Japan minister says he hopes to ease Mideast situation – Gulf tensions

Earlier, President Luhani told the United States to "take first steps" by weakening the possibility of meeting with US President Donald Trump by lifting all sanctions against Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Java is shaking hands with Japanese Tarokono at a hotel in Yokohama, Tokyo, Japan. August 27, 2019.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Java is shaking hands with Japanese Tarokono at a hotel in Yokohama, Tokyo, Japan. August 27, 2019.

Tuesday, August 27

Japanese minister hopes to ease tensions in the Middle East

In a meeting with Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Java Zarf, Foreign Minister Tarocono said Japan will work to ease tensions in the Middle East.

Zarif said both countries look forward to discussions with Kono because they are particularly concerned about the security of the energy market and the stability of the Gulf.

"We are concerned about tensions in the Middle East and hope to make diplomatic efforts to alleviate tensions," said Mr. Kono.

"We wanted to have a direct and candid conversation with you today," Zarif said.

Japan has historically maintained friendly relations with Iran and is closely associated with the United States.

Iran shrinks prospects for Trump Ruhani

President Hassan Luhani told the United States to "take first steps" by lifting all sanctions against Iran, weakening the chances of meeting US President Donald Trump.

Zarif said the prospects for such a meeting are "unimaginable," even if the United States rejoined a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump said he was ready to meet Luna Ni within 24 weeks at a breakthrough breakthrough at the G7 summit at the Biarritz beach resort in France.

Monday 26 August

Iran says Gibraltar sold oil on tankers.

An Iranian government spokesman said the oil on board the US-led Iranian tanker was sold to an unknown buyer.

Adrian Darya, formerly known as Grace 1, costs about $ 120 million of crude oil at about $ 120 million.

Ali Rabiei announced at a press conference in Tehran on Monday. He said oil buyers will determine the ship's final destination.

The tanker was held for several weeks in Gibraltar after being seized by the authorities for violating EU sanctions against Syria.

The United States has a writ to hold the ship in federal court and warns the state not to accept it.

The ship is still in the Mediterranean, heading east.

No More Turkey Destinations in Iran Tanker-Shipping Data

The Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1, at the center of the confrontation between Washington and Tehran, was no longer recorded as heading for Turkey. On Monday, when they switched to a Turkish destination on the weekend, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data appeared.

The oil-filled vessel was previously headed to the port of Kalamata in southern Greece, but Greece said it would not provide any facilities for tankers.

Shipping data on Saturday revealed that the vessel had to be moored in Mersin port in southern Turkey on August 31.

On Monday, Refinitiv Eikon data did not specify a destination for Adrian Darya.

Saturday 24 August

Iranian oil tanker pursued by US says it will go to Turkey

Amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, Iran's pursuit of oil tankers in Iran changed the port to Turkey after saying that Greece would not endanger relations with the United States by supporting the United States.

The crew of Adrian Darya 1 updated the destinations listed in the automatic identification system to the port city of Mersin, south of Turkey, where the oil terminal is located.

Mersin is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of the Syrian Baniyas refinery, and authorities claimed that Adrian Darya was heading before being seized from Gibraltar in early July.

Friday 23 August

Nuclear dialogue with Macron was & # 39; productive & # 39; -Zarif

According to the ILNA news agency, Iran's foreign minister, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, said talks on a breakthrough nuclear negotiations on nuclear weapons trade in 2015 were "productive."

"France has made some suggestions and suggests how to do it. [the nuclear deal] Zarif said.

"The conversation was good and productive. Of course it depends on how the European Union can deliver on its promises. [the nuclear deal] And the promise they made since [the nuclear deal] Exit of the United States. "

According to Ilina, it is impossible to renegotiate the nuclear negotiations, Zarif said.

Thursday 22 August

Active sanctions against oil tankers-USA

A State Department official said Thursday that Washington would aggressively enforce Washington's sanctions to prevent the private sector from supporting Iranian oil tankers through the Mediterranean.

"The shipping sector knows we will actively enforce US sanctions," he warned, after a few days that countries should not be allowed to dock tankers.

According to ship tracking data, the ship's Adrian Darya 1 is heading for Greece.

"Every party in the shipping sector must conduct due diligence to avoid doing business or conducting business directly or indirectly with the sanctioning party or sanctioned cargo," he warned.

French nuclear deal proposal ready-Zarif

Iran is ready to embark on a French proposal to save Tehran's international nuclear deal with a world power in 2015, Zarif said.

"The proposals from France and Iran are on the table and we will work on them tomorrow," said the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs.

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed on Wednesday to provide a compensation mechanism that would allow Iranian people to live better, in return for easing sanctions against Iran or fully complying with an agreement that the United States suspended last year. .

Zarif added: "I look forward to talking seriously about the possibility of moving forward with President Macron."

He said he would meet with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian Macron in Paris on Friday, Monday.

Zarif also mentioned the US's efforts to create a security operation joined by Britain, Australia and Bahrain to protect the waters of the Strait of Hormuz, an important gateway to the world oil industry.

"The presence of the Persian Gulf navy is clear to the American intentions in the war with Iran," said Mr. Jarpe. "Do not expect us to be quiet when someone comes to our waters and threatens us."

Iranian President Useless Stories in Dialogue with US

Iran's president voiced his talks with the United States, saying, "Tehran is useless," as Tehran's nuclear deal with the world's greatest powers collapsed.

Rouhani unveiled Bavar-373, a long-range surface-to-air missile system, addressing Tehran and explaining that it was an improvement in the Russian S-300.

"Now our enemies can't respond with logic because they don't accept it," Rouhani said in a television speech.

He added: "When the enemy fires us a missile, we can't give a speech: & # 39; Don't hit Mr. Rocket, our country and our innocent people. Destroy missiles in the air. & # 39 ; "

Iranian state television Wednesday reported that Baba-337 can simultaneously recognize up to 100 targets and replace them with six weapons.

Iran has been developing the domestic defense industry since 1992, producing light weapons from mortars and torpedoes to tanks and submarines.

The United States imposed sanctions on Iran after the Trump government withdrew its nuclear deal because of concerns over Iran's missile program and regional impacts.

President Donald Trump argued that the agreement did not restrict Iran's ballistic missile program.

Iran exhibits mobile missile defense system built in Korea

Iran exhibited what was described as a long-range surface-to-air missile air defense system produced in Korea.

Iran shot down US military surveillance drones in the Gulf with anti-aircraft missiles in June. Although the drone has crossed the territory, the United States said it is in international airspace.

State television showed a public event on the Mobile Baba-373 system, which Iranian media described as a competitor to the Russian S-300 missile system.

"With this long-range air defense system, we can detect targets or planes over 300 km (190 miles), lock them at about 250 km and destroy them at 200 km," said Defense Minister Hamimi Amira. television.

The release of this system took place on the Defense Industry Day in Iran.

Wednesday, August 21

Greece, Iran tanker closed to harbor

Greece said Wednesday it would not endanger relations with the United States by helping Iran's pursuit of Iran's super tankers. But Gibraltar, currently in the Mediterranean, said it was heading to a Greek port.

Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said Athens is under pressure from US authorities.

He told a private antenna TV that a 330-meter oil tanker was too big to enter Greece's port and could not legally unload $ 130 million from an EU refinery.

The vessel can still enter the Greek waters or dock at sea, in which case Athens will "see" what it will do, Varvitsiotis added.

Tuesday, August 20

Pompeo warns of action

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the United States will take all possible steps to prevent Iranian tankers from supplying Syria with oil in violation of US sanctions.

Pompeo told reporters: "We have made it clear that anyone who touches it, who supports it, and who can dock it is at risk of sanctions from the United States."

"If the ship heads back to Syria, we will take all steps to match such sanctions to prevent it."

Adrian Darya (formerly Grace 1) left Gibraltar on August 18, and according to ship tracking data, the ship was heading for Kalamta, a Greek port.

Iranian tanker & # 39; no request to dock in Greece & # 39; – Minister

Commerce Minister Io Anis Plachiotas said Tuesday that Iran's tanker Adrian Darya was not asked to dock in Greece after the maritime tracker gave the ship's "reporting destination" to the Greek port of Kalamata.

