Archive for August 20, 2018

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal

August 20, 2018

Source: Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

We do not want to revisit that nuclear deal. We want the United States to implement that [2015] nuclear deal,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN on Sunday.

BY REUTERS
 AUGUST 20, 2018 14:29
Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif

 ANKARA – Iran urged Europe on Monday to speed up efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that US President Donald Trump abandoned in May, saying French oil group Total has formally pulled out a major gas project.

Efforts by the remaining signatories – EU members Britain, France and Germany plus China and Russia – to avoid the agreement’s collapse are struggling as Washington has said any firms dealing with Teheran will be barred from doing business in the United States.

“Europeans and other signatories of the deal have been trying to save the deal … but the process has been slow. It should be accelerated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said. “Iran relies mainly on its own capabilities to overcome America’s new sanctions,” he told a news conference broadcast on state TV.
European states have been scrambling to ensure Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal, which Trump said was “deeply flawed.”
Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran in August, targeting its trade in gold and other precious metals, purchases of US dollars and its car industry.
The European powers, China and Russia say they will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran. But the threat of the US sanctions has prompted many major companies to pull out of Iran.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said France’s Total has formally left a contract to develop Iran’s South Pars Gas project. “The process to replace (Total) with another company is underway,” he was quoted as saying by state TV.
Total, which signed the deal in 2017 with an initial investment of $1 billion, did not have any immediate comment.
Iranian officials had earlier suggested that China’s state-owned CNPC could take over Total’s stake in the offshore project. CNPC, which already has a 30 percent stake in the deal, is an experienced onshore oil and gas producer, but is relatively new to offshore drilling.
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Most of CNPC’s experience lies in its subsidiary China Petroleum Offshore Engineering Company (CPOE), which has worked in shallow waters off north China.
“Once Total quits, that will trigger CNPC to take over automatically, according to the contract,” a senior Chinese industry source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters.
“But the question is not about if CNPC is going to take over as the operator, but if CNPC could deliver and advance the project without Total.”
China also faces challenges supplying equipment such as large-scale compressors needed for developing the giant gas project, as leading manufacturers could be barred from supplying to Iran under US sanctions.
Carmakers PSA, Renault and Daimler are also among those to suspend or drop plans to invest in Iran along with Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom
Working to maintain financial channels with Tehran and facilitate Iran’s oil exports, the European Union has taken steps to counter the renewed US sanctions, including forbidding EU citizens from complying with them or related court rulings.
Washington has said Iran’s only chance of avoiding the sanctions would be to accept Trump’s offer to negotiate a tougher nuclear deal. Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected the offer.
“We do not want to revisit that nuclear deal. We want the United States to implement that (2015) nuclear deal” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN on Sunday.
The United States will impose tougher sanctions in November which will target Iran’s oil sales and banking sector.
Iran’s rial currency has lost about half of its value since April because of a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who fear the effects of sanctions.
Under the 2015 deal, most international sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs on the country’s nuclear program.

US security adviser: Our goal is to get Iran out of Syria 

August 20, 2018

Source: US security adviser: Our goal is to get Iran out of Syria – Israel Hayom

PM Netanyahu Meets US National Security Adviser John Bolton 

August 20, 2018

 

 

 

Bolton: U.S.’s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear weapons

August 20, 2018

Source: Bolton: U.S.’s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear weapons – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Bolton began his brief comments by saying it was a “privilege and honor to be in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital,” to which Netanyahu joked: “Say that again.”

BY HERB KEINON
 AUGUST 20, 2018 11:25
Bolton: U.S.'s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear capabilities

The United States is working with European countries to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons program, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday.

Bolton was speaking at the Prime Minister’s Office prior to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his second meeting since arriving in Israel Sunday.

“I think it is of the highest importance for the United States that Iran never get nuclear weapons capabilities,” Bolton said.

“This is why President Trump withdrew from the wretched Iran nuclear deal. This is why he has imposed economic sanctions. This is why we are working with our friends in Europe to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against Iranian nuclear weapons,” he said.

This is also, Bolton added, the reason why we “continuously worry about Iran’s role as the central banker for international terrorism, this is why we worry about Iran’s belligerent military activity in Iran, in Syria, with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in Yemen.”

Bolton, who is in Israel through Wednesday on his first visit to the country since taking office in April, said that all of the regional threats he mentioned were also “global threats that pose a risk of international terrorism, especially terrorists’ possible use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Bolton, long a strong supporter of Israel and a loud critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, said that the alliance between Israel and the US, and between the peoples of both countries, have “never been stronger.”

Trump, Bolton said, has made the alliance “a cornerstone of his foreign policy,” just as Netanyahu has made it a cornerstone of Israel’s policy. He said it was “very important and helpful for the United States” to have in-depth, extended conversations with Netanyahu and his senior advisors.

Bolton began his brief comments by saying it was a “privilege and honor to be in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital,” to which Netanyahu joked: “Say that again.”

“Israel’s capital,” Bolton repeated, adding that he looked forward to visiting the new US embassy in Jerusalem

Netanyahu welcomed Bolton by saying that Israel has no better friend and ally than the US, and that the US has no better friend and ally than Israel.

In reference to Trump’s constant criticism of NATO countries for not spending enough of their own GNP for their defense burden, and relying on the US, Netanyahu said that Israel was a “peculiar kind of ally.”

“We’ve consistently increased our defense spending,” he said. “We insist on defending ourselves by ourselves and appreciate all manner of American support, but we believe that the alliance is the alliance of the strong and like-minded and we share America’s values of freedom and liberty.”

Netanyahu said that under Trump the US-Israel alliance is stronger than ever, and that Bolton’s visit gives the two countries the opportunity to “align our policies even more closely on Iran, on Syria, on Gaza and on the many challenges that face both our countries in this region.”

He thanked Trump for withdrawing from the “terrible deal with Iran,” saying this was “nothing less than a hinge of history.” He also applauded the Trump administration’s “determination to re-impose tough sanctions on Iran and those doing business with Iran. I know that that view is shared by all our Arab neighbors, or practically everyone in this region.”

Netanyahu said that all countries who care about Mideast peace and security should follow the US and “ratchet up the pressure on Iran, because the greater the pressure on Iran, the greater the chance that the regime will roll back its aggression.”

The prime minister also thanked the US for its unequivocal support for Israel in international forums.

“We hear it every day, on the podiums in the White House, in the State Department, at the United Nations,” he said. “This is deeply, deeply appreciated, and deeply valued.”