Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Tuesday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) published a statement by Hossein Abedini, a member of its Foreign Affairs Committee, regarding that day’s celebrations of the ancient Iranian fire festival of Chaharshanbe Suri. The statement declared that Iranian authorities “anxiously expect new anti-regime protests in the coming New Year,” starting with gatherings on Chaharshanbe Suri, which precedes Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, by one week.

It was widely reported on Wednesday that Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aerospace division, had boasted of the ongoing expansion in the size and capability of Iran’s ballistic missile program. Reuters quoted the IRGC senior commander as saying, “Our production has increased three-fold compared to the past.” He was not specific about the time period for this increase, by a number of Iranian officials have insisted in recent months that the Islamic Republic will continue to pursue missile development at full scale and will not agree to any negotiations over its military capabilities.

On Monday, Reuters reported upon the visit to Tehran by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and pointed out that the European officials was facing a “delicate mission” to safeguard the 2015 nuclear agreement against threats from the White House while also conveying shared concerns over the Iranian ballistic missile program and related activities. The report quoted one source as saying the French government is not interested in serving the interests of either side in the ongoing and escalating war of words between Washington and Tehran.

While visiting Iran on Thursday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino took the opportunity to comment on the escalating war of words between the Islamic Republic and its Saudi Arabian adversaries, and specifically on the impact that that diplomatic strife has had on the sporting world. As Agence France Presse reported, Infantino called attention to the fact that Saudi soccer clubs have been refusing to compete in Iran since January 2016, coinciding with the suspension of diplomatic relations between the two countries following attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad.

On Wednesday, the UN Dispatch pointed to the previous day’s speech to the UN Human Rights Council by Iranian Justice Minister Alireza Avaei, in order to highlight the “contentious” relationship between that body and the Islamic Republic. Avaei’s speech had been a source of controversy since the list of speakers at the newly opened session of the HRC was publicized last week. The council noted that the Iranian official was not directly invited and that any UN member state may address a session’s opening and choose its own representative. Nonetheless, human rights activists and opponents of Iran’s clerical regime urged world powers and the HRC to condemn Avaei and cancel his speech.

It was widely reported on Tuesday that Russia had vetoed the resolution brought before the United Nations Security Council that day regarding Iran’s apparent provision of ballistic missiles and other weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

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