Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would stick to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as long as the other signatories respected it, but would "shred it" if the United States pulled out, state TV reported.
Nikki Haley will seek to focus world attention on Iran’s actions in the Middle East in an early test of whether President Donald Trump’s toughening position on the Islamic Republic is alienating allies and leaving the U.S. isolated internationally.
President Donald Trump’s hawkish new approach towards Tehran, coupled with banking worries and domestic political turbulence in both countries, are causing growing uncertainty over Iran’s $36 billion deal to buy airliners from Boeing, Airbus and ATR.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Amid the hand-wringing this weekend over President Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, a curious theme arose among defenders of the Obama administration’s agreement with the mullahs. They seem to be rather certain that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the 2015 agreement… What they don’t mention is that no one knows whether Iran is complying with the deal because Iran will not allow nuclear inspectors access to military sites.
Iran is not only violating the spirit of the no-nukes deal, it is violating its letter. The prologue to the deal explicitly states: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” This reaffirmation has no sunset provision: it is supposed to be forever. Yet the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently stated that it could not verify that Iran was “fully implementing the agreement” by not engaging in activities that would allow it to make a nuclear explosive device. Yukiya Amano of the IAEA told Reuters that when it comes to inspections, which are stipulated in Section T of the agreement, “our tools are limited.” Amano continued to say: “In other sections, for example, Iran has committed to submit declarations, place their activities under safeguards or ensure access by us. But in Section T, I don’t see any (such commitment).”
Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday urged Europe to do more to back the 2015 nuclear deal after President Donald Trump refused to re-certify the pact. European companies have rushed into the Iranian markets since the landmark accord. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments show the supreme leader's hope that he can leverage European business interests into protecting the nuclear deal.
Extricating the United States from all of the concessions that Obama made to Iran will be a difficult, long-term task. President Trump's advisers may well have the guts to see this through. But does the president?
President Donald Trump may find it difficult to prevent Iran from selling its oil, a proven way to pressure the U.S. adversary, if he decides to renew sanctions on Tehran, analysts warn.
A top aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said today that Iran will not accept European powers’ proposal to supplement the 2015 nuclear deal with new provisions on the country’s missile program and regional ambitions. “If they say they accept the JCPOA but we need to negotiate over regional issues and the missile program, this means setting conditions on the JCPOA and is not acceptable for us under any circumstances,” Ali Akbar Velayati told reporters on the sideline of his meeting with France’s special envoy on Syrian affairs. “JCPOA has no conditions and should continue in line with what has been agreed upon between Iran and 5+1,” he added, referring to the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany. Velayati said Iran will not negotiate over its presence and actions in the region. “The Europeans and Americans have no rights to express views about our presence or lack of presence in the region.” He argued that Iran’s military presence in Syria and Iraq are on based on requests from the governments of the two countries. Velayati further noted that the Islamic Republic will not accept to extend the duration of the nuclear agreement.
CONGRESS & IRAN
There are four elements in Iran that bear on United States foreign policy interests: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader;” his theocratic power base, the Revolutionary Guards and its Quds Force unit; President Hassan Rouhani and his elected government; and the Iranian people themselves, which includes a broad middle class. The distinction between the first three and the final element could possibly create an opportunity for some form of American outreach to the segment of these people who may have something in common with United States values of economic and personal freedom. The analogy here is our experience with the people in Eastern European in Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War, where enough commonality between the United States and these people existed that they turned to us when the Berlin Wall finally fell.
French oil and gas major Total will try to push ahead with its Iran gas project if the United States decides to impose unilateral sanctions on Teheran after President Donald Trump said he will not certify the landmark Iran nuclear deal. Total Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview with International Oil Daily the company would examine the consequences of Trump's decision, and if there are any laws that obliges it to withdraw from Iran, then it will comply.
Iran is ready to do business with U.S. oil and gas companies, oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Tuesday, according to SHANA, the news site of the Iranian oil ministry. “American companies can come to Iran and benefit so Mr. Trump won’t be upset,” Zanganeh said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump, according to SHANA. “They’ve (the United States) put up obstacles for American companies to come to Iran,” he said.
