US airlines

Iran Focus

London, 12 Sep - The United States has issued a new safety warning to airlines about operating in Iranian airspace, citing concerns over military activity following the interception of an unnamed US passenger aircraft by Iranian fighter jets in December 2017.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued its updated guidance to US airlines on Sunday, as the previous year’s advisory expired, and warned about the need for airlines to use caution when travelling in Iranian airspace. They also said that the conflict in Syria could put commercial flights to, from, and through Iran's airspace in danger of military action.

Premiums Rise for Ships Loading from Iran as US Sanctions Loom

Iran Focus

London, 11 Sep - Late last week, market participants said that with US sanctions on Iranian crude going into effect shortly, loadings from Iran are still ongoing, and some shipping companies view it as an opportunity to get hefty premiums.

A chartering executive in Houston said, "Iranian crude loadings for export will continue even after the US sanctions are fully implemented. It will not stop completely. Somehow companies will manage to [ship out].” He added that new companies with no connection to the US banking, insurance, or currency systems might be created to continue Iran-related businesses without contravening US laws.

Google bans Iran linked accounts

Iran Focus

London, 27 August - Tech giant Google announced on Thursday that it had uncovered a "state-sponsored phishing attack" connected to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which is the first time that the company found a direct link between the state-run media outlet and misinformation attacks from Iran.

A blog post from Google stated that a number of YouTube channels, blogs and Google+ accounts linked to the IRIB that had disguised their relationship whilst sharing English-language political content in the US had been “identified and terminated”.

Iranian airlines

Iran Focus

London, 10 Sep - The Iran nuclear deal’s implementation in 2015 lifted many international sanctions on the country. Iranian airlines were happy for the opportunity to renew their fleets. Orders were placed for tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new aircraft.

Contracts were signed with Boeing, Airbus, and ATR. Only a few of the 300 planes that were ordered were delivered, however, when US President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions. New deliveries dwindled, as did the ability to buy spare parts. As new U.S. sanctions go into effect, Iran’s airlines are forced to patch up their aging planes instead of using newer models.

Iran's 'New' Fighter Jet

Iran Focus

London, 24 August - On Tuesday, at a ceremony in Tehran to mark Defense Industry Day, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) displayed what it claimed was its first domestically-designed and manufactured fighter jet.

While the unveiling garnered local media attention, observers have pointed out that the twin-seater Kowsar bears a striking resemblance to the F-5 designed by Northrop in the 1950s, which was used by US forces in the 1960s.

The event was attended by President Hassan Rouhani, defense minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, and several other officials. Rouhani was photographed in the cockpit of the aircraft at the launch.

Europe to skirt U.S. sanctions and keep doing business with Iran

Iran Focus

London, 4 Sep - America's allies in Europe are plotting ways to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran as they work to keep the nuclear deal alive without the United States.

With a second round of U.S. sanctions set to take effect in November, European officials are working at cross-purposes with Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign as they try to preserve as much business as possible with Iran. The goal is to persuade Iran's leaders to stay in the deal for a few more years — perhaps long enough for Trump to be replaced and for a new U.S. president to rejoin the deal.

Facebook and Twitter Remove Accounts Linked to Iran Propaganda Campaign

By Pooya Stone

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter announced on Tuesday that they had removed hundreds of fake accounts used in a covert Iranian influence campaign.

The Iranian propaganda campaign pushed posts that criticised Donald Trump and Israel, while promoting the Iran nuclear deal, according to an investigation by cyber security firm FireEye, who discovered the malign operation.

No Reality in Iran's Claims of a Stealth Fighter

Iran Focus

London, 4 Sep - Because it fears an attack by the United States, Iran has reasons to want a stealth fighter, but its dream is nowhere near to becoming a reality.

Israel and the United States have some of the most capable air arms on the planet. Iran is also competing for regional dominance with multiple Arab states who are equipped with fourth and 4.5-generation F-15, F-16, Typhoon and Rafale jet fighters. But, although Iran’s once state-of-the-art U.S.-built F-4 Phantom and F-14 Tomcat fighters have been kept in operational condition for decades, this falls far short of developing a working stealth fighter.

Iran Propaganda Campaign on Facebook Impersonated

Iran Focus

London, 23 August - On Tuesday, in a press release, Facebook announced that an Iranian propaganda campaign created fake Bernie Sanders supporters online.

The Facebook Newsroom website said that it had removed 652 pages associated with political influence campaigns traced to Iran from its social media platform, “including coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US.”

Sergey Lavrov- Adel al-Jubeir

Iran Focus

London, 30 August - The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister criticised Iran and insisted that the rogue state deserves more economic sanctions on Wednesday, following the mullah’s announcement of plans to close a key shipping channel in the Persian Gulf.

After a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, Adel al-Jubeir lashed out against Iran, called the country’s nuclear programme "weak", and advocated for more US sanctions targeting Iran.

