Posts Tagged ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’

Pompeo: Iran to face ‘wrath of entire world’ should it pursue nuclear weapons

June 23, 2018

US secretary of state says no matter fate of 2015 deal, which the US withdrew from last month, it would not be in Tehran’s interest to ramp up nuke program

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to reporters about North Korea during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, June 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to reporters about North Korea during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, June 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday said he hoped the US would never have to take military action against Iran, warning that should Tehran pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons, it would stand to face the “wrath of the entire world.”

Speaking during an interview with MSNBC broadcast on Saturday, Pompeo said that no matter the fate of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal — which the US pulled out of last month, angering Tehran and America’s European allies and signatories to the agreement — it would not be in Iran’s interest to develop nuclear arms.

“I hope they understand that if they begin to ramp up their nuclear program, the wrath of the entire world will fall upon them,” he said, during the wide-ranging interview which focused heavily on Washington’s recent outreach to North Korea, and ongoing talks on Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

“When I say wrath, don’t confuse that with military action. When I say wrath, I mean the moral opprobrium and economic power that fell upon them. That’s what I’m speaking to. I’m not talking to military action here. I truly hope that that’s never the case. It’s not in anyone’s best interests for that,” he added.

Pompeo said that US President Donald Trump has been “very clear” on Iran. “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon nor start its weapons program on this President’s watch,” he said, according to a transcript of the interviewmade available by the US State Department.

Trump’s announcement on May 8 that Washington was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal was a fulfillment of a campaign promise made by the then-candidate to scrap the deal. The US president had often blasted the controversial agreement forged under his predecessor, President Barack Obama, casting it as “defective” and unable to rein in Iranian behavior or halt the Islamic Republic’s quest to develop nuclear weapons. Trump said the 2015 agreement, which included Germany, France, Russia, China, and Britain, was a “horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made.”

European allies Germany, France, and Britain had urged Trump to remain part of the deal and said they would stick by the agreement regardless.

In his Saturday interview, Pompeo rebuffed the suggestion that America had “separated from our allies on this issue of Iran,” and suggested that although allies may have disagreed with Washington’s move to withdraw from the accord, they understand the wider threat posed by Iran

“When I talk to my Arab friends, the Israelis, all of those in the region, they are right alongside us. And even when I speak to the Europeans, with whom we have a difference about the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally called] they too understand the threat that Iran presents, whether it’s malign activity with [Lebanese terror group] Hezbollah or in Yemen or in Syria or in Iraq, or its missile program that is launching missiles into airports that Westerners travel through,” he said.

“There is a unified understanding of Iran’s malevolent behavior, and it will be an incredibly united world should Iran choose to head down a nuclear weapons path,” he added.

While the fate of the JCPOA is not yet clear as Iran has said it will remain in the deal but could resume nuclear activity if need be, Pompeo said that “if they began to move towards a weapons program, this would be something the entire world would find unacceptable, and we’d end up down a path that I don’t think this is the best interest of Iran, other actors in the Middle East, or indeed the world.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/pompeo-iran-to-face-wrath-of-entire-world-should-it-pursue-nuclear-weapons/

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Most French firms ‘won’t be able to stay’ in Iran: minister

June 19, 2018

Most French companies hoping to continue doing business in Iran after the US imposes new sanctions on the country will find it impossible to do so, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday.

These companies “won’t be able to stay because they need to be paid for the products they deliver to, or build in Iran, and they cannot be paid because there is no sovereign and autonomous European financial institution” capable of shielding them, Le Maire told BFM television.

The new sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump in May after he pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran would punish any foreign firm operating in Iran which also does business with the US or in dollars.

© AFP/File | Renault is the only big French company do defy Trump’s sanctions in Iran

“Our priority is to build independent, sovereign European financial institutions which would allow financing channels between French, Italian, German, Spanish and any other countries on the planet,” Le Maire said.

