Iranian officials rebuffed an offer by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks between the U.S. and Iran without preconditions, saying his suggestion amounted to "word play," given the Trump administration's escalating campaign of maximum pressure. The response by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, carried in state media, came as the two countries have ratcheted up tension in recent weeks and as the U.S. has built up its military forces in the region.
Iran called U.S. sanctions "economic war" on Monday, and said there could be no talks with the United States until sanctions are lifted, a day after Washington suggested it could hold talks without pre-conditions if Iran changed its behavior. "#EconomicTerrorism against Iran targets innocent civilians. Like this little boy, whose heartbroken mother can't get him prosthetic legs as he grows. They're sanctioned," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday...
A U.S. aircraft carrier ordered by the White House to rapidly deploy to the Mideast over a perceived threat from Iran remains outside of the Persian Gulf, so far avoiding any confrontation with Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces, amid efforts to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington. Officers aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln repeatedly told The Associated Press on Monday they could rapidly respond to any regional threat from their position, at the time some 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the eastern coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
China has reiterated its support for Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and said that implementing it is the only way to resolve the Iran nuclear issue, official Xinhua news agency said on Monday, citing a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson. In May 2018 President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord between Iran and six powers including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, then reimposed tough U.S. sanctions on Iran, saying the deal was flawed.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran has told OPEC that it opposes delaying the oil producer group's next meeting, setting the scene for another fight with fellow members as U.S. sanctions put Tehran under unprecedented economic pressure with its oil exports down to just a trickle. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, in a letter seen by Reuters, said he disagreed with an OPEC proposal to reschedule the meeting to early July. The talks are currently set to take place on June 25-26.
Iranian politicians affiliated with various political factions have been speaking against negotiations with the United States in recent days. Some Iranian officials say there could be no talks with the United States until sanctions are lifted. In one of the latest remarks in this regard, Iran's powerful hardliner Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi has said on Monday June 3 that U.S, officials are "begging for negotiations" with Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the United States sanctions an economic war, and said there could be no talks with it until sanctions are lifted, following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remarks that Washington was prepared to engage with Tehran without preconditions. Zarif accused the US of practicing economic terrorism against Tehran.
Saudi Arabia ramped up oil production last month by the most this year, largely filling the gap created by tougher U.S. sanctions on its political rival, Iran. Iranian output plunged in May to the lowest since 1990 as the Trump administration threatened penalties for anyone trading with the Islamic Republic, according to a Bloomberg survey of officials, analysts and ship-tracking data.
Bank of Kunlun, a Chinese lender, said it doesn't own a ship that the U.S. pinpointed last week as carrying Iranian oil. A senior U.S. official said May 28 that the ship, the Pacific Bravo, was the property of the bank and was headed toward Hong Kong. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned that any entity in the Asian financial hub that did business with the ship would be exposed to U.S. sanctions.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is involved in the illicit procurement of technology for weapons of mass destruction, the German intelligence agency for the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wrote in its May report. In the 206-page report, that was reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the intelligence agents wrote: "The fight against the illegal proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed for their manufacture, as well as the corresponding delivery systems [e.g. rockets], including the necessary knowledge, in cooperation with other authorities, is also the responsibility of counterintelligence."
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
An Iranian lawyer has been jailed for 30 years after setting up a channel on the popular social media platform Telegram, highlighting human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic. Amir Salar Davoudi was convicted by a revolutionary court for "propaganda against the state" and "insulting officials" and is set to be flogged 111 times. According to his lawyer Vahid Farahani, Davoudi was also accused of "collaborating with an enemy state" after giving an interview to Voice of America Persian-language television.
Iran has taken new steps against two detained journalists who covered domestic labor unrest and government corruption, sending one to a notorious women's prison and sentencing another to a two-year jail term. Two human rights groups said Iranian journalist Sepideh Ghaliyan, who covered labor issues in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, was transferred to Qarchak women's prison near Tehran on Monday.
