Archive for August 1, 2018

BREAKING: Iran Begs for Meeting with President Trump

August 1, 2018

By Kevin Jackson – July 31, 2018 The Black Sphere

Source Link: BREAKING: Iran Begs for Meeting with President Trump

{Keep squeezing them until they pop. – LS}

Iran is in turmoil, and it’s due to the policies of President Donald Trump.

As one of my contacts reported,

The cities of Tehran, Shahr-e Rey, Tabriz, Qeshm, Karaj and others are witnessing store-owners closing their shops from early Monday morning, reports from sources inside the country indicate.

This new strike follows a recent nosedive of Iran’s currency, the rial, reaching 115,000 rials to the U.S. dollar. On Sunday night, a number of bazaar merchants issued statements calling on their colleagues to stage a new round of strikes. People on social media are welcoming these measures, emphasizing the status quo is no longer acceptable.

I mentioned not long ago that Iran’s currency is taking a beating. I actually saw a report that the rial was not at 115,000 to one U.S. but actually was at 230,000 to the U.S. dollar.

Simply put: President Trump has the rogue nation right where he wants them. So why not meet with Iran to teach them the art of the deal, as President Trump suggests he will do.

President Trump declared Monday that he is willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani anytime and without preconditions, saying that he believes it is always better to meet with adversaries.

“No preconditions,” Trump said of a meeting with Iranian leaders. “If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want.”

Trump was responding to a question at a joint news conference at the White House with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Last week, tension between the United States and Iran escalated after Trump appeared to threaten military action against Iran in a tweet and Iranian officials vowed to resist any attempt to destabilize their country.

As we’ve learned with Trump, America has nothing to lose in these negotiations and everything to gain.

How pathetic is that, that America has been taken advantage of in every aspect of foreign policy. I put the blame on the previous administration, as Obama had ample opportunity to set a different course for American foreign policy and he punted the football.

Thankfully, Trump recognized the abject ignorance displayed by Obama and righted the ship. And Trump is straightening out Iran without firing a bullet.

If anybody believes the Iranian currency has devalued by 75 percent by accident, you don’t know how things work. While Donald Trump couldn’t take the blood money Obama gave Iran back, he could do something almost as good–make sure the money had no value.

So now the billions Iran received from Obama have been rendered down to millions. And given all the country’s internal woes, they will be forced to re-evaluate the amount of money the can continue to pour into Syria and elsewhere.

Meanwhile organizations like the NCRI and MEK continue to create chaos internally. Look at the trucker’s strike:

July 25, 2018 – The new round of the truck drivers’ strike entered its third consecutive day on Wednesday.

To this day a total of 85 cities in 25 provinces have joined this strike.

Truck drivers in various parts of Tehran and the cities of Isfahan, Najaf Abad, Karaj, Bandar Abbas, Saveh, Khaf, Zanjan, Semnan, Shahroud, Shiraz, Farrokhshah, Kermanshah, Kerman, Zahedan, Malayer, Khorramshahr, Khorramabad, Bojnurd, Yazd, Port Khomeini, Shahr-e Kord, Khur Mousa, Abdulkhan and dozens of other cities have truck drivers on strike.

Authorities in Kermanshah were pressuring truck drivers to end their strike, only to face stiff resistance by their part. Intelligence agents and police officers in this city began taking stripping license plates off parked trucks in order to force the drivers to end their strike. The family members of the truck drivers began protesting these illegal measures.

In Mashhad, the loading terminal station was completely empty and no truck was at the scene to deliver any goods.

Truck drivers in Isfahan were seen protesting those drivers breaking their ranks, demanding they continue their strike.

This new round of the truckers’ strike began on Monday in many cities and towns across the country. Many provinces, including Tehran, East Azarbaijan, Kurdistan, Isfahan, Fars, Semnan, Qazvin, Kerman, Kermanshah, Lorestan, Central (Tehran), Khorasan Razavi, Chahar-Mahal & Bakhtiari, Khuzestan, and Hormozgan were scenes of such strikes.

