Posts Tagged ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’

Criticism grows over Netanyahu’s response to US neo-Nazism

August 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Mike Smith | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly praised US President Donald Trump but had a testy relationship with his predecessor Barack Obama

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Criticism grew Thursday over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s limited response to a US white supremacist rally and President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about it, with calls for him to speak out against anti-Semitism.The issue highlighted Netanyahu’s reluctance to be seen as criticising Trump, who has expressed strong support for Israel and whose rise to the presidency was welcomed by the Israeli premier, some analysts said.

Netanyahu regularly speaks out against anti-Semitism in other countries, but the United States is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion per year in defence aid and important diplomatic backing.

Netanyahu had a testy relationship with Barack Obama, a Democrat who often pressured him over Israeli settlement building, but he has repeatedly praised Republican Trump.

So far, Netanyahu’s only response to the weekend white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended in bloodshed was a tweet on Tuesday that many saw as vague.

“Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred,” Netanyahu posted in English.

A Facebook post by Netanyahu’s son Yair further raised eyebrows.

He denounced “neo-Nazi scum,” but added that they were “dying out” and seemed to suggest left-wing counter-protesters “who hate my country” were a growing threat.

Criticism of Netanyahu among opposition politicians and others has grown louder over the last couple of days, particularly after Trump’s comments on Tuesday in which he said there was “blame on both sides.”

Perhaps the harshest criticism came from Shelly Yachimovich, a parliament member and former leader of the opposition Labour party.

“?And you, the prime minister of the Jewish people in their land, the man who constantly warns us about a Holocaust, with excessive portions of fear and bombast and promises of ‘never again,’ what about you?” she wrote on Facebook.

“Was it too trivial, an anti-Semitic march in Charlottesville with Third Reich memorabilia?”

Former prime minister Ehud Barak, also from Labour, said “an Israeli leader should have said within six hours our position as Jews, as Israelis, as brothers of a large community, the American Jewish community, including in Charlottesville, who live under threat.”

– ‘Aren’t two sides’ –

Others issued more forceful denunciations of the rally than Netanyahu, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

Opposition member Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, pointedly said in reference to Trump’s comments that “there aren’t two sides.”

Israeli papers devoted front-page coverage to Trump’s comments on Thursday, with top-selling paper Yedioth Ahronoth running a photo of him and the headline “shame.”

Some commentators however pointed out that freesheet Israel Hayom, owned by Netanyahu and Trump backer Sheldon Adelson, buried the story deep inside the paper.

A spokesman for Netanyahu declined to comment on Thursday.

After Netanyahu’s post on Tuesday, an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity that “the tweet is unequivocal and states his revulsion at the scenes of bigotry that the world has witnessed.”

But for some, it has not been nearly enough.

Gideon Rahat of the Israel Democracy Institute think tank said the Israeli government should be expected to respond to such events as a state founded as a “safe haven” for Jews.

“You know we always have the Holocaust on our minds, so you take this and you see that Jews are attacked somewhere,” Rahat said.

But he said of Netanyahu that “I think that his concerns are his relationship with Trump.”

For Abraham Diskin, an emeritus political science professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Netanyahu has no choice but to be “cautious.”

“You have to choose your fights,” he said.

“You cannot fight on every issue. You cannot clash with someone who is that important to Israel on issues like that.”

Whether Netanyahu could see a wider political backlash at home over the issue is an open question.

For Rahat, denunciation of such anti-Semitism is part of the “consensus” in Israel and opposition figures “can clearly use it against” Netanyahu.

Diskin said however that he believed most Israelis would not focus on the issue for long.

“Altogether, I think the vast majority of people will not remember the issue a week from now,” he said.

by Mike Smith

Iran’s risky nuclear deal threat

August 15, 2017

Commentary

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is under pressure from Washington and conservative forces in Tehran. Threats of revitalizing the nuclear problem actually diverge from his interests, says DW’s Matthias von Hein.

Iranian nuclear plant (dapd)
By Matthias von Hein

Politics are often paradoxical, no more so than in the Middle East. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has just cast doubt on one of his greatest foreign policy successes. But one must assume that Rouhani does not actually wish to cancel the international nuclear deal that was reached in 2015. His threat of backing out of the agreement if the US imposed further sanctions can be seen as a cry for help – not to let things get out of hand.

