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European Union agrees to Iran oil embargo
All 27-member states have agreed to impose a ban on Iranian oil. Full implementation begins on July 1.  In response, an Iranian member of Parliament urged Iran to immediately cut off sales to the EU, in order to disrupt EU oil supply before the planned July date. (Reuters 01/23)
In addition, two other Parliamentarians again warned that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for oil sanctions. (AP 01/23)
The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 1.2% to $111.14 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US reference, rose 1.3 per cent to $99.59 a barrel. (Financial Times 01/23)
Iranian bank Tejarat sanctioned 
The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on Iran’s third largest bank, Bank Tejarat.  All of Iran’s largest state-owned banks have now been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury.  In addition, an affiliate, Belarus-based Trade Capital Bank, was also sanctioned. (Reuters 01/23) 
IAEA confirms visit to Iran, aims to “resolve all outstanding substantive issue” 
“The Agency team is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit,” Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA told Reuters last week the visit would take place from January 29-31 and that his country was open to discuss “any issues” of interest for the U.N. agency. “The overall objective of the IAEA is to resolve all outstanding substantive issues,” the IAEA statement added. (Reuters 01/23)
Russia hopeful for renewed Iran talks
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that he believes there is a good chance that talks between global powers and Iran could resume, despite a planned EU oil embargo and other sources of tension.  (Reuters 01/23)
Rial Declines Sharply
Iran’s currency, the Rial, has fallen sharply to 23,000 per $1 US dollar — a 15% decline.  Gold prices have also increased significantly. (Enduring America 01/23)
Notable Opinion:
Time magazine’s Tony Karon examines the package that the U.S. is expected to offer Iran should diplomatic talks commence, and finds it unlikely to succeed:

Yahoo diplomatic correspondent Laura Rozen reported last week that insiders were suggesting  that Western powers will measure Iran’s “seriousness” in the coming talks by its willingness to halt enrichment of uranium to 20%, and turn over its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to that level.

It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see that Iran is highly unlikely to accept a deal under which it gives Western powers something they want but leaves the latest, most damaging sanctions on Iran’s oil exports still in place, instead simply holding off on another round of UN sanctions — which are far less painful, and which the Western powers are unable to persuade Russia and China to substantially tighten.

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Other Notable News:
Muhammid Sahimi suggests that a growing rift can be seen developing in the Revolutionary Guard.

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