Flashpoint / Global 22 January 2020 Tehran Share Facebook Twitter Email Print Back To Map I. Why it Matters Iran is at a critical moment in its post-revolutionary history. As Ayatollah Khamenei’s succession looms, internal tensions are rising over the Islamic Republic’s fate with its unique combination of republican and theocratic features. Iran’s regional position has been ascendant since 2003, and even more so since 2011, with a string of successes for its allies and proxies. But what Tehran views as safeguarding its strategic depth the U.S. and its allies see as evidence of a malign Iranian ambition for regional dominance. These divergent perceptions and interpretations raise the risks of confrontation and could drive the final nail in the JCPOA’s coffin. II. Recent Developments 22 January 2020 Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal expressed his government’s willingness to negotiate with Iran, adding that “it is really up to Iran”. He noted that talks would require Tehran’s acknowledgement that Iran “cannot further its regional agenda through violence”. In related remarks, a senior Saudi official called Iran “the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world” and reiterated: “pressure needs to be continued on Iran”. Asserting that “the Iranians have to show good faith… change their behaviour and their policies”, he also stated that if Iran “want to be treated as a normal country, they should act as one”. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif subsequently took to Twitter to maintain that “’normal’ countries don’t operate abattoirs disguised as consulates. ‘Normal’ countries don’t attack their neighbours, cause a humanitarian crisis and refuse to talk. Nonetheless, we don’t set preconditions for dialogue”. View More 22 January 2020 A Basij commander in south-western Iran was assassinated by unknown individuals. View More 22 January 2020 Discussing the E3’s 14 January decision to trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism, President Rouhani maintained: “the day you [ie, E3] return to your commitments, we will be committed as well the same day, and if you do not return, no matter how much you chant slogans and hold meetings and make threats, it is worthless… If you violate a commitment, you are responsible for all its consequences". He went on to emphasise that "even if the JCPOA and the Safeguards are gone, whether our country's relations with the IAEA are good or bad, we will not seek nuclear weapons. This is based on our dear Leader’s fatwa and ethical commitments. But in the meantime, we also want to have good relations with you. If you live up to your commitments, we will too”. View More 20 January 2020 Referring to the E3’s 14 January decision to trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif asserted that “if the Europeans take another step [and send Iran’s nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council], Iran will consider leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”. Zarif further indicated that “Iran is designing a new and more effective step that will be taken in case the Europeans do not fulfill their responsibilities to the deal and continue their claims before leaving NPT”. View More 18 January 2020 President Rouhani remarked that “we will take any opportunity for settling issues with the world, and we will not hesitate. Wherever the enemies express remorse and respect the rights of the Iranian nation, we are ready to settle our problems with them”. View More 17 January 2020 Referring to the UK, France and Germany’s 14 January decision to trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei remarked that “it has been proven that they are truly the footmen of the U.S.”. “These abject countries”, Khamenei continued, “look forward to bringing the Iranian nation to its knees. The U.S. who was bigger than you, your master and your leader, was unable to bring the Iranian nation to its knees. You are not powerful enough to [do so]”. He also stated that Iran’s January 8 attack against Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces had “destroy[ed] the dignity and awe of the tyrannical, arrogant U.S. government. However, the main punishment will be expulsion [of the U.S.] from the region”. On negotiation, Khamenei emphasised that “we are not afraid of negotiating. Of course, we will not negotiate with the U.S., rather we will negotiate with others. And we will not negotiate from a position of weakness, rather, from a position of strength and power. We are thankfully strong and we will even become stronger by Allah’s favor”. View More 17 January 2020 Citing U.S. statements in support of the Iranian people, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei riposted that “if you are standing by the Iranian people, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers. Of course, you have so far failed to do so, and you will certainly continue to fail”. President Trump subsequently responded in both Persian and English that “the noble people of Iran – who love America – deserve a government that's more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect. Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and make Iran great again!” The same day, Trump said that “the so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the U.S. and Europe. Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” View More 17 January 2020 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif emphasised that "we are ready for negotiations with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf littoral states and we are ready to give proposals regarding security in this region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz”. View More 16 January 2020 Following the UK, France and Germany’s 14 January decision to trigger the 2015 nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif cited media reports to contend “appeasement confirmed. E3 sold out remnants of JCPOA to avoid new Trump tariffs. It won’t work my friends. You only whet his appetite”. “Do not assume high moral or legal ground”, Zarif added. “You don’t have it”. View More 16 January 2020 President Rouahni remarked that "communication with the outside world and foreign policy are important and we cannot say that everyone is our enemy… We have to see what we can do and is there a way or not? There are disagreements in this regard”. He also indicated that “we are enriching more than what we did before the JCPOA. Things are not easy, but we realise that the world of politics, security and economics are closely intertwined”. View More 14 January 2020 The UK, France and Germany announced that “we have… been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPOA and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the JCPOA”. “We do this in good faith with the overarching objective of preserving the JCPOA and in the sincere hope of finding a way forward”, the E3 statement added, further maintaining that “our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran”. