Archive for May 9, 2019

U.S. ‘won’t be held hostage by Iran’s nuclear blackmail’ – TV7 Israel News 09.05.19 – YouTube

May 9, 2019

 

 

PM Netanyahu’s Greeting for Israel’s 71st Independence Day – YouTube

May 9, 2019

 

 

Trump’s Iran policy put to test as end to nuclear deal looms

May 9, 2019

Source: Trump’s Iran policy put to test as end to nuclear deal looms | The Times of Israel

Iranians have threatened to undermine 2015 pact by restarting uranium enrichment if world powers fail to negotiate new terms. Will Washington’s tough posturing pay off?

US President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 8, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

US President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 8, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — US President Donald Trump’s Iran policy has been rooted in the idea that being tougher on Tehran would yield better results and perhaps even a new nuclear deal to replace the Obama administration pact that he pulled the US out of a year ago Wednesday.

That strategy is now being put to the test as tension escalates between Washington and Tehran, even as both sides appear willing to negotiate an end to the standoff.

Iran threatened to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for the 2015 nuclear deal. It follows the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of diplomatic and economic measures that have exacted a punishing toll on the Islamic Republic.

The effort has been a success in the view of the president and senior officials of his administration.

“Because of our action, the Iranian regime is struggling to fund its campaign of violent terror, as its economy heads into an unprecedented depression, government revenue dries up, and inflation spirals out of control,” Trump said Wednesday as he announced yet another round of sanctions, this time targeting the country’s metals industry.

The test is whether Iran will return to the bargaining table and agree to the new terms set by the Trump administration. The stakes couldn’t be higher, as shown by the US decision over the weekend to rush an aircraft carrier group and other military assets to the Middle East to confront an unspecified Iranian threat.

Democrats used Iran’s announcement as an opportunity to criticize Trump for withdrawing from the deal. Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat-Connecticut, called it a sign of “blind, meandering, escalatory” foreign policy.

“Iran’s moves to restart their nuclear program are a direct consequence of the Trump administration withdrawing from the Iran deal,” said Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat-Connecticut, addresses the Atlantic Council’s ‘NATO Engages The Alliance at 70’ conference, in Washington, April 3, 2019. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Despite Iran’s announced deadline to pull out of the remainder of the nuclear deal, there have been signs that Tehran is willing to talk. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a visit to New York last month that he thinks Trump wants to deal but is trying an antagonistic approach at the direction of senior aides and Middle Eastern allies.

“Try the language of respect,” he urged him, pretending to address the president directly. “It won’t kill you, believe me.”

Trump himself says he’s ready to talk. “We call on the regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions, change its destructive behavior, respect the rights of its people and return in good faith to the negotiating table,” he said in announcing the new sanctions.

Brian Hook, US envoy to Iran, told reporters at the State Department that the US laid out 12 demands last year for a new Iran deal and an end to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign. They include an end to all uranium enrichment, ceasing all support for militant groups in the Middle East and the release of all US citizens detained in Iran on what the administration considers illegitimate grounds.

The United States, Germany, Britain, France, Russia, China and the European Union signed the 2015 deal with Iran, which lifted international sanctions in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program, including restricting uranium enrichment for 10 years.

On May 8, 2018, Trump pulled out of the agreement, which he called “the worst deal in history.” He said the accord should also have restrained Iran’s ballistic missile program and curbed Tehran’s malign activities in the region and support for terror networks. The administration then re-imposed the sanctions on Iran that had been lifted when the agreement went into force.

The administration sees its move as a success.

Deprived of much of its oil revenue, Iran cut its overall military spending by 28% after reaching a peak in 2017, Hook said. Inflation has risen in the Islamic Republic and the economy is in recession, forecast to shrink by 3%, while global oil prices haven’t budged even as Iranian crude has been largely taken out of the market, production at a historic low.

“We have made our focus around diplomatic isolation and economic pressure,” he said. “That policy is working.”

The other nations who signed the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration have remained in the pact and have tried to provide Iran with enough economic incentives to keep the agreement alive.

