News & Developments

Below is an archive of our weekly news briefs. We update this page weekly to include the most recent and pressing developments in Iranian affairs. The current week's news brief can also be found on the Iran Project.

  • August 12-18, 2017


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    •  Iran held talks with Airbus to buy 48 helicopters for civilian use. (Reuters, 8/12)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian parliament voted to increase funding for its military forces, including Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC)’s Quds force, and for its ballistic missile program.

    • Former Iranian parliamentary speaker and opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi began hunger strike to demand that intelligence officers stationed inside his home be removed and that Iran’s judiciary set date for a public trial. Karroubi ended hunger strike one day later after authorities agreed to lift some restrictions and consider his demand for trial.

    • Iranian Navy Commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said Iran is planning to unveil new indigenous vessels and a missile launching warship. (MEI, 8/15)

    • Iranian judiciary froze assets of 152 BBC Persian staff, former staff, and contributors in Iran. BBC called on Iran to reverse the new court order. (BBC, 8/15)


    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Iran’s nuclear program could be restarted in matter of “hours” if U.S. government imposed further sanctions on Iran.

      • Rouhani also said reconstituted nuclear program would be “far more advanced.”

      • U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Nikki Haley responded by saying: “Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage.” (New York Times, 8/15) (Usun.state.gov, 7/15)

      • Iran scholar Ariane Tabatabai said Rouhani’s comments were mistranslated. Check out her thread on Twitter.(Twitter, 8/15)

    • Iranian authorities denied appeal of Princeton University student, Xiyue Wang, who had been convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison. (Reuters, 8/17)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran President Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran could go up to 20 percent enrichment of uranium to “surprise the Americans and their supporters.” (New York Times, 8/15)

    • Iranian QOM-1 drone made several passes by aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in Persian Gulf.

      • Drone came within 1,000 feet of U.S. aircraft despite the Navy making repeated radio calls to establish communications. (Washington Post, 8/14)

    • Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani called for creation of special courts where individuals and government officials could file lawsuits against U.S. sanctions and “adventurous moves” in region. (MEI, 8/17)

    • U.S. Treasury settled with Los Angeles-based Blue Sky Blue Sea, Inc. for $518,063 for 140 apparent violations of Iran sanctions. (Treasury.gov, 8/17)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • The Guardian reported that Iraq and Saudi Arabia are negotiating new alliance that would give Riyadh leading role in rebuilding Iraq’s towns and cities.

    • Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri made rare visit to Turkey for three days of talks focused mostly on Syria and Iraq. Bagheri met with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      • This was first visit by Iranian chief of staff since Iran’s 1979 revolution. Both countries agreed to boost military cooperation after visit.

      • It was reported that Erdogan “plans to visit Iran soon.” (Al-Monitor, 8/17) (Tasnim News, 8/15)

    • Iraqi media reported that Saudi Arabia has sought the help of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in mending relations between Riyadh and Tehran. (Al Jazeera, 8/13)

    • Kuwait said 12 men with links to terrorist group associated with Hezbollah and IRGC have been arrested. (AP, 8/12)

    • Iraqi governor of Basra, Majid al-Nasrawi, stepped down and fled to Iran after Iraq’s anti-corruption body began investigating graft allegations against him. (Reuters, 8/15)


    Israel

    •  Israeli media reported that Iran is building facility in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range rockets. Media outlets showed satellite images it said were of the site. (AP, 8/17)

    • Israeli Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said Israel struck Syrian and Hezbollah arms convoys nearly 100 times in five years. (Haaretz, 8/17)

  • August 5-11, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Reuters reported that U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Nikki Haley will travel to Vienna later this month to discuss Iran’s nuclear activities with International Atomic Energy Agency.
      • This will be part of President Trump’s review of Iran’s JCPOA compliance. (Reuters, 8/9)

    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • France’s Renault signed $778 million deal to establish joint venture to raise its vehicle production in Iran. Renault will open factories with Iranian conglomerate Industrial Development and Renovation Organization and Negin Khodro, a private company.

      • Renault, which will be majority shareholder with 60 percent share, will have its own distribution network in Iran for first time.

      • Agreement to produce as many as 150,000 additional cars a year is largest foreign auto deal in Iranian history. (NYT, 8/7) (AP, 8/7)

    • Iranian media reported that Iran’s Ghadir, Russia’s Zarubezhneft, and Turkey’s Unit International signed agreement for joint investment in oil and gas development projects in Iran. (PressTV, 8/9)

    • South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction signed $1.6 billion deal with Iran’s Tabriz Oil Refining Company to renovate the company’s refinery facility. (Reuters, 8/6)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani selected his new cabinet. He reappointed Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, and a few other ministers. His cabinet must be approved by parliament.

      • Rouhani nominated Iran’s acting defense minister, Iranian Army Gen. Amir Hatami, to permanently stay in position. This was surprising pick since position has gone to Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) members since 1993.

      • Rouhani appointed three women as vice-presidents following criticism of his all-male cabinet. (Bloomberg, 8/8) (BBC, 8/9) (AP, 8/8)

    • Iran’s intelligence ministry said it detained 27 ISIS-linked militants who planned to carry out attacks in religious cities inside Iran. (AP, 8/7) (RFERL, 8/8)

    • ISIS captured and beheaded IRGC adviser Mohsen Hojaji in Syria.

      • Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada claimed several IRGC troops had been killed in airstrike by US-led coalition, who denied its forces had been involved. It seems ISIS was behind attack. (PressTV, 8/11) (Radio Farda, 8/9)

    • Tehran city council unanimously elected reformist Mohammad-Ali Najaf as new mayor.

      • His election ended hardliners’ 14-year hold on position. (FT, 8/10)

    • IRGC clashed with militants in Iran’s northwest, killing two militants. (Reuters, 8/6)


    US-Iran relations

    • During press conference, Trump said he did not believe Iran was living up to spirit of JCPOA. He also said: “I don’t think Iran is in compliance.” (Reuters, 8/10)

      • Rouhani had previously accused U.S. of trying to undermine the agreement.

        • “The U.S. lack of commitment to implementation of the nuclear deal...proved it to be an unreliable partner to the world.” (Reuters, 8/5)

        • Zarif similarly tweeted: “POTUS always wanted to kill JCPOA. To avoid isolation, he’s trying to blame it on Iran. Bad faith on top of US violating the letter & spirit.” (Twitter, 8/11)

    • Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee passed bill titled “Countering America’s Adventurous and Terrorist Actions.” Bill obliges the government to increase funding for its missile program and for Quds Force activities.

      • Bill also calls for ministries of foreign affairs, defense, and intelligence as well as IRGC and Quds Force to work together to prepare “comprehensive strategic plan” to “counter the U.S. threats and subversive activities” against Iran. (MEI, 8/10)

    • Unarmed Iranian QOM-1 drone harassed and nearly collided with Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet as it prepared to land on USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf.

      • Hornet’s pilot was forced to make sudden maneuver to avoid striking the drone, and they passed within 100 feet of each other. (Washington Post, 8/9) (CNN, 8/8)

    • During meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Rouhani praised Europe for their determination to expand ties with Tehran despite U.S. pressures.

    • Zarif told Mogherini: “Mr Trump is trying to destroy the nuclear accord at Iran's expense, and Europe should be conscious of this.” (Reuters, 8/5)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s Senior Adviser Ali Akbar Velayati said Tehran would not allow American inspections of its military sites. (Tehran Times, 8/5)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Prominent Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to dismantle Hash’d al-Shaabi, paramilitary organization dominated by Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, and integrate its members into Iraqi army. (RFERL, 8/5)

    • Turkish, Russian, and Iranian representatives met in Tehran for joint technical meeting ahead of sixth round of Syria talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. (Middle East Monitor, 8/8)

    • United Arab Emirates court convicted Iranian national for spying and aiding Tehran’s nuclear program. (Reuters, 8/10)

    • Turkey began construction of wall along country’s border with Iran. (AP, 8/8)


    Israel

    • Zarif hosted delegation of senior Hamas officials in Tehran.

      • Hamas statement: “The visit has opened a new page in our bilateral relations with Iran aimed at confronting the common enemy and supporting Palestine, the Al-Aksa Mosque and the resistance [against Israeli occupation].”

      • Statement quoted Zarif saying that Iran planned to “maintain relations with the Palestinian factions, led by Hamas.” (Jerusalem Post, 9/8) (Haaretz, 8/8)

    • Two players on Iran’s national soccer team were banned for life from playing for Iran after they participated in match with their club team against Israeli team. (NYT, 8/10)

  • July 29-August 4, 2017


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran and Russia’s Transmashholding, manufacturer of locomotives and rail equipment, signed €2.5 billion deal to jointly manufacture passenger and cargo wagons. (Tehran Times, 7/31)

    • Royal Dutch Shell submitted proposal to develop Iran’s Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields. (Financial Tribune, 8/2


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was sworn-in for his second term. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei attended the ceremony. (FT, 8/3)

    • Iran’s Supreme Audit Court Public Prosecutor Fayaz Shojaie said former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced sentences on seven verdicts of misusing billions of dollars in government funds while in office.

      • It is unclear if Ahmadinejad was formally tried by court and is now facing sentencing or whether verdicts should be viewed as recommendations to be followed up by parliament. (Reuters, 7/30) (RFERL, 7/31)


    US-Iran relations

    • President Donald Trump signed into law bill that applies new sanctions on Iran (and Russia and North Korea). (CBS, 8/2)

      • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran believed “nuclear deal ha[d] been violated,” and vowed “appropriate and proportional reaction.”

      • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Iran had complained to Joint Commission about new sanctions. (Reuters, 8/1) (NYT, 8/1) (Tasnim News, 8/1)

      • Khamenei criticized new sanctions and said U.S. will “use any excuse to make a fuss” against Iran. (CBS, 8/3)

    • U.S., France, Germany, and U.K. sent letter of protest to United Nations Security Council regarding Iran’s rocket launch last week.

      • Letter called on Iran “to immediately cease all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” (Bloomberg, 8/2) (NYT, 8/2)

    • U.S. Navy said several vessels operated by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) in the Gulf approached American ships at high speed. U.S. Navy helicopter fired warning flares after failing to reach Iranian ships by radio.

      • IRGC responded by accusing U.S. ships of flying a helicopter close to Iranian vessels. IRGC said actions were “provocative.” (WSJ, 7/29) (AP, 7/29)

    •  Amazon.com said it was under federal investigation for possibly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran in filing with Securities and Exchange Commission.

      • Company said it sold and delivered about $34,000 worth of products to an Iranian embassy, as well as to others with links to Iranian government. It also sold about $300 worth of items to person on the government’s terrorism watch list. (Washington Post, 7/31)

    • More than 90 Yemenis and Iranians who had won chance to immigrate to the U.S. filed lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the State Department for not processing their visa applications after Trump’s temporary travel ban was reinstated. (Reuters, 8/4)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Foreign ministers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates met in Bahrain to discuss Qatar crisis. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said the four countries were ready for talks with Qatar if Doha showed willingness to deal with their demands. (Reuters, 7/30)

    • Ten individuals involved in attack on Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran in 2016 had their prison sentences upheld by appeals court.

      • Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released statement condemning Iran for delaying and refusing to complete investigations into the attack. (Al-Monitor, 7/31) (AP, 7/30) (Al Arabiya, 8/1)

    • Reuters reported that IRGC have started using new route across the Gulf to funnel covert arms shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

      • Report said IRGC has been using waters further up the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran to circumvent arms embargo.

      • Kuwait denied Iran was using its waters. (Reuters, 8/1) (Reuters, 8/2)

    • Prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made rare visit to Saudi Arabia. (AP, 7/30)


    Israel

    • Khamenei called on Muslims to take the opportunity of Hajj rituals to take united stance against “Israeli efforts to control the Aksa [Aqsa] Mosque.” (Jerusalem Post, 7/31)
  • July 22-28, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran did not use Joint Commission meeting last week to trigger formal dispute resolution mechanism. Iranian officials have recently claimed U.S. has violated JCPOA. (Reuters, 7/21) (WSJ, 7/21)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • France’s Alstom, a train maker and manufacturing group, signed deal to enter into joint venture that will build metro and suburban rail carriages in Iran.
      • Alstom partnered with Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran and Iranian Rail Industries Development Co. (Reuters, 7/24)

    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran launched Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite-carrying missile. Iranian media said test was successful; however, Fox News reported that the missile suffered “catastrophic failure” shortly after liftoff and likely blew up before it reached space.

      • Some experts said missile was copy of North Korea’s Unha space-launch rocket.

      • Test was not prohibited under JCPOA. But, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. (NYT, 7/27) (Fox News, 7/28) (Reuters, 7/28)

      • On missile test, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Iran does not develop missiles that are ‘DESIGNED to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.’” (Twitter, 7/28)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani unexpectedly met with Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Commander Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, and several other top IRGC commanders.

      • Some analysts speculated that meeting was aimed at improving relations following contentious presidential campaign rhetoric. (Al-Monitor, 7/25)

    • Iranian media reported inauguration of production line for new version of air defense missile Sayyad-3. Sayyad-3 is upgrade to previous versions of missile. (AP, 7/22)

    • Iranian media reported that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are in deteriorating health.

      • Karroubi, 79, was admitted to hospital this week after suffering from heart attack.

      • Mousavi, 75, is suffering from irregular blood pressure and dizziness, and cannot walk without assistance. (Reuters, 7/26)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. House of Representatives and Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance legislation slapping new sanctions on Iran (and Russia and North Korea). Bill needs to be signed by President Trump before becoming law.

      • Legislation imposes new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and IRGC.

      • Trump has been sending conflicting messages about his intention to sign bill. (WSJ, 7/27) (Washington Post, 7/25) (AP, 7/27)

      • Iran, Russia, France, and European Union warned against these new sanctions. (Reuters, 7/26) (Reuters, 7/27) (AFP, 7/25)

        • Rouhani said Iran would “take any action that is necessary for the country’s expedience and interests” and show “reciprocal” reaction to law. (AP, 7/26)

    • U.S. Department of Treasury responded to Iran’s missile launch by hitting six Iranian entities with sanctions. Sanctions targeted Iran’s ballistic missile program.

      • Sanctions targeted six subsidiaries of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, described as “central” to Iran’s ballistic missile program. (AP, 7/28) (Treasury.gov, 7/28)

    • Associated Press reported that the Trump administration is seeking to force Iran to let in International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to military sites where it believes Iran may be cheating on JCPOA. It is unclear if U.S. has intelligence that Iran is cheating.

      • Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon reportedly floated proposal to European members of Joint Commission last week. (AP, 7/27) (NYT, 7/28)

    • U.S. Navy patrol ship, USS Thunderbolt, fired warning shots at IRGC boat in Persian Gulf. IRGC boat came within 150 yards of U.S. and coalition ships carrying out exercise. (WSJ, 7/25)

    • Trump told Wall Street Journal: “I think they’ll be noncompliant,” in reference to Iran’s observance of JCPOA, which comes up for recertification in October.

      • “If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.” (WSJ, 7/25)

    • Department of Treasury settled with Singapore’s CSE Global Limited for more than $12 million for 104 apparent violations of Iran sanctions.

      • CSE Global Limited subsidiary “caused at least six separate financial institutions to engage in the unauthorized exportation or re-exportation of financial services from the United States to Iran,” in 2012 and 2013. (Treasury.gov, 7/27) (Reuters, 7/27)

    • Last Friday, Trump administration threatened “new and serious consequences” for Iran if the country did not release all U.S. citizens detained there. (AP, 7/21)

      • Iran responded by demanding that the U.S. release all detained Iranian citizens accused of bypassing sanctions. (AP, 7/22) (Reuters, 7/24)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that missile attacks on Saudi Arabia over weekend by Houthi rebels in Yemen had likely come with support of Iran.

      • Houthi rebels fired missile Saturday that flew hundreds of miles into Saudi Arabia. (AP, 7/28) (CNN, 7/27)

    • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar in effort to resolve Qatar crisis.

      • There were no visible signs of progress from his visit. (Reuters, 7/24)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi denied reports that Kuwait had expelled its ambassador, saying it would maintain dialogue with Kuwait after diplomatic row over Tehran’s alleged links to a “spy and terror” cell. (Reuters, 7/24)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan al-Hiyali, signed agreement to step up military cooperation and the fight against terrorism. (Reuters, 7/23)

    • IRGC detained Saudi Arabian fishing boat and arrested its crew. Crew was five Indian nationals. (Reuters, 7/22)

  • July 15-21, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Meeting of JCPOA’s Joint Commission took place on July 21. This was sixth meeting since implementation day. (eeas.europa.eu)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoun, was arrested on charges of financial crime. He was released on bail after being detained for two days.

    • Iranians across the world celebrated the life of Stanford University math professor Maryam Mirzakhani who died from cancer at the age of 40. She was first woman to win Fields medal, often described as math’s Nobel Prize.

      • Iran’s state-run newspapers broke with strict rules on female dress to show Mirzakhani with her head uncovered. (The Guardian, 7/16)

    • Tehran police shot dead man who attacked clergyman and other people with knife at metro station. (Reuters, 7/15)

    • Iranian media said Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) killed three terrorists and wounded four others in clashes by border. (AP, 7/21)


    US-Iran relations

    • President Trump’s administration certified Iran’s compliance to JCPOA for second time. (NYT, 7/17)

      • During conference call held by Trump administration, officials said “Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the [deal].” (Buzzfeed News, 7/17)

    • After re-certifying Iran’s compliance, Trump administration announced new Iran-related sanctions. Sanctions designated 18 individuals and entities that were involved in activities including missile development, weapons procurement, and software theft.

      • Targets included individuals or groups that supported efforts by IRGC to develop and produce drones, and other military equipment. Sanctions also were applied to organizations that were involved in Iran’s ballistic missile development. (Treasury.gov, 7/18) (Treasury.gov, 7/18) (NYT, 7/18) (State.gov, 7/18)

    • Rouhani said new Iran sanctions were against spirit, and even letter, of JCPOA and that Iran would resist them and impose its own sanctions. (Reuters, 7/19)

      • American “ploy today is to behave in such a way as to have Iran say ‘I am walking away’” from JCPOA. (Bloomberg, 7/19)

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made similar comments. (Al-Monitor, 7/18) (NYT, 7/18)

    • Chinese-American doctoral student from Princeton University, Xiyue Wang, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on charges that he was spying for the U.S. Wang has filed an appeal.

      • His arrest and sentencing was announced months after he vanished in Iran, where he was doing research.

      • Wang was accused of digitally archiving 4,500 pages of Iranian documents and conducting “super confidential research for the U.S. Department of State, Harvard Kennedy School and British Institute of Persian Studies.” (NYT, 7/16) (AP, 7/17)

    • U.S. State Department’s annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” said Iran continues to be world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. (AP, 7/19)

    • Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced bill to increase sanctions on Hezbollah. Similar bill was introduced in Senate.

    • Two Iranian nationals, Mohammed Reza Rezakah andMohammed Saeed Ajily, have been charged by U.S. government for hacking American defense technology maker in bid to steal and sell software used in ammunition design. (Infosecurity, 7/19)

    • Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pomeo said Russia and Iran both threaten U.S. interests as they pursue long-term roles in Syria. (Bloomberg, 7/21)

    • IRGC Commander Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari warned U.S. against provoking Iran.

      • “If the United States wants to pursue sanctions against Iran's defenses and the Guards, then it has to move its regional bases to a distance of about 1,000 km around Iran and be aware that it would pay a high price for any miscalculations.” (Reuters, 7/19)

    • Zarif was in New York this week and gave several interviews to American outlets including The National InterestCNNPBS, and others. (The National Interest, 7/17) (CNN, 7/16 transcript) (PBS, 7/19 part I) (PBS, 7/19 part II)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Senior diplomats from Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) indicated that they were no longer insisting on 13 demands that Qatar must satisfy, or on specific deadline for them to comply. However, no direct talks have been scheduled.

      • Instead, the countries have united around six broad principles, built upon themes of combating terrorism and extremism, denying financing and safe havens to terrorist groups, stopping incitement to hatred and violence, and refraining from interfering in internal affairs of other countries. (NYT, 7/18)

    • Washington Post reported that UAE orchestrated the May hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. It remains unclear whether UAE carried out hacks itself or contracted to have them done. 

    • Kuwait ordered expulsion of Iranian ambassador and 14 other diplomats and told Iran’s cultural and military missions to shut down. Kuwait linked decision to case of terror cell broken up in 2015 that authorities allege had contacts with Iran and Hezbollah. (Reuters, 7/20) (Washington Post, 7/20)

      • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi denied that Iran was behind terror cell. (AFP, 7/20)

    • NBC News reported that the story that Qatar’s government paid ransom of up to $1 billion to Al Qaeda-linked group and Iranian-linked militia to gain release of group of Qatari royals kidnapped on falcon hunting trip was false. (NBC News, 7/18)

    • Saudi media reported that two men have gone on trial in Saudi Arabia on charges that they were spying for Iran and plotting to attack major oil pipeline. (Reuters, 7/19)


    Israel

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was caught on hot mic saying Israel had conducted clandestine airstrikes in Syrian territory dozens of times in recent years.

      • “I told [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, when we see them transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we will hurt them. We did it dozens of times.” (Washington Post, 7/19)

  • July 8-14, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Today, July 14, marks second anniversary of signing of JCPOA.

    • Weekly Standard reported that new German intelligence reports provide evidence that Iran is continuing to work to illegally obtain technology and know-how to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

      • State of Hamburg report said that federal prosecutor filed criminal charges against three German citizens for violations of export economic law due to deliveries of 51 special valves to Iranian company that can used for Arak heavy water reactor.

      • Separate federal intelligence agency report said that while Iran had not curtailed efforts to acquire proliferation-sensitive material for its missile program, it did find “significantly less evidence of Iranian attempts to acquire proliferation-sensitive material for its nuclear program.” (Weekly Standard, 7/7)

    • Iran’s Ambassador to International Atomic Energy Agency Reza Najafi said Iran supports United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons. (Tehran Times, 7/8)

    • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov travelled to Tehran to hold talks with Iranian officials ahead of scheduled JCPOA Joint Commission meeting.

      • Next Joint Commission meeting will take place July 21. (PressTV, 7/11)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • National Iranian Oil Company Deputy Director for Exploration Blocks Rahim Nematollahi said company is planning to tender 14 oil and gas blocks for exploration in next few months.

      • This will be first round of oil and gas exploration tenders since easing of economic sanctions. (Reuters, 7/10)

    • Iran Railways said it signed preliminary agreement with Italy’s state railway to construct two high-speed links in Iran. (AP, 7/11)

    • Iran is forming government commission to oversee its deal with France’s Total. (Reuters, 7/12)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travelled to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to try to help broker deal between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors. While in Qatar, Tillerson and Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani signed agreement to combat terrorism financing.

      • In joint statement, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain said they appreciated U.S. efforts, but that agreement was insufficient.

      • Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar was first country to sign agreement with U.S. to counter terror funding and called on others to follow suit. (AP, 7/12) (Reuters, 7/10) (Al-Monitor, 7/11)

      • On Qatar dispute, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar al-Gargash tweeted: “We are headed for a long estrangement...we are very far from a political solution involving a change in Qatar’s course, and in light of that nothing will change and we have to look for a different format of relations.” (Reuters, 7/13)

    • U.S. senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), David Perdue (R-GA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote to Tillerson asking that he “not certify that U.S. sanctions relief for Iran is in the vital national-security interests of the United States or that Iran is complying with the terms of the [JCPOA].” Certification is required by July 17.

      • “As we near the end of another 90-day review period, U.S. interests would be best served by a sober accounting of Iran’s JCPOA violations as well as the regime’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior.” (Washington Post, 7/11) (Full letter)

      • Trump administration has signaled it plans to re-certify compliance. (Weekly Standard, 7/13) (Al-Monitor, 7/13)

    • U.S. District judge in Hawaii ruled that grandparents and other relatives should be exempt from enforcement of Trump’s executive order, which bars people from six Muslim-majority countries including Iran. Trump administration will appeal to Supreme Court to block new ruling. (Reuters, 7/14) (Washington Post, 7/14)

    • President Trump reportedly told G20 leaders last week that they should stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran. (Whitehouse.gov, 7/10)

      • Some American analysts claim U.S. may have violated JCPOA since it violated its commitment to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.” (Lobelog, 7/11)
    • Iranian medical researcher, Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi, who this week was prevented from entering the U.S. to work atBoston Children’s Hospital is believed to have been head of Basij at Tehran’s Sharif University.
      • U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokeswoman said Dehnavi family’s detention was for “reasons unrelated” to Trump’s executive order. (RFERL, 7/12) (AP, 7/13)

    Geopolitics and Iran

    • CNN obtained copies of series of secret agreements Qatar signed with its Gulf neighbors in 2013 and 2014. Gulf countries have accused Qatar of not complying with these agreements, saying it contributed to current dispute. (CNN, 7/11)

      • Qatar said it is forming committee to pursue compensation for damages stemming from its isolation. Committee will handle claims made by private companies, public institutions, and individuals. (AP, 7/9)

    • French Intelligence Online reported that Iran-backed Hezbollah is constructing at least two underground facilities in Lebanon for manufacturing missiles and other weaponry.

      • One factory is being built in northern Lebanon, and second factory is reportedly being constructed along southern coast. (Times of Israel, 7/9)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said de-escalation zones in southern Syria should be expanded to all of Syria if it is to be successful.

      • "The agreement can be fruitful if it is expanded to all of Syria and includes all the area that we discussed in Astana talks for de-escalating the tension.” (Reuters, 7/10)

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani said Tehran has provided “tons of weapons” to Iraq and deployed Sukhoi-25 fighter jets to provide close air support to Iraqi ground forces upon request by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. (MEI, 7/11)


    Israel

    • Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman claimed Iran is establishing permanent bases in Syria. He also said Hezbollah was trying to establish front base in Syria.

      • “The establishment of an air and sea base and the attempt to permanently station 5,000 Shiite fighters on Syrian soil are not acceptable to us, and will have heavy consequences. Iran is attempting to make all of Syria - not just the southwest - into a frontline base against Israel. We will not accept it.” (Ynet, 7/14)

    • Haaretz reported that Israel opposes having Russian forces supervise what happens in de-escalation zones in southern Syria. No enforcement mechanism has been decided on yet.

      • Israel wants de-escalation zones to keep Iran, Hezbollah, and other Shi’ite militias away from Israeli and Jordanian borders. (Haaretz, 7/9)

  • July 1-7, 2017


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • France’s Total signed deal to develop phase 11 of South Pars gas field. This is first major Western energy investment in Iran since lifting of sanctions. Project will cost $5 billion.

      • Total will have 50.1% stake, China National Petroleum Corporation will have 30%, and National Iranian Oil Company subsidiary, Petropars, will have 19.9%. (Reuters, 7/3) (The Atlantic, 7/3)

    • Germany’s Volkswagen AG signed contract with Iranian importer, Mammut Khodro, to sell its cars in Iran for first time in 17 years. (Bloomberg, 7/4)

    • Wall Street Journal reported that ships transporting almost a fifth of Iran’s oil exports in second half of last year either turned off their radio-signal tracking systems or gave misleading information about origin of their cargo.

      • Some 47 of 55 ships carrying Iranian oil products from Iran to United Arab Emirates (UAE) for two UAE-registered companies failed to emit signals.

      • Analysts say these are red flags for governments seeking evidence of evasion of international sanctions against Iran. (WSJ, 7/6)

    • Iran’s daily production of crude oil surpassed 3.9 million barrels last month, rising to record high since lifting of sanctions. (Tasnim News, 7/4)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian media reported that Iran’s intelligence service arrested 21 terrorists in city of Mashhad after foiling their plans to launch several attacks inside the country.

      • Mashhad Deputy Prosecutor General Hassan Heidari said some detained individuals were Iranians and some were Afghan nationals. (PressTV, 7/7)

    • Iran bombed militants from Iranian-Kurdish rebel groups Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and Komala in Iraqi Kurdistan. At least three people were injured. (VOA, 7/3)

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) head Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari’s term was extended for at least three years. It had been set to expire in three months. (AFP, 7/4)


    US-Iran relations

    • Ontario’s Court of Appeal upheld $1.7 billion judgment against government of Iran in favor of American victims of terrorism. (National Post, 7/3)

    • U.S. prosecutors said in court filing that former consultant to Iran’s mission to United Nations, Ahmad Sheikhzadeh, recruited U.S.-based atomic scientist to meet with Iranian officials about Iran’s nuclear program. Scientist was Iranian national who had worked at U.S. nuclear power plant.

      • Filing does not contain criminal charges. Filing was made to support prosecutors’ request for tough prison sentence for him for tax fraud and conspiracy to violate sanctions against Iran. Prosecutors believe Sheikhzadeh used his bank account to help U.S.-based co-conspirators invest money in Iran, violating sanctions. (Reuters, 6/30)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and UAE extended deadline for Qatar to meet their list of demands by two days. After second deadline expired, foreign ministers from the four countries announced in Cairo that Qatar’s response was “negative on the whole.” Ministers did not say what their next steps would be, but they said they planned to meet again in Bahrain.

      • Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said response did not “lay the foundations for Qatar’s abandonment of the policies it pursues. It’s a position that does not realize the gravity of the situation.” (AP, 7/5)

    • U.S., Russia, and Jordan announced ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” for southwest Syria. It came into force on July 9. Israel also backed ceasefire. (FT, 7/7)

    • Jafari said “the Saudis are becoming a terrorist state in the region.”

      • “We face an enemy that only understands the language of force, so we cannot speak to the enemy with another language.” (AFP, 7/4)

    • Russia, Turkey, and Iran failed in talks to finalize agreement on creating four “de-escalation zones” in Syria, after Ankara raised objections.

      • The three countries have set up working group to reconcile their positions before next Astana meeting set for final week of August. (Reuters, 7/5)

    • IRGC reportedly seized Saudi vessel for trespassing on Iranian territorial waters. Vessel’s four crew members, all Indian nationals, were detained. (MEI, 7/7) (PressTV, 7/7)

    • Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar needed to have healthy and constructive relationship with Iran. (Reuters, 7/5)

    • Iran said it would allow its citizens to take part in this year’s hajj. (AP, 7/5)


    Israel

    • Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Israeli military was working quietly against factory for precision-guided missiles that Iran is building for Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Ynet, 7/5)

  • June 24-30, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres commended Iran for its “full and effective” compliance in his third biannual report on JCPOA implementation.

      • However, report raised concerns about Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles. It noted that UN Security Council (UNSC) couldn’t agree on whether this violated UN Resolution 2231. (WSJ, 6/29) (VOA, 6/29)

    • After talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel said JCPOA helped lower risk of conflict in Middle East.

      • “Our clear position is we stand by this agreement.” (AP, 6/27)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money-laundering standards body, said it would extend suspension of some of its restrictions against Iran.

      • FATF said Iran demonstrated political commitment to, and taken some steps in line with, its action plan. Country remains on FATF’s blacklist. (WSJ, 6/23) (FATF, 6/23)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Zarif visited Germany, Italy, and France this week. He met with Gabriel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, French President Emmanuel Macron, and others. (PressTV, 6/29) (Tasnim News, 6/30)

    • Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents arrested members of ISIS-linked group. Group had reportedly planned bombings and suicide attacks in religious centers.

      • Agents confiscated AK-47 assault rifles, suicide vests, and bomb-making material during operation. (Reuters, 6/24) (MEI, 6/26)

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) dismantled terrorist group in northwestern province of Kurdistan. Iranian media said three militants were killed and one was arrested. IRGC source suggested group was linked to U.S. and its allies. (MEI, 6/23)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Supreme Court permitted scaled-back version of President Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, for 90 days. Court will hear merits of case in October. New rules took effect Thursday evening.

      • Government can bar travelers if they can’t show “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with someone or some entity in U.S. (FT, 6/30) (AP, 6/27) (Washington Post, 6/26)

      • Zarif said ban “had no basis in fact and it would not help fight terrorism, in fact it would be the greatest gift to extremist groups who would use it as a rallying cry.” (AP, 6/27) (WSJ, 6/27)

    • Manhattan Federal Court ruled the government could seize midtown Manhattan office tower from Alavi Foundation, after it found the charity’s majority ownership was derived from financial dealings that violated Iran sanctions. (AP, 6/29) (Bloomberg, 6/29)

      • Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim statement: “The jury’s verdict finding forfeitable a building valued at over $500 million dollars, as well as other real estate and funds, represents the largest civil forfeiture jury verdict and the largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in U.S. history.” (justice.gov, 6/29)

    • U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether people injured in 1997 Jerusalem bombing attack can seek to enforce $71 million judgment against Iran over its alleged role by seizing ancient Persian artifacts held by two Chicago museums.

      • Court’s ruling is also likely to dictate outcome of similar dispute pending in which four different groups of plaintiffs representing those injured in other allegedly Iran-backed attacks are seeking to enforcement court judgments by seizing $17.6 million in assets held by Iran’s Bank Melli. (Reuters, 6/27)

    • In response to UN report on JCPOA, U.S. Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley told UNSC that Iran cannot be trusted despite its compliance. She also criticized UNSC for not taking steps to respond to Iran’s violations. (WSJ, 6/29)

      • “The Security Council has failed to even take minimal steps to respond to these violations. We must...show Iran that we will not tolerate their egregious flaunting of U.N. resolutions.” (Reuters, 6/29)

    • Separately, Haley said warning from Trump administration to Syrian government about possible chemical weapons attack was also aimed at Russia and Iran.

      • “The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message. That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. My hope is that the president’s warning will certainly get Iran and Russia to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad.”

      • Earlier, Haley tweeted that Russia and Iran would also be blamed for “any further attacks done to the people of Syria.” (AP, 6/27)

      • Haley also said she’s worried Iran will acquire nuclear weapons and provide them to terrorist groups, with tacit support of Russia. (Washington Examiner, 6/27)

    • Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released statement saying American International Group settled for $148,698 payment for 555 apparent violations of OFAC sanctions programs, including Iranian sanctions. (treasury.gov, 6/26)

    • National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said 80 percent of troops fighting for Syrian government were Iranian proxies.

      • He also said: “We could do a lot better to pull back the curtain on Iranian actions,” than to engage in shooting war. (Washington Post, 6/28)

    • Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo commented on Iran’s influence in Middle East during MSNBCinterview.

      • “Today, we find it [Iran] with enormous influence, influence that far outstrips where it was six or seven years ago.”

      • “Iran is everywhere throughout the Middle East.” (Radio Farda, 6/26) (MSNBC, 6/24)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iranian media said seven Iranian fishermen detained by Saudi Arabia’s coastguard over a year ago had been returned to the country. (Reuters, 6/29)

    • Bahrain’s Public Security Chief Maj. Gen. Tariq Al Hassan claimed that Bahraini forces had foiled terror plot by al Ashtar brigades, which is said to have links to Iran, after discovering weapon depot. Five individuals were arrested. (Al Arabiya, 6/30) (Xinhua, 6/30)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on phone and stressed Iran’s support for Qatar. (Al-Monitor, 6/26) (Reuters, 6/25)

    • Iran condemned attempted plot to target Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque in Mecca.

      • Saudi police say they engaged suicide bomber in shootout near the Mosque. Bomber blew himself up. (AP, 6/24)


    Israel

    • IRGC airspace division chief Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh mocked Israeli reports that some missiles fired by Iran into Iraq and Syria fell short.

      • “Pity those who call themselves experts and do not understand that these were the first-stage engines (that fell), while the warheads hit targets.” (AP, 6/25)

  • June 17-23, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head Ali Akbar Salehi wrote op-ed in The Guardian on JCPOA and how it depends on constructive Western engagement.

      • “Disregard for Iran’s genuine security concerns, either through deliberate changing of the military-security balance in the region, or by stoking Iranophobia in the region and beyond, would jeopardise engagement.” (The Guardian, 6/23)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • France’s Total said it would advance $1 billion investment in South Pars gas field.

      • Contract is expected to be signed in next few weeks. This will be first commitment by Western company to put money into Iran’s energy industry since JCPOA. (WSJ, 6/20) (Bloomberg, 6/20)

    • Italy’s Eni signed MOU with National Iranian Oil Company to carry out feasibility studies on development of Kish gas field in Gulf and third phase of development on Darquain oil field in southwest Iran.

