President Trump tweeted that he plans to impose "major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday," following his decision to call off a military attack on the country. Mr. Trump spoke Saturday about the new pressure on Tehran from the presidential retreat in Camp David, where he is spending the weekend discussing Middle East strategy with advisers. He didn't provide any further details on the nature of the sanctions.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton had a message for Iran on Sunday during his visit to Israel: He advised the leaders of the Islamic nation not to "mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness." Bolton's comment followed Friday's confirmation by President Trump that he had called off a planned retaliatory attack against Iran following that country's downing of a U.S. military drone Thursday in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran on Monday described its shooting down of a U.S. drone in the Gulf last week as a "firm response" to the United States and warned it could be repeated. "Everyone saw the downing of the unmanned drone," navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency. "I can assure you that this firm response can be repeated, and the enemy knows it."
UANI IN THE NEWS
U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) commended the FATF decisions but said the group needs to do much more, citing Iran's "failure" for three years to fully comply with an FATF action plan. "Countermeasures need to be reimposed to protect the integrity of the international financial system. As long as Iran chooses to remain an extremist regime, it should remain closed for business," said UANI's chief executive Mark Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., in a Friday statement
Also welcoming the FATF decisions was United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), although the advocacy group also said it should go further. "As long as Iran chooses to remain an extremist regime, it should remain closed for business," said UANI chief executive and co-founder Mark Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. The FATF was established by G7 leaders in 1989 to counter money laundering, a mandate that was broadened after 9/11 to including combating terrorist financing.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran may further scale back compliance with its nuclear deal soon unless European countries shield it from U.S. sanctions through a trade mechanism, the head of Tehran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations was quoted as saying on Sunday. Tehran said in May it would reduce compliance with the nuclear pact it agreed with world powers in 2015 in protest at the United States' decision to unilaterally pull out of the agreement and reimpose sanctions last year.
Iran will take "new steps" if Europe doesn't meet a deadline in two weeks to take measures towards ensuring the Islamic Republic can reap the economic benefits of the nuclear deal, the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency reported, citing a senior foreign-policy aide. Kamal Kharazi, chairman of the Strategic Foreign Relations Council, which is part of the Foreign Ministry and advises the government, said he met U.K. Foreign Office Minister Andrew Murrison in Tehran, ISNA reported.
Iran is set to breach a cap on its enriched-uranium stockpile within days, potentially pushing its conflict with the U.S. into a dangerous new phase. Limiting the volume and purity of its accumulated uranium was a central part of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers in 2015. The U.S. abandoned the deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions. President Donald Trump said Saturday he'll impose "major" additional U.S. penalties on Monday.
In an interview short on specifics and long on threats, President Trump told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Iran has violated the 2015 nuclear agreement the U.S. pulled out of in 2018, and said that under no circumstances would that nation be allowed to control an atomic weapon. "I think they have violated the agreement because I think in the areas that we're not allowed to inspect they're doing things," Trump said in a Friday interview that aired Sunday. "I think they have been for years."
A group of Iranian reformist activists and former officials have urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to encourage Washington to return to the nuclear deal with Iran and lift the sanctions that have paralyzed its economy. The letter signed by 17 former officials including former government spokesmen Abdollah Ramezanzadeh and Behzad Nabavi and former Presidential aide Shahindokht Molaverdi blames the U.S. pull-out from the nuclear deal as the cause of mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf region...
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would impose fresh sanctions on Iran but that he wanted to make a deal to bolster its flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions following the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone this week by the Islamic Republic. On Thursday, an Iranian missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone, an incident that Washington said happened in international airspace. Trump later said he had called off a military strike to retaliate because it could have killed 150 people.
U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday he will impose additional sanctions against Iran in an effort to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, adding that military action was still a possibility. Trump, who was speaking to reporters at the White House, made his comments after recently calling off military actions against Iran to retaliate for the downing of a U.S. military drone.
Russia and its partners will take steps to counter new sanctions that Washington has said it will impose on Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on Monday. In the comments reported by TASS and RIA, Ryabkov did not specify what those steps would be. He said the imposition of U.S. sanctions would aggravate tensions, and Washington should instead be seeking dialogue with Tehran, the agencies quoted him as saying.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh denied on Monday reports that Iranian oil exports had declined in recent days. "The news is completely wrong," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. He did not provide any figures for Iranian oil exports in the face of U.S. sanctions. "Giving a figure is not in our interests," he added.
