President Trump is expected to agree this week to continue granting Iran a reprieve from sanctions over its nuclear program, while again signaling his displeasure with the international nuclear deal that lifted the penalties, U.S. and European officials, congressional aides and others said. He also is expected to announce new sanctions linked to human rights and other issues that would not directly affect the nuclear agreement but would underscore U.S. concerns about Iran’s response to recent anti-government protests and other actions, officials and others said.
Iran’s atomic energy agency said on Wednesday a reimposition of sanctions by the United States would be a violation of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, adding that the Islamic Republic had the capacity to greatly increase its enrichment of uranium… “The capacity exists within the atomic energy agency to speed up nuclear work in various fields, particularly in the field of enrichment, which can be increased several times more than in the period before the nuclear agreement.”
Iran says it has arrested dozens on suspicion of "terrorist activities" during a recent wave of protests.
UANI IN THE NEWS
[Ross:] I’m hoping that he will not reinstate the sanctions. I think he can use the fact that he has concerns, legitimate concerns, about what the Iranians are doing both domestically but in the region as a way to say to the Europeans - look let’s join together, let’s say how we can raise the costs, let’s see how we can make it clear to the Iranians that they have some hard choices to make.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said if Iran does not enjoy the benefits of the JCPOA, it might leave it, adding the Europeans can compensate for Iran’s losses in case US withdraws.
European Union foreign ministers say a key agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be preserved as U.S. President Donald Trump weighs whether to pull out of the pact.
Europe and the United States should confront Tehran about its ballistic weapons program and its role in Syria’s civil war but a 2015 deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb must be preserved, Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
The White House on Wednesday called for the Iranian government to end its crackdown on widespread demonstrations and release thousands of protesters who have reportedly been jailed in recent weeks.
Iran's most significant protests in almost a decade may have calmed, but anger that fueled the nationwide demonstrations lingers and could erupt again at any time, according to experts.
President Trump has made it clear that the U.S. stands with Iranian protesters, whose demonstrations against the repressive government of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were broken up last week but whose demands have yet to be answered. Trump could still aid their cause, and with a relatively easy, risk-free move: He could make public details of the regime's corruption and help average Iranians understand the full extent of the national wealth that has been transferred from them to their government's fat cats.
The wave of recent protests throughout Iran is the latest sign of Tehran’s crisis of leadership. It is a crisis that has indicted all echelons of the state and all the factions that compete for power within it... The protests also highlighted how all those groups now lay on one side of a deepening divide between the Iranian state and society.
It is equally important to note what these protests were not. They were not a repeat of a past urban, secular uprising of affluent citizens demanding social and cultural change, freedom of expression, and political participation. And here lies the good news for the Islamic Republic. The most serious threats to the system have traditionally come when Tehran has risen in rebellion—as it did in June 2009 to protest the outcome of the presidential elections that year.
[A] coalition of advocacy groups that support better ties with Tehran have forged an unlikely alliance with Iran hawks in Congress to try to rectify the chilling effect that US sanctions have had on US technology firms. Together, they’re urging the Donald Trump administration to provide greater flexibility for US companies to provide social media and digital platforms to Iranian citizens.
While economic grievances are the key driver of the current protests, ordinary Iranians are questioning the wisdom of their government’s military adventurism abroad and support for foreign state and non-state actors at the expense of domestic priorities. Although the protests are fading and are unlikely to change Iran’s regional posture in the short and immediate terms, growing resentment inside Iran about the country’s foreign policy will have long-term implications for the Islamic Republic’s efforts to expand its soft power and hard power strategies in neighboring countries and the broader region.
English, as it turns out, is the Ayatollah’s kryptonite. Khamenei went, well, into a mullah meltdown in 2016 when he found out that some Iranian nursery schools were teaching English. So, the riots have forced Khamenei to double down. He is now banned the teaching of English in Iran’s primary schools… I have visions of American stealth bombers dropping millions of crates laden with English language instruction toys, books, to instruct young Iranian’s how to learn the Queen’s English, so to speak.
Iran has begun implementing new guidelines that will prevent thousands of convicted drug smugglers from being executed, Iranian media reported Wednesday.
RUSSIA & IRAN
Iran’s foreign minister is visiting Moscow for talks focusing on the future of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and the situation in Syria, where both nations support President Bashar Assad.
When protests against Iran’s theocratic Shiite regime erupted late last month, the reaction from the region’s two main Sunni powers couldn’t have been more different.
SYRIA & IRAN
Turkey called on Russia and Iran on Wednesday to pressure Syrian authorities to halt a military offensive in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, which Damascus launched despite an international deal to reduce hostilities there.
IRANIAN DOMESTIC ISSUES
Iranian media are reporting that a magnitude 5.1 earthquake has jolted the country’s southern province of Kerman.