Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that Iran's government had just test-fired a medium-range missile "that is capable of carrying multiple warheads." The ballistic missile Iran tested has the ability to hit parts of Europe and any location in the Middle East, the secretary said, which he claimed would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution that called Iran to not pursue "any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
Iran said on Sunday it would continue missile tests to build up its defences and denied this was in breach of U.N. resolutions following U.S. allegations that Tehran had tested a new missile capable of carrying multiple warheads. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday condemned what he called Iran's testing of a medium-range ballistic missile in violation of the 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme, from which Washington has withdrawn.
They read in simple, repetitive sentences with a date, location, name, age and cause of death. It is a seemingly endless list of those killed and maimed in Iraq by weapons supplied by Iran and used in attacks on the U.S. military. On April 4, 2004, in Baghdad, Army Spc. Robert Arsiaga, 25, was killed in a combined attack in which members of the Mahdi Army hit his unit with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. On Sept. 8, 2009, in Tikrit, Army Spc. Zachary Myers, 21, was killed when an EFP detonated near his vehicle.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday. Preserving the JCPOA will help prevent new wave of tensions surrounding Iran's nuclear program, therefore, all necessary measures should be taken to maintain the JCPOA, Putin said, IRNA reported.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran and South Korea are working to set up a mechanism to barter South Korean goods for Iranian oil exports, an Iranian trade official was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday, as Tehran seeks ways to sidestep U.S. sanctions. "According to the plan, goods will be given to Iranian importers and their price will be subtracted from the price of the oil exported to South Korea, and the importers will pay the price of the goods to the Iranian government," said Hossein Tanhaee, head of the Iran-South Korea Chamber of Commerce, IRNA reported.
Iran has ended its seasonal ban on rice imports, allowing importers to register their orders, Iranian news agencies reported on Sunday. Deputy Agriculture Minister Ali Akbar Mehrfard announced the end of the annual ban in a letter dated Nov. 28, the ISNA semi-official news agency reported. Other agencies carried similar reports. The government usually imposes the ban for a few months each year to support local prices and help Iranian growers during the harvest season.
"Assuming that the Trump administration and Israel are not inclined to understate Iran's spending abroad, the $16 billion estimate [of Iran's support to Syria since 2012] is equivalent to $2.28 billion per annum," writes Mohammad Ali Shabani. "This would put the cost of Iran's combined expenditures for operations across the region - whether directly or via proxies - at 0.5% of the GDP. The latter includes an estimated $6 billion in credit lines extended to the Syrian government."
Iran's Economic Coordination Council has forecast a more than 50 percent decline in the country's oil sales in the next Iranian fiscal year which starts in March 2019. The forecast puts Iran's oil exports next year at one million barrel per day which is less than half of the figure forecast for the current year, Iranian official news agency IRNA reported December 1.
An official working in Iran's banking system said Sun. that the country has held several sessions with a major European bank during which the bank has voiced readiness to resume cooperation with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Ahmad Taheri Behbahani made the remark during the unveiling ceremony for a banking mobile application on Sunday.
Iran defended its contentious ballistic missile program Sunday after U.S. allegations that the regime was violating a U.N. resolution by continuing to develop weapons capable of carrying nuclear warheads. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Saturday that Iran had just test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons. He condemned the act and called on Iran to cease what he called Tehran's growing missile testing and proliferation activity.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo accused Iran of testing a ballistic missile capable of hitting parts of Europe, and issued a new warning about the risk posed by a regime that the Trump administration has called a top threat to global security. "As we have been warning for some time, Iran's missile testing and missile proliferation is growing," Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday. "We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence."
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian semi-official ISNA news agency is reporting that a revolutionary court has sentenced a female pro-reform journalist to a nearly 13-year prison term over security charges. The Saturday report said that Hengameh Shahidi can still appeal the verdict that sentenced her to 12 years and 9 months in jail. It did not elaborate. Shahidi, 43, has been in jail since June after months at large during which she was active on social media.
The families of Americans and other foreign nationals imprisoned in Iran are calling on world leaders to confront the Islamic republic over its long legacy of state-sponsored hostage taking. For decades the international community has failed to summon the political will to tackle this problem. But now there is growing momentum for rooting out a long-established pattern of thuggish behavior by the Iranian regime.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran's navy on Saturday launched a domestically made destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties, as tensions rise with arch-enemy, the United States. In a ceremony carried live on state television, the Sahand destroyer - which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply - joined Iran's regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf. The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities, state television reported.