Two months ago the truckers strike lasted around two weeks, engulfing all 31 provinces of Iran. The drivers were refusing any loads and protesting their poor living conditions, low wages, high logistical costs, and vehicle leases

And what of this message from Iran’s supreme leader, threatening dissidents:

Soleimani on Thursday expressed his fear of the PMOI’s role and the President elect of the Iranian Resistance, and described US policy toward Iran as being reliant only on the PMOI and Maryam Rajavi. With this, Soleimani expressed his fear of the rising credibility of the Resistance inside and outside Iran, as well as the regime’s fear of increasing international pressure and isolation.

Furthermore, he said “We are closer to you than what you think, remember that the Quds Force and I, and not the entirety of our armed forces are your opponent. You know how powerful Iran is in unconventional wars.”

“There is not a single night that we go to bed without thinking of your destruction,” he added.

Clearly the Iranian leadership worries about what might happen next.

From this vantage point, it’s evident that things have changed in Iran. The idea of President Trump even tangentially mentioning that he will meet with Iran, signals to me that he has received back-channel communications requesting as much.

Russia: Iranian troops in Syria to be kept 85 kilometers from Israel border

August 1, 2018

Source: Russia: Iranian troops in Syria to be kept 85 kilometers from Israel border | The Times of Israel

Russia’s chief Syria negotiator also asserts Israel is no longer so concerned about issue, despite repeated vows from Jerusalem that it will not tolerate any armed Iranian presence

In this July 20, 2018, photo, a poster of President Bashar Assad with Arabic that reads "Welcome in victorious Syria." is seen on the border between Lebanon and Syria. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

In this July 20, 2018, photo, a poster of President Bashar Assad with Arabic that reads “Welcome in victorious Syria.” is seen on the border between Lebanon and Syria. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Russia’s chief Syria negotiator said in an interview Wednesday that his country has convinced the Iranian forces in Syria to withdraw to at least 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the Israeli border, despite Israel’s insistence that no Iranian troops be permitted anywhere in the war-torn country.

Alexander Lavrentyev told Sputnik news site, “We took into account the Israeli concerns, we managed to attain the pullout of Iranian units 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the Israeli border.”

Asked if Israel was becoming less concerned over the pro-Iranian units’ presence near its border, Lavrentyev replied: “Yes, of course, we are certain of this.”

It was not clear what prompted him to say this as Israel has repeatedly and forcefully stated that it will not accept any Iranian presence at all in Syria. Last week it rejected a Russian proposal to keep Iranian forces in Syria 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Israel’s northern border, a senior Israeli official said, moments after a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded in Jerusalem.

PM of Israel

@IsraeliPM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met this evening at the Prime Minister’s Office with a Russian delegation led by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.

Israel is sticking to its demand that Iran not be allowed any military foothold in Syria, the official stressed. Israel is furthermore demanding that all long-range missiles be removed from the country and that any factories producing precision-guided missiles there be shut, the official said.

The Russian “aspiration” of creating a 100-kilometer zone in which neither Iranian forces nor Tehran’s proxy militias are present is insufficient for Israel, the senior official went on. “Iran wants to turn Syria into a second Lebanon. And we’re determined to prevent that.”

Earlier this month, during a call between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the prime minister noted “that Israel would continue to act against the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria,” according to a statement from his office.

Netanyahu has spoken and met with Putin regularly in recent years about Syria and military coordination between the two countries there, most recently during his visit to Moscow last week. Along with Iran, Russian forces are backing the regime of President Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.

On Monday Russia’s ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov told Channel 10 news that the Iranians were “playing a very, very important role in our common and joint efforts to eliminate terrorists in Syria.

Like Iran, Russia is providing military backing Assad with backing in the Syrian civil war.

“The Iranian presence in Syria… is fully legitimate according to the UN principles and the UN charter,” he added.

Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov and his wife host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at a reception marking Russia Day in Jerusalem, June 14, 2018 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

The Syrian army and its Russian and Iran-backed allies since June have been on an offensive in southern Syria, raising concerns Iranian proxies could take up positions in formerly rebel-held areas bordering the Golan Heights. Israel has called for the 1974 disengagement agreement between it and Syria to be upheld and warned Syrian forces against entering the demilitarized buffer zone along the border.

