Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’

Iranian president flies to Europe to rally support — Mullahs in a Muddle over economy, Donald Trump, sanctions

July 2, 2018

President Hassan Rouhani departed Iran on Monday for a trip to Europe billed as of “prime importance” after the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Rouhani was set to visit Switzerland and Austria as part of Tehran’s ongoing efforts to secure Europe’s continued support for the landmark agreement.

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani with Xi Jinping of China.

The Iranian president left Tehran on an early afternoon flight and was due to land in Zurich in the mid-afternoon, Iranian state media reported.

His delegation will travel on to Vienna Wednesday, according to authorities in Austria, where the historic nuclear deal was signed in July 2015.

The trip will be an “opportunity to talk about the future of the (nuclear) agreement,” Rouhani told reporters at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport before boarding his flight, state television showed.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is also scheduled to hold talks with Swiss officials in Bern.

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov

The visit comes nearly two months after US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the agreement, to the ire of the other signatories — China, France, Germany, Britain and Russia — which along with the European Union have continued to back the accord.

Rouhani’s European trip will be of “prime importance” as it could “provide a more precise picture of cooperation between Iran and Europe,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said in comments carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency on Saturday.

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Austria on Sunday took over the European Union’s six-month rotating presidency, while Switzerland represents US interests in Iran owing to the absence of diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran.

Vienna, where the deal was signed, is also the home of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, which monitors Iran’s compliance with the accord.

The nuclear deal has been the cornerstone of Rouhani’s policy of greater openness with the West, and the US departure has seen him severely criticised by ultra-conservatives at home.

Even before Trump’s decision, Iranians had long complained that the hoped-for uptick in foreign investment after the deal had not materialised.

Washington’s decision paves the way for new US sanctions against Tehran, which will encompass businesses from third countries that continue to operate in Iran.

A number of foreign firms have already announced they would cease their Iranian activities in light of the looming imposition of sanctions.

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– Failure ‘very dangerous’ –

While in Switzerland officials are due to sign agreements on economic cooperation, according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

Rouhani will meet with the Swiss president, Alain Berset, and his two-day visit will coincide with a bilateral economic forum on health and nutrition, although it was not clear whether he will attend in person.

There will be a similar focus on finances in Vienna, where the Iranian president is expected to sign memorandums on economic cooperation according to Austrian media.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he will speak plainly with Rouhani about Iran’s role in the Middle East, as Tehran continues to deny accusations it is destabilising the region.

Kurz will also find “clear words” to discuss the human rights situation in Iran, the chancellor told Austrian news agency APA.

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The European tour is part of a broader diplomatic effort by Tehran to rally support in the wake of Trump’s May 8 withdrawal from the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Last month Rouhani visited China, where he discussed the future of the nuclear deal with his Chinese and Russian counterparts on the margins of a security summit.

Zarif meanwhile embarked on a tour of Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

The foreign minister on June 24 warned that failing to save the nuclear deal would be “very dangerous” for Tehran.

But the Iranian government has also said it will not continue to abide by the agreement if doing so goes against its economic interests.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has demanded Europe provide a number of economic guarantees in order for Tehran to continue its commitment.

Increasing the pressure on Iran’s European partners, he ordered preparations be made to quickly restart nuclear activities in case talks collapse.

AFP

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Iran conservatives attack govt over nuclear deal

May 15, 2018

Ayatollah Ali Jannati said the government had already failed to guarantee the country’s interests.

Related imageAyatollah Ali Jannati

As Iran’s foreign minister embarked on a diplomatic tour on Sunday to save the nuclear deal, his government faced mounting pressure from hard-liners at home who say the West should never have been trusted.

Ayatollah Ali Jannati, the ultra-conservative head of the Assembly of Experts whose responsibilities include choosing the next supreme leader, said the government had already failed to guarantee the country’s interests.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the key architect of the 2015 agreement, should “present his apologies to the Iranian people for the damage caused in the cadre of the nuclear deal,” Jannati said.

Rouhani reiterated on Sunday that Tehran would remain committed to its 2015 nuclear deal if its interests can be protected and said the US withdrawal from the accord was a “violation of morals.”