Plaquiotatas told the Greek press that there was no official request for Iranian tankers to arrive at Greek ports.

"We are following that progress and working with the Greek Foreign Minister," he said.

The website Marine Traffic carried a super tanker of 2.1 million barrels of oil, about 100 km northwest of Algeria Port Oran.

Monday, august 19

Iran warns of oil tanker seizure

Iran said it had warned Washington about its attempts to recapture tankers through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, representing the existing interests of the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Moussa said: “Iran provided warnings to US officials through official channels.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, he dismissed the idea of ​​seizing Iranian tankers in Gibraltar and connecting British tankers in the Gulf.

Musabi said, "There is no connection between these two containers."

"The court is investigating. We hope that (investigation) will be completed and a ruling as soon as possible."

Zarif Excludes Talks with the US on New Nuclear Trade

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, says Iran is not interested in dialogue with Washington, but the United States should focus on returning the United States to the 2015 nuclear negotiations that left last year.

Zarif spoke in Finland after meeting with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, saying that Europe is doing its best to save the deal.

Iranian tanker headed for Greece to the United States

Iranian super tankers carrying $ 130 million worth of diesel, suspected that the United States is tied to an approved organization, have begun to lift their anchors and move away from Gibraltar, marine traffic monitoring data said.

According to MarineTraffic, a ship tracking service, Adrian Darya 1, with the Iranian flag formerly named Grace 1, has begun a course for the Greek Kalamata. It was not immediately clear why the tanker was heading there or whether the destination could change.

The ship is believed to have been detained for one month in British overseas territories, violating European Union sanctions against Syria.

Sunday, August 18

Adrian Darya-1 expected to leave Gibraltar on Sunday night-Iran

The Iranian ambassador says Iran's tankers are expected to leave Britain's territory on Sunday night in a conflict between Tehran and the West.

Hamid Baeidinejad expected the vessel to depart tonight with the arrival of two professional engineering teams in Gibraltar.

The British Royal Marines seized a vessel in Gibraltar in July for allegedly carrying oil to Iran's ally Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Gibraltar Rejects US Oil Tanker Holding Pressure

Gibraltar officials say Britain's overseas territory is denying a new US request not to release Iran's super tanker.

The vessel has been detained for more than a month in Gibraltar and is said to violate European Union sanctions against Syria.

In a statement Sunday, the Gibraltar government said the ship would go free because US sanctions against Iran were not on par with Britain or other countries in the European Union.

The United States sealed a warrant to take control of the ship just one day after Gibraltar lifted the vessel from detention.

The vessel is moored in Gibraltar, with Iran reaching 2.1 million barrels.

A new crew arrives on Sunday to sail the tanker to an undisclosed destination.

Saturday 17 August

Iranian tanker leaving Gibraltar soon

The United States faced a 24-hour court struggle to recapture Iran's super tanks in diplomatic confrontation before the ship's shipping agents said they would depart from Gibraltar on Saturday or Sunday or Monday.

The company director, who sorts and procures documents for the Grace 1 tanker in the UK overseas territory, said that if a new crew member dispatched to this territory takes over the command of the ship, the vessel can sail within the next 24 to 48 hours. .

Richard De la Rosa, Executive Director of Astralship, said, “Ships are undergoing some logistics changes and requirements that delayed departure.

He said that the new sailors are Indians and Ukrainian nationals employed by Indian ship managers, and his company has not been informed about the next destination of the super tanker.

Iranian tankers shift position but still anchored in Gibraltar

In a confrontation between Tehran and the West, the Iranian tanker moved its position on Saturday, but the anchor was still dropped from Gibraltar and was not sure if it was ready for sailing soon.

Can't contact Gibraltar authorities.

Grace 1 was confiscated on July 4 by the British Royal Marines in the western Mediterranean, suspected of bringing oil to Iran's ally, Syria, in violation of European Union sanctions.

Gibraltar lifted an order of detention on Thursday, but the United States further complicated the ship's fate, which legally appealed its final ditch.

Friday 16 August

US announces writ seized Iran's super tanker Grace 1

The US Justice Department issued a warrant for the seizure of Iran's oil super unit Grace 1, just one day after Judge Gibraltar allowed the release of a detained ship.

According to the warrant, the vessel, all oil on board and $ 995,000 may be confiscated under violations of the International Emergency Economic Force (IEEPA), bank fraud, money laundering and terrorist forfeiture legislation.

Gibraltar Confirms Grace Release

Detained Iranian tankers detained by friction between Tehran and the West were able to sail freely on British territory Gibraltar on Friday, but a request to stop the passage of the United States could bring Saga back to court.

Grace 1 was arrested on July 4 by the British Royal Marines commando at the western entrance of the Mediterranean Sea for bringing oil to Iran, an ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions.

Fabian Picardo, secretary-general, said the decision to lift the detention order was made after Tehran's document confirmed in writing that it would not release oil from Syria.

Picardo said the US could still begin a new legal process to seize Grace 1, but the provisions under European sanctions ended on Thursday.

Iran declined to pay for the oil tanker's release that the vessel was not scheduled for Syria.

Cancellation of visa held by Iranian crew

The US State Department said it would cancel US visas for crew of Iranian tankers.

The Defense Ministry said it will fully enforce all US sanctions on Iran's oil exports, despite Gibraltar's decision to leave the vessel.

Thursday, August 15

Gibraltar Frees Iran Ship

The Gibraltar Supreme Court decided to release Iran's super tanker last month for alleged oil shipments to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, despite the last request by the United States to detain the vessel.

Spokesman Anthony Dudley said, "I have never been enjoyed as a sanctions agency of the European Union … since there is a guarantee of probation 1 in writing. There is no more reason to suspect that the vessel needs to be detained."

He added that the court did not receive a written detention request from the United States.

US asks Gibraltar to detain Iranian tankers

The United States has asked Gibraltar to detain Iran's super tanker at the center of the confrontation between Tehran and London to urge tensions in the oil-rich Gulf.

The Supreme Court of the British Overseas Territory was set to release probation 1 when the US Justice Department applied for ship seizure.

This action was announced by lawyer Joseph Triei and delayed the court's decision on the fate of the ship.

Triay did not elaborate on the rationale for the US request, which is not "mutual legal assistance."

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Dudley of Gibraltar has made it clear that this is not an American move that "the ship would have sailed."

Wednesday 14 August

Gibraltar launches Iran tanker on Thursday

Gibraltar's British territory is expected to release Iranian tankers seized by the Royal Marines of the Mediterranean on Thursday in July. teaHe work According to the newspaper, he cited sources close to the governor of Fabian Picardo in Gibraltar.

Picado said he would not renew his order to attract Grace 1, and the report found that the tanker was no longer headed to Syria.

Britain said Iran was breaching European sanctions for supplying oil to Syria on charges of prosecution.

The newspaper cited a source close to Picard, unless he believed that it would violate sanctions against the Syrian regime anymore, and there was no reason to keep Grace 1 for a while longer in Gibraltar.

Tuesday, 13 August

Iran Gibraltar over Grace 1

Gibraltarian government sources denied an Iranian news agency report that Iranian tanker Grace 1 will leave Britain overseas on Tuesday.

The British Royal Marines seized oil tankers on the coast of Gibraltar's territorial waters, which allegedly breached EU sanctions by bringing oil to Syria, which Tehran denies on 4 July.

Iran's anti-official Pas news agency told unidentified Gibraltar authorities that the tanker bee will be released Tuesday evening.

Senior Gibraltar government sources said the report was inaccurate.

Contact with Britain via seized tankers-Iran

Iranian port officials said they are contacting British authorities in an effort to release the tankers.

Gibraltar's court is to determine the ship's fate on Thursday when the detention order is issued.

Iranian port authority deputy director Jalil Eslami said in a report by the state news agency IRNA that the UK was interested in overcoming this issue and that the documents were exchanged.

Gibraltar eases oil confrontation with Iran

Gibraltar said it intends to escalate problems in Iran after the detention of the Grace 1 tanker.

"We are constantly trying to expand the problems that arise after the legal detention of Grace 1," Gibraltar spokesman said.

A spokesman said the current detention order for the vessel will expire on Saturday night.