Jubeir said: "Regarding the Iranian nuclear programme and the historic deal around the programme, we have said from the very beginning that the programme is weak and does not envision active measures that would prevent Iran from continuing its nuclear programme as soon as possible."

Iran cyber attacks target social media

Iran Focus

London, 22 August - Facebook and Twitter announced on Tuesday night that they’ve thwarted a network of suspicious accounts that appear to come from Iran.

First, Facebook reported that it had removed over 650 pages, groups, and accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. Then, less than an hour later, Twitter tweeted that it had taken down nearly 300 accounts, many from Iran.

This is an important reminder not just that Iran is now one of the adversaries targeting American tech companies, but also that the Silicon Valley businesses are prepared to work together and proactively share these details with their competitors to remove malign influences from their social media sites.

Iran files suit against Us at The Hague

Iran Focus

London, 29 August - Iran has filed a suit against the US before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague to stop US sanctions from coming into place, but the US views the suit as “meritless” and will fight against it.

Iran’s claim is based on the 1955 “Treaty of Amity” between the US and Iran, which is a strange treaty to bring up as it has already been before the ICJ several times.

In 2003, when the US and Iran were attacking each other’s oil platforms and shipping industry, the ICJ ruled that the treaty was in force, despite being signed by previous governments, but that the US and Iranian claims based on that treaty were not valid. While during the 1979-80 hostage crisis, the ICJ found in the US’s favour and ordered the return of the American hostages, but ignored the ruling.

MEK/PMOI reveals Iran’s recruiting Islamic extremists during Hajj pilgrimage

Iran Focus

London, 21 August - The special forces branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is seeking to “wreak havoc” at the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia by recruiting Islamic extremists at the ritual pilgrimage, according to Iranian dissident group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

MEK representative Shahin Gobadi warned that the Iranian Regime was attempting to “exploit the Hajj situation” by deploying Revolutionary Guards and cautioned the over two million Muslims visiting Mecca to be wary of the Regime’s attempts to carry out terrorist activity abroad.

Fire Eye

Iran Focus

London, 28 August - After being alerted by the vigilant researchers at the cybersecurity firm FireEye, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have deleted hundreds of accounts.

The FireEye team followed what looked to the untrained eye like unrelated threads for the last few month. They examined the phone numbers used by these accounts to sign up for Twitter, the emails they used to register domains, and the changes to their account names over time. The Iranian operation began to unravel.

Brian Hook and Mike Pompeo

Iran Focus

London, 17 August - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as Washington's special representative for Iran on Thursday.

This announcement came as the Trump administration is increasing economic pressure on Iran by restoring sanctions last week, which are designed to get Iran to close down its nuclear weapons programme and end its support for militant groups in the Middle East, where Iran is exacerbating several conflicts.

U.S. president

Iran Focus

London, 28 August - Pro-Iranian governments and Hezbollah media outlets are gloating over the news that Donald Trump’s days in office may soon be ending, which reflects entirely how much of a threat he posed to their continued existence and how his policy on Iran constantly thwarted the mullahs.

Trump is going through a significant political crisis, but he has not yet been impeached or otherwise forced out of office. Therefore, any errant speculation by the media of a country or by officials themselves will not help these countries if Trump remains in power until the end of his first term.

Iran minister

Iran Focus

London, 17 August - The Iranian Minister of Industry, Mines and Business has said that fluctuations in the local forex market over the past four months has tripled the number of applications for import licenses, which have now risen to $250 billion.

Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari described the figure as “unbelievable” and described those seeking licences as profiteering individuals who are trying to “fish in troubled waters”, which is believed to be a reference to the current economic crisis facing Iran.

The $250 billion figure is also triple that of Iran's annual oil income.

Iran: Social Media

Iran Focus

London, 27 August - Anyone using social media to incite people to “insult sanctities” or “damage public property” will be punished, warned Iranian Police Commander Hossein Ashtari when he spoke at a ceremony in Yazdel, in Isfahan Province. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Brigadier General said, “People behind social media call-ups should leave the illusion aside that people will follow them.”

“anyone who insults Islamic sanctities or any of the Great Prophets or [12] Shi’ite imams or the Holy Fatima shall be executed if the insult is considered saab ul-nabi (insulting Prophet Muhammad); otherwise, they shall be sentenced to one to five years’ imprisonment,” stipulates Article 513 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code. Iran’s security and intelligence forces have always aggressively confronted what they call “insulting sanctities” and “blasphemy” in speeches, essays, books, and media.

EU and US conflicted over Iran sanctions

Iran Focus

London, 16 August - Last week, US sanctions on Iran came back into force, fulfilling a promise that Donald Trump made in May when he pulled the US out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump tweeted: “Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States.”

On the same day, the EU instituted a “blocking statute”, which was supposed to protect any European firms doing business with Iran from current and future US sanctions. In fact, it bars any EU individual or company from complying with US secondary sanctions, which means that European firms who still wish to trade with the US are being penalised. It also allows EU firms affected by the sanctions to sue the US, but there is no method in place to reclaim any settlement.


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