A Tough Day for Iran

The Caspian Post
Iranian Kharg warship is pictured at a dock in the Syrian coastal city Latakia February 25, 2011. Image: REUTERS/Davoud Poorsehat/IRNA

On June 2nd-3rd, Iran was hit by another series of calamities. Some 20km from Tehran, the state-owned Tondgooyan Petrochemical company’s oil refinery was seen to be ablaze. Then on the Gulf of Oman, the IRIS Kharg, one of the Iranian navy’s largest ships, mysteriously caught fire offshore from the port of Jask. It later sank with some casualties but no reported deaths.


Neither event was explained by official sources. A heatwave has been proposed as one possible cause of the refinery conflagration by some commentators. However, many media sources speculated that the Kharg’s demise might have been sabotage, part of an undeclared “shadow war” played out in recent months between Iran and its enemies, probably led by Israel. The attack on another Iranian ship off Yemen in April was widely seen to be the work of Israeli agents. All this comes against a backdrop of a political drama in Israel, faltering multilateral talks in Vienna (attempting to end anti-Iranian sanctions by reinstating the JCPOA), and the run-up to Iran’s presidential elections.  


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Bucharest, Romania, Nov 9, 2016. Image: Gabriel Petreshu/Shutterstock

Despite all this, Iranian Foreign Minister Jafar Zarif took to Twitter on an entirely different matter: the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to deprive Iran of voting rights due to unpaid UN contributions. Zarif fumed to the Secretary-General of the UN that it was “absurd that Iranian people, who have been forcibly blocked from transferring their own money and resources to buy food and medicine - let alone pay UN contributions arrears - by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, are now being punished for not being allowed to pay budget arrears by the secretariat of the same Organization.” Due to crippling US-led sanctions, Iran has funds of many billions of US dollars stuck in a series of world banks. The US even sanctions the Iranian Central Bank directly as what it sees as a funder of terrorism, adding to the country’s inability to access the world’s economic mechanisms.