President Trump said Sunday that the U.S. will “absolutely” sanction European companies that do business with Iran.
An international group that monitors money laundering worldwide said on Friday Iran had until October to complete reforms that would bring it into line with global norms or face consequences that could further deter investors from the country.
In January, the Comoros Islands quietly cancelled a batch of its passports that foreigners had bought in recent years… Reuters found that more than 100 of 155 people who had their Comoros passports cancelled in January were Iranians. They included senior executives of companies working in shipping, oil and gas, and foreign currency and precious metals – all sectors that have been targeted by international sanctions on Iran… Diplomats and security sources in the Comoros and the West are concerned that some Iranians acquired the passports to protect their interests as sanctions crimped Iran’s ability to conduct international business. While none of the people or companies involved faced sanctions, the restrictions on Iran could still make a second passport helpful. Comoros passports offer visa-free travel in parts of the Middle and Far East and could be used by Iranians to open accounts in foreign banks and register companies abroad.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran says it has restarted production at a “major” uranium facility involved in its nuclear program, though it still pledges to follow the terms of the country’s landmark atomic deal now under threat after President Donald Trump pulled America out of the accord.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani is traveling to Western Europe this week, amid continued uncertainty over the future of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran will allow private companies to export crude oil, part of a strategy to counter U.S. sanctions, and is urging fellow OPEC members, including regional rival Saudi Arabia, not to break output agreements, state media and officials said on Sunday. Iran is looking at ways to keep exporting oil as well as other measures to counter sanctions after the United States told allies to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November.
The Iranian central bank’s efforts to stem the rial’s decline and stamp out the currency black market have backfired, undercutting President Hassan Rouhani’s case that he can parry the U.S. war on the Iranian economy. Rather than choking off the illegal transactions, the introduction of a fixed exchange rate in April has encouraged some traders to profiteer by charging higher black market prices for goods they imported with dollars bought at the lower official rate, officials say.
President Donald Trump lashed out at OPEC with a warning to stop manipulating oil markets and piled pressure on U.S. ally Saudi Arabia to raise supplies to compensate for lower exports from Iran. Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had agreed to produce more oil. The White House later walked back the president’s comments, saying the king had said his country could raise oil production if needed.
South Korea’s oil imports from Iran could fall to the lowest in three years in September as buyers hold back booking cargoes, hoping for a U.S. waiver from sanctions on Iran, several sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.
Iran on Sunday asked fellow OPEC members to "refrain from any unilateral measures" to increase oil production beyond the 1 million additional barrels of crude a day it already agreed to, a warning to Saudi Arabia after President Donald Trump said the kingdom would increase production.
Tehran on Saturday urged foreign firms working in Iran to resist US "threats" of sanctions, adding it was in talks with French car makers about staying on in the country.
President Hassan Rouhani has given a 15-day deadline to his trade minister to publish the full list of car importers, who have received cheap foreign currency from the state. According to published official records, Iranian entities and individuals seem to have systematically misused subsidized foreign currency provided by the government for importing essential goods.
Iran’s oil minister criticized domestic opposition to new oil contracts as the reason why oil exports have remained relatively low, making Iran vulnerable to sanctions.
At the end of a tumultuous week, marked by a currency crunch and rare protests by vendors in Tehran, economists are urging Iran's President Hassan Rouhani to take decisive steps to deal with the country's pressing economic challenges. On Tuesday, Iran's exchange rate hit 79,000 rials to a US dollar on the black market - up at least 110 percent from the same period last year.
Japanese refiners are ramping up purchases of U.S. crude as it becomes cheaper relative to their usual Middle East supplies and are assessing heavy grades from U.S. shale production
as a replacement for supplies from Iran, industry sources said.
Indian refiners have been asked to prepare an alternative crude oil sourcing plan ahead of the snapback of US sanctions on Iran in November, while a clear response from the Indian government on the US' stance on zero imports from Tehran is expected to emerge in July, government and industry officials said Friday.
Saudi Arabia would effectively be quitting OPEC if it heeds US President Donald Trump's call to boost crude production by up to 2 million b/d, a senior Iranian oil official said Saturday.
Aziz Ahmad is one of the unlikely winners of the stand-off between the United States and Iran, turning his modest transport service into an international foreign exchange operation that is providing much-needed dollars to the stricken Iranian economy.
The Islamic Republic of Iran sought to obtain illicit goods for its missile program from Germany, the intelligence agency for Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, announced on Friday.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian state media say protesters have clashed with police over water scarcity in the southwest for a second night. IRNA says protesters threw stones and debris at police and set a car on fire in a protest that began late Sunday in the city of Abadan… Similar clashes over water scarcity broke out in the nearby city of Khorramshahr late Saturday. Authorities say one protester and 10 police were injured, and videos posted online showed gunfire ringing out.
Spreading unrest in Iran raises the prospect of broader anti-government protests as the political leadership in Tehran faces mounting pressure from a Trump administration effort to cut the country’s oil sales.
The Iranian government has come under further strain in the wake of the axed nuclear deal, as economic sanctions begin to bite and protests begin to surge once again.Showing that they still have the clout to unsettle the government, as they did in 1978 when they backed the Islamic Revolution that dethroned the Shah, merchants beneath the vaulted domes of Tehran's Grand Bazaar last week began shutting their stalls in a protest that lasted for three days.
Iran's Supreme Leader has accused the United States and allies of fomenting unrest in Iran.
Since the 1980s, [Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)] has violently neutralized ideological opponents of the regime both at home and abroad. In response, the Obama administration sanctioned two previous MOIS ministers as well as the MOIS itself. To date, however, its current minister, Mahmoud Alavi, has escaped Washington’s attention. The latest demonstrations in Iran highlight the urgency of renewed U.S. scrutiny. Because Tehran views the MOIS as a linchpin of its revolutionary ambitions, sanctioning Alavi would bolster the Iranian people’s own challenge to the regime’s legitimacy.
It is not in the interest of the hardliner leadership in Iran to sit down for direct talks with the Trump administration.
Some of President Donald Trump’s senior advisers and cabinet members believe there is now a rare opportunity to bring about the collapse of the Iranian regime, according to Israeli and American sources...
SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
A centerpiece of the upcoming Helsinki summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the future of Syria and a proposal to enlist Russia as a partner in ousting Iran from that battlefield.
National-security adviser John Bolton said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power wasn’t a strategic issue for the U.S. and that President Donald Trump hoped to secure Russia’s help in evicting Iranian forces from the country.
The leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, a key Damascus ally, said on Friday a “very big victory” was near in south Syria, where an army offensive has made rapid gains against insurgents.
A handful of Sunni politicians have created an “independent Sunni bloc” to challenge Lebanon’s interim Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who won 20 seats in May’s parliamentary elections.
Hezbollah will work with the Syrian state and Lebanon's General Security agency to help return Syrian refugees who want to go back home, its leader said on Friday, a project that critics see as premature in the absence of a peace deal.
[T]o avoid escalation in south Syria, Assad’s forces should not be allowed to reoccupy the area after the battle for Deraa, and Russian forces should not be trusted to act as guarantors of Iranian withdrawal. The only guaranteed way of keeping Iran out of the south and far from the Golan and Jordan would be a third-party buffer zone along Syria’s southern borders.
OTHER IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that 230 people have been poisoned by drinking polluted water in the county's southwest.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned government officials not be lazy or take their posts for granted as President Hassan Rouhani’s government tries to contain mounting public anger over his management of a currency crisis.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels are developing closer ties, reports say, fuelling sectarian divides and driving instability in the region.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has announced his desire to fight alongside the Houthi militia in Yemen during a televised speech on Friday, in which he delivered several other announcements.
Realistically, the Houthis have to believe that they have been defeated before they will agree to a lasting deal, and to the international policing that any deal is likely to require. One prerequisite for this is that they no longer feel that Iran has their back… [A] combination of concerted and coordinated pushback against Iranian forces or their allies and proxies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, combined with calibrated economic pressure on the regime, would at least keep them off balance.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAN
Hundreds of Taliban fighters are receiving advanced training from special forces at military academies in Iran as part of a significant escalation of support for the insurgents, Taliban and Afghan officials have told The Times. The scale, quality and length of the training is unprecedented and marks not only a shift in the proxy conflict between the US and Iran inside Afghanistan, but also a potential change in Iran’s ability and will to affect the outcome of the Afghan war.
TURKEY & IRAN
Turkey’s foreign minister says his country does not have to abide by “unilateral” U.S. decisions on Iran, suggesting that Ankara would not cut off trade with its neighbor.