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Eye on Iran: U.S. Warns Europe Against Iran Payments After Austria Bows Out



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The U.S. official overseeing President Donald Trump's Iran strategy warned European countries against hosting a payment system to keep money flowing to the Islamic Republic, days after Austria became the latest nation to decline to host such a facility. "We are on alert for any type of sanctions evasion, and if we see evasion we won't hesitate to use our sanctions to stop it," Brian Hook, the State Department special representative for Iran, said in a phone interview from Tel Aviv.
  

European banks and firms who engage in a special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran will be at risk from newly reimposed U.S. sanctions, the U.S. special envoy for Iran warned on Thursday. It is "no surprise" that EU efforts to establish a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for non-dollar trade with Iran were floundering over fear in EU capitals that hosting it would incur U.S. punishment, Special Representative Brian Hook said. 


A U.N. committee on human rights approved a resolution Thursday urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its "alarmingly high" use of the death penalty. The General Assembly's Human Rights Committee adopted the resolution by a vote of 85-30, with 68 abstentions. It is virtually certain to be approved by the 193-member world body next month.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM


Iran's nuclear program "was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought," reports Michael Hirsh at Foreign Policy. ∆íThis, from David Albright, a prominent nuclear expert who examined a secret Iranian archive seized by Israel this year. Indeed, it shows that Tehran "has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months." If it rebuilds its centrifuges, it could have enough weapons-grade uranium in about seven to 12 months. This, says Albright, is "a surprising and troubling finding."

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS  


The United States on Monday reactivated its most biting sanctions on Iran, prohibiting and penalizing business with Iran's energy, shipping, and financial services sectors, as well as other activities. The move follows the United States' unilateral withdrawal in May from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.


When U.S. President Donald Trump asked Saudi Arabia this summer to raise oil production to compensate for lower crude exports from Iran, Riyadh swiftly told Washington it would do so. But Saudi Arabia did not receive advance warning when Trump made a U-turn by offering generous waivers that are keeping more Iranian crude in the market instead of driving exports from Riyadh's arch-rival down to zero, OPEC and industry sources say.
   

Iran executed the so-called "Sultan of Coins" and his accomplice on Wednesday for hoarding gold coins and other hard currency, signaling zero tolerance as it tries to shore up its currency in the face of an economic crisis. State TV reported that Vahid Mazloumin and his accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, were hanged early Wednesday. They were convicted of manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.


With US re-imposed sanctions against Iran scaling back Iranian economic activity in the region, Turkey is looking to fill the void in commodity exports left behind by Iranian companies leaving Iraq. Turkish exports are expected to increase, compensating for goods imported from Iran. Iraq's head of Turkey-Iraq Cooperation Council Amin Taha said that Iraqi markets generally prefer to import basic commodities from Iran because of their low rates.


The United States has turned its currency into a "weapon" and is using it to challenge the sovereignty of European nations, a senior Iranian official says. "Dollar has become a weapon for the United Sates to force its illegitimate demands upon its European partners, practically challenging their national sovereignty," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi said on Thursday.


South Korea did not import any Iranian crude oil in October, the second month in a row one of the world's top oil importers has abstained from buying Iranian crude ahead of the U.S. sanctions against Tehran, which entered into effect on November 5. Reuters reported the data, citing information from the South Korean customs authorities, adding the country had stopped buying Iranian crude in September for the first time in six years as it was not certain it would score a waiver with the U.S. Department of Treasury. 

TERRORISM & EXTREMISM


The United States has warned that Iran could create a new malign force akin to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and said Saudi Arabia was an ideal partner to help contain the revolutionary Shiite Muslim power in the Middle East. James Jeffrey, the State Department's special representative to Syria, told the Sixth Annual Defense One Summit Thursday that direct military action would not be enough to defeat Iran and its expanding network of armed allies, many of which were comprised of Shiite Muslim militias. 

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS


The health of an Iranian-American dual national held in Tehran is rapidly deteriorating, his family and attorney warned Thursday as they appealed to Iranian authorities to allow him to leave for medical treatment. "I'm here today to beg the Iranian government," said Babak Namazi, the son of 81-year-old Baquer Namazi who has been held in Iran for over two years. The younger Namazi called on the Iranian government to "show mercy" and give his father permission to leave for medical treatment.

The Iranian soccer team Persepolis battled it out against Japan's Kashima Antlers in the Asian Champions League in Tehran Nov. 10. But before the referee announced the start of the game, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who had traveled to Iran to watch the match, had a request. Infantino asked to be shown that Iranian women had been allowed into the Azadi stadium to watch.


Asian soccer's most important game of the season, the AFC Champions League final, was held in Tehran on Nov. 10. What transpired on the pitch was somewhat anticlimactic, not to mention discouraging for the Iranian side, as Iran's Persepolis and Japan's Kashima Antlers reached a goalless draw that meant the latter emerged victorious on aggregate. But a lot more was going on in the VIP section and the packed stands of the iconic Azadi Stadium.
  
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS


Masoud Nili, economic adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, has resigned and is no longer attending meeting at the Money and Credit Council where Ali Tayebnia is attending in his place, according to ISNA news agency. The Higher Institute for Education and Planning announced that Rouhani accepted Nili's resignation.

Tehran's city council selected 55-year-old Reformist politician and architect Pirouz Hanachi as the capital's third mayor in 18 months on Nov. 13. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, conservative politician and Tehran's longest serving mayor, left office in August 2017 after Reformists swept the city council elections that year. He was followed by Mohammad Ali Najafi, who held the office for just eight months and left after health concerns. 


Iran's state TV is reporting that the managing director of the country's social security agency and his deputy have been killed in a car crash in northern Iran. The Thursday report said Taghi Nourbakhsh and his deputy, Abdolrahman Tajeddin, were injured in a car crash in northern Golestan Province and both died later in a hospital.
NORTH KOREA & IRAN


North Korea on Friday said it will deport an American citizen it detained for illegal entrance, an apparent concession to the United States that came even as it announced the test of a newly developed but unspecified "ultramodern" weapon that will be seen as a pressuring tactic by Washington.

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN


In May 2018, the international community watched anxiously as relations between long-time foes Iran and Israel seemed to reach a new low. Donald Trump had just announced the U.S. would pull out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, much to Tehran's displeasure. Meanwhile, new skirmishes in Syria between Israeli and Iranian military promoted both UN and EU leaders to call for restraint on both sides. The conflicts may have died down, but months later Israel and Iran remain at odds, and an end to hostilities looks remote. 

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS    


Pakistan on November 15 said its security forces safely recovered five of the 12 Iranian guards abducted near the countries' shared border a month ago. The extremist group Jaish al-Adl had claimed responsibility for the abduction of Iranian security personnel, which included member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).






Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email press@uani.com.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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