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DUBAI, August 19, 2018 (New Wires) - Iran will unveil a new fighter jet next week and continue developing missile capabilities as a top priority, the defense minister said on Saturday, defying new US sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran's missile programme and regional influence.

Iran's navy also announced on Saturday that it has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time, as tensions mount with the US military in the Gulf.

US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in May from a 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump said the deal was deeply flawed as it had not curbed Iran’s ballistic missile programme or reined in its support for proxies in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran has dismissed any direct talks with Washington to resolve the issues raised by Trump.

"Our top priority has been development of our missile programme. We are in a good position in this field, but we need to develop it," Brigadier General Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Saturday.

"We will present a plane on National Defense Industry Day, and people will see it fly, and the equipment designed for it,” Hatami added. Iran celebrates National Defense Industry Day on August 22.

LONDON, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran said on Saturday it would resist the pressures of US sanctions by relying on its natural and human resources, as Washington pushes allies to cut economic ties with Tehran.

"It is a critical moment for our economy, but we are not in a dead end," Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

"This country has plenty of human and natural resources that can rely on."

"The size of our oil and gas resources is number one in the world. In minerals and metals we are among the top 10 countries," Jahangiri said.

Washington has withdrawn from a deal that had lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Sanctions imposed in August target Iran´s trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of US dollars and its car industry.

US President Donald Trump has said a new round of sanctions will be imposed in November, targeting Iranian oil sales.

Iran´s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week rejected Trump´s offer of talks.

Iran's rial currency has lost about half of its value since April, driven mainly by heavy demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

TEHRAN, August 15, 2018 (News Wires) - The United States is trying to make Iran surrender through the imposition of sanctions, Iranian vice president Eshaq Jahangiri said on Wednesday.

New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week, and President Donald Trump said companies doing business with the country will be barred from the United States.

“The first priority for all of us under a sanctions situation is to work toward managing the country in a way that brings the least amount of damage to people’s lives,” Fars News quoted Jahangiri as saying. “America is trying by apply various pressures on our society to force us to retreat and surrender.”

The new sanctions targeted Iranian purchases of US dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and its auto sector, though the toughest measures targeting oil exports do not take effect for four more months.

Few US companies do much business in Iran so the impact of sanctions mainly stems from Washington’s ability to block European and Asian firms from trading there.

President Hassan Rouhani made similar comments to Jahangiri, although he did not specifically refer to the United States.

“We will not let the enemy bring us to our knees,” Rouhani said, according to state TV. “If the enemy thinks they will defeat us they will take this hope to the grave with them.”

Washington had said Iran’s only chance of avoiding the sanctions would be to accept an offer by Trump to negotiate a tougher nuclear deal than the international accord struck in 2015.

Iranian officials already rejected the offer and on Monday Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the country, also ruled out the possibility of talks.

The Iranian economy is beset by high unemployment and a rial currency which has lost half its value since April. The reimposition of sanctions could also make the economic situation worse.

Rouhani said today that the economy is the biggest problem facing the country.

Khamenei accused the Iranian government of economic mismanagement on Monday in the face of reimposed sanctions.

Thousands of Iranians have protested in recent weeks against sharp price rises of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. The protests over the cost of living have often turned into anti-government rallies.

ANKARA, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticised the government for economic mismanagement after US imposed biting sanctions on the country, Iranian state TV reported on Monday.

"More than (US) sanctions, economic mismanagement is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians ... I do not call it betrayal but a huge mistake in management," Khamenei was quoted as saying.

The United States reimposed strict sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, with Trump threatening to penalise businesses from third countries that continue to operate in the Islamic Republic. Iran has denounced the sanctions as "US unilateralism".

LONDON, August 12, 2018 (Reuters) - The United States urged Britain on Sunday to ditch its support for a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and instead join forces with Washington to counter the global threat it says Tehran poses.

Despite opposition from European allies, U.S. President Trump in May pulled the United States out of a deal between world powers and Tehran under which international sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

Since then, Britain, France and Germany have sought to keep the deal alive, while Trump has prepared new sanctions, saying a broader and more balanced deal is needed. Iran has denounced the sanctions as "U.S. unilateralism".

U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson criticized Tehran for funding "proxy wars and malign activities" instead of investing in its economy. He said Iran needed to make tangible and sustained changes to behave like a normal country.

"Until then, America is turning up the pressure and we want the UK by our side," Johnson wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"It is time to move on from the flawed 2015 deal. We are asking global Britain to use its considerable diplomatic power and influence and join us as we lead a concerted global effort towards a genuinely comprehensive agreement."

Asked about Johnson's article, the British foreign office pointed to comments from Middle East minister Alistair Burt, who last week ruled out Britain going along with the United States.

Burt said the deal was an important part of regional security and that, with the European Union, the government was trying to protect British companies from the U.S. sanctions when dealing with Iran. Britain remained open to talks with the United States on how to address concerns about Iran.

BEIJING, August 11, 2018 (News Wires) - China’s business and energy ties with Iran do not harm the interests of any other country, the country’s Foreign Ministry said, after US President Donald Trump said companies doing business with Iran would be barred from the United States.

China has already defended its commercial relations with Iran as open and transparent as US sanctions on Iran took effect despite pleas from Washington’s allies.

In a statement released late Friday, China’s foreign ministry reiterated its opposition to unilateral sanctions and “long-armed jurisdiction”.

“For a long time, China and Iran have had open, transparent and normal commercial cooperation in the fields of business, trade and energy, which is reasonable, fair and lawful,” it said.

“This does not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions or China’s promised international obligations, nor does it harm the interests of any other country, and should be respected and protected,” the ministry added.

Using sanctions at the slightest pretext or to threaten anyone won’t resolve the problem, it said.

“Only dialogue and negotiations are the true path to resolving the issue,” the ministry added.

China, Iran’s top oil customer, buys roughly 650,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Tehran, or 7 per cent of China’s total crude oil imports. At current market rates, the imports are worth some $15 billion a year.

State energy firms CNPC and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in key Iranian oil fields such as Yadavaran and North Azadegan and have been sending oil to China.

European countries, hoping to persuade Tehran to continue to respect the nuclear deal, have promised to try to lessen the blow of sanctions and to urge their firms not to pull out.

But that has proven difficult, and European companies have quit Iran, arguing that they cannot risk their US business.

Few American companies do much business in Iran so the impact of sanctions mainly stems from Washington’s ability to block European and Asian firms from trading there.

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