Iranian Affairs

Persian Gulf

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We post what pops up in the western media. You feel free to post (in English) any thing you feel like.
I don't see much Western media sources. I see only KSA style anti-Iran propaganda. If you are objective and look through the first pages I am sure you will see the same thing... And that is fine, but I just don't think it's appropriate for an "Iranian Affairs" thread is my only point. But well, not my forum so I don't complain. I am only here to spread and gain knowledge :)
 

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Iranian Stances Vary on Rouhani’s Demands for More Powers
Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Reuters)

London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faced criticism after he renewed demands to reinforce his powers, while pro-government newspapers endorsed his call amid the increasing pressure by the US on Tehran.

Two weeks ago, the president criticized his limited influence in foreign policy and on Tuesday the IRNA news agency reported that he was seeking expanded, wartime executive powers to better deal with an "economic war" sparked by the US administration's pullout from the nuclear deal and imposition of severe sanctions

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressed his dissatisfaction with Rouhani and how his team handled the nuclear deal also known as JCPOA.

"I did not believe in the way the JCPOA was done, and I have made this clear to the president and the foreign minister on many occasions,” he said.

Referring to a letter he sent to Rouhani, Khamenei stated: "Read my letter regarding the JCPOA and the conditions set for its ratification. But, if these conditions were not met, it is not the Leader’s responsibility to intervene."

The government has been insisting on powers that allow it to form an operations room to confront the economic war.

Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei tweeted that former presidents enjoyed wide powers according to the constitution, and currently Rouhani has more powers that can meet the country’s demands.

He also blamed former presidents for not using their full powers to resolve the issues of the country.

Reformist Mostafa Hashemi Taba said that the government powers are “below expectations”, adding that the situation in Iran today is more difficult than the time of war.

The Kayhan newspaper slammed Rouhani for demanding more powers, accusing him of failing to provide solutions to Iran’s economic woes even before the US pulled out of the nuclear deal.

 

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Eagle1

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Trump says Iran nuclear deal possible as sanctions bite
May 27, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday a deal with Iran on its nuclear program was possible, crediting economic sanctions for curbing activities Washington has said are behind a spate of attacks in the Middle East.

“I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen,” Trump said during a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

“It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership,” Trump said. “We aren’t looking for regime change — I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.”

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region.

Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran, which denies the accusations.

The United States has deployed a carrier strike group and bombers to the Mideast region and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, prompting fears of a conflict.

Trump’s comments came after his national security adviser John Bolton said on Saturday that the United States had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, without providing details.


Trump, on a four-day visit to Japan, welcomed Abe’s help in dealing with Iran after broadcaster NHK said Japan’s leader is considering a trip to Tehran as early as mid-June. Iran said a visit was unlikely in the near future.

“I know for a fact that the prime minister is very close with the leadership of Iran, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

During his joint news conference with Trump, Abe said Japan would do what it can on the Iran issue.

“Peace and stability of the Middle East is very important for Japan and the United States and the international community as a whole,” Abe said.

Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, and is ratcheting up sanctions in an effort to end Iran’s international sales of crude oil and strangle its economy.

Japan was a major buyer of Iranian oil for decades before the U.S. sanctions — which Trump said were taking effect.

“They were fighting in many locations,” he said of Iran. “Now they are pulling back because they have serious economic problems.”

Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish U.S. policy on Iran, described recent bomb attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone as “manifestations of concern” about Iran.

Iran has distanced itself from the bombings and on Sunday, its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said his country will defend itself against any military or economic aggression.

Additional reporting by Tim Kelly; Writing by Tim Kelly and Malcolm Foster; editing by Darren Schuettler

 

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U.S. sanctions policy threatens Middle East security: Iran deputy foreign minister
May 27, 2019 / Updated 8 minutes ago


GENEVA (Reuters) - Washington’s sanctions policy threatens the security of the Middle East, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Monday, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Araqchi, while on a visit to Kuwait, also said Iran was ready for dialogue with other countries in the region.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh



 

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US sanctions on Iran felt in Iraqi Shiite tourist districts
By BASSEM MROUE
26 May 2019


In this Wednesday, May 21, 2019, photo, pigeons fly outside the golden-domed shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim in Kadhimiya district in north Baghdad, Iraq. Many shop owners in the Shiite holy neighborhood of Kadhimiya, have seen their sales drop sharply over the past year since U.S. President Donald began reimposing sanctions on Iran, home to the largest number of Shiite Muslims around the world. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BAGHDAD (AP) — For years, Karar Hussein has sold sweets in his shop near the entrance to one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines, accepting whatever currency was offered to him by his clients, many of them religious tourists from neighboring Iran. But lately, when Iranian pilgrims ask about prices, he tells them he can only sell if they pay in Iraqi currency. They often walk out, disappointed.

