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Report: Iran Illicitly Financing War in Yemen Using German Companies

July 30, 2018

by TheTower.org Staff | 07.30.18 1:33 pm

Source Link:
Report: Iran Illicitly Financing War in Yemen Using German Companies

{Germany’s dealings with Iran is having a direct impact on stability in the Middle East. – LS}

The Islamic Republic of Iran is using German companies to disguise their illicit support for Shiite militia forces in the fight against the internationally recognized government of Yemen, Benjamin Weinthal reported in The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

Based on interviews with U.S. Treasury Department officials, Time Magazine revealed last week that, “The IRGC had then printed counterfeit Yemeni banknotes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars and used the bogus rials to fund its proxy war against the beleaguered pro-US government in the capital of Sanaa. German companies were being used as a cover by the Iranians to finance the world’s worst humanitarian conflict.”

Time added: “For several years, Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been using German front companies to buy advanced printing machinery, watermarked paper and specialty inks in violation of European export controls.”

The Jerusalem Post previously reported on German intelligence reports, which revealed extensive links between the Islamic Republic and German-based companies, including using front companies to engage in illicit procurement of nuclear and missile technology in Germany during 2017. A German intelligence report from the city-state of Hamburg charged in July that Iran’s regime is continuing to seek weapons of mass destruction.

According to Time: “The evidence, uncovered by U.S. illicit-finance investigators, was meant to sway the Germans, but not just in hopes of countering Iran’s moves on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula” but also “to convince Berlin that Tehran cannot be trusted and that the Germans should join the Trump Administration in imposing economy-crippling sanctions on Iran.”

Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported on Monday that Germany’s Ambassador to Iran Michael Klor-Berchtold told an Iranian official that Germany opposes the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

The report charged that U.S. officials involved in the operation met with their German counterparts at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Berlin last April. Weeks after the meeting took place, “American officials presented their hosts with one last set of documents: detailed blueprints on how the Trump Administration was preparing to unleash financial warfare on the Iranian economy.”

The Trump administration designated the IRGC a terrorist organization in October. A U.S. State Department spokesman said in March that the U.S. expects the Europeans to “cut off funding to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], its militant proxies, and anyone else who contributes to Iran’s support for terrorism.”

[Photo: John Smytsky / YouTube ]

Iran currency extends record fall as U.S. sanctions loom

July 30, 2018

Reuters Staff Jul 29, 2018

Source Link:
Iran currency extends record fall as U.S. sanctions loom

{It might help if they removed the Ayatollah’s picture from the note. – LS}

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s currency hit a new record low on Sunday, dropping past 100,000 rials to the U.S. dollar as Iranians brace for Aug. 7 when Washington is due to reimpose a first lot of economic sanctions.

In May, the United States pulled out of a 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which international sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Washington decided to reimpose sanctions upon its withdrawal, accusing it of posing a security threat. It has told countries they must halt imports of Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face U.S. financial measures.

On Sunday, the rial plunged to 112,000 on the unofficial market, down from about 97,500 rials on Saturday, according to foreign exchange website Bonbast.com. Other websites said the dollar was exchanged between 108,500 and 116,000 rials.

The rial has lost about half of its value since April because of a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who fear the effects of sanctions.

The central bank blamed “enemies” for the fall of the currency and a rapid rise in the prices of gold coins and the judiciary said 29 people had been arrested on charges that carry the death penalty.

“The recent developments in the foreign exchange and gold markets are largely due to a conspiracy by enemies with the aim of exacerbating economic problems and causing public anxiety,” the central bank said in a statement read on state television.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told state television: “29 people have been arrested for economic disruption and will be soon put on trial … More may be arrested tonight and tomorrow.”

“Many of them face the charge of ‘spreading corruption on earth’,” Ejei said, referring to a capital offence under Iran’s Islamic laws.

Besides the currency fall, the expected return of sanctions has triggered street protests including by bazaar traders usually loyal to the Islamist rulers, and a public outcry over alleged profiteering and corruption.

