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Iran’s Pharmaceutical Industry on the Verge of Extinction

In Iran, patients with unique and critical diseases are experiencing intimately suffer from a dire drug and medicine supply state. With the rampant inflation rate and the spreading of poverty, most of the population cannot get their medicine, and most of them are forced to sell most of their belongings to get these medications.

The regime officials’ acknowledgments reveal the depth of this corruption. In an interview with the state-run Mehr news agency on June 5, the former director of the Hemophilia Center laid bare the regime’s disastrous medicine policy.

“Every time we reflect news about the scientific achievements to the Iranian hemophilia community, the hemophilia patients ask when these drugs will finally be available. For example, the medicine ‘Hamlibra,’ which should be injected once a month, had entered the world pharmaceutical market for many years but was not even added to the country’s drug list.”

He went on to acknowledge how monopolism of the country’s domestic medicine and drugs, especially for patients with critical diseases like hemophilia, and added: “The thalassemia community of the country has been suffering for years from this unreasonable support of domestic production, and they are following their protests on the streets.”

The country’s drug industry has become a source of the regime’s corruption, mainly regulated by people selected due to nepotism. And this business has flourished the drug smuggling in the country led by these people.

In the regime’s massacre of the people with the help of the coronavirus, it was seen that world-renowned vaccines deliberately banned by the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei were so widely available in the drug trafficking market that it was ridiculous to deny the involvement of government officials.

This is a not ending story with much bitterness and human losses for the Iranian people. Even during the catastrophic earthquakes and floods of the past years, the tents donated by other countries were sold on the famous smuggle market of Naser Khosrow.

In the latest example, the state-run newspaper Jahan-e Sanat, in an article entitled ‘Stone Age Anesthesia’ on June 20, 2020, revealed the crisis of shortage of anesthetic medicine and reported that despite the scarcity of these drugs in public hospitals, all high-quality drugs are available at the Naser Khosrow market at multiple prices.

In an interview with Jahan-e-Sanat on June 20, 2022, the chairman of the board of directors of the Tehran Private Hospitals Association admitted: “Unfortunately, all the drugs that exist in the public sector enter the black market through relationships.”

For years, news of drug trafficking out of Iran has been circulating in the media. According to the Fars state news agency, this has become so critical that the amount of drug smuggling out of Iran has exceeded its official export rate. The Fars news agency confirmed this on September 21, 2020. Then IRIB confirmed it on March 29, 2022, too.

Earlier, the state-run news agency Mehr reported on October 14, 2021, that a member of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Owners of the Iranian Human Drug Industries, in a press conference, announced the sale of Iranian drugs smuggled in Africa at one-third of the world price. He also acknowledged that 10 to 20 percent of the country’s medicine is smuggled.

The state-run Jahan-e-Sanat newspaper, under the headline ‘The last breaths of the pharmaceutical industry’ on June 19, examines the ‘economic masterpieces’ of Ebrahim Raisi’s government and the effects of rising inflation and rising drug production costs on this industry.

Impressive that the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Syndicate of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers asked the pharmacy students to fight the corruption and nepotism in this industry. In the Gathering of pharmacy students on March 12, 2022, he said:

“You are the engine of development and the starting point and savior of this country, block the way to rent-seeking and mafia, and fight the illiterates who, through influence, have monopolized the healthy flow of this industry and direct it to their own and their children’s profits.”

The only thing he has forgotten is that Iran has the most rate of brain drain in the world. And while the regime is suppressing the students in any way, how could they help the country fight corruption and improve development?

The Latest Status of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Complexity does not describe the current state of Iran’s nuclear program; The situation has become much more complicated, and every second, the problem is getting worse for the regime. Many of the regime’s officials are now speaking about the unreversible consequences of its decision to expand its nuclear program.

Ali Khezrian, the spokesman for the regime’s Article 90 Commission, announced that the commission would not hold a meeting on Sunday with Foreign Minister Hossain Amir Abdollahian and the head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization over the nuclear talks and the resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors.

He said: “They have been given a week to attend the commission meeting. Otherwise, the case will be referred to the judiciary for investigation.”

This conflict between the regime’s different factions shows that the head of the regime has decided to continue its nuclear program uninterrupted, even not considering the warnings of those who seek to save the regime from more challenging decisions by the international community.

On June 20, Reuters reported that the latest report on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shows that the regime is preparing to increase its uranium enrichment at the Fordow plant.

Reuters wrote: “Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels, a United Nations nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters on Monday showed.”

One of the concerns about Iran’s nuclear program was highlighted in the latest revelation by the New York Times about the construction of new underground tunnels at the Natanz nuclear site.

On June 17, the Times announced that the Iranian regime was digging an extensive network of underground tunnels south of the Natanz nuclear site. According to the report, the Iranian regime is digging tunnels deep in the mountains resistant to bombing and electronic warfare attacks.