“It’s up to us Europeans to choose freely and with sovereign power who we want to do business with,” he added.

“The United States should not be the planet’s economic policeman.”

Le Maire and his EU counterparts have been trying to secure exemptions for their firms, many of which rushed back into Iran after the landmark accord curtailing Tehran’s nuclear programme.

French carmaker Renault, which does not sell cars in the US, has said it will remain despite the sanctions.

But French oil group Total and carmaker PSA have already indicated they are likely to pull out of Iran.

Analysts have warned it would be nearly impossible to protect multinationals from the reach of the “extraterritorial” US measures, given the exposure of large banks to the US financial system and dollar transactions.

The first round of the new sanctions, targeting Iran’s auto and civil aviation sectors, are scheduled to go into effect on August 6.

Le Maire’s calls for reinforced European institutions come as French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany on Tuesday seeking a roadmap for eurozone reforms with Chancellor Angela Merkel

Macron is pushing for deeper integration, including a common eurozone investment budget; new fiscal rules for tech giants; a harmonised EU corporate tax; and measures to shore up eurozone banks.

The proposals are on the agenda for a key EU summit on June 28-29.

“We’re at the moment of truth for the Franco-German relationship, and the moment of truth for the eurozone as a whole,” Le Maire said.

“In the next few hours, either the president and the chancellor reach an accord on these four points, and they will have made a major stop toward reinforcing the eurozone, that is to say our economic stability and our financial security,” he said.

“Or else, we’re not able to sign a deal, and we enter — I don’t hesitate to say it — a turbulent time for the eurozone.”

It’s Trump Sanctions, Not OPEC, That’s Boosting Oil

June 17, 2018

The threat of Iran’s oil output disappearing is driving up prices.

A support vessel flying an Iranian national flag sails alongside the oil tanker Devon.

Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

As OPEC oil ministers prepared to meet in Vienna later this week, President Trump fired another twitter-shot across their bows. But it is his decision to slap sanctions back on Iran that is the real driving force behind the rising price of oil.

The U.S. president has accused OPEC of being “at it again” for the second time in as many months through his favored 280-character diplomatic channel. Quite what “it” is, he has never specified.

I am always a bit confused about what people actually mean when they accuse the group of artificially raising the price of oil. OPEC doesn’t set it — and hasn’t done so for more than 30 years.

Perhaps the president is railing at the fact that some members of the group have spent millions of dollars creating production capacity that they aren’t using. Seen in another light, that surplus is a vital safety valve in the event of a sudden loss of supply — such as the one that occurred when U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003, or when Western-backed rebels overthrew Libya’s Moammar Al Qaddafi in 2011. OPEC’s spare capacity has been used to compensate for sudden supply disruptions more often than America’s strategic petroleum reserve.

There is no reason that OPEC should pump as much oil as President Trump, or anyone else, wants. The organization exists to look after the interests of its members. Some of them might see appeasing the United States as being in their best interests. Others clearly do not.

It was less than two years ago that candidate Trump’s energy adviser Harold Hamm told Bloomberg Businessweek that OPEC was “irrelevant.” A little over a month later the same Harold Hamm said it was “high-time” for the irrelevant OPEC to agree on a production freeze to raise prices.

No-one expects politicians, or their advisors, to be consistent. And oil at $67 a barrel is very different to oil at $46. Back then, U.S. shale oil production was on the slide and needed a savior. It found one in Saudi Arabia’s then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and oil minister Khalid Al-Falih, who reversed the kingdom’s “pump-at-will” policy and began to set oil prices on the path to recovery.

Now Saudi Arabia is once again at the forefront of a group of OPEC countries urging other members to do as America wishes — this time by raising output. The about-face comes hard on the heels of Al-Falih’s assertion just eight weeks ago that OPEC’s market-balancing job wasn’t yet done and that output restraint needed to be prolonged.

What changed in that eight weeks? The outlook for the availability of Iranian oil. Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions will reduce the volume of crude available from the country by an unknown amount.

