**NOTE: Eye On Iran will be suspended on Wednesday, October 9. It will resume on Thursday, October 10.*
Iran plans to start using a new array of advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium, the country's nuclear chief said Monday according to state television, in a move likely to intensify pressure on Europe to save Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal with world powers. Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian state TV that an array of 30 IR-6 centrifuges will be inaugurated in the coming weeks. Under the terms of its 2015 deal - which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from over a year ago - Iran had committed to not using the array until late 2023.
The Iranian military has unveiled what it claims is a conversion kit that converts artillery rockets into surface-to-surface missiles - technology that Israel has accused Tehran of trying to deliver to Hezbollah, according to a report. The Islamic Republic unveiled the new guidance system upgrade - called Labeik - last week at an event where several new military technologies were showcased, according to a report in Jane's Defence Weekly.
Sanctions have led to Iran's oil industry falling behind but Iran will resist, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Tuesday, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency. "The conditions in Iran are in a way that once every few years the oil industry receives a deadly blow and the economic sanctions can be considered one of those," he said. "This has caused Iran's oil industry to fall behind from the international position and space but we will resist in this area."
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran is readying to sue the United States in the International Court of Justice over President Donald Trump's decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal and reapply tough new sanctions on Tehran, according to officials in Iran's judiciary. Laya Joneidi, Iran's vice president for legal affairs, announced on Monday that Iran will bring charges against the United States and seek an undisclosed amount of monetary damages as a result of America's "breach of the nuclear deal," according to the country's state-controlled press.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Published reports say a Chinese state energy company that appears to have pulled out of a natural gas project in Iran had been under pressure to do so because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran. Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh announced the departure of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) from the joint venture to develop Iran's South Pars offshore gas field in comments Sunday reported by his ministry's website.
Stephan-Andreas Casdorff, the publisher of the prestigious Berlin daily Tagesspiegel newspaper, authored a rare commentary in the German media on Thursday, urging Chancellor Angela Merkel to impose sanctions on Iran's regime because of its recent threat to obliterate the Jewish state. In one of the few commentaries in a large German paper calling for sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was reached, Casdorff wrote that the foreign ministry's condemnation of Iran's declaration to wipe Israel off the map is "vague."
The Spaniard set to become the European Union's point-man in Iran says the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran must be preserved. During a parliamentary confirmation hearing to become the next EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell said Monday that "we have to keep this agreement alive in order to defend our interests, our security and avoid something worse." Borrell, who is currently foreign minister in Spain's caretaker government and set to take over in Brussels from Federica Mogherini on Nov. 1, says "the political unity of the Europeans will be crucial" in keeping the agreement going.
Tehran's missiles just keep getting better and they could be used to great devastation if Iran felt it had to use them. 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.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A Russian journalist who is being held in Iran was detained last week for a visa violation and not for spying, the Students News Agency ISNA quoted Iran's government spokesman as saying on Monday. The spokesman said Yulia Yuzik's case was undergoing a "quick review" by the Iranian authorities but gave no more details. "Her case was a matter of visa violation and it was not related to espionage ... Yuzik's case is under quick review by Iranian authorities," said the spokesman, Ali Rabiei.
Two Australian travel bloggers who were jailed in Iran this summer for flying a drone without a license have been released and are reportedly back in Australia. The Australian government isn't saying whether the two were swapped for an Iranian prisoner in Australia, but the timing of their release would suggest that's precisely what happened.
Iran has alleged that a prominent singer is gay and under the Islamic Republic's anti-homosexual laws he could face the death penalty. BBC journalist Ali Hamedani tweeted on Sunday that "A famous Iranian singer from the Kurdish province of Kermanshah has been 'accused' of being a homosexual and could face execution. Iran executes gay men."
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
It could be a long while before Tehran and Washington cross paths again - at least in positive terms. Despite efforts by several world leaders to get the presidents of Iran and the United States together on the sidelines of the recent UN General Assembly session in New York, no such meeting took place and no improvements were made in the tense situation between Tehran and Washington. As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in New York for the Sept. 17-30 session, there was increasing speculation that something could potentially happen between him and his US counterpart, Donald Trump.
