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Khamenei Nixes Direct Talks with U.S.

September 17, 2019
On September 17, Iran’s supreme leader ruled out the possibility of bilateral talks with Washington. His remarks came one day after President Donald Trump blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities that cut production in half. Tehran denied involvement. In remarks to seminary students,…

Timeline of Houthi Attacks on Saudi Arabia

September 16, 2019
On September 14, an explosive drone attack damaged a processing facility and oil field in Abqaiq and Khurais, Saudi Arabia. The Houthi rebel movement in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, although U.S. and Saudi officials claimed the attacks originated outside of Yemen. Both countries…

World Reaction to Saudi Oil Attacks

September 16, 2019
Tensions in the Middle East escalated after drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. On September 14, the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities—both run by the state-owned company Saudi Aramco—were struck by “projectiles” in a pre-dawn attack.  Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been…

Iranian Newspapers on Bolton Exit

September 13, 2019
A range of Iranian newspapers devoted part of their front pages to National Security Advisor John Bolton’s exit from the Trump administration. Prior to taking office in April 2018, he was an outspoken critic of the nuclear deal. Bolton also advocated for regime change in Tehran and the use of…

U.S.-Iran Jousting Moves to Twitter

September 11, 2019
Amid diplomacy to bring their presidents together, the United States and Iran have been talking to each other--on Twitter. The tone varies from taunting to caustic banter. Top officials often tag each other in their posts. They sometimes even address each other personally. The subjects vary from…

Iran's Increasing Reliance on China

September 11, 2019
By Alex Yacoubian Longstanding trade relations between Iran and China have deepened since the U.S. imposed punitive economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic in November 2018. Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi called the two countries “comprehensive strategic partners” during a visit by Iranian…

Israeli Army Tweets Target Iran—in Farsi

September 6, 2019
Updated: September 13, 2019
Last month, Israel unveiled the latest weapon in its high-tech arsenal: @IDFFarsi. The Farsi-language Twitter account expands the considerable social media reach of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) – already operating in Hebrew, English, Spanish, and French – into yet another linguistic domain. The…

U.N. Watchdog Update on Iran’s Nuclear Program

September 6, 2019
Updated: September 9, 2019
On August 30, the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran had begun to enrich uranium to 4.5 percent, beyond the 3.67 percent limit stipulated in the 2015 nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In a new safeguards report, the International Atomic Energy…

State of Iran-U.S. Diplomacy

September 4, 2019
Updated: September 16, 2019
A French initiative to broker direct talks between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been a roller coaster since both leaders indicated a possible willingness to meet. On August 26, French President Emanuel Macron announced a “roadmap of sorts” after talks with Trump and…

U.S. Offers Reward for Intel on IRGC

September 4, 2019
On September 4, the U.S. Treasury designated an “oil for terror” network accused of aiding the IRGC in funding its terrorist operations. The network consisted of 25 entities and individuals and 11 vessels involved in hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit oil sales. Brian Hook, the U.S. special…

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Tanker

September 3, 2019
On August 30, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the Iranian oil tanker, the Adrian Darya-1, which it accused of transporting 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil on behalf of the IRGC. The ship, formerly named the Grace 1, was detained by Britain off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4 for attempting…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Space Program

September 3, 2019
On September 3, the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran’s space program for supporting ballistic missile development. The move came after Iran’s failed attempt to launch a space vehicle on August 29. “Iran’s civilian space launch vehicle program allows it to gain experience with various…

Iran Media on Trump Meeting

August 30, 2019
Iranian newspapers, which reflect a broad spectrum of political views, provided diverse coverage about the prospects of talks between President Hassan Rouhani and President Donald Trump. For months, French President Emmanuel Macron has engaged in behind-the-scenes diplomacy to defuse escalating…

U.S. Sanctions Hamas-IRGC Facilitators

August 29, 2019
On August 29, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned four individuals responsible for transferring tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hamas in Gaza. Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal are accused of funneling…

U.S. Sanctions WMD Procurement Network

August 28, 2019
On August 28, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two procurement networks linked to the Iranian regime and its military organizations. The designation included two Iranian men and several companies accused of providing ten million dollars of materials for Tehran’s WMD program. One network used a front…

Trump-Rouhani Meeting?

