Britain joined the U.S. in forming an international mission to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats, the British government said on Monday, a decision that came after London struggled to build a European maritime coalition to safeguard ships in the region. The U.K. said details of the cooperation had yet to be completed, but that it had offered to lead one of the mission's maritime task groups. "Both the U.K. and U.S. are committed to working with allies and partners to encourage others to join and broaden the response to this truly international problem," the U.K. government said.
Iran told European powers on Monday it would further reduce compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal in about a month's time if they were still failing to protect it from crippling U.S. sanctions, reimposed after Washington exited the deal. European signatories to the deal have so far been helpless to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump trying to force Iran to accept stricter limits to its nuclear activity and regional behavior by strangling its vital oil trade.
Iran unveiled three precision-guided missiles on Tuesday, with the defence minister saying they show the country is ready to defend itself in the face of US "viciousness and conspiracies". The new line-up of air-to-air missiles dubbed the "Yasin", "Balaban" and a new series of the "Ghaem" were developed jointly by the ministry and Sa Iran, also known as Iran Electronics Industries.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), tells JI: "I think this offer was made to the wrong person and at the wrong time. First, Zarif doesn't have the decision-making authority as foreign minister and he's not the person to whom the president of the United States should be speaking to. The administration should aim for dialogue with someone who derives his authority from the supreme leader because it is Ayatollah Khamenei who has constitutional control over the armed forces and foreign policy. Second, Tehran needs the talks more than Washington does. Iran's economy is on life support, not the United States. The U.S. government can't be seen as more desperate to talk than Iran."
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Tensions have steadily risen in the Persian Gulf. It seems Iran and the US are on a collision course. Attacks on oil tankers, the shooting down of drones, aggressive rhetoric and Tehran's decision to start enriching uranium again have led to a major crisis. The UK impounded an Iranian oil tanker suspected of breaching EU sanctions against Syria. In response, Iran has seized two tankers, one sailing under the British flag and the other under Panama's.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran's foreign minister said Monday that recent U.S. sanctions against him marked a "failure" for diplomacy and suggested that the measures were taken after he declined an invitation to meet President Trump at the White House. Imposing financial restrictions on a foreign minister means "failure in negotiations, failure in diplomacy and an opposition to dialogue," Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday at a news conference in Tehran, which was carried live by Iranian state television.
Britain said Monday that it would join a U.S.-led naval security mission in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran's seizure of merchant vessels has raised tensions with the West. Earlier, Iran's foreign minister lambasted recent U.S. financial sanctions against him, calling the move a "failure" for diplomacy. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in Tehran that "imposing sanctions against a foreign minister means failure" for any efforts at negotiations, and means the side imposing the measures is "opposing talks."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the United States must lift sanctions against Tehran if it wants it to return to dialogue. Rouhani said that "peace with Iran is the mother of all peace" and "war with Iran is the mother of all wars" as he defended the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. "Iran favors talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions," he added in remarks aired live on state television.
Reports alleging that fuel tankers appeared to breach U.S. sanctions against Iran were cited in court filings by a bank as it sought to seize the ships, accusing the owners of loan default. The accusations, which led to the the temporary arrest of the vessels in Singapore late last month, come as the U.S. seeks to isolate the regime in Tehran by cutting off oil sales, a major source of revenue. They also underscore how traders and shippers suspected of violating sanctions can run foul of their own lenders, not just governments.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
At a global press freedom conference last month, BBC chief Tony Hall made a point of praising journalists in his network's Persian service for standing up to repeated harassment by Iran. "I want to pay tribute again to their resilience, of them and their families, in the face of years of concerted intimidation," Hall said at the London event attended by government officials and journalists from more than 100 countries.
Fourteen Iranian women's rights activists have called for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and for a "full transition" which would allow the adoption of a new constitution granting equal rights to women. The activists, including lawyer Guiti Pourfazel, said in an August 5 statement published online that four decades of theocratic rule has led to "gender apartheid" and "erased" the rights of half of the country's population.
