Iran Has Enriched Uranium To Up To 63% Purity, IAEA Says

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Iran Has Enriched Uranium To Up To 63% Purity, IAEA Says | Reuters

"Fluctuations" at Iran's Natanz plant pushed the purity to which it enriched uranium to 63%, higher than the announced 60% that complicated talks to revive its nuclear deal with world powers, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday. Iran made the shift to 60%, a big step towards nuclear weapons-grade from the 20% previously achieved, last month in response to an explosion and power cut at Natanz that Tehran has blamed on Israel and appears to have damaged its enrichment output at a larger, underground facility there.

Iran Rejects US Claim That Speedboats Sparked Encounter | Associated Press

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday rejected the U.S. Navy’s claim that fast-approaching Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz sparked a tense encounter in the already sensitive region. The Guard’s website, sepahnews.com, published a statement Tuesday saying Americans were guilty of using “false narratives and unprofessional behavior” and should more strictly “abide by international regulations.” Specifically, the statement said the Guard’s navy warned the U.S. vessels to stop their “provocative and aimless shooting.”

In Iran Talks, France Sees Progress On Nuclear Aspects, But Time Short | Reuters

France said on Tuesday that there had been some progress in negotiations related to Iran's compliance on nuclear issues, but warned that there remained a lot still to do within a short time frame if efforts to revive a 2015 accord were to succeed. Talks resumed in Vienna on May 7 with the remaining parties to the deal - Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - meeting in the basement of a luxury hotel, and the United States based in another hotel across the street.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM

EU’s Borell Says Iran Nuclear Talks Moving To Crucial Stage | Asharq Al-Awsat

Negotiations in Vienna between world powers and Iran are moving into a crucial stage and the next few weeks will be critical to saving their 2015 nuclear deal, the European Union's top diplomat said on Monday. US officials returned to Vienna last week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its limits on uranium enrichment about a year later. “I am optimistic, there is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks, (until) end of the month,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, who is chairing the talks, told a news conference in Brussels.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS


US Treasury Sanctions 7 Lebanese Tied To Hezbollah Finances | Asharq Al-Awsat

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on seven Lebanese linked to the Iran-backed Hezbollah party and its financial arm. The measures are the latest against Hezbollah, which Washington considers a terrorist group and has targeted with penalties for years. The development comes as Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, including a loss of trust in the country’s once booming banking sector.

Iran's Return To Oil Markets Is Imminent | Oil Price

Following talks in Vienna this month, the U.S. could announce a deal with Iran as early as the end of May, which could lead to the lifting of oil and energy sanctions. Analysts are predicting a return to pre-pandemic oil production levels for Iran, around 3.9 million bpd, by 2022, assuming that the U.S. eases the sanctions that have been suffocating Iran’s economy. Production levels in March stood at around 2.3 million bpd, the highest level since May 2019, an increase that highlights how Iran’s oil exports have already been recovering in spite of U.S. sanctions.

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Gay Iranian Man Dead In Alleged 'Honor Killing,' Rights Group Says | NBC News

Ali Fazeli Monfared, a 20-year-old gay Iranian man, was allegedly killed in an “honor killing” by some of his male family members after they found out he was gay, according to an LGBTQ rights group in Iran and Turkey. Fazeli Monfared, who was known as Alireza by friends and family, lived in a city in southwest Iran. He had applied for an exemption from compulsory military service so he could leave the country and move to Turkey to live with his close friend, Aghil Bayat, according to 6Rang, the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network.