      • Eni previously completed phases one and two of Darquain oil field. (FT, 6/20)

    • Iran’s Airtour Airlines signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for 45 Airbus A320neo aircraft. The country’s Zagros Airlines also signed MOU for 20 Airbus A320neo aircraft and eight A330neo aircraft. (Reuters, 6/22)

    • Iranian media reported that Iran began exporting gas to Iraq after several years of delays. (AP, 6/22)

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran and fellow OPEC members are in talks about making further cuts in oil production. (Bloomberg, 6/21)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) launched six surface-to-surface medium range Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from western Iran into Deir el-Zour province in eastern Syria. Missiles targeted ISIS militants in response to Tehran terrorist attacks. IRGC claimed dozens of militants were killed, although this is unclear. 

      • IRGC spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif said missiles were also meant to send message to Saudi Arabia and U.S.

      • This was Iran’s first missile attack in decades. (AP, 6/19) (Haaretz, 6/21)

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei publicly criticized Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on his economic policies.

      • “Mr. President has talked at great lengths about the country’s economy and well, he’s said ‘this should be done’, ‘that should be done.’ But who is he addressing by mentioning the ‘should dos’? Himself.” (The Guardian, 6/22)

    • IRGC said they killed Ansar al-Furqan’s leader Jalil Qanbar-Zahi.

      • Iranian media reported that during operations which led to Qanbar-Zahi’s death, IRGC found car bomb containing explosives, suicide bombs, explosive material, and bullets. (Reuters, 6/19)

    • Iran’s navy conducted joint exercise with Chinese fleet near Strait of Hormuz. (AP, 6/18)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. F-15E fighter jet shot down armed pro-Syrian regime drone advancing on U.S. coalition forces in southern Syria. Drone was Iranian-made Shaheed-129. (CNN, 6/20) (Twitter, 6/20)

      • Iran established drone airfield close to U.S. base at Al-Tanf. Airfield may be source of drones that recently threatened U.S. troops. (NBC, 6/20)

    • Following Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments last week implying support for “peaceful transition” in Iran, Iran summoned Swiss charge d’affaires, who looks after U.S. interests, to protest.

      • Iran also sent protest letter to United Nations chief Antonio Guterres. (AFP, 6/20)

    • Iranian media reported that Iran’s Qeshm Air placed order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX planes. (PressTV, 6/23)

    • Progress on U.S. Senate bill on new Iran (and Russia) sanctions was blocked by House.

      • One reason Trump administration opposes bill is because it impedes presidential prerogatives to relieve sanctions. (Washington Post, 6/23)

    • Khamenei mocked President Trump and his policies toward Iran.

      • “The new White House leaders are like nascent hooligans who scare people by brandishing their knives until somebody punches them in the mouth and puts them in their place.”

      • “Don’t take all the huff and puff of the newcomer in the U.S. seriously. The U.S. has always wanted to overthrow the Islamic establishment in Iran.” (USIP, 6/22)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirate sent 13-point list of demands to Qatar. Demands included closing Al Jazeera television, curbing ties with Iran, shutting down Turkish base, and paying reparations. Offer will be “void” unless Qatar complies within 10 days.

      • Demands also included severing ties with Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and surrendering all designated terrorists on Qatari territory.

      • Earlier in week, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar would not negotiate until economic, diplomatic, and travel ties cut were restored. (Reuters, 6/23)

    • Saudi Arabia claimed it arrested three IRGC members who were aboard an explosive-laden boat. Iran denied Saudi allegations. Details remain unclear.

      • Saudi Arabia believed members intended to carry out attack on major offshore oil field in Gulf. Earlier, the country seized weapons from boat captured in Gulf.

      • Iran said three detained Iranians were fisherman. Iran also claimed Saudi border guards opened fire and killed one fisherman on fishing boat. (AFP, 6/19) (Reuters, 6/17) (AP, 6/19)

    • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Kuwait for regional outreach tour promoting anti-terror campaign.

      • Khamenei warned al-Abadi against any measures to weaken Iran-backed Shi’ite paramilitary groups. He also said Iraq should not trust U.S. in fight against ISIS.

        • “We should remain vigilant of the Americans and not trust them. The Americans and their followers are against Iraq’s independence, unity and identity.” (Reuters, 6/20)

        • He also tweeted: “Leader to Iraqi PM: Do not trust the US at all, as they’re looking for a opportunity to strike!” (USIP, 6/22)

      • Al-Abadi has said his government will not take sides in Qatar dispute. (AP, 6/19)

    • Kuwait’s highest court overturned death sentence of man convicted of belonging to group that Kuwait said was trying to destabilize the country on behalf of Iran and Hezbollah. (Reuters, 6/18)

    • Pakistan’s air force shot down unmanned Iranian drone close to Pakistani-Iranian border. (AP, 6/21)


    Israel

    • Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.

      • “This doesn’t mean there are states that might intervene directly. But this could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate - from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” (Reuters, 6/23)

    • Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk said U.S. would not let Iranian proxies threaten Israel from Golan Heights. (Jerusalem Post, 6/22)

    • Israeli media quoted security sources saying Iran’s ballistic missile strikes were “a flop.”

      • “This is what they have to show for 30 years of missile development? Even Hezbollah can do better.” (Times of Israel, 6/19)

    • Hundreds of thousands of Iranians attended anti-Israel rallies across country for Al-Quds Day.

      • One rally also inaugurated digital countdown display in Tehran Palestine Square, showing that Israel would allegedly cease to exist in 8,411 days (by 2040). (Times of Israel, 6/23) (Reuters, 6/23)

      • For Al-Quds Day, Khamenei tweeted: “There is no doubt that we will witness the demise of the Zionist entity.” (Jerusalem Post, 6/22)

  • June 10-16, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission approved second biannual report on implementation of JCPOA. (Tasnim News, 6/15)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union, a single market of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia set up in 2015, aims to finalize free-trade deal with Iran by end of year. (FT, 5/29)

    Iranian domestic politics

    •  Iran arrested 43 people in connection with Tehran terrorist attacks. (Reuters, 6/11)

      • Iranian intelligence operatives also hunted down and killed “mastermind” of attacks after he fled the country. His identity was not released.

      • Iran identified one out of the five attackers, Serias Sadeghi, as an Iranian Kurd. Security sources believe three of other four were also Iranian Kurds. (NYT, 6/11)

    • Iranian police killed four ISIS-linked individuals in southern Iran.

      • Out of the four, two gunmen were foreigners. Police confiscated an ISIS flag, four machine guns, bullets, and some explosives. (AP, 6/12)

    • Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said Iranian forces killed two suspected members of Ansar al-Furqan, a militant Sunni group, and arrested five other members.

    • 22 people died after fighting between rival tribesmen in southern Iran. (Reuters, 6/10)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Senate voted nearly unanimously to impose new sanctions on Iran. Bill would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. It would also apply terrorism sanctions to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and enforce an arms embargo.

      • To become law, legislation must pass the House and be signed by Trump. (Reuters, 6/15) (AP, 6/15)

      • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei’s senior adviser Ali Akbar Velayati said: “The U.S. Senate’s move is unquestionably in breach of both the spirit and the letter of the nuclear deal.”

        • “The Iranian committee tasked with monitoring the accord will certainly examine the congressional move and come up with a decent response.” (Reuters, 6/16)

    • U.S. federal prosecutors charged two American citizens, Ali Kourani and Samer El Debek, with providing material support to Iran-backed Hezbollah. They are accused of helping Hezbollah prepare potential attacks in America and Panama.

    • Iran’s Aseman Airlines finalized $3 billion contract, at list prices, to purchase 60 planes from Boeing. First batch will consist of 30 737 planes and will first be delivered in 2022.

      • Aseman will have option to purchase 30 additional planes. (Bloomberg, 6/11)

    • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to House Foreign Relations Committee about U.S. policy towards Iran. His remarks sparked controversy.

      • “Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop, obviously, nuclear weapons and work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to remarks by tweeting: “Before reverting to unlawful & delusional regime-change policy towards #Iran, US Administration should study and learn from history….For their own sake, US officials should worry more about saving their own regime than changing Iran’s, where 75% of people just voted.” (Twitter, 6/15)

    • Iranian Navy vessel shined laser at U.S. Marine CH-53E helicopter flying over Strait of Hormuz. Vessel also turned its spotlight on two Navy ships, USS Bataan and USS Cole, that were moving through the strait. (AP, 6/14) (WSJ, 6/14)

    • Khamenei said JCPOA negotiations were “detrimental” for Iran. Some analysts believe he is sending message to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that he should not enter into new talks with U.S.

      • “Our government could have distrusted the enemy, but it acquiesced in some cases and for some reason - for instance to give the United States an excuse - however, no excuses were yielded and it was detrimental for us.” (Al-Monitor, 6/13)

    • San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked President Trump from enforcing executive order seeking to temporarily ban travel to U.S. for people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. (WSJ, 6/12)

    • Zarif said Trump administration would end up abiding by JCPOA.

      • “Unfortunately the behaviour from the new administration in Washington is not very promising. We believe that at the end of the day they will find it necessary to abide by the deal.” (Reuters, 6/12)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Zarif claimed Tehran has “intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups” in Iran’s southeast and west.

      • Zarif also encouraged establishment of regional forum to resolve differences.

        • “It is absolutely imperative for our region not to only to resolve this particular conflict or dispute between our southern neighbours in the Persian Gulf through dialogue but in fact establish a permanent mechanism for consultation, conversation and conflict resolution in our region.”

      • Similarly, IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari said Iran had “precise information” that Saudi Arabia “has asked terrorists to carry out operations in Iran.” (Reuters, 6/13) (NYT, 6/13)

    • Amid concerns of shortages, Iran has been sending cargo planes of food to Qatar.

      • Iran also opened its airspace for Qatari flights that used to use Saudi, Emirati, and Bahraini airspace. (Reuters, 6/11) (WSJ, 6/11)

    • United National technical experts joined officials from Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Moscow for preliminary talks on setting GPS coordinates for Syrian de-escalation zones. (Reuters, 6/15)

    • Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi said Iran’s support to Shi’ite groups in Iraq is obstructing efforts to bridge sectarian divide ahead of parliamentary election next year.

      • “We don’t want an election based on sectarianism, we want an inclusive political process...we hope that the Iraqis would choose themselves without any involvement by any foreign power.” (Reuters, 6/16)


    “Red lines,” “points of no return,” and military strikes

    • Last week, Syrian government-allied forces released statement that warned its “self-restraint” over U.S. air strikes would end if U.S. crossed “red lines.” Statement followed growing tensions in southeastern Syria over last few weeks.

      • “This will not last if America goes further, and crosses the red lines.” (Reuters, 6/7)

  • May 25-June 9, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency released quarterly report on Iran’s compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified JCPOA into international law.

      • Report indicated Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium and heavy water is under JCPOA limit. However, heavy water stock is barely below limit. (isis-online.org, 6/2) (Reuters, 6/2)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union, a single market of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia set up in 2015, aims to finalize free-trade deal with Iran by end of year. (FT, 5/29)

    Iranian domestic politics

    • In Tehran, five individuals attacked parliament building and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founding father of revolution, leaving 17 dead and over 40 wounded. Terrorist attack was the first claimed by ISIS in Iran. Five individuals believed to be planning third attack, and another woman, were detained. 

      • Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said the five attackers previously fought for ISIS.

      • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) blamed Saudi Arabia, and U.S.

        • “This terrorist action, coming one week after the meeting of the president of the United States with the leader of the one of the region’s reactionary governments (Saudi Arabia)...shows they are involved in this savage action.” (Al-Monitor, 6/8) (AP, 6/8) (NYT, 6/7)

    • IRGC Airspace Division head Amirali Hajizadeh said Iran had built third underground ballistic missile production factory and would continue developing its missile program. (Reuters, 5/25)

    • Iranian Guardian Council certified President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election as fair. Defeated presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi had previously alleged that voter fraud occurred and asked for investigation into matter.

      • Raisi: “I ask the Guardian Council and the judiciary not to let the people’s rights get trampled. If this vote-tampering is not looked into, then the people’s trust will be damaged.” (Reuters, 5/30) (Reuters, 5/29)


    US-Iran relations

    • American F-15E fighter shot down “pro-Syria regime” drone, which appeared to be Iranian-made, after it attacked U.S.-backed fighters by an American training facility near border in southern Syria. Earlier in week, U.S. launched two airstrikes against Iran-backed fighters in same area after they posed threat to U.S. and U.S.-backed fighters.

      • U.S. military increased its combat power at facility to prepare for aggression by pro-regime and Iran-backed militias, which have been massing forces in area. (New York Times, 6/8) (Military Times, 6/1)

    • U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile development, arms transfers, support for Islamist militant groups, and human rights violations. This cleared way for later vote on bill’s passage. (Reuters, 6/7)

      • Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed bill in late May after making several changes advocated by former Obama administration officials. (Al-Monitor, 5/25)

    • U.S. State Department condemned Tehran terrorist attack; however, President Trump’s statement on the attack caused controversy.

      • Trump: “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran….We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”

      • Zarif responded by tweeting: “Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship.” (NYT, 6/7) (whitehouse.gov, 6/7)

    • Manhattan federal court began trial to decide fate of office tower built for shah of Iran, which U.S. government is trying to seize for benefit of people who have won terrorism-related court judgments against Iran.

      • U.S. claims Alavi Foundation, owner of tower, knowingly acted on behalf of Iran’s government, which violated U.S. sanctions. (Reuters, 5/30) (AP, 5/30)

    • Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin said his department was reviewing licenses for Boeing and Airbus to sell aircraft to Iran. (Reuters, 5/24)

    • Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) wrote letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis urging them to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military presence in Syria.

      • “A permanent Iranian military base in Syria, potentially near the border with Israel or Jordan, would increase Iran’s operational capacity to inflict serious damage against two of our closest allies in the region.” (Roskam.house.gov, 5/25)

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei criticized Trump and Saudi Arabia.

      • “The U.S. president stands alongside the leaders of a tribal and backward system and does the sword dance, but criticizes an Iranian election with 40 million votes. Even with a multi-billion dollar bribe to America, the Saudis cannot achieve their goals in the region.” (Reuters, 6/4)

    • During CBS interview, Mattis criticized Iran for its destabilizing behavior in Middle East.

      • “wherever there are challenges, wherever there is chaos, wherever there is violence, whether it be in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, the attempts to unsettle Bahrain. We always find Iran and the IRGC at it.” (CBS News, 5/29)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar over alleged support for Iran and Islamists groups, including Muslim Brotherhood. The countries also listed as terrorists 59 people and a dozen organizations linked to Qatar, including prominent businessmen, politicians and royalty. Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government, and the Maldives also cut relations with Qatar, while Turkey and Iran sided with Qatar. Qatar vowed to ride out isolation and said it would not compromise its sovereignty over foreign policy. 

      • U.S. government has sent mixed signals. Tillerson called for “calm and thoughtful dialogue” to de-escalate conflict, while Trump criticized Qatar’s terrorism funding. Earlier in week, Trump offered to help resolve crisis, including through White House meeting. (Reuters, 6/9) (Reuters, 6/9) (NYT, 6/5) (AP, 6/5)

      • CNN reported U.S. investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted fake news report that contributed to crisis. (CNN, 6/7)

      • Financial Times reported decision was also influenced by Qatar paying up to $1 billion to release kidnapped falconry party, which included royal family members, from Iraq. (Financial Times, 6/5)

    • Iran-backed militias, and other pro-Syrian regime forces, are pushing towards Iraq-Syria border in attempt to open overland supply route between the two countries. This critical route would help cement Iran’s position in both countries. 

      • U.S. and its allies have been trying to prevent route with their presence. They have also been sending more arms to Syrian rebels. (Reuters, 6/6) (Reuters, 5/30)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote op-ed in NYT criticizing Saudi Arabia and U.S. actions in Middle East and offering potential solutions.

      • “In this vein, the United States and its allies face two choices. They can continue to lend moral and material support, and encourage the perpetrators to intensify their war efforts….Or, as Iran has stated from the start, these governments can focus on helping to forge inclusive political solutions with the participation of all the political groups involved.” (NYT, 5/26)

    • IRGC commander Shaaban Nassiri was killed fighting ISIS in Mosul. This was first time Iran announced death of senior commander during Mosul operations. (Reuters, 5/27)

    • Turkey said it plans to build walls along its border with Iraq and Iran, similar to wall currently being erected along frontier with Syria. (AP, 6/1)


    Israel

    • Asharq al-Awsat reported that Iran has agreed, in principle, to renew its funding for Hamas. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is planning on visiting Tehran soon.

      • Development comes after freeze in relations that occurred when Hamas refused to support Assad regime and side with Iran over Saudi Arabia. (Times of Israel, 5/30)

  • May 20-24, 2017


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran and Spanish-Iranian consortium signed deal worth $615 million where consortium will produce pipes for Iran’s oil industry. (AP, 5/24)

    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani decisively won re-election with 57% of the vote. His main challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, received 38.5% of the vote. Some Iranians took to the streets to celebrate by playing music and dancing, ignoring a ban on such gatherings.
      • In victory speech, Rouhani said: “Our nation’s message in the election was clear: Iran’s nation chose the path of interaction with the world, away from violence and extremism.” (Reuters, 5/21)

        o   In letter to Guardian Council, defeated candidate Raisi called for “the investigation of certain violations committed before and during the election.” (AFP, 5/22)

    • Rouhani said Iran would continue to advance its ballistic missile program.

      • “The Iranian nation has decided to be powerful. Our missiles are for peace and for defense...American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission.” (Reuters, 5/22)

    • Reformist candidates swept municipal elections in Tehran, taking all 21 council seats.

      • This is first time reformists have gained total control of Tehran’s municipal council since such votes began in 1999.

      • Tehran’s mayor, and former presidential candidate, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, will likely be removed in coming months.

      • Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, son of late former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, came in first place among council candidates. (AP, 5/22)

    • Rouhani discussed his recent campaign promise to lift non-nuclear sanctions. 

      • "If the [Iranian] nation wants the sanctions to be lifted, and if everyone comes to the field, and if the [Supreme] Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] takes the responsibility of leading this [issue], we will all stand behind the supreme leader. [Achieving] the [lifting of non-nuclear sanctions] is difficult but it is possible.” (Al-Monitor, 5/22)


    US-Iran relations

    • During visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump gave strong-worded speech that singled out Iran.

      • “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran…and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

      • Iran is “a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

        • Rouhani called Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia “just a show” and declared that it would not “have any political and practical value.” (NYT, 5/22)

        • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded by tweeting: “Iran - fresh from real elections - attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?” (Financial Times, 5/21) (WSJ, 5/21)

    • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also criticized Iran during visit to Saudi Arabia.

      • “What we hope - what I would hope - is that Rouhani now has a new term, and that he use that term to begin a process of dismantling Iran’s network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of the terrorist network, dismantling of the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region. That’s what we hope he does.”

        • “I’m not going to comment on my expectation. But we hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do.”

        • “Well, in terms of whether I’d ever pick the phone up, I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation. At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although, in all likelihood, we will talk at the right time.” (State.gov, 5/20) (State.gov, 5/20)

    • In response to Trump’s Saudi Arabia visit, Rouhani criticized U.S. approach to Iran.

      • “Americans resorted to many different methods against Iran but failed in all...We are waiting for the new U.S. administration to find stability and continuity in its policies.”

      • “The problem is that the Americans do not know our region and those who advise U.S. officials are misleading them.” (Reuters, 5/22)

    • Iran sanctioned nine more U.S.-linked businesses, organizations, and people in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on its ballistic missile program.

      • Sanctioned organizations include Booz Allen Hamilton, shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, cyber-security firm Kingfisher Systems, and DynCorp International. (AP, 5/20)

    • During Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart testified that Iran was adhering to JCPOA, but acting to destabilize region. (Bloomberg, 5/23)

      • Stewart: “Iran is engaged in the region’s conflicts to further its security goals and expand its influence with neighboring countries. To that end, Iran remains committed to modernizing its military; building the capacity of its partners across the region, including designated terrorist organizations; and forging new partnerships, while balancing a desire to gain from its reintegration into the global economic system.” (armed-services.senate.gov, 5/23)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • During Trump’s visit, Saudi Arabian King Salman also gave speech that singled out Iran.

      • “Our responsibility before God and our people and the whole world is to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism wherever they are...The Iranian regime represents the tip of the spear of global terrorism.” (Reuters, 5/21)

        • Rouhani responded by saying: “Buying arms or building weapons won’t make a country powerful. Military power is only a part of strength and we are fully aware of that. But the foundation of power is national strength and this only happens through elections.”(Reuters, 5/22)

    • During remarks with Tillerson, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also discussed Iran.

      • “So if Iran wants to be a normal country and wants others to treat it like a normal country, it has to act in accord with international law and the values and the morals of the international system that have existed for centuries…We welcome an Iran that doesn’t interfere in the affairs of other countries. But this is not the Iran we see.” (State.gov, 5/20)

    • German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “In many conflicts in the region Iran plays a difficult role, especially in Iraq and Syria.”

      • “The message must be that we are ready to work with the new government but we expect Iran to behave responsibly in the region, to support not terror but the politics of peace.” (Reuters, 5/22)

    • In response to deadly clashes between Bahraini citizens and security forces, Zarif tweeted: “First concrete result of POTUS cozying up to despots in Riyadh: Deadly attack on peaceful protesters by emboldened Bahrain regime. Google it.” (Twitter, 5/23)

    • United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted about Rouhani’s election: “With Pres(ident) Rouhani’s re-election, one hopes Iran reset its troubled relations with neighbors. Let Tehran not squander another opportunity.” (Reuters, 5/21)

      • Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah congratulated Rouhani on his re-election. (Reuters, 5/21)


    Israel

    • During Trump’s visit to Israel, Trump and Netanyahu criticized Iran, its regional behavior, and JCPOA. 

      • Trump: “The United States is firmly committed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias. So we are telling you right now that Iran will not have nuclear weapons.”

      • Netanyahu cited Iran as unifying force, saying “common dangers are turning former enemies into partners.” He also said he appreciated the changes in American policy on Iran.

        • Trump: “We must take advantage of the situation. There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran.”

        • Trump also urged Iran to cease “its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias.” (Washington Times, 5/22) (Reuters, 5/22)

  • May 13-19, 2017

     


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran Air received four ATR 72-600s passenger planes. This is first installment of deal to purchase 20 planes. (AP, 5/17)

    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran held presidential elections on May 19. President Hassan Rouhani won re-election. Voting breakdown to follow. 
      • Former President Mohammad Khatami and opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, all reformists, backed Rouhani. (Reuters, 5/14) (AP, 5/17) (Reuters, 5/15)
      • Iran held third, and final, presidential debate last Friday. Debate was supposed to focus on economic issues. (Tasnim News, 5/12)
        • Rouhani accused Iranian security institutions of diverting public funds to Raisi’s campaign and busing people to his campaign events. (AP, 5/12)
        • Qalibaf accused Rouhani and Jahangiri of receiving highly subsidized properties from the government, while Raisi claimed that Rouhani blocked legal probe into corruption charges against his relatives. (AP, 5/12)
    • In the third debate and in several rallies, Rouhani criticized conservatives on the economy and social issues. He also warned Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and its corresponding Basij forces, not to meddle in election.
      • “I am surprised. Those of you who talk about freedom of speech these days...(you are) those who cut out tongues and sewed mouths shut.” (Reuters, 5/17) (Reuters, 5/12)
    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei signaled he was displeased with tense campaign rhetoric.
      • “In the election debates, some remarks were made that were unworthy of the Iranian nation. But the (wide) participation of the people will erase all of that.” (Reuters, 5/17)

    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. airstrike hit convoy of Iranian-backed militias that were heading toward al-Tanf base in southern Syria. U.S. special forces are based at al-Tanf base.

      • U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said attack was necessitated “by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were…Iranian-directed forces inside an established and agreed-upon deconfliction zone.” (Washington Post, 5/19) (Reuters, 5/18) (The Guardian, 5/19)

    • Trump administration waived nuclear-relations sanctions on Iran in accordance to JCPOA. NDAA waiver was set to expire May 18. (Reuters, 4/17) (Al-Monitor, 5/17)

    • After signing waiver, U.S. sanctioned two Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company, and members of China-based network for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program. (Reuters, 5/17) (Treasury.gov, 5/17) (Treasury.gov, 5/17)

    • U.S. State Department released semi-annual report to Congress detailing sanctions imposed on persons involved in human rights abuses in Iran. (State.gov, 5/17) (State.gov, 5/17)

    • U.S. lawmakers passed bipartisan bill that cracks down on financial supporters of Assad’s government, including Russia and Iran. Bill was sent to Senate for approval.

      • Bill requires Trump to sanction countries or companies that do business with or provide financing to Syria’s government or to Syria’s central bank. (AP, 5/17)

    • White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer blamed Iran and Russia for actions of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

      • He also said that U.S. “remains open to working together with both Russia and Iran to find a solution that leads to a stable and united Syria. But in order for us to work together to bring an end to the violence in Syria, Russia and Iran need to acknowledge the atrocities of the Assad regime and use their influence to stop them.” (Al-Monitor, 5/15)

    • NYT reported that computer security experts discovered that recent Iranian cyberattack used tool set developed by known Russian hacker-for-hire. Experts say this is first time they have seen attack where Iranian hackers worked with Russian hackers-for-hire. (NYT, 5/15)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • The Guardian reported that Iran changed the course of land corridor that it aims to carve to Mediterranean coast after officials feared growing U.S. military presence made its original path unviable. (The Guardian, 5/16)

    • Saudi Arabia sent letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres and president of UN Security Council claiming Iran violated international law.

      • Letter was response to recent Iranian letter to UN Security Council. (Al Arabiya, 5/17)


    Israel

    • Khamenei urged voters to head to polls to send message to U.S. and its allies, including “pathetic prime minister of the Zionist regime.” (AP, 5/17)

  • May 6-12, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Last Friday, during Iran’s second presidential debate, President Hassan Rouhani discussed JCPOA and accused his opponents of trying to derail it during negotiations. However, all candidates at debate committed to uphold nuclear deal if they were elected.

      • Rouhani: “When (U.S. President Donald) Trump took office you were celebrating because he said he would tear up the deal. Today people should know whether sanctions and confrontation are coming back or not.”

      • Ebrahim Raisi: “Any administration that comes to power should be committed to the JCPOA….The nuclear deal, despite its shortcomings, is a national document.” (AFP, 5/6) (Reuters, 5/5) (Washington Post, 5/5)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said $55 a barrel was suitable price for crude oil. (Reuters, 5/6)

    • Iran is buying “essential equipment” to avert possible disruption in output at offshore South Pars deposit in case U.S. imposes additional sanctions on Iran. (Bloomberg, 5/7)

    • France’s construction company Vinci SA signed contract with Iran’s Kayson Inc. to invest in development of two Iranian airports. (Financial Tribune, 4/30)

    • Italy’s car design firm Pininfarina signed contract with Iran Khodro to provide Khodro with automotive technology platform. (Tasnim News, 5/9)

    • South Africa’s MTN Group agreed to invest more than $295 million in Iranian Net, fixed line broadband network, in which it is to buy an initial 49% stake.

      • This is second agreement for MTN Group in Iran this year. (Reuters, 5/8)

    • Indian media reported that India signed contract to import Iran’s liquefied petroleum gas for first time. (PressTV, 5/11)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran test-fired high-speed torpedo near Strait of Hormuz. (NBC News, 5/8)

    • During second debate, presidential candidates focused on economy and foreign policy. In surprising moment, Rouhani criticized the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp.

      • “We saw how they wrote slogans on missiles and showed underground (missile) cities to disrupt the JCPOA (nuclear deal).”

        • He seemed to be referring to missiles stamped with anti-Israel messages.

      • Armed Forces spokesman responded: “We again stress and recommend the presidential candidates to avoid controversial entries into important and sensitive military and defense issues of the country and giving false information to people.” (AFP, 5/6) (Washington Post, 5/5) (Haaretz and Reuters, 5/9)

    • While campaigning, Rouhani used unusually harsh language to label his conservative opponents “extremists,” criticize authorities for detaining reformist leaders, and question whether charitable foundation managed by Raisi, Astan Quds Razavi charity, paid taxes.

    • In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei called on candidates to avoid “immoral” outbursts that could damage Iran. (Bloomberg, 5/10)

    • Rouhani visited site of last week’s deadly coal mine explosion to offer his condolences, but his car was besieged by angry miners in surprisingly tense confrontation. (AP, 5/7)

      • Death toll increased to 43 miners. (AFP, 5/9)


    US-Iran relations

    • President Trump called on Russia to rein in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally Iran, and its proxies, during meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (AFP, 5/10)

      • White House statement: “Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies.” (Reuters, 5/10)

    • National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said U.S. sees Iran working to maintain JCPOA. (AP, 5/11)

    • Citing 4/24 Politico article, Republican leaders of House oversight committee launched investigation into whether Obama administration undermined U.S. counterproliferation efforts to win support for JCPOA and prisoner swap with Iran.

      • 13 Republican senators also asked Trump administration for broad array of documents in order to obtain answers about whether Obama administration jeopardized U.S. national security as result of negotiations with Tehran and misled the American public. (Politico, 5/5) (Isakson.senate.gov, 5/5)

    • Iranian media reported that American oil company, Pall Corporation, will export filtration technology to Iran and also invest in its oil equipment production.

    • Presidential candidate, Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, criticized Trump’s Iran approach.

      • “Trump is creating a climate of tension. If he creates problems, Iran has the means to make him regret it.”

      • Jahangiri also said that if Trump doesn’t extend sanctions waivers, “it will be a major blow to the nuclear deal.” (AFP, 5/10)

    • During speech, Khamenei seemed to refer to American billionaire investor George Soros.

      • "That rich American Zionist who said that he toppled Georgia with $10 million started to think he could do the same to Iran in 2009.” (Al-Monitor, 5/11)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Top Russian general, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, said Iranian troops will join Turkey and Russia in securing “safe zones” in Syria. Syrian rebel groups oppose Iranian role. (Bloomberg, 5/5)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan threatened Saudi Arabia that in a conflict between the two countries, nothing would be “left in Saudi Arabia except Mecca and Medina.” (BICOM, 5/9)

      • Dehghan also said: “Today, what we’re seeing is Saudi Arabia has become so miserable. So much so that it has convinced itself to curry favor with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and incite it (the Israeli regime) against us.” (PressTV, 5/9)

    • Iran conveyed to Pakistan that its soldiers would attack “terrorists wherever they are,” hinting that they would be willing to cross into Pakistan to target militants. (AP, 5/8)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry said Turkey “informally informed” Iran of its plan to construct Iran-Turkey border wall. (Tehran Times, 5/9)


    Israel

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Syrian “safe zones.” Senior official said Netanyahu did not voice opposition, but emphasized that zones cannot allow Iran or Hezbollah to set up near its border. (Haaretz, 5/11)

      • Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Iran’s potential role in enforcing “safe zones” in southern Syria raised concerns for Israel.

        • Israel “would want to make sure, as these zones are proposed, that their security concerns are going to be addressed.” (Stars and Stripes, 5/9)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif congratulated new Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on his election. (ISNA, 5/10) (PressTV, 5/10)

    • While campaigning, Rouhani referred to Israel by criticizing approach of hardliners.

      • “Every time you chanted a slogan, Israel received 3 billion dollars more from the US for strengthening its military power.” (Al-Monitor, 5/9)

  • April 29-May 5, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issues

    • European Union (EU) delegation of EU experts and officials, and more than 50 European countries, visited Tehran in show of support for JCPOA and Iran’s economy.

      • In joint briefing with Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, EU Energy Chief Miguel Arias Canete said: “It is delivering for all sides and the European Union fully stands behind it…we expect all sides to respect the deal.” (WSJ, 4/30) (Reuters, 4/30)

      • Salehi also confirmed Iran and EU will soon start construction on advanced nuclear safety center in Iran. (PressTV, 4/29)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran is in talks with UK Export Finance, U.K.’s export credit agency, to facilitate financing of aircraft sales to Iran Air. (Reuters, 5/4)

    • France’s Bouygues cancelled preliminary deal signed last year to build and run new terminal in Tehran’s Khomeini airport. (Reuters, 5/5)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran’s first televised presidential debate was contentious, with candidates lobbying accusations at each other. Debate was supposed to focus on social issues, but quickly shifted to economic issues, including inequality and unemployment. (Al-Monitor, 4/30)

      • Some analysts felt that Tehran’s mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, not Ebrahim Raisi, emerged as President Hassan Rouhani’s key challenger. (Bloomberg, 4/30) (Washington Post, 4/29)

      • Three candidates, or candidate surrogates, filed complaints with Iran’s Election Campaign Monitoring Committee regarding first debate. (PressTV, 4/30)

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei hinted that Rouhani’s policy of détente with West did not reduce threat of war.

      • “Some say since they took office the shadow of war has been faded away. This is not correct… It’s been people’s presence in the political scene that has removed the shadow of war from the country.”

      • Rouhani defended JCPOA by saying it “was a national achievement. We should make use of its advantages. But some have started a fight over it.” (Reuters, 4/30)

    • Rouhani said Iranians could face old “security and police atmosphere” if he is not re-elected.

      • “Iranians will prove to the world at the May 19 election that the era of violence, extremism and pressures in our country is over and Iran is pursuing the path of reason.” (Reuters, 4/29)

    • Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, banned by Iran’s judiciary from speaking publicly, defied ban to endorse Rouhani on his website. (Washington Post, 5/3)

    • Former mayor of Tehran, Hossein Karbaschi, was indicted for “insulting the martyrs of the defenders of the shrine” after criticizing Iran’s approach to Syrian civil war. (Al-Monitor, 5/4)

    • Explosion in coal mine in northern Iran killed at least 35 workers. (Reuters, 5/3)


    US-Iran relations

    • Fox News reported that Iran attempted to launch cruise missile from Iranian Yono-class “midget” submarine in Strait of Hormuz, but that the test failed. (Fox News, 5/3)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he believed President Trump would extend sanctions waivers laid out in JCPOA. (Tehran Times, 5/2)

      • Separately, Zarif blamed U.S. for foreign banks not wanting to conduct transactions with Iran. He pointed to U.S. sanctions as proof.

        • “Unfortunately these measures, especially the remarks made by the new American administration, have made international banking environment very uncertain and made foreign banks wary of conducting transactions with Iran.” (PressTV, 4/29)

    • U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced “Mahan Airlines and Terrorism Prevention Act,” which requires Department of Homeland Security to report on airports at which Mahan Air operates, and provide recommendations for increased security measures. (Washington Free Beacon, 5/4)

    • U.S. district judge said he wanted to know whether Iran employs any lawyers for Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is accused of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

      • Zarrrab’s legal team includes former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. (Reuters, 5/1)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Russia, Turkey, and Iran signed agreement to create four “de-escalation zones” in Syria. Agreement will go into effect at midnight on Saturday. Media reports suggest U.S. and allied aircraft would be banned from flying over much of Syria.

      • Zones are temporary measure that will last for six months, but may be extended by consensus. Russia said additional countries may play role in securing zones.

      • Basic details will be discussed at further meetings, including who would monitor zones and how zones would be demarcated. Borders will be established by June 4. (FT, 4/5) (WSJ, 5/4) (NYT, 5/5)

    • Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of seeking to control Muslim world and hinted there would be no rapprochement. (Bloomberg, 5/2)

      • “We know that the aim of the Iranian regime is to reach the focal point of Muslims (Mecca) and we will not wait until the fight is inside Saudi Arabia and we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.” (Reuters, 5/2)

      • Iran responded with formal protest letter to U.N. Security Council and U.N. Secretary General António Guterres claiming remarks violated U.N. charter.

        • “I wish to underline that his statement reflects an unveiled threat against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” (NYT, 5/4)

        • “We continue to stand ready for dialogue and accommodation to promote regional stability, combat destabilizing extremist violence and reject sectarian hatred.” (Reuters, 5/4)

    • Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said Iran and Israel were main beneficiaries of turmoil across Arab world, which he described as the worst he has ever seen.

      • “Iran is enjoying what the Arab world is going through. There are those in Iran who are watching and waiting for us to destroy ourselves.” (AFP, 5/1)

    • Iranian owner of leading Farsi-language satellite television network Gem TV, Saeed Karimian, was shot dead in Istanbul. Motive is unclear, although it might be linked to financial disputes. Gem TV is based in Dubai.

