Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran had evidence that the Iranian tanker damaged in the Red Sea was attacked with rockets fired from boats, warning that those responsible would face consequences but stopping short of blaming anyone. The oil tanker Sabiti was about 60 miles off the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah on Friday when it was likely hit by missiles, according to its owner. The National Iranian Tanker Co. released pictures of the vessel that showed two holes, one square, both with sharp edges and no more than about 6 feet across, just above the waterline.
The conflict between Iran and the U.S. that has created tensions throughout much of the Middle East is now also being felt in Lebanon, where Washington has slapped sanctions on the Iran-backed Hezbollah and warned they could soon expand to its allies, further deepening the tiny Arab country's economic crisis. The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers for the first time as well as a local bank that Washington claims has ties to the group.
Agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have captured and returned to Iran an exiled opposition figure who headed a popular anti-government social media outlet, Iranian state television reported on Monday. Ruhollah Zam, a journalist turned activist who headed Amadnews with has more 1 million followers on social media, was based in France and other parts of Europe. Zam's capture was a "complex operation using intelligence deception", the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement carried by the television. It did not say where the operation took place.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani has linked the widespread anti-regime protests in late 2017, early 2018, to Washington's decision to drop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, in May 2018. Speaking at a news conference, Rouhani said on Monday, October 14, that since December 2017, Iran has found itself in a "new situation," but it has succeeded in leaving behind critical or somewhat critical conditions.
British and Chinese nuclear delegations are visiting Iran to discuss the redesigning and upgrading of the country's heavy water reactor in Arak, Central Province, semi-official news agency ISNA reported on Monday, October 14. The British delegation arrived in Tehran on Sunday to join a team of Chinese scientists who are also working on modernizing the heavy water reactor.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday Tehran would continue to scale back its commitments to the 2015 nuclear agreement until the European Union fulfils promises it made under the deal. Iran has gradually scaled back its nuclear commitments since May after the U.S. pulled out of the deal and has called on European parties to the pact to salvage the deal by shielding Iran's economy from U.S. penalties. Rouhani, speaking on state television, also said Iran would start working on more advance uranium enrichment centrifuges.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
South Korea's crude oil imports from the United States more than doubled in September, while its imports of Iranian oil remained zero for a fifth month in a row due to U.S. sanctions, customs data showed on Tuesday. U.S. crude oil imports were 1.62 million tonnes in September, or 395,190 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 668,704 tonnes a year earlier, according to the customs data. In September, the United States ranked as South Korea's No.3 crude oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran's minister of sports says that ten stadiums have been readied to accept female fans, after a 38-year ban was broken on October 10, when women were allowed to enter Tehran's Azadi Stadium to watch a soccer match. After the 1979 revolution Iran's new rulers banned women from attending men's games, claiming it is against Islamic values. FIFA, football's world governing body began putting strong pressure on Iran in recent weeks after a female fan committed suicide.
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said Monday it arrested an exiled journalist who helped fan the flames of nationwide economic protests that struck the country at the end of 2017. Meanwhile, Iran's president said his country was prepared to begin using even more-advanced centrifuges as its nuclear deal with world powers collapses. The Guard and a later announcement on state television did not explain how authorities detained Ruhollah Zam, who ran a website called AmadNews that posted embarrassing videos and information about Iranian officials. He had been living and working in exile in Paris.
Russian journalist and author Yulia Yuzik, who was detained in Tehran for more than a week, says Iranian interrogators accused her of working for Israel and "destroyed me psychologically" before her surprise release.
An Ibb-based human rights group in Yemen has accused the Iran-backed Houthi militias of transferring 400 captives to be used as human shields from one of the group's detention centers to a camp in southern Sanaa.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
One of Iran's most senior security officials has condemned extensive U.S. intervention across the Middle East, arguing that even Washington officials have been forced to recognize their failures in the region. In an article carried by the semi-official Mehr News Agency, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani pointed out three instances in which "senior U.S. officials in the past two months reveal some truths which the country's governing body previously lacked the courage to accept and express."
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Two years ago I wrote an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth entitled "What every Jewish mother should know: The prime minister, the security cabinet and the cabinet are dragging us to war." I believed that the optimal policy was limited objectives: pushing the Iranians beyond the Daraa-Damascus highway, necessary attacks only, quiet diplomacy and the preservation of ambiguity. I thought Iran was big and strong enough to absorb blows and continue patiently working toward its aims.
Hezbollah's threats to take to the streets to confront Lebanese bank measures hold security and political messages to local and foreign powers. The Iran-backed party had threatened to stage protests against banks that adhere to US sanctions against its leaders and economic institutions.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
President Hassan Rouhani vowed Monday that Iran would respond to an attack on one of its oil tankers in the Red Sea, saying the evidence suggested it was the work of a government not a terrorist group. Addressing reporters in his first news conference since the U.S. abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal last year, Rouhani said officials in Tehran had seen footage of the incident and it was likely that several rockets were aimed at the tanker.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said an Iranian tanker damaged in the Red Sea on Friday had been hit by at least two rockets, and there is video footage of the incident. Iranian authorities reported that the Iranian-owned oil tanker, the Sabiti, was struck off Saudi Arabia's coast. There has been no independent report on the cause of the damage. Iran's rival Saudi Arabia has said it was not behind any attack on the tanker.
Images released Monday showed a pair of gaping holes in the hull of an Iranian oil tanker that Tehran says was hit by two missiles off the coast of Saudi Arabia in a mysterious attack last week that threatened to ratchet up tensions even more between the regional adversaries. Iran's Oil Ministry released photos of the Sabiti, a tanker owned by the National Iranian Oil Company, with two square-shaped apparent areas of impact just above the waterline.
By all accounts, major general Qasem Soleimani - commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) crack 'Quds' force that is responsible for foreign military and clandestine operations - is a man of the highest intellect. Instrumental in numerous effective campaigns against Iraq, the Islamic State and in Syria, to name but a few, he has also played a key role in advancing Iran's political power across the Shia crescent of influence stretching from Syria through Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran itself, and Yemen.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
More Afghans than Syrians have migrated to the European Union so far this year, official data shows, making them the largest nationality illegally entering the bloc, with many relocating from Iran partly due to the hardship caused by U.S. sanctions. While the EU fears a new wave of asylum seekers from Syria following Turkey's attack this week on the Kurdish-controlled northeastern region of the country, EU officials warned that the increasing number of Afghans posed a more immediate problem, especially in the Greek islands where many of them first arrive.