A senior official in Gibraltar is denying reports that an Iranian tanker seized near the British overseas territory is poised to be released. The official said a report by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency that the Grace 1 tanker is leaving Tuesday night are "untrue." He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules. The tanker was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar, on the tip of southern Spain.
The White House is keeping up its push for allies to join an international military coalition to protect commercial shipping in the vital waterway that connects the oil-rich Persian Gulf to the rest of the world. Iran warned on Tuesday that such a bolstered naval presence in the Strait of Hormuz would only increase the "risk of combustion" in the region. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on the international community to step up pressure on Iran until it stops what he calls "destabilizing behavior.
Iran and the U.K. are making progress toward the release of an Iranian tanker impounded in Gibraltar, according to people familiar with the talks, a move that could prompt Tehran to free a British-flagged vessel it subsequently seized and defuse tensions between the two countries. Iran has lifted several stumbling blocks by reflagging the vessel and setting a new destination after Gibraltar sought assurance that the ship wouldn't sail to Syria, according to people familiar with the matter.
UANI IN THE NEWS
The international community has been in an uproar over the Trump administration sanctioning Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The argument is that sanctioning Zarif is akin to sanctioning diplomacy itself - the final nail in the coffin of dialogue with Tehran. While the rhetoric may be heated, the reality is less so. Three inconvenient truths abound: There's precedent for Iran's chief negotiators to come from outside its foreign ministry; while Zarif may have been effective at getting to yes with the P5+1 in 2015, that's not necessarily the case in 2019; and the mullahcracy's envoys have faced far worse penalties than sanctions.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi announced on Tuesday, August 13, that the Islamic Republic's enriched uranium stockpile has reached 370 kilograms. "We are producing [enriched uranium] with a good capacity and our stockpile is 60 to 70 kilograms above the 300kg [JCPOA limit] and this amount is growing fast," Behrouz Kamalvandi said on the sideline of a ceremony which marked the construction of a research center on separation and development of the applications of stable isotopes at Fordow nuclear facility in Qom.
Switzerland's Intelligence Service of the Federation revealed in its recent report that the Islamic Republic of Iran will stay in the nuclear deal and wait out the November 2020 US election in the hope that US President Donald Trump suffers an electoral defeat. The Jerusalem Post examined the 79-page document, which cited Iran's clerical regime 50 times, and included sections on Tehran's nuclear, missile, terrorism, espionage and cyber spy activities.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Monday that the United Kingdom's position on the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, has not changed, FXSTREET reported. His comments came as U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton visited London on Sunday to urge Britain to toughen its stance on Iran. In an interview with Reuters in July, Johnson expressed support for the JCPOA.
Iran does not possess intercontinental ballistic missiles, like the kind that the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom use to deliver atomic warheads across global distances. Iran is continuing to develop increasingly long-range ballistic missiles -- and is firing some shorter-range missiles in combat -- despite demands from the U.S. government that the Islamic republic totally give up any weapons that could, in theory, carry a nuclear warhead.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran-backed Shiite militias have been under increasing pressure recently in Iraq not only from the United States - which monitors their activities closely - but also from the public and the Iraqi government. During an interview Aug. 9 with a small group of Iraqi and foreign media representatives, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said he has already begun implementing a decree he issued last month regarding the regulation of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, announced that his country's stockpile of 4.5 percent enriched uranium has reached 370 kilograms. His remarks coincided with a tweet by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned about the approaching end of the UN arms embargo and other sanctions against Iran. "The clock is ticking. Time remaining before the UN arms embargo on Iran expires and Qasem Soleimani's travel ban ends.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A source "close" to the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani has denied reports that he is involved in self-enrichment and corruption. "An informed source" has told Iran's national broadcaster that some individuals are spreading "unsubstantiated" reports to conduct "character assassination against.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Syrian opposition sources confirmed on Tuesday that Iranian militias are taking part in battles in northern Hama, southern Idlib and eastern Latakia in the northwestern regions of the country. The opposition Shaam news network reported Tuesday that its teams discovered the involvement of Iranian forces in support of the regime and its allies while they were monitoring the activities of the regime in southern Idlib. Several sources had said that Iranian militias were not involved in the Idlib battles that began in late April.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Iran's state TV reports that the country's supreme leader is urging support for Yemen's Houthis against a Saudi-led coalition that he says is trying to "disintegrate" the country. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Mohammad Abdul Salam, the spokesman for Yemen's Ansarallah Movement, in Tehran on Tuesday. The group is commonly referred to as the Houthis. Khamenei says Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their supporters seek to break up Yemen, "which must stand firm against this conspiracy."
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday Iran and other Gulf states could protect the region's security and foreign forces were not needed, state TV reported, repeating a longstanding rejection of a U.S. maritime security mission in the region. The United States has launched a maritime security mission in the Gulf backed by Britain after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel there last month.
Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei received a letter from the leader of the Tehran-aligned Houthi militias in Yemen, state television reported on Tuesday. The message from Abdul Malek al-Houthi was delivered to Khamenei in Tehran by a Houthi delegation that included chief negotiator of the militia Mohammed Abdul Salam. Khamenei offered his condolences to Abdul Malek over the death of his brother, Badreddine, adding that the five-year war the Houthis have been waging in Yemen will "establish a strong government."
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The British and Gibraltar authorities will soon release an Iranian oil tanker that has been held for more than a month, an Iranian official said on Tuesday, signaling a possible step toward de-escalating tensions between Tehran and the West that threaten world energy supplies. Officials in Gibraltar and London would not confirm or deny the Iranian claim about the impending release of the tanker, the Grace 1, which wasseized on July 4 off the coast of Gibraltar.