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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/world/conflicts/iran

US officials suspect Iran may have seized missing UAE-based oil tanker

A small oil tanker that stopped transmitting its location more than two days ago while traveling through a vital waterway near the Persian Gulf didn’t emit a distress call, causing U.S. officials to suspect Iran may have seized the vessel, American defense officials said Tuesday.

The MT Riah, a Panamanian-flagged vessel based in the United Arab Emirates, was traveling Saturday night through the Strait of Hormuz when its tracking system went dark. The disappearance could add to already-heightened tensions between Iran and Western nations in the region.

“Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility,” an unidentified U.S. official told The Associated Press. “But the longer there is a period of no contact. It’s going to be a concern.”

IRAN HAS RAISED ITS ‘INTENSITY OF MALIGN ACTIVITY’ FOLLOWING US PULLOUT OF NUCLEAR DEAL, TOP GENERAL SAYS

Westlake Legal Group Capture-5 US officials suspect Iran may have seized missing UAE-based oil tanker Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc cf490014-e652-50d1-be16-b96025172ef8 article

American defense officials suspect Iran may have seized a small oil tanker traveling near the Islamic Republic. (The Associated Press / Refinitiv)

If Iran did seize the ship, it’s apt to be the latest in a series of provocations involving oil tankers in the region. Iran has threatened to stop tankers in the strait if it is not allowed to sell its own oil abroad.

Around 20 percent of all crude oil passes through the strait.

The 190-foot tanker stopped transmitting its location around 11 p.m. as tracking data showed its last position pointing toward Iran.

“That is a red flag,” said Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv. He said the tanker had not switched off its tracker in three months of trips around the U.A.E.

The Islamic Republic has not commented on the ship’s disappearance.

An Emirati official speaking on condition of anonymity told AP that “we are monitoring the situation with our international partners.”

Several oil tankers traveling through the Persian Gulf have been targeted in recent months as Iran continues to mount a campaign aimed at obtaining relief from U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.

It recently surpassed its uranium enrichment levels limited by its 2015 nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew over a year ago.

TRUMP VOWS TO ‘SUBSTANTIALLY’ INCREASE SANCTIONS ON IRAN IN RESPONSE TO URANIUM ENRICHMENT

Without commenting on the U.A.E.-based oil tanker, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that the country will retaliate over the seizure of its supertanker carrying over 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil.

“God willing, the Islamic Republic and its committed forces will not leave this evil without a response,” he said.

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British Royal Marines seized the vessel earlier this month off Gibraltar on suspicion of trying to provide oil to Syrian leader Bashar Assad, a violation of European Union sanctions. On Saturday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain will release the ship if assurances are given that it will not violate the sanctions.

Mysterious attacks on oil tankers in recent months have been blamed n Iran, as well as the downing of a U.S. drone. In response to the escalation, the U.S. has sent thousands of troops, fighter jets and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East.

Fox News reporter and editor Lucia l. Suarez Sang and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group Capture-5 US officials suspect Iran may have seized missing UAE-based oil tanker Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc cf490014-e652-50d1-be16-b96025172ef8 article   Westlake Legal Group Capture-5 US officials suspect Iran may have seized missing UAE-based oil tanker Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc cf490014-e652-50d1-be16-b96025172ef8 article

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Detained Iranian tanker will be released if oil isn’t bound for Syria, UK foreign secretary says

An Iranian oil tanker held by British forces near Gibraltar will be released if the United Kingdom is assured the oil will not be heading to Syria, London’s top diplomat said Saturday.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter that he had a “constructive call” with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, during which Hunt “reassured him [Zarif] our concern was destination not origin of the oil.”

Westlake Legal Group tanker-Grace-1-Reuters Detained Iranian tanker will be released if oil isn't bound for Syria, UK foreign secretary says fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc David Aaro article 97a90140-22e2-53e2-ad6a-9c7a62103c17

A British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards the oil supertanker Grace 1. (REUTERS/Jon Nazca )

Hunt added that the “U.K. would facilitate release if we received guarantees that it would not be going to Syria, following due process in Gib [Gibraltar] courts.”