Saturday, August 10

Iran announces refurbished air defense system

Iran has announced a new air defense system that can detect missiles and drones in the 400-km (250-mile) range, ISNA news agency reported.

"Falagh" is a locally overhauled version of the imported "Gamma" surveillance radar, an anti-government news spokesman said with an explicit reference to the Russian-made system of this name.

"It was impossible to operate because of the lack of sanctions, lack of spare parts, and repair by foreign engineers," he added.

Friday 9th August

Iran warns of Israel's involvement in maritime coalition

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Afbas Musabi says Tuesday that Israel's involvement in the Gulf Coast Maritime Union is "a sure threat" to Iran's national security, and said it has the right to face it.

Israeli media said Israel was part of discussions and information sharing with the United States Maritime Security Alliance in a private meeting held Tuesday by Israeli Foreign Minister Katz. Israeli officials refused to confirm or reject the report.

Thursday August 8

Iran says America's mission is to increase feelings of instability

Iran's defense minister says the formation of US-led lobules in the Gulf will "stable instability," and Israel's involvement will have "disastrous consequences."

In a meeting with foreign ministers such as Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, Defense Minister Amir Hatami said, "The military coalition that the United States is forming as an excuse to secure maritime transportation will only increase anxiety in the region."

He said in a report about Israel's willingness to join the coalition, "it would be very provocative and could have fatal consequences for the region."

Hatami made the United States a major source of tension in the region and urged the Gulf States to participate in "constructive talks" to provide maritime security on their own.

US requested transit plan

Washington said commercial ships in the United States should send plans to the US and British naval authorities in advance for the shipping of the Hormud Strait and the Gulf Sea. This is from the US Maritime Administration in consultation on Iran's threats.

The adviser said, "strengthening military activity and increasing political tension in the region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels."

The ship also added that it should warn the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and the UK's Marine Trade Division in the event of incidents or suspicious activities, and that crew members should not be forced to resist Iran's boarding state.

Tuesday, August 6

Israel joins US mission

Israeli Foreign Minister Katz Israel Tuesday said Israeli media will join the US-led coalition to protect trade routes in the Persian Gulf region.

According to Israel's daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Katz recently claimed to have met "top-ranked personas" in the UAE to improve the ties between Israel and Arab countries.

"Israel is part of a US-led coalition to protect the Persian Gulf trade route," Katz said.

"It is Israel's concern to stop Iran's trenches in this region and strengthen its relations with all nations," he added.

According to the newspaper, Prime Minister Katz said at a ministerial meeting that Israel has no conflict with the Gulf countries.

So far, only Britain has officially said that Iran will join the mission to protect the merchant ships after the capture of British warships.

Luhani, Iran prefer talks but the US should lift sanctions

Luhani said Tuesday that Tehran prefers to talk to Washington, but the United States must lift sanctions on Iran first.

"Islamic Republic of Iran prefers to talk and negotiate, and if the United States really wants to talk, we have to lift all other sanctions," Prime Minister Luhani said vividly on television.

"Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars," he added.

In a meeting with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zarif, Iran said it was ready to talk whether the United States was a landmark nuclear trader or not.

Monday, august 5

Germany is not involved in the US mission

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that Germany would not participate in US-led naval missions on the Strait of Hormuz, but Berlin preferred Europe's mission, but warned that progress would be difficult.

“Currently, the British will rather join American mission. We won't do that. ”Maas told reporters.

"We want a European mission," he added. He added that the issue was not an agenda but would take time to persuade the European Union to carry out such a task.

베를린 주재 미국 대사관은 화요일 미국이 해협과 "전쟁이란의 침략"을 통해 해상 운송을 보호하기 위해 프랑스와 영국에 합류하도록 요청했다고 밝혔다.

8 월 4 일 일요일

이란, '외국 유조선'밀수 연료 압수

이란 언론은 혁명 경비대가 페르시아만에서 70 만 리터의 "밀수 된 연료"를 운반하는 유조선을 압수했다고 말합니다.

반 공식 파스 통신 대변인은 수요일 배가 압수 됐을 때 승무원 7 명이 구금됐다고 밝혔습니다. 선박이나 승무원의 국적에 대한 자세한 내용은 제공하지 않았습니다.

이것은 최근 몇 주 동안이란 세력이 점령 한 세 번째 상업용 선박이며, 두 번째는 연료 밀수로 고발 된 것입니다. 최근 몇 달 동안 미국이 군사적 입지를 강화하고 유조선이이란 군에 의해 압류되거나 알 수없는 파괴자들의 표적이되어 긴장이 고조되었다.

지난해 미국의 결정에 따라 2015 년 핵 협정에서 철수하고이란에 대한 제재 조치가 취해졌다.

8 월 3 일 토요일

이란은 핵 거래에 대한 약속을 줄이기 위해 '제 3 단계'를 취할 것-Zarif

국회 통신사 인 ICANA에 따르면이란은 협정의 틀 안에서 2015 년 핵 거래에 대한 약속을 줄이기 위해 세 번째 단계를 밟을 것이라고 Zarif는 밝혔다.

그는“핵 거래에 대한 약속을 줄이는 세 번째 단계는 현재 상황에서 이행 될 것”이라고 말했다.

"우리는 만약 (거래)가 다른 사람들에 의해 완전히 이행되지 않았다면 동일한 불완전한 방식으로도 이행 할 것입니다. 물론 우리의 모든 행동은 (거래)의 틀 안에있었습니다."

8 월 1 일 목요일

이란 외무부 장관을 제재하기위한 미국의 "유치한"– Rouhani

루하니 대통령은 양국 간의 긴장이 고조되는 가운데이란 외무 장관에 대한 워싱턴의 제재로 목요일 미국이 유치한 행동을했다고 비난했다.

"그들 (미국인)은 유치한 행동에 의지하고있다. 그들은 매일 '전제 조건없이 대화하고 싶다'고 주장하고있다. 그리고 나서 그들은 외무 장관을 승인했다."

"이것은 그들이 합리적인 사고의 힘을 잃었다는 것을 의미합니다."

7 월 31 일 수요일

미국,이란 외무 장관 Zarif에 제재

수요일 미국은 자리 프에 대한 제재를 가해 중국의 최고 대변인을 겨냥해 양국 간의 긴장이 고조되는 가운데 외교 회담의 기회를 훼손 할 가능성이 있습니다.

2015 년이란 핵 거래에서 중요한 인물 인 자리 프 (Zarif)는이 조치를 기각하고 그에 영향을 미치지 않을 것이라고 말했다.

스티븐 무 누친 재무 장관은“자바 자르 프 총리는이란 최고 지도자의 무모한 의제를 이행하며 세계 정권의 주요 대변인이다.

자리 프에 대한 제재는 그가 미국에 보유한 재산이나 이익을 차단할 것이지만이란 외무 장관은 자신이 없다고 말했다.

이란, 아랍 에미리트 연합, 테헤란에서 해상 안보에 관한 드문 회담 개최

아랍 에미레이트와이란 관계자는 페르시아만 지역의 긴장이 가중되면서 6 년 만에 처음으로 해양 안보에 대해 논의하기 위해 모였다.

회의는 UAE와이란이 지역 라이벌이기 때문에 중요합니다. The UAE downgraded ties with Iran in 2016 and has long pushed for more hawkish US policies toward Tehran, including supporting tough American sanctions.

An Emirati official told AP that the meetings focused on issues related to border security and navigation in shared waters, describing the talks as "nothing new" and unrelated to current tensions. The official said there were periodic meetings scheduled between technical teams in both countries and this was the sixth one to take place.

Stoltenberg says no NATO mission requested in Strait of Hormuz

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday there had been no formal request for the military alliance to launch a mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has proposed stepping up efforts to safeguard the vital oil route at a time of heightened tension between Washington and Tehran.

Germany: European naval mission in Strait of Hormuz worth considering

The German government has not offered any contribution to a US naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz but thinks it is "worth considering" a European mission and is in touch with its partners on that, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"The government is reticent about the concrete US proposal and so has no made an offer," the spokeswoman told a news conference.

"For us, it is important to pursue the avenue of diplomacy … and to seek talks with Iran to achieve a de-escalation," the spokeswoman added.

Iran says it is ready for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready

Iran is ready for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready, Iran's Zarif said on Wednesday, according to the IRIB news agency.