On Saturday, Ejei said 18 people had been arrested over alleged profiteering from foreign exchange dealings and the illegal importing of luxury cars.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called the agreement one of the worst deals ever negotiated but in a bid to salvage the accord, Iran’s European partners in the deal are preparing a package of economic measures.

But France said this month it was unlikely European powers could put the package together before November.

On Aug. 7, Washington will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s purchase of U.S. dollars, its trade in gold and precious metals and its dealings with metals, coal and industrial-related software.

Sanctions also will be reapplied to U.S. imports of Iranian carpets and foodstuffs and on certain related financial transactions.

Iran’s oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by this year due to sanctions, straining oil markets amid supply outages elsewhere.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Exclusive: India’s HPCL cancels Iran oil shipment after insurer excludes coverage: sources

July 27, 2018

By Nidhi Verma Jul 26, 2018 Reuters

Source Link:
Exclusive: India’s HPCL cancels Iran oil shipment after insurer excludes coverage: sources

{Creating instability has its price. Too much risk and the insurance companies back out. Combine this with sanctions and you effectively have an oil blockade imposed on Iran. – LS}

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL) canceled the purchase of an Iranian oil cargo earlier this month after its insurance company refused to provide coverage for the crude because of U.S. sanctions, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

HPCL, India’s third-biggest state-owned refiner, renewed its installation insurance, which protects against any accidents at its refinery or storage sites, in early July. However, the new policy would not protect against any incidents involving Iranian oil processed or stored at its refineries, the sources said.

The refiner had planned to load 1 million barrels of Iranian crude onto the Suezmax tanker Ankaleshwar in early July but canceled the purchase after it was unable to sell it on to another buyer, said the sources who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

India is the second-biggest buyer of Iranian crude after China and without insurance coverage to protect their plants, the country’s refineries may have to cut off their imports earlier than anticipated.

The United States said in May it plans to re-impose some sanctions against Iran starting in August, with full sanctions in place by November, after withdrawing from a 2015 accord with Iran limiting its nuclear program.

“HPCL faced problems in lifting cargo from Iran because its annual insurance policy was renewed in July after the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal in May,” said one of the sources, adding the company will not be able to lift any Iranian oil.

HPCL’s Iranian imports account for only 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of its full demand of 316,000 bpd but other Indian refiners that take larger volumes are likely to face the same problem if their annual policy is up for renewal before November.

HPCL did not respond to requests from Reuters for a comment.

Companies have until Nov. 4 to fully wind down activities with Iran or risk exclusion from the U.S. financial system. However, banks, shipping firms and insurance companies are already cutting ties with Iran and without financing or insurance coverage refiners will have to halt their purchases.

Iran had hoped to sell more than 500,000 bpd of oil to India during the current fiscal year that started in April, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in February.

However, the insurance issues may mean a reduction in imports even as India is intent on continuing dealings with Iran.

HPCL did not respond to requests from Reuters for a comment.

Companies have until Nov. 4 to fully wind down activities with Iran or risk exclusion from the U.S. financial system. However, banks, shipping firms and insurance companies are already cutting ties with Iran and without financing or insurance coverage refiners will have to halt their purchases.

Iran had hoped to sell more than 500,000 bpd of oil to India during the current fiscal year that started in April, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in February.

However, the insurance issues may mean a reduction in imports even as India is intent on continuing dealings with Iran.

“The problem in procuring Iranian barrels appears to be happening much before the Nov. 4 deadline,” said Senthil Kumaran, a senior analyst at consultants FGE. “Most of the reinsurance market is based in the U.S. so without the blessing of the U.S., Iranian oil buyers will find it almost impossible to take and process Iranian cargoes.”

{This bears repeating….“Most of the reinsurance market is based in the U.S. so without the blessing of the U.S., Iranian oil buyers will find it almost impossible to take and process Iranian cargoes.”…and that, my friends, is why Iran is so damned pissed. Enjoy. – LS}

Indian insurers rely on state-run General Insurance Corp for reinsurance, which depends on western re-insurers to hedge its risk. General Insurance did not reply to a request for comment.

