Archive for June 25, 2019

Trump warns Iran of ‘overwhelming force’ in the event of an attack on ‘anything American’

June 25, 2019

Source: Iran-U.S. tensions: Iran calls new sanctions ‘outrageous and idiotic’ – The Washington Post

On June 25, after President Trump announced new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of lying and refused any future talks. 

June 25 at 11:59 AM

 President Trump on Tuesday warned Iran that any attack on “anything American” would be met with “great and overwhelming force” after Iranian officials slammed new U.S. sanctions as permanently closing the path to diplomacy amid a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s leadership “doesn’t understand the words ‘nice’ or ‘compassion,’ they never had,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power,” he said. “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration!”

Iranian officials earlier Tuesday criticized new penalties targeting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying that the White House had “become mentally crippled.” In a searing televised address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called restrictions against Iran’s supreme leader “outrageous and idiotic” and said they showed “certain failure” on the part of the Trump administration to isolate Iran.

Trump called Rouhani’s comments “ignorant and insulting,” saying that they showed that Iran does “not understand reality.”

“You call for negotiations. If you are telling the truth, why are you simultaneously seeking to sanction our foreign minister?” Rouhani said Tuesday, referring to remarks by U.S. officials suggesting plans to sanction Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later this month.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Twitter that the “useless sanctioning” of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Zarif, who led Iran’s nuclear negotiations with world powers, “means the permanent closure of the doors of diplomacy.”

“Trump’s government is annihilating all of the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security,” said the spokesman, Abbas Mousavi.

Under the sanctions any foreign financial institutions that provide significant “financial services” to any of the Iranian officials would face U.S. penalties.

Trump announced the measures Monday, which U.S. officials said came in response to the downing of a U.S. Navy surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz last week. The sanctions also targeted senior commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including those the Treasury Department said were involved in shooting down the drone, a RQ-4A Global Hawk.

The United States has also blamed Iran for a recent string of attacks on petrochemical tankers in the Persian Gulf region. Iran has denied involvement.

Rouhani said Tuesday that the sanctions against Khamenei — whom Trump described as “the one who is ultimately responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime” — were futile because the 80-year-old leader does not maintain any financial assets abroad.

“Tehran’s strategic patience does not mean we have fear,” Rouhani said.

National security adviser John Bolton described the new economic penalties Tuesday as “significant” but said that Trump has also “held the door open to real negotiations” with Iran.

A day after President Trump imposed additional sanctions on Iran, national security adviser John Bolton said June 25 that Trump was open to talks. 

“All that Iran needs to do is walk through that door,” Bolton said at a conference in Jerusalem. He added that any deal would need to “eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support for international terrorism and other malign behavior worldwide.”

Iran does have a nuclear weapons program and has complied with restrictions to its atomic energy activities set out under the 2015 deal it negotiated with world powers, including the United States.

The Trump administration abandoned that pact and reimposed a near-total embargo on Iran’s economy, including its oil, shipping, manufacturing and banking industries. 

Iran said last week that it was on course to boost its stockpile of low-enriched uranium beyond the limits prescribed by the deal, a move that arms control experts said does not pose a near-term proliferation risk.

Zarif said Tuesday from Tehran that Iran would “never seek a nuclear weapon based on its religious and strategic views,” the Fars News Agency reported.

The head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said Tuesday, however, that a decision was made to further modify Iranian commitments to the nuclear deal. In a “memo” he wrote to the Fars News Agency, Shamkhani did not elaborate on the specific steps Iran would take.

The 2015 agreement curbed Iran’s nuclear energy program in exchange for widespread sanctions relief. But the deal’s other signatories, including the European Union, have struggled to maintain the economic benefits promised to Iran under the pact.

After a meeting with his counterparts, Bolton told reporters that the U.S. pressure campaign would force Iran to engage in new nuclear negotiations, Reuters news agency reported.

“They’ll either get the point or . . . we will simply enhance the maximum-pressure campaign further,” Bolton said. He predicted that “the combination of sanctions and other pressure” would “bring Iran to the table.”