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif characterised the E3’s action as “baseless from a legal point of view and a strategic mistake from political point of view”, while President Rouhani cautioned the Europeans that “if you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Choose the right path, which is returning to the JCPOA”. U.S. Treasury Secretary Munuchin indicated that “we look forward to working with them [ie, the E3] quickly and would expect that the UN sanctions will snap back into place”. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “we know exactly what is happening with the Iranian nuclear program. Iran thinks it can achieve nuclear weapons. I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons”. Netanyahu went on to “call on all Western countries to impose snapback sanctions at the UN now”. View More 13 January 2020 In a meeting with the Syrian prime minister, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani emphasised that “as long as terrorist forces of the U.S. stay in the west Asia region, this region will experience no stability, peace or sustainable security… expulsion of the wicked U.S. is possible through unity of regional nations and governments”. View More 11 January 2020 Iran’s military admitted that it had on January 8 shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, citing “human error”. President Rouhani explained that “in the atmosphere of threats and intimidation by the aggressive American regime against the Iranian nation after the martyrdom of General Qassem Soleimani, and in order to defend ourselves against possible attacks by the American army, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran were on full alert, which unfortunately led to this terrible catastrophe”. “Iran is deeply sorry by this disastrous mistake”, Rouhani added. View More 8 January 2020 The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, assessed that Iranian missiles launched at the Ain al-Assad base on 8 January “were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft, and to kill personnel”. The commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force maintained that “the strikes were not meant to cause fatalities. We… intended to deliver a blow to the enemy’s military machine”. He further argued that “destroying the central command centre lying within Ain al-Assad” was the operation’s primary objective. View More 8 January 2020 Media reports cited a confidential UN report assessing that “Huthi forces did not launch the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais on 14 September 2019” because the missiles used in the attack did not “have a sufficient range to have been launched from Yemeni territory under the control of the Huthis”. “Abqaiq and Khurais were approached respectively from a north/northwestern and north/northeastern direction, rather than from the south, as one would expect in the case of a launch from Yemeni territory”, the report added. View More 8 January 2020 Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described Iran’s attacks against Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops as a “slap” and stated: “what is important about confrontation is that the military action as such is not sufficient. What is important is that the seditious American presence in the region must end”. He further asserted that U.S. officials “keep insisting on negotiation, but these things are a prelude to intervention". President Rouhani underscored that “if America wants to commit another crime from now on, it must know that it will receive a stronger response”. View More 8 January 2020 Iran launched what the Pentagon subsequently assessed were sixteen ballistic missiles into Iraq. According to the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, these struck “two Iraqi bases that hosted American and coalition troops”. In a statement confirming the operation, which followed the killing by the U.S. of Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC warned that “all U.S. allies who give their bases to its terrorist army that any territory that in any way becomes the starting point of hostile and aggressive acts against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted”. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif emphasised that “Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials were launched”. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression”, he added. President Trump’s initial response to the Iranian operation came by tweet, stating that “all is well”. View More 7 January 2020 Following the killing by the U.S. of Iran’s Qods Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani claimed that Iran had "13 revenge scenarios". “Even the weakest of the 13… will be a historic nightmare for America”, he asserted, adding that “we are aware of the conditions of their military equipment and monitoring the smallest developments [in the region]… If the American forces do not leave our region vertically, we will make their bodies go horizontally”. Relatedly, a senior IRGC official contended that “people similar to [Soleimani] will take a harsh revenge but we will decide about the time and geography of revenge, not the enemies”. View More 7 January 2020 Following the killing by the U.S. of Iran’s Qods Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s Parliament unanimously passed a motion designating “all members of the Pentagon, the affiliated companies and institutes and commanders and those who ordered for the assassination” as terrorists. The Parliament also asked the government to allocate 200 million euros to the IRGC Qods Force “to reinforce its defence power in vengeance for General Soleimani’s assassination”. View More 7 January 2020 Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif contended that “denying me a visa [to attend a UN Security Council meeting] in violation of 1947 UNHQ Agreement pales in comparison to: [Secretary] Pompeo's threat to starve Iranians (crime against humanity); Trump's