The USS Abraham Lincoln deploys from Naval Station Norfolk, in the vicinity of Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1, 2019. (Kaitlin McKeown/ The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

Complaining that it has not reaped the economic benefits it expected from signing the deal, Iran on Wednesday threatened to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms. Iran stopped its sale of excess uranium and heavy water as a first step — something required under the deal. In 60 days, if no new deal is in place, Iran said it would increase its enrichment of uranium beyond 3.67%, which is permitted by the accord.

“Zarif today is doing what Zarif does very well, which is setting the table for negotiations because I think the Iranians are now realizing that they may not be able to wait Trump out,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a critic of the deal.

“The economy is in such bad shape and getting worse that they may experience a massive economic crisis before January 2021,” when either Trump starts a second term or a new American president takes office. “I think Zarif can’t wait to get back to the table,” Dubowitz said.

The heightened tension over Iran’s nuclear program comes just after the US dispatched the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier and bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence reports warning Iran was going to strike US assets, interests or allies.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee Wednesday that intelligence threats the US began receiving last week “really intensified” by the end of the week. He said the US “sent some messages” to Tehran, but did not provide any details.

Traveling in London, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a restrained response to Iran’s announcement. He said America “will wait and observe” what Iran does next. “They have made a number of statements about actions they have threatened to do in order to get the world to jump,” Pompeo said.

Tim Morrison, senior director for weapons of mass destruction under national security adviser John Bolton at the White House, was more critical of Iran’s threat to violate the nuclear deal. “Let’s be clear,” he said. “This is nothing less than nuclear blackmail.”

 

Iran’s atomic agency says it wants to put nuclear deal ‘back on track’

May 9, 2019

Source: Iran’s atomic agency says it wants to put nuclear deal ‘back on track’ | The Times of Israel

Spokesperson says Tehran is eager to see landmark 2015 pact strengthened, as Europe says it won’t cave to regime’s ‘ultimatums’

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi answers the press in the capital Tehran on July 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi answers the press in the capital Tehran on July 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Iran wants to bring the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers “back on track,” the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization said Thursday, a day after Tehran said it will suspend some of its commitments to the international agreement unless the terms are renegotiated.

“Our goal is to strengthen the JCPOA and bring it back on track,” state news agency IRNA quoted spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying,referring to the nuclear deal.

A year after the US withdrew from the accord, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address Wednesday that signatories to the deal have 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country — already laboring under economic hardship — from the sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump. If negotiations fail, Iran will restart uranium enrichment to levels banned under the agreement, he warned.

Rouhani compared the situation to a medical emergency for the Islamic Republic, only 40 years after its founding.

“We felt that the nuclear deal needs a surgery, and the painkiller pills of the last year have been ineffective,” Rouhani said. “This surgery is for saving the deal, not destroying it.”

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of prior to a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

European powers on Thursday rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran but vowed to fight to save the Iran nuclear deal. The European Union urged Iran to respect the international agreement curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions, saying it aims to continue trading with the country despite US sanctions.

The EU and major European powers — Britain, France and Germany — also said that they “note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments” to the nuclear deal.

The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal in May 2018 saying it does nothing to stop Iran from developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East. The Europeans insist that the pact is an important pillar of regional and global security and was never meant to address those other issues.

Trump hit back at Tehran’s threats on Wednesday by tightening the economic screws further, slapping sanctions on the Iranian mining industry.

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on May 8, 2019 (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The White House, which has already taken steps to scupper Iran’s oil exports — its crucial money-maker — said the steel and mining sector was the country’s second-largest source of foreign revenue, accounting for 10 percent of exports.

“Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct,” Trump said in a statement.

 

‘Don’t give Iran second chance,’ Danon tells world after Iranian threats 

May 9, 2019

Source: ‘Don’t give Iran second chance,’ Danon tells world after Iranian threats – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Iran announced on Wednesday that it was reducing curbs to its nuclear program.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 MAY 8, 2019 23:49
'Don't give Iran second chance,' Danon tells world after Iranian threats

“The world should not give Iran a second chance,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said in response to Iranian threats to renew its nuclear program.