"If Saudi Arabia is ready for dialogue, we are always ready for dialogue with our neighbours," Zarif said. "We have never closed the door to dialogue with our neighbours and we will never close the door to dialogue with our neighbours."

Iran dismisses Pompeo's 'hypocritical' offer to visit

Iran has dismissed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's offer to visit and address the Iranian people as a "hypocritical gesture."

Addressing Pompeo in remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Zarif said, "You don't need to come to Iran." He suggested Pompeo instead grant visas for Iranian reporters to travel to the US and interview him, accusing him of having rejected their requests.

On Monday, Pompeo tweeted, "We aren't afraid of [Zarif] coming to America where he enjoys the right to speak freely. Are the facts of the [Khamenei] regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran?" he said, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?"

Iran to further cut nuclear deal commitments – Zarif

Iran is set to further cut its commitments to its international nuclear deal unless its European partners move to protect it from US sanctions by ensuring it can sell oil and receive income, its foreign minister told state TV on Wednesday.

"Under current circumstances and if no action is taken [by the Europeans], we will take the next step [in cutting commitments]," Zarif said, adding that its European partners should guarantee Iran could sell its oil and collect the revenue.

Iran has said it will reduce its commitment to the nuclear accord in stages and may even withdraw from the pact unless the Europeans find ways to shield its economy from the US sanctions.

Iran says Europe 'obliged' to let it sell and ship oil

Iran said on Wednesday that European nations still party to the 2015 nuclear deal are "obliged" to allow it to sell and ship oil, amid a standoff with Britain over the seizure of tankers.

"They [the European parties] have set out their commitments and announced them, they [include] the sale of Iran's oil, the transportation of Iran's oil, and the return of Iran's oil income," said Zarif.

"It is clear that today's tensions and problems are due to America's economic terrorism and Europe's inability to fulfil its commitments which means going along with America's economic terrorism," he said, quoted by state media.

UK warship commander says Iran trying 'to test' Britain in Gulf

The commander of a British warship accompanying UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with Iran said on Wednesday that Tehran appeared to be testing the Royal Navy's resolve.

William King, commander of HMS Montrose, said during 27 days patrolling the flashpoint entrance to the Gulf he had had 85 "interactions with Iranian forces," which had often led to "an exchange of warnings" over radio.

"That gives you some idea of the intensity … [it] is perhaps more than we've seen of recent times," he told BBC Radio in a phone interview from aboard the frigate.

"The Iranians seem to be keen to test our resolve, test our reactions most of the time," King added.

"They'll claim that perhaps our presence is illegitimate, even though we're completely lawfully in international waters."

"They may also run boats in at speed towards us, to test what warning levels we get to."

Tuesday, July 30

Zarif calls on Trump to reject hawkish allies' thirst for war

Iran's foreign minister called on Trump to reject his hawkish allies' thirst for war, adding Iranians had outlasted every aggressor for millennia.

"For millennia, Iranians have outlasted every aggressor … @realDonaldTrump: reject #B_Team's fake history & its thirst for #ForeverWar. Diplomacy=prudence; never weakness," Zarif tweeted.

Zarif has in the past said that a so-called "B-team" including Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, an ardent Iran hawk, and conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could goad Trump into a conflict with Tehran.

Trump tweeted on Monday: "Just remember, the Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!".

Iran and UAE to hold maritime security talks

Iran was to revive maritime security talks on Tuesday with traditional foe the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an apparent bid to calm tensions in the Gulf, although a Gulf official described the discussions as routine and technical.

The discussions had been off since 2013, but the UAE is widely seen in the region as wanting to guard its reputation as a safe business hub.

"The 6th joint meeting will be held on Tuesday between a visiting seven-member delegation from the United Arab Emirates' coast guard and Iranian officials in Tehran," Iran's semi-official Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

Without giving a source, ISNA said issues from shared borders, visits by citizens of each nation, illegal entries, and maritime connections would be discussed.

A Gulf official said the meeting was not related to tensions in the region.

"It is a technical meeting that was organised a long time ago to discuss routine maritime issues," the official told Reuters.

US asks Germany to join Hormuz mission – Berlin Embassy

The United States has formally asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to secure the Strait of Hormuz and to combat Iranian aggression, the US embassy in Berlin said on Tuesday.

"We've formally asked Germany to join France and the UK to help secure the Strait of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression. Members of the German government have been clear that freedom of navigation should be protected … Our question is, protected by whom," said an embassy spokeswoman.

The comments, initially reported by Germany's DPA news agency, were confirmed by an embassy spokesman.

There is considerable opposition among Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, to getting involved in a US-led mission.

"The German government has already rejected participation in the US military mission, Operation Sentinel, to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz," said Nils Schmid, a foreign affairs spokesman for the SPD parliamentary party.

"It should stay like that. Otherwise, there is a risk of being pulled into a war against Iran on the side of the United States."

Monday, July 29

'Talks with US possible if they lead to tangible results'

Talks between Iran and the United States would be possible if based on an agenda that could lead to tangible results, but Washington is not seeking dialogue, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mousavi said on Monday.

Trump has said he would be willing to hold talks with the Islamic Republic.

"Dialogue and negotiation can be held when we have a certain agenda in place and when we could get some tangible and practical results out of it," Mousavi said in a news conference broadcast live on Press TV.

He added, "They are not for talks. They are not seeking dialogue."

Sunday, July 28

Oman 'not mediating' Gulf tensions – minister

Oman is not undertaking any mediation efforts around rising tensions in the Gulf region but is in contact with "all parties" in order to maintain stability in the Strait of Hormuz, Oman's minister in charge of foreign affairs said.

"We are not mediating, but what we are more concerned with, in this case, is securing the stability of navigation in the Hormuz Strait, so we are in contact with all parties," Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah told Omani state TV after meeting Iranian officials in Tehran.

Foreign troops main Gulf tension source – Rouhani

The presence of foreign forces would be the main source of tension in the Gulf, Rouhani said on Sunday in a meeting with Oman's foreign minister in Tehran, according to the official presidency website.

France, Italy, and Denmark gave initial support for a British plan for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, proposed after Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker, three senior EU diplomats said last week.

"The presence of foreign forces will not only not help the security of the region, but will be the main factor for tension," Rouhani said, saying Iran and Oman had primary responsibility for securing the Strait of Hormuz.

"The roots of the unpleasant events and tension in the region today are the unilateral withdrawal of America (from the2015 nuclear deal)," he said

Iran intends to restart activities at nuclear reactor

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, told lawmakers on Sunday that Iran will restart activities at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, the ISNA news agency reported.

ISNA cited a member of parliament who attended the meeting.

Heavy water can be employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads.

Later on Sunday, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China will meet Iran in Vienna to discuss how to save the accord in an extraordinary meeting.

The meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal's formal name, will be chaired by the EU foreign policy service's Secretary General Helga Schmid.

European naval mission in Gulf would be 'provocative' – Iran

Iran slammed as "provocative" a British proposal for a European-led naval mission to escort tankers in the Gulf, amid soaring tensions over the seizure of ships.

"We heard that they intend to send a European fleet to the Persian Gulf which naturally carries a hostile message, is provocative and will increase tensions," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, quoted by ISNA.

Saturday, July 27

Iran's Zarif hosts Oman's top diplomat

Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs held talks with Iran's foreign minister in Tehran, Iranian state media reported.

Oman maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously been a go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif met Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, state television reported, without giving details of the talks.

"The visit was conducted in the framework of bilateral relations and continuous consultations of the two countries with the aim of exchanging views on recent regional developments, bilateral relations, … and international issues," state television reported.

Oman's foreign ministry said on Twitter the two ministers discussed stability and security in the region and freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, shared by the two countries and which is the only route in and out of the Gulf.

Russian diplomats visit British tanker detained by Iran

Employees of the Russian embassy in Iran visited the British Stena Impero tanker, detained by Tehran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The diplomats talked to the Russian citizens who are part of the vessel crew, the embassy said in a Twitter post.

"The health of the sailors is good, they are still on board. The embassy is in close contact with Iranian partners on the issue of the timing of their return to home," the ministry said in the post along with the photos of three crew members.

