Iran said Saturday it had accelerated its nuclear research work and threatened to take fresh steps within a month that could allow it to expand its stockpile of enriched uranium, a material that can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon. The move comes after Europe failed to meet a deadline Iran set in July to offset the impact of U.S. sanctions. The Trump administration abandoned a multination nuclear deal last year and has intensified pressure on Iran's economy in a campaign to roll back Tehran's military activities in the region.
The United States will continue to impose sanctions on whoever purchases Iran's oil or conducts business with Iran's Revolutionary Guards and no oil waivers will be re-issued, a U.S. official said on Sunday. Iran's crude oil exports were slashed by more than 80% due to re-imposed sanctions by the United States after President Donald Trump exited last year Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Following President Trump's cancellation of a secret meeting centered on peace talks with Afghan and Taliban leaders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turned his focus to Iran during a "Fox News Sunday" interview and shared his thoughts on how the country could become successful and prosperous. "We want a successful Iran. We want them to be part of the community of nations," he told host Chris Wallace. "You can't do that when you're building missiles that threaten Europe, threaten Israel, and building out systems that could ultimately create a nuclear weapon."
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iranian energy official Behrouz Kamalvandi says "there's not much time left" to save the nuclear agreement Iran entered into four years ago with the United States and several other countries. That is encouraging, because this is an agreement that should not be saved. From the beginning, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a bad agreement for the United States and our allies in the region. That's because it only paused Iran's nuclear project, instead of ending it, and did nothing to stop Iran's aggression against its neighbors, or its support of terrorism, or its brutal repression of the Iranian people.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran has activated a chain of advanced centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment in defiance of a 2015 nuclear accord, a senior Iranian official said Saturday, raising the stakes for European powers struggling to prevent the deal's collapse. The spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, announced the new measures at a news conference in Tehran, warning that there was little time left to salvage the deal.
Iran's nuclear chief said on Sunday the European parties to the 2015 nuclear deal have failed to fulfill their commitments under the pact, a day after Tehran announced further breaches of limits on its nuclear activity set by the accord. The deal curbed Iran's disputed nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions, but has unraveled since the United States withdrew last year and acted to strangle Iran's oil exports to push it into a broader security agreement.
Samples taken by the U.N. nuclear watchdog at what Israel's prime minister called a "secret atomic warehouse" in Tehran showed traces of uranium that Iran has yet to explain, two diplomats who follow the agency's inspections work closely say. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating the particles' origin and has asked Iran to explain the traces. But Tehran has not done so, according to the diplomats, stoking tensions between Washington and Tehran.
France will continue efforts to bring Iran into full compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, French defence minister Florence Parly said, adding that U.S. and European moves to strengthen security in the Gulf must be "complementary and well coordinated". "We can only confirm our goal, which is to bring Iran to fully respect the Vienna deal," Parly told a news conference on Saturday with U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper in Paris. "We must do everything we can to contribute to ease tensions with Iran and to ensure navigation safety," she added.
Iran said on Saturday it was now capable of raising uranium enrichment past the 20% level and had launched advanced centrifuge machines in further breaches of commitments to limit its nuclear activity under a 2015 deal with world powers. "We have started lifting limitations on our Research and Development imposed by the deal ... It will include development of more rapid and advanced centrifuges," Iranian nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told a televised news conference.
The United Nations' nuclear watchdog says it has inspectors on the ground in Iran who will be able to look into reports that Tehran began injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The International Atomic Energy Agency told The Associated Press Saturday it was aware of the reports "related to Iran's centrifuge research and development." The Vienna-based IAEA says "agency inspectors are on the ground in Iran and they will report any relevant activities to IAEA headquarters."
Iran said it is no longer abiding by limits imposed on its uranium enrichment and centrifuge research by the 2015 nuclear accord, throwing down a new challenge to European leaders struggling to reduce diplomatic tensions between Tehran and Washington. The Islamic Republic will forge ahead with plans to develop its advanced centrifuges and has started injecting them with gas, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Saturday at a news conference.
The acting head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Cornel Feruta met with Iranian officials including Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran today, Sunday September 8. Meanwhile Iran's Security Chief Ali Shamkhani has reportedly called off his meeting with Feruta without an explanation.
Iran's atomic energy agency said Saturday that it was deliberately violating another set of limits on its nuclear research and production that were imposed under the 2015 agreement renounced by President Trump last year. But the details suggested that Iran was more interested in increasing pressure on European nations to find a way around American-imposed sanctions than in carrying out a full-scale effort to restore the capabilities it gave up when it struck the deal with the West.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
On a scorching June day, a senior U.S. official arrived in the United Arab Emirates with a clear message: The Trump administration intended to tighten the screws on Iran through sanctions targeting its oil sales. "We are going to increase our sanctions on Iran and continue our foreign policy," Brian Hook, the White House special envoy on Iran, told CNBC from the U.A.E. capital of Abu Dhabi.
While one Iranian tanker is attracting global attention, serious oil watchers remain absorbed by a bigger mystery: the hunt for the rest of Iran's fleet. The quest has led to ever more inventive methods of tracking ships, and divergent views on the amounts of crude secretly slipping into world markets. That's because the vessels have mostly "gone dark" since sanctions were tightened this year, switching off transponders that would reveal their location.
