Archive for May 8, 2019

A Message to Our Loved Ones – YouTube

May 8, 2019

 

 

Netanyahu vows to keep Iran from nukes after Tehran backs away from deal 

May 8, 2019

Source: Netanyahu vows to keep Iran from nukes after Tehran backs away from deal | The Times of Israel

Prime minister gives first Israeli response to announcement by Iran’s Rouhani that Tehran will keep excess uranium, resume high-level enrichment if no new terms are set

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a ceremony marking Memorial Day in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2019. (RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a ceremony marking Memorial Day in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2019. (RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear arms Wednesday, hours after Iran declared it would step up enrichment activity as the 2015 nuclear deal appeared close to crumbling.

Netanyahu has been one of the leading critics of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers. The US pulled out of the deal in May 2018, and Iran marked the one-year anniversary of that move by announcing it was pulling out of some commitments under the deal and could soon begin ramping up its enrichment activity again.

“We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu said at an official ceremony to mark the annual Memorial Day held at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

The comment was the first from an Israeli official on the matter. Netanyahu has cheered US President Doanld Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark deal and urged other signatories to do the same.

Earlier Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised speech from Tehran that the Islamic Republic would keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water, and set a 60-day deadline for new terms for its nuclear deal.

He threatened that higher-level uranium enrichment would resume if new nuclear deal terms were not reached by the deadline.

Rouhani said Iran wanted to negotiate new terms with remaining partners in the deal, but acknowledged that the situation was dire.

“If the five countries join negotiations and help Iran to reach its benefits in the field of oil and banking, Iran will return to its commitments according to the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, May 8, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran sent letters Wednesday on its decision to the leaders of Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany. All were signatories to the nuclear deal and continue to support it. A letter was also to go to Russia.

Also reacting to the announcement, China called on all parties to uphold the Iranian nuclear pact.

“Maintaining and implementing the comprehensive agreement is the shared responsibility of all parties,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing.

“We call on all relevant parties to exercise restraint, strengthen dialogue, and avoid escalating tensions,” he said, adding that China “resolutely opposes” unilateral US sanctions against Iran.

There was no immediate response from the US.

Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May last year but the other five signatories have all agreed to try to keep the pact alive on their own. Trump insists the original agreement did not go far enough in curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and wants to renegotiate the JCPOA with stricter terms, reimposing harsh sanctions to force Iran back to the negotiating table.

Adding to the tensions, Washington announced it was deploying an aircraft carrier strike group with several nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East, and national security adviser John Bolton warned Washington would respond with “unrelenting force” to any attack by Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a hastily organized visit to neighboring Iraq on Tuesday, where he accused Iran of planning “imminent” attacks.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says Iran has continued to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But American sanctions have wreaked havoc on Iran’s already-anemic economy, while promised help from European partners in the deal haven’t alleviated the pain.

Under terms of the deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. That’s compared to the 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) of higher-enriched uranium it once had.

The US last week ended deals allowing Iran to exchange its enriched uranium for unrefined yellowcake uranium with Russia, as well as it being able to sell its heavy water to Oman. The US also has ended waivers for nations buying Iranian crude oil, a key source of revenue for Iran’s government.

Currently, the accord limits Iran to enriching uranium to 3.67%, which can fuel a commercial nuclear power plant. Weapons-grade uranium needs to be enriched to around 90%. However, once a country enriches uranium to around 20%, scientists say the time needed to reach 90% is halved. Iran has previously enriched to 20%.

 

Israel warned US about possible Iranian attack in Gulf: report

May 8, 2019

Source: Israel warned US about possible Iranian attack in Gulf: report – www.israelhayom.com

The U.S. Air Force is deploying B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the Gulf in response to an alleged Iranian plan to attack American forces in the region • Mossad reportedly outlined a number of scenarios in which the Iranians would attack.

Mossad reportedly outlined a number of scenarios in which the Iranians would attack

The U.S. Air Force is deploying massive B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the Gulf in response to an alleged possible plan by Iran to attack American forces in the region, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency warned the United States about a possible plot by Iran to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf before Washington announced it would send an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a “clear and unmistakable” message to Iran, Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Monday.

Several nuclear-capable B-52s are heading to the region along with an aircraft carrier task force following what the Defense Department called “recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces.”

“The deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force are considered a prudent step in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against U.S. forces and our interests,” said acting Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers in a statement.

“We emphasize the White House statement that we do not seek war with the Iranian regime, but we will defend U.S. personnel, our allies and our interests in the region.”

Earlier on Monday, U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton announced that “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region.”

Details of the threat have not been disclosed, but Navy Captain Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command, which spans the Middle East, said the threat could be land-based or maritime.

