Trump Hits Back at Iran 'War' Talk

◢ 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.


US Not Afraid to Sanction Top Iran Leaders: Pompeo

◢ 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.

Pompeo to Urge Iranians Abroad to 'Support' Anti-Regime Protests

◢ 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.

Rouhani Says Conflict With Iran Would Be 'Mother of All Wars'

◢ 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 Khamenei: 'Negotiations With US Useless'

◢ 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. 

Iran Overturns Ban on Religious Minority Councillor

◢ 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 in US Talks to Avoid 'Negative Impact' From Iran Sanctions

◢ 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 'Preparing' to Enrich if Nuclear Deal Fails: Official

◢ 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 Lodges Complaint Against US Over Renewed Sanctions

◢ 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 Protects Firms as it Fights US Bid to Isolate Iran

◢ 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.

US Rejects European Call for Iran Sanctions Waiver

◢ 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 Khamenei Seeks Better Ties With The World, Apart From US

◢ 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.  

Iran's Rouhani Says US 'Isolated' on Sanctions

◢ 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."

Pompeo Urges EU to Get Tough on Iran

◢ 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.

Iran TV Film On Evils of Dancing Online Sparks Controversy

◢ 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.”

French Shipping Firm Drops Iran Over US Sanctions Threat

◢ 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.

Sudden Shift in Iran as Hardliners Back Rouhani

◢ 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.

Iran's Rouhani in Vienna to Shore Up Nuclear Deal, Dogged By Diplomat's Arrest

◢ 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.

US Plan to End Iranian Oil Exports 'A Fantasy': Rouhani

◢ 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. 

Iran, World Powers to Meet on Nuclear Deal in Vienna on Friday

◢ 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.