“The US withdrawal … is a violation of morals, the correct way to carry out politics and diplomacy and against international regulations,” Rouhani during a meeting with visiting Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing on Sunday. (Reuters)

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Beijing for the first stop of his tour of the remaining members of the nuclear deal.

He is due in Moscow and Brussels in the coming days.

Mirroring the line taken by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Jannati said there was little chance the Europeans would provide the assurances needed for Iran to stay in the deal.

The Europeans “have never stopped taking actions against Iran,” he wrote.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, also criticized “certain officials” who “look to outsiders.”

“I hope recent events will lead us ending our trust in the West and the Europeans. The Europeans have repeated on several occasions that they will not be able to resist US sanctions,” said Jafari, according to the conservative Fars news agency.

Around 100 Iranian lawmakers have also signed on to a Parliament bill that would set a clear deadline for the government to “obtain necessary guarantees from the Europeans” without which Iran would resume high-level uranium enrichment, according to Parliament’s official website.

Although conservatives have tried to score political points against Rouhani in the wake of the US withdrawal, the president has essentially taken the same line.

Immediately after US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal last Tuesday, Rouhani said he had instructed Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization to prepare for “industrial enrichment without limit” unless Iran’s interests were guaranteed by the remaining parties.

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‘Clear future design’

Zarif said he was hopeful of forging a “clear future design” for the nuclear deal facing collapse after Washington’s withdrawal, at the start of a diplomatic tour aimed at rescuing the agreement.

“We hope that with this visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive agreement,” Zarif told reporters on Sunday after talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

In what is seen as a last-ditch effort to save the accord, Zarif has embarked on a tour of world powers.

Zarif will later fly to Moscow and Brussels to consult the remaining signatories to the 2015 agreement denounced by Trump. His withdrawal from the deal last week has infuriated Washington’s allies in Europe as well as China and Russia.

US President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to pull out of the nuclear deal has upset European allies in Europe as well as China and Russia, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

China was one of the six powers — with the US, Russia, France, the UK and Germany — that signed the historic pact which saw sanctions lifted in return for the commitment by Tehran not to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran has said it will stay committed to the deal if powers still backing the agreement can ensure it is protected from sanctions against key sectors of its economy such as oil.

As he arrived in Beijing, Zarif said, “we will discuss the decision that Iran should take,” according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

He added: “As the president of the republic has said, we are ready for all option(s). If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of Iran must be assured.”

Earlier, Zarif hailed Tehran’s relations with Beijing, ISNA reported.

“We have had good relations with China before and since the deal,” he said.

“China is by far the first economic partner of Iran. We are certain that today China is by our side.”

Tehran’s chief diplomat embarked on the tour as regional tensions spiked just days after unprecedented Israeli strikes in Syria which a monitor said killed at least 11 Iranian fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two arch-enemies.

Before leaving, Zarif published a government statement on his Twitter page, slamming Trump’s “extremist administration” for abandoning “an accord recognized as a victory of diplomacy by the international community.”

It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume “industrial scale” uranium enrichment “without any restrictions” unless Europe provided solid guarantees it could maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions.

Trump hit back Saturday evening, tweeting that the accord had failed to contain Iran’s militarism.

“Iran’s Military Budget is up more than 40 percent since the Obama negotiated Nuclear Deal was reached… just another indicator that it was all a big lie,” he wrote.

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Zarif’s delicate diplomatic mission was complicated by reports of clashes between Iranian and Israeli forces in Syria on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said Saturday that 11 Iranians were among the pro-regime fighters killed in strikes by Israel, which has vowed to prevent Iran gaining a military foothold in neighboring Syria.

Tehran, which has sought to avoid an escalation in a regional conflict that could alienate its European partners, has not commented on whether its forces were hit.

Israel and its allies have blamed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for initiating Thursday’s exchange by launching missiles into the occupied Golan Heights.

Iran denies the claims, saying the Israeli strikes were launched on “invented pretexts.”

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Meanwhile, European diplomats in Tehran fumed that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal could undermine years of patient work to restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

“Since the signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a gold rush, to one of utter depression,” said a Western trade diplomat on condition of anonymity.

“We are waiting now for how the decision makers in the European Union will react. If the EU leans toward accommodating the US, all the progress we have made since 2015 will be lost.”