According to Russia's TASS news agency, the embassy said the Russian citizens have no complaints, they are provided with all the things needed and can communicate with their relatives, but with some restrictions.

Thursday, July 25

British navy to escort UK-flagged ships

Britain ordered its navy to escort UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz after Iranian soldiers seized a tanker in the flashpoint Gulf region.

"The Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, either individually or in groups, should sufficient notice be given of their passage," said the defence ministry.

Wednesday, July 24

Iran hints at quid pro quo for seized British ship

Rouhani suggested releasing the British-flagged ship that was seized by Iran on Friday, if the UK agrees to release an Iranian oil tanker that the British Royal Navy captured off Gibraltar earlier this month.

The move could provide a chance to reduce tensions between the two countries for incoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"We do not seek the continuation of tension with some European countries," Rouhani said in comments posted on his website.

"Should they be committed to international frameworks and give up their wrong actions, including what they did in Gibraltar, they will receive a proportional response from Iran."

Iran ready to negotiate but not surrender – Rouhani

Iran is ready for "just" negotiations but not if they mean surrender, Rouhani said, without saying what talks he had in mind.

Rouhani seemed to be referring to possible negotiations with the United States.

"As long as I have the responsibility for the executive duties of the country, we are completely ready for just, legal and honest negotiations to solve the problems," Rouhani said, according to his official website.

"But at the same time, we are not ready to sit at the table of surrender under the name of negotiations," he said, adding, "The world should be thankful that Iran's Revolutionary Guards are preserving the security of the Straight of Hormuz."

Iran says it will secure Strait of Hormuz

Iran will secure the Strait of Hormuz and not allow any disturbance in shipping in the key oil transport waterway, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbass Araghchi said on Tuesday during a visit to Paris, the state news agency IRNA reported.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressed the need for Tehran to quickly respect the 2015 nuclear accord it has breached and "make the needed gestures" to deescalate mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

France is working "at this moment on a European initiative" with Britain and Germany, Le Drian told lawmakers, without elaborating. "This vision is the opposite of the American initiative, which is … maximum pressure" against Iran.

First British vessel transits Hormuz after tanker seizure

A large British-flagged vessel has transited the Strait of Hormuz in the first such passage made by a British ship since Iran seized a UK-flagged tanker last week.

Maritime publication Lloyd's List identified the vessel as BW Elm and reported that British warship HMS Montrose closely shadowed the vessel but did not provide a direct escort.

The Royal Navy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Data on tracking site Marine Traffic showed the commercial ship arrived at a port in Qatar early Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 23

US says it 'engaged' two Iranian drones, not one

The US military says that when it destroyed an Iranian drone last week over the Strait of Hormuz, it also took aim at a second drone.

Iran denies it lost any drones.

US Central Command says that one Iranian drone crashed into the sea after the USS Boxer took what Central Command called "defensive action" against it last Thursday. It said the Boxer also "engaged" a second Iranian drone at the same time, but could not confirm it was destroyed.

Vienna meeting on Iran nuke deal

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China will meet in Vienna on July 28 to discuss how to save the 2015 nuclear deal, the EU's foreign policy service said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The meeting has been convened at the request of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iran, and will examine issues linked to the implementation of the JCPOA in all its aspects," the statement said.

The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal's formal name, will be chaired by the EU foreign policy service's Secretary General Helga Schmid.

Iran warns new British PM it will 'protect' Gulf waters

Iran warned Britain's next prime minister Boris Johnson that it will "protect" waters of the oil-rich Gulf, amid a standoff between the two countries over the seizure of tankers.

"I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM," Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted after Johnson beat his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in a party vote.

"Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them," Iran's top diplomat wrote.

Monday, July 22

Britain planning 'European-led protection force'

Britain will seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel in what London said was an act of "state piracy".

"Under international law, Iran had no right to obstruct the ship's passage – let alone board her. It was, therefore, an act of state piracy," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament.

"We will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region," Hunt said.

Britain's May to chair emergency session on seized tanker

Prime Minister Theresa May will chair an emergency security session to discuss how to respond to Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The meeting of security ministers and officials will discuss how to secure shipping in the sensitive region, which is vital to the world's oil supply.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also expected to brief Parliament on the Friday seizure of the Stena Impero tanker, now in a heavily guarded Iranian port.

Britain is considering a number of options to raise the economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran but officials say military operations are not being considered at the moment.

Sunday, July 21

All crew members 'safe and in good health' – Iran

All 23 crew members of the seized British-flagged Stena Impero tanker were "safe and in good health", the head of the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran in Hormozgan Province told stateTV.

"All the 23 crew members are aboard the ship are safe and ingood health in Bandar Abbas port," said Allahmorad Afifipour.

The crew are from India, Latvia, the Philippines and Russia.

Iran says its seizure of British ship a 'reciprocal' move

Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker was a response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker first, senior officials said, as newly released video of the incident, showed Iranian commandos in black ski masks and fatigues rappelling from a helicopter onto the vessel in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

In a dramatic video released by the Revolutionary Guard, several small Guard boats can be seen surrounding the larger tanker as it moves through the strait.

Above, a military helicopter hovers and then several men wearing black masks begin to rappel onto the ship.

FM Jeremy Hunt set to freeze Iran Assets
British ministers are making plans aimed at targeting Iran with sanctions in the aftermath of the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf, the DailyTelegraph newspaper reported.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce on Sunday diplomatic and economic measures, including potential asset freezes, as a response to the incident, according to the report.

Britain could push for United Nations and European Union sanctions to be reimposed on Iran after they had been lifted in 2016 following a deal on Iran's nuclear program, the Telegraph reported.
Saturday, July 20

Britain says Iran seized its tanker in Omani waters

London wants to de-escalate tensions with Tehran, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Saturday following a meeting of the UK's emergencies committee over Iran's seizure of a British-flagged ship in the Gulf.

The meeting "reaffirmed UK desire to de-escalate," Hunt said, adding that the Stena Impero oil tanker was seized in Omani waters "in clear contravention of international law" in "utterly unacceptable" circumstances.

The seizure came hours after a court in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar said it would extend by 30 days the detention of Grace 1, an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago in an operation aided by British Royal Marines on allegations of breaching EU sanctions against Syria.

Hunt said that having spoken to his Iranian counterpart Zarif, Tehran saw the situation as a "tit for tat."

Iran may be on 'dangerous path' after seizing tanker

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that he was worried that Iran had taken a "dangerous path" after it seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran's Fars news agency reported that the Stena Impero had been taken to the port of Bander Abbas, which faces the strait, after it said the tanker had been involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing vessel.

The Foreign Office in London also summoned Iran's charge d'affaires on Saturday, the ministry said.

British-flagged tanker was in accident with fishing boat – Iran

The British-flagged tanker Stena Impero was in an accident with a fishing boat before being detained on Friday, Iran's Fars news agency reported on Saturday, quoting an official.

Iran says all 23 crew seized on the tanker are now at Bandar Abbas port and will remain on the vessel until the end of an investigation, according to Fars.

"It got involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat… When the boat sent a distress call, the British-flagged ship ignored it," said the head of Ports and Maritime Organisation in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour.

"The tanker is now at Iran's Bandar Abbas port and all of its 23 crew members will remain on the ship until the probe is over."

Britain said earlier it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf.

Germany, France call on Iran to release tanker

Germany and France on Saturday called on Iran to immediately release the British oil tanker, in statements issued by their foreign ministries.

The capture of the Swedish-owned, British-flagged Stena Impero was a "dangerous further aggravation of an already tense situation," the German statement said.

UK warns British ships to avoid Hormuz Strait

London Saturday advised British ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz for "an interim period" following Iran's seizure of the British-flagged tanker.

"We remain deeply concerned about Iran's unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation," a government spokeswoman said following an overnight meeting of the government's COBRA emergencies committee.

"We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period."

Friday, July 19

Second ship seized by Iran – UK

Britain said Iran's seizure of a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz was unacceptable and called for freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

"I'm extremely concerned by the seizure of two naval vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

"I will shortly attend a COBR (national security) meeting to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels – a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel," he said.

"These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region," Hunt said.