The nuclear deal, of course, has many opponents in Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran, as well. Iranian opponents of the deal are mobilizing – all the more so since Rouhani won a landslide re-election victory in May. The conservative establishment, led by the powerful Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has done everything it can since then to limit Rouhani’s power and torpedo Iran’s opening to the West, something desired by the president and the majority of the population. Hassan Rouhani invested significant political capital in rapprochement with the West and the nuclear deal. Now he is confronted with the fact that Iran is being denied its share in the deal by a government in Washington that has set a confrontational course with Tehran by imposing new sanctions, overtly looking for ways of letting the entire nuclear deal fall through, and openly speaking of regime change in Tehran.

US sanctions affect EU businesses

The US sanctions policy has also caused European companies to exercise caution with business commitments in Iran, as such dealings can lead to penalties from Washington. This is especially true for banks and financial institutions. Without their help, however, trade cannot gain any momentum because of problematic financing. Ultimately, European companies are not regulated in Brussels, but instead, in Washington, and Iran’s integration into the world economy can fall by the wayside.

Matthias von Hein (DW/M. von Hein)DW’s Matthias von Hein

Washington’s aggressive rhetoric strengthens the hawks in Tehran, and Rouhani must take this into account. Just last Sunday, parliament increased the budget for the country’s missile program and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. And of course, Iranian leaders are watching North Korea. Kim Jong-un is using the threat of nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of his regime – all the more so when international pressure mounts on him. And he has been successful, so far. Tehran may now be wishing it had some of its nuclear options back on the table.

The nuclear deal has made the world safer

One thing is certain: The deal is working. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has now approved six Iranian reports on compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran is much further away from creating nuclear weapons than it was three years ago. The world has become much safer. However, one cannot expect the nuclear deal to attain goals that it was not created for, including Iran’s good conduct in other political issues like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

It is nonetheless becoming more important for Europeans to continue their support for the nuclear deal and also back the moderate political forces in Iran in general, just as the European Union did 10 days ago when the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, flew to Tehran for Rouhani’s inauguration.

http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-irans-risky-nuclear-deal-threat/a-40104951

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Rouhani Says Iran Could Quit Nuclear Deal in ‘Hours’ if New U.S. Sanctions Imposed — Iran votes to boost military defence spending

August 15, 2017

DUBAI — Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.

“If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” Rouhani told a session of parliament broadcast live on state television.

Iran says new sanctions that the United States has imposed on it breach the agreement it reached in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China and three European powers in which it agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea passed by the U.S. Congress. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile programs as well as human rights abuses.

The United States imposed unilateral sanctions after saying Iran’s ballistic missile tests violated a U.N. resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.

It stopped short of explicitly barring such activity.

Iran denies its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

“The world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the (nuclear deal), has broken its word on the Paris agreement and the Cuba accord…and that the United States is not a good partner or a reliable negotiator,” Rouhani said.

Trump said last week he did not believe that Iran was living up to the spirit of the nuclear deal.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Angus MacSwan)

*************************************

BBC News

Iran votes to boost military defence by $500m

Sayyad-3 missiles on display at an undisclosed location in Iran, 22 July 2017
Iran said the funding for its missile defence was “not in violation” of a 2015 nuclear deal. Getty Images

Iran’s parliament has voted in favour of boosting investment in its missile defence and foreign operations programmes by more than $500m (£386m).

The bill, which received overwhelming approval, is in response to the latest round of US sanctions against Tehran.

The US imposed sanctions after a ballistic missile test in January.

Tehran says this violates the 2015 nuclear deal, which US President Donald Trump has called “the worst ever” and threatened to tear up.

The Iranian legislation must pass a second vote before submission for final approval.

Iranian MPs shouted “death to America” after Speaker Ali Larijani announced the result of the vote.

Of the members present, 240 parliamentarians out of 244 voted in favour of passing the bill.

It proposes that the government allocates an additional $260m for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the official state news agency Irna said.

Mr Larijani said the move was meant to counter Washington’s “terrorist and adventurist activities” in the Middle East, AFP news agency reports.

Image result for Abbas Araghchi, photos

Abbas Araqchi

The 27-point bill will also impose sanctions on US military and intelligence officials in the region.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, said the new bill was not in violation of the 2015 agreement limiting the country’s nuclear programme.