Iranian hard-liners — who have long opposed Rouhani’s moves to improve ties with the West — are already mobilizing against the efforts to save the nuclear deal.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the Revolutionary Guards, said the country could not rely on the West.

AFP and AP

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Iran: Commander Threatens To Sink US Ships, Create “Catastrophic Situation” If Trump Kills Deal

April 27, 2018

President Donald Trump offered some of his most bellicose rhetoric yet about Iran on Tuesday when he said Iran would have “bigger problems than they have ever had before” if the country’s leadership dared to restart its nuclear program following a US pull-out of the JCPOA (otherwise known as the Iran deal), per the Times of Israel.

 Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi. (Fars)

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi. (Fars)

And today, a top Iranian general hit back at Trump with an aggressive threat to sink US Navy ships, while warning that the US would find itself in a “catastrophic situation” if it withdraws from the deal and reimposes economic sanctions.

“The actual information that the Americans have about us is much less than what they think they have. When will they figure this out? When it is too late,” the Revolutionary Guard Corps’s navy commander, Admiral Ali Fadavim, told Iranian television on Saturday.

“They will definitely figure it out when their ships are sunk, or when they find themselves in a catastrophic situation,” Fadavi threatened in an interview with IRINN TV, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

On Wednesday, a non-proliferation envoy confirmed that the US isn’t seeking to renegotiate the JCPOA. Instead, the White House would like to pursue a separate agreement like the one French President Emmanuel Macron proposed during a press conference with Trump. And apparently, Macron’s proposal took his European partners by surprise.

Admiral Fadavim’s remarks followed a similarly stern warning from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly,” Rouhani said.

“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he added.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also reiterated over the weekend his warning that Tehran was ready to swiftly resume uranium enrichment if the US ditches the accord.

Meanwhile, Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, warned that Iran would consider withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if the US reimposes sanctions.

Of course, by leaving both the Iran deal and the NPT, Iran would only lend credence to its adversaries’ claims that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build a nuclear weapon – an accusation Iran has long denied. The White House has set a self-imposed deadline of May 12 for deciding whether to pull out of the deal.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-25/iranian-naval-commander-threatens-sink-us-ships-create-catastrophic-situation-if

Times of Israel:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/irans-navy-commander-threatens-to-sink-us-ships/

Iran vows ‘unpleasant’ response if US drops nuclear deal

April 20, 2018

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov

ANKARA (REUTERS) – IRAN warned the United States on Thursday of “unpleasant” consequences if Washington pulls out of a multinational nuclear deal, Iranian state TV reported.

“Iran has several options if the United States leaves the nuclear deal. Tehran’s reaction to America’s withdrawal of the deal will be unpleasant,” TV quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on his arrival in New York.

Under Iran’s settlement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program to satisfy the powers that it could not be used to develop atomic bombs. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were lifted in January 2016.

US President Donald Trump has given the European signatories a May 12 deadline to “fix the terrible flaws” of the 2015 nuclear deal, or he will refuse to extend US sanctions relief on Iran.
Iran has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other parties respect it, but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.

Iran has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other parties respect it, but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Gazans ready for new protests after bloodiest day in years

March 31, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Sakher Abou El Oun | A relative of Hamdan Abu Amsha, a Palestinian who was shot dead by Israeli forces during large-scale protests along the Gaza-Israel border, mourns at his funeral in the north Gaza town of Beit Hanun on March 31, 2018

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – Palestinians prepared for further protests near the Gaza border Saturday, a day after a major demonstration led to clashes that saw Israeli forces kill 16 people in the bloodiest day since a 2014 war.

Protesters began returning to a tent city erected near the border with Israel to resume the demonstration planned to last six weeks in the blockaded enclave.

Thousands were attending funerals for those killed, with mourners holding Palestinian flags and some chanting “revenge.”

A general strike was being held in both the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

Israel defended its soldiers’ actions on Friday, when troops opened fire on Palestinians who strayed from the main tent city protest — attended by tens of thousands — and approached the heavily fortified fence cutting off the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military says it opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers.

It also said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was an attempted shooting attack against soldiers along the border that caused no casualties.

But Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, while human rights groups questioned Israel’s use of live fire.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an “independent and transparent investigation.”

In addition to the 16 killed, more than 1,400 were wounded, 758 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, according to the Gazan health ministry.

No casualties were reported among Israelis.

