Archive for July 31, 2019

Iran news: Forget Merkel and EU – team up with Trump to curb aggression

July 31, 2019

Source: Iran news: Forget Merkel and EU – team up with Trump to curb aggression – Express.co.uk po | World | News | Express.co.uk

THE UK has been urged by Express.co.uk readers to turn its back on Angela Merkel and the EU to instead team up with Donald Trump in the fight to crack down on dangerous aggression from Iran.

In the latest Express.co.uk poll, readers were asked: “Should the UK side with Angela Merkelor Donald Trump against Iran?” The poll, which ran from 4.20pm on Tuesday July 29 until 9.30am on Wednesday, July 31, saw 5,290 votes cast, with readers overwhelmingly urging Britain to side with with US President. More than three quarters (81.44 percent or 4,308 people) voted for the UK to team up with the US, while just 7.79 percent (412 readers) said Britain should join forced with Ms Merkel the rest of Europe.

Nearly one in ten of those who voted (9.3 percent or 492 readers) urged Britain to ignore both sides, while 1.47 percent (78 readers) opted for the ‘don’t know’ option.

Readers reacted with fury over the idea of the UK joining forces with the EU in the fight against Iran, especially as Germany has so far rejected an offer from the US to participate in a joint military operation.

One said: “Like we can count on the EU for anything other than trying to shaft us?

“The UK and the US have been allies since WWI – that’s over 100 years. I’d take the US over any other country any day.”

iran trump merkel boris

Iran news: The UK has been urged to turn its back on the EU and join forces with the US (Image: GETTY)

tena impero

Iran news: The Stena Impero oil tanker was seized by Iranian troops on July 19 (Image: PA)

Another commented: “We have learned that the EU is not our friend. We need allies that will have our back.

“We cannot let Iranian aggression go uncontrolled. How many ships will they confiscate?”

A third reader added: The US is our natural ally, twice they have proved that.

“The EU is a cabal of former foes who will NEVER look to OUR interests other than spend our money to the EU.”

JUST IN: Iran crisis – Queen depicted as PIRATE in anti-British images

iran oil tanker

Iran news: British troops were warned not to interfere in the military operation (Image: PA)

But one reader warned the UK should not have to find itself in a position to look for allies to help fight a conflict it is now central in.

They advised Britain should significantly ramp up spending in the country’s defence operations, using the £39billion from the Brexit divorce bill that could potentially be saved in a no deal exit from the EU.

The reader said: “It might help if successive UK Governments hadn’t stripped our defences to the pathetic state they are in today. They need to sort that out ASAP.

“Take the £39billion and hire more soldiers and build some ships. How can we be a world player if we can’t protect our interests?”

iran oil tanker stena impero

Iran news: Iranian troops abseiling onto the deck of the Stena Impero (Image: PA)

iran oil tanker

Iran news: Tensions have been escalating in the Strait of Hormuz (Image: PA)

Germany has so far rejected offers to get involved in the escalating row between the UK and Iran following the seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.

On Monday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for a European-led task force in the fight against Tehran, but warned it is also important to have support from the US to make it “viable and effective”.

He added the issue should not become “a geopolitical dispute between the EU and the US”.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Berlin said: “We have formally asked Germany to help along with France and the UK to secure the Strait of Hormuz and to fight Iranian aggression.”

stena impero

Iran news: The Stena Impero is a British-flagged oil tanker (Image: PA)

But Germany is refusing to take part, with Chancellor Angela Merkel thought to be deeply uncomfortable involving the US in any military mission because it was Mr Trump who pulled the country out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement aimed at preventing Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Nils Schmid, who serves on the Committee of Foreign Affairs where he is the SPD parliamentary group’s spokesperson, told radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk: “As Europeans, we have attached great importance to setting ourselves apart from the military confrontational logic of the Americans in the region and to focusing on diplomacy.

“That’s why any European mission only makes sense if it keeps that distance to the very robust US action.”

