U.S. Vessel Fires Warning Shots At Iranian Patrol Boats

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U.S. Vessel Fires Warning Shots At Iranian Patrol Boats | The New York Times

A United States Coast Guard cutter fired 30 warning shots after 13 Iranian fast patrol boats menaced a group of American Navy ships sailing in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon said on Monday. The incident marked the third time in little more than a month that vessels from Iran and the United States have come dangerously close in or near the Persian Gulf, escalating tensions between the two nations as their negotiators have resumed talks toward renewing the 2015 nuclear deal.

EU's Borrell Says Iran Nuclear Talks Moving To Crucial Stage | Reuters

Negotiations in Vienna between world powers and Iran are moving into a crucial stage and the next few weeks will be critical to saving their 2015 nuclear deal, the European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday. U.S. officials returned to Vienna last week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its limits on uranium enrichment about a year later.

Iran's Tactics To Conceal Weapons Activity Revealed By German Intelligence | The National

Iran is using “conspiratorial methods” to cover up illegal activity in Europe aimed at expanding its weapons programme, a German intelligence report said. It is the latest in a series of warnings by German, Dutch and Swedish security services that Iran is looking to Europe to source technology for weapons of mass destruction. The report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Schleswig-Holstein, a German state, described a number of tactics it said were used by Iran and others to “disguise their illegal procurement activities” in Europe.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Negotiations On Iran Nuclear Deal Taking Time But Constructive, Germany Says | Reuters

Time is of the essence in the Vienna negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday, adding talks were lengthy but conducted in a good atmosphere. U.S. officials returned to Vienna last week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.

Democratic Party Leaders Urge Biden To Rejoin Iran Deal, Lift Trump's 'Bad-Faith Sanctions' | The Hill

Dozens of Democrats around the country are offering President Biden “strong support” for rejoining the Iran nuclear deal. In a letter to Biden sent Monday, 53 state Democratic Party leaders and Democratic National Committee members applauded the administration for entering into indirect talks with Iran to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and urged him to lift “bad-faith sanctions" imposed by former President Trump.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS  

OPEC’s Production Increases As Iran Ramps Up Output | Oil Price

OPEC’s crude oil production is estimated to have increased to a three-month high of 24.96 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, thanks to a major jump in Iran’s output, the latest survey by Argus showed. Other surveys of analysts and ship-tracking data also suggest that OPEC either boosted or maintained its crude oil production flat last month, ahead of the planned increase of 600,000 bpd from the OPEC+ coalition in May. OPEC will announce official data on the cartel’s production in its Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) on Tuesday, May 11.

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Gay Man In Iran Reportedly Killed By His Own Family | Radio Free Europe

A 20-year-old Iranian man has reportedly been killed -- perhaps beheaded -- by family members in the country's southwest because of his sexual orientation. Reports from Iran say Alireza Monfared was killed by his brother and cousins earlier this month after they discovered that he had been exempted from military service due to his homosexuality. Some reports suggested he had been beheaded. Up to three people were said to have been arrested in connection with the killing, which reportedly took place on May 4 near Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan Province.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Registration Opens For Hopefuls In Iran's Presidential Vote | Associated Press

Iran opened registration Tuesday for potential candidates in the country’s June presidential election, kicking off the race as uncertainty looms over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers and tensions remain high with the West. President Hassan Rouhani can’t run again due to term limits, yet with the poll just a month away no immediate favorite has emerged among the many rumored candidates. There also appears to be little interest in the vote by a public crushed by sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran's Zarif Denies Bid For Presidency | Al Monitor

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke at parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee meeting regarding the leaked audio that has made headlines in the country for weeks. Abolfazl Amouei, spokesman for the commission, told Iranian media that 12 individuals participated in the meeting from the National Security and Foreign Policy commission as well as other parliamentary bodies. He said the focus of the meeting was Zarif’s audio, which he said had “created a divide in public opinion,” separating the battlefield and diplomacy.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

Iran Confirms Talks With Saudi Arabia, Promises Best Efforts | Reuters

Iran confirmed publicly for the first time on Monday that it is in talks with its regional arch rival Saudi Arabia, saying it would do what it could to resolve issues between them. "De-escalation of tensions between the two Muslim countries in the Persian Gulf region is in the interest of both nations and the region," foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a televised weekly news conference. Iran was waiting for the outcome of the talks, he said: "We welcome resolving of the issues that have existed between the two countries ... We will use our best efforts in this regard."

Iran Says 'Too Soon' To Discuss Results Of Talks With Rival Saudi Arabia | Radio Free Europe

Iran has for the first time confirmed that it is holding talks with its bitter regional rival Saudi Arabia, saying that de-escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf is in the interest of both nations and the region. "There have been talks and they have been about bilateral and regional issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at news conference on May 10. Khatibzadeh said it was "too soon" to discuss the results, insisting that Tehran has always welcomed talks with the Saudis "in any form and at any level."

IRAQ & IRAN

Iran Protests Iraq Over Raid On Diplomatic Site | Associated Press

Iran’s foreign ministry said Monday it “strongly condemns” Iraq’s raid on Tehran’s consulate in Karbala over the killing of a prominent activist. Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh Monday told reporters that Iran late Sunday handed over a “letter of protest” to the Iraqi embassy in Tehran and urged the neighboring Arab nations to pursue the case under international conventions. “Iran strongly condemns attacks on its diplomatic sites in Iraq,” said Khatibzadeh in a weekly briefing in Tehran.

Iraq: Activist Murder Protests Called As Iran Consulate Targeted | Al Jazeera

Protests are expected again in Iraq after demonstrators set fire to trailers belonging to Iran’s consulate in Karbala as anger spread over the killing of a prominent activist in the southern city. Ihab Jawad al-Wazni, who was active in the organisation of the anti-government protests that swept Iraq in October 2019, was shot dead on Sunday outside his home by unknown assailants. His death sparked daylong protests in Karbala that saw demonstrators block roads and bridges with burning tires.