Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Wednesday, a British-flagged commercial vessel passed through the Strait of Hormuz for the first time since Friday’s seizure of another such vessel by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The transit apparently took place without incident, but it remains to be seen what, if anything, this instance of safe passage says about the current state of tensions between Iran and the West as it relates to the security of shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Supposed Arrest of CIA Assets Represents Broader Threat to Westerners

On Monday, an Iranian intelligence official held a news conference to declare that the Islamic Republic had identified and arrested 17 individuals who had been recruited by the CIA to spy on military and nuclear sites. US President Donald Trump responded to the announcement by calling it a lie, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, echoed that statement, noting that all of Iran’s public statements should be treated with skepticism owing to a 40-year history of propaganda and dishonesty.

Iran Issues Contradictory Explanations for Tanker Seizure as the West Weighs Options

The Swedish operator of a British-flagged vessel that was captured by the Islamic Republic on Friday has indicated that it is still waiting for permission from the Iranian government to visit the 23 crew members who reportedly remain onboard at the port of Bandar Abbas, where they were taken by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps following the incident that was described by the United Kingdom as a plainly illegal instance of retaliation against the lawful enforcement of sanctions that Iran had previously violated.

Iran’s Apparent Seizure of a Commercial Ship Strengthens the Case for Naval Coalition

On Saturday, a commercial vessel effectively disappeared when passing through Iranian territory and was later confirmed as having been taken to port by Iranian authorities. The Panamanian vessel operating out of the United Arab Emirates was passing by Qeshm Island when it turned off its transponder. The island is home to multiple Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps bases, and this fact has no doubt contributed to the conclusion, by the US government and others, that the MT Riah was seized by the Islamic Republic as an act of retaliation against the pressure being exerted on its own oil exports.

Threat to British Tanker Underscore’s Iran’s Rejection of Western Diplomacy

On Thursday, there were two developments in the tensions between Iran and the West, which demonstrated the stark differences between the postures being maintained by each side. In the first place, the White House backed away, at least temporarily, from a previous threat of economi sanctions for Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. While this seemingly left the door wide open for the negotiations that President Donald Trump has long said he would undertake with no precondition, the Iranians turned away from that opening by attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to follow through on a previous threat to seize a British tanker in the area of the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran Issues New Threats but Faces Growing Pressure After Breaching Nuclear Deal

Last week it was reported that Iran had officially violated the 2015 nuclear agreement by exceeding stockpiles of low-enriched uranium. Iranian officials followed up on that announcement with threats of further violations to come, and on Monday it was similarly confirmed that the regime had begun enriching nuclear material beyond the level of fissile purity established under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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