World War 3: Iran threatens to send TERRORISTS to USA as it warns ALL OUT WAR is imminent

July 26, 2018

A SENIOR Iranian military commander has warned Iran is prepared launch a war and wage a campaign of terror against the United States as he hit back after incendiary tweets posted by US President Donald Trump earlier in the week.


Major-General Qassem Soleimani has said Iran was a (Image: GETTY)

By Ciaran McGrath via Express
PUBLISHED: 10:38, Thu, Jul 26, 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19, Thu, Jul 26, 2018

Source Link:
World War 3: Iran threatens to send TERRORISTS to USA as it warns ALL OUT WAR is imminent

{If war breaks out, defeat is not an option for the USA. If Iran screws with the flow of oil, you can bet they will get their mother of all wars. – LS}

And Major-General Qassem Soleimani has claimed that if the US starts a war, “Iran will finish it”.

Mr Soleimani, who heads up the Quds Force of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, was reported by various Iranian news agencies as having made his comments during a speech in the city of Hamedan.

He said: “As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to Trump’s threats. If he wants to use the language of threat, he should talk to me, not to president Hassan Rouhani.

“What could you have done against Iran in the past 20 years that you haven’t done already? At the end, the victory belonged to the Iranian nation.

“You know that this war will destroy all that you possess. You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic.”

And in an apparent reference to acts of terror, he added: “You know our power in the region and our capabilities in asymmetric war. We will act and we will work.”

“You know that this war will destroy all that you possess. You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end.

“Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iran people and the president of our Republic.

“Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him.”

He also said that the Red Sea was not secure while US troops were deployed in the area.

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb after an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Yemen, where a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for three years, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.

The state-run Mehr News Agency also quoted him as saying: “Ask your then commander about whom he sent to me to beg for coverage for the American troops against the attacks of Iraq’s Mujahideen Army until they could leave the country.

“On what background are you exactly basing your threats?”

“There is no need for Iran’s Armed Forces to get involved. I myself and the IRGC’s Quds Force are enough to face you as an adversary.”

And in a further cryptic threat, he added: “Mr Gambler Trump! I’m telling you that we are close to you exactly where you wouldn’t think that we are.”

Mr Trump’s fiery tweet was prompted by a speech delivered by Mr Rouhani at the weekend, during which he warned the US “not the pull the tiger’s tail” and said a confict between the two nations would be “the mother of all wars”.

In turn, Mr Rouhani may have been irked by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s characterisation of his regime as a “mafia” state, as well as the US’s withdrawal from the JPCA nuclear agreement and reimposition of sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Mr Pompeo has also encouraged dissenters within Iran, possibly in the hope of encouraging further demonstrations – SOAS professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam yesterday told Express.co.uk this would backfire by encouraging Iranians to get behind their leadership.

In a statement read in English after a cabinet meeting yesterday, Mr Rouhani said it was not worth responding directly to Mr Trump’s comments.

He added: “The Iranian nation’s steadfastness, unity, integrity and disregarding of their threats and plots and choosing the path of resisting and attempting to foil the enemies’ plots are the most powerful response to the cheap remarks of US rulers.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Mr Trump’s opening tweet of the day did not address the situation, but rather levelled criticism at Twitter for something completely unrelated.

He posted: “Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.”

Saudi Arabia WAR THREAT: Oil tankers BOMBED – Saudis BAN exports through Red Sea straits

July 26, 2018

IRAN-BACKED Yemeni rebels aligned have launched an attack on two oil tankers passing through the strategically important Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb – prompting Saudi Arabia to announce that was “temporarily halting” all oil shipments along the route.


Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih (Image: GETTY)

By Ciaran McGrath via Express
PUBLISHED: 07:27, Thu, Jul 26, 2018 | UPDATED: 09:36, Thu, Jul 26, 2018

Source Link:
Saudi Arabia WAR THREAT: Oil tankers BOMBED – Saudis BAN exports through Red Sea straits

{The oil blockade begins. Note that Iran is using a proxy. Now we know why Yemen was so important to the Mullahs. Look for US Navy intervention soon. – LS}

In a move which is sure to inflame tensions still further in the region after the recent war of words between US President Donald Trump and Iranian opposite number Hassan Rouhani, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the Houthi movement had attacked two Saudi Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) in the Red Sea on Wednesday morning, one of which sustained minimal damage.