bluster about cultural heritage (war crime); economic terrorism; cowardly assassination. But what are they really afraid of? Truth?” View More 7 January 2020 Discussing the killing by the U.S. of Iran’s Qods Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif asserted that “this is an act of aggression against Iran and amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionally not disproportionally… [and] lawfully”. “The U.S. took an act of war against Iran; it will have to be prepared for the consequences”, Zarif warned. “Then it will have to decide whether it wants to get itself into a quagmire or whether it wants to stop”. “We have nothing against the American people”, he added, “but their government is taking them into the abyss and they should take charge of their own destiny”. View More 6 January 2020 At the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, his replacement as Qods Force commander, Esmael Ghaani, pledged that “giant steps will be taken in line with eradication of presence of the U.S. in the region”. A senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asserted that “we will take revenge for the blood of martyr General Soleimani… [The] U.S. and its allies should know that if they keep going, Islamic Republic of Iran will turn West Asia into another Vietnam for them”. View More 5 January 2020 Following the killing by the U.S. of Iran’s Qods Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, a senior IRGC Navy official stressed that “the IRGC Navy is prepared and waiting impatiently to continue the causes and goals for which Hajj Qassem was martyred, take the big revenge from the criminals, culprits and supporters of this crime and unveil the revolutionary wrath of the Islamic world towards the Zionist [ie, Israeli] and U.S. stream and it is standing the order to start execution of the guidelines and teachings of the Supreme Leader”. View More 5 January 2020 Iran announced that “for the fifth step in reducing its [JCPOA] commitments, the Islamic Republic of Iran abandons the last key point of the operational restrictions under the JCPOA, namely the ‘limitation on the number of the centrifuge machines’”. “Iran’s nuclear program will be no more subject to any restrictions in the operational sphere (including the enrichment capacity, percentage of enrichment, the volume of enriched materials, and research and development)”, the statement added. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif highlighted that “this step is within [the] JCPOA and all five steps are reversible upon effective implementation of reciprocal obligations”. “Iran's full cooperation with the IAEA will continue”, he added. View More 3 January 2020 Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei elevated Esmail Qaani to head of the IRGC Qods Force following the death of Qassem Soleimani. View More 3 January 2020 Reacting to the killing of the IRGC Qods force commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. strike on January 2, President Rouhani emphasised that "there is no doubt that the great nation of Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge on this gruesome crime from criminal America". In a statement, the IRGC claimed that Soleimani's killing "open[s] a new chapter in the path of anti-Zionism resistance and fighting occupying American terrorists in the region". Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, insisted that “the U.S.'s act of international terrorism, targeting and assassinating General Soleimani – the most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), al-Nusrah, al-Qaeda et al – is extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation. The U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism”. View More 2 January 2020 The head of the IRGC's Qods force, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. strike in Baghdad. The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that "at the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani”, adding that "Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region". Iran confirmed Soleimani’s death, and the IRGC said that four other Qods force members along with five Iraqis, notably including a senior Hashd official, were also killed in the operation. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei subsequently asserted that "enemies should bear in mind that the Islamic Republic of Iran will take tough revenge on criminals over the martyrdom of General Soleimani". View More 2 January 2020 IRGC Commander Hossein Salami emphasised that “the Iranian nation has not started war in the past incidents but it annihilates any aggressor and the U.S. is aware of this… we are not worried about the U.S. threats and it is them who should be worried”. Referring to the 31 December attack on the U.S. Embassy in, Salami contended that it was “a testimony to our power is that the U.S. blames Iran wherever it faces defeat… We do not interfere in countries’ internal affairs”. “We do not lead the country to war, but we are not afraid of any war, and we are telling America to use a proper language in the face of the Iranian nation”, he added. View More 1 January 2020 Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei contended that U.S. strikes against Kataeb Hizbollah bases in Iraq and Syria on 29 December was “revenge for ISIS from al-Hashd al-Shaabi because al-Hashd al-Shaabi cropped and destroyed ISIS, which they had created and developed… I condemn the American’s malice”. Citing President Trump’s tweets about Iran’s responsibility for turmoil at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and his warnings that Iran could “pay a very big price”, Khamenei riposted that Trump “can’t do anything”, adding that “the people of this region hate the U.S. government”. He went on to say that “We will never lead the country to war, but if others want to impose something on us, we will stand up to them powerfully”. View More 1 January 2020 Referring to November protests in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khameni posited that “people had demands. The enemy, who had prepared some agents, seized the opportunity and began the destruction… The agents of sedition tried to hide themselves among the people”. He further assessed that “those who abuse the demands of the people are usually linked to the enemy’s intelligence services. There are those who cover their faces and attack gas [stations] and wheat warehouses to set them on fire and try to destroy the infrastructure in the city – whether