I have said from the outset that the amount of Iranian oil that will be forced off the market will be more than when sanctions were previously in force — even without the EU bans on purchases that accompanied U.S. curbs last time around. Analysts are now starting to ratchet up their forecasts of the volume that could be lost.

The curbs will be more extensive than under President Obama — targeting Iran’s exports of condensates as well as crude oil — and waivers will be harder to come by. Tanker owners and insurers may already be reacting to the imposition of sanctions, even before they come into effect.

It is the fear that the world is about to lose as much a million barrels a day of Iranian crude oil exports by the end of the year, and possibly another 500,000 barrels from Venezuela, that has really driven oil prices higher — not OPEC.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Julian Lee at jlee1627@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-15/vienna-group-meeting-2018-can-t-solve-opec-s-underlying-problem

The Jordanian King’s Roller-coaster Ride Into Syria to Stop Iran

June 16, 2018

The demonstrations in Amman have calmed down, but now King Abdullah must prevent ill-meaning Iranian forces from approaching Jordan via Syria

King Abdullah, left, and his son Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah performing an off-season pilgrimage to Mecca, June 10, 2018.
King Abdullah, left, and his son Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah performing an off-season pilgrimage to Mecca, June 10, 2018. Yousef Allan / Jordanian Royal Palace / AFP

A short video published online by the Fayez family of Jordan reveals the fragile web of relationships King Abdullah must balance to keep his throne. It shows young members of the family blocking the main road from the town of Madaba to Amman.

The filming was done at night, and it’s hard to identify the participants, but the family left no room for doubt. “If Fares Fayez isn’t released from jail, we’ll block the highway to the airport, and that won’t be the last step,” the family threatened on social media.

Fares Fayez is a famous opposition activist known for cursing Queen Rania and calling for the king’s ouster. During last week’s demonstrations against a new tax law, he published insulting posts against the king and his family and urged Abdullah to resign, charging that he is “chiefly responsible for all the corruption in the kingdom.”

Fayez was arrested about a week ago. Now the police will be in conflict not just with his family but with members of the large and influential Bani Sakhr tribe. If not contained, this conflict could drag Jordan into many other internecine battles.

The demonstration that resulted in Fayez’s jailing forced Abdullah to raise more money from his neighbors to finance the government’s operations, fund its $40 billion debt and, above all, substitute for the revenue the tax law was supposed to raise. Thanks to the demonstrations, this law is now in the deep freeze. “The previous government didn’t properly examine the law before approving it,” said the new prime minister, Omar Razzaz.

This is an uphill battle because Abdullah has once again discovered that aid from the Gulf states, and especially Saudi Arabia, comes with a diplomatic price tag that Jordan isn’t eager to pay. This price tag contributed significantly to the economic crisis that led to the tax law and the ensuing demonstrations.

When the protests began, the only country that expressed a willingness to help Jordan was Kuwait. It sent a special envoy to Amman to offer $1 billion in aid, half in grants and half in low-interest loans. The next to volunteer was Qatar, which is being boycotted by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

But accepting Qatari aid was problematic because it would put Jordan under obligation to Qatar and increase Qatari influence in the kingdom at the expense of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Thus Abdullah was in an impossible situation.

Riyadh didn’t rush to offer financial help, sufficing with supportive statements. Qatar came with a check that Jordan couldn’t accept until it knew what the Gulf states boycotting Qatar would offer. Meanwhile, the streets were seething and the people were threatening not to make do with Prime Minister Hani Mulki’s dismissal and appointment of a new government under Razzaz.

King Abdullah of Jordan flanked by Saudi King Salman, left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mecca, June 11, 2018.
King Abdullah of Jordan flanked by Saudi King Salman, left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mecca, June 11, 2018. Bandar Al-Jaloud / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP

Mainly due to the “danger” that Qatar would become Jordan’s benefactor, Riyadh eventually woke up. It convened a summit with the UAE and Kuwait.

