iran


Yemeni Houthis claim drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Yemen's Houthi movement launched drone attacks on oil facilities in a remote area of Saudi Arabia, the group's Al Masirah TV said Saturday, but there was no immediate confirmation from Saudi authorities or state oil giant Aramco. A Saudi-led coalition is battling the Iran-aligned Houthis to try to restore Yemen's government, which was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, by the group in late 2014. The war has been in military stalemate for years. The Houthis have stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent months. "Ten drones targeted Aramco's Shaybah oilfield and refinery in the first Operation: Balance of Deterrence in the east of the kingdom," the Al Masirah channel reported, citing a Houthi military spokesman.


Iran says it seized British tanker in Strait of Hormuz and denies U.S. brought down drone

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON/DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Iran said it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday but denied Washington's assertion that the U.S. Navy had downed an Iranian drone nearby this week, as tensions in the Gulf region rose again. Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero tanker, 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. The tanker's operator, Stena Bulk, said in a statement the ship was no longer under the crew's control and could not be contacted. Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted a military source as saying the vessel had turned off its tracker, ignored warnings from the Revolutionary Guard and was sailing in the wrong direction in a shipping lane. "We will respond in a way that is considered but robust and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters.


Trump says American warship destroyed 'hostile' Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - A U.S. warship on Thursday destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the ship, President Donald Trump said. The incident marked a new escalation of tensions between the countries less than one month after Iran downed an American drone in the same waterway and Trump came close to retaliating with a military strike. In remarks at the White House, Trump blamed Iran for a "provocative and hostile" action and said the U.S. responded in self-defense. He said the Navy's USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took defensive action after the Iranian aircraft closed to within 1,000 yards of the ship and ignored multiple calls to stand down. "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.


Iran vows to ditch more nuclear curbs in war of words with U.S.

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran said Tuesday it will further free itself from the 2015 nuclear deal in defiance of new American sanctions as U.S. President Donald Trump warned the Islamic republic of "overwhelming" retaliation for any attacks. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have spiraled since last year when Trump withdrew the United States from the deal under which Tehran was to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. The two arch-rivals have been locked in an escalating war of words since Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in what it said was its own airspace, a claim the US vehemently denies. On Monday, Washington stepped up pressure by blacklisting Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military chiefs, saying it would also sanction Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in the week. Tehran was defiant on Tuesday, saying the new US sanctions against Iran showed Washington was "lying" about an offer of talks.


Mike Pompeo in Mideast seeks to build coalition against Iran but faces hard sell

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks Monday with the Saudi king and crown prince about countering the military threat from Iran by building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries. Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that President Donald Trump repudiated last year. With tensions running high in the region after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone on June 20 and Trump said he aborted a retaliatory strike, Iran's naval commander warned that his forces won't hesitate to down more U.S. drones that violate its airspace. The U.S. has been building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. announced additional sanctions Monday on Iran aimed at pressuring the Iranian leadership into talks.


Iran says 'spy drone' violated its airspace in May amid U.S. escalation

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran said on Sunday a "spy drone" had encroached its airspace in May, about a month before it downed an American drone as part of a series of escalatory incidents between Tehran and Washington. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a map saying the U.S.-made MQ9 Reaper drone -- also widely used for carrying out military strikes -- had entered his country's airspace on May 26. Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone Thursday, saying it had violated its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz -- a claim the United States denies. U.S. President Donald Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike Friday, saying the response would not have been "proportionate," with Tehran warning any attack would see Washington's interests across the Middle East go up in flames. On Sunday U.S. national security adviser John Bolton cautioned Iran against misinterpreting the last-minute cancellation.


Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

FOX News

Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., director of Defense Intelligence Agency, gives insight on recent Iranian attacks on tankers and a surveillance drone. EXCLUSIVE – Iran is likely at "an inflection point," and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change "the status quo," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively. "I'd say that they're probably at an inflection point right now," the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency. Director Ashley said, based on their activity over the last several years, the Iranians would probably say they were in a "favorable" position with their influence over the Iraqi government and the likelihood their longtime regional ally -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- will remain in power. But, Director Ashley -- whose agency's mission is to understand foreign militaries and the operational environment -- said the United States' withdrawal from the Iran deal and subsequent sanctions made a major impact on the regime.


Facing Intensifying Confrontation With Iran, Trump Has Few Appealing Options

NYT > Middle East

President Trump's last-minute decision to pull back from a retaliatory strike on Iran underscored the absence of appealing options available to him as Tehran races toward its next big challenge to the United States: building up and further enriching its stockpile of nuclear fuel. Two weeks of flare-ups over the attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American surveillance drone, administration officials said, have overshadowed a larger, more complex and fast-intensifying showdown over containing Iran's nuclear program. In meetings in the White House Situation Room in recent days, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contended that the potential for Iran to move closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon was the primary threat from Tehran, one participant said, a position echoed by Mr. Trump on Twitter on Friday. Left unsaid was that Iran's moves to bolster its nuclear fuel program stemmed in substantial part from the president's decision last year to pull out of the 2015 international accord, while insisting that Tehran abide by the strict limits that agreement imposed on its nuclear activities. Mr. Trump has long asserted that the deal would eventually let Iran restart its nuclear program and did too little to curb its support for terrorism.


U.S. launched cyberattacks on Iranian military computers last week

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - U.S. military cyberforces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran's downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday. Two officials told The Associated Press that the strikes were conducted with approval from Trump. A third official confirmed the broad outlines of the strike. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the operation. The cyberattacks -- a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions -- disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said.


Airlines Divert Flights Around Iran After U.S. Drone Is Shot Down

NYT > Middle East

Several international airlines were diverting planes from flying over the Strait of Hormuz and parts of Iran on Friday, a day after the Iranian military shot down an American surveillance drone and the United States went to the brink of launching a retaliatory strike. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order early Friday that prohibited all American flights in Tehran-controlled airspace above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman because of "heightened military activities and increased political tensions." The agency said that flight operations in the area were prohibited "until further notice." United Airlines said in a statement that after a security assessment, it had suspended flights between Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Mumbai, India, that typically fly through Iranian airspace. The German airline Lufthansa said in an emailed statement that its planes would not fly over the Strait of Hormuz and that the diversion area was likely to expand.