China has slowed down its work on an Iranian nuclear project amid Beijing's current high-stakes negotiations with the United States.Top of FormBottom of Form Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), said on Wednesday that the Chinese were "reducing the speed of cooperation despite their commitment" to redesign the Arak heavy water reactor. Salehi told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency that China fears possible US sanctions on its nuclear-related firms if it continues its cooperation with his country.
Furious after President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed punitive banking sanctions last year, European leaders vowed to find a way to enable Tehran to keep doing business with the rest of the world. After months of delay, and after enduring mockery from the Trump administration, three major European allies on Thursday finally introduced a financial mechanism to do just that. The question now is whether anyone will actually use it.
A senior U.S. official warned Lebanon's Hezbollah not to exploit its newly gained clout in the new Lebanese Cabinet and channel funds from a ministry it controls to institutions affiliated with the Shiite militant group. The remarks by Marshall Billingslea, the U.S. Treasury's assistant secretary on terror financing, came as Lebanese political factions agreed late Thursday to form a new government, breaking a nine-month deadlock that had deepened Lebanon's economic woes.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran said on Thursday a new European mechanism to facilitate non-dollar trade with the country was a first step for the European Union to fulfill its commitments under a nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers, state television reported. France, Germany and Britain have set up the mechanism in an effort to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran, though diplomats say it is unlikely to yield the big commercial transactions that Tehran says it needs to keep the nuclear deal afloat.
Crude oil exports from Iran to its four largest buyers in Asia fell to a three-year low last year because of the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions against Tehran in November, Reuters reports. Although the sanctions kicked in only in November, Asian importers began reducing their imports of Iranian oil earlier, with South Korea completely suspending imports in August.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
What does it mean to belong? For Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who was imprisoned in Iran for 544 days on spurious charges of espionage, that question is complicated. Rezaian, an Iranian-American, holds the record for longest imprisonment of a Western journalist by Iran. He explores this dichotomy of love for a country and shame for its actions - particularly after his arrest and imprisonment - in his new memoir, Prisoner.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Last May, the United States reinstated economic sanctions on Iran, despite vehement opposition from its European allies. The United States had already unilaterally pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, where Iran agreed to give up on its nuclear ambitions in return for sanction relief and reintegration into the world economy. The new U.S. sanctions not only affected American firms, but European ones, even though Europe wanted to stick with the JCPOA deal.
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez wore his trademark fatigues over a red T-shirt as he and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran grinned and cut the ribbon to inaugurate their joint lender. The two presidents' attendance at the 2009 ceremony in Tehran -- the Iran Venezuela Bi-National Bank officially opened its doors the following year -- was a sign of their affinity and mutual determination.
President Donald Trump on Thursday accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats of being "weak and passive with Iran," an insult that landed days after the nation's top intelligence official contradicted the president's views on the Islamic republic's nuclear capabilities. "Schumer and the Democrats are big fans of being weak and passive with Iran," the president tweeted.
The 68-23 vote by the Senate Thursday for an amendment opposing the withdrawal American troops from Syria and Afghanistan demonstrates the Republican-controlled chamber doesn't support President Trump's desire to pull U.S. troops out of both nations at this time. The amendment is to a bill that has yet to be voted on in the Senate.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Wherever Asal Bahrierad goes, her Shih Tzu terrier, Teddy, follows. The 31-year-old Iranian even slept in her car with Teddy for three nights, she said, when visiting with her mother, who does not like dogs. Impressed by her daughter's determination to be with Teddy, Ms. Bahrierad's mother finally relented and allowed her back in the house, with her beloved dog.
Iran is marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah, ending 2,500 years of monarchical rule. On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from France after 14 years in exile to become the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Across Iran on February 1, sirens blared at 9:33 a.m. - the exact time Khomeini's plane touched down at Tehran's international airport 40 years ago.
Forty years ago this month, the man who would go on to lead the Islamic revolution in Iran lived in a simple house in a village outside Paris, spending his days cross-legged under an apple tree in the garden, contemplating insurrection. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had fled Iran in the mid-1960s, fearing a crackdown on his teachings by the Shah.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The foreign ministers of a growing alliance of Arab states gathered in Jordan on Wednesday and Thursday, with Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia participating. The meeting sought to build consensus among Arab states on regional security issues, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on the sidelines of the meeting, according to the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad. The meeting was "positive and constructive," according to local reports, and focused on "common Arab interests."
The conflict between Iran and Israel has been escalating in the last few weeks, highlighted by the Israeli Defense Forces' series of airstrikes against Tehran regime targets in Syria. This is not the first time that Israel has launched airstrikes against Iranian bases in Syria. In May 2018, after Iran reportedly fired several rockets into Israel, Tel Aviv carried out a large-scale attack on Iranian targets.
Russian media reports revealed a number of preparations were underway for another Sochi summit for the presidents of the Astana Syria talks guarantor states, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. The next summit is expected to take place on February 14. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to Turkish dailies, confirmed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be in Sochi for the upcoming summit on Syria.
Facebook on Thursday announced it removed 783 pages, groups and accounts with ties to Iran as part of the company's continued effort to rid misinformation from its services. The company said the Iranian accounts and pages were used to push Iranian propaganda "on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, including the role of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia," Facebook said in a blog post.
Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups from its service for what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behavior." That's the social network's term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections. Facebook has been disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Russia