Iran's President Lashes Out At Europeans Over Crumbling Nuclear Deal

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Iran's President Lashes Out At Europeans Over Crumbling Nuclear Deal | The New York Times

Under growing pressure at home and abroad, Iranian leaders attempted on Wednesday to calm domestic anger over the downing of a passenger jet last week, while lashing out at European nations that have formally accused Iran of breaking the 2015 agreement to curb its nuclear program. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani criticized - and appeared to threaten - Britain, France and Germany for officially accusing Iran on Tuesday of reneging on its commitments under the nuclear deal, a step that further isolates Iran internationally and that could lead to renewed United Nations sanctions. 

Rouhani Says Iran Enriching More Uranium Than Before Nuclear Deal | The Times Of Israel

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday the country is now enriching more uranium than it was before a 2015 deal with world powers that was supposed to scale back its nuclear activities, and in particular enrichment. "We are enriching more uranium than before the deal was reached," Rouhani said in a televised speech according to the Reuters news agency. "Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress." 

Iran Warning Puts Thousands Of European Troops In Spotlight | Associated Press 

A warning by Iran's president that European forces in the Middle East could be at risk if their nations join the U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic puts a focus on thousands of foreign troops in the region. Britain, France, and Germany have spent months trying to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal after President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned it in 2018. But on Tuesday, the European Union initiated a dispute resolution mechanism to try to bring Iran back into compliance after Tehran began openly breaching some restrictions last summer. 

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

Europe's Gamble: Can It Save Iran Deal By Threatening To Kill It? | The New York Times 

Europe is gambling on keeping the 2015 Iran nuclear deal alive by threatening to destroy it - a risky, oddly timed strategy that could backfire badly, European officials and analysts say. The decision by France, Germany and Britain on Tuesday to challenge Iran's breaches of the nuclear agreement and trigger what is known as the dispute resolution mechanism starts a clock that the Europeans may not be able to control, subject to unpredictable actions by the leaders of both Iran and the United States. 

Nuclear-Deal Collapse Would Put European Troops At Risk, Tehran Warns | The Wall Street Journal 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said European troops stationed in the Middle East could be in danger, suggesting that a collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal would threaten the region's stability and security. The remarks come a day after Britain, France and Germany took the first steps toward reimposing sanctions on Iran following the sharp increase in tensions after the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Tehran's attacks on military bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops.  

France Says Broad Iran Deal, Reduction Of U.S. Sanctions Only Way Out Of Crisis | Reuters 

France's foreign minister said on Wednesday the only way to resolve the current crisis between the United States and Iran was for Tehran to accept a broad negotiation and Washington to progressively reduce sanctions. Speaking to lawmakers, Jean-Yves Le Drian said efforts by France and its European partners since September 2017 to open a new negotiation that would include Iran's nuclear activities after 2025, its ballistic missile program and its regional activities in return for a reduction of U.S. sanctions was the only way forward. 

Iran Accuses Europe Of Yielding To 'High School Bully' Trump In Nuclear Row | Reuters 

Iran said on Thursday three European states had succumbed to "high school bully" Donald Trump when they triggered a dispute mechanism in a nuclear pact the U.S. president opposes, a step that could eventually lead to reimposing U.N. sanctions. The pact, known as the JCPoA, was agreed in 2015 between Tehran and world powers, offering Iran relief from sanctions if it curbed its nuclear work. Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, telling Tehran he wanted a more stringent deal on nuclear and other issues. 

Iran Says It Is Enriching More Uranium Than Before Nuclear Deal | The Guardian 

Iran is now enriching more uranium than it did before it agreed to a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, the Iranian president said on Thursday in a televised speech. Hassan Rouhani said: "We are enriching more uranium before the deal was reached ... Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress." Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the nuclear deal in retaliation to Washington's withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions that have crippled the country's economy. 

