As Iran's Islamic Republic enters a fifth decade, its energy industry has little to celebrate. The country's crude output has yet to recover to pre-revolution levels and is unlikely to do so for many years, even without U.S. sanctions. Oil production is languishing as foreign investors steer clear of the world's fourth-largest holder of crude. Pledges by U.S. officials to tighten curbs on Iran's oil sales and the expiration of waivers for several of the nation's customers in early May are set to further restrict its exports.
Iran appears to have attempted a second satellite launch despite U.S. criticism that its space program helps the country develop ballistic missiles, satellite images released Thursday suggest. Iran did not immediately acknowledge conducting such a launch. Images released by the Colorado-based company DigitalGlobe show a rocket at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province on Tuesday. Images from Wednesday show the rocket was gone with what appears to be burn marks on its launch pad.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress last week that America's spooks believe Iran is still complying with Barack Obama's nuclear deal. This may be technically true, but now comes the head of Tehran's nuclear agency to say Iran has been preparing to break out from the start. "We knew that [the Westerners] would ultimately renege on their promises," said Ali Akbar Salehi in an Iranian television interview last month.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
One day after Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh complained that Iraq has not paid billions of dollars for its imports from Iran after the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions, Iran's Central Bank Governor told reporters that he has reached an agreement with his Iraqi counterpart about the payments. The chief banker Abdolnasser Hemmati arrived in Baghdad Tuesday evening for negotiations regarding bilateral banking relations and the payment of Iraq's debts for the electricity and natural gas provided by Tehran.
Iran's gas production at South Pars, the world's largest gas field, has hit 610 million cubic metres per day, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told state TV on Wednesday. The offshore field, which Iran calls South Pars and Qatar calls North Field, is shared between Iran and Qatar. Iran's daily gas production from the field now exceeds that of Qatar, Zanganeh said.
Iran plans to increase the range of their land-to-sea missiles, a senior Iranian commander said Wednesday. "We did not have coast-to-sea missiles before the [Islamic] Revolution [in Iran] but today, the range of our missiles has increased to 300km and it will increase in the near future," Iranian Army's Deputy Commander for Operations R.-Adm. Mahmoud Moussavi was quoted by Iran's Fars News as saying in Tehran on Wednesday.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday his country would be ready to establish "friendly relations" with the United States if it apologized for past wrongs. "Our slogan is friendly relations with the whole world," he said. That would even include "America, if it repents... and apologizes for its previous interferences in Iran, and is prepared to accept the greatness and dignity of the nation of Iran and the great Islamic Revolution," he said.
It's not the most outrageous foreign policy idea peddled by the Trump administration. But, in the raft of schemes rolling out from Washington, it is probably the most pointless. I am referring to a little-noticed conference soon to be held in Warsaw. The brainchild of Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, it is billed as a ministerial "to promote peace and security in the Middle East".
Just days before the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates its 40th anniversary on February 11, Europe has offered it a gift. Ever since last May, when Washington pulled out of the nuclear deal signed under then-President Barack Obama and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Europe has promised to soften the economic blow by offering Iran a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). Last week, after months of anticipation, and timed to coincide with a controversial Middle East conference cohosted by Poland and the United States that is widely expected to tar-and-feather Iran, the first step of the SPV was rolled out.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
They were born after their parents' protests brought down the shah of Iran in 1979, when enthusiasm gave way to the hard years of U.S.-led isolation and a bloody, eight-year war with Iraq. Iran's "revolution babies" are a major force in the country today, in the wake of the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the creation of the Islamic Republic, now marking its 40th anniversary.
Gunmen killed an Iranian policeman and wounded a police officer in a shootout Wednesday during which a stray bullet hit a fuel tanker, causing it to explode, Iran's state TV reported. Authorities later said five suspects were arrested. State TV quoted Gen. Mohammad Mahdia, police chief in western Lorestan province where the shootout took place, as saying the suspects belong to two different groups. He did not elaborate but said an investigation was ongoing.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah said Wednesday the organization would defend Iran in the event of war, saying the Islamic Republic would not be alone in a confrontation with America. Hassan Nasrallah said the Islamic Republic is currently the strongest state in the region, and the so-called axis of resistance led by Iran is the strongest it has ever been. The axis groups the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad with Shiite militias in Iraq and Hezbollah.
Iran would like to move its weapons supply center for Syria from the Damascus international airport to a Syrian air base located very far from the capital city. Specifically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which runs this operation, apparently will relocate the center to the Syrian air base known as T4, located between Homs and Palmyra. The decision is related to the latest wave of Israeli attacks on the Damascene airport