Aug. 20 – Iran’s outgoing foreign minister Javad Zarif said Iran was ready to continue its peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan, following the country’s fall on Aug.15 to the Taliban.

The Shia Muslim regime in Iran currently has loose ties with the Sunni Muslim group. Experts are divided on whether the Iranian government would welcome Taliban rule in a neighboring country.

Some analysts said Iran had played a key role in the conflict in Afghanistan and shared a mutual hatred of the United States with the group which made them natural allies. Other experts said Tehran feared the instability the organization might create, and that their different Islamic ideologies could lead to tension and conflict in the region.

Tehran accelerated its uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade this week, prompting concerns from states signed up to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The agreement, which has yet to be revived, sets restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme which Tehran has continued to breach over several months.

A statement issued on Aug. 19 by Britain, France and Germany, collectively known as the E3, said, “Iran must halt all activities in violation of the JCPOA without delay. We urge Iran to return to the negotiations in Vienna as soon as possible with a view to bringing them to a swift, successful conclusion.”

And Human Rights Watch blamed the Iranian government for the Covid crisis in Iran, following the regime’s prohibition on UK and US-produced vaccines, which the rights watchdog said had exasperated the pandemic in Iran. Iran is currently experiencing its fifth Covid wave, and has ordered a six-day lockdown to try to contain the virus.

Several Iranian political campaigners and former lawmakers blamed the crisis on Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a statement issued on Aug. 18. The statement said thousands of Iranians had died because the government had failed to manage the crisis, banned vaccines and allowed corruption to thrive.

The statement also called for independent and impartial trials for officials and others accused of being responsible for the avoidable deaths of many Iranians in the country.

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