News Digest: Week of May 10

May 10

Diplomacy: E.U. foreign affair chief Josep Borrell said that he was "optimistic" about indirect negotiations in Vienna aimed at getting the United States and Iran back in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. "There is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks, (until) end of the month," he told reporters in Brussels.

Military: The USSCG Maui, a Coast Guard cutter, fired 30 warning shots after 13 Revolutionary Guard Navy fast boats came within 150 yards of six U.S. military vessels, which were escorting the guided-missile submarine Georgia. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the number of Iranian boats involved was notably higher than in other recent encounters. The IRGC denied the U.S. account and said that the warning shots were “provocative.” 

Protests: Iran sent a formal letter of protest to the Iraqi ambassador in Tehran over Iraq's failure to protect the Iranian consulate in Karbala. “Iran strongly condemns attacks on its diplomatic sites in Iraq,” foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. Iraqi protesters blocked roads and burned tires outside the Karbala consulate after a prominent activist was assassinated.

May 11

Military: The Revolutionary Guards killed seven anti-government militants near the Turkish border, state media reported. Iran has previously fought armed Kurdish opposition groups in the border region.

Nuclear: Iran has enriched uranium to 63 percent, the IAEA reported. The level of enrichment was "consistent with the fluctuations of the enrichment levels (described by Iran)," the agency told member states. 


May 12

Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran was "ready for close ties with Saudi Arabia." His remarks followed a meeting with President Bashar al Assad during a visit to Syria. “I am sure our Syrian brothers have always welcomed cooperation in the Arab world," Zarif added. "And we are also in that mood.”

Elections: Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered as a presidential candidate, Reuters reported. The hardliner politician, like other candidates, would be vetted by the Guardian Council before being allowed to run in the June elections. In 2017, the Guardian Council disqualified Ahmadinejad from running for the presidency.