All in News

EU States Cool on US Blaming Iran for Gulf Tanker Attacks

◢ European states on Monday urged caution in attributing blame for last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf, pointedly refusing to fall in line with Washington's assessment that Iran was behind the incidents. Several EU foreign ministers arriving for talks in Luxembourg backed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' call for an independent investigation into explosions that damaged two tankers.

Iran to Surpass Uranium Stockpile Deal Limit from June 27: Nuclear Official

◢ Iran will surpass the uranium stockpile limit set under the nuclear deal agreed with world powers from June 27, a top official said Monday on state television. "Today the countdown to pass the 300 kilograms reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days time we will pass this limit," Iran's atomic energy organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at a press conference broadcast live.

Iran Children Citizenship Bill Sent Back to Parliament

◢ Iran's Guardian Council said Saturday it sent a bill that would allow Iranian mothers married to foreigners to confer citizenship on their children back to parliament, citing "security" concerns. In a statement on its website, the council said it did not have an issue with the spirit of the bill, but rather the absence of any clauses allowing authorities to address "security" issues potentially arising  from the activities of foreign fathers.

US Grants Energy-Hungry Iraq New Iran Sanctions Waiver

◢ The United States has granted Iraq another 90-day waiver to continue with vital energy imports from neighboring Iran despite re-imposed sanctions, a government source said Saturday. The extension came after "long discussions" with Washington ahead of a looming deadline on a previous extension granted in December, the official, close to the negotiations, told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Pompeo Vows That U.S. Will Protect Shipping in Persian Gulf

◢ There’s “no doubt” Iran was responsible for attacks on two oil tankers leaving the Persian Gulf last week, and the U.S. will guarantee safe commercial navigation going forward with its partners, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said. “The United States is going make sure that we take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome,” Pompeo said on Sunday.

Attacks on Oil Tankers Near Hormuz Fan Fears of Conflict

◢ Two oil tankers were damaged on Thursday in a suspected attack near the entrance to the Persian Gulf, stoking fears that high-stakes diplomatic efforts won’t avert a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. Oil prices surged. The incidents, including an attack on a Japanese-operated vessel, were the second in a month to hit ships near the Strait of Hormuz chokepoint, through which about 40% of the world’s seaborne oil travels.

Iran Tells Japan's Abe It Doesn't Intend to Have Nuclear Arms

◢ Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told visiting Shinzo Abe that his country doesn’t intend to produce, possess or use nuclear weapons, the Japanese leader said after a trip aimed at easing tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Abe, making the first visit of a sitting Japanese prime minister to Iran in 41 years, held talks with Khamenei on Thursday.

In Tehran, Japan's Abe Urges Iran to Play 'Constructive Role'

◢ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Tehran to play a "constructive role" for Middle East peace Wednesday during a rare diplomatic mission to the Islamic republic aimed at defusing US-Iran tensions. Iran has been locked in a bitter standoff with the United States since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May last year.

US Blacklists Iraq Firm as Revolutionary Guard Guns Front

◢ The US Treasury placed Iraq-based South Wealth Resources on its sanctions blacklist Wednesday, saying the company is an important weapons trafficking and financial front for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Treasury said the company, Manabea Tharwat al-Janoob General Trading Company, was used by the IRGC to smuggle "hundreds of millions of dollars' worth" of weapons to IRGC allies in Iraq. 

With Trump's Blessing, Japan's Abe Looks to Mend Ties With Iran

◢ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a rare friend of both President Donald Trump and Iran’s leaders, left for Tehran with the daunting task of bridging a divide that could plunge the Middle East into renewed chaos. Abe, who spoke to Trump by telephone just ahead of his trip, told reporters that he plans to have a frank exchange of views with Iran’s leader in Japan’s bid to play a role in the stability of the Middle East.

Iran Frees Lebanese Man Convicted of Spying for US

◢ Iran on Tuesday freed a Lebanese man detained in 2015 on charges of spying for the United States, a gesture that comes amid soaring tensions between Tehran and Washington. A US resident in his 50s, Nizar Zakka was arrested in September 2015 during a visit to Iran, where he was convicted the following July.

High-Stakes Iran Talks Try to Prevent Atomic Deal Unraveling

◢ Diplomacy intended to salvage the Iran nuclear deal goes into high gear this week after Tehran threatened to follow the U.S. in abandoning the accord. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas landed in Iran’s capital to meet Monday with his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Tehran on Wednesday for more consultations.

Man on a Mediation Mission: Japan's Abe Heads to Iran

◢ Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heads to Iran this week on a rare diplomatic mission, hoping to ease tensions between the Islamic Republic and Tokyo's key ally Washington. Japanese government officials say Abe will not present Tehran with a list of demands, or deliver a message from Washington, and instead want to position Japan as a neutral intermediary.

Iran Leader Pardons 691 on Eid, But Lebanese Excluded

◢ Iran's supreme leader pardoned hundreds of prisoners on the occasion of the end of Ramadan, but a Lebanese national who Beirut expected to be released was not among them, authorities said Sunday. In total, the sentences of 691 prisoners were either commuted or deferred as decided by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as a gesture for the Eid al-Fitr holidays, said the judiciary's Mizan Online news website.

Iran Rejects French Idea of Re-Opening Nuclear Talks

◢ Iran on Friday rejected an idea mooted by France of re-opening nuclear talks, warning that seeking to broaden an existing landmark treaty could lead to its collapse.President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that his goal of “regional peace” would require new negotiations.

US Hits Iran Petrochemical Group PGPIC with Sanctions

◢ The United States has hit Iran's petrochemical group PGPIC with economic sanctions due to its ties with the country's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Treasury Department announced on Friday. The move aims to choke off financing to the country's largest and most profitable petrochemical group and extends to its 39 subsidiaries and "foreign-based sales agents," Treasury said in a statement.

Trump and Macron Say They Have the Same Goals on Iran

◢ U.S. President Donald Trump and his counterpart in France, Emmanuel Macron, said Thursday that they share the goal of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. “I don’t think the president wants to see nuclear weapons and neither do I,” Trump told reporters at a meeting with Macron in Caen, France.

Tajikistan Foreign Minister Snubs Saudis for a Trip to Iran

◢ On June 1, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation held a summit of foreign ministers from its member states in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Although the conference was scheduled long in advance, Tajikistan’s foreign minister snubbed the event, sending his deputy in his place. Instead, Sirodjidin Muhriddin preferred to pay a visit to the sworn enemy of Saudi Arabia—Iran.