05242018Thu

Reuters: President Bush insisted on Monday that Iran cut off support for terrorism and disavow nuclear weapons -- and stressed that no response could ever be ruled out. "In safeguarding the security of free nations no option can be taken permanently off the table," Bush said in a speech on his first trip to Europe since his re-inauguration last month.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Feb. 17 – A fire set ablaze stalls in the Goldsmiths Bazaar in Tehran this morning after a
spontaneous gas explosion. Eye-witnesses reported that a gas capsule exploded in one of the side roads of the bazaar.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Feb. 21 – Heavy clashes between Iranian Kurds and security agents erupted on Friday in three towns in western Iran, leaving dozens injured and hundreds arrested. Clashes broke out after State Security Forces agents used force to disperse demonstrations taking place simultaneously in the towns of Sardasht, Saqqez, and Baneh in protest against severe fuel shortages in the area, eye-witnesses reported.

AP: An explosion was reported Wednesday in southern Iran near a nuclear power plant, with state-run media offering conflicting explanations for what happened, from blasting for dam construction, a fuel tank dropping from an Iranian plane, and friendly fire. The explosion came as Iran's intelligence
chief accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the aircraft.

AP: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Ukraine are likely to dominate this week's summit between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Slovakia's prime minister said. Bush arrives in Slovakia late Wednesday after visiting Belgium and Germany. He will meet with Slovak officials on Thursday before his talks with Putin - Bush's first meeting with the Russian leader since he began his second term.

AP: Iranian state television said Wednesday that an explosion near Deilam may have been caused by a fuel tank accidentally dropping from an Iranian airplane in the region. The state-run television provided few details, but said local officials had told
it that may have been the cause of the unidentified explosion.

AFP: Iran's foreign minister is to begin a three-day visit to India Sunday for talks following New Delhi's decision to launch discussions on securing gas to fuel its energy-hungry economy.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi will address the India-Iran Joint Business Council Meeting Monday before holding talks with his Indian counterpart Natwar Singh, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday.

Reuters: Iran and Syria, both locked in rows with the United States, said on Wednesday they will form a common front to face challenges and threats. "We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said in Tehran after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari.

UPI: Iran is already under attack. The opposition is at work both within and beyond its borders, restless, coordinating and sharing intelligence. Its ranks number in the tens of thousands, most of whom are young and savvy with experience in clandestine activity. Their arsenal, however, includes neither guns nor grenades, but keyboards and flat-screen monitors.

Bloomberg: U.S. lawmakers are beginning a new push to compel enforcement of a 1996 law imposing sanctions on foreign companies that do business in Iran, a move that might trigger a European Union protest to the World Trade Organization. Among the companies that would be vulnerable to the sanctions are Siemens AG, Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Total SA of Europe and Inpex Corp. of Japan.

AFP: Iran warned Thursday that it would respond immediately to any military strike after a roadworks blast near a nuclear site sparked fears of an attack, the state news agency IRNA reported Thursday.
"An attack, whatever it is, against any site, whether it be nuclear or not, would produce a very rapid response," Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said.

The Guardian: Iran and Syria heightened tension across the Middle East and directly confronted the Bush administration yesterday by declaring they had formed a mutual self-defence pact to confront the "threats" now facing them. The move, which took the Foreign Office by surprise, was announced after a meeting in Tehran between the Iranian vice-president, ...

Reuters: Iran will re-tender operatorship of its second private mobile phone network, if Turkcell quits the deal because lawmakers changed the Turkish firm's terms, an official said on Wednesday. Masoum Fardis, running the tender for Iran's telecommunications ministry, said his ministry had returned the bid-bond of South Africa's MTN which came second in the tender after Turkcell paid its licence fee.

The Independent: An explosion which turned out to be a dam blast in southern Iran sent jitters through financial markets amid speculation that the country's only nuclear reactor had come under attack. The incident came as Iran and Syria announced yesterday that they would "form a common front" against external threats, and a day after the Islamic state confirmed that unmanned American spy planes were flying surveillance missions over nuclear facilities.

Reuters: Washington is using satellites to spy on Iran's
nuclear sites, Iran's Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"We believe the United States has been spying against Iran for some time using satellites and other tools," he was quoted as saying on the official IRNA news agency, when asked about U.S. denials that it was using drones over Iran.

Voice Of America: Iran's leadership has been sharply criticized in congressional hearings on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers assess what steps the United States, Europe and others can take to avert a nuclear-armed Iran. The criticism, and testimony by experts, came amid Iranian warnings regarding what it calls U.S. aerial intelligence-gathering efforts, as well as European calls for stepped up diplomatic efforts.

AFP: The World Trade Organisation accepted Tuesday the separate membership applications of Serbia and Montenegro, but again rejected that of Iran because of US opposition. A General Council session of the 148 member-states unanimously accepted the separate applications by Serbia and Montenegro, which previously had made one single application.

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