Trump heads for summit with Rouhani. Israel caught by surprise – DEBKAfile

August 1, 2018

Source: Trump heads for summit with Rouhani. Israel caught by surprise – DEBKAfile

Hezbollah likely to replace ISIS on Israel’s northern border, IDF says

August 1, 2018

Source: Hezbollah likely to replace ISIS on Israel’s northern border, IDF says – Israel Hayom

ART: Tommy Robinson is free!

August 1, 2018

The UK’s leading critic of Islam Tommy Robinson has had his appeal against a 13-month sentence because of “contempt of court” success and is now on the loose!

by– Lauren Southern (@Lauren_Southern) August 1, 2018

https://www.journalistenwatch.com/2018/08/01/eil-tommy-robinson/

Lord Justice Burnett and two other judges sat today in London, the prison on bail. “The appellant is granted bail and the prosecution Due contempt of court in Leeds will be renegotiated,” the judge ruled today . Robinson (Civic: Tommy Robinson) was not present in the courtroom. His supporters cheered.

 

His lawyer Jeremy Your had argued in court that at Robinsons flash condemnation in May “procedural errors” due to “prejudice” were committed. According to Your was the 13-month sentence for journalism on public property “clearly disproportionate”. The Court dismissed this argument.

Robinson is immediately released today and is expected with his family today. Robinson had written in June from prison a moving letter to his family ( jouwatch reported ).

His team wrote on Facebook : “Tommy just called his family from prison to ask what was the result. He said his fellow inmates called already that he was free, but did not want to believe it. He is now in seventh heaven! They had booked a family holiday this Friday, which means he can ride and finally spend time with his family now.

Tommy has asked us to thank all of you who have stood up for him. The Royal Court confirmed today that we have had all the right – that the conviction in Leeds was illegally “

There were a number of irregularities in Tommy Robinson’s arrest and conviction on flash 25.5, in fact. for coverage of a trial against a Pakistani gang rape ring :

– The law cited refers to interference in the court. However, Robinson was located on public property outside the courthouse.

– Robinson was aware of its obligations and has meticulously careful to use only information that was already known in the press.

– Robinson was arrested for “disorderly conduct”, but condemned for violating his parole. The alleged “disorderly conduct” never came back to the language.

– Robinson was told that he would not call his lawyer, it was not all that bad. Then him a public defender assigned, who advised him to plead guilty, then he would be free. Tommy has pleaded guilty and was jailed for 13 months.

AFD-Bundestagsabgeordenter Petr Bystron had Robinson offered asylum in Germany and described him as “political prisoners”. Nevertheless, the federal government, the European Human Rights Commissioner and groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch refused to work for the most prominent political prisoner in Europe, as Bystron inviting her .

Russian envoy: Deal reached to keep Iran 85 km from Israeli-Syria border

August 1, 2018
After Israel rejected offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km from border, Russian Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev claims ‘we managed to attain the pullout of Iranian units 85 kilometers from the Israeli border.’
https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5320601,00.html

Russia and Israel have reached an agreement to remove Iranian forces in Syria to within 85 kilometers of the Golan Heights border, Russia’s special envoy for Syria told the Sputnik news agency on Wednesday.

“As we took into account the Israeli concerns, we managed to attain the pullout of Iranian units 85 kilometers (some 53 miles) from the Israeli border,” Russian Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said.Lavrentyev also noted Moscow believes Israeli concerns over the presence of Iran and its proxies near the Golan border are decreasing. “Yes, of course, we are certain of this,” he told Sputnik in response to a question about it.

Iran's army chief meets with his counterpart in Syria

Iran’s army chief meets with his counterpart in Syria

Last month, Israel rejected a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces in Syria 100 km (62 miles) from the border, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly telling Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that it was not enough.

“We will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border,” Netanyahu told Lavrov, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The Russians are speaking about (the 100-km buffer zone) and are committed to it, but we said there are also long-range weapons beyond this zone, and all those forces must leave Syria,” the official said.

Even before that, Israel had turned down a proposal by Russia, the big-power backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, that Iranian forces be kept 80 km from the frontier.

