The EU has warned Iran over the progression of ballistic missile testing and its behaviour in the wider region. In a 12-point statement issued on Monday the bloc, which remains part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, said it is "gravely concerned" over the state's missile activity. "Iran continues to undertake efforts to increase the range and precision of its missiles, together with increasing the number of tests and operational launches ... These activities deepen mistrust and contribute to regional instability," the statement read.
Iran's top judge said on Monday that Tehran would never accept the "humiliating conditions" set by the European Union for non-dollar trade intended to evade U.S. sanctions, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. France, Germany and Britain have opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to get around the sanctions, reimposed on Iran after President Donald Trump's decision in May to exit a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers.
Iran's oil minister on Tuesday criticized Greece and Italy for not buying its oil despite U.S. waivers and said they had not offered Tehran any explanation for their decision. The United States granted the two countries exemptions along with six others - Turkey, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - allowing them to temporarily continue buying Iranian oil as Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran's banking and energy sectors.
UANI IN THE NEWS
...Norman Roule, a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a senior adviser to United Against Nuclear Iran, also agreed with Coats. He told JNS, "Israel has now conducted hundreds of strikes, and the Iranians continue to build this infrastructure. Thus, the logical explanation is what Israel is doing is not yet a sufficient deterrent to Iran and the Quds Force to keep it from conducting these activities in the future. ... The Iranians have yet to be deterred. ... Iran has been able to move the border of confrontation to its adversary's doorsteps, while at the same time removing it from its own border."
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
When President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May, Iran was expecting the European signatories to the deal to engage in serious efforts to uphold it. Indeed, on the very same day as the US withdrawal, President Hassan Rouhani announced in a televised speech his government's plans to launch intense, short-term negotiations with Europe to determine whether Iran should remain in the pact.
Iran dismissed European Union criticism of its missile program, regional policies and rights record on Tuesday, highlighting their increasingly testy relationship as both sides seek to salvage a troubled nuclear deal. Iran's comments came a day after the bloc criticized the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile tests and expressed concern at Iran's role in growing Middle East tensions.
The EU warned Tehran over its ballistic missile programme and interference in the Syria conflict Monday, while welcoming a new mechanism to trade with Iran while bypassing US sanctions. In a long-awaited statement on Iran that has been the subject of more than a week of wrangling in Brussels, the EU restated its commitment to saving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and took aim at Washington for abandoning the pact and reimposing sanctions.
Iran has mounted precision-guided warheads on its most advanced, longest-range missiles, the regime-affiliated Fars news agency reported Sunday. With a range of some 1,250 miles, the Khoramshahr-2 missile can reach Israel as well as U.S. bases in the Gulf. "The new generation of missiles with guided warheads has been named Khoramshahr-2 and they can be controlled until hitting the target and are able to carry warheads weighing nearly 2 tons," the report said.
The Iranian military has displayed two new long-range weapons during events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that saw a clerical Shiite Muslim leadership oust an absolute monarchy backed by the West. The Iranian armed forces successfully tested the Hoveizeh cruise missile and the Khorramshahr 2 ballistic missile, which has been fitted with precision warheads.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran is marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Yet, within a year and a half of the revolt, neighbouring Iraq declared war and invaded, backed by Western and Arab allies. Decades later, Iranians speak of the revolution and the war in the same breath, two major upheavals that transformed the country and remain inextricably linked in the minds of Iranians.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
An Iranian dissident in Berlin told German police that he was attacked by three men who called him by name and threatened him in Persian before beating him and stamping on him. If linked to Iranian government agents, the attack could further strain Iran's ties with the European Union, which last month imposed sanctions on an Iranian intelligence unit. The Netherlands has accused Iran of two killings on its soil.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
As Iran prepares to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, the question of who will succeed the ill and aging supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is resurfacing. No matter who that cleric might be, Iran is likely to be ruled by another religious figure who is far less powerful than Khamenei and more beholden to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who died in late December, had been considered the leading contender to replace Khamenei.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini betrayed the principles of the Iranian revolution after sweeping to power in 1979, his first president told Reuters, leaving a "very bitter" taste among some of those who had returned with him to Tehran in triumph. Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, a sworn opponent of Tehran's clerical rulers ever since being driven from office and fleeing abroad in 1981, recalled how 40 years ago in Paris, he had been convinced that the religious leader's Islamic revolution would pave the way for democracy and human rights after the rule of the Shah.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Prior to Iran's 1979 revolution, Iranian-Israeli ties were normal. Afterward, however, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini deemed the Palestinian issue more important than these ties, using Palestine as a strategic tool to infiltrate the Arab world. Since then, the Iranian regime's voice has been projected across the Islamic world with fiery speeches opposing Zionism and, with it, heading an "Axis of Resistance" and rejecting any relations with Israel.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Monday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of inciting Western powers against Lebanon, a day after the premier blasted the country for including the Iran-backed terrorist group in its newly formed government. "The new Lebanese government is not controlled by Hezbollah," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast by Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channel.
GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN
Representatives of the Iran-backed Houthi militias at the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in Hodeidah rejected a UN plan to redeploy in the city, Yemeni government sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. Representatives from the legitimate government, on the other hand, have accepted the proposal, made by UN appointed chair of the RCC, retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, said the sources.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iraq's president and many other politicians in the country denounced President Trump's plan for U.S. troops in Iraq to monitor neighboring Iran, as Baghdad tries to balance ties to its two most important allies, Washington and Tehran. Mr. Trump, in an interview Sunday on CBS News, said he wants to maintain a military presence in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran "because Iran is a real problem." The president said the U.S. had "spent a fortune" on a base in western Iraq he visited in December and should hold on to it.
President Donald Trump's pledge to use a US base in Iraq to "watch" Iran has triggered a furious reaction from Baghdad. Why it matters: Amid bipartisan push-back against his decision to pull US troops out of Syria, the president told CBS in an interview that ran Sunday that Al-Asad base in Anbar province, which the president visited just after Christmas, could deal with the Iranian threat.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAN
Unprecedented negotiations in Qatar between US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban have created cautious optimism for lasting reconciliation. "We made significant progress on vital issues," Khalilzad wrote on Twitter, adding: "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and 'everything' must include an intra-Afghan dialogue and comprehensive ceasefire."