The nuclear deal, between Iran and six world powers including China, Russia and the UK, is largely seen as the best way to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

The agreement saw crippling economic sanctions on Iran lifted in return for the country restricting its sensitive nuclear activities.

Mr Trump has recently backed away from his key campaign promise to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Mr Trump that he risks political suicide if he scrapped the nuclear deal with Tehran.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40916827

Iran Sending Warships to the Atlantic Ocean

August 15, 2017

BY: 
August 14, 2017 2:45 pm

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), a proponent of a more forceful policy on Iranian intransigence in the region, told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration must make it a priority to address Tehran’s increasingly bold military activity.

“Iran was emboldened to flex its military muscle after eight years of President Obama’s passivity and his delivery of cold, hard cash to the regime, but they should make no mistake: President Trump was elected to put a stop to rogue regimes pushing America around, and the American people know he will address the world’s lead sponsor of terrorism with resolve,” Duffy told the Free Beacon.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Update 6:52 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from Rep. Duffy.

Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

Iran’s Parliament increases funding for missiles after U.S. sanctions — Lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

August 13, 2017

AFP

© Atta Kenare, AFP | Members of Iran’s Armed Forces attend President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony in Tehran on August 5, 2017. Rouhani warned the US against tearing up the nuclear deal as he was inaugurated for a second term.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-08-13

Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to allocate $520 million to develop its missile programme to fight Washington’s “adventurism” and sanctions, and to boost the foreign operations of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The Americans should know that this was our first action,” said speaker Ali Larijani, after announcing an overwhelming majority vote for a package “to confront terrorist and adventurist actions by the United States in the region”.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, out of the 244 parliamentarians present.

The vote came after fresh US sanctions in July against Iran, targeting Tehran’s missile programme.

“The bill is backed by the foreign ministry and the government and is part of measures by the JCPOA supervision committee to confront the recent US Congress law,” deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi.

He was referring to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, known officially as the JCPOA, under which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

The bill mandates the government to allocate an additional $260 million for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to the Revolutionary Guards’s foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, state news agency IRNA said.

After Larijani announced the vote results, lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

Iranian Convicted of Being Spy in UAE Gets 10-Year Sentence

August 10, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian convicted of being a spy in the United Arab Emirates and trying to smuggle equipment for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The state-run WAM news agency reported late Wednesday that 48-year-old man, identified only by the initials H.R.M.H.M., imported the equipment from the U.S. with the intention of sending it onto Iran.

The report said the man would be deported after serving his sentence.

Iran long has described its nuclear program as peaceful. Western fears over it prompted sanctions later lifted by the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which capped its enrichment of uranium.

In April, a UAE court sentenced another Iranian identified by the initials S.M.A.R. to 10 years in prison for similarly trying to aid Iran’s nuclear program.

Rouhani warns Trump he ‘risks his political life’ over Iran nuclear deal

August 8, 2017

More than 100 officials from around the world attend the Iranian President’s inauguration, with Mr Rouhani claiming it as a strong show of support for building ties

By Kim Sengupta Tehran

The Independent 

rouhani-inauguration.jpgIran’s President Hasan Rouhani delivers a speech after his swearing-in ceremony AP

It was always going to be a state ceremony of grandeur and pomp, but the current turbulence in Middle East politics ensured that Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration as President of Iran became an occasion of significant resonance.

Iran, its adversaries Saudi Arabia and the Donald Trumpadministration have demanded, should once again be shunned as a pariah state. The US has imposed tough new sanctions and President Trump is threatening to pull the plug on the nuclear deal between the country and international powers which has been achieved through years of painstaking negotiations. Hawks in his team have talked about instigating regime change in Tehran.

In the event representatives from a hundred countries turned up in Tehran. The likes of Robert Mugabe and Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly of North Korea, may be ignored by Washington and Riyadh. But the presence of senior figures from most Western European countries, including Britain’s Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and ministers from from Russia, China and India was a clear sign that the attempt to isolate Iran was failing for the time-being.

At his swearing-in ceremony Mr Rouhani warned those present that America was trying to sabotage the nuclear accord. Mr Trump’s aggression, said the President, may come to a sticky end: “Those who want to tear up the nuclear deal should know that they will be ripping up their own political life.”

