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BBC Caves To Iran, Won’t Report On Iran On BBC Persian

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In pushing a media blackout of coverage within its borders, the Republic of Iran set conditions on BBC, essentially telling them they can’t report on anything happening Iran’s borders on BBC Persian.

The BBC agreed to the terms, angering workers at the station.

Yashar Ali of Huffington Post reported on the agreement, noting that it is a “capitulation to a government that has been hostile to press freedom.

The email, sent Saturday to all BBC Persian staff by a BBC Persian digital editor, said that BBC foreign correspondent Martin Patience and his team were in Iran “and due to leave on Sunday.”

The email goes on to say, “It is absolutely imperative that none of their material is run on BBC Persian TV, Radio or Online now or in the future. That includes any official BBC Persian social feed retweeting or forwarding the coverage. Please do not use the material and stories produced in Iran on any platform or in any format.”

It’s unclear who at the BBC agreed to the exclusivity terms.

The BBC responded to the Post:

All international media are subject to reporting restrictions in Iran. We accepted some limitations on this occasion in order to provide our audiences with rare insights from inside the country and this is signposted in our coverage. As ever, the BBC maintains full editorial control over what we broadcast. These reports – our first from inside Iran in 5 years – do not change our unwavering commitment to our BBC Persian staff and their families, who have suffered completely unacceptable harassment from the Iranian authorities since 2009.

According to Ali’s reporting, the revelation of the agreement with Iran has angered BBC Persian staff, who have been targeted by Iran in the past. The capitulation comes two years after Iran targeted current (at the time) and former BBC Persia staff by freezing their assets.

In 2017, the Iranian government froze the assets of 152 current and former BBC Persian staff.  Iran also opened up a criminal investigation into the 152 individuals and accused them of a “conspiracy against national security.” BBC Persian staffers have been subjected to death threats by the Iranian government, haven’t been able to return to Iran for fear that they will be arrested, and their family members living within Iran have been subjected to harassment and threats from the Iranian government.

In 2017, the BBC filed a complaint with the United Nations, stating, “This is not just a campaign against BBC Persian staff but against fundamental human rights, and the BBC calls on the government of Iran to end this legal action immediately,” Tony Hall, the director-general of the BBC said, at the time.

The BBC appears to have changed its tune and is now being fully compliant with the Iranian government’s efforts to censor coverage within its borders. Staffers at BBC Persian feel the agreement is just further persecution of them and their jobs.

Journalism, when done right, is supposed to shine a light on the good and the bad of the world. It isn’t meant to hide what’s going on. The BBC is allowing Iran to hide what’s going on with this decision, and it’s making a mistake in doing so. It’s a shame that they have decided to capitulate here.

The post BBC Caves To Iran, Won’t Report On Iran On BBC Persian appeared first on RedState.

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Oil Tankers Operating In Middle East Gulf Being Urged Against Hiring Armed Guards

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FILE- In this Friday, April 14, 2017 file photo, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani smiles as he attends at the Interior Ministry to register his candidacy for the May 19 presidential elections, in Tehran, Iran. Over 1,600 people registered to run. Under Iranian law, there’s no fee for registering. Hopefuls only must believe in Iran’s form of government and be Shiite Muslims. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Reuters reports that shipping industry associations are urging companies operating tankers in the Middle East Gulf against hiring mercenaries over fears of sparking a war between Iran and the U.S.

Iran has become increasingly aggressive over the last month in the region. U.S. intelligence officials are confident that Iran targeted two oil tankers, one Japanese and the other Dutch, last month in the Gulf of Oman. The following week, Iran shot down a U.S. drone they claimed had flown into their airspace.

Last week, an Iranian tanker was seized in Gibraltar and according to London, “its warship HMS Montrose, had to fend off Iranian vessels seeking to block a British-owned tanker from passing through the Strait of Hormuz.”

In addition, Iran has announced they’ve exceeded the enriched uranium stockpile limits agreed to under the nuclear deal and have said they plan to enrich uranium up to higher levels.

As the Iranian economy deteriorates more and more as a result of U.S. sanctions, their acts have become more hostile.

Needless to say, tensions in the region have intensified.

The advisory said:

The use of force against threats recently encountered in the Gulf of Oman carries significant risk and has the potential to escalate security situations to the detriment of the safety of ship and crew.

The use of unarmed maritime advisors to assist with onboard security and watch-keeping is sensible.

According to Reuters, it is not illegal for ships to sail through the Strait of Hormuz with private armed guards on board, however, most ports in the Gulf will not allow ships carrying weapons to enter.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, told Reuters “The message is do not use private armed guards in these waters – it is not advised.”