– World ‘must intervene’ –

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.

“The large number of martyrs and people wounded in peaceful popular demonstrations shows that the international community must intervene to provide protection to our Palestinian people,” he said.

An Israeli military spokesman said Friday’s events were “not a protest demonstration” but “organised terrorist activity.”

He accused Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, of being behind it and threatened wider military action if it continued.

“If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events,” Brigadier General Ronen Manelis told journalists.

The six-week protest is in support of Palestinian refugees and the timetable holds significance for a range of reasons that have added to tensions.

It began on Land Day, when Palestinians commemorate the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976, and as Jewish Israelis readied to observe the Passover holiday, which started at sundown on Friday.

Protests will continue until the United States opens its new Jerusalem embassy around May 14, a move that has provoked deep anger among the Palestinians, who see the city’s annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

May 14 will also mark 70 years since the creation of Israel, while Palestinians will commemorate what they call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” the following day.

Nakba commemorates the more than 700,000 Palestinians who either fled or were expelled from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

– ‘Lethal force’ –

US President Donald Trump has harshly criticised the Palestinians in the past, but the State Department said only that it was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life and urged steps to lower tensions.

Human Rights Watch criticised Israel’s actions.

“Israeli allegations of violence by some protesters do not change the fact that using lethal force is banned by international law except to meet an imminent threat to life,” the New York-based group said, calling the number of killed and wounded “shocking.”

Israel’s arch-foe Iran, a longstanding supporters of Hamas, condemned the “shameful” killing of protesters and mocked the fact that it happened as Israeli Jews prepared to mark Passover.

“On the eve of Passover (of all days), which commemorates God liberating Prophet Moses and his people from tyranny, Zionist tyrants murder peaceful Palestinian protesters — whose land they have stolen — as they march to escape their cruel and inhuman apartheid bondage,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

Israel had deployed troop reinforcements along the border, including more than 100 special forces snipers, saying it would prevent attempts to break through the fence.

Protests along the border are common, often culminating in young Palestinian men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who respond with tear gas along with rubber and live bullets.

But the “March of Return” protest that began on Friday is larger scale and is intended to involve families with women and children camping in tent cities near the border for weeks.

by Sakher Abou El Oun

Netanyahu says Israel could act against Iran’s ’empire’

February 18, 2018

Reuters

MUNICH (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would act against Iran, not just its allies in the Middle East, if needed, reiterating his country’s position that Tehran was the world’s greatest threat.

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delivers a speech during the International Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (Sven Hoppe-dpa via AP)

As tensions increase in the Middle East over Iran’s role in Syria and Yemen and as U.S. President Donald Trump presses for a tougher approach on Tehran, Israel is seeking wider support to contain its regional nemesis.

Holding a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month, Netanyahu told the Munich Security Conference: ”Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.

“We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself,” he said.

In his first address to the annual Munich event, which draws security and defense officials and diplomats from across Europe and the United States, Netanyahu urged his audience to counter Iran immediately, displaying a map showing what he said was Iran’s growing presence in the Middle East.

For its part, Iran pushed back. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also addressed the conference, called Netanyahu’s presentation “a cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response”.

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Munich, meeting with UK Labour MP Catherine Ashton

Zarif accused the United States of using the conference to “revive hysteria” against Iran, and denied that Tehran was seeking “hegemony” in the Middle East.

But Netanyahu said Iran was increasing its power as a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was regaining territory from militants.

“The unfortunate thing is that as ISIS compresses and Iran moves in, it is trying to establish this continuous empire surrounding the Middle East from the south in Yemen but also trying to create a land bridge from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza,” Netanyahu said.

“This is a very dangerous development for our region.”

Among Israel’s main concerns is Lebanon, where the heavily armed Iran-backed Shi‘ite militia Hezbollah is part of a coalition government. Israel last fought a war against Hezbollah in 2006. Tension between Israel and Lebanon has increased, including over a maritime border dispute.

Lebanon’s Defense Minister, Yacoub Riad Sarraf, who spoke after Netanyahu, said: “Watch out, we will defend ourselves … we also have friends.”

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Lebanon’s Defense Minister, Yacoub Riad Sarraf

Tensions in the region surged on Feb. 10 when anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria.

