Tehran has "significantly expanded" its missile testing, including a missile that can reach European countries, the German daily Die Welt reported on Sunday. The increase in tests marks a doubling of the country's test missile launches. The regime tested four medium-range and one short-range missile in 2017, less than half the number of tests in 2018, according to documentation seen by the newspaper.
The United States believes that the Yemen that emerges from civil war should not contain any Iranian-backed threat to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. State Department official told a conference in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The United States is encouraging the Yemeni government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement to fully engage in peace talks taking place in Sweden, said Timothy Lenderking, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Arabian Gulf Affairs.
Two large British banks are among those ensnared in the controversy over Huawei Technologies Co., which escalated over the weekend after the Chinese government warned Canada it would face "severe consequences" if it didn't release the Chinese telecommunications giant's finance chief. Canada this month arrested Meng Wanzhou at the behest of U.S. authorities, who are seeking her extradition over allegations she misled banks about Huawei's business dealings with Iran to skirt international sanctions against that country. Ms. Meng, 46 years old, is in the midst of hearings in Vancouver that are expected to reconvene Monday and lead to a decision on bail.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Many EU policymakers are deeply resentful of President Trump's decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal. This resentment has fueled several shortsighted proposals that will only harm EU businesses and institutions, says David Ibsen. David Ibsen is President of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a bi-partisan, non-profit advocacy organisation based in the United States. This approach to Iran, championed by High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Frederica Mogherini, is increasingly discordant with the direction taken by national governments in Europe. Foreign ministers in the Council have said that they will examine imposing sanctions on the Iranian regime, while the Danish government has called for stronger action.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The Iranian nuclear saga and its repercussions are once again taking center stage. Is there anything left that President Trump might do to the Iranian people after his complete withdrawal from the Iran deal, renewed sanctions, and hawkish foreign policy towards Iran? Of course, it goes without saying that if the financial gains that were promised to Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal are no longer there why would Iran wait to see any tangible results to come to its doorstep?
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
France and Germany have agreed to host the special vehicle purpose (SPV), a special payment channel created by Europe as part of its efforts to keep trade flowing with Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions. According to ISNA, the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche has reported it has been agreed that the related company be located in France and its director to be chosen from Germany.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said US sanctions were "economic terrorism", as he sought to foster a united front from visiting regional officials on Saturday. Addressing parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, Rouhani said they had all suffered economic pressure from the US. "We are facing an all-out assault which is not only threatening our independence and identity but also is bent on breaking our longstanding ties," he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that U.S. sanctions against Iran will result in an influx of "drugs, refugees and bombs and assassination" in the west. Speaking at an anti-terrorism event in Tehran, Rouhani claimed that "boycotting Iran undermines our ability to fight drugs and terrorism," according to Iran's Tasnim News Agency.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday a decision by OPEC and other oil producers on Friday to cut output was a rebuff for a U.S. "policy of meddling", the state news agency IRNA reported. OPEC and its Russia-led allies agreed to slash oil production by more than the market had expected, after pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to reduce the price of crude.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has "ordered" the central bank to boost the value of rial, the bank's governor said on Saturday, after a months-long plunge in the currency due to a faltering economy and U.S. sanctions. The state news agency IRNA quoted governor Abdolnaser Hemmati as saying Ayatollah Khamenei "ordered the bank at a recent meeting to increasingly strengthen the national currency and called for the observance of the independence of the central bank".
China summoned the US Ambassador to Beijing on Sunday to protest the detention of an executive of Chinese electronics giant Huawei in Canada at Washington's behest and demanded Washington cancel an order for her arrest. The official Xinhua News Agency said Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng "lodged solemn representations and strong protests" with Ambassador Terry Branstad against the detention of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.
Iran has the ability to build ballistic missiles with a broader range, a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Monday, according to the semi-official Fars News agency. Iran's missiles currently cover a range of 2000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and many "enemy bases" are within 800 kilometers of the Islamic Republic, Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' airspace division, was cited as saying.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Iranian security forces have detained 10 people suspected of links to a suicide car bomb attack this week that killed at least two policemen, police chief Hossein Ashtari said on Sunday. "Good clues have been obtained and hopefully with the public's cooperation ... we will get to the main leads," Ashtari was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying. More suspects have been identified and are being sought, Ashtari added. At least 48 people were also injured in Thursday's suicide car bomb attack by a Sunni militant group on a police headquarters in the port city of Chabahar in southeast Iran, according to state media.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned Western countries that they will face a massive influx of drugs if Iran becomes weakened by U.S. sanctions. Rouhani spoke in Tehran at a six-nation conference on fighting terrorism attended by parliament speakers of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, China and Russia. In remarks broadcast on state TV, Rouhani said a weakened Iran would be less able to fight drug trafficking. "Weakening Iran by sanctions, many will not be safe," he said. "Those who do not believe us, it is good to look at the map."
