◢ Iran unveiled its first domestic fighter jet on Tuesday, with President Hassan Rouhani insisting that Tehran's military strength was only designed to deter enemies and create "lasting peace.” Images on state television showed Rouhani sitting in the cockpit of the new "Kowsar" fourth-generation fighter at the National Defence Industry exhibition in Tehran. State media said it had "advanced avionics" and multi-purpose radar, and that it was "100-percent indigenously made" for the first time.
◢ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump's national security adviser met in Jerusalem Monday and called on European nations to do more to pressure Iran. John Bolton arrived in Israel on Sunday for three days of talks expected to focus mainly on Iran and its presence in Syria. Netanyahu strongly urged Trump to withdraw from the nuclear deal between Israel's main enemy Iran and world powers, and the US president did so in May, resulting in the reimposition of sanctions.
◢ French energy giant Total has officially quit its multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Monday, following the reimposition of US sanctions. "Total has officially left the agreement for the development of phase 11 of South Pars (gas field)," he told parliament's news agency ICANA, adding that it had been more than two months since the French firm announced it would leave.
◢ Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday that Europe had not yet shown it was willing to "pay the price" of defying Washington in order to save the nuclear deal. Zarif said European governments had put forward proposals to maintain oil and banking ties with Iran after the second phase of US sanctions return in November. But he told Iran's Young Journalist Club website that these measures were more "a statement of their position than practical measures".
◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new high-level team to focus US and international efforts to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran. The Iran Action Group will drive Washington's "maximum pressure" strategy to change Tehran's behavior, including potentially sanctioning other countries which trade with the country. The group will be headed by Brian Hook as the State Department's Special Representative for Iran.
◢ With hotels facing mass cancellations, Iraqis in the holy city of Najaf are being hit hard by US sanctions on neighboring Iran, which have forced cash-strapped pilgrims to stay home. At the city's edge, surrounded by mosaic-covered walls and topped by a golden dome, sits the shrine of Imam Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and a revered figure among Shiite Muslims.
◢ British group Quercus, an investor in renewable energy, said Tuesday it will halt work on a major solar plant in Iran after the country was hit by US economic sanctions. "Following the US sanctions on Iran, we have decided to cease all activities in the country, including our 600 MW (megawatt) project," Quercus chief executive Diego Biasi said Tuesday in comments later confirmed by a company spokesman.
◢ Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday defended his stance on US sanctions against Iran in the face of harsh criticism from Tehran and its allies in Baghdad. "Some people want to put pressure on us to place the interests of gangs ahead of those of the Iraqi people," he told a news conference. "This is not possible."
◢ Iran is selling oil and gas at a discount to Asian customers as it prepares for the return of US sanctions, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday. The "informed source" in Iran's oil ministry did not give details of the discount, but sought to downplay the move as common industry practice. "Discount is part of the nature of the global markets being offered by all oil exporters," the source told IRNA.
◢ Iran's supreme leader said Monday there would be neither war nor negotiations with the United States, and that the country's problems were the result of government mismanagement more than renewed sanctions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments add to the pressure on President Hassan Rouhani following a collapse in the currency and widespread protests over high prices and corruption.
◢ Iran's judiciary said Sunday that 67 people have been arrested in recent weeks as part of a corruption crackdown approved by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. More than 100 government employees have also been barred from leaving the country, spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie said, according to the judiciary-linked Mizan news agency. "Our enemy America has decided to put pressure on people and it intends to put our economy under pressure, but to no avail," Ejeie said.
◢ Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has cancelled a visit to Iran, his press office said Sunday, as the premier came under strong Iranian criticism over his stand on renewed US sanctions against Tehran. Abadi will still go ahead with a planned visit to Turkey on Tuesday but has scrapped the Iran leg of the trip "because of his busy schedule,” his office said.
◢ The leaders of the five states bordering the Caspian Sea meet in Kazakhstan on Sunday to sign a landmark deal on the inland sea which boasts a wealth of oil and gas reserves and sturgeon. Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan are expected to agree a long-awaited convention on the legal status of the sea, which has been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union rendered obsolete agreements between Tehran and Moscow.
◢ Iran gave its most explicit rejection yet of talks with the United States on Saturday, and accused Washington of an "addiction to sanctions" over its latest spat with Turkey. The US reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran on Tuesday following its May withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, dealing a heavy blow to the already troubled economy. US President Donald Trump has offered talks on a "more comprehensive deal" but Iran has baulked at negotiating under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leant on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.
◢ Multinational companies aren't the only victims of new US sanctions against Tehran: farmers and ranchers in the Normandy region of France hoping to supply Iran with thousands of cattle each year have also seen their path to a huge new market blocked. The deal with one of Iran's biggest meat processing groups was signed in 2016 after Iran agreed with world powers to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The goal was to supply mainly prized Charolais stock to help "rebuild a high-quality cattle industry" in the Middle East, Nathalie Goulet, a senator from Normandy, told AFP this week.