“PUT OUT THE FIRE”

Netanyahu also reiterated his view, shared by Trump, that world powers needed to scrap or rewrite the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran that curbs Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions in return for economic sanctions’ relief.

“It’s time to stop them now,” Netanyahu said, without specifying any military action. “They’re aggressive, they are developing ballistic missiles, they’re not inspecting, they have a free highway to massive (uranium) enrichment,” he said of the fuel needed for nuclear weapons.

France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, which signed the nuclear deal along with Iran and the United States, say the accord cannot be reopened, that it is working and that Iran is allowing inspections.

Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov said that scrapping the agreement was akin to choosing between war and peace, while John Kerry, the former U.S. secretary of state who helped clinch the agreement, said it was wrong to assume that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the 15-year scope of the deal ends.

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John Kerry, former U.S. secretary of state

“If your house is on fire, are you going to refuse to put it out because you are concerned it will light on fire again in 15 years? Or are you going to put it out and use the intervening time to prevent to ever catching fire again?” Kerry said.

Trump’s new sanctions ‘a blow and a warning to Iranian regime’

January 14, 2018

A man looks at Iranian-made missiles at Defense Museum in Tehran on Sept. 23, 2015. (Reuters)
JEDDAH: Tough new sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump on 14 Iranian individuals and organizations are a political blow and a warning to the regime in Tehran, a leading analyst told Arab News on Saturday.
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Among those targeted are the powerful politician Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary and a close ally of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Groups facing sanctions include the cyber unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
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The US move is a significant move and “a critical victory for human rights defenders and the Iranian people,” said Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.
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The sanctions on the IRGC cyber unit were also a step toward peace and stability by combating the Iranian regime’s attempts to hack other governments’ systems and organizations, he said.
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Announcing the new action on Friday, Trump said he would continue the suspension of US sanctions on Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal — but only for 120 days. In the intervening time, he has demanded a separate agreement to restrict Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is not explicitly covered by the nuclear deal, and to make the 10-year curb on Iran’s nuclear program permanent. If he sees no progress on such an agreement, the president will withdraw from the nuclear deal.
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Trump was sending a message that the Iranian regime “will be monitored not only for its nuclear defiance, development, research and proliferation, but also for its human rights violations,” Rafizadeh said.
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Trump, who has sharply criticized the deal reached under Barack Obama’s presidency, had chafed at once again having to waive sanctions on a country he sees as a threat in the Middle East.
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“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” he said on Friday. The options were to fix “the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw. This is a last chance.”
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Contrary to the view of his critics, Rafizadeh said, Trump had used diplomacy to address the loopholes in the nuclear deal. “This will give the administration a more robust platform to persuade the EU nations to fix the nuclear agreement or to abandon it.
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“If other parties do not take necessary and adequate action to address the shortcomings of the nuclear agreement, Trump has buttressed his position and laid out the groundwork to reimpose sanctions, as well as withdrawing from the deal.”
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Trump is also giving the US Congress additional time to work on legislation to fix loopholes in the deal, such as requiring Iran to allow its military sites be inspected for nuclear development, research, weaponization and proliferation, Rafizadeh said.
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“Iran is not adhering to the spirit of the nuclear deal due to its heightened interventionist and expansionist policies in the Arab world and to its human rights violations domestically.”
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Rafizadeh said the deal had empowered the IRGC and its militias in the region through sanctions relief. This, he said, had further radicalized, militarized and destabilized the region. “Iran continues to ratchet up its antagonistic policy toward Arab nations, the US, and the West.”
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Iran’s Foreign Ministry said sanctions on Larijani were “hostile action” that “crossed all red lines of conduct in the international community and a violation of international law, and will surely be answered by a serious reaction of the Islamic Republic.”
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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the nuclear deal was “not renegotiable” and Trump’s move “amounts to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement.”
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James Jeffrey, distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former US ambassador to Iraq, told Arab News: “Ignore the rhetoric. Zarif is simply reflecting the truth about Iran’s refusal to change the nuclear deal, and all other parties including Europeans agree. But what Trump and his advisers, in background talks with me, seem to be looking for is an agreement with France, Germany and the UK to deal with the problems Trump cites — long-range missiles, inspection flaws and Iranian enrichment breakout after 10 years, without necessarily new negotiations.
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“These are real problems that, for example, French President Emmanuel Macron has cited, and do not necessarily require modifying the agreement which, as Zarif says, understandably Iran rejects.
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“Missiles and sanctions related to them are not part of the agreement, but a separate Security Council resolution that Iran did not formally agree to.
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“Inspection problems involve a mix of the International Atomic Energy Agency not using powers the agreement gives it, and inspection procedures and deals outside of the agreement.
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“Unchecked enrichment after 10 years is a serious problem, but could be dealt with through European/US carrots and sticks and cooperation by a future Iranian government, without changing the agreement.”
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Speaking by phone to Arab News, Aaron David Miller, vice president for New Initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former senior US peace negotiator, said that the Trump administration will face “great odds” convincing European signatories of the JCPOA to agree to change the “internal architecture’ of the agreement.
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Miller also maintained that despite the strong rhetoric from the Trump administration, he does not see its policy on Iran as fundamentally different from that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
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Nevertheless, when asked whether he had expected the JCPOA to compel Iran to moderate its behavior in the region or whether he expected it to be emboldened, Miller said the JCPOA was not meant to be “transformational. It was transactional.”

