News Digest: Week of June 10

June 10

International: Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani reasserted Iran’s claims to three islands and a disputed oil and gas field in the Persian Gulf. "The Iranian islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb are an inseparable and eternal part of the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Kanani emphasized. "Any claim to the three islands is an interference in Iran's internal affairs and territorial integrity, and we strongly condemn it." He was responding to Gulf Cooperation Council statement backing the claim of the United Arab Emirates to the islands. 

International: The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 10 individuals, entities and vessels for transporting oil and other commodities in support of Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen. “The Houthis continue to leverage an expansive support network to facilitate their illicit activities, including hiding the origin of cargo, forging shipping documents, and providing services to sanctioned vessels,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

Nuclear: Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani dismissed the U.N. nuclear watchdog board of governors resolution censuring Iran for not cooperating with inspectors. “We will continue our cooperation with the Agency within the framework of our rights and obligations under the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and the Safeguards Agreement,” he said at the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. 


June 11

International: A U.S. court sentenced Chinese citizen Zhenyu Wang and U.S. citizen Daniel Ray Lane to 45 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release for attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran by facilitating the purchase of sanctioned oil from Iran, masking its origins, and selling the oil under masked origins to buyers in the People’s Republic of China. The illicit activity took place from July 2019 to February 2020. They were charged in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania along with three co-conspirators, two of whom have pleaded guilty. 

International: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov clarified that Russia and Iran were contiuning to a develop a new bilateral cooperation agreement. He said that schedule could Russian state media had previously reported that work on the pact was temporarily suspended, although Iran’s ambassador to Russia disputed the claim. The existing agreement has twice been extended for five years and is due to expire in 2026.  

Human Rights: Iran’s judiciary commuted the death sentence of Mohammad Khezrnejad, a Sunni cleric who was arrested in late 2022 amid widespread anti-government protests. He was charged with “spreading corruption on Earth, threatening national security, and anti-Islamic Republic propaganda” – vague charges often leveled against critics of the regime. The judiciary’s media outlet reported that Khezrnejad had “expressed remorse and commitment to good behavior” and requested amnesty. Khezrnejad has maintained his innocence and alleged that his sentencing was based on forced confessions. 


June 12

Economic: The World Bank estimated that Iran’s GDP growth would slow from five percent in 2023 to 3.2 percent, 2.7 percent, and 2.2 percent in the next three years. The organization cited reduced international oil demand, the impact of economic sanctions, and domestic energy shortages. Iran’s relatively strong economic growth in 2023 was driven by increases in oil production, although petrodollar revenues were not proportionately high due to U.S. sanctions.