it is the people’s or the government’s property. Some may do such things in the excitement, but the main leaders are affiliated with foreign intelligence services”. View More 1 January 2020 President Rouhani acknowledged that “if we were in normal conditions without sanctions imposed on us, we would have at least $60 billion in oil revenues this year; therefore, the government is under pressure”. He went to assert: "I am not a person to lose any chance… If all our principles are respected, I will hold a meeting and negotiate, as we have done before. We are not to blame for today’s conditions and we have not violated our commitments”. “They [ie, the enemy] make suggestions for negotiation, and whenever we see that the interests and rights of the nation are being met, we will not hesitate to solve the problems of the people”, Rouhani added. View More 31 December 2019 Discussing the 31 December attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo maintained that “what you saw was Iranian-backed terrorists – many of them are individuals that have been designated terrorists by the U.S. and others – come into the American embassy and posing a risk to American diplomats and personnel inside the embassy”. Pompeo also underscored that “we’re committed to the project that we began when we made the policy decision at President Trump’s direction that we were going to push back against the Islamic Republic of Iran to create stability throughout the Middle East. We’re still fully committed to that mission set”. The following day, Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson said that the U.S. was “blaming the Islamic Republic of Iran for the protests from the Iraqi people against their own ferocious measures in a blatant and cheap act of pinning the blame on others”. View More 30 December 2019 President Rouhani predicted that “the time of sanctions and pressure against the Iranian nation will come to an end one day, because the enemies and ill-wishers have understood that they cannot force us to surrender with maximum pressures… the enemies have waged a fully-fledged economic war against Iran, in which they have so far been unsuccessful”. He went on to assert that “our people understand well who has put pressure on them. I[f] we began the war, it would be correct to be under question about why we did it, but we have lived up to our commitments”. View More 30 December 2019 In a statement following 29 December U.S. strikes against Kataeb Hizbollah bases in Iraq and Syria, the IRGC said the operation “was a violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty” and contended that “the Iraqi people and PMU [Popular Mobilisation Units] have the right to retaliate and respond to the recent great U.S. crime”. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson commented that “the U.S. has demonstrated its decisive support for terrorism and disregard for the independence and sovereignty of nations by launching these attacks”, adding that “it must accept the responsibility for the consequences of such illegal measure”. View More 29 December 2019 Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif maintained that Iran’s trilateral drill with Russia and China "shows that Iran is willing to cooperate [with other countries] to ensure the security and the free passage of maritime traffic in the important international waterway of Hormuz". A senior Iranian navy official asserted that “the friends of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the region will be very happy with this move but those who seek to impose undesirable security arrangements, such as the Americans and their sidekicks, will receive a highly significant message from this drill”. “The era of inroads by the Americans in the region has ended and they have to gradually leave the region”, he added. The official further stressed that “the countries of the region can help establish security together and we hope that other countries will join us in the future”. View More 27 December 2019 Iran, Russia and China held a trilateral naval drill in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif asserted that “Iran has long stated its readiness to work with our neighbours to secure the Persian Gulf. HOPE (Hormuz Peace Endeavour) is on the table right now. Our joint military drills… with our Russian and Chinese partners make clear our broader commitment to secure vital waterways”. A senior Iranian navy official remarked that “the message of this exercise is peace, friendship and lasting security through cooperation and unity… and its effect will be to show that Iran cannot be isolated”. View More 25 December 2019 President Rouhani indicated that “if today the 5+1 countries have the determination to live up to all their commitments and want to correct their past mistakes, we are ready for negotiation… In the recent visit to Japan we announced it clearly and we received suggestions from the Japanese side and us as well that we will follow”. View More 23 December 2019 The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, asserted that “the Reuters report on the massacre ordered by Khamenei underscores the urgency for the international community to punish the perpetrators and isolate the regime for the murder of 1,500 Iranian citizens”. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz also drew on the figures and stated: “Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei is a war criminal. He ordered the murder of 1500 civilian protestors and the ICC [International Criminal Court] doesn’t even open an investigation”. A senior official at Iran’s Supreme National Security Council rejected the claims and insisted that “the protestations that Reuters made in its report are totally worthless not only in terms of security issues and intelligence but in the field of news and media, and will damage the already-tarnished credibility of this agency”. The following day, Secretary Pompeo stated that “the U.S. strongly denounces the arrest of Pouya Bakhtiari’s parents [who was killed during November protests], and calls for their immediate release. It’s time for the international community to stand together with the Iranian people and hold the regime accountable”. View More 23 December 2019 The Huthi envoy to Tehran met with Iran’s defence minister, Amir Hatami. Hatami remarked that “Yemen has reached a level of military capability that can penetrate deep into the enemy’s front, target enemy strongholds from a distance of more than 1000km, create deterrence and disrupt