A participant in the Jerusalem conference, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, told reporters Tuesday that Russia has military intelligence showing that the U.S. drone was in Iranian airspace when it was shot down by Iran last week, Reuters reported. Patrushev also described U.S. evidence that Iran was behind attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman as poor quality and unprofessional.

Trump has said that he is willing to speak to Iran with no preconditions, but U.S. officials said this week that there is no back channel between the U.S. and Iranian governments. And planned sanctions against Iran’s chief diplomat undermined the administration’s message that it seeks unconditional talks with Iranian officials.

“If Zarif is sanctioned, it won’t be to punish him because of his service to the Islamic Republic,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of the Europe-Iran forum that promotes business ties between Iran and European nations.

“It will be because of his own dogged commitment — to diplomacy — and of his proven ability to keep the door open for negotiations despite the sabotaging by rivals in both Tehran and Washington,” he said.

Eglash reported from Jerusalem. Carol Morello in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Missy Ryan in Washington contributed to this report.

 

Iran’s air defense missiles must be taken seriously, experts say 

June 25, 2019

Source: Iran’s air defense missiles must be taken seriously, experts say | The Times of Israel

Tehran’s downing of a sophisticated US drone – albeit a large, slow one – shows it knows how to use its missile systems, though it still lags far behind US capabilities

This photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, June 9, 2019, shows the Khordad 15, a new surface-to-air missile battery at an undisclosed location in Iran. The system uses locally made missiles that resemble the HAWK missiles that the US once sold to the shah and later delivered to the Islamic Republic in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

This photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, June 9, 2019, shows the Khordad 15, a new surface-to-air missile battery at an undisclosed location in Iran. The system uses locally made missiles that resemble the HAWK missiles that the US once sold to the shah and later delivered to the Islamic Republic in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — The shooting down last week of a sophisticated US drone by an Iranian missile demonstrates that Tehran’s air defense capabilities can pose a challenge to US air superiority, experts say.

The Global Hawk, an advanced US navy surveillance drone, was flying at high altitude — it can reach 60,000 feet (18 kilometers) — early Friday local time when it was struck by a ground-to-air missile by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

“The shooting down of the drone shows Iran is revealing a capability and choosing to message it to the United States,” said Becca Wasser, an analyst at Rand Corp.

“The fact that Iran was able to shoot down the drone demonstrates that they have developed or purchased fairly significant capabilities and are skilled at employing these systems.”

Wasser noted an Iranian claim that it had used a home-made surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to shoot down the drone.

Head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh looks at debris from what the division describes as the US drone which was shot down by Iran, seen here in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2019. (Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency/via AP)

“If true, this would be significant because it is a domestically produced capability that Iran could replicate and potentially provide to proxy groups throughout the region to threaten US and partner militaries,” she told AFP.

According to the Military Balance — an annual publication by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) — Iran has 32 batteries of Russian-made S-300 ground-to-air missiles that have been delivered by Moscow since 2016. They are seen as posing a serious threat.

The Islamic Republic has also developed Iranian versions of these missile systems, including the Bavar 373, SAM Tabas and SAM Raad which are regularly displayed at military parades.

The Revolutionary Guards claim that they shot down the US drone with a Khordad 3 missile, a version of the SAM Raad.

Senior Iranian officials and military officers have welcomed the strike and warned against a possible US retaliation.

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on Febraury 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

“The enemy dispatched its most advanced, smartest and most sophisticated surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to the forbidden area and everyone saw the shooting down of this unmanned aircraft,” Iran’s navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said on Monday.

“I say confidently that this crushing response can be repeated and the enemy knows this,” he said.

Spy plane

The former head of a French intelligence service, who asked to remain anonymous, said that if the US air force sends large numbers of aircraft over Iran, it should be prepared for some losses, because Iranian forces will be prepared.

“That said, in the case of the drone, it may not have had sufficient counter-measures — to deceive, deflect or outmaneuver the missile — and the Americans thought that the Iranians would not dare” shoot it down, he told AFP.

Illustrative: A Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. (Globe Newswire via AP)

Dan Gettinger, co-director at the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, New York, said the Global Hawk is a large plane that flies slowly.