Meager aid

But the results were disappointing. The Gulf states offered only $2.5 billion, including the $1 billion Kuwait had already pledged. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were offering only $750 million each over five years – some in the form of a deposit Jordan could draw on, some as loans and some as guarantees that would help Jordan obtain loans from international institutions.

Jordan had hoped for $5 billion. But even that wouldn’t have been enough to stabilize the economy without painful reforms.

After receiving this offer, Abdullah told Qatar he would happily accept the $500 million it offered, which was accompanied by a pledge to employ  tens of thousands more Jordanians in Qatar. The Qatari loan will arrive all at once, in cash, which will be extremely useful. In exchange, Jordan agreed to accept a new Qatari ambassador in Amman, after having downgraded relations about 18 months earlier under Saudi and UAE pressure, as part of their boycott of Qatar.

Razzaz, the new prime minister, couldn’t hide his disappointment with the Gulf states. Speaking in Jordan while Abdullah was in Kuwait, he said Jordan was under heavy diplomatic pressure, “but we won’t let anyone extort us.”

The newly appointed Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz (C) meets with member of Union leaders in Amman, on June 7, 2018.
The newly appointed Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz (C) meets with member of Union leaders in Amman, on June 7, 2018. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

The extortion in question relates first of all to Jordan’s refusal to accept Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” as long as Jerusalem, as Trump himself has said, is off the table. Amman also rejects Riyadh’s plan to deprive Jordan of its special status at Jerusalem’s holy sites as stipulated in the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. Finally, Jordan isn’t willing to take part in the Saudi war in Yemen. In the past, it also refused Saudi demands that it either attack Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces or let an Arab coalition attack from Jordan.

It remains to be seen how Saudi Arabia and the UAE will respond to Jordan’s renewed friendship with Qatar. But this isn’t the only front where Jordan faces problems. The agreements Russia is making with Iran, Turkey and Syria about Syria’s future also worry Amman, mainly because of the proximity to the Jordanian border of Iranian and pro-Iranian forces.

Earlier this month, Jordan was supposed to host a conference of senior American, Russian and Jordanian officials to discuss arrangements for supervising the de-escalation zone in southern Syria. Under the earlier agreement that established this zone, Iranian forces are supposed to withdraw to a distance of 25 to 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Jordanian border, with Syrian army troops replacing them.

Israeli-Jordanian interests

But the meeting was canceled, apparently at Jordan’s request. This is mainly because Jordan (like Israel) opposes letting the Syrian army deploy in southern Syria, for fear that pro-Iranian forces will enter the area disguised as Syrian soldiers. Jordan wants guarantees that only Syrian soldiers, and no foreign forces, will control this zone. On this issue Jordan is aligned with Israel.

UN forces overlooking the Israeli-Syrian border, this month
UN forces overlooking the Israeli-Syrian border, this month BAZ RATNER/Reuters

Jerusalem seeks a deeper withdrawal of Iranian forces, to a distance of 50 to 75 kilometers from the Israeli-Syrian border. Both Israel and Jordan are now apparently waiting to see what the other achieves before finalizing its own position.

Russia would like Iranian forces to leave all of Syria – not just because Israel demands it, but to further its own plans. It has even said so publicly. But Iran refuses, as does Hezbollah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, recently declared that Russia can’t force Iran (much less Hezbollah) to withdraw.

>> Syria signals willingness to pull Hezbollah back from border with Israel, report says <<

In a media interview earlier this week, Assad said Iranian and Hezbollah troops would leave Syria only when they decided that the war on terror – that is, against the Syrian rebels – had ended. He said Iran, Hezbollah and Russia were all in Syria legitimately, having arrived at his invitation.

Russia doesn’t accept Assad’s view and is trying to pressure Iran and Hezbollah to at least quit certain areas if they won’t leave entirely. It has sent blunt military signals. For instance, Russian forces entered the Al-Qusayr region and other sites in the Qalamoun Mountains, near the Syrian-Lebanese border, without coordinating with Hezbollah, which controls these areas. Hezbollah harshly denounced the Russian move.

