As talks continue to try to restart the deal that put limits on Iran's nuclear program, there's a flurry of diplomatic meetings. Iran wants the U.S. to guarantee it'll stick to the deal this time. There's a flurry of meetings around the effort to revive the international agreement that had put limits on Iran's nuclear program. The deal has largely fallen apart since the Trump administration abandoned it in 2018. The U.S. reimposed economic sanctions, and Iran has ramped up its production of uranium toward what would be needed if it wanted to build a bomb. Talks are ongoing in Vienna and elsewhere about bringing both the U.S. and Iran back into compliance.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said funding for Iran could lead to "terror on steroids" on Tuesday, in an apparent warning against world powers easing sanctions against Tehran as they seek a new nuclear deal. "The last thing you want to do ... is pour tens of billions of dollars into this apparatus. Because what will you get? Terror on steroids," Bennett said in a video address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
By attacking the United Arab Emirates the Houthis sought to warn the Gulf state to stay out of a battle for prized energy regions in Yemen, where the Iran-aligned group has been angered by losses to forces backed by the powerful U.S. ally. The UAE is unlikely to cede. Instead, one likely consequence of Monday's deadly strike is sharper international scrutiny of Iran's ties to the Houthis and other paramilitary forces that vie with Gulf Arab monarchies for influence around the Middle East, regional analysts said. The unprecedented raid on Abu Dhabi, a futuristic metropolis of gleaming skyscrapers, showed the Houthis able to hit a second foreign adversary at long range, undaunted by threats of retaliation that followed similar attacks they have carried out against Saudi Arabia.
UANI IN THE NEWS
In the midst of another round of nuclear talks, aimed at halting Iran’s illegal nuclear agenda, one element of the regime’s callous nature has been routinely forgotten: hostage diplomacy. Since the fall of the Shah in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has enthusiastically adopted a state-sanctioned practice of imprisoning foreign nationals and dual citizens to create diplomatic pressure points. I myself was imprisoned for 444 days during the US embassy hostage crisis, so I understand more than most the cruelty the regime can inflict on innocent people whose only crime was to offer a convenient target.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
An Iran deal acceptable to Israel would not allow the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium at high levels, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday in a video conference with the World Economic Forum in Davos. Asked what kind of agreement between world powers and Iran would be one Israel approves of, he responded: “Effectively, that Iran has to give up its nuclear-weapon program.” “Why would anyone legitimize their right to enrich uranium at a massive capacity?” Bennett asked. “They are now enriching at 60% grade in these huge factories. Why are they doing it? You don’t need 60% [enriched] uranium for anything but a nuclear weapon.”
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
A dual Iranian-U.S. citizen was arrested Friday in Chicago, on criminal charges related to his alleged conspiracy to illegally export U.S. goods, technology and services to end users in Iran, including the government of Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). According to court documents, Kambiz Attar Kashani, 44, conspired to illegally export goods and technology to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which the U.S. government recognizes is an agency of the government of Iran. “
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A former U.S. hostage in Iran is set to begin a hunger strike in Vienna on Wednesday to press U.S. and Iranian officials to come to an agreement about the release of Americans and other Westerners of Iranian origin jailed by Tehran. He hopes the move will help to break a months-long stalemate in indirect prisoner talks between the two sides. In a Tuesday interview with VOA Persian, Barry Rosen said he will try to raise the prisoner issue in any meetings with U.S. and Iranian diplomats in the Austrian capital. The two sides have engaged in separate indirect talks there about reviving a 2015 deal for Iran to constrain its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from the United States and other world powers.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Russia, Iran and China plan to take part in joint naval drills, the RIA news agency reported on Tuesday, citing the Russian Pacific Fleet. It was not immediately clear when the drills would take place.
Charred tents, a burned-out motorcycle, and a damaged white SUV vehicle. This was the aftermath of a reported drone strike carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in southeastern Iran. The December 28 strike in Rigan county in Kerman Province appears to mark the first time the IRGC, Iran’s elite military force, has used drones to target security threats inside the country. The IRGC said the “precise” operation killed a prominent “bandit” and two of his accomplices who had been fomenting unrest in the area, including killing two IRGC members days earlier.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
An Iranian ethnic Arab separatist leader went on trial in Iran on Tuesday on charges of involvement in an attack on a 2018 military parade that killed 25 people and several other bombings, state media reported. Iran said in 2020 that its security forces arrested Habib Farajollah Chaab, a dissident Swedish-Iranian dual national, without saying where or how he was captured. Neighbouring Turkey later detained 11 people, accusing them of involvement in Chaab's abduction and smuggling to Iran.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin will host his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, in Moscow on January 19, amid negotiations aimed at reviving a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. It will be Raisi's third visit outside Iran -- after Tajikistan and neighboring Turkmenistan -- since he took over the presidency in August, and the first trip by an Iranian president to Russia since 2017. Moscow and Tehran have strong political, economic, and military ties and are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's decade-long civil war.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Iran's foreign ministry, responding to what it called "recent Yemen-linked developments", said on Tuesday military attacks were not a solution to the crisis in the region, state media reported. "(Ministry spokesman) Saeed Khatibzadeh, referring to the escalation of regional tensions, said Iran has always emphasised that the solution to any regional crisis is not to resort to war and violence, and only in a calm atmosphere... one can hope to establish peace and stability," state media said.