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U.S. Navy Conducts Military Exercises in Gulf Amid Iran Tension

Bloomberg By Zainab Fattah, September 9, 2018, 

Exercises to ensure free movement in Gulf, Red Sea chokepoints

  • Iran said it’ll halt exports from Hormuz if it’s oil barred

The U.S. Navy is conducting exercises this month to ensure its readiness to guarantee freedom of movement through Persian Gulf and Red Sea waterways amid escalating threats from Iran to disrupt shipping across important choke points.

The exercises, with regional and global allies, are part of the U.S. 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise, Commander Scott A. Stearney told reporters from NAVCENT headquarters in Manama. One exercise is taking place in Djibouti, which sits on one side of the Bab Al Mandab strait, a crucial pinch point for global shipping at the south end of the Red Sea……. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-09/u-s-navy-conducts-military-exercises-in-gulf-amid-iran-tension

 

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September 12, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia -Iran negotiations on building new nuclear power plant

Iran resumes talks with Russia to build new nuclear power plant Reuters Staff (Reuters) 26 Aug 18 – Iran has resumed talks with Russia to build a new nuclear power plant capable of generating up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity, energy minister Reza Ardakanian said Saturday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

The Islamic Republic currently has the capacity to produce 1,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity, Tasnim reported.

Iran already runs one Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr, its first. Russia signed a deal with Iran in 2014 to build up to eight more reactors in the country.

The United States in May pulled out of a deal between Tehran and major powers to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Washington imposed new sanctions on Tehran in August.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva; Editing by Ros Russell

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Britain is now contributing to upgrade of Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor

Middle East Monitor 23rd Aug 2018 , Iran announced on Wednesday that Britain would contribute in upgrading the
Arak nuclear reactor after the United States withdrew from the nuclear
deal. “Experts from Britain will replace their US counterparts during
reactor redesign process,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic
Energy Organization.

Under the nuclear deal, experts from both the United
States and China were redesigning the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce
the amount of plutonium produced by the reactor as a by-product. In the
same vein, Iranian officials said that the choice of Britain as a partner
of China was not their call, according to media reports.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180823-tehran-britain-will-help-upgrade-arak-nuclear-reactor/

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Will Iran go nuclear over reimposed sanctions?

 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Ezra Friedman, August 7, 2018 

Yesterday US President Donald Trump issued an executive order restoring one set of economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama-era nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The sanctions cover Iranian trade in items including metals such as gold and steel, automobiles, and aircraft.

In early November, Trump plans to reintroduce even more crippling sanctions on Iranian oil and banking. Collectively, these sanctions are likely to cause immense damage to the Iranian economy. Even carpets and foodstuffs are being sanctioned by the United States. The European Union and the three European countries that signed the nuclear deal (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) are attempting to assemble an economic package that will save the deal from complete collapse, but so far with little progress and growing frustration on all sides. A joint statement issued yesterday by European foreign ministers says they “deeply regret” the White House decision.

By reimposing sanctions, Trump aims to force the current regime in Iran to negotiate a more comprehensive nuclear deal, or to inflict enough economic pain to change the regime’s behavior—if not the regime itself. Iran now finds itself in the crosshairs of a president who has made it his personal mission to aggressively combat Tehran.

Trump’s strategy might not have the intended effect, but it is likely to cause Iran to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Does that mean Iran will go all Pyongyang and start developing nuclear weapons? Probably not. But unless a new nuclear deal can be made, Iran can be expected to resume its pre-JCPOA program of uranium enrichment, taking the country to the threshold of becoming a nuclear weapons state.

Why Iran will probably leave the JCPOA. When the JCPOA was signed three years ago, its supporters hailed it as a breakthrough against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a chance to welcome Iran back into the fold of nations following a long exile that began in 1979. The nuclear deal’s detractors claimed that the agreement was not broad enough, because it allowed Iran to continue its ballistic missile program unabated and to support its proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen—thereby continuing to push an agenda of regional hegemony.

The May 8 withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA amplified the debate. The United States is pursuing an almost fanatical campaign, lobbying its allies and partners across the globe, and educating them about the latest sanctions package—as well as the penalties for noncompliance. Critics say the sanctions regime will be ineffective because China and other countries will take advantage of the situation. But others, including several major foreign companies, are taking the sanctions seriously, in some cases withdrawing altogether from Iran.

