The Chairman of Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce Asadollah Asgaroladi, who is one of the country's top businessmen has stopped exporting from Iran in the past two months due to payment problems. "After 64 years of export activities, for first time I had to suspend exports," Tasnim quoted Asgaroladi as saying during a meeting with Tehran Chamber of Commerce members on January 15.
Iran is harming Europe's efforts to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear accord with actions such as the case of suspected espionage involving a member of the German military, veteran German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger said on Thursday. But Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, warned against any move by Europe to join Washington in withdrawing from the agreement, since the accord was intended solely to halt Iran's nuclear program and did not address other behavior in the region or spying.
The United States is likely to extend waivers from sanctions on Iranian oil imports in May but will reduce the number of countries receiving them to placate top buyers China and India and to decrease the chance of higher oil prices, analysts said. Washington surprised oil markets after granting waivers to eight Iranian oil buyers when the sanctions on oil imports started in November.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The date Jan. 16 marks the third anniversary of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed on July 14, 2015. Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany were the signatories of the JCPOA. The agreement was a consequence of a decade-long diplomatic process and almost two-year-long negotiations.
Amid the controversy over the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, an influential ayatollah says, "Ultimately, the deal should be burned." Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, 91, who chairs the influential Assembly of experts, is an ultraconservative cleric and longtime opponent of JCPOA. He often echoes the views of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. "Europe is not helping preserve JCPOA by demanding additional negotiations on issues like missiles", IRNA reported Jannati as saying on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
China's state-run energy giant is making a new approach to clinch a $3 billion deal for more development of an Iranian oil field, seeking to take advantage of waivers allowed under U.S. sanctions as two European nations have ended crude purchases, according to people familiar with the matter. The moves highlight the divergent ways nations are reacting to temporary exemptions from U.S. sanctions on Iran.
A European Union official has reportedly said that a trade mechanism meant to circumvent reimposed US sanctions on Tehran is ready to be activated. The official news agency IRNA quoted an "EU spokesperson" as saying on Thursday that the Special Purpose Vehicle (SVP) for trade with Iran "is about to become operational."
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Iran for "widespread arrests" in the winter of 2018, including thousands of arrests made during the country-wide protests in December 2017 and January 2018, as well as for jailing a large group of environmentalists and women who protested against compulsory hijab (aka Revolution Street Girls).
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
A U.S. effort to enlist Europe in its pressure campaign against Iran faced a setback after officials said ministers from several European Union members will likely skip a summit organized by Washington on Iran and the Middle East. The summit, which will be co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. and take place in Warsaw, was announced during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's tour of the Middle East last week.
An American journalist working for Iran's state television channel Press TV who Iran says has been detained in Washington will appear in a U.S. court on Friday, the channel reported on Friday. Iran has called for the immediate release of TV anchor and documentary film maker Marziyeh Hashemian, whose employer, the English-language channel Press TV, said was arrested on Sunday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
The Iranian regime that has repeatedly been criticized for detaining Americans and then ignoring calls for their release is now crying foul following the FBI's arrest of an anchorwoman from Iran's state-run English-language TV channel. News of the detention of Press TV's Marzieh Hashemi, an American-born newscaster who also holds Iranian citizenship, emerged just a week after Iran revealed it has been holding Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran and the first American to be taken into custody by the Islamic Republic during President Trump's administration.
President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled the first overhaul of American missile defense doctrine in nearly a decade at the Pentagon. Known as the missile defense review, the unclassified report, which was expected last year, is believed to have been delayed because of sensitivities about how to frame threats posed by China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, according to several defense officials.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Hamas said Thursday it had allocated new homes funded by Iran in the Gaza Strip to former Palestinian prisoners who had been held in Israeli jails.The prisoners ministry said 26 apartments in a new building in southern Gaza Khan Younes had been given out in a lottery between 125 former Palestinian prisoners, Officials from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said the program was the first of its kind funded by Iran.
Based an intensive strategic assessment at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, dozens of researchers, along with retired generals and intelligence chiefs, concluded that Israel was facing a real challenge, represented by a so-called "first North war" in which Iran, Syria and Hezbollah will align along the front extending from the Golan Heights till Ras al-Naqoura.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged for the first time Jan. 13 that Israel has carried out strikes against Iranian and Iranian-backed forces inside Syria. "We worked with impressive success to block Iran's military entrenchment in Syria," Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting. He added that Israel had carried out "hundreds of strikes," claiming that it had just recently targeted alleged Iranian warehouses and Iranian targets at the international airport in Damascus and that Israel will continue such strikes as long as an Iranian presence remains in Syria.
As Lebanon prepares to host a regional economic summit this weekend, the meeting has been overshadowed by divisions over Syria's future and efforts to contain Iran. Having previously confirmed their attendance at the Arab Economic and Social Development summit in Beirut, many heads of state are now set to stay away. The emirs of Qatar and Kuwait will not attend, Egypt is planning to send the prime minister rather than the president, while the Palestinian Authority president has said he will be in New York.
GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN
A United Nations report reaffirmed that the convoy moving retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, who is leading the current UN ceasefire monitor team, has arrived at its destination safely after having come under Houthi fire. A car was hit with one round as they returned to the city center from a meeting with a delegation from the legitimate Yemeni government, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Much has been written about the brittle nature of the Iranian regime, which clings to power only through murder, repression and deceit. The reimposition of sanctions by the Trump administration has truly brought this Islamic extremist cabal to its knees, and rightly so. With the fall of the regime in Iran and the installation of a new democratic government in Tehran, the problems in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon will suddenly be immensely easier to resolve.