Archive for June 27, 2019

Iran said to be short of uranium limit but expected to reach it by weekend 

June 27, 2019

Source: Iran said to be short of uranium limit but expected to reach it by weekend | The Times of IsraelAnonymous diplo

mats say Tehran will not cross threshold on Thursday as Islamic Republic claimed, but with production rate of roughly a kilo a day, will get there in coming days

A technician at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, February 3, 2007. (AP/Vahid Salemi/File)

A technician at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, February 3, 2007. (AP/Vahid Salemi/File)

Three anonymous diplomats say that although Iran has not reached the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is permitted under the nuclear deal, it is on track to reach that limit this weekend, the Reuters news agency reported Thursday.

The diplomats said that the UN nuclear watchdog verified Iran had roughly 200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, and is producing it at a rate of roughly 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) a day, meaning it will hit the limit of 202.8 kilograms in the coming days.

Iran, which has been revving up its nuclear program since the United States pulled out of the deal last year and reimposed economic sanctions, said that as of June 27, it will have more than the 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of enriched uranium that it was allowed to have under the 2015 deal. The nuclear deal caps Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium at 300 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride, which corresponds to 202.8 kilograms of uranium, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran’s move has raised alarm among the other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — which have urged it to stick to its commitments.

Iranian envoy to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi briefs journalists outside the Security Council on June 24, 2019. (Loey Felipe/UN)

Iran told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that it cannot “alone” save the nuclear deal, turning up pressure on the Europeans, Russia and China as it moved toward a possible breach of its commitments to limit its nuclear activities.

“Iran has done a lot and much more than its fair share to preserve the nuclear deal,” Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi told a Security Council meeting.

“Iran alone cannot, shall not and will not take all of the burdens anymore to preserve the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known.

But the Iranian ambassador argued that the US exit from the nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions have rendered the JCPOA “almost fully ineffective.”

Ravanchi insisted that the other signatories, namely Britain, France and Germany, must find a way to compensate Iran.

Iran’s uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s decision to scrap limits imposed by the nuclear deal on its uranium enrichment “may not help preserve” the landmark agreement, UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council.

Six European countries separately released a joint statement saying they were “extremely concerned” by Iran’s latest move.

“We strongly urge Iran to continue to implement its commitments under JCPOA in full and to refrain from escalatory steps,” said the statement from Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Estonia.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran pledged to reduce its nuclear capacities for several years and allow in inspectors in exchange for sanctions relief.

 

Iran’s Zarif: Sanctions aren’t alternative to war, they are war 

June 27, 2019

Source: Iran’s Zarif: Sanctions aren’t alternative to war, they are war – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

The Iranian Foreign Minister has been very outspoken on Twitter.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 JUNE 27, 2019 17:01
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif posted on Twitter a list of “misconceptions” that “endanger peace,” making sure to tag US President Donald Trump.

The first of those misconceptions was that “sanctions aren’t alternatie to war; they ARE war.”

The next was that the word “obliteration” refers to genocide, which is a war crime.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

– Sanctions aren’t alternative to war; they ARE war

– “Obliteration”=genocide=war crime

– “Short war” with Iran is an illusion

– Whoever begins war will not be the one ending it

– Negotiations and threats are mutually exclusive

The third one is that it is an illusion to claim that a war with Iran would be short. The next is that whoever begins said war will not be the one to end it, as well.

He lastly claimed that negotiations and threats “are mutually exclusive.”

 

Trump, Putin to meet amid Iran tensions 

June 27, 2019

Source: Trump, Putin to meet amid Iran tensions – World News – Jerusalem Post

The meeting comes as Russia says that it will begin deliveries of its S-400 system to Turkey in July and complete the process by the end of the year.

BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN
 JUNE 27, 2019 12:28
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin faces off with US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamb

US President Donald Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday in Osaka during the G20. The meeting will cover a variety of issues, including Iran tensions, Venezuela, Afghanistan and Syria, according to reports.

Russian presidential aid Yury Ushakov confirmed the meeting and said it will take place on the sidelines of the G20 for around an hour, according to Russia’s Tass News. ABC said that Trump told reporters he expected to have a good conversation, but that it’s content would not be public. Trump has been criticized in the past in the US for controversies related to his 2016 presidential campaign and allegations of Russian meddling.

