Eye on Iran: U.S. Backs EU Iran Sanctions Push, Warns Firms against Tehran Trade

TOP STORIES

U.S. Backs EU Iran Sanctions Push, Warns Firms against Tehran Trade | Reuters

The United States on Tuesday welcomed a push by some EU states to impose new sanctions on Iran and warned firms considering doing business with the Islamic Republic that they could be funding militant groups and regional instability.

Iran’s Currency Hits New Lows against the Dollar | Wall Street Journal

Iran’s currency plumbed another record low against the U.S. dollar Monday as people lined up outside exchange houses in Tehran to buy the greenback, adding to the Islamic Republic’s economic pressures. Iran’s inflation is in double digits, and unemployment remains high, factors that contributed to the widespread protests that rocked the government earlier this year.

UANI Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman on Syria | MNSBC Live with Katy Tur

Now, [the president] has to act… [The action has] got to be military and it has to hurt the Assad regime… [The military action’s purpose] is first to punish Assad for this unacceptable use of chemical weapons. But now, it is also to make to clear that the United States, under President Trump, will not be bullied by the Russians or the Iranians to hold back.

UANI IN THE NEWS

UANI Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman on Syria | Bloomberg Markets: Balance of Power

Now, calling out Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers, the president has to take decisive action and I think it has to [be] military.

Joe Lieberman Slams Obama, Says Syria Red Line Was One of His 'Big Mistakes' | Washington Examiner

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman said Monday that the latest chemical attack in Syria shows that President Obama made a major error when he threatened to act against Syria if it used chemicals against its own people, and then did nothing when it happened. "I think one of the big mistakes President Obama made was drawing that red line, saying if [Syrian President Bashar] Assad uses gas he will respond. He used gas, and we didn't do anything… And that just invited a lot of the troubles that have happened since then."

NUCLEAR DEAL

US 'Will Regret It' If It Violates Nuke Deal: Iran | Agence France-Presse

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that the United States would regret withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond in "less than a week" if that happened.

Iran Threatens Trump with Strong Response If Nuclear Deal Fails As Arch-hawk Bolton Begins National Security Tenure | Newsweek

Iran’s leaders warned President Donald Trump he would regret pulling out of the nuclear deal with Tehran, and vowed a strong response if the U.S. withdrew, Reuters reported. The threat was made as John Bolton, who is well known for his hawkish stance on U.S. foreign policy, particularly toward Iran, began his tenure as Trump’s national security adviser. Tehran's message was no doubt intended to show that Iran would not be intimidated by the new White House national security team.

NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS

Iran's Nuclear Holiday: A Final Attempt to Deter Trump | Omer Carmi for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

The twentieth day of Farvardin, which usually coincides with April 8 or 9, is known in Iran as "National Nuclear Technology Day." The unusual celebration began under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who declared it an official holiday in 2006 after Iran reached a significant milestone in its uranium enrichment efforts. Since then, it has served as an opportunity for the regime to overplay the status of its nuclear program by publicizing new, sometimes exaggerated advancements and accomplishments.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Iranian President Lashes Out at US As Iran Marks Nuclear Day | Associated Press

Iran’s president lashed out at the United States on Monday as Iran marked “National Nuclear Day,” dedicated to its achievements in nuclear technology.

Bolton Faces a Dangerous World | Walter Russell Mead for the Wall Street Journal

In the Middle East, Mr. Bolton will look for ways to push back against Iran while persuading Russia that all-out opposition to the U.S. in the region carries too many costs to be worth it. President Trump and Mr. Bolton are on record as wanting to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Accomplishing this without losing British and French support for a robust policy to counter Russia and Iran in the Middle East will be an early test of Mr. Bolton’s savvy.

CONGRESS & IRAN

In Syria We Must Punish Assad, Iran, Russia, and Destroy ISIS | U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul for Fox News

Iran and Russia… have blood on their hands as they have been partners in carrying out these atrocities. They must not be left off the hook. Both countries need to be subject to additional economic and diplomatic penalties for propping up Assad, sponsoring terror, and supporting other destabilizing actions in the Middle East.

SYRIA & IRAN

Iran-Israel Conflict Escalates in Shadow of Syrian Civil War | New York Times

Israel on Monday appeared to have escalated its shadow war in Syria against Iran, with a predawn airstrike against a military base that coordinates Iranian-backed militias, killing four Iranian military advisers. The dead included a colonel who served as a senior officer in Iran’s drone program, according to Iranian news reports.

Regional Tensions Soar in Syria As Trump Threatens to Strike and Iranians Die in an Attack | Washington Post

The prospect of a U.S. strike on Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack, coupled with a missile raid apparently carried out by Israel that killed Iranian military personnel, has underscored the risk that the conflict is on the brink of a dangerous escalation.

