Iran's nuclear chief on Wednesday inaugurated the Islamic Republic's new nuclear enrichment facility that is geared toward producing centrifuges which will operate within the limits of the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers... In the interview, [he] said the facility's construction began even before the 2015 deal was signed and that he hopes the first centrifuges — known as old-generation centrifuges — will roll out in a month's time.
Iran will not heed a call to cooperate more fully with U.N. nuclear inspectors until a standoff over the future of its agreement with major powers is resolved, its envoy to the agency said on Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing the restrictions placed on Iran’s activities under the deal, has said Tehran is implementing its commitments, but also called for “timely and proactive cooperation” on providing access for snap inspections.
Boeing will not deliver aircraft to Iran in light of US sanctions, effectively aborting a pair of large contracts with Iranian carriers, a Boeing spokesman said Wednesday.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The star of a live television interview in Iran's new nuclear workshop wasn't the head of the country's atomic agency, but three centrifuges labeled in English in the background, advanced devices Tehran is prohibited from using by the nuclear deal with world powers. The placement of the centrifuges, identified as IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6, may have served as a subtle warning to Europe as it tries to salvage the atomic accord after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from it and restore U.S. sanctions.
Experts from the countries still in the Iran nuclear deal were holding a scheduled meeting in Tehran Thursday, with the accord hanging in the balance after the United States withdrew.
Iran, China and Russia may seek ways to salvage the nuclear deal ditched by Donald Trump when their leaders meet this weekend at a summit on the Chinese coast.
Iran — along with the EU, China and Russia — wants to keep the accord to remove the stigma surrounding its nuclear program and put the Islamic Republic on a path toward reintegration into the global economy. But large businesses, including energy, shipping and manufacturing firms, are already winding down operations in the country and will have to terminate their investments absent a waiver. To stop this trend, Iran has responded by leveraging fear, stating its intent to incrementally increase its nuclear capacity so that European politicians, banks and businesses provide Iran with sufficient incentives to abide by the deal. However, it's not clear how successful Europe’s initial efforts have been, as most banks remain risk-averse.
The United States is aware of reports that Iran plans to increase its uranium enrichment capacity and Washington will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
On June 5, 2018, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi told Fars News Agency that Iran would soon start new centrifuge production at a site in the Natanz enrichment complex… If it has not done so recently, the IAEA will surely want to visit this site in light of Salehi’s announcement and Iran’s recent letter to the IAEA and ascertain its status, activities, and plans. It is important to note that the existence of this facility has likely been known and it has likely been safeguarded by the IAEA; its start is also not against Iran’s JCPOA obligations. Recent Iranian announcements, however, could mark a return to pushing against the JCPOA provisions and signal that Iran is increasing pressure on the parties to the JCPOA to maintain the accord in the face of U.S. withdrawal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting opposition in European capitals to his aggressive stance against Iran.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
U.S. officials are touring the globe to pressure countries to shun trade with Iran following Washington’s withdrawal from a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, a move that undermines European efforts to save the accord, sources said.
European refiners are winding down oil purchases from Iran, closing the door on a fifth of the OPEC member’s crude exports after the United States imposed sanctions on Tehran, company and trading sources said.
France’s FIEV car equipment lobby group has canceled a July trip to Iran in light of current tensions between the United States and other European powers over a 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Germany's Angela Merkel will try to talk to U.S. President Donald Trump about their differences on Iran and trade tariffs during a Group of Seven summit in Canada on June 8-9, the chancellor told parliament on Wednesday.
Procter & Gamble Co. confirmed today that the company plans to stop selling products in Iran as a result of President Donald Trump pulling the United States out of an agreement to limit Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.
When President Trump announced the return of U.S. sanctions on Iran almost one month ago on May 8, there was a great deal of skepticism about how many global businesses would cease operations in Iran or with Iranian agents… Despite the statements from European and Asian leaders in support of Iran, it seems that America’s economic weight is too great to ignore. Businesses of all types, ranging from insurance companies to car manufacturers to shipping companies are now announcing that they will cease business with Iran or in Iran because of U.S. sanctions. Here’s a list of some of the larger companies that have announced exits or plans to exit Iran..
