Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Tuesday, The Iran Project quoted Ali Akbar Velayati, a leading foreign policy advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as saying that the Islamic Republic has no role in the recent hostilities in and around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. With US backing, Iraqi Kurdish forces had played an instrumental role in capturing the city from ISIL and holding it as the conflict with the Syrian-Iraqi terrorist group wound down. But with ISIL apparently on its last legs, Kirkuk has become one of several flashpoints in newly emerging conflicts as multiple parties strive to gain future strategic leverage by holding different areas of liberated territory.

USA Today reported on Monday that Republican lawmakers had begun holding meetings with the intention of fixing “major flaws” in the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. On Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the nation to announce a new strategy for confronting the Islamic Republic of Iran. As expected, the president withheld the certification that is due for the nuclear deal every 90 days, according to a US law that was passed in order to ratify American participation in the agreement, negotiated along with the four other members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce on Friday not only whether he plans to recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but also the details of his overall policy toward the Islamic Republic going forward. That policy has been under review roughly since the previous occasion on which the president was required by US legislation to certify the national security importance of sanctions relief under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

US President Donald Trump is required to report to Congress on Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement by October 15. In September he indicated that he had arrived at a decision about whether to certify that compliance, but would not reveal that decision ahead of time. Previously, though, he had speculated that Iran would be declared out of compliance, adding that if not for input from his foreign policy advisors he would have withheld certification at the earliest opportunity.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that a US District Court judge in Washington DC had ordered Iran to pay 63.5 million dollars to Amir Hekmati, one of four American citizens who were released from the Islamic Republic of Iran in January of last year, in a prisoner exchange that coincided with the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The judgment brings renewed attention to the larger issue of Iran’s attacks on dual nationals and persons with notable connections to Western entities – an issue that certainly remains of serious concern to this day.

On Monday, Reuters reported that the Iranian military had positioned a dozen tanks on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, in what Kurdish authorities described as a dangerous escalation of tensions. Those tensions began in earnest last week after the Iraqi Kurds held an independence referendum, which has caused the governments of Iraq, Turkey, and Iran to band together in opposition to the push for Kurdish independence. Prior to the tank deployment, Iran also reportedly stationed missiles near the border of the Kurdish region of Turkey, as well as carrying out threatening military maneuvers in coordination with the Turkish military.

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