military-political security equations in the region”. He also asserted that “Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue in a peaceful atmosphere with the participation of all parties, groups and political-social currents is the only practical solution to the complicated problems in this country”. The following day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with a Huthi spokesperson during a visit to Oman. View More 23 December 2019 The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran announced that the secondary circuit of Arak heavy water reactor had become operational. View More 23 December 2019 Syrian state media reported that “army air defences intercepted hostile missiles coming from the occupied lands [ie, Israel]… one of the hostile targets fell in Aqraba region in Damascus countryside”. The Lebanese defence minister subsequently asserted that “this blatant attack is condemned, and I call on the international community to intervene to prevent these repeated attacks on Lebanon’s sovereignty”. A senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader warned that “Israeli airstrikes against Syria will not go unanswered, and Tel Aviv will regret having committed these crimes… Sooner or later, Israel will receive a response for its aerial attacks on and crimes in Syria”. View More 22 December 2019 Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to assert that “the U.S.'s approach to sanctions betrays a pathological and reckless addiction – a condition that renders no bounds or boundary to what the U.S. may or may not do. And this addictive behaviour affects friends and foes alike, unless collectively pushed back”. View More 22 December 2019 Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani maintained that “Tehran has started different steps to reduce its peaceful nuclear commitments in order to maintain and balance its commitments under the JCPOA and if the Europeans fail to fulfill their obligations, we will take the fifth step [in reductions]”. View More 21 December 2019 Following a trip to Japan, President Rouhani reported that “Japan supports Iran’s initiative that is the HOPE peace initiative… Japan has also announced that it will not take part in the Americans' plan for security in the region. We welcome both issues”. View More 21 December 2019 During a visit to Japan, President Rouhani asserted that “we have no problem with talking with the U.S. about our problems if they return from the wrong path that they have taken in the past 1.5 years… we should not hail someone who has done something wrong and violated the law, but in the meantime, we should not close the door, giving the wrongdoer the chance to compensate what he has done”. He went on to emphasise that “America claims that they have not created any problem for the Iranian nation’s access to foodstuff and medicine, but you know it well that when they disrupt the banking system, all our economic exchanges will have problems”. “The Americans have made miscalculations. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine and everywhere, they have made miscalculations, including in Iran”, Rouhani added. View More 20 December 2019 Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson contended that the “U.S. foreign policy team have done their best in vain to intervene in Iran's internal affairs by raising fabricated and baseless issues with cheap literature, self-degrading in a way unprecedented in American history. The U.S. misses an institution with a strategic view on global issues”. View More 20 December 2019 During a visit to Japan, President Rouhani asserted that “U.S. sanctions are considered a kind of economic terrorism and countries that are active in the field of countering terrorism must counter the U.S. move. Iran has exerted all its efforts to save the JCPOA within the framework of its interests, and will continue to do so, and we call on other JCPOA signatories to live up to their commitments”. He further remarked that “we welcome any plan that can increase economic exchanges, especially in the field of energy and increasing oil export and sale… Naturally, we do not turn down any negotiation and agreement that serve our interests”. View More 19 December 2019 The UN Security Council convened to discuss the implementation of resolution 2231 following the Secretary-General’s eight biannual report, with remarks from the U.S. and Iranian envoys. View More 18 December 2019 President Rouhani indicated that “today, our new IR-6 centrifuges are working and the newer IR-9s are being tested”. “I believe that this [U.S.] sanction cannot continue, because it is an illegal move”, he added. “Americans have no choice but to return from this path, and we will force them to do so with our resistance and steadfastness”. View More 15 December 2019 In remarks at the Doha Forum, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called for “recognition of the imperative of a regional security and cooperation arrangement under the UN umbrella”, adding that “the Hormuz Peace Endeavour – or HOPE – is a continuation of our longstanding commitment to an inclusive and comprehensive regional framework for constructive engagement”. He also noted that “like the nuclear accord, no good idea can be pursued by only one party… While everyone could have benefited from the paradigm shift that the JCPOA promised – as a foundation and not a ceiling – it cannot be expected from a single party to be forthcoming while others are pursuing an opposite path”. View More 15 December 2019 Commenting on the discovery of pills in Iranian confectionery products, Iran’s health minister indicated that it “is a security issue that is aimed at disturbing the public and undermining the country’s food industry”. “More details about the culprits behind this sabotage campaign will soon be announced”, he added. View More 15 December 2019 Iran’s telecommunication minister reported that "an organised cyberattack against Iran's e-government infrastructures was identified and repelled”. View More 14 December 2019 The U.S. Secretary of Treasury indicated that “the reason why we’re using sanctions is because they are an important alternative for world military conflicts. And I believe it’s worked”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently took to Twitter and stated: “[the] truth is: ‘Sanctions’ are the war itself. It is indeed the economic war and worse than that, the economic terrorism which unfairly targets civilians especially children, the elderly and the