◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that the Islamic republic will keep rolling back its commitments under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. "You did not carry out a single one (of your commitments), why do you want us to stick to our commitments?" Khamenei said, criticizing European countries which are party to the deal.
◢ A small oil tanker that had gone missing in the Persian Gulf had technical difficulties and was towed into Iranian waters for repairs, an Iranian foreign ministry official said, according to the ISNA news agency. Further details on the ship, the Panamanian-flagged RIAH, will be announced later, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to the semi-offficial ISNA.
◢ Portugal denied Wednesday it was refusing visas to Iranians for "political" reasons, and insisted the measure was "temporary.” "It is not related to security conditions in Iran or any other aspect of an institutional or political nature," the foreign ministry added in a statement.
◢ The United Nations voiced concern Monday after the United States imposed unusually harsh restrictions on the movements of Iran's foreign minister. Weeks after the United States threatened sanctions against Zarif, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington issued him a visa but forbade him from moving beyond six blocks of Iran's UN mission in Midtown Manhattan.
◢ European foreign ministers held crisis talks Monday on saving the beleaguered Iran nuclear deal as Britain warned the "small window" for success was closing and Tehran issued fresh threats of restarting its atomic program. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt—who held phone talks with his US and Iranian counterparts at the weekend—insisted "the deal isn't dead yet.”
◢ French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called on Tehran to explain why a Franco-Iranian academic based at a Paris university has been arrested in Iran, expressing concern for the woman's welfare. The detention of Fariba Adelkhah, a well-known expert on Iran and Shiite Islam at the prestigious Sciences Po university, risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran at a critical moment.
◢ Iran’s battered currency is starting to recover in the unregulated market as government policies to defend it against U.S. sanctions take effect. The central bank sought ways to protect the currency with measures that include setting up a government-run foreign-exchange platform known as NIMA to quell the black market and controlling interest rates offered by lenders.
◢ British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt sought to ease tensions with Iran on Saturday, saying a tanker held by Gibraltar would be released if Tehran guaranteed it was not heading to Syria. He said he had a "constructive call" with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, who he said assured him that Tehran "is not seeking to escalate" tensions between the countries.
◢ Iran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment is prompting debate over whether the U.S. should—or even can—invoke a threat that negotiators built into the 2015 nuclear agreement but hoped would never be used: a “snapback” of international sanctions.
◢ Britain said on Thursday that Iranian military vessels tried to "impede the passage" of a UK oil tanker but were warned off by a British warship in a dramatic escalation of tensions with Tehran in the Gulf. "Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz," the UK defence ministry said in a statement.
◢ A diplomatic adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron held talks in Tehran Wednesday aimed at saving the 2015 nuclear deal and easing tensions between Iran and the United States. Emmanuel Bonne met Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, and was set to meet with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later on Wednesday.
◢ The U.S. called for an extraordinary meeting of atomic inspectors to ramp up pressure against Iran after it violated key restrictions set by the landmark nuclear accord. What it’s likely to get is pushback from Russia, China and other nations who blame the Trump administration for precipitating a crisis that has threatened to spill over into war.
◢ French President Emmanuel Macron’s top diplomatic adviser heads to Iran on Tuesday, seeking to persuade the Islamic Republic to reverse breaches that have raised pressure on European nations struggling to save the landmark 2015 nuclear deal from collapse. Emmanuel Bonne will meet with Iranian leaders, including a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
◢ An oil tanker run by BP Plc is being kept inside the Persian Gulf in fear it could be seized by Iran in a tit-for-tat response to the arrest by Gibraltar last week of a vessel hauling the Islamic Republic’s crude. The British Heritage, able to haul about 1 million barrels of crude, was sailing toward Iraq’s Basrah oil terminal in the south of country when it made an abrupt u-turn on July 6.
◢ Iran's oil minister has accused the United States of using sanctions to "shock" the global oil supply and gain market clout for its booming shale oil production. "I think one of the reasons for sanctions against Iran and Venezuela is opening up the market for American oil sales," Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in an interview with state TV.