Reuters spoke to Jonathan Moss, head of transport and shipping with law firm DWF. Moss said, “The legal implications for insurers and vessel owners are widespread. Breaches of rules bring about significant financial penalties, adverse reputational issues and in some cases custodial sentences.”

Moss added, “The navies will be aware that additionally recruited armed security personnel may lead to the possible escalation of violence.”

Mark Gray, co-founder of British company MNG Maritime, which runs a UK regulated floating armoury some 26 nautical miles from the coast of the United Arab Emirates, told Reuters:

UK security companies that are licensed to carry and move firearms in the region are restricted to counter-piracy activity.

Any British security company that uses those firearms … to counter the forces of a state like Iran would be in breach of that license and therefore breaking the law.

Armed guards are not the solution – all you need are more eyes and ears looking at all sides of the ship especially the rear when passing through those waters.

This is the exact opposite of what shipping companies were advised to do when incidences of Somali piracy were at their peak.

I understand where they’re coming from. The region is currently a powder keg. If a tanker were to defend itself against Iranian aggression and opened fire, the situation could quickly escalate. Wars have been triggered over less.

They are trying to avoid a disaster like the Nisour Square Massacre in Baghdad, which occurred in September 2007. The U.S. government had contracted with Blackwater Security Consulting, a private military company. Several Blackwater employees were escorting a U.S. embassy convoy through the busy intersection when they opened fire on Iraqi civilians killing 17 and wounding 20. Blackwater claimed they had acted in self-defense while the Iraqi’s claimed the attack was unprovoked.

The incident caused considerable harm to the U.S./Iraqi relationship. Following a 2014 trial, four Blackwater employees were convicted of charges ranging from murder to manslaughter.

If a similar situation occurred involving Iranian forces, it could quickly escalate. And the result would be even more serious.

On the other hand, will the world allow Iran to control the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz without putting up a fight?


The post Oil Tankers Operating In Middle East Gulf Being Urged Against Hiring Armed Guards appeared first on RedState.

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John Jenkins: Too many excuses are made for Iran – especially by the EU. We must get real, stand with America – and take decisive action

Sir John Jenkins is a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the Government’s Muslim Brotherhood Review of 2015.  He is a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange.

How do we – the UK – solve a problem called Iran? The answer is more complicated than it should be, given the fragmented state of British politics, the way in which the Brexit debate has sucked all the policy oxygen from the room and now the absurd diplomatic spat with the Trump Administration.

But it is also urgent, given the way regional tensions are rising, bellicose noises from Washington DC and Tehran and our own self-understanding as a major international actor with a massive stake in global order and the reduction of conflict in the Middle East. What we decide to do about Iran now will also shape the views of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the US, France and Germany about what sort of power we shall continue to be after Brexit. It’s a test of our national will.

The general view of the commentariat seems to be that recent tensions are the fault of Donald Trump and his National Security Adviser, the belligerent John Bolton. They shouldn’t have abandoned the JCPOA, the nuclear deal negotiated over many painful years by the EU3+3, it is said. They shouldn’t have reapplied sanctions. They certainly shouldn’t overreact to Iran’s deliberate breach of the 300kg/3.67 per cent limits for uranium enrichment. And they should lay off Twitter. Is this fair?

Well, let’s remember that Iran has been an aggressive and often hostile presence in the Middle East since 1979. Under the Shah, it may have thrown its weight around from time to time. But it did so largely through OPEC and by trying to bully much smaller countries like Bahrain, backing down when confronted.

By contrast, the Islamic Republic tried from the start to export revolution. When this failed, it sought to subvert its neighbours by providing support to a wide variety of largely Shia Islamist groups. It helped to establish Hezbollah in Lebanon in the early 1980s. After 1983 it built similar groups in Iraq – and after 2011 in Syria – on the same model. It now backs the Houthis in Yemen.

Throughout this period, Iran has engaged either through others or on its own account in terrorist attacks on the US (Beirut and Kuwait 1983), France (Beirut and Kuwait 1983), Kuwait (1983, 1985, 1988), Saudi Arabia and the US (Al Khobar 1996) and Israel (Buenos Aires 1994, and Thailand and Bulgaria 2012). It sponsored kidnappings in Lebanon throughout the 1980s and the 2007 abduction of a British IT adviser, Peter Moore, and his close protection team in Iraq. Through its allies in Iraq it killed and maimed US and UK military personnel from 2003 to 2010. It has conducted regular assassinations at home and abroad.

