Signs of Iranian Strategy

Flags of Iran and USA

It was a busy weekend of activity for Iran, much of it rooted in its desire to seek ways around U.S. sanctions that are targeting its ability to sell oil around the world. 

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was the Biarritz surprise over the weekend as Group of Seven (G7) leaders met in the French coastal town.  Reporters and White House officials were taken by surprise when Zarif arrived on Sunday, though U.S. President Donald Trump said that summit host, French President Emmanuel Macron, had sought Trump’s approval ahead of time.  Zarif met with French officials who are trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal that the U.S. backed out of in 2018.  Trump, who did not meet with Zarif, said that he is not seeking regime change in Iran and that he is looking to make Iran ‘rich again’. 

Meanwhile, Iran says it has sold oil from the tanker that was recently seized and then released by Gibraltar. The Iranian news agency IRIB quoted an Iranian government spokesman saying that the new owner, who was not identified, will decide on the vessel’s next destination. 

That announcement follows an earlier one on Saturday that Iran had deployed a naval destroyer equipped with cruise missiles to help safeguard Iranian ships. 

Also on Saturday, Israel said it targeted and struck drone sites run by Iran inside of Syria.  Israel said that the sites were linked to planned attacks using “killer drones” against Israel. Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, said two Lebanese nationals were killed in the strike.

We spoke with Cipher Brief Expert Norm Roule, who is also the former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI, about the latest moves and what they might tell us about Iran’s recent strategic decisions.

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