Eye on Iran: Fate of Iran Deal to Land Back in Trump’s Hands

TOP STORIES

Fate of Iran Deal to Land Back in Trump’s Hands | Financial Times

Two months after Donald Trump offloaded to Congress a decision on whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, lawmakers are set to hand the contentious issue back to the president after missing a deadline to deal with it. Mr Trump vowed in October to scrap the agreement unless Congress and US allies intervened to fix his concerns. In January, he faces deadlines to recertify the deal and waive sanctions or break the pact, with no signs of success in Congress in helping to finding a way through.

Iran Foreign Minister Defends Missile Program, Asks European Support | Reuters

Iran’s foreign minister on Monday defended its ballistic missile program and urged European countries not to be influenced by U.S. President Donald Trump’s confrontational policy towards Tehran.  

Iranian Leaders Vow to Back Hamas in Fight Against Israel | Times of Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke with the leader of Hamas Monday, as Iran vowed to back the terror group in fighting Israel after US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

CONGRESS & IRAN

Congress Ignores Trump’s Deadline on Iran Nuclear Deal | Washington Times

Congress is about to miss what was widely seen as a deadline to deal with President Trump’s demands for a harder line on the Iran nuclear deal, failing to agree on new sanctions against Tehran and punting the future of the deal back to Mr. Trump. A Republican legislative push to establish new “triggers” that could reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran lifted under the Obama-era deal has gone nowhere ahead of Tuesday — the end of a 60-day unofficial deadline set by the administration for Capitol Hill to weigh in on the situation after Mr. Trump declared he could no longer certify that the accord was in the U.S. national interest. Congressional aides say lawmakers still have time to propose something before Mr. Trump is mandated to decide again whether to weigh in on the deal, but White House aides say the president is rankled by the lack of progress on Capitol Hill and likely will pull the United States out of the deal entirely when it comes up for review on Jan. 13.

GOP Lawmakers Call for Iran Sanctions Over Its Role in Yemen | Hill

A pair of senior GOP lawmakers are pushing to impose sanctions on Iran for its destabilizing activities in Yemen as the House prepares to vote this week on legislation to crack down on the country’s financing of terrorism. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas), both senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to sanction Iran for its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Warning To Congress: Bad Iran Legislation Is Worse Than No Iran Legislation | Richard Goldberg for Foreign Policy

In October, President Donald Trump took an important step toward countering Iran’s ever-expanding list of illicit activities by refusing to certify to Congress that the flawed nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration remained in America’s national security interest. Now he needs to stop Congress from giving away the leverage he established.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

Charges: Turkish Businessman Exported US Goods to Iran | Associated Press

Federal prosecutors allege a Turkish businessman helped illegally route Wisconsin-made outboard engines and boat generators to the Iranian navy.

TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM

Iran Guards Commander Says Ready to Back Palestinian Forces | Bloomberg

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani says his nation is ready to support Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip, days after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump's Jerusalem Move Will Hasten Israel's Destruction: Iran | Reuters

Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will hasten the country’s destruction, Iran’s defense minister said on Monday, while a top Revolutionary Guards commander phoned two Palestinian armed groups and pledged support for them.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Iran Will Treat Jailed Aid Worker as Iranian Citizen: Foreign Ministry | Reuters

Iran will treat a British-Iranian aid worker as an Iranian citizen and she will serve her sentence as determined by the judiciary, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

What Was on the Agenda for British Foreign Secretary's Iran Visit? | Al-Monitor

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Iran on Dec. 10. Ahead of the trip, Johnson said that he would address British concerns over the imprisonment of dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested and sentenced in 2016 to five years in prison.

How to Prevent the Next Mideast War | Wall Street Journal

Europe’s borders are bloody. From Ukraine in the east to Libya and Syria in the south, war has brought mass migration, terrorism and political instability to a continent ill-equipped to do much about the underlying problem. Yet while the European Union’s soft power can’t stop conflicts, it could help prevent the outbreak of a new one—between Israel and Iran, aided by its proxy Hezbollah.

MILITARY MATTERS

IRGC Prioritized In Iran’s State Budget | Asharq Al-Awsat (U.K.)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani presented the draft budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 to the parliament on Sunday, defending it in an hour-long speech. The budget showed allocations to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were three times that of the army. Quds Force and the Revolutionary Program are a priority in the new budget, according to informed parliamentary sources.

SYRIA CONFLICT

Putin Wants to Work with Iran and Turkey to Kick-Start Syrian Peace Process – Agencies | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday he wanted to work with Iran and Turkey to kick-start the Syrian peace process, Russian news agencies reported.  

IRAQ CRISIS

U.S. Looks to Counter Iran in Postwar Iraq | Associated Press
As Iraq emerges from three years of war with Daesh (ISIS), the U.S. is looking to roll back the influence of neighboring Iran and help the central government resolve its dispute with the Kurdish region, the American envoy to the country told the Associated Press.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, LEBANON, AND IRAN

Iran Puts Pressure on Houthis to Bring Back Body of Their Missile Expert | Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia/UAE)

The Houthi militia is facing intense pressure from Iran demanding that they transport the body of Iranian missile expert, Hussein Khasrawy, to Tehran for a proper burial, according to sources close to the militia’s leaders.

IRANIAN DOMESTIC ISSUES

Ahmadinejad Moves To Target Influential Iranian Political Family | Al Monitor

Once again, Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made headlines following his controversial remarks targeting judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani and his brother, parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. The war of words illustrates yet again Ahmadinejad’s typical strategy, which is to attack influential political families to gain more popularity with the public.

Earthquake of Magnitude 6.1 Strikes in Iran: USGS | Reuters

An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 struck northeast of Kerman, a provincial capital in Iran, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in the quake, which hit at a depth of 57 km (35 miles).