      • Karimian was sentenced to six-year prison term in Iran months ago, in absentia, for spreading “propaganda.” (VOA News, 4/30) (NYT, 4/30)

    • Turkish authorities arrested Iranian national who they say tried to smuggle in parts of Russian-made anti-tank missile system with suspected aim of delivering them to terror organization. (AP, 4/30)

  • April 22-28, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Joint Commission held its regular quarterly meeting on JCPOA in Vienna. It was first meeting since President Trump’s inauguration.

      • One issue discussed was Iran’s request to purchase 950 tonnes of concentrated uranium, known as yellowcake. (PressTV, 4/25)

    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi met with Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano. (PressTV, 4/24)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Saudi Arabia is losing market share to Iraq and Iran as result of OPEC’s agreement to increase oil prices. (Bloomberg, 4/26)

    • Petroleum Minister Deputy for International and Commercial Affairs Amir Hossein Zamani-Nia said Germany’s Linde is interested in direct investment in Iran’s petrochemical industry. (IRNA, 4/24)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran held first of three live televised debates ahead of election. Each of three-hour debates will focus on social, economic, and political issues.  (AP, 4/28) (PressTV, 4/28)

      • LB: It was previously reported that debates would not be live, but that does not seem to be the case. 

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei said all presidential candidates needed to “promise the people that in order for the country to progress, for economic growth and to untie the knots, their eyes won’t be set outside our borders but on the nation itself.” (Bloomberg, 4/25)

      • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended international economic engagement.

        • “We should avoid scaring away foreign and domestic investors ... we can attract 140 billion dollars of investment that can help to tackle unemployment.” (Reuters, 4/27)

    • Iran’s Supreme Court upheld 5-year prison sentence for British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (Reuters, 4/24)

    • Ten Iranian border guards were killed by Sunni militants from Jaish al Adl group in cross-border attack on Pakistani border. (Reuters, 4/26)


    US-Iran relations

    • When asked whether U.S. would stay in JCPOA during AP interview, Trump said: “It’s possible that we won’t.”

      • “I believe they have broken the spirit of the agreement.” (AP, 4/23)

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “We’ll see if US prepared to live up to letter of #JCPOA let alone spirit. So far, it has defied both.”

    • U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Mahan, fired warning flare toward Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp vessel that came near it in Persian Gulf.

      • Zarif tweeted: “Breaking: Our Navy operates in — yes, correct — the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home.” (AP, 4/26)

    • Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said U.S. diplomats pressed Iranian counterparts to seek release of detained Americans on Vienna meeting sidelines. (AP, 4/27

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head Ali Akbar Salehi said U.S. will be explicitly violating JCPOA if it refuses to extend suspension of nuclear-related sanctions.

      • “Mr. Trump is currently making loud statements; and it is not clear what decision he wants to take. [But] he has to suspend the sanctions statute once again on May 19. If he doesn’t, an explicit non-performance of the JCPOA will have occurred; everyone agrees about that.” (PressTV, 4/25)

    • NYT reported that Department of Treasury sent administrative subpoena to China’s Huawei Technologies in December 2016. U.S. officials are reportedly widening investigation into whether company broke trade controls on Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Syria.

      • No indication that company is currently part of criminal investigation.

      • Another subpoena was sent to Huawei last summer from Department of Commerce. (NYT, 4/26)

    • Department of Justice announced that Singapore citizen, Lim Yong Nam, was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in conspiracy that caused thousands of radio frequency modules to be illegally exported from U.S. to Iran.

    • WSJ reported that Trump told aides to toughen Department of State letter last week that declared Iran in compliance with JCPOA.  (WSJ, 4/25)

    • Iran Air will not take early delivery of Boeing 777-300ER jetliner like some reports suggested earlier this month. (Reuters, 4/27)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Defense, interior, and foreign ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council countries met in Riyadh to discuss regional security and formulate unified voice against Iran.

      • Post-meeting joint statement emphasized countries’ determination to prevent “external interference” in their internal affairs and “efforts to undermine national security and provoke sectarian strife.” (ABC News, 4/27)

    • United Arab Emirates court sentenced Iranian businessman to 10 years in prison after being convicted of trying to bring electric motor and other devices there to further Iran’s nuclear program. (AP, 4/26)

    • During press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Iran of interfering in region. (PressTV, 4/26)

    • Last week, falcon hunting party consisting of Qatari royal family members was released by Kita’ib Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militia tied to Iran. Qataris paid millions for release.

      • Release was tied to broader deal involving Syrian population swaps. (NYT, 4/21)


    Israel

    • Israeli warplanes struck weapons supply hub operated by Hezbollah near Damascus International Airport. Strikes reportedly targeted arms sent from Iran in commercial and military cargo aircraft. Later, Israel said one of its Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries intercepted unmanned drone over Golan Heights.

      • Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz suggested Israeli involvement by saying: “The incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah.”

      • Russia and Iran both criticized Israeli strike. (Reuters, 4/27)

    • Katz said Israel is seeking an “understanding” with Trump administration that Iran must not be allowed to establish permanent foothold in Syria.

      • “I want to achieve an understanding, an agreement between the U.S. and Israel ... not to let Iran have permanent military forces in Syria, by air, by land, by sea.”

      • He also said he used meeting with White House officials and key lawmakers to press for further sanctions on Iran and Hezbollah. (Reuters, 4/26)

    • During Moscow visit to meet with Russian foreign and defense ministers one day before Israeli strike in Syria, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel “will not allow Iranian and Hezbollah forces to be amassed on the Golan Heights border.”

      • Defense Ministry statement: “Defense Minister Lieberman expressed concern over Iranian activity in Syria and the Iranian use of Syrian soil as a base for arms smuggling to Hezbollah in Lebanon.” (Haaretz, 4/28) (Times of Israel, 4/26)

    • In highly unusual announcement, Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said Israel foiled large cyberattack. Iran is believed to have directed attack. (Haaretz, 4/26)

      • Iran was not explicitly named, but cybersecurity experts claimed hacking group known as OilRig, which has been tracked to Iran, was responsible. (Haaretz, 4/27)

    • Khamenei blamed U.S. and Israel for spearheading hostilities toward Iran.

      • “the creation of terrorist groups in the name of Islam and engendering divisions among Muslim countries…are among the conspiracies devised by the oppressive US and the evil Zionist regime to fight Islam.” (PressTV, 4/25)

  • April 15-21, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian and Chinese companies will sign first commercial contracts to redesign Arak heavy water reactor on Sunday.
      • Reactor will be reconfigured so it cannot yield fissile plutonium usable in nuclear bomb. (Reuters, 4/20)

    • European Union signed first-ever project for nuclear safety cooperation with Iran.

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi criticized U.K. for its role in blocking Iran’s procurement of yellowcake. (PressTV, 4/17)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    •  Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said most oil producers support extension of output cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries, and that Iran would back move. (Reuters, 4/15)

      • Kuwaiti Oil Minister Issam Almarzooq said Iran would probably be allowed to keep its oil production unchanged if cuts are extended. (Bloomberg, 4/19)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran announced approval of six candidates for presidential election on May 19. Candidates are Hassan Rouhani, Ebrahim Raisi, Eshaq Jahangiri, Mostafa Hashemitaba, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Mostafa Mirsalim. (Washington Post, 4/20)

      • Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was runner-up to Rouhani in 2013.

      • First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri is close confidant of Rouhani. Some analysts said he ran in case Rouhani was disqualified. (AFP, 4/15) (FT, 4/16)

    • Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was disqualified from election. (Reuters, 4/20)

    • Iranian Interior Ministry said there would be no live debates this election cycle. (AFP, 4/20)

    • Rouhani said Iran will ask “no one’s permission” to build up its missile capability. (Reuters, 4/15)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan will visit Moscow next week. He will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. (Reuters, 4/18)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified that Iran is complying with JCPOA. However, President Trump ordered interagency review of whether to re-impose sanctions because of Iran’s continued support for terrorism.

      • In letter to House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, Tillerson wrote that review will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions is vital to U.S. national security interests. (Bloomberg, 4/19) (State.gov, 4/18)

      • State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance to JCPOA. This was first notification since Trump took office. (Reuters, 4/19)

    • Trump accused Iran of not living up to “spirit” of JCPOA.

      • “They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that.” (AP, 4/20)

    • Tillerson accused Iran of “alarming ongoing provocations” aimed at destabilizing Middle East and undermining American interests.

      • “The JCPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran; it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state….The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.”

        • “The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach.” (State.gov, 4/19) (Reuters, 4/20)

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded by tweeting: “Worn-out US accusations can't mask its admission of Iran's compliance w/ JCPOA, obligating US to change course & fulfill its own commitments.” (Twitter, 4/20)

    • U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis criticized Iranian behavior in Middle East. He said: “Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.”

      • “right now, what we're seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they can cause.” (Defense.gov, 4/19) (Reuters, 4/19)

    • U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Nikki Haley told Security Council: “If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit, Iran, and its partner militia, Hezbollah.” (Bloomberg, 4/20)

      • “They are working together to expand extremist ideologies in the Middle East. This is a threat that should be dominating our discussion at this Security Council.” (AP, 4/20)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari praised Iran for helping in battle against ISIL. (Tasnim News, 4/20)

      • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Gen. Iraj Masjedi assumed post of ambassador to Iraq. (Reuters, 4/20)

    • In interview with Al Arabiya, spokesman for Arab coalition fighting in support of Yemeni government, Gen. Ahmed Asiri claimed existence of an “Iranian plot to strike the security and stability of Saudi Arabia.” (Al Arabiya, 4/16)

    • The Guardian reported that 26 members of a Qatari royal hunting party held hostage for more than a year in Iraq by Kata’eb Hezbollah, one of IRGC’s main proxies in Iraq, were used to help negotiate population swap in Syria.

      • Deal was finalized in recent days after nearly two years of negotiation between Ahrar al-Sham, a Syrian opposition group, and Iran. (The Guardian, 4/14)


    Israel

    • Israeli Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren wrote op-ed in WSJ arguing Iran is bigger threat than Syria and North Korea combined. (WSJ, 4/14)

    • At annual military parade in Tehran marking country’s National Army Day, Iran displayed many banners with slogan “Death to Israel.” (Times of Israel and AFP, 4/18)

  • April 8-14, 2017


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • French-Italian company, ATR, completed $536 million list price sale with Iran Air for 20 ATR 72-600s, with option to purchase another 20. Total deal value is up to $1 billion.

    • European Union extended human rights sanctions against Iran until April 2018.

      • Extension includes travel ban and asset freeze on 82 Iranians and one entity, as well as ban on exports of equipment for monitoring telecommunications and other gear that “might be used for internal repression.” (Reuters, 4/11)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani registered to run for second four-year term in May presidential election. (Reuters, 4/14)

      • Guardian Council, which oversees elections, will announce list of vetted candidates on April 27. Over 600 candidates have registered to run. (AP, 4/13)

    • In defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also registered. He claimed it was to help former Vice President Hamid Baghaei in the election.

      • “Some people say that the [supreme leader's] advice was meant to completely forbid [me from running], but what the leader said was just advice.” (BBC, 4/12)


    US-Iran relations

    • Foreign ministers from Russia, Syria, and Iran met for trilateral meeting in Moscow. In joint press conference, they condemned U.S. strikes in Syria and warned U.S. against launching further strikes. They also called for probe into last week’s chemical attack. (AP, 4/14) (NYT, 4/14)

    • Rouhani called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and described U.S. strikes as “blatant violation” of Syrian sovereignty. He also criticized Gulf Arab states for supporting U.S. strikes. Khamenei said strikes were “strategic mistake and offense.”

      • Rouhani also called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the matter. (AP, 4/9) (Reuters, 4/10)

      • On U.S. strikes, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan warned: “Americans will have to pay a heavy price if they repeat their action and they must know that their actions will not go unanswered.” (AFP, 4/11)

      • Joint command center made up of forces of Russia, Iran, and militias supporting Assad also released statement: “From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.” (Reuters, 4/9)

    • U.S. Treasury sanctioned Sohrab Soleimani, brother of Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, for committing human rights violations as head of Tehran Prisons Organization. (WSJ, 4/13) (Treasury.gov, 4/13)

    • Iran Air may get its first new Boeing 777-300ER jetliner one year earlier than expected under deal to take jets originally bought by Turkish Airlines. (Reuters, 4/10)

    • Republican lawmakers pushed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to probe actions of unidentified company that ZTE Corp. said also evaded U.S. sanctions on Iran.

      • Company is speculated to be China’s Huawei Technologies Co. (Bloomberg 4/12)

    • Washington Post reported that Iran and Russia have been expanding ties with Taliban in Afghanistan to weaken Western-backed Afghani government.

      • Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson Jr. said Iran and Russia “are communicating about the efforts” to support Taliban insurgents, and that Russia has “become more assertive over the past year.” (Washington Post, 4/12)

    • CIA Director Mike Pompeo said U.S. strikes signaled to Iran that U.S. was prepared to use force to protect American interests. (Washington Free Beacon, 4/13)

    • U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Nikki Haley accused Iran of being Assad’s accomplice and said “Iran is dumping fuel on the flames of this war in Syria so it can expand its own reach.” (Reuters, 4/12)

    • Local chapters of American Civil Liberties Union filed series of lawsuits against U.S. government seeking details on how federal agencies enforced President Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Reuters, 4/12)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • During Moscow visit, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also discussed closer Tehran-Moscow cooperation with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. (PressTV, 4/14)
  • April 1-7, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said regional actors, including Israel, were increasing pressure on U.S. to adopt policies which would force Iran out of JCPOA.

      • “They want to steer the U.S. into adopting policies which leave us with no choice but to contravene it.” (Tehran Times, 4/3)

    • Hungary said it would cooperate with Iran to set up small nuclear reactor for scientific-educational purposes. (PressTV, 4/7)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • BP and Iran’s state-run oil company received license from U.S. Treasury last year to operate their joint gas field in North Sea following lifting of sanctions. (Reuters, 4/6)

    • Iran sold all oil it had stored for years at sea and is now struggling to keep exports growing due to production constraints. (Reuters, 4/6)

    • In escalation of dispute over Farzad B gas field contract, India threatened to cut oil imports from Iran by one fifth, hoping to pressure Tehran into awarding contract to Indian consortium. Iran retaliated by cutting by one third the time it gives Indian refiners to pay for oil and by raising ship freight rates. (Reuters, 4/5) (PressTV, 4/7)

      • Overseas arm of India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp, ONGC Videsh, submitted revised plan to develop Farzad B gas field. (Reuters, 4/4)

    • Russia’s Rosneft hopes to benefit from European court rulings that have allowed some Iranian banks to escape from European Union (EU) sanctions. (Reuters, 4/4)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Ebrahim Raisi will challenge Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in May election. Raisi manages Astan Quds Razavi, an Islamic charity that controls billions of dollars and Iran’s holiest shrine. He is also member of Assembly of Experts, body in charge of appointing Supreme Leader. He is rumored to be front-runner to become next Supreme Leader. (Bloomberg, 4/6)

    • Iran’s hardliners nominated Raisi and four other candidates under new umbrella group called The Islamic Revolution Forces Popular Front. Frontrunner will challenge Rouhani.

      • Alireza Zakani, Mehrdad Bazrpash, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and Parviz Fattah are other four candidates. (FT, 4/6) (Mehr News, 4/6)

    • Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he backed Hamid Baghaie, his former vice president who headed Iran’s tourism board, in May election. (AFP, 4/5)

    • Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said there is “concrete agreement” between Russia and Iran for Iran to purchase 12 Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft.


    US-Iran relations

    • Zarif criticized U.S. strikes on Syrian airbase from which suspected chemical weapons attack was launched. On Twitter, he wrote: “US military fighting on the same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria. Time to stop hype and cover-ups.” (Tasnim News, 4/7)

      • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi made similar statements.

        • Iran “believes it is dangerous, destructive and a violation of international laws to use it as an excuse to take unilateral actions.” (Reuters, 4/7)

    • Boeing announced tentative agreement to sell up to sixty 737 MAX aircraft to Iran’s Aseman Airlines. Deal requires U.S. government approval, and is valued at $6 billion.

      • Aseman intends to buy 30 aircraft for $3 billion, with rights to purchase additional 30. Deliveries would be scheduled to start in 2022.

      • Boeing announced deal to sell Iran Air 80 aircraft last December. (NYT, 4/4) (WSJ, 4/4)

    • Recently introduced U.S. Senate bill to put new sanctions on Iran has been delayed due to concerns about EU reactions and the May Iranian election. (Reuters, 4/4)

    • Rudy Giuliani met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and sought meetings with U.S. government officials in attempt to end U.S. prosecution of Reza Zarrab, who is charged with conspiring to violate sanctions on Iran. (Reuters, 3/31) (NYT, 4/4

    • U.S. Justice Department paid more than $800 million from special compensation fund to hostages held by Iran and victims of embassy bombings and U.S.S. Cole attack.

      • More payments are expected in coming weeks. (AP, 4/6

    • Robin Reza Shahini, Iranian-American detained in Iran last summer, was released on bail. It is unclear whether he will be able to leave Iran. (Reuters, 4/2)

    • Tehran held first international marathon. 28 Americans registered, though many visas did not go through. (AP, 4/7) (Washington Post, 4/7)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said President Trump better understood the Middle East and threats posed by Iran. (Reuters, 4/4)

    • Germany said Russia and Iran carry some responsibility for chemical attack. (Reuters, 4/5)

      • Turkish Foreign Ministry said it reminded Russia and Iran of their responsibilities in preventing violations of Syrian ceasefire chemical attack. (Reuters, 4/5)

    • Iran welcomed holding consultations with Persian Gulf Cooperation Council members. (IRNA, 4/6)

  • March 25-31, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • At United Nations (U.N.) conference to ban nuclear weapons, Iran’s ambassador to U.N. expressed Iranian support for prohibition.

      • “We strongly believe that the most effective way to achieve and sustain the abolition of nuclear weapons is to negotiate and conclude a comprehensive convention prohibiting nuclear weapons and providing for their verifiable and irreversible destruction within a specified timeframe.” (Tasnim News, 3/29)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS Deputy CEO, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was arrested by U.S. officials on charges of conspiring to evade trade sanctions on Iran.

      • Atilla is accused of conspiring with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through U.S. financial system on behalf of Iran and its companies. Zarrab was arrested in March 2016. 

        • Zarrab recently retained Rudy Giuliani in order to negotiate resolution of case with government officials at higher levels than federal prosecutor. (Bloomberg, 3/28) (NYT, 3/27) (NYT, 3/30)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin released joint statement pledging to rein in oil production and stabilize markets.

      • Earlier, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said OPEC deal was likely going to be extended. (Reuters, 3/28)

    • U.S. Department of Commerce will remove China’s ZTE Corp from trade blacklist. (Reuters, 3/29)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Rouhani met Putin in Moscow to discuss regional issues and economic opportunities. (Reuters, 3/27)

      • Iranian and Russian officials signed 14 documents on political, economic, scientific, legal, and scientific cooperation during his visit. (Al-Monitor, 3/28)

    • ISIS released Farsi-language propaganda video threatening Iran’s leadership.

      • Video said: “O, Khamenei, you cursed person who controls the so-called Islamic Iranian regime, rest assured that soon we will destroy your house like this.” (AFP, 3/27)


    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan warned U.S. to leave region.

      • “What is the US doing in the Persian Gulf? They better leave this region and not harass the regional countries. Is it acceptable that an ignorant armed robber breaks into someone’s house and expects to get red carpet treatment? This is an instance of modern, 21st century barbarism.” (PressTV, 3/30)

    • U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel said Iran posed “greatest long-term threat to stability” in Middle East and said Iran had increased “destabilizing role.”

      • Votel said Iran used lethal aid facilitation, surrogate forces, cyber activities, and other means to exploit gray zone. (CNBC, 3/29)

    • Iran imposed sanctions on 15 U.S. companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel. Sanctions came two days after new U.S. sanctions on Iran.

    • U.S. Justice Department appealed ruling by federal judge in Hawaii that extended suspension of Trump’s revised executive order. (Reuters, 3/30)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Russia could use its military bases to launch airstrikes against militants in Syria on “case by case basis.” (Reuters, 3/28)

    • Bahrain said it had broken Iranian-linked 14-member “terrorist cell” suspected of involvement in bomb attack on police bus and plotting to assassinate senior officials.

      • Cell was under supervision of two exiled Bahrainis living in Iran. (Reuters, 3/26)

      • Asharq Al-Awsat reported that cell planned to target U.S. base in Bahrain. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 3/27)

    • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Tehran of pursuing racist and discriminatory policies in Iraq.

      • “While there is bloodbath in Libya, civilians are bombed in Syria and the sectarian tension is rising in Iraq - and I do not see this as just a sectarian tension - it is actually racism at the same time that takes its dynamism from the sectarian tension. The incident in Iraq is actually Iran improving its racism coming from its past with expansionist policies in the region.” (Hurriyet, 3/27)

      • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi criticized the remarks. (PressTV, 3/26)

    • At Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh, ministers issued statement that urged Iran to “abandon politics that lead to nourishing sectarian and confessional conflicts, and to stop forming and supporting groups and militias that fuel these conflicts in Arab states.” (AFP, 3/30)

    • At Arab League Summit, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said Iran “is the true sponsor of terrorism.” (Times of Israel, 3/29)

    • Adviser to Saudi Arabian Defense Minister, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Hassan Mohammad Asseri, wrote op-ed in Fox News claiming Iran is sharing ballistic missile technology with Houthi rebels in Yemen, and similar groups in other countries. (Fox News, 3/26)

    • Conflict Armament Research report said Houthi rebels appear to be using Iranian-made drones to ram Saudi and UAE missile defenses in Yemen. (Defense News, 3/28)

    • U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said Russia, Iran, and Turkey need to convene more Syrian ceasefire talks as soon as possible to bring situation under control. (Reuters, 3/24)


    Israel

    • According to Kuwaiti media, U.S., Russia, and Israel have reached consensus on need to restrict and eventually expel pro-Iranian forces from gaining influence in Syria. (Jerusalem Post, 3/25)

    • Kuwaiti media also reported that Iran has accused Russia of giving codes for Syria’s anti-aircraft missiles to Israel. (Jerusalem Post, 3/21)

    • Pakistani man, Syed Mustafa, was sentenced by German court to four years and three months in prison for spying on behalf of Iran. (AP, 3/28)

  • March 18-24, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • In letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran challenged the need for it to ship excess heavy water abroad if its stock exceeds limit set by JCPOA.

      • “Nothing in the (agreement) requires Iran to ship out the excess heavy water which is made available to the international market but has not yet found an actual buyer to which the heavy water needs to be delivered.” (Reuters, 3/17)

    • IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said he asked U.S. for IAEA budget increase, saying agency needs 2.1% increase in 2018 of current budget of about $400 million.

      • “Without an increase, the IAEA will not be able to implement the verification and monitoring activities in Iran.” (AP, 3/22)

    • President Trump’s NSC Director for WMD and Counterproliferation Christopher Ford said: “Until otherwise decided, the United States will adhere to the Iran nuclear deal.” (RFERL, 3/22)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that if U.S. continued reneging on its JCPOA commitments, Iran would resume its nuclear activities with “even greater” speed. (Tehran Times, 3/21)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Bipartisan group of more than a dozen U.S. senators introduced ‘‘Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.” Legislation would expand sanctions for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, transfers of conventional weapons to or from Iran, and human rights violations.

    • Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or for violating export controls on Iran, North Korea, and Syria. (Reuters, 3/24) (State.gov, 3/24)

    • France’s Total is seeking 50% stake in $4 billion project in Iran’s South Pars gas field.

      • Total is expected to make final investment decision by summer. (Reuters, 3/17)

    • Iran asked Bank of England to set up special clearing accounts for its banks, but has so far been rebuffed. (Reuters, 3/20)

    • China’s ZTE Corp pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in Texas. (Reuters, 3/22)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei warned he would confront anyone trying to interfere in Iran’s presidential election in May.

      • “I will confront anyone who wants to tamper with the results of the people’s vote. In previous years and previous elections..., it was the same. Some of it was in front of people’s eyes and they became aware of it. And some of it they were not aware of but I was informed about it.” (Reuters, 3/21)

    • In pre-recorded broadcast for holiday of Nowruz, Khamenei also criticized the government’s economic policies and called for new “resistance economy” to create jobs.

      • By contrast, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani touted his economic achievements in his Nowruz message. (PressTV, 3/20) (Reuters, 3/20)

    • Rouhani will visit Moscow next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (PressTV, 3/24)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that approached U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered Strait of Hormuz.

      • Helicopter gunships were sent to hover over Iranian speedboats as some came as close as 950 yards. No shots were fired. (Reuters, 3/22)

    • Luxembourg judge denied request from Iran to annul claims by American families of victims of 9/11 attacks on $1.6 billion of Iranian assets. (Reuters, 3/22)

    • Trump won favorable court ruling from U.S. district judge in Virginia on his revised executive order on immigration and refugees. Decision has no immediate impact.

      • However, it gives White House ammunition as it appeals other judicial decisions that blocked his travel restrictions. (WSJ, 3/24)

    • Fourth U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Virginia sped up consideration of revised executive order, setting oral arguments for May 8. Justice Department had requested to expedite the case. Court will consider Maryland judge’s unfavorable ruling. (WSJ, 3/23)

    • Family of Robert A. Levinson, part-time C.I.A consultant who vanished a decade ago in Iran, filed lawsuit against Iran.

      • Family claimed it had used campaign of deception and lies to conceal its role in his imprisonment. (NYT, 3/21

    • Trump issued greeting to Iranians celebrating Nowruz. (Reuters, 3/22)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • New report suggested Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Houthi rebels in Yemen. It also says Iran has increased role in recent months. (Reuters, 3/22)

    Israel

    • German media reported that Iran’s Quds Force paid Pakistani man, Syed Mustafa, to track French-Israeli Chamber of Commerce head David Rouach. There is speculation that surveillance took place to prepare for possible attacks. (Jerusalem Post, 3/21)
  • March 11-17, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Construction formally started on site of Bushehr-2 nuclear power plant. (Tasnim News, 3/16)

    Sanctions and Iran’s economy

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran will keep its oil production cap at 3.8 million barrels per day in second half of 2017. (Reuters, 3/14)

    • Iran signed $1 billion deal to develop Mehdiabad, one of world’s largest zinc mines.

      • Deal signed with consortium of six private companies. (Reuters, 3/13)

    • Iranian investment fund signed deal with South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering Co for $3.2 billion petrochemical project.


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Two Iranians, man and woman, were sentenced to death on charges of founding a “cult” and promoting moral corruption. (Financial Times, 3/12)

    • Two Iranians were detained on spying charges. (AP, 3/15)

    • Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s son, Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, was sentenced to six months. He released open letter from his father demanding to be put on trial after years of house arrest. (Reuters, 3/13)

    • Late Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, was sentenced for her remarks about the judiciary and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. She was also imprisoned in 2012. (Reuters, 3/17)


    US-Iran relations

    • Hawaiian federal judge issued sweeping freeze of President Trump’s new executive order hours before it would have temporarily barred issuance of new visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, and suspended admission of new refugees. 

    • Saudi Arabia hailed “historical turning point” in relations with U.S. after meeting between Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both shared views on “danger of Iran’s regional expansionist activities.” (Reuters, 3/14)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Syrian peace talks in Astana closed without any negotiations taking place. Rebels boycotted this week’s talks. Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed to meet May 3 and 4. (Reuters, 3/15)

      • Iran signed document on joining agreement in form of a guarantor country alongside Russia and Turkey. (Tehran Times, 3/15)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent letter to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. This is further sign that both countries are trying to defuse tensions. (Reuters, 3/13)

      • However, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said Kuwait, “look[s] forward to the day when we do not see any form of Iranian interference in our affairs.” (Gulf News, 3/16)

    • Saudi Arabia said Iranian pilgrims will participate in this year’s hajj. (AFP, 3/17)

    • Iran and Turkey escalated rhetoric this week.

      • Turkish Ambassador to Iran Riza Hakan Tekin accused Tehran of launching “smear campaigns” against Turkey. (Tehran Times, 3/14)

      • Previously, Iranian Foreign Ministry urged its citizens to avoid making unnecessary trips to Turkey during Nowruz holidays. (Tehran Times, 3/13)


    Israel

    • Israeli media circulated Kuwaiti media report that Iran had established rocket factories in Lebanon that were under full control of Hezbollah. Report came days after Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Hezbollah was now capable of producing rockets that could hit any part of Israel. (Times of Israel, 3/13)

    • Turkish Ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem delivered speech in Israel where he said Iran’s “nuclear file is a concern for everyone.” (Jerusalem Post, 3/16)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ignorance about history after Netanyahu said ancient Persian rulers tried to destroy Jews, comparing this historic situation to today. (AFP, 3/13)

  • March 4-10, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • U.S. statement to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting read: “The United States will approach questions of JCPOA interpretation, implementation, and enforcement with great strictness indeed.” (Reuters, 3/7)

    • IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said he expects “very good cooperation” with U.S. on JCPOA after his Washington visit.

      • “The new administration of the United States just started and they are looking at various issues - not just this issue but many other issues, so it is very early for them to give their assessment.” (Reuters, 3/6)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • China’s ZTE Corp agreed to plead guilty and pay $1.19 billion in U.S. sanctions case. Penalty is largest criminal fine in U.S. sanctions case. (NYT, 3/7) (treasury.gov, 3/9)

      • Other articles said ZTE fine was around $900 million. (Reuters, 3/8)

    • Airbus delivered first long-range airliner to Iran since sanctions easing. (WSJ, 3/10)

    • Iran’s crude-oil exports touched 3 million barrels a day for first time since 1979. (Bloomberg, 3/7)

    • Iraqi Oil Ministry and Iranian Oil Ministry signed memorandum of understanding to settle disputes over joint oil fields and examine possibility of building oil pipeline. (Al-Monitor, 3/5)

    • Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamani Nia said it understands Total’s caution in investing in Iran before U.S. clarifies its position on trade with Tehran. (AFP, 3/4)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran test-fired Hormuz 2 medium-range naval ballistic missile. Missile test was successful and destroyed floating barge 155 miles away. (WSJ, 3/9)

    • According to Iranian media, Iran’s S-300 air defense system is now operational. (AFP, 3/4)

    • Iran’s judiciary formally charged a dual national who had been member of the nuclear negotiating team. He was arrested last year on suspicion of spying.

      • There is speculation that the dual national is Iranian-Canadian. (Reuters, 3/5)

    • Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei criticized Iran’s slow economic recovery and called on President Hassan Rouhani to champion greater economic self-sufficiency.

      • “Of course the government has taken remarkable steps but if the resistance economy had been implemented fully and widely, we could witness a tangible difference in people's lives.”(Reuters, 3/9)

    • Iran’s judiciary suspended prison term of Ahmad Montazeri, son of late dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. He was sentenced to six-year prison term. (AP, 3/4)

    • More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq, Syria, and other places. (AFP, 3/7)


    US-Iran relations

    • President Trump signed executive order blocking citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. There will be 90-day suspension of visa processing as administration attempts to strengthen vetting procedures. (NYT, 3/6)

      • Tehran will continue to bar U.S. citizens from entry into Iran. (RFERL, 3/7)

    • U.S. Navy surveillance ship, USNS Invincible, had close encounter with Iranian navy south of Strait of Hormuz. Invincible was forced to change course to avoid fast boats. (Reuters, 3/6)

      • Iran disputed this account and said vessel from joint U.S. and British naval fleet approached Iranian boats in an “unprofessional manner.” (AP, 3/8)

    • U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Nikki Haley said U.S. supported U.N.-led Syria peace talks and said it was important “we get Iran and their proxies out.” (Reuters, 3/8)

    • American terrorist attack victims went to European court to try to enforce default judgment against Iran. Luxembourg judge put freeze on $1.6 billion in assets belonging to Iran’s central bank. (NYT, 3/6)

      • Iran responded by saying it was “completely unfair” to seize its assets. (AFP, 3/7)

    • Centcom commander Gen. Joseph Votel said Iran poses most significant threat to Centcom’s area of responsibility. (Department of Defense, 3/9)

    • Iran detained Iranian-American on charges of defrauding people under the guise of helping them emigrate. (Reuters, 3/5)

    • The New Yorker reported that Trump’s company helped develop property in Azerbaijan with local businessmen whose family is said to have extensive ties to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (The New Yorker, 3/7)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Bahrain said it uncovered 54-member Iranian-linked militant group it suspects was involved in six armed attacks on security forces, including a prison break.

      • “The investigation revealed that ... several members (were sent) to Iran and Iraq to train on the use of explosives and automatic weapons in (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards camps to prepare them to carry out terrorist acts inside the country.” (Reuters, 3/4)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in Qatar with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani about improving relations.

      • Qatar recalled its ambassador from Tehran in January 2016. (Reuters, 3/8)


    Israel

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow to see reassurance from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu asked Putin to help Israel block Iran from positioning itself permanently on Israel’s northern border.

      • After meeting, Netanyahu said “we strongly oppose the possibility that Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria under such an agreement.” (Washington Post, 3/9) (Reuters, 3/5)

    • Netanyahu claimed Iran is responsible for more than 80% of Israel’s security problems. (Jerusalem Post, 3/6)

    • Pakistani man went on trial in Berlin on allegations he operated as Iranian spy, collecting information on possible Israeli and Jewish targets for attack in Germany and France. (AP, 3/8)

  • February 25-March 3, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior officials to discuss JCPOA. (Reuters, 3/1)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran and Russia agreed on roadmap for joint production of nuclear fuel. (Fars News, 2/25)

    • Salehi also said Iran wants to buy 950 tons of concentrated uranium ore, known as yellow cake, from Kazakhstan over next three years.

      • Iran has already received 382 tons of yellow cake, primarily from Russia, since JCPOA came into force. (Fars News, 2/25) (AFP, 2/25)

    • European officials are reviewing options for tightening JPOCA implementation, hoping to coax Trump into sticking to agreement. Options range from stepped-up inspections of Iranian activities to stricter interpretations of key provisions. (WSJ, 3/1)


    Sanctions and Iran’s economy

    • Newly released International Monetary Fund (IMF) report warned that “the renewed uncertainty surrounding” the JCPOA and “especially relations with the US, could deter investment and trade with Iran and short-circuit the anticipated recovery.”

      • “If the agreement is derailed, the [Iranian] economy could risk recession.” (IMF, 2/27) (FT, 2/28)

    • France’s Total is in talks to buy multi-billion dollar stake in Iran LNG, Iran’s partly-built liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility, which is seeking to unlock vast gas reserves.

      • Work on facility hit wall in 2012 when sanctions stopped Iran from bringing in technology from German contractor Linde. (Reuters, 2/27)

    • China’s ZTE Corp is nearing agreement to plead guilty to U.S. criminal charges and pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. (Reuters, 3/2)

    • Iran’s Rise Investment and Strategy Extension Company and France’s Mecaplast Group signed joint venture deal on manufacturing auto parts. (Tehran Times, 2/24)

    • Russia is negotiating daily purchases of 100,000 barrels of crude oil from Iran. (PressTV, 2/27)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signaled that he will run for second four-year term. (RFERL, 2/26) (AFP, 2/26)

    • Rouhani said he wanted to ensure smooth presidential election and warned off government groups that might attempt to rig vote in their favor.

      • “We all have to be careful that government resources are not used in favor of one individual or party. This is a sin. By government, I mean the executive, the judiciary, the armed forces. I mean all the organizations that use public funds. No one has a right to use a public platform, public media, newspaper or website that uses public funds in the election.” (Al-Monitor, 2/27)

      • Separately, Rouhani accused his hardline critics of wanting to deprive Iranians of basic joys and isolate the country.