Admittedly, the Russian troops withdrew less than a day later, but the message was clear: If Russia decides that Hezbollah is in its way, it won’t hesitate to take military action against it.

This conflict recalls Russia’s actions during the evacuation of rebel forces from Aleppo: It created facts on the ground without consulting Iran. Only after Iranian and Hezbollah forces refused to let the buses full of evacuees pass did Russia include Iran in the discussions.

Though Jordan and Israel expect Russia to use its leverage against Iran, Moscow has moved delicately so as not to upset Iran. But now Russia may have a new and unexpected source of leverage.

The United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, the new sanctions it has already imposed and the additional ones it may impose,  together with Europe’s hesitant response to these sanctions, will increase Iran’s dependence on China and Russia. But whereas China doesn’t demand anything for its extensive economic ties with Iran, Russia has already proved that it knows how to exact a diplomatic price – sometimes a high one – from countries dependent on it.

Granted, Russia denounced Trump for withdrawing from the nuclear deal. But it isn’t blind to the benefits it might reap from this decision.

Still, just as in the story of Jordan’s relations with Qatar and Saudi Arabia in which Jordan’s economic dependence didn’t produce political capitulation, it would be unrealistic, at least for now, to think Vladimir Putin can just pull a string and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will nod like a puppet.

Xi Jinping: China Ready to Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation With Iran

June 12, 2018

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BEIJING (Sputnik) – Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday Beijing was ready to advance the development of bilateral relations with Iran, as well as to strengthen cooperation with Tehran within the framework of multilateral mechanisms.

“China-Iran relations have the potential to further and deeper development. China is ready to jointly advance China-Iran relations of comprehensive strategic partnership,” Xi Jinping was quoted as saying during the meeting by Chinese Foreign Ministry.

He stressed that the parties need to constantly improve the level of strategic mutual trust, strengthen contacts at all levels, continue to provide mutual support in matters of each other’s fundamental interest.

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In this Wednesday, January 6, 2016, file photo, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks during a briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China.
© AP PHOTO / NG HAN GUAN

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China to Continue Business Relations With Iran Despite US Withdrawal From JCPOA


Xi Jinping again confirmed that China stood for the full implementation of the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iranian nuclear deal.

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“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program is the result of multilateral efforts that contribute to the maintenance of regional peace and stability, as well as the protection of the international non-proliferation regime. The agreement should be fully implemented,” the Chinese leader stressed.

Xi Jinping also expressed China’s readiness to strengthen cooperation with Iran within the framework of multilateral mechanisms. Chinese leader met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday in Qingdao within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The deal called for the gradual lifting of anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining a peaceful nuclear program.


In early May, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, which requires Tehran to maintain a peaceful nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump’s decision was largely criticized by other parties to the JCPOA.

Chinese leader met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday in Qingdao within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201806111065296185-china-iran-cooperation-ties/

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Don’t Fear Regime Change in Iran

June 12, 2018

For the past century it has been in a struggle between oppressive rulers and a freedom-hungry public.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, and to relentlessly pressure the Islamic Republic, has elicited a predictable response. Critics cite history, particularly a counterproductive 1953 coup, as a reason to oppose the strategy. But looking more closely at the past shows that a regime-collapse containment policy is the best way to effect change.

Westerners often look at Iran as an island of autocratic stability, as they once did with the U.S.S.R. American and European officials tend to see the mullahs’ tools of repression as indomitable. But for much of the past century Iran has been locked in a convulsive struggle between rulers wanting to maintain their prerogatives and the ruled seeking freedom.

