Trump Won't Certify Iran Nuclear Deal, But He Also Won't Unravel It
President Trump will make good on Friday on a long-running threat to disavow the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. But he stop short, for now, of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it, as the deal's defenders had once feared. In a speech on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump will declare his intention not to certify Iran's compliance with the agreement. Doing so essentially kicks to congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would blow up the agreement. But the Trump administration made it clear that it wants to leave the 2015 accord intact, at least for now. Instead, it is asking congress to establish "trigger points,' which could prompt the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it crosses thresholds set by congress. (The New York Times)
Family Splits Drive Suit Over 'Most Cruel' Trump Travel Ban
A pair of Iranian romances are at the center of the first lawsuit targeting President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries, Venezuela and North Korea. A complaint filed late Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, pits the Trump administration against a nonprofit group, Iranian Alliances Across Borders, and six unnamed U.S. citizens of Iranian descent, including two women who are seeking visas for the Iranian men they love. Trump’s Sept. 24 proclamation will indefinitely limit most travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, all of which were part of the original ban. It will also restrict travel to the U.S. from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. (Bloomberg)
U.S. Sees No 'Indication' Iran Launched A Ballistic Missile, Despite Trump Tweet
US intelligence radars and sensors "picked up no indication" of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the latest US assessment. Iranian reports that the nation tested a new ballistic missile so far does not appear to be true, the official said, adding: "As far as we can see, it did not happen." State-run broadcaster Press TV reported the launch on Saturday, according to footage broadcast on Iranian state television."Iran has released footage of the successful test-launch of its new ballistic missile, Khorramshahr, a few hours after it was unveiled during a military parade in the capital city of Tehran," Press TV said. (CNN)
Iran's president said it would be a "great pity" if "rogue newcomers" destroy the international nuclear deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. "It will be a great pity if this agreement were destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," he added in a clear reference to US President Donald Trump, who addressed the General Assembly the day before and offered scathing criticism of both Iran and the 2015 international agreement. "I declare to you the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party," Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations Wednesday. (CNN)
Iran Nuclear Deal Critics Push Plan For ‘Global Economic Embargo’
Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are pushing a proposal that calls for President Donald Trump to declare that Tehran has failed to comply with the agreement and to threaten an unprecedented economic embargo designed to rattle the regime. The document, which has been circulating on Capitol Hill and in the White House, says the president should declare to Congress next month that the deal is no longer in the national security interest of the United States. Then the president would make clear his readiness to hit Iran with a “de-facto global economic embargo” if it failed to meet certain conditions over a 90-day period, including opening military sites to international inspectors. “This would be a 21st century financial version of [John F.] Kennedy’s Cuba quarantine,” according to a copy of the proposal obtained by Foreign Policy. The embargo would involve reimposing sanctions lifted under the deal, as well as additional measures including restrictions on oil exports. (Foreign Policy)
How The Travel Ban Left A Family Of Iranian Refugees Stranded In Turkey
Seid Moradi never wanted to leave Iran. But under threats to his life because of his non-Muslim faith, he saw no choice. Savings in hand, he fled his hometown near the Iraqi border with his family, boarding a bus for the more than 20-hour ride across the country’s northwestern border with hopes of starting anew. And for a while, that dream didn’t seem out of reach. In the central Turkish city of Kayseri, the family — father, wife, sister-in-law and three kids — worked delivering groceries and sewing clothes to cobble together rent while undergoing interviews to become refugees. But three years later, hope is slipping away. When news arrived this year that the U.S. government would resettle them in Seattle, they moved out of their apartment in June, and sold all but what would fit into seven roller bags days before their scheduled flight. (The Los Angeles Times)
Iran Upholds Convictions of Iranian-American Father and Son
An Iranian appeals court has upheld the convictions of a prominent Iranian-American father and son accused of collaborating with the United States, their lawyer said Monday, posing a new source of tension in the increasing hostility between the countries. Iran’s incarceration of the defendants, Baquer Namazi and his son, Siamak, who were convicted last year and sentenced to 10-year terms, has been repeatedly cited by President Trump in his denunciations of the Iranian authorities. News that their appeal had been rejected came amid numerous signs of the downward spiral in the relations between Iran and the United States. The most notable is the Trump administration’s assertions that Iran is violating the 2015 nuclear agreement reached under President Barack Obama. The administration also has infuriated Iran by imposing new sanctions on the country in recent weeks. (NYTimes)
