Posts Tagged ‘Persian Gulf’

Iran says it has full control of Gulf, U.S. Navy does not belong there

August 27, 2018

Iran has full control of the Gulf and the U.S. Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, was quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying on Monday.

Tehran has suggested it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes.

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Tangsiri said Iran had full control of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping.

“We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here,” he said in the quote, which appeared in English translation on Tasnim.

He added, “All the carriers and military and non-military ships will be controlled and there is full supervision over the Persian Gulf. Our presence in the region is physical and constant and night and day.”

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General Alireza Tangsiri,

Separately, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Iran’s enemies would not prevail in a conflict.

“The enemies are strictly avoiding any conflict with Iran because they know that it will not be beneficial for them,” Jafari said, according to Tasnim.

Tension between Iran and the United States has escalated since President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and reimposed sanctions.

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Houthi rebels, allies of Iran, fire an Iranian ballistic missile from Yemen toward saudi Atabai

Senior U.S. officials have said they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most senior authority in the Islamic Republic, said last month that he supports the idea that if Iran is not allowed to export oil then no country should export oil from the Gulf.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Dale Hudson and Peter Graff

Reuters

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini after their meeting, in Tehran, Iran, April 16, 2016. (AP /Ebrahim Noroozi)

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Bahrain halts new visas for Qataris in Gulf crisis salvo

August 22, 2018

Qatari students studying in Bahrain would be exempt from the new measures and visas already issued would remain valid.

Bahrain severed ties with Qatar in June last year at the same time as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE [Al Jazeera]
Bahrain severed ties with Qatar in June last year at the same time as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE [Al Jazeera]

Bahrain has stopped issuing new visas to Qataris, the interior ministry said late on Tuesday, in the latest salvo in a months-long feud between the Gulf states.

The small island kingdom severed relations with Qatar in June last year at the same time as regional power Saudi Arabia and its allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

But it had continued issuing some visas to citizens of the emirate, which lies just 40km away on the mainland of the Arabian Peninsula.

The ministry said only Qatari students studying in Bahrain would be exempt from the new measures, and visas already issued would remain valid.

The measures were a response to the “irresponsible actions of the Qatari authorities, who do not consider the rights of neighbouring countries or the principles of international law,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official BNA news agency.

The two sides have exchanged repeated allegations of violations of airspace or territorial waters and have launched multiple lawsuits through international tribunals.

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Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Bahrain and its allies have demanded that Qatar cut its alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and take a tougher line with Shia Iran, which they accuse of meddling in the region’s affairs.

Qatar, which is to host the finals of the next football World Cup in 2022, has insisted it has the right to conduct an independent foreign policy.

The result has been a highly fractious diplomatic and economic dispute between the Western allies that has no end in sight.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/bahrain-halts-visas-qataris-gulf-crisis-salvo-180822084645487.html

Iran says will unveil new fighter jet, continue developing missiles

August 19, 2018

Tehran’s defense minister claims aircraft, believed to be the Qaher F-313, will fly over Iranian skies as part of National Defense Industry Day celebrations next week

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, listens to an unidentified pilot during a ceremony to unveil Iran's newest fighter jet, the Qaher-313, in Tehran, Iran, February 2, 2013 (AP/Mehr News Agency/Younes Khani)

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, listens to an unidentified pilot during a ceremony to unveil Iran’s newest fighter jet, the Qaher-313, in Tehran, Iran, February 2, 2013 (AP/Mehr News Agency/Younes Khani)

Iran’s defense minister said Saturday that the Islamic Republic is set to unveil a new fighter jet next week and, despite new US sanctions, will continue developing its missile program.

“Our top priority has been development of our missile program. We are in a good position in this field, but we need to develop it,” Brigadier General Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency, according to Reuters.

“We will present a plane on National Defense Industry Day, and people will see it fly, and the equipment designed for it,” he added, referring to the August 22 celebrations.

Hatami is believed to have been referring to the Qaher F-313 fighter plane which Tehran said it had began testing last year.

The Qaher is one of several aircraft designs the Iranian military has rolled out since 2007. Tehran has repeatedly claimed to have developed advanced military technologies in recent years, but its claims cannot be independently verified because the country does not release technical details of its arsenals.