CAR BOMB KILLS 2 NEAR TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER

The Iranian tanker Grace 1 was captured earlier this month on suspicion of breaking European Union sanctions, according to the BBC. The head of Gibraltar’s government said Friday the tanker was carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil.

Fabian Picardo told the country’s parliament that the ship is suspected of breaching European Union sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and that any nation with a claim to the vessel and its cargo can file a claim in court.

In addition to the tanker’s captain and chief officer arrested Thursday, Gibraltar police said they arrested the two second mates of the Panama-flagged tanker on Friday. The two are in custody and are assisting police with their inquiries, authorities said. All four are Indian citizens.

Westlake Legal Group 800-6 Detained Iranian tanker will be released if oil isn't bound for Syria, UK foreign secretary says fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc David Aaro article 97a90140-22e2-53e2-ad6a-9c7a62103c17

A Royal Marines vessel sails toward the Grace 1 super tanker off the British territory of Gibraltar July 4. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

Tensions between London and Tehran escalated Thursday after the British navy said it had three Iranian paramilitary vessels from disrupting the passage of a British oil tanker through the vital Strait of Hormuz.

BRITIAN WILL BE ‘SLAPPED IN THE FACE’ FOR SEIZURE OF IRANIAN TANKER, CLERIC SAYS.

The captain of HMS Montrose, a British frigate following the BP-owned tanker, was forced to move between the Iranian boats and the commercial vessel, a Ministry of Defense spokesman said. On Friday, the ministry said it was moving up its timetable to relieve the Montrose with the larger HMS Duncan destroyer in the wake of the recent developments.

“This will ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane,” the ministry said.

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At the same time, Hunt called for “cool heads” to prevail to ensure there is no “unintended escalation.”

“We are being clear to Iran that we are not seeking to escalate this situation,” he said, adding that the British response had been “measured and careful.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group tanker-Grace-1-Reuters Detained Iranian tanker will be released if oil isn't bound for Syria, UK foreign secretary says fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc David Aaro article 97a90140-22e2-53e2-ad6a-9c7a62103c17   Westlake Legal Group tanker-Grace-1-Reuters Detained Iranian tanker will be released if oil isn't bound for Syria, UK foreign secretary says fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc David Aaro article 97a90140-22e2-53e2-ad6a-9c7a62103c17

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Britain will be ‘slapped in the face’ for seizure of Iranian tanker, cleric says

Britain will soon to get “slapped in the face” for last week’s capture of an Iranian supertanker, a cleric was quoted as saying Friday amid rising tensions between the two nations in the Gulf.

Cleric Kazem Sedghi, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told worshipers during Tehran’s Friday prayer sermon broadcast live on Iranian state TV that the United Kingdom should be worried for their actions off the coast of Gibraltar.

“Iran’s strong establishment will soon slap Britain in the face for daring to seize the Iranian oil tanker,” he said.

IRAN WARNS OF ‘REPERCUSSIONS’ FOLLOWING ‘MEAN AND WRONG’ SEIZURE OF OIL TANKER

Sedghi’s warning came after the Iranian government on Friday called Britain to immediately release the oil tanker that British Royal Marines seized last week on suspicious it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman accused London of playing a “dangerous game” a day after police in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, said they arrested the captain and chief officer of the supertanker.

Abbs Mousavi told Iranian state news agency IRNA that “the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid … the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest.”

“This is a dangerous game and has consequences,” he added.

BRITAIN’S SEIZURE OF IRANIAN OIL TANKER WON’T GO ‘UNANSWERED,’ OFFICER SAYS

Gibraltar has insisted its decision to detain the Iranian tanker was taken alone and not on orders from any government, despite a senior Spanish official previously saying the interception was carried out at the request of the United States.

“All relevant decisions in respect of this matter were taken only as a direct result of the government of Gibraltar having reasonable grounds to believe the vessel was acting in breach of established E.U. sanctions against Syria,” Fabian Picardo, the territory’s chief minister, told reporters. “There has been no political request at any time from any government that Gibraltar should act or not act on one basis or another.”

