[D]oing business in Iran, even for those Western companies that continue to operate there legally, has become much more difficult as fresh sanctions have closed off critical finance channels.
Iran’s oil exports have fallen sharply since U.S. President Donald Trump said at mid-year he would reimpose sanctions on Tehran, but with waivers in hand the Islamic Republic’s major buyers are already planning to scale up orders again.
A Chinese state firm on Wednesday ruled out selling passenger planes to Iran to help the Islamic Republic revive fleet renewal plans, while a Russian executive suggested Moscow would be wary of putting its own programs at risk of U.S. retaliation.
UANI IN THE NEWS
The European Union’s bizarre insistence on seeking to resuscitate the corpse of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) reveals more about the EU mindset than about the merits of the agreement itself.
Daniel Roth, director of research at United Against Nuclear Iran, says Iran “does make key policy changes when backed into a corner.”
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their ports, saying the tankers not only could incur penalties under U.S. sanctions but may be courting "environmental disaster."
President Donald Trump said the “fragile” global oil market was a key reason his administration decided to extend waivers this week to eight countries allowing them to continue importing Iranian oil in violation of new U.S. sanctions.
The United States is determined to push Iranian oil exports to zero, U.S. Special Representative Brian Hook said on Wednesday, through a ‘calibrated’ approach using maximum economic pressure without lifting oil prices.
South Korea says it has reached a deal with Iran to use local currencies in mutual trade between the two countries instead of the US dollar. According to Yonhap News Agency, the two countries "will restart the won-based settlement of bilateral trade transactions" using the accounts of the Central Bank of Iran at two South Korean banks: Woori Bank and the Industrial Bank of Korea.
An early winner from the latest round of Iranian sanctions is emerging: Russia. The U.S. began enforcing a tough new slate of economic restrictions against Iran on Monday, including a threat to sanction buyers of Iranian crude. That has refineries in Europe and Asia—recent, big buyers of Iran oil—looking for alternative supplies. Russian oil companies have stepped in, stealing customers from Iran.
Italian bank UniCredit said Thursday that one-off provisions to cover any settlement for alleged U.S. sanctions violations in Iran and a write-down on its Turkish unit dropped third-quarter profits by 99 percent.
Iran can flourish under sanctions and will defeat the United States in the economic war it has launched, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday.
The United States on Monday re-imposed sanctions against Iran’s oil exports to punish Tehran for its involvement in several Middle Eastern conflicts. Washington had been pushing governments to cut imports of Iranian oil to zero. but fearing a crude oil price spike, it granted Iran’s biggest buyers - China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey - sanctions waivers.
Officials in Afghanistan have hailed a U.S. decision to exempt from anti-Iran sanctions the development of the Iranian port of Chabahar in recognition of its role to grow the Afghan economy.
Saudi Arabia and Russia need to cut oil output, a top Iranian official said on Wednesday, adding that extra supply from the two countries had caused a slide in prices and benefited U.S. President Donald Trump.
Iran's oil minister on Thursday predicted a painful time ahead for international oil customers as U.S. sanctions take hold, saying waivers that Washington granted to eight major oil-importing countries are not enough for market demands.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 50 Iranian banks as well as their foreign and domestic subsidiaries on Monday as part of “its largest ever single-day action” targeting the Islamic Republic… While an important first step, these designations may not be sufficient to prevent the Islamic Republic from exploiting the global financial system.
There is a growing consensus among analysts that Tehran will likely attempt to wait out the Trump administration and refrain from breaching the nuclear deal. Should Tehran hunker down and play for time, the Trump administration will need to find creative ways to tighten the sanctions belt such that time will cost the regime money, and lots of it.
By exploiting China’s diffidence and Europe’s differences, they are designed to undermine a united opposition to U.S. sanctions.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, is warning President Donald Trump not to pull “the trigger of war in the Middle East at the insistence of Israel.” His remarks came during a visit to Iran where Farrakhan spoke to journalists in Tehran on Thursday.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Authorities in Iran’s capital have arrested a journalist who wrote about government corruption, in the latest of a series of Iranian journalist detentions that have drawn international concern.
FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura will meet women campaigning to be allowed into Saturday's Asian Champions League final in Iran where they are legally barred from stadiums.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of U.S. sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Iranian forces in Syria may present a threat to the US and in Iraq the Iranian threat is increasing, according to a new report from the US Department of Defense.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Democrats were infuriated by Trump’s withdrawal from the international nuclear deal with Iran that Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration reached in 2015. But there is little they can do to change the policy as long as Republicans occupy the White House
If history is any guide, the Republican defeat in the House of Representatives might instead prove detrimental to the health of the “Islamic Republic”... Like Obama, Trump will increasingly feel the Democratic squeeze on his domestic interests. And like Obama, in order to compensate for internal paralysis, Trump will refocus his attention on foreign affairs, especially Iran. Sanctions on Tehran already have kicked back in this week, and it is likely the president will up the ante.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Washington will focus on pressuring Iran financially and contesting its activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen where the Persian nation enjoys broad influence, the U.S. envoy to Syria said Wednesday, adding that Tehran should eventually withdraw all Iran-commanded forces from Syria.
The United States said on Wednesday it hoped Russia would continue to allow Israel to strike Iranian targets in Syria, despite Moscow’s supply of the S-300 air defense system to the Syrian government.
A delegation of senior Tehran representatives close to the Iranian Supreme Leader visited Syria’s southwestern province, Daraa. Their trip was carried out under the banner of reconstruction and empowerment of locals.
The Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah will not give way in a dispute over Sunni Muslim representation in a new unity government, the pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Wednesday, signaling no quick end to the standoff.
A demand by so-called “independent” Sunni MPs for representation in the new Cabinet is impossible to meet and is intended to obstruct the formation, the Future Movement’s parliamentary bloc said Tuesday, in a strong rebuff to Hezbollah’s support for this demand.
The leader of Ansar Allah has left Lebanon's Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp for Syria as part of a deal with the Fatah Movement, following violent clashes between the groups in the camp last month, Palestinian security sources said Wednesday.
Lebanon’s religious authorities have joined efforts to solve the government formation crisis.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Americans should welcome Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's pledge to support the Sunni Arab kingdoms against regional instability. His pledge will help deter Iran from violent escalation.
The men were detained at the Bulgarian border as they attempted to enter the Kapitan Andreevo crossing from Turkey – a major transit point for entering Europe, the report said… This is not the first time Iranian citizens have been caught using fake Israeli passports.