Iran wants European powers to present it with measures by the end of May to compensate it for the United States abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior official said on Friday, and Tehran would decide within weeks whether to quit the accord.
Iran’s supreme leader has threatened to pull his country out of the nuclear deal and resume enriching uranium if European countries do not promise to buy Iranian oil and to oppose all new US sanctions against Tehran.
The Treasury Department on Thursday imposed sanctions on nine individuals and firms accused of procuring jet engines and airplane parts for Iranian airlines previously blacklisted for their support of U.S.-designated terror groups.
UANI IN THE NEWS
“Iran has worked aggressively to train, arm, supply, guide, and direct thousands of Shias and Sunnis throughout the Middle East, from Lebanon to Afghanistan and to Yemen,” according to Norman Roule, a senior adviser to United Against Nuclear Iran, a non-profit, bi-partisan advocacy group.
A former senior official of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [UANI Advisory Board member Olli Heinonen] believes that the problem with JCPOA is that it does not call for inspection of Iran’s military facilities. It ignores the possibility of a military side in Iran’s nuclear program, and IAEA as the agency that oversees Iran’s commitments has made the tone of its reports on Iran less transparent.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran continues to comply with the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers despite the U.S. withdrawal, but could be faster and more proactive in allowing snap inspections, the U.N. atomic watchdog policing the accord said on Thursday.
Efforts by world powers to salvage the landmark nuclear deal with Iran pick up on Friday in Vienna, where officials will meet for the first time without U.S. diplomats present. Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany will discuss the economic incentives Iran needs to keep caps on its nuclear work in place, according to officials who’ll attend the talks.
Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron have questioned Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and cancellation of the US-North Korea summit during a meeting in Russia.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The chief executive of French oil and gas major Total on Thursday said he held little hope of receiving a waiver from the United States to keep investing in a huge Iranian gas project.
French carmaker PSA Group launched its Citroen C3 model in Iran last week despite Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Tehran, brand chief Linda Jackson said on Thursday. PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, sold 2,000 C3 subcompacts in one hour on launch day, Jackson said, adding that the group’s strategy in Iran had not changed in the wake of the U.S. decision to exit the nuclear agreement and reimpose sanctions.
Germany’s small-to-medium-sized firms, or Mittelstand, are scrambling to work out how to maintain business in Iran after a meeting between Germany’s foreign minister and his U.S. counterpart dashed any hopes of a breakthrough on the nuclear accord.
On Saturday, the E.U. energy chief reassured Iranian officials that Europe would continue to honor the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement — despite the U.S. announcement this month that it would exit the agreement. U.S. policymakers expect U.S. allies in Europe to cooperate with the U.S. decision to reimpose nonproliferation sanctions against Iran. But France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom have a long history of profitably exploiting commercial opportunities created by U.S. sanctions — and undercutting their success.
As the geopolitical drama between not only Iran and the U.S., but between the U.S. and its EU allies unfolds over Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, Iran is vowing that U.S. sanctions can’t touch its oil exports. Of course, there is one caveat in that claim and that is based on possible EU refusal to adhere to U.S. stipulations over renewed Iranian sanctions.
While Democratic leaders have criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran, cities in Tennessee, including Brentwood, have quietly and subtly done their part to keep the economic pressure on. According to state law, Tennessee and its subsidiaries, which includes city and county governments, cannot award a contract of any kind worth more than $1,000 to anyone investing large amounts of money in the energy sector in Iran.
After the United States’ pullout from the nuclear deal, Russia could fill the gap on the Iranian market and acquire lucrative orders for new commercial airplanes from Iranian airlines.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, on Thursday accused Iran of violating a Security Council resolution by conducting in January two previously unreported tests on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Europeans Thursday of having done nothing to counter Iran's program to develop ballistic missiles.
Iran might have been hiding an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile testing site in plain view, until a group of California-based experts figured it out while watching public Iranian TV and obtained new photos of the area… The Jerusalem Post communicated directly with members of the team and learned there is strong evidence that tests are now being carried out at the site near Shahrud in northeast Iran which could lead to Iran developing the ability to fire nuclear ICBMs globally.