The detained vessel contained 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, he added.

TRUMP VOWS TO ‘SUBSTANTIALLY’ INCREASE SANCTIONS ON IRAN IN RESPONSE TO URANIUM ENRICHMENT

The British navy said Thursday it had stopped three Iranian paramilitary vessels from disrupting the passage of a British oil tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. The brief but tense standoff stemmed from the U.K.’s role in seizing the Iranian tanker.

Westlake Legal Group AP19192249186582 Britain will be ‘slapped in the face’ for seizure of Iranian tanker, cleric says Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox news fnc/world fnc article 48499a60-3e26-57e5-b73c-ae0c67678583

In this image from file video provided by UK Ministry of Defence, British navy vessel HMS Montrose escorts another ship during a mission to remove chemical weapons from Syria at sea off the coast of Cyprus in February 2014. Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News. (AP/UK Ministry of Defence)

On Friday, the British Ministry of Defense said it was moving up its timetable for relieving the HMS Montrose, a frigate operating in the Persian Gulf, with the larger HMS Duncan destroyer in the wake of the recent developments.

“This will ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane.”

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Iran recently began surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the accord a year ago. He also has re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, exacerbating an economic crisis that has sent its currency plummeting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19192249186582 Britain will be ‘slapped in the face’ for seizure of Iranian tanker, cleric says Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox news fnc/world fnc article 48499a60-3e26-57e5-b73c-ae0c67678583   Westlake Legal Group AP19192249186582 Britain will be ‘slapped in the face’ for seizure of Iranian tanker, cleric says Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox news fnc/world fnc article 48499a60-3e26-57e5-b73c-ae0c67678583

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Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment

Westlake Legal Group TrumpIran070819 Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment Ronn Blitzer fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/politics fnc b5ae3ead-690f-504b-8e9f-78ae6ca16053 article

President Trump announced Wednesday that he will add to existing sanctions on Iran, after the Islamic republic admitted Monday that it surpassed uranium enrichment levels that were set by the Iran Nuclear Agreement in 2015. The U.S. backed out of that deal, but several European nations remain involved.

The deal said that Iran could not enrich uranium above 3.67 percent, and Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said the country has passed that and may proceed further, Reuters reported. The 3.67 percent level is enough for nuclear power reactors, but far short of the 90 percent needed for weapons.

FRANCE SENDS TOP DIPLOMAT TO IRAN AS EUROPE URGES URANIUM ENRICHMENT CUTBACK

“Iran has long been secretly ‘enriching,’ in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years,” Trump tweeted. “Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!”

Iran’s previous announcement that it would boost uranium enrichment above the cap prompted a rebuke from President Trump on Sunday, saying: “Iran better be careful. … Iran is doing a lot of bad things,” Trump said. “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”

IRAN WARNS BRITAIN OF ‘REPERCUSSIONS’ FOLLOWING ‘MEAN AND WRONG’ SEIZURE OF OIL TANKER

President Trump has already imposed significant sanctions against Iran as part of an effort to cripple its economy and force it back to the negotiating table to work out a new deal that imposes stricter requirements than the one arranged under the Obama administration.

On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., supported Trump’s tough stance against Iran, calling the country “a terroristic regime that needs to be reined in.”

Tension between the U.S. and Iran has escalated in recent months, as Iran shot down an unmanned American drone that was flying over international waters. The Trump administration has also accused Iran of attacking oil tankers in the same region in the Gulf of Oman, although the Iranian government did not claim responsibility.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group TrumpIran070819 Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment Ronn Blitzer fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/politics fnc b5ae3ead-690f-504b-8e9f-78ae6ca16053 article   Westlake Legal Group TrumpIran070819 Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment Ronn Blitzer fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/politics fnc b5ae3ead-690f-504b-8e9f-78ae6ca16053 article

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Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment

Westlake Legal Group TrumpIran070819 Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment Ronn Blitzer fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/politics fnc b5ae3ead-690f-504b-8e9f-78ae6ca16053 article

President Trump announced Wednesday that he will add to existing sanctions on Iran, after the Islamic republic admitted Monday that it surpassed uranium enrichment levels that were set by the Iran Nuclear Agreement in 2015. The U.S. backed out of that deal, but several European nations remain involved.