The meeting comes as Russia says that it will begin deliveries of its S-400 system to Turkey in July and complete the process by the end of the year. Washington has warned Ankara that acquiring the system will risk its work with the F-35 program and could harm its alliance with NATO. Acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper met his Turkish counterpart in Brussels on Wednesday.

Russia’s role in Syria is also on the agenda because of US concerns about what may come next in the war-torn country. First of all, America does not want a Syrian regime offensive in the North and it wants to stabilize eastern Syria, where its Syrian Democratic Forces partners are still combating ISIS sleeper cells. Russia’s air defense recently intercepted drones flown from Idlib in northern Syria that sought to attack a Russian airbase in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed new US sanctions against Iran on June 25. He said that they were a reminder of historical failed US policies in the region, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “All of us know the result. In May 2003, the US declared victory of democracy in Iraq. Draw your conclusion on how this democracy has demonstrated itself over the past 16 years,” Tass quoted Lavrov as saying. This is a “bad scenario” regarding US-Iran tensions.

NATO-Russia tensions are also rising with calls for Moscow to destroy a nuclear-capable missile system known as the 9M729/SSC-8. The June 25 announcement continues to put Russia on a confrontation track with Western powers. Moscow has generally gambled that Western countries are willing to talk and condemn, but not do anything.

Russia has played a key role in recent discussions with Iran at two summits in central Asia and a conference in Ufa. Moscow is concerned about a conflict between the US and Iran, preferring diplomacy. Russia’s concerns are well founded. It knows that the Syrian conflict, after eight years, is winding down and that to preserve the Assad regime requires that no new conflicts break out.

It also knows that any conflict between the US and Iran will affect Syria and Iraq. Russia has interests in both countries. Furthermore Russia has been balancing relations with Israel and Syria. A recent meeting in Israel with US National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Israeli and Russian counterparts was important.

The time allotted to the Trump-Putin meeting, however, does not appear to be enough for them to discuss all of the important regional issues. How can they go over Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and other files that need urgent attention? The US wants to wind down its role in Afghanistan and it wants to keep eastern Syria peaceful.

In contrast to what appears to be Russia’s increasingly close relations with China, Turkey or even Iran, the US-Russia relationship, tense for several reasons, is still key to brokering successful outcomes in Syria and other countries. This is especially true because Moscow and Washington often find themselves on opposing sides.

 

With Tehran set to upgrade uranium enrichment, the USS Boxer strike force with Marines reaches Iranian shore – DEBKAfile

June 27, 2019

Source: With Tehran set to upgrade uranium enrichment, the USS Boxer strike force with Marines reaches Iranian shore – DEBKAfile

On Thursday, June 27, Tehran is set to make good on its ultimatum and start accelerating uranium enrichment in violation of the 300-kilo ceiling set by the 2015 nuclear accord, further boosting tensions with the US.

The Atomic Energy Organization announced on Wednesday that the enrichment level of 3,67 percent is to be raised to 20 percent, much closer to nuclear weapons grade. President Donald Trump and top US officials have repeatedly warned that Iran would not be allowed to gain a nuclear weapon.

Asked in a Fox Business Network interview on Wednesday if a war was brewing, Trump replied: “I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen. “I’m not talking boots on the ground,” he said. “I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.” Nevertheless, in the last few days, the USS Boxer expeditionary strike group has taken up position opposite Iran’s shores, carrying some 2,200 troops of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. This fairly small helicopter carrier’s strike group also consists of two amphibious dock landing craft, the USS John P. Murtha and the USS Harpers.

This group is designed to execute amphibious landings of troops on enemy shores and evacuate them upon completing their mission. On the Boxer’s decks are an AV-8B Harrier II strike aircraft which has vertical takeoff ability, transport helicopters and helicopters bearing Sea Sparrow anti-ship missiles.

The deployment of the Boxer strike group and a Marine force opposite Iran’s shore is intended to inform Tehran that the Trump administration is poised ready for immediate response in the event of further threats or provocations by the Islamic Republic – whether by boosting uranium enrichment for its nuclear program or strikes at US and allied oil targets in the Persian Gulf.