A senior U.S. Treasury official is in the United Arab Emirates to meet with the chiefs of the country's banks and shipping companies as the Trump administration seeks to further tighten sanctions against the Iranian regime. Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will be meeting the chief executive officers of seven U.A.E. banks on Sunday and Monday. She will also hold talks with officials before heading to Switzerland and Israel.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and its external Quds Force are still moving oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars through sprawling illicit shipping networks, despite a maximum pressure sanctions regime from Washington and scores of corporate and government entities blacklisted. Washington is working to crack down on this, the U.S. Treasury Department says, and it's warning those in the maritime industry to be wary of involvement with regimes or entities that have been deemed terror sponsors by the U.S. - or face steep costs.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commander Hossein Salami has appointed Gholamhossein Gheybparvar as his deputy at the revolutionary guards Central Security Headquarters in a possible bid to tighten security measures against possible protests. The new appointment signals anticipation of possible unrest and public protests in Iran by security commanders. Gheybparvar (Gheibparvar) was the commander of the IRGC-linked militia Bassij which is mainly tasked to suppress dissent.
Authorities in Iran have arrested the daughter of a former minister of industry, mines, and trade for cornering a part of the medicine market and accumulating assets through illegal channels, the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on Sunday, September 8. "The court is set to try Shabnam Nematzadeh, along with another suspect, Ahmad Reza Lashkaripour, on September 15," ISNA cited the judge, Assadollah Massoudi Maqam, as saying.
A human rights report has said that Houthis committed 636 rights violations in Yemen's militia-run areas in a single week. In its report, the Yemeni Network for Human Rights and Freedoms said the violations were committed between August 25 and September 2. It cited extrajudicial killings, armed robbery and burning of houses, in addition to violations against health facilities, undermining state authority and recruiting fighters in return for food staples.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
An Iranian oil tanker at the center of a major diplomatic dispute with the United States has sold its cargo, Iran said. "The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast ... and unloaded its cargo," Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying on Sunday. He didn't elaborate on the country involved. The tanker was carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil. It went dark last week and has been photographed by a satellite off the coast of Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said President Donald Trump is willing to meet with the Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani "with no pre-condition". In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos Pompeo defended Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and insisted that since that decision and the reimposition of U.S. sanctions Iran's capability to support proxies has declined. "The terror attacks around the world increased under the JCPOA", Pompeo said referring to the nuclear agreement.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
The father of a controversial Iranian nuclear scientist, who was executed three years ago has passed away, allegedly committing suicide as a result of the pain he was feeling for his son's fate. Speaking to Radio Farda on Saturday, September 7, the mother of the executed scientist Shahram Amiri, confirmed that her husband had passed away but insisted that she was unaware of the existence of a suicide note left by her husband.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Iran's coast guard has seized a foreign tugboat suspected of smuggling fuel in the Gulf and detained its 12 Filipino crew members, state television reported on Saturday. It said the tugboat was carrying nearly 284,000 liters of diesel. The report did not say what national flag the vessel was flying. Iran, which has some of the world's cheapest fuel due to heavy state subsidies, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling overland to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Air strikes have hit positions of Iran-backed forces and allied militias in eastern Syria, killing 18 fighters, according to a group monitoring the war. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on September 9 that the overnight raids carried out by unidentified warplanes took place in the region of Al-Bukamal near the Iraqi border. The Observatory said the strikes targeted posts, military vehicles, and arms depots, causing extensive damage.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed they had launched an attack on a "military target" in Saudi Khamis Mushait city on Saturday night, using multiple bomb-laden drones, Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported. They said the attack came "in reaction to the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and blockade."
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran on Saturday took another giant step toward gaining nuclear weapons by admitting it is now using arrays of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium. This is its latest violation of the 2015 nuclear deal and puts more pressure on Europe to decide whether it wants to keep subsidizing this nuclear breakout. First the European signatories tried to evade U.S. sanctions by creating a new trade and finance system.
An Iranian oil tanker caught in the escalating feud between Iran, the United States and other Western nations has anchored off the coast of Syria, according to images released by space technology companies. The tanker, Adrian Darya 1, is carrying crude oil from Iran that Western nations suspected was bound for Syria in violation of sanctions imposed by the European Union. Formerly known as Grace 1, the tanker was stopped by British commandos off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4.
The British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran could be released after the imminent completion of legal proceedings against the tanker, Iranian state television reported on Sunday. Iran seized the British tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
Britain is seeking to establish whether Iran has sold oil to Syria in breach of written undertakings given by Tehran to authorities in Gibraltar. Iran's foreign ministry said on Sunday that a tanker seized by British Marines on 9 July and released in August had reached its final destination "on the Mediterranean coast" and sold its oil - without identifying the country.
This week marks 47 years since the Munich massacre - the appalling murder of 11 Israeli Olympic team members by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany. Before the massacre, members of the Israeli Olympic delegation openly discussed their concerns about the lack of security assigned to them. Tragically, their concerns were mostly ignored.