Iran Accelerates Production of Enriched Uranium as Tensions Rise

◢ Iran has accelerated the rate at which it’s enriching low-grade uranium four-fold, weeks after threatening to gradually scale back its commitments under a 2015 deal meant to prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, an official at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, as saying that Iran had increased its output of 3.67% enriched uranium as of Monday.

Tehran Says Trump's 'Genocidal Taunts Won't End Iran'

◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday the "genocidal taunts" of US President Donald Trump will not "end Iran", as tensions spike between the two countries. "Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won't 'end Iran'," Zarif wrote on Twitter.

The World Agrees With Trump on One Thing When It Comes to Iran

◢ Blunt, ignorant and confused are some of the criticisms voiced by allies on U.S. policy toward Iran. But none sees the Trump administration preparing for war. Governments worldwide are alarmed at the tension between Washington and Tehran, concerned about the risk of escalation or military miscalculation and frustrated at a lack of communication about U.S. goals.

Iran Urges China, Russia 'Concrete Actions' to Save Nuclear Deal

◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday urged China and Russia to take "concrete actions" to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal as he warned of a "dangerous" situation amid escalating tensions with the US. China was one of the eight global buyers—India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece—that was allowed to import Iranian crude oil before the US ended waivers in early May.

Iran Accuses US of 'Unacceptable' Escalation in Tensions

◢ Iran accused the United States Thursday of an "unacceptable" escalation of tensions and said Tehran was showing "maximum restraint" despite Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal with world powers. Tensions were already high after President Donald Trump walked away a year ago from the accord, which eased international sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

Pelosi Says Trump Needs Congress for Any Military Action on Iran

◢ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned the Trump administration against taking military action in Iran without authorization from Congress, as the U.S. weighs how to respond to rising tensions in the Middle East. "The responsibility in the Constitution is for Congress to declare war," Pelosi said Thursday. "So I hope that the president’s advisers recognize that they have no authorization to go forward in any way."

U.S. Pulls Iraq Embassy Staff as Tensions Climb Higher Over Iran

◢ The U.S. ordered its non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq amid increasing Middle East tensions that American officials are blaming on Iran, as fears rise that the region may be heading toward another conflict. Most employees at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil, in the majority Kurdish region, will leave due to an “increased threat stream,” according to an embassy statement Wednesday.

In Tehran, Economic Alarm Outweighs Fear of Conflict With Trump

◢ The sense of a dangerous drift towards conflict is being compounded by volleys of belligerent rhetoric lobbed from both the United States and Iran. An adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Hesameddin Ashena, taunted Trump on Twitter with the prospect of war, adding an apparent reference to National Security Adviser John Bolton, regarded as a leading Iran hawk.

Congress Demands Iran Briefing From White House as Tensions Rise

◢ Members of Congress are seeking answers from the Trump administration on U.S. plans to respond to escalating tensions with Iran, demanding more information about fast-moving developments in the Middle East. U.S. officials will meet Thursday with congressional leaders from both parties in both chambers, including heads of both intelligence committees, to discuss the Middle East, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Trump Denies Iran Threat, Then Revives It in Muddled Response

◢ President Donald Trump rejected a report that his administration is planning for war with Iran, but then warned he’d send “a hell of a lot more” than 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event of hostilities. “I think it’s fake news, OK?” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday after he was asked about a New York Times report that plans envision sending 120,000 U.S.. troops to fight the Islamic Republic.

U.S. Sanctions Leave Iran's Papers Short of Ink

◢ The economic hardship triggered by a year of U.S. sanctions has extended to the Islamic Republic’s newspapers, which are struggling to combat fast-rising prices—and shortages—of both paper and printing ink. At a time when Iran’s on front pages around the world, two government-owned dailies have cut coverage while journalists fret about possible layoffs.

Trump Says Iran Will `Suffer Greatly' If U.S. Is Provoked

◢ President Donald Trump warned Iran against a military provocation and said the country “will suffer greatly” if hostilities break out with the U.S. “We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything it’ll be a very bad mistake, if they do anything,” Trump told reporters on Monday during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House.

Exasperated Europeans Face Surprise Pompeo Visit on Iran

◢ As European Union governments scramble to save the Iran nuclear accord from U.S. efforts to scuttle it, the mood in diplomatic circles has blackened. Then suddenly, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo lands in Brussels with little warning. After a cool initial reception to the unscheduled drop-in, Pompeo began meetings with European counterparts to address Iran’s “threatening actions and statements.”

Pompeo to Visit Brussels as Europe Meets on Iran

◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Brussels on Monday to discuss "pressing matters" including the Iran nuclear deal, as the European signatories to the accord meet for talks on how to prevent its collapse. The EU reiterated its determination to save the 2015 agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief, as tensions between the US and Iran rack up.

Iran Calls Ship Attacks off UAE 'Alarming', Urges Probe

◢ Iran on Monday called attacks on ships in the Gulf "alarming", after the UAE and Saudi Arabia said several vessels including oil tankers were damaged in acts of sabotage off the Emirati coast. "The incidents in the Sea of Oman are alarming and regrettable," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in an English-language statement on the ministry's website.

Iran Tells Trump: Don't Wait for Us to Pick Up the Phone

◢ Iranian officials rebuffed President Donald Trump’s suggestion that they call him to try to defuse frictions as the U.S. ratcheted up its actions against Tehran. Several top Iranian aides and lawmakers predicted Sunday that the current tensions wouldn’t lead to war, calling the U.S. deployment of an aircraft carrier, warship, bomber jets and missile defenses to the Middle East a propaganda stunt.

Iran Parliament Upholds Women's Rights in Citizenship Debate

◢ Iran’s parliament struck a blow for women’s rights by overwhelmingly voting to confer citizenship on children born to an Iranian mother and foreign father. Such a law would represent a significant development for women’s rights in Iran, with possible implications for the wider region, where many countries don’t give women the right to pass on citizenship to their children if the father is a foreign national.

Tehran Lawmaker Says Move on Nuclear Curbs Shows Iran 'Not Weak'

◢ Iran's move to stop respecting some of the agreed limits on its nuclear activities showed it is "not in a position of weakness", a deputy speaker of the Islamic republic's parliament said Sunday. “The timely decision of the Islamic republic regarding its commitments in the (nuclear deal) showed that Iran is not in a position of weakness," said Ali Mottahari, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Iran Snap Nuclear Inspections Jump as Tensions With U.S. Rise

◢ Snap inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities jumped last year, underscoring the wide-reaching ability of international monitors to access potential sites that could feed clandestine research. The finding was included in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest Safeguards Implementation Report, which is circulating among nuclear-security officials as the specter of another Middle Eastern conflict rises.

Trump Says 'Open to Talk' to Iran

◢ US President Donald Trump said Thursday that he is open to talks with the Iranian leadership, amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran. "What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me," Trump told reporters at the White House.