Former deputy CIA director says Trump process is 'very disconcerting' on Iran nuke deal
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been red hot in recent weeks -- and they might be about to get even hotter. Amid warning shots fired by US ships against Iranian ones, as well as very close calls when Iranian drones have buzzed the US military, President Trump will be called upon to certify that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal. His administration has declared Iran in compliance, as required by law, twice during his tenure so far. But Trump has said he expects the US to declare Iran non-compliant when the next review is due in September. (CNN)
Iranian drone forces US jet to take evasive action
An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a US Navy F/A-18 attempting to land on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, according to two US defense officials with knowledge of the incident. The officials said the drone forced the US aircraft to take evasive action. The "QOM-1" drone came within 100 feet below the aircraft and 200 feet to the side of the aircraft. The F/A-18 was in a landing pattern several thousand feet off the deck of the ship waiting to land. The F/A-18 maneuvered repeatedly to avoid the drone officials said and it did not appear to be armed.The officials said the drone encounter was considered "unsafe and unprofessional." The US used an emergency radio frequency in the immediate area to warn those operating the drone to back away. It did eventually move off. (CNN)
Now U.S. Has Company In Raising Pressure On Iran Over Missile
Joined by three Western allies, the United States on Wednesday escalated pressure on Iran over its space launch last week, saying the act disregarded a United Nations Security Council resolution on the use of missiles and was “threatening and provocative. In a letter to the Security Council and Secretary General António Guterres, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States and envoys from Britain, France, and Germany said the Iranian missile that carried a satellite into orbit was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.” Under the Security Council resolution, 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Iran is called upon “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” (The New York Times)
Senate Passes Sanction Bill Targeting Russia, Iran, and North Korea
The Senate has passed a sweeping sanctions package targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, 97-2. The U.S. House passed the sanctions package Tuesday in a 419-3 vote, sending the legislation to the Senate. The White House has not definitively said that President Trump will sign the bill, but the the measure won a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate. The measure -- a reprimand for Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle, among other things -- requires congressional approval before the president can ease or lift sanctions. The White House had criticized attempts to limit the president's sanctions powers, but the legislation's solid bipartisan support may be forcing the president's hand. (CBS)
Iranian President Says Country Will "Stand Up" To U.S. Sanctions
Iran's president said Wednesday that it will stand up to the United States and reciprocate for any new sanctions that Washington imposes on the Islamic republic. Hassan Rouhani's remarks came a day after the Trump administration announced new, non-nuclear sanctions while at the same time warning Tehran that it would face consequences for breaching "the spirit" of the nuclear deal with world powers. The new sanctions, perceived as the latest attempt to clamp down on Iran's military financing, target 18 Iranian individuals and groups, ranging from an Iran-based company accused of aiding the country's drone program to a Turkey-based provider of naval equipment and a China-based network that helped secure electronics for Tehran. (CBS)
Iranian cancer researcher denied U.S. entry accused of having militia ties
An Iranian cancer researcher who was denied entry to the United States previously headed a student branch of a volunteer paramilitary militia, according to footage aired on Iranian state television on Thursday. The TV also showed Mohsen Dehnavi arriving back in Tehran alongside his wife and children. In comments to the channel at the airport, he defended his travel to the United States as solely intended for science and research. "The topic of our research was health and saving ill people fighting cancer from this dangerous disease, but they didn't allow us entry, despite, as I mentioned, all the efforts made by the American academic community," he said. (CBS)
Hundreds of cartoonists from around the world have taken part in a competition in Iran attacking Donald Trump. The winning image, by Hadi Asadi from Iran, shows the US president wearing a jacket of dollar bills and with burning yellow hair. Organizers of the Trumpism exhibition in Tehran have held similar contests in the past on themes including the Islamic State group and the Holocaust. This year's logo is based on the Nazi emblem, with a T instead of a swastika. It encouraged many comparisons between the US president and Nazism. (BBC)
Samuel Goldwyn Films is releasing its first Iranian film, The Persian Connection this week on July 14th. This stylish neon-noir thriller is set in the opium underworld of "Tehrangeles" and features a protagonist who was a child soldier during the Iran-Iraq War. The film premiered at TriBeCa 2106 to rave reviews. Reza Sixo Safai produced the film and plays the lead role; he spoke with us about it below.