The plane “is not a stealthy aircraft — it’s very large” with a wingspan of 40 meters, similar to a Boeing 737, Gettinger said.

The drone’s fate is “definitely going to be taken into account in future operations,” Gettinger told AFP.

He said the incident is also reminiscent of the time the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 spy plane in 1960.

That event, targeting a piloted craft, “is a large part of the reason why the US started developing drones in the first place,” Gettinger said.

In this May 17, 2019, photo released by the US Navy, the USS Abraham Lincoln sails in the Arabian Sea near the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur, US Navy via AP)

Experts however say that the latest incident does not mean Iran is capable of building a firewall against the air force of the world’s largest military, whose superior firepower and electronic warfare capabilities are overwhelming.

At the end of 2015, just after Moscow agreed to sell the S-300 systems to Tehran, a move Israel tried in vain to prevent, the head of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, said the missiles posed “a significant but not insurmountable challenge.”

Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at IISS, said Iran had shown it is capable of shooting down a large drone.

But, he said, “this is a long way from being able to sustain air defense operations in the face of a significant attack involving missile strikes and counter-measures to degrade its air defenses.”

 

Top Iran military adviser threatens to ‘erase’ Israel if war breaks out 

June 25, 2019

Source: Top Iran military adviser threatens to ‘erase’ Israel if war breaks out | The Times of Israel

Aide to supreme leader warns his country can ‘totally obliterate’ US bases in the Gulf

Then Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan (right) in Russia at the Moscow Conference for International Security on April 26, 2017. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

Then Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan (right) in Russia at the Moscow Conference for International Security on April 26, 2017. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

A top Iranian defense official said the Americans are fully aware that their assets in the Middle East can be destroyed by Iran’s missiles and know that should war break out in the region, it would not be a “walk in the park.”

In a June 20 interview on Iraq’s Alnujaba TV, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) monitoring group and posted to social media Sunday, former Iranian defense minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan said Iran’s military could destroy US military bases in the region and annihilate Israel.

“Our missiles can totally obliterate those bases,” Dehghan said. “Israel knows that Iran will erase its entity and uproot it from existence in case of a war.”

Dehghan said US President Donald Trump and his country fear the outbreak of war because they are unable to get global legal legitimacy for an attack or assemble an international coalition against Iran. He warned that if war broke out, America would find itself in the “garbage bin of history.”

However, Dehghan said he did not think such a war was in the offing, because of how powerful Iran is.

A former brigadier general in Iran’s air force, Dehghan was defense minister of Iran from 2013 until 2017, when he became defense adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The US armed forces maintain numerous army, navy and air force bases in the region near Iran. Those bases located in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the UAE and Bahrain have at least ten thousand American personnel and an unknown number of troops from coalition partners as well as local contractors.

A fighter jet takes off from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, June 22, 2019. (Dan Snow/US Navy)

Tensions between the two countries are running high after Iran shot down a US spy drone last week and US President Donald Trump considered, then canceled, a retaliatory strike.

The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran, including on its energy sector, last November, after pulling America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers in May 2018.

Following a fresh round of American sanctions leveled against Iranian leaders on Monday, Iran’s foreign minister said that leaders in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US “despise diplomacy and thirst for war.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

 

Iran says it will abandon further nuclear deal commitments on July 7 

June 25, 2019

Source: Iran says it will abandon further nuclear deal commitments on July 7 | The Times of Israel

( They clearly don’t take Trump seriously, if they ever did, – JW )

Warning comes 2 months after Tehran suspended some pledges under 2015 pact in response to US sanctions

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2009, Iranian technicians walk outside the building housing the reactor of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, in the Iranian port town of Bushehr, 1,200 kilometers south of Tehran. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP Files/AFP)

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2009, Iranian technicians walk outside the building housing the reactor of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, in the Iranian port town of Bushehr, 1,200 kilometers south of Tehran. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP Files/AFP)

Iran will “resolutely” abandon more commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers on July 7, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday quoting a “note” from a top security official.