An Iranian lawmaker has welcomed a court ruling stating that police should issue an unidentified woman in the central city of Isfahan a motorcycle license. "Certainly, the ruling issued by the Court of Administrative Justice is based on existing laws and we all must abide by the law," Faride Oladghobad told the semiofficial ISNA news agency on August 5, while inviting the police to discuss the issue of women driving motorcycles with her female colleagues.
The international football association FIFA has set a deadline for Iran to allow women to enter sports arenas and watch men's soccer games without hindrance. Iran should resolve the issue before October 10 when as the top-ranked soccer team in Asia it will host its first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia. Nevertheless, according to the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), an official in charge of women's sports, Mahin Farhadizad had earlier denied that FIFA had set a deadline for Iran over the presence of women in football stadiums.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
War with Iran is the mother of all wars, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday in a speech broadcast live on state TV, warning once again that shipping might not be safe in the Strait of Hormuz oil waterway. Tensions have risen between Iran and the West since last year when the United States pulled out of an international agreement which curbed the Islamic Republic's nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions on Iran.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iranian media have disclosed details about a 2014 corruption case at the Tehran Municipality when conservative figure and former Revolutionary Guards general Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf was Tehran's mayor. The report, a summary of which has been published by Khabar Online website says the municipality had donated 600 billion rials in cash, as well as 80,000 square meters of land to a charity that belonged to the mayor's wife. The cash alone amounted to $18.5 million at the dollar/rial rate prevailing at the time.
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has once again urged Iranians to have more babies amid economic and social crisis. Calling on government officials to render support to families to increase the population of the country, Khamenei reiterated that increasing the number of children should become "a cultural norm" in Iranian society. The 80-year-old Ayatollah made the remark in a meeting with a group of newly married couples last March, but his news website published it on Monday, August 5.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Hezbollah's Lebanese allies have escalated a violence-laced political campaign against Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, accusing him this week of liaising with foreign powers in connection with a shootout that deepened the country's fissures. The charges against Mr Jumblatt, one of the most well-connected politicians in Lebanon, echo tactics by Iran and the Damascus regime of using the international standing of prominent dissidents to brand them traitors and make their persecution more appealing to jingoistic constituencies at home.
A mother who publicly criticized Hezbollah party members claims she and her children have been forced out of their South Lebanon home in retaliation. Video footage which went viral on social media, showed furniture and other items belonging to Fadwa, who is in her mid-40s, scattered outside her rented house in the town of Debaal. The woman has for weeks been critical of Hezbollah supporters and leaders from Debaal and her hometown of Majadel over alleged marriage relationship matters. She has been seen on a popular social media platform naming people who she claimed had harassed her after she exposed them.
Iran has agreed to massively increase its monthly payments to Palestinian terror group Hamas in exchange for intelligence on Israeli missile capabilities, an Israeli television network reported Monday. The Islamic Republic is a longtime financial supporter of Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip and is committed to Israel's destruction.
The head of Iran's navy has said his forces planned to train alongside their Russian counterparts by the end of the year as both nations stepped up their rhetoric against U.S. policies targeting them. Iranian naval commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi confirmed Sunday that Iran and Russia had signed their first-ever memorandum of understanding regarding inter-military affairs last week during his visit to Moscow.
GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN
Hundreds of southern Yemeni people gathered on Monday in a public square in the port city of Aden to express their anger about two deadly attacks that hit the city days ago. Several senior tribal leaders attended the demonstration organized in Aden's neighborhood of KhorMaksar and shouted slogans against the Houthi rebel group that fired a ballistic missile against Aden on Thursday. Local medical authorities told Xinhua that around 58 people died as a result of a Houthi-fired ballistic missile attack and a suicide car bombing in two different locations in Aden.
CHINA & IRAN
Since the United States increased its sanctions against Iran in May, the nuclear standoff with Tehran has yet to settle down. One of the ways the Islamic republic has withstood US economic pressure is China, which has continued to procure Iranian oil. During a recent meeting in Beijing between multiple Chinese Foreign Ministry officials and The Jerusalem Post and two other media outlets, the Chinese explained that China has charted somewhat of a middle path when it comes to Iran...