Iran

Updated at 4:21 a.m. ET Saturday

In a "terrible catastrophe," Iran says it mistakenly shot missiles at a Ukrainian civilian jetliner minutes after takeoff on Wednesday. The plane crashed on the outskirts of Tehran, killing 176 people.

"Armed Forces' internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people," President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter early Saturday.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

President Trump said that Iran appears "to be standing down" after Tuesday night's missile attack in Iraq and that "the American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed."

Trump, in a nationally televised address from the White House, also announced a new round of what he termed "punishing economic sanctions" against the Iranian government. And he called on NATO to become "much more involved in the Middle East process."

Updated at 10:03 p.m. ET

Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces, targeting at least two military bases in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department announced late Tuesday.

The strikes on military and coalition personnel at the Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar province and in Irbil — at the center of Iraq's Kurdistan region — began at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET, according to a statement.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the strike, saying it was an act of "self-defense."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott briefs reporters at a press conference held at the capitol.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott is warning Texans to be “particularly vigilant” over potential cyberterrorism from Iran, suggesting that heightened tensions with the country have caused an increase in attempted attacks on state agencies.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET Sunday

As thousands of mourners flooded the streets of Iran on Sunday to mourn the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a series of dizzying developments convulsed the Middle East, generating new uncertainty around everything from the future of U.S. forces in Iraq to the battle against ISIS and the effort to quell Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Amid the fallout of the U.S. drone strike on Friday that killed Soleimani, Sunday saw the following whiplash-inducing developments unfold almost simultaneously:

Updated at 3:15 p.m.

President Trump, in his first public remarks in the wake of a U.S. strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, defended the action as necessary to protect national security.

"We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war," Trump said Friday afternoon from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Updated at 1:07 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered a bold strike against Iran this week that jangled the Middle East and Washington, drawing praise from allies, skepticism from critics and, most of all, questions about what comes next.

Updated at 4:27 a.m. ET Friday

U.S. forces assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike early Friday near the Baghdad International Airport, an escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran that is prompting concerns of further violence in the region.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Michael S. Murphy

From Texas Standard.

Early Thursday morning at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, DC, three American detainees returned home from North Korea. President Trump greeted the men and said the release of the hostages shows that the U.S. has “a very good chance of doing something very meaningful” with North Korea.

Updated at 6:36 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Tuesday that he has decided to exit a 2015 multinational agreement in which Iran agreed to limit its production of nuclear weapons material.

"I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal," Trump said.

He said the U.S. will reimpose economic sanctions that were lifted as part of the U.S. commitments made in the deal.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

From Texas Standard.

President Donald Trump quickly disproved any theories that he might step away from Twitter in his second year of office.

The president has spent the past 24 hours sounding off on foreign policy issues via Twitter – unleashing a tweet-storm aimed at nuclear relations in North Korea and anti-government protests in Iran.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Published reports say the Trump administration wants to decertify the nuclear agreement with Iran. All signs point to President Donald Trump announcing that the international accord is no longer in America's national security interests. Since several other countries are parties to the nuclear deal, the question is: would a U.S. pullout kill the deal altogether?

Image via Twitter/GregAbbott_TX

From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott is on his third official international trip since being sworn in last January. Yesterday in Jerusalem, the Governor met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Abbott said the purpose of the upcoming meeting was to promote business ties abroad.

However, since news broke over the weekend of the U.S. prisoner swap and an end to sanctions against Iran, Monday's meeting seemed more like a political trip. That’s left some scratching their heads, and others nodding in approval.

 


The four Americans who were part of a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Iran have been released by Iran, a senior administration official confirms, and those who wished to depart the country have left.

A fifth American was released separately from the exchange.

The release of the prisoners was the result of "tireless" work by American diplomats, on the sidelines of nuclear negotiations with Iran, President Obama said Sunday.

"I've met with some of the families. I've seen their anguish — how they ached for their husbands and sons," Obama said.

(This post was last updated at 4:40 p.m. ET.)

Just before the sun rose on Geneva on Sunday, international negotiators emerged to announce Iran and world powers had reached a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program for six months while the two sides work out a permanent, more sweeping solution.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that Iranian warplanes fired on an unarmed U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf on Nov. 1.

According to Reuters, Little said the MQ1 Predator drone, which returned safely to its base, was in international waters at the time. Reuters adds:

Sanctions have not often worked to get governments to change their behavior, but Iran may prove to be an exception. The country depends on income from oil sales, and the oil sector is highly vulnerable to sanctions.

The United States has stopped buying Iranian oil, and the European Union is set to do so at the end of next month. There are sanctions on Iran's central bank and punishments for companies that help Iran ship its oil.

Jamie Webster, an oil market analyst at PFC Energy, says Iran's oil exports — normally about 2.5 million barrels a day — are in serious jeopardy.