In 2013, then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that building the Qaher F-313, or “Dominant” F-313, shows Iran’s will to “conquer scientific peaks.”

Hatami’s announcement came after Iran’s navy on Saturday unveiled its first-ever advanced defense system for its warships, amid rising tensions with the US in the Strait of Hormuz.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi told reporters in Tehran the domestically made Kamand system would protect Iran’s naval destroyers against anti-ship cruise missiles.

In remarks carried by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Khanzadi said the Kamand system was based on the American-made Phalanx CIWS, and could destroy any target up to 2 kilometers away.

For the time being, Khanzadi said, the defense system would only be installed on Iranian warships “that carry out missions in deep and distant waters.”

The announcement came two weeks after Iran launched naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz as a show of force while Washington prepared to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi speaks at a Tehran press conference on July 31, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube/PressTV)

Iran routinely operates small boats in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area, and has often threatened to shut down the vital waterway where one third of all oil traded by sea passes.

In recent weeks, President Hassan Rouhani renewed the threat, saying that if US sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Mideast’s exports would be threatened as well.

Earlier in August, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard confirmed that it had carried out a naval exercise in the Gulf, days before the US re-imposed the economic sanctions that were eased under the 2015-Obama era nuclear deal.

The general overseeing US military operations in the Middle East said Tehran was trying “to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach the period of the sanctions here that they had some capabilities.”

The capabilities include ocean mines, explosive boats, coastal defense missiles and radars, US Central Command head General Joseph Votel said.

In May, the US announced it was abandoning the 2015 agreement and reimposing nuclear-related sanctions, threatening global companies with heavy penalties if they continue to operate in Iran.

In a bid to salvage the accord, the EU and European parties to the deal — Britain, France, and Germany — presented a series of economic “guarantees” to Iran last month, but they were deemed “insufficient” by Tehran.

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with a group of foreign ministry officials in Tehran, Iran. Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The sanctions that went into effect earlier in August target US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector, and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November.

US President Donald Trump has offered talks on a “more comprehensive deal” but Iran has balked at negotiating under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leaned on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.

Agencies contributed to this report.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-says-it-will-unveil-new-fighter-jet-continue-developing-missiles/

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Iran test-fires ballistic missile for first time in 2018

August 12, 2018

For the first time in more than a year, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile in a brazen display of defiance months after President Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark nuclear deal and days before his administration slapped new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, three U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch tell Fox News.

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The test of an Iranian Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile coincided with a large-scale naval exercise by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces late last week involving over 50 small gunboats in the Strait of Hormuz to rehearse “swarm” tactics which could one day potentially shut down the vital waterway, through which 30 percent of the world’s oil passes each year.

While the U.S. military publicly acknowledged the naval activity, the missile test from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base in Bandar-e-Jask in southeastern Iran has not been previously reported. The launch was detected by U.S. spy satellites.

According to the officials, the anti-ship Fateh-110 Mod 3 flew over 100 miles on a flight path over the Strait of Hormuz to a test range in the Iranian desert. “It was shore-to-shore,” said one U.S. official describing the launch, who like the others requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

There were no U.S. military assets nearby or in danger when Iran conducted the test, the official added. The guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans has been escorting vessels through the strait in recent days.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the Iranian ballistic missile launch.

Last week’s missile launch is the first known test of the Fateh-110 in over a year since a pair were launched on consecutive days in March 2017. One of the missiles last year destroyed a floating barge roughly 155 miles away, two U.S. officials said at the time.

The top American commander for U.S. forces in the Middle East told reporters Iran’s recent naval activity was meant to “send a message” to the United States.

“I think it’s pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach this period of the sanctions, they had some capabilities,” Gen. Joseph Votel said at the Pentagon Wednesday.

It’s not immediately clear if the missile test occurred Thursday or Friday, but U.S. officials say it occurred as part of Iran’s annual naval exercise, moved up from its typical fall timeframe ahead of the new sanctions imposed this week. “It’s routine to see Iran doing a missile test during this annual drill,” one official said.

Earlier this week, John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said the new U.S. sanctions placed on Iran Tuesday were meant to pressure the government in Tehran over its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.

In an interview on Fox News, Bolton said the new sanctions targeting Iran’s automotive and airline sectors were not to bring about “regime change” in Iran despite dozens of protests taking place throughout the country and its currency losing value.