UK Deflects Call For Diplomatic Protection For Citizen Held In Iran | Forbes

The UK government has declined to comment on a plea from one of its citizens detained in Iran to be given diplomatic protection. Anoosheh Ashoori was arrested in Tehran in August 2017. His family say he had travelled there to look after his mother who had recently undergone medical treatment. He was subsequently charged and convicted of cooperating with Israel (a charge he denies) and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS

Mike Pompeo: Biden's Stance On Israel And Iran 'Emboldens Terrorists' | Fox News

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tore into President Biden's foreign policy regarding Israel and Iran, saying its stance on the long-standing disputes in the region "emboldens terrorists." Pompeo's criticism comes after Hamas followers launched rockets into Jerusalem on Monday night, following clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters. Pompeo said the Biden administration has "clearly signaled less support" for Israelis' right to self-defense than the Trump administration, and that doing so "invites precisely the kinds of violence we are seeing in the region today."

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS

Iran: Clash Near Turkey Kills 2 Guard Troops, 7 Militants | Associated Press

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard forces on Tuesday killed seven militants and dismantled their cell in the country’s northwest near the border with Turkey, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. Two Guard members were also killed in the shootout. IRNA said the “group of terrorists” had snuck into Iran illegally from Turkey. The clash took place around noon in the city of Salmas in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, according to the repot. The city is located about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Iran State TV Says Ahmadinejad Will Run In Presidential Race | Associated Press

Iran’s state television reported Wednesday that the country’s former firebrand president will run again for office in upcoming elections in June. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly marched accompanied by supporters to a registration center at the Interior Ministry where he filled out registration forms. Ahmadinejad in recent years has tried to polish his hardline image into a more centrist candidacy, criticizing the government for mismanagement.

Iran President Criticises New Rules For Candidates As Election Begins | The Guardian

Iran’s outgoing president has criticised a sudden narrowing of the eligibility criteria for those hoping to succeed him, as registration formally opened for candidates in the 18 June vote. Dissidents and critics claim the campaign is just a charade and helps provide legitimacy to an autocratic regime but the tensions over who can stand – and the move by a powerful unelected body to exert greater control – has revealed the tensions in

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN

Iran's Khamenei Urges Palestinians To Build Up Power To Stop Israeli 'Brutality' | Reuters

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians on Tuesday to build up their fighting power to stop Israel's "brutality", saying Israelis "only understand the language of force", Iran's state TV reported. "Zionists understand nothing but the language of force, so the Palestinians must increase their power and resistance to force the criminals to surrender and stop their brutal acts," Ayatollah Khamenei said. Israel intensified its air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday as rocket barrages hit Israeli towns for a second day in a deepening conflict in which at least 28 people in the Palestinian enclave and two in Israel have been killed.

Why Is Twitter Letting Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Incite Rocket Attacks On Israeli Civilians? | National Review

As the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians intensified on Tuesday night, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who helps fund and direct Hamas’s actions, tweeted out the following: Within minutes, the IDF reported sirens were sounding in Tel Aviv as one of its largest cities came under a barrage of rocket fire. It’s worth remembering that when Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter while still an office holder, Twitter cited, “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

US Responds Cautiously To Efforts By Iran, Saudi Arabia To End Tensions | Voice Of America

The United States has cautiously responded to confirmation that its Middle East rival, Iran, has been holding rare talks with U.S. ally Saudi Arabia on reviving strained relations between the two neighboring regional powers. In a Tuesday statement sent to VOA Persian, a senior Biden administration official said the U.S. has "seen" the reports of the recent talks between Tehran and Riyadh. Without mentioning the two rivals specifically, the official added: "It is the goal of the United States to de-escalate tensions in the region, and we feel that all parties speaking with each other is a positive step in that effort."

IRAQ & IRAN


Iraq’s Protest Leaders Forced Into Hiding By Pro-Iran Militia Death Threats | Arab News

Mustafa Makki Karim, 24, fled Baghdad for the relative safety of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region last year following a spate of death threats by pro-Iran groups for his role in the protest movement that erupted against government corruption and incompetence in October 2019. During the unrest that followed, the young activist earned the moniker “Joker” for the clown mask he wore to hide his identity as he and his “Armored Division of Tahrir” defended their camp in Baghdad’s Victory Square.