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December 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Iran

Govt faced global condemnation for crackdown on protesters and drone supply to Russia as nuclear talks remained deadlocked, while tensions persisted in maritime domain.

International censure continued over govt’s harsh crackdown and drone provision to Russia. Amid ongoing protests across country, international NGO Amnesty International 16 Dec reported that at least 26 people were at risk of execution in Iran for alleged role in nationwide unrest; NGO Human Rights Activists News Agency 29 Dec estimated at least 500 protesters killed and 19,000 arrested, with real numbers likely higher. U.S. 9 Dec announced sanctions and/or travel bans against more than dozen Iranian officials over human rights abuses and 21 Dec blacklisted prosecutor general among additional six designees, while European Union 12 Dec approved sanctions against 21 Iranian persons and entities over human rights concerns, and further eight over govt’s provision of drones to Russia. U.S.-initiated resolution at UN Economic and Social Council 14 Dec passed to remove Iran from UN Commission on the Status of Women. U.S. and E3 (France, Germany and UK) 19 Dec voiced concern over both Iran’s nuclear escalation and provision of UAVs to Russia, with U.S. warning that Russia may consider “importing complete ballistic missiles from Iran”.

Prospects of nuclear talks progress remained dim as govt expanded enrichment. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief early Dec said Iran had informed agency it was “tripling [its] capacity to enrich at 60 per cent, which is very close to military level… This is not banal”. IAEA 18-19 Dec visited capital Tehran in latest effort to make progress on longstanding investigation into past activities at undeclared nuclear sites, with little indication of success. Throughout Dec, U.S. repeatedly dismissed Iran’s suggestions of possible progress in nuclear negotiations.

Maritime tensions persisted. U.S. military 3 Dec announced that its naval forces had two days earlier uncovered 50-ton arms shipment, including ammunition and rocketry components, aboard ship in Gulf of Oman, blaming Iran. U.S. Central Command 6 Dec reported that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Navy patrol boat had previous day harassed two U.S. Navy ships in Strait of Hormuz, marking first reported instance of unsafe/unprofessional encounter since June.

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