“The US’s repeated violations of its commitments and the new sanctions it imposed on Iran have left a negative impact on public opinion here and this will put the nuclear agreement at risk. Iran would not be the first to pull out of the nuclear deal, but it will not remain silent about the US violations,” he said.

Earlier, in a meeting with Ms Mogherini, the Iranian President praised the high European representation saying that it showed many Western states were prepared to build bridges with his country despite American pressure. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also reportedly said in the meeting: “Mr Trump is trying to destroy the nuclear accord at Iran’s expense, and Europe should be conscious of this.”

Tehran milked the attendance: the names of all attending countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe were read out at the ceremony in Parliament. While some of these countries too were keen to use the stage to stress their agenda. Qatar, engaged in a bitter confrontation with a Saudi led alliance, sent a delegation headed by the Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Russia, another recipient of tough new American sanctions, announced that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and senior military officers will hold “an important meeting” with ministers from Iran and Turkey on Syria following the inauguration.

The three countries are guarantors of a series of truces in the civil war. Iranian officials said that one of the key issues under discussion would be the takeover of Syria’s Idlib province, one of the areas currently covered by a ceasefire, by extremist jihadists of Hayat Tahrir al Sham and the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, which now calls itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

The US warned of the “grave consequences” of Idlib being taken over by al-Qaeda affiliates. But the Americans have drastically scaled down backing for the rebels they sponsored and any recapture of territory would be carried out by the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies.

It was, however,  Mr Rouhani’s agenda of domestic reform, rather than further foreign military commitment abroad, which gave him a landslide victory over his conservative opponent in the election earlier this year. And many of the delegations here are, however, looking at trade possibilities with the Iranian market opening up following the relaxing of sanctions. Lord Lamont of Lerwick, a long-time campaigner for improving relations with Tehran and now the UK’s trade envoy to Iran, has arrived along with the MP Richard Bacon, the vice-chairman of the Britain-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The US manufacturer Boeing has signed an $8bn (£6.1bn) deal to sell 80 jets to Iran Air and 30 more to another carrier, Aseman Airlines while its European rival Airbus has an agreement to supply another 100 planes to Iran. France’s Total is in a $2bn agreement to develop a gas field and Britain’s General Electric is considering a number of highly lucrative business options.

But the shadow of Donald Trump remains as Iran strives to open up for business. The US stipulation on the nuclear deal means the President has to certify that Tehran is complying with the agreement every 90 days. Mr Trump, who had promised to tear up the agreement during his election campaign, grudgingly signed off the first certification after the State Department failed to find any breaches but he complained that the Iranians “are not living up to the spirit of the agreement” while failing to explain what this actually means. His administration, he says, is carrying out a “comprehensive review of Iran policy”.

That is still under way as the US administration was again forced to issue the second certification last week that Iran was still complying with its commitments. But, at the same time, Mr Trump said in an interview: “If it was up to me, I would have had them non-compliant 180 days ago.” Asked whether he expected Iran to be non-compliant next time, he declared: “Yes, personally I do.”

The agreement remains, theoretically, even if the US pulls out, with the five other signatories, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, all saying that they would continue with it. But companies and financial institutions are acutely wary of falling foul of US sanctions and incurring swingeing financial penalties.

“I don’t see how the agreement can really survive if the US really does say it is no longer part of it” was the view of Professor Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran University academic influential in Iranian government circles. “The odds will be stacked against it”. While Robert Emerson, a security analyst, said: “This is not something which is going to go away from Washington politics; the issue of the nuclear deal and Iran sanctions will be revisited many times in the future by the hardliners led by the US President”.

The hundred-strong attendance at the Rouhani inauguration does not mean that Donald Trump’s crusade to isolate Iran and push it back into international political wilderness is over.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-rouhani-risk-political-life-russia-a7878861.html

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Europe and USA on a collision course over Iran nuclear deal

August 5, 2017

The Iran nuclear deal has made the world a safer place, or so Europe says. Yet the Trump Administration wants out of the accord. Differences will become apparent when Iranian President Rouhani is sworn in on Saturday.