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Iran Mocks Trump ‘Blunder’ as Government Supporters Rally — Turning the Uprising Against The Government Into a Pro-Government “Win” — Equatorial Guinea Joins China, Russia Against U.S.

January 6, 2018

Demonstrators chant slogans against US, Israel; State TV describes protests as a ‘response to rioters’ in other cities across Islamic Republic

Iranian worshippers chant slogans while they burn a representation of US flag during a rally against anti-government protestors after the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran, January 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian worshippers chant slogans while they burn a representation of US flag during a rally against anti-government protestors after the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran, January 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s state TV on Saturday showed several hundred government supporters rallying a day after the foreign minister said a US move to call an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss anti-government protests was another Trump administration “blunder.”

The state broadcaster showed the pro-government rally in the city of Amol, in the northern province of Mazandaram, with hundreds of people waving the Iranian flag and chanting slogans against the US and Israel. State TV described the rally as a “response to rioters and supporters of the riots.”

Anti-government protests broke out in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, on Dec. 28 and have since spread to several other cities and towns. The protests were sparked by a hike in food prices amid soaring unemployment. Some demonstrators have called for the government’s overthrow.

At least 21 people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested. Large pro-government rallies have been held in response, and officials have blamed the anti-government unrest on foreign meddling.

US President Donald Trump has voiced encouragement for the anti-government protesters. The US called the UN meeting on Friday, portraying the protests as a human rights issue that could spill over into an international problem.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the emergency session put Iran on notice that “the world will be watching” its actions.

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter after the session that the Security Council “rebuffed the US’ naked attempt to hijack its mandate.”

He said the majority emphasized the need to fully implement the 2015 nuclear deal and to refrain from interfering in the affairs of other countries. “Another FP (foreign policy) blunder for the Trump administration,” he wrote.

Russia portrayed the Security Council meeting as a US attempt to violate Iran’s sovereignty. Envoys from several other countries, from China to newcomer Equatorial Guinea, expressed reservations about whether the council was the right forum for the issue.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-mocks-trump-blunder-as-government-supporters-rally/

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Trump’s Gulf policies impulsive and dangerous: Iranian minister

November 30, 2017

Reuters

ROME (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies in the Gulf are dangerous and misguided, Iran’s foreign minister said on Thursday, adding that pressure from Washington had only succeeded in strengthening Tehran’s resolve.

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Speaking at a conference in Rome, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Trump’s policies were “extremely dangerous, impulsive, not grounded in reality”.

He added: “The United States pressure has in fact created more solidarity inside Iran.”

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on May 2, 2016. Reuters file photo

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Missiles and a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran. (photo credit:NAZANIN TABATABAEE YAZDI/ TIMA VIA REUTERS)

What you need to know about Trump and the Iran deal

October 12, 2017

By Al Jazeera

US President Donald Trump is expected to refuse to certify Iran’s compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, an agreement between world powers and Tehran aimed at limiting the latter’s nuclear programme to non-military purposes.

The move comes despite thinly-veiled criticisms from US allies in Europe who have developed burgeoning commercial and political ties with Iran.