Hussein and many other shop owners in Baghdad’s northern Shiite holy neighborhood of Kadhimiya have seen sales drop sharply over the past year since President Donald Trump began re-imposing sanctions on Iran, home to the largest number of Shiite Muslims around the world.

The value of Iran’s currency, the rial, has decreased almost fourfold, pushing the price of nearly everything beyond the reach of ordinary Iranian consumers in Iran and abroad.

Standing in his shop wearing jeans and a T-shirt, 27-year-old Hussein said his sales have dropped 30% since last year, but he still prefers not to be paid in Iranian rials because the currency’s value keeps depreciating. “Their currency is crashing,” he said.

Millions of Shiites from around the world come to Iraq every year to visit its many Shiite shrines and holy places, including the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq and the central city of Samarra, home to the revered golden-domed al-Askari shrine. They bring large amounts of money into the country, where tourism is the second biggest source of income for state coffers after oil exports.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, Iranians have made up the majority of religious tourists to Iraq, although tens of thousands come from other countries.

But tensions have been rising recently in the Middle East between the United States and Iran and there have been concerns that Iraq, whose government is allied with both Tehran and Washington, would become caught in the middle, likely increasing pressures on Iraq’s tourism sector.

A favorite tourist destination is the Kadhimiya district in north Baghdad, typically bustling with Iranians shopping for clothes, sweets and trinkets. The area is home to the al-Kadhimayn shrine, known for its two domes and four minarets draped with gold and contains the tombs of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim and his grandson Mohammed al-Jawad, two of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures.

On a recent afternoon in Kadhimiya, hundreds of Iranian pilgrims entered and left the shrine, passing by scores of shops on both sides of a pedestrian street leading to the holy site without buying anything.

“Money is a big problem for us. This is really hurting us,” said Iranian citizen Hussein Fazeli, as he left the shrine. Fazeli, who brings pilgrims from Iran to Iraq, said the number of Iranian visitors has dropped because many cannot afford to travel now.

Speaking in broken Arabic, Fazeli said Iran will end up victorious no matter how long the crisis takes, adding that “Trump will go, and Iran will stay.”
Iran’s currency has been declining steadily for years but the drop has accelerated in recent months after Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions.

Mohammed Saadi Hadi, who inherited his tiny clothes stand outside the al-Kadhimayn shrine from his father, says sales have dropped by 70%. Prayer gowns for women now cost four times what they cost last year in Iranian currency. He used to sell 60 gowns a day but today he sells less than 10.

Thamer Jabbar, owner of a perfume store, said Iranian tourists now not only abstain from buying, but some of them bring with them items such as saffron spice and stone rings to sell in Iraq, hoping to make up for some of their trip’s cost.

Jabbar, 38, said his best days were after Iran and world powers signed the nuclear deal in 2015, which led to the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the release of billions of dollars of frozen assets. On a good day then, Jabbar would sell $700 worth of perfume.

“Today I barely sell anything to an Iranian tourist. Perfumes in Iran have become cheaper,” he said.

 

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Trump says Iran nuclear deal achievable as sanctions sting
May 27, 2019
Jeff Mason, Malcolm Foster

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday a deal with Iran on its nuclear program was possible, crediting economic sanctions for curbing activities Washington has said are behind a spate of attacks in the Middle East.

“I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen,” Trump said during a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

“It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership,” Trump said. “We aren’t looking for regime change - I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.”

In Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons, which its supreme leader had banned in an edict, adding on Twitter that U.S. policies were hurting the Iranian people and causing regional tensions.

“Actions—not words—will show whether or not that’s @realDonaldTrump’s intent,” Zarif said.


President Hassan Rouhani said in October the United States was seeking “regime change” in Iran, adding that the current U.S. administration was the most hostile that the Islamic Republic had faced in its four decades.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region.

Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran, which denies the accusations.

The United States has deployed a carrier strike group and bombers to the and announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East, prompting fears of a conflict.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said on Saturday that the United States had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, without providing details.


Trump, on a four-day visit to Japan, welcomed Abe’s help in dealing with Iran after broadcaster NHK said Japan’s leader is considering a trip to Tehran as early as mid-June. Iran said a visit was unlikely in the near future.

“I know for a fact that the prime minister is very close with the leadership of Iran, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

At his joint news conference with Trump, Abe said Japan would do what it can on the Iran issue.

Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, and is ratcheting up sanctions seeking to end Iran’s international sales of crude oil and strangle its economy.

Japan was a major buyer of Iranian oil for decades before U.S. sanctions which Trump said were taking effect.

“They were fighting in many locations,” he said of Iran. “Now they are pulling back because they have serious economic problems.”

Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish U.S. policy on Iran, described recent bomb attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone, as “manifestations of concern” about Iran.

Iran has distanced itself from the bombings and on Sunday, Zarif said his country will defend itself against any military or economic aggression.

Additional reporting by Tim Kelly, and Dubai newsroom; Writing by Tim Kelly and Malcolm Foster; editing by Darren Schuettler and Howard Goller

 

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Wife of Iran presidential adviser shot dead at home
AP
May 28, 2019
  • Mitra Najafi the second wife of Mohammad Ali Najafi was killed in northern Tehran
  • The victim was killed in her home
TEHRAN, Iran: A wife of an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was shot and killed at her home, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported Tuesday.

The report said Mitra Najafi — the second wife of Mohammad Ali Najafi, a former reformist mayor of Tehran and a Rouhani confidant — was killed in northern Tehran. The report did not elaborate.

Such gun violence is incredibly rare in Iran, especially in the tony neighborhoods of northern Tehran, home to the country’s political and economic elite.

Another Iranian semi-official news agency, Tasnim, quoted Tehran prosecutor Mohammad Shahriari as saying she was killed by several gunshots, one of which hit her heart. Her body was found in a bedroom on the seventh floor of a residential high-rise in northern Tehran.

Najafi resigned as mayor in 2018, after hard-liners criticized him over a video showing he attended a dance performance by young girls at a school show.

Polygamy is legal in Iran, though some criticized Najafi on social media after he married Mitra Najafi.


 

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Rouhani to Khamenei: Iran Govt Maintained Nuclear Deal
Monday, 27 May, 2019


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran April 18, 2019. Reuters

London- Asharq Al-Awsat

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded Saturday to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei's criticism for neglecting his recommendation on implementing the nuclear deal between Iran and six nations.

Rouhani said that his government is the main reason behind Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal, considering this an achievement by the government.

If it wasn’t for the government, Iran would have breached the nuclear deal, he added, boasting that his government’s performance prevented Iran's condemnation, while other countries slammed the US for exiting the deal.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal and reimposed US sanctions because of Iran's regional role and its development of ballistic missiles.

Rouhani abstained from commenting further on Khamenei's criticism because it wasn't in Iran's interest.

Again, Rouhani showed readiness to turn to the Iranians to settle major disputes including the nuclear deal.

During his meeting with representatives from Iranian media, Rouhani said he proposed a referendum, on the nuclear issue to Khamenei back in 2004 while negotiating the nuclear deal. "Article 59 of the Constitution (referendum) is a deadlock breaker and could be a problem-solver at any junction," Rouhani said.

Article 59 stipulates that a referendum shall be held to settle any critical topic in the country. Iran hasn’t carried out any referendum for 30 years since the constitutional amendment endorsed by Khamenei.

Rouhani stated Saturday that the country is experiencing tough circumstances, but the government is seeking to prevent things from aggravating.


 

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Iran Sends Envoy to 3 Gulf States to Explore Communication Channels with US
Monday, 27 May, 2019


Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, receives Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi in Muscat. (ONA)

Dammam, London – Merza al-Khuwaldi and Asharq Al-Awsat

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi kicked off on Sunday a tour to three Gulf states in an attempt by Tehran to explore channels of communication with the United States.

His first stop took him to Oman where he met with Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs.

The two sides discussed aspects of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. They also exchanged views on regional issues and developments, said the Oman news agency (ONA).

Bil Alawi had paid a visit to Tehran last week.

Araqchi made his trip amid mounting tensions with the United States, which last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers. Washington has been seeking to tighten sanctions against Iran over its malign regional policies.

Tensions have ratcheted up recently in the Middle East as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over Iranian threats. On Thursday, the Pentagon outlined proposals to the White House to send military reinforcements to the Middle East to beef up defenses against Iran.

Last week, bin Alawi said that Muscat was seeking to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington. He did not confirm or deny mediation efforts by Oman.

Araqchi said there were no direct or indirect negotiations with the US, the Iranian Fars news agency quoted him as saying from Muscat.

He informed bin Alawi that Iran was prepared to establish “balanced and constructive” relations with all Gulf states based on mutual respect and interests.

“We do not want to raise tensions in the region,” he continued. Moreover, he stressed that ensuring regional stability entails ending the sanctions.