Just when you thought you'd seen it all in the six-year-long Syrian civil war, the conflict took another turn when Iran launched a missile attack against Islamic State militants in the province of Deir ez-Zour last Sunday. Iran depicted the attack, which was reportedly the first time Iran used missiles since the Iran-Iraq War, as a response to the ISIS attacks on the Iranian parliament and mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini earlier this month.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
In an unprecedented event at the Iranian Parliament (Majles), Deputy Commander of revolutionary guards (IRGC) Ali Fadavi spoke on Monday October 7 during a closed-door session on fuel and energy subsidies. Oddly enough, Iranian news agencies did not mention the presence of a cabinet minister in the session debating a sensitive economic and political issue. The Majles and its presidium have not offered any explanation as to why an IRGC deputy commander had to be present and take part in a political and economic discussion at the Parliament.
World Teachers' Day is held annually Oct. 5 to celebrate the role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels. While some local governments in Iran don't permit the day's observance, teachers' guild associations will often observe the day by issuing statements and holding small ceremonies. Sometimes there are limited protests. This year's theme is "Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession."
Mohammad Mansouri says his contract as the head coach of Iran's judo national side is valid up to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but he has decided not to return to the country. In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, Mansouri has explained the reasons behind his decision, and the controversial conditions of sports in the Islamic Republic. Meanwhile, for the first time, Mansouri has also talked about an Iranian Gold medalist judoka, Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to give away matches in the recent world championship to avoid fighting with an Israeli athlete.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran is urging Turkey not to go ahead with an attack on Syrian Kurds following President Donald Trump's decision to abandon the Kurdish fighters ahead of the expected Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria. Iranian state TV reported Tuesday that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to express Tehran's opposition to the anticipated Turkish operation. Zarif urged Turkey to respect Syria's integrity and sovereignty.
Iran's foreign minister said on Monday the United States was an "irrelevant occupier in Syria", and called for respecting Syrian territorial integrity, after a U.S. pull-back of troops in northeast Syria appeared to open the way to a Turkish attack. "US is an irrelevant occupier in Syria - futile to seek its permission or rely on it for security," Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. "Achieving peace & fighting terror in Syria will only succeed thru respect for its territorial integrity & its people.
Iran opposes any Turkish military operation in Syria, Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement on its website on Tuesday. The ministry has been following "worrying news of the possibility of the Turkish military forces entering Syrian soil and believes that the occurrence of such an action will not only not end Turkey's security concerns but will lead to widespread material and human damage," the statement said. On this basis Iran "is against any type of possible military operation" of that kind.
Israel's defense establishment is analyzing last month's strike on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which is being blamed on Iran, to learn how to protect the country from a possible similar assault, Hebrew media reported Monday. The September 14 combined drone and cruise missile barrage on two facilities knocked out half of the kingdom's oil production, and impressed Israeli analysts in that it succeeded in penetrating Saudi defenses, which include the Patriot air defense system that Israel also uses, Channel 13 news reported.
Head of the Lebanese Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel and leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces political party Samir Geagea spoke out against the control that the Hezbollah terrorist group exercises over Lebanon as protests continued amid a deepening financial crisis in the country, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.
IRAQ & IRAN
A small window of calm settled on the Baghdad streets on Sunday, following five days of violent protests. But, at dusk, the mayhem ricocheted once again through the Iraqi capital and southern cities with a clear message from civilians: Cut the corruption and provide essential services, and get Iran and its proxies out of government. "Protesters are being burned with hot water, tear gas, and by live fire. We are poor people, and the Iranian-backed militias are doing this to us..."
As the mostly peaceful protests over corruption and unemployment continue into their second week across Iraqi cities, Iranian officials are now reacting, indicating that authorities are becoming more concerned about unrest in the neighboring country. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted Oct. 6 in Persian, English and Arabic, saying, "Iran and Iraq are two nations whose hearts and souls are tied together through faith in God and love for Imam Hussain. ... This bond will grow stronger day by day..."
Iraq's powerful Hashd al-Shaabi force allied with Iran said Monday it was ready to implement government orders to prevent "a coup d'etat or a rebellion" after protests that have left more than 100 dead. Faleh al-Fayyadh, who heads the force mostly integrated into the state, told reporters in Baghdad he wanted "the fall of corruption, not the fall of the regime." The rallies began last Tuesday with calls to reduce youth unemployment and corruption but have spiraled to demand a total overhaul of the Iraqi political system.
Few Iraqis relish widespread recognition and support as much as Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi. Though he's relatively unknown outside of Iraq, Saadi's contributions to fighting terrorism in Iraq have been highly significant in ridding the country of the Islamic State. Suddenly, late last month, Saadi was unceremoniously stripped of his position in the Iraqi Army and transferred to an administrative role in the Ministry of Defense. The demotion of the celebrated general outraged his many supporters and triggered some of the deadliest protests seen in Iraq and the Middle East in recent years.