For the first time in three weeks, Iranian newspapers are close to free from warnings to the US about the Islamic Republic’s military strength.
Since Secretary of State John Kerry declared last month that “military options are still on the table” if Iran does not adhere to November’s interim nuclear deal, Iranian officials, MPs, and commanders have put out a stream of declarations of Tehran’s response “beyond boundaries” to an American attack. Threats to destroy Israel, including with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have been accompanied by stories of new Iranian missiles and exercises — including a two-ship “fleet” heading to the “US maritime coast”.
However, this morning the emphasis on strength switches to the announcement of Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari that the navy has thwarted more than 50 pirate attacks since 2010: “Over the past four years, warships have escorted some 2,000 merchant vessels and freighters…and provided full security for the passage of Iranian vessels in a way that pirates have been unable to mount an attack on our ships.”
8% Rise in Oil Exports in January
Sales of Iranian crude oil rose by 100,000 barrels a day in January, reaching 1.32 million bpd.
Exports are continuing to recover from last year’s historic low of less than 800,000 bpd, a fall of almost 2/3rds from the level of 2012.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has set an immediate target of 1.5 million bpd as Tehran seeks a loosening of sanctions and foreign investment in the energy sector.
China accounted for most of the January increase, taking an additional 95,000 barrels a day. Small rises in imports by Japan and India were offset by slight falls by South Korea, Taiwan, and Syria.
Video: Footage of 5 Kidnapped Iranian Border Guards
Footage has been broadcast of the 5 Iranian border guards abducted by the Sunni insurgency Jaish ul-Adl in Sistan-Baluchestan Province earlier this week:
Iranian officials believe the men have been taken into Pakistan by Jaish ul-Adl, which has carried out a series of attacks in southeastern Iran in the six months.