Archive for January 5, 2019

Tests concluded, Iran prepares for launching of satellites

January 5, 2019

Source: Tests concluded, Iran prepares for launching of satellites | The Times of Israel

Telecommunications minister says preparations have been successful ahead of planned launch criticized by Washington as violating Security Council resolution

Iran's communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi speaks in a TV interview on August 13, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)

Iran’s communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi speaks in a TV interview on August 13, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)

TEHRAN — Iran’s telecommunications minister said Saturday his country’s three new satellites have successfully passed pre-launch tests.

In a tweet, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said: “Last night, Iranian satellites passed tests successfully.” He did not mention a launch schedule.

On Tuesday, Iran said it plans to send Payam, a 200-pound (90-kilogram) non-military satellite into a 310-mile (500-kilometer) orbit using an Iranian Simorgh satellite-carrier rocket.

Iran usually displays space achievements in February during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran’s plans for sending three satellites into orbit demonstrate the country’s defiance of a UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iran says the launch does not violate the resolution.

On Friday an Iranian naval commander said Iran was set to deploy a fleet of warships to the western Atlantic Ocean in the coming months, in an apparent bid to counter the presence of a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani told the state-run IRNA news site the flotilla of warships would depart for the Atlantic in March, and the mission would take several months.

The flotilla announcement is likely intended to boost Iran’s military image amid rising tensions with the United States, which in November re-imposed all sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

In December, the US deployed an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, the first since America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and breaking the longest carrier absence in the volatile region since at least the 9/11 terror attacks.

A day after the arrival of the USS John C. Stennis, Iran launched a military drill in the waterway’s strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.


Iranian oil minister says potential buyers up ‘significantly’ despite sanctions

January 5, 2019

Source: Iranian oil minister says potential buyers up ‘significantly’ despite sanctions | The Times of Israel

Official says China, India and others ‘not willing to buy even one barrel more,’ but others have stepped up

This photo from March 12, 2017, shows a an Iranian oil facility on Kharg Island, on the shore of the Persian Gulf. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

Potential buyers for Iran’s beleaguered oil industry have “significantly increased” in spite of renewed US sanctions targeting the nation’s chief export, Tehran’s oil minister said Saturday.

“China, India, Japan, South Korea and other countries that were granted waivers from America to import Iranian oil are not willing to buy even one barrel more from Iran,” Amir Hossein Zamaninia told the SHANA news agency, in comments translated by Reuters.

However, “Despite US pressures on [the] Iranian oil market, the number of potential buyers of Iranian oil has significantly increased due to a competitive market, greed and pursuit of more profit.”

He did not give any further details.

Other countries granted a 180-day waiver from the sanctions by Washington included Greece, Turkey, Italy and Taiwan.

The report appeared to contradict a report by Reuters last week that India has handed Iran a tax break worth hundreds of millions of dollars to green-light an oil import deal hindered by the sanctions.

In November, US President Donald Trump’s administration reinstated all of Washington’s sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The sanctions were the second batch that the Trump administration has reimposed on the Islamic Republic since it withdrew from the nuclear agreement last year.

The rollback ended US participation in the Obama-era accord, which now hangs in the balance as Iran no longer enjoys the billions of dollars in sanctions relief it was granted under the deal in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis. Its rial currency has plummeted and oil exports have steeply fallen.

Agencies contributed to this report


Netanyahu tells Putin he’s determined to oust Iran from Syria 

January 5, 2019

Source: Netanyahu tells Putin he’s determined to oust Iran from Syria – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

The two men spoke in advance of a visit to Israel and Turkey this weekend by National Security Advisor John Bolton to discuss the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

 JANUARY 4, 2019 22:05
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)

Israel is determined to oust Iran from Syria Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin when they spoke by telephone on Friday.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that the two men “discussed the situation in Syria and recent developments and agreed on continued coordination between the [Israeli and Russian] armies.”

Netanyahu told Putin, “Israel is determined to continue its efforts to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.”

“Netanyahu congratulated President Putin and the Russian people on the occasion of the civil new year and expressed his condolences over the disaster in Magnitogorsk,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The two men spoke in advance of a visit to Israel and Turkey this weekend by National Security Advisor John Bolton to discuss the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

He is set to meet with Netanyahu on Sunday. On Thursday he tweeted, “Leaving tomorrow for Israel & Turkey to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, how we will work with allies & partners to prevent the resurgence of ISIS, stand fast with those who fought with us against ISIS, & counter Iranian malign behavior in the region.”

Separately US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also be in the region from January 8 to 15. He will travel to  Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait.

He is slated to discuss regional issues with the leaders including Iran, counter terrorism and the Middle East peace process.

In Saudi Arabia, the State Department said, Pompeo will “also will seek an update on the status of the investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” 

Netanyahu also met with Pompeo while in Brazil earlier this week.

Pompeo on Thursday told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the US is combating Iran with a coalition of Arab states and Israel.

“We know that [Iran] is a real threat to the world and to America, and so we have developed relationships with Arab countries and Israel.  We’ve brought them together to develop a coalition to keep Americans safe from things going on in the Middle East,” Pompeo said.

Countries like the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians and Israel “are now working together across multiple fronts,” he said.

The US, he said, will still be able to counter the threat from ISIS in Syria, even when its troops have gone home.

“We haven’t changed our policy about continuing to make sure that there is no ISIS resurgence, and we’re just going to do it in a way that is smarter and better,” he said.

On Thursday Netanyahu addressed the changing Trump administration policy about troop deployment in the Middle East, noting that the US will continue to economically support the battle against regional threat, while Israel will continue to use its military might.

US President Donald Trump, “is acting against Iran in the economic sphere and here in Israel we are acting against Iran in the military sphere,” Netanyahu said.