◢ French energy giant Total will push ahead with a $4.8 billion deal to develop an Iranian gas field and will seek a waiver if Washington re-imposes sanctions, the firm's CEO has said. If Washington does walk away from the deal, Pouyanne said, Total will argue that as the project was "awarded prior to that decision during the period of time that we could sign."
◢ Iran will not accept any changes to the nuclear deal, a senior official insisted Saturday, after the United States said it was seeking a "supplemental" accord with European powers. Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, also warned European countries "against the temptation of playing at the same game as the Americans."
◢ The US and European powers have had "very good" discussions towards agreeing a "supplemental" accord beyond the Iran nuclear deal by May 12, a senior US official said Friday. This would cover Iran's ballistic missile program, its regional activities, the expiration of parts of the nuclear deal in the mid-2020s and tighter UN inspections.
◢ Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, Riyadh will follow suit—just days before he arrives in Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump.In an interview with CBS television, parts of which were released Thursday, the upstart Saudi royal likened Iran's supreme leader to Adolf Hitler, warning he could sweep through the Middle East like Germany's Nazis did at the start of World War II.
◢ The Iranian military's behavior in the Gulf has changed "across the board" in recent months, the US Navy said on Thursday, after years of tensions in the busy waterway. Last year and in 2016, the US Navy complained repeatedly about the behaviour of Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels, which would often shadow and steer towards US ships.
◢ US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's sacking shows that Washington is set on quitting the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Iran's deputy foreign minister said Wednesday. A US exit could kill the pact between Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
◢The Iranian nuclear deal is still in the best interests of the United States, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday, going against President Donald Trump's claim that it's a "terrible" agreement. US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told a Senate panel he shared the views of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joe Dunford, the chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff.
◢ President Donald Trump's sacking of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could sound the death knell for the Iran nuclear deal and further strain US ties with key European allies. In explaining his decision to fire Tillerson, Trump said they had disagreed on many topics, but he specifically singled out one dispute: Whether or not to stay in the Iran pact.
◢ After a gap of 27 years, direct flights between Iran and Serbia resumed on Saturday, when an IranAir jet touched down at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla airport, Serbian media reported. Iran Air is offering a direct service between Tehran and Belgrade twice weekly, with all flights fully booked until the end of the summer, the reports said.
◢ China will build a train line connecting the Iranian port of Bushehr to the rest of the country's railway network under a $700 million deal signed on Wednesday. The agreement was inked in Tehran in the presence of Iranian Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi and officials from China Machinery Industry Construction Group.
◢ Iranians gave a warm welcome to a new exhibition by France's Louvre on Tuesday -- the first major show by a foreign museum in the country. It features a number of treasures from the Paris museum's collection, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian sphinx, a bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and drawings by Rembrandt and Delacroix.
◢ Journalists flooded Iran's National Museum on Monday for the arrival of more than 50 artworks from the Louvre—the first major show by a Western museum in the country's history. The show reflects France's determined use of cultural diplomacy as it seeks to rebuild traditional ties with Iran, even as their officials hold tense talks over political and security issues.
◢ French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Tehran Monday to push for pledges on Iran's ballistic missile program in a bid to preserve the country's historic nuclear deal. Le Drian had promised a "frank dialogue" ahead of his arrival in Tehran early Monday, but faced an awkward reception given the anger generated by his comments on Iran's missile program and foreign policy.
◢ France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Tehran early Monday for talks on the 2015 nuclear deal and Iran's role in the Syrian conflict. It is the first visit by one of the European signatories to the nuclear deal since US President Donald Trump set an ultimatum that he would abandon it in May if it was not "improved".
◢ Rescue teams have recovered the black boxes of a plane that crashed last month in the mountains of southwestern Iran leaving 66 people dead, official media reported on Sunday.
◢ Iran's vice president for women's affairs insisted Wednesday the government opposed using "force" to ensure women wear the hijab, after a spate of protests stirred debate over the mandatory headscarf.
◢ President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Iran is ready to discuss regional security issues with its Gulf Arab neighbors as long as foreign powers are kept out of any potential talks.
◢ Iran's supreme leader has signaled a decisive shift in favor of relations with China and Russia, indicating that patience is running out with efforts to improve ties with the West. This suggest that the latest attempt at detente with the United States—as represented by the 2015 nuclear deal in which it agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions— is running out of steam.
◢ Three environmentalists have been detained in Iran, a conservative-linked news website reported late Friday, the latest in a series of arrests of wildlife campaigners in the Islamic republic.
◢ Iran's civil aviation organization has grounded ATR planes belonging to Aseman Airlines after one of them crashed this week with 66 people on board, state television reported Friday.The measure is temporary as authorities investigate the cause of Sunday's accident, which saw an ATR-72 twin-engine plane, in service since 1993, crash in Iran's Zagros mountains.
◢ Iran is still sticking to the 2015 nuclear accord, a UN atomic watchdog report showed Thursday, four months ahead of US President Donald Trump's deadline to fix its "disastrous flaws". The International Atomic Energy Agency document, the ninth since the deal came into force in January 2016, showed Iran complying with the accord's key parameters.
◢ Iran's hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the immediate holding of free presidential and parliamentary elections in a letter to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published on Thursday.
◢The US Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a claim by US citizens wounded in a suicide bombing in Israel in 1997, who were demanding the seizure of Iranian antiquities held in a Chicago museum as compensation.
◢ Emergency teams on Wednesday began recovering bodies from a plane crash in Iran's Zagros mountains but the operation had to be suspended due to bad weather, officials said.
◢ Iranian rescue teams struggled to recover bodies on Tuesday from the wreckage of a plane that crashed in hazardous terrain near a mountain peak two days earlier with 66 people on board.