sick”. View More 13 December 2019 In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted that “Iran’s proxies have recently conducted several attacks against bases where Iraqi Security Forces are co-located with U.S. and International Coalition personnel”, citing 9 December and 11 December rocket attacks at Baghdad International Airport. “The U.S. will continue to work hand-in-hand with our Iraqi partners”, Pompeo continued, adding that “we must also use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be met with a decisive U.S. response”. He further underscored that “Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbours and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region”. Iran’s government spokesperson subsequently insisted that “the U.S. has provided no evidence for its false claim. Not even a witness… The unwarranted situation in Iraq where people are on the streets and ISIS is coming to power and the ambiguous conditions are caused by the Americans themselves”. View More 11 December 2019 Iran’s telecommunication minister revealed that “recently, a highly organised and state-sponsored cyberattack was carried out against our e-government infrastructures, which was successfully identified and repelled by the country’s cyber security shield”. “The attack was really massive”, he added, while indicating that “I cannot say for now which country has conducted the attack”. View More 11 December 2019 President Rouhani maintained that “we should either bypass the sanctions or compel the enemy to repent, and the administration is determined to frustrate this plot [ie, sanctions] both through boosting domestic production and other different means like negotiations”. “But in doing so”, Rouhani noted, “the administration will act in line with the establishment’s red lines and will not cross them”. View More 10 December 2019 Referring to the 14 September attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the UN Secretary-General reported to the Security Council that “at this time, it [ie, the UN] is unable to independently corroborate that the cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles used in these attacks are of Iranian origin”, while also noting that Huthi forces “have not shown to be in possession, nor been assessed to be in possession”, of the materiel employed during the operation. View More 10 December 2019 The GCC Supreme Council issued a communique expressing “its consistent positions and decisions regarding relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, stressing the need for Iran to adhere to the basic principles based on the Charter of the United Nations and the charters of international law, principles of good-neighbourliness, respect for the sovereignty of states, non-interference in internal affairs, and resolving disputes by peaceful means, not to use force or threaten to resort to force and reject sectarianism”. The council also “expressed its welcome and support for the steps taken by the U.S. to coerce the Iranian regime to stop its destabilising policy of security and stability and its support and sponsor terrorism around the world”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson consequently asserted that “the repetition of groundless allegations in that statement results from the political pressures from a few members of the council, which have made every effort during the past couple of decades to prevent promotion of multilateral cooperation… With their short-sightedness throughout these years, not only have they allowed for the plunder of the neighbouring countries’ wealth, but they have also paved the way for further interference from aliens in this delicate region”. View More 10 December 2019 An Iranian defence official warned that “if Israel makes a mistake, even if it is the smallest one, against Iran, we will flatten Tel Aviv into dirt from Lebanon… Our fighters' fingers are on the trigger on the order of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. If the Leader gives an order to attack Israel with missiles - the Zionists [ie, Israel] will raise their hands and surrender”. Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz subsequently responded by emphasising that “Israel is not the helpless protesters being slaughtered by the ayatollah regime in Iran and Iraq. We will be able to respond forcefully to any threat or attack”. “[Hizbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah has shown himself as Iran’s doll”, Katz added. Lebanon’s defence minister subsequently asserted that “if what is attributed to the adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard head is true, then it is unfortunate and unacceptable, and it violates the sovereignty of Lebanon, which has ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran, a friendship that cannot affect the independence of Lebanon in any way”. An IRGC spokesperson subsequently maintained that the “remarks have been misinterpreted and misquoted by the media”. View More 9 December 2019 Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif remarked “there is no military solution in Afghanistan. The presence of foreign forces has never brought stability in our region and has historically provided a recruiting ground for extremists”. “The announcement of a timetable for a responsible exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan”, he added, “would prepare the necessary ground for the Afghan government to promote peace and reconciliation process at the national level. In that regard, we support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process with the participation of all political groups and factions including the Taliban with the Afghan government in the center”. Zarif went on to maintain that “we would also use every means at our disposal to facilitate a peace process that would preserve the achievements of the 2001 Bonn Conference, in particular, the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as a solid foundation for any political solution”. View More 9 December 2019 Referring to the 6 December meeting of the JCPOA’s joint commission, the Iranian participant maintained that “no discussions were held about activation of [the] trigger mechanism, therefore, the issue has been put away now”. “Iran will continue scaling down its [JCPOA] commitments as far as its interests are not met”, he added. View More 9 December 2019 President Rouhani asserted that “negotiation is imperative if it leads to foiling enemy’s plots. In such a situation… negotiation is necessary