US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that President Donald Trump could meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, with "no preconditions." The comments, made by Pompeo during a press briefing to announce a raft of new sanctions on groups including a unit in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards, came just hours after Trump announced the resignation of national security adviser and Iran hawk John Bolton.
President Donald Trump's administration is stepping up its campaign to get other nations to boost pressure on Iran as world leaders prepare to meet at the United Nations this month. The administration says the world should take note of and act on admitted Iranian noncompliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and new questions about Iran's activities raised by the U.N. atomic watchdog. The U.S. has been ratcheting up its own sanctions on Iran since Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal last year.
The United States on Tuesday said it was "totally unacceptable" for Iran to drag its feet in cooperating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which is seeking answers to issues that diplomats say include the discovery of uranium traces at an undeclared site. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing Iran's nuclear deal with major powers, has called in recent days on Iran to step up its cooperation, warning "time is of the essence".
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Tehran of not fully cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying that Iran's behavior "raises questions about possible undeclared nuclear material or activities." Pompeo tweeted on September 10 that Tehran's "lack of cooperation" with the United Nations nuclear watchdog "fits into Iran's 40-year pattern of lies." "The world won't fall for it," Pompeo said. "We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon."
The United States on Tuesday joined Israel in alleging "possible undeclared nuclear activities" by Iran, further straining European-led attempts to salvage a multinational deal. Iran denounced the accusations leveled on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that the clerical regime operated a previously undisclosed site aimed at developing nuclear weapons but destroyed it after it was detected.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on a "wide range of terrorists and their supporters," including the Palestinian group Hamas and Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The targets include 15 leaders, individuals and entities affiliated with groups such as Hamas, al-Qaeda, ISIS and Iran's IRGC, the US Treasury Department said in a statement. The sanctions were applied using new tools from an executive order recently updated by President Donald Trump.
New satellite photos obtained Tuesday show an Iranian oil tanker pursued by the U.S. remains off the coast of Syria. The images from Planet Labs obtained by The Associated Press have the Adrian Darya-1 still near the port city of Tartus. The images taken Sunday show another smaller vessel nearby. The Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as the Grace 1, was carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth some $130 million. Britain, meanwhile, said Tuesday it's clear the tanker delivered its cargo to Syria in violation of international sanctions.
Iran's monthly oil exports deserve to be added to bookmakers' lists. The sanction-bound country has ways to ship its crude oil largely undetected, with many cargo tracking firms struggling to come up with reliable data and media too quick to report numbers that become obsolete by the time the story is published. "Iran is simply doing a better job of putting their oil into other people's hands-or their own storage tin-cans-than anybody has expected," says Genscape's global director of petroleum intelligence, Devin Geoghegan, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Chinese oil companies such as Sinopec [SASADZ.UL], CNOOC Ltd and others have managed to reduce their shipments of Iranian oil but it is unclear which Chinese government parties might still be buying Iranian oil, a senior U.S. energy official said on Tuesday. Dan Brouillette, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, told Reuters in an interview that Iranian oil shipments will be monitored and Washington will consider "designating" or blacklisting any identified party who violates the sanctions.
Britain's foreign minister on Tuesday said Iranian tanker Adrian Darya had sold its crude oil to the Assad regime in Syria, breaking assurances it had given not to sell crude to the country. The vessel, formerly named Grace 1, was seized by British Royal Marine commandos on July 4 on suspicion of being en route to Syria. Gibraltar released it on Aug. 15 after receiving formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Her dream was to watch a soccer match from a stadium in Iran, where women are barred from attending most sports events. So Sahar Khodayari, 29, sneaked into Azadi Stadium, Tehran's main sporting venue. But she was arrested. Sentenced to six months in prison, she set herself on fire in front of the courthouse on Sept. 2. She died in a Tehran hospital this week from severe burns covering 90 percent of her body. Her death has sparked an outcry from Iranian and international soccer players.
Two women who are dual British-Australian citizens and an Australian man have been detained in Iran, one of them sentenced to 10 years in prison, Australia's government and media said Wednesday. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to the families of all three. The department said it could not comment further due to privacy obligations. The department also urged Australians to follow its travel advice, which includes a warning that foreigners risk arbitrary detention in Iran.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran said on Wednesday Washington should distance itself from "warmongers" after the resignation of hawkish White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Tehran stood by its demand that sanctions be lifted before any talks.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Sadegh Larijani has had a difficult summer. Despite his loyalty to Iran's 80-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Larijani has faced multiple public allegations of corruption as part of a coordinated campaign by Ebrahim Raisi, his key rival. Larijani is worried - and he should be. Widely regarded as the frontrunner in the race for succession, Raisi is a formidable political operator who earned a reputation for ruthlessness thanks to his key role in the regime's 1988 massacre of thousands of political opponents.
The Iranian Judiciary has condemned several labor activist during recent weeks to unusually long-term imprisonment and up to 148 lashes. Esmail Bakhshi who represents Haft Tappeh Sugar Mill workers has been sentenced to 14 years in jail and 74 lashes, while civil rights activist Sepideh Qolian was sentenced to over 19 years in jail and several others received sentences of 18 years for protesting about unpaid wages or supporting those who protested.
Over the past few months, Iran's national currency has regained some of the value it lost in 2018. In fact, compared with its lowest point against the US dollar (146,000 rials in November 2018), the currency has regained about 30% of its value. Nonetheless, the high inflation that was brought about by the collapse of the national currency has not eased yet and still hovers above 40%. This article will identify the impulses that are pushing up inflation despite the relative stability in the foreign exchange market.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
In the last week of August, Iran-Israel tensions escalated after an Israeli airstrike against Hezbollah and Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targets in southern Syria. Iran has been arming its allies in Syria and Lebanon with precision-guided missiles and "killer drones," Israel says. At the same time, pro-Iranian groups from Yemen to Iraq are threatening the United States and U.S. allies, while an Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean was bringing oil to the Syrian regime.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
In the ongoing saga over the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, the outcome of the stand-off surprised few people. Earlier this week news reports said the tanker carrying two million barrels of crude from Iran and suspected to be heading to Syria, flouting EU sanctions, had unloaded its cargo in the port of Tartus, despite assurances by Tehran that it intended to do no such thing.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The Arab ministerial committee has condemned Iran's support for the Houthis' targeting Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday. The committee - made up of ministers from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt - condemned Iran's ongoing support for terrorist acts in the Arab region and its violation of the Security Council resolution 2216 (2015), which requires militia to be disarmed.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iraqi Shiite politician Muqtada al-Sadr was in Iran and met Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during the religious Ashura mourning gathering on September 10. It is not clear if he is still in the country. Official photos released show the maverick cleric sitting next to Khamenei, flanked by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Qods force commander Qassem Soleimani. Sadr, who emerged in Iraq as an influential Shiite leader after the U.S. invasion, who formed the Army of Mahdi militia had close relations with Tehran but in recent years, he adopted a more independent position.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Europe had decided to uphold the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and would keep trying to find solutions that averted escalation. "Step by step we will keep trying to find solutions with Iran that prevent an escalation of tensions in a globally sensitive region. That's our job," Merkel told the lower house of parliament.
It's no real surprise when the government of Iran breaks its word, so why do European leaders keep accepting it? Call the latest debacle "the tale of the tanker that could." Back in July, British Royal Marines stopped an Iranian oil tanker, Grace One, that was plainly bound for Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Note that these EU sanctions were on the Syrian government, over its countless atrocities in the long civil war - not on Iran.