Q: The protagonist in this film was a child soldier in the Iran-Iraq war. How much does that experience define the character? Was it common for children to fight in the war? Also - Does the fact that the protagonist experienced the Iran-Iraq war bring something to the story in a way that perhaps another war wouldn’t?
Safai: That experience is everything, defines everything. Now as human beings we all do our best to live, no matter what tragedy strikes us, we still do our best to go on living. But that pain is always there somewhere underneath, waiting for the right moment when it can come rushing out.
Iran Accuses U.S. of 'Brazen' Plan to Change its Government
Iran is accusing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of "a brazen interventionist plan" to change the current government that violates international law and the U.N. Charter. Iran's U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated Tuesday that Tillerson's comments are also "a flagrant violation" of the 1981 Algiers Accords in which the United States pledged "not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." Tillerson said in a June 14 hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the 2018 State Department budget that U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons "and work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government." (CNBC)
The Trump Administration is Working to Free American Hostages in Iran
The Trump administration has quietly ramped up its involvement in trying to free two Iranian Americans being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, including one who is in very poor health. The effort is now not only a focus of the administration’s approach to Iran, but also part of an overall increase of attention to the plight of Americans held unjustly abroad. Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American businessman, was arrested in Tehran in October 2015 and charged with espionage and collusion with an enemy country — the United States. (The Washington Post)
Senate Passes Sweeping Sanctions Bill Targeting Iran, Russia
A frequently polarized Senate found common ground Thursday as Republicans and Democrats joined forces to approve a sweeping sanctions bill that punishes longtime adversaries Iran and Russia, putting Congress on a possible collision course with President Donald Trump. The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after U.S. intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign. Lawmakers have long sought to hit Iran with more sanctions in order to check its ballistic missile program and rebuke Tehran's continued support for terrorist groups. (ABC News)
Iran FM Zarif Slams 'Repugnant' Trump Statement on Tehran Attacks Iran's foreign minister has denounced as "repugnant" a White House statement on Wednesday's terror attack in Tehran that said Iran was a "terror sponsor" President Trump had said he was praying for the victims, but added that "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote". But Javad Zarif said Iran "rejected such claims of friendship" and claimed the attackers from so-called Islamic State had been "backed by US clients". (BBC)
Rouhani Vows to Shed Iran Sanctions as Trump Piles on More
A day after winning re-election last month, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani reaffirmed a campaign pledge: that he’ll find a way to free his country from sanctions that hobble its economy. That’s a vow President Donald Trump and U.S. lawmakers are making harder than ever to keep.Trump used his first overseas trip last week to portray Shiite-led Iran as the embodiment of evil, the common enemy that could bring America’s Sunni-led Gulf allies together with Israel to achieve Middle East peace. In Washington, Republicans in Congress are also doubling down, pressing for legislation to add more sanctions, not lift those that remain after the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. (Bloomberg Politics)
Iran, one of the few countries involved in the Syria conflict not to have been affected by relentless terrorist attacks, woke up to a new reality on Wednesday, when armed men and perhaps one woman simultaneously staged attacks on the Parliament and on the landmark mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
At least two people were killed and 35 others wounded in the assaults, according to the state-sponsored Iranian Students’ News Agency. While the Islamic State immediately issued a claim of responsibility, suspicions in Tehran were also directed at Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional nemesis, newly emboldened by a supportive visit from President Trump last month.
Saudi Arabia recently raised the volume of criticism against Iran, and the country led a regional effort on Monday to isolate Qatar, the one Persian Gulf country that maintains relations with Tehran.