Fearing the consequences of the Time’s revelations, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman, responded on the same day, saying that he had already informed the IAEA about the construction of these underground tunnels.

He added that although the regime has no obligation to provide extra information considered by the IAEA’s safeguards, it has informed the Agency since the beginning of the construction to relocate the activities of the Karaj Factory to the Natanz site.

But it seems that the regime’s excuses are no longer satisfying the world community, even the countries which had refused to react to the regime’s nuclear program over the past years.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates in the IAEA, Hamad al-Kaab, has called on the Iranian regime to cooperate in the best way with the IAEA. Al-Kaabi has called on the regime to ensure that its nuclear program is peaceful and assure the countries of the region and the world powers.

On the other hand, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US government would increase the economic pressure on the regime, and there would be more sanctions in the future. He added that the measures taken by the regime regarding enrichment and the removal of the IAEA surveillance cameras are not fundamentally helpful.

In addition to Sullivan, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has stated that its government will continue to impose sanctions on the regime without an agreement on the JCPOA.

Shortly before Blinken’s remarks, the United States announced some sanctions against some individuals and companies that cooperated with the regime.

Meanwhile, in a hollow show of power, Ali Bagheri Kani, the regime’s representative in the nuclear talks, acknowledged Tehran would not withdraw from the redlines that the regime’s supreme leader drew in the field of the nuclear program.

What the regime here fears is not the loss of the nuclear program but its internal consequences, which reveals its weakness to people, consequently adding to society’s restiveness. While many of its officials, even Khamenei, have expressed constantly that any retreat will weaken the regime’s repressive apparatus.

Earlier, the IAEA director-general implicitly pointed to the failure of the JCPOA talks, stating that the regime had not answered the IAEA inquiries about the uranium origin discovered at its three undeclared nuclear facilities, leading to a standoff.

A review of the news clearly shows that the regime’s decisions and actions on its nuclear program have brought the Vienna talks to a standstill and put the West and the international community on the verge of pursuing other solutions.

Iran’s People Do Not Buy the Regime’s Economic Promises

Right before Ebrahim Raisi, the Iran regime’s president took the office, he and his economic team introduced a 7000-page economic program for the next 4 years. Now, ten months after Raisi’s inauguration, it seems that this program has been lost as there is no trace of it in Iran’s sinking economy.

Many of the regime’s economic experts are warning about the lack of a qualified economic program, with the consequences of a raging society against the regime. However, it seems that the regime has other priorities such as repression of public protests.

The economists believe that the cabinet of Raisi’s mismanagement of the economy “has led to the increase of the government’s current expenditures and is a generator and resonator of a stable inflation.”

Now after ten months, the representatives of all strata are protesting the regime, because of poverty, discrimination, corruption, and high prices.

On June 11, the regime’s concerned economic experts warned that “the government’s policy, dubbed ‘economic surgery,’ is very hasty and implemented without any preparation, and is only a temporary measure to solve the urgent problem of the budget deficit, and is not a program called economic reform.”

In the article that was published on the state-run website Darayan, they asked Raisi: “Didn’t you promise to address important issues such as inflation, unemployment, and the closure of businesses, with your 7,000-page reform program with the support of dozens of research institutes and schools of economics? What happens to all these promises?”

There is a big question being asked such as: What happened to Raisi’s promises of a 5% economic growth, the annual creation of one million jobs and one million new housing units, the reduction of the unemployment rate, and the rapid elimination of absolute poverty?

He previously had said that inflation will be reduced by 50% and then to single digits. Iran’s non-oil exports will increase from $ 35 billion in 2021 to $ 70 billion in 2025, and the country’s total foreign exchange needs will be met from non-oil exports.

There are many indications that the regime is facing a suffocating deadlock. Unlike in previous years now, there are strong beliefs among observers outside Iran that signing a new JCPOA and any concessions by the Western countries will not be to cure the problems the regime is facing.

The experts said in the article: “Our warning to the government is that the situation in the country is very fragile and insisting on the elimination of subsidies in this miserable period will run the people’s patience thin and they will confront the government.”

While acknowledging the economic crisis and shuddering situation of the regime, the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily, wrote on June 14, “What the government has done as economic surgery, eliminating the preferred currency, adjusting the prices of some commodities, and taking steps to make tough decisions is more a matter of urgency than of a clear and visionary economic policy.”

Protests Continue in Iran With “Death to…” Slogans

During the nomination of his cabinet in the Parliament [Majlis] last year, President Ebrahim Raisi spoke about his priority and introduced “Jihadi motions” as his path toward improving citizens’ livelihood.

“My government prioritizes the economy, economic stability, improving the major indicators, and in one word: the strengthening people’s livelihood and reinforcing the business atmosphere,” he said at Majlis’s public session on August 21, 2021.

