Iran test-fired a short-range anti-ship missile in the Strait of Hormuz during naval drills last week that Washington believes were aimed at sending a message as the United States reimposes sanctions on Tehran, a U.S. official said on Friday.
Iran unveiled a next generation short-range ballistic missile on Monday and vowed to further boost its capabilities, Iranian media said, at a time of rising tensions with the United States.
Iran’s investment finance contracts with European, Japanese and South Korean banks have been suspended, the director of loans at Islamic Republic’s Investment Organization has disclosed.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran on Saturday announced it was taking back another portion of the 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile it handed over to Russia as part of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with world powers in exchange for sanctions relief. Spokesman and vice-president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi said the re-imposition of US sanctions following President Donald Trump’s exit in May from the accord necessitated returning the uranium for domestic needs.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
German automotive supplier Duerr has halted its activities in Iran, which has been hit by the reintroduction of U.S. sanctions this week that include threats to blacklist any companies trading with the Islamic republic.
Taiwan’s Mega International Commercial Bank plans to terminate its payment clearing mechanism between Taiwan and Iran after November in a response to the United States’ sanctions on Iran, three people familiar with the matter said on Monday. “Our business with Iran is too sensitive, and we should no longer get involved in it,” an official from the bank told Reuters, adding that the bank has informed clients the payment clearing mechanism is likely to be terminated after November.
Iran is selling oil and gas at a discount to Asian customers as it prepares for the return of US sanctions, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday.
The United States ambassador to the UK has called on Britain to side with President Donald Trump on Iran or risk "serious trade consequences" for UK businesses.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the government on Monday of economic mismanagement and said it needed to improve its performance to help the country better weather newly reimposed U.S. sanctions.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called for “swift and just” legal action from new courts after the head of the judiciary said the country faced an “economic war”, state television reported.
Iraq has begun to apply new U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, turning back shipments of Iranian goods at a number of border crossings, according to Al Hurra TV, quoting Iranian merchants.
Confusion has surfaced over French energy giant Total's massive South Pars gas project in Iran after the official IRNA news agency reported that China's state-owned petroleum corporation had been given a majority stake in the field.
A top Iranian constitutional body has approved measures passed by parliament to bring the country more into line with global money-laundering norms, state media said on Saturday, as Tehran tries to attract investments despite the reimposition of U.S sanctions.
Next Iranian year [beginning March 21, 2019] will be an “exceptional year” in Iran’s contemporary history, the head of Management and Planning Organization (MPO) and deputy President of the Islamic Republic has predicted. Under U.S. economic pressure, Iran’s budget will be prepared in an “exceptional” form matched with the sanctions, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said, admitting, “The next year is going to be a tough one.”
President Donald Trump’s offer to Tehran of unconditional talks suggests that the diplomatic path has not been totally cut off. Iran will be extremely reluctant to make further concessions on the nuclear issue and is unlikely to abandon its regional allies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. But mounting economic pressure and domestic discontent could yet force a reassessment. An Iran that was prepared to concentrate on vital domestic reforms rather than its regional ambitions would offer a better future to its people.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Protesters on the streets of Iran this week chanted “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to inflation,” mimicking the “Death to America” refrain popularised after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
[T]he plight of Iran’s persecuted Christian community has become significantly worse over the past few weeks, with the Islamic Republic ramping up prison terms and other judicial actions.
The Islamic regime in Tehran has sentenced an Iranian couple to a prison term for merely practicing Christianity. Article 18, an organization that promotes religious freedom and supports Iran’s repressed Christians through documentation and advocacy, tweeted on Thursday that “A Christian couple have reported that a court in Boushehr has just sentenced them & 10 other Iranian Christians to one year in prison each for ‘Propagating against the Islamic Republic in favor of Christianity.’
An Iran-based human rights group says dozens of Iranian security personnel have raided a prison ward housing minority Sunni inmates in the city of Karaj, beating the prisoners and taking their belongings. In a report published Thursday, Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) said it learned of Tuesday’s incident at the Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj’s Gohardasht district from an informed source.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that Iranian officials are trying to head off a looming economic crisis with threats of "new rights-abusing policies," including applying the death penalty for economic crimes.
An Iranian photographer has caught the world's attention after she defied restrictions that prevent women from covering men's sporting events.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran gave its most explicit rejection yet of talks with the United States on Saturday, and accused Washington of an "addiction to sanctions" over its latest spat with Turkey.
A semi-official Iranian news agency is quoting an aide to the country’s president as saying that he doesn’t see “any reason” for talks between Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani at the next United Nations General Assembly.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said there was no meeting planned with U.S. officials including his counterpart Mike Pompeo at the United Nations General Assembly, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Saturday. Asked about the likelihood of a meeting with U.S. officials, including Pompeo, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Zarif said: “No, no such meeting is planned…”
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Sunday that they had killed “10 militants” in the Kurdish region of Iran. The same day the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) said they had engaged in “heavy clashes” with the IRGC near the city of Oshnavieh and had killed 12 “IRGC terrorists.”
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iranian authorities have arrested 67 people in a drive against financial crime, the judiciary said on Sunday, as the country faces renewed U.S. sanctions and a public outcry against profiteering and corruption.
The looming water crisis in Iran is “much more severe” than what has already been predicted, the head of Islamic Republic’s Department of Environment (DoE) and deputy President, Isa Kalantari has said, warning, “There will be no water in Iran within less than fifty years.”
Iranians bracing for tougher times now that the U.S. has renewed sanctions are taking a jab at officials over government spending and nepotism. A social media campaign under the hashtag #where_is_your_kid? is asking officials to explain privileges their families enjoy.
CONGRESS & IRAN
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League are urging lawmakers to co-sponsor a Senate bill targeting Hezbollah and Hamas for using human shields.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN.
Iran and four ex-Soviet nations, including Russia, agreed in principle on Sunday how to divide up the potentially huge oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea, paving way for more energy exploration and pipeline projects.
U.S. airstrikes are softening the Islamic State at a key border crossing without any plans for a follow-on ground offensive to deny it to Iran.
In a recent Hezbollah sponsored media report, the party showcased a squadron of drones among other weapons in its arsenal at the “Mleeta Resistance Tourist Landmark.” The show of force serves to send Israel a message within the realm of psychological warfare, retired Major General Hisham Jaber tells Annahar, while possibly shedding light on the recent downing of an Israeli drone in Bint Jbeil.
Satellite pictures released on Saturday by an Israeli intelligence site appeared to show the aftermath of an airstrike on an Iranian-run missile production facility in Syria last month, an operation which has been attributed to Israel.
As public pressure mounts on Israeli leaders to crush rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip, they’re opting to try the diplomatic route while a greater threat looms: Iran’s presence in postwar Syria.
The US National Counterterrorism Center considered the classification of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization insufficient, stressing the need for European countries to boycott the entire party as well as extended financial and diplomatic sanctions.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s visit to Iran has been canceled after he said he had no choice but to abide by U.S. sanctions against Tehran, even though he disagreed with their imposition.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron and they discussed trade, Iran and the Middle East, the White House said.
A U.S.-based cybersecurity intelligence group says Iranian state institutions have perpetrated a growing number of international cyberattacks for profit in recent months.