        • “Soon it's the (Iranian) New Year, so let the people have some joy.” (Reuters, 2/26)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan said Iran successfully test-fired latest version of submarine-launched cruise missile. (IRNA, 2/27)

    • Iranian navy began annual drill near Strait of Hormuz in first major exercise since Trump’s inauguration. (AP, 2/26)


    US-Iran relations

    • Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent letter to President Trump striking somewhat conciliatory tone. He noted Trump won election while he “truthfully described the U.S. political system and electoral structure as corrupt.” (AP, 2/26) (Fars News, 2/26)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Iran has no relations with new American administration. This was response to claim by hardline member of parliament that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had written letter to Tillerson. (PressTV, 2/25) (Al-Monitor, 3/1)

      • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said issue of establishment of bilateral contacts between Iran and U.S. was not on Tehran’s agenda. (RT, 3/1)

    • Zarif praised Iranian filmmakers who made Oscar-winning movie for boycotting Hollywood awards ceremony in protest of Trump’s travel ban. (Reuters, 2/27)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Syrian peace talks involving armed opposition and Russia, Iran, and Turkey are scheduled to take place in Astana, Kazakhstan on March 14. (Reuters, 3/1)

      • Lead Syrian opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri said he hoped Trump would correct “catastrophic” errors of Obama to become reliable partner against “devilish” Iran. (Reuters, 2/3)

    • Saudi Arabian King Salman and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak released joint statement expressing concern over “the growing Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries.” (Arab News, 3/2)

    • Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on sidelines of economic cooperation summit in Islamabad and promised to improve ties. (Reuters, 3/1)

    • Zarif said Tehran would continue policy of self-restraint in face of Saudi Arabia’s tensions, saying “the Islamic Republic of Iran wants stability in Saudi Arabia.” (Tasnim News, 3/1)

    • United Arab Emirates Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Anwar Mohamad Gargash spoke to United Nations Human Rights Council about Iranian interference in Yemen and other countries. (mofa.gov, 2/28)

      • Iranian Foreign Ministry criticized Gargash for his comments. (Fars News, 3/1)


    Israel

    • Israeli Intelligence Ministry Director-General Chagai Tzuriel said: “The most important strategic issue we’re currently facing is the strengthening of the Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria, especially after the fall of Aleppo.”

      • “The feeling in Israel was that Obama didn’t see Iran as part of the problem. Trump, by contrast, appears to view Iran as part of the problem.” (Times of Israel, 3/2)

  • February 18-24, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Confidential quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities seen by Reuters said Iran has roughly half the enriched uranium allowed under JCPOA. (Reuters, 2/24) (AP, 2/24)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Tehran is weighing requests from some European states to purchase Iran’s heavy water. (PressTV, 2/18)

    • In FT interview, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano said he was optimistic about JCPOA prospects.

      • However, he conceded that “a small technical thing related to implementation can become a big political issue…Confidence is very limited.” (FT, 2/22)


    Sanctions and Iran’s economy

    • Iran found shale oil reserves of 2 billion barrels of light crude in its western Lorestan province, according to National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). (Reuters, 2/18)

      • Separately, NIOC head Ali Kardor said Iran expects oil production to reach 4 million barrels per day (bpd) by mid-April, and plans to drill 500 new wells over next five years to raise output to 4.7 million bpd. (Reuters, 2/18)

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said OPEC members will not benefit from crude prices over $55 per barrel. (Fars News, 2/23)

    • Iran and Iraq signed memorandum of understanding to study construction of pipeline to export crude oil from northern Iraq via Iran. (Reuters, 2/20)

    • Russia hopes to circumvent European Union sanctions by reaching deal with Iran for supply of gas turbine equipment for two power plants in Crimea. (Reuters, 2/20)

    • Iran will begin selling 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Russia within next 15 days. (Reuters, 2/21)

    • Sweden’s Serkland Invest AB, an investment firm, agreed to buy stake in Iran’s Sahar Dairy Co., which makes Danone and Le Groupe Bel SA products in Iran.

    • Germany’s BASF, a chemical company, said it was in talks with Iran over possible investment of its oil and gas division, but that no decision was imminent because of uncertainty over status of economic sanctions. (Reuters, 2/24) (WSJ, 2/24)

    • Air India Express put on hold plan to fly to Tehran amid renewed tensions. (Bloomberg, 2/21)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • At Munich Security Conference (MSC), Zarif said: “Iran doesn’t respond well to threats.” (AP, 2/19)

    • In BBC interview, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif claimed Iranian missiles are purely defensive.

      • “I certainly hope that prudence will prevail because Iran is not an easy target. We’re not going to provoke anybody. We’re not going to instigate any hostility. We’ve never started hostility, and we’re not planning to do it.” (PressTV, 2/20)

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises. (AP, 2/20)

    • Iranian and North Korean officials said they wanted to strengthen relations. (AP, 2/19)

    • Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi survived no-confidence vote in parliament.

      • His ouster could have derailed deals with Boeing and Airbus. (Reuters, 2/19)

    • Zarif met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz in Tehran. (Tasnim News, 2/22)


    US-Iran relations

    • In reference to President Trump’s recent statement that U.S. put Iran “on notice,” Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford remarked: “I haven’t detected a change in Iranian behavior.”

      • “You’ve got a very aggressive proxy war; we’ve seen that in Yemen. We see their influence in Syria. We see their malign influence in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq and the rest of the region. So, I haven’t seen a change, certainly in the past month.” (The Hill, 2/23)

    • U.S. prosecutors are continuing investigation examining whether Clearstream Banking SA and its parent company, Deutsche Boerse AG, provided conduit for illegal Iranian transactions and made false statements to regulators during review of Deutsche Boerse’s unsuccessful 2012 bid to buy New York Stock Exchange.

      • Investigation languished during multiyear period when JCPOA was being negotiated. (Bloomberg, 2/21)

    • Victims of terror attacks against Americans, including families of hostages taken at U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979, will start receiving checks from $1.1 billion compensation fund after settlement was struck between U.S. and BNP Paribas SA. (WSJ, 2/23)

    • Washington-based lawyer of Nizar Zakka, Lebanese man with resident status in U.S. who disappeared in September 2015, described Zakka as a “hostage.” This was in response to IRGC commander saying Zakka confessed to trying to “encourage decadence” in Iran.

      • Zakka is serving 10-year prison sentence. (AP, 2/23

    • IRGC Ground Forces Commander Gen. Mohammad Pakpour said U.S. should expect “strong slap in the face” if it underestimates Iran’s defensive capabilities. (Reuters, 2/22)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Lead negotiator for Syrian opposition, Nasr al-Hariri, criticized role played by Iran and Iranian-backed militias as opposing sides in Syrian war came face-to-face in U.N. peace talks for first time in three years.

      • Al-Hariri accused Tehran of violating ceasefire and said: “Iran is the main obstacle to any kind of political deal.” (Reuters, 2/23)

    • At MSC, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir argued that Iranians “stepped up the tempo of their mischief” since JCPOA negotiations began. (AP, 2/19)

      • “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world. It's determined to upend the order in the Middle East…(and) until and unless Iran changes its behavior it would be very difficult to deal with a country like this.” (Reuters, 2/19) (PR Newswire, 2/21)

    • At MSC, Zarif said Tehran was “focusing on the Persian Gulf. We have enough problems in this region so we want to start a dialogue with countries we call brothers in Islam.” (Reuters, 2/19)

    • Turkish Ambassador to Tehran was summoned by Iranian Foreign Ministry over comments by Turkish leaders at MSC. Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Iran would lose its patience with Turkey if it continued to make “sarcastic remarks against Iran.”

      • Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had voiced concerns over Iran’s “sectarian policy” in Syria and Iraq and possible efforts to “expand its zone of influence.” (AP, 2/20) (Al-Monitor, 2/22) (PressTV, 2/19)

    • Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected Turkish statements. (PressTV, 2/21)

    • VOA reported that Iran is increasingly using Syrian battlefields as proving ground for fresh military officers in training. (VOA, 2/22)

    • Iran sent delegation to Saudi Arabia for talks on Iranians attending Hajj. (Reuters, 2/22)


    Israel

    • At MSC, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said main challenge facing region was Iran. He also said Iran aimed to “undermine stability in every country in Middle East...their main destination at the end of the day is Saudi Arabia.” (AP, 2/19) (Reuters, 2/19)

    • Iran hosted 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada with delegates from about 80 countries. (VOA, 2/23)

      • Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei called Israel a “fake” nation.

      • He said creation of Israel is “one of the dirty chapters of history that will be closed, with the grace of God.” (AP, 2/21) (AFP, 2/21) (PressTV, 2/21)

      • Leaders from Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah were present. (NYT, 2/21)

    • Ghasemi criticized coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia. He said both countries “imagine they can compensate for their numerous defeats and failures in the region by creating an international atmosphere against our country.” (AFP, 2/20)

  • February 11-17, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano said his organization was “in constant touch” with U.S., but had yet to hear from President Trump’s administration about their criticism of JCPOA. (AP, 2/14)

      • He also reaffirmed that Iran was implementing JCPOA despite minor breaches. (Reuters, 2/14) 


    Sanctions and Iran’s economy

    • Iran reached deal with international aircraft leasing company to finance acquisition of 77 planes from Boeing and Airbus. (Forbes, 2/17) (PressTV, 2/17)

    • Iran said it would receive two new planes from Airbus within next few weeks. (PressTV, 2/13)

    • Iran Air finalized deal to buy 20 turboprop aircraft from Franco-Italian ATR.

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh criticized France’s Total for its decision to delay signing contract to develop South Pars gas field. He said reasons given by Total were “unacceptable.”

      • Total recently said it aimed to make final decision on $2 billion project by summer; deciding to wait for renewal of U.S. sanctions waivers. (Reuters, 2/15)

      • Zanganeh also said Iran would sue Total if it is proven that they leaked secret information about South Pars to Qatar. (Tasnim News, 2/15)

    • Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company moved closer to deal to sell Superjet 100 aircraft to Iran.

      • Sukhoi started technical talks to obtain license from U.S. Treasury. (PressTV, 2/14)

    • Iranian Deputy Minister for Petroleum Amir Hossein Zamaninia said Trump’s hawkish stance on Iran should not affect foreign investment in its energy sector.

      • “As far as the oil and gas industry and the credibility of JCPOA is concerned, this may be a passing issue and we can overcome the uncertainties created by this dynamic in Washington.” (VOA, 2/15)

    • China’s ZTE Corp warned that penalties it expects to incur for allegedly breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran could impact its results. (Reuters, 2/14)

    • France’s PSA Group said renewed pressure from Trump on doing business with Iran will extend PSA’s lead as rivals hold back from re-entering country. (Reuters, 2/13)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must do more to improve Iran’s economy in rare public criticism.

      • He said unemployment, recession, and inflation remain major problems.

      • He also said calls for national reconciliation were “meaningless,” in reference to comments by former reformist Mohammad Khatami. (Reuters, 2/15) (AFP, 2/16)

    • Iranian media reported that 62 year-old man was sentenced to 10-year prison term on espionage charges. (AP, 2/13)


    US-Iran Relations

    • While meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump promised that Iran would never be permitted to build nuclear weapon.

      • “My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing -- I mean ever -- a nuclear weapon.” (AFP, 2/15)

    • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commented that he did not suggest to French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that Washington planned to scrap JCPOA.

      • Reporters cited Ayrault as saying the French had impression Trump administration wanted to get rid of deal. (Reuters, 2/16)

    • U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced Iran Terror-Free Skies Act.

      • It is companion to bill introduced last month by U.S. Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY). (Rubio.senate.gov, 2/17)

    • Amazon.com disclosed business ties that may have violated U.S. sanctions, warning that it may be penalized.

      • Amazon said that from 2012 to 2016, it “processed and delivered orders of consumer products for certain individuals and entities located outside Iran covered by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA).” (Bloomberg, 2/10)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi criticized American interference in Iran’s domestic affairs after U.S. State Department released statement calling on Iran to put end to house arrest of two former Reformist candidates. (PressTV, 2/15)

    • American wrestlers were greeted warmly in Iran as they travelled there for international wrestling competition. (Washington Post, 2/16)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Rouhani travelled to Oman and Kuwait in effort to seek better relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors. It was Rouhani’s first trip there since taking power in 2013.

      • Kuwaiti Foreign Minister made rare visit to Tehran last month. (Reuters, 2/15)

    • Russian delegation at Syrian peace talks in Astana said joint Russian, Turkish, and Iranian task force may look into political settlement issues in Syria. (Reuters, 2/16)

      • Russian delegation also said agreement had been reached to form permanent contact group to “preserve and strengthen the cessation of hostilities.” (AP, 2/16)

    • Iran allowed Russian planes to use its airspace during recent operations in Syria.

      • Iran’s National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani said: “Their (Russians’) use of Iran's air space has continued because we have a fully strategic cooperation with Russia...In the recent cases, Russian fighter planes have only used Iran's airspace and have not had refueling operations.” (Reuters, 2/11)

    • Rouhani called for truce in Yemen. He said establishing ceasefire and holding Yemeni-Yemeni political talks were necessary to resolve crisis. (Financial Times, 2/15)

      • Iran-backed Houthi rebels said they fired missile at airport in southern Saudi Arabia in retaliation for Saudi air strikes by Yemen’s capital. (Financial Times, 2/16)

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force Commander, General Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, travelled to Moscow to meet with high-ranking Russian officials.

      • Trip violated multiple United Nations resolutions forbidding him from leaving Iran. (Fox News, 2/15)

    • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraq would not take part in any regional or international conflicts following first Trump-Abadi phone call. White House had said both leaders spoke about threat Iran posed to region. (Reuters, 2/11

      • Iran reportedly appointed Brig. Gen. Iraj Masjedi as its new ambassador to Iran. Masjedi is prominent leader of IRGC. (Al-Monitor, 2/13)

    • Hezbollah’s Deputy Head Sheikh Naim Qassem said Saudi Arabia and other countries in region should cooperate with Iran.

      • “If Gulf countries want to thrive and live at ease, they should cooperate with Iran.”

      • “cooperating with Iran is [a source] of power for the Gulf's security and stability and the future of the region.” (Daily Star, 2/11)


    Israel

    • Yehya Sinwar, who is affiliated with and favors support from, Iran, was chosen as new leader of Hamas in Gaza. (New York Times, 2/13)

    • Ghasemi rejected Trump’s statement that its nuclear ambitions were major security challenge, and pointed instead at Israel.

      • “The Zionist regime (Israel) poses the biggest threat to regional and international peace and security by possessing hundreds of nuclear warheads in its arsenal.”

      • “The bitter irony is that such baseless allegations are raised by the Zionist regime that is not committed to any international regulations.” (Reuters, 2/16)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “The only regime in ME with nukes, ICBMs & a history of aggression whines about Iran’s means of defense. Fear-mongering hype IS fake news.” (PressTV, 2/18)

  • February 4-10, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran received final shipment of uranium from Russia, as part of JCPOA requirement. Shipment will be 149 tons, which brings total amount to 259 tons. (AFP, 2/6) (PressTV, 2/6)

      • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran will have 60% more stockpiled uranium than it did before JCPOA. (AP, 2/5)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry denounced new U.S. sanctions and said it would impose legal restrictions on American individuals and entities helping “regional terrorist groups.”

      • Ministry said names of entities and individuals would come later. (Reuters, 2/3)

      • China “lodged representations” with U.S. over new sanctions targeting Iran, which include two Chinese companies and three individuals. (Reuters, 2/6)

    • Iran extended deadline (until February 15) for bids on oil and gas projects, urging Britain’s BP to join major international companies that have already submitted bids.

      • Companies who have submitted bids include Anglo-Dutch Shell, Italy’s ENI, France’s Total, Russia’s Gazprom and Lukoil, Netherland’s Schlumberger, China’s CNPC and Sinopec, Japan’s Mitsubishi, and more. (AFP, 2/4)

    • France’s Total plans to make final investment decision on $2 billion gas project in Iran by summer; decision hinges on renewal of U.S. sanctions waivers. (Reuters, 2/9)

    • Persian-language newspaper claimed Iran has at least $18 billion still blocked in China in what appears to be result of complications related to previous oil sales. (PressTV, 2/5)

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Iran will launch four more major phases of South Pars gas field project in coming month. (Tasnim News, 2/9)

    • National Iranian Oil Company Managing Director Ali Kardor said Iran discovered 15 billion barrels of new in-place oil reserves. Around two billion barrels were “recoverable.” (PressTV, 2/5)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into Tehran for anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some carried “Death to America” banners and effigies of Trump.

      • Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force Commander, General Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was in attendance. (Reuters, 2/10) (NYT, 2/10)

      • Khamenei initiated rally: “(Trump) says ‘you should be afraid of me’. No! The Iranian people will respond to his words on Feb. 10 and will show their stance against such threats.” (Reuters, 1/7)

    • Iran sentenced to death Swedish-based researcher Ahmadreza Jalali on charge that he worked with enemy states. He was detained in April 2016.

    • Iran said it arrested number of Islamic State operatives planning to carry out attacks in Tehran. (PressTV, 2/10)

    • Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called for “national reconciliation” given that Iran was facing uncertain future with Trump presidency. (Al-Monitor, 2/9)


    US-Iran relations

    • Fox News reported that Iran launched short-range Mersad surface-to-air missile from launch pad east of Tehran. (Fox News, 2/8)

      • Outlet had previously reported that Iran removed different missile (Safir) from launch pad, after seeming to prepare it for launch. Safir was previously used to put satellite into space. (Fox News, 2/7)

    • Iranian Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei thanked President Trump for revealing “the true face” of the United States.

      • “He has proven what we have been saying for more than 30 years - we would always speak about the political, economic, moral and social corruption in the U.S. administration - this man revealed it during the election campaign and since then.” (NYT, 2/7)

    • U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis called Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

      • “It does no good to ignore it. It does no good to dismiss it and at the same time I don't see any need to increase the number of forces we have in the Middle East at this time.” (AFP, 2/3)

      • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disputed this claim, claiming Iran has not had ties with terrorist organizations. (PressTV, 2/6)

    • Iran held military exercises, involving missile and radar systems, one day after new U.S. sanctions were imposed.

      • According to IRGC website, exercises were meant to signal rejection of sanctions.

      • IRGC Aerospace Forces’ Commander Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh said: “We will do our best to defend the Iranian nation’s security day in and day out, and if the enemy makes any mistake our roaring missiles will land on their heads.” (WSJ, 2/4) (Reuters, 2/4)

    • Trump administration is reportedly considering executive actions that would direct State Department to designate IRGC as terrorist organization. (WSJ, 2/8) (Reuters, 2/7)

      • Analysts believe designation could endanger U.S. troops in Iraq and overall fight against Islamic State.

      • Similar effort is underway in Congress, with legislation introduced last month by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex). (Washington Post, 2/8)

    • Iran reversed course and said it would allow U.S. wrestlers to compete in international tournament after Trump’s travel ban was halted by U.S. federal court. (AFP, 2/5)

    • Lawsuit submitted by Iran to International Court of Justice against U.S. for freezing billions of dollars worth of its assets has been put in motion. (PressTV, 2/5)

    • President Trump told Fox News that Iran “lost respect” for U.S. in wake of JCPOA and that it now feels “emboldened” to act confrontationally on world stage. (Times of Israel, 2/6)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he believed Trump would push for renegotiation of JCPOA, which Iran and European countries would reject. (Reuters, 2/7)

    • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Iran on ABC News:

      • “The resolve of this president is such that Iran would do well to think twice about their continued hostile and belligerent actions.”

      • On JCPOA, “Well, we're evaluating that as we speak [...] I think the president will make that decision in the days ahead.” (AFP, 2/6)

    • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave paid speech ($50,000) in 2015to organization linked to Iranian exile group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).

      • Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani was also paid unknown sum to give speech to MEK. (Military Times, 2/5)

    • American operators that organize trips to Iran have begun cancelling tours. (NYT, 2/8)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Experts from Russia, Turkey, Iran, and U.N. held technical meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan to discuss implementation of Syrian cessation of hostilities.

      • Agenda included reviewing implementation of cessation of hostilities and discussing proposal from Syrian armed opposition about ceasefire. 

      • No documents were signed at meeting, but Russian negotiator said they would meet again this month (February 15-16) and might sign agreement regulating work of joint task force. (Reuters, 2/6)

    • Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed they “successfully” fired ballistic missile at army base in western Riyadh. Saudi Arabia had no immediate response. (AP, 2/6)


    Israel

    • British Prime Minister Theresa May resisted pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose new sanctions on Iran.

      • Netanyahu: “That’s why I welcome President Trump’s assistance of new sanctions against Iran, I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations. And I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure that Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.”

      • After meeting with Netanyahu, May’s spokeswoman said May “made clear that we support the deal on nuclear that was agreed.” (The Guardian, 2/6) (WSJ, 2/6)

    • Iranian parliamentarian and former IRGC official Mojtaba Zonour warned that Tehran would retaliate against Israel if U.S. launched military strike against Iran. He boasted Iranian missiles could hit Tel Aviv in under seven minutes.

  • January 28-February 3, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran conducted first ballistic missile test since President Trump took office. Launch occurred Sunday at test site about 140 miles east of Tehran. Medium-range ballistic missile flew about 600 miles before its re-entry vehicle exploded. It is unclear whether it was an accidental or deliberate detonation. (Fox News, 1/30) (NYT, 1/30)

      • Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan confirmed test, saying: “The missile test on Sunday was successful ... the test was not a violation of a nuclear deal with world powers or any U.N. resolution.” (Reuters, 2/2)

      • U.S. called for emergency U.N. Security Council (UNSC) meeting, which occurred on Tuesday. (AFP, 1/31) (AP, 1/31)

      • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said test did not violate Resolution 2231. (Bloomberg, 1/31)

    • In addition to testing a ballistic missile, German newspaper Die Welt reported that Iran also tested “Sumar” cruise missile that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons. (Reuters, 2/2)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Trump administration put sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities connected to Iran. Some entities are based in United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and China.

      • Some sanctions target trade network run by Iranian businessman Abdollah Asgharzadeh. He supports subsidiary of Iranian entity that runs Iran’s ballistic missile program. Sanctions also target Lebanon-based network run by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

      • U.S. Treasury statement: “Today's action is part of Treasury's ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad that is outside the scope of the JCPOA.” (Reuters, 2/3) (Treasury.gov, 2/3)

      • Treasury announced that Taiwanese company B Whale Corporation violated U.S. sanctions. (Treasury.gov, 2/3)

    • Iran Khodro announced that the company had finalized five contracts with Germany’s Mercedes Benz. (Fars News, 1/28)

    • Iranian Deputy Energy Minister Alireza Daemi said Iran had signed around $10.7 billion worth of agreements with German, Russian, Chinese, South Korean, and Turkish companies for construction of new power plants. (Financial Tribune, 1/29)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Iran and met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and several others. He was joined by 60-member political and business delegation.

      • He told reporters: “I'm coming as the defender of the accord [JCPOA], but to be vigilant and explain that they (the Iranians) must be irreproachable [...] We harbor real concerns about the U.S. administration's attitude towards this agreement.” (Reuters, 1/30) (Al-Monitor, 1/31)


    US-Iran relations

    • Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn released fiery statement after Iranian ballistic missile test and Houthi rebel attack on Saudi naval vessel (see below): “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” Trump reiterated statement on Twitter. (Whitehouse.gov, 2/1) (Twitter, 2/2)

      • Top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, responded: “This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran ... the American government will understand that threatening Iran is useless.” (Reuters, 2/2)

    • Trump signed executive order last Friday banning entry of citizens from seven countries, including Iran, from U.S. for 90 days. Thousands of Iranians living in or visiting U.S. have been impacted.

      • Iran vowed to undertake reciprocal measures. Zarif confirmed that Tehran would no longer issue visas to U.S. citizens, although exceptions were possible. (Iran MFA, 1/28) (Reuters, 1/28) (WSJ, 1/31)

      • U.S. wrestlers were banned from upcoming tournament in Iran. (AP, 2/3)

      • Iran summoned Swiss ambassador to submit letter of protest. (Iran MFA, 1/29)

      • Rouhani reacted: “The president of a country assumes that if he bans the [issuance of] visas for the people of a few countries, he can distance humans from each other, but this is wrong. However, this is to be expected from those who are novices in the world of politics.”(Al-Monitor, 2/1)

      • Zarif reacted by tweeting: “#MuslimBan will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters.” Ministry of Foreign affairs released full statement. (USIP, 1/28)

    • U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Cole, arrived off coast of Yemen to protect waterways from Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. USS Cole will carry out patrols, including escorting vessels, to protect shipping. (Reuters, 2/3)

    • At White House briefing, administration officials refused to rule out any options for U.S. response to Iran, including military intervention. When asked whether new administration posture could mean a military strike, Trump replied that “nothing’s off the table.”

    • Trump spoke to Saudi King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud and they “agreed on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.” (Whitehouse.gov, 1/29)

      • Similarly, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Both expressed “their full rejection of the suspicious activities and interventions by the Iranian regime and its agents,” according to Saudi Press Agency. (The National, 2/1)

    • Zarif said U.S. may try to provoke new tensions with Iran after ballistic missile test, and stated that Iran would never use ballistic missiles to attack another country.

      • “The new administration in the United States, presently facing an unfortunate international situation following the imposition of the visa ban, may capitalize on the [missile] issue to provoke new tensions. Iran will never use missiles produced in Iran to attack any other country. … No Iranian missiles have been produced to carry nuclear warheads.” (Al-Monitor, 2/1)

    • U.S. participated in U.K.-led three-day maritime exercise in international waters abutting Iran’s shoreline. (Military.com, 1/31)

    • Iranian government said it would stop using U.S. dollar in its official statements, including official financial and foreign exchange reports. (Forbes, 1/30)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Houthi rebels attacked Saudi warship with three boats off coast of Yemen, causing explosion that killed two crew members and injured three others. (Reuters, 1/30)

      • Fox News reported that two defense officials believed attack may have been meant for an American warship.

      • Other defense officials said this is solely speculation. (Fox News, 1/31) (Navy Times, 2/1

    • United Arab Emirates (UAE) summoned Iranian envoy to protest Iran’s arming of Houthi rebels in Yemen, including providing them with drones. (AFP, 2/2)

      • UAE air force shot down Iranian-made drone in Yemen a few days earlier. (Reuters, 1/28)


    Israel

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to ballistic missile test by tweeting: “In my coming meeting with President Trump, I plan to raise the resumption of sanctions against Iran in this context and in other contexts.”

      • Iran's aggression cannot be left without a response.” (Bloomberg, 1/31) (Reuters, 1/30)

      • Netanyahu also posted video to his Facebook page where he said: “I intend to raise with him the renewal of sanctions against Iran, sanctions against the ballistic missiles and additional sanctions against terror and also to take care of this failed nuclear agreement.” (AP, 1/31)

  • January 23-27, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will visit Iran next week to affirm Europe’s commitment to JCPOA. (Reuters, 1/27)

    Sanctions and Iran’s economy

    • Europe is poised to receive most Iranian crude in about five years this month.

    • Austria’s OMV and Iran’s Dana Energy signed memorandum of understanding to evaluate possible oil and gas development and redevelopment projects in Iran.

      • United Arab Emirates holds substantial equity stake in OMV. (Platts, 1/25)

    • Franco-Italian aircraft maker ATR completed commercial negotiations with Iran Air for sale of at least 20 aircraft and expects to sign contract soon.

      • Contract is worth $576 million at list price. Iran Air has option to purchase another 20 aircraft. (Reuters, 1/20)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif downplayed possibility of re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran.

      • "On our part, snapback means that we can resume our nuclear programs anytime we want to but that is not the same for the other party because it will take time for them to re-implement the sanctions.” (Financial Tribune, 1/25)

    • Iran’s Hampa Engineering Corporation said it put in order with Germany’s Siemens for 12 compressor trains for two onshore natural gas processing plants. (PressTV, 1/25)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian appeals court confirmed five-year sentence for British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on security charges. She works at London-based charity Thomson Reuters Foundation.

      • Iranian judiciary also said Farhad Abd-Saleh was handed five-year sentence on appeal on security charges. Few details are known about Abd-Saleh. (Reuters, 1/22)

    • University of Maryland poll in Iran showed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani losing some public support ahead of May election.

      • 69% of Iranians surveyed said they viewed Rouhani either very favorably or somewhat favorably, down from roughly 82% of Iranians surveyed in June. (WSJ, 12/25)

    • Iranian writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was rearrested after being put on temporary prison leave. She was sentenced to six years in prison for writing story about cruel practice of stoning. Her case is awaiting judicial review by Iran’s Supreme Court. (Amnesty, 1/25)


    US-Iran relations

    • President Trump is expected to sign executive order that would block visas from being issued to anyone from Iran and six other Muslim countries. (Reuters, 1/25)

      • Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, co-star of Iranian film up for Academy Award, said she would boycott Oscars in protest. (NYT, 1/26)

    • U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN), and John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced Iran Non-nuclear Sanctions Act. Bill was referred to Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

      • Act would impose new sanctions on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Mahan Air; create new Treasury Department watchlist for entities in which IRGC has ownership interest of less than 25 percent; expand current sanctions and impose new sanctions for Iran’s human rights abuses; impose new sanctions against persons that aid Iran’s ballistic missile program; and more. (Rubio.senate.gov, 1/24)

    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi said U.S. was disgraced by not being included in Syrian talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

      • “even the Americans themselves admitted that there was no higher disgrace for the US than having Iran and Russia sit down at the negotiating table together and decide whether or not to invite the US to the talks.” (Mehr News, 1/25)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi offered cautious words on Trump, saying: “too soon to assess him and analyze his remarks, stance and the framework of his viewpoints.” (AP, 1/23)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iran, Russia, and Turkey reaffirmed December 30 ceasefire after two days of deliberation in Astana. In final communique, the three countries agreed to establish system “to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire, prevent any provocations and determine all modalities of the ceasefire.” Agreement also said talks on political settlement to conflict were to be conducted under U.N. guidance.

      • Iran, Russia, and Turkey agreed to meet again in Astana on February 6 to discuss mechanism. Talks on political settlement will be held in Geneva on February 8. (Reuters, 1/24) (Washington Post, 1/24) (The Guardian, 1/24)

      • Iran intends to participate in Geneva talks, but has not decided on level of participation. (Fars News, 1/25)

      • Syrian rebels expressed dissatisfaction with Astana communique. Unnamed rebel delegate said: “Iran is spearheading in a number of areas military offensives and leading to forcible displacements of thousands of Syrians and causing bloodletting. This communique legitimizes this role.” (Reuters, 1/24)

      • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Iran has been main supporter of Syrian government since beginning of conflict six years ago. (Tasnim News, 1/26)

    • Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled al-Sabah made rare visit to Tehran where he met Rouhani in bid to improve relations between Iran and Gulf Arab nations. (AP, 1/25)  (PressTV, 1/25)

      • Al-Sabah said relations between Iran and Gulf Cooperation Council “must be based on the UN charter and principles of international law.”

      • Several days earlier, Rouhani said countries, including Kuwait, offered to mediate in escalating feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia. (Reuters, 1/24)

    • British Prime Minister Theresa May warned about “Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East” in speech delivered to Republicans in Philadelphia summit. (Independent, 1/26)


    Israel

    • Trump spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about “threats posed by Iran.”

      • Ahead of phone call, Netanyahu’s office said: “Stopping the Iranian threat, and first and foremost the threat reflected in the bad nuclear agreement that was signed with Iran, continues to be a supreme goal of the State of Israel.” (WSJ, 1/22)

      • One day after Trump’s inauguration, Netanyahu put video on social media discussing Iran: “I plan to speak soon with President Trump about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime, which calls for Israel's destruction.” (Times of Israel, 1/21)

    • In statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu said: “I spoke a few days ago to President Trump and he spoke about the Iranian aggression. He spoke about Iran’s commitment to destroy Israel. He spoke about the nature of this nuclear agreement and the danger it poses. We spoke about it together.” (Prime Minister’s Office, 1/26)

  • January 14-20, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • January 16 marked one-year anniversary of implementation of JCPOA. White House released statement saying: “Iran deal must be measured against the alternatives - a diplomatic resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is far preferable to an unconstrained Iranian nuclear program or another war in the Middle East.” (Whitehouse.gov, 1/16)

    • Iran complied with JCPOA deadline by removing hundreds of centrifuges from Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant.

      • JCPOA outlined that no more enrichment would take place at Fordow, but that Iran could keep just over 1,000 centrifuges there for other uses. (Reuters, 1/16)

    • Iran and Russia signed two agreements on nuclear cooperation, one of which was cooperation on producing stable isotopes in Fordow Plant. (Fars News, 1/20)

    • High Representative of EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini wrote op-ed that there “should be no doubt that the EU stands firmly by the deal.” (The Guardian, 1/17)

      • EU informally contacted Trump administration to clarify “misunderstanding” about JCPOA. (AFP, 1/18)

        • Secretary General of EU’s foreign policy service Helga Schmid said: “There is a misunderstanding that you can renegotiate this agreement. This cannot be done.” (Reuters, 1/17)

      • Mogherini also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on sidelines of World Economic Forum (WEF). (Tasnim News, 1/18)


    Sanctions and Iran’s economy

    • Iranian parliament passed five-year economic development plan that includes sharp rise in foreign investment.

      • Plan lets government arrange up to average of $30 billion of foreign financing each year, in addition to $15 billion of annual direct foreign investment in Iran, and up to $20 billion of foreign investment conducted with local partners. (Reuters, 1/15)

    • Global shipping insurers have designed way to ensure nearly full coverage for Iranian oil exports from next month. They struck deal to provide cover without involving U.S.-domiciled reinsurers. (Reuters, 1/17)

    • Reuters reported that out of nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since JCPOA, 90 have been with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities.

      • Companies in which entities controlled by Khamenei have large or majority stake, including those that are part of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have struck at least nine foreign deals worth more than $11 billion in last 18 months. (Reuters, 1/19)

    • Iranian government, and entities close to IRGC, signed large economic contracts with Syria.

      • Five memorandums of understanding were signed including license for Iran to become mobile phone service operator in Syria, and phosphate mining contracts. (Reuters, 1/19)

    • Iran and China will sign $3 billion contract next month to upgrade Abadan oil refinery. (Reuters, 1/18)

    • Iran signed deal with Germany to cooperate over production of 50 diesel locomotives.

      • Locomotives will be jointly produced by Siemens and Iran Power Projects Management Company. (PressTV, 1/17)

    • EU removed Iranian individual and several companies from sanctions list. (Fars News, 1/18)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Zarif attended WEF. He also visited Malaysia for ad hoc meeting by foreign ministers of Organization for Islamic Cooperation countries. (Mehr News, 1/17) (Fars News, 1/19)

    • At least 30 firefighters were killed when Tehran commercial building collapsed on top of them as they tried to put out a blaze. (AP, 1/19) (Reuters, 1/19) (NYT, 1/19)


    US-Iran relations

    • Trump gave interview to Times of London where he discussed JCPOA.

      • Trump said he did not want to say “what I’m gonna do with the Iran deal.”

        • “I just don’t want to play the cards. I mean, look, I’m not a politician, I don’t go out and say, ‘I’m gonna do this’ – I’m gonna do, I gotta do what I gotta do …But I’m not happy with the Iran deal, I think it’s one of the worst deals ever made, I think it’s one of the dumbest deals I’ve ever seen … Where you give … $150bn back to a country, where you give $1.7bn in cash.” (The Guardian, 1/16)

        • White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said JCPOA was “on life support.” (WSJ, 1/15)

    • Zarif said Iran opposed U.S. presence at peace talks on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan next week after Russia and Turkey made decision to invite Washington.

      • On why U.S. and Saudi Arabia had no direct role in talks, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Some countries are not attending the talks, and their role was destructive. They were helping the terrorists.” (Reuters, 1/17)

    • Rouhani said Trump’s talk of renegotiating JCPOA is “mainly slogans,” and that “there will be no negotiations on the nuclear deal.” (AP, 1/17) (NYT, 1/17)

      • Zarif made similar comments at WEF: Trump “will be surprised” if he tries to walk away from JCPOA.

        • He also said it “won’t be the end of the world if he (Trump) tries to walk away from the deal.” (AP, 1/19)

      • Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi echoed remarks by saying Iran would not enter political negotiations on JCPOA with Trump’s administration.

        • “I, as a member of the nuclear negotiating team, say that the nuclear talks with the US have come to an end, and that we don’t have any more negotiations with the US on the nuclear issue.”

        • He also said Iran “faced failures in [US] commitment [to the nuclear deal], delays, postponement policies, and we do not expect anything other than this from America.” (Al-Monitor, 1/16)

    • U.S. Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) introduced bill to initiate investigation into Iran Air. If Iran Air was found to support IRGC or foreign terrorist organization, airline would be added to U.S. sanctions list.

    • Zarif said Iran was open to economic relations with U.S. (Tasnim News, 1/18)

    • Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Nikki Haley said at her confirmation hearing: “I think what would be more beneficial at this point is that we look at all the details of the Iran deal, we see if they (the Iranians) are actually in compliance. If we find that there are violations that we act on those violations.” (Reuters, 1/18)

    • Former U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Samantha Power said U.N. Security Council needs to push Iran to abide by arms embargo.