U.N. resolution 2231 — put in place days after the Iran nuclear deal was signed — calls on the Islamic Republic not to conduct ballistic missile tests. The resolution bars Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years and went into effect July 20, 2015.

But critics say the resolution leaves wiggle room by saying Iran is “called upon” not forbidden from carrying out such tests.

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,” according to the text of the resolution.

Despite this most recent example of Iranian saber rattling, its notable Iran has not harassed any U.S. warships or aircraft in nearly a year. The last unsafe interaction occurred nearly a year ago on Aug. 14, 2017, when an Iranian drone flew too close to an F/A-18 Hornet attempting to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, according to the Navy.

Last September, Iranian state television aired footage of a ballistic missile launch of what Tehran described as a new type of medium-range ballistic missile hours after displaying the missile in a parade in Tehran, but the missile launch turned out to be fake and copy of a failed launch the previous January, according to U.S. officials.

The failed late January launch was first reported by Fox News and prompted the White House to put Iran “on notice” days later.

A year earlier, Iranian forces captured the crew of two small U.S. Navy patrol boats that strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf. The 10 American sailors were released roughly a day later.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/08/10/iran-test-fires-ballistic-missile-for-first-time-in-2018-officials-say.html

U.S.-Iran Sanctions Give China Lead in World’s Top Gas Field

August 12, 2018

China National Petroleum Corp. is expected to take the lead on a $5 billion project to develop Iran’s share of the world’s biggest gas deposit, taking over from France’s Total SA, which halted operations after U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

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State-owned CNPC, which had joined an original consortium involving Total and Iran’s Petropars Ltd. in 2016 to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars Gas field in the Persian Gulf, is set to increase its stake in the project from the current 30 percent. Total had originally agreed to take a 50.1 percent stake in the development.

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CNCP will become lead operating partner in the project, state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said, citing Mohammad Mostafavi, National Iranian Oil Company investments and business head. Terms of the contract have not yet officially changed, according to Shana, the oil ministry’s official news site. Calls to CNPC went unanswered on Sunday and a company spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg News email requesting comment.

Total, which finalized its agreement with Iran in July 2017, had already spent some 40 million euros ($45.7 million) on the project when Trump announced in May that the U.S. would exit the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimpose sanctions on Tehran lifted after the accord was signed.

Why Trump’s Sanctions on Iran Carry So Much Force: QuickTake

The first round of U.S. sanctions was put back into place this week, with more to come in November, greatly complicating efforts by companies that rushed into Iran after the 2015 nuclear accord was signed by Iran, the U.S. and five other countries plus the European Union.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to take steps to limit its nuclear program, and to submit to verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency in return for economic sanctions relief.

Scores of European companies, including Total, have withdrawn their operations and investments from the oil-rich Persian Gulf country since the U.S. reversal. Trump marked the return of sanctions with a tweet on Aug. 7: “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”

Iran, which holds the world’s largest gas reserves, shares South Pars, also known as the North Dome field, with neighboring Qatar.

Total had previously withdrawn from South Pars in 2009 because of sanctions. It planned an initial investment of $1 billion for Phase 11, with the aim of eventually producing 2 billion cubic feet a day, or 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day including condensate, the company said in a statement in July 2017. At the time, Total said the contract had a 20-year duration.

CNPC has been active in Iran since 2004, operating in oil, gas and oil-field services, according to the company’s website. In 2006, it was awarded a three-year contract to provide offshore well-logging and other services at South Pars.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-11/u-s-iran-sanctions-give-china-lead-in-world-s-biggest-gas-field

Iran Claims to Be Only Guarantor of Security in Strait of Hormuz

August 7, 2018
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A senior spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces underlined the country’s ability to establish security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, saying that no trans-regional power is entitled to interfere in this region’s security issues.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the guarantor of security in the Persian Gulf region and the Strait of Hormuz and no one but us should speak about security of this region,” Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

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Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi

“Security of the Strait of Hormuz is related to the superior power of this region which is Iran and whatever we do in the Persian Gulf region is aimed at establishing security,” he added.

Fars News (Iran)

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His remarks came in response to the US Navy which declared last Thursday that it stood ready to ensure free navigation and the flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz.

