All in News

Turkish Banker Released from US Prison

◢ A Turkish banker convicted for plotting to help Iran evade American sanctions on Iranian oil proceeds has been released from US prison, according to his lawyer and prison officials. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was arrested in March 2017.

U.S. Sanctions Strand Iran Ships Ferrying Corn From Brazil

◢ At least two Iranian vessels set to carry Brazilian corn are stranded off the Latin American nation’s coast because they can’t get fuel, according to the port authority at Paranagua. State-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro said it won’t supply the ships—which have been floating for over a month—due to the risk of U.S. sanctions.

UK Mulls Options as Iran Says Ship's Fate Depends on Probe

◢ Iran warned Sunday that the fate of a UK-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf depends on an investigation, as Britain said it was considering options in response to the standoff. Authorities impounded the Stena Impero with 23 crew members aboard off the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it Friday in the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz.

US Hits Iran 'Nuclear Enrichment Network' with Sanctions

◢ The US Treasury named a group of companies in Iran, Belgium and China to its sanctions blacklist Thursday for acting as a supply network for Tehran's nuclear enrichment program. The companies served as a procurement network for Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA), which produces enrichment centrifuges for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), the Treasury said.

Gibraltar, Iran Officials Hold Talks on Seized Oil Tanker

◢ Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said Thursday he had a "constructive and positive" meeting with Iranian officials in London aimed at defusing tensions around an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil being held in the British territory's waters. Picardo's government said the meeting took to discuss the continued detention of the Grace One tanker "and to seek to de-escalate all aspects of the issues arising.”

Mnuchin Warns Europe Not to Breach U.S. Sanctions on Iran

◢ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made clear that participating in the U.S. financial system means abiding by its sanctions amid a European effort to sidestep American economic pressure on Iran to continue trade. “We’ve been very clear that we expect U.S. sanctions to be adhered to,” Mnuchin said in response to questions from reporters on Thursday.

Zarif Says U.S. ‘Shot Itself in the Foot’ by Quitting Iran Deal

◢ The U.S. has “shot itself in the foot” by pulling out of the nuclear accord with Iran, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, offering a grim outlook for the chance of restarting talks with President Donald Trump. Zarif signaled that Iran will continue to pursue what he called the Islamic Republic’s rights under the accord to respond to the U.S. pullout and failed European efforts to deliver promised benefits to the Iranian economy.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano Prepares to Step Down

◢ The international body in charge of inspecting Iran’s nuclear program is searching for new leadership after health problems forced its director to plan an early end to his term. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano seeks to leave the Vienna-based agency by March, according to two diplomats briefed on the matter.

Khamenei: Iran to Keep Rolling Back Nuclear Commitments

◢ 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.

Iran Says Missing Tanker Had Problems and Was Towed for Repairs

◢ 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.

Suspension of Visas to Iranians not 'Political': Portugal

◢ 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.

UN Concerned at US Limits on Iran FM's Access

◢ 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.

EU Holds Iran Nuclear Crisis talks as Tehran Issues Fresh Threats

◢ 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.”

Macron Demands Answers from Iran Over Academic's Detention

◢ 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 Says Efforts to Curb the Rial's Slide Are Starting to Work

◢ 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.

UK Says Iran Tanker Will be Freed After Guarantees on Destination

◢ 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.

Britain Says Iran Tried to 'Impede' UK Tanker in Persian Gulf

◢ 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.

French Envoy in Iran Talks as Trump Threatens to Up Sanctions

◢ 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.