and revolutionary”. View More 8 December 2019 Iranian and Saudi Hajj officials met in Mecca and signed an agreement for the 2020 pilgrimage. View More 7 December 2019 The U.S. and Iran swapped detainees in Zurich. In a statement, Secretary of State Pompeo asserted that “Xiyue Wang, who has been held on false charges in Iran for over three years, has now been released… the U.S. will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones”. Pompeo also noted that “we… are pleased that Tehran has been constructive in this matter”. In a tweet, President Trump said "thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together!"; in remarks the same day he asserted that “I think it was great to show that we can do something. It might have been a precursor as to what can be done”. Iran’s foreign ministry in parallel indicated that “Professor Masoud Soleimani, who had been detained on the bogus charge of violating the U.S.’s illegal sanctions… has been released and is going home”. On 9 December, Foreign Minister Zarif asserted that Iran was “fully ready for comprehensive prisoner exchange. The ball is in the U.S.’s court”. View More 6 December 2019 The Joint Commission of the JCPOA convened in Vienna. According to the chair’s statement, “serious concerns were expressed about a series of developments, in particular the recent steps with regard to the implementation of Iran’s nuclear commitments… [the] E3+2 strongly encouraged Iran to take all the necessary steps towards full implementation of its nuclear commitments and to avoid further escalatory steps in this regard, while stressing the importance to preserve Iran's economic benefits derived from the JCPOA”. The statement added that “participants expressed their appreciation for recent diplomatic efforts undertaken to deescalate tension. They underlined the need for all relevant parties to show enough flexibility to allow such efforts to fruition”. View More 6 December 2019 Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, indicated that “we will not allow Iran to produce or obtain nuclear weapons. If the only option left to us is the military option, we’ll act militarily”. He went on to assert that “the actions against Saudi Arabia [on September 14] and the oil tankers make us understand that Iran still feels strong. Our intelligence information tells us that it intends to hit the Gulf countries again. The threat of sanctions is not enough. The only deterrent is a military threat directed against the regime”. “U.S. pressure and sanctions are effective”, Katz added. “We expect Iran’s attempts to procure nuclear weapons and support terrorist groups to decline, but this will be easier if there is support from European countries. As long as the Iranians delude themselves that they have the support of Europe, it will be more difficult for them to bend”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently reacted by stating that “we regard the threats made by the Israeli regime as a sign for its weakness and its effort to conceal the crisis its leaders are facing presently”. View More 6 December 2019 Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, citing reports of what Israel’s defence ministry described as “a launch test… of a rocket motor system”, claimed that “Israel today tested a nuke-missile, aimed at Iran”. Zarif added that the “E3 and U.S. never complain about the only nuclear arsenal in West Asia – armed with missiles actually designed to be capable of carrying nukes – but has fits of apoplexy over our conventional and defensive ones”. View More 6 December 2019 Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif insisted that “Iran does not see any point in the continuation of the war and siege in Yemen, welcomes peaceful solutions and encourages all parties to move forward in this regard and supports initiatives that call for dialogue to restore prosperity to Yemen”. View More 5 December 2019 Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company, announced that it would halt its work at Fordow. A senior Russian diplomat subsequently emphasised that “the work wasn’t abandoned, but only halted. The spokesperson of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on 9 December remarked that “we can technically continue the work related to the production of stable isotopes without the Russians; however, politically speaking, it would be better if Russians stay with us… We are sure that the Russians will not abandon their projects in Iran in the wake of the U.S.’s sanctions, because they are currently involved in the construction of Bushehr-2 and -3 power plants”. View More 4 December 2019 France, Germany and the UK wrote the UN Secretary-General to express their “firm conclusion that Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and related technologies is inconsistent” with the UNSC Resolution 2231. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif subsequently took to Twitter to contend that the correspondence was “a desperate falsehood to cover up their miserable incompetence in fulfilling bare minimum of their own JCPOA obligations. If [the] E3 want a modicum of global credibility, they can begin by exerting sovereignty rather than bowing to U.S. bullying”. He also released a copy of Iran’s official response. View More 4 December 2019 President Rouhani contended that “Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime [ie, Israel] were the key factors in influencing the U.S. to withdraw from the JCPOA and mounting pressures against Iran… It should be recorded in history that Iran signed an agreement with six major world powers, and they violated it, but it was not us who violated it, and we are still living up to it”. He further declared that “whenever the U.S. is ready to lift all illegal, unjust and terrorist sanctions, Iran and P5+1 leaders will meet right away, and we have no problem in this regard”. View More 3 December 2019 Addressing the IAEA’s findings of “natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the Agency”, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi emphasised that “to put deadlines [for an explanation from Iran] might not be the best idea”. “This would for me mean that we would be in a very... antagonistic relationship where basically one side would be resisting and then I as DG would need to be putting deadlines”, Grossi explained, adding that “time is always of the essence”. View More 3 December 2019 President Rouhani noted that “these unprecedented [U.S.] sanctions, which have been the toughest