Iran's nuclear chief said on Tuesday he was warning the European Union's top diplomat that Iranian patience was running out on the bloc's pledges to keep up oil trade despite U.S. sanctions. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said the Islamic Republic could resume enriching uranium to 20 percent puritay - seen as well above the level suitable for fuelling civilian power plants - if it fails to see the economic benefit of the 2015 deal that curbed its nuclear program.
The European Union's top diplomat on Tuesday reiterated the bloc's resolve to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after meeting the head of Islamic Republic's atomic energy agency. "They equally expressed their determination to preserve the nuclear agreement as a matter of respecting international agreements and a key pillar for European and regional security," the European External Action Service, referring to both its head Federica Mogherini and Iranian nuclear energy chief Ali Akhbar Salehi, said in a statement.
Only a few weeks after a fresh Cabinet reshuffle triggered by multiple impeachments, a group of Iranian hard-line lawmakers is going out of its way to unseat four ministers. The foreign, interior, science and education ministers are now on the list. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seems to be the main target of the campaign; the lawmakers are demanding explanations on issues ranging from his "money-laundering accusations against the Islamic Republic" to "failures in economic diplomacy" to "weakening the country's defenses."
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Japan's oil refiners will continue to ask the Japanese government to seek an early extension of the temporary U.S. waiver to import oil from Iran, the head of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), Takashi Tsukioka, said on Tuesday. Ahead of the return of the U.S. sanctions on Iran's petroleum industry, Japan had completely stopped buying Iranian oil, hoping to get a waiver from the U.S. Administration. It did, alongside seven other Iranian oil customers, including the biggest buyers China and India, all of whom will now be able to continue importing reduced volumes of oil from Iran for 180 days after the sanctions snapped back on November 5, until early May 2019.
Some countries are trying to harm Iran by manipulating the oil market, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Wednesday, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency. Zanganeh did not name a country but Iranian officials have accused Saudi Arabia of trying to take Iran's share of the oil market in recent months. The United States restored sanctions targeting Iran's oil, banking and transport sectors this month.
The labourers edge their way across a field of bright purple flowers gathering up the world's most expensive spice, a bounty that makes this dusty corner of Iran a crucial part of global cuisine. The delicate purple leaves of the Crocus sativus plant hold just three or four of the even more delicate red stamen, better known as saffron, that sprouts for just 10 days a year.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
While media attention has recently been focused on the Iranian government's decision to allow female football fans to attend men's matches, Iranian women are winning small but significant victories for the sport - inside the football pitch. On November 13, the Iranian women's team made it to the next round of qualifications in Thailand for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The Trump administration's effort to rebuild the U.S.-Saudi Arabia partnership isn't popular in the salons of Washington, where politicians of both parties have long used the kingdom's human-rights record to call for the alliance's downgrading. The October murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading U.S.-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the U.S. and its allies.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East. Pompeo's comment came in an article he penned in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, in which he added that Saudi Arabia is working to "secure Iraq's fragile democracy and keep Baghdad tethered to the West's interests, not Tehran's."
Iran is determined to fight against US Donald Trump's anticipated Israel-Palestinian peace plan, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday according to semi-official news agency ISNA. Trump has dubbed his administration's long-awaited plan the "ultimate deal", which has already unsettled the Palestinians although no details have yet been disclosed. Speaking in Tehran, Larijani said the "deal of the century" was a "plot" between Iran's arch foe Israel and the United States to establish the Jewish state's domination in the Middle East.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran should increase its military capability and readiness to ward off enemies, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in a meeting with Iranian navy commanders, according to Khamenei's official website. "The technology will always be the difference maker for us. "Increase your capability and readiness as much as you can so Iran's enemies will not even dare threaten these great people," Khamenei said. He added, "The Islamic Republic does not intend to start war with anyone."
The managing director of the Iran Aviation Industries Organization (AIO) has said Iran will export planes fully designed and manufactured inside the country in the near future, the Tasnim news agency reported on Monday. Pointing to the 9th International Iran Air Show which opened on the southern island of Kish on Monday, Brigadier General Abdolkarim Banitarafi said the objective of the air show is to present advances in aviation industry and set the ground for closer cooperation between foreign and domestic companies in this field.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A Sunni cleric has been shot and killed in Iran"s northern Golestan Province, Iranian media report. Abdolghafour Jamalzai, the Friday Prayers leader of Reza Abad village, was reportedly shot in the back with a hunting rifle early on November 27. Iranian government news agency IRNA said Jamalzai, an ethnic Baluch, was shot four times as he returned home from Reza Abad mosque near the northern city of Ramiyan, around 120 kilometers northeast of the capital, Tehran.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran's deputy interior minister for security affairs, Hossein Zolfaqari, met with Vasilii Piskarev, the chairman of the Russian Duma's Committee on Security and Corruption Control, on Nov. 5. At the meeting, both sides stressed the need to finalize a bilateral security agreement and described cybersecurity, the fight against terrorism and countering drug proliferation and illegal immigration as key aspects of such an accord.
Jewish people have called Iran home for nearly 3,000 years. The Trump administration and U.S. ally Israel often depict the Iranian government as composed of anti-Semitic radical Islamists bent on destroying Israel. But within Iran, many of the estimated 15,000 Jews say they're safe and happy living in the Islamic Republic. Reza Sayah takes a rare inside look at life for Iran's Jewish minority.
IRAQ & IRAN
Gas exports from Iran to Iraq were halted late on Tuesday for several days, as Iranian authorities work to repair damages caused to the pipeline during a recent earthquake. The cuts deprive Iraq's power grid of 2,500 megawatts (MW), Iraq's electricity ministry said in a statement, as Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas to feed its power stations. Iranian authorities informed the electricity ministry in Baghdad that the flow of gas exports will be resumed "during next few days" after maintenance on the pipeline inside Iranian territory are completed.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
In a new demonstration of the rapprochement between Iran and Islamist political group Hamas, the movement on Tuesday expressed its "thanks" to Tehran for sponsoring victims of the great march of return. Iran has announced its "adoption" of the families of those killed and wounded in the "return marches" in Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that the movement "values" and "highly appreciates" Iran's positions and support.
The relationship between Hamas and Iran has been the subject of widespread controversy for years both within the movement and among the Palestinian people. This controversy has increased in recent years, when the relationship between the two sides has witnessed a collapse or deterioration due to the conflict in Syria and Hamas being forced, in one way or another, to take a position on this conflict. The question of the relationship between Tehran and Hamas comes up from time to time, and the Hamas movement does not resolve this argument explicitly.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is attending the UN-sponsored Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, which opened in the Swiss city on Tuesday. According to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi, Zarif has taken part in the two-day conference to clarify Tehran's position on the restoration of peace to Afghanistan, Tasnim News Agency reported.