Logo International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Schlager)

If there is one place in the world where the difference of opinion between Europe and the USA over how to deal with Iran will be most glaringly apparent, it will be in Tehran this Saturday. That is where Iran’s re-elected president, Hassan Rouhani, will take the oath of office for his second term. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be among the guests at the ceremony. Germany will be represented by a deputy foreign minister.

Their appearance will stand in stark contrast to the attitude of the United States. Speaking in Saudi Arabia in May on his first foreign trip, US President Donald Trump said, “all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran.” The attitude signals a serious threat to the so-called Iran nuclear deal signed just two years ago.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear activities was the basis for that country’s return to the international stage and its reintegration into the global economic system after years of harsh sanctions. The core of the nuclear deal: Iran commits to rolling back parts of its nuclear program, as well as allowing regular inspections thereof, and in return, related sanctions will be suspended and eventually lifted altogether.

So far, the agreement has worked. In six consecutive reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified that Iran is upholding its end of the bargain. Therefore, the EU sees the nuclear deal as a major step toward making the world safer and stopping nuclear proliferation.

Atomabkommen mit dem Iran unterschrieben (Mehr)

Two years ago the nuclear agreement was celebrated on the streets of Tehran

Read more: Iran vows to continue missile program as tensions flare with US

‘Majority wants to derail the nuclear deal’

The mood in the USA couldn’t be more different. Sascha Lohmann, from the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), told DW that both the president and Congress are skeptical about the deal. “A broad majority is in favor of scrapping the deal or trying to renegotiate a better one. That means there is a great danger that things may soon change on the US end of the agreement in the very near future,” says Lohmann.

The next opportunity to initiate such a change will come in October. The US president is obliged to inform Congress whether or not Iran is continuing to uphold the agreement every 90 days so that the body can decide whether or not to extend sanctions relief. Trump has already done so twice, albeit with discernible reluctance – and with obvious displeasure over the approach of his own State Department. Meanwhile, the White House has assembled its own working group on Iran – tasked with finding a way for Trump to impose new nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Ali Vaez told DW that this fact leads him to fear that the Iran nuclear deal is in grave danger. An Iran expert from the International Crisis Group, Vaez says it is more than media reports claiming President Trump promises to refuse certifying Iranian compliance in October that concern him. When speaking with DW he added: “US government officials are openly calling for regime change in Iran.” This also fits with Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that CIA Director Mike Pompeo has set up a special Iran Mission Center.

US-Präsident Trump in Saudi-Arabien Willkommenszeremonie (picture alliance/dpa/Saudi Press Agency)

The Iran Mission Center, a new department within the CIA, should put greater pressure on Iran

‘If they don’t let us in, boom’

In its article, the WSJ quoted anonymous US officials who said the CIA’s activities mirrored the Trump administration’s prioritization of Iran as a target for US agents. Pompeo has been a hawk on Iran for years and has harshly criticized the nuclear deal in the past.

Chancellor Angela Merkel with President Donald Trump. AP photo

But the deal is working as far as Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is concerned. Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has lobbied against derailing the agreement. But his true intentions became clear in a recent interview with David Ignatius of the Washington Post (WaPo). “What you want is you want the breakup of this deal to be about Iran. You don’t want it to be about the United States,” said Corker. He also called for “radically enforcing” the agreement, for instance by demanding access to “various facilities in Iran. If they don’t let us in, boom.”

Sword dance and tweets

European allies, on the other hand, have shown no intention of following the US’s lead. For Rolf Mützenich, chairman of the German-Iranian parliamentary group in Germany’s lower house, the Bundestag, the presence of European foreign policy representatives at Rouhani’s inauguration sends a clear signal that Europe “intends to maintain its contract-based agreement with Iran.” At the same time it sends the message that, “we want to continue to work in trusting cooperation with President Rouhani.” In Mützenich’s opinion that is important because he sees Rouhani as a guarantor for Iran opening itself to the world – “unlike other actors in Iran.”

EU High Representative Mogherini is relentless in her promotion of the nuclear deal as well: She was the first foreign politician to congratulate Rouhani on his election victory, via Twitter – and at the same time she used the opportunity to emphasize European willingness to work toward accomplishing the aims of the agreement.