August 27, 2019
On August 26, French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters after the G7 summit that he hoped to arrange a meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “in the coming weeks.” Trump told reporters that there was a “really good chance” for a potential meeting with…

Gallup: Most Americans Oppose Military Action

August 20, 2019
As tensions escalated with Iran, 78 percent of Americans said they opposed military action against Iran, according to a Gallup Poll released on August 20, 2019. The vast majority of Republicans (72 percent) and Democrats (86 percent) said they instead favored economic or diplomatic efforts. The…

U.S. and France Split on Iran

August 9, 2019
Since May 2018, the United States and France have increasingly split over Iran.  On August 8, President Trump accused French President Emmanuel Macron of giving Iran “mixed signals” on possible negotiations with the United States. On August 9, Yves Le Drian, the French Minister for Europe and…

U.S. Warns Commercial Vessels in Persian Gulf

August 8, 2019
On August 7, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration warned commercial vessels of Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman. The advisory said vessels could encounter “GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other…

Iran Leaders on U.S. Tensions

August 7, 2019
Updated: August 27, 2019
Iranian leaders have disparate and, sometimes, conflicting views of how to respond to the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other hardliners seemed to rule out negotiations entirely. They have resisted making further concessions since the Trump…

Part I: U.S. Sanctions Foreign Minister Zarif

August 1, 2019
On July 31, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for acting on behalf of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The United States had already designated Khamenei on June 24.  The Treasury accused Zarif of implementing the regime’s “reckless agenda” by…

Part II: White House on Iran Diplomacy

August 1, 2019
On July 31, the Trump administration provided a detailed briefing of sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the potential of U.S. diplomacy with Tehran.   Senior Administration Briefing on Iran    SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The reason that we're here is that we are…

U.S. Renews Nuclear Sanctions Waivers

August 1, 2019
On July 31, the U.S. State Department renewed five sanctions waivers permitting foreign firms to work on Iran’s civil nuclear program without penalties. At the beginning of May, the State Department had extended the five waivers and revoked two others that had allowed Tehran to ship its excess…

Congress on U.S.-Iran Tensions

August 1, 2019
In mid-2019, members of key Senate and House committees—on foreign affairs, intelligence and armed services—were divided on how to handle escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.  Democrats raised concerns that the Trump administration was leading the United States into a war…

U.S.-Iran Showdown in the Gulf — Déjà vu?

July 29, 2019
By Alex Yacoubian In mid-2019, tensions in the Persian Gulf echoed the threat to world oil supplies during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s. In May and June 2019, maritime security deteriorated after the sabotage of six oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman just beyond the Strait of…

Esper on Iran

July 24, 2019
Updated: August 8, 2019
On July 23, the Senate confirmed Mark Esper as the new U.S. secretary of defense in a landslide 90-to-8 vote. Esper is a West Point graduate and veteran of the 1990-91 Gulf war, the U.S.-led campaign liberating Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. He was subsequently a lobbyist for Raytheon. The following…

U.S. Treasury Warns Civil Aviation Industry

July 23, 2019
On July 23, the U.S. Treasury advised the civil aviation industry that it could be subject to U.S. sanctions for supporting Iranian-linked terror groups in the region. The advisory detailed the role that commercial airlines and travel companies play in flying fighters and weapons to countries such…

Iran Claims CIA Bust

July 23, 2019
On July 22, Tehran announced the detention of 17 Iranian citizens for espionage after disrupting an alleged CIA spy ring. The purported spies transmitted intelligence on Iran’s economy, nuclear program, military, and cyber capabilities. The Trump administration immediately denied Tehran's claims…

Interview with Zarif in New York

July 19, 2019
On July 18, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed major issues in two interviews, one with Robin Wright and another with a small group of journalists (including Wright) at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York City. The following are excerpted remarks on topics…

U.S. Sanctions Nuclear Procurement Network

July 19, 2019
On July 18, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned seven companies and five individuals linked to an international procurement network that provided Iran with sensitive materials for its nuclear program. The companies and individuals designated were based in Iran, Belgium, and China. The Treasury said the…