After ten months, citizens regularly chant “Death to Raisi” in their social protests. They call Raisi’s cabinet “deceitful,” which has plundered the people’s fundamental rights to compensate for its budget deficit and fund extremist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon. “Death to the deceitful government” and “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life is for Iran, the oppressed people are here,” citizens chant frequently.

Protests Ceaselessly Radicalized, Expanded, and Continued

The continuous protests and social grievances targeting the high-ranking officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Raisi, and Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, are unprecedentedly within the past four decades.

After 43 years of living under the theocracy, the people of Iran have grasped that the government’s publicity maneuvers would not resolve their difficulties, even for short periods. Therefore, officials’ decisions, indeed, fuel public ire instead of extinguishing objections.

In this respect, citizens from different walks of life endeavor to obtain their rights through street protests. In other words, they have realized that the ayatollahs and other officials, mostly commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), only respond to the language of power and firmness.

“We can only obtain our rights at the tarmac,” fed-up people frequently chant in their rallies and marches. “Neither Majlis [parliament] nor the government thinks about the nation,” “Both of the Majlis and government lie to the people,” and “We heard a lot of promises, but our food baskets are still empty.”

Simultaneously, not a day has passed without protests inside the country, and clashes are getting more violent day by day. The continuance of these movements by different classes shows society’s volcanic situation. Already, the people denounced the authorities via massive apathy in the 2019 and 2021 elections. Now, they loudly target high-ranking officials with hatred slogans:

—Death to Raisi

Death to Khamenei

—Death to the deceitful government

and sound alarms about further uprisings, chanting, “Raisi, Ghalibaf; this is the last warning; our movement are ready to uprise.”

At the same time, citizens more freely speak on social media. They express their hatred against the theocracy’s crimes, corruption, and mismanagement and collaborate on justice-seeking moves. “Those responsible for cyberspace should take steps, preventing the enemy from doing whatever it wants,” Khamenei said on March 28.

The State’s Loyalists Have Been Confused

In such circumstances, even Khamenei-controlled Majlis warns about the Raisi government’s decisions and their consequences. “These days, we are continuously hearing curses by citizens,” said cleric Javad Nikbin, an MP from the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, on June 15. “The previous government burned people with gasoline [price hikes in 2019], and this government strangles people with bread [price hikes].”

“All governments needed surgery and performed it… The Raisi cabinet leaves people’s half-dead bodies lifeless by increasing the prices of 700 essential goods.”

“The high prices have broken the people’s back,” said Alborz Hosseini, an MP from Zanjan province in the west-central of Iran. Warning Raisi, MP from Isfahan Massoud Khatami, said that “the people’s fury will break your government’s back if you do nothing.”

Khamenei and Raisi pushed Labor Minister Hojjatollah Abdolmaleki to resign, trying to quell public protests. However, the problems are too profound to be solved via cabinet changes, as Abdolmaleki’s resignation did not result in the end of rallies, marches, and demonstrations. It indeed proved that their dilemmas originated from another source, Khamenei and Raisi. “Our Lord, uproot the tyranny,” citizens chant, venting their anger over the entire religious dictatorship.

Iran: Instances of Systematic Corruption

—Three board members of the Iran Commerce Chamber have paid a 28-billion-rial down payment and 1.94-billion-rial rent of their personal homes from the chamber’s budget said the Tehran Commerce Chamber’s former chief.

—Nineteen million dollars were missed amidst Airbus purchasing in 2019.

—An Exporter refuses to return $180 million to the Central Bank.

—State-backed mafia hoards the wheat, distributing flour full of lice among bakeries.

For over four decades, the mullahs of the Iranian regime have built up their state on corruption, embezzlement, bribery, and plundering policies. The people of Iran, however, are the foremost and sole victims of this dark era.

Citizens, who have lost their assets and property due to the regime’s misdeeds, have been chanting, “Financial criminals should be punished,” during their recent protests.

The Iran Commerce Chamber Managers Line Their Pockets with National Capital

Three board members of the Iran Commerce Chamber have paid a 28-billion-rial down payment and 1.94-billion-rial rent of their personal homes from the chamber’s budget.
Three board members of the Iran Commerce Chamber have paid a 28-billion-rial down payment and 1.94-billion-rial rent of their personal homes from the chamber’s budget.

On May 30, Mohammad Reza Behzadian, the former chief of the Tehran Commerce Chamber, revealed the latest aspects of the systematic corruption in Iran. He said, “Three members of the Iran Commerce Chamber’s managing board have paid a down payment worth 28 billion rials [$112,000] at the expense of the chamber. They also paid 1.94 billion rials [$7,760] as home rents.”

He continued, “They have invented ‘other reasons’ titles to keep you in the dark. ‘What does mean others?’ we asked. At the same session, they said, ‘We do not know, and undoubtedly, there was a ruling for a necessary task. We gave it to a police officer to implement a rule.’ How much is this other, Mr. Policeman? A gift of 5 billion rials was paid in the meetings of the Tehran Commerce Chamber. Several members did abnormal acts during the chamber’s election. The Iran Commerce Chamber managed the election through fraudulent tricks. One person elected 40 members of the chamber. Afterward, Mr. Sharifi Nik-Nafs was identified as the culprit and fled.”