The lawyer for a Lebanese man held in Iran since 2015 said Monday that his client will be released in the "next few days." Majed Dimashkiyeh told The Associated Press that Nizar Zakka's expected release comes after mediations by top Lebanese officials, including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Aoun is a close ally of Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed Lebanese group. Some Iranian media outlets reported earlier Monday that Zakka would be released soon without giving further details.
Amnesty International has blasted the Iranian authorities for handing down a reported 30-year prison sentence and 111 lashes to a human rights lawyer, calling it an "outrageous injustice." With this "shockingly harsh" sentence, the London-based human rights watchdog said on June 3, Amirsalar Davudi became "the latest victim of a vicious crackdown" waged by the authorities against human rights lawyers over the past two years.
Iranians in the capital Tehran set fire to effigies of President Donald Trump, while in the Iraqi capital, Iran-backed militiamen marched over a large Israeli flag as part of rallies Friday marking Quds, or Jerusalem Day. The annual protests come as the Trump administration tries to market its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Held each year on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, Iran has marked Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Dutch counterpart will discuss Iran and Venezuela during talks in The Hague on Monday, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said. They were meeting on the sidelines of a U.S.-Dutch entrepreneurship conference in the Netherlands. "We will talk about Venezuela, Iran, our commitment to address malign cyber activity and our strong commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance," Blok said in a tweet after Pompeo arrived.
From the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, avoiding a war with nearby Iran looks an awful lot like preparing for one. When CBS News arrived, the carrier was at full throttle in the Arabian Sea, flying 80 to 100 surveillance and training runs a day. U.S. forces regularly patrol these waters, but this is anything but routine. The carrier was specifically sent here as a deterrent in response to what the Trump administration believes are threats from Iran.
In a sign of President Donald Trump's growing impatience with stalled nuclear diplomacy with Iran and North Korea, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo generated headlines when he offered Sunday to hold talks with Iran without any preconditions, even as he subsequently insisted that the position was not a new one. "We're prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions," Pompeo told journalists at a press availability with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Bellinzona, Switzerland, on Sunday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made headlines June 2 when he said that the United States is ready to negotiate with Iran with "no preconditions." Pompeo added that the Donald Trump administration simply wants Iran to act like a "normal nation." The United States unilaterally reneged on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the European Union in May 2015.
The recently intensified US pressure on Iran is, according to many observers, bridging the gap between the country's rival political camps. But on the ground, signs indicate otherwise. Indeed, Iran's multilayered politics remains plagued by fundamental internal strife - and the US pressure is exacerbating it. Calls for unity from Iranian politicians have in recent months grown louder than ever. In a May 12 speech, President Hassan Rouhani urged all to stand together against US hostility.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi told Iranian Tasnim News Agency on Monday that Iran's missile power and defense capabilities will not be subject to negotiations. "Negotiating defense capabilities would be like making our homeland an easy target for our enemies," Vahidi told the news agency close to the IRGC, "no sane mind will accept this and no country in the world is willing to negotiate its defense capabilities. Iran is no exception," he added.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A new report filed by the Islamic Republic Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade (MIMT) shows a dramatic drop in Iran's industrial output in 2018. Based on the Ministry's 153-page report published on Monday, June 3, the production of various industrial commodities, including TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, vehicles, petrochemical and aluminum products have significantly dropped.
On the night of July 3,1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual and political leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, died after a long illness. In the next three days, the country came to a halt as millions of people took to the streets to mourn the death of an iconic figure who brought an end to the 2,500-year-old Persian Empire, and had symbolised an unyielding defiance of the West.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Radio Farda, Jerusalem - Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says the Islamic Republic of Iran transfers $700m a year to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Celebrating Jerusalem Day on Sunday, June 2, Netanyahu said: "Every year, Iran's foreign Ministry transfers over $100m under diplomatic cover, by seemingly innocent means, to Lebanon and from there to Hezbollah."
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Intelligence indicating that Iran is responsible for sabotaging four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last month was sourced by Israel's Mossad, the Kan public broadcaster reports. An Israeli describes the purported Iranian attack on the tankers as "a pretty good commando operation." The Emirati-flagged oil tanker A. Michel, May 13, 2019, one of four ships damaged in what Gulf officials called a 'sabotage' attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.