Netanyahu met with a visiting Russian delegation led by Lavrov on July 23 to discuss Assad’s advance in southwest Syria and “issues related to Israel border security.”

Pro-Iranian militias in Syria

Pro-Iranian militias in Syria

Another Israeli official described the meeting, which lasted for over two hours, as “an important meeting at a significant time in which we discussed the details of Iranian presence and activity in Syria, while presenting maps and intelligence materials, as we explained our policy to push Iran out of Syria.”

The official said Israel will maintain full freedom of operations for the IDF, and detailed what the removal of Iran from Syria should entail: “First of all, all the long-range weapons must be removed from Syria; precise weapons production must be stopped; other strategic weapons, such as air defense, must be removed as well; the border crossings that allow the smuggling of these weapons must be closed, including on the Syrian-Lebanese border where weapons are smuggled into Lebanon, and the Iraqi-Syrian border through which weapons are smuggled from Iran into Syria itself.”

Russia has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country. However, Moscow has said it wants to see the separation of forces on the frontier preserved.

First published: 08.01.18, 08:39

Mossad welded its way into Iranian nuclear trove warehouse

August 1, 2018

Source: Mossad welded its way into Iranian nuclear trove warehouse

One of the New York Times reporters was invited by Israel to review the documents stolen from the Iranian nuclear archive by the Mossad. The article describes in detail, not only the nature of the documents—which prove Iran’s intention on building a nuclear bomb, but also the intricate mission Mossad agents had to embark upon in order to obtain them.
The Mossad agents who broke into Iran’s secret nuclear archives in the heart of Tehran came equipped with high powered welding torches to burn through 32 safes and extract classified documents proving Tehran had lied and was intent on building a bomb, according to a report in the New York Times Sunday.

Shortly before US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a press conference in late April to announce the stealth Mossad mission.

In early July, the Israeli government invited three reporters to review some of the documents confirming that the Iranian nuclear program was not solely for peaceful purposes as the Iranians had always insisted. David E. Sanger and Ronen Bergman of the New York Times now release new details from the daring operation.  Iranian nuclear archive

Iranian nuclear archive

Iran insists that the documents are a part of a fraudulent scheme by Israel to pressure the Trump administration to re-impose the crippling economic sanctions that brought it to the table in the first place.

But Israel has since shown the documents to British and American intelligence officials, and they agree that they are genuine.

 The documents deal with Iran’s nuclear missile program, which would allow Iran to launch a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile, with a range of 2,000 km., far enough to hit Israel. Other documents deal with potential sites for underground nuclear weapon tests.

6 Hours, 29 Minutes

According to The New York Times, the Mossad mission took place on the night of January 31, with the agents arriving at the archive’s site about 10:30pm. Iranian guards were scheduled to arrive at their posts at 7am and the agents were warned to complete their mission before 5am.

When they made their exit, they were carrying some 50,000 pages and 163 CDs detailing the Iranian nuclear plans.

They no doubt had inside help. They knew the workings of the alarm system and exactly which safes to target.

After a year of surveillance, the Israeli agents determined that they had six hours and 29 minutes to disable the alarms of the nondescript Tehran warehouse, break through the doors and pry open the large safes that filled the room before fleeing the city with their treasure trove of smuggled documents.They did not take all the room’s contents, aiming instead for the black binders containing the most critical documents.

Entry to the nuclear archive

Entry to the nuclear archive

Most of the documents obtained are at least 15 years old, before Iran moved its nuclear program deeper undercover. It is also impossible to independently verify what the whole trove proves, as Israel has only shown reporters some of the documents claiming that others must be withheld to avoid aiding rogue elements seeking intelligence on how to make a bomb.

The papers do seem to indicate that Iran’s nuclear program in 2003 was much bigger and advanced than previously thought. That is when Iran ended its initial program, Project Amad, and proceeded more secretively.

Experts agree that Iran received help from Pakistan, but other independent foreign nuclear scientists are believed to have been involved as well.