Tehran had announced on May 8 that it was suspending two of its 2015 pledges and gave Europe, China and Russia a two-month ultimatum to help Iran circumvent US sanctions and sell its oil or it would abandon two more commitments.

Last year Washington withdrew from the landmark nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, and Europe’s efforts so far to help Iran economically benefit from the accord have been dismissed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “bitter joke.”

“As of July 7, Iran will forcefully take the second step of reducing its commitments” to the nuclear deal, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Fars.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani in Tehran, Iran, January 17, 2017. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

This was so “countries who interpreted Iran’s ‘patience’ with weakness and inaction realize that Iran’s answer to the American drone’s violation of its airspace will be no different than its reaction to devious political efforts to limit Iranian people’s absolute rights,” he added.

Amid escalating tensions last week, Iran shot down a US spy drone it said had crossed into its territory, a claim denied by the United States.

Russia, a key ally of Iran, on Tuesday backed Iran’s version of events.

US President Donald Trump said he ordered retaliatory airstrikes against Iran but pulled back at the last minute.

Shamkhani slammed Europe’s “political insolence” for expecting Iran to continue its commitments without them fulfilling their end of the deal and said it showed a “lack of will” to face the US.

France’s foreign minister said that Iran would be making a “serious mistake” by violating the nuclear deal as a response to pressure from the United States.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, shake hands for journalists at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

“French, German and British diplomacy is completely mobilized to make Iran understand that it would not be in its interest,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament.

In retaliation to what it says is European inaction, Iran has begun to increase its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpile beyond the limits set in the deal.

The second step would involve breaking past the 3.67 percent restriction on enriching uranium and restarting development of a heavy water reactor that was put on hold.

 

In trilateral Jerusalem summit, Russia sides with Iran, against Israel and US

June 25, 2019

Source: In trilateral Jerusalem summit, Russia sides with Iran, against Israel and US | The Times of Israel

Senior Russian official stands by Tehran’s claim that US drone was shot down in Iranian airspace, defends rights of foreign troops to remain in Syria despite Israeli opposition

Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev speaks at a trilateral summit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center-right, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, center-left, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on June 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton\Flash90)

Russia’s top national security adviser spoke out on behalf of Iran during trilateral meetings with his Israeli and American counterparts in Jerusalem on Tuesday, backing Tehran’s claims against the United States and supporting its ongoing military presence in Syria, which Israel sees as a threat to its security.

The trilateral conference of Israeli, Russian, and US national security advisers is the first event of its kind to be held in Jerusalem and, according to Israel, is aimed specifically at countering Iran, including both its nuclear aspirations and its influence throughout the Middle East.

The meeting comes amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and put in place a series of crushing economic sanctions. The Islamic Republic has retaliated by stepping up its uranium enrichment to levels beyond those permitted under the 2015 accord, allegedly carrying out a number of attacks on petroleum facilities around the Middle East, and shooting down a sophisticated US drone last week.

Russia, which maintains close ties to both Israel and Iran, is seen as a potential interlocutor between the West and Tehran. But comments made by its representative at the summit, security adviser Nikolai Patrushev, indicated that Moscow was siding with the Islamic Republic.

In press conferences on Tuesday, Patrushev rejected the view held by the US and Israel that Iran represents “the main threat to regional security” and said Israeli airstrikes in Syria against Iranian forces and its proxies were “undesirable.”

Commenting on the downing of a US drone by Iran last week, Patrushev said the Russian Defense Ministry had determined that the aircraft had entered Iranian airspace, as Tehran claims. The US maintains that the drone was flying in international airspace when it was downed.

“We have not seen any proof otherwise,” Patrushev said.

Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev speaks at a trilateral summit with Israel and the United States at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on June 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton\Flash90)

Patrushev also lauded Iran’s ongoing presence in Syria — which Israel sees as an unacceptable threat. The Russian official said Iran was “contributing a lot to fighting terrorists on Syrian soil and stabilizing the situation there.”

He said Moscow was aware of Israel’s concerns regarding Iran’s military presence in Syria and was working to address the issue with Tehran.

