Iran warns against ‘destructive measures,’ promises firm response as EU trio starts nuclear deal ‘non-compliance’ investigation

Iran will firmly respond to anyone acting to damage the 2015 nuclear deal, but welcomes “good faith” measures to save it, the foreign ministry said as three EU signatories triggered a non-compliance investigation against Tehran.

“It is necessary to explain that the action taken by the three European countries is a passive and weak position,” Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for the foreign ministry, warned in a statement.

He spoke shortly after Germany, France and the UK initiated a special dispute resolution procedure under the 2015 deal citing Iran’s alleged non-compliance with the pact.

Now, the Islamic Republic will provide a “serious and firm” response to any “destructive initiative” taken by any signatory of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Mousavi warned.

The European trio triggered the mechanism after Iran announced it would roll back its commitments under the deal following the killing of one of its top military commanders in a US drone strike earlier this month.

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In a joint statement on Tuesday, the three countries asserted that Tehran had no legal grounds”  to stop complying with the terms of the agreement and that they were left with no choice”  but to take action.

Iran has also accused European countries of violating the deal however, with the country's foreign ministry saying on Tuesday that European parties “failed to take tangible and serious action to meet their commitments” following the US’ abrupt departure from the agreement in 2018.

While Paris, Berlin and London implemented the investigation mechanism, they still made it clear that they are not joining Washington's campaign of exerting maximum pressure”  on Tehran.

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The 2015 nuclear deal, signed after years of intense negotiations, was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump quit the pact calling it the worst deal ever”  and reimposed previously lifted sanctions on the country.

The US departure caused tensions with European countries which were intent on keeping the accord afloat in the face of increasing difficulties – and eventually led Tehran to scale back its commitment to the deal's terms.

Under the terms, Iran had agreed to curtail its domestic nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Now, however, with the European trio triggering the compliance investigation, the worst case scenario for Iran could see the UN Security Council deciding to reinstate some sanctions.

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Israeli Intelligence Involved in Killing of Soleimani: NBC

NBC said one Israeli informant at the Damascus International Airport confirmed that Soleimani had been on a nightime flight from the Syrian capital to Baghdad, which was used to tip off the CIA.

The Israeli intelligence played a role in the U.S.' assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani on January 3rd, NBC News reported over the weekend.

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NBC News claimed, citing unnamed sources, that Israel's intelligence apparatus helped the U.S. stage the operation that led to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the Deputy Head of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes.

According to the NBC sources, Israeli intelligence provided the U.S. military command with key details on the matter, which later proved critical in the assassination of Soleimani in Baghdad.

NBC said one Israeli informant at the Damascus International Airport confirmed that Soleimani had been on a nightime flight from the Syrian capital to Baghdad, which was used to tip off the CIA.

The New York Times, in turn, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of Soleimani’s killing, and that the Jewish state likely became Washington’s only ally which was in the know about the issue.   

In October, the Iranian news agency Tasnim cited the IRGC’s head of intelligence Hossein Taeb as saying that Israel and the West had collaborated to assassinate Soleimani in order to “trigger a religious war inside Iran”.                                                             

“Frustrated by their failure to upset security in Iran or to harm the IRGC military bases, the enemies had hatched an extensive plot to hit Maj.-Gen. Soleimani in his home province of Kerman,” Taeb claimed at the time.

Following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would respond by firing 22 missiles at the U.S. forces in Iraq. The attack, which was carried out on the night of Qassem Soleimani's burial, was considered a success by Tehran, despite claims by Washington that no military personnel were killed or wounded. 

Since the assassination, however, tensions between Iran and U.S. have been at a four-decade-long high, with Washington furthering the divide between the two countries by imposing more sanctions against Tehran.

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Missile strikes on bases housing US troops aimed at damaging America’s ‘military machine’ – Iranian commander

Iran’s assault on bases housing US troops in Iraq was intended to smash American military infrastructure rather than kill soldiers, an Iranian commander told state television. He promised further strikes in the region.

Iran launched a volley of ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday morning, bringing the two countries to the brink of war. However, no American or Iraqi casualties were sustained, and US President Donald Trump responded with economic sanctions instead of military action.

Speaking on Iranian state television on Thursday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) aerospace commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, elaborated on the operation the previos day.

We didn't seek to kill. We sought to hit the enemy's military machine.

Hajizadeh added that expelling American troops from the Middle East would be “appropriate revenge” for the death of IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani, who the US assassinated in a drone strike at Baghdad airport on Friday.

He said that the attack would be the start of a series of similar strikes across the region.

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Trump thanked an “early warning system” for tipping the US military off about the incoming Iranian missiles on Wednesday morning, averting casualties at the bases. However, the Iraqi government confirmed that it received advance warning of the strikes, enabling US troops to take precautionary measures and activate air defense systems. Nevertheless, the missiles struck with pinpoint accuracy, demonstrating the advancement of Tehran’s military technology in recent years.

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Earlier in the day  IRGC commander Abdollah Araghi also said that Iran would take “harsher revenge soon,” without elaborating further.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei both stated that the Islamic Republic’s ultimate goal is the removal of US troops from the Middle East.

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