One of the documents records a debate between two Iranian scientists on how best to separate the overt and more secretive aspects of the program. Neutrons research would have to be concealed as “we cannot excuse such activities as defensive,” a note by physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi read. He was mysteriously assassinated in January 2010.

Experts disagree on significance

The New York Times writes that experts disagree on whether the Israeli revelations serve to support or weaken the case for maintaining the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers.

Netanyahu argued that the nature of the agreement was naïve and would allow Iran to continue producing nuclear fuel in 2030. In addition, the extent to which Iran went to conceal its past activities from nuclear inspectors does not bode well regarding its future activities.

 (Photo: AP)

(Photo: AP)

Others, including former Obama administration officials who negotiated the deal, argue that the documents only further stresses the need to uphold the agreement and extend it for as long as possible.

They say that the trove confirms what they had known all along but the accord forced Iran to ship 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country; Iran would never have agreed to a permanent ban they say.

The warehouse penetrated by the Mossad was only put into use after the 2015 agreement was signed. International inspectors would now be allowed to visit all known nuclear-related sites in Iran. So the Iranians gathered together their secret documents with the weapons and missile building plans and stored them at the nondescript warehouse, unrelated to their past nuclear program. No round-the-clock guards were posted so as not to arouse the suspicion of spies.

But the Mossad was watching and they began putting together a plan to steal, as opposed to merely photograph, the material. Israel also wanted to be able to counter Iranian claims that the documents were forged by allowing international experts to examine the originals.

No dramatic chase

In the article Sanger and Bergman say that Israel has kept mum regarding how the agents, some of whom were Iranian, made their escape, via land, air or sea. There was no chase, they claim.

Considering the possibility that some of the agents, perhaps about two dozen, would be caught, the material was removed from the country via several different routes.

As expected, when the guards discovered the break-in in the morning and sounded the alarm, “tens of thousands of Iranian security and police personnel” embarked on a nationwide hunt according to an Israeli official.

 (Photo: Roee Idan)

(Photo: Roee Idan)

They did not catch anyone and Iran remained silent on the matter until Netanyahu’s press conference.

Among the material are photographs from inside secretive nuclear facilities. One album taken at Parchin military base near Tehran appears to show a large metal chamber meant to conduct high-explosive experiments, probably related to neutron-initiated chain reactions.

Parchin military base near Tehran

Parchin military base near Tehran

Although international intelligence agencies suspected nuclear activity at Parchin, Iran always maintained that as a military base it was off limits to IAEA inspectors.

Eventually, inspectors did visit the base, but by then it was empty, although they suspected the site had recently been emptied of equipment. The photos confirm this.

Iran's nuclear plant

Iran’s nuclear plant

Satellite images show that before the inspectors’ arrival, Iranians even went so far as to remove soil from the Parchin base, fearing that it might contain traces of nuclear contamination.

The documents contain multiple mentions of uranium deuteride, a substance experts say has no use other than for making nuclear weapons. It has been used by China and Pakistan in their nuclear programs and it seems the technology for the substance, as a neutron initiator, was sold to Iran, and North Korea, by A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani nuclear physicist who ran a black market in atomic-related materials and technology, concludes the New York Times article.

Iran rejects Trump offer of talks as “humiliation”, without value 

August 1, 2018

Source: Iran rejects Trump offer of talks as “humiliation”, without value – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

“How can Trump prove to the Iranian nation that his comments of last night reflect a true intention for negotiation and have not been expressed for populist gains?”

BY REUTERS
 JULY 31, 2018 20:49
Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran, Iran

Iran’s national flags are seen on a square in Tehran, Iran.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

LONDON – Senior Iranian officials on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and “a humiliation” after he acted to reimpose sanctions on Tehran following his withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal.

Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump’s repudiation of the accord reached in 2015 was “illegal” and Iran would not easily yield to Washington’s renewed campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

In May, Trump pulled the United States out of the multilateral deal concluded before he took office, denouncing it as one-sided in Iran’s favour. On Monday, he declared that he would be willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions to discuss how to improve relations.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Trump’s offer to negotiate with Tehran contradicted his actions as Washington has imposed sanctions on Iran and put pressure on other countries to avoid business with the Islamic Republic.