Meantime, Head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Public Relations Department and IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif announced on Sunday that the IRGC Navy staged massive drills last week in a show of power and might in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

“The drills were held with the aim of controlling and safeguarding the security of the international waterway and within the framework of the IRGC’s planned annual wargames and based on the calendar,” Sharif said.

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Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari

He added that after the drills, IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari appreciated and lauded the IRGC Navy and Aerospace Force for staging the successful wargames, and stressed the necessity for maintaining and enhancing all-out defensive preparedness to establish security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and confront enemies’ possible threats and adventurism in a proper way.

The wargames were held after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned his US counterpart Donald Trump last month against the unbearable costs and dire consequences of blocking Iran’s oil exports, saying belligerency against Iran would the “mother of wars”.

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Iranian navy patrol boat launches a missile. FILE photo

“The regional states are either afraid of the US or do not trust it. Anyone who understands politics a little bit would never say that he/she would prevent exports of Iran’s oil. We have many Straits. The Strait of Hormuz is just one of them,” President Rouhani said, addressing the Iranian ambassadors to foreign states in Tehran on Sunday, repeating his earlier tacit threat that Tehran would close off the Strait of Hormuz in response to any move by the US to zero its crude supplies.

He stressed that Iran has been the guarantor of security in the Strait of Hormuz all throughout the history, saying, “Mr. Trump! Do not twist the lion’s tail because you will regret. You are not able to provoke the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests.”

 

The Strait of Hormuz – a strategically critical passageway linking the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea which is crucial to shipping of global energy supplies – has emerged as a focal point in the escalating war of words between presidents Trump and Rouhani, after Iran threatened to block off the Persian Gulf if the US proceeds with fully implementing oil export sanctions on Iran.

“The Americans should come to realize this point well that peace with Iran would be the mother of all peaces and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars. We do not quiver from threats and we have a deterrent power. Today our internal unity is more than before, threats make us more coherent and we will definitely beat the US,” Rouhani said, and added, “We would sustain costs, but will earn greater interests.”

President Rouhani underscored that the new conditions created after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal is an opportunity for relations with the world, exports and home-made production, saying, “Today, talks with the US has no other meaning but surrendering and putting an end to the Iranian nation’s achievements. If we surrender to a liar bullying person like Trump, they will plunder Iran.”

Addressing a group of Iranians in Switzerland on July 2, President Rouhani had also said that “it would be meaningless that Iran cannot export its oil while others in the region can. Do this if you can and see its consequences”.

He also underlined that Tehran will never give in to pressure forced upon it by foreign countries.

After his remarks, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari warned the US not to make any stupid move to halt Iran’s oil exports, and said the IRGC is fully prepared to implement the latest position adopted by President Rouhani with regard to closing the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

“We stand ready to put in action President Hassan Rouhani’s latest position that if Tehran were not able to export its crude oil through the Strait of Hormuz, no other country would be able to do so,” General Jafari said.

Also, Commander of the IRGC Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani appreciated President Rouhani for both his remarks against Israel and his warning against any possible US move to stop Iran’s oil exports.

“What has been released in the media about your remarks that if the Islamic Republic of Iran’s oil is not exported, there will be no guarantee for export of oil from any other point in this region, and the highly valuable remarks about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position on the Zionist regime is a source of pride and honor,” General Soleimani said in a letter to Rouhani.

He praised President Rouhani for his timely, wise and correct comments, and underlined his preparedness to exercise any policy that is in the interest of the Islamic Republic.

Also, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on Saturday supported President Rouhani’s remarks that any attempt to block Iran’s oil sales would have dire consequences, including for other regional states’ crude exports.

“President’s remarks in his recent trip to Europe stating, ‘if Iran’s oil export is blocked, no other country in the region will export oil either’, is a crucial remark expressing the Islamic Republic’s approach,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in Tehran, addressing the foreign minister, staff and officials of the ministry of foreign affairs, as well as Iranian ambassadors and senior diplomats serving abroad.

He asked the foreign ministry to sternly follow up on such stances by the President.

Elsewhere, Ayatollah Khamenei referred to his earlier warnings that the Americans’ words or even signatures cannot be relied on, and said, “Thus, negotiations with the US are useless. The assumption that negotiations or establishing ties with the US would solve the country’s problems is an obvious error.”