The Constitutional Revolution of 1905 first injected the notions of popular representation into Iran’s bloodstream. During the first half of the 20th century, feisty Parliaments had little compunction about flexing their muscles. The local gentry would marshal the peasants, laborers and tribesmen into polls that would choose each Parliament. It wasn’t a Jeffersonian democracy, but the system had legitimacy. Bound to each other by land, family, tradition and the vote, the governing class and the people created mechanisms for addressing grievances. Consequently the Parliaments were sensitive to local concerns.

The first Pahlavi monarch, Reza Shah, challenged this system by imposing his will in the name of modernity. After his abdication in 1941, constitutional rule again gained strength. Yet it was Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, deposed in the 1953 coup, who tried to derail Iran’s democratic evolution. Forget for a moment the nefarious Central Intelligence Agency intrigue; what happened in 1953 was an Iranian initiative.

Former Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh on trial in Tehran, 1953.
Former Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh on trial in Tehran, 1953. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE

There is a fundamental rule about American interventionism today: It takes two to tango. The 1953 coup proves it. Mossadegh, who had once been a champion of the rule of law and national sovereignty, became increasingly autocratic and vainglorious after Parliament nationalized the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. in 1951. In trying to navigate the financially ruinous aftershocks of that decision, the prime minister rigged elections, sought to disband Parliament, and usurped the powers of the monarchy.

Iran’s politicians, military men and mullahs then came together to take down the premier. The public mostly rallied to the monarch, Mohammad Reza, a figurehead around whom diverse forces gathered. The CIA was involved in the coup planning but gave up once the initial operation failed. Iranians took control and removed the prime minister. In doing so, they sought to revive their economy and protect their political institutions. Mossadegh fell not because of a plot hatched in Langley but because he lost elite and popular support within his own country.

After naming himself “king of kings” in 1971, Mohammad Reza did his best to subvert good governance. He wasted much of Iran’s oil wealth on arms. He reduced the venerable Iranian Parliament to a rubber stamp. His secret police managed to be incompetent and hated. He alienated the clergy and replaced the old elite with a coterie of sycophants.

Yet the 1979 revolution, which overthrew the shah, was bound to disappoint a public clamoring for democracy. The first constituency to give up on theocracy was the students, whose protest in 1999 ended the attempt by the regime to reform itself. Then came the titanic Green Movement of 2009. A fraudulent presidential election sparked a massive protest that discredited the regime among the middle class. In December 2017, nearly 100 Iranian cities and towns erupted in protest. The poor were thought to be the regime’s last bastion of power, tied to theocracy by piety and the welfare state. Yet this time they hurled damning chants.

President Hassan Rouhani, a lackluster apparatchik of the security state, once thought that a nuclear deal would generate sufficient foreign investment to placate discontent. That aspiration failed even before the advent of President Trump. The Islamic Republic—with its lack of a reliable banking system or anything resembling the rule of law—is too turbulent to attract enough investors. It is probably internally weaker than the Soviet Union was in the 1970s.

The essential theme in modern Iranian history is a populace seeking to emancipate itself from tyranny—monarchal and Islamist. Devising a strategy to collapse the clerical regime isn’t difficult: The U.S. can draw on Persian history and on experience with the Soviet Union. It will require patience. Iranians usually don’t hold 1953 against the U.S. Neither do the children of the revolutionary elite, who so often find their way to the U.S. and Britain. The biggest hurdle for Washington is self-imposed: It needs to take seriously the Iranian quest for democracy.

Mr. Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/dont-fear-regime-change-in-iran-1528756928

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Netanyahu: If You Stand With Trump on North Korea, Oppose a Nuclear Iran

June 12, 2018

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“I think the entire world, as we do, prays for the success of this effort.”

BY TOVAH LAZAROFF

Netanyahu relates Trump’s efforts to denuclearize North Korea to his efforts to denuclearize Iran at the AJC Global Forum, June 10, 2018 (GPO)

Netanyahu relates Trump’s efforts to denuclearize North Korea to his efforts to denuclearize Iran at the AJC Global Forum, June 10, 2018 (GPO)

Those who support US President Donald Trump’s effort to denuclearize North Korea should stand behind his quest to halt a nuclear Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

“Dangerous regimes should denuclearize,” Netanyahu told the AJC Global Forum, whose members gathered in Jerusalem before Tuesday’s meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I think the entire world, as we do, prays for the success of this effort,” Netanyahu said.

