European diplomats warned Monday that Iran is preparing to abandon parts of a landmark nuclear deal in response to new U.S. sanctions, a step that risks inflaming tensions after the Trump administration dispatched warships to the Persian Gulf to deter potential Iranian attacks. A senior European diplomat said Iranian officials have been considering a partial withdrawal from some parts of the multination accord that placed strict but temporary limits on a broad swath of Iran's nuclear work.
Tensions escalated between the United States and Iran on Monday as the Trump administration accused Iran and militias that it backs of threatening American troops, and Iran signaled it might soon violate part of the 2015 nuclear deal it reached under former President Barack Obama. European diplomats in touch with senior officials in Tehran said Iran would most likely resume research on high-performance centrifuges used to produce nuclear fuel and put restrictions on nuclear inspections in Iran.
U.S. intelligence showed that Iran has made plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, triggering a decision to reinforce the American military presence in the region in an effort to deter any possible moves by Tehran, U.S. officials said Monday. The escalation in tensions came as European diplomats said Monday that Iran appeared poised to breach portions of the 2015 international nuclear pact that restricted Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran on Monday strongly suggested that it was about to reduce compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal because of sanctions reimposed by President Trump when he repudiated the Obama-era accord. Reports in Iran's state media said that the Iranians intended to inform the other countries in the agreement of unspecified changes ahead of the Wednesday anniversary of the American withdrawal ordered by Mr. Trump. "The Islamic Republic of Iran's government has decided to enforce specific decisions to reciprocate," the semiofficial Fars News Agency said.
Iran will restart part of its halted nuclear program in response to the U.S. withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal but does not itself plan to pull out of the agreement, the state-run IRIB news agency reported on Monday. Citing a source close to an official commission which oversees the nuclear deal, IRIB reported that President Hassan Rouhani would announce that Iran would reduce some of its "minor and general" commitments under the deal on May 8 - exactly one year after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. pullout.
Iran is about to partially resume parts of its nuclear program that were suspended within the frameworks of the 2015 nuclear agreement with the world powers, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iranian stat TV on Monday May 6 quoted "an official close to the JCPOA Supervisory Board" as having said that although the activities to be resumed are covered under articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, "Iran is not planning to withdraw from the nuclear deal at the time being."
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran will reportedly soon announce reciprocal measures in the face of the Donald Trump administration's revoking of sanctions waivers allowing nuclear cooperation with Iran. European officials have unofficially been notified of the decision, according to media reports in Iran. May 8, when Iran is reportedly set to make the announcement, will mark the one-year anniversary of the US officially exiting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)...
Alireza says he used to dream of a better future in Iran and even saw himself getting a new car or house, but those days are now gone after he lost his job to reimposed US sanctions. "My purchasing power has been cut, and my life is under pressure," said Alireza, an Iranian car industry veteran. "I no longer see myself as middle-class. It feels terrible," he said according to an AFP report Tuesday.
Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday as U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela kept markets on edge while concerns that an escalating Sino-U.S. trade dispute could slow the global economy also kept crude somewhat in check. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.29 per barrel at 0135 GMT on Tuesday, 4 cents above their last settlement.
Iran has appointed a new chief of its national airline, state news reported, replacing its first female CEO with a former air-force commander who is on a U.S. blacklist. Turaj Dehghani Zanganeh, a former air-force commander who features on a U.S. Treasury sanctions list, was named CEO of Iran Air at a government meeting on May 5. He will replace Farzaneh Sharafbafi, the first Iranian woman with a PhD in aerospace, who ran the airline for two years.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said on Monday that Iran is sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East. "When we hear the words coming from Tehran, threatening the U.S., threatening Israel, it shows that they're panicking because the sanctions are working," said Ambassador Danny Danon on "America's Newsroom." "But we are committed," Danon said. "We are committed to fighting terrorism, to fighting the proxies of Iran in our region."
