The United States has removed nearly 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oil from global markets daily as a result of Washington's decision to reimpose sanctions on all purchases of Iran's crude, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday. In an interview with MSNBC, Pompeo said the U.S. government was confident it could continue with its strategy.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned against ending an arms embargo on Iran, likening every day until the deal's October 2020 expiration as a "#CountdownToTerror." The push to extend the ban on weapons sales to Tehran comes amid increasing efforts by Washington to restrict Iran's oil exports. Since the decision by US President Donald Trump in 2018 to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, Washington has attempted to use what it calls "maximum pressure" to change Iran's behavior and limit its nuclear ambitions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday Tehran may act "unpredictably" in response to the United States' "unpredictable" policies under U.S. President Donald Trump. "Mutual unpredictability will lead to chaos. President Trump cannot expect to be unpredictable and expect others to be predictable," he said in a speech at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is on an international tour that will take him from Scandinavia to France and later to East Asia in search of solutions to rescue the Iran nuclear deal - also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - from collapse and to end ongoing tensions in the Persian Gulf. Addressing a gathering of Iranians in the Swedish capital, Zarif expressed Iran's readiness for dialogue with its main regional rival, Saudi Arabia.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran's president has sent a bill to parliament that would cut four zeroes from value of the nation's sanctions-battered currency, the rial. Semi-official news agencies reported the news on Wednesday, saying President Hassan Rouhani send the bill with urgency to the parliament to consider. Iran's rial has been hammered by the effects of increasing U.S. sanctions on the country since President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.
Iran is about to burn a lot more fuel oil as a result of U.S. sanctions and new global shipping rules, reversing the nation's progress in switching to cleaner-burning natural gas. Power plants and other industrial facilities will burn more than 200,000 barrels a day of highly polluting fuel oil next year, double the amount Iran used in 2018, according to a forecast by Iain Mowat of consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.
Huawei Technologies Co.'s chief financial officer allegedly told a Canadian border official that the company has an office in Iran -- an assertion potentially buttressing U.S. claims that the Chinese tech giant engaged in activities there that violated U.S. sanctions. When Meng Wanzhou was detained last December on a U.S. extradition request, she was interrogated by a Canadian border agent about Huawei's business dealings in Iran and whether the company sold products in countries that it should not, according to court documents released Tuesday.
New figures released by the European Commission indicate that bilateral trade between 28 EU members and Iran has dropped to one quarter during the first six months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018. During January-June 2019, trade between Iran and EU reached €2.558 billion, which is 25 percent of the figure for similar period in the previous year.
A senior commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed his country has the most advanced missile technology in the Middle East. "Today, we rank first in the missile technology at the regional level and are placed among the few global powers in this regard," Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC Aerospace Force, was quoted as saying Sunday by Press TV.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The family of a UK resident detained in Iran on spying charges have urged the UK government to do more to secure her release after a 10-year prison sentence against her was upheld without a hearing. Aras Amiri, 33, a British Council employee, was jailed in May, almost a year after she was arrested while visiting her ailing paternal grandmother in Tehran. A news site in Iran reported on Monday that an appeal against her sentence had been rejected.
Iranian authorities have restricted British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's contacts with her daughter to once a month and banned her from calling her husband, the BBC reported on Tuesday. "Richard Ratcliffe said new rules mean she cannot make international calls to him in London - and can only see their five-year-old daughter once a month," the BBC said on its website. Britain's Guardian newspaper said Zaghari-Ratcliffe could previously see her daughter, who lives with her grandparents in Iran, every few days in prison.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday Tehran "will do its best" to see if the death sentence on Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali can be delayed. "We will do our best on humanitarian grounds to see if the sentence on Mr. Djalali can be delayed, but he has been accused of multiple capital crimes... and he has been convicted of them," he said in response to a journalist's question at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Tehran-based bike-sharing company Bdood has come under fire after some customers noticed that women have been unable to register on the app. One user alerted others on Twitter about the development, writing that the company had been "banned" from offering its services to women. Another person posted a screengrab of an error message following an attempt by a female user to register on Bdood's app. The reports have prompted outrage. "If the story is true, I'm never going to use Bdood again," one person declared.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the international community on Tuesday to work out how to stop Iran from being "unshackled to create new turmoil" when a United Nations arms embargo on the country and a travel ban on the head of Iran's elite Quds Force expire in October 2020. Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Middle East peace and security challenges, Pompeo called for greater cooperation in the region to produce "fresh thinking to solve old problems," citing problems including the Libyan and Syrian conflicts and a rift between several Gulf states and Qatar.