Oil prices rose on Monday, extending vast gains last week prompted by tensions between Iran and the United States, as Washington was set to announce new sanctions on Tehran. Brent futures were up 11 cents, or 0.17%, at $65.31 a barrel by 0845 GMT. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 40 cents, or 0.7%, at $57.83 a barrel. Oil prices surged after Iran shot down a drone on Thursday that the United States claimed was in international airspace and Tehran said was over its territory.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
A multinational task force said Friday it is keeping Iran on a financial blacklist for failing to take action to head off funds flowing to terrorists. The 38-nation Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said it will require more onerous financial oversight if Tehran fails to meet an October deadline for improving its controls. "The FATF expects Iran to proceed swiftly in the reform path to ensure that it addresses all of the remaining items," according to the statement, while welcoming "high-level political commitment" to repair the deficiencies.
Iran is setting up a network of terror cells in Africa to attack US and other Western targets in retaliation for Washington's decision to impose sanctions against Tehran, according to Western security officials. The new terror network has been established on the orders of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the elite section of Iran's Republican Guard Corps that has responsibility for overseas operations.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
In the seven days that Richard Ratcliffe has been camped outside the front door of the Iranian Embassy in west London, workmen there have embarked on a curious flurry of do-it-yourself projects. They washed and sanded down the railings using power tools, erected large metal barriers and even called police several times to complain that Ratcliffe's tent was blocking the sidewalk for passing strollers, he said.
There has been deep disagreement between the EU and the US when it comes to what policies ought to be pursued toward the Iranian regime. Several European countries, including France, the UK and Germany, are opposed to Washington's determination to impose maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic. The Europeans first opposed the White House decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
President Trump's last-minute decision to pull back from a retaliatory strike on Iran underscored the absence of appealing options available to him as Tehran races toward its next big challenge to the United States: building up and further enriching its stockpile of nuclear fuel. Two weeks of flare-ups over the attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American surveillance drone, administration officials said, have overshadowed a larger, more complex and fast-intensifying showdown over containing Iran's nuclear program.
In the days leading up to President Trump's decision on whether to launch a missile strike against Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commanded the stage. After warning that Mr. Trump was prepared to use force because of Iran's suspected role in oil tanker attacks, Mr. Pompeo flew to Florida on Monday to strategize with generals at Central Command. Back in Washington, he briefed the foreign minister of the European Union on intelligence.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he was not seeking war with Tehran after a senior Iranian military commander warned any conflict in the Gulf region could spread uncontrollably and threaten the lives of U.S. troops. Tensions remain high between longtime foes Iran and the United States after Trump said on Friday that he called off a military strike to retaliate for Iran's downing of an unmanned U.S. drone out of concern it would have been a disproportionate response.
The United States will intensify its economic pressure on Iran until Tehran forgoes violence and engages with U.S. diplomatic efforts, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday. "We are willing to engage when the time is right," Pompeo said in a statement. He said when Tehran decides "to forgo violence and meet our diplomacy with diplomacy, it knows how to reach us."
Iranian lawmakers chanted "Death to America" during a parliament session on Sunday after a speaker accused the United States of being the "real world terrorist", amid escalating tension with Washington following the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for the drone incident because it could have killed 150 people, and signaled he was open to talks with Tehran.
If the United States wants Iran to offer concessions that go beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal, Washington must offer incentives that also exceed those in the deal, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday. The comments were a rare indication from Tehran that it could discuss new concessions with Washington, although the adviser, Hesameddin Ashena, repeated Iran's line that any talks were impossible until Washington lifted sanctions it has reimposed since withdrawing from the deal last year.
President Trump bucked most of his top national-security advisers by abandoning retaliatory strikes in Iran on Thursday. In private conversations Friday, Mr. Trump reveled in his judgment, certain about his decision to call off the attacks while speaking of his administration as if removed from the center of it. "These people want to push us into a war, and it's so disgusting," Mr. Trump told one confidant about his own inner circle of advisers. "We don't need any more wars."
Iran is likely at "an inflection point," and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change "the status quo," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively. "I'd say that they're probably at an inflection point right now," the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency.
Britain's Middle East minister travels to Tehran Sunday for talks with Iranian officials. Britain's Foreign Office said Andrew Murrison will call for "urgent de-escalation in the region." Murrison will also discuss Iran's threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal that the United States pulled out of last year. On Friday, Trump tweeted that the United States was "cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.
Iran warned the United States on Saturday that any aggression against the Islamic republic would have serious consequences for US interests in the region. "Firing one bullet towards Iran will set fire to the interests of America and its allies" in the Middle East, armed forces general staff spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the Tasnim News Agency.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday denounced as "child-like" a map released by Iran that purported to show that a US drone entered its airspace in May. "You've seen that child-like map that Foreign Minister (Mohammad Javad) Zarif put out that contrasts with the excellence and professionalism of America's military and intelligence services," Pompeo told reporters as he left on a trip to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran executed a former contract employee for the aerospace organization of the defense ministry in recent days on charges of spying for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the IRIB news agency reported on Saturday. Jalal Hajizavar had left his post nine years ago and was convicted by a military court after an investigation which discovered documents and spying equipment at his home, the report said. He was executed at the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, without providing further details.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Any conflict in the Gulf region may spread uncontrollably, a senior Iranian military commander was cited as saying on Sunday by the semi-official news agency Fars. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for Iran's downing of a drone because it could have killed 150 people, and signalled he was open to talks with Tehran. Iran said on Saturday it would respond firmly to any threat against it.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
When top national security officials from Russia, Israel and the U.S. gather for a rare summit starting Monday, the focus will be on the country not in the room: Iran. Amid rising regional tensions, the meeting is a critical opportunity to hash out how they view the future of Iran's presence in Syria as an eight-year-long civil war there winds down. Russia wants to project power across the Middle East through its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and would like to limit Iran's competing influence in the country.
CHINA & IRAN
The latest official figures from China show that its trade with Iran suffered a substantial drop in the first five months of 2019, compared with the same period last year. Trade figures published by China's customs on June 17 show Iran's exports, including crude oil, declined 46.6 percent totaling $7.17 billion. China's exports to Iran also declined by 26% reaching a low of $3.74 billion.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Tensions in the Gulf can only be addressed politically and priority should be de-escalation and dialogue, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Sunday. "Tensions in the Gulf can only be addressed politically. Crisis long in the making requires collective attention; primarily to de-escalate and to find political solutions through dialogue and negotiations," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a Twitter post.
One person was killed and seven others were wounded on Sunday in an attack by Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels on a Saudi airport, Saudi Arabia said. The strike came as the American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, traveled to the country for talks on Iran. Regional tensions have flared in recent days. The United States abruptly called off a military strike against Iran last week in response to the shooting down of an unmanned American surveillance drone.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The international community must seek a political solution on Iran, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had aborted a military strike to retaliate against Tehran's downing of a U.S. drone. Speaking at an annual gathering of Protestant churches, Merkel also said the Iran issue would be discussed at next week's meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 leading economies in Japan, at least at a bilateral level.
Iran's ambassador to Japan is seeking international support to ease Mideast tensions and demands Washington stop hostilities toward Tehran. Morteza Rahmani Movahed said on Monday in Tokyo that Iran faces alleged U.S. "economic terrorism" and suspected sabotage attempts in the Persian Gulf. He urged the international community to help ease the tensions in the region by forming a consensus to stop the alleged U.S. hostility.
The U.S. covertly launched offensive cyber operations against an Iranian intelligence group's computer systems on Thursday, the same day President Trump pulled back on using more traditional methods of military force, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The cyberstrikes, which were approved by Mr. Trump, targeted computer systems used to control missile and rocket launches that were chosen months ago for potential disruption, the officials said.
U.S. cyber attacks against Iranian targets have not been successful, Iran's telecoms minister said on Monday, after reports that the Pentagon had launched a long-planned cyber attack to disable his country's rocket launch systems. Tension is running high between longtime foes Iran and the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he called off a military strike to retaliate for Iran's downing of a U.S. drone.