Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Eye on Iran: U.S. Sanctions Start to Pinch Shipping in Iran

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It will be months before new U.S. sanctions against Iran take hold, but global shipping operators are already pulling back from the big oil-exporting nation.

The U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp back in business after penalties imposed over Iran sanctions violations forced the company to shut down operations, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

Iranian university students in a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered harsh criticism of the country's direction, local media reported Tuesday, an unusually frank discussion showing the concerns many feel over the Trump administration's pullout from the nuclear deal with Tehran and Iran's battered economy. One student in particular offered a list of problems confronting Iran and directly asked Khamenei, whom hard-liners view as second only to God, how he would respond to them.


Despite Khamenei's charged rhetoric, [UANI Senior Adviser Norman] Roule does not believe that companies in Europe will risk their access to the U.S. financial system to maintain ties to Iran. "If you are the head of an international company or bank, you have to be out of your mind to risk the U.S. market and litigation and exposure to your firm's assets in order to work with a country that brings such little profit and is so susceptible to sanctions because of its malign regional behavior, missile, issues, terrorism, let alone the nuclear issue," he explains.


An Iranian nuclear energy official on Sunday repeated a warning from earlier this year that his country is able to create highly enriched uranium in "two to three days." 

China will host Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next month at a regional summit aimed at avoiding disruption of joint projects, its foreign ministry said on Monday, as major powers scramble to save Iran's nuclear deal after the United States pulled out.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton will reportedly meet with his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabat, in Washington on Tuesday to discuss a joint approach to Iran.

The European Union is seeking to shield the bloc's strategic and economic interests in Iran in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the international nuclear deal, as the EU foreign policy chief insisted Monday that the unity of the member states was unquestioned.

The EU should pay more heed to U.S. security concerns linked to Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as the bloc decides how to address American sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Poland's chief diplomat said. 

Mike Pompeo's first formal speech as Secretary of State can best be described a diplomatic body slam on the Iranian regime.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given the EU extensive conditions if Iran is to stick to the nuclear deal. Yet he is nothing more than a squeaking mouse.

The next chapter in the Iran nuclear saga, after U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will depend on the decisions made by the parties that agreed to the deal. At present, it is clear that Iran desperately wants to keep the deal-not a surprise taking into account that the JCPOA has major benefits for it, while requiring only minimal nuclear concessions-and the European states would like to go along, as would the Russians and Chinese.


The world's top oil trader said it will be near impossible to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran, suggesting Donald Trump's attack on OPEC's third-largest producer may have a bigger impact on the global crude market than many anticipate.

The European Union is trying to rope central banks into its drive to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran - but it's potentially risky, and they're not happy about it.

European refiners have started sourcing alternatives to Iranian crude supplies well before new US sanctions on the OPEC producer are due to kick in later this year, according to oil traders. 

Chinese and Russian state-backed companies are maneuvering to profit from European firms leaving Iran, threatening the Trump administration's bid to raise economic pressure on Tehran. 

A Chinese investment firm will spend US$2 billion on building an oil refinery in the Iranian northern province of Mazandaran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday..

India said on Monday it abided by sanctions imposed by the United Nations but not those imposed by any other country, such as those announced by the United States against Iran. 

Germany's biggest lenders have shied away from business with Iran after past penalties for breaching US sanctions, but smaller banks have leapt on opportunities afforded by the nuclear deal rejected by Donald Trump. 

Following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the Booking.com said in an email to Iranian hotels that despite its strong interest in maintaining its cooperation with them, it has to cut the ties because of the US domestic laws.

It is too early to say how many foreign companies ultimately will pull out of Iran in the face of the American threats. The European Union has made promises to take steps to protect its companies. But the new sanctions have undeniably complicated matters for foreign investors in Iran, particularly companies with global operations, leaving many European executives bitter.


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says if Iranian leaders accept U.S. demands to behave like a normal nation, Americans will visit Iran and treat it as a friend.

Israel and Russia have reached a secret agreement to distance Iranian forces from the border area in southern Syria, Israeli TV reported Monday, as Jerusalem and Moscow sent differing messages regarding the extent of their tolerance for Iran's military presence in that country. Under the apparent agreement coming together, Israel will accept the return of Syrian regime soldiers to the border on the Golan Heights, in exchange for Russia guaranteeing there are no Iranian or Hezbollah forces in the area, Hadashot TV news reported.

Israel and Iran engaged over the weekend in indirect negotiations in Jordan regarding fighting in southwestern Syria, according to Elaph, a Saudi-owned website.

Israel is increasingly optimistic of being able to force Iran out of Syria as Russia comes to see that Iran's presence may threaten its own interests, a senior Israeli intelligence official said Monday. 

