The Week in Review: August.23rd – August.30th

U.S. President Donald Trump hinted at the possibility of negotiating with the Iranian government this week. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif repeated Tehran’s stance that talks with U.S. President Donald Trump would only be possible if Washington lifted sanctions on Iran. Zarif added that the U.S. would also have to return to the nuclear deal before negotiations could begin. 

The Trump administration seems to have responded to the demands by issuing another set of sanctions, this time targeting nine individuals and entities in Hong Kong and Iran suspected of furthering the Islamic Republic’s production of weapons of mass destruction. 

In a press release outlining the new sanctions entitled, “Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Supporters,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “the United States will continue to increase pressure on the Iranian regime until it changes its behavior.” 

French President Emanuel Macron extended a surprise invitation to Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to join the G-7 summit for an informal discussion. A senior French official said Macron alerted Trump to the invite. The move by the French President was viewed as a high-stakes decision given the tensions between Iran and the West, but the invitation was welcomed by the U.S delegation and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Senior American officials said they launched a secret cyber attack in June on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence infrastructure, in order to prevent Iranian officials from disrupting shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf. U.S. officials said they took down a database they believed the Iranian government was using to locate and target ships in the Persian Gulf. 

  • A pioneering lawsuit launched in the U.S. is calling the Islamic Republic to account for the death of a journalist while imprisoned in Iran. The suit, which is underpinned by U.S. terrorism legislation, is one of six cases being actioned on similar grounds.
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  • Conflicting messages from the Iranian government around talks with the U.S. continued to cause tensions. Reformist elements inside the government hoping to develop diplomatic channels experienced push-back this week from Iran’s Supreme Leader and other hard-line politicians.
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  • Large waves of migration inside Iran last year were reported. Research suggested that there was a direct correlation between the rise in domestic migration and the decline in economic conditions inside the country.
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  • Iran’s oil tanker Adrian Darya (formerly Grace 1), continued to change its location. Iranian officials said that the oil being shipped inside the tanker had been sold, and that the vessel’s journey would now be decided by the buyer.
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