Australia has agreed to a request from the United States to join a coalition of countries protecting oil tankers and cargo ships from threats posed by Iran in the Straits of Hormuz, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. "This destabilizing behavior is a threat to Australia's interests in the region," Morrison told a news conference. "The government has decided that it is in Australia's national interest to work with our international partners to contribute. Our contribution will be limited in scope and it will be time-bound," he said
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that greater cooperation and "fresh thinking to solve old problems" are needed in the Middle East - but he also condemned Iran and its proxies for continuing "to foment terror and unrest" in the region. America's top diplomat said "time is running short" to keep a U.N. arms embargo on Iran and a travel ban on the head of the country's elite Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, warning that ending such sanctions will "create new turmoil" by the country's "terror regime."
The U.S. warned Greece against assisting the Iranian tanker released by Gibraltar as it continues efforts to block the vessel and further drags its allies into escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. "We have conveyed our strong position to the Greek government on the matter, as well as all ports in the Mediterranean that should be forewarned about facilitating this vessel," the State Department said. A Greek Foreign Ministry official confirmed that the country had received the warning.
The U.S. government is warning airlines to exercise caution while flying over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, a region that has seen growing tension between Iran and other nations. The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday released new guidance to U.S. airlines and other commercial-flight operators, saying "there is an increasing inadvertent risk" to flights in that area. "Iran has publicly made threats to U.S. military operations in the Gulf region," the FAA said in a notice.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged greater international cooperation to stop Iran's objectionable behavior in the region and beyond while speaking at the United Nations Tuesday. "The Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies continue to foment terror and unrest in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, with devastating humanitarian consequences," Pompeo told a Security Council meeting on Middle East security challenges.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The Iran-flagged supertanker that left port in Gibraltar has reportedly been leased out to the country's Revolutionary Guard, in an apparent show of defiance to the U.S., which tried to seize the vessel because of its ties to the elite group designated by the Trump administration a terror organization. The tanker, Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, is believed to be hauling $130 million in light crude oil. It lifted anchor in Gibraltar late Sunday and its location has been monitored.
After Trump restored economic sanctions, Tehran resumed stockpiling uranium. Iran and the West soon began tussling over Persian Gulf shipping. The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Duncan has arrived in the Persian Gulf, temporarily doubling the number of British warships in the Persian Gulf following repeated Iranian attacks on British ships. The brief increase in British warships in the region, from one to two, underscores just how few ships the Royal Navy can deploy even in an emergency. More help likely won't be coming.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israel has conducted several strikes on Iranian-controlled bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks with permission from the United States and Russia, a Western diplomatic source told a Saudi-owned newspaper Wednesday. Moscow and Washington agreed that the Jewish state could conduct these attacks on Iranian targets in order to "ensure Israel's security," the source told the London-based Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Islamic State has gained ground in some areas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged on Tuesday, despite President Trump's proclamation that the extremist group had been vanquished. Mr. Pompeo also conceded, in a television interview, having some frustration in dealing with North Korea. But he said he believed the administration was finding success with the intensified sanctions against Iran that were set in motion after Mr. Trump repudiated the 2015 nuclear agreement with that country.
Greece will not provide assistance in delivering oil to Syria to an Iranian tanker now sailing eastward through the Mediterranean, Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said on Wednesday. "We have sent a clear message that we would not want to facilitate the trafficking of this oil to Syria in any instance," Varvitsiotis told Greece's ANT1 television. The Adrian Darya 1, which was released after being detained in Gibraltar, is carrying 2 million barrels of crude.
An Iranian oil tanker has broken down in the Red Sea but the crew are safe and repairs are underway, Iran's state news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday. "The ship's crew are fixing the defect and the vessel is in a stable condition from a safety standpoint. Fortunately, the ship's crew are in a safe condition," IRNA quoted Akbar Jabal-Ameli, technical director of the state-run National Iranian Tanker Company, as saying. The report identified the tanker as HELM.
Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency said on Wednesday the Adrian Darya 1 tanker, which was released after being detained in Gibraltar, is currently leased to an Iranian shipping company. The United States has issued a warrant to seize the tanker on the grounds that it had links to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, which it designates as a terrorist organisation.