Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is consulting U.S. allies in Europe as he seeks a way to toughen restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program a month before President Donald Trump faces a deadline to decide whether to walk away from what he’s called “the worst deal ever.” U.S. diplomats have approached European officials to see if they would join in demanding an extension to limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment that are set to expire in 2025 and 2030 under the nuclear accord reached in 2015, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Iran signed deals with Damascus on Tuesday to repair Syria’s power grid, state media said, a potentially lucrative move for Tehran that points to a deepening economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict… Since at least 2012, Iran has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, helping it regain control of swathes of the country. Iran experts say Tehran is now looking to reap a financial dividend.
There are signs of a new deal between Ankara and Tehran under the auspices of Moscow. The deal includes Turkish military presence in Idlib in exchange for Iranian control over the south of Damascus and the expansion of Sayyeda Zainab area, which means providing a mass of permanent influence on the political decision in Damascus. If the parties succeed in reaching an agreement in the coming Astana meeting on Thursday and Friday as planned, it will be a new step in Russia’s distribution for areas of influence on regional and major countries in Syria.
UANI IN THE NEWS
The administration has long held the view that Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal must be viewed in a broader lens that accounts for its malign activity in the Middle East and aggressive ballistic missile program. The administration’s stance echoes experts’ concerns that claims of Iranian compliance with the agreement are narrowly focused. “While Iran might be complying with the letter of the JCPOA [Iran deal] it’s been routinely violating its spirit, and that’s very problematic,” United Against A Nuclear Iran Policy Director Jason Brodsky previously explained to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Brodsky claimed that while Iran’s violations of the U.N. resolution codifying the nuclear deal may not show explicit Iranian procurement or development of nuclear material, it demonstrates a regime that continues to pursue programs that pose a threat to the U.S.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran should be amended or canceled. Speaking in Buenos Aires alongside Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Netanyahu said he wanted to correct the impression in recent media reports that Israel's position on the 2015 deal had softened… Netanyahu has repeatedly taken aim at Iran since arriving in Argentina on Monday as the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America. He accused Tehran of operating "a terror machine that encompasses the entire world, operating terror cells in many continents, including Latin America." "In the case of Iran, it's not only merely terror, it's also the quest for nuclear weapons that concerns us and should concern the entire international community."
Germany's Mercedes-Benz Trucks signed a contract on Tuesday with Tehran-based automaker Iran Khodro, parent company Daimler AG told Reuters, laying the foundation for resuming distribution of its trucks in Iran. The deal between Iran Khodro and Mercedes-Benz Trucks includes creating a joint company that provides sales and after-sale services in the Islamic Republic, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. According to Tasnim, a second deal would be also signed next month to create a joint venture in Iran for production of heavy vehicles including Actros trucks. French PSA -- the maker of Peugeots and Citroens -- and rival Renault have pushed hard into Iran since its 2015 deal with world powers that saw international sanctions lifted in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear activities. PSA has signed production deals worth 700 million euros ($768 million), while Renault has announced a new plant investment to increase its production capacity to 350,000 vehicles a year.
The international community is failing to deal with terrorism-producing countries and has become accustomed to Lebanon being held hostage by a terrorist organization, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday. One must ask why “the world has become accustomed to the fact that Lebanon was kidnapped by a terrorist organization operated by another country. But the reality is that the international community has become used to the world order and does not deal with it,” he said at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s 17th annual conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash has accused Iran of trying to push Arab states into "a descent into chaos."
Attempts to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia have probably reached a dead end, an Arab diplomatic source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. The source added that a new path doesn’t seem to be possible given “Tehran’s arrogant approach in the region and its insistence on threatening its neighbors, meddling in their internal affairs and helping destabilize the region.”
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month that United States policy toward Iran shouldn’t begin and end with the nuclear deal. Washington’s issues with that country are far wider, Mr. Tillerson said, citing Iran’s meddling in Syria and Iraq, and its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. The secretary of state is certainly right about that. But he elided an important point: Without a stable approach to the nuclear deal, questions about its fate will distract from and ultimately hobble broader American diplomacy on Iran and other crucial issues in the Middle East.
[C]ontinuing forward with our legacy Iran policy is completely untenable. And that's why the president was absolutely right to instruct his senior leaders to come back to him with better policy options in the next few weeks… The best option, of course, is for the president to simply toss the deal overboard at the first available opportunity. At the same time, if the president's team is looking for alternatives to just walking away, he does have a few other options he could take to capitalize on his reputation as a tough dealmaker and savvy businessman.