“Sanctions and pressures are the exact opposite of dialogue,” Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Tuesday.

“How can Trump prove to the Iranian nation that his comments of last night reflect a true intention for negotiation and have not been expressed for populist gains?” he added.

The head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations said on Tuesday Tehran saw no value in Trump’s offer, made only a week after he warned Iran it risked dire consequences few had ever suffered in history if it made threats against Washington.

“Based on our bad experiences in negotiations with America and based on US officials’ violation of their commitments, it is natural that we see no value in his proposal,” Kamal Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

“Trump should first make up for his withdrawal from the nuclear deal and show that he respects his predecessors’ commitments and international law,” added Kharrazi, a former foreign minister.

Kharrazi said Trump likes “meeting for the sake of meeting” and was not concerned about its results.

The Strategic Council on Foreign Relations was set up by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to help formulate long-term policies for the Islamic Republic.

Trump’s move to force Iran into fresh negotiations has for now reunited Iranian hardliners who opposed the nuclear deal and pragmatists like Rouhani who championed it to end the Islamic Republic’s economically crippling stand-off with Western powers.

Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament who is seen as part of Iran’s moderate camp, said that to negotiate with Trump now “would be a humiliation”.

“If Trump had not withdrawn from the nuclear deal and not imposed (new) sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America,” he told state news agency IRNA.

Iran’s interior minister chimed in that Tehran did not trust Washington as a negotiating partner. “The United States is not trustworthy. How can we trust this country when it withdraws unilaterally from the nuclear deal?” Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

A senior aide to Rouhani said the only way back to talks was for Washington to return to the nuclear agreement.

“Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America,” Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted on Tuesday.

Under the 2015 deal, the fruit of Rouhani’s efforts to ease Iran’s international isolation to help revive its economy, Iran curbed its shadowy nuclear programme and won relief from UN and Western sanctions in return.

NUCLEAR PACT IN JEOPARDY

Trump condemned the deal in part because it did not cover Iran’s ballistic missile programme and involvement in Middle East conflicts. He reactivated US sanctions, the most all-encompassing measures against Iran, and warned countries to stop importing Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or risk US penalties.

The three major European signatories to the 2015 deal have been searching for ways to salvage it but cautioned Tehran that they may not be able to persuade many major investors not to bolt from business with Iran to avoid US punishment.

Rouhani said during a meeting with Britain’s ambassador on Tuesday that after what he called the “illegal” US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, “the ball is in Europe’s court now”.

He added, “The Islamic Republic has never sought tension in the region and does not want any trouble in global waterways, but it will not easily give up on its rights to export oil.”

Rouhani and some senior military commanders have said Iran could disrupt oil shipments from Gulf states through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to choke off Iranian oil exports.

Reiterating Tehran’s official stance, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Tuesday that the strait would remain open “if Iran’s national interests are preserved”.

Iran’s OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told Reuters on Tuesday that Trump was mistaken if he expected Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to compensate for losses of Iranian oil caused by US sanctions.

“It seems President Trump has been taken hostage by Saudi Arabia and a few producers when they claimed they can replace 2.5 million barrels per day of Iranian exports, encouraging him to take action against Iran,” Ardebili said.

“Now they and Russia sell more oil and more expensively. Not even from their incremental production but their stocks.”

He said oil prices, which Trump has been pressuring the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to bring down by raising output, will instead rise unless the United States grants waivers to buyers of Iranian crude.

Iran’s currency plumbed new depths on Monday, dropping past 120,000 rials to the dollar, but Trump’s expressed willingness to negotiate with Tehran sparked a minor recovery on Tuesday to 110,000 rials on the unofficial market.

Iranian Vice-President Eshagh Jahangiri said the government and the central bank would unveil a new economic plan by the end of this week to tackle the US sanctions and the rial’s fall.

Videos on social media showed hundreds of people rallying in Isfahan in central Iran, and Karaj near Tehran, in protest at high prices caused in part by the rial’s devaluation under heightened US pressure.

Washington assures Jerusalem there is no change in its Iranian policy 

August 1, 2018

Source: Washington assures Jerusalem there is no change in its Iranian policy – International news – Jerusalem Post

According to the official, Israel is “in continuous contact” with the American administration.