The Syrian air force has forbidden Iranian forces and their allied Shiite militias from using its aircraft hangars and other facilities on its military bases, in light of repeated Israeli attacks, a Syrian news outlet reported on Sunday.

The secretary of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Security Council has reiterated that Iran's military presence in Syria, its regional policies and missile program will continue and are non-negotiable. 

Israel called on Monday for its arch-foe Iran to be denied any military presence in Syria, after Russia said Damascus' forces alone should control Syrian territory near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.


Iranian security forces will "resolutely confront" unrest that could be exploited by the United States and other enemies, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday, after a wave of protests across the country mainly about economic issues. 

In an act of political protest, hackers took control of airport electronic sign boards at the city of Mashad in Iran Thursday evening May 24. Social media reports from Mashad posted pictures of defaced arrival and departure monitors at the city's airport showing a statement protesting against Iran's military presence in the Middle East.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency is reporting that the country's authorities have detained a university professor over insulting Sunni Muslims.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Tehran, will face a trial for new "security-related" charges, Iranian media reports. The 39-year-old was arrested in 2016 and is already serving a five-year sentence for allegedly spying against the Iranian regime.

The Baha'i International Community (BIC) says Baha'is in Iran are facing a new wave of arrests and raids on their homes across different cities in the country.

Women prisoners of conscience from Iran's Gonabadi Dervish religious community are being subjected to verbal abuse, including sexual slurs, and denied proper medical treatment by doctors and other health professionals at Shahr-e Rey prison on the outskirts of Tehran, Amnesty International revealed today.

The lawyer of Tehran-based death row prisoner Mohammad Salas has released an audio file in which he denies driving the bus that killed three policemen in Tehran in February 2018.

Iranian security forces on Friday May 25 prevented the [celebration of the] 50th anniversary of the establishment of Writers Association, the oldest and most prestigious trade union for Iranian writers.

Protesters removing their headscarves in unprecedented acts of civil disobedience are fostering a crisis of self-confidence for the regime.


Khamenei's Ramadan speech combined explicit attacks on the United States, implicit criticism of Rouhani's approach, and excessive demands on Europe, seemingly bracing the regime for one of the toughest challenges of his thirty-year rule.

Truck drivers in Iran continue their strike despite promises made by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's officials to raise cargo fees.

Celebrated Iranian actor and director Nasser Malek Motiee was under a media ban for nearly 40 years, and it wasn't lifted until he was 6 feet under. But after he died on May 26 at the age of 88, the man known as the "King of Iranian cinema" finally found himself back in the spotlight.


Relations between Morocco and Iran continue to deteriorate over Rabat's allegations that Tehran is meddling in the internal affairs of the North African country.


Riyadh pulled the plug on awarding government contracts to German companies, in a possible response to Berlin's pro-Iranian regime polices and its accusation that the kingdom's foreign policy constitutes "political adventurism" in the Middle East.

Yemeni Houthi rebels have fired several missiles into Saudi Arabia over the past two days, Iranian and Arab media reported.

Iran will be holding a new round of talks with Europe on the Yemen conflict, negotiations that have taken on greater significance as the sides try to salvage a nuclear agreement. 


A senior commander and other members of the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group were killed overnight in an Israeli airstrike, Sky's Arabic-language channel reported Tuesday... It cited sources saying the strikes destroyed a coordination center for operations and set fire to various places.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was taking action against arms manufacturing in Lebanon and threatened continued fighting with Iran Sunday. Netanyahu's stark threat against Lebanon came after Israeli officials have warned repeatedly that Iran may be trying to manufacture advanced missiles in Lebanon to be used against Israel by the Hezbollah terror group.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has amassed a net personal worth of around $250 million due to his organization's illegal drug smuggling operations, Al-Ittihad, an Arabic language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates, reported on Monday.

Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri expressed hope on Monday that a coalition government could be formed quickly to shield Lebanon from regional instability and a dire economic situation which he said posed the biggest danger to the country.

The leader of Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah group called on the Lebanese state Friday to stand up for citizens being slapped with sanctions by the United States, saying they are harming people. 

Thirty-five years ago last month, a Hezbollah suicide bomber drove a delivery van packed with explosives into the U.S. embassy in West Beirut. The explosion collapsed portions of the building and killed sixty-seven people, including seventeen Americans. Later that year, Hezbollah, with Iranian backing, conducted simultaneous suicide bombings of U.S. and French military barracks that collectively killed nearly three hundred soldiers. 


The Council of Ulemmas of Tajikistan, an association of the country's religious leaders, today accused Tehran of attempts to destabilize the Central Asian country.


The only thing that's clear from Iraq's May 12 election is who the voters rejected: Iran and the U.S.

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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