      • “We on the council need to come together to push Iran to effectively implement the binding provisions of resolution 2231 - especially restrictions that ban Iran's export of arms and related material.” (Reuters, 1/18)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Russia said it was in talks with Iranian officials on preparations for upcoming Syrian talks. (PressTV, 1/19)

      • Rouhani said he hopes planned talks can mark beginning of end of Syrian civil war. (AP, 1/17)

  • January 7-13, 2017


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran and P5+1 held last Joint Commission meeting before President-elect Trump takes office. Iran did not to trigger dispute resolution mechanism over U.S. sanctions extension.

      • Press release: “Joint Commission…recognized the United States' assurance that extension of the Iran Sanctions Act does not affect in any way the sanctions lifting Iran receives under the deal or the ability of companies to do business in Iran consistent with the JCPOA.” (Tasnim News, 1/11)

        • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: “the US officials pledged that ISA would not have practical consequences in terms of hitting Iran’s economy and the incipient modest economic openings post-JCPOA.” (Mehr News, 1/12)

      • Iran had previously threatened to retaliate to extension, saying it violated JCPOA. (Reuters, 1/10)

    • Iran is to receive 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium from Russia as compensation for exporting heavy water. U.N. Security Council approval is still needed.

      • Iran got similar amount of natural uranium in 2015, however, new shipment will be first since JCPOA came into force.

      • Material will be under surveillance of IAEA for 25 years after JCPOA implementation. (AP, 1/9) (European External Action Service)

    • WSJ reported that Iran agreed to have Isfahan uranium facility cleaned out, and enriched uranium taken out and degraded. Steps would push its stockpile far below 300-kilogram cap fixed in JCPOA. Iran challenged WSJ report saying enriched material flushed out of pipes would be exempt from cap. (WSJ, 1/10) (Tasnim News, 1/11)

      • In 2015, Iran had an estimated 100 kilograms of enriched uranium stuck in pipes and machinery at facility. Amount of uranium in Isfahan is matter of dispute between Iran and IAEA. (WSJ, 1/10)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran Air has received its first plane from Europe’s Airbus. It is the first from order of 100 planes. (Airbus, 1/11)

    • Iran said development of large oilfield in Khuzestan province will be put to tender for first time within 4 weeks under new Iran Petroleum Contract. (Tasnim News, 1/10)

    • Deputy Oil Minister Abbas Kazzemi said several Chinese companies have opened first line of credit worth $1.3 billion to finance new Iranian refinery projects.

      • China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation, known as Sinosure, has financed Abadan oil refinery project. (Fars News, 1/10)

    • Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said Iran attracted $7.2 billion dollars in finance from three foreign banks. (Tasnim News, 1/7)

    • Iran is seeking investment to build 25 petrochemical projects. (Reuters, 1/7)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Former Iranian president and leading political figure Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died at age of 82. Analysts predict his death will be blow to Iranian reformists, and potentially to President Hassan Rouhani, who is running for reelection in 2017. (FT, 1/8) (Atlantic, 1/8) (NYT, 1/8) (Al-Monitor, 1/9)

      • Rouhani, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and many other reformist and hardline leaders paid their respects. 

      • Tehran’s mayor estimated up to 2.5 million people attended his funeral procession and related activities. Some Iranians used occasion to protest, with many asking to end house arrest of Green Movement leaders or end cooperation with Russia. (WSJ, 1/10) (Washington Post, 1/10) (NYT, 1/10)

    • Iranian lawmakers approved plan to expand military spending to 5% of budget, including developing long-range missile program.

      • This is significant increase from almost 2% allocated in 2015-2016 budget. (Reuters, 1/9)

    • 46 Iranian members of parliament asked for younger brother of Rouhani to be investigated and imprisoned for economic corruption.

    • Rouhani clashed with Iran’s judiciary over case of billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani, who was sentenced to death for fraud and other financial crimes. Rouhani suggests judiciary has not done enough against others involved in case or to recover embezzled funds. (AFP, 1/8)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mahan fired three warning shots in Strait of Hormuz after four Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) patrol boats acted in “harassing” manner.

      • Shots were fired after at least one boat travelled within 900 yards of Mahan with sailor manning its main gun. IRGC boats broke away after warning shots and established radio contact with Mahan afterward to ask for its course and speed. (Washington Post, 1/9)

    • Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was top executive at ExxonMobil when it did business with Iran through European subsidiary. At that time, Iran was under U.S. sanctions. (USAToday, 1/9

    • Iran was popular topic at Senate confirmation hearings for Trump nominees this week.

      • Tillerson said he would plan a “full review” of JCPOA, but did not indicate he would seek to end it. He also said he would increase monitoring and verification systems to ensure Iran did not violate agreement. (Los Angeles Times, 1/11) (USIP, 1/12)

        • In response to his comments, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi said Iran “has many times reiterated that the JCPOA dossier will not open again at any rate.” (Tasnim News, 1/13)

      • Secretary of Defense nominee General James Mattis said: “I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement — it’s not a friendship treaty. But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.” (NYT, 1/12)

      • CIA Director nominee Mike Pompeo said he would continue to monitor Iran’s compliance to JCPOA, regardless of what information indicated. (CNN, 1/12)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon submitted bi-annual report to Security Council on December 30 expressing concern that Iran may have violated arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Hezbollah.

      • Report also cites accusation by France that arms shipment seized in Indian Ocean in March 2016 was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen.

      • Report is due to be discussed by Security Council on January 18.

        • Report said: “Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, stated that the budget of Hezbollah, its salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles all came from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” (Reuters, 1/8)

    • Iran said it received official invitation from Saudi Arabia for its pilgrims to attend this year’s hajj. There was no official Iranian delegation at last year’s pilgrimage. (AFP, 1/10)

      • Iranian delegation will visit Saudi Arabia next month to discuss plans for this year’s hajj. (AP, 1/11)

    • Guardian reported that Iran is orchestrating population swaps to make demographic changes to parts of Syria to realign country into zones of influence.

      • Swap of residents from two Shia villages west of Aleppo, Fua and Kefraya, were seen as litmus test for more extensive population shifts. (Guardian, 1/13)

    • Lebanese President Michael Aoun, who has support of Iran, visited Saudi Arabia and said his close ties to Iran should not impede relations with wider Arab world. (AP, 1/11)

    • Rouhani had phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding latest developments in Syria. (Tasnim News, 1/13)

    • Photographs released by Australian government show that weapons seized from smuggling vessel near Yemen’s coast appear to have been manufactured in Iran. (NYT, 1/10)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi dismissed allegations against Iran raised by Saudi Defense Minister Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud. (Tasnim News, 1/8)


    Israel

    • Federal Prosecutor in Germany announced indictment of Pakistani man, Syed Mustufa H., allegedly commissioned by Iran’s regime to spy on former head of German-Israel Friendship Society and on economic entities. (Jerusalem Post, 1/4)

    • U.S. District Court in Washington, DC ruled that Iran and Syria had to pay nearly $200 million to family of Israeli infant killed by Hamas terrorist in 2014 car attack in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post, 1/12)

  • December 17-January 6, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran requested meeting of Joint Commission, which monitors JCPOA implementation, in response to renewal of Iran Sanctions Act. Meeting will take place January 10.

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asked for meeting in letter to European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security PolicyFederica Mogherini. (Reuters, 12/17) (PressTV, 12/24)

    • International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano visited Iran for second time since JCPOA went into effect. He confirmed Iranian implementation of JCPOA.

      • Amano met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who maintained sanctions renewal was JCPOA violation. (Mehr News, 12/18) (AFP, 12/18)

    • Iran and P5+1 agreed on clarifications that will reduce amount of enriched uranium that counts towards limit set by JCPOA.

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Iran would soon inject gas into its latest generation, IR8, centrifuges. (Fars News, 12/20)

    • Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to United Nations will hold meeting in New York in mid-January to discuss JCPOA achievements. (PressTV, 1/6)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran named 29 companies from more than a dozen countries as being allowed to bid for oil and gas projects using new petroleum contract.

      • Firms include Shell, Total, Eni, Petronas, Gazprom, and Lukoil. (Reuters, 1/2)

    • Europe’s Airbus completed deal to sell 100 planes to Iran Air. Contract is valued at more than $18 billion based on list price, which doesn’t include discounts. (WSJ, 12/22)

    • Iran said it had negotiated to pay only about half of announced price for 80 new Boeing planes. Order was originally worth $16.6 billion. (Reuters, 12/26)

    • Iran sold more than 13 million barrels of oil over past three months that it had long held on tankers at sea. This is almost half of oil it had held in storage. (Reuters, 1/6)

    • NIOC signed short-term contract with Italy’s Eni to sell crude oil. (Reuters, 12/19)

    • South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Company secured deal from Iran to expand key oil refinery. Deal is valued at $1.9 billion. (PressTV, 12/29)

      • South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Company announced deal to develop shipyard in Iran. (PressTV, 12/30)

    • BP opted out of first wave of agreements to develop Iranian oil and gas reserves, setting it apart from competitors Royal Dutch Shell and Total. (Financial Times, 1/2)

    • Netherland’s Vitol signed deal with National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) to loan it an equivalent of €1 billion.

      • This is first major contract signed between Iran and trading house since sanctions were lifted. (Reuters, 1/4)

    • Iranian rial hit record low against U.S. dollar. (Reuters, 12/26)

    • International Monetary Fund said it expected Iranian economic growth to reach as high as 6.6% for Persian calendar year that started in March 2016. (PressTV, 12/20)

    • Indonesia’s Pertamina will buy 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil. (Reuters, 12/19)

    • Germany’s Medio Energy Invest GmbH & Co. KG signed two memoranda of understanding with Khuzestan Regional Electricity Company of Iran for construction of two wind and solar power plants. (Mehr News, 12/18)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Rouhani unveiled bill of rights which guaranteed freedom of speech, protest, fair trials, privacy, and more for Iranians. (AFP, 12/19)

    • Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said there were as many as 70 spies serving sentences in city’s prisons. (AFP, 1/4)

    • British-Iranian woman being held in prison, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was released from solitary confinement into general prison ward. (The Guardian, 1/2)

      • She appeared in appeals court using last legal opportunity to challenge her five-year sentence. Verdict is expected next week. (The Guardian, 1/4)

    • Rouhani urged judiciary to disclose its financial accounts after judiciary head Sadegh Larijani claimed that Babak Zanjani, billionare businessman sentenced to death for economic crimes, financed Rouhani’s election campaign in 2013. (Financial Times, 1/4)

    • Imprisoned political activist, Arash Sadeghi, halted his hunger strike after authorities released his wife from prison.

      • Hunger strike started more than two months ago to protest his wife’s incarceration. (NYT, 1/3

    • Iranian opposition leader, Mehdi Karrubi, who has been on house arrest for nearly six years, resigned as secretary-general of National Trust party.


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Treasury Department amended regulations to expand scope of medical devices and agricultural commodities authorized for export to Iran.

      • Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will allow companies to send Americans to Iran to help with their operation and maintenance. (Al-Monitor, 12/22) (Wall Street Journal, 12/22)

      • OFAC also provided additional guidance that would aid companies in event of restoration of Iranian sanctions. (WSJ, 12/16)

      • Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani criticized U.S. for disrupting military operation to retake Mosul. (Tasnim News, 1/3)

      • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Senior Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami accused U.S. of interfering in Syria to check Iran’s regional influence. (PressTV, 12/25)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Russia, Iran, and Turkey met on December 20 in Moscow for talks on Syrian conflict, attempting to agree on principles they thought any future Syrian deal should adhere to.

      • New peace talks between Syrian government and opposition could begin January 23 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

      • Reuters released article that sources say outline deal would allow regional autonomy in Syria within federal structure controlled by Alawite sect. Under deal, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would remain president for at least few years. (Reuters, 12/28) (AP, 1/4)

        • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi disputed Reuters article saying Iran will defend Syria’s territorial integrity. (PressTV, 1/2)

    • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on Iran to exert pressure on Shi’ite-backed militias and Syrian government to stop violating Syrian ceasefire, warning violations were putting planned peace talks in peril. (Reuters, 1/4)

      • Zarif, and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, had previously welcomed establishment of Syrian ceasefire. (Tasnim News, 12/30)

    • Oman, traditionally on friendly terms with Iran, joined Saudi-led coalition of Muslim countries fighting terrorism. (Reuters, 12/29)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamanei condemned Britain after Prime Minister Theresa May’s remarks at Gulf Cooperation Council summit. (Reuters, 12/17)


    Israel

    • Argentine court ordered renewed investigation into prosecutor’s accusation that former President Cristina Fernandez covered up alleged involvement of Iranians in 1994 attack on Jewish community center. (AP, 12/29) (NYT, 12/29)
  • December 12-16, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Head Ali Akbar Salehi for plan for nuclear-powered marine vessels, and production of their fuel, within three months.

      • “I order the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to ... plan the design and construction of a nuclear propeller to be used in marine transportation.”

        • Move might require Iran to enrich uranium to fissile purity above maximum level set in JCPOA. (Reuters, 12/13)

      • Iranian admiral reportedly said Iran had begun to design first nuclear submarine in June 2012, but no project ever came to fruition. (AP, 12/13)

    • Russian Foreign Ministry said it would be unforgivable if JCPOA was lost. (Reuters, 12/15)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • U.S.’ Boeing completed $16.6 billion deal to sell 80 jetliners to Iran. This is first major agreement between U.S. company and Iran since election of Donald Trump.

      • First plane could be delivered to Iran Air in 2018. (WSJ, 12/11)

      • Sale is subject to number of contingencies including regulatory approvals, potential financing difficulties, etc.

        • Notably, Trump could revoke licenses that authorized sale or Congress could spoil it with new legislation. (WSJ, 12/13) (USAToday, 12/11)

    • Russia’s Gazprom PJSC reached agreement with Iran’s state-owned natural gas company. Its subsidiary, Gazprom Neft, signed deal to study two oil fields.

      • Russian delegation to Tehran, which included Gazprom and its subsidiary, signed nine agreements in various industries that could lead to final contracts with total value of $10 billion. (Bloomberg, 12/13)

      • Russia will also provide financing for construction of new thermal power station in southern Iran. (Tasnim News, 12/14)

    • Russia’s Sukhoi has signed basic agreement to sell Iran its Superjet 100 planes. (PressTV, 12/16)

    • Iran and Russia have reached primary agreement on replacing dollar with their local currencies in bilateral trade transactions. (Mehr News, 12/14)

    • National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company and China’s Sinopec will jointly launch $3 billion oil project to develop Abadan Refinery. (Mehr News, 12/7)

    • Europe’s Airbus and Iran Air hope to finalize plane deal within two weeks. Airbus has agreed to arrange financing for first 17 planes in deal. 

      • First contract is expected to involve 50-60 jets out of 118 provisionally ordered in January. (Reuters, 12/13)

    • Iran’s Aseman Airlines agreed to lease seven Airbus jets. (Reuters, 12/15)

    • Iran announced plan to build country’s first coal-fired power station in partnership with China’s Shanghai Electric Group Company. (Mehr News, 12/14)

    • Iran’s crude oil exports in December are set to fall 8% from November. (Reuters, 12/14)

    • Central Bank of Iran will be chair of Islamic Financial Services Board for year 2017.

      • This could help align practices in country’s banking system with peers across Asia and Middle East. (Reuters, 12/14)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Rouhani is expected to visit Russia in January 2017. (Tasnim News, 12/16)

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei pardoned or commuted prison terms of 1,231 convicts. (Tasnim News, 12/16)

    • Iranian Army’s Ground Forces unveiled two domestically designed and manufactured drones. One drone is capable of carrying air-to-surface missiles. (PressTV, 12/13)

    • Iranian authorities detained 120 people having private party in Tehran coffee shop. (NYT, 12/14)


    US-Iran relations

    • 10-year-renewal of Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) became law after President Obama declined to sign it. White House had previously said Obama was expected to sign it. (AP, 12/15)

      • Secretary of State John Kerry statement said: “we have also been clear that the extension of this law is entirely consistent with our commitments in the JCPOA.” (State.gov, 12/15)

    • Iran’s plan for nuclear-powered vessels caused controversy in U.S. Announcement was likely linked to potential ISA renewal.

      • White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said move would not violate JCPOA.

      • U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby said program is massive undertaking and would take decades to realize. (Reuters, 12/13)

    • In addition to nuclear-powered vessel request, Rouhani also asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to address JCPOA violations and implement other international legal proceedings within one month. (Mehr News, 12/13)

    • U.S. Treasury Department issued guidance that would aid companies in event of restoration of sanctions on Iran. (WSJ, 12/16)

    • U.S.-led forces in Iraq have started arming and training hundreds of fighters belonging to Shiite militias historically known for having ties to Iran.

      • In recent weeks, coalition has provided hundreds of guns and training to fighters. (LA Times, 12/13)

    • European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief and Joint Commission Head Federica Mogherini said it is in U.S. interest to maintain JCPOA.

      • “I have a special responsibility in guaranteeing that all parties implement it. There is no way the agreement can be reopened bilaterally…My role as the chair of the joint commission stays for guaranteeing that implementation is full and for all parties.” (WSJ, 12/15)

    • U.S. citizen born in Iran, Shantia Hassanshahi, was sentenced to one year in prison for violating U.S. ban on exports to Iran.

      • He pled guilty to conspiring to ship $1 million worth of electromechanical relay devices to protect Iran’s civilian power grid. (Washington Post, 12/12)

    • U.S. citizen Kenneth Zong was charged with evading U.S. sanctions on Iran.

      • Zong, one American, and three Iranian co-conspirators engaged in fraudulent transactions intended to unlawfully convert and remove Iranian-owned funds from South Korean banks. (Reuters, 12/15)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Media reports suggested Iran introduced new conditions to ceasefire and evacuation deal negotiated by Russia and Turkey in attempt to spoil deal. (Reuters, 12/14) Iranian Foreign Ministry denied reports. (Fars News, 12/15)

    • Iranian militias participating in battle for Syria’s Aleppo held nearly 1,000 people at militia checkpoint after they evacuated overnight after ceasefire deal. (Reuters, 12/14)

    • Rouhani called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to congratulate him on defeating rebel forces in Aleppo. (AFP, 12/14)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan said Trump’s election has led to unease among U.S. allies in Gulf. He warned that war could destroy Israel and other countries.

      • “Such a war would mean the destruction of the Zionist regime (Israel) ... and will engulf the whole region and could lead to a world war.” (Reuters, 12/11)

    • Iran summoned British ambassador to protest against remarks by Prime Minister Theresa May at Gulf Cooperation Council Summit last week. (Reuters, 12/10)

    • Iran confirmed deaths of two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces officers in recent Palmyra battle. (Long War Journal, 12/15)


    Israel

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to discuss with Trump ways to undo JCPOA once he takes office. He suggested there were several ways to do so.

      • “I think what options we have are much more than you think. Many more. .. I have about five things in my mind. I’d like to talk to the president (about it).”

      • He also claimed that if JCPOA was undone, Iran would not rush toward bomb, “I think Iran didn’t rush to the bomb before there was a deal… because they were afraid of retribution.” (Haaretz, 12/11)

    • During meeting with Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement head Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, Rouhani said there was no option for Palestinians except for Jihad and resistance. (PressTV, 12/13)

    • Khamenei said Palestine would only be liberated through resistance, and that other solutions were useless.

      • “The Zionist regime -- as we have already said -- will cease to exist in the next 25 years if there is a collective and united struggle by the Palestinians and the Muslims against the Zionists.” (PressTV, 12/14)

    • Israeli advocacy group Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center asked U.S. federal court to block Boeing deal, saying Tehran must first pay off billions of dollars in damages to families of people killed or wounded by Iranian-backed militant groups. (Fox News, 12/16)

    • Netanyahu’s trip to Azerbaijan drew criticism from Iran. (Jerusalem Post, 12/12)

    • Hamas’ representative in Iran, Khaled al-Qaddumi, said Iran and Hamas ties were getting better every day. (ISNA, 12/12)

  • December 3-9, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran is no longer in violation of JCPOA for excess heavy water stocks. (AP, 12/7) (Reuters, 12/6)

    • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan is offering Iran around $2.2 million for nuclear safety initiatives to help Iran implement JCPOA. (Japan Times, 12/8)

    • Iran’s Special Board Monitoring JCPOA Implementation met this week with President Hassan Rouhani in attendance. (IRNA, 12/7) (Tasnim News, 12/7)

      • Board studied retaliatory measures and approved them in case of possible future violations. (PressTV, 12/7)

        ·         IAEA head Yukiya Amano plans to visit Iran before end of current year. (AP, 12/6)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he believes JCPOA will continue to remain in force. (Tasnim News, 12/8)

      • “I believe it is in the interests of the United States as well as the rest of the international community to respect this multilateral agreement.” (Reuters, 12/8)

    • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Zarif urged governments not to violate JCPOA during Zarif’s visit to Beijing. (AP, 12/5)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Netherland’s Shell signed memorandum of understanding to assess three of Iran’s largest oil and gas fields.

      • Fields are Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields near Iraqi border and Kish gas deposit in Persian Gulf. (Bloomberg, 12/7) (WSJ, 12/7)

    • Iran signed contracts with South Korea’s shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. for at least eight Ultra Large Container Vessels, as well as medium-range tankers for carrying petroleum products.

    • OPEC and non-OPEC producers will meet Saturday in Vienna to try to approve agreement to cut crude output further. (Reuters, 12/8)

    • European Union (EU) banned Iran’s Aseman Airlines from operating within EU due to safety concerns. Aseman is Iran’s third largest by active fleet size. (Reuters, 12/8)

    • Rouhani approved motion proposed by Central Bank of Iran to change name and denomination of currency. Currency would change from rial to toman.

      • Motion would take effect after receiving parliamentary approval. (AP, 12/7)

    • Iran will launch first new-style tender to develop oil and gas fields after January 2017. (Reuters, 12/5)

    • National Iranian Oil Company and Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited signed initial agreement to study three major Iranian oil fields. (Tasnim News, 12/7)

    • Iran’s Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company signed agreement with Japan’s Itochu to fund petrochemical project. (PressTV, 12/4)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Zarif met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. (IRNA, 12/8)

    • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp Aerospace Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Iran is increasing production of ballistic missiles. (Fars News, 12/6)

    • Brig. Gen. Gholamhossein Gharib Parvar replaced Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi as Basij commander.

      • Naqdi was appointed deputy commander for cultural and social affairs. (IRNA, 12/7)

    • Iran’s Supreme Court upheld death sentence of billionaire Babak Zanjani who was involved in high-profile fraud case. (FT, 12/3)


    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian Ambassador to U.N. Gholam Ali Khoshroo wrote letter to U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon claiming U.S. violated JCPOA after U.S. Congress passed Iran sanctions extension.(Tasnim News, 12/

    • Rouhani said he would not let President-elect Donald Trump rip up JCPOA, warning of repercussions if Washington pulls out.

      • “Do you think the he can rip up the JCPOA? Do you think we and our nation will let him do that?”

      • Rouhani also said extension of U.S. sanctions would prompt Iranian response.

        • “If the Iran Sanctions Act is carried out, it will be a clear and obvious violation of the agreement and will be met with a very harsh response from us.” (Reuters, 12/6)

        • “Even if the US president declares invalid part of the bill ratified at the US Congress, we will react to this level of JCPOA violation that has [already] taken place.” (PressTV, 12/6)

    • Zarif warned that Iran would halt implementation of JCPOA over sanctions extension.

      • “If they (the US) return to sanctions, we will not remain committed to the agreement.” (PressTV, 12/3)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • 37th Summit of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was held in Manama. Final communiqué rejected Iranian interference in internal affairs of GCC countries and region.

      • “Iran must change its policy of harboring the terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, supporting terrorist militias and triggering sectarian strife in the region.” (Asharq Al-Awsat, 12/8)

      • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi responded by stating: “Instead of rehashing repeated and baseless accusations, the [GCC] must stop interfering in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic, including efforts by certain members to create sectarian and religious discords.” (PressTV, 12/8)

    • At GCC Summit, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to deepen security cooperation with Gulf Arab countries and work with them to counter Iranian activities.

    • Leaders from U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and U.K. urged for immediate ceasefire in Aleppo, and condemned Russia and Iran for supporting Syrian government.

      • “We urge the Syrian regime to do this immediately to end the terrible situation in Aleppo; we demand Russia and Iran to exercise their influence to make this happen.” (Reuters, 12/7)

    • Saudi Arabian sentenced 15 men to death for spying on behalf of Iran. Fifteen other men received prison terms of six months to 25 years on similar charges.

      • One Iranian received prison term. (NYT, 12/6)

    • Turkey claimed Iranian-made drone was used in attack on Turkish military camp in northern Syria in which four Turkish soldiers were killed. (Hurriyet Daily News, 12/7)

    • Ghasemi said Iran and Saudi Arabia should cooperate to resolve regional crises. (AP, 12/5)


    Israel

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would discuss “bad” nuclear deal with Trump after he enters White House.

      • “Israel is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That has not changed and will not change. As far as President-elect Trump, I look forward to speaking to him about what to do about this bad deal.” (Reuters, 12/4)

    • Hezbollah denied media reports that it promised Russia not to retaliate against Israeli strikes on targets within Syria.

      • “(The) alleged pledge from Hezbollah to Russia not to respond to Israeli raids against targets inside Syria... is absolutely baseless and falsified.” (Tasnim News, 12/9)

    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour accused Israel of supporting terrorism and extremism in region. (Fars News, 12/9)

  • November 19-December 2, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran transferred 11 tons of heavy water to Oman after it exceeded 130-ton level set in JCPOA. (PressTV, 11/22)

    • Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iran would increase uranium production and enrichment to 190,000 SWU if U.S. extended Iranian sanctions. (PressTV, 11/29)

    • Asharq Al-Awsat reported that alarming supply of Iridium-192 was recently stolen from Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 11/25)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • OPEC reached deal to cut production. Saudi Arabia promised 4.6% cut, while Iran was permitted small increase to recover from nuclear-related sanctions. (The Economist, 12/3)

    • U.S. Treasury Department authorized France’s Airbus to sell 106 planes to Iran Air. (Reuters, 11/22)

    • Iran signed memorandum of understanding with France’s Schlumberger, world’s largest oil driller, over development oil field. (PressTV, 11/27) (WSJ, 11/27)

    • U.K.’s BP created new executive committee to explore business in Iran. (Reuters, 11/22)

    • Iranian media reported that Iran’s currency plummeted more than 5% against U.S. dollar in less than 10 days. (AP, 11/29)

    • U.K.’s Lloyd’s of London, world’s largest specialty insurer, announced plans to launch offices in Iran. (PressTV, 11/20)

    • Germany’s state-run lender, KfW IPEX, reportedly agreed to provide Iran with $1.27 billion credit line to help finance key rail project. (PressTV, 11/27)

    • China’s ZTE Corp. said it won further reprieve to February 27 on export restrictions that were imposed on company by U.S. government. (Reuters, 11/18)

    • Iran and Romania signed initial agreement to build power station near Iraqi border. Project calls for investment of up to $700 million. (PressTV, 11/30)

    • Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda said Italy expects agreements between oil giant Saipem and steel firm Danieli and Iran to go ahead as planned. (PressTV, 11/24)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will visit India, China, and Japan in coming days. (PressTV, 11/30)

    • Iran backtracked on reports that said it wanted to buy Russian Sukhoi Su-30 fighter planes. (Reuters, 11/26)

    • Iranian judicial authorities attempted to arrest Parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi because of his scrutiny of Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani’s personal financial conduct. (The Guardian, 11/28)

    • Media reports suggest that at least 12 Iranian nuclear negotiating team members have been arrested by Iran for espionage over unknown period of time. (Jerusalem Post, 11/18)

    • Iranian pilgrims were among dozens killed by ISIS attack near Hilla, Iraq. (BBC, 11/24)

    • Son of one of Iran’s founding revolutionaries, Ahmad Montazeri, was sentenced to jail after releasing decades-old tape in which his father denounced mass execution of prisoners. (WSJ, 11/30)


    US-Iran relations

    • Dual American-Iranian citizen Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife Afarin Niasari have been detained in Iran since July. Vafadari is an art gallery manager.

      • No public charges have been brought and couple has not had access to lawyer. (AP, 12/2)

    • President Obama is expected to sign law renewing U.S. sanctions on Iran after Senate passed legislation on Thursday. (The Hill, 12/1)

      • Iranian parliamentarians plan to present bill requiring government to resume all nuclear activities if Obama signs sanctions renewal into law. (Mehr News, 12/2)

      • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said U.S. sanctions renewal is violation of its JCPOA commitments. (PressTV, 11/27)

      • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran has made necessary preparations for U.S. extension of sanctions. (PressTV, 11/28)

    • Small Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) vessel pointed its weapon at U.S. Navy MH-60 helicopter in Strait of Hormuz on Saturday.

      • U.S. defense officials called action “unsafe and unprofessional.” (Reuters, 11/29)

      • IRGC denied claim and blamed U.S. for its “improper” action in Persian Gulf. (PressTV, 11/29)

    • CIA Director John Brennan warned that tearing up JCPOA would be disastrous. (NYT, 11/30)

    • Dual American-Iranian citizen Reza Olangian was found guilty on charges that he tried to help Iranian government acquire surface-to-air missile and aircraft components in violation of U.S. sanctions. (Reuters, 11/23)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iraqi parliament approved law that changed Popular Mobilization forces into legal and separate military corps.

    • According to report on pro-Hezbollah news site, Russia and Hezbollah have begun “official” military coordination in Syria. (Times of Israel, 11/24)

    • Iran reported that more than 1,000 Iranian soldiers deployed to Syria have been killed. (Reuters, 11/22)

    • Obama said Syrian crisis could persist for “quite some time,” pointing to Russian and Iranian support for Assad as factor. (Reuters, 11/20)

    • Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said “at some point [Iran] will need bases on the shores of Yemen and Syria.” (AP, 11/26)

    • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif in Tehran. (PressTV, 11/26)

      • During meeting, Rouhani said: “Regional stability and security, particularly in Iraq and Syria, should form the basis for interaction and cooperation between Iran and Turkey.” (PressTV, 11/26)

    • Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin held phone conversation where they discussed latest developments in Syria. (PressTV, 11/28)

      • Iran and Russia are likely to sign agreement that would remove visa requirements for travelers using package tours. (PressTV, 11/28)

    • Saudi Arabia was heavily targeted by state-sponsored hackers for past two weeks. Early digital evidence suggests attacks emanated from Iran. (Bloomberg, 12/1)


    Israel

    • Israel’s Ambassador to U.N. Danny Danon wrote letter to U.N. Security Council accusing Iran of using airlines, such as Mahan Air, to ship weapons to Hezbollah.

    • “It is clear that Iran is still the primary supplier of arms and related materiel to Hezbollah, in blatant violation of numerous Security Council resolutions.” (Reuters, 11/22)

    • Iranian government company owns 4.5% of German shipbuilding company, ThyssenKrupp, which is at center of submarine scandal plaguing Israel.

      • Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal lawyer David Shimron used close relationship with Netanyahu to push Israel to purchase submarines from ThyssenKrupp. (Times of Israel, 12/2)

    • Iranian Basij Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi said Palestinian territories would be freed from Israeli occupation in next 10 years. (Fars News, 11/21)

  • November 12-18, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano chided Iran for exceeding agreed limit on its heavy water stockpile.

      • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Iran has fulfilled its obligations on heavy water stockpiles. (PressTV, 11/18)

        • Iranian Ambassador to IAEA Reza said JCPOA’s only commitment related to heavy water was that it had to be offered up for export in international markets, which is what Iran has done. (Mehr News, 11/18)

      • U.S. and Iran clashed at IAEA over the issue for first time since JCPOA was passed. (Reuters, 11/17)

    • EU urged all parties to JCPOA to stick to their commitments. (AFP, 11/13)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran says it expects to receive its first Airbus plane by end of 2016. (PressTV, 11/17)

    • Iran boosted oil output at three western fields faster than it expected. (Bloomberg, 11/13)

    • Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia hinted that Iran will sign second oil contract with European firm in next few weeks. (Fars News, 11/12)

    • France’s Total, Netherlands’ Shell, and South Korea’s Korea Gas Corporation attended round of talks between Iran and Oman on construction of subsea pipeline to export natural gas. (PressTV, 11/14)

    • National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed three memorandums of understanding with Russian oil companies Lukoil, Tatneft, and Zarubezhneft. (IRNA, 11/18)

    • Iran inaugurated three oil fields in Southwestern Iran. (PressTV, 11/13)

    • Germany’s Hermes Insurance Company will provide insurance coverage for investment projects in Iranian petrochemical industries. (Mehr News, 11/15)

    • Norway’s DNO ASA signed memorandum of understanding with NIOC to conduct study on development of oil field in Western Iran. (DNO, 11/16)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran is in talks with Russia over arms deal worth approximately $10 billion.

      • Iran could potentially receive T-90 tanks, artillery systems, planes and helicopters. (Reuters, 11/14) (Fars News, 11/14)

      • U.S. officials expressed concern about arms deal, especially given that U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 bans Iran from pursing offensive weaponry. (Free Beacon, 11/15)

    • Iran signed military cooperation agreement with China.

    • Iran confiscated 2 tons of explosives linked to planned ISIS attacks. (AP, 11/15)

    • Iranian cities were hit by choking levels of air pollution this week. (AFP, 11/14)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. House passed bill to block financial transactions related to export of passenger aircraft to Iran. Obama previously said he would veto legislation.

    • U.S. House passed 10-year extension of Iran Sanctions Act, which forms basis for energy, banking, and defense sanctions against Iran’s nuclear and missile activities.

      • Senate is likely to pass same measure, instead of trying to expand scope of measures against Iran. (Washington Post, 11/16)

      • House also passed measure imposing new sanctions on anyone who provides Syrian government with financial, material, or technological support. (Washington Post, 11/15)

    • Trump’s adviser Whalid Phares said Trump will demand changes to JCPOA.

      • “He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore few issues or change few issues, and there will be a discussion.” (CNN, 11/10)

      • Kamalvandi said Tehran is not concerned by Trump’s JCPOA statements. (Fars News, 11/14)

    • Obama said he suspects Trump will not try to end JCPOA.

      • “For us to pull out would then require us to start sanctioning those other countries in Europe or China or Russia, that were still abiding by the deal.” (Washington Post, 11/14)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would continue to implement its JCPOA commitments and that Trump’s election has no impact on Iran’s will. (NYT, 11/16)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei said Iran was indifferent to Trump’s election and was ready for any possible incident. (NYT, 11/16)

    • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said U.S. targeted and demolished weapons factory in Syria that was built by Iran. (Trend News, 11/15)

    • 76 American national security experts urged Trump to reverse his hostility towards JCPOA. (NYT, 11/14)

    • Four Turkish and Iranian nationals, from same family, were indicted. They were charged with violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. (NYT, 11/10)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Eleven MENA countries signed letter to U.N. General Assembly that accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and interfering in Arab nations’ internal affairs.

      • United Arab Emirates organized letter; Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen signed it.

      • Countries also reaffirmed support for JCPOA. (AP, 11/14)

    • Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said Trump should not scrap JCPOA, but should increase pressure on Iran for its destabilizing regional activities.

      • “To scrap that willy-nilly as it were will have ramifications, and I don't know if something else can be put in its place to guarantee that Iran will not go that route if the agreement is scrapped.” (Reuters, 11/11)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi dismissed rumors that Taliban leaders have visited Iran. (Tasnim News, 11/15)


    Israel

    • Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said Iran set up missile factory in Syria that transferred supplies to Hezbollah to use during 2006 war against Israel. (Times of Israel, 11/11)

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s advisor Hussein Sheikh al-Islam said current missile production is not limited to Syria, and that missiles are being manufactured in several countries. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 11/13)

    • Media reports highlight that Israel will try to persuade Trump to curb Iran’s expansion in region. (Bloomberg, 11/17)

    • Najafi criticized Western silence on Israel’s nuclear program.