A statement issued by Mr al-Falih’s ministry said: ”Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb Strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe.”

Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis in a three-year war, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers. The tankers pass near Yemen’s shores while heading from the Middle East through the Suez Canal to Europe.

The Saudi coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government of exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Had. Saudi Arabia accuses regional arch-foe Iran of supplying missiles to the Houthis, which both Tehran and the Houthis deny.

The Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states which Saudi Arabia leads launched an offensive in June to wrest Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah from the Houthis in a bid to cut off the primary supply line of the movement, which holds the most populated areas of Yemen including the capital Sanaa.

Earlier this month, the alliance called a halt to the offensive to give UN efforts a chance to reach a political solution that would avert an assault on the port, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis. The United Nations fears an all-out assault on the port risks triggering a famine in the impoverished country.

Most exports from the Gulf that transit the Suez Canal and the SUMED Pipeline also pass through Bab al-Mandeb strait. An estimated 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2016 towards Europe, the United States and Asia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Bab al-Mandeb strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, is only 20 km (12 miles) wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.

The ministry statement said both tankers that were attacked were operated by Saudi shipping company Bahri, which had earlier said that one of its VLCCs had suffered minor damage in an incident in the Red Sea, without elaborating.

Mr al-Falih said: “The two million barrels capacity for each tanker were full of crude oil cargo at the time and were headed for export. One of the VLCCs sustained minimal damage.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries or oil spill that would have resulted in catastrophic environmental damage. Efforts are currently underway to move the damaged ship to the nearest Saudi port.”

One of the coalition’s main justifications for intervening in Yemen’s war in 2015 was to protect shipping routes such as the Red Sea. It has said it foiled previous attacks there in April and May.


The tankers were attacked in Bab al-Mandeb strait of the Red Sea (Image: GETTY)

The coalition said in a statement carried by Saudi state media on Wednesday that the Houthi movement had attacked one oil tanker west of Yemen’s Hodeidah port, but did not name the vessel or describe how it was attacked.

It said: “Thankfully the attack failed due to immediate intervention of the Coalition’s fleet.”

No details of what this intervention entailed were provided.

The Houthis’ Al Masirah TV had said on Twitter that they had targeted a warship named the Dammam off the western coast of Yemen in what the group later said was a missile attack.

Oil barrels
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters

In a separate statement carried on the Houthi-run SABA news agency, the group said it had also targeted a coalition frigate off the coast of al-Durayhmi in southern Hodeidah.

The Houthis, who have also launched missile attacks on Saudi cities, including the capital Riyadh, have threatened to block the strait of Bab al-Mandeb several times to force the coalition to stop its air strikes.

On Thursday, Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said the group’s navy had the capacity to reach the high seas and Saudi ports.

He tweeted: ”We were taking into consideration to keep the navigation through Bab al-Mandeb safe, and to not provide the aggression forces an excuse that the waterway is under threat.”

The coalition has carried out a campaign of thousands of air strikes and restricted imports into Yemen, worsening what the United Nations says is potentially the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

U.S. Pastor Moved to House Arrest in Turkey. Pompeo Says It’s ‘Not Enough.’

July 25, 2018

By The New York Times July 25, 2018

Source Link:
U.S. Pastor Moved to House Arrest in Turkey. Pompeo Says It’s ‘Not Enough.’

{I’m reminded of ‘Daniel in the Den of Lions.’ – LS}

An American pastor held on espionage charges in Turkey, the focus of an intensive campaign by top United States officials seeking his freedom, was moved from jail to house arrest on Wednesday because of health concerns.

Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from North Carolina, has been held for more than a year and a half in a case that has aggravated already tense relations between Turkey and the United States, longtime allies. He is one of 20 Americans who were charged after a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

President Trump spoke to Mr. Erdogan by phone about the case, and posted a message on Twitter last week urging the Turkish leader to “do something” to free the pastor.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also took to Twitter to say that while the United States welcomed the “long overdue news that Pastor Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest,” the measure was “not enough.”

“We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner,” Mr. Pompeo wrote.

Just last week, a court in Turkey’s western Izmir Province upheld an earlier decision to place Mr. Brunson in jail while he awaited the continuation of a trial on charges of terrorism and espionage. His lawyer appealed the decision, citing unspecified concerns over Mr. Brunson’s health, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.

On Wednesday, the same court ordered Mr. Brunson released into house arrest until his trial resumes in October. The court ordered him to wear an electronic bracelet at all times and barred him from traveling outside the country.

Footage of a car carrying Mr. Brunson, accompanied by a police escort, was shown live on television as the pastor was moved from a prison in Izmir to his home. He was later seen entering his home.

Mr. Brunson could face 35 years in prison if found guilty of having links to two groups Turkey considers terrorist organizations: a movement led by the American-based cleric Fethullah Gulen — whom Turkey accuses of initiating the 2016 coup attempt — and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Mr. Brunson, who has done missionary work in Turkey for 23 years, worked with his wife at a small Protestant church in the city of Izmir, on the country’s Aegean coast. He has denied any links to terrorist organizations, and says he eschews politics in his work.

The American Center for Law and Justice, an organization representing Mr. Brunson’s family, said in a statement on Wednesday that it looked forward to his ultimate return to the United States. It applauded Mr. Trump for pursuing his release.

“This is a critical first step that we believe will result in the freedom of Pastor Brunson so he can return to the United States and be reunited with his family,” Jay Sekulow, the group’s chief counsel, said in a statement.

Officials advocating for Mr. Brunson’s release believe that resolving his case could signal an improvement in relations between the countries. The Turkish authorities have suggested handing Mr. Brunson over to the United States in exchange for Mr. Gulen’s extradition to Turkey to face charges in the coup attempt. The Americans have rejected requests to extradite Mr. Gulen.

The United States Senate last month temporarily blocked the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey because of Mr. Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air defense system.

A pro-government columnist, Abdulkadir Selvi, said in a televised comment that the dispute over Mr. Brunson had “reached a point that it was poisoning the relationship between the United States and Turkey.” Of the pastor’s move to house arrest, he said, “This is a step.”

Mr. Selvi said that now it was the United States’ turn to take “a step” to improve the relationship, alluding to Mr. Gulen.

Congress blocks F-35s to Turkey, as Ankara turns toward tyranny

July 25, 2018


Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto | Getty Images

by Jordan Schachtel · July 25, 2018 Conservative Review

Source Link:
Congress blocks F-35s to Turkey, as Ankara turns toward tyranny

{The payback is starting and it’s going to be a bitch. – LS}

A bipartisan measure in Congress has succeeded in temporarily blocking the latest generation of U.S. fighter jets from getting into the hands of the Erdogan regime in Turkey.

On Tuesday, the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) delayed the delivery of the F-35 joint strike fighter to Turkey. The amendment requires that the Pentagon reassess Turkey’s efforts to purchase an advanced S-400 missile system from Russia.

Legislators also felt that Turkey should not receive the F-35s given the ongoing detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson and other unnamed Americans. Turkey is believed to be holding the pastor as a bargaining chip in hopes of securing the extradition of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara does not appear to be concerned about the transfer of the F-35s. In comments to Turkey’s state-run media, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained confident that the F-35s would be delivered on schedule.

Turkey continues to be a thorn in the side of the NATO alliance. The regime in Ankara has repeatedly cozied up to American adversaries in Russia and Iran. Inside Turkey, human rights travesties unfold on a daily basis. An April 2017 referendum gave Erdogan amazing powers, stripping away much of Turkey’s secular, constitutional system of checks and balances.  Erdogan has leveraged an alleged coup against his government to garner even more power. He has ordered the indefinite imprisonment of tens of thousands of academics, religious minorities, activists, journalists, students, and anyone else whom he perceives as a challenge to his rule.

