France, Germany and the U.K. called on Iran to "act responsibly" and fully comply with commitments made in a 2015 international nuclear agreement amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf. The trio of nations, which all signed the 2015 deal, said they continue to support the accord in a statement emailed by French President Emmanuel Macron's office. Still, they said Iranian actions were beginning to undermine the agreement, which has already been disowned by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has said it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues. But Iran has made any talks conditional on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the United States withdrew from the nuclear pact with world powers in May 2018.
South Korea imported no crude oil from Iran for a second month in June following the end of a U.S. sanctions wavier, with Iranian imports for the first half dropping 36.9% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday. South Korea, the world's fifth-largest crude oil importer and one of Iran's major oil customers, stopped importing Iranian crude from May after waivers on U.S. sanctions against Iran ended at the start of that month. South Korean oil buyers mainly imported condensate, an ultra-light oil, from Iran.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iran is beginning to breach some of the limitations imposed on its nuclear program by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which it signed in 2015 and from which the United States withdrew in 2018. Initially, Iran exceeded the stockpile of low-enriched uranium it was permitted to maintain; then it began to enrich above the 3.67 percent permitted under the deal. While enriching to just under 5 percent - well short of weapons-grade 80 to 90 percent enrichment level - the Iranians, nonetheless, are no longer respecting the limits.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
European foreign ministers will seek to flesh out how to convince Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and initiate a dialogue when they meet in Brussels on Monday amid fears that the 2015 nuclear deal is close to collapse. U.S.-Iranian tensions have worsened since U.S. President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic programme in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.
Iran will return to the situation before its nuclear deal with world powers unless European countries fulfill their obligations, the spokesman for Iran's nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said on Monday, according to IRNA news agency. Iran says the European countries must do more to guarantee it the economic benefits it was meant to receive in return for curbs to its nuclear program under the deal, which Washington abandoned last year.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday that the international deal on Iran's nuclear program "isn't dead yet," and that while the opportunity to find a resolution to the current crisis surrounding the agreement is closing, it is still possible to keep it alive. He spoke ahead of talks with other European Union foreign ministers in Brussels where they planned to discuss the Iran situation. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was agreed to by Iran and a group of world powers that included Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States to allay concerns Iran was working to develop a nuclear weapon.
While tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated, Europeans have implemented a special purpose vehicle - a payment channel set up to facilitate trade with Iran and avoid US sanctions. Yet the special purpose vehicle, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or Instex, hasn't satisfied Tehran. Iranian officials have compared Instex to "a car without gas."
The Iranian regime recently announced its decision to produce fissile material with a purity of more than 4.5%. Iran's nuclear program is again on the march. In truth, it never stopped-contrary to glowing media reports and efforts by some Western leaders to spin on what the regime was doing. Under the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iranians could ramp up quickly and easily from the enrichment levels necessary for peaceful nuclear power to levels needed to make a bomb.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran will continue its oil exports under any conditions, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt in a telephone call on Saturday, according to a statement on the Iranian foreign ministry website. Zarif also said Britain should quickly release the Grace 1 oil tanker, which was seized last week by British Royal Marines off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria.
Iran's current unemployment is at 10.8%, down from 12.1% last year, President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday in a speech broadcast live on state TV. Some 321,000 jobs were created in the 12 months to spring 2019, Rouhani said in the speech to crowds in the northeastern city of Shrivan, adding that the U.S. government's "anti-Iran efforts" had "been defeated."
"Every route the Americans have taken has led to defeat," Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, adding that Iran has stood firm against US sanctions, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Rouhani arrived in Iran's North Khorasan province Sunday morning for the inauguration of a number of development projects, according to Mehr.
The latest monthly report by OPEC says Iran's oil output in June has dropped by 142,000 barrels per day compared to previous month and reached 2,225,000 barrels. Iran's output was 3.8 million barrels per day before the returning of U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile estimates show that Iran's oil export has dropped below 300,000 barrels per day. The figure was 2.5 million barrels per day before the sanctions.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The simple act of walking has become a display of defiance for a young Iranian woman who often moves in Tehran's streets without a compulsory headscarf, or hijab. With every step, she risks harassment or even arrest by Iran's morality police whose job is to enforce the strict dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. "I have to confess it is really, really scary," the 30-year-old fire-safety consultant said in a WhatsApp audio message, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.
The Farsi caption has unfurled across the black screen of a channel of Iranian state television every night for days now, promising viewers that what they are about to witness is "based on a real case." But the slick graphics, chase scenes and gunfights of "Gando" serve a far different purpose - trying to offer justification of Iran's detention, closed-door trial and imprisonment of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The European Union supports an Iraqi proposal to hold a regional conference amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, the group's foreign policy chief said Saturday. Iraq is an ally of the two rival nations, which are on a collision course as the Iran nuclear deal threatens to unravel. Iraq has offered to mediate between Tehran and Washington, while Iran has pressed European parties to the nuclear agreement to offset the effects of U.S. sanctions.
The United States has granted a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend a U.N. meeting in New York this week, two sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday, saying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had approved the decision. Had Pompeo not approved giving a visa to Zarif, Iran's top diplomat and nuclear negotiator, it could have been a signal that the United States was trying to further isolate the Islamic Republic and perhaps closing the door to diplomacy.
Iran's breaching of caps on its uranium enrichment after the United States pulled out of world powers' nuclear deal with Tehran was "a bad reaction to ... (a) bad decision", raising fears of a stumble into war, France's foreign minister said. Tensions have risen as Washington has blamed Iran for several attacks on oil tankers and Tehran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone, prompting President Donald Trump to order air strikes that he called off only minutes before impact.
As tensions rise between Iran, the US and its allies, the BBC has been given rare access to Iran. Iranians remain furious that US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal last year and has imposed crushing sanctions on the country. BBC correspondent Martin Patience, along with cameraman Nik Millard and producer Cara Swift, have been in Tehran and the holy city of Qom, talking to Iranians about the escalating crisis.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran's battered currency is starting to recover in the unregulated market as government policies to defend it against U.S. sanctions take effect. The rial has stabilized, Abdolnaser Hemmati, the head of Iran's central bank, was cited as saying by the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency. It strengthened about 8% in the open market over the past month to 125,450 per dollar, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg from foreign-exchange websites and traders in Tehran.
A person was killed in a shooting in northern Tehran on Saturday, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported. The agency did not provide details about the shooting that occurred in Tehran's Argentina Square. Such shootings are rare in the Iranian capital.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed critics' claims about his administration's inefficiency as "unfair." Speaking in the northern Khorasan Province town of Shirvan on July 14, Rouhani said that "any claim about Iran's Islamic system and the current administration being inefficient would be both incorrect and unfair." Rouhani did not mention any particular person who had said so, but many Iranian and foreign critics have accused his administration of being responsible for a large part of Iran's economic and political problems.
The former acting deputy to the secretary-general of reformist party National Trust has disclosed that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has agreed after a long time to receive letters from some reformists. Rassoul Montajabnia told Khabar Online website on Saturday July 13 that reformist are happy about Khamenei's move and "take it as a privilege" although he does not reply to their letters. Montajabnia said that he and another reformist, Mohsen Rohami met with Khamenei last year.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran won't stand alone in fighting the U.S. if war breaks out between the two nations, the Islamic Republic's Lebanese ally Hezbollah said. Groups backed by Iran are currently in talks about the possibility of such a conflict, Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the militant organization, said in an interview broadcast Friday on its Al Manar TV. "Are we going to sit back and watch? Iran won't be alone in the war, that is clear," he said.
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the only army ready to combat Iran is the IDF. Speaking to members of the National Security College at the Prime Minister's Office, Netanyahu slammed the 2015 nuclear deal, and said that only he was against it at the time. "The only thing that the terrible nuclear agreement gave is a strong and sweeping rapprochement with major Arab countries," Netanyahu said. "Iran says simply: 'We will destroy you and destroy you first by nuclear weapons.'"
GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN
The US on Sunday voiced concern over the unfair sentence issued by Yemen's Houthi militias to execute 30 political prisoners in Sanaa. US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted that "the US is seriously concerned by the Iranian-backed Houthis' sentencing of 30 political prisoners to death in Yemen", including academics and political figures who were arrested on baseless charges and physically tortured during the arrest.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Britain will work for the release of an Iranian supertanker seized near Gibraltar if Iran guarantees the ship will not travel to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions, the British foreign secretary said, in a move that could ease soaring tensions between Iran and the West. Jeremy Hunt said late Saturday that he had held a "constructive call" with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in regards to the oil tanker's detention in the Mediterranean this month.
The U.K. and Iran sought to defuse tensions over a detained Iranian oil tanker in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, but failed to resolve an issue that has raised new fears about military conflict over commercial-shipping lanes. The renewed diplomacy included a call between the two countries' top diplomats, demonstrating how both sides wanted to de-escalate a crisis that flared up after Gibraltar authorities and the Royal Marines seized the Grace 1 on July 4.