U.S. targets Iranian top leader's inner circle with new sanctions

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The European Union on Monday warned its support for the Iran nuclear deal depends on Tehran fulfilling its commitments, after Iranian officials announced a major increase in enriched uranium production.

Hours after Reuters reported the incident, Iran confirmed that it had prevented an inspector from accessing its Natanz site - the heart of its uranium enrichment program - last week, because of a concern that she might be carrying "suspicious material", according to the Fars news agency. He said the centrifuges there would enrich uranium up to 4.5% fissile purity.

Iran said the whole process would be carried out transparently witnessed by inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The new designations include Mojtaba Khamenei, the Iranian leader's son, whom the Treasury Department said is being blacklisted "for representing the Supreme Leader in an official capacity despite never being elected or appointed to a government position".

It's also the most provocative move yet by Iran because of Fordo's symbolic importance in the tense nuclear negotiations that led to the nuclear deal, which is increasingly unraveling in a slow march towards a nuclear crisis the world seems to be paying little attention to.

The new nuclear activity was the fourth step announced by Iran since it began responding to Washington's abandonment of the nuclear deal previous year. "Thanks to USA policy and its allies, Fordow will soon be back to full operation", Mr Rouhani tweeted.

Speaking on a visit to China, French President Emmanuel Macron called Iran's move "grave", saying it explicitly signalled Iran's intent for the first time to quit the deal.

Iran's reduction of its commitments further complicates the chances of saving the accord for the European signatories, who have criticised US President Donald Trump for exiting it.

Turkish forces capture slain IS chief Baghdadi's sister in Syria
The 65-year-old, named as Rasmiya Awad, was detained in a raid on Monday close to the city of Azaz, the officers mentioned. Al Baghdadi's aide, a Saudi, was killed hours after the raid, also in northwestern Syria, in a USA strike.

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France's Foreign Ministry said that Paris remained committed to the nuclear deal and urged Iran to "fully adhere to its obligations". Iran denies ever having aimed to develop a nuclear bomb.

"Today, we are witnessing the launch of the cascade (operating set) of 30 IR-6 centrifuges", Salehi told state television.

President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a ceremony to inaugurate Azadi Innovation Factory in Pardis technology park in west of Tehran, Iran. Even if European politicians, diplomats and statesmen really want to help Iran, no company wants to fall under US sanctions. "If Iranian officials sit down with the U.S. and negotiate they would get nothing, no sanctions would be reduced".

The measures marked the fourth step Iran has taken this year to reduce its nuclear obligations under the pact, which curbed Iran's atomic energy program in exchange for widespread sanctions relief.The landmark accord was negotiated between Iran and world powers, including the United States under President Barack Obama.

"The agency wants to show how seriously they are taking this". At the same time, the president's critics are increasingly concerned that the USA could pursue a military confrontation, which top American officials have consistently said is an option on the table.

He has since then been pushing for a new broader deal, which will cover not only the nukes, but Iran's ballistic missile developments as well.