France and Germany have joined forces to rescue a European effort to create a payments channel to keep trade flowing with Iran, defying U.S. attempts to take the air out of the plan, senior diplomats said. The steps by Europe’s most powerful countries are part of their campaign to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after President Trump withdrew the U.S. in May.
The global giant German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom pulled the plug on phone and internet service for Iran’s Bank Melli due to US sanction pressure. On Friday, the US embassy in Berlin tweeted that Deutsche Telekom “cuts off phone and internet to Iran’s Bank Melli, which funnels terrorist groups working for the Iranian regime.” The embassy added that “sanctions are working” and “thank you Deutsche Telekom.”
Iran’s nuclear chief warned the European Union of ominous consequences on Monday if it did not follow through with action to keep the economic benefits of the 2015 nuclear agreement alive. The EU hosted the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, at a seminar on nuclear cooperation aimed at showing its continuing support for the deal after U.S. sanctions targeting Iranian oil exports resumed this month.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The European Union and Iran are affirming their support for the international nuclear deal and say they aim to keep it alive despite U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to abandon the landmark pact. Ahead of EU-Iran talks on civil nuclear cooperation in Brussels Monday, EU Energy Commissioner Arias Canete said the deal is "crucial for the security of Europe, of the region and the entire world."
Tehran has no benefit from the nuclear deal anymore since Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic's deputy foreign minister for political affairs, warned on Monday, November 26. "The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is in a “critical situation” Abbas Araqchi insisted, adding, “This is a reality". Speaking at a seminar on Iran-EU cooperation held in Brussels, Araqchi said with the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, Tehran’s benefits from the lifting of sanctions has “nearly reached zero”.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Qatar Airways will add more flights to Iran from January, the state-owned Gulf airline announced on Monday just weeks after the United States re-imposed sanctions aimed at crippling Tehran’s economy. President Donald Trump has threatened to bar companies that continue to do business with Iran from the U.S. market. Qatar Airways will add two weekly flights to its existing Doha-Tehran route and add three weekly flights on its Shiraz service in January. It will also launch two weekly flights to Isfahan in February.
France and Germany are teaming up in a bid to circumvent sanctions re-imposed on Iran by the US. Senior diplomats said that they were set to launch a mechanism which would enable European companies to circumvent US imposed sanction on Tehran. They aim to help European companies continue to do business in Iran, despite the sanctions re-imposed by US President Donald Trump announced in May of this year.
On the day U.S. sanctions against Iran went into effect, Brent crude traded at US$72.68 a barrel. Today, three weeks later, Brent is down to US$59.59 a barrel and President Trump is congratulating himself on the low oil prices. Instead of shooting up to US$100, oil prices are falling and the U.S. waivers granted to eight large Iranian oil buyers are among the main reasons for this. But how long with the effect of the waivers last?
Japanese buyers are unlikely to load Iranian oil after April 1 without an extension of the country’s current waiver because of the difficulty in making payments before sanctions are reimposed in early May, the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) said on Tuesday. Japan’s oil loadings from Iran are likely to be heavy in January-March, although some fresh shipments might take place around end-December, PAJ president Takashi Tsukioka told reporters.
A poster on the Rouhani administration's Twitter page featuring a picture of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the slogan "We shall survive," has elicited a wave of anger and criticism on the Persian-language social media. The poster, published on the administration's twitter page, @PadDolat, quotes part of a sentence from Zarif's interview with the Guardian in which he said Iran will not only survive the newly re-imposed US sanctions but it will thrive.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Global soccer body FIFA has been urged by its own human rights advisory panel to give Iran a deadline for allowing women to watch soccer matches. In a report published Monday, the panel said that Iran’s ban on women fans violated FIFA’s own ethics code which “specifically prohibits discrimination including on the basis of gender”.
The head of Iran's judicial authority Monday warned restive workers against creating "disorder," while calling on the government to address their problems. Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani spoke amid efforts to resolve a weeks-long strike at a major sugar factory in western Iran and popular discontent over rising prices. "Workers should not allow their demands to become an excuse and an instrument for the enemy and creation of disorder in the country," Larijani said, quoted by the judiciary's news agency Mizan Online.
A group of Iranian doctors has staged a protest outside Iran’s parliament to demand hospital treatment for a detained human rights activist who has been on a hunger strike for months. Photos received and verified by VOA Persian on Monday showed the doctors standing and holding signs in support of activist Farhad Meysami outside the parliament building in Tehran. Lawyer Mohammad Moghimi, who represents Meysami, told VOA Persian in a phone call that the protest happened on Monday morning.
Former UNICEF official Baquer Namazi was detained in Iran nearly three years ago. His son is urging Tehran to let his 82-year-old father leave the country for medical treatment. Namazi is one of several Americans held in Iran.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The US Department of Sate released a press statement by Secretary Mike Pompeo on Monday stating that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has “once again called for the destruction of Israel”, which comes across as “seemingly calling for war.” The statement added that Rouhani has also encouraged Muslims worldwide to unite against the US, which is a step that will “further deepen Iran’s isolation.”
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says the United States plans to make Israel a dominant force in the Middle East through its ‘deal of the century’ plot, but Iran is determined to foil it. “The so-called ‘deal of the century’ is an Israeli-American plot,” Larijani said in a Monday address to the closing ceremony of the Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency says a Sunni cleric who had worked to reconcile Sunnis and Shiites, members of the two biggest sects in Islam, was shot and killed. The report says the cleric, Abdolghafour Jamalzai, was shot in the back with a hunting rifle on Tuesday morning outside of a mosque in the town of Gorgan. The town is about 300 kilometers, or about 190 miles, northeastern of Tehran. The report didn’t say how many gunmen were involved or speculate on the possible motives for the assassination.
Iranian conservatives appear to be planning to undermine the national parliament's power as an institution, which would thereby undermine the elected body’s position within the country’s political system. When a bill is passed in Iran's parliament, it is sent to the Guardian Council to see whether it is in accordance with the Iranian Constitution and Islamic law. If the council approves the bill, then it is officially a law; if it rejects the bill and finds it in violation of the constitution and Islamic law, the bill is sent back to parliament for revision.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said no effort should be spared to help victims of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Iran’s western border with Iraq that injured more than 700 people, most suffering minor injuries, state television reported Monday. The Sunday night earthquake was felt in at least seven provinces of Iran, but most strongly in Kermanshah, where last year more than 600 people were killed and thousands injured in the country’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade.
According to the latest information provided by the U.S. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, there have been reports of children working in brick production and carpet weaving around the world. Children also work on family farms illegally and are forced by traffickers to work as street vendors or to beg.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The United States on Monday joined the European Union in denouncing remarks by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, on Saturday, called Israel a “cancerous tumor” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East. “We condemn the outrageous comments by Iran’s Rouhani,” Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East peace process, said in a tweet.
The head of a powerful Iraqi militia wants a formal role for paramilitaries in securing the border with Syria, a move that could deepen US worries about Iran’s growing sway over a strategic corridor of territory from Tehran to Beirut. Many Iraqi militias that are supported by Iran and oppose the presence of US troops in the region, have sent reinforcements to the frontier after fighting flared between US-backed Kurdish forces and ISIS militants on the Syrian side.