The deal said that Iran could not enrich uranium above 3.67 percent, and Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said the country has passed that and may proceed further, Reuters reported. The 3.67 percent level is enough for nuclear power reactors, but far short of the 90 percent needed for weapons.

FRANCE SENDS TOP DIPLOMAT TO IRAN AS EUROPE URGES URANIUM ENRICHMENT CUTBACK

“Iran has long been secretly ‘enriching,’ in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years,” Trump tweeted. “Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!”

Iran’s previous announcement that it would boost uranium enrichment above the cap prompted a rebuke from President Trump on Sunday, saying: “Iran better be careful. … Iran is doing a lot of bad things,” Trump said. “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”

IRAN WARNS BRITAIN OF ‘REPERCUSSIONS’ FOLLOWING ‘MEAN AND WRONG’ SEIZURE OF OIL TANKER

President Trump has already imposed significant sanctions against Iran as part of an effort to cripple its economy and force it back to the negotiating table to work out a new deal that imposes stricter requirements than the one arranged under the Obama administration.

On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., supported Trump’s tough stance against Iran, calling the country “a terroristic regime that needs to be reined in.”

Tension between the U.S. and Iran has escalated in recent months, as Iran shot down an unmanned American drone that was flying over international waters. The Trump administration has also accused Iran of attacking oil tankers in the same region in the Gulf of Oman, although the Iranian government did not claim responsibility.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group TrumpIran070819 Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment Ronn Blitzer fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/politics fnc b5ae3ead-690f-504b-8e9f-78ae6ca16053 article   Westlake Legal Group TrumpIran070819 Trump vows to ‘substantially’ increase sanctions on Iran in response to uranium enrichment Ronn Blitzer fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/politics fnc b5ae3ead-690f-504b-8e9f-78ae6ca16053 article

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France sends top diplomat to Iran as Europe urges uranium enrichment cutback

Westlake Legal Group AP19182497755331 France sends top diplomat to Iran as Europe urges uranium enrichment cutback fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc befcd677-db76-54ea-9c3b-ea5f0cddc9f7 article

France dispatched a top diplomat to Iran Tuesday while joining Germany and Britain in calling for the Tehran regime to scale back its recent uranium enrichment activities “without delay.”

Emmanuel Bonne, a diplomatic adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, was expected to meet Wednesday with Iran’s senior security official, Ali Shamkhani, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. Bonne hopes to try to “obtain gestures” from Iran to show they’re serious about staying in the 2015 nuclear deal, a French official told The Associated Press.

The European nations, who remain part of the accord along with Russia and China, said they planned to organize a meeting among the signatories over “deep concern that Iran is not meeting several of its commitments.” They added that the meeting needed to be “convened urgently,” but did not say when it would take place.

“Iran has stated that it wants to remain within the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal term for the 2015 agreement],” the three nations said. “It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPOA compliance without delay.”

PUTIN SAYS US MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAN WOULD BE A ‘CATASTROPHE FOR THE REGION’

Europe has been under pressure from the U.S. to withdraw from the accord as President Trump did last year, and is also being urged by Iran to offset the crippling effects of American economic sanctions. The tensions have thus strained Europe’s soft-power approach to its limits at a time of increasing tensions in the Middle East.

“For the Europeans, it’s going to be difficult not to lose credibility in their position with Iran and also with Washington, by not being too soft, but at the same time acknowledging that there is some truth to what Iran is saying,” Adnan Tabatabai, a political scientist with the Bonn-based CARPO think tank on Middle Eastern affairs, told the Associated Press.

Researcher Sanam Vakil of the London-based Chatham House think tank said that Europe will be forced to tread lightly with Macron leading the three European countries, known as the E3, trying not to escalate the situation while seeking a resolution between Tehran and Washington.

“What the E3 can do is kick-start diplomacy and diplomatic conversations,” she said. “They can potentially convince Iran to freeze its breach and prevent any further breaches while shepherding a process back and forth between Washington and Iran – worst case scenario is that nothing happens, but at least they’ve bought themselves time.”