Four Iranian Fighters Killed in Air Strike on Syrian Air Base | Reuters

Four Iranian military personnel were killed in an air strike on a Syrian air base on Sunday, Iran’s Fars news agency said, as Syria and its main allies Iran and Russia blamed Israel for carrying out the attack.

Remarks at an Emergency UN Security Council Briefing on Chemical Weapons Use in Syria | U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley

We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction. Russia and Iran have military advisers at Assad’s airfields and operations centers. Russian officials are on the ground helping direct the regime’s “starve and surrender” campaign, and Iranian allied forces do much of the dirty work.

Syria Strikes Spotlight Israel's Nightmare: an Entrenched Iran | NBC News

The missile strikes targeting a Syrian air base on Monday highlight the nightmare scenario Israel is facing: arch-enemy Iran entrenching to the east. Russia blamed Israel for the pre-dawn strike in Homs province. Two U.S. officials later confirmed to NBC News that Israel fired the missiles after informing Washington. Israel did not comment on the strikes, which a London-based monitoring group says killed 14 people, including Iranians.

Iran Condemns Chemical Weapons Attacks, Denies Syria’s Role | Al Monitor

With another round of allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, this time on April 7 in Douma, Iran has been put in the position of condemning the action while rejecting claims that the Syrian government was involved.

What to do about Syria — and its chief accomplice, Iran | Richard Goldberg for the New York Post

The president should... target the financial lifeblood of Iran’s strategic hold on Syria: the Central Bank of Iran. In January, Trump promised to stop waiving sanctions on the bank unless Europe helped him fix Obama’s nuclear deal. But the deal can never be truly fixed so long as Iran can use its central bank to spread evil outside its borders... The pressure campaign Trump built against North Korea should be replicated against the Islamic Republic — and that means not giving out exceptions. The timing is perfect for the re-imposition of sanctions on the bank. This weekend, Iran’s currency cratered to a new record low. Protests are continuing throughout the country. The signs of regime instability and vulnerability to outside pressure are growing. Now is the ideal time to hit Iran’s central bank and shake the regime to its core.

The Strange Geography of the Latest Syria Strike | Atlantic

The Syrian civil war has fast become the Syrian war: Russia and the Assad regime accused Israel Monday of striking a military airport where Iran is known to operate, reportedly killing 14 people.

Israel Signals Russia and Iran: We're Not Scared of Military Conflict | Ron Ben-Yishai for Yediot Ahronot (Israel)

The attack on the T-4 base in Syria, which was attributed to Israel, raises the tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow and sends a message that Israel will not allow Iranian military presence in Syria, even at the cost of friction with Russia.

Israel Kills Iranian Guard Corps Members in Syria | Amir Toumaj for the Long War Journal

Israeli officials have said that they would not tolerate the IRGC’s military build up in Syria. The Guard Corps’ obsessive calls for Israel’s destruction and support for groups that fight it have made the Syrian build up a top security priority for Israel… [Iranian media’s initial and later retracted] acknowledgement [that Iranians were killed in the strike] has put the IRGC in a tough spot. It knows that it cannot respond in kind to Israel without a high risk of triggering a major war that would threaten its gains in Syria.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Judge Delays Turkish Banker's Sentencing in Iran Sanctions Case | Reuters

A federal judge in Manhattan on Monday delayed by nearly four weeks the sentencing of a Turkish banker convicted in January of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Iran Tries to Unify Currency to Halt Rial's Record Slump | Bloomberg

Iran will try to unify its currency starting Tuesday and control sales of the dollar in a bid to stem a record decline in the rial’s value on the unregulated market.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Iran Says Imprisonment of British National Not Linked To UK Debt | Radio Farda

A spokesman for the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry denies any connection between the imprisonment of an Iranian-British mother in Tehran and the UK’s four-decade-old debt to Iran, after Radio Farda aired an interview with her husband alleging the contrary.

RUSSIA & IRAN

How Putin’s Folly Could Lead to a Middle East War | Jonathan Schanzer for Politico

Putin could certainly try to step in and referee this conflict. But that’s not what he signed up for. Between this and the chemical weapons attacks, the Russian leader may finally coming to understand that Iran’s actions in Syria are not aligned with Russian interests. This is long-sought leverage for Trump, in a conflict that has afforded little. More importantly, it’s a window of opportunity to finally craft a Syria policy that works to marginalize both Russia and Iran – the main drivers of a mass slaughter that stretches into its seventh year.

ISRAEL AND IRAN

What Should the US Role Be in an Iran-Israel War? | Ehud Eilam for the Jerusalem Post

Two weeks ago a large-scale joint US-Israeli military exercise took place in Israel, focused on the scenario of an Iranian attack on Israel. Should the United States defend Israel from such a threat?