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Trump’s withdrawal of endorsement means US lawmakers can vote to introduce new sanctions against Iran, which Iranian leaders say could lead to their country’s partial or complete withdrawal from the deal.

Al Jazeera answers some of the most important questions regarding the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and Trump’s expected decision.

What is JCPOA?

Often abbreviated to “the Iran deal” or “Iran nuclear deal”, JCPOA is an agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU to ensure its nuclear programme is limited to civilian use.

The deal, which was signed in October 2015 and implemented at the start of 2016, followed years of negotiation between the US, represented by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, and Iran, represented by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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The agreement requires Iran to completely eliminate stockpiles of medium-enriched uranium and drastically reduce reserves of low-enriched uranium.

The material in its high-enriched form is required to produce nuclear weapons. Iran denies that it has ever had the aim of producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran also agreed to reduce the number of centrifuges capable of enriching uranium.

In return, UN sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme were lifted, as were some EU sanctions.

The US ended some secondary sanctions against non-US businesses and individuals who engaged in commercial activity with Iran.

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Frozen Iranian assets, valued at over $100bn, were also released back to Tehran.

Who ensures Iran abides by its side of the deal?

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the deal.

Why does Trump need to certify Iran’s compliance with JCPOA?

The Obama administration faced heavy criticism from Republicans, as well as from some members of his own Democratic Party for signing up to the deal, which they saw as excessively compromising.

Opponents of the then-US president passed legislation requiring US presidents to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal every 90 days.

The Trump administration declared that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal in May and July, but threatened more sanctions for breaching the “spirit’ of the agreement.

The deadline for certification is October 15, but it is believed that Trump will announce his decision sooner.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said this week that the president “has reached a decision on an overall Iran strategy”.

Trump has repeatedly called the agreement the “worst deal ever” and had promised to tear it up even before he was elected.

What will happen if Trump refuses to certify the Iran nuclear deal? 

Trump has called the Iran deal ‘the worst deal ever’ [Michael Conroy/AP Photo]

If Trump refuses to certify, the issue goes to Congress.

Lawmakers will have a non-binding 60 day period to debate the deal.

Congress can decide to introduce or restore sanctions.

It remains to be seen whether that will actually happen as several prominent Republicans are undecided on the issue or do not want the deal to unravel.

Would Trump be violating the nuclear deal?

Not certifying the deal would not be a violation of JCPOA in itself, however, it does pave the way for Congress to introduce new sanctions, which could be in breach of US commitments under the agreement.

The onus on breaching the deal would, therefore, be with US lawmakers.

Would it be easy to introduce new sanctions?

While opposition to the Iran deal as it stands is strong, any attempt to scrap it would face resistance from members of the minority Democratic Party, as well as some Republicans, such as Senator Lindsay Graham, who has called on Trump to renegotiate parts of the agreement instead of scrapping it entirely.

How has Iran reacted?

Foreign Minister Zarif has threatened to partially or fully withdraw from the deal in the event of new US sanctions on Tehran.

Analysts say hardliners in Iran will be empowered by any US violation of the deal and would use it as an opportunity to block any further rapprochement with Washington.

“If anything Iran has gone out of its way to show it is compliant with the nuclear deal but what it will do is put pressure on the European countries to stand up for the deal for them to keep up with their part of the bargain,” Durham University’s Professor Anoush Ehteshami told Al Jazeera.

Iran reduced its enriched Uranium stockpiles and centrifuges as part of the deal [Mehr News Agency/AP Photo]

How have US allies reacted?

European leaders have taken the unusual step of publicly calling on the US to abide by the deal and have affirmed that Iran is upholding its commitments under JCPOA.

On Friday, the British embassy in Washington, DC took the unusual step of posting an animation on Twitter showing how Iran was complying with the deal.

French President Emmanuel Macron has told the US that not honouring its side of the deal could push Iran into producing a nuclear weapon in the future.

European states have enjoyed burgeoning trade ties with Iran since the deal came into force and experts say US breaches of the deal would damage its reputation as a reliable partner.

“Europe and the rest of the world would perceive the US as an international troublemaker and unreliable partner,” Arshin Adib-Moghaddam of the School of African and Oriental Studies said.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/trump-iran-deal-171011140146595.html

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Explaining the Iran nuclear deal 01:21