      • “The West's double standard policies on the nuclear program of the Zionist regime [Israel] have adverse consequences for regional security and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.” (PressTV, 11/18)

    • Zarif said Israel was main problem facing Muslim world. (PressTV, 11/14)

    • Hamas appointed Imad al Alami, who has close ties to Syria and Iran, as political leader in Gaza. He is replacing Ismail Haniyeh. (Times of Israel, 11/14)

    • Ghasemi said Israel is benefitting from current conflicts between Iran and Saudi Arabia. (Fars News, 11/14)


    Uncertain or dubious claims

    • Iranian Parliament’s Speaker Ali Larijani claimed Iran had precise intelligence showing that Israel and U.S. were creating and supporting terrorism in region. (Fars News, 11/14)
  • November 5-11, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency report said Iran is in violation of JCPOA by storing marginally more heavy water than allowed under agreement.

      • Report noted Iran had given notice it that it would resolve issue by exporting five metric tons of heavy water. (AP, 11/9)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi said 2011 cyberattack on Iranian nuclear facilities by U.S. and Israel improved readiness against acts of sabotage.

      • “Before the Stuxnet, we were not this careful, and the attack opened up a new science to us. Just by testing different equipment for [potential] industrial sabotage, we learn a lot.” (PressTV, 11/5)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran signed preliminary $4.8 billion gas agreement with consortium led by France’s Total SA. It is first major energy agreement following JCPOA.

      • Agreement, which is for new development at South Pars gas field, will be finalized next year. (NYT, 11/8)

      • Total will avoid U.S. sanctions by using euro to finance deal. (WSJ, 11/8)

      • Total said that Trump’s election will not impact agreement. (Reuters, 11/9)

    • Iran told OPEC it raised output in October by the most since sanctions were lifted. (Bloomberg, 11/11)

    • First Austrian bank subsidiary is planning to open in Tehran. (IRNA, 11/7)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to Lebanon to meet newly elected Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Zarif also travelled or is travelling to Romania, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. (Tasnim News, 11/7)

      • Following Aoun meeting, Zarif said “Iran and Lebanon have common enemies such as the Zionist regime as well as…terrorist groups.” (Tasnim News, 11/8)

    • Talks are underway for opening of E.U. bureau in Tehran. There are conflicting reports about whether or not it is likely to happen. (IRNA, 11/7) (Mehr News, 11/7)

    • Suicide attack killed at least 8 Iranian pilgrims in Samarra, Iraq. (IRNA, 11/9)

    • Iran held funeral ceremony for 10 soldiers killed in Syria. (AP, 11/10)

    • Iran arrested several terrorists affiliated with Kurdish terrorist group. (Fars News, 11/7)


    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said JCPOA is valid only as long as all parties uphold it. He hinted that Trump’s attempt to pull out of deal or renegotiate it would lead to its demise. (AP, 11/11)

      • Wall Street Journal reported that Trump could overturn signature parts of JCPOA entirely on his own, which could seriously undermine it. (WSJ, 11/9)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there was no possibility of JCPOA being overturned by Trump, saying it was approved by U.N. Security Council resolution.

      • “Iran's understanding in the nuclear deal was that the accord was not concluded with one country or government but was approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council and there is no possibility that it can be changed by a single government.” (AFP, 11/9)

      • Separately, Rouhani said Iranian policies would not change due to Trump’s election. (Tasnim News, 11/9)

    • Zarif called on Trump to stick to international agreements, including JCPOA. (AFP, 11/9)

      • Separately, Zarif said Iran had other options if other sides failed to comply with JCPOA. (PressTV, 11/11)

    • AEOI Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Trump cannot neglect JCPOA and must abide by it. (Fars News, 11/11)

    • Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri criticized Trump for his comments on Iran.

      • “The person who has recently achieved power, has talked off the top of his head! Threatening Iran in the Persian Gulf is just a joke.” (AP, 11/10)

    • Before election, Iranian Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazzayeri claimed U.S. presidential candidates were using Mosul operation to garner more votes. (Fars News, 11/5)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Zarif met with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Tehran to discuss continuing cooperation on Syrian crisis. (Fars News, 11/7)

    • Zarif said Hezbollah’s performance in Lebanon and in region was source of pride for entire Muslim world. (PressTV, 11/8)

    • In response to allegations by Riyadh that ballistic missile from Yemen targeted Mecca,  Qassemi said Saudi Arabia was spreading lies. (PressTV, 11/8)

    • Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri reiterated Iran’s commitment to Turkey in face of regional threats. (Tasnim News, 11/6)


    Israel

    • Zarif said most serious threat to Middle East and world was Israel. (Tasnim News, 11/8)

    • Iranian Parliament’s Speaker Ali Larijani said Syria is in forefront of resistance against terrorism and Zionism. (IRNA, 11/6)

  • October 29-November 4, 2016


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Saudi Arabia and Iran reportedly sparred at OPEC meeting last week with Riyadh threatening to raise oil output steeply if Tehran refuses to limit supply. (Reuters, 11/4)

    • Greece split with European allies and U.S. by blocking E.U. sanctions on Iran’s Bank Saderat, which U.S. accuses of terrorism financing. 

      • Last year, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned that any firm dealing with the bank would risk losing access to U.S. financial system. (WSJ, 11/2)

    • Despite U.S. terror-related sanctions, Mahan Air acquired rights to fly commercial routes in more than a dozen European and Asian countries.

      • Mahan Air is accused of providing services to Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). (AP, 11/2)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s export of crude oil surpassed 2 million barrels per day in October. (Tasnim News, 11/1)

    • Qatari firm Abu Issa Holding, one of largest retail and luxury goods firms in Middle East, plans to open several stores in Tehran next year. (Reuters, 10/30)

    • Oman’s Bank Muscat SAOG, Woori Bank of South Korea, and India’s UCO Bank Ltd. are in process of establishing presence in Tehran. (Bloomberg, 11/1)

      • Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International also plans to open branch in Iran. (Tehran Times, 10/30)

    • Iraq defaulted on $1 billion debt to Iran for purchase of electricity. (PressTV, 11/2)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian parliament approved Rouhani’s three new ministers. (Reuters, 11/1)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif plans to visit Lebanon in coming days or weeks. (Tasnim News, 11/4)

    • Zarif said ongoing international developments have made Iran the most powerful state in region. (PressTV, 10/30)

    • Iranian Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said Iran should execute fewer people and revise its death penalty laws. (AFP, 10/30)

    • Former Iranian judge and prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was sentenced to 135 lashes in corruption case. (NYT, 11/2)


    US-Iran relations

    • Thousands of Iranians burned American flags and chanted anti-American slogans to mark anniversary of 1979 seizure of U.S. Embassy in Tehran. (AP, 10/3

    • Obama extended national emergency executive order on Iran that has been in effect since 1979.

    • U.S. Treasury Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin travelled to Berlin, Rome, and Paris to discuss issues including JCPOA implementation. (WSJ, 10/31

    • IRGC Lieutenant Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said Iran will “send the deal [JCPOA] to Museum” if U.S. does not meet its obligations. (Tasnim News, 11/3)

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized both presidential candidates saying their debate comments were “sufficient for the annihilation of the reputation of the United States.” (Washington Post, 11/2)

      • Khamenei pointed to Donald Trump’s comments to show that Americans were finally speaking the truth about America. (Tasnim News, 11/3)

      • In separate address, Khamenei discussed U.S. untrustworthiness and emphasized that solving Iran’s problems do not hinge on U.S. rapprochement. (Tasnim News, 11/2)

    • U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch declined to comply with investigation by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) on Obama administration’s $1.7 billion payment to Iran. (Free Beacon, 10/28)

    • U.S. federal prosecutors charged two California men with conspiring to smuggle fighter-jet parts to Iran in scheme they allege dates back to 2009. (AP, 10/28)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), a coalition of Shi’ite militias of which many are backed by Iran, joined Mosul offensive last weekend. (Reuters, 10/30)

      • Objective is to encircle ISIL-held Tal Afar and sever supply lines from Syria. (AP, 10/29)

      • Hashid Shaabi said it plans to cross border into Syria to fight alongside Syrian government after clearing ISIL from Iraq. (Reuters, 10/29)

    • Iran welcomed election of Lebanese President Michael Aoun, calling it victory for Hezbollah.

      • Rouhani said election “was not the victory of a particular faction but was a manifestation of the peaceful coexistence of all various sects in Lebanon and a very sweet success for the Lebanese nation.” (PressTV, 10/31)

    • E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini visited Iran and Saudi Arabia over weekend to discuss Syria.

      • She underlined need for cooperation between Tehran and E.U. (PressTV, 10/29)

    • Turkey welcomed Iran’s proposal to act as an arbitrator to mend Turkish-Iraqi ties. (Tehran Times, 11/3)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Bahram Ghasemi rejected rumors of Iran’s support for Taliban. (IRNA, 10/31)

    • Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani said Iran opposed disintegration of Iraq. (PressTV, 10/30)

    • Iran’s judiciary issued verdicts for 20 people accused of storming Saudi diplomatic missions in January. (Reuters, 11/1)

      • Although full details are unknown, it was released that some were acquitted, and others were sentenced to three or six months. (AP, 11/4)

    • Iran criticized Saudi Arabia’s re-election to U.N. Human Rights Council. (AP, 10/30)


    Israel

    • Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chair Avi Dichter said Iran commands force of around 25,000 Shi’ite militants (mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan) in Syria. (Reuters, 11/3)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader’s adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati said Lebanese presidential election “shows new support for the Islamic resistance (against Israel).” (Reuters, 10/31)

    • Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem said fighting Syrian opposition is part of its battle against Israel. (Middle East Monitor, 11/3)

    • Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N. Gholam Hossein Dehghani said Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands continues to be most destabilizing factor that threatens international peace and security. (Tehran Times, 11/2)


    Uncertain or dubious claims

    • Iranian Supreme Leader’s military aide Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said NATO and U.S. are developing military bases and fomenting insecurity in Eastern and Southeastern Iran. (Fars News, 11/2)

    • IRGC Command Front Deputy Coordinator Salar Abnoush claimed that IRGC will be in U.S. and Europe very soon. (Free Beacon, 11/2)

  • October 22-28, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian Parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iran was fundamentally opposed to nuclear and chemical weapons, even though it is threatened by Israel’s nuclear arsenal. (PressTV, 10/25)

    • Heavy water from Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor now has purity of 95.99%, up from 75.99%. Iran plans to sell more heavy water in the future. (Trend News Agency, 10/24)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iranian Deputy Transportation Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan said European financing agencies were failing to support businesses keen to invest in Iran.

      • “Iran will not accept any clauses in trade agreements which insert political risks alongside commercial risks.”

      • “This is where European countries are failing to be committed to the nuclear agreement. One of the main reasons the signing of contracts in various sectors has been delayed is this issue.” (FT, 10/27)

    • Iranian energy companies, including one linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), will be allowed to bid on major oil projects previously earmarked for foreign firms. (Daily Star, 10/23)

    • U.K. removed its sanctions on Iran-based Bank Saderat. (WSJ, 10/25)

    • Germany’s Deutsche Bank started to provide financial services related to Iran’s oil trade. (PressTV, 10/23)

    • Export Guarantee Fund of Iran signed initial agreements with Germany’s Hermes insurance firm and Switzerland’s Export Risk Insurance to provide cover for transactions with Europe. (PressTV, 10/26)

    • Iran’s crude oil exports are set to decline 5% in November to four-month low. Its oil exports typically hit low around October or November each year. (Reuters, 10/27)

    • Iran announced it will purchase 400-500 new airplanes over next 8 years. (Mehr News, 10/26)

    • Iran and Finland signed 4 memorandums of understanding in energy, communication, technology, environment, and investment sectors. (IRNA, 10/26


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran and the European Union will hold comprehensive round of negotiations in Brussels in December. Human rights could be among topics discussed. (Tasnim News, 10/24)

    • Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli confirmed that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will run in next presidential election. (Fars News, 10/25)

    • Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, who was member of JCPOA negotiating team, was cleared of spying allegations. He was arrested in August. (AFP, 10/25)

    • Iranian parliament will hold vote next week for Rouhani’s new picks to head ministries of culture and Islamic guidance, sports and youth affairs, and education. (Tasnim News, 10/28)

    • IRGC unveiled new drone for use by its naval units. It is reportedly a “suicide drone” that would crash into ships. (AP, 10/26)

    • Iran’s Baha’i community said Iran’s effort to suppress the religious minority has continued unabated and intensified on some fronts. (AP, 10/25)


    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian-American Robin Shahini, who resides in San Diego, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage and “collaboration with a hostile government”. (AP, 10/25) (Vice News, 10/24)

    • U.S. Central Command Commander Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan said Iran was connected to cruise missiles fired at U.S. Navy ships earlier this month.

      • He also said U.S. and partner nations intercepted five weapons shipments from Iran that were headed to Houthis in Yemen. (NBC, 10/27)

    • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry were named winners of Chatham House Prize 2016.

      • Prize had mixed reaction in Iran. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said prize belonged to Iranian nation and that Zarif could not opt out of nomination because of nomination process. (Al-Monitor, 10/25)

    • Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaqari claimed U.S. and its allies are trying to spread terrorism along Iran’s Eastern borders. (Fars News, 10/28)

    • Rouhani criticized both American presidential candidates, saying voters would have to choose between bad and worse. (Reuters, 10/23)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • On Friday, Zarif discussed Syria with Russian and Syrian counterparts in Moscow.

      • In post-talks press conference, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said: “We in Syria have become convinced of the sincerity of the Russian and Iranian efforts in helping us rout terrorism.” (PressTV, 10/28)

    • Iran sided with Iraq in dispute with Turkey. Iran said Turkey should get permission from the Iraqi government in order to be able to participate in Mosul operation. (AP, 10/24)

      • Ghasemi rebuked Turkey for violating Iraqi sovereignty. (IRNA, 10/24)

    • IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani is reportedly advising Hashd al-Sha’abi (Iraqi popular mobilization forces) during Mosul offensive. (Fars News, 10/26)

      • Hashd al-Sha’abi will launch offensive against ISIL west of Mosul imminently. Offensive will block any retreat by ISIL operatives into Syria. (Reuters, 10/28)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei criticized the coalition against ISIL.

      • Although coalition “may enter into fight with terrorists in some cases, they are not genuinely after uprooting terrorism either in Iraq or in Syria and their bad and villainous policies intensify humanity’s problems day after day.” (Tasnim News, 10/25)


    Israel

    • During massive rally in Gaza, Islamic Jihad’s leader Ramadan Shalah said Iran was only country “which commits to the unending support of the Palestinian cause.” (AFP, 10/21)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said: “creation and expansion of terrorism and extremism are merely aimed at safeguarding the Zionist regime (of Israel) and maintaining instability in the region.” (Tasnim News, 10/26)

    • Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani said countries are trying to create divisions in Muslim world to distract public opinion from Israel. (PressTV, 10/27)

  • October 15-21, 2016


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Following updated U.S. Treasury Department guidelines, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) issued statement to Iranian banks that any failure by non-American banks to provide dollar-related services was unacceptable.

      • “Non-American banks cannot use US sanctions against Iran as an excuse for refusing to provide dollar-related services to Iranian individuals and entities.”

      • “Foreign banks and companies should not use the existence of certain ownership relations as an excuse for failing to provide services to Iranian banks.” (PressTV, 10/16)

    • National Iranian Oil Co. is asking companies to submit documents by November 19 to pre-qualify as bidders to develop Iran’s oil and natural gas fields. (Bloomberg, 10/16)

      • 29 oil fields and 21 gas fields are up for development. (AP, 10/17)

      • 16 international energy companies are negotiating for projects. (Bloomberg, 10/19)

    • Iran’s October crude and condensate exports are set to hold near five-year highs hit in September. (Reuters, 10/18)

    • CBI Governor Valiollah Seif accused U.S. of not implementing its JCPOA commitments.

    • UK’s Vodafone Group PLC plans to assist Iran’s HiWEB in modernizing infrastructure, and expanding landline and mobile internet services. (WSJ, 10/18)

    • International Monetary Fund’s Mideast Chief Masood Ahmed said Iran’s economy beat expectations by growing 4.5% this year. (AP, 10/19)

    • Denmark’s Maersk will resume transportation of goods to Iran. (IRNA, 10/20)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Six Iranians, including the Namazis (see below), were sentenced to 10 years in prison each for espionage and collaboration with U.S. government.

      • Other nationals are Nazaar Zakaa, Farhad Abd-e Saleh, Kamran Qaderi, and Alireza Omidvar. (PressTV, 10/19)

    • Three Iranian engineers died in Kirkuk, Iraq by ISIL suicide attack on power plant. (IRNA, 10/21)

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed pro-reform culture minister Ali Jannati. He also dismissed ministers of education and sport. (FT, 10/20)


    US-Iran relations

    • On Saturday, American destroyer USS Mason was again targeted, but missed, by missiles launched from Houthi-controlled part of Yemen.

      • Multiple missiles were fired; warship defended itself with countermeasures. (Reuters, 10/15)

      • U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Joseph Votel said he suspects Iran played role in recent missile launches. (The Hill, 10/19)

      • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi denied Iran’s role.

        • "The vague and contradictory remarks by American officials these past days are false, paranoid and inappropriate.” (AFP, 10/20)

    • Iran sentenced two U.S. citizens, Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi, to 10 years in prison on charges of spying and cooperating with U.S. (Reuters, 10/18)

    • Farzad Khosravi, who was imprisoned in Iran before being released in prisoner swap earlier this year, filed multi-million dollar lawsuit against Iranian government. (ABC News, 10/21)

    • Iranians criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for his comments in Foreign Affairs interview published last Friday.

      • Kerry said business in Iran will continue to suffer because “it’s very difficult when Iran is engaged in Yemen and supporting Assad and supporting Hezbollah and firing missiles that people deem to be threatening.” (Foreign Affairs, 10/14)

      • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said: “John Kerry’s remarks are nothing but an excuse for the US to avoid carrying its JCPOA commitments.” (PressTV, 10/17)

      • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei responded by saying: “We have, time and again, told [Iranian authorities] that if you surrender in the nuclear [case], they (Americans) will bring up the issue of the missiles.” (PressTV, 10/19)

    • Updated U.S. Treasury Department guidelines sparked concern in U.S. this week.

      • Senate Banking Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) received letter from Treasury accusing critics of “mischaracterizing” its efforts. (Weekly Standard, 10/19)

    • Iran’s parliament voted in favor of motion to follow up on legal disputes in U.S., including frozen Iranian assets in U.S. (Tehran Times, 10/18)

    • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said U.S. created warmongering climate that led to proliferation of terrorist groups. (PressTV, 10/17)

    • Iran’s Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri said U.S. was root cause of all problems in West Asia region.

      • “The US presence in the region is [like] a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the US out of the region.” (PressTV, 10/16)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Reuters reported that the frequency of weapons transfers from Iran to Houthis has increased notably. Smuggling activity has mostly been through Oman. (Reuters, 10/20)

    • Last Thursday, foreign ministers of GCC states and Turkey claimed Iran was interfering in their internal affairs and called on Iran to respect their national sovereignty.

      • Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded that these states “are not in a position to advice others not to interfere in regional affairs.” (PressTV, 10/15)

    • Iran summoned Turkish Ambassador to Iran Riza Hakan Tekin to express objections to recent statement by Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus.

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that Western countries have accepted necessity of holding referendum in Syria on its future. (Fars News, 10/19)

      • Separately, Zarif reportedly requested that Egypt attend last weekend’s Syria talks, a potential sign of strain between Egypt and its traditional allies. (The Guardian, 10/20)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader’s adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati said no country had right to interfere in internal affairs of Iraq by participating in Mosul operation. (PressTV, 10/19)

    • Iraq’s Popular Forces commander Seyed Hamed Jazzayeri praised Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani for training Iraqi forces inside Iraq. (Fars News, 10/18)


    Israel

    • Argentina issued extradition warrant for Velayati over 1994 bombing of Jewish center in Buenos Aires because he is currently on Iraqi soil. (AFP, 10/21)

    • Iran’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the U.N. Hossein Dehqani criticized Israel for its nuclear program.

      • “Nuclear weapon in the hands of Israeli regime…pose the most dangerous threat to the security of non-nuclear weapon States Parties in the Middle East.” (Tasnim News, 10/15)

    • IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari claimed there is evidence that Saudi Arabia is working with Israel to produce plots against Iran. (Tasnim News, 10/18)

  • October 8-14, 2016


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • U.S. Treasury Department updated guidelines on doing business with Iran. Obama administration said new guidance doesn’t ease sanctions, but some analysts disagree.

      • U.S. indicated it will not seek to sanction foreign companies doing business with blacklisted entities provided they maintain only minority interests in ventures.

      • Guidelines said Iran could legally gain access to dollar through non-U.S. banks and institutions provided they have no direct contact with U.S. financial system. (WSJ, 10/10) (Reuters, 10/10)

      • IMF President Christine Lagarde promised to launch consultations with U.S. authorities to remove barriers on cooperation between international and Iranian banks. (Mehr News, 10/11)

    • Boeing has reached agreement with American bank to providing financing for Iran’s purchase of airliners in cooperation with Japanese bank. (Tasnim News, 10/14)

    • OPEC said Iranian production reached new record output in September. (PressTV, 10/13)

    • Royal Dutch Shell signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with National Petrochemical Company of Iran to pursue joint petrochemical projects. (PressTV, 10/9)

    • National Iranian Oil Company signed MOU with Russia’s Tatneft. This is third Russian company to sign such deal. (Mehr News, 10/8)

    • Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia said agreement was reached with International Monetary Fund (IMF) on technical cooperation. (Mehr News, 10/12)

      • Tayebnia expects further relations with World Bank and IMF. (IRNA, 10/12)

      • Separately, Tayebnia praised Iran’s resilient economy model and said it allows “flexibility against external shocks.” (Al-Monitor, 10/9)

    • Norway opened $1 billion credit line for companies interested in working with Iran. (Mehr News, 10/9)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Russia completed delivery of S-300 air defense system to Iran. (Mehr News, 10/13)

    • Iran’s version of Uber, called Snapp, secured €20 million Series A round of financing. (TechCrunch, 10/9)

    • Iran detained several foreign nationals, potentially linked to ISIS, who planned to attack commemorations marking Shiite religious mourning period of Ashoura. (PressTV, 10/12) (AP, 10/13)

      • Separately, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it engaged in fight against members of PJAK, an offshoot of PKK. (PressTV, 10/11)


    US-Iran relations

    • American destroyer USS Mason was targeted, but missed, by missiles launched from Houthi-controlled part of Yemen on Sunday and Wednesday. Houthis are backed by Iran. U.S. launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday to knock out 3 coastal radar sites.

      • Iran sent two warships to Gulf of Aden on Thursday. (Reuters, 10/13)

      • USS Mason employed defensive measures against at least separate two missiles. It is unclear if any missiles would have hit destroyer if measure was not taken. (NYT, 10/10) (NYT, 10/12)

      • Regarding U.S. strikes, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said: “These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel.”

      • Houthis denied they carried out strikes but U.S. officials have said there were growing indications that Houthi fighters, or aligned forces, were responsible. (Reuters, 10/12) (Reuters, 10/13)

    • Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) proposed bill that would make it easier for terror victims to recover court-awarded funds from Iran.

      • His bill closes two loopholes that have allowed Iran, and other states, to hide funds through illegal transfers to and from foreign banks. (The Hill, 10/6)

    • U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) sent letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting more information on Department of Justice’s role in $1.3 billion in payments to Iran. (The Hill, 10/7)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will attend meeting on Syria in Lausanne on Saturday. (INRA, 10/14)

      • Yesterday, Zarif called for immediate ceasefire in Syria. (IRNA, 10/13)

    • Zarif sent letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon critizicing Saudi Arabia’s recent airstrike in Yemen that killed 140+ individuals and injured hundreds.

      • “Saudi attacks against Yemen…wouldn’t have been possible without a full range of expansive assistance by certain Western countries.” (IRNA, 10/10)

      • IRGC released statement claiming Saudi airstrike was joint plan hatched by Saudi Arabia, U.S., and Israel. (PressTV, 10/9)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader’s adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati stressed importance of Iranian and Russian coordination and cooperation, especially on Syria.

      • “Iran and Russia are the main allies of the Syrian government…this cooperation has played an important role in… the recent achievements by the Syrian government and people.” (PressTV, 10/11)

      • Syrian Prime Minister Imad Mohammad Deeb Khamis thanked Iran for supporting Damascus. (IRNA, 10/13)

    • Commander of IRGC Navy Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi said U.S. presence in Gulf was aimed at showing hostility towards Iran’s Islamic Revolution. (PressTV, 10/8)

    • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani accused western countries of supporting terrorist groups in Syria. (Fars News, 10/12)

    • Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri accused Hezbollah, and Iran, of destroying Syria and seeking to partition Yemen. (Daily Star, 10/12)


    Israel

    • Hamas senior official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Hamas hopes to enhance relations with Iran. (Fars News, 10/10)

  • October 1-7, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said Iran is implementing JCPOA without any particular problem. (Reuters, 10/1)

      • In separate interview, he stressed that JCPOA implementation is still fragile.

        • “Small technical mistakes, small failures in implementation can become big political issues that could have a large negative influence on the agreement.” (Reuters, 10/7)

    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi said Iran and China have started cooperation on Arak heavy water. (IRNA, 10/6)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran’s crude oil and condensate sales likely reached 2.8 million barrels per day in September, nearly matching 2011 peak before sanctions. (Reuters, 10/3)

      • Analysts believe these sales levels make Iran more likely to agree to OPEC quota. (Reuters, 10/3)

      • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for negotiations with non-OPEC crude-producing countries. (Tasnim News, 10/4

    • Iran signed first oil output contract under new model with Persia Oil & Gas Industry Development Co. Firm has been identified by U.S. as part of conglomerate, called Setad, controlled by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

    • International Monetary Fund said economic conditions are improving in Iran. (IMF, 10/3)

    • National Iranian Oil Co. sold natural gas condensate to BP for first time since sanctions were lifted. (Bloomberg, 10/5)

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said several oil and gas fields are being studied by foreign companies under non-disclosure agreements.

      • He also said Iran will sign several contracts with foreign companies by March 2017. (Tasnim News, 10/4)

    • Ten major international companies submitted proposals to develop 15 Iranian oil and gas projects. (PressTV, 10/2)

    • Germany’s Siemens signed contract to upgrade Iran’s railway system. (Reuters, 10/3)

      • Germany and Iran also signed range of other business deals. (PressTV, 10/3)

    • German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel promised to “remind the United States of the commitment to get to an effective dismantling of sanctions.”

      • U.S. “should act on its responsibilities concerning Iran so the outcome of the nuclear deal becomes visible in Iran.” (PressTV, 10/3)

    • France’s PSA (Peugeot Citroën) and Iran’s SAIPA finalized joint venture deal.

      • Car production will begin in 2018 and PSA hopes to produce 150,000 cars per year by 2021. (AFP, 10/6)

    • France’s Renault and Iranian investment fund IDRO signed joint venture deal.

      • Car production will begin in 2018 and new manufacturing plant will have capacity to produce 150,000 cars per year. (Reuters, 9/30)

    • Hungary will buy one million barrels of crude oil from Iran. (Reuters, 10/1)

    • Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia is in Washington D.C. to attend World Bank Group’s annual meeting. (Trend News, 10/6)

    • Several, mostly European, hotel groups are beginning to enter Iran. (WSJ, 10/4)

      • Iran offered up to 13 years of tax holidays to hoteliers. (AFP, 10/3)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released damning report on Iran’s human rights.  (The Guardian, 10/4)
      • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said report lacked credibility. (PressTV, 10/5)
    • Rouhani embarked on Southeast Asia tour. He is visiting Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. (Tasnim News, 10/5)
    • Iranian parliament is considering bill that abolishes death penalty for drug smugglers, who account for large majority of those executed. (NYT, 10/4)
    • Iran unveiled domestically-produced drone that is capable of carrying bombs. Drone appears to be similar to U.S. drone captured 5 years ago. (AP, 10/1)
    • Iran will prosecute 400 public sector officials over their high salaries. (AFP, 10/2)
    • Iran ordered female writer and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee to serve 6 year sentence for writing unpublished fictional story about stoning to death. (Guardian, 10/6)
    • Iran killed 12 militants in country’s Kurdish area. (AP, 10/4)
    • Iran plans to launch 3 domestically-built satellites into orbit. (IRNA, 10/6

    US-Iran relations

    • Group of bipartisan U.S. House lawmakers sent letter urging U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to resist Iran’s efforts to join World Trade Organization (WTO).

      • Lawmakers worry WTO rules could limit sanctions U.S. on Iran. (WSJ, 10/6)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran will “confront the Americans’ violation of the nuclear deal.” (Fars News, 10/4)

      • Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif also criticized U.S. implementation.

        • “The western side has not taken any effective step to comply with its undertakings, and in certain cases, the large western banks have shown some doubts in the establishment of brokering ties with Iran... We expect the European countries to pressure the US to comply with its undertakings.” (Fars News, 10/5)

    • Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family filed federal lawsuit against Iranian government. (Washington Post, 10/3)

    • Obama administration is trying to water down Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, bipartisan bill that would sanction Assad for mass torture, mass murder, war crimes, etc.

      • Administration worries bill’s sanctions on Iran could violate JCPOA and bill’s sanctions on Russia could hurt future diplomatic efforts. (Washington Post, 10/6)

    • U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent letter to State and Treasury departments asking them to provide records regarding Bank Sepah (and affiliate)’s release from U.N. sanctions. (The Hill, 10/6)

    • Iran’s space agency is interested in cooperating with NASA. (Washington Post, 10/4)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • United Arab Emirates ship, which was formerly contracted to U.S., was hit by four rockets and nearly sunk near Yemen’s southern coast. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility.
      • U.S. officials believe Iran supplied Houthi rebels with these rockets and U.S. Navy dispatched 3 warships to area where ship was struck. (Fox News, 10/3)
      • Iran denied U.S. allegations that it provided rockets. (Tasnim News, 10/5)
    • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) warned Saudi naval vessels taking part in military exercise in Gulf not to get close to Iranian waters.
      • IRGC published statement stating “this war game is mainly to create tension and destabilize the Persian Gulf.” (Reuters, 10/6)
    • Quds Force Commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani claimed Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “is very impatient and might kill his king.” (AP, 10/6)
      • He also said Saudis are backing Syrian rebels only to undermine Iran’s influence. (Washington Post, 10/6)
      • In separate statement, he said ISIL was created to target Iran, not Syria. (PressTV, 10/5)
    • Iran and Russia enhanced ties following meeting between Russian and Iranian deputy foreign ministers. Discussions meant to advance “immediate renewal of the coordinated international efforts aimed at an inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue.”
      • Russia said small warship armed with cruise missiles will join Russian naval group off Syrian coast in coming days. (WSJ, 10/7)
      • Syrian Deputy Information Minister Ali al-Ahmed hailed presence of Iran and Russia in Syria. (Tasnim News, 10/3)
    • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Iran supports Iraq’s territorial integrity. (PressTV, 10/4)
    • Kuwait arrested 2 Iranians after they were found photographing Shiite congregation halls ahead of major religious ceremony. (AP, 10/7)

    Israel

    • Larijani cancelled meetings with German Economy Minister Gabriel over demand that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist as precondition for full normalization of ties between Berlin and Tehran. (Times of Israel, 10/5)

      • Gabriel also urged Iran to pursue reforms and act responsibly in Syria. (Reuters, 10/4)

      • Zarif responded by saying “No one can set conditions for Iran and Iran is an independent country.” (PressTV, 10/1)

    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari said plan Israel is pursuing in Syria (not allowing Syria to respond to any of its moves) is the wrong bet and there is no guarantee it will last. (Mehr News, 10/5)

    • Qassemi praised Palestinian resistance against Israel’s criminal policies. (PressTV, 10/2)


    Uncertain or dubious claims

    • Senior Khamenei Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati said Iran “is not directly involved in any conflict or operation in any country.” (PressTV, 10/5)
  • September 24-30, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Head Ali Akbar Salehi threatened reversal of nuclear program: “Should the West fail to live up to its promises, our reversion would not be one to the previous state, but to a state which would be much different from how we used to be prior to the JCPOA.”

      • “Behind the scenes, [U.S.] scares banks by telling them that the slightest mistake would result in this or that consequence.” (PressTV, 9/30)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini about JCPOA implementation before ministerial meeting that was held on U.N. General Assembly sidelines. (Tasnim News, 9/30)

    • Iran will hold ceremony in next month to unveil its industrial-scale production of stable isotopes at Fordow nuclear facility. (Tehran Times, 9/30)

    • Russia confirmed Iran delivered 38 tons of heavy water. (Tehran Times, 9/27)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • OPEC agreed to outline of deal that would cut production for first time in 8 years. Iran will be exempt from capping production, a major concession by Saudi Arabia.

      • Many details remain unresolved and OPEC members won’t decide on targets for each country until November meeting. (Bloomberg, 9/28) (WSJ, 9/28)

      • In days prior to OPEC meeting, Iran signaled it was not ready to freeze output until it produced at more than 4 million barrels a day. (FT, 9/27)

    • Financial Action Task Force (FATF) continued to cause controversy in Iran.

      • Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia said Iran was not obliged to accept all conditions put forward by FATF. (AFP, 9/27)

      • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani weighed in on controversy by stating: “Unfortunately, some people are against [FATF] and call it disgusting while we are looking for the implementation of our own law and combating against terrorism.” (IRNA, 9/28)

    • Salehi claimed that U.S. did not adequately remove sanctions on Iran. (AP, 9/26)

      • Iran “asked [U.S.] to take further action to convince and actually remove the concerns of foreign institutions, particularly banks, about working with Iran.” (Tehran Times, 9/26)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Iran would not accept any conditions set by Airbus and Boeing if they contravened Iran’s sovereignty or independence.  (Tasnim News, 9/27)

    • Central Bank of Iran (CBI) said Iran’s inflation rate reached 8.8%. (Mehr News, 9/26)

    • France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to sell over 150,000 vehicles in Iran in second half of 2016 and 300,000 vehicles in 2017. (Tasnim News, 9/29)

    • France’s Renault reached deal with Iranian government to open plant to make at least 150,000 vehicles each year. (AP, 9/30)

    • Iranian banks begun issuing credit cards for first time in decades. (Reuters, 9/26)

    • Iran and Australia inked new cooperation pacts. (Fars News, 9/28)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei ruled out former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s return to politics. (NYT, 9/26)
      • Ahmadinejad subsequently wrote letter to Khamenei saying: “In carrying out the intentions of the leader of the revolution, I have no plans to take part in the elections.” (Reuters, 9/27)
    • Iran released Canadian-Iranian professor Homa Hoodfar, who was arrested in June. She was released on humanitarian grounds. (NYT, 9/26) (PressTV, 9/26)
    • Iranian appeals court confirmed 16-year sentence for prominent women’s rights activist and human rights lawyer Narges Mohammadi. (NYT, 9/28)
    • Iran and Italy took part in joint maneuvers in Strait of Hormuz. (Daily Star, 9/28)
    • Iran arrested 4 members of Iraqi-based terrorist group. (PressTV, 9/27)

    US-Iran relations

    • WSJ report suggested Obama administration lifted U.N. sanctions on 2 Iranian state banks on January 17, the same day that Tehran released American citizens.

      • Sanctions on banks weren’t supposed to be lifted until 2023.

      • Three separate documents were signed in Geneva on January 17.

      • Senior U.S. official said: “Lifting the sanctions on Sepah was part of the package. The timing of all this isn’t coincidental. Everything was linked to some degree.” (WSJ, 9/29)

    • U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said U.S. lived up to its JCPOA commitments and Tehran has no reason to complain that U.S. has not done enough on lifting sanctions.

      • “The sanctions that were to be relieved have been relieved. That's what was the commitment” (Reuters, 9/26)

      • In separate statement, Moniz said: “The international banking system, international business enterprises...[are] going to have to have more business confidence, if you like, which is going to take obviously more time than Iran would like to see.” (AP, 9/26)

        • CBI Governor Valiollah Seif disputed Moniz’s claims: “The commitments that the US accepted as per the JCPOA are yet to be implemented and the behavior of the American side to this effect is not transparent.” (Tasnim News, 9/28)

        • He also said U.S. expects “to put everything back in place through a simple statement. They even don’t do that and instead raise threats [against doing business with Iran].” (PressTV, 9/27)

    • Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani threatened Iran might “take more serious decisions to restore our rights” if U.S. continued to impede JCPOA implementation.