He warned the British Government wants to “go the American way, which is full of dangers,” adding the more military present in the Persian Gulf, the greater the risk of errors being made.

iran uk military power

Iran news: Tehran and London’s military power compared (Image: EXPRESS)

Mr Schmid said: “A shot can then trigger a big conflict. And then you are at the side of the US in a war against Iran, and nobody wants that.”

Rolf Mützenich, acting parliamentary leader of the SPD, told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung involving the US in any military mission could create an “enormous escalation risk”.

He warned: “After the takeover by Boris Johnson, it remains to be seen whether the announced initiatives by the old Government are still resilient.

“Britain is now returning to a robust American-flagged military mission.”

 

Iran to reduce nuclear deal commitments more unless Europe protects it 

July 31, 2019

Source: Iran to reduce nuclear deal commitments more unless Europe protects it – Breaking News – Jerusalem Post

“Under current circumstances and if no action is taken (by the Europeans) we will take the next step (in cutting commitments),” Zarif said.

BY REUTERS
 JULY 31, 2019 12:10Zarif: Iran to reduce nuclear deal commitments unless Europe protects it

DUBAI – Iran is set to further cut its commitments to its international nuclear deal unless its European partners move to protect it from U.S. sanctions by ensuring it can sell oil and receive income, its foreign minister told state television on Wednesday.

“Under current circumstances and if no action is taken (by the Europeans) we will take the next step (in cutting commitments),” Mohammad Javad Zarif said, adding that its European partners should guarantee Iran could sell its oil and collect the revenue.Iran has said it will reduce its commitment to the nuclear accord in stages and may even withdrew from the pact unless the Europeans find ways to shield its economy from the U.S. sanctions.

On Sunday, Iran admitted that it has enriched 24 tons of uranium since signing the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, Radio Farda reported.

Tehran claimed that it had limited its stock of enriched uranium to 300 kg. as required by the JCPOA.

The statement was made during a Sunday session of the “independent conservative” faction of the Iranian parliament discussing the latest developments concerning the nuclear deal. The faction is made up of close allies of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, did not explained exactly what he meant by his statement or what happened to the 24 tons of enriched uranium.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in mid-July that the five remaining parties to the deal do not see Iran’s breaches as significant non-compliance, and have not indicated any intent to trigger the accord’s dispute mechanism.

Salehi also said on Sunday that progress was being made on the reconstruction project of the Arak heavy water reactor, according to Fars.

“The joint committee for the reconstruction of the Arak reactor, including China and Britain, is doing well… We are satisfied with the progress of the plan,” he said, adding that “the plan has now been accelerated after a few months of hiatus.”

Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

 

Iranians killed in Israel’s first attack in Iraq named, buried with military honors – DEBKAfile

July 31, 2019

Source: Iranians killed in Israel’s first attack in Iraq named, buried with military honors – DEBKAfile

Tehran on Wednesday, July 31, for the first time began naming Iranians killed in what were called “Israeli and United States attacks” in Iraq.

The Iranians have never before identified the men killed in Israeli strikes – either in Syria or Iraq. Neither have they directly tied those attacks to the United States.

One Iranian notice lists Abu Alfazi Sarabian, “a senior commander of the Al Qods Brigades of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps,” as having lost his life on July 19 in the Israeli attack on the pro-Iranian 52ndBrigade of the Hashd Shaabi Iraqi militia at a Badr Brigades base, near the town of Amerli in the province of Salahudin northwest of Baghdad.

According to Western intelligence sources, the base was struck by three Israel Harop explosive drones, ferried by Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter bombers through Jordan’s air space up to the Iraqi town of Ar-Rutbah. From there, the drones were launched against their target.

Iraqi sources report that the Iranian officer Sarabian died in an explosion in an area used to store solid fuel for missiles, without explaining what a senior Iranian officer was doing there, or which missiles required solid fuel. DEBKAfile’s military sources interpret the Iraqi disclosure as tantamount to corroboration of the function of the Badr Brigades base as hosting IRGC Iranian ballistic missiles which are powered by solid fuel.

All the Iranian victims of the Israeli attack were described as being granted full honors at military ceremonies in Tehran, before being flown for burial directly to their home towns. Abu Alfazi Sarabian’s remains were carried to Kermanshah.

 

US to extend Iran nuclear sanctions waivers – report

July 31, 2019

Source: US to extend Iran nuclear sanctions waivers – report | The Times of Israel

Washington Post quotes official saying Trump administration remains committed to eventually ending waivers allowing work on Iranian civil nuclear program

An view of the heavy-water production plant in the central Iranian town of Arak, August 26, 2006. (AP/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

An view of the heavy-water production plant in the central Iranian town of Arak, August 26, 2006. (AP/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

The Trump administration will reportedly announce the renewal of sanctions waivers this week allowing foreign firms to work on Iran’s civil nuclear program.

According to a Washington Post report Tuesday, US President Donald Trump backed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recommendation at a White House meeting last week to extend the waivers despite objections from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Under the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia, China and several European nations help to maintain several Iranian nuclear sites and are engaged in converting equipment there for exclusively civilian use.

Among the facilities to be included in the waiver extensions are the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Fordo enrichment facility and the Arak nuclear complex.

In this photo from July 24, 2019, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walks away from the microphones after speaking to members of the media at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Citing six administration officials, the Post said Mnuchin argued the US would have to sanction the firms involved in those projects if the waivers are not renewed by the August 1 deadline and asked for more time to study the potential impact of such sanctions.

A senior administration official quoted by the paper said that despite the extensions, the goal is to end the waivers.

“These waivers can be revoked at any time, as developments with Iran warrant. But because of the Treasury Department’s legitimate concerns, we’ve decided to extend them for now,” the official said.

Trump withdrew last year from the deal that Iran signed with the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China in 2015. The agreement lifted punishing economic sanctions in exchange for limits on the Iranian nuclear program. Critics in the United States believed it didn’t do enough to thwart Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons and enabled Iran to rebuild its economy and continue funding militants throughout the Middle East.

Trump, who called it “the worst deal in history,” began reinstating sanctions, which have hobbled an already weak Iranian economy.

Iran responded by blowing through limits on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles and announcing plans to enrich uranium beyond levels permitted under the deal. Iran has taken increasingly provocative actions against ships in the Gulf, including the seizure of a British vessel, and the downing of a US drone.

Deal critics, including Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, say the waivers should be revoked because they give Iran access to technology that could be used for weapons. In particular, they have targeted a waiver that allows conversion work at the once-secret Fordo site.

Deal supporters say the waivers give international experts a valuable window into Iran’s atomic program that might otherwise not exist. They also say some of the work, particularly on nuclear isotopes that can be used in medicine at the Tehran reactor, is humanitarian in nature.

A satellite image from September 15, 2017, of the Fordo nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)

Trump has been publicly coy about his plans. He said this past week that “it could go either way very easily. Very easily. And I’m OK either way it goes.

US officials denied the expected extension of the waivers marked an easing of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.

“We are permitting restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to continue while we cripple Iran’s economy,” an official told the Post.

Another official pushed back against any perception that extending the waivers was an implicit approval of an Iranian right to enrich uranium.

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 30, 2019. (Alastair Pike/AFP)

“That’s not the policy,” the official said.

The August 1 deadline comes as Iran pressures the European parties to the deal to offset the sanctions Trump reinstated after pulling out.

Iran’s recent moves — which it defends as permissible after the US withdrawal — are seen as a way to force the others to openly confront the sanctions.

Experts warn that a higher enrichment level and a growing uranium stockpile narrow the one-year window that Iran would need to have enough material to make an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but that the deal prevented.

