S President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that sanctions reimposed on Iran were the “most biting ever” as he warned other countries from doing business with Tehran.
“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” he wrote in an early morning tweet.
“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less.”
The sanctions reimposed on Tuesday — targeting access to US banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets — were unlikely to cause immediate economic turmoil.
Iran’s markets were actually relatively buoyant, with the rial strengthening by 20 per cent since Sunday after the government relaxed foreign exchange rules and allowed unlimited, tax-free gold and currency imports.
But a second tranche coming into effect on November 5 covering Iran’s vital oil sector, could be far more damaging — even if several key customers such as China, India and Turkey have refused to significantly cut their purchases.
Trump’s contempt for the nuclear deal dates back to his time as a presidential candidate and on May 8, he made good on a pledge to pull America out of the international agreement.
The unilateral withdrawal came despite other parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU — pleading with Trump not to abandon the pact aimed at blocking Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Britain has never been ‘naive’ about Iran’s nuclear programme, a spokesman for the government said on Monday night, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Islamic Republic of lying to the world about its ambitions.
The spokesman also said inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are vital to ensure Iran’s nuclear programme is used for peaceful means.
Netanyahu stepped up pressure on the United States to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, holding a primetime address on Israeli TV to present what he called evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme.
‘We have never been naive about Iran and its nuclear intentions. That is why the IAEA inspection regime agreed as part of the Iran nuclear deal is one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords,’ a British government spokesman said in a statement.
‘It remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal and that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful.’
Intelligence experts and diplomats said Netanyahu did not seem to have presented a ‘smoking gun’ showing that Iran had violated the agreement, although he may have helped make a case on behalf of hawks in the U.S. administration who want to scrap it.
Most of the purported evidence Netanyahu unveiled dated to the period before the 2015 accord was signed, although he said Iran had also kept important files on nuclear technology since then, and continued adding to its ‘nuclear weapons knowledge’.
Tehran dismissed Netanyahu as ‘the boy who cried wolf’, and called his presentation propaganda.
President Donald Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of the international deal unless it is renegotiated by May 12. After Netanyahu spoke, Trump repeated his criticism of the deal, suggesting he backed the Israeli leader’s remarks.
‘Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons,’ Netanyahu said at Israel’s Defence Ministry, standing in front of stacks of files representing what he described as a vault full of Iranian nuclear documents obtained weeks before.
‘Tonight I’m here to tell you one thing: Iran lied.’
‘Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons programme,’ he said. ‘One hundred thousand secret files prove it did. Second, even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge for future use.’
Although the presentation was live on Israeli television, Netanyahu made clear that his audience was abroad: he delivered most of his speech in English, before switching to Hebrew.
Netanyahu said he had shared the intelligence with the United States and would dispatch envoys to France and Germany to present it. He also spoke by phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tehran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons and accuses its arch-foe Israel of stirring up world suspicions against it.
A senior U.S. official said Netanyahu gave new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a heads-up about the presentation he would give while on a visit to Tel Aviv at the weekend.
‘We were made aware of his plans,’ the official said.
Under the 2015 nuclear deal struck by Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for relief from the U.S. and other economic sanctions.
Trump gave Britain, France and Germany a May 12 deadline to fix what he views as the deal’s flaws – its failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, the terms by which inspectors visit suspect Iranian sites, and ‘sunset’ clauses under which some of its terms expire – or he will re-impose U.S. sanctions.
Much of what Netanyahu presented is unlikely to surprise world powers, which have long concluded that Iran was pursuing atomic weapons before the agreement was signed in 2015: that is in part why they imposed sanctions in the first place.
The French ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, tweeted that information about past Iranian nuclear activity was, in fact, an argument in favour of the nuclear deal, not against it.
A German government spokesman said it was vital to keep the independent inspections provided for under the deal.
Washington’s European allies say Tehran has generally abided by the terms of the deal since then, and have urged Trump not to scrap it. Some independent analysts and diplomats said Netanyahu appeared to be presenting old evidence.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that Iran is keen to develop ties with the rest of the world, which is ‘not merely’ the United States and…Eran Etzion, a former deputy Israeli national security adviser who now heads the Israeli-European think-tank Forum of Strategic Dialogue, said on Twitter: ‘No ‘smoking gun’ was revealed this evening, nor was it proven that Iran is today developing nuclear weaponry or violating the (nuclear deal) in any other way.’
A senior European diplomat told Reuters: ‘We knew all of this and what especially stands out is that Netanyahu doesn’t speak of any recorded violations’ of the deal itself.
Speaking after Netanyahu’s presentation, Trump told a White House news conference the nuclear deal was ‘a horrible agreement for the United States’. He said it would let Tehran develop nuclear arms after seven years and had ‘proven right what Israel has done today’ with Netanyahu’s disclosures.
However, Washington itself has concluded that Iran has not violated the deal’s terms. Two U.S. intelligence officials who have monitored Iran’s nuclear weapons program for years said nothing in Netanyahu’s remarks appeared to contradict that view.
‘We have seen no new and credible evidence that Iran is violating the agreement, whether in the Prime Minister’s remarks today or from other sources,’ said one of the officials, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Moments before Netanyahu spoke Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: ‘The boy who can’t stop crying wolf is at it again’.
Abbas Araqchi, a senior Iranian foreign ministry official, was quoted by Iran’s Tasnim news agency as calling Netanyahu’s presentation ‘a childish and ridiculous game’ with the goal of influencing Trump’s decision ahead of the May 12 deadline.
Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, though it neither confirms nor denies possessing atomic weapons. (Daily Mail)
ANKARA (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday arrived for a visit to Russia’s increasingly close partner Turkey aimed at launching the construction of a nuclear power plant and coordinating policy on the war in Syria.Putin will hold an afternoon of talks with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the two strongmen leaders are joined on Wednesday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for a summit devoted to Syria.Putin’s visit to Turkey is his first trip abroad since he won a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls.
Putin and Erdogan — who have both led their post-imperial states out of economic crisis but also into a new era of confrontation with the West — have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent months.
Their meeting comes as ties between Russia and the West are nosediving to post-Cold War lows after the March poisoning of Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.
While EU powers have rushed to join Britain in condemning Russia and expelling diplomats over the attack on Skripal, Turkey has been much more circumspect.
Erdogan, who in 2017 held eight face-to-face meetings with Putin, has said that Ankara will not act against Moscow “based on an allegation”.
In a move that has troubled Turkey’s NATO allies, Ankara has agreed to buy S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia.
But Ankara-Moscow relations were also tested by a severe crisis from November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria, a confrontation both sides are trying to put behind each other.
Despite being on different sides of the Syrian civil war, key regime backers Russia and Iran have joined with rebel-supporting Turkey to boost peace and also influence when the conflict ends.
Cooperation is also flourishing in other areas. Putin and Erdogan will from Ankara via video conference launch construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power station in the Mediterranean Mersin region.
The Akkuyu power station — a project costing over $20 billion (16 billion euros) and heavily disliked by environmentalists — was already launched once before in February 2015 but then put on hold due to the plane crisis.
Russia and Turkey are also building the TurkStream gas pipeline under the Black Sea that will allow Moscow to pump gas to Europe avoiding Ukraine and increase Turkey’s importance as a transit hub. AFP
Iran says it has successfully tested a new medium-range missile, in defiance of US President Donald Trump.
The launch of the Khorramshahr missile, which has a range of 2,000 km (1,242 miles), was shown on state TV. It is unclear when the test took place.
At the UN on Tuesday, Mr Trump criticised Iran’s missile programme and the 2015 nuclear deal with the country.
On Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would increase its military power “as a deterrent”.
The Khoramshahr missile was first displayed at a military parade on Friday in Tehran. It is capable of carrying multiple warheads, Iranian media report.
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Iran’s Defence Minister, Gen Amir Hatami, outlined the missile’s “unique specifications”.
“The ability to evade the enemy’s air defence line and to be guided from the moment of launch until the target is hit turns Khoramshahr into a tactical missile,” he said.
Iran would “not seek permission from any country for producing various kinds of missile”, he added.
By test-firing a new missile, Iran is sending another signal of defiance taken straight from the North Korean textbook.
The missile test is arguably a borderline case as far as the UN Security Council is concerned. A resolution calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The test comes ahead of two significant dates in the US:
The Trump administration is due to announce the details of its strategy vis-à-vis Iran around the end of September
On 15 October, Mr Trump will have to certify to Congress that Iran is compliant with the nuclear deal it reached with world powers in 2015. If Mr Trump refuses to certify compliance, Congress will have 60 days to re-impose sanctions on Iran
Iran’s test is a message to the US that it is determined to defend itself in any way it sees fit but it could also ultimately work against Iran as world public opinion will compare it to North Korea.
Missile tests in Iran are said to require the approval of Mr Rouhani, and now it seems he has been pushed into a corner with the hardliners in Iran who see the North Korean path as the best response to Mr Trump’s rhetoric and his disdain for the nuclear deal.
The US announced fresh sanctions on Iran in July over its ballistic missile programme and what it said was Iran’s support for terror organisations.
It also imposed sanctions on Iran after a ballistic missile test in January. It says such launches violate the spirit of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Rouhani warns the US against ‘political suicide’
Iran could restart nuclear programme ‘within hours’
Tehran insists its missile programme does not contravene the agreement. It says the missiles are not meant to carry nuclear warheads.
At the UN General Assembly this week, the US and Iranian leaders traded barbs. (The Sun)
WASHINGTON — The Latest on Thursday’s press conference with President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (all times EDT):
President Donald Trump says Iran is not living up to the “spirit” of the nuclear agreement.
Trump says Iran is doing “a tremendous disservice” to the agreement brokered by the Obama administration.
The 2015 agreement by Iran and six other world powers ended some of the sanctions that had punished and isolated Iran for its nuclear program but maintained others dealing with ballistic missile research, terrorism, human rights violations and money laundering.
Trump spoke during a joint press conference Thursday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni,
Trump says the agreement was “a terrible agreement. It shouldn’t have been signed.”
He says his administration will have “something to say about” the Iran nuclear deal “in the not too distant future.” He didn’t elaborate.
President Donald Trump says Thursday’s fatal shooting in Paris “looks like another terrorist attack.”
Paris police say a gunman has killed a police officer and wounded another before being killed himself in an attack on the Champs-Elysees shopping district.
It was unclear how Trump concluded that terrorism may have been a factor. Paris police have yet to announce a motive,
Trump is also offering condolences from the U.S. to the people of France.
He calls the attack a “terrible thing” and says “it never ends.” He says people must be strong and vigilant.
The attack came three days before the first round of balloting in France’s presidential election.