◢ Migrant workers squeezed into battered taxis pull into the Four Seasons of Freedom hotel in western Afghanistan, part of a wave of Afghans forced to leave Iran after a currency implosion wiped out their earnings. A record 442,344 Afghans have voluntarily returned or been deported from Iran this year as looming US sanctions—which began to be reimposed this week—fueled a run on the rial and spurred inflation.
◢ German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Wednesday that US President Donald Trump's decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran could further destabilize the Middle East and boost radical forces in the region. "We still think that it is a mistake to give up on the nuclear accord with
Iran," Maas said in an interview with the daily Passauer Neue Presse.
◢ Iran's Labor Minister Ali Rabiei was impeached on Wednesday after months of mounting anger over the government's handling of an economic crisis which has deepened with the return of US sanctions. Rabiei lost a confidence motion in parliament by 129 votes to 111, giving President Hassan Rouhani three months to replace him.
◢ German automaker Daimler on Tuesday said it was halting its business activities in Iran after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. "We have suspended our already limited activities in Iran in accordance with the applicable sanctions," a spokeswoman said in a statement sent to AFP, adding that Daimler was closely monitoring political developments.
◢ The EU said Monday it deeply regretted the US reimposition of sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact, and vowed immediate steps to protect European companies. The statement by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany said it would also work to keep "effective financial channels" open with Iran.
◢ US President Donald Trump said Monday he remains open to forging a new nuclear deal with Iran, as he confirmed Washington will go ahead with reimposing sanctions against Tehran. Despite pleas from other parties to the agreement, Trump pulled the US out of the deal in May, claiming the Iranian regime was cheating on its commitments and funding "malign" activities around the region.
◢ A wave of US sanctions kicks in against Iran on Tuesday, cementing Washington's hard line against Tehran after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact. Already facing broad economic fallout as their currency implodes, Iranians are wondering how the next phase of the crisis in US relations will play out—and what, exactly, America's longterm strategy is toward their country.
◢ US President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and reimpose a raft of sanctions will hit European businesses working in Iran. Here is an overview of how firms stand to be affected when the sanctions kick in Monday.
◢ Iran Air said Saturday it was set to take delivery of five new planes from Franco-Italian firm ATR just before renewed US sanctions go into effect. "Based on existing agreements, five new ATR aircraft will land at Mehrabad Airport at 9 am (0430 GMT) tomorrow (Sunday)," the national carrier said on its Telegram channel.
◢ Iranians are hunkering down for the return of US sanctions on Monday with a run on gold and hard currency as they scramble to protect their savings, and sporadic protests over the already troubled economy. State news agencies reported "scattered protests" of a few hundred people on Thursday in the cities of Shiraz, Ahvaz, Mashhad and Karaj, which police had brought under control. Videos posted on social media—whose authenticity could not be verified—have shown days of demonstrations in Iran's third city Isfahan and minor protests in the capital on Thursday night.
◢ Skepticism was rife in Iran on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump offered talks, with one lawmaker saying negotiations would be a "humiliation." The country's top leaders did not give an immediate response to Trump's statement a day earlier that he would meet them "any time" without preconditions. But several public figures said it was impossible to imagine negotiations with Washington after it tore up the 2015 nuclear deal in May.
◢ With its currency plummeting ahead of the reimposition of US sanctions, Iran has responded with dozens of arrests and claims of an enemy conspiracy, but also signs of a push to confront corruption. The Iranian rial has lost almost two-thirds of its value since the start of the year, and 20 percent in just two days since the weekend, hitting a record-low of 119,000 to the dollar.
◢ An advisor to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that any talks with the United States had to start with reducing hostility and a return to the nuclear deal. "Respect for the great nation of Iran, reduction in hostilities, US returning to the nuclear deal... That will open the rocky path of the moment," wrote Hamid Aboutalebi on Twitter.
◢ US President Donald Trump said Monday he was willing to meet with Iran's leaders with "no preconditions" and "any time they want"—one week after tensions soared between Washington and Tehran. "I would meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know if they are ready yet," Trump told a White House press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at his side.
◢ Iran's top security body has approved the release of opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest for seven years for leading mass protests in 2009, a family member told local media. "I have heard that the decision to lift the house arrest was approved by the Supreme National Security Council," said Hossein Karroubi, son of the jailed reformist, according to the Kalameh news website which is close to the family.
◢ Iran's currency hit a record low on Sunday of 100,000 rials to the dollar amid a deepening economic crisis and the imminent return of full US sanctions. The unofficial rate stood at 102,000 rials by midday, according to Bonbast, one of the most reliable sites for tracking the Iranian currency. The rate was confirmed by a trader who spoke on condition of anonymity to AFP.