Imposing sanctions on Iran is a policy that has failed as demonstrated by past experiences, he added.

Araqchi is set to later visit Kuwait and Qatar as part of his Gulf tour.

Oman, Kuwait and Qatar have expressed their readiness to push forward reconciliation efforts between the US and Iran. They have also said they were ready to exert efforts to ease tensions between them.

On Friday, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said that he believes that negotiations to calm tensions have indeed started between the US and Iran.

He said Kuwait is "confident" that wisdom and reasoning will prevail in the region without the need for clashes.

This confidence stems from statements made by US and Iranian officials over their reluctance
to go to war, he told reporters.

Kuwait stands ready and is poised to carry out efforts aimed at calming and stabilizing the situation and avoiding confrontation, he added, according to the Kuwait news agency (KUNA).

Qatar, for its part, was the first country to dispatch a senior envoy to Tehran to ease tensions. Its foreign minister reportedly traveled to Iran on the eve of the arrival of the American bombers to the Gulf. Reports at the time said that Doha had offered to mediate between the US and Iran.

Araqchi’s trips coincided with a tour by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to Pakistan and Iraq. The FM is also set to head to Turkey.


 

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Iran Sees ‘No Prospect of Negotiations’ with US
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019


US aircraft carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln is pictured while it travels through the Suez Canal in Egypt May 9, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran ruled out on Tuesday the possibility of holding negotiations with the United States, a day after US President Donald Trump said a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program was possible.

Asked about Trump’s comments in a news conference in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency: “We currently see no prospect of negotiations with America.”

“Iran pays no attention to words; What matters to us is a change of approach and behavior.”

Speaking from Japan on Monday, Trump said: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

Trump also said that United States was not looking for regime change in Iran, adding that “we are looking for no nuclear weapons.”

Late on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Trump should make his intentions clear about any talks with Iran through actions, not words.

In a late tweet, he said: "Actions—not words—will show whether or not that's @realDonaldTrump's intent.”

Trump said that he would back Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to open a communication with Iran.

Zarif in his tweet also blamed Trump's economic pressure on Tehran for the regional tensions.

Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran, and is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to strangle Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said on Tuesday the country was not allowed to pursue the development of nuclear weapon as this was banned by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States since Washington deployed a carrier strike group and bombers and announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East, prompting fears of a conflict.


 

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Wife of Iran presidential adviser shot dead at home
AP
May 28, 2019
  • Mitra Najafi the second wife of Mohammad Ali Najafi was killed in northern Tehran
  • The victim was killed in her home
TEHRAN, Iran: A wife of an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was shot and killed at her home, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported Tuesday.

The report said Mitra Najafi — the second wife of Mohammad Ali Najafi, a former reformist mayor of Tehran and a Rouhani confidant — was killed in northern Tehran. The report did not elaborate.

Such gun violence is incredibly rare in Iran, especially in the tony neighborhoods of northern Tehran, home to the country’s political and economic elite.

Another Iranian semi-official news agency, Tasnim, quoted Tehran prosecutor Mohammad Shahriari as saying she was killed by several gunshots, one of which hit her heart. Her body was found in a bedroom on the seventh floor of a residential high-rise in northern Tehran.

Najafi resigned as mayor in 2018, after hard-liners criticized him over a video showing he attended a dance performance by young girls at a school show.

Polygamy is legal in Iran, though some criticized Najafi on social media after he married Mitra Najafi.


Former Tehran Mayor Confesses to Killing Wife
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019 - 05:00
[IMG]

File photo of Mohammad Ali Najafi and his wife

Asharq Al-Awsat

Police on Tuesday arrested a former Iranian vice president and mayor of Tehran after he confessed to shooting one of his wives dead in her home.

Police detained Mohammad Ali Najafi, 68, after he went to authorities and confessed to killing wife Mitra Najafi, Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted prosecutor Mohammad Shahriari as saying.

Shahriari said Najafi and his wife were having domestic problems.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian media reported that Mitra Najafi, who is one of Najafi's two wives, had been killed in northern Tehran.

Najafi resigned as mayor in 2018.

In 2013, Najafi an MIT educated mathematician worked as vice president in charge of cultural heritage and tourism in President Hassan Rouhani's administration for nearly seven months. Najafi has held many ministerial positions in his career.

Gen. Ali Reza Lotfi, head of Tehran police's criminal investigation department, told state TV that Najafi handed the weapon over to police voluntarily and admitted committing the crime.

Lotfi said Najafi fired five times and two bullets hit the victim. He said the case is under investigation by the police and judiciary simultaneously.