Norway’s Saga Energy has signed a 2.5 billion-euro ($2.94 billion) deal to build solar power plants in Iran, the company said on Tuesday, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a more confrontational policy toward Teheran. Saga’s preliminary agreement with Iran’s state-owned Amin Energy Developers was the latest in a flurry of deals by foreign companies since the easing of international sanctions on the country in 2016 after it agreed to limits on its disputed nuclear program. The deal, which still depends on finalizing economic guarantees from Tehran, would see the construction over a four- to five-year period of 2 gigawatts of power generation capacity, Saga Energy spokesman Rune Haaland said. The company will rely on banks, pension funds and Norwegian state export guarantees to fund the plan, and aims to recoup its investment through a 25-year deal on electricity prices, he added.
Tehran’s prosecutor general has said that a letter from David Cameron pleading for the release of a British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail term in Iran on charges relating to national security was “confirmation that she had links with the UK government”. In his first explicit comments spelling out reasons for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrest in April 2016, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Tuesday that her arrest was important to the British establishment.
A senior Iranian military delegation arrived in Damascus today to assess the current state of the Syrian war and discuss ways to boost defense ties between the two countries, the Iranian media reported.
Israel’s prime minister warned Tuesday that he will not tolerate an Iranian military presence in neighboring Syria. Benjamin Netanyahu said his meeting with visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday focused mostly on Iran’s efforts to establish a presence next door, where both Tehran and Moscow have provided crucial support to President Bashar Assad’s forces.
After a frenetic 24 hours the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq looks to be on the verge of collapse with the Iraqi military, backed by local militias, swooping in on positions held by the country’s autonomous Kurdish forces. But as Baghdad gains the upper hand over the Kurdish forces—both sides are equipped and backed by the United States—it is Iran, identified by President Donald Trump in recent weeks as the principal disruptor of stability in the Middle East, that has gained the most.
Officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government are accusing Iran of playing a key role in the fall of disputed territories in northern Iraq including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a claim rejected by Iranian officials. This week the Iraqi government forces backed by Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) marched into the Kurdish-controlled disputed territories after Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga withdrew from the region.
On Sunday, Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s chief spymaster, travelled to the Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya to meet with the leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or P.U.K., one of the two main Kurdish political parties. For years, the P.U.K. and its sister party, the Kurdish Democratic Party, or K.D.P., have been struggling to break away from the rest of Iraq and form an independent state. A Kurdish republic is opposed by all the region’s countries—the governments in Baghdad, Turkey, and Iran—which fear that sizable Kurdish minorities in all three nations will begin to act autonomously. Only weeks ago, in a region-wide referendum, Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede. The Kurdish dream, it seemed, was tantalizingly within reach.
On Monday of this week, what had been feared transpired: Paramilitary units supported by elements of the Iraqi army attacked in the vicinity of Kirkuk. Baghdad’s putatively federal army put into action the threats of the country’s leaders and, at the risk of ruining any chance of future coexistence with the Kurds, responded to the peaceful referendum of Sept. 25 with a dumbfounding and vengeful act of force.
The political wing of Asai’b Ahl al-Haq (A.A.H.), an Iranian-sponsored Iraqi militia group, has called for military operations to seize the Kurdish cities of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. Hassan Salim, a member of Iraqi parliament and affiliated with A.A.H., said the “Barzani militias” are defeated, stressing that "all areas of northern Iraq are Iraqi and will be under the control of the federal government." Salim also accused Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim of inciting the people of the province to resist Iraqi security forces on the streets of Kirkuk. He must be tried for treason against the Iraqi state, Salim added.
GULF STATES & IRAN
On Monday, a high-ranking Iranian military leader joined a number of the country's officials in condemning President Donald Trump's use of the term "Arabian Gulf" to refer to a region traditionally called the Persian Gulf in the U.S. and many countries around the world. At the commencement of a four-day naval symposium in Italy, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari called into question Trump's motivation for using the often politically charged phrase during the president's announcement of a new U.S. strategy toward Iran on October 13. While a number of Arab states that rival Iran in the strategic region refer to it as the "Arabian Gulf," most U.S. officials—including Trump's presidential predecessors—have historically used the more commonly known and U.N.-recognized name, Persian Gulf, or simply "the Gulf."
Bahrain's interior minister accused Iran of harbouring 160 Bahrainis convicted of terrorism and stripped of their citizenship, in an interview published Wednesday. All 160 "fugitives" had been stripped of citizenship in "terrorism cases" targeting Bahraini police and security forces, Sheikh Rashed Al-Khalifa told the Arabic-language daily Asharq Al-Awsat. He accused Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards of having trained the group, who were convicted of attacks that killed 25 security personnel and wounded 3,000 others, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.