Iran news headlines on Thursday include Pentagon spokesman speeche on captured drone in Iran, number of earthquake victims in South Khorasan province, EU and US two-track policy on Iran, Tanzania denial of registering 17 Iranian tankers, shipping sources reports on reducing Iranian crude exports and US demanding buyers of Iran’s crude to reduce their purchases for exemption.
The drone Iran says it captured appears to be a U.S.-made ScanEagle, Pentagon spokesman George Little said, in a change from the initial U.S. rejection of the Iranian claim. While Iran said it extracted valuable data from the unmanned aerial vehicle, Little told reporters yesterday that it was “highly improbable” that useful intelligence could be gained from the relatively unsophisticated drone. He said it couldn’t be determined if it was operated by the U.S.
Iran’s state TV says the death toll from an earthquake near the border with Afghanistan has risen to six. The report also says 14 people were injured in the 5.5-magnitude quake that hit South Khorasan province late Wednesday.
The fourth EU-US Energy Council met in Brussels Wednesday, chaired by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, EU Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. A statement released last night noted that the Energy Council, a central component of the EU-US energy relationship, promotes transparent and secure global energy markets; fosters co-operation on regulatory frameworks and sustainable use of energy; and identifies joint research priorities that promote clean energy technologies.
Tanzania has denied registering 17 Iranian tankers that had been blacklisted elsewhere. Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe said Tanzania deregistered the 36 tankers in July after it was established that they were flying its national flag. “We responded to these allegations and clarified our position in October, only to receive another letter from the US Embassy claiming that Tanzania had registered 17 Iranian tankers which had been deregistered in Tuvalu,” he said.
Iran’s crude exports are set to drop by about a quarter in December from the preceding month to the lowest since tough sanctions were applied this year, shipping sources said, as the OPEC-member comes under pressure to curb its nuclear programme. Oil shipments by Iran have more than halved in 2012 due to U.S. and European sanctions on its oil trade, straining Tehran’s finances, pressuring its currency and igniting inflation.
The United States expects countries that buy oil from Iran to further reduce their purchases if they want to avoid U.S. sanctions, a State Department source said on Wednesday. “The law requires additional cuts so we expect buyers to make additional cuts,” a source at the State Department said about the U.S. sanctions law signed a year ago by President Barack Obama.
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