Iran Dismisses New Trump Nuclear Deal As 'Strange' Proposal | The Hill 

Iran's president is dismissing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's idea of Tehran striking a new nuclear agreement with the U.S., instead blaming President Trump for exiting the multinational agreement signed in 2016. Hassan Rouhani called the proposed "Trump deal" a "strange" idea in a speech on Wednesday, according to Reuters, and urged the leaders of the U.S. and European nations to return to that pact. "This Mr. Prime Minister in London, I don't know how he thinks. He says let's put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action," Rouhani said.

What Will Happen First: Iranian Nuclear Bomb Or Fall Of The Regime? | Ben Caspit For Al Monitor

The annual Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Military Intelligence assessment shared with decision-makers at the start of each year and presented to the public on Jan. 14 has never been vaguer. Even senior intelligence officials conceded the difficulties and virtual impossibility of issuing a sober threat and development assessment these days with any reasonable degree of accuracy. "The pace of events occurring in the region is dizzying, surprise follows surprise and decision-making is not rational the way it was in the past," a former senior intelligence source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. 

Israel Warns Iran Is Closer To Nuclear Bomb | Voice Of America 

Israel's army intelligence says Iran will have enough enriched uranium to produce one nuclear bomb by the end of the year. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not let Iran become a nuclear power. Israeli military analysts say that by the end of 2020 Iran will have enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb. The assessment comes after recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran brought them to the brink of war. The United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and Israeli intelligence officials speculated that Iran would resume its efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

U.S. Expects U.N. Sanctions On Iran To 'Snap Back Into Place': Treasury Secretary | Reuters 

The United States believes international sanctions on Iran will be swiftly reimposed now that France, Britain and Germany have formally triggered a mechanism to help enforce Iran's nuclear agreement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday. "I've had very direct discussions - as well as Secretary Pompeo has - with our counterparts," Mnuchin told CNBC. "I think you saw the E3 did put out the statement and have activated the dispute resolution. And we look forward to working with them quickly and would expect that the U.N. sanctions will snap back into place."

Iran Set To Fall Deeper Into Recession Amid Tension And Sanctions | Al Jazeera

Hit by sanctions curbing oil sales, Iran's economy is set to fall deeper into recession this fiscal year and foreign reserves could drop to $73bn by March, a loss of almost $40bn in two years, the Institute of International Finance has said. The economy shrank by 4.6 percent in the 2018-2019 fiscal year and the contraction is expected to deepen to 7.2 percent in the current fiscal year, the IIF, a finance industry body, said this week.

Days Before Europeans Warned Iran Of Nuclear Deal Violations, Trump Secretly Threatened To Impose 25% Tariff On European Autos If They Didn't | The Washington Post

A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries. If they refused to call out Tehran and initiate an arcane dispute mechanism in the deal, the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles, the Trump officials warned, according to European officials familiar with the conversations.  

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS 

What The Latest Iran Protests Mean For The Regime's Control | Bloomberg 

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that his campaign of "maximum pressure" on Iran isn't aimed at precipitating regime change there. That hasn't stopped him and his aides from telegraphing their hopes for it. So it was when protests erupted in Iran over news that government forces had mistakenly shot down a passenger jet, killing the 176 people on board. The demonstrations tapped into a vein of popular frustration with Iran's rulers that fed earlier protests in November. 

Iran's Protesters Reflect The Middle East's Abiding Anger Against Injustice | David Ignatius For The Washington Post 

When Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was killed nearly two weeks ago, his death might have drawn the curtain on the Iranian revolution that he symbolized. The Iranian regime is far from finished but, from here on, it will maintain power through thugs and autocrats who lack Soleimani's revolutionary appeal. Maybe that's what the Iranian streets are telling us: The masses marched in mourning for Soleimani but, within days, the people were denouncing a regime that shot down a plane carrying dozens of young Iranians and then lied about it. 