So far, neither Iran’s announcement last week that it had exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium allowed under the deal, nor Monday’s revelation it had begun enriching uranium past the 3.67 percent purity allowed, to 4.5 percent, are seen as such gross violations that they are likely to prompt Europe to invoke the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism. Both of Iran’s actions have been verified by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Experts warn that higher enrichment and a growing stockpile narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have the necessary material for an atomic weapon, something that Tehran denies it wants but the deal prevented.

This is the second trip to Tehran by Bonne in as many months. He was in the Iranian capital in mid-June for one day.

“The idea [of Bonne’s visit] is to privilege dialogue [over] escalation that can become explosive,” and “not reach a situation of war,” the French official told AP.

“This is very much an E3 process, but Macron is leading it because obviously, the U.K. is in a period of leadership transition and Germany is taking a slightly less-visible role, but I think there is great unity here,” Vakil said.

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Britain, France and Germany urged all signatories in the accord to act responsibly toward deescalating ongoing tensions regarding Iran’s nuclear activities while proposing dialogue. They did not mention any country by name other than Iran itself.

The U.S. has deployed thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East amid fears of increasing tensions that followed the downing of an American drone by surface-to-air missiles and a disputed attack on a pair of oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – these were a series of events most recent to Iranian provocation in the region.

Fox News’ Morgan Cheung and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19182497755331 France sends top diplomat to Iran as Europe urges uranium enrichment cutback fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc befcd677-db76-54ea-9c3b-ea5f0cddc9f7 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19182497755331 France sends top diplomat to Iran as Europe urges uranium enrichment cutback fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc befcd677-db76-54ea-9c3b-ea5f0cddc9f7 article

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Harry Kazianis: Iran and America are headed for a showdown. And no, it’s not Trump’s fault

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6056170836001_6056174013001-vs Harry Kazianis: Iran and America are headed for a showdown. And no, it’s not Trump’s fault Harry J. Kazianis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 7ede044d-5d8a-5ce6-bc23-737ff0a24cd3

While national security experts will debate the merits of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration for years to come, one thing is clear: the pact always ensured Washington and Tehran were headed towards a nuclear crisis. The only question was when it would happen—not if.

And none of that is President Trump’s fault. In fact, we can thank President Obama for this growing international crisis – one that could even balloon into a shooting war.

IRAN ANNOUNCES IT WILL ENRICH URANIUM BEYOND NUCLEAR DEAL LIMITS

The devil is in the details of the deal itself. How it was structured, and the items that were omitted, by President Obama, Ben Rhodes and their allies, ultimately sowed the seeds of its own self-destruction.

But before I get to the deal’s flaws, I must give credit where credit is due: The deal itself was not a complete failure, in that it does do one thing quite well (albeit temporarily), and that is it does, for a long stretch of time, keep Iran’s nuclear bomb aspirations locked down. Tehran agreed to, among other things, intrusive international inspections, a cap on its uranium stockpile to 300kgs (a 98 percent reduction) and limits on uranium enrichment far below anything that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. Additionally, the path to a plutonium-based nuclear weapon is largely eliminated as well.

That’s all for the good. Before the 2015 accord was signed, Iran had enough centrifuges and nuclear material to build as many as 8 to 10 nuclear weapons, perhaps creating the first one within three months—with the potential of sparking what could be a nasty regional war with large losses of life.

Today, that timeframe has been pushed back to a year. For that, the Obama administration surely deserves praise.

Unfortunately, this is where the good news ends, in large part because the agreement itself has several massive problems that turn it from a historic and transformative accord into a giant band-aid that ensures a crisis, sooner or later.

For starters, the deal clearly leaves intact large sections of Iran’s civilian nuclear program—with the ability to still enrich nuclear fuel—intact. While credit should be given for the large restrictions put in place by Obama’s negotiating team, the problem is never truly eliminated, just scaled back.

History will show that it was President Obama’s band-aid approach to foreign policy that deserved the credit for this disaster.