Iran has detained an Australian-based academic on charges of trying to "infiltrate" Iranian institutions, according to official media. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi was detained as she was leaving Iran, the state news agency IRNA said. Hosseini-Chavoshi, a population expert, is affiliated with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, according to the University of Melbourne's website.
Human Rights Day, marked on December 10, is a wake-up call for the world as human rights violations are the order of the day for suppressive regimes around the globe. The Iranian regime has by far exceeded others in abusing its own citizens. Although the international committee has been vigilant in other areas concerning Iranian regime's behavior it has paid less attention to human rights violations in Iran.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Members of a "US military group" who visited Iran were "presumably" spies, the chairman of the Public Works Commission of Iran's parliament has said. The group entered Iran to negotiate about obtaining OFAC permits for selling planes to Iran, Mohammad-Reza Rezaei Kouchi asserted, without mentioning any date. OFAC, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, is a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iranian naval forces plan to stage a large-scale drill in the Indian Ocean to boost and put on display the country's military prowess, according to a senior commander. The maneuver will be held this winter within the perimeters of Iran's southern territorial waters and high seas, Deputy Navy Commander for Coordination Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani told IRNA on Saturday. The commander added that the Navy's state-of-the-art equipment, including two Ghadir-class submarines that recently joined the naval fleet, will take part in the drill.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Fast-track courts set up in Iran to fight economic crime have jailed 30 men for up to 20 years each, the judiciary said on Sunday, as the country faces renewed U.S. sanctions and a public outcry against profiteering and corruption. The new Islamic revolutionary courts - whose rulings cannot be appealed, except for death sentences - were set up in August after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for "swift and just" legal action to confront an "economic war" by foreign enemies.
Iran's influential Guardian Council (GC) has pressed charges against Tehran's outspoken MP, Mahmoud Sadeghi, who has accused the council of "financial corruption", GC's spokesman disclosed on Friday, December 6. Speaking to Tasnim, a news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei maintained, "The GC is absolutely reluctant to sue anybody, but the MP's comments are tied to the ruling establishment and the council's prestige."
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israeli forces announced on Saturday that they discovered another Hezbollah tunnel dug from Lebanon, marking the second cross-border tunnel found since Israel began an operation to "neutralize" attack passageways dug by the Iranian-backed group. The finding comes shortly after troops fired at suspected members of the Lebanese militant group who approached the area where Israeli Army engineers were working to locate the tunnels.
A Lebanese businessman sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for being an important financial supporter of Hezbollah pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges associated with evading U.S. sanctions imposed on him, the U.S. Justice Department said. Kassim Tajideen, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiring with at least five other people to conduct more than $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses in violation of the sanctions imposed on him, the department said in a statement. If his plea agreement is approved by the U.S. District Court in Washington, Tajideen would serve five years in prison and pay a $50 million criminal forfeiture in advance of his sentencing, the department said.
Yemen's Saudi-backed government has proposed reopening the Houthi-held airport in the capital Sanaa on condition planes are inspected in the airports of Aden or Sayun which are under its control, two government officials said yesterday. The Houthis rejected the proposal floated at UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden that are aimed at cementing confidence-building measures that could lead to a ceasefire to halt air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi missile attacks on Saudi cities.
In February, we wrote, "Although the Islamic State (IS) is near defeat, Syria now risks a confrontation among the major regional and world powers. This turn of events can only be characterized as a failure of imagination and leadership, requiring an urgent rethink of the endgame in Syria ... a turnaround in Syria requires a change of mindset. The final chapters of the battle against IS should have been a transition of opportunity rather than crisis.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has accused regional rival Iran of meddling in other countries' affairs, as he addressed a regional summit in Riyadh. "Extremist and terrorist powers continue to threaten our security in the Gulf and in the Arab world," the king told the summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on December 9. "The Iranian regime is continuing its hostile policies and continues to intervene in other nations' internal affairs," he added.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened the annual one-day summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, urging fellow member states Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar to maintain a united front against Iran and terrorism. "This requires all of us to maintain our countries' gains and to work with our partners to preserve security and stability in the region and the world," he said in a speech. King Salman also accused Iran of "continuing to interfere in the affairs of the countries in the region".