◢ Iran called new US sanctions against its paramilitary Basij group an act of "blind vindictiveness" on Tuesday. "America's new sanctions are a clear insult to international and legal mechanisms and a result of the American government's blind vindictiveness against the Iranian nation," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.
◢ The US Treasury Department on Tuesday slapped sanctions on an Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of businesses that were providing it financing, as part of Washington's campaign of maximum economic pressure against Tehran. In announcing the sanctions, Treasury said a network of more than 20 businesses known as the Bonyad Taavon Basij was financing the Basij Resistance Force.
◢ In a relatively new approach for Iran, where social welfare has often been left to informal groups based around the bazaar and mosque or fallen to large-scale government-controlled organizations, privately-run charities are emerging, with managers, targets and buzzwords such as "empowerment" and "skills-training", and funded by wealthy business people who have made fortunes in booming industries such as private healthcare.
◢ Iran's president boasted Sunday that the United States has lost against the Islamic republic's "righteousness and wisdom" by walking out of the landmark nuclear deal. "Everyone knows that America has lost legally and politically by giving up on its international obligations and that we have achieved victory," said President Hassan Rouhani in a speech at the University of Tehran to mark the beginning of the school year.
◢ Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab rebels are profiting from the illegal trafficking of charcoal exports produced in Somalia and transiting through Iran, United Nations experts said in a report recently shared with the UN Security Council. The document, which has not yet been made public, said Iranian ports in the Kish and Qeshm free zones have been the main destinations of the shipments since March 2018.
◢ One of Iran's top foreign policy officials has called for negotiations with "anti-Trump movements" in the US to dampen the impact of sanctions, local media reported Saturday. "America is not Trump," said Heshmatollah Falahat-Pisheh, a conservative lawmaker who heads parliament's influential national security and foreign policy commission, according to reformist newspaper Arman.
◢ The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is raising its Brent crude price forecast by USD 5/bl to USD 81/bl for the fourth quarter, citing uncertainty over the effects of US sanctions on Iran. US will re-impose restrictions on Iran's oil exports on 5 November, but many buyers already have begun to wind down their purchases of Iranian crude.
◢ An Iranian diplomat was taken into custody in Belgium on Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in an alleged plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France. An investigating magistrate earlier questioned the Iranian, normally based in Vienna, in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.
◢ The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday predicted Iran's economy will sink deep in the red due to renewed US sanctions but forecast increased Saudi growth on the back of higher oil production. In its World Economic Outlook, the IMF said the oil-dependent economy of the Islamic republic is expected to shrink by 1.5 percent this year and by 3.6 percent in 2019.
◢ Iran's oil minister said on Monday that the market will never believe "exaggerated" claims by Saudi Arabia that it can replace Iranian oil shipments lost due to renewed US sanctions. "Such exaggerations might please Mr Trump, but the market will never believe them," Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to the oil ministry's SHANA news site.
◢ US sanctions on Iran will not impact Qatar Airways' flights to the Islamic republic, the airline's boss Akbar al-Baker said on Monday. Speaking at a high-profile business conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Baker said services to Iran would continue despite a tightening economic and political squeeze on Iran by Washington.
◢ The United States accused Tehran Monday of having "unclean hands" as it fought an Iranian court bid to unfreeze billions of dollars earmarked by Washington for terror victims. Washington said Iran's "support for international terrorism", including bombings and airline hijackings, should rule out its case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.
◢ Iran's parliament on Sunday approved a bill to counter terrorist financing that was strongly opposed by conservatives but seen as vital to salvaging the nuclear deal with European and Asian partners. The bill, one of four put forward by the government to meet demands set by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), was passed by 143 votes to 120.
◢ Former secretary of state John Kerry voiced fear Friday of conflict with Iran after the United States pulled out of a denuclearization deal, saying regional leaders had privately pressed him for military strikes. Kerry spearheaded diplomacy that led to the 2015 agreement in which Iran promised Western powers, Russia and China to scale back its nuclear program drastically in return for sanctions relief.
◢ Iran faces losing 70 percent of its farmlands if urgent action is not taken to overcome a litany of climate woes, the country's environment chief Isa Kalantari told AFP. The Islamic Republic is grappling not only with air, water and soil pollution, as well as drought and desertification, but also with the effect of years of crippling US and international sanctions.
◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed Thursday "never" to allow the Islamic republic to bow to the demands of its enemies, at a time of increased tensions between Tehran and Washington. "To entertain the idea, as desired by the enemy, that the only solution is to hand ourselves over to the enemy, is the worst act of treason towards the Iranian nation, and that will not happen,"
◢ The UN's top court ordered the United States on Wednesday to lift sanctions on humanitarian goods for Iran, in a stinging rebuke for the Trump administration which nonetheless made clear the decision would change nothing. Tehran declared victory after the International Court of Justice ruled that sanctions reimposed after President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal put Iranian lives at risk.
◢ Germany on Wednesday told the United States that it shared its goals on Iran even as the Europeans press ahead to save a denuclearization deal threatened by US sanctions. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who has voiced outrage over European plans to preserve commercial ties with Iran.
◢ "Talk of sanctions on Iran reemerged, and my essential medicine was no longer available," said Masoud Mir who suffers from thalassaemia, a genetic blood disease common in Iran. Mir, 36, is one of many patients in the Islamic Republic who not only have to deal with their disability, but also the consequences of trade sanctions reimposed in August by the US, as well as a battered economy with a free-falling currency, a foreign drug shortage and price hikes.
◢ The UN's top court Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on "humanitarian" goods to Iran that President Donald Trump reimposed after pulling out of Tehran's nuclear deal. The International Court of Justice unanimously ruled that Washington "shall remove by means of its choosing any impediments arising from the measures announced on May 8 to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities" as well as airplane parts, said judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.
◢ French security services believe the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind a foiled bomb plot that aimed to target an opposition group in Paris in June, a diplomatic source told AFP. "The head of operations at the intelligence ministry ordered it," the source said on condition of anonymity, referring to an alleged plot to bomb a meeting of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) in a Paris suburb.
◢ The UN's nuclear watchdog Tuesday refused to "take at face value" Israel's claims that Iran is harboring a secret atomic warehouse, fending off pressure to inspect the allegedly suspect site. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the claim in front of the UN General Assembly last week.
◢ Turkish police detained Tuesday over 200 people in a major nationwide crackdown on illicit money transfers to individuals of Iranian-origin living in the United States. An Istanbul court issued arrest warrants for a total of 417 suspects and have so far rounded up 216 in a nationwide operation carried out in 40 cities, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
◢ The US Department of Energy is not planning to tap into emergency petroleum stocks despite concerns over the impact of oil sanctions on Iran, energy secretary Rick Perry said last week. "If you look at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and if you were to introduce it into the market, it has a fairly minor and short-term impact," Perry said at a briefing last Wednesday. The US administration will begin enforcing sanctions on Iran's oil exports on 5 November but they appear to have forced many buyers to already wrap up business with Iran.
◢ The International Court of Justice will hand down an eagerly awaited decision this week on Iran's demand for the suspension of debilitating nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States. Accusing Washington of "strangling" its economy, Tehran has asked the court in The Hague to order Washington to lift the measures, reimposed after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a multilateral 2015 accord.
◢ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted Wednesday that the United States would eventually rejoin an international nuclear deal, saying talks this week at the United Nations showed his counterpart Donald Trump's isolation. "The United States of America one day, sooner or later, will come back. This cannot be continued," Rouhani told a news conference.
◢ French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Iran should be allowed to keep selling oil and urged dialogue as he rejected a US push to isolate the clerical regime. Speaking to reporters after addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Macron said that Iranian sales would bring down the price of oil—a professed concern of US President Donald Trump.
◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Tuesday a European Union plan to set up a way to preserve business with Iran and avoid renewed American sanctions. Addressing the United Against a Nuclear Iran pressure group being held near the annual UN General Assembly, Pompeo said he was "disturbed and indeed deeply disappointed" by Monday's announcement from remaining members of an international nuclear deal.
◢ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused his US counterpart Donald Trump of trying to topple his government Tuesday as he poured cold water on the idea of resuming talks with Washington after its pullout from an international nuclear accord. "It is ironic that the US government does not even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks," Rouhani said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
◢ The European Union said Monday its members would set up a payment system to allow oil companies and businesses to continue trading with Iran in a bid to evade sanctions after the US withdrew from a nuclear agreement. Iran and the European Union announced their defiance towards US President Donald Trump's administration after high-level talks at the United Nations among the remaining members of the accord.
◢ The White House insisted Monday it was not seeking the overthrow of Iran's clerical regime even as it seeks at the United Nations to pile pressure on Tehran. "As I have said repeatedly, regime change in Iran is not the administration's policy," national security advisor John Bolton told reporters as he previewed President Donald Trump's week at the global body.