“We pay special attention to ensuring Israel’s security,” he said, calling it “a special interest of ours because here in Israel live a little less than about two million of our countrymen. Israel supports us in several channels, including at the UN. The prime minister [Netanyahu] has already said that we share the same views on the issue of the struggle against falsifying the history of World War II.”

According to a Central Bureau of Statistics report in 2016, as of five years ago, there were 985,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Israel.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton, seen as a longtime hawk on Iranian issues, threatened Tuesday that the White House would step up the sanctions and other measures against Iran if it exceeded the uranium enrichment levels of the nuclear deal, saying such a move would be a “very serious mistake” by Tehran.

Tehran had announced on May 8 that it was suspending two of its 2015 pledges and gave Europe, China and Russia a two-month ultimatum to help Iran circumvent US sanctions and sell its oil or it would abandon two more commitments. Bolton spoke a day after the US imposed fresh sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“They’ll either get the point or as the president said, we will enhance the maximum pressure campaign further,” he said at a press conference, adding that “all options are on the table.”

In his press conference, Bolton disputed Patrushev’s positive view of Iranian troops in Syria, saying he did not believe this was the true stance of Russia and that Moscow also hopes to see Tehran’s forces and proxies leave Syria.

“The Russians have said repeatedly that they would like to see Iranian forces leave,” he said, citing comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent meeting in Moscow.

Bolton said that despite this desire, Russia has thus far been unable to achieve this goal but that with the summit in Jerusalem the three countries were working to “find a way to make it happen.”

Israel has long sought Russian backing for its demand that Iranian forces leave Syria upon the conclusion of the country’s civil war.

Earlier this year, the Israeli military said the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group had established a new base of operations in southern Syria along the border with Israel.

Earlier in the day, Bolton said that Trump, while imposing “significant new sanctions” on Iranian leaders on Monday, “has held the door open to real negotiations to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support for international terrorism, and its other malign behavior worldwide.

This file photo provided on Friday October 20, 2017 by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media shows Iran’s army chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, looking at a map with senior officers from the Iranian military as they visit a front line position in the northern province of Aleppo, Syria. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

“All that Iran needs to do is to walk through that open door,” he said.

In his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Bolton stressed that the White House was not seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic. “That’s not the policy of the United States,” he said, acknowledging that as a private citizen he had called for this in the past.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said that new US sanctions against senior Iranian officials including top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif showed Washington was “lying” about offering to negotiate.

Agencies contributed to this report.

 

FULL: John Bolton on Syria, Palestinians and Iran

June 25, 2019

 

 

Russia condemns Israeli strikes in Syria, attempts to isolate Iran

June 25, 2019

Source: Russia condemns Israeli strikes in Syria, attempts to isolate Iran

During a three-way meeting between Israeli, American and Russian security advisers – focused primarily on Iran and Syria – Nikolai Patrushev calls attempts to demonize Islamic Republic ‘unacceptable’; Bolton says ‘all options remain on the table’ if Tehran exceeds uranium enrichment limit
Russia’s national security adviser said Israeli air strikes on Syria were “undesirable” and condemned attempts to isolate Iran during a trilateral summit meeting with his Israeli and American counterparts in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of the three-way meeting – focused primarily on Iran and Syria – called for the three countries to agree on expelling foreign forces from the war-torn neighboring country. He said Israel will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence there.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev  (Photo: Reuters)

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (Photo: Reuters)

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev also said the attempts to present Iran as the main threat to the region and equate it to international terrorist groups are “not acceptable,” urging Israel and the United States to show “restraint” toward the Islamic Republic.

Patrushev added that “Iran is contributing a lot to fighting terrorists on the Syrian soil and stabilizing the situation there.” He also called on Israel and the U.S. to encourage a political settlement in Syria.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (Photo: Eli Mendelbaum)

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (Photo: Eli Mendelbaum)

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, said Washington’s pressure campaign against Iran would lead it to enter negotiations.

“They’ll either get the point or … we will simply enhance the maximum pressure campaign further,” Bolton told reporters. “It will be, I think, the combination of sanctions and other pressure that does bring Iran to the table.”