      • “Trusting the US whether in the case of the ceasefire in Syria or in removal of (anti-Iran) economic sanctions, is like moving toward a mirage.” (Tasnim News, 9/29)

    • Commander of IRGC Second Naval Zone Gen. Ali Razmjou said thousands of valuable documents were seized from U.S. naval forces when they were captured in January. (Fars News, 9/25)

    • Controversy over U.S. cash payments to Iran continued in U.S. this week.

      • Senator David Perdue (R-GA) introduced bill prohibiting U.S. government from making cash payments to state sponsors of terrorism, which would include Iran. (Congress.gov)

    • Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani accused U.S. and Israel of creating ISIL and other terrorist organizations in region. (Fars News, 9/30)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Fox News reported that as many as 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters arrived in Aleppo to support Syrian regime offensive. (Fox News, 9/26)
    • Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli accused Saudi Arabia of providing financial, logistic, and intelligence support to terrorists operating in Iran. (Fars News, 9/30)
    • Iranian Ambassador to U.N. Gholam-Ali Khoshrou sent letter to U.N. Security Council (UNSC) disputing claims made in Saudi letter sent to UNSC in mid-September.
      • “Iran firmly rejects the pure fabrications and unsubstantiated allegations…concerning the alleged transfer of weapons to Yemeni Ansarullah [Houthi] fighters and the violation of the [UNSC] resolutions.” (PressTV, 9/29)
    • Zarif met Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara where they agreed on cooperation towards pause in fighting in Syria. (PressTV, 9/28)
    • Rouhani pledged support for Syrian government and said it favored Syria’s territorial integrity. (Tasnim News, 9/27)
      • Shamkhani said Syrian crisis would only be solved through intra-Syrian talks. (PressTV, 9/27)
    • Yemen’s government is in process of filing complaint to UNSC over Iran’s weapon transfers to Houthis. (Reuters, 9/24)
    • France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Russia and Iran would become accomplices in war crimes if they continue to prolong Syrian war. (Reuters, 9/25)
    • UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan accused Iran of undermining regional security.
    • He criticized Iran’s “expansionist regional policies, flagrant violations of the principles of sovereignty and constant interference in the internal affairs of its neighboring countries.” (Al Arabiya, 9/25)

    Israel

    • Salehi said Israel’s nuclear stockpile and activities undermined security of region and damaged credibility of NPT. (PressTV, 9/26)
      • Iranian Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Reza Najafi voiced similar concern: “The Israeli regime’s nuclear arsenal is a source of concern among Middle East states, and a serious and continued threat to the regional and international peace and security.” (Fars News, 9/30)
    • Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Aerospace Division Commander Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh said Iran does “not need missiles with a range of over 2,000 kilometers. The longest range required for [Iran’s] missiles is the [Israeli] occupied lands.”
    • Iran-backed Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Wahhabism is more evil than Israel.
      • “Wahhabism is more evil than Israel, especially [in] that it seeks to destroy others and eliminate whatever thing that has to do with Islam and its history.” (Tasnim News, 9/27)
    • Shamkhani said Israel and its allies are attempting to sideline Israeli-Palestinian issue by shifting threat calculus towards terrorist groups operating in region. (Fars News, 9/27)
    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari criticized Saudi Arabia’s ties to Israel. (Fars News, 9/27)
  • September 17-23, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Foreign ministers from P5+1 countries and Iran held first joint commission meeting since JCPOA implementation day on sidelines of U.N. General Assembly (UNGA).

      • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed that “all members and participants strongly announced to the U.S. that the performance of the country is not precisely in harmony with the JCPOA and Washington promised to rectify the approach.” (Tehran Times, 9/23)

        • “The fact that six countries adopted a united stance by warning the US to modify its behavior was a major achievement for the Islamic Republic of Iran.” (Tasnim News, 9/23)

    • Iran denied that the European Union demanded full details of its manufacture of centrifuge parts. (AP, 9/17)

    • In introductory statement to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said Iran submitted its declarations under Additional Protocol.

      • He also said Iran is applying declarations provisionally, pending its entry into force. (IAEA, 9/19)

    • North Korea successfully tested rocket engine for launching satellites. Description of new engine matched that of rocket booster U.S. has alleged Pyongyang was collaborating on with Iran. This indicates North Korean technology might be shared with Tehran. (WSJ, 9/20)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Head Ali Akbar Salehi accused West of failing to deliver on its JCPOA promises.

      • “While the other side – it’s very clear now to public opinion and it’s not a secret – has not really delivered on the promises; that the sanctions would be removed and that banking transactions would go back to normal, that trade would speed up and economic relations would be enhanced. These have not been materialised to the extent that we expected.” (The Guardian, 9/16)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • U.S. began unblocking deals by Western giants to sell jetliners to Iran.

      • Airbus said it received U.S. Treasury approval to begin exporting jets. (Reuters, 9/21)

        • Airbus said some deliveries could occur as early as this year. (WSJ, 9/21)

        • Iran reduced number of Airbus airplanes it plans to buy from 118 to 112 because of regulatory delays. (Reuters, 9/20)

      • Boeing said it received sales license, though it remained in talks with IranAir. (Reuters, 9/21)

    • Saudi Arabia reportedly offered to reduce oil production if Iran agrees to cap its own output. OPEC talks in Algeria start next week.

      • Offer was made this month but has not yet been accepted or rejected by Tehran. (Reuters, 9/23)

    • It is still unclear whether Iran plans on agreeing to an OPEC freeze deal.

      • Iranian official reportedly said: “The pressure in the country is too high over reaching presanctions level. And we won’t have reached it next week.” (WSJ, 9/23)

      • Rouhani said: “Tehran supports any move for stabilization of the market and improvement of oil prices based on justice, fairness and observation of fair quota for the producing countries.” (AP, 9/18)

      • OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said Iran will do everything possible to join hands with OPEC members. (Bloomberg, 9/20)

    • Switzerland’s MECI Group International signed agreement with Iran’s government to build $839 million wind farm. (Bloomberg 9/20)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran held massive military parades to mark anniversary of its war with Iraq in 1980s.
      • Russian-supplied S-300 air-defense missile system and Emad ballistic missiles were featured in parades. (RFERL, 9/22)
      • Iran also reportedly unveiled its newest ballistic missile called Zolfaqar. (Tehran Times, 9/21)
    • Rouhani met with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro, during one-day state visit to Havana. (AP, 9/19)
    • Iran arrested two Pakistani terrorists who were carrying bombs. (Mehr News, 9/20)

    US-Iran relations

    • Rouhani criticized U.S. failure to adhere to JCPOA obligations during UNGA.
      • He said there was “not a very stellar report card by the United States when it comes to fulfilling the agreement.”
      • “The lack of compliance with the JCPOA on the part of the United States in the past several months represents a flawed approach that should be rectified forthwith.” (NYT, 9/21)
      • “The common ground between Saudi Arabia and the USA is that both countries violate the international regulations, laws, and commitment.” (Mehr News, 9/23)
      • However, he also said he hoped more American companies would enter Iran.
        • “We have always had a good and friendly relationship with the American people. Our problem is with the American government, not companies, people and universities.” (WSJ, 9/22)
    • Iran condemned U.S. airstrikes on Syrian army in city of Deir ez-Zor and said these airstrikes prove that U.S. is sympathetic to ISIL. (Mehr News, 9/19)
    • Controversy over U.S. cash payments to Iran continued in U.S. this week.
      • U.S. made at least 2 separate payments to Iranian government via wire transfer within last 14 months.
        • Two payments were $848,000 in July 2015 to settle claim over architectural drawings and fossils, and approximately $9 million in April 2016 for Iran’s heavy water.
        • President Obama said that such payments were impossible as an explanation for U.S. giving Iran cash payments. (Politico, 9/18)
      • Obama administration threatened to veto two House bills. One would forbid any future ransom payments to Iran and another would require public disclosure of assets of all top Iranian leaders. (Washington Times, 9/21)
        • House passed bill that would outlaw cash payments to Iran and add transparency requirements to future lawsuit settlements. (Washington Post, 9/23)
    • Commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari advised U.S. to end presence in Persian Gulf.
      • “We tell the Americans that they had better stop wasting the American people’s assets and wealth by malicious and harmful presence in the Persian Gulf.” (Tasnim News, 9/21)
    • Commander of IRGC Navy Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi said this week’s military parades should be seen as response to U.S. threats.
      • “This year the parades have a fundamental message: given the fact that the US has focused on threatening the Islamic Republic of Iran in the sea, we have today displayed our defensive and offensive power, and of course only a part of our power.” (Fars News, 9/21)
    • Iran claimed that they warned off American U2 spy plane that was trying to fly over the country. (Washington Post, 9/23)
    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei said country must not negotiate with U.S. on regional issues.
      • “The Americans insist we negotiate with them on regional issues, especially on Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen…What is their main goal for requesting these talks? They have no aim but to prevent the presence in the region of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the main factor of America's failures.” (France 24, 9/18)
    • Controversy erupted in Iran over secret visit by U.S. Senator Jim Dabakis (D-UT) to Iran last week. (AP, 9/19)
    • Iran rejected reports that Tehran had received message from U.S. on ongoing crisis in Yemen. (Tehran Times, 9/18)

    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir wrote op-ed in New York Times titled “Iran Can’t Whitewash Its Record of Terror.”
      • “The fact is that Iran is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism, with government officials directly responsible for numerous terrorist attacks since 1979.”
        • “It is this ideology of “Khomeinism”—driven by an appetite for expansion, fueled by anti-Western hatred and motivated by sectarianism—that has energized and empowered extremism.” (NYT, 9/18)
      • Rouhani railed back at Saudi Arabia in UNGA address.
        • “If the Saudi government is serious about its vision for development and regional security, it must cease and desist from divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors.” (WSJ, 9/22
    • Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri wrote op-ed in New York Times titled “Iran Must Stop Meddling in Arab Affairs.”
      • “Iran wants to expand its influence in the Middle East by sowing discord, promoting terrorism and sectarian hatred, and destabilizing the region through proxies, while pretending to be bystanders.”
      • “Iranian officials brazenly boast that their country is now in control of four Arab capitals — Beirut, Baghdad, Sana and Damascus — and gloat over their hegemony.” (NYT, 9/22)
    • Rouhani dismissed U.S. demand that Syria and Russia ground all aircraft in northern Syria after bombing of humanitarian convoy. He stated that stopping flights would help ISIS and al-Qaeda linked Al Nusra Front. (Reuters, 9/21)
      • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari said: “Iran is determined to provide Syria all the possible facilities in its fateful fight against terrorism.” (PressTV, 9/19)
    • AP saw letter written by Saudi Arabia to U.N. Security Council (UNSC) accusing Iran of supplying weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen and urging UNSC to impose sanctions on Tehran for violating arms embargo. (AP, 9/18)

    Israel

    • Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said U.S.-Israel aid agreement made Iran more determined to strengthen its military. (AP, 9/21)
  • September 10-16, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • European Union (EU) will ask Iran to share with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full details of its manufacture of centrifuge rotor tubes.

      • Associated Press saw draft EU statement ahead of planned delivery next week at IAEA board meeting. (AP, 9/16)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Head Ali Akbar Salehi proposed that World Nuclear Association evaluate JCPOA implementation.

      • He suggested working committee comprised of technical and political experts to discuss JCPOA content. (IRNA, 9/16)

    • Salehi indicated Iran’s desire to develop Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

      • He commented that Iran has not yet talked to other countries about developing SMRs. (Mehr News, 9/16)

    • Iran, with Russian help, began construction on its second nuclear power plant in Bushehr. (AP, 9/10


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani said SNSC reached agreement on Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Agreement is now awaiting confirmation by Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei. (Tehran Times, 9/15)
      • “Despite the conflict of ideas about FATF among different actors in the political spectrum, I believe that the more harmonious and coordinated these diverse actors, the less will be the issues and adverse criticism on the FATF.” (Mehr News, 9/15)
      • During Friday prayers, Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami said any decision on FATF lies only within authority of SNSC. He added that politicizing the issue should be avoided. (IRNA, 9/16)
    • Iran and P5+1 foreign ministers will likely hold meeting during UNGA session next week. (Tehran Times, 9/14)
      • Meeting is likely to focus on banking. (AP, 9/14)
    • Iran’s August crude oil exports jumped 15% from July to more than 2 million barrels per day. (Reuters, 9/16)
    • Salehi met with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in Brussels to discuss remaining restrictions on Iranian banks and JCPOA implementation. (Mehr News, 9/15)
      • In separate meeting, Salehi discussed expanding banking cooperation with British Chancellor of Exchequer Philip Hammond. (Tehran Times, 9/16)
    • Iran’s oil imports to India in August surged to highest in at least 15 years. (Reuters, 9/16)
    • Iran’s Oil Ministry and China’s Sinopec finalized agreement on $1.2 billion development project of Iranian Abadan refinery. (Tehran Times, 9/10)
    • Finland’s Nokia Corporation signed agreement with Iranian internet service provider to launch high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals in Iran. (Fars News, 9/14)

    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani rejected speculation that he plans to run in upcoming Iranian election.
    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Mexico and Venezuela.
      • Zarif is attending Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Venezuela with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who will hand over NAM rotating presidency to Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro. (Mehr News, 9/14
    • Six Iranians injured in car bomb in Turkish southeastern city of Van returned to Iran. (Tasnim News, 9/13)
    • Iran will stage large armed forces parade next week. (Mehr News, 9/14)
    • Tehran’s former Chief Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi issued rare public apology to families of three men who died in detention during mass protests over disputed 2009 presidential election. (Bloomberg, 9/14)

    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian Supreme Leader’s top adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati said Zarif and his delegation to U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) will bring up U.S. failure to abide by its JCPOA commitments.

      • “Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his colleagues are well aware of the fact that the Americans did not abide by their commitments as promised, and all instances of their failure to observe their end of the deal will be pursued during the visit of the Iranian delegation to New York for the UN General Assembly session.” (Mehr News, 9/12)

      • Separately, Salehi said U.S. violation of JCPOA will undermine its credibility.

        • “The JCPOA is a political agreement and questioning the deal by the Americans will come as a blow to political credibility of the U.S.” (Tehran Times, 9/13)

    • IRGC Navy Chief Ali Fadavi said U.S. should withdraw its warships from Persian Gulf.

      • “The Americans should end their presence in the important region of the Persian Gulf in a respectful way in order to prevent problems.” (Tehran Times, 9/15)

        • IRGC Public Relations Department Head Gen. Ramezan Sharif echoed Fadavi’s comments: “The enemies of the Iranian nation must know that the Persian Gulf is our home, and we will spare no efforts to cooperate with other neighboring countries to strengthen security in this region.” (Fars News, 9/14)

    • Iranian Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri said U.S. claims that Iranian vessels had been veering dangerously close to American warships were false.

      • “The Islamic Republic’s vessels always act in full awareness of international rules and regulations and based on defined norms… Therefore the [American] claims are not only untrue, but stem from their fear of the power of the Islamic Republic’s soldiers.” (WSJ, 9/12)

      • Fadavi also dismissed U.S. claims as “sheer lie[s].” (IRNA, 9/13)

    • Two U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft flying in international airspace near Iran were threatened by Iranians in air defense stations.

      • American crews were told that if they didn’t change their course quickly, they risked being fired upon. (WSJ, 9/13)

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi denied media reports that Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were coordinating on Syrian ceasefire.

      • “The Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America have not basically had any contact, consultation or talks regarding the regional issues.” (Tasnim News, 9/14)

    • Soleimani criticized recent remarks by former administration official Dennis Ross by warning that enemy politicians like him attempt to create rift among Iranian people. (Pars Today, 9/15)

    • Controversy over U.S. cash payments to Iran continued in U.S. this week.

      • House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation that prohibited U.S. from making cash payments to Iran and required that Congress be notified before any future claims settlements with Tehran were conducted. (AP, 9/14)

      • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent letter to President Obama demanding official documents for related transactions. (Fox News, 9/12)

      • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) wrote to Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson seeking answers regarding who received payments and if they complied with department protocol. (Politico, 9/13)

        • Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) sent letter to Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence asking whether payment could be used to fund terrorism. (The Hill, 9/12)

    • Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaie wrote on Twitter that U.S. agreed to Syrian ceasefire on behalf of terrorists.

      • In tweet, he wrote: “The truce took effect in Syria today (Monday). Russia singed the truce on behalf of the Syrian government as well as Mr. Bashar al-Assad. But on behalf of whom did the U.S. sign it? Principally, on behalf of terrorists as there is no other side.”

        • “Perhaps the U.S. intends to show off with such acts both its presence and influence in all international events. But they (the Americans) need to ask themselves if their fruitless and disgraceful participation has produced any result ever.” (Tehran Times, 9/15


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Zarif wrote op-ed in New York Times titled “Let Us Rid the World Of Wahhabism.”
      • “Over the past three decades, Riyadh has spent tens of billions of dollars exporting Wahhabism through thousands of mosques and madrasas… this theological perversion has wrought havoc.”
      • “Virtually every terrorist group abusing the name of Islam — from Al Qaeda and its offshoots in Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria — has been inspired by this death cult.” (NYT, 9/13)
    • Iran publicly announced the country welcomed new ceasefire in Syria. (Fars News, 9/11)
      • Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan warned that internationally-brokered ceasefire in Syria should not turn into opportunity for supporters of terrorist groups to further arm them. (Tasnim News, 9/13)
    • Mecca Province Governor Prince Khaled al-Faisal warned Iran against any use of force in its rivalry with Saudi Arabia.
      • “I pray to God Almighty to guide them and to deter them from their transgression and their wrong attitudes toward their fellow Muslim among the Arabs in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and around the world…. But if they are preparing an army to invade us, we are not easily taken by someone who would make war on us.” (Reuters, 9/15)
    • Zarif said Middle East region had been plagued by international interference.
      • “It is evident that intervention, invasion and occupation as in the cases of Iraq, Syria and Palestine, leads to extremism. The tragedy of Palestine, the center of anger and desperation felt in the Muslim world, is at the heart of this crisis.” (Tehran Times, 9/16)
    • Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani called for good neighborly relations in telephone conversation with Rouhani.
      • Media reports said Al-Thani “asserted that Gulf-Iranian relations must focus on the principles of good neighborly relations, mutual respect and the need to resolve any Gulf-Iranian differences through dialogue and negotiations.” (Reuters, 9/13)
      • Rouhani stated that crises in region must be settled by regional countries and only through political dialogue. (Tehran Times, 9/13)
    • Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri criticized Iranian actions in region. He claimed Iran plays direct role in breeding and spreading terrorism, and leading operations to destroy Arab societies. (Daily Star, 9/15)
    • Iran and Oman implemented agreement marking their maritime border in Gulf of Oman. (Tehran Times, 9/13)

    Israel

    • Israeli media reported that after JCPOA was signed in 2015, Iranian dissidents travelled to Israel to discuss its consequences. (Times of Israel, 9/15)
    • Israel launched new spy satellite, Ofek 11, to gather intelligence on Iran. Satellite was not acting in expected manner and ongoing efforts were made to stabilize it. (AP, 9/13)
    • Shamkhani said region was filled with threats from powers including Israel.
      • “In such an important region as the Middle East, peace would not be attained without power, either military or hegemonic; the region is too replete with threats as hostile as ISIL and western imperialist powers to abandon any military power or slow its pace; the Zionism has been no less innocuous and should be watched closely.” (Mehr News, 9/15)
    • Khatami accused Saudi government of being friends with Israel. (Tasnim News, 9/16)
  • September 3-9, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report seen by Reuters confirmed Iran was keeping its JCPOA commitments. (Reuters, 9/8)

      • Report said Iran was manufacturing rotor tubes for centrifuges, which is allowed only under certain conditions. IAEA said “related technical discussions” with Iran on subject are ongoing. (AP, 9/8)

    • Iranian committee formed to monitor implementation of JCPOA met for regular session on Wednesday. (Tasnim News, 9/7)

      • A new Iranian board was commissioned to deal with U.S. violations of JCPOA implementation.

        • “We are currently working on a list of violations and infringements by the US from the nuclear agreements.” (Fars News, 9/5)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran’s oil output stagnated in past three months. (Reuters, 9/9)

    • OPEC’s new Secretary-General Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo visited Iran and met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh.

      • Zangeneh expressed that Iran would support decision by crude oil producers that would bring stability back to oil market.

        • $55 a barrel “price makes production of oil by OPEC members profitable, economical and useful, while preventing the rivals from raising their output.” (Fars News, 9/6)

      • Rouhani said that “instability of price and reduced production are among the immediate issues to be addressed by OPEC, in attempts to bring fairness to the quota system and catapult prices in international markets.”

      • Barkindo said: “We are unanimous in the issue of fairness of quota… we also hail Iran’s great steps forward in diversifying her economy… this is a feat of excellence in such a short time after JCPOA.” (Mehr News, 9/6)

    • National Iranian Oil Co. Director of International Affairs Mohsen Ghamsari said Iran can raise production from current daily level of about 3.8 million barrels to 4 million barrels in two to three months. (Bloomberg, 8/5)

      • Analysts speculate that if Iran reaches full capacity, it will make them more likely to join production freeze agreement with OPEC and Russia. (Bloomberg, 9/7)

    • Conservative Iranian newspaper’s claim that Iranian lenders such as Bank Mellat and Bank Sepah declined to serve companies and individuals working for conglomerate owned by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) sparked controversy within Iran.  

      • Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif issued directive telling banks and financial institutions that they “can have financial and business relations with all individual and institutional entities, regardless of whether or not their names are listed under sanctions.” (Bloomberg 8/5)

    • Controversy over Bank Mellat and Bank Sepah renewed debate over Iran joining Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing.

      • Iranian Supreme Leader’s top adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati said it was not expedient for country to join FATF and any decision to join it should be postponed. (Mehr News, 9/4)

      • Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia said Iran was ready to cooperate with FATF, although no commitment had been given.

        • “Iranian government’s response to FATF was that a regulation will be passed to address their concerns as well as that Iran is ready to launch conditional cooperation with FATF.” (Mehr News, 9/7)

    • Three Iranian banks plan to open branches in Germany. (Reuters, 9/4)

    • European Union (EU) statistics agency Eurostat said EU trade with Iran rose 43% year-over-year in first half of 2016. (Tehran Times, 8/31)

    • Iran’s Telecommunication Infrastructure Company and Italy’s leading global operator, Sparkle, signed Memorandum of Understanding to establish Middle East Point of Presence (PoP) in Tehran. (Mehr News, 9/7)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • UK and Iran fully restored diplomatic relations by appointing ambassadors for first time since 2011. (The Guardian, 9/5)
    • Iran sentenced Iranian-British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to five years in prison without revealing specific charge. (WSJ, 8/9)
    • Iran disbanded armed terrorist cell that it claims intended to carry out attacks within Iran. Iran says group was affiliated with Saudi Arabia. (Fars News, 8/8)
    • Iranian Navy sent country’s largest-ever flotilla of warships, which totaled 4 ships, to safeguard maritime routes used by Iranian vessels operating in international waters. (Fars News, 9/7)

    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. Navy patrol ship, USS Firebolt, was harassed by 7 Iranian vessels in central Gulf. One vessel came within 100 yards of ship and forced ship to change course. (Reuters, 9/7)

    • Iranian-Kurdish group, Kurdistan Freedom Party, received military training from U.S. and European advisors under international program aimed at training Kurds against ISIL.

      • Although training was provided for fighting ISIL, the group said they would also continue attacks within Iran. (AP, 9/8)

    • Former Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazzemi Qomi accused U.S. of pursing strategies to undermine Iran.

      • “After the JCPOA took effect (in January 2016) the Islamic Republic of Iran fulfilled all its obligations, but the other parties, led by the US, have not done so.” (Tasnim News, 9/5)

    • Controversy over U.S. cash payments to Iran continued this week.

      • Briefed congressional officials said they were told U.S. sent Iran two additional cash shipments in first 19 days after first January payment, totaling $1.3 billion.

        • Two cash transfers occurred on January 22 and February 5 using same method as first payment. (WSJ, 9/7)

      • U.S. Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation that would prohibit U.S. government from paying ransom. It would also stop payments to Iran from Treasury Department’s Judgement Fund until Iran took specific actions. (Rubio.senate, 9/6)

      • U.S. Representative Ed Royce introduced legislation that would make clear that the Obama administration violated U.S. policy with cash payment.

        • Legislation would also ban cash payments to Iran and require transparency on future settlements. (Washington Examiner, 9/6)

        • House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on bill next week. (Politico, 9/8)

      • U.S. Senator James Lankford wrote letter to Obama asking for answers to questions related to cash payments delivered to Iran. (Politico, 9/8)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iran and Saudi Arabia escalated rhetoric over last year’s deadly Hajj incident that left 464 Iranians dead.
      • Several Iranian leaders criticized Saudi Arabia over incident.
        • On Monday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei claimed: “The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers- instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them.”
          • “Saudi rulers, who have obstructed the path of Allah and Masjid ul-Haraam this year …. they do not shy away from any treason.”
          • “The world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj.” (Khamenei.ir, 9/5)
        • On Wednesday, Khamenei met Hajj victim families and urged international investigation into incident. (Tehran Times, 9/7)
        • Rouhani said Iranian lost their lives because Saudi authorities did not act to rescue them. (AP, 9/7)
          • He also said in separate speech that “the Saudi government, by blocking the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims’ path to the Beloved’s House, have added yet another wrongdoing to the list of their earlier crimes.” (Mehr News, 9/7)
        • On Friday, thousands of Iranian marched to protest Saudi Arabia. (AP, 9/9)
      • Several Saudi leaders responded to Khamenei’s remarks.
        • Top cleric Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh said he was “not surprised” by remarks because Iranians are not Muslims, but Zoroastrians.
          • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to this by tweeting, “Indeed; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric & Saudi terror masters preach.” (Bloomberg, 9/7)
        • Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef said: “The Iranian authorities are the ones who don't want the Iranian pilgrims to come…in light of them seeking to politicize haj and turn it into rituals against Islam's teachings and that compromise the safety of haj.” (Reuters, 9/6)
    • Last Friday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Iran of threatening regional security by intervening in Syria, Yemen, and other countries.
      • “We see Iran intervening in Syria and supporting Hezbollah and the Houthis, and it is behind some of the operations threatening national security of the region.”
        • Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi responded by saying: “It seems that the country which needs to change the incorrect and unconstructive attitudes in the region and the world is the Saudi government.” (Tehran Times, 9/3)
    • Ghasemi dismissed recent comments by Council of the Arab League, and its Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, criticizing Iran on its actions in region.
      • “If the council is honest in its tendency towards contributing to the peaceful coexistence among nations, and holds serious will to create convergence and strengthening good neighborly relations in the region, it needs to stop unconstructive support for Riyadh.” (Mehr News, 8/9) (Mehr News, 8/8)
      • Ghasemi also criticized Bahraini foreign minister for accusing Iran of politicizing Hajj incident. (Tasnim News, 9/9)
    • Iranian IRGC General Dariush Dorosti was killed in Syrian city of Hama. (Trend News, 9/4)
    • Shi’ite militia dispatched more than 1,000 fighters to Aleppo to help Syrian government forces under apparent oversight of IRGC Commander Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (Reuters, 9/8)
      • Arab media outlets claimed Soleimani has meetings with high-ranking Syrian army officials and commanders. (Fars News, 9/7)
    • Iraqi camp housing members of Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) closed after last 280 residents were flown to Albania. (AP, 9/9)

    Israel

    • Israel’s Space and UAV Research Center head Tal Inbar said new photos released by North Korea of its launch of long-range ballistic missiles are proof of military cooperation between Iran and North Korea. (Algemeiner, 9/7)
    • Iran’s Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Saudi Arabia’s crimes against Yemen are worse than those committed by Israel in Palestine. (Tehran Times, 9/9)
    • Advisor to Commander of IRGC Hamidreza Moqaddamfar said U.S. allies including Israel are hatching plots to divide Muslims. (Tasnim News, 9/4)
  • August 26-September 2, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iran deployed Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system around Fordow underground uranium enrichment facility.
      • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Commander Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili said Iran’s “main priority is to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities under any circumstances.” (Reuters, 8/29)
        • He also said indigenous radar and missile defense system, Bavar-373, which complements S-300, will be operational soon. (Fars News, 8/29)
      • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei remarked that “S-300 system is defensive and not offensive. However, Americans did their best to prevent Iran from taking delivery of such a facility. We face such an enemy that does not recognize any right of defense for our nation. In fact, it says you should remain defenseless so that when we wish we can invade you.” (IRNA, 8/27)
      • In separate address, Khamenei said Iran considers development of WMDs as redline for its defense program. (PressTV, 8/31)
        • He also noted Iran needed to increase their offensive capabilities. (Reuters, 8/31)
      • U.S. State Department Press Secretary John Kirby responded: “We've seen the reports of this deployment. Obviously, that's of concern to us because we have long objected to the sale of Iran — of these kinds of capabilities.”
    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said funding had been secured for two new nuclear power plants. (IRNA, 8/29)
      • Operations to build new plants in Bushehr with Russian help will start September 10th. (PressTV, 9/2)
    • Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said Iran got rid of U.N. Security Council Resolutions that imposed sanctions without any concessions. (IRNA, 8/29)
    • Iranian deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e Ravanchi discussed JCPOA implementation with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. (IRNA 8/31)
    • Iran will attend upcoming IAEA annual conference. (IRNA, 8/29)

    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • International oil companies will be invited by Iran to submit bids in October under new contract model.

      • First bid will be open October 14-20 to develop South Azadegan field.

    • Ryabkov said U.S. “unilateral sanctions are a big hindrance” for Tehran.

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin said potential oil output freeze deal should involve compromise on Iran’s production levels so it can complete return to world markets. (Tasnim News, 9/2)

    • Iran’s Tasdid Offshore Development Company and Russia’s Krasnye Barrikady signed $1 billion deal to build 5 offshore drilling rigs for oil and gas exploration in Persian Gulf. (PressTV, 8/28)

    • Iranian and Russian central banks signed memorandum of understanding on financial and banking cooperation. (Tehran Times, 9/2)

    • France’s Orange SA entered talks to acquire stake of Iran’s largest cellular operator Mobile Telecommunication CO. of Iran.

      • This would be first acquisition of stake in major Iranian firm by Western company since sanctions lifted. (Wall Street Journal, 8/31)

    • Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Chief Valiollah Seif announced plans for comprehensive reform of country’s financial sector, including changes in laws and regulations of banking sector and CBI. (Tasnim News, 8/27)

    • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani claimed Iran attracted $60 billion of foreign investment since JCPOA implementation. (Fars News, 8/29)

    • Russian and South Korean companies will construct 7 new power plants inside Iran. (Mehr News, 8/28)

    • Iraq’s Deputy Oil Minister Fayadh al-Nema said Iraqi government would consider selling crude oil through Iran if oil-sharing talks fail with Kurdish Regional Government. (Reuters, 8/29)

    • NIOC Managing Director Ali Kardor said Iran signed 7 new initial agreements with Austria's OMV, France's Total, Germany's Wintershall, Indonesia's Pertamina, and Russia's Lukoil and Zarubezhneft. (Reuters, 8/30)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif finished Latin American tour by visiting Venezuela. Zarif met President Nicolas Maduro and both signed an agreement on banking cooperation. (Mehr News, 8/28)

      • They also discussed how to stabilize oil markets and strengthen OPEC. (Tehran Times, 8/29)

    • South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said Seoul will start using euro-based settlement system for trade with Iran next week. (Tasnim, 8/27)

    • Iran and Pakistan signed agreement to re-establish banking relationship and carry out trade transactions in local currencies. (PressTV, 8/31)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran confirmed arrest of unnamed individual from JCPOA negotiation team. (IRNA, 8/28)
      • In previous trackings, we wrote that commentators speculated that arrested individual was Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani.
    • Esmaili said domestically-manufactured Nazir long-range radar system is operational. (PressTV, 8/29)
    • Iran will launch 3 satellites into space in next year. (Fars News, 8/30)
    • Zarif will attend U.N. General Assembly in mid-September. (Tasnim, 8/31)
    • Iran launched its national information network, its own national Intranet.
      • Intranet allows Iran to be less dependent on internet and protect against cyber-attacks. (Tasnim, 8/28)
    • Iran detected and removed malicious software from 2 petrochemical complexes. (Reuters, 8/27)
    • Tehran’s City Council was hit by real estate corruption scandal. General Inspection Office will determine whether laws have been broken. (Al-Monitor, 8/29)

    US-Iran relations

    • Iran’s High Council of Supervising the Implementation of the JCPOA Senior Member Ali Akbar Velayati said meeting on U.S. sabotaging JCPOA obligations is imminent.
      • “As the Leader said, the negotiator colleagues did their best at the uppermost of their efforts, but the opposite side, headed by the US, is making trouble.” (Mehr News, 9/2)
    • U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel criticized Iran for recent incidents in Persian Gulf.
      • “What we see with the Iranians is not particularly responsible. It is provocative, in some cases; it's unsafe. And it can lead to situations where we may not be able to de-escalate in a time before something happens.” (Associated Press, 8/30)
      • “I think the big concern here is miscalculation. I am concerned about rogue commanders, rogue Iranian Quds force naval commanders who are operating in a provocative manner and are trying to test us.”
    • U.S. defense official said number of provocative interactions between Iranian vessels and U.S. Navy in Persian Gulf nearly doubled in first half of 2016 compared with same time period a year ago. (Fox News, 8/29)
    • Iran confirmed arrest of unnamed Iranian-American dual national in July. (Reuters, 8/31)
      • In previous trackings, I wrote that commentators speculated that arrested individual was San Diego resident Reza “Robin” Shahini.
    • Iran released University of Texas graduate student Omid Kokabee from jail after five years. He was held for having “relations with a hostile country” and receiving “illegitimate funds.” (USA Today, 8/30)
    • U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans will pass legislation addressing $400 million cash payment to Iran. (AP, 8/31)
    • American drone entered Iranian airspace and was warned to leave by Iranian military. Drone left after warning. (Reuters, 8/29)

    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi urged Turkey to leave Syria.
      • “Although the fight against terrorism... is a principle for all peace-seeking governments, it cannot and must not justify military operations on another country's territory without coordination with its central government.” (AFP, 8/31)
      • Several days later, Qassemi said “it is necessary that the Turkish army swiftly end the military operations in Syria.”
    • Iraq requested new Saudi ambassador after current ambassador Thamer al-Sabhan claimed that Iranian-backed Shiite militias were plotting to assassinate him. (AP, 8/28)
    • Larijani reiterated Iran’s support for territorial integrity of Iraq. (Fars News, 8/28)
    • Saudi Foreign Minister Abdel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia’s efforts in Yemen war have “ensured that Yemen does not fall under the grasp of Hizballah and Iran.” (U.S. State Department, 8/25)
      • Qassemi criticized al-Jubeir for remarks, stating: “The Saudi officials instead of making desperate screams and repeat the worn-out allegations against others should think about improving their own methods.” (IRNA, 8/31)
        • In separate statement, Qassemi said Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism were to blame for violent extremism in Middle East and world. (PressTV, 9/2)
    • Iranian Parliament’s National Security Commission head Alaeddin Boroujerdi said recently detained terrorists told security forces about support Saudi Arabia provides to terrorist groups. (Mehr News, 8/30)
    • Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said Saudi Arabia continues to refuse to cooperate on compensation for victims of last year’s deadly Hajj. (PressTV, 8/31)
    • Unconfirmed reports claim that Houthi militants from Yemen are planning to send delegation to Tehran to try to obtain more funds. (Gulf News, 8/31)
    • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with Houthi delegation this week. (Middle East Eye, 9/1)

    Israel

    • Khamenei claimed Iran’s “enemies are made up of the global arrogance and the world Zionism, the dirty natured and deceitful camp with tyrannical ideology. They have resentment to the Iranian religious beliefs, independence and the non-compromisory spirit of Iranian nation.” (IRNA 8/27)
    • Zarif claimed Saudi Arabia and Israel have alienated their own allies.
    • “Saudi atrocities in Yemen and Israeli atrocities in the region have even caused their friends to complain.” (PressTV, 8/30)
  • August 20-26, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran occupied high moral ground by showing world it has not been seeking nuclear weapons.

      • “Despite pressures and sanctions, we have been triumphant in the case and now the international community faces a verdict by the IAEA that closed Iran’s case for the time being.”