Moreover, some of the regime’s highest-ranking officials have been accused of supporting jihadi terrorist groups in the Middle East. Recently, Erdogan’s son-in-law (who is now Turkey’s finance minister) was connected to energy deals with the Islamic State terrorist organization. Turkey openly supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist affiliate Hamas.

Erdogan is also stirring up trouble with close American allies. This week, he claimed that Israel was the “most fascist, racist state” in the world, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of following in the footsteps of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Despite all of these concerns, Defense Secretary James Mattis has insisted that Turkey should still receive the Lockheed Martin F-35s. He has warned that blocking the sale could trigger a “supply chain disruption.” Turkey aspires to have a fleet of about 100 F-35s.

Turkey vows to keep buying Iranian oil: ‘We will not obey’

July 25, 2018

by Joel Gehrke | July 24, 2018 Washington Examiner

Source Link: Turkey vows to keep buying Iranian oil: ‘We will not obey’

{One day, Turkey will need a favor from DJT. Let’s see how that works out. – LS}

Turkey plans to keep purchasing Iranian oil in defiance of American sanctions on the rogue regime, according to the NATO ally’s top diplomat.

“We buy oil from Iran and we purchase it in proper conditions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday. “What is the other option?”

Cavusoglu’s comments raise the specter of yet another clash between the U.S. and Turkey, which is also in the final stages of an arms deal with Russia that could trigger American sanctions. Turkish officials, in both cases, have dismissed the U.S.’ threat of sanctions to constrain the choices of other countries.

“While we are explaining why we will not obey these sanctions, we have also expressed that we do not find these U.S. sanctions appropriate,” Cavusoglu said Tuesday.

The Trump administration hopes to isolate Iran and deprive the regime of access to international sources of revenue that might be used to finance a nuclear weapons program or regional aggression by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the regime’s terrorist proxies.

“Any time sanctions are put in place, countries have to give up economic activity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May. “So the Americans have given up economic activity now for an awfully long time, and I’ll concede there are American companies who would love to do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran … But everyone is going to have to participate in this. Every country is going to have to understand that we cannot continue to create wealth for Qasem Soleimani.”

Turkey has pledged to consummate an agreement to purchase Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defenses, despite strong pushback from NATO allies and U.S. sanctions on the Russian defense industry.

But as Cavosoglu takes a hard line on the oil sanctions, Tupras, Turkey’s biggest oil importer, is cutting back on deals with Iran without eliminating the sales entirely.

“During the sanctions scheme of 2011 by the U.S., Tupras was able to purchase three to four cargoes of Iranian crude a month,” a source told Hurriyet Daily News. “I believe they would want to be able to stick to that this time as well instead of completely stopping. This crude needs to be bought by someone as otherwise it will send the price shooting up, which nobody wants.”

That reduction might render Turkey eligible for a rare waiver from the sanctions. “We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,” Brian Hook, the State Department director of policy planning, told reporters in early July. “But as with our other sanctions, we are not looking to grant waivers or licenses.”

Still, Cavusoglu’s rhetoric is emblematic of the disagreements that have hampered U.S.-Turkey cooperation in the region of late.

“We need [Turkey’s] behavior to reflect the objectives of NATO, and that’s what we’re diligently working to do: to get them to rejoin NATO, in a way, with their actions, consistent with what we’re trying to achieve in NATO,” Pompeo said during a May congressional hearing. “And not take actions that undermine its efforts.”

Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

July 24, 2018

by Reuters Tuesday Jul 24, 2018 The Foreign Desk

Source Link: Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

{Who you are has a lot to do with who you hang out with. – LS}

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey has told American officials it opposes U.S. sanctions on Iran and is not obliged to implement them, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and ordered U.S. sanctions on Tehran, while a senior State Department official said Washington has told allies to cut imports of Iranian oil by November

Turkey has criticized Trump’s move to withdraw from the nuclear pact and has publicly resisted the U.S. call to cut oil imports from Iran.