Channel 13 cited Israeli officials that Bolton was warned about the possible Iranian plot in a meeting with Israel’s national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat in Washington two weeks ago. The official said that Mossad outlined a number of scenarios in which the Iranians would attack.

“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it, but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf,” the official reportedly said.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

The is at it again: From announcements of naval movements (that actually occurred last month) to dire warnings about so-called “Iranian threats”.
If US and clients don’t feel safe, it’s because they’re despised by the people of the region— blaming Iran won’t reverse that.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said later on Monday that it was “absolutely the case” that the U.S. had seen “escalatory actions” from the Iranians.

“It is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said.

But Iran said U.S. concerns in the Middle East stems from the fact that it is “despised by the people of the region— blaming Iran won’t reverse that.”

 

U.S. threatens new sanctions, warns Europe against business with Iran

May 8, 2019

Source: U.S. threatens new sanctions, warns Europe against business with Iran – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Tehran’s halt of compliance with some parts of the nuclear deal was “nothing less than nuclear blackmail of Europe,” Tim Morrison, Special Assistant to the President told a conference in Washington.

BY REUTERS
 MAY 8, 2019 18:34
U.S. threatens new sanctions, warns Europe against business with Iran

WASHINGTON- The United States on Wednesday threatened to impose more sanctions on Iran ‘very soon’ and warned Europe against doing business with Tehran via a system of non-dollar trade to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

The Iranian government announced earlier on Wednesday that it was reducing curbs to its nuclear program with steps that stopped short of violating its 2015 accord with world powers for now, but threatening more action if countries did not shield it from sanctions.

Tehran’s halt of compliance with some parts of the nuclear deal was “nothing less than nuclear blackmail of Europe,” Tim Morrison, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction, told a conference in Washington.

“Now is the time for the community of nations to strongly condemn Iran’s nuclear misconduct and increase pressure on the regime to comply with U.S. demands,” Morrison said, adding that Washington was not ‘done’ with sanctions on Iran.

“Expect more sanctions soon. Very soon,” he said.

Morrison said the United States would move quickly against any attempt by European countries to undermine Washington’s sanctions pressure on Iran. He advised them against using the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle to facilitate non-dollar trade to get around U.S. sanctions.

“If you are a bank, an investor, an insurer or other business in Europe you should know that getting involved in the … Special Purpose Vehicle is a very poor business decision,” Morrison said.

President Donald Trump a year ago pulled out of the accord signed by Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States to put limits on Iran’s disputed nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

The Trump administration says the deal, negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, was flawed as it is not permanent, does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program and does not punish it for waging proxy wars in other Middle East countries.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced changes that experts said seemed tailored to ensure Tehran avoids triggering the deal’s mechanism to punish it for violations, at least for now.

Washington’s European allies opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement and have failed so far to find ways to blunt the economic impact of new U.S. sanctions, which include an all-out effort to block Iran’s oil exports to starve its economy.

 

Netanyahu on Iran: We will not let them get nuclear arms

May 8, 2019

Source: Netanyahu on Iran: We will not let them get nuclear arms – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu’s comments were Israel’s first response to Iran’s announcement that it will continue its nuclear program.

BY HERB KEINON
 MAY 8, 2019 12:26
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  at the government's central Remembrance Day ceremony at the Mount

Netanyahu’s comments came at the government’s central Remembrance Day ceremony at the Mount Herzl military cemetery honoring the country’s 23,741 fallen soldiers.

“This morning, on my way here, I heard that Iran intends to continue its nuclear program. We will not let Iran get nuclear weapons,” he said. “We will continue to fight our enemies, and will strike our roots even deeper in our homeland. That is what our heroes did at the dawn of the nations’ rebirth, and we march in their path.”

Referring to the flare up in the south over the weekend that led to the killing of four Israelis as some 700 rockets pounded the south from the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu said, “The events of the last few days show clearly what our struggle is about – about the efforts of those who seek our harm, who want to destroy our country and uproot us from our land.”

Israel’s enemies have tried to do this time after time, Netanyahu said, “but they failed.”

Referring at the start of his brief comments to the repatriation of the remains of Zachary Baumel to Israel 37 years after he fell in battle in Lebanon, Netanyahu said his burial on Mount Herzl shows that “our wonderful nation again proved that after dozens of years, it does not forget its sons.”

“When I thanked President [Vladimir] Putin in Russia for his help in locating Zachary, I told him and the heads of his army that for us this brotherhood of fighters is a supreme value,” Netanyahu recalled. “I saw the admiration in their eyes. And this is the most important significance of this holy day. It is a day of heavy grief, but also a day of tremendous brotherhood, a day when all of us feel like family.”