Poker players have a tell. So did the late Iranian General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam: He liked his buildings painted aquamarine. Earlier this year, weapons researcher Fabian Hinz was looking through Iranian media accounts of Moghaddam, who led the country’s rocket program. The general died in an explosion at a test facility in 2011, but in one picture taken shortly beforehand, Hinz told Quartz he spotted a box marked for delivery to Shahrud, a town in northern Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration is not pushing for a regime change in Iran, but to achieve global consensus on how to get Tehran to "behave like a normal nation.”
[I]t has become imperative that the United States lead its regional and international allies in a comprehensive effort to push back on Iran, to prevent it from expanding its influence farther into the Middle East and stop it from hijacking the transformation of the region. Pushing back on Iran would be an inherently offensive, confrontational strategy. So the first step is to recognize where and how the United States should seek to confront Iran to hurt it and reduce its influence.
SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL & IRAN
Syrian state media reported that the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State struck Syrian army positions in eastern Syria early on Thursday, but the U.S. military denied knowledge of it… A military media unit run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an ally of Damascus, said the strikes were near T2, an energy installation near the border with Iraq about 100 km (60 miles) west of the Euphrates.
New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday acknowledged the plight of a Princeton University scholar who has been imprisoned in Iran, saying Xiyue Wang is innocent.
An international media rights group says European powers seeking to preserve the Iran nuclear deal should use their talks with Tehran to press for an end to its harassment of journalists.
In a new report, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international watchdog group, calls out Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, for doing almost nothing to improve the Islamic republic’s abysmal record on free speech. He had pledged to do so during his campaign, but today, nearly five years into his presidency, he has failed to deliver. Even so, the news isn’t all bad. The realities of the modern world — widespread Internet penetration, a highly educated and tech-savvy population that has grown accustomed to interacting virtually rather than in person, and broad access to broadcasts that challenge and often directly contradict state media outlets — are all changing the country in ways that are far beyond Iran’s theocratic leadership’s ability to control.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Iran’s widening influence in the Middle East—already under pressure from the U.S.—also faces growing resistance from within its close regional allies, Syria and Iraq.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
[T]he war in Yemen will continue as long as Iran is smuggling missiles into the country, providing a crucial weapon for the Houthi forces fighting the Saudi-led coalition. Cutting off this supply of missiles is vital to isolating the Houthis and forcing them to negotiate.
HEZBOLLAH & LEBANON
A Syrian war-monitoring group says suspected Israeli strikes hit a military base overnight in central Syria that houses Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group alongside other factions allied with the government in Damascus.
Lebanon’s president formally asked caretaker premier Saad Hariri on Thursday to form a new Cabinet after the vast majority of legislators named him as their choice for the position of prime minister.
Growing U.S. pressure on Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, including a new wave of sanctions targeting its top leadership, may hamper the formation of a new government that caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri was overwhelmingly chosen to form on Thursday.
Mike Pompeo used his first official appearance before Congress as secretary of state to call for a review of US military assistance for Lebanon following Hezbollah’s gains in this month’s elections.
Western states will not put pressure on Lebanese officials to exclude Hezbollah from any new government but have warned against granting it any key portfolios.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced Thursday after he was tasked with forming a new Cabinet that his government would abide by Lebanon's declared policy of distancing itself from regional conflicts.
IRAQ & IRAN
A fiery Shiite cleric whose followers once mounted deadly uprisings against U.S. forces in Iraq is emerging as America’s best hope of blunting Iran's expanding influence in Iraq. The victory of Muqtada al-Sadr’s party in recent parliamentary elections took U.S. officials by surprise and prompted a re-examination of U.S. policy in the country, where more than 5,000 American military advisers helped defeat the Islamic State.
Its economic future in question, Tehran is looking to maintain and increase its influence in Iraq by investing in schemes and projects linked with loyal paramilitary forces.
The question is, are we seeing the beginning of the end of U.S. influence in Iraq — a country where America has invested substantial blood and treasure — or, is there something to be done to turn around the grim situation? There is, but it will require a serious, coherent and long-term strategy.