Iran says it has seized a British oil tanker

Iran's Revolutionary Guard says it has seized a British oil tanker that was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Guard's website, sepahnews.com, said the tanker "Stena Impero" was seized on Friday by the Guard's forces for "non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations" and has transferred the vessel to an Iranian port.

The company that manages the vessel said it was unable to contact the crew after it was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz.

Northern Marine Management said the tanker was now heading north towards Iran. Northern Marine Group is owned by Stena AB.

Britain said it was urgently seeking further information after a British-flagged tanker took a sudden turn into Iranian waters.

Prime Minister Theresa May's office declined to comment.

Pompeo says Iran needs to 'come to the table'

US Secretary of State Pompeo said that the United States needed Iran to "come to the table" for negotiations, amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran in the Gulf that have impacted global oil markets.

Pompeo, speaking at a counterterrorism summit in Buenos Aires, also repeated an offer from Trump for talks without preconditions.

"The Iranians continue to say they will talk about it, but only if the United States does something.

We need them to come to the table, it's the right way to resolve these challenges," Pompeo told reporters.

Footage disproves US downed drone – Iran

Iran's state TV aired footage it said disproved Trump's assertion that the US Navy has destroyed an Iranian drone in the Gulf.

The video published by the Revolutionary Guard showed aerial views of warships. The TV station said the drone had captured the footage and timing notations showed the drone was still filming after Washington said it had been downed in the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump said on Thursday that the drone had flown to within 1,000 yards (900 metres) of the US warship Boxer and had ignored "multiple calls to stand down."

Detention of Iran supertanker extended

Gibraltar's Supreme Court has granted a 30-day extension to allow authorities there to continue to detain the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 until August 15.

The vessel was seized earlier this month by British Royal Marines off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria.

"At a private meeting of the Supreme Court on an application by the attorney general, the court has extended the period of detention of the vessel, Grace 1, for a further 30 days and has set a new hearing for 15 August 2019," the Gibraltar government said.

All Iran's drones returned safely to base – military

Iran's top military spokesman said all the country's drones had returned safely to base, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, after Trump said a US Navy ship had "destroyed" one.

"All drones belonging to Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … returned safely to their bases after their mission of identification and control, and there is no report of any operational response by USS Boxer," Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior armed forces spokesman, was quoted as saying by Tasnim.

Iran has not lost any drones – deputy foreign minister

Araqchi denied on Friday that Iran had lost a drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the United States said that a US Navy ship had "destroyed" an Iranian drone.

"We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS [Unmanned Aerial System] by mistake!," Araqchi said on Twitter, referring to a US warship in the strategic waterway.

Thursday, July 18

Iran drone destroyed – Pentagon

A US Navy ship destroyed an Iranian fixed-wing drone in a “defensive action,” escalating tensions in the Gulf after the drone came within "threatening range."

The USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, shot down the drone for flying too close to the ship in the Strait of Hormuz earlier Thursday, according to a statement by Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

The incident took place about 10 am local time as the Boxer was transiting into the Strait of Hormuz.

“The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew,” he added.

In remarks at the White House, Trump blamed Iran for a "provocative and hostile" action and said the US responded in self-defence.

"The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce," Trump said.

Zarif responded by saying he was not aware of any downing of an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday after Trump said the US military had shot one down in the Strait of Hormuz.

"We have no information about losing a drone today," Zarif told reporters at the United Nations before a meeting with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Foreign tanker detained – Revolutionary Guards

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said they had detained a "foreign tanker" and its crew for allegedly smuggling fuel in the Gulf.

The tanker was seised on Sunday "south of the (Iranian) island of Larak" in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the force's Sepahnews website said.

The Guards did not detail the name or provenance of the vessel.

"With a capacity of two million barrels and 12 foreign crew on board, the vessel was en route to deliver contraband fuel received from Iranian boats to foreign ships in farther regions when it was intercepted," the force said.

The announcement comes two days after Iran said it had come to the aid of a foreign tanker after receiving a distress call – making no mention of the vessel being seized.

Wednesday, July 17

US unsure whether Iran seized tanker

US officials say they are unsure whether an oil tanker towed into Iranian waters was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as Tehran asserts, creating a mystery at sea at a time of high tension in the Gulf.

The MT Riah disappeared from ship tracking maps when its transponder was switched off in the Strait of Hormuz on July 14. Its last position was off the coast of the Iranian island of Qeshm in the strait.

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it appeared that the tanker was in Iranian territorial waters, but it was not clear whether that was because Iran had seized it or rescued it.

The mystery comes at a time when Washington has called for greater security for ships in the Gulf.

Adding to the riddle of the missing ship was difficulty establishing who owns it, which no country or company has so far publicly claimed. Initial reports described it as Emirati. However, an Emirati official told Reuters the tanker was neither owned nor operated by the UAE.

Tuesday, July 16

UAE oil tanker goes missing

A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker two days ago, leading the US to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region, an American defence official said on Tuesday.

Iran offered no immediate comment on what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late on Saturday night.

An Emirati official acknowledged the vessel sent out no distress call.

Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the US and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Trump says US not seeking 'regime change' in Iran

Trump said Washington is not pushing to topple Iran's leadership but is determined to stop it acquiring nuclear weapons.

"We are not looking for regime change. We are not looking for that at all," Trump said during a cabinet meeting. "They can't have a nuclear weapon."

The United States quit an international deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions. Iran said last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal, and has also surpassed the 3 00-kilogram cap on enriched uranium reserves.

Monday, July 15

2015 nuclear deal 'still alive'

The European Union's top Foreign Policy chief says the Iran nuclear deal is "not in the best of health, but still alive".

Federica Mogherini addressed the media on Monday after European Union nations threw their diplomatic weight behind the unraveling Iran nuclear deal on Monday, trying to rescue the pact from collapsing under US pressure.

The 28 EU foreign ministers insisted that recent Iranian actions surpassing uranium enrichment thresholds set by the 2015 deal did not necessarily condemn the whole agreement.

"We hope and we invite Iran to reverse these steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement,"

Mogherini also admitted that the EU's efforts would probably not be enough to mitigate the impact of the US's decision to withdraw from the agreement and impose sanctions on Iran.

Noting that Iran was "still a good year away" from potentially developing a nuclear bomb, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was still a "small window to keep the deal alive."

Israel: EU's response to Iran recalls Nazi appeasement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned a European Union response on Monday to Iran's breaches of nuclear limitations, saying it recalled failed diplomacy with Nazi Germany ahead of World War Two.

"(It) reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s," Netanyahu said in a video statement after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said none of the parties to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran saw its increased uranium enrichment as "significant non-compliance".

"Then, too, there were those who stuck their head in the sand and did not see the approaching danger," said Netanyahu, who has often cast Iran's nuclear projects as a mortal menace to Israel and the wider world.

Sunday, July 14

European powers urge dialogue in Iran nuclear crisis

Britain, France and Germany called for dialogue and an end to the escalation over Iran's nuclear programme.

The three key European powers expressed concern that the 2015 deal risked further unravelling but said it was up to Tehran to ensure the deal survived.

"We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue," said the English-language version of the statement issued by the Elysee.

"The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions," it added.

Iran ready to talk if US lifts sanctions – Rouhani

Iran is ready to hold talks with the US if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, Iranian Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday.

Trump's administration says it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues.

But Iran has made any talks conditional on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the US withdrew from the nuclear pact with world powers in May 2018.

"We have always believed in talks … if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere," Rouhani said in his Sunday speech.

Saturday, July 13

Iran tanker will be freed after guarantees – UK

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt sought to ease tensions with Iran, saying a tanker held by Gibraltar would be released if Tehran guaranteed it was not heading to Syria.

He said he had a "constructive call" with his Iranian counterpart Zarif, who he said assured him that Tehran "is not seeking to escalate" tensions between the countries.

"I reassured him our concern was destination, not origin of the oil on Grace One," a tanker seized off the coast of the tiny British territory of Gibraltar on July 4, Hunt tweeted.

An Iranian statement confirmed the conversation and said Hunt underlined Iran's "right to export oil".

It added that Tehran hoped that an investigation in Gibraltar into the seized ship "would lead quickly to the release of the Iranian tanker".