Senate Panel Backs Bill to Authorize New Sanctions on Iran
A Senate panel overwhelmingly backed bipartisan legislation that would authorize President Donald Trump to put new sanctions on Iran while keeping the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in place. The Foreign Relations Committee voted 18-3 on Thursday despite concerns from former Secretary of State John Kerry and several Democrats that the measure could nonetheless lead to the unraveling of the nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration. Kerry cautioned lawmakers to “tread carefully” in pushing ahead with new sanctions against Iran in the wake of President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election last week to another four-year term. Rouhani is a political moderate who scored a resounding victory over a hard-line opponent. (PBS)
Iran Denounces New U.S. Sanctions, Adds Some of Its Own
Iran struck back against new Trump administration sanctions against its ballistic missile program, calling them illegal and announcing sanctions of its own. In a tit-for-tat move, Iran sanctioned seven entities and two individuals on Thursday, including Horacio Rozanski, chief executive officer of Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., alleging human rights violations because the management consulting firm does work in Israel, a U.S. ally that Iran calls an oppressor of Palestinians. Kimberly West, a spokeswoman for Booz Allen, said the company had no comment. The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would continue waiving sanctions -- including restrictions on oil sales -- eased under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. (Bloomberg Politics)
Latest: U.S. Sees Iran Working to Preserve Nuclear Deal The latest on the Senate intelligence committee's hearing on global threats: The Trump administration's national intelligence director says the U.S. sees Iran working to maintain last year's nuclear agreement. Tehran's rationale is that by sticking to the deal, it gets relief from U.S. sanctions and preserves some nuclear capabilities. Dan Coats tells the Senate intelligence committee that the deal extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon. He cites the Obama administration's estimates that the timeline has been delayed from a few months to about a year. Coats also says the deal has enhanced transparency of Iran's nuclear activities. (U.S. News)
Iran and U.S. Discuss Issue of Americans Imprisoned by Tehran
Iran said Monday that it had discussed the issue of Americans with dual citizenship held in Iranian prisons during a meeting last week with the United States. The discussion, during a meeting in Vienna on compliance with the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, was the first face-to-face exchange between emissaries from Iran and the United States since President Trump took office. A State Department spokesman, Mark C. Toner, had suggested on April 25 that the imprisonments would be raised at the meeting, which was held while both sides were attending a session of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nonproliferation monitor. (The New York Times)
U.S. Destroyer Forced to Alter Course by Iranian Vessel Acting "Provocative"
An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship acted "unprofessional but also provocative" while approaching the USS Mahan, an American destroyer in the Persian Gulf on Monday, according to a US official. The official said the Iranian vessel had its weapons manned and came within approximately 1,000 yards of the US destroyer. The Mahan attempted bridge-to-bridge communication with the Iranians but got no response. The US destroyer then fired a flare but despite the obvious signs from the Mahan, the Iranian ship continued on its course, forcing the US ship to alter direction, the official said. (CNN)
The US secretary of state has accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and undermining America's interests. "An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Rex Tillerson said. The US has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal, although it admits Iran is complying with its commitments.Iran's foreign minister dismissed Mr Tillerson's criticism as "worn out". (BBC)
Iran Joins Russia in Denouncing U.S. Strike on Syria, but Stops There
The punitive American missile strike on Syria for the chemical weapons attack a week ago brought Syria’s most important backers, Russia and Iran, publicly closer together — whether the Iranians want to be or not. Far from accepting the Trump administration’s version of the chemical weapons assault, the Iranians joined the Russians in rejecting it and doubling down on their expressions of support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Nonetheless, Iran and Russia do not see eye to eye on everything in a relationship shaped by mistrust, a legacy of Iranian resentment of Russia’s historical expansionism and Soviet-era attempts at domination. (NY Times)
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered as a candidate in Iran's presidential election, despite being told not to by the Supreme Leader. Mr Ahmadinejad, a hardliner who served two terms between 2005 and 2013, filed paperwork for the 19 May poll at the interior ministry in Tehran. Last year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned him that such a move was "not in his interest and that of the country". But Mr Ahmadinejad told reporters on Tuesday that had been "just advice". Associated Press journalists who witnessed Mr Ahmadinejad register on Tuesday said election officials were "stunned" when he submitted the paperwork.
Originally posted on Reuters By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name on Wednesday for registration as a candidate in Iran's presidential election in May, state media reported. Although the move by the former hardline president was seen as an attempt to bolster the candidacy of an ally, it was also a challenge to the authority of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had ordered him not to run. Registration for the May 19 election started on Monday and will last five days, after which entrants will be screened for their political and Islamic qualifications by a vetting body, the Guardian Council. President