◢ President Donald Trump on Sunday hit back at bellicose comments by Iran's president, warning him of consequences "the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered," as the US intensifies its campaign against the Islamic republic. The high-stakes verbal sparring is reminiscent of the exchanges Trump had last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, before the two leaders met in a historic summit last month.
◢ The United States is not afraid to sanction top-ranking leaders of the "nightmare" Iranian regime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, pursuing a strategy aimed at Iranian compliance with stringent US demands. Following Washington's pullout from the Iran nuclear accord that stunned Washington's closest European allies, Pompeo on May 21 unveiled the "new strategy" to force Iran's submission to a dozen demands.
◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans on Sunday to urge members of the Iranian diaspora to "support" protesters in Iran, as the Trump administration hints at a desire for regime change in Tehran after turning its back on the Iranian nuclear accord. President Donald Trump—who has made the Islamic republic a favorite target since his unexpected rapprochement with North Korea—decided on May 8 to restore all the sanctions that had been lifted as part of the multi-nation agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
◢ Iran's President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States not to "play with the lion's tail" on Sunday, saying that conflict with Iran would be the "mother of all wars.” Addressing his US counterpart Donald Trump, Rouhani said: "You declare war and then you speak of wanting to support the Iranian people.
◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that negotiations with the United States are "useless" because it does not abide by agreements. "As I have previously said, we cannot trust in the words of the United States and even in their signature, so negotiations with the United States are useless," Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian diplomats in Tehran.
◢ Iranian authorities ruled Saturday that a member of the minority Zoroastrian religion had been wrongly suspended from his post on a city council. Sepanta Niknam, a member of Iran's ancient Zoroastrian religion, was the only non-Muslim elected to the council in the central city of Yazd in May 2017, but he was suspended later in the year following a complaint by one of his fellow councillors.
◢ Turkey on Friday hosted an American delegation for talks to address concerns about the potential negative impact on its economy of the looming reimposition of US sanctions against Iran. US President Donald Trump decided in May to abandon the 2015 deal agreed with other world powers on Iran's nuclear program and reimpose nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
◢ Iran is ready to boost its uranium enrichment to higher levels if talks fail with Europe on salvaging the nuclear deal, a top official said Tuesday. "We have of course adopted some measures in order to prepare the ground for eventually increasing the level of enrichment if it is needed and if the negotiations with the Europeans fail," Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman and vice-president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told a news conference in Tehran.
◢ Iran has lodged a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the United States' reimposition of sanctions, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The complaint was registered the previous day, spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on the ministry's website. The goal is "to hold US accountable for its unlawful re-imposition of unilateral sanctions," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
◢ EU countries on Monday gave European firms legal cover to operate in Iran despite the US pullout from the nuclear deal, after a report that the Trump administration has rejected calls by Brussels for an exemption from sanctions. The bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the 28 countries were doing all they could to save the deal but conceded President Donald Trump's administration could still wreck it.
◢ Washington will not budge on its decision to impose fresh sanctions on corporations operating in Iran, despite a European request for exemption, the Financial Times reported Monday. "International companies active in Iran face the threat of US sanctions within weeks after Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries to help keep a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran alive," the paper reported.
◢ Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has called for better ties with the world—though not with the United States, according his official website on Monday. Khamenei met President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet on Sunday and spoke of the "necessity of developing diplomacy and relations with foreign countries," according to a transcript published in English.
◢ The United States is increasingly isolated in its move to reimpose sanctions on Tehran after quitting the international nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday, vowing to resist American "plots." Many importers and exporters have complained they do not have enough currency to enable trade with foreign countries. But Rouhani said Iran would ensure exporters and importers have "the necessary currency."
◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged European powers to get behind American measures to cut Iran off from world energy markets Thursday, during talks in Brussels. While debate at the nearby NATO summit was marked by President Donald Trump's attacks on Germany's close energy ties with Russia, his top diplomat had another target.
◢ A film on Iranian state television showing social media users being upbraided for allegedly promoting dance online has sparked criticism from reformists in the Islamic republic. The broadcast, aired Friday on flagship channel IRIB 1, featured men and women whose faces were not shown being questioned and made to repent for activities portrayed as contrary to Islamic law and "family values.”
◢ The world's third largest shipping container group, the French-owned CMA CGM, has decided to withdraw from Iran over the threat of US sanctions, its chief executive said Saturday. "Because of the Trump administration, we have decided to end our service to Iran," Rodolphe Saade told an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence in southern France.