During the latter part of the Iran-Iraq war, it indiscriminately sowed mines in international shipping lanes. It is almost certainly behind the recent attacks on shipping off the UAE, in the Gulf of Oman and elsewhere. For years it has offered tactical if intermittent support to Al Qaeda – and at one time to the Taliban – including training the operatives who carried out the 1998 East Africa bombings. It has given substantial and sustained military support to the Assad regime in Syria. It has illegally supplied missiles and advanced guidance systems to Hezbollah, some Iraqi Shia militias and the Houthis. And it continues to seek to establish permanent military bases in Syria in order to threaten Israel directly.

You’d think that all this would give commentators pause, especially when they wonder whether war is coming. They don’t seem to have noticed that it never really went away as far as Iran is concerned.

Now you could argue that this picture is exaggerated. Everyone’s doing it in the Middle East. And that in any case Iran is simply defending itself against sectarian Sunni revanchism and bone-headed US hostility.

But everyone’s not doing it. The brutal murder of Jamal al Khashoggi was shocking for many reasons. But one of them is precisely that the Saudis don’t normally do that kind of thing. They may, of course, do lots of other things people don’t like, including locking up human rights activists, executing people without what we would consider due process and exporting extremism.  There’s truth in all that – but Iran does the first two things on an even greater and the third on at least a comparable scale. And the point here is not whether a particular country has an unpleasant way of managing itself, but what the impact is on regional and therefore global security.

On this point, there is no comparison. The Saudis, together with the UAE, certainly helped fund popular opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But such opposition already existed, was widespread, peaceful and growing from 2012 onwards. There has been regional competition for influence in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war there in 2011. But no other Middle Eastern power has sought so consistently as Iran to foment violent revolution in neighbouring states or exported vast quantities of weapons to those who seek to subvert them. No-one else since the collapse of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi has sponsored terrorist attacks across the region and abroad, obstructed maritime free passage, harrassed foreign naval vessels or laid mines. Virtually everyone else has made some sort of accommodation with Israel.

And no other state has talent-spotted, backed or created and sustained such an array of powerful and purposeful sub-state actors – from Lebanese Hezbollah to the Badr Brigade, the Leagues of the Righteous and Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq, the Afghan and Pakistani Shia militias in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. No doubt these groups have their own interests and their own purposes. Hezbollah in particular is also a global criminal enterprise with its tentacles extending through West Africa to Europe, Australia and South America, engaging in human trafficking, money laundering, the drugs trade – including a nice recent line helping smuggle Captagon out of Syria to pay for Iranian oil – and cheque fraud on a vast scale

But with the exception (mostly) of the Houthis, they all recognise the supreme religious and political authority of the Supreme Leader in Iran and in practice share the same overriding goals, of an expanded Shia hegemony over the greater Levant and, if possible, further afield under an Iranian umbrella and the eventual triumph in these areas of Khomeini’s heterodox doctrine of Wilayat al Faqih – the trusteeship of the righteous jurisprudent, in practice the Supreme Leader in Tehran.

The Houthis now fire missiles with gay abandon at airports, power stations and desalination plants in Saudi Arabia, and have threatened to do the same to the UAE. It turns out that the most recent drone attack on oil pipelines in the Kingdom – something that only makes sense in the context of Yemen – originated in Iraq. You might say that KSA is at war with the Houthis. But you can’t condemn Saudi attacks on civilian infrastructure in Yemen without doing the same for the Houthis. And what’s Iraq got to do with any of this?

The answer, of course, is that they’re all in it together. Iran has mobilised its allies and assets from the Bab al Mandab through the Gulf of Oman up to Iraq, Syria and indeed Lebanon in order to send a clear signal about its geographical reach, the variety and deadliness of its partners and the way in which it can use asymmetric and often deniable attacks to compensate for its conventional weaknesses as it seeks to preserve its gains in the wider region, face down the US and intimidate Europe.

The US under Trump seems incapable of transmitting such clear and consistent signals – there’s the constant hiss of tantrum-driven static instead. But you’d think in the circumstances that the EU would be inclined to stand with Washington – its single most important ally – and state clearly and collectively that we will not be intimidated, we condemn all targeting of civilian infrastructure and interference with shipping; that we will join forces to guarantee the freedom of navigation in the Gulf and adjoining seas, work to prevent further missile proliferation and respond robustly to attacks on the Arab Gulf States – at the same time as seeking to end the calamitous war in Yemen.