“The US has fundamental issues with the essence of the Islamic establishment. Moreover, there are many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America which have relations with the United States, yet they are facing plenty of problems,” he added.

The US authorities seek to return to the position and status they enjoyed in Iran before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and they will not be content with anything less than that, Ayatollah Khamenei warned.

He, meantime, called for continued talks with the European states, but said that the country should make more progress and take the necessary measures to resolve problems without waiting for their package of proposals.

Trump announced on May 8 that Washington would no longer remain part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and promised to re-impose the highest level of economic sanctions against Iran.

The sanctions reinstated on Iran on May 8 included boycott of Iran’s crude supplies and bans on transfer of its crude revenues. There is a 180 days interval before these sanctions come into effect. Other US secondary sanctions are reinstated this month.

After Trump’s declaration, the Iranian government issued a statement, calling the US withdrawal as “unlawful”. The statement underlined Iran’s prerequisites for continuing the deal with the five world powers. These conditions that were reiterated later by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei later mainly included Iran’s guaranteed crude sales and transfer of its revenues back home.

Two months later, the other five powers party to the nuclear deal have failed to satisfy Iran. President Rouhani voiced his disappointment over a recent package of incentives proposed by the European Union countries to Tehran, and said that the Islamic Republic expected a much better, clearer and explicit stance by the EU.

“Unfortunately, the EU’s package of proposals lacked an operational solution and a specific method for cooperation, and featured just a set of general commitments like the previous statements by the European Union,” President Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 5.

President Rouhani pointed to US’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and said, “After the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran has been dealing with economic issues and problems in banking relations and oil, and foreign companies that have invested in Iran are skeptical about continuing their business.”

The Iranian president, however, said that the package proposed by the three European countries (the UK, Germany, and France) on how they are going to live up to their commitments and cooperation under the JCPOA was “disappointing”.

President Rouhani reiterated that the JCPOA was a mutual commitment, and said, “Iran had expected a clear plan from the three European countries after the two months’ time they have been given to come up with solid guarantees to ensure Iran’s economic interests would continue to be met despite US pullout and reinstatement of sanctions.”

The Iranian president, however, said that Tehran would continue cooperation with Europe if the outcome of the July 6 Vienna talks would be promising.

“If the process of the European foreign ministers’ meeting in Vienna, which is aimed at encouraging Iran to cooperate, is promising, we will continue our cooperation with Europe,” Rouhani added.

But the Vienna talks July 6 among foreign ministers from Iran and the five world powers (Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain) failed to satisfy Iran with senior officials in Tehran complaining that the Europeans had offered nothing new to ensure Iran’s continued merits under the deal.

On July 8, the Iranian parliament’s research center has readied a comprehensive plan that includes a detailed list of policies and moves to fight off sanctions as Washington sped up attempts to rally international support for intensified pressures on Tehran.

The comprehensive “active anti-sanctions plan” that has been compiled at the parliament research center after long studies and consultations with experts from Iranian research and academic centers, traders and entrepreneurs is now under study by senior Judiciary, Parliament and Government officials for a final editing.

The program that mainly aims to make the country “unsanctionable” has been developed in contrast to the US sanctions program and has reportedly been edited seven times so far, several MPs told FNA.

Information obtained by FNA reveals the program offers a package that also involves social and cultural measures to reinvigorate the country’s economy and infrastructure against the US sanctions that come into effect from 90 to 180 days after their re-imposition and seek to wear off Iran’s economy step-by-step.

The plan also entails specific time-based nuclear, security and political leverages that would be enforced in reprisal for enemy threats, while it also envisages transient waivers that could be extended, halted or annulled based on relevant decisions by authorities.

The plan to make Iran sanction-proof includes detailed measures in two 90-120 days and 180-210 days periods in various areas of monetary, banking and currency sector, liquidity management and deterring middlemen disruption and negative interference, optimized forex reserves management, facilitated money transfer in the international market, reduction of intermediary currency role, strategic commodities, budget resources and use, energy, business, trade, structures, culture, society, media and legal affairs.

Meantime, several other plans have also been compiled by university and research centers for improving economy through reinvigoration of national potentials to make the country sanctions-proof.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970515000796

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards says it held war games in Gulf — But offers no videos

August 5, 2018

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Sunday it had held war games in the Gulf over the past several days, saying they were aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies, the state news state news agency IRNA reported.