BY HERB KEINON
 JULY 31, 2018 20:47
Trump and Rouhani

Trump and Rouhani. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Washington has assured Israel that there has been “no change” in its “aggressive policies” toward Iran, a diplomatic official said Tuesday following US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that he would be willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions.

According to the official, Israel is “in continuous contact” with the American administration.

Nevertheless, neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Foreign Ministry issued any public comment on the suggestion, made by Trump in an answer to a journalist’s question during a press conference following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Trump, when asked if he would meet Rouhani following his recent meetings with the leaders of North Korea and Russia, said: “I’ll meet with anybody. I believe in meeting… There’s nothing wrong with meeting.”

Trump added that he did not know if the Iranians were “ready yet” for a meeting, adding that “they’re having a hard time right now.”

It is precisely because Iran is having a hard time – with the rial at record lows, galloping hyperinflation and protests in the streets – that some Israeli officials believe a meeting now would be a mistake and bad for Israel.

“The Iranians are on the mat right now,” one official said, using a wrestling analogy. “This would let them up, without getting anything in return.”

The official said that one “precondition” Trump might want to consider before a meeting would be for the Iranians to “stop threatening to destroy America’s closest Mideast ally.”

Former president Barack Obama let Iran “off the mat” by signing the nuclear deal at a time when Iran was reeling from sanctions, and a meeting now would do the same thing, the official said.

Not everyone, however, agrees with that assessment. Former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold said that whether a meeting would be tantamount to letting the Iranians off “the mat” would depend on whether Trump would change his newly initiated sanctions policy. Trump, in May, withdrew from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

“I don’t think the US would fundamentally change its approach on Iran sanctions, unless Iran made certain concessions,” said Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Gold cautioned against making “too much” out of the meeting proposal.

“In moments of political military tension, there are many times when ideas are floated for a meeting; sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t,” he said.

“I think the US has had a very comprehensive agenda on Iran,” Gold added. “I don’t believe that a meeting between Rouhani and Trump would only deal with the number of centrifuges spinning – in other words, the regional role of Iran has been very much on the administration’s agenda, and would be on the agenda of such a meeting, including the withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.”

If that is the case, Gold was asked, then might not such a meeting serve Israel’s interests and be something that Jerusalem should want?

“This is a US decision,” he replied. “The US is the guardian of the sea routes around the Arabian Peninsula, both in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Its ships have been under threat from Iran land-based weapons, and it has every right to employ all the means at its disposal to deal with the emerging crisis in these middle-eastern waters… if it uses a mixture of military deployment and diplomatic rhetoric – I’m certain that Trump knows what he’s doing.”

While Obama never met Rouhani – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was opposed to the idea – the two did speak on the phone in September 2013 for what was billed as a “historic” phone call, and the first such call since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

A week later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who was in the US attending the UN General Assembly meetings – said in separate interviews with CNN and NPR that he would accept a phone call from Rouhani – and that if Rouhani offered to meet him, he would consider it.

On Monday, China’s envoy on the Syrian issue Xie Xiaoyan suggested that Netanyahu meet with the Iranians, saying that if Trump could meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un – as he did in June – then Netanyahu could meet with Iran’s leaders.

A deadly plague for Iran 

August 1, 2018

Source: A deadly plague for Iran – International news – Jerusalem Post

Trump’s actions turn Islamic Republic’s economy into an international pariah without war

BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
 AUGUST 1, 2018 01:49
A deadly plague for Iran

US President Donald Trump announces his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement during a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, US, May 8, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

It seems a week does not pass in which more European companies announce that they are avoiding Iranian markets like a deadly plague. And the divestment from Iran’s dangerous economy comes without any tangible saber rattling on the ground from the Trump administration.

Put simply, the US government’s industrial market strength – and the nature of interconnected capitalism – is compelling foreign companies to abandon the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This past week saw the German sports manufacturer Adidas and the French auto company Renault withdraw business activity from Iran. Renault Chief Operating Officer Thierry Bollore said, “We are looking to new business opportunities, particularly in Africa, with strong growth to offset the missed opportunities in Iran.”