Bolton also said that “all options remain on the table” if Iran exceeds uranium enrichment limit under the 2015 deal.

He was responding to a question about whether a military strike was still an option if Iran crosses the 300-kilogram stockpile threshold outlined in the atomic accord. Bolton says it would be “a very serious mistake for Iran to ignore those limits.”

John Bolton and Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters)

John Bolton and Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters)

Iran says it will possess over 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium by Thursday, in violation of the deal. Europe separately faces a July 7 deadline imposed by Tehran to offer a better deal or Iran will begin enriching its uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.

Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, says it “should give up their pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons.”

“The attainment of security and stability in our region is our common goal. It will be unattainable without reining in Iran’s aspirations and actions,” said Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. “Recent events underscore this conclusion, which must be taken into account in any outline for an agreement.”

Netanyahu kicked-off the summit by thanking both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump for working with Israel on resolving regional conflicts. “All three of us would like to see a peaceful, stable and secure Syria,” Netanyhau said.

“We also have a common objective to achieve that larger goal, and that is no foreign forces that arrived in Syria after 2011 remain in Syria. We think there are also ways to achieve this common goal, which will create a more stable Middle East,” Netanyahu said. “The departure of all foreign forces from Syria – will be good for Russia, good for the United States, good for Israel, and may I add, good for Syria.”

 

 

FULL: Netanyahu and Bolton Address Mideast Security Issues 

June 25, 2019

 

 

Iran currently setting up terror cells in Africa to attack U.S., others

June 25, 2019

Source: Iran currently setting up terror cells in Africa to attack U.S., others – Breaking News – Jerusalem Post

According to the Telegraph, “The aim of the new terror cell is to target US and other Western military bases on the continent, as well as embassies and officials.”

BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
A military vehicle carrying Iranian Zoobin smart bomb (L) and Sagheb missile under pictures of Iran'

The Islamic Republic of Iran is spreading its state-sponsored terrorism to Western African countries to attack the US and Western assets, the British Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

“Iran is setting up a network of terror cells in Africa to attack US and other Western targets in retaliation for Washington’s decision to impose sanctions against Tehran, according to Western security officials,” according to the newspaper.The article by veteran defense and security journalist Con Coughlin said that the “new terror network has been established on the orders of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the elite section of Iran’s Republican Guard Corps that has responsibility for overseas operations.”

The United States government classifies Iran’s regime as the leading international state-sponsor of terrorism.

According to the Telegraph, “The aim of the new terror cell is to target US and other Western military bases on the continent, as well as embassies and officials. The Iranian cells are said to be active in a number of African countries including Sudan, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Gambia and the Central African Republic.”

“Iran is setting up a new terrorist infrastructure in Africa with the aim of attacking Western targets,” a senior Western security source told The Telegraph, adding, “It is all part of Tehran’s attempts to expand its terrorist operations across the globe.”

The report noted “Intelligence officials say Iran has been working on the new terror network for the past three years since signing the nuclear deal on freezing its uranium enrichment activities with the US and other major world powers in 2015.”

Coughlin wrote that “The operation is being organized by Unit 400, a highly specialized section of the Quds Force which is run by Hamed Abdollahi, a veteran Republican Guard officer who was designated by the US as supporting terrorist activity in 2012.”

The African cell is said to be run by Ali Parhoon, another senior Iranian officer in Unit 400. Details of the terror cell’s existence were uncovered following a series of arrests in Chad in April.

“Investigators found that Iran was behind the recruitment and training of men between the ages of 25-35 with the aim of committing terror attacks against Western targets on the continent,” The Telegraph reported.

“There are estimated to be around 300 militants who have been recruited by the Revolutionary Guard and have undergone rigorous training at Iranian-run training camps in Syria and Iraq.”

According to the article, “The last batch of recruits were trained at an Iranian base in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. Iran’s attempts to establish a new terror operation in Africa follow revelations in The Telegraph earlier this month that British security officials caught terrorists linked to Iran stockpiling tons of explosives on the outskirts of London.

“The British authorities believe this cell was also set up in 2015 after Iran signed the nuclear deal.