U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday that the United States believed Iran had started carrying out naval exercises in the Gulf, apparently moving up the timing of annual drills amid heightened tensions with Washington.

“This exercise was conducted with the aim of controlling and safeguarding the safety of the international waterway and within the framework of the programme of the Guards’ annual military exercises,” Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif said, according to IRNA.

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Ramezan Sharif

The U.S. military’s Central Command on Wednesday confirmed it has seen increased Iranian naval activity. The activity extended to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments the Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block.

Sharif “expressed satisfaction over the successful conduct of the Guards naval exercise, emphasising the need to maintain and enhance defence readiness and the security of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and to confront threats and potential adventurous acts of enemies,” IRNA said.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said possibly more than 100 vessels were involved in the drills, including small boats.

U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the drills appeared designed to send a message to Washington, which is intensifying its economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but so far stopping short of using the U.S. military to more aggressively counter Iran and its proxies.

Iran has been furious over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme and re-impose sanctions on Tehran. Senior Iranian officials have warned the country would not easily yield to a renewed U.S. campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

But Iran did not appear interested in drawing attention to the drills. Iranian authorities had not commented on them earlier and several officials contacted by Reuters this week had declined to comment.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Larry King

Reuters

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on “War Footing” in Strait of Hormuz

August 2, 2018

IRGC exercise in Strait of Hormuz expected to be larger than in the past, with timing suggesting it is tied to recent threats to shut key oil shipping lane

Iranian navy personnel celebrate after successfully launching a Ghader missile from the Jask port area on the shores of the Gulf of Oman during a drill near the Strait of Hormuz, Tuesday, January 1, 2013. (AP/Jamejam Online, Azin Haghighi)

Iranian navy personnel celebrate after successfully launching a Ghader missile from the Jask port area on the shores of the Gulf of Oman during a drill near the Strait of Hormuz, Tuesday, January 1, 2013. (AP/Jamejam Online, Azin Haghighi)

Iranian forces are expected to launch a major exercise in the strategic Strait of Hormuz likely aimed at demonstrating an ability to close the key oil shipping lane, US officials told CNN Wednesday.

The drill by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the US officials said was likely to begin in the next two days, comes days after the country’s president threatened that it could close off the strategic waterway in response to the reimposition of US sanctions.

While Iranian forces drill in the Strait of Hormuz annually, one US official told the station that the exercise being planned appeared to be larger than those in years past and was timed unusually late in the year, indicating it was likely tied to recent tensions.

William Urban, chief spokesman for US Central Command, said the the military was closely monitoring Iranian troops movements in the area.

“We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways,”  he told CNN.

In this Tuesday, March 21, 2017 photograph, an Omani naval vessel sails alongside the USS George H.W. Bush as it travels through the Strait of Hormuz. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

The Strait, a narrow passageway between Iran and Oman, is a key waterway through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes and it has been the scene of previous confrontations between the United States and Iran.

On July 22, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani gave a speech in which he threatened that Iran could block the passageway.

Satellite view of the Strait of Hormuz (photo credit: NASA/Public domain)

Satellite view of the Strait of Hormuz (photo credit: NASA/Public domain)

“We have always guaranteed the security of this strait. Do not play with the lion’s tail, you will regret it forever,” he said.

“Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars.”

The speech drew a furious response from US president Donald Trump, who warned Rouhani with dire consequences in an all-caps tweet.

“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Trump said on Twitter in a direct message to Rouhani.

Trump later said he would be willing to meet with Rouhani to negotiate a new nuclear deal, but the idea has been with a cool reception in Iran.

Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in May, and sanctions are set to kick back in within months. Iran’s currency has taken a nose dive in recent days as the looming sanctions have wreaked havoc on international investment in the country.

On Tuesday, the head of Iran’s navy said keeping the Strait of Hormuz operating was dependent on sanctions not being reimposed.

“The Strait of Hormuz remaining open hinges on Iran’s interests and the international community should live up to its obligations towards the Islamic Republic,” Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said, according to state-run media.

A number of other senior Iranian officials, including the head of the IRGC, have threatened that Tehran could close the strait at any time.

