Bomb-laden drones of Yemen's Houthi rebels seen threatening Arabian Peninsula

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A Yemen rebel drone strike this week on a critical Saudi oil pipeline shows that the otherwise-peaceful sandy reaches of the Arabian Peninsula now are at risk of similar assault, including an under-construction nuclear power plant and Dubai International Airport, among the world's busiest. U.N. investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 km (930 miles). That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two main opponents of the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, within reach of drones difficult to detect and track. Their relatively simple design, coupled with readily available information online, makes targeting even easier, analysts say. "These installations are easily findable, like on Google Earth," said Tim Michetti, an expert on illicit weapons technology with experience in Yemen.


In UAE, Trump's adviser warns Iran of 'very strong response' to any attack

The Japan Times

ABU DHABI - President Donald Trump's national security adviser warned Iran on Wednesday that any attacks in the Persian Gulf will draw a "very strong response" from the U.S., taking a hard-line approach with Tehran after his boss only two days earlier said America wasn't "looking to hurt Iran at all." John Bolton's comments are the latest amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran that have been playing out in the Middle East. Bolton spoke to journalists in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which only days earlier saw former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warn there that "unilateralism will not work" in confronting the Islamic Republic. The dueling approaches highlight the divide over Iran within American politics. The U.S. has accused Tehran of being behind a string of incidents this month, including the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the Emirati coast, a rocket strike near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels. On Wednesday, Bolton told journalists that there had been a previously unknown attempt to attack the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as well, which he also blamed on Iran.


Iran says Revolutionary Guard shot down U.S. drone

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Thursday it shot down a U.S. drone amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal. The U.S. military declined to immediately comment. The reported shootdown of the RQ-4 Global Hawk comes after the U.S. military previously alleged Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that responded to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies. The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers a year ago.


Iraq offers to mediate between US, Iran amid ongoing tensions

FOX News

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim, right, shakes hands with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building in Baghdad, Iraq. BAGHDAD – Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels. Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. "We are trying to help and to be mediators," said al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad "will work to reach a satisfactory solution" while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington. In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.


Iran quadruples production of low-enriched uranium: reports

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium amid tensions with the U.S. over Tehran's unraveling nuclear accord, two semi-official news agencies reported Monday, an announcement just after President Donald Trump warned Iran it would face its "official end" if it threatened America again. While the reports said the production is of uranium enriched only to the 3.67 percent limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal that Tehran reached with world powers, it means that Iran soon will go beyond the stockpile limitations established by the accord. This follows days of heightened tensions sparked by the Trump administration's deployment of bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf over still-unspecified threats from Iran. While Trump's dueling approach of flattery and threats has become a hallmark of his foreign policy, the risks have only grown in dealing with Iran, where mistrust between Tehran and Washington stretch back four decades. So far this month, officials in the United Arab Emirates alleged that four oil tankers sustained damage in a sabotage attack; Yemeni rebels allied with Iran launched a drone attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia; and U.S. diplomats relayed a warning that commercial airlines could be misidentified by Iran and attacked, something dismissed by Tehran.