President Trump asserted Thursday that his decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal had already curbed Iran’s aggressive behavior, and he predicted that his hard-nosed tactics would also result in a successful nuclear negotiation with North Korea. Iran, he said, was no longer as adventurous in Syria and Yemen, and had relaxed its ambitions to extend its influence all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. “Iran is not the same country that it was a few months ago,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference. “They’re a much, much different group of leaders,” he concluded.
Belgium’s KBC will limit Iran-related transactions to only humanitarian trade after the U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions on Tehran, the financial group said, becoming the latest company to scale back activities.
The United States has reached a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. that includes a $1 billion fine, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The star of a live television interview in Iran’s new nuclear workshop wasn’t the head of the country’s atomic agency, but three centrifuges labeled in English in the background, advanced devices Tehran is prohibited from using by the nuclear deal with world powers. The placement of the centrifuges, identified as IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6, may have served as a subtle warning to Europe as it tries to salvage the atomic accord after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it and restore U.S. sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote a letter to the foreign ministers of the countries who signed on to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to update them on the status of attempts to keep the deal alive despite the US withdrawal. In the letter,
A day before U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, one of his senior officials phoned Saudi Arabia to ask the world's largest oil exporter to help keep prices stable if the decision disrupted supply. Riyadh, Tehran's arch rival, has long been a close Washington ally, but direct pressure on a member of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) over oil policies is rare. Washington last pressed Saudi Arabia to increase output in 2012.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed the Obama administration over a waiver it issued that would have allowed the Iranian government to briefly route money through a U.S. bank, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller include the revelation in his current investigation.
Iran criticized a U.S. request that Saudi Arabia pump more oil to cover a drop in Iranian exports and predicted OPEC would not heed the appeal, setting the stage for a tough meeting of the producer group later this month.
The list of companies planning to pull out of Iran or cease doing business with Iranian business is growing by the week. With high profile companies like Boeing, Total and General Electric announcing that they plan to end all business dealings with Iran by the time U.S. sanctions return, the focus is now turning to which companies that indent, at least for now, to continue doing business in Iran.
The coach of Iran's national team has urged world soccer's governing body, FIFA, to step in against U.S. sportswear giant Nike for refusing to provide his players with shoes at this month's World Cup in Russia.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman said he wants future agreements with Iran and North Korea to be informed by a recent report from Senate Republicans accusing the Obama administration of secretly trying to give Tehran access to the US financial system.
SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to carry out direct military strikes targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime unless all Iranian forces are withdrawn from Syria.
Iran’s ability to sit on the Golan border depends largely on Russia, which provides air cover and a certain degree of deterrence against Israel. If, as it now appears, the Russians do not want Iran to threaten Israel from the Golan, Iran will find it very difficult to remain there. Two things seem clear. First, Israel is quite determined to prevent Iran from recreating in southern Syria what it has done in southern Lebanon with Hezbollah. Second, Russia has no desire to see Iran threaten Israel or fully control Syria.
The Supreme Council of Syrian Tribes and Clans says Iranian-backed Iraqi militia groups enter Syria and commit “terrorist attacks” against the Syrian people, Arab media reported.
Israel has accused Iran of fuelling recent violence on the Gaza border that has seen more than 100 Palestinians killed amid protests against Israel.
Iran held its annual day of protest against Israel on Friday, determined to show defiance at a time of mounting pressure from the United States and its regional allies.
While previous calls for a national defense strategy, under former President Michel Sleiman, have fallen on deaf ears, Hezbollah now has a staunch ally in the country’s top post but more importantly, allies who control an almost two-thirds majority in Parliament.
London’s mayor has called on the UK government to proscribe the political wing of Hezbollah as pressure grows for action to stop the group’s flag from being flown during the annual Al Quds march in the capital on Sunday.
On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators will gather outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in London for the annual al-Quds Day march. From there, they will proceed through the capital chanting ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – which is to say, the State of Israel will be destroyed. Alongside the Palestinian tricolour, many will be waving another flag: the banner of Hezbollah. In doing so, none of them will be breaking the law.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Shima Babaei, who is awaiting an Appeals Court decision on her conviction for peacefully protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab rules, is facing more charges along with her husband Dariush Zand, she told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on June 6, 2018.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Former and current Algerian officials accuse the Iranian Embassy in Algiers of promoting sectarianism in Algeria and the broader region, according to recent reports.
The speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali Larijani said on Friday security in the Middle East could be threatened if Tehran was further pressured by Israel and Saudi Arabia. Tens of thousands of Iranians took part in anti-Israel rallies to mark Iran’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinians. They chanted “Death to Israel”, “Death to America” and burned Israeli and U.S. flags.
CHINA & IRAN
Next week, President Rouhani of Iran will visit China for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, on the margins of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Two weeks ago, coincidentally, I spoke in Shanghai at a mid-sized meeting billed as “the first conference on Syria ever held in China”—which included an influential Iranian foreign policy adviser—cosponsored by two leading local institutes and facilitated by China’s embassy in Washington… My main takeaways about China’s own policy in this arena are as follows: a strong intent to preserve the JCPOA, despite President Trump’s recent withdrawal from it, and a clear desire for a UN-led “political settlement” in Syria—both to avert wider regional conflict and to benefit from the country’s eventual reconstruction effort.
TURKEY & IRAN
Negotiations to remove Kurdish troops from a small Syrian town could push away America's allies.