Iranian Chess Official Fears Going Home Over Hijab Images | The New York Times 

A prominent Iranian chess official said she was afraid of returning to her country after images of her presiding over the Women's World Chess Championship seeming not to wear a hijab reportedly circulated online. At 32, Shohreh Bayat is one of the few top female chess arbiters in the world with the Category A classification, a distinction given to international chess referees who have shown an excellent command of the rules of the sport. "I turned on my mobile and saw that my picture was everywhere," Ms. Bayat told the BBC, seeming to refer to Iranian media. 

Will The Latest Iran Protests Spark A Popular Uprising? | Voice Of America 

Days of protests against Iranian leaders over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner appear to indicate public anger has been redirected away from America's targeted killing of a top Iranian general. But foreign policy analysts say it is too early to tell if this is the beginning of a broader popular movement. "My expectation is that the demonstrations, however large they may be, are really not huge and are really not likely to metastasize a lot more," said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

Iranian President Rouhani Appeals For 'National Unity' After Protests | Voice Of America 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for "national unity" Wednesday after an eruption of protests over Iran's downing of a Ukrainian International Airlines plane. Iran initially said mechanical problems caused the commercial jetliner to go down, before admitting days later that Iranian military personnel mistakenly shot down the plane, killing all 176 people on board. The revelation sparked days of protests in Iran as people expressed their anger at the country's leaders. 

Iran Security Forces Prevent Continuation Of Student Protests In Tehran | Radio Farda 

Iranian social media users on Wednesday reported that warning issued by intelligence and security forces and heavy riot police presence on the streets has forced students to call off planned rallies in Tehran on the fifth day of protests in the country. Since early afternoon social media users posted pictures and videos of large groups of security forces and fully-geared riot police around the capital's major universities, describing it as "laying siege to universities". Later on they reported that under heavy pressure students have called off their planned rallies at Tehran and Amir Kabir universities.

Iran's Zarif Admits People Are Angry For Being Lied To About Plane Crash | Radio Farda

Iran's Foreign Minister on Wednesday admitted that Iranians are angry because they were lied to regarding regarding the real cause of a plane crash January 8, that killed 176 passengers and crew. While the Iranian military knew it had shot down the plane, authorities kept denying they fired an anti-aircraft missile, for three days. "We've had people in the streets of Tehran demonstrating against the fact that they were lied to for a couple of days," Mohammad-Javad Zarif said at the Raisina Dialogue, an annual foreign policy conference in New Delhi.

Iran's Protesters Reflect The Middle East's Abiding Anger Against Injustice | David Ignatius For The Washington Post 

When Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was killed nearly two weeks ago, his death might have drawn the curtain on the Iranian revolution that he symbolized. The Iranian regime is far from finished but, from here on, it will maintain power through thugs and autocrats who lack Soleimani's revolutionary appeal. Maybe that's what the Iranian streets are telling us: The masses marched in mourning for Soleimani but, within days, the people were denouncing a regime that shot down a plane carrying dozens of young Iranians and then lied about it.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS

The U.S. And Iran Are Trolling Each Other - In China | The New York Times

They accuse each other of inciting violence. They denounce one another as corrupt. They call each other terrorists. As tensions between the United States and Iran persist after the American killing of a top Iranian general this month, the two countries are waging a heated battle in an unlikely forum: the Chinese internet. The embassies of the United States and Iran in Beijing have published a series of barbed posts in recent days on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media site, attacking each other in Chinese and in plain view of the country's hundreds of millions of internet users. 

Trump Walking Fine Line In Supporting Iran Protesters | Reuters 

With tweets of solidarity in Farsi and technological tools to circumvent internet shutdowns, U.S. President Donald Trump might be close to exhausting his options to support Iranian protesters rising up against their rulers. U.S. officials say the administration needs to avoid any overtures that could draw accusations of foreign meddling - like direct financing - and increase the chances of a violent crackdown on the people it wants to support. 

