Iran floats offer on nuclear inspections, Middle East News & Top Stories

US slaps sanctions on 12 entities in connection with Iran nuclear programme

The United States has slapped sanctions against 12 individuals and entities linked to the Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

Iran recently resumed refining uranium to fissile purities above limits set by the deal as a means of leverage on European signatories to protect trade dividends, especially oil exports, promised it under the 2015 deal from Trump's sanctions squeeze.

Former U.S. officials saw a diplomatic opening."If the foreign minister has suggested that the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) would ratify the additional protocol now, that is a serious step", said Wendy Sherman, a former Obama administration official who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal.

What is not part of the equation are under-the-radar contacts between governments that diplomats and regional experts say are a key part of keeping tense relations from spilling over into a hot conflict that neither side appears to want.

Tensions between the two countries escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal JCPoA a year ago.

He said Iran would be open to more enhanced inspections of its nuclear program in exchange for the USA lifting sanctions on the country. France has announced they will send diplomat Emmanuel Bonne to Tehran to try to decrease tension over Iran's nuclear program. He said Washington would maintain the tough economic sanctions regime in the meantime. The drone was downed through electronic jamming, according to a US official.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said yesterday they would release images to disprove the claim that the US Navy had destroyed a drone in the Gulf, Iranian news agencies reported.

He was referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Western hardliner and the ultimate authority in Iran, and President Hassan Rouhani, a more pragmatic figure who engineered the 2015 deal to ease Iran's global isolation but now signals no compromise in the confrontation with Washington. "That was a ridiculous agreement and it goes to show you I was right about Iran".

British forces seized an Iranian tanker, believing to have carrying oil to Syria which violates European Union sanctions. "This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in worldwide waters", he said.

On Thursday, Iran said that it had seized a foreign tanker under a United Kingdom flag allegedly smuggling oil in the Persian Gulf. But Mr Zarif told reporters at the United Nations he was not aware of any Iranian drone being downed.

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