 

Iran says it is halting curbs on enrichment in partial nuke deal pullout 

May 8, 2019

Source: Iran says it is halting curbs on enrichment in partial nuke deal pullout | The Times of Israel

Rouhani says Tehran will stop selling excess uranium and heavy water and will step up enrichment activity in 60 days if no new deal, in speech on year anniversary of US withdrawal

Iranian President's Office, President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, January 13, 2015. (Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno/AP)

Iranian President’s Office, President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, January 13, 2015. (Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno/AP)

Iran said Wednesday it was suspending some of its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with major powers abandoned by Washington last year, setting up a possible return to high-level uranium enrichment.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic will keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water, setting a 60-day deadline for new terms for its nuclear deal.

He threatened higher uranium enrichment would resume if new nuclear deal terms not reached by the deadline, in a highly anticipated speech on the one-year anniversary of the US pulling out of the deal.

Tehran sent a letter to the five remaining powers in the nuclear deal ahead of the speech by Rouhani, in which he detailed Iran’s plans for pulling back its commitments under the pact.

“The decision of the high security council to ‘stop acting on some of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s commitments under the (nuclear deal)’ was communicated to the heads of state” of Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, the ministry said.

It said deputy Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi had handed the decision to the ambassadors of the five countries in a meeting on Wednesday.

The IRNA news agency said Rouhani would explain Iran’s decision in the letters to leaders of Britain, France and Germany that were handed to ambassadors in Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif separately will write to the European Union, the agency said.

Zarif arrived Tuesday in Moscow where he declared that the measures Iran was taking were permitted within the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“The Islamic republic has seen it suitable to stop acting on some of its commitments and measures it voluntarily undertook” under the nuclear deal, Zarif told state television.

Emphasizing that “Iran will not withdraw” from the deal, Zarif said “this right has been set for Iran in the JCPOA; we are not operating outside of the JCPOA but are in fact working in its framework.”

He said the measures were in line with Sections 26 and 36 of the deal, which allow Iran to cease some or all of its commitments if the United States or other parties fail to adhere to the agreement, including by reimposing sanctions.

In this photo from April 24, 2018, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the 72nd High-level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace at United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Speaking to reporters before meeting his Russian counterpart Zarif said “Unfortunately, the European Union and other members of the international community were not capable of standing up to the US’ pressures,” Iran’s state television reported.

The letters came as officials in the Islamic Republic previously warned that Iran might increase its uranium enrichment, potentially pulling away from a deal it has sought to salvage for months.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May last year but the other five signatories have all agreed to try to keep the pact alive on their own. Trump insists the original agreement did not go far enough in curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and wants to renegotiate the JCPOA with stricter terms.

In the meantime, Washington has imposed heavy sanctions on Iran that could weaken the ability of the remaining parties to maintain the deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of planning “imminent” attacks on a hastily organised visit to neighboring Iraq on Tuesday.

Washington has also deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and several massive, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East as national security adviser John Bolton warned Washington would respond with “unrelenting force” to any attack by Tehran.

Zarif dismissed the US military deployments and stressed that Iran’s actions were not in breach of the nuclear deal it signed with major powers.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says Iran has continued to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But American sanctions have wreaked havoc on Iran’s already-anemic economy, while promised help from European partners in the deal haven’t alleviated the pain.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony commemorating the ‘National Day of Nuclear Technology’ in Tehran, Iran on, April 9, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The US last week stopped issuing waivers for countries importing Iranian crude oil, a crucial source of cash for Iran’s government. It also halted waivers allowing Iran to store excess heavy water in Oman and to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russia.

Trump campaigned on a promise to tear up the deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama. While Trump has sought to dismantle much of Obama’s policies, he particularly criticized the Iran nuclear deal for failing to address Tehran’s ballistic missile program and what he described as its malign influence across the rest of the Mideast.

Already high tensions skyrocketed this week as US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Sunday that the United States was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a “clear and unmistakable” message to Iran.

 

Iran announces partial withdrawal from nuclear deal – Al Arabiya English

May 8, 2019

Source: Iran announces partial withdrawal from nuclear deal – Al Arabiya English

Iranian state television says letters outlining partial withdrawal from 2015 nuclear deal delivered to ambassadors. (Shutterstock)

“The decision of the high security council to ‘stop acting on some of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s commitments under the (nuclear deal)’ was communicated to the heads of state of the countries still party to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia,” the ministry said.

Iranian state television reported that letters outlining the Islamic Republic’s partial withdrawal from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have been delivered to ambassadors.

State TV made the announcement Wednesday. It did not elaborate on what steps Iran planned to take.

The letters were to be delivered to the leaders of Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany, informing them of Iran’s decision to stop implementing “some commitments” under a 2015 nuclear deal.

All were signatories to the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. A letter was also to go to Russia.

The move came a year to the date President Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord.

The letters will come as officials in the Islamic Republic previously warned that Iran might increase its uranium enrichment, potentially pulling away from a deal it has sought to salvage for months.