“US diplomatic officials say a warning has been circulated to American diplomatic and military missions in the countries where Iranian militants are said to be operating, as well as missions of other Western countries, including Britain, France and Italy,” The Telegraph reported.

The Jerusalem Post reported last week that one of  main actors in espionage activities in the Federal Republic of Germany is Iran’s clerical regime, according to the intelligence report from the state of Brandenburg, which was reviewed by the Post.

Iran’s regime also has 1,050  Hezbollah operatives in Germany who are loyal to Tehran. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declined to ban Hezbollah’s political wing in Germany. The United Kingdom outlawed Hezbollah’s so-called political wing in February.  The EU banned Hezbollah’s so-called military wing in 2013.

Iran’s regime has conducted illicit proliferation activities in Germany since the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was reached with Tehran. In exchange for Tehran agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program, the world powers – including Germany – provided considerable economic sanctions relief to Iran.

The Post reported in May that a German state intelligence report from Bavaria said Iran is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”

Iran was termed a “risk country” in the 335-page document outlining serious threats to the security and democracy of the state of Bavaria.

The intelligence report defines weapons of mass destruction as “the spread of atomic, biological [or] chemical weapons of mass destruction.”

The May 2019 intelligence report from the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern stated: “The fight against the illegal proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed for their manufacture, as well as the corresponding delivery systems [e.g. rockets], including the necessary knowledge, in cooperation with other authorities, is also the responsibility of counterintelligence.”

The intelligence report added, “From these points of view, it is essentially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Syrian Arab Republic that need to be mentioned. The intelligence services of these countries are involved in unlawful procurement activities in the field of proliferation, using globally oriented, conspiratorial business and commercial structures.”

 

Iran says ‘idiotic’ new US sanctions have closed path to diplomacy

June 25, 2019

Source: Iran says ‘idiotic’ new US sanctions have closed path to diplomacy | World news | The Guardian

Foreign ministry spokesman accuses Trump administration of destroying peace and security

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has become the target of new US sanctions
 Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has become the target of new US sanctions Photograph: Caren Firouz/Reuters

Iran says the US decision to impose sanctions on its supreme leader and other top officials is “idiotic” and has permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.

Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Monday against supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military chiefs, in an unprecedented step designed to increase pressure on Iran after Tehran’s downing of an unmanned American drone. Khamenei is Iran’s utmost authority who has the last say on all state matters.

Washington said it would also impose sanctions this week on Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with the US and other major powers and has spearheaded Iranian diplomacy since.

Hassan Rouhani, the country’s president, said the new sanctions were “outrageous and idiotic”. Speaking in a live television address on Tuesday, he added: “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?” The White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”, he said.

A foreign ministry spokesman said in a tweet: “Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy. Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

Signing an executive order in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump called the increased sanctions “hard-hitting”, saying they would deny the supreme leader, his office and and those closely affiliated with him access to key financial resources.

“These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” Trump said. “We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iranhave a nuclear weapon.”

Standing alongside Trump, the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the measures would freeze billions of dollars in Iranian assets.

But analysts said their impact on an already heavily-sanctioned country would be limited.

“The newly announced Iran sanctions are symbolic,” said Jarrett Blanc, a former senior state department official now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Trump said he was willing to pursue dialogue with Tehran without preconditions, a line echoed by his national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday. “All that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door,” Bolton said at a high-profile trilateral security summit in Jerusalem.

But the sanctions appeared to make such talks even less likely.

The Iranian ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, said: “No one in clear mind can have a dialogue with somebody who is threatening you with sanctions as long as that is still there is no way we can have a dialogue.”

The ratcheting up of tensions between the two countries comes in the wake of the Gulf of Oman tanker attacks, when two vessels were damaged by explosions. The Trump administration blamed Iran for the attacks, but Tehran denied responsibility.

Then last week a US drone was shot down by Iran, further escalating the crisis. The US president responded by ordering an attack on Iran, before pulling back and opting for stronger sanctions instead.

Tensions with Iran have been mounting since Trump withdrew theUS from the 2015 nuclear deal last year and began applying pressure onTehranthrough economic sanctions.