What is clear is that sanctions will make an already difficult domestic economic situation worse in Iran. Iranians are largely young, educated, and tired of the regime’s policies. Many are angry about the billions of dollars spent in support of foreign wars, and protests are escalating. Iran also finds itself overextended regionally with challenges to its grand strategy in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria. While Tehran’s ally Bashar al-Assad will remain in power, Iran will now find itself in competition with Russia for dominance in Syria, both economically and politically, despite the high price Tehran has paid in both men and money to support Assad………..

Why it’s not in Iran’s interest to leave the NPT. Iran has several options once it leaves the JCPOA. Some statements by Iranian leaders suggest that Iran will race to acquire a nuclear device, ramping up its nuclear program so as to achieve this goal as quickly as possible, either overtly or covertly. Iran’s critics point to its past violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the early 2000s, confirmed by an Israeli intelligence operation earlier this year. (Iran has been a party to the treaty since 1970.)

While frightening, this scenario is unlikely, because it would place Iran in the same category as North Korea: a pariah in the eyes of the international community. On a strategic level, Tehran is keenly aware of this possibility and wants to avoid it at all costs. Even if Iran would like to have a militarized nuclear program, the cost would be massive if not unbearable for the regime.

………Rather than withdrawing from the NPT, it is more likely that Iran will return to something akin to a pre-JCPOA scenario, with a nuclear program that is enriching uranium to 20 percent or more without the full oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency—which will almost certainly lose its current ability to access Iran’s known non-military nuclear sites upon Iran’s exit from the JCPOA. In this scenario, Iran will have a short “breakout period”—the time needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build its first nuclear device—estimated at five weeks to a year.It is important to note that there is a strong likelihood that some trading partners considered important to Iran economically—such as China, India, Turkey, and the European Union—will at least partially flout US extraterritorial sanctions. Such a scenario would be the best of both worlds for Tehran, allowing the regime to achieve the prestige and tacit recognition of a nuclear program that is illicit in nature, all the while not being subject to UN Security Council resolutions and maintaining its standing in the international community……….https://thebulletin.org/2018/08/will-iran-go-nuclear-over-reimposed-sanctions/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=August10

August 11, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Donald Trump ready to go to war against Iran?

Don’t Let Trump Go to War With Iran https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/07/dont-let-trump-go-to-war-with-iran/565082/ Fifteen years after the U.S. entered Iraq, the president is inching us closer to another unnecessary fight. 

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Concern that Iran might abandon nuclear deal, – package will not fully compensate for U.S. sanctions

Germany says Iran package will not fully compensate for U.S. sanctions https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-germany/germany-says-iran-package-will-not-fully-compensate-for-us-sanctions-idUSKBN1JW18T, 6 july 18 

VIENNA (Reuters) – Germany’s foreign minister said on Friday world powers would not be able to fully compensate for companies leaving Iran due to new U.S. sanctions, but warned Tehran that abandoning its nuclear deal would cause more harm to its economy.

“We will not be able to compensate for everything that arises from companies pulling out of Iran,” Heiko Maas told reporters before a round of talks among the remaining parties to the deal.

He said he did not think this round of talks would end negatively but it was likely more negotiations would be needed on the issue.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; writing by John Irish; editing by Parisa Hafezi

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran warns that it may reduce co-operation with IAEA if USA increases sanctions

Iran threatens to cut cooperation with nuclear body after Trump move https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-sanctions/iran-threatens-to-cut-cooperation-with-nuclear-body-after-trump-move-idUSKBN1JU1E9?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, -5 July 18 

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, President Hassan Rouhani told the body’s head on Wednesday, after he warned U.S. President Donald Trump of “consequences” of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales.

In May, Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

“Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA,” Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying after meeting IAEA head Yukiya Amano in Vienna.

“The responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation,” he added.

Rouhani said earlier in the day Tehran would stand firm against U.S. threats to cut Iranian oil sales.

“The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero … It shows they have not thought about its consequences,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by IRNA.

On Tuesday, Rouhani hinted at a threat to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries if Washington tries to cut its exports.

He did not elaborate, but an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander explicitly said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile U.S. action.

“If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Ismail Kowsari was quoted as saying by the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website.

Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force, in charge of foreign operations for the Revolutionary Guards, said in a letter published on IRNA: “I kiss your (Rouhani’s) hand for expressing such wise and timely comments, and I am at your service to implement any policy that serves the Islamic Republic.”

Rouhani, in Vienna trying to salvage the nuclear deal, said U.S. sanctions were a “crime and aggression”, and called on European and other governments to stand up to Trump.

“Iran will survive this round of U.S. sanctions as it has survived them before. This U.S. government will not stay in office forever … But history will judge other nations based on what they do today,” he said.

