PHOTO: Iranian Drone “Fotros”


Report: National Iranian Gas Company Declares Bankruptcy
Revolutionary Guards Reject Claims of Jaish ul-Adl Involvement in Killing of Attorney General
Kerry Postpones Friday Trip to Israel Because of Nuclear Talks


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Days before the renewal of the Geneva nuclear talks, Iran and France have continued to trade tough statements.

French President Francois Hollande, in an address to the Israeli Knesset, said Paris would not allow Iran to secure a nuclear weapon and would not release pressure unless it was assured that Tehran could not do so:

We have nothing against Iran, or its people, but we cannot allow Iran to get nuclear arms as it is a threat to Israel and the region.

We will maintain the sanctions as long as we are not certain that Iran has definitively renounced its military program.

Hollande, whose delegation blocked an interim deal at Geneva 10 days ago, has set four conditions for any agreement including a halt to construction of the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor; suspension of Iran’s production of 20% enriched uranium, with arrangements to control the existing stock; and tightened inspections.

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that “excessive demands” could undermine the talks this week, Iran’s military put out a message of strength on Monday with the unveiling of its largest domestically-built drone.

Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Fotros has an operational radius of up to 2,000 kilometers (1240 miles), an operational altitude of 25,000 feet, and flight endurance of up to 30 hours, said the defense chief.

Dehghan said the drone can be used for reconnaissance and surveillance, and has the potential to carry out combat operations once it is armed with air-to-surface missiles or other types of rockets.

Report: National Iranian Gas Company Declares Bankruptcy

Mehr News Agency, citing Chief Executive Officer Hamidreza Araghi, report that the National Iranian Gas Company has declared bankruptcy with more than 100 trillion Rials ($4 billion) in debt.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told Mehr that the financial woes are “due to erroneous decisions made by the previous administration in implementing the restructuring of government subsidies”, causing problems in the production and distribution of energy.

Revolutionary Guards Reject Claims of Jaish ul-Adl Involvement in Killing of Attorney General

Following the arrest of an “assassination team” accused of killing Zabol Attorney General Mousa Nouri Ghalehnou, the Revolutionary Guards have rejected claims that the incident was linked to separatist Sunni insurgent groups.

The operation was carried out by IRGC Ground Forces attached to the southeastern Quds Operational Base.

Jaish ul-Adl, the insurgent group based in Sistan-Baluchistan responsible for a recent attack which killed fourteen Iranian border guards in Saravan, claimed that it was also responsible for the death of Ghalehnou.

However, Head of IRGC Public Relations Ramazan Sharif dismissed such assertions, stating, “Despite the claims by some terrorist groups [Jaish al-Adl], this assassination has no relations to groups opposed to the regime. In contacts that we have had with IRGC Ground Force Commander Brig. Gen. [Mohammad] Pakpour, he affirmed that this assassination was related to the matter of smuggling and revenge.”

Ghalehnou and his driver were killed on 6 November. After initial responses by various officials blamed “al-Qaeda affiliated Salafi groups” or “America and Israel,” the Deputy Governor of Sistan-Baluchistan dismissed suggestions that the assassination might be linked to the Saravan attack carried out by Jaish ul-Adl.

Ghalenjou’s death also coincided with the killing of Deputy Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade Safdar Rahmatabadi.

Since then Iranian officials have been at pains to reject any involvement by anti-regime insurgents in either case, framing the attacks as stemming from “personal motivations” that “do not raise security issues.”

Law Enforcement Forces Deputy Commander Ahmad Reza Radan has stressed “it has become clear that this event has no type of political or security aspect” and “is not the work of Jaish al-Adl.”

Kerry Postpones Friday Trip to Israel Because of Nuclear Talks

Is this a signal that the US does not want a public confrontation with Israel as it moves towards a possible nuclear deal with Iran?

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday has postponed a trip to West Jerusalem scheduled for Friday.

“As the secretary stated, they’ve discussed the best timing for the visit,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, declaring that Kerry plans to travel to Israel in the next “several weeks”.

She added, “Obviously there’s a lot going on right now.”