So far, Iran’s exceeding of the agreement’s stockpile and uranium enrichment ceilings have been seen as violations likely to prompt the European signatories to invoke a dispute resolution mechanism. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched at a level of 90%.

Both of Iran’s actions were verified by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 

US to extend Iran nuclear sanctions waivers – report

July 31, 2019

Source: US to extend Iran nuclear sanctions waivers – report | The Times of Israel

Washington Post quotes official saying Trump administration remains committed to eventually ending waivers allowing work on Iranian civil nuclear program

An view of the heavy-water production plant in the central Iranian town of Arak, August 26, 2006. (AP/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

An view of the heavy-water production plant in the central Iranian town of Arak, August 26, 2006. (AP/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

The Trump administration will reportedly announce the renewal of sanctions waivers this week allowing foreign firms to work on Iran’s civil nuclear program.

According to a Washington Post report Tuesday, US President Donald Trump backed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recommendation at a White House meeting last week to extend the waivers despite objections from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Under the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia, China and several European nations help to maintain several Iranian nuclear sites and are engaged in converting equipment there for exclusively civilian use.

Among the facilities to be included in the waiver extensions are the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Fordo enrichment facility and the Arak nuclear complex.

In this photo from July 24, 2019, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walks away from the microphones after speaking to members of the media at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Citing six administration officials, the Post said Mnuchin argued the US would have to sanction the firms involved in those projects if the waivers are not renewed by the August 1 deadline and asked for more time to study the potential impact of such sanctions.

A senior administration official quoted by the paper said that despite the extensions, the goal is to end the waivers.

“These waivers can be revoked at any time, as developments with Iran warrant. But because of the Treasury Department’s legitimate concerns, we’ve decided to extend them for now,” the official said.

Trump withdrew last year from the deal that Iran signed with the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China in 2015. The agreement lifted punishing economic sanctions in exchange for limits on the Iranian nuclear program. Critics in the United States believed it didn’t do enough to thwart Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons and enabled Iran to rebuild its economy and continue funding militants throughout the Middle East.

Trump, who called it “the worst deal in history,” began reinstating sanctions, which have hobbled an already weak Iranian economy.

Iran responded by blowing through limits on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles and announcing plans to enrich uranium beyond levels permitted under the deal. Iran has taken increasingly provocative actions against ships in the Gulf, including the seizure of a British vessel, and the downing of a US drone.

Deal critics, including Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, say the waivers should be revoked because they give Iran access to technology that could be used for weapons. In particular, they have targeted a waiver that allows conversion work at the once-secret Fordo site.

Deal supporters say the waivers give international experts a valuable window into Iran’s atomic program that might otherwise not exist. They also say some of the work, particularly on nuclear isotopes that can be used in medicine at the Tehran reactor, is humanitarian in nature.

A satellite image from September 15, 2017, of the Fordo nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)

Trump has been publicly coy about his plans. He said this past week that “it could go either way very easily. Very easily. And I’m OK either way it goes.

US officials denied the expected extension of the waivers marked an easing of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.

“We are permitting restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to continue while we cripple Iran’s economy,” an official told the Post.

Another official pushed back against any perception that extending the waivers was an implicit approval of an Iranian right to enrich uranium.

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 30, 2019. (Alastair Pike/AFP)

“That’s not the policy,” the official said.

The August 1 deadline comes as Iran pressures the European parties to the deal to offset the sanctions Trump reinstated after pulling out.

Iran’s recent moves — which it defends as permissible after the US withdrawal — are seen as a way to force the others to openly confront the sanctions.

Experts warn that a higher enrichment level and a growing uranium stockpile narrow the one-year window that Iran would need to have enough material to make an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but that the deal prevented.

So far, Iran’s exceeding of the agreement’s stockpile and uranium enrichment ceilings have been seen as violations likely to prompt the European signatories to invoke a dispute resolution mechanism. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched at a level of 90%.

Both of Iran’s actions were verified by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.