapon as a Burqan 2H ballistic missile, which has a range of over 500 miles. The Saudis launched a SCUD missile to intercept, but the Houthi weapon was not destroyed until it was over King Khaled International Airport outside the capital city of Riyadh.

Last week it was reported that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had finally spoken out on the case of imprisoned Iranian-British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe but had also made several questionable comments within his public statement. The entire British government had been sharply criticized by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s advocates for its refusal to make a public appeal for the British national’s release from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. But upon finally bowing to this public pressure, Johnson made the mistake of mischaracterizing Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employment at the time of her arrest last year.

It has been something of a rollercoaster week for Iranian rhetoric aimed at the United States. Iran News Update previously reported that Sunday had marked something of an outpouring of such rhetoric, with the president reiterating that Iran would accept no restrictions on its missile program while the head of the nation’s nuclear energy agency boasted that it would be possible to obtain enough material for a nuclear weapon in just four days if the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was canceled.

On Wednesday, the UK’s Independent newspaper reported that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had finally made a public statement on the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Iranian-British charity worker who was taken into custody by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in April of last year. Johnson and other British government officials had come under fire in recent months for their failure to publicly call for the political prisoner’s release, even as the UK continued to pursue new economic relations with Iran in the atmosphere created by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

One day after Iran News Update reported upon a general outpouring of anti-US rhetoric from officials in the Iranian regime, reports emerged to suggest that the Islamic Republic had finally blinked in the midst of what had been widely described as an escalating war of words between it and the White House.

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