        • “In Parchin as well, Iran had been as honest as possible and did not seek to deceive the IAEA and international community.” (Mehr News, 8/21)

    • Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Spokesman Hossein Naghavi Hosseini said framework for six-month report on implementation of JCPOA has been set.

      • Sanctions, fulfillment of commitments, and violations of JCPOA during implementation process will be key areas. (Tehran Times, 8/23)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran will participate in September OPEC meeting. (PressTV, 8/25) (WSJ, 8/26)

      • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh stated that Iran wants its pre-sanctions share of crude market. (AFP, 8/26)

    • Iran is set to sign major oil and gas deals with foreign companies in second half of next year. (Tehran Times, 8/24)

      • Oil and finance ministries will begin using new format of oil contracts. Under new format, National Iranian Oil Company will set up joint ventures for crude oil and gas production with international companies that will be paid with share of output. (PressTV, 8/22)

    • Senior nuclear negotiator Seyed Abbas Araghchi said sanctions continued to hurt Iran’s economy, which prevented better economic conditions for public and elites.

      • He blamed U.S. for sanctions and claimed: “The US is the vilest partner in JCPOA and her sabotage and negligent behavior contributed to possible failure of the deal to meet the provisions it made.” (Mehr News, 8/25)

        • “The US disloyalty and maliciousness prevents the creation of an atmosphere of trust and they don’t create an atmosphere in which the companies cooperate with us and the US hostility is at the same level as it was before the nuclear deal.” (Fars News, 8/25)

      • He also stated that U.N. Security Council’s approval of JCPOA shows nuclear energy is Iran’s inalienable right. (IRNA, 8/25)

    • Rouhani said Iran’s economy is on right track despite obstacles and problems. (Tasnim News, 8/23)

    • Deputy Oil Minister Ali Kardor confirmed Iran has received all its payments for oil sales post-sanctions and no oil money has been blocked in foreign banks. (Iran Daily, 8/19)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, along with large delegation of economic leaders, met with leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia. His last trip will be to Venezuela.  

      • Zarif met Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla to discuss starting new chapter in bilateral relations. (Reuters, 8/22)

        • Zarif said Iran and Cuba have good track record fighting U.S. policies and sanctions. (Fars News, 8/22)

      • Zarif met Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Foreign Minister Samuel Santos to discuss expanding economic ties. (Fars News, 8/24)

        • Iranian firms want to participate in construction of massive canal across Nicaragua that Chinese company HKND is set to build. (AFP, 8/24)

      • Zarif met Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Jean Sebastien Long and signed 3 Memorandums of Understanding related to agriculture and banking. (Mehr News, 8/25)

        • Zarif also met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa where they discussed strengthening both their positions in oil markets. (Reuters, 8/25)

    • Iran awarded development of two of its major oil fields to Chinese companies CNPC and Sinopec. (PressTV, 8/21)

    • Iran and Turkey’s Unit International concluded negotiations on $3 billion investment to build 5,000 megawatts of power capacity. It is now awaiting government approval. (PressTV, 8/23)

    • German exports to Iran surged 15% year-on-year in first half of 2016. (Reuters, 8/22)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Rumors are circulating that Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani, the Iranian nuclear negotiating team’s financial and banking representative, was arrested last week for spying. He is supposedly U.K.-Iranian dual national.
    • Iran’s security forces killed senior spy working for “foreign intelligence services” that was destabilizing Iranian borders. (PressTV, 8/25)
    • Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) cyber arm claimed it summoned, detained, and warned some 450 administrators of social media groups in recent weeks. (ABC News, 8/23)

    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. guided-missile destroyer, U.S.S. Nitze, was “harassed” by four IRGC vessels near Strait of Hormuz.

      • U.S. official said Iranian vessels conducted high speech intercept and that incident was “unsafe and unprofessional.” (Reuters, 8/25)

      • Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan responded to incident by stating “it is a natural and routine programs of the border patrol to do surveillance in the southern waters and to collect intelligence on foreign ships’ operations…Be the[y] US ships or otherwise, any destroyer of any sort would be severely punished if they are found to encroach our waters in Persian Gulf.” (Mehr News, 8/25)

      • One day later, U.S. patrol ship fired three warning shorts after Iranian vessel approached ships. Two separate interactions between U.S. and Iranian vessels occurred that day. (Military Times, 8/25)

    • U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said U.S. paid Iran $1.3 billion to resolve decades-old dispute two days after $400 million cash payment was made in January. (AP, 8/24)

      • Obama administration is withholding details about how $1.3 billion was delivered from Congress. (Washington Free Beacon, 8/23)

      • Senator Roy Blunt sent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him for details on $400 million cash payment. (The Hill, 8/22)

    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said U.S. could not be trusted after JCPOA.

      • “This experience teaches us that promises by no US government can be trusted and nothing concrete should be done in lieu of their promises…My criticism pertains to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), non-commitment and the evilness of the other side.” (Fars News, 8/24)

    • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani claimed that plots devised by U.S. and its allies to change map of region failed because of Iranian policies and efforts.

      • “Iran enjoys a special weight in the region's chaotic situation today. Today, a certain stream is after changing the map of the region and maybe the US foreign secretaries have naively disclosed this issue but it was the Islamic Republic of Iran which prevented them to succeed on this path.” (Fars News, 8/25)

    • Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani said coordination between Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus have caused U.S. policy in Syria to fail.

      • “The close coordination among Iran, Russia and Syria in conducting the recent operations against the Takfiri terrorists in Syria brought into failure the US protracting strategy for imposing its will on the security equations in Syria.” (Fars News, 8/23)

    • Zarif denied accusations made by Kerry on his visit to Saudi Arabia that it has delivered missiles to Yemeni rebels. (AFP, 8/26)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Russia stopped using Iranian airbase in Hamedan after using base three times last week for bombing raids in Syria. There has been significant controversy within Iran over issue as several parliamentarians and others objected to development.
      • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Russian use of base was temporary and that it ended for time being. (Al-Monitor, 8/22)
      • Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan confirmed Moscow’s warplanes had withdrawn from Iran.
        • He added he does “not see any reason” why Russia cannot use base again. (Washington Post, 8/22)
        • He remarked two days later that “Russia has never been, nor will it be, seeking an airbase in Iran. We do respect Article 146 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution and observe it seriously.” (Tehran Times, 8/24)
      • Dehghan criticized Russia for “not having kept its promise” by publicly announcing they were using airbase.
        • "Russians are interested to show they are a superpower to guarantee their share in political future of Syria and, of course, there has been a kind of show-off and ungentlemanly (attitude) in this field.” (Daily Sabah, 8/22)
      • Several days later, Shamkhani said Iran would allow Russian jets to fly from base again if necessary. (Tasnim News, 8/26)
    • Foreign Ministry’s Director General for Political Affairs and International Security Hamid Baeedinejad said JCPOA paved way to increase Iran’s power in region.
      • “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has prepared the grounds for Iran's turning into first regional power while reaching an understanding with the world's big powers.” (IRNA, 8/25)
    • Iran is currently acting as mediator for normalization of relations between Turkey and Syria. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 8/23)
      • Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated on Monday: “It is vital that, without losing more time, a new page is opened in Syria.” (PressTV, 8/23)
        • One day later, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari met Turkish counterpart Omid Yalcin in Turkey. (Tehran Times, 8/23)
      • After Turkey deployed troops to Syria on Wednesday, Iran reacted by stating: “We have always reiterated that confronting terrorism is an international responsibility and it is necessary that the regional countries to confront this heinous phenomena in a joint cooperation.” (IRNA, 8/25)
    • Dehghan said Iran was taking steps to improve capabilities of its marine cruise missiles and hoped Iran could achieve supersonic missiles in future. (IRNA, 8/21)
      • In separate speech, he also claimed Iran can mass produce ballistic missiles with any range or destructive power. (Tasnim News, 8/26)
    • Dehghan also said Iran did not intend to purchase S-400 missile defense system from Moscow. (Fars News, 8/25)
    • Iran has been running six military camps near Iraqi city of Kirkuk and plans to open new military camps between Kirkuk and Mosul. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 8/22)
      • Iran has also been forming “Shiite Liberation Army” led by Quds Force Commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
        • “This army is not only composed of Iranians but it recruits locally from the regions witnessing fighting.” (Al-Arabiya, 8/23)
    • Iranian lawmakers released statement condemning Bahrain for its actions against Shiite leader Sheikh Isa Qassim and its widespread crackdown on Shiites. (Tasnim News, 8/24)

    Israel

    • Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned Israel’s recent airstrikes in Gaza Strip. (Fars News, 8/24)
  • August 13-19, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani warned that “Tehran will not tolerate the behavior of certain countries against the spirit of the nuclear deal to keep the sanctions in place.” (Fars News, 8/17)

    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed Iran’s 4.4% economic growth in first three months of current Iranian year. (Tasnim News, 8/14)

      • In another address, Rouhani stated that JCPOA “destroyed the foundations of the sanction regime.” (Tasnim News, 8/15)

    • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said new oil and gas contracts will need to be amended and will not be sent to assembly for final approval.

      • “Yesterday afternoon we had a meeting with Ali Larijani (the speaker of the parliament) on the new oil contracts in which some issues were raised. It was decided to make some amendments in the contracts.” (Reuters, 8/16)

    • Iran is unlikely to agree to petroleum output limit next month, saying it doesn’t expect production will have risen to level country needs to justify cooperation with rivals. (WSJ, 8/16)

    • U.S. extended lifting of sanctions against Chinese company ZTE Corp. for second time after ZTE allegedly violated U.S. rules restricting exports of U.S. technological good to Iran. (WSJ, 8/18)

    • Iran will begin gas exports to Iraq next month after year delay. (Bloomberg, 8/15)

    • Norway offered Iran $1 billion credit line and signed three export credit deals aimed at  funding Iranian development and infrastructure projects. (Daily Star, 8/17)

    • Iran signed two memorandums of understanding with Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank to provide loans for development projects. (PressTV, 8/18)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Families of at least 400 people killed fighting in Syria have been referred to Martyr Foundation which offers financial support to relatives of those killed fighting for Iran.
    • Iran arrested dual national over allegations individual, who is active in economic field, had links to British intelligence services. (VOA, 8/16)

    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran will discuss U.S. violations of JCPOA in future meeting of joint commission. (Mehr News, 8/19)

    • U.S. officials would not let Iran take control of $400 million payment in January until plane carrying 3 freed Americans departed from Tehran. (WSJ, 8/18)

    • U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby’s statement that U.S. delayed payment for several hours to retain leverage led to renewed criticism. (NYT, 8/18)

      • Kirby: “As we said at the time, we deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously… With concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located as well as, to be quite honest, mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we, of course, sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released.” (State Department, 8/18)

    • Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council Chief Mohammad Javad Larijani stated that U.S. has retained structure of sanctions and is not intending on lifting them in near future. (Tasnim News, 8/15)

    • Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said U.S. wants to deprive Iran of advantages of JCPOA.

      • “The Americans aren’t interested in our nation's use of the positive aspects of the nuclear deal; anyway, enemy is enemy and throws wrench.” (Fars News, 8/17)

      • In another address, Dehqan said Middle East and entire world are still grappling with consequences of US interventionist policies.

        • “Following 9/11 event, the US started attacking the countries of the region which had broad consequences which is still plaguing the region.” (Press TV, 8/19

    • Boeing representatives were in Tehran to discuss planned sale of commercial aircraft. (PressTV, 8/13)

    • Iran’s Basij Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi claimed U.S. army too weak to fight Iran and accused U.S. of being disloyal during nuclear talks.

      • “The Iranian nation has deeply felt the depth of the US regime's betrayal and disloyalty during the nuclear talks.” (Fars News, 8/15)

    • Representative Mike Pompeo sent letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew seeking answers on $400 million payment. (The Hill, 8/17)

      • Last week Representative Sean Duffy, chairman of House investigative body, also sent letters to Justice and Treasury departments, as well as Federal Reserve, asking for all records related to payment. (WSJ, 8/18)

        • Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee also sent letter to Lew and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. (The Hill, 8/12)

    • President Obama supports renewal of Iran Sanctions Act before law expires at end of year. (Jerusalem Post, 8/13)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    •  
    • Russian bombers, accompanied by Russian fighter jets, are flying from air base in Hamedan in Western Iran to strike targets in Syria. This is reportedly first time foreign power have used Iranian air base since WWII.
      • Shamkhani stated that Russia and Iran “enjoy strategic cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and share their facilities and capacities to this end.”
      • U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner called flights “unfortunate, but not surprising or unexpected.” (Washington Post, 8/16)
    • There is debate in Iran about constitutionality of Russian use of Iranian air base since Iranian constitution bars establishment of foreign military bases inside country.
      • Iran parliament’s speaker Ali Larijani denied country had given basing rights to Russia: “The fact that we cooperate with Russia as an ally on regional issues like Syria doesn’t mean that we have given a base to Russia militarywise.”
      • Iran parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee head Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Russian use is in compliance with Supreme National Security Council’s ratification and Russian aircraft were only being allowed to refuel at base. (Wall Street Journal, 8/17) (Tehran Times, 8/17)
    • U.S. assessing if Russian use of Iranian base violates U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 which prohibits supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran. (Reuters, 8/17)
    • U.S. military spokesman Col. Chris Garver said that approximately 80,000 Iranian-backed Shiite militia are fighting in Iraq. (Fox News, 8/16)
    • Iran’s Civil Defense Organization head Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali said Iran was threatened by U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia in cyber field. (Fars News, 8/18)
    • As noted in previous tracking: Zarif will launch six-nation tour of Latin America this Sunday. (Press TV, 8/17)
    • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Iran soon to attend trilateral meeting between Turkey, Iran, and Russia on ways to terminate Syria conflict. (Fars News, 8/17)
      • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu paid surprise visit to Iran days after two countries agreed to greater cooperation on Syria. (Tehran Times, 8/19)
    • Kuwait’s coast guard arrested 10 Iranians accused of trying to infiltrate the country.
      • Iranian coast guard base commander Lt. Col. Amin Khosravi said men were fisherman and did not get arrested due to border violation. (PressTV, 8/14)

    Israel

    • Boroujerdi rejected Israeli media reports that claimed that Russian S-400 missile defense shield had been deployed to Hamedan. (Fars News, 8/17)
    • Iran parliament’s speaker Larijani offered congratulations to Lebanon and Hezbollah on 10th anniversary of 2006 war with Israel.
    • “The epical and historic victory, reached with the grace of God, your wise management and the braveries of the Islamic Resistance forces in Lebanon, is a golden page in the history of the Islamic Ummah (community) and an unforgettable lesson for the Israeli regime and its international supporters.” (Tasnim News, 8/18)
  • August 6-12, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said primary purpose for JCPOA was to create economic opportunity.

      • “The main objective of the JCPOA was to open the way for economic activities, not by resorting to means that date back to the 18 and 19th centuries, but by using the banking system.” (Tehran Times, 8/10)

    • Iranian President’s Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian dismissed internal Iranian attacks on JCPOA and noted entire establishment participated in passing it.

      • “With regard to [ongoing] attacks against the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], we should always pay attention to the fact that the JCPOA, its ratification and implementation were all the establishment's decision. It went through all the stages of investigation, consultation and resolution and it is now recognised not only as a joint commitment between Iran and the P5+1 [the USA, the UK, China, Russia, France and Germany] but also as an international document.” (BBC Monitoring, ISNA, 8/11)

    • Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi stated that Iran will build two new nuclear power plants with $10 billion worth of investment. (Fars News, 8/9)

    • Several Iranian MPs plan to visit Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities to monitor implementation of JCPOA. (Tasnim News, 8/10


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran expects foreign oil companies to sign deals valued at $25 billion over next one to two years under terms of new contract model approved last week.

      • State energy producer plans to tender contracts over period of six months to a year to develop several oil and gas fields. (Bloomberg, 8/10)

      • Iranian parliamentary Energy Committee said it will investigate new model of oil contracts to ensure contracts are not contrary to Iran’s national security. (Tasnim News, 8/12)

    • Russia and Iran are re-considering building North-South Transportation Corridor rail link between the two countries through Azerbaijan. Rail link would take share of cargo currently being transported through Suez Canal. (Bloomberg, 8/8)

    • Iran said oil exports have increased to as high as 2.5 million barrels per day. (PressTV, 8/8)

    • Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting for share of oil market. Saudi Arabia boosted oil output to record 10.67 million barrels a day in July while Iran boosted oil production to 3.85 million barrels a day, highest since 2008. (Bloomberg, 8/10)

    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will lead economic delegation to Latin American countries including Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Chile, and Bolivia. (Tehran Times, 8/7)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shelled borderline villages belonging to Iraqi Kurdistan region. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 8/12)
    • Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote letter to President Obama stating that U.S. Supreme Court ruling that blocked $2 billion of Iran’s assets in U.S. was hostile. He asked that “seized property [be] released and returned.” (Al-Monitor, 8/8)
      • Rouhani stated that there was opportunity to remove Iranian funds from American access before funds were confiscated in 2009, and asked judiciary and Supreme National Security Council to investigate matter. He did not mention Ahmadinejad’s name.
        • Ahmadinejad may want money retrieved to eliminate potential political attacks from opponents if he runs for president in 2017. (Al-Monitor, 8/11)
    • Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Khosravi, who received refugee status from U.K. in 2009, was arrested by Italian police for international arrest warrant issued by Iran. He was subsequently released.
    • Son of Iran’s deposed shah Reza Pahlavi wrote to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi asking for Renzi to intervene since Khosravi could face execution if extradited. (The Guardian, 8/10) (Adnkronos, 8/12)

    US-Iran relations

    • Reports that U.S. paid Iran $400 million cash in January continued to cause controversy.

      • President Obama said in speech last Thursday that payment “was not a secret. We were completely open with everybody on it.” (C-SPAN, 8/4)

      • Three Republican senators sent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to provide answers to questions regarding payment including how money was shipped, why more information was not given to lawmakers, and why administration agreed to make payment when Tehran still owes Americans money. (The Hill, 8/9)

      • Senator Chuck Grassley sent letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to provide details about Department of Justice’s involvement in payment. (The Hill, 8/5)

      • Senator Kelly Ayotte sent letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asking him what role Treasury Department played in payment. (The Hill, 8/11)

      • Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani denied claims that payment was related to JCPOA. (PressTV, 8/9)

    • Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri was hanged for “revealing the country’s top secrets” to U.S. Amiri defected to U.S. after serving as intelligence source but returned to Iran in 2010 under unusual circumstances. (NYT, 8/7)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • According to unclassified summary of U.S. Department of Defense’s annual report on Iran, Iran has improved its offensive cyber capabilities and developed more advanced ballistic missiles since JCPOA.
    • Iran has “substantial inventory of missiles capable of reaching targets throughout the region, including U.S. military bases and Israel.” (Bloomberg, 8/9)
    • Commander of IRGC Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi stated that enemies, including U.S., have admitted Iran’s deterrent power. (Tasnim News, 8/12)
    • Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin claimed that Russia had already delivered half of S-300 air defense systems to Iran. (Fars News, 8/9)
    • Commander of IRGC Quds Force Qassem Soleimani will play major role in upcoming operations to take Mosul from Islamic State. (Threat Matrix, 8/12)
    • Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Iran agreed to boost trade relations and pledged greater cooperation on resolving Syrian crisis. (AP, 8/12)
      • In statement, Zarif highlighted that Iran, Turkey, and Russia are key players in region. (Mehr News, 8/12)
    • Israelis and Egyptians say investigation has been launched over allegations that Iran is supplying weapons to Ansar Bait al-Maqdis in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. (Asharq Al-Awsat, 8/12)

    Israel

    • In news conference at Pentagon last Thursday, President Obama said that even Israel believed JCPOA was working.
      • “It is not just the assessment of our intelligence community, it is the assessment of the Israeli military and intelligence community. The country that was most opposed to the deal has acknowledged that this has been a game changer, and that Iran has abided by the deal and they no longer have the short-term breakout capacity that would allow them to develop nuclear weapons.” (C-SPAN, 8/4)
    • Last Friday, Israel’s Ministry of Defense issued controversial statement in response to claims made in President Obama’s speech.
      • Statement compared JCPOA to Munich Agreement signed by European powers with Nazi Germany in 1938.
        • “The Munich Agreement didn’t prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust precisely because its basis, according to which Nazi Germany could be a partner for some sort of agreement, was flawed, and because the leaders of the world then ignored the explicit statements of [Adolf] Hitler and the rest of Nazi Germany’s leaders… These things are also true about Iran, which also clearly states openly that its aim is to destroy the state of Israel.” (Times of Israel, 8/5)
      • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from statement. (Haaretz, 8/5)
      • Ministry of Defense sought to clarify statement several days later.
        • “The statement on Friday was not intended draw direct comparisons, neither on an historical level nor on a personal level. We apologize if it was misinterpreted.” (Ynet, 8/8)
    • Israeli-owned oil company Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co was ordered by Swiss Federal Tribunal to pay Iran $1.1 billion plus interest for revenues and assets that remained in Israel after 1979 Islamic Revolution. (PressTV, 8/8) (Reuters, 8/11)
  • July 30-August 5, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian Supreme Leader’s top adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati warned Tehran can resume its frozen nuclear activities if opposite side is disloyal.

      • “Iran’s hands are not tied up and Tehran has other options to choose in order to guarantee its interests.” (Fars News, 8/5)


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed nation and described improvements in country’s economic situation.

      • “The country has now developed banking transactions with over 400 foreign banks, the number still counting; our shipping was also a section benefiting from removing sanctions on international insurers; our ports now host international ships and our ships also stop in international ports.” (Mehr News, 8/3)

    • Iran cabinet approved new oil contract model that took two years to formulate. Model will help Iran welcome foreign investment in its energy industry and boost production.

      • Priority given to boosting output at jointly owned oil and gas fields. (Bloomberg, 8/3)

      • Model must still be approved by parliamentary committee and assembly speaker. (WSJ, 8/3)

    • Iran plans to build more than 800 power plants in next 20 years. (Tasnim News, 8/3)

    • Iran is in talks with several German companies over exporting gas to Europe. (Tasnim News, 8/2)

    • Ukraine has requested to purchase Iran’s crude oil. (Mehr News, 8/2)

    • Iran Khodro Automaker Company (IKCO) and Germany’s MAHLE GmbH signed bilateral deal to design and produce 3-cylinder car engines. (Mehr News, 8/3)

    • Iran’s Kian Petrochemical Company and Germany’s Linde Group signed first petrochemical cooperation deal. (IRNA, 8/2


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iran announced it captured or killed 102 members of terrorist group that carried out operations in Western or Northwestern Iran. (Fars News, 8/3)
      • Some of those captured were hung as Iran hanged 20 Sunni prisoners in one of Iran’s biggest mass executions in years. (Yahoo News, 8/4)
    • Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani proposed Iran and Europe initiate dialogue on human rights. (PressTV, 8/4)

    US-Iran relations

    • U.S. sent $400 million worth of cash to Iran as first installment of $1.7 billion settlement in decades-old dispute. Transfer of money coincided with January release of four Americans detained in Tehran. (WSJ, 8/3

      • Senior Justice Department officials objected to sending cash at same time Iran released Americans, but objections overruled by State Department. (WSJ, 8/3)

    • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized U.S. for its implementation of deal and deal’s lack of benefits for Iranian public.

      • “Was it not supposed to be so that the unjust sanctions would be removed and it would have an effect on people’s lives? After six months, is there any tangible effect on the lives of the people? If not for America violating its oaths, would the administration not be able to do many things during this time?” (Al-Monitor, 8/1)

      • “The nuclear deal, as an experience, once again proved the pointlessness of negotiating with the Americans, their bad promises and the need not to trust America’s promises.” (Haaretz, 8/2)

    • In address to nation mentioned above, Rouhani stated world powers have not fulfilled their commitments under JCPOA. (AP, 8/2)

      • “Had the Americans implemented the JCPOA in good faith, we might have placed trust in them and agreed to enter into negotiations with them on another issue, which would have served the interests of the region, the U.S., Iran and others.” (Tehran Times, 8/3)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaeifar said remaining members of terrorist group Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) will be expelled from Iraq within 45 days. (Tasnim News, 8/5)
    • Iranian President Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will take part in trilateral summit in Baku on Sunday to discuss “cooperation in the fight against terrorism and such sectors as commerce, energy, communications, environment, and transportation.” (PressTV, 8/5)
  • July 23-29, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan stated that JCPOA and UN Resolution 2231 had no basis for curbing Iran’s missile program. (Tehran Times, 7/25)

    • Iran sent IAEA official note of protest after confidential document about Iran’s long-term nuclear enrichment and R&D plans were leaked to Associated Press. (Mehr News, 7/25


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iranian Industry Minister Behrouz Riyahi announced Iran concluded contracts worth 4.2 billion euros in fields of industry and trade with European countries and over half of them have been materialized. (IRNA, 7/26)

    • Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index 2016, annual ranking of countries assessing their money laundering risk, showed Iran at number 1 out of 149 countries. Iran has held top spot for three consecutive years. (WSJ, 7/28)

    • Iran is going to review its engagement with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after concerns FATF agreement could risk Iran’s national interests. (Tasnim News, 7/27)

    • Russian Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Valentinovich Manturov said 700 joint projects with Iran have been proposed to increase cooperation, particularly in energy, oil and gas, industries, and agriculture. (Mehr News, 7/29)

    • Iran boosted oil exports to Asian consumers including Japan (28% increase), India (63% increase), South Korea (2x increase), and China (2.5% increase). (Bloomberg, 7/28)

      • Imports of Iranian oil by Japan, India, South Korea, and China jumped 47.1% from year ago to highest level in more than four years. (Reuters, 7/29

    • Total’s CFO stated it is lifting about 150,000 to 200,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day. Oil is going to its European refineries. (Reuters, 7/28)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Next Iranian presidential elections will be held May 19, 2017.

    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi complained US is not working to ease concerns of European financial institutions.

      • “Two messages are coming from the US; one from the US state department which says that there is no problem for banking and financial works with Iran and the second from the OFAC which contradicts the first message.” (Fars News, 7/27)

    • Iran denied claims by Washington that 3 senior al-Qaeda figures are based in Iran. Obama administration slapped sanctions on these 3 figures last week (NYT, 7/26


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • Arab League released a joint public statement rejecting Iranian interference in domestic affairs of Arab states. (Rudaw, 7/26)
    • Iran and Pakistan released a joint statement focused on increasing cooperation against terrorism and extremism. (PressTV, 7/27)

    Israel

    • Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah criticized Saudi Arabia for seeking to publicly normalize ties with Israel.
      • “Israel is no longer the enemy of Arabs, and Palestine became a minor cause. This is what the latest Arab statements indicate.” (Daily Star, 7/29)
    • Iran’s Basij Volunteer Force Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad-Reza Naghdi visited Quneitra in southwestern Golan Heights in Syria, which is by Israeli-controlled border. Exact date of his visit is unknown. (Long War Journal, 7/28)
    • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that projects by Israel and Saudi Arabia to portray Iran as threat to world have fallen flat. (PressTV, 7/26)
  • July 16-22, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • United Nations report on Iran nuclear deal hailed Iran for keeping nuclear commitments, yet criticized actions unrelated to nuclear program. (Wall Street Journal, 7/19)

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to report by stating: “The report has been compiled based on incomplete information and his (the UN chief’s) incognizance of the (nuclear) negotiations.” (Press TV, 7/19)

    • Iranian parliament’s speaker Ali Larijani stated it was “necessary for the Atomic Energy Organization [AEOI] to act in compliance with the law passed on the reopening of the nuclear plant to enrich uranium proportionate to the country’s needs and prepare a plan and keeps the Majilis (parliament) posted on it.” (Tehran Times, 7/20)

      • AEOI Director Ali Akbar Salehi clarified Larijani’s statement: “what Mr. Larijani was saying was that there should be a system of returning back to status quo ante, that is, situation before JCPOA; there is no new ‘factories’ as Mr. Larijani’s remarks would invite to the minds.” (Mehr News, 7/20


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Iran’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia forecasted 5% economic growth for current year and planned for 8% economic growth in future.

      • “Both Iran’s oil production and exports have seen a particular increase and this increase of oil production can also prepare the ground for increased production in other sectors.”

      • “We are seeing the positive effects of sanctions removal on the economy. I can think that just as the sanctions were applied and approved by a gradual process, their removal may also need time.”

      • “It seems that the opposing sides to Iran are not fully loyal to their commitments or at least in practice the implementation of their obligations hasn’t been fully undertaken.”

      • “Mainly in the area of banking relations, especially with big banks, we are still facing some problems and limitations, however some of these problems, gradually and over time, will be resolved.” (Bloomberg, 7/20)

    • Iran is exploring return to international debt markets for first time since 2002. Tehran is expecting to secure credit rating in “near future,” which could help attract bond investors. (Bloomberg, 7/19)

    • French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën signed joint venture agreement with SAIPA, an Iranian auto conglomerate. Peugeot will invest more than 300 million euros to design and produce Citroëns in Iran. (Wall Street Journal, 7/21)

    • Iran’s energy minister Hamid Chitchian met representatives of Siemens and Rolls-Royce to discuss collaboration in power generation technology. (Financial Times, 7/17)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • IRGC’s Intelligence Organization arrested Ali Rastegar Sorkhei, former managing director of Bank Mellat, for “activities in an organized group of banking corruption.” (Al-Monitor, 7/20)
    • Iran arrested 40 members of terrorist group it said was seeking to carry out terrorist acts against police and security centers in eastern Iran. (Mehr News, 7/21)

    US-Iran relations

    • Iranian parliament’s speaker Ali Larijani warned Washington it needed to stop jeopardizing Iranian economic reintegration.

      • “With great sadness, parliament…warns the U.S. administration, House of Representatives and Senate that the efforts to undermine the nuclear agreement have reached a point that leaves no option for Iran but confrontation.”  (Al-Monitor, 7/20)

    • Obama administration slapped sanctions on three senior al-Qaeda figures based in Iran who are accused of helping transfer money and fighter from South Asia to Middle East. (Washington Post, 7/20)

    • U.S. federal appeals court voided forfeiture of Iran-linked New York office tower originally built by Shah of Iran. (Reuters, 7/20)

    • IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari expressed that IRGC naval forces are in such a good level of military preparedness that they can send US warships to bottom of Persian Gulf. (Tasnim, 7/21)

    • Robin (Reza) Shahini, recent San Diego State University graduate, was detained by Iranian authorities. (LA Times, 7/20)


    Geopolitics and Iran

    • First shipment of missiles for Russian S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile defense system entered Iran. (Al-Monitor, 7/18)
    • Iran began closed trial for 21 suspects in storming of Saudi diplomatic missions earlier this year. (Washington Post, 7/18)
    • Bahrain arrested five suspects from Iranian-linked cell that was plotting attacks on its territory. (Reuters, 7/22)
  • July 9-15, 2016


    Diplomacy and nuclear issue

    • Meeting of Joint Commission consisting of Iran and P5+1 will meet in Vienna on July 19 to discuss implementation of JCPOA.

      • Russian Permanent Representative Vladimir Voronkov stated: “There are two issues that need to be addressed. These are the difficulties with enriched uranium accumulated during the enrichment in the pipes and other devices. What has been discovered exceeds the allowed limit of 300 kilograms. And the second issue is heavy water.” (TASS, 7/14)

    • Several American and Iranian leaders commented on first anniversary of JCPOA.

      • President Obama stated: “We still have serious differences with Iran, but the United States, our partners, and the world are more secure because of the JCPOA.” (White House, 7/14)

      • Secretary of State John Kerry stated: “there are continuing issues. Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away. This program was about a nuclear track and about a nuclear program.” (Department of State, 7/14)

        • Additionally, Kerry acknowledged recently that forces in Iran that “didn’t want the agreement in the first place” were doing all they could to stoke terrorism and press ahead on other ways to challenge the United States and Saudi Arabia. (NYT, 7/13)

      • U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew stated: “Iran has benefited economically under the deal, significantly increasing its oil sales, opening more than 300 new bank accounts with foreign banks, negotiating billions of dollars of new lines of credit, and seeing new planned foreign direct investment increase by more than $3 billion.” (Department of Treasury, 7/14)

      • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated: “If, some day, the P5+1 refuses [to fulfill] its commitments, we will be completely prepared, and, in terms of nuclear capabilities, we are at such a level so as to be able to reach our desired stage in a short period of time.”

        • “In some fields, including banking, we still haven’t reached the expected level, although good steps have been taken in this regard and some connections have been made with big international banks.” (PressTV, 7/13)

      • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif wrote on twitter: “Same stark choice for US today, and reminder: old methods produce same oil failures. Progress will remain elusive as long as short-sighted bragging, lackluster implementation of obligations and tired slogans are preferred.” (The Daily Star, 7/15)

    • 75 national security experts and scientists published an open letter to President Obama praising his efforts on JCPOA and calling for greater diplomatic engagement to facilitate communication and, if necessary, allow Washington diplomatic means to pressure Tehran.

      • Letter applauded administration’s “commitment to the rigorous verification of Iran’s compliance and remaining in close contact with the U.S. negotiating partners on the JCPOA implementation.”

      • Notable signers include: former National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former Senator Richard Lugar, retired Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and Belfer Center’s Graham Allison and Gary Samore. (USIP, 7/11)

    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said country’s experts were testing newly-designed IR2 and IR2M centrifuges.

      • “They have seen how smart our scientists are and we are not therefore concerned about returning to the past conditions and capacities and we are able to develop even more than the past.” (Fars, 7/13)

    • Recent poll conducted of more than 1,000 Iranians showed 72% now have little confidence United States will live up to its commitments in JCPOA. (Washington Post, 7/13)

    • Iran reached agreement with France to take part in multi-national International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Project aims to build prototype fusion reactor in southern France. (Reuters, 7/12


    Sanctions and Iran's economy

    • Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi, who heads staff overseeing JCPOA implementation, stated that ongoing U.S. sanctions on Iran that prohibit international investors from using dollar for transactions are main obstacle keeping Iran from taking advantage of JCPOA and international sanctions relief.

      • Citing US court rulings confiscating billions of dollars belonging to Iran, Aragachi said Iran would prefer to remain outside U.S. dollar system.

      • Aragachi also expressed that while oil exports had increased dramatically, the “economy will not return to its original place overnight. No one expects our oil sales to go from 1 million [barrels of oil] to 2.5 million overnight.” (Al-Monitor, 7/12)

    • U.S. legal experts say that remaining U.S. sanctions on Iran (targeting terrorism, human rights violations, weapons proliferation) are causing more problems for foreign companies than anyone expected, in part because of difficulty for them to wall off any U.S. person or product from transaction with Iran.

      • Goodwin & Procter partner Richard Matheny, commented that Congress’ actions post-JCPOA are making it tougher for companies to seek deals because for “a business evaluating prospective risk, it’s tough: This is the way it is today, but tomorrow could be different.” (Wall Street Journal, 7/14)

    • Iranian government signed deal with Italy’s highway agency ANAS for construction and management of 1,200 km road project that will cost 3.6 billion euros. (Reuters, 7/14)

    • Gazprombank (one of three largest banks in Russia) and other Russian banks have started working with Iranian financial entities. (Tasnim, 7/13)

    • Iran signed Memorandum of Understanding with Russian company Zarubezhneft on feasibility study on two joint fields in western Iran.

      • China, India, South Korea, and some European states are also seeking long-term oil cooperation. (Reuters, 7/13)

    • Procter & Gamble Co. is looking to increase distribution of existing brands and expanding portfolio of brands in Iran. (Wall Street Journal, 7/13)

    • Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp believes Iran will need around 100-150 regional jets over next ten years and is aiming to win a chunk of business for its new Mitsubishi Regional Jet. (Reuters, 7/14)

    • Iran Petroleum Contract, a cornerstone of Iran’s plan to raise crude production through foreign investment, was approved by Resistance Economy Headquarters, a government economic advisory body. The final draft for contracts still needs to be approved by Iranian government. (Reuters UK, 7/12)


    Iranian domestic politics

    • Iranian parliament passed bill outlining requirements for “how to hire individuals for sensitive positions.” Bill bans people from 11 groups from appointment to sensitive positions, including individuals who hold dual citizenship. (Al-Monitor, 7/11)

    • Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who was recently sentenced to 16 years in prison, has been on hunger strike since June 27 to protest not being allowed to speak to her children. Her mother called on President Rouhani to intervene. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 7/15)

    • Iran indicted three detained Iranian dual-nationals an