Iraq Likely Theater if US, Iran Tensions Worsen: Study

◢ Iraq could bear the brunt if conflict intensifies between Iran and the United States, a think-tank study said Wednesday. The International Crisis Group, which researches ways to prevent war, interviewed officials around the world including Iran for an extensive report on the state of the 2015 denuclearization accord between Tehran and major powers.

Opel Helps France's PSA Buck China, Iran Auto Downturn

◢ French auto giant Groupe PSA, which makes the Citroen and Peugeot brands, reported record vehicle sales Tuesday as the acquisition of General Motors' Opel unit helped offset a sharp downturn in key markets China and Iran. PSA sold 3.88 million vehicles, up 6.8 percent from 2017 when it acquired the Opel business which includes British-based Vauxhall.

Iran Satellite in US Row Fails to Reach Orbit

◢ Iran launched a satellite criticized by the United States as a breach of a UN resolution on Tuesday but it failed to reach orbit, the telecommunications minister said. Iran's arch foe Israel swiftly condemned the launch, which it charged was cover for the testing of the first stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

White House Sought Military Strike Against Iran

◢ The White House demanded that the military draft plans for strikes on Iran after attacks in Iraq last year, sparking concern at the Pentagon and State Department, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The report said the move came after a mortar attack launched by an Iran-linked group on the Baghdad diplomatic quarters home to the US embassy in September. No one was hurt by the shells, which landed in an open lot.

Cargo Plane Crashes in Iran, Killing 15

◢ A military cargo plane overshot a runway, crashed and caught fire during a botched landing near the Iranian capital Tehran, killing 15 people, the army said Monday. The plane was carrying meat from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan when it crashed near the capital Tehran, the army said in a statement.

Iran Foreign Minister in Baghdad for Talks

◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Sunday for wide-ranging talks, including on US sanctions against Tehran. The visit came just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise stop on his regional tour to urge Iraq to stop relying on Iran for gas and electricity imports.

Iran Summons Polish Diplomat to Protest US Summit

◢ Iran's foreign ministry summoned Poland's top diplomat in the country to protest its decision to host what it called an "anti-Iranian" summit, a spokesman said Sunday. Poland's charge d'affaires was summoned to "protest the anti-Iranian so-called peace and security conference," ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on his Telegram channel.

US to Host Global Summit on Iran in Poland, Pompeo Says

◢ The United States is organizing an international summit in Poland next month, focusing on Iran's Middle Eastern influence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News. The event will "focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence," the top US diplomat said.

Pompeo Vows to Expel 'Every Last Iranian Boot' from Syria

◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed Thursday the United States and its allies would chase all Iranian troops from Syria, and urged Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran. "It's time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good of the region," said Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo.

Iran's Khamenei: Some US Officials are 'First-Class Idiots'

◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said some US officials are "first-class idiots" in a speech on Wednesday. "Some US officials pretend that they are mad. Of course I don't agree with that, but they are first-class idiots," he said in the speech in Tehran, quoted on his official Twitter feed.

Iran Behind Two Assassinations in the Netherlands: Dutch Minister

◢ Iran was likely behind the murders of two Dutch citizens believed to be dissidents against the regime in Tehran, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said Tuesday. The Dutch secret service "has strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin in Almere 2015 and in The Hague in 2017," Blok said in a letter to parliament.

Iran, India Move Closer on Trade as EU Stalls

◢ Iran will boost trade with India as the European Union struggles to find a way to circumvent a fresh US embargo on Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tuesday. Brussels is working on a payment mechanism to keep financial transactions flowing with Iran, after the US ditched the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran earlier this year and reintroduced a raft of sanctions on the country.

Iran MPs to Investigate Protester Torture Claims

◢ Iran's parliament will investigate claims by a labor protest leader that he was tortured in prison following strikes at a sugar factory, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Sunday. Alireza Rahimi, a member of parliament's presiding board, said his request for an investigation had been accepted by speaker Ali Larijani, according to ISNA.

Iran Approves Anti-Money Laundering Bill

◢ An Iranian arbitration body gave its approval on Saturday to an anti-money laundering bill seen as crucial to maintaining international trade and banking ties, the official IRNA news agency reported. "The bill on amending the law to counter money laundering was approved with certain changes and will be sent to the parliament speaker to be communicated to the government," Expediency Council member Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam told IRNA.

Boeing Stuck in Iran Creates Headaches for Norwegian Airline

◢ Norwegian Air Shuttle said Friday one of its Boeing 737s has been stuck in Iran for three weeks after an unscheduled landing due to engine problems, as US restrictions reportedly create headaches for the airline and possibly passengers. The aircraft was en route from Dubai to Oslo with 192 passengers and crew members on board when it carried out a "safety landing" in Shiraz in southwestern Iran because of engine trouble.

US Warns Iran Against Space Launch

◢ The United States on Thursday warned Iran of consequences if it goes ahead with plans to send off three space launch vehicles, charging despite Tehran's denials that the move would violate a UN resolution. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran's satellite-delivery rockets used technology "virtually identical" to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which could eventually include long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Broadway Hits Iran With Unique Take on 'Les Miserables'

◢ Iranian theatre director Hossein Parsaee calls Victor Hugo's classic a "masterpiece without borders" but his groundbreaking production of "Les Miserables" that has hit the stage in Tehran has a few unique twists. It was a mainly young, well-heeled crowd when AFP visited recently, and they could barely control their excitement at a rare chance to attend a musical in their home city.

Iran Arrests 11 Who Stole $400m Earmarked for Imports

◢ Iran's intelligence ministry said Monday it had arrested 11 "economic disruptors" who misappropriated some USD 400 million earmarked for essential goods and smuggled the money out of the country. Authorities have been cracking down on those seeking to exploit the collapsing rial, which has lost around half its value against the dollar this year, in part due to the return of US sanctions.

Netanyahu Says Israel is Arabs' 'Ally' Against Iran

◢ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Arab countries viewed Israel as an "indispensable ally" fighting Iran and the Islamic State group. That evaluation, he told Brazil's Globo TV during a visit to Rio, has caused "a revolution in relations with the Arab world."

Iran Judiciary Chief to Head Powerful Expediency Council

◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, as chairman of the powerful Expediency Council on Sunday, according to his website. The Expediency Council is a key behind-the-scenes institution, settling disputes between different branches of government.