US Military To Bolster Defensive Posture In Gulf After Iran Seizes Tankers | Reuters
The U.S. military will work to bolster the defensive posture in the Gulf region following Iran's seizure and harassment of commercial shipping vessels in recent months, U.S. officials said on Friday. In the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged commercial vessels, officials said. "The Department of Defense will be making a series of moves to bolster our defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf," White House spokesperson John Kirby told a news briefing.
Europe Presses White House To Address Iran’s Growing Nuclear Program | Wall Street Journal
Alarmed by Iran’s progress in enriching uranium at close to weapons-grade levels, European countries are pressing the Biden administration to revive a diplomatic track with Tehran that they hope would help avoid a possible nuclear crisis. After 18 months of negotiations, talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear accord collapsed in August when Tehran rejected a deal that would have largely restored the original pact’s terms. Iran is now amassing 60% highly enriched uranium and recently produced a small amount of near-weapons grade material, according to the United Nations atomic agency.
Iran Expected To Execute Three Protesters Over Killing Of Police Officers | The Guardian
A recent spate of executions in Iran looks set to continue after authorities released videos of three protesters confessing to the killing of three security officers in the so-called Isfahan House case. The men have already been found guilty of the murder and have no further grounds for appeal. More than 60 people have been executed in Iran since late April, some for drug offences and many from the region of Balochistan, where the protests have been most intense. In a further sign of a crackdown, about a dozen human rights lawyers were also summoned to attend a meeting at the prosecutor’s office in Evin jail in Tehran to be told to curtail their activities, according to Sharq newspaper.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iran’s Stepped-Up Aggression In The Gulf Has The Region On Alert | National Review
…The organization United Against a Nuclear Iran said in a statement that it “strongly suspects the seizure of the Niovi is related to a dispute over a shipment of Iranian oil.”
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
US, UK Don't 'Always Agree,' But Must Remain United Against Russian, Iranian Nukes: British Foreign Minister | Fox News
British Foreign Minister James Cleverly, in an interview with Fox News Digital, underscored the need for the U.K. and U.S. to remain united on key issues, including the potential nuclear threats of Russia and Iran. "Preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon remains an absolute priority in U.K. foreign policy," Cleverly said. "We’ve worked very, very closely with the members of the Quad, France, Germany, the United States … in imposing sanctions, and obviously we know very closely what we're doing in conjunction with the International Atomic Energy Agency to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon."
Five Years After Trump's JCPOA Exit, European Diplomacy On Iran Remains Muddled | The National
Five years have passed since then US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the most profound implication, perhaps, has been that Europe’s diplomacy on the issue has never recovered. Senior figures involved in the on-again, off-again talks to restore the JCPOA these days genuinely can’t answer the question of what comes next from a European perspective. To give one small example, a spokesman for one European government was asked last week what contingencies were in place for the demise of one of the most important sunset clauses in the whole arrangement.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Down To A Fraction Of Deposits | Iran International
Iran has spent most of its national sovereign wealth fund in the past decade or so amid sanctions, the chairman of the national inspectorate said Sunday. In the third annual gathering of officials to discuss the National Development Fund (NDF), the chairman of the National General Inspection Organization, Zabiollah Khodayan finally came up with general but clear figures about what the fund represents. The fund collected $150 billion over the years from saving a portion of Iran’s oil export revenues, but successive governments dipped into the fund and spent $100 billion, while another $40 billion “was borrowed” by state entities, Khodayan said.
Restaurants In Iran Forced To Close Due To High Inflation | Iran Wire
The president of the restaurateurs association of Mashhad has said that 255 restaurants in the north-eastern Iranian city, out of a total of 1,200, closed their doors last year due to ballooning inflation and a drop in people’s purchasing power. “If the government gives us meat and chicken at low prices, then we can offer meals to our customers at low prices as well,” Hassan Amirian said on May 13. The price for a kilogram of meat has jumped from 200,000 to 400,000 tomans over the past five months, Amirian pointed out, asking, "What were the members of the association supposed to do?”