What is particularly telling about Renault pulling the plug on business in Iran is that the company has no business presence in the US.

However, Nissan Motors Co., of which Renault is the majority shareholder, sells a large number of automobiles to American consumers. The US market is a $19 trillion enterprise zone, in contrast to Iran’s $400 billion market. In short, capitalism votes with its feet.

Two punishing rounds of re-imposed economic sanctions will hit Iran in early August and November because of Tehran’s hyper-destabilizing foreign policy. Trump dissolved US participation in the Iran nuclear deal because the mullah regime failed to stop its malign activities in the region. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the nuclear deal, also did not permanently block Iran’s path to building an atomic weapon, according to the US government.

It is worth recalling that both US Democratic and Republican administrations have designated Iran’s regime as a leading state-sponsor of terrorism.

Trump’s policy is undoubtedly winning the economic war – and the call-for-democracy transformation battle – against Iran’s clerical rulers. On Tuesday, Iranian protesters in Isfahan chanted “No to Gaza! No Lebanon! I give my life for Iran.”

The chant has been frequently heard in Iran to oppose the regime’s enormous expenditures to the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah and to radical Islamic organizations in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

On the economic front, Iran’s currency skidded to a painfully new low on Monday, dropping to 122,000 rial to the dollar.

To further ostracize Iran’s regime, the ability to disconnect Tehran’s financial system from the Swift interbank messaging network needs to be part of the US sanctions tool kit, according to Iran experts. Yet the German government seeks to toss an economic wrench into the US sanctions process vis-a-vis Iran.

As my Foundation for Defense of Democracies colleagues Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg noted in a June Wall Street Journal commentary, “German officials have indicated their goal: to ensure that Iran remains connected to the Swift system – formally called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication – that facilitates global financial transactions.”

They added that “By protecting Iran’s access to the Swift network, Germany hopes to preserve Europe’s ability to pay for Iranian oil and receive payment for European exports, in contravention of US sanctions. The Germans know that any maximum-pressure campaign against Iran cannot succeed if Iran remains connected to Swift.”

Yigal Carmon, the founder and president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), described Germany’s policy as “legitimizing Iran – even championing it.” He added that “Unfortunately, Germany’s grand government coalition and the opposition parties are united in defense of Iran and against the US. This shows the depths of Germany’s moral eclipse and its ideological blinders.”

Labor unrest – traditionally a solid indicator of the lack of stability in middle eastern countries – broke out last week in the teacher’s sector. Iranian teachers demonstrated against low salaries and a woefully inadequate pay increase. Radio Farda reported, based on a Khabar Online news story, that “Teachers Trade Union activists believe that the increase does not correspond with the current inflation rate and the quality of teachers’ livelihood.”

The ethos of democracy promotion, an improved livelihood and the desire for regime change are in the air and on the streets of Iran.

The escalating US economic pressure-point campaign against Iran’s economy appears to have spilled over in positive ways into the military sector.

On the military front, Iran’s bellicose activities – with the use of its small boats against US navy vessels in the Persian Gulf – have come to a halt this year.

The opening salvo in Iran’s jingoistic rhetoric was launched by Iran’s allegedly pragmatic president Hassan Rouhani who said on July 22: “America should know that peace with Iran is the ‘Mother of all Peace,’ and war with Iran is the ‘Mother of all Wars.’”

Trump responded in a Tweet composed all in caps: “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

The US administration seeks an improved nuclear and regional deal with Tehran. To build on economic sanctions, the role of credible military threats against Iran can influence a change in the behavior of the ayatollahs.

Take the example of Israel in 2010. When Iran announced it would send a vessel to aid the US- and EU-classified terrorist entity Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the IDF said it would intercept the ship. Iran quickly capitulated, and the ship did not depart.

Iran’s economy will continue to crater into a bottomless pit of misery if the US maintains its campaign of maximum economic pressure. Economic warfare without military intervention has a solid chance to contribute to the demise of Iran’s regime – or, at a minimum, the reversal of Iranian warmongering in the region.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.