Semi-official news agency Tasnim quoted Shahriari as saying Mitra Najafi was shot several times, including once in the heart. Her body was found in a bedroom on the seventh floor of a residential high-rise in northern Tehran.

Former Tehran Mayor Confesses to Killing Wife
 

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Iran's May Crude Exports Reportedly Slide to 400,000 bpd
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019

Iranian crude exports have fallen sharply in May to around 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), tanker data showed and two industry sources told Reuters, after the United States tightened the screws on Tehran's main source of income.

The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers. Aiming to cut Iran's sales to zero, Washington this month ended sanctions waivers for importers of Iranian oil. Iran has nonetheless sent abroad about 400,000 bpd so far this month, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon and two industry sources who also track the flows, less than half April's rate. The bulk of the crude is heading to Asia.

The drop in exports has tightened the market, supported prices and deeply reduced Iran's revenue. A dearth of information about the exact rate of shipments is a headache for other OPEC members and allies, which are scheduled to meet to set oil supply policy in June.

"I am expecting exports of about 400,000 bpd," one of the sources said, which would be an increase from around 250,000 bpd in the first two weeks of the month. The second source said May exports could reach as much as 500,000 bpd.

There is no definitive information on the export rate. Iran has welcomed this opacity and stopped reporting its production figures to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Some of Iran's oil exports are already under the radar, making it harder to assess the actual volume.

The latest figure for May exports shows more consensus on how much oil is still reaching the market than an estimate published on May 16, in which shipments were put at between 250,000 bpd and 500,000 bpd.

The oil industry has for some years used tanker-tracking to work out actual supplies in the absence of timely official information. While easier than in the past due to satellite information, tanker tracking is not an exact science.

Tankers loading Iranian crude sometimes switch off their AIS signal, an automatic tracking system used on ships, only to switch it back on at a later stage of their journey, according to oil industry sources, making it harder to see actual volumes.

Still, there is general agreement that crude shipments have dropped from at least 2.5 million bpd in April 2018, the month before President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal.

 

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Iran stays within nuclear deal's main limits while testing another
May 31, 2019
Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has stayed within the main restrictions of its nuclear deal, a quarterly report by the U.N. atomic watchdog indicated on Friday, at a time when Tehran is threatening to break the rules in future in response to new U.S. sanctions.


The report found that Iran was abiding by the main terms of its 2015 deal with world powers, including the most sensitive issues of its stockpile of enriched uranium and level of enrichment.

The report did however flag up questions about the number of advanced centrifuges Iran is allowed, which is loosely defined in the deal.

A year after Washington abandoned the landmark deal, which curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions, European powers are trying to keep it in place.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency comes at a particularly sensitive time, with Washington having sharply tightened sanctions on Tehran this month, and Iran threatening to take steps in response that could eventually bring it out of compliance with the pact.


The administration of President Donald Trump says the deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama does not go far enough to curb Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

After reintroducing sanctions last year, the Trump administration has ordered all countries to halt all imports of Iranian oil from this month. Tehran has responded by threatening to increase its enrichment of uranium, although it says it has not violated the agreement so far.

Washington has also raised the prospect of military confrontation in recent weeks, blaming Iran for attacks on oil tankers and announcing the deployment of extra forces to the Gulf. Iran denies any link to attacks on shipping and says the U.S. military moves are “psychological warfare”.

The IAEA report said its staff had access “to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit”.

Inspectors found that Iran’s stock of enriched uranium was well below the limit set by the deal, as of May 20. That last date covered by the report is also the day Iran said it had increased the rate at which it enriches uranium, meaning any acceleration will appear only in the next report.


The IAEA said Iran had installed 33 advanced IR-6 centrifuges, machines that can enrich uranium, although only 10 had been tested with uranium feedstock so far. The deal allows Iran to test up to 30, but only after 8 1/2 years have passed. The limit before then is a “grey area”, diplomats say.

“Technical discussions in relation to the IR-6 centrifuges are ongoing,” the report said. A senior diplomat, asked about the nature of those discussions, declined to elaborate.

While Iran has stayed within the deal’s main limits over the past three years, it has breached a cap on its heavy water stock within the first year, although this is acknowledged by diplomats as a comparatively minor issue. Diplomats also say it has dragged its feet on allowing access to some sites, without explicitly violating the requirements of the deal.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Peter Graff



 

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As of Iran does not have secret underground nuclear facilities. The international community has to wake up and smell the coffee. Iran is a de facto nuclear capable country. Now time for Saudi Arabia to follow suit.
 

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