Behzadian added, “Members of the chamber’s managing board exploited 130 seats for their personal interests. Forty thousand members of representative delegations are presided by a boss… The chamber members refuse to deliver their financial receipts because they knew they were violating the law. Meanwhile, seven members of the managing board and representative members have a commander… The chamber also denied providing an estimation of sanctions harm to the private sector.”

“19-Million-Dollar Embezzlement,” State Media Titles

Nineteen million dollars missed amidst Airbus purchasing in 2019
Nineteen million dollars missed amidst Airbus purchasing in 2019

The Iranian state media have revealed that around $19 million was missed during the purchase of three airbuses in 2019. Following the Iran 2015 nuclear deal, the international community created a corridor for Tehran to renew its aviation flotilla. However, this paved another path for the corrupt government in Iran to exploit this opportunity and line its pocket.

On June 8, the Jahan-e Sanat daily wrote, “In early 2019, three A-319 airbuses were added to the Homa aviation flotilla. In this context, a $44,366,251 deal was conducted between the Islamic Republic of Iran’s aviation office and the Tehran flight office. At the time, a three-member delegation comprised of aero industry experts estimated the planes’ prices at $3.15, $3.15, and $3.17 million.”

The daily added that they had, “recently obtained documents and evidence two years later, showing the delegation had totally estimated $5.8 million… Therefore, there is an $18,866,251 disadvantage. In 2019, one of the delegation’s members declared the airplane was worth $15 million. However, he estimated the same plane’s price as $5.8 million in 2020, which is irrational due to the growing inflation rate.”

An Exporter Refused to Return $180 Million

An Exporter refuses to return $180 million to the Central Bank
An Exporter refuses to return $180 million to the Central Bank

In a televised interview, Jamshid Nafar, the Iran Commerce Chamber’s former chief, revealed that “an exporter refused to return $180 million of his commitments.”

He said, “We gave his name to the Judiciary. Judicial officials summoned him from Mashhad, northeastern Iran, to explain his business. ‘I’ll come there, but you should pay my fair,’ he said to officials. Is it proper for him to say this? He had received 1.8 billion rials if he even paid 10 rials for each dollar, let alone the dollars were traded at 1,000, 2,000, or 3,000 rials.”

Notably, the dollar exchange against the rial has sharply increased since Ebrahim Raisi took office in August 2020. On June 13, state-run media reported that the rial had experienced another nosedive devaluation, with each U.S. dollar now trading at 333,000 rials.

Nafar questioned, “Didn’t the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) know? Didn’t our Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) know? Why did they not prevent [this embezzlement]?”, pointing to the systematic corruption that has engulfed the entire ruling system.

State-Backed Mafia Hoards Wheat

State-backed mafia hoards the wheat, distributing flour full of lice among bakeries.
State-backed mafia hoards the wheat, distributing flour full of lice among bakeries.

In a video circulated on social media in October 2021, a baker shows lice in a handful of flour. He said, “It does not clear where did [officials] hide this. We received them yesterday. Look at the lice. Now, we have to sift it and bake bread for the people.”

 

Truth on the Spread of Addiction in Iran and Regime’s Goals

A citizen from Shiraz, who was a victim of the Iranian regime’s criminal policy, has spoken up about the regime’s policy of spreading addiction to drugs and other substances, and the extent to which this problem has affected Iranian society.

He began his remarks by stating, “The regime’s policy is to get all the youths addicted. This is something that now everyone knows, therefore many have decided to quit their addiction. I was addicted for nine years. Now I have quit it for four years and have been cleansed. Now I’m encouraging others to do the same thing.”

The man explained that he took this decision when he realized that the act of spreading addiction across the country is the regime’s plan to prevent the people from protesting. As a result, he, along with a group of like-minded individuals, have taken to conducting meetings every night to encourage others to seek help.

He said, “When they catch you with alcohol, you will face flogging, imprisonment, and fines. But if they catch you with drugs, there will be no punishment. Drugs have become very cheap. For about ten years, the price of opium has stayed the same, about five to six thousand rials (USD 0.15) per gram. Heroin has become very cheap and abundant. We have heard that the IRGC has taken over the control of the opium transit from Afghanistan to Turkey [through Iran].”

As heroin is cheaper than opium, a lot of people have resorted to taking heroin, even youths. Many young girls are also addicted to hashish and Marijuana.

He stated, “A new tragedy is that the government is giving out methadone pills. That is, government clinics provide on a quota or free basis. I asked the doctor what are the side effects of methadone? He said it is even worse than opium and other substances.”

He added, “Even in prison, methadone syrup was given to prisoners in large quantities. My friend who went to prison said 70 ccs of methadone syrup had to be given to the people forcibly. While two cc of methadone is equal to 10 grams of opium. They gave it for free. They deliberately gave it for free so that everyone could become addicted.”