The military is warning the U.S. government to prepare for a potential electromagnetic pulse weapon attack, as countries like North Korea, Russia and Iran develop the special arms. The shocking report, published by the Air Force's Air University, reveals that the U.S. is dismally unprepared for such an attack that could wipe out all electricity, kill 90 percent of the East Coast, and lead to utter chaos. And it could take 18 months to restore the electricity grid and social order.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
An Iranian fertility expert accused of working with foreign "espionage networks" to downplay the country's population crisis has been arrested, state news agency IRNA confirmed Sunday. It did not give details of the charges, but quoted a lawyer who named the expert as Meimanat Hosseini Chavoshi. She is listed by the University of Melbourne as working at its School of Population and Global Health, published widely on Iran's once-lauded fertility and family-planning policies.
Videos and images published on social media confirm that steel workers in Ahvaz, capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province staged a large protest on Sunday and marched in the main streets of the city. The steel workers have been on strike and holding protests for the past 23 days; almost as long as their peers at the Shush sugarcane mill' also in Khuzestan, are still protesting despite the appointment of a new director at the factory.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The US accused Iran of launching a new missile on Saturday while Tehran boasted it had developed a "radar evading stealth" warship. The two incidents are linked to increased Iranian activity, including a flight to Beirut that allegedly brought arms for Hezbollah, and Tehran's claims it has pioneered a new cyber army. It shows that Iran is serious about challenging adversaries on sea, land, in the air and online, in a full court press designed to keep the region on alert for Tehran's next move.
Thursday night's incident in Syrian airspace, which was painted in dramatic colors by Arab media outlets, turns out to have been relatively minor. Syria's air defenses, identifying what it considered to be unusual movements by Israeli planes in southern Syria, fired 20 anti-aircraft missiles. But contrary to Syria's claims, they hit no Israeli planes or missiles.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says Washington's pressure campaign against Iran is working, with Tehran increasingly losing its ability to support regional proxy militias. Pence touted U.S. efforts to press Iran to end its perceived malign activities in a Friday speech to an annual conference of the Israeli American Council (IAC) in Hollywood, Florida. IAC is a nonprofit organization that seeks to build an "engaged and united" community among the more than half a million Israelis living in the United States. Israel, a close U.S. ally, is Iran's main regional foe.
While relatively well known that Iran has for decades projected power in Lebanon through its Hezbollah proxy, analysts contend that recent events reinforce the West's blindness to the degree to which the mullahs have systematically and comprehensively taken over the country's political, military and economic apparatuses.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Iran's defense minister, Amir Hatami, said his country has been supporting the Houthis in Yemen, but claimed that the support was limited to the "moral side", while other Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed that such support includes arming and sending missiles, experts and money. Speaking on Saturday at a meeting for the Basij (volunteer forces) militia leaders affiliated to the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hatami said: "Yemen is a thorn in the eyes of the Americans," adding that Iran's support for the Houthis in Yemen is "moral" As he puts it.
A political analyst has rejected the idea that Iran is an enemy of all Saudis and by extension all Sunnis. "This long held belief that Iran is an enemy of all Saudis and by extension, all Sunnis is a lie," Catherine Shakdam, researcher at al-Bayan Centre for Planning and Studies, tells the Tehran Times. Shakdam says Iran as a country holds no anger and no resentment towards the Saudi people.
The US administration appears to be losing the war of perceptions over Yemen, and in some ways benefiting its primary adversary, Iran. The US and Iran this week sought to position themselves ahead of anticipated Yemen peace talks in Sweden that pit their clients against each other at the negotiating table. On Thursday a senior US official gave reporters a show-and-tell about Iranian weapons allegedly recovered in Yemen, whilst Tehran's top diplomat was in Geneva conferring with his Swedish counterpart about upcoming Yemen peace talks to begin in the next week or so.
Website Nile Net Online promises Egyptians "true news" from its offices in the heart of Cairo's Tahrir Square, "to expand the scope of freedom of expression in the Arab world." Its views on America do not chime with those of Egypt's state media, which celebrate Donald Trump's warm relations with Cairo. In one recent article, Nile Net Online derided the American president as a "low-level theatre actor" who "turned America into a laughing stock" after he attacked Iran in a speech at the United Nations.