“This is a government that finances terror with one hand and extorts the international community with the other. The regime in Tehran is working against a safe and stable world and is, once again, exposing the mistake that was the nuclear agreement, signed in 2015,” Danon added.

Iran announced on Wednesday that it was reducing curbs to its nuclear program, just short of violating the terms of the 2015 accord with world powers.

In response, a few hours later, the Trump administration announced fresh sanctions against Iran.

“Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct,” US President Donald Trump said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also assured that Israel will not let Iran attain nuclear weapons.

“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.”

 

Off Topic:  Germany issues an ‘early warning’ report about rise of Islamist anti-Semitism 

May 9, 2019

Source: Germany issues an ‘early warning’ report about rise of Islamist anti-Semitism | The Times of Israel

Top intelligence agency describes analysis as leap forward, amid concern of rising expressions of hate in the country

A participant in the 'wear a kippah' protest in Berlin holds up a sign, April 25, 2018. The solidarity event was held in response to a Syrian-Palestinian’s assault of a man wearing a kippah. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

A participant in the ‘wear a kippah’ protest in Berlin holds up a sign, April 25, 2018. The solidarity event was held in response to a Syrian-Palestinian’s assault of a man wearing a kippah. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

JTA — The top intelligence agency in Germany has written what is being called its most comprehensive analysis of rising anti-Semitism by Islamist extremists.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or BfV, described its 40-page brochure as a tool for educators, social workers, police and others who work closely with recent Muslim immigrants or refugees.

Titled “Anti-Semitism in Islamism,” the recently published report represents a leap forward in terms of the agency’s focus on the topic, spokeswoman Angela Pley told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview.

She said the agency has never published such a comprehensive analysis of the subject based on empirical data.

“We are an early warning system,” Pley said. “Recommendations on what can be done must come from society and the political establishment.”

Pley said there had been no public response to the report by Muslim associations in Germany, but that it had been downloaded 1,439 times since its release.

It is one of a few recent government measures born of increased concern about anti-Semitism in Germany.

In 2018, the government appointed a commissioner, Felix Klein, to focus specifically on the topic. In 2012, a Bundestag commission was established to report on anti-Semitism nationwide and in all categories.

Felix Klein, the German government’s first-ever special envoy to the Jewish community, at the ‘Berlin wears a kippah’ protest, April 25, 2018 (courtesy BMI)

“Anti-Semitism in Islamism” homes in on the Islamist extremist component, which represents a looming threat, the agency said, though relatively few anti-Semitic crimes in Germany have been attributed to Islamist extremism.

The report distinguishes between “Islam” the religion and “Islamism,” which it describes as a form of political extremism that “aims at the partial or complete abolition of the liberal democratic constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Between 2010 and 2016, the Pew Research Center reported, the number of Muslims living in Germany rose to nearly 5 million, or 6 percent of the population, from 3.3 million, or 4.1%.

The vast majority of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany have a right-wing extremist background: In 2018, a total of 755 anti-Semitic crimes were reported, and 670 were attributed to the far right and 25 to “foreigners.” Of the 707 cases the previous year, 651 were attributed to the far right and 15 to foreigners.

But the new report, which identifies Islamist organizations and movements and their propaganda, warns that radicalization and incitement to anti-Semitic hate “form the breeding ground for violent escalations.”

It mentions a few sensational cases from recent years:

  • In April 2016, a woman in Berlin was approached by two men of Arab descent who asked about the Israel-shaped pendant she was wearing. The men responded: “You f***ing Jews! You are the scum of the earth.”
  • In December 2017, a Jewish high school student in Berlin was attacked by an Arab classmate who said “You are child murderers, you should have your heads cut off.”
  • That same month, two unknown perpetrators attacked a synagogue in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and berated the staff, saying “Al-Quds belongs to us! Get out of here, you sons of bitches!” Al-Quds is the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem.

Anti-Semitic beliefs promoted by Islamist groups and individuals “already represent a considerable challenge for peaceful and tolerant coexistence in Germany,” the report says.