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Dozens Demand Release Of French Detainees In Iran | Voice Of America
Dozens of supporters of two French nationals detained last year in Iran demanded their release in Paris Sunday after Tehran freed two fellow citizens who had been on hunger strike. "Freedom for Cecile Kohler and Jacques Paris," they chanted at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, a little over a year after their arrest on May 7, 2022. Kohler, a teacher, and her partner Paris, remain in prison in the Iranian capital's Evin prison accused of espionage charges their family deny. Their relatives and friends gathered in Paris after Iran on Friday released French nationals Benjamin Briere and Bernard Phelan, who also holds Irish nationality, from a prison in Iran's northeastern city of Mashhad.
Iran Arrests Eight Over Workers' Strike At Southern Gas Field | AFP
Iranian authorities have arrested eight people for "leading" a workers' strike at a key gas site in the south of the country, local media reported on May 14. "Eight main leaders of the workers' strike in the South Pars projects have been arrested by the intelligence services," Akbar Pourat, the deputy local governor, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. Some 40,000 people are employed at the South Pars/North Dome mega-field, the largest known gas reserve in the world, which Iran shares with Qatar.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Drone Strike That Killed U.S. Contractor In Syria Was Launched By Iran-Backed Militia In Iraq | Wall Street Journal
An Iranian-backed militia in northern Iraq was behind the drone attack that killed a U.S. military contractor in northeast Syria on March 23 and wounded more than two dozen American civilian and military personnel, according to U.S. officials. The Iraqi origin of that attack has not been previously reported but was acknowledged by a senior U.S. military official Saturday in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal. It was one of four attempted drone attacks launched from Iraqi territory by Iranian-backed militias against U.S. forces outside the country since August.
Did Iran Benefit Or Lose From Israel, Islamic Jihad Fighting In Gaza? – Analysis | Jerusalem Post
Five days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad led to more than 1,000 rockets being fired at Israel and most of those that were a threat to civilians being intercepted. More than 200 PIJ rockets malfunctioned. For Iran, which backs PIJ as a proxy, the round of fighting does not seem to have produced any kind of victory that Tehran can point to - on the other hand, it may not be a loss for Iran either. One piece of evidence for Iran’s feeling on whether it has achieved success is Iran’s pro-regime media.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Intelligence Committee Members Weigh In On Preventing Iranian Breakout After Middle East Trip | Jewish Insider
Following a delegation to Israel, Jordan and Egypt last week, members of the House Intelligence Committee remain divided on the best path forward to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon. With Iran moving closer to weapons-grade enrichment and a revived nuclear deal remaining unlikely, Republicans on the trip told JI that they believe the Biden administration needs to send a stronger deterrent message to Tehran. Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed a similar message: that only a “threat of military action” will deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Russian Deputy PM Due To Visit Iran On Tuesday | Iran International
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak will visit the Islamic Republic of Iran on May 16, Iranian local media reported on Sunday. Novak is expected to meet with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji and Central Bank Governor Mohammad-Reza Farzin during his two-day stay in Tehran. He will also attend the 27th International Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Exhibition opening in Tehran on May 17. There were no details provided about the Russian delegation or topics of the upcoming agenda.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iran Summons Iraq Envoy To Protest Presence Of ‘Terrorist Groups’ | Al-Jazeera
Iran’s foreign ministry has summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Tehran to “strongly protest” against the continued presence of groups it says conduct “terrorist” activities. The envoy was called in on Saturday to receive Tehran’s ire over “an invitation to members of secessionist groups for an official event” and “continued movements of some terrorist groups” in Iraqi Kurdish region, state-affiliated media reported. Though the groups were not named, the reference appeared to be to Kurdish armed groups, including the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, a banned group that has advocated for the separation of the northwestern province of Kurdistan from Iran and the overthrow of the government.