‘EU companies aren’t regulated in Brussels but rather in Washington’

Should the USA actually break away from the JCPAO it would have far-reaching consequences – even if other partners stuck with it. Those partners are the EU, Germany, France, the UK, China and Russia. The economic exchange that has finally been reignited could suffer greatly, as so-called secondary sanctions could hit European companies doing business with Iran. SWP Iran-expert Lohmann was very clear when speaking with DW: “We are faced with the problem that EU companies are not actually being regulated by Brussels, but rather by Washington. That is why big companies have openly said: US sanctions are the determining factor for us. Even if we have no legal consequences to fear from the European side, we still won’t do business with Iran. We are too scared of violating US sanctions.”

http://www.dw.com/en/europe-and-usa-on-a-collision-course-over-iran-nuclear-deal/a-39973358

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Iran Says U.S. Is Sabotaging 2015 Nuclear Deal

August 3, 2017

Iran has complained that new US sanctions against it are an effort to sabotage its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran said it would not be drawn into a trap, but warned it would respond in a “smart” way.

Inauguration of President Rouhani

Iran on Thursday claimed the latest US sanctions against the country go against the spirit of the 2015 nuclear agreement. US President Donald Trump signed the measures into law on Wednesday, which target Iran’s missile program and human rights violations, neither of which were covered by the deal.

“We believe that the nuclear deal has been violated and we will react appropriately,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told state television. “We will certainly not fall into the trap of US policy and Trump, and our reaction will be very carefully considered.”

“We will not react with countermeasures, instead we will refuse to be drawn into this game and proceed with a level head.”

Read more: Iran vows to continue missile program as tensions with US flare

Abbas AraghchiDeputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has said the nuclear deal ‘will not be renegotiated’

Araghchi said Iran had drawn up a list of 16 measures, but he did not elaborate beyond saying that some would improve Iran’s armed forces.

The US measures would include mandatory penalties on people who are involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well those who do business with them.

The law is to also apply an arms embargo and terrorism sanctions to Iran’s elite and powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani being sworn inHassan Rouhani was sworn in for a second term in office on Thursday

Rouhani sworn in

The fresh sanctions came less than 24 hours before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani officially began his second term of office.

“We will never accept isolation,” Rouhani said at his inauguration. “The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage,”

Just last week Rouhani had said Iran would “take any action that is necessary for the country’s expedience and interests” and show “reciprocal” reaction to the law.

‘Worst deal ever’

Donald Trump has said he would like to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal that the administration of President Barack Obama agreed. During the presidential campaign, Trump described the accord – struck between Tehran and the P5+1 group including Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US – as the “worst deal ever.”

Read more: From Russia to Syria and Iran: Do EU sanctions really work?

However, the White House admitted in mid-June that the Islamic republic was abiding by the terms of the 2015 agreement, which eased sanctions on Iran in return for the country limiting its ability to produce material to build nuclear weapons.

 Image result for Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, photos
Head of the Revolutionary Guard Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari

The prospect of non-nuclear sanctions was raised shortly after that. Iran’s response at the time was defiant, promising “reciprocal actions with high costs.”

Head of the Revolutionary Guard Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari even went as far as to say that – if the military branch were targeted by sanctions – then all US forces within 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) would be in danger, apparently referring to the range of Iranian missiles.

In response to the threat of sanctions, the Iranian parliament voted to allow more funding for the Revolutionary Guard’s foreign wing the Quds Force, which the US claims is responsible for stoking unrest in the region.

The US, along with Britain, France, Germany and the United Nations, on Wednesday warned that the testing of a rocket capable of delivering satellites into orbit was a threatening and provocative step.

http://www.dw.com/en/iran-sanctions-tehran-accuses-us-of-sabotaging-nuclear-deal/a-39946677

Iran’s Rouhani vows to end isolation as he starts second term — “We will never accept isolation.” — Rouhani threatened that American “will be harmed” by its recent moves “violating the nuclear deal”

August 3, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani holds a press conference on May 22, 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani vowed to continue his efforts to end the country’s isolation as he was sworn in for a second term on Thursday by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.”We will never accept isolation,” Rouhani told a packed audience of Iranian political and military officials in Tehran.

“The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage,” he said, referring to the 2015 agreement with world powers to curb its atomic programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

However, his inauguration came less than 24 hours after fresh sanctions were imposed by US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to tear up the nuclear deal entirely.

Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate who has faced fierce criticism from conservatives for his efforts to rebuild ties with the West, issued a call for unity.

“I declare once again that with the election concluded, the time for unity and cooperation has begun,” he said.

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“I extend my hand to all those who seek the greatness of the country.”

Among those in attendance at the ceremony was hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who fell out of favour with the establishment and was sensationally barred from standing as a candidate this year.

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Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Khamenei applauded the high turnout and “enthusiastic participation” in the May election as “signs of the success of the Islamic regime in reinforcing the republican and popular character of the revolutionary regime.”

He called on Rouhani to emphasise the “resistance economy” focused on increased employment and national production at a time when the official jobless rate has reached 12.6 percent.

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Iran space launch, July 27, 2017. Iranian Defense Ministry

By 
August 1, 2017 2:34 pm

Senior Iranian officials are accusing the United States of violating the landmark nuclear accord and promising to take punitive measures against America for this action, according to recent comments that come on the heels of renewed efforts by the Trump administration and Congress to sanction Tehran for its ballistic missile program and regional support for terrorism.

Ali Larijani, speaker of Iran’s parliament, lashed out Tuesday at the Trump administration and accused it of “blatantly” violating statutes in the nuclear agreement that obligate the United States to promote international trade with Iran and refrain from issuing new sanctions.

Larijana promised that Iran would “act decisively” to retaliate against the United States with its own package of sanctions and other measures, according to comments by the senior leader. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened that American “will be harmed” by its recent moves.

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Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran

The comments are likely to escalate tensions between the Islamic Republic and Trump administration, which recently came very close to explicitly labeling Iran as in violation of the nuclear deal. The White House has repeatedly sanctioned Iran’s ballistic missile program and U.S. officials have vowed to continue confronting Iran’s regional hostility, particularly in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces have launched several direct attacks on U.S. coalition forces in the region.

A State Department official, speaking only on background, told the Washington Free Beacon that the comments by Iran’s leaders will not deter the Trump administration from continuing to sanction Tehran.

The U.S. government intends to continue to target Iran’s malign activity that is outside the scope of the nuclear deal, the officials said, referring to U.S. action against Tehran that is viewed as not directly violating the agreement. “We have been clear all along that there would continue to be sanctions on non-nuclear areas,” the officials said.

Iranian leaders continued to bash the United States on Tuesday, following the recent round of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and Congress.

Rouhani issued a warning to the United States as the Iranian parliament considered emergency measures to retaliate against the United States.

“The Americans should know that they will be harmed more by such moves, as such acts will isolate them in the world,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

Larijani, speaker of Iran’s parliament also accused the United States of violating the deal.

“Given the evidence, in our view in the nuclear committee (which supervises implementation of the nuclear deal) the Americans have blatantly violated the nuclear deal,” Larijani was quoted as telling reporters Tuesday in Tehran.

“Mr. Trump advised other countries not to invest in Iran; such remarks are against the nuclear deal and such an atmosphere shouldn’t be created based on the agreement,” Lirijani was quoted as saying. “Iran should act decisively and wisely to prevent the Americans from attaining their goals.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the nuclear deal, also accused the Trump administration of violating the agreement and vowed that Iran would continue its work on ballistic missile technology, which it claims does not violate international accords baring such activity.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

The U.S. State Department, however, disagrees with this characterization and accused Iran of being in breach of United Nations resolutions that call on Iran to refrain from testing and constructing ballistic missiles.

Iran—which conducted a major space launch last week—has been steadfast about its commitment to pursuing advanced missile technology, an issue that has emerged as a flashpoint between Tehran and the United States in recent months.

“Iran, unlike the U.S., has complied in good faith with the letter and spirit of the JCPOA, while U.S. rhetoric and measures indicated its bad faith,” Zarif was quoted as saying this week.

The Iranian body responsible for governing the nuclear agreement also moved on Tuesday to take action against the United States, claiming that the United States had violated several provisions of the accord.

The body drafted a bill titled, “Confronting the United States’ Acts of Exploitation and Terror in the Region” and also issued a 16-paragraph document outlining how Tehran would “respond accordingly to U.S. provocations,” according to reports in Iran’s state-controlled press.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/iran-u-s-violating-nuclear-deal/