Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Iran

Newsline: Iran’s U.N. ambassador rules out talks with US

Iran’s U.N. ambassador warned on June 24 that the situation in the Persian Gulf is “very dangerous” and called talks with the U.S. impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation, while the U.S. envoy said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations. Recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. drone played out in comments before and after a closed U.N. Security Council meeting called by the United States that provided sharply different views of the current situation. It took place hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian military figures with financial sanctions. (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/irans-un-ambassador-rules-out-talks-with-trump-administration-2019-06-24) Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi called the new sanctions another indication of “U.S. hostility” toward the Iranian people. He said the Trump administration should de-escalate tensions by stopping “its military adventurism” in the region, withdrawing its “naval armada” and moving away from “economic warfare against the Iranian people.” Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen outlined the U.S. case for blaming Iran for tanker attacks May 12 and June 13 and for shooting down a $100 million U.S. drone in international airspace June 20. Iran denies it attacked the tankers and says the drone was in its airspace.

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Newsline: Iran Summons Swiss, UAE Envoys Over U.S. Drone Incident

Iran has summoned the United Arab Emirates’ top envoy to Tehran to protest the neighboring Arab nation’s allowing the U.S. to use a base there to launch a drone that Iran says entered its airspace. The June 22 report by the official IRNA news agency said Iran issued a “strong protest” to the UAE diplomat, saying Iran does not tolerate the facilitation of foreign forces that violate its territory. The U.S. says its RQ-4A Global Hawk was shot down on June 20 over international waters, not inside Iranian airspace. (https://time.com/5612728/iran-uae-envoy-drone-incident/) On June 21, Iran summoned Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner to hear Iran’s protest over the alleged violation. Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran. Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since 1979. Iran says the U.S. drone was a “very dangerous provocation.”

Newsline: Iran says hunger strike making embassy work in London impossible

The hunger strike by Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian embassy in London is making work there impossible and putting pressure on diplomatic staff, Iran’s ambassador to the UK has said. Ratcliffe, the husband of the imprisoned Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, began the protest last weekend and has been visited by a growing number of family members, supporters and politicians, including SNP MPs and Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson. Tired but in good spirits and surrounded by flowers and signs, Ratcliffe said on June 20 he would continue at least until the weekend, when he would speak to his wife about the steps she wished him to take next. He said it had been the decision of the Iranians to erect two large corrugated iron barriers in front of the entrance to the embassy opposite Hyde Park. The ambassador, Hamid Baeidinejad, said they were designed to shield staff from being filmed. (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/20/richard-ratcliffe-hunger-strike-making-embassy-work-impossible-iran) In an apparent reprisal for the protest, some of the diplomatic protection provided for the British embassy in Tehran has been removed. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year sentence for espionage and is on hunger strike in Tehran in protest at her conditions. Baeidinejad, at a briefing called in part to discuss the growing crisis in the Gulf, said of Ratcliffe: “He is now blocking the entrance of our embassy and the peace of mind of our staff is in complete despair.” He said the door of the embassy was blocked because of the action. “There are media cameras 18-19 hours a day focusing on the entrance of the embassy, so any person going in and leaving is filmed which is totally unacceptable,” he said, adding that all meetings were being cancelled as a result. Baeidinejad said he had raised with the Foreign Office his concern that Ratcliffe’s activities were in breach of article 22 of the Vienna convention, which protects the ordinary daily activities of the embassy.

Newsline: Iran protests to UK ambassador

Iran has protested to Britain’s ambassador in Tehran after being accused of involvement in attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has denied involvement, but Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Iran was “almost certainly” responsible. UK ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire said he asked for an “urgent meeting” with the Iranian Foreign Ministry. (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48652290) Meanwhile, as tension grows in the region, a British-Iranian jailed in Tehran has begun a new hunger strike. Mother-of-one Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of spying – which she denies. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, is joining her in refusing food and has set up a tent outside the Iranian embassy, where he plans to stay while his wife is on hunger strike, to protest against her “unfair imprisonment” and demand her unconditional release.

Newsline: Iran’s London Ambassador Complains Protestor Blocks Embassy Doorway

Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, says the husband of a dual national, British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran has blocked the doorway to the embassy. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard, spent June 15 night in a tent near the embassy in Kensigton, London in solidarity with her wife who went on hunger strike on the same day at Evin Prison in Tehran. (https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-s-london-ambassador-complains-protestor-blocks-embassy-doorway/30002328.html) Nazanin has been in jail in Tehran since April 2016 when Iranian security agents prevented her and her daughter from flying back to London at the end of a visit to Iran. On June 15, a small group of human rights activists celebrated Ratcliffes’ daughters’ fifth birthday in front of the embassy. The emotional scene aired on many TV networks across the globe must have embarrassed the ambassador whose doorway is clear in all the footages aired. Television news on June 16 morning showed Mr. Ratcliffe, sitting next to a green tent with another man in a safe distance from the doorway, and the embassy did not seem to be busy.

Newsline: Iran briefly detains 2 European diplomats

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency is reporting that police in the capital, Tehran, briefly detained two European diplomats at a mixed-gender party, which are illegal under Iranian law. June 1 report said a British and a Dutch diplomat were released after being identified as foreign government workers in the early hours of May 31 morning. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/iran-briefly-detains-2-european-diplomats-at-coed-party) The report said the party was attended by several men and women, but did not elaborate or specify if alcohol was present. In Iran, it is illegal to drink alcohol or hold mixed parties of Muslim men and women who are not related. Both activities are permitted for the country’s small Christian minority.

Newsline: Senior German diplomat in Tehran for nuclear deal talks

A senior German diplomat headed May 23 to Tehran to press Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear deal, despite the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. and increasing pressure from Washington. (http://www.startribune.com/senior-german-diplomat-in-tehran-for-nuclear-deal-talks/510315082/) Tensions have soared in the Mideast recently as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran. In Berlin, the Foreign Ministry said Political Director Jens Ploetner was to hold talks with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Thursday to try salvage the nuclear deal signed in 2015 in Vienna. The accord has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal, re-imposed and escalated U.S. sanctions on Tehran last year. The German envoy’s visit also follows Iran’s declaration earlier this month that the remaining signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have two months to develop a plan to shield Iran from American sanctions.