And that problem will surely get worse over time, as the poison pill in the deal was always that almost all its restrictions, designed to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, expire within 12-15 years after the deal was signed. That’s right, in a little more than a decade, Iran would have been free to do whatever it wanted with its nuclear program, unless a new accord was signed.

And that’s not all. The deal itself never addresses the ways in which Iran could deliver a nuclear weapon. That means no restrictions on Iran’s quickly growing capabilities to research and develop ballistic and cruise missiles. That’s like taking a criminal’s ammo away but allowing him to keep the gun, and worse still, allowing him to build better and better guns—think long-range missiles like ICBMs that could hit the U.S. homeland or allies like Europe—while waiting to get his ammo back.

There was also no attempt in this agreement dealing with Iran’s thug-like behavior internationally. Tehran has been causing problems throughout the Middle East for decades. From screaming “death to America” and threating Israel for decades, to arming terror groups around the region and more, Iran is perhaps the ultimate of rogue nations. It is hellbent on dislodging America from the Middle East for good. And yet, none of this was addressed in the nuclear accord, nor was Iran held accountable for any of its aggressive acts throughout the region.

Taking all of that into consideration, the Trump administration was put in a terrible bind upon taking office.

Staying in the deal meant the threat posed by Iran would only grow over time, and would leave an economically powerful and rich Iran—thanks to its sales of oil and gas—with the ability to develop a nuclear arsenal shortly after Trump left office.

The other option—which it seems Trump has chosen—was to take on Tehran now, when it is much weaker, rather than leaving the problem to a future U.S. president to deal with (much like Obama did to Trump on North Korea). That meant pulling out of the deal, imposing sanctions and trying to force the issue to a head now, when America’s position is much stronger.

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What happens next is anyone’s guess. At least for the moment, Iran seems to be pushing for talks with Europe. Tehran threatened 60 days ago to abandon many of its commitments under the deal if Europe didn’t meet a deadline this weekend to somehow relieve sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. Only a week ago, Iran exceeded the cap on its stockpile of low-grade uranium. Then, to make matters worse, it said it will resume purifying uranium beyond the 3.67 percent enrichment allowed under the agreement. While it would need to get to 90 percent enrichment in order to build a nuclear weapon, all of this put together means only one thing: a showdown is coming.

Whatever happens now – whether it is a regional war in the Middle East, or a time of tense negotiations that lasts for years – it makes no rational sense to blame President Trump for a crisis with Iran. History will show that it was President Obama’s band-aid approach to foreign policy that deserved the credit for this disaster.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6056170836001_6056174013001-vs Harry Kazianis: Iran and America are headed for a showdown. And no, it’s not Trump’s fault Harry J. Kazianis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 7ede044d-5d8a-5ce6-bc23-737ff0a24cd3   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6056170836001_6056174013001-vs Harry Kazianis: Iran and America are headed for a showdown. And no, it’s not Trump’s fault Harry J. Kazianis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 7ede044d-5d8a-5ce6-bc23-737ff0a24cd3

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Iran to enrich uranium ‘based on our needs,’ in defiance of 2015 nuclear accord

In a second breach of the 2015 nuclear agreement it signed with world powers, Iran on Sunday said it will raise its enrichment of uranium.

Iran will go beyond the limit of 3.67 percent enrichment to a new percentage “based on our needs,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said at a news conference, without specifying a new limit.

The announcement was expected to further heighten tensions between Tehran and the U.S.

GOP SENATORS URGE TRUMP TO REJECT IRAN’S ‘NUCLEAR BLACKMAIL,’ SEEK TO ‘SNAPBACK’ SANCTIONS AT THE UN

The move comes one year after President Trump announced that the U.S. would leave the accord that the Obama administration and other governments had entered with Iran’s leadership.

On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, by phone that he was trying to find a way to resume dialogue between Iran and Western partners by July 15, the Associated Press reported.

Previously, Iran admitted breaking the deal’s 661-pound limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile. Experts warn that higher enrichment and a growing stockpile of uranium would make an atomic bomb possible sooner for Iran.

The 2015 deal’s proponents say the accord was designed to prevent Iran from developing a bomb – which Iran has claimed it wasn’t interested in building anyway.

Westlake Legal Group 7b5297d4-AP19182497755331 Iran to enrich uranium 'based on our needs,' in defiance of 2015 nuclear accord fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio b9e850ab-872d-5aa3-967d-6856afa09e90 article

​​​​​​​Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani listens to explanations on new nuclear achievements at a ceremony to mark “National Nuclear Day,” in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Prior to Sunday’s announcement, Iran had warned Europe that it would begin pulling away from the deal in response to sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on Iran’s economy and its top officials. Tehran is hoping that accord signees Russia, China and Europe can help provide relief from the U.S. sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Tensions between the U.S. and Iran began rising in May when the U.S. deployed additional troops and military capabilities to the Mideast. That was soon followed by mysterious oil tanker blasts near the Strait of Hormuz, for which some U.S. officials have blamed Tehran, and Iran shooting down a U.S. military drone – which nearly prompted a U.S. military response by President Trump.

At Washington’s urging, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plans to meet Wednesday to review Iran’s recent actions and possibly issue a formal censure, the Journal reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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GOP senators urge Trump to reject Iran’s ‘nuclear blackmail,’ seek to ‘snapback’ sanctions at the UN

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6052239950001_6052234696001-vs GOP senators urge Trump to reject Iran's ‘nuclear blackmail,’ seek to ‘snapback’ sanctions at the UN fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/politics fnc ede746c0-f1b3-5000-8707-2b7c67be0da7 Ben Evansky article Adam Shaw

Three GOP senators this week urged President Trump to reject what they describe as Iran’s ‘nuclear blackmail’ in the wake of the rogue nation’s violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement — and highlighted the use of a mechanism in the U.N. resolution enshrining the deal that allows for a “snapback” of sanctions.

“Regime officials have signaled they intend to creep towards a nuclear weapon, while demanding concessions and promising to ‘reverse’ their violations if their demands are met,” Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote in a letter Tuesday. “We urge you to reject their nuclear blackmail.”

COTTON MOCKS IRAN OFFICIAL’S SANCTIONS COMPLAINT: WON’T BE ABLE TO SPEND IRANIANS’ MONEY IN ‘5-STAR RESTAURANTS’

Iran recently began stockpiling low-enriched uranium beyond agreed limits, in violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and have warned that more violations could soon be coming.

Given that it was United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 that endorsed the Obama-era deal, the Council could be the site of the next stage in deciding the embattled deal’s fate. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal last year, having described it as “the worst deal in history,” and the administration has since imposed waves of crippling economic sanctions on Tehran.

The senators urge Trump to invoke the so-called “snapback mechanism” in resolution 2231 that would restore sanctions on Iran’s uranium enrichment and missile development.

And while Security Council diplomats seek to work out how the U.S. will re-impose the sanctions given that it quit the deal last year, the letter from the senators notes that the U.N. resolution enables the original parties to the deal to revoke or snapback at any time.

“Paragraph 10 of the resolution defines the United States as a participant for the purpose of invoking the mechanism. We urge you to do so,” the senators wrote.

The lawmakers also call on the president to cease the use of “civil-nuclear waivers” that they say allows Iran to keep a nuclear status quo.

While there is another mechanism outside of the Security Council to deal with violations from the parties in the JCPOA, Tehran’s threats to enrich uranium mean the process of bringing the snapback mechanism into effect will sooner rather than later be tested.

From 2006 onwards the Council passed six resolutions that imposed severe sanctions on Iran in order to halt its nuclear ambitions by banning Iran from conducting nuclear research and developing ballistic missiles.

TRUMP VOWS IRAN CANNOT HAVE PATH TO NUKES, SAYS HE HOPES SANCTIONS SENT ‘MESSAGE’

The senators letter also claimed that the deal “was built to enable Iranian cheating” and allowed hundreds of billions of dollars to flow into regime coffers, “allowing the Iranians to boost its military and terrorist activities regionally and globally, even as they maintained nuclear weapons infrastructure, periodically exceeded restrictions on nuclear materials.”

“That’s how the deal was always supposed to work, that’s how it did work, and that’s why it is imperative that the United States now respond forcefully to Iran’s systematic violations by ending civil-nuclear waivers and invoking the U.N. snapback,” the senators argued.

It is unclear how such a move would be received by America’s European allies at the Security Council — who opposed the U.S. departure from the deal, and who have fought to keep the compact intact.

Behnam Ben Taleblu a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington D.C. told Fox News that if the snapback mechanism is used and resolution 2231 is done away with, “it would also mean the Rouhani government’s policy of playing both sides of the Atlantic against one another would have failed.”

A source familiar with the administration’s discussions on the use of snapback told Fox News that there are ongoing interagency talks happening now about using the mechanism.

An indication of the interagency discussions came earlier in the week from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose statement on Iran’s violation called on the international community to restore its longstanding requirement of not allowing any uranium enrichment for the regime’s nuclear program in light of Iran’s latest violation.

His statement pulled no punches as he noted that “no nuclear deal should ever allow the Iranian regime to enrich uranium at any level. Starting in 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed six resolutions requiring the regime to suspend all enrichment activity. It was the right standard then; it is the right standard now.”

A senior GOP congressional staffer told Fox News: “Snapback is quickly becoming the only game in town, now that Iran has violated the deal.”

The staffer told Fox that, even though the U.S. left the deal, the administration still has every right per the resolution to put the snapback mechanism into play.

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“There’s no technical reason the Trump administration can’t just do it and quickly restore the international sanctions from before the deal,” the staffer stated, adding that some officials wanted to hold off while the Europeans negotiated with Iran to stay in bounds.

“Now that the Europeans have failed and the Iranians are engaged in nuclear blackmail, there’s no reason left to hold off.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6052239950001_6052234696001-vs GOP senators urge Trump to reject Iran's ‘nuclear blackmail,’ seek to ‘snapback’ sanctions at the UN fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/politics fnc ede746c0-f1b3-5000-8707-2b7c67be0da7 Ben Evansky article Adam Shaw   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6052239950001_6052234696001-vs GOP senators urge Trump to reject Iran's ‘nuclear blackmail,’ seek to ‘snapback’ sanctions at the UN fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/politics fnc ede746c0-f1b3-5000-8707-2b7c67be0da7 Ben Evansky article Adam Shaw

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Iran says alleged US spies might face death penalty

Westlake Legal Group AP19177367863972 Iran says alleged US spies might face death penalty Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox news fnc/world fnc f94ca64b-8564-5f5a-9428-ee37d82e738b article

Prosecutors in Iran are seeking the death penalty for several people who were arrested last year after allegedly spying on behalf of the U.S.

The suspects, accused of spying for the military and nuclear bodies, were arrested last August, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing state media.

IRAN SURPASSES URANIUM STOCKPILE LIMIT SET BY NUCLEAR DEAL

The Middle Eastern nation claims “tens of spies” in state bodies were taken into custody. A spokesperson reportedly said that an unclear number of suspects have been arrested in the last year, and face potential death sentences in military tribunals.

“Two of the defendants, who were not military, have received long prison terms,” the spokesperson, Gholamhossein Esmaili, added.

IRAN FIRES BACK AT WHITE HOUSE OVER CLAIMS IT HAS BEEN VIOLATING NUCLEAR DEAL FOR YEARS: ‘SERIOUSLY?’

Iran occasionally announces the detention of spies from foreign countries, including the U.S. and Israel.

In June, Iran state TV reported that Jalal Hajizavar, a former staff member of the Defense Military, was executed in a prison near Tehran for spying for the CIA.

The report claimed Hajizavar admitted in court that he was paid to spy for the CIA, and said the court sentenced Haizavar’s wife to 15 years in prison for her role in the espionage.

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In 2016, Iran executed a nuclear scientist convicted of spying for the U.S.

The announcement from state media comes after Iran said it surpassed its limit of low-enriched uranium stockpile that was agreed upon in the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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