Rouhani told reporters that if the remaining signatories – the Europeans Britain, France and Germany as well as China and Russia – can guarantee Iran’s benefits: “Iran will remain in the nuclear deal without the United States.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

US secretary of state warns Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons, says it would face ‘wrath of the entire world

https://www.firstpost.com/world/us-secretary-of-state-warns-iran-not-to-pursue-nuclear-weapons-says-it-would-face-wrath-of-the-entire-world-4581051.html

Washington: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Saturday warned Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons, saying it would face the “wrath of the entire world” if it did so, but added that he hoped it would never be necessary for the United States to take military action against the country.

In an interview with political columnist Hugh Hewitt conducted on Friday and broadcast the following day on MSNBC, Pompeo said that whatever the fate of the international nuclear deal with Iran, it would not be in Tehran’s interest to seek nuclear arms.

“I hope they understand that if they begin to ramp up their nuclear program, the wrath of the entire world will fall upon them,” he said.

“Wholly separate from if they spin a couple of extra centrifuges, if they began to move to a weapons program, this is something the entire world would find unacceptable and we’d end up down a path that I don’t think is in the best interests of Iran,” Pompeo said

“When I say wrath, don’t confuse that with military action. When I say wrath, I mean the moral opprobrium and economic power that fell upon them. That’s what I’m speaking to. I’m not talking to military action. I truly hope that that’s never the case. It’s not in anyone’s best interests for that.”

Pressed on whether the United States would do whatever it had to do to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Pompeo said: “President Trump has been unambiguous in his statements that say Iran will not be able to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran expects Europe’s package to save nuclear deal by end of June: Araqchi

 Press TV, Jun 23, 2018   A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator says the Islamic Republic expects the European Union to put forward by the end of June its package of proposals to save a multilateral nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries from which the US has withdrawn.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Saturday that the three European signatories of the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the EU had promised to offer a package of practical steps that would fulfill Iran’s demands, including on oil sales, payments for its oil and transportation………

Since the US president pulled Washington out of the historic nuclear deal, European countries have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. The remaining parties have vowed to stay in the accord.http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/06/23/565876/Araqchi-Europe-JCPOA-package

June 25, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Warning on dangerous future for the world, if the Iran nuclear deal collapses

Dreadful’ future awaits world if nuclear deal collapses: Iran’s Salehi,  http://www.presstv.com/DetailFr/2018/06/22/565761/Salehi-Oslo-Forum-JCPOA-US  Iran’s nuclear chief says the Middle East and the entire world will face a “dreadful” future if a 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement Tehran signed with the P5+1 group of countries falls apart.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi made the remarks on Friday in an address to an expert panel held on the sidelines of the Oslo Forum in the presence of Norwegian and Omani foreign ministers.

He said the international community showed a severe reaction to the United States’ “unwise and baseless” decisions, including its move to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“If the European Union and other countries supporting the JCPOA do not demonstrate their practical opposition to the US policies in due time, they will face a dreadful future and unprecedented insecurity in the region and the world because of the JCPOA’s collapse,” AEOI chief said.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the nuclear agreement, which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – plus Germany.

Trump also said he would reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Since the US president pulled Washington out of the historic nuclear deal, European countries have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. The remaining parties have vowed to stay in the accord.

In a phone call with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on June 12, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic will quit the multilateral nuclear agreement if it does not benefit from the deal after the US pullout.

“If Iran cannot enjoy the agreement’s benefits, it will be practically impossible to stay in it,” Rouhani said.

Elsewhere in his address, Salehi stressed the importance of holding dialogue among key regional players and once again reaffirmed the Islamic Republic’s readiness to help solve crises based on diplomatic approaches.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Oslo supports efforts by the European Union to safeguard the Iran nuclear deal, amid the bloc’s promises that it will protect it following the US withdrawal from it.

Oslo backs efforts by the EU to maintain the JCPOA, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said after a meeting between Salehi and the Norwegian foreign minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide, in Oslo.

June 25, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran wants USA to return to the nuclear accord, among other demands to improve relations

Iran lists demands for improving relations with US  https://apnews.com/a8b233a5c521437c81f736bdbe55e04f

21 June 18, TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has announced a list of 15 demands for improving relations with the United States, including a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear accord, in response to a similar list of demands made by Washington last month.

In an article in a state-owned newspaper Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the U.S. to stop providing arms to the “invaders of Yemen,” referring to Saudi Arabia, and to drop its opposition to the nuclear disarmament of Israel.

