Eye on Iran will not be sent on Wednesday, November 21, Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23 in observance of Thanksgiving. It will resume Monday, November 26.
The Trump administration is set to accuse Iran of violating the international treaty that bars the use of chemical weapons. The White House notified lawmakers on Friday that it would declare Iran is violating the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention because it has kept the equipment and facilities needed to produce them, not because it is actively making or using such weapons. Two senior US officials tell CNN that the charge will not trigger immediate penalties, but could be used as justification to file claims against Iran with international organizations going forward.
European Union foreign ministers showed cautious support on Monday for possible new economic sanctions on Iran in a shift of policy after accusations of Iranian attack plots in France and Denmark, diplomats said. Denmark and France briefed their EU counterparts at a meeting in Brussels on the alleged plots and ministers agreed to consider targeted sanctions on Iranians in response, although no details or names were discussed, five diplomats told Reuters.
European countries are finding it difficult to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to allow non-dollar trade with Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday, according to parliamentary news agency ICANA. The SPV would act as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports to purchases of EU goods, circumventing U.S. sanctions which are based on the global use of the dollar for oil trading.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran's foreign minister has said his country will not only survive newly reimposed US sanctions but it will thrive. The Trump administration announced sanctions this month covering banking, oil exports and shipping, aimed at forcing Tehran to stop what the US described as its "destabilising activities" in the Middle East. Speaking after meeting the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in Tehran on Monday, Javad Zarif said: "We are used to pressure and we are used to resisting pressure..."
The United Arab Emirates is fully complying with sanctions imposed this month by the United States on Iran even though it will mean a further drop in trade with Tehran, a UAE economy ministry official told Reuters on Monday. Abu Dhabi, the political capital of the UAE federation, has taken a hawkish stand on Tehran, although Dubai, the country's business hub, has traditionally been a major trading partner with Iran.
Reuters interviewed dozens of business owners across Iran and found that hundreds of companies had suspended production and thousands of workers were being laid off because of a hostile business climate mainly caused by new US sanctions. The Iranian rial has fallen to record lows, and economic activity has slowed dramatically since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Tehran in May.
Iran is reintroducing fuel cards that will cap petrol purchases in a bid to combat rampant smuggling, state media reported on Tuesday. Smuggling has boomed in recent months as the rial has plummeted against the dollar in the face of the reimposition of crippling US sanctions following Washington's withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran.
Iran will continue to export oil despite U.S. sanctions, which are part of a psychological war doomed to failure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday. By reimposing sanctions on OPEC's third-biggest crude producer, Washington wants to force Tehran to drop its ballistic missile programs, further curb its nuclear work and limit its support for proxy armed groups from Syria to Lebanon and Yemen. "We will not yield to this pressure, which is part of the psychological war launched against Iran," Rouhani said in a speech in the city of Khoy, broadcast live on state television.
Tehran wants to revitalise gold and copper mines, according to local media. Iran Minerals Production and Supply Company was cited in the reports. The nation is undergoing a sudden surge in gold mining since crippling US sanctions were enforced. Besides boosting mineral production and legalising some illegal mines, the Iranian government's programme is aimed at "increasing employment, creating added value for local communities, and ultimately achieving the goals of a resilient economy".
Refiners in Japan and South Korea are looking to resume Iranian oil imports from January after receiving waivers from U.S. sanctions on Tehran, sources familiar with the matter said. The unexpected resurgence in Iranian oil imports due to the waivers has helped push spot prices for Middle East crude and condensate to their lowest in more than a year.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Jeremy Hunt has met the four-year-old daughter of a British mother jailed in Iran on spying charges as he called for her to be released. The Foreign Secretary presented Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe with gifts including a John Lewis art set and a Peppa Pig book as he visited her in Iran. Her imprisoned mother Nazanin, 39, who is from West Hampstead, North West London, had also made dolls for Gabriella and one of Mr Hunt's daughters.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran's judiciary chief said Monday that government officials must not make accusations of vast money-laundering operations by powerful institutions, which could be exploited by the enemy. The criticism followed statements by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the Khabar Online news agency last week in which he said: "Money laundering is a reality in our country, and a lot of people are benefitting from it."
A change will be "soon" coming to the current Iranian regime and US policies would have nothing it, according to an American bimonthly international affairs magazine. The National Interest claimed that not the US sanctions, nor the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as "the Iran Deal," are going to bring change to the current Iranian regime.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook has stressed that Iran is the largest sponsor of global terrorism and said that "international banks are afraid to deal with Tehran". The special envoy spoke on US intentions to accelerate the path to zero imports of Iranian oil to guarantee a stable oil market. "Iran evaded sanctions in the past but this time we are taking a much stronger approach," says Hook as he highlights the US commitment to maximize economic pressure on Iran.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Mossad allegedly provided intelligence to Argentina which helped successfully thwart a Hezbollah plot to attack Jewish community centers in Buenos Aires, according to Channel 2. Two citizens from Argentina were arrested on Thursday because they had suspected links to Lebanon's Hezbollah, according to Al Jazeera.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Russia alone does not have enough leverage to get Iran out of Syria. Speaking at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu said that Israel has acted in Syria since the downing of the Russian spy-plane in September. "Our spy-planes continue to fly and collect information," he said. "From the information we have, the amount of Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah through Syria has significantly dropped since the downing of the Russian plane."
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Saudi Arabia's King Salman urged the international community on Monday to halt Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and reiterated the kingdom's support for U.N. efforts to end the war in Yemen. The king's annual remarks to the Shura Council, a top governmental advisory body, were his first public comments since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, which caused a global outcry.
In a speech to Saudi Arabia's Shura Council for the inauguration of its seventh edition on Monday, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz touched upon a number of issues, including developmental plans in the kingdom and combating terrorism in the region. During his speech, King Salman said that Iran creates chaos and devastation in the region, interferes in surrounding countries' internal affairs, and insists on sponsoring terrorism.
IRAQ & IRAN
Weeks after the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran - even though UN monitors said Iran was in compliance with the nuclear deal that was signed under former US President Barack Obama's administration - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran-Iraq bilateral trade could increase to $20 billion from its current $12 billion, and he spoke of expanding economic ties and relations between the two countries.
The Iraqi presidency denied on Monday reports claiming that Iraq is playing the role of 'mediator' between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The presidency published on its website a "denial and clarification" of news published by the media that "Iran offered negotiations with Saudi Arabia, and that the Iraqi President Barham Salih proposed to mediate and carry a message to Riyadh from his Iranian counterpart."
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Middle East is a tinderbox where one small event could lead to a catastrophe on the scale of the first world war, Jeremy Hunt has warned, as he pushed for the release of the Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on his first visit to Iran as foreign secretary. Hunt's visit to Tehran, the first by a foreign minister since the US reimposed sanctions on oil exports earlier this month, included talks to persuade Iran to back a UK-sponsored peace settlement in Yemen and not to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with the west over Europe's apparent inability to circumvent the US sanctions.