Times of Israel

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-forces-gearing-up-for-massive-drill-in-strategic-waterway-report/

Related:

Iran Military Planning Major Exercise, Show of Strength with Over 100 Warships, Republican Guard Vessels

August 2, 2018

The United States believes Iran is preparing to carry out a major exercise in the Gulf in the coming days, apparently moving up the timing of annual drills amid heightened tensions with Washington, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Iran has been furious over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. Senior Iranian officials have warned the country would not easily yield to a renewed U.S. campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

The U.S. military’s Central Command confirmed that it has seen an increase in Iranian activity, including in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block.

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Iranian navy patrol boat launches a missile. FILE photo

“We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman,” said Navy Captain Bill Urban, the chief spokesman at Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East.

“We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways,” Urban added.

Urban did not provide further information or comment on questions about the expected Iranian drills.

But U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has appeared to prepare more than 100 vessels for exercises. Hundreds of ground forces could also be involved.

They said the drills could begin within the next 48 hours, although the precise timing was unclear.

Details of the Iranian preparations were first reported by CNN.

U.S. officials said the timing of the drills appeared designed to send a message to Washington, which is intensifying its economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but so far stopping short of using the U.S. military to more aggressively counter Iran and its proxies.

Trump’s policies are already putting significant pressure on the Iranian economy, although U.S. intelligence suggests they may ultimately rally Iranians against the United States and strengthen Iran’s hardline rulers, officials say.

Iran’s currency plumbed new depths this week as Iranians brace for Aug. 7 when Washington is due to reimpose a first lot of economic sanctions following Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

A number of protests have broken out in Iran since the beginning of the year over high prices, water shortage, power cuts and alleged corruption.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people rallied in cities including Isfahan, Karaj, Shiraz and Ahvaz in protest against high inflation caused in part by the weak rial.

Reuters

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by James Dalgleish

See also SPUTNIK:

Iran’s Navy Assembles Near Mouth of Persian Gulf, US ‘Monitoring it Closely’

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201808021066873307-Iran-Navy-Drills-Persian-Gulf-Hormuz-Monitoring/

Trump seeks to revive ‘Arab NATO’ to confront Iran

July 29, 2018

The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to US and Arab officials.

 

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The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties, four sources said.

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The White House’s hope is that the effort, tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), might be discussed at a summit provisionally scheduled for Washington on Oct. 12-13, several sources said.

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The White House confirmed it was working on the concept of the alliance with “our regional partners now and have been for several months.”

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Sources from some of the Arab countries involved also said they were aware of renewed efforts to activate the plan. Officials from other potential participants did not respond to requests for comment.

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“MESA will serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism, and will bring stability to the Middle East,” a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said.

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The spokesperson declined to confirm that Trump would host a summit on those dates and sources cautioned that it remains uncertain whether the security plan will be finalized by mid-October. Similar initiatives by previous US administrations to develop a more formal alliance with Gulf and Arab allies have failed in the past.

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Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi accuse Iran of destabilizing the region, fomenting unrest in some Arab countries through proxy groups and increasingly threatening Israel.

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It is unclear how the alliance could immediately counter Tehran but the Trump administration and its Arab allies have joint interests in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as defending Gulf shipping lanes through which much of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.

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A senior Iranian official told Reuters the approach would have “no result” beyond “deepening the gaps between Iran, its regional allies and the US-backed Arab countries.”

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An Iranian made ballistic missile is launched from Yemen by Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia — Reuters file photo

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As Trump pursues his “America First” policy, the White House is eager to have US allies worldwide shoulder more of the burden in confronting regional security threats.

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The UAE is ready to deploy more troops across the Middle East to counter its foes, as it believes it can no longer rely on Western allies like the US and Britain, UAE Minister Anwar Gargash said on Thursday.

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Setting up a regional anti-missile defense shield, which the US and Gulf countries have discussed for years without result, would be a goal for the alliance, a source familiar with the plan said, as well as training to upgrade the countries’ militaries.

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Tension with Iran has increased since Trump announced in May that the US was pulling out of a 2015 international deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. On Monday, Iran dismissed a warning from Trump that it risked dire consequences “the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the US.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1347291/world

Related:

 

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On Thursday, Iran’s Quds force chief Qassem Soleimani said the Red Sea was no longer safe due to the presence of U.S. forces.

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© AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran