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Iran, hit by hardship and coronavirus, gets callous sanctions from Trump administration

 Trump’s callous sanctions risk tipping Iran over the nuclear precipice, Mike Pompeo’s imposition of further sanctions is another disaster for the people of Iran and could cause Tehran to raise the stakes, Guardian,  Simon Tisdall  Sun 22 Mar 2020

Displaying the sort of unthinking bellicosity that has characterised his tenure as US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo chose last week – a time of unprecedented global turmoil – to impose yet more unilateral sanctions on Iran. This was akin to pouring petrol on a burning building, then waiting to see how big an explosion ensues.

The timing of the new measures was doubly inept. Iran’s freeing of thousands of political prisoners last week raised hopes of full pardons for jailed US citizens and the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been temporarily released.

Those hopes have receded now. Meanwhile, Pompeo’s heedless intervention risked fuelling calls inside Iran to

not only the creaking 2015 nuclear deal but also the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – the cornerstone since 1970 of international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

,………. the move could hardly have been more provocative, or more cruel. Iranians have endured many months of intensifying hardship as US sanctions have shrunk the economy, destroyed jobs and depressed living standards. They have been badly hit by the coronavirus, which the health ministry has said is killing one person every 10 minutes.

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Callous US disregard for Iran’s Covid-19 emergency – it is effectively blocking bilateral medical aid and a request for a $5bn loan from the International Monetary Fund – suggests that Washington is not interested in confidence-building measures. “The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” Pompeo snarled.

Iran’s leadership is under pressure from conservative hardliners after the latter’s recent election successes. This latest manifestation of Washington’s unremitting hostility may help push them over the brink. Thanks mainly to Donald Trump and his sidekick, Tehran could soon move a crucial step closer to going nuclear – the very outcome the Americans most fear……. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/21/trump-pompeo-iran-callous-sanctions-nuclear-precipice

Sun 22 Mar 2020 Trump’s callous sanctions risk tipping Iran over the nuclear precipiceSimon Tisdall

isplaying the sort of unthinking bellicosity that has characterised his tenure as US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo chose last week – a time of unprecedented global turmoil – to impose yet more unilateral sanctions on Iran. This was akin to pouring petrol on a burning building, then waiting to see how big an explosion ensues.

The timing of the new measures was doubly inept. Iran’s freeing of thousands of political prisoners last week raised hopes of full pardons for jailed US citizens and the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been temporarily released.

Those hopes have receded now. Meanwhile, Pompeo’s heedless intervention risked fuelling calls inside Iran to

not only the creaking 2015 nuclear deal but also the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – the cornerstone since 1970 of international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

,………. the move could hardly have been more provocative, or more cruel. Iranians have endured many months of intensifying hardship as US sanctions have shrunk the economy, destroyed jobs and depressed living standards. They have been badly hit by the coronavirus, which the health ministry has said is killing one person every 10 minutes.

Callous US disregard for Iran’s Covid-19 emergency – it is effectively blocking bilateral medical aid and a request for a $5bn loan from the International Monetary Fund – suggests that Washington is not interested in confidence-building measures. “The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” Pompeo snarled.

Iran’s leadership is under pressure from conservative hardliners after the latter’s recent election successes. This latest manifestation of Washington’s unremitting hostility may help push them over the brink. Thanks mainly to Donald Trump and his sidekick, Tehran could soon move a crucial step closer to going nuclear – the very outcome the Americans most fear……. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/21/trump-pompeo-iran-callous-sanctions-nuclear-precipice

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

 Iran continues to provide international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities

U.N. atomic watchdog says Iran still providing nuclear access, Japan Times, 9 Mar 20, VIENNA – Iran continues to provide international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities, even after its announcement it was no longer bound by “any restrictions” of the landmark 2015 deal with world powers designed to prevent the country from producing a nuclear weapon, the head of the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency said Monday.Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also told board members in Vienna that since Tehran’s Jan. 5 announcement it appears that Iran hasn’t escalated its violations of the nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“The agency has not observed any changes to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA in connection with this announcement, or in the level of cooperation by Iran in relation to agency verification and monitoring activities under the JCPOA,” Grossi said in prepared remarks……..

The JCPOA promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program, but since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal unilaterally in 2018 and imposed new sanctions, the country’s economy has been struggling.

Its violations of the pact are intended to pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for the American sanctions. So far, attempts by the other members of the JCPOA have fallen short of Iran’s demands.

In a separate report to members last week, the IAEA said it had identified three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers.

The activities at those locations are believed to have dated from the early 2000s, before the nuclear deal, and Iran responded to the report by suggesting that the IAEA had no legal basis to inspect those sites.

In his speech to the board members, Grossi called on “Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the agency.”

“The agency has identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations that have not been declared by Iran,” Grossi said, according to his prepared remarks. “The agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations and has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify the agency’s questions.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/09/world/u-n-atomic-watchdog-says-iran-still-providing-nuclear-access/#.XmbVIagzbIU

March 10, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran Nuclear Accord Parties Meet to Try to Salvage Deal

February 27, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explains Trump’s plan to kill off the Iran nuclear agreement

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Iran would return to 2015 nuclear agreement if Europe would provides “meaningful” economic benefits

February 18, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Top EU diplomat to visit Tehran amid nuclear tensions

February 3, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

U.S. sanctions Iran’s atomic power chief for nuclear violations

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump tweets that US will not lift sanctions to secure nuclear deal with Iran

US will not lift sanctions to secure nuclear deal with Iran , https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-will-not-lift-sanctions-to-secure-nuclear-deal-with-iran 26 Jan 2020, Donald Trump has tweeted that the US will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate a new nuclear deal.

The United States will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate, US President Donald Trump has tweeted, seemingly in response to a Der Spiegel interview with Iran’s foreign minister.

“Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran wants to negotiate with The United States, but wants sanctions removed. @FoxNews @OANN No Thanks!” Trump tweeted in English on Saturday and later in Farsi.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Sunday by tweeting an excerpt from the interview with Der Spiegel published on Friday, where he said Iran is still open to negotiations with America if sanctions are lifted.

“@realdonaldtrump is better advised to base his foreign policy comments & decisions on facts, rather than @FoxNews headlines or his Farsi translators,” Zarif said in the tweet with the interview excerpt.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have reached the highest levels in decades after the US killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, prompting Iran to fire missiles days later at bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed.

Tensions between the two have been increasing steadily since Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have driven down Iran’s oil exports and hammered its economy.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Despite years of negotiations, we came once again to the brink of conflict with Iran.

Reporting on the Iran nuclear deal: ‘nothing happens until everything happens’Our world affairs editor reflects on how, despite years of negotiations, we came once again to the brink of conflict. Guardian, Julian Borger  Sun 26 Jan 2020, Countries tend to go to war when diplomacy fails. But Washington and Tehran are now facing off because it succeeded. It was because the 2015 nuclear deal was Barack Obama’s proudest foreign policy achievement that Donald Trump was so determined to destroy it.

The US and Iran are sliding back towards the brink of conflict. If a missile had landed a little bit differently in the course of the latest exchange of hostilities, they would probably be at war by now.

As the pendulum has swung one way and then the other, the Guardian has tried to cover the diplomacy with the same depth and emphasis as the military manoeuvres, even when it seems slow-moving and complex.

When formal talks began between the Obama administration and the new government of Hassan Rouhani in September 2013, our foreign editor, Jamie Wilson, decided we should cover the whole process in detail because of the potentially historic nature of success, and the very high price of failure.

. When formal talks began between the Obama administration and the new government of Hassan Rouhani in September 2013, our foreign editor, Jamie Wilson, decided we should cover the whole process in detail because of the potentially historic nature of success, and the very high price of failure.

……… For Rezaian – now a Washington columnist – and many of those who saw the worst side of the Islamic Republic, its cruelties are all the more reason to prevent it developing nuclear weapons, and bind it into an international agreement. For others, particularly on the American right, any deal that eased the pressure on Iran’s economy would make the west complicit in Iran’s oppression at home and aggression abroad.

In the end, all those years of diplomacy and all the delicate compromises of the JCPOA, by which the Iranians accepted nuclear limits for sanctions relief, came to naught. Tehran’s nuclear programme is expanding again, and the US and Iran are back on the brink of conflict.

It is a chilling thought that no one in the US chain of command has the authority to stop Trump if he were to pick up the verification codes on the small plastic card (for some reason called the nuclear “biscuit”) that a US president always has close by, and order up Armageddon.

With that other extinction-level threat, the climate emergency, there is so much happening that it is impossible to keep up. But the nuclear threat is different: nothing happens until everything happens. By the time there is something substantial to report on, it could be far too late.https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2020/jan/25/iran-nuclear-deal-us-reporting

 

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran will never seek nuclear weapons – P.M Rouhani

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Iran, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tehran warns it may cease cooperation with IAEA

Iran Says It Might Reconsider Cooperation With Nuclear Watchdog,  https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/iran-says-it-might-reconsider-cooperation-with-nuclear-watchdog-1.8412402  19 Jan 2020

Tehran’s warning comes in response to EU powers triggering a dispute mechanism under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran will review its cooperation with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog should it face “unjust” measures, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said, after EU powers last week triggered a dispute mechanism under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

“We state openly that if the European powers, for any reason, adopt an unfair approach in using the dispute mechanism, we will seriously reconsider our cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency,” state TV quoted Larijani as saying.

France, Britain and Germany triggered the mechanism in the deal after Tehran continued to distance itself from the pact by decreasing its nuclear commitments in reaction to sanctions reimposed by Washington since the U.S. quit the agreement in 2018.

Tehran announced last week that it would abandon limitations under the deal on enriching uranium, though it said that Iran would continue cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA), which is policing the nuclear pact.

Under the deal between Iran and six major powers, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The three European nations said they still wanted the 2015 nuclear deal to succeed and were not joining a “maximum pressure” campaign by the United States.

Triggering the mechanism amounts to formally accusing Iran of violating the terms of the deal and could lead eventually to reimposing UN sanctions that were lifted under the pact.

The mechanism involves a Joint Commission, whose members are Iran, Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union, seeking to resolve the dispute.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Two earthquakes strike near Iran nuclear plant

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Iran, safety | Leave a comment

Donald Trump plays with possible nuclear crisis in Iran

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Don’t Worry About Iranian Nukes Anytime Soon, Nuclear Experts Say

Don’t Worry About Iranian Nukes Anytime Soon, Nuclear Experts Say“I see no signs of Iran rushing to build a bomb, and doing so would almost certainly not be in their best interest,” said one expert. BuzzFeed News, Dan Vergano, 7  Jan 2020,

Iran’s announcement that it would be abandoning the last remaining restrictions placed on the country under a landmark nuclear arms limitation agreement doesn’t mean it will soon have nukes, arms control experts told BuzzFeed News.

“Is this a sign that Iran is racing toward a bomb? Absolutely not,” nuclear nonproliferation expert Corey Hinderstein of the Nuclear Threat Initiative told BuzzFeed News. “We are not seeing behavior that points in that direction.”

The Iranian government on Sunday announced it was walking away from limits on centrifuges — high-speed spinning machines that separate out weapons-quality uranium — agreed to in 2015 and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. The move came after the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Friday, in an airstrike at Baghdad’s airport. On Tuesday, Iranian state television said Tehran had launched “tens” of missiles at Iraq’s Al Asad air base, which houses US troops, in retaliation.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program no longer faces any operational restrictions,” Sunday’s statement from Iran’s official news service said. “From here on, Iran’s nuclear program will be developed solely based on its technical needs.”

Along with an outburst of World War III memes, the announcement triggered an all-caps response from President Donald Trump, stating that Iran would never have nuclear weapons……. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/danvergano/iran-nuclear-bomb-uranium-soleimani

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran pulling out of nuclear deal commitment after U.S. strike that killed Soleimani 

Iran pulling out of nuclear deal commitment after U.S. strike that killed Soleimani   https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/iran-pulling-out-nuclear-deal-following-u-s-strike-killed-n1110636  

State TV reported Iran will no longer restrict uranium enrichment, part of the 2015 deal limiting the country’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions. Jan. 6, 2020, By Max Burman and The Associated Press

Iran said Sunday that it was ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium as part of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, more fallout from the U.S. strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018, renewing tensions between the two countries that reached new heights after Friday’s air strike.

Iran’s state television reported Sunday that it will no longer abide by the limits of the deal, which restricted nuclear development in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions.

The agreement placed limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities.

America’s European allies have attempted to salvage the deal despite Trump’s decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions, but Iran has gradually reduced its commitments and now leaves the deal in tatters.

The country’s foreign ministry said earlier Sunday that recent events meant it would take an even bigger step away from the deal than initially planned.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed the news on Twitter, stating that there “will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges.”

“This step is within JCPOA & all 5 steps are reversible upon EFFECTIVE implementation of reciprocal obligations,” Zarif said.

The foreign minister added that the country will still cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | 1 Comment