You’d be disappointed. The EU’s incoming High Representative for Foreign and Security Affairs, the Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell instead simply shrugs his shoulders and says that the EU will continue to work with Iran – and if Iran wants to destroy Israel, well, we’ll just have to learn to live with it. His predecessor, Federica Mogherini, quixotically used her last months in office to promote a special financial mechanism to enable European companies to avoid the impact of US bilateral sanctions on Iran. They won’t use it, of course. Who in their right minds would? But it was important to show willing. Willing to help Iran, that is.

And this points to a bigger problem in the mindset of European and indeed US elites over Iran, quite separate from the question of whether the US was right to withdraw from the JCPOA. If there’s any benefit of any doubt going around, Iran gets it. This isn’t just because Iran keeps teasing Europe with the idea that they might be the ones to save the JCPOA (though it does). And it isn’t quite universal. There’s an excellent and acerbic account of the intense final stages of the nuclear negotiations by the then French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, which makes clear his view of how Iran played the Kerry team. And even Europe may eventually run out of patience with Iranian posturing.

But there has long been a strong thread of Iranophilia in European policy circles, particularly but not exclusively on the Left. This is not out of love for Iran: but because far too many people in these circles dislike the US and did so even before Trump. A year or so ago at an Iran-related event, I heard a senior European External Action Service adviser tell a friend that it was important to support Iran (rather than Saudi Arabia) because only Iran in the region stood up to US imperialism.

That’s not an uncommon view and is now combined with a visceral loathing for Trump. It’s reflected in the way that many liberal commentators can’t bring themselves to admit that Iran, the Houthis, Hezbollah and many of the Iraqi Shia militias are in cahoots. The argument tends to be twofold: (a) Iran has a right to defend itself and (b) proxies equals puppets – any suggestion that these groups are just proxies misses their functional independence within particular socio-political contexts.

It’s a classic straw man argument. No one serious claims that these groups are puppets or simply proxies. They’re actually lots of different things, most of them unpleasant. But none of that alters the fact that they will serve Iran when Iran calls. We have seen them do so repeatedly from the 1980s – when Badr fought with Iran against their fellow Iraqis and Hezbollah bombed and kidnapped with impunity – to the present – when the Houthis keep the Saudis pinned down and distracted with Iranian technology while pumping out their propaganda from the Hezbollah stronghold of South Beirut. And little of this is about Iran’s right to self-defence.

It’s still not clear to me that there will be open war between the US and Iran. The latest French outreach to Iran may encourage both sides to step back. Neither wants a real fight. Trump has made clear his aversion to one as the US enters an election year. Iran knows and seeks to exploit this just short of conflict, though it also believes that if something does kick off, Trump is likely to want to end it quickly.

But you never know. And there are some clear if unsurprising policy conclusions for the new Foreign Secretary – when one is appointed and has decided who will replace the admirable Kim Darroch in Washington. First, si pacem vis, bellum para. What stokes the flames at times of tension is weakness and a lack of clarity. During the 1980s, Iran backed off because the US was crystal clear about both sending and acting upon its signals. Barack Obama set a bad precedent by abandoning his red lines in Syria in 2013. Trump didn’t do much better by striking Syrian targets once in 2017, blustering, and then last month advertising the fact that he had aborted a military response to the Iranian downing of a US surveillance drone.

This can only be remedied in Washington. That’s going to do take a lot of work. We should certainly advise against war – there are other things we can do instead. But we must stand by the US when it acts – whatever we may think about the President, the US is more than one person and remains indispensable to our security. The instinctive wringing of hands in Brussels and other European capitals simply encourages Iran.

The French at least will probably also want to be robust. We should work with them in shaping a realistic response with the US. If that means joint military action, we need to be part of it. We also need collectively to be clear about the triggers for any escalation ladder – from the new Gulf maritime protection force proposed by the US to the use of proportionate force in self-defence against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval forces, the possible targeting of IRGC command and control nodes if they persist in hostile action and so forth.

We should be hard over against the Iran-aligned Shia militias in Iraq – just as we’ve decided belatedly to get real with Hezbollah by ending the feeble pretence (which they publicly ridiculed) that they have separate military and political wings. The Iraqi Prime Minister has said he wants to bring them under proper central governmental control. Some people suspect that’s an excuse to let them take over the state instead. We need to work with partners – again the US and the French, the Kurds, elements of the Iraqi government and key Iraqi Shia clerics – to stop them doing so.

We need to push for a settlement in Yemen. The war damaging, draining and entirely counterproductive. The UAE have wanted a