“Now, imagine, imagine: Imagine that President Trump would come back with some deal, and Britain, France and Germany would applaud it and South Korea and Japan would say that it endangers their existence,” Netanyahu said.

With regard to the Iran deal, one can see that same global division between those in missile range and those who are not, Netanyahu said.

“This deal was applauded by many in the international community who are not in the missile range of Iran, but Israel and Saudi Arabia and others said this deal will ultimately give Iran a nuclear arsenal,” Netanyahu said.

Israel fears it will be Tehran’s first target after it becomes nuclear, Netanyahu said.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, June 10, 2018. Photo – YouTube screenshot

“They will use [nuclear weapons] first against us, and then with the long-range missiles that they’re building and that the deal doesn’t prevent them from building, against everyone else,” Netanyahu said.

Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he blamed the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process on the Palestinian failure to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

“The reason we don’t have peace is not because of the absence of a Palestinian state. It has been offered many, many times, and it has been rejected many, many times because it always had a condition: No Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday criticized US “unilateralism” in withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and said he appreciated efforts by China and Russia to maintain the agreement.

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A file photo of a missile launch from Houthi Rebels (Reuters/Houthi Military Media Unit)
File photo — Iranian built ballistic missile is fired from yemen by Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia. Credit Reuters

“The US efforts to impose its policies on others are expanding as a threat to all,” Rouhani told the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional security grouping led by China and Russia where Iran has observer status.

“The recent example of such unilateralism and the defiance of the decisions of the international community by the US government is its withdrawal from the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the nuclear agreement by its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Reuters contributed to this report.

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Netanyahu-If-you-stand-with-Trump-on-North-Korea-oppose-a-nuclear-Iran-559652

Iran defiant as it holds day of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. protests — Burns Donald Trump in effigy — Chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”

June 8, 2018

Iran held its annual day of protest against Israel and the U.S. on Friday, determined to show defiance at a time of mounting pressure from the United States and its regional allies.

“The US, Saudi Arabia and Israel want to put Iran in a corner, but they don’t know that with this action they are threatening their own security,” said parliament speaker Ali Larijani, addressing a crowd in Tehran.

© AFP | Iranian protestors burn an effigy of US President Donald Trump dressed in an Israeli flag during a rally to mark Qods Day in Tehran on June 8, 2018

Thousands took to the streets in the capital and other cities for Qods (Jerusalem) Day, held every year since the early days of Iran’s Islamic revolution to show support for the Palestinians.

This year’s event saw the usual burning of flags and chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, as well as a huge Donald Trump figure being hanged from a crane.

But it comes at a time when Iran is under increasing economic pressure after the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and prepares to reimpose crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic — a move that has been cheer-led by Israel.

“The supreme leader told us we should come in large numbers to show the world that the actions of the US and Israel will not have any effect on our people,” said Hassan Dorabi, a 30-year-old teacher.

The mood, as ever, was a mix of political rage and family fun, with children singing songs on stages and throwing darts at portraits of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Many were adamant that Iran is merely supporting the Palestinian people, and is not planning a military attack as Israel fears.

“We have never in our history started a war against any country and we are not going to in the future,” said Hassan Ruholamini, a 33-year-old artist.

Afateh Salehi, a 58-year-old army employee, said Iranians “want all people to live in peace together”.

“We don’t want any country to attack another. We are not animals. We could live with Israel but today they want to destroy the countries around them piece by piece,” he said.

