Insider news & Analysis in Iran

In recent days, Iranian policymakers have seemed to put forward multiple different strategies, expressed in widely varying tones, as part of the effort to safeguard the integrity of the country’s missile program. Although the United Nations Security Council resolution governing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal call upon the Islamic Republic to avoid work on ballistic missiles or other weapons that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, at least a dozen such missiles have been tested since nuclear negotiations were concluded. The actual tests have been carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, but those activities have also been vigorously defended by representatives of both factions of Iranian politics.

A report published on Monday by UPI indicated that an agreement among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and some non-OPEC oil exporters was likely to be extended for an additional year after having partial success in reducing global oil output as part of a bid to control prices that had sharply declined in 2015. The agreement identified 50 dollars per barrel as the minimum allowable price, and the UPI report notes that Monday’s price for the standard Brent crude oil was 62 dollars per barrel. This is, however, still considerably less than 2010-2014 prices.

In October, Iraqi forces supported by local Iranian proxies and operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force stormed the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding area in order to retake it from Iraqi Kurds, who had driven Islamic State militants out of the region during the multilateral conflict against the self-proclaimed Sunni caliphate.

For months, reports in the international media have been highlighting the growth in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. These tensions have been amplified by their competing interests in a number of other countries of the region, including Yemen and Syria, both of which have been severely damaged by civil wars. Both Saudi and Iranian officials have been making efforts to respond to that reporting in a way that ascribes to the other side the greater share of blame for the discord.

On Tuesday, CNN published a profile of Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of a dual national who has been imprisoned in Iran for the past 19 months on fabricated charges of spying. The article suggested that Ratcliffe’s campaign for his wife’s freedom may have hit a milestone in recent days, following the international attention that has emerged from a clumsily worded statement by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, which was also the first public statement the British government had made about the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

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.

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