Friday, July 12

Gibraltar police say that all four crew members of the Iranian Grace 1 tanker have been released on bail without charge after it was detained last week on suspicion of breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

The police said earlier in the day that they had arrested the two second mates from the tanker, a day after the vessel's captain and chief officer were arrested.

It did not elaborate, but said the investigation was ongoing and that the Grace 1 continues to be detained.

Britain sends second warship to Gulf

Britain is sending a second warship to the Gulf amid growing tensions with Iran after Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar lastweek.

As part of our long-standing presence in the Gulf, HMS Duncan warship is deploying to the region, Britain said.

Earlier Sky News reported the destroyer, which had been earmarked for deployment in the region anyway although not so soon, would sail to the Gulf in the next few days to join the frigate, HMS Montrose.

Decision to seize tanker unilateral – Gibraltar

Gibraltar said its action last week to detain Iranian tanker Grace 1 was a decision it took on its own and not at the behest of any other state or third party, the British overseas territory's chief minister said on Friday.

“The decisions of Her Majesty’s government of Gibraltar were taken totally independently, based on breaches of existing law and not at all based on extraneous political considerations,” Fabian Picardo told Gibraltar’s parliament.

"All relevant decisions in respect of this matter were taken only as a direct result of the government of Gibraltar having reasonable grounds to believe the vessel was acting in breach of established EU sanctions against Syria," Picardo said.

"There has been no political request at any time from any government that Gibraltar should act or not act on one basis or another."

The vessel contained 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, he said.

Spain had said the tanker was intercepted by British authorities after a request from the United States.

'This is a dangerous game' – Iran to UK

Iran called on Britain to immediately release its oil tanker which British Royal Marines seized last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mousavi told state news agency IRNA.

"This is a dangerous game and has consequences … the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid … the release of the tanker is in all countries' interest … Foreign powers should leave the region because Iran and other regional countries are capable of securing the regional security," Mousavi said.

Iran has warned of reciprocal measures if the tanker is not released by Britain.

Thursday, July 11

US looks at military escorts

The Pentagon said on Thursday it was discussing military escorts for vessels in the Gulf one day after armed Iranian boats threatened a British oil tanker.

The White House's nominee to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said Washington was attempting to put together a coalition "in terms of providing military escort, naval escort to commercial shipping."

"I think that that will be developing over the next couple weeks," Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Milley's statement came after London accused Tehran on Thursday of deploying three military vessels to "impede the passage" of a BP tanker, the British Heritage.

"We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region," a Downing Street spokesman said.

Iranian supertanker captain arrested

A spokesman for the Royal Gibraltar Police said officers have arrested the captain and chief officer of a Iranian supertanker suspected of breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.

Patrick Payas said the two are in police custody while investigations continue into the movements of the Grace 1 supertanker. He says they have not been formally charged.

Payas did not have information about their nationalities.

He said other crew members remain aboard the ship.

The vessel was intercepted by the British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain July 4. A senior Spanish official said the operation was requested by the United States.

The EU and others have imposed sanctions on Syria's Assad regime over its continued crackdown against civilians.

Iran tried to seize British oil tanker – report

Armed Iranian boats attempted to seize a British tanker in strategic Gulf waters on Wednesday but were driven off by a Royal Navy frigate, UK said in a statement, a charge Iran denied.

The Iranians ordered the British Heritage oil tanker, which was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area, to change course and stop in Tehran's nearby waters, CNN said, citing two American officials.

A US aircraft shot video of the incident, which ended when the HMS Montrose –– which was escorting the tanker –– trained its guns on the boats and successfully warned them to back off, the channel said.

Later, the UK government said in a statement that the Iranian vessels only turned away after receiving "verbal warnings" from a UK navy vessel.

"We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region," it said.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard denied it "impeded" British tanker in Strait of Hormuz.

Rouhani had warned Britain of "consequences" on Wednesday over the detention of one of the country's oil tankers off the coast of Gibraltar.

"I point out to the British that you initiated insecurity (on the seas) and you shall grasp the consequences of it later on," Rouhani said in comments to the cabinet broadcast by state TV.

Wednesday, July 10

Russia and Iran reject US statements at IAEA meeting

Iran and Russia on Wednesday poured scorn on America's call for Tehran to adhere to limits in a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, at a special meeting of the UN's nuclear watchdog.

The US Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna Jackie Wolcott told the meeting that Iran was engaged in "nuclear extortion".

Iran has said it will disregard certain limits under the JCPOA as long as the remaining parties to the deal – in particular the UK, France and Germany – don't do more to mitigate the impact of crippling US sanctions re-imposed after Trump withdrew from the deal in May 2018.

"There is no way to read this as anything other than a crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the international community," Wolcott said.

Her Iranian counterpart Kazem Gharib Abadi said it was a "sad irony that this meeting is convened with the request of the United States".

Abadi said the current impasse was the result of Washington's "outlaw behaviour" and condemned what he called the "sadistic tendency" of the US to impose sanctions on Iran.

Russia's Ambassador to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted after the meeting that the US "was practically isolated on this issue".

He told the assembled diplomats it was an "oddity" that the meeting had been called by the US, "the country that declared the JCPOA to be a 'terrible deal'".

"In practice, it turns out that Washington is aware of the importance of the Plan (JCPOA)," he said.

In a joint statement to the meeting, Britain, France and Germany took a nuanced position, reflecting their continued diplomatic efforts to save the JCPOA.

They said that "our continued support (for the JCPOA) relies on Iran implementing its commitments in full".

Trump warns of further sanctions

Trump accused Iran on Wednesday of secretly enriching uranium for a long time and warned that US sanctions will be increased soon, as the UN nuclear watchdog held an emergency meeting on Tehran's breach of a nuclear deal.

"Iran has long been secretly 'enriching,' in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years. Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!" Trump said on Twitter.

The United States used an emergency meeting of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's board on Wednesday to pressure Iran over breaches of the 2015 international nuclear deal, accusing it of extortion and pledging to continue sanctions while still offering to hold talks.

US wants military coalition to safeguard Gulf waters

The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, a top US general said on Tuesday.

Under the plan, which has only been finalised in recent days, the United States would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition. Allies would patrol waters near those US command ships and escort commercial vessels with their nation's flags.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, articulated those details to reporters following meetings on Tuesday about it with acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Pompeo.

"I think probably over the next couple of weeks we'll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we'll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that'll support that," Dunford said.

Tuesday, July 9

Trump lured by allies into killing 2015 nuclear deal – Iran

Zarif has said Trump's allies had tricked him into killing off a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

Zarif said on Twitter that Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had killed an earlier nuclear agreement in 2005 by insisting that Iran stop all uranium enrichment.

Monday, July 8

Iran goes beyond uranium enrichment limit – IAEA

Iran has enriched uranium beyond 3.67 percent purity limit set by its deal with major powers, the UN nuclear watchdog policing the deal said on Monday, confirming a move previously announced by Tehran.

"(International Atomic Energy Agency) Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the IAEA Board of Governors that Agency inspectors on July 8 verified that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67% U-235," an IAEA spokesman said.

A report to member states obtained by Reuters said the agency had verified the enrichment level using online enrichment monitors and samples had also been taken on Monday for analysis.

US does not seek war with Iran – Pence

US Vice President Mike Pence called 2015 Iran nuclear deal "disastrous," saying there will be no more pallets of cash for Iran.

He said US is willing to talk to Iran about its nuclear programme and does not seek war, but said US military is prepared to protect US interests, personnel in the region.

"Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve," Pence said in prepared remarks to a conference of the Christians United for Israel advocacy group.

"The United States does not seek a war with Iran. We are willing to talk. We are willing to listen. But America will not back down," Pence said.

There won't be a better deal than 2015 accord – Zarif

World powers will not be able to negotiate a better deal with Iran than the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted on Monday.

Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity as its next potential big moves away from the agreement that Washington abandoned last year.

Zarif has in the past said that a so-called "B-team" including Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, an ardent Iran hawk, and conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could goad Trump into a conflict with Tehran.

Iran passes 3.67 percent uranium enrichment – AEOI

Iran has passed the 3.67 percent uranium enrichment cap set by its landmark 2015 nuclear deal and may enrich at even higher levels, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Monday according to the IRIB news agency.