◢ Frequently a target of attack by hardliners, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is benefiting from a sudden surge in support from his former critics, a week after he called for national unity. The apparent sea-change in conservative rhetoric follows hawkish comments by the president himself following Washington's unilateral May withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
◢ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday was on the second leg of his European tour seeking assurances over the 2015 nuclear deal, a trip clouded by the arrest of a Tehran diplomat over an alleged bomb plot against opposition exiles in Paris. Hoping to boost economic cooperation to help offset the return of US sanctions following Washington's pullout from the historic deal, Rouhani arrived late Tuesday in Vienna—the city where it was signed.
◢ A plan by the United States to cut Iran's oil production to zero is a "fantasy," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday during his European tour to rally support for the 2015 nuclear deal. "These are exaggerated statements that can never be implemented," Rouhani told reporters in Bern, after holding talks with Swiss authorities on a range of issues, including the nuclear deal.
◢ The foreign ministers of Iran and five world powers still party to the 2015 nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on Friday for talks on the troubled accord, state media in Tehran said. The top diplomats of Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia will join Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Austrian capital, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported, for their first talks together on the deal since Washington pulled out earlier this year.
◢ Austria asked Tehran Tuesday to lift the immunity of an Iranian diplomat suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to bomb a rally by an exiled Iranian opposition group in France. The diplomat, who is based at the embassy in Vienna, was detained in Germany on Saturday.
◢ The United States remains determined to force Iran to change its behavior by cutting its oil exports to zero, the State Department said Monday, despite resistance from importing countries. Brian Hook, the senior official leading negotiations with US allies on a new Iran strategy, said Washington is confident the world has enough spare oil capacity to replace Iranian crude.
◢ Belgian prosecutors on Monday charged a husband and wife over a plot to bomb a weekend rally by an exiled Iranian opposition group in France. Amir S. and Nasimeh N., both Belgian nationals, "are suspected of having attempted to carry out a bomb attack" on Saturday in the Paris suburb of Villepinte, during a conference organized by the People's Mujahedin of Iran, a statement from the Belgian federal prosecutor said.
◢ UNESCO on Saturday added eight pre-Islamic Iranian archeological sites to its World Heritage List, the UN agency announced at a meeting in the Bahraini capital. The sites collectively appear on the worldwide list as the "Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Islamic Republic of Iran)."
◢ Several people were injured in the southwestern Iranian city of Khorramshahr late Saturday when demonstrators protesting against water pollution clashed with police, Iranian state media reported. The protesters set fire to rubbish bins and damaged public property, prompting police to fire tear gas to disperse them, state-run IRNA news agency said Sunday.
◢ US President Donald Trump allies Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani on Saturday urged regime change in Iran, saying the prospect was closer than ever after the Islamic Republic was hit by a wave of strikes and protests. Former House speaker Gingrich and ex-New York mayor Giuliani also told a rally of thousands of Iranian opposition supporters in Paris that Trump needed to turn up the heat on European countries still seeking to do business with Tehran despite reimposed US sanctions.
◢ Tehran on Saturday urged foreign firms working in Iran to resist US "threats" of sanctions, adding it was in talks with French car makers about staying on in the country. "All (foreign) companies working in Iran should not be intimidated by US threats and should continue their activities in Iran," Industry Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari told a news conference in Tehran.
◢ The US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Thursday urged India to reconsider its ties to Iran, one of its key energy suppliers, as fresh US sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil loom. Washington has stepped up pressure on major Iranian customers to stop importing its oil, warning no trading partner will be exempt from new economic sanctions when they bite from November 4.
◢ The United States urged fellow UN Security Council members Wednesday to punish Iran for "malign behavior" in the Middle East, at a meeting on implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. It was the first meeting of the Security Council since US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Tehran.
◢ The United States warned Tuesday that countries around the world must stop buying Iranian oil before November 4 or face a renewed round of American economic sanctions. A senior State Department official warned foreign capitals "we're not granting waivers" and described tightening the noose on Tehran as "one of our top national security priorities."
◢ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Tuesday for national unity to preserve "confidence" and "hope" in the face of unrest over the Islamic republic's mounting economic woes. Rouhani's remarks came as vendors in Tehran's Grand Bazaar, a traditional area of support for Iran's leadership, continued a rare strike that began Monday over the collapse of the rial on foreign exchange markets.