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS 

EXCLUSIVE: Iran Tasked Nasrallah With Uniting Iraqi Proxies After Soleimani's Death | Middle East Eye 

The leaders of Iranian-backed paramilitary groups in Iraq have agreed to put their differences aside and back Hadi al-Amiri as the new chairman of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) as part of a wider plan brokered by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to quell tensions between the groups and create a "united resistance" to US troops in the country.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Iran President Slams Removal Of Candidates From Elections | Associated Press

Iran's president Wednesday slammed the disqualification of thousands of people, including 90 current lawmakers, from running in upcoming parliamentary elections. Although hard-liners were among those disqualified by the powerful Guardian Council, most of those rejected were reformist and moderate candidates, according to Tehran's reformist newspaper Etemad. President Hassan Rouhani appeared to confirm this in his stinging critique of the council, which barred more than 9,000 from the over 14,000 people who had registered to run. 

It's Time We Looked At Iran Through The Same Lens As Its Best Photographers | The Washington Post

Searches for the meaning of the word "imminent" spiked by 2,400 percent last week, according to Merriam-Webster. The reason was obvious: As debate raged over President Trump's decision to kill Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had described an attack plotted by Soleimani as "imminent," while at the same time acknowledging that he didn't know when or where the attack might have occurred. Photography, which taps into a similar predicament, demonstrates that this was no contradiction.  

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS 

The Killing Of Iran's Top General Was A 'Wake-Up Call' To Tehran, Saudi Prince Says | CNBC

The U.S. airstrike that killed Iran's top commander showed Tehran that it can't get away with its provocations, but won't stop the country from continuing with its agenda, a former chief of Saudi intelligence told CNBC. "The taking out of (Qasem) Soleimani definitely has been an important step to check at least some of the ambitions of Iran after its very provocative actions in the past year," Saudi Arabian Prince Turki Al-Faisal told CNBC's Hadley Gamble. 

EU's Borrell Holds 'Frank' Talks With Iran's Zarif | Reuters 

The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell held "frank" direct talks with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New Delhi on Thursday after Britain, France and Germany formally accused Tehran of breaking a 2015 nuclear arms control agreement. "In a frank dialogue, they discussed the latest developments around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," the European Union said in a statement, referring to the deal by its formal name. 

Albania, Host Of Iranian Dissident Camp, Expels Two Iranian Diplomats | Reuters 

Albania, which hosts a camp for thousands of members of an exiled Iranian dissident group, expelled two Iranian diplomats on Wednesday, more than a year after kicking out the Iranian ambassador. Acting Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj identified the diplomats in a statement on social media as Mohammad Ali Arz Peimanemati and Seyed Ahmad Hosseini Alast. They were expelled for activity incompatible with their diplomatic status, a phrase often used in cases of spying.

Canada Investigators To Examine Iran Crash Wreckage | Reuters

Crash investigators from Canada have visited the site of an Iranian plane disaster in which 57 Canadians died and will examine the wreckage later on Wednesday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said. The investigators have not yet been granted access to the flight and cockpit recorders, Garneau told a news conference. Iran has issued visas to a team of Canadian officials, including two specialists from the Transportation Safety Board who are in Tehran to probe how and why Iran on Jan. 8 shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people on board.

CYBERWARFARE

Trump's Action Deterred Iran - Now We Must Do So In Cyberspace | Keith Alexander & Jamil Jaffer For The Hill

A few months ago, in these pages, we advocated for the United States to extract significant costs from Iran for its provocative activities in the Middle East. Earlier this month, President Trump did just that. In a single airstrike, the United States made clear to Iran that it was prepared to take action in response to the killing of Americans and the ransacking of the U.S. embassy. And, notwithstanding the overreaction from various quarters - particularly on Capitol Hill - about the consequences of the president's action, the Iranian response thus far has been fairly muted, with a few missiles striking U.S. facilities in Iraq and no casualties.