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The White House said Sunday it will deploy an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf. This isn't a provocation but a deterrence message for Iran, its Middle Eastern proxies, and especially Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. "The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime," national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States has seen activity from Iran that indicated a possible "escalation," one day after the United States said it would send a carrier strike group to the Middle East to counter a "credible threat by Iranian regime forces." "We have continued to see activity that leads us to believe that there's escalation that may be taking place, and so we're taking all the appropriate actions..."
Iran's top security body dismissed as "psychological warfare" a U.S. announcement that a carrier strike group and bombers are being sent to the Middle East as a message to Tehran, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.
Tensions between the United States and Iran are reaching a boiling point as the first anniversary of President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal approaches. The Trump administration on Sunday said a U.S. carrier strike group is headed to the region in response to unspecified "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings."
An announcement by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton that Washington is sending an aircraft carrier group and bomber task force to the Middle East is drawing mixed reactions from countries in the region. Iran has condemned the move, while some U.S. allies nod in agreement. Arab media announced the U.S. deployment of the aircraft carrier group USS Abraham Lincoln and an air strike force, amid reports of possible tensions with Iran and threats by Iranian officials to "close the Strait of Hormuz," to shipping from the Gulf.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi dismissed the possibility of war with the U.S. but touted the military capabilities of the Islamic Republic in an interview aired on May 5. Boroujerdi, a member of Iran's parliament who previously served as the country's deputy foreign minister, was responding to President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, who on Sunday said that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force would be deployed to the Persian Gulf region...
Absent U.S. deterrence, the Iranian hardliners target U.S. interests, hence the newly announced deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf. With its recent increase in U.S. Navy deployments near Iran, the Trump administration wants to deter the Islamic Republic from threatening maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran is very much on the move, fomenting terrorism and paramilitary activity in the region.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
The relationship between the state and the clerical establishment in Iran has been unsteady over the last four decades. The state has often criticized the Qom seminary for its lackluster support for the Islamic Revolution and for its lack of involvement in everyday matters of government, as it limits itself to religious issues. Against this backdrop, hard-liners have pushed the Qom seminary to engage more in everyday political and social problems.
A village in southern Iran has been evacuated after a fire broke out at the Ahvaz-Omidieh oil pipeline in the vicinity of the village on Monday May 6. The fire broke out while workers were doing some maintenance work on pipeline, Mehr news agency reported. The fire started following a leakage after a loader blade pierced the line and it went out of control in less than an hour. It is not clear if the fire has been controlled in early evening local time.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Bahrain's highest court slapped 19 people with jail terms after they were convicted of maintaining links with Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanon's Hezbollah group, as reported on Anadolu Agency. According to the Bahraini News Agency (BNA), the Court of Cassation sentenced eight of those convicted to 25 years each in prison, nine to 15 years, and two to ten years for "communicating with a foreign country and a terrorist organisation".
For two decades, the Shebaa farms have been the epicentre of region influencing conflict, remained part of the reason Hezbollah says it cannot disarm and given Lebanese politicians of all stripes - but particularly from the Iran-backed paramilitary group - the opportunity to burnish their nationalist credentials. Those in Beirut says the area is Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. Hezbollah says it must continue to carry arms to complete the total liberation of Lebanese lands from their archival to the south. Israel, and others including the UN, disagree over the true ownership.
GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN
UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths' truce efforts suffered a new disappointment as the Iran-backed Houthi militias continued to refuse to implement the Sweden deal and redeploy from the Hodeidah province, informed political sources in Sanaa said Monday. "Houthi leader (Abdul Malek al-Houthi) told Griffiths that he agrees to implement the first phase of the redeployment plan in the two ports of Ras Isa and Saleef on condition that the Houthis are allowed to keep their militias in control of security and administrative affairs there," the sources added.
A lawmaker in Iran has revealed that the intelligence and communication ministries joined forces to create and manage diversionary social media apps to woo people away from secure international platforms. Iran banned the popular Telegram messaging app last year after mass protests and later two new apps appeared, labelled Talagram (golden telegram in Persian) and Hotgram, trying to attract users in Iran.