"Twenty percent is not needed now, but if we want we will produce it. When we've put aside 3.67 percent enrichment, we have no obstacle or problem with this action," Kamalvandi was quoted as saying, noting that options for enriching at higher levels had been discussed with the Supreme National Security Council.

"There is the 20 percent option and there are options even higher than that but each in its own place. Today if our country's needs are one thing, we won't pursue something else just to scare the other side a little more," he said.

Increasing the number of centrifuges is an option for Iran' s third step in reducing its commitments to the nuclear deal, Kamalvandi said, noting that restarting IR-2 and IR-2 M centrifuges is an option.

The remaining European signatories to the nuclear deal should act quickly to fulfil their promises because Iran will continue reducing its commitments to the deal until it achieves a result, Kamalvandi said, according to IRIB.

Iran must be persuaded to stick to nuclear deal – Germany

"The ball is clearly in Iran's court. We want to preserve the deal. For this, parties must stick to it," the German foreign ministry spokesman told a regular government news conference.

Asked at which point a red line would be crossed for the German government, the spokesman said: "Our objective is that Iran abides by the deal."

Russia concerned over the growing tensions

Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia is concerned by Iran's uranium enrichment, furthering its breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Peskov said the Kremlin had warned that Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the deal a year ago would entail negative consequences to global security. He called on all parties to use diplomacy to overcome the crisis.

Iran is open to diplomacy but has 'no hope'

Iran remains open to diplomacy to save its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers but has "no hope" in the international community, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Mousavi said he had no information on how far Iran had taken its uranium enrichment, though a top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei previously suggested Iran had a need for five-percent-enriched uranium.

"There is a lot of speculation, so we don't know," Mousavi said in response to a question from The Associated Press at a weekly news conference.

"We will see what we need."

Japan concerned over Iran's uranium enrichment

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said Monday that Japan is "seriously concerned and closely watching" the development on the nuclear deal and increased tension in the Middle East.

Nishimura urged Iran to "immediately return to its commitment under the agreement and avoid any further steps that would undermine the nuclear agreement."

Sunday, July 7

Trump says Iran 'better be careful'

Trump warned Iran on Sunday over its imminent breach of a uranium enrichment cap.

"Iran better be careful, because you enrich for one reason, and I won't tell you what that reason is. But it's no good. They better be careful," he told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.

The 3.67 percent enrichment limit set in the agreement is far below the more than 90 percent level required for a nuclear warhead.

Iran to face more 'isolation, sanctions' – Pompeo

Iran will face further sanctions in response to its expected breach Sunday of a uranium enrichment cap, Pompeo said.

"Iran's latest expansion of its nuclear programme will lead to further isolation and sanctions," the top US diplomat said on Twitter.

"Nations should restore the long-standing standard of no enrichment for Iran's nuclear programme. Iran's regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world," Pompeo said.

France demands Iran drop uranium enrichment plan

France on Sunday demanded that Iran halt any activity that breaches the 2015 nuclear accord, expressing "great concern" over Tehran's statement that it was set to breach the uranium enrichment cap set under the deal.

"We firmly demand that Iran halt all activities that do not meet its commitments under the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muehll said in a statement.

"France is in contact with its partners involved to engage in the necessary de-escalation of tensions as part of the Iranian nuclear issue," the statement said.

EU 'concerned' at Iran's decision

The European Union on Sunday strongly urged Iran to stop actions that would undermine a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, saying it was in touch with other parties to the deal and may set up a joint commission to look into the issue.

"We are extremely concerned at Iran's announcement that it has started uranium enrichment above the limit of 3.67 percent," spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

"We strongly urge Iran to stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments …"

Germany alarmed at Iran's decision

Berlin reacted with alarm to Iran's announcement that it would enrich uranium beyond levels allowed in its 2015 nuclear deal.

"We strongly urge Iran to stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments," a German foreign office spokesman said, naming production of larger quantities of low-enriched uranium as well as enrichment to higher levels than allowed.

"We are in contact with the other JCPoA participants regarding the next steps," Berlin added, referring to the 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers including Russia, Germany, Britain, and France.

'Stop and reverse' plan to breach nuclear deal

Britain urged Iran to "immediately stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its obligations," hours after Tehran threatened to abandon a landmark nuclear agreement in 60 days.

"While the UK remains fully committed to the deal, Iran must immediately stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its obligations," the British Foreign Office said in a statement.

"We are coordinating with other JCPoA participants regarding the next steps under the terms of the deal," it added.

Detained oil tanker wasn't headed to Syria – Iran

Iran denied that an oil tanker detained by Britain in Gibraltar was carrying crude to Syria, which would put it in violation of EU sanctions.

"The tanker was carrying Iran's oil… Contrary to what the British government claims, its destination was not Syria," said Araghchi at a press conference in Tehran.

"The port named in Syria does not even have the capacity for such a supertanker to dock. Its destination was somewhere else," he added.

The 330-metre (1,000-feet) Grace 1, capable of carrying 2 million oil barrels, was halted in the early hours of Thursday by police and customs agencies in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip at the western entrance to the Mediterranean.

France will not launch dispute resolution

The French government will not trigger the Iran nuclear deal's dispute resolution mechanism for now, instead of giving itself one week to try to get all parties talking again after Iran decided to enrich uranium above limits agreed in 2015.

"It's not an option at this moment," a source at Macron's Elysee office said on Sunday.

The dispute resolution mechanism could eventually lead to the reimposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran.

Iran's enrichment move a 'very, very dangerous step'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran's decision to enrich uranium was an extremely dangerous move and he again called on Europe to impose punitive sanctions on Tehran.

"This is a very, very dangerous step," Netanyahu said in public remarks to his cabinet.

"Iran has violated its solemn promise under the UN Security Council not to enrich uranium beyond a certain level," he said.

Iran set to exceed nuclear deal uranium enrichment cap

Iran said on Sunday it was set to breach the uranium enrichment cap set by an endangered nuclear deal within hours as it seeks to press signatories into keeping their side of the bargain.

Tehran also threatened to abandon more commitments unless a solution is found with parties to the 2015 agreement.

Rouhani's order to exceed the threshold would be implemented "in a few hours" after the last technical details were sorted, Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said live on state television.

Rouhani initially flagged Tehran's intentions on May 8, exactly a year on from Trump unilaterally abandoning the multilateral deal.

He has said the move is in response to a failure by remaining state signatories to keep their promise to help Iran work around biting sanctions reimposed by the US in the second half of last year.

Araghchi on Sunday singled out Iran's declining oil sales as one of the main issues that needed to be solved, or Tehran would further step back from its commitments.

"We hope we can reach a solution otherwise after 60 days we will take the third step as well," he said, without specifying what the further measures would involve.

France warns of consequences

Macron told Rouhani of his "strong concern" over the risk of weakening the nuclear agreement and the consequences that would follow during a telephone call Saturday, according to a statement from the Elysee Palace.

However, the two leaders agreed to "explore by July 15 the conditions for a resumption of dialogue between all parties", the statement said, adding that Macron would consult with Iranian authorities and international partners to bring about the "necessary de-escalation" of the situation over the coming days.

It is not yet clear how far the Islamic republic will boost enrichment.

But a top advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hinted on Friday it could reach five percent.

UN nuclear inspectors to report on enrichment move

Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, who are in Iran, will report back once they have checked that Tehran has enriched uranium to a higher level of purity than that allowed under its nuclear deal, the agency said on Sunday.

"We are aware of Iran's announcement related to its uranium enrichment level," a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

"IAEA inspectors in Iran will report to our headquarters as soon as they verify the announced development."

The 2015 deal was reached between Iran and six world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, the United States and Russia – and saw Tehran agree to drastically scale down its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Washington withdrew from the deal and began reimposing sanctions in August 2018 and has targeted crucial sectors including oil exports and the banking system, fuelling a deep recession.

The 3.67 percent enrichment limit set in the agreement is sufficient for power generation but far below the more than 90 percent level required for a nuclear warhead.

Rouhani has stressed that Iran's action would be reversed if the other parties provided relief from the US sanctions, insisting his country's policies are not meant to "hurt (the deal), but to preserve" it.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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