Illustrative: A participant wears a kippah during a ‘wear a kippah’ gathering to protest against anti-Semitism in front of the Jewish Community House on April 25, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images via JTA)

It is not the first time the agency has examined anti-Semitism in this context: Past annual reports on extremist crime have covered Islamism and its anti-Semitic components. A symposium was held on the subject in the early 2000s, Pley told JTA.

Juliane Wetzel, a senior staff member at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University in Berlin, called the report an “excellent contribution on the theme.”

“The conclusion is important: Islamist anti-Semitism is spreading in Germany,” said Wetzel, a member of the Bundestag’s commission of experts on anti-Semitism.

The new report is important, though the topic of anti-Semitism in Islamism has hardly been taboo in Germany as some critics have claimed, said political scientist Clemens Heni, director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.

Among other organizations, “the intelligence agency has reported on it for decades,” Heni told JTA.

In its definition of anti-Semitism, the brochure includes anti-Zionism, since it “aims at the complete elimination of the State of Israel” and falsely defines the Mideast conflict “as a Jewish ‘war of annihilation’ against the Palestinians.”

The brochure says that anti-Zionists in Germany often argue that they are against Israel, not against Jews. But given that “Israel is the only Jewish state in the world and that its annihilation would inevitably result in the death and expulsion of millions of Jews, this argumentation turns out to be a trick to conceal the actual thrust of anti-Zionism,” the report concludes.

Among other points, the brochure covers anti-Semitic stereotypes in Islamism and the rejection of the State of Israel by Islamist organizations.

Its list of Islamic extremist groups and movements in Germany includes the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, among others.

Though there has been no public response from Muslim organizations in Germany, the Liberal Islamic Association recently published its own 178-page report on the results of its three-year program, Extreme Out: Empowerment, Not Antisemitism. The project was designed to “shed light on and work [against] anti-Semitic attitudes among young people of Muslim faith” and to help youth see themselves as part of German society.

 

Pompeo puts off Greenland trip amid heightened tensions with Iran

May 9, 2019

Source: Pompeo puts off Greenland trip amid heightened tensions with Iran | The Times of Israel

US secretary of state cites pressing business in Washington as reason for travel changes, hours after Tehran announces partial withdrawal from nuclear deal

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during on the US-UK relationship during an event at Lancaster House in central London on May 8, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during on the US-UK relationship during an event at Lancaster House in central London on May 8, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday put off a visit to Greenland, citing pressing business in Washington — just two days after he also ditched a trip to Germany to fly to Iraq amid soaring tensions with Iran.

Pompeo was scheduled to visit Greenland’s capital Nuuk and to make a second stop to see New York Air National Guard troops deployed to assist climate research, part of a push to show the US commitment to the Arctic.

But US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo was postponing the trip “due to a need for the secretary to be in Washington” on Thursday.

“We look forward to rescheduling the secretary’s visit at a time convenient for Greenland, Denmark and the United States,” she said.

Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, whose foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, had also been set to meet Pompeo in Nuuk.

A senior diplomat in Greenland, Kenneth Hoegh, earlier told AFP that Pompeo’s visit was being postponed. Greenland’s government in a statement said it was informed that “urgent matters” required Pompeo in Washington.

The trip comes amid a spike in friction with Iran, after the United States announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to counter what it alleged were imminent Iranian threats.

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 on Wednesday said it would no longer abide by some limits under a 2015 nuclear accord, a year to the date after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal and instead slapped sweeping sanctions.

On Tuesday, instead of flying to Germany, Pompeo made an unannounced detour to Iraq — where Iran has a major influence — and said that the country’s leaders had promised to protect US interests.

Pompeo’s tour of Greenland was meant to have closed out a four-day visit to Europe that started in Finland, where he attended a meeting of the eight members of the Arctic Council.

While skeptical about fighting climate change, Pompeo noted that new sea routes were opening in the usually frozen Arctic — and challenged the role of China in seeking interests in the region.

Pompeo spent Wednesday in London where he discussed the tensions with Iran and delivered remarks on religious freedom, one of his key priorities.