Methadone can create life-threatening side effects. The man claimed that around 70% of young people in the city of Shiraz are now addicted to a substance.

For those wanting help to overcome their addictions, many fear entering the government’s addiction treatment centers due to reports of patients being beaten to create panic. Those who can afford to pay for treatment are faced with bills of around 1.9 million rials for public camps, and around 1.3 million rials for private ones.

In regard to the government boot camps, the man explained, “Anyone who goes to the government camp must sign an agreement that if he/she died, it is his/her responsibility, and the blood money is 5,000 rial,” he said.

That is, people’s lives are worthless. Now everyone goes to a private camp. Private camp officials have benevolent intentions and are all members of the N.A. Association. This association is active all over Iran and encourages young people to quit their addiction. No addict comes to the camp on his own. We force and encourage them. We realized that this phenomenon is a dirty conspiracy of the regime, therefore we are motivated to do so.

The man concluded his speech by saying, “The situation now is that young people, despite their addiction, are protesting and are active because now everyone understands that the country’s system is the cause of their addiction, and they are filled with resentment.”

Asghar Bagherzadeh, the regime’s deputy director of education and culture, has said that the number of students using drugs in Iran is worrying. He said the reason for this is that the students have easy access to drugs. Bagherzadeh has also stated that there are no exact statistics on the number of addicted students in the country.

Saeed Safatian, an addiction analyst with a history of policymaking in this area, in an interview on June 10, published by the state-run daily Rouydad 24 said that there are no separate statistics on the number of addicted children and adolescents in Iran, and in fact, these statistics are not very important for the relevant authorities. As a result, there is no planning in this field either.

He stated that the reason for the easy access to drugs is the organization and cohesion of drug trafficking networks and the easy promotion and sale of these drugs in cyberspace.

He believes that no school principals dare to run addiction prevention programs, therefore students turn to drugs in the context of learning from their peers. He believes that in Iran, in addition to curiosity, the feeling of hopelessness that is promoted by the regime also has a direct effect on drug use by this age group. He also announced that the number of female addicts has doubled since 2011.

It is worth mentioning that Mohsen Rezaei, the regime’s Vice President of Iran for Economic Affairs, had previously said that the problem of addiction, and its scope of distribution and trafficking, are all from within the country and the regime knows who is in charge, but no action has ever been taken.

Bank Robbery at Tehran’s Most Secure Zone in Bright Daylight

“Professional robbers stole more than 160 safe boxes” at a branch of the Bank Melli, authorities say.

— The state-run TV says that the robbery took place on holiday while the holidays ended on Sunday, June 5—unless it had happened before, and the regime had concealed it.

— The bank is located in one of the most crowded and secure zones — in front of Tehran University, 500m away from the Presidential Palace, at the street leading to the Supreme Leader’s Office and Judiciary Center, and 100m away from a State Security Forces (SSF) base.

— There are too many unmarked intelligence and security bases to quell protests before reaching the offices of Khamenei and Raisi.

On Monday night, June 6, a group of thieves stole more than 160 safe boxes from the Bank Melli — the Tehran University branch. The Iranian state-run TV and Radio (IRIB) touted the robbery as a Hollywood movie scenario; however, observers believe the reality is completely different due to the evidence found.

The robbery has severely worried many people. On Wednesday, a group of citizens, who had lost the contents of their safe boxes in the robbery, flooded onto the street and rallied outside the bank. In response, the SSF fired shots into the air to disperse outraged protesters, rather than address their concerns. The protesters gathered chanted “Disgrace, disgrace,” venting their anger over the regime’s atrocities.

Authorities’ Weird Explanations

Iranian authorities claimed that the robbery took place during holidays, despite the holidays ending a day earlier on June 5. This is unless the regime had concealed the theft and declared it late, which increased doubts. Four days after the robbery, the SSF proclaimed that its ‘skilled detectives’ had succeeded in detaining the thieves.

On June 11, SSF chief in Tehran Hossein Rahimi, highlighting the ‘elite operation’ of his forces, said, “Our forces did not rest for a week.” Rahimi’s remarks later raised a wave of criticism and sarcastic comments. Netizens mocked Tehran’s SSF chief, saying, “How did his forces ‘not rest’ for a week when the robbery took place just five days ago. Does the SSF know more about the event but are hiding it?”

Several people have addressed fugitive officials, such as Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former chairman of the Bank Melli and Bank Sepah, who is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), stating, “Nice job, but why has the SSF failed to find the thieves of oil rigs,” referring to state-backed officials’ plunder and embezzlement in petroleum facilities. Khavari notably fled the country to Canada with a $2.6-million embezzlement case back in 2011.

Noting Rahimi’s use of the term “the holidays”, it appears that he explicitly admitted that the robbery did not occur in a single day, and instead lasted several days. Due to the intensive security measures in this zone, this is a debacle for the SSF if Rahimi was right and has told the truth.

The bank that was targeted is located at Enghelab [Revolution] Street, in front of the well-known Tehran University— in one of the capital’s most crowded districts. The bank is also only 500 meters away from the Presidential Palace, with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office and Judiciary Center located a little further away. In the area, there are many secret security bases nipping potential protests in the bud before reaching the offices of Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi.

Bank Melli—Tehran University branch—located in a security zone, near sensitive government offices
Bank Melli—Tehran University branch—located in a security zone, near sensitive government offices

The event greatly shocked state-run media. The Shargh daily cited Iran Daily’s correspondent at the cabinet Morteza Golpoor’s tweet on June 8, which stated, “[Robbers] emptied 1,000 safe boxes in one of Tehran’s most security streets while there is a police station 200 meters farther, and the offices of president and judiciary are located 500 meters farther.”

According to the police, the thieves used professional, heavy equipment to open the safe boxes. They had primarily disrupted security cameras and garnered and taken all servers with them after the robbery. The authorities are avoiding providing actual facts of the case, further prompting public suspicions.

The Asr Iran website quoted “reformist” Abbas Abdi on June 8, saying, “Bank Melli robbery did not carry out by ordinary thieves… It has targeted security rather than stealing some cash and gold. Consider it as an act of terror, not a robbery.”

‘Officials Designed and Plundered Safe Boxes,’ Citizens Say

Authorities have also refused to declare the real number of the plundered safe boxes. Primarily, Iran’s state media reported that the thieves stole more than 160 boxes, while several experts have claimed that the number of plundered boxes was around 170. However, in Khabar Online’s June 10 report, they mentioned about 250 to 400 safe boxes.

Many citizens believe that the robbery was a government scheme. They point to the recent law added to the Islamic Republic Penal Code, saying, “Transportation and storage of more than €10,000 is an example of currency smuggling.” The law was put into effect on April 30, and violators will be punished for 15 to 20 years in prison, and the death penalty in some cases.

In his interview, Rahimi declared that the SSF had delivered the stolen properties to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), and those people whose savings have been plundered can refer to the CBI to take their belongings. Notably, the Bank Melli had already refused compensation for the lost properties, saying that they did not know what the people had held in their safe boxes!

Observers have said, “In such circumstances, dare someone claim that they have lost more than €10,000, which is equivalent to life imprisonment or death sentence? Indeed, the regime applied this scenario to ‘legally’ plunder people’s property.”

This is another view of the mullahs’ 43 years of corruption and plunders under the banner of religious decrees. Such plundering, of course, expands the gap between society and the state, shrinks the regime’s social base, and fuels public outrage and hatred against the entire ruling system, which relies on robbery, embezzlement, and crimes to ensure its survival.

During a lecture in February 2018, the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described that “The corruption looks like a seven-headed dragon. Every time you cut one head; it still comes to you with another head.” Today, the people of Iran have grasped that the Supreme Leader and his office, which controls a $200-billion-worth business, is the heart of this dragon. “The people beg, [Khamenei] lives like God,” citizens from all different walks of life chant today, venting their anger over the entire regime.

Iran Regime’s Confessions About Its Weakness

On June 2, during a large-scale operation by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) supporters in Iran, the surveillance cameras of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and the Tehran Municipality were disabled.

This heavy blow to the regime made one of the major headlines in Iran, with the Iranian regime’s state media reflecting this news and the crises it caused for the regime.

The regime refused to give any official position on the incident, while some of its media wrote about it in a hysterical way, with each fabricated claim being just as bizarre as the next.

From the regime’s point of view, in terms of technology and complexity, what happened was one of the most unique blows to its surveillance and repression system. A blow that is encouraging the people and will show them new opportunities to fight the regime.

Shifting the blame on its foreign adversaries is a well-known and old policy of propaganda used by the regime to cover up its weaknesses when confronting the MEK’s Resistance Units.

Another problem for the regime is that such operations, with these dimensions and effects, introduce an alternative that creates a new balance of power in the Iranian political scene. That is, its socio-political effect is far more than its technical effect.

In regards to the dimension of this operation, the state-run daily Etemad Online wrote in their June 12 publication, “One week after the cyber-attack on Tehran’s municipal systems, the scale of the attack has not yet been determined, nor have the systems been made available, nor have any of the various institutions involved in cybersecurity commented on it. No news has been published by the Tehran Municipality so far, and only the head of the Tehran City Council has called the perpetrators of this attack enemies.”

They added, “An hour after this incident, the public relations of the Tehran Municipality Information Technology Organization issued a statement confirming the ‘intentional disruption in the internal page of the Tehran Municipality’s intranet system’ and announced: ‘The process of eliminating this limited disruption was completed quickly’. However, none of the systems and sites related to Tehran Municipality have been made available yet, and no time has been announced for a return to normal conditions.”