sanctions on Iran as they say, were imposed to bring us to our knees, and not only the U.S., which is a terrorist state, but also other countries thought that it could happen to Iran”. “Despite all these economic pressures and unfair sanctions”, he added, “the Iranian nation kept their dignity and endured the hardships, showing that they will not let enemies achieve their goals”. Rouhani further maintained that “the private messages and requests for negotiations they are sending are contrary to what they announce publically, which Europeans, who are intermediaries, are well aware of”. View More 3 December 2019 Meeting with the Omani foreign minister in Tehran, President Rouhani remarked that “from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s point of view, there is no problem with expanding relations with neighbours and resuming ties with Saudi Arabia… All countries should stand beside each other to maintain security and stability in the region”. Referring to Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) proposal, Rouhani asserted that “we should maintain security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz through expanding cooperation and we should not let foreigners interfere”. View More 3 December 2019 A senior Iranian diplomat remarked that “no one should question Iran for reducing its commitments under the JCPOA… The current situation is a result of the U.S.’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, and the only solution is the lifting of sanctions and return to diplomacy”. View More 2 December 2019 In a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif underlined that “Iran will welcome any move or initiative that is based on good will and is after reducing tensions in the region”. Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani also met with Omani foreign minister and emphasised that “the only coalition which is practical in the region and can bring stable security is the one acting without foreigners’ interference… Those countries with the most significant role in sowing tensions, spreading terrorism and igniting wars in the region have never sought peace in the Persian Gulf and are only looking for their own interests”. View More 30 November 2019 Welcoming the decision by the six European countries to join INSTEX, in a statement, the E3 remarked that “this step further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. They further maintained that “Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA without delay”, while emphasising their “readiness to consider all mechanisms in the JCPOA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran’s implementation of its JCPOA commitments”. “We remain fully committed to pursuing our efforts towards a diplomatic resolution within the framework of the JCPOA”, the statement added. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, subsequently took to Twitter to state that “instead of arrogant threats or hollow paper promises, the E3/EU—and future INSTEX shareholder Sweden—should start with something very simple; a minimal human duty: Ask Molnlycke [Health Care] to sell products enabling Iranian kids with EB to cover their wounds. Economic terrorism kills”. View More 30 November 2019 Referring to protests in Iran following the government’s decision to raise gas prices, Iran’s military chief of staff claimed that “the enemies... had been waiting for an opportunity like the implementation of the fuel price reform plan to benefit from the wave of public dissatisfaction and to act against the security of the country”. He further asserted that “the incidents of the recent days... were a plot that had been devised and orchestrated against the country”. View More 29 November 2019 In a joint statement, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden announced that “in light of the continuous European support for the [nuclear] agreement and the ongoing efforts to implement the economic part of it and to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran, we are now in the process of becoming shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) subject to completion of national procedures”. View More 28 November 2019 Iran’s IRGC Commander Hossein Salami declared that “enemies should be careful because the Iranian nation is great, strong and resistant; we tell the U.S., Britain, Israel and their allies that you would receive a response if you continue your hostile actions… the Iranian nation defeats enemies in any scale”. View More 27 November 2019 A senior IRGC official contended that “today the gun of [U.S.] sanctions is empty of bullets and today the enemy has reached the end of line and it is now Iran's turn for a counterattack and we should look at the internal capacities and trust the young people”. View More 27 November 2019 Referring to protests in Iran following the government’s decision to raise gas prices on 15 November, President Rouhani claimed that “the enemies had planned for this unrest since two years ago… After the change in petrol prices, they began implementing their plans with all their facilities and thought that it could last for months, leading to massacre and civil war”. “They thought that if they set fire on banks and people's houses”, Rouhani added, “they could take their independence and freedom, but the people showed it explicitly that they do not yield to foreign conspiracies and will resist”. He went on to maintain that “of course, people may have criticisms and expectations, but they will not let some to take advantage of the situation and threat their security”. View More 27 November 2019 Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, met with senior Taliban officials in Tehran and reportedly conveyed “Iran's readiness to help hold Afghan-Afghan talks with participation of the government and all influential powers in that country”. The meeting were also confirmed by a Taliban spokesperson. View More 27 November 2019 Referring to protests in Iran following the government’s decision to raise gas prices on 15 November, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei contended that “the enemies had spent a great amount of money designing this conspiracy and were waiting for an opportunity to implement it with destruction, killing and villainy. They assumed that the matter of [the policies on] petrol was the desired opportunity they were looking for and brought their army onto the scene”. “The Iranian nation quashed the enemy’s movement with its magnificent display”, Khamenei added.