AFP

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An Iranian made ballistic missile is launched from Yemen by Houti rebels into Saudi Arabia

Iran’s parliament speaker says regional security threatened if Iran cornered — Blames Saudi Arabia, Israel and American triangle — Talks uranium enrichment, Hamas and Hezbollah

June 8, 2018

The speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali Larijani said on Friday that security in the Middle East could be threatened if Tehran was further pressured by its arch foes Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Image result for Ali Larijani , photos

Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani — FILE photo

Tens of Thousands of Iranians took part in anti-Israel rallies across the country to mark Iran’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinians. They chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”, burning the Israeli flag.

“Israel and Saudi Arabia are the source of chaos in the region. The Saudi Arabia, Israel and American triangle wants to turn the region into a chaotic scene,” state television showed Larijani telling demonstrators “The region’s security will be threatened if they corner Tehran.”

Israel has strongly backed President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. Washington has re-imposed sanctions on Iran and demanded Tehran make sweeping changes from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian civil war.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if the nuclear agreement collapsed despite European efforts to keep it alive.

Opposition to Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognize, has been a cornerstone of Iranian policy since its 1979 Islamic revolution. Shi’ite Muslim Iran backs Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups which oppose peace with Israel.

“Israel is failing … the claim of creating a new regional order is a mistake they are making and it is an illusion … It is our responsibility to defend Palestinians,” Larijani told the crowd in Tehran.

Iran has repeatedly called on its Sunni Muslim rival Saudi Arabia to help improve their strained bilateral relations and work for stability in the Middle East.

“The regional issues should be resolved by regional people, nations and the government,” Larijani said.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by David Stamp

Reuters

Xi, Putin meet as Trump confronts them in Syria, Iran, North Korea and on trade

June 8, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping treated Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to a state visit on Friday as the neighbouring giants forge closer ties in the face of US diplomatic and economic challenges.

Putin, re-elected to his fourth Kremlin term in March, arrived at the grandiose Great Hall of the People in Beijing for talks with Xi, who could stay in power for life after term limits were lifted this year.

© POOL/AFP / by Joanna CHIU, Laurent THOMET | Russia’s President Vladimir Putin reviews a military honour guard with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

The two heads of state reviewed a military honour guard and greeted flag-waving children during the welcoming ceremony before retreating into the vast building.

The most powerful Russian and Chinese leaders in decades, Xi and Putin have built closer ties while US President Donald Trump has labelled both countries as economic rivals that challenge US interests and values.

Xi and Putin are “soulmates who want to make their countries great again”, Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told AFP.

“Both share scepticism towards American hegemony and distrust US intentions, both are authoritarian personalistic rulers,” he said.

China is mired in tough negotiations with the United States to avoid a trade war, while Moscow has deep differences with Washington on multiple diplomatic fronts, including Syria and Ukraine.

Putin played up his bond with his “good friend” Xi in an interview with China’s state broadcaster CGTN this week.

He said the Chinese president was the only state leader to celebrate his birthday with him, with the two sharing vodka and sausage.

Xi “is approachable and sincere”, Putin told CGTN. “But he’s also a very dependable man to work with.”

Maria Repnikova, director of the Center for Global Information Studies at Georgia State University in the US, said China makes Russia look “stronger and more relevant” on the global stage.

For its part, Russia allows China to show the US that it has “other options” in international negotiations, she said.

“Trump’s policies justified (the) growing closeness, especially for Russia but also for China given the volatile relationship with the United States,” Repnikova told AFP.

But, she said “it’s an asymmetrical relationship with Russia more dependent on China than vice versa, especially in the economic sphere”.

After the Beijing visit, Putin will join Xi at a weekend summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

China and Russia lead the regional security group, which includes former Soviet states and new members India and Pakistan.

Putin told CGTN that the SCO had “small” objectives when it was founded two decades ago but that it was now evolving into a larger global force.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose country is an observer member of the SCO, will also attend the summit at a time when China and Russia are seeking to save the Iran nuclear deal following Trump’s withdrawal from the pact.

by Joanna CHIU, Laurent THOMET
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AFP