On June 8, the state-run daily Nameh News reflected the regime’s desperation and wrote, “Hack after hack and disruption after disruption! One day prison camera, one day gas stations, one day radio and television, one day municipal systems from city signs to metro ticket chargers; Even the speaker of some passage in Mashhad is hacked and it is interesting that no one is worried about all this hacking.”

The state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily reflected the regime’s technical weakness in their publication, writing, “The question is where are the passive security and defense apparatuses and other responsible institutions in this field? When the shouts of the people are heard standing in line at subway stations for several hours, the chairman of Tehran City Council says very simply and easily that ‘hacking municipal systems were Mossad’s job’.”

According to this outlet, “Mehdi Chamran, chairman of Tehran City Council, while expressing ‘that the hacking of the municipal systems was done by the MEK and all anti-Islamic currents, they had planned it in advance to show the Tehran municipality’s weakness, but they failed and could not realize it.’ However, the reality is that the upward trend and the increase in such disorders are more than that, they could be simply ignored.”

The state-run Reporters Club News Agency wrote, “A cybersecurity expert believes that these hacks are becoming more newsworthy and more observable than ever because of their importance. According to Fallahi, hacking is not a one-night or an immediate decision. Any cyber-attack means that the hacker has infiltrated the system for years and now declares its destruction for any reason.”

Iran: Child Laborers Exposed to Irreparable Lifelong Injuries

Launched in 2002, June 12 marks the World Day Against Child Labour. Under Article 32 of the Universal Declaration of Child Rights, it states that children must be protected from any work that threatens their growth and health, and that governments must specify the minimum working age and working conditions for children. The day of observation was created to raise awareness and activism to prevent children from across the world from being forced into child labor.

The question is how is the situation of child labor among the street children in Iran?

Many times, the Iranian regime’s officials in the welfare departments of the provinces, and the managers of the municipal departments of different cities have identified thousands of children working in the country.

However, due to the negligence of the responsible organizations and the existence of a state-controlled mafia abusing the children, accurate statistics on the number of working and street children are not provided by the relevant authorities. Often, in different comments by some regime officials, the number of working children is estimated to be in the millions.

The problem of child labor is like an iceberg, meaning that we can only see what is visible – the children working on the street – but a large majority of the children are working out of sight in workshops and other places.

In a previous comment, the Director-General of Welfare in Tehran Province said that in Tehran metros alone, more than 2000 children are working. Unofficial statistics have stated that more than 20,000 children are working on the streets of Tehran, and from that number more than 4,000 of them are working as waste collectors.

One of the factors that have been considered as the reason for the high number of child laborers in Iran is the high number of parents who are unemployed or struggling with social crises. As a result, they are forced to send their children to the streets to find work. The latest estimation by the regime suggests that more than seven million children are forced to work in this way.

75% of working children are in the age group of 10 to 14 years old, with the average age being 13 years old. Around 5% of children are under 7 years old, while the gender composition of working children shows that about 15% of these children are girls and 85% are boys.

According to the regime’s experts, around 30% of these children do not know if they had a birth certificate. Fifty percent of these children started working between the ages of 7 and 10, and 20 percent work started under the age of seven.

Of the children in Iran forced into child labor, 35% of these children are in good health, with the other 65% being in poor conditions. 40% of these children are completely illiterate, 75% of the rest have at least a sixth-grade education, and only 3% have had a high school education.

Eighty percent of boys and 60 percent of girls work in the public and semi-public sectors, with the rest of the boys working in shops, mechanics, repair shops, markets, warehouses, agriculture, and recycling factories. The rest of the girls work in houses, workshops, shops and agricultural land, and greenhouses. The number of girls working in the waste recycling workshop is also much higher than boys, which makes them more vulnerable.

With the regime’s medieval culture strongly encouraging girls’ workers into prostitution, we now see that the average age of these girls has reached below 15. These young girls are routinely sexually abused and exploited.

The results of the regime’s recent welfare surveys have shown that of those children working on the streets, 33.8% of these children work between one and four hours, 52.1% work between four and eight hours and 13% of them spend more than eight hours on the street.

Surveys have also shown that around 73% of street children have a history of violence, both physical and non-physical acts such as humiliation, bullying, etc.

These days, it is not just a matter of illiteracy, school dropouts, or malnutrition affecting these children. HIV, addiction, depression, self-harm, suicide, sexual harassment, uncontrolled violence, etc. are all emerging amongst the population of working children.

An important point, which is less related to the physical problems and physical abilities to work with children and more related to their psychological and social issues, is that these children do not have a childhood at all, and this can have very profound lifelong consequences.

These children cannot play and interact with their peers and are not exposed to the joys and excitements of childhood. Instead, they are exposed to stresses and pressures in the workplace that are not appropriate for their age, and their brain, soul, and psyche are not ready to deal with it. This unfortunately makes them more prone to many psychological and social disorders that will stay with them throughout their adult lives.

