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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 14, 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…

Zarif in New York: On War and U.S. Talks

July 16, 2019
Updated: July 23, 2019
Foreign Minister Zarif attended U.N. meetings in New York from July 15-19. During which he did interviews with several journalists and television networks. The following are excerpts from three television interviews. He also did a separate interview with print correspondents available at this link…

Democratic Candidates on Iran

July 12, 2019
The majority of Democratic presidential candidates have called for returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, although some believe the agreement should be revised and strengthened. They have criticized the Trump administration for escalating tensions with Iran and raising the potential for an armed…

Khamenei at 80: In His Words

July 11, 2019
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hit political and personal milestones in 2019. In June, he marked 30 years as supreme leader, making him the second-longest serving head-of-state in the Middle East (after Sultan Qaboos of Oman). On July 16, he turns 80, making him one of the oldest leaders in the region.…

The Impact: Iran Breaches Nuclear Deal

July 8, 2019
By Kelsey Davenport   Since July 1, Iran has engaged in two breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal. On July 1, it increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium above the 300-kilogram limit. On July 8, it increased enrichment from the limit of 3.67 percent to 4.5 percent. Iran had previously complied…

Iran's Military Might

July 3, 2019
Updated: July 8, 2019
Iran has two separate militaries. Its conventional forces, known as the Artesh, include an army, navy and air force. It is the largest wing, with a total of about 400,000 personnel. Its mission is to protect the independence and territorial integrity of Iran; it has historically focused on first-…

Joint Commission on Preserving Nuclear Deal

July 1, 2019
On June 28, representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Iran met in Vienna to discuss ways to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The meeting was co-chaired on behalf of Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political…

Congress Divided on Authorizing War with Iran

June 28, 2019
Updated: July 15, 2019
In separate votes, the House and Senate split over whether to limit President Trump’s authority to launch military action against Iran. On July 12, the House passed a bipartisan amendment that would prohibit funding U.S. military operations without congressional approval. The vote was 251-170’ 27…

Part 2: Iran Responds to Sanctions on Supreme Leader, IRGC

June 25, 2019
Updated: June 26, 2019
Iranian leaders condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on the supreme leader and senior IRGC commanders. Trump characterized the move as a “proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” referring to the downing of a U.S. drone on June 20 and attacks on…

Watchdog Reimposes Financial Restrictions on Iran

June 24, 2019
On June 21, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) reimposed restrictions on Iran which had been suspended since October 2016. The FATF is an inter-governmental body of 36 countries that sets standards for countering the financing of terrorism and money laundering. During the FATF conference in…

Part 1: U.S. Sanctions Supreme Leader

June 24, 2019
On June 24, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order imposing sanctions on the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He is respected within his country. His office oversees the…

Part 3: Congressional Reaction to Drone Attack

June 21, 2019
Updated: June 25, 2019
U.S. lawmakers have been divided over how to handle the downing of a U.S. drone by Iran on June 20. The split is largely along party lines. Democrats called for restraint from the Trump administration. Many were concerned that a military response could lead to a regional conflict. “The high tension…

Part 2: Iran Responds to Drone Incident

June 21, 2019
Updated: June 27, 2019
Iranian officials disputed the Pentagon’s claim that the U.S. drone was shot down over international waters late on June 19. Iran claimed that it only fired on the RQ-4 Global Hawk after it violated its air space and did not respond to radio warnings. "At that time since it was a spy drone, [we]…

U.S. Report on Religious Freedom in Iran

June 21, 2019
On June 21, the State Department released its annual “Report on International Religious Freedom,” which accused Iran of multiple violations of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. “Non-Shia Muslims and those affiliated with a religion other than Islam, especially members of the Baha’i…

Maps and Videos of Iran Crisis

June 20, 2019
The following maps, videos and graphics provide context for escalating tensions between Iran and the United States in 2019.    Map of May-June 2019 Incidents   Department of Defense Map of U.S. Drone Flight Path   Active Duty U.S. Troops Sources: Defense Manpower Data Center for…

Part 1: Iran Downs U.S. Drone near Strait of Hormuz

June 20, 2019
Updated: June 25, 2019
At around 4:00 a.m. on June 20, Iranian forces shot down a U.S. military drone over or near the Strait of Hormuz. It marked a significant escalation in tensions between Iran and the United States. The countries had conflicting versions of what happened.   The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (…

U.S. Report on Human Trafficking in Iran

June 20, 2019
On June 20, the State Department released its annual “Trafficking in Persons Report,” which again designated Iran as a Tier 3 country, the lowest ranking possible. “The Government of Iran does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant…

Part 3: International Response to Tanker Crisis

June 17, 2019
Updated: June 24, 2019
The international community had mixed reactions to the attacks on two tankers, which took place in the Gulf of Oman on June 13. Britain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shared the U.S. assessment that Iran was responsible. “We have done our own intelligence assessment and the…