The United States and Iran traded accusations Tuesday over Tehran’s latest ballistic missile test, which the U.N. Security Council discussed behind closed doors without taking any action. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called on the U.N.’s most powerful body to unanimously condemn the “provocative missile test” on Dec. 1, calling it “dangerous and concerning, but not surprising.”
Diplomats from European countries on Tuesday blasted a recent Iranian missile test as “inconsistent” with a key U.N. Security Council resolution, as they struggle to keep the Iran deal intact amid U.S. pressure to get tough on the Islamic regime. Iran test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile on Saturday, which the U.S. said had the capability to strike parts of Europe and the Middle East.
A study by the prestigious London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an independent think tank, has revealed many hidden aspects of Iran’s defense spending and the shifting balances within the Islamic Republic’s military structures. One key finding is that the 2018–19 defense budget bill is much higher than what even the hawks within the Iranian establishment had sought.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Washington officialdom believes Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons based on little more than wishful thinking. Two years ago, senior Reagan and Clinton administration officials warned that Iran probably already has nuclear weapons.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The United States is pressing the European Union to consider economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday, warning of a wider regional conflict if Tehran’s ambitions remain unchecked. Iran’s test of a ballistic missile this month alarmed the West and France called it a destabilizing act, but the EU is focused on protecting the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran that U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of in May.
Iraq won't be left hanging amid Washington's sanctions on Iran, which supplies almost half of its electricity, experts familiar with U.S. policy say. The President Donald Trump administration in November granted Iraq a 45-day waiver to continue its energy purchases — and at the risk of setting off more instability in the country, the U.S. is now expected to continue allowing transactions with Iran under yet-to-be-decided conditions.
Iran will not discuss its OPEC quota as long as it is under sanctions, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying on Wednesday. “As long as Iran is under sanctions, the Islamic Republic’s OPEC quota will not be discussed with anyone,” Zanganeh said, speaking ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday repeated his threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea, if the U.S. shuts off Iran’s oil exports. State TV quoted Rouhani as saying that “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.” The strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is crucial to global energy supplies. Rouhani also pledged that the United States would not be able to prevent Iran from exporting its crude.
US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal is reinforcing a trend that was already underway as doubts mounted about the Donald Trump administration’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): Iran is looking east for its economic survival. Under waivers announced by the Trump administration in November, eight countries are permitted to continue to import oil and condensates from Iran until March without falling afoul of US sanctions. Five of the eight are in Asia and of them, China is the biggest.
The United States on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to condemn Iran for carrying out a ballistic missile test, describing the launch as dangerous and a violation of a UN resolution. The council met behind closed doors at the request of France and Britain which, along with the United States, have accused Iran of test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile on Saturday.
Envoys from Britain, France and the United States voiced concern Tuesday at the United Nations following Iran's test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile last Saturday. "Iran's recent ballistic missile test was dangerous and concerning, but not surprising," U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. "The United States has repeatedly warned the world about Iran's deliberate efforts to destabilize the Middle East and defy international norms."
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh made the remark on Tuesday after a meeting with the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh at the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iranian Parliament. Falahatpisheh said the meeting was centered on the importance of IRGC missile power, today’s achievements and the future plans and Iran's role in the region.”
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran is guilty of crimes against humanity for covering up the mass executions of at least 5,000 political. The human rights group wants the United Nations to open an inquiry into the killings and disappearances in 1988 which targeted supporters of Iranian opposition groups. Many families still do not know what happened to their loved ones since the disappearances.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The United States has made 11 attempts to begin negotiations with Iran in the last two years, all rejected by Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Tensions have escalated between the two countries after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in May and reimposed sanctions in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional influence.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mounted a staunch defence of US foreign policy on Tuesday, arguing that Washington is building a world order to fight cynical abuses by Russia, China and Iran. On a visit to Brussels, the former CIA chief took a swipe at European critics who accuse the US of undermining global institutions, insisting President Donald Trump is restoring America’s traditional leadership role.
After its repeated threats of disrupting other countries’ oil shipment through the Gulf, if Washington presses ahead with efforts to halt Iranian oil export, the US administration responded on Tuesday to Iran, where it dismissed any possibility of disruption in the navigation movement and rejected Tehran’s provocations in the region.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran intends to expand the range of its air-to-air missiles and has carried out very good measures in this regard, commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh says. "One of our most important programs is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition," Nasirzadeh said in an interview with Fars news agency on Tuesday.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
More than 700,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Iran this year as the Iranian economy tightens, with a knock-on effect on the Afghan economy, according to data from the U.N.’s migration agency. In a report covering the period up to Dec. 1, the International Organization for Migration said a total of 752,325 Afghans had returned from Iran and Pakistan, including 721,633 from Iran.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of ultimate responsibility for the attack tunnels, built by Hezbollah, one of which was destroyed today in the IDF's operation Northern Shield on the Lebanon border. This act is part of Iran's web of terror in the region and the world, Netanyahu said. "We are acting to prevent Iran gaining a foothold in Syria and in Lebanon."
CHINA & IRAN
Even as the details of former Hong Kong official Patrick Ho’s bribery trial emerge, his dealings with Iran and Qatar are already under the spotlight. Ho has been fighting foreign bribery charges in New York. On September 14, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Cheikh Gadio, a former Senegalese foreign minister they had accused of helping Ho bribe African officials.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Already in its third week, the civil unrest in France continues to make headlines in Iran, where many are questioning the government's violent response in quelling the public anger. The "yellow vests" have been protesting increased fuel taxes imposed by President Emmanuel Macron's government. The rallies have turned into France's worst turmoil in decades, with running street battles and intense scuffles between police and protesters amid burning tires and rubble from damaged public property.