Children in Iran are victims of the regime’s destructive policies. Many families cannot send their children to school simply because they cannot afford the necessary supplies. These destructive policies are summed up in institutionalized corruption, wasting national wealth on nuclear and missile programs, terrorism, and oppression, which has led t the freefall of the country’s economy.

Reread Regime’s Corrupt Crescent Contract, a Waste of Iran’s Wealth

Last week, a spokesman of the Iranian regime’s judiciary announced in a press conference that Bijan Zanganeh, the former oil minister for the regime’s seventh, eighth, eleventh, and twelfth administrations, was present in the criminal court in regards to the Crescent case.

Regarding the inquiry of Zanganeh’s accusations, Massoud Satayeshi said, “The expert discussion has been completed in full and the next meetings will be held in the coming days and the results will be announced.”

The Crescent case is a highly prolonged and complicated dispute in the regime due to the scale of mass corruption surrounding it. So much so that even the regime themselves could not condone the crimes implemented in this case.

This dispute is concerning a gas contract between the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Crescent Petroleum. Initial negotiations began in 1997 and led to an ambiguous joint agreement in 2001. They agreed that the regime will transport Iran’s gas from the Salman oil and gas field, part of which it shares with the UAE, to the Crescent company for 25 years. At the time, Crescent negotiated a fixed purchase price of 18 USD per barrel for the first seven years, which would increase to 40 USD for the subsequent 18 years.

Over the past few years, many of the regime’s media outlets have spoken about a large amount of bribery in this case, and have stated that the Iranian people are enduring losses to the extremely low price of the sold gas.

The entire contract is worth about $ 18 billion, which shows why many of the regime’s officials involved in the procedure of this contract are suspected to be involved in the corruption. Zanganeh and members of the board of directors of the National Iranian Oil Company, with the consent of the Emirati company, had decided to keep the provisions of the Crescent gas contract secret.

Due to the shame of the scandal, this dispute has caused, the regime has canceled its side of the contract. During the negotiations with Crescent Oil Company of the United Arab Emirates, the regime’s then-oil officials were supposed to export Iranian gas to the country at a bargain price from the Salman oil field and pocket the difference between the main gas price and the price stated in the contract. The full extent of this great corruption is unknown, but the people involved made, or were trying to make, profits of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

At the time, Hassan Rouhani was the secretary of the regime’s Supreme National Security Council. In a critical letter to Khatami’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh, he described the ‘price and contract terms’ at Crescent as ‘very unfavorable’ compared to other contracts in the region.

Rouhani went on to describe the Crescent contract in three ways: ‘First, the lack of a valid guarantee in the contract, second, the invalidity of the Crescent company, and third, inappropriate price and contract conditions.’

Crescent was first mentioned in public and in the media in the mid-2000s. This name has been associated with the name of Iran’s ‘oil general’ Bijan Zanganeh, for many years. Iranian state news agencies have said that one of the ‘intermediaries in concluding this contract, who did not reach his brokerage right’, had provided the information of this contract to the officials of the Court of Audit at the time, and finally disclosed this disaster.

Mohammad Reza Rahimi, the former head of the Court of Audit, who is said to be in prison, was the person who ordered the suspension of the Crescent contract in 2005. In his interviews, he took a hard line against Zanganeh, calling the signing of the agreement a ‘betrayal of Iran’.

This termination order is what eventually led the Emirati Crescent Company to sue the regime in 2009 in The Hague. The company, with its professional lawyers, was able to oust the Iranian regime and, after several years of litigation, it was able to fine the regime for the first part of the contract, which included seven years of gas exports, and amounted to $607 million dollars.

Bijan Zanganeh, and other officials of the regime’s Ministry of Oil, made extensive efforts in the 2000s in order to conceal or clear the traces of their corruption. Their work led to bribery, deception, threats, and even the physical removal of those aware of the contract. However, despite their efforts, none of these actions assisted them in covering their tracks.

In 2013, immediately after the Crescent contract hearing, the security forces of the regime abducted Abbas Yazdan Panah Yazdi, an Iranian-British oil broker living in Dubai, and transferred him to Iran where they reportedly killed him.

Yazdan Panah Yazdi had testified against the regime in The Hague and had angered the officials of the regime. The trial ended, to the detriment of the regime whose officials are mired in corruption, and it is predicted that the regime will most likely lose the next trial which is scheduled to be held in Paris in September 2022.

The latest trial is said to be focused on the second part of the contract. In this part of the contract, the regime was obliged to export its gas to the United Arab Emirates for 17 years. Experts have predicted that a fine of 10 billion dollars, will be waiting for the regime following the trial’s conclusion.

It may not be important for the ruling regime in Iran, which ranks 140th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, to pay huge damages to the UAE, but for the people of Iran, who are now starving and struggling to survive, this is a huge amount of the country’s wealth from their pockets.