The article came in response to demands laid out in May by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called for a wholesale change in Iran’s military and regional policies, threatening the “strongest sanctions in history” if it refused. The U.S. withdrew from the landmark nuclear agreement with world powers earlier that month.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Huge USA weapons purchase by Saudi Arabia was on condition that USA would KILL THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT!

US Promised Saudis to ‘Kill Iran Nuclear Deal’ – Analyst Sputnik News, 14 June18    Saudi Arabia made its defense cooperation with the US conditional on Washington exiting the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the founder of the Ibero-Persia consultancy firm has said.

The large-scale US arms supplies to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 made it perfectly clear that the sanctions against Iran were coming back and the nuclear deal was dead,” Sharoj Habibi claimed in an interview with Sputnik Mundo.

According to Habibi, the contract for the delivery  of delivery of $350 billion worth of US-made THAAD air defense missile systems to Riyadh was negotiated, among others, by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“Obviously, if you let your son-in-law clinch such a deal, this big-time operation is bound to offer very lucrative bonuses,” Habibi noted adding that the Trump family could have earned a very comfortable, though undisclosed, commission from the deal.

He alleged that as part of the contract, the US authorities “promised to do everything possible to kill the nuclear agreement with Tehran, which made it possible for Iran to economically outpace Saudi Arabia and develop its gas producing sector. Iranian gas would effectively sideline America’s Middle Eastern ally, Saudi Arabia,” the expert said.

He added that because Riyadh’s ultimate goal is to  ”control everything that is happening in the Middle East,” it needs to bring the US into play.  With Donald Trump’s arrival inat the White House, he continued, the Saudis jumped on the occasion.

“Therefore, instead of calling Trump crazy or dumb, I would say that he is an unscrupulous or ruthless businessman,” Habibi noted.

During his May 2016 official visit to Saudi Arabia, President Trump signed off on a historic arms delivery deal with Riyadh to the tune of up to $350 billion.

Washington sees the agreement as a means of boosting the Gulf kingdom’s defense capabilities and supporting its efforts to counter terrorist groups operating in the region

…….Iran has been in full compliance with the terms of agreement as verified in 11 inspection reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).On June 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States was walking out of the nuclear agreement with Tehran, a decision that has been strongly criticized by other signatories to the deal, including the EU, Russia and China.https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201806141065411103-saudi-us-arms-deal/

 

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | 1 Comment

Iran says it can’t remain in nuclear deal without benefits

  http://www.tampabay.com/iran-says-it-cant-remain-in-nuclear-deal-without-benefits-ap_worldaaf2eef782fd430b91885c83d10754c3

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) 12 June 18 — President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will not be able to remain in the 2015 nuclear accord unless it benefits from the agreement’s provisions.

In a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, Rouhani said the Europeans must find a way to compensate Iran if they want to preserve the landmark agreement, following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal and restore sanctions.

Co-signers France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China want to preserve the accord, which limits Iran’s nuclear activities in return for lifting international sanctions.

Rouhani’s website quoted him as saying: “We must not let this great achievement of diplomacy be destroyed by others’ unilateral actions, which are unfaithful to their promises.”

Other Iranian officials have said nuclear activities could be resumed if the agreement collapses.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Conservative Iranian lawmakers opposes Iran joining Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Parliamentary group opposes Iran joining FATF as fate of nuclear deal is in disarray http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/424284/Parliamentary-group-opposes-Iran-joining-FATF-as-fate-of-nuclear, June 9, 2018 TEHRAN – A number of conservative Iranian lawmakers, who are members of the Velayat (Jurisprudence) faction, issued a statement on Saturday calling on other fellow parliamentarians not to approve the legislation on joining the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as the U.S. pullout from the nuclear agreement has put the fate of the accord in disarray.

The statement said since the U.S. intends to impose “crippling” sanctions on Iran an approval of the FATF will pave the way for the U.S. to get access to all the economic and banking transactions by Iran.

“Now that the future of the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear deal] has become vague after the withdrawal of the U.S. and the order to return the sanctions, it is illogical to join the FATF,” the statement said.

On May 8, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the UN-endorsed nuclear agreement and ordered a return of sanctions on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on May 21 that the U.S. will apply economic and military pressure against Iran and will impose “the strongest sanctions in history” on the Islamic Republic.

The FATF is a set of measures designed to make financial affairs transparent and verifiable.

NA/PA

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

Iran’s Ayatollah orders increase in nuclear enrichment capacity, informs U.N.

Iran informs UN of increase in nuclear enrichment capacity, Iran’s Ayatollah had ordered the increase in capacity in a speech Monday, CBC ,The Associated Press  

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment