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
New U.S. Sanctions Bill Delayed by Concern Over Iran Election
A bill to slap new sanctions on Iran has been delayed in the U.S. Senate due to concerns about Iran's May presidential election, in which conservative hardliners hope to defeat moderate President Hassan Rouhani, U.S. lawmakers said on Tuesday. A group of Democratic and Republican senators introduced the bill in March seeking to impose tighter U.S. sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities, echoing a harder line on Tehran espoused by Republican President Donald Trump. But on Tuesday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said the bill would not move forward for now. (Reuters)
Iran Imposes Sanctions on 15 U.S. Companies Iran imposed sanctions on 15 American companies, saying that they were involved in human rights violations and had cooperated with Israel, the state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, in a tit-for-tat reaction to a move by Washington The agency quoted Iran’s foreign ministry as saying the companies had “flagrantly violated human rights” and cooperated with Israel in its “terrorism” against Palestinians and in the expansion of Jewish settlements. It was not immediately clear if any of the companies, which included the military technology firm Raytheon, had any dealings with Iran or whether they would be affected by Tehran’s action, which IRNA said would include seizing of their assets and a ban on contacts with them. (The New York Times)
Trump Sends Holiday Greetings to Iranians, Does Not Mention Travel Ban
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sought to ban travelers from Iran and other Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, issued a holiday greeting on Wednesday to Iranians celebrating the New Year holiday known as Nowruz. Trump, who has also criticized the nuclear deal between Iran and western powers negotiated during President Barack Obama's administration, did not refer to the travel ban in his statement. "Nowruz means 'new day' in Persian. It is an occasion to celebrate new beginnings, a sentiment that is particularly meaningful for so many Iranians who have come to our country in recent decades to make a new start in a free land," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. (Reuters)
Trump Travel Ban: Second U.S. Judge Blocks the New Executive Order
Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have blocked US President Donald Trump's new travel ban, which was due to begin after midnight on Thursday. The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees. Both judges questioned the legality of the ban, which critics say is discriminatory. President Trump insists the move is to stop terrorists from entering the United States.He complained of "unprecedented judicial overreach". (BBC News)
Iran’s Top Leader Appears to Rebuke President as Election Nears
Iran’s top leader criticized the pace of national economic growth on Thursday in what appeared to be a rebuke of the president, who had forecast prosperous times after the 2015 accord that lifted international sanctions in exchange for nuclear limits. The critical comments by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came two months before elections in which President Hassan Rouhani is expected to seek a second term. The comments suggested some tension between them as the vote draws nearer. “We receive complaints from people,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in the remarks reported on state television, as translated by Reuters. “People should feel improvements regarding creation of jobs and manufacturing. It is not the case now.” (NYTimes)
Iran Uses Oscar Win to Attack Trump, U.S. Response Muted
Tehran has cheered Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s second Oscar for best foreign film as an opportunity for more verbal attacks on the Trump administration, which responded with a muted defense of U.S. policy and deletion of a tweet about the movie. A day after Farhadi’s The Salesman received the honor at Sunday’s Academy Awards in Los Angeles, three senior Iranian officials sent him congratulatory messages that also contained criticisms of President Donald Trump, whom Tehran blames for increased tensions between the two nations since he took office last month. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that he was proud of The Salesman’s cast and crew for taking a stance against what he described as the Trump administration’s ”Muslim ban.” (VOA News)
While the ban has been altered from the prior version in an effort to avoid another legal challenge by the judicial branch, the legality of the new order remains highly questionable. For example, the blanket ban on immigration from six Muslim majority countries may still be an unconstitutional "Muslim" ban due to the administration's numerous prior statements about the order's purpose. It may also be illegal pursuant to a 1965 law that prohibits discrimination in immigration on the basis of nationality.
Beyond these legal concerns, the new ban suffers the same broader issues that we raised in our statement opposing the original executive order. In that statement we maintained that targeting entire countries is unjust and counterproductive to U.S. interests. The American Iranian Council is particularly concerned that the executive order doubles down on the perception that America is at war with Islam.
LONDON: Thousands of people braved London's winter drizzle on Sunday for a screening of the Oscar-nominated movie that has become a rallying point for opponents of U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
Hours ahead of what looked set to be the most politicised Academy Awards for years, London Mayor Sadiq Khan made clear his political motivation in hosting the British premiere of the "The Salesman", whose Iranian director is boycotting the Hollywood ceremony.
"President Trump cannot silence me," Khan said to cheers from the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square. "We stand in solidarity with Asghar Farhadi, one of the world’s greatest directors."