◢ Iran said Sunday it was set to breach the uranium enrichment cap set by an endangered nuclear deal within hours as it seeks to press signatories into keeping their side of the bargain. The move—involving purifying beyond the 3.67 percent allowed by the 2015 agreement—comes despite opposition from the European Union and the United States, which has quit the deal.
◢ The UN's nuclear watchdog said Friday it will hold a special meeting on Iran's nuclear program next week, days after Tehran breached one of the limits set in a 2015 deal with world powers. The meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s board of governors would be held "on 10 July at 14:30," an IAEA spokesman said.
◢ British special forces seized a supertanker off Gibraltar suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European and U.S. sanctions against the war-torn country. Gibraltar didn’t say where the crude came from, but shipping tracking data compiled by Bloomberg suggest the vessel loaded at Iran’s Kharg Island oil terminal in mid-April.
◢ President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will exceed on Sunday the uranium enrichment limit it agreed in a 2015 deal with major powers. "On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 percent. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67 percent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need," Rouhani said.
◢ Iraq is establishing a financial "loophole" to continue buying vital gas and electricity from Iran despite US sanctions, AFP has learned, mirroring a European mechanism that came into effect Friday. The "special purpose vehicle" (SPV) would allow Iraq to pay for imported Iranian energy in Iraqi dinars, which Iran could use to exclusively buy humanitarian goods, three senior Iraqi officials said.
◢ Iran's stock market is thriving, despite US sanctions which have battered its economy and an uncertain future as geopolitical tensions soar in the Gulf. Tehran Stock Exchange was buzzing Monday after the latest spike in a 12-month bull market, mostly caused by the crash of Iran's currency, the rial.
◢ Iran said it had exceeded the cap on its stockpile of enriched uranium set under the 2015 nuclear deal, risking a confrontation with European nations which had urged it to stick to the accord. “As I was informed, Iran has crossed the 300-kilogram cap according to plans,” the Iranian Students’ News Agency cited Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.
◢ The mechanism set up by European powers to help Iran skirt US sanctions will be of limited use but it has highlighted a welcome distance between Washington and its allies, Tehran's top diplomat said Monday. Britain, France and Germany launched the special payment system in late January after US President Donald Trump abruptly quit the nuclear deal last year and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Iran.
◢ Iran will no longer require Chinese visitors to obtain visas, state media reported Sunday, as the sanctions-hit country attempts to boost tourism in the face of an economic crisis. "The cabinet has agreed to waive visa requirements for Chinese nationals entering the Islamic Republic of Iran," state news agency IRNA said.
◢ Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, is under almost constant pressure from hardliners and right-wing lawmakers who’ve repeatedly tried to have him impeached and removed from office. But his record at OPEC and efforts to rehabilitate Iran’s energy sector mean he’s developed a reputation among the wider public for being an efficient and dedicated technocrat.
◢ Iran will not exceed Thursday a uranium stockpile limit agreed under a nuclear deal with world powers, contrary to what Tehran said earlier this month, according to a diplomatic source in Vienna. "They won't exceed it today," the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
◢ Iran "never seeks war" with the United States, President Hassan Rouhani said as he sought to rein in soaring tensions Wednesday between the two countries. "Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US," the president said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
◢ Iran will "resolutely" abandon more commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers on July 7, Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday quoting a "note" from a top security official. Tehran had announced on May 8 that it was suspending two of its 2015 pledges and gave Europe, China and Russia a two-month ultimatum to help Iran circumvent US sanctions and sell its oil or it would abandon two more commitments.
◢ Iran said Tuesday new US sanctions against its leaders marked the end of diplomacy with Washington, after President Donald Trump threatened the country with "obliteration.” Trump imposed new sanctions Monday against Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military chiefs, further raising the stakes in an escalating regional standoff.
◢ President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and eight senior military commanders, a provocative step designed to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic. Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that the penalties would deny Khamenei and his office access to financial resources.
◢ US President Donald Trump on Saturday pledged to hit Iran with "major" new sanctions as Tehran warned Washington that any attack would see its interests across the Middle East go up in flames. The war of words heated up after Trump had pulled back from military action against Iran in response to its downing of a US reconnaissance drone.