“We do not have to adhere to the sanctions imposed on a country by another country. We don’t find the sanctions right either,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Azerbaijan.

“We held meetings with the United States in Ankara and told them openly: Turkey gets oil and gas from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Iraq. If I don’t buy from Iran now, where am I supposed to meet that need from?” Cavusoglu said.

Last week U.S. Treasury and State Department officials met Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss sanctions on Iran. Ankara said authorities were working to prevent Turkey being hurt by the measures.

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its energy needs. In the first four months of this year, Turkey bought more than 3 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran, almost 55 percent of its total crude supplies, according to data from the Turkish energy watchdog (EPDK).

Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues including several legal cases.

A Turkish court last week ruled to keep American pastor Andrew Brunson in jail, in a case that has deepened existing rifts and jeopardized the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets by Turkey.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying the jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which are incompatible with NATO systems.

Cavusoglu, however, said there were no issues with the procurement of the jets and the United States could not exclude Turkey from the project.

“The United States needs to understand that it is not possible to get a result from Turkey through sanctions. They will see results if they approach Turkey with dialogue and respect,” he said.

“We will not bow down to such pressures, sanctions or threats. Everyone will get used to the new Turkey.”

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Dominic Evans)

 

North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station

July 24, 2018

BY: 38 NORTH JULY 23, 2018 SATELLITE IMAGERY, WMD

Source Link: North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station

{Was calling out Kim Jong Un an attempt by DJT to move the topic of the day off Russia? I think not. Watch for similarities with Iran in the near future. Watch for more forceful engagement with Russia as well. – LS}

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

In an important first step towards fulfilling a commitment made by Kim Jong Un at the June 12 Singapore Summit, new commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (North Korea’s main satellite launch facility since 2012) indicates that the North has begun dismantling key facilities. Most notably, these include the rail-mounted processing building—where space launch vehicles are assembled before moving them to the launch pad—and the nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence building measure on the part of North Korea.

Dismantlement at the Launch Pad

Commercial satellite imagery of the launch pad from July 20 shows that the rail-mounted processing/transfer structure has been moved to the middle of the pad, exposing the underground rail transfer point—one of the few times it has been seen in this location. The roof and supporting structure have been partially removed and numerous vehicles are present—including a large construction crane. An image from two days later shows the continued presence of the crane and vehicles. Considerable progress has been made in dismantling the rail-mounted processing/transfer structure. One corner has been completely dismantled and the parts can be seen lying on the ground. In both images the two fuel/oxidizer bunkers, main processing building and gantry tower remain untouched.

Figure 1. By July 20, dismantlement had begun of the rail-mounted transfer structure on the Sohae launch pad.

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Figure 2. Closeup of the partially dismantled structure.

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Figure 3. By July 22, significant progress had been made in dismantling the rail-mounted transfer structure on the Sohae launch pad.

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Figure 4. Closeup of the partially dismantled structure.

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Work at the Vertical Engine Test Stand

Imagery of the vertical engine test stand from July 20 shows the presence of a crane and a number of vehicles. The rail-mounted environmental shelter—which hadn’t been moved since December 2017—has been razed and removed, the older fuel/oxidizer bunkers are in the process of being razed, and portions of the test stand’s upper steel framework have been dismantled and its paneling removed.

Two days later fewer vehicles are present and the test stand superstructure has been completely dismantled, leaving only the base, which is also in the process of being removed. No additional progress is noted on the demolition of the older fuel/oxidizer bunkers. In both images, the two newer fuel/oxidizer bunkers and vehicle garage remain untouched, as does the concrete foundation of the test stand. Given the state of activity, work is likely to have begun sometime within the past two weeks.

Figure 5. Environmental shelter removed and other dismantlement activities underway at the engine test stand by July 20.

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Figure 6. Closeup of the engine test stand activities underway.

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Figure 7. Test stand superstructure completed dismantled by July 22.

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Figure 8. Closeup of the engine test stand activities underway.

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