The United States has reached a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. that includes a $1 billion fine, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The fine comes on top of the roughly $1 billion ZTE has already paid for selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications company trying to resolve a seven-year US export ban, has sent out reprimand letters to 35 current and former employees involved in illegal sales to Iran and is seeking to claw back bonuses from those who have left the company, according to people familiar with the matter. The reprimand and forfeiture of bonuses were part of the original settlement that ZTE had reached with the US government.
Iraq and Iran have not yet begun exchanging crude oil, for technical reasons, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said on Wednesday, contradicting Iran's oil ministry news agency. Iraq agreed last year to ship crude from the northern Kirkuk oil field to Iran for use in its refineries, after which Iran would deliver the same amount of oil to Iraq's southern ports.
When President Trump announced last month that America would leave the global nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose U.S. sanctions, Europe’s leaders vowed to create financial mechanisms that would enable their firms to do business with Tehran and protect them from U.S. financial retaliation… [But], there are growing signs that side-stepping America is easier said than done. One big bank or business after another, European or otherwise, is choosing continued ties to the U.S. economy over new trade and investment opportunities with the Islamic Republic. That decision reflects a basic reality: however much President Trump rankles world leaders by abandoning global pacts and questioning long-held orthodoxies on trade and other issues, America’s economy remains simply too big and too enticing to keep the United States truly isolated.
NORTH KOREA & IRAN
The scars from the contentious congressional debate over the Iran nuclear deal are spurring lawmakers to press for a role in President Trump's talks with North Korea.
SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The night before his trip to Europe ends, political sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's entourage said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May had agreed that Iranian forces should be removed from Syria and that the goal “had been significantly advanced.”
Israel’s navy successfully completed a complex training program last week led by a flotilla of missile boats, including both defensive and offensive attacks at sea, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced Wednesday… Hezbollah is believed to have long-range missiles, including precision ballistic missiles received from Iran, which can hit the rigs and ships inside [Israel’s exclusive economic zone] that are the responsibility of the navy. “We believe that Hezbollah has the ability to strike any spot in our waters,” [a] senior naval officer stated.
In recent months, Israel bombed Iranian objectives inside Syria several times. Iran absorbed casualties, serious damage and international humiliation. Iran is eager for revenge, but what can it do? Does Iran want to go to war?
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
In a new onslaught on moderate President Hassan Rouhani, former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has attacked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the signature foreign policy achievement of the incumbent administration.
Iran's official IRNA news agency says hackers have disrupted the arrival and departure monitors in the Tabriz international airport in the country's northwest… Last month, hackers identifying themselves as "Tapandegan", or "Pulsating," managed to interrupt routine broadcasts on monitors in Mashhad international airport, replacing them with images of anti-government protests from January.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
A Saudi court has sentenced four people to death for links to regional rival Iran, alleging that they were plotting the assassination of "prominent figures", state media said Thursday.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
The Al-Nasser Salah Al-Din Brigades, the military branch of the Popular Resistance [Committees], marked the upcoming International Qods Day by conducting a military drill. Abu Yousuf, a spokesman for the Brigades, expressed "blessings, appreciation, and gratitude to Iran" and called upon Arab and Islamic countries to follow the example set by Hizbullah and Iran.
IRAQ & IRAN
A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said in remarks published on Thursday that Iraq's parliamentary election, won by a block led by nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was a setback for Iran's regional ambitions.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAN
No one here believes the fight is over. Nearly three weeks after hundreds of Taliban insurgents invaded this provincial capital in western Afghanistan, the sidewalk bazaars are back in business… but a Humvee or armored vehicle stands guard every two blocks… Even as Afghan officials last week put on an impressive display of weapons confiscated during the 36-hour street battle, some complained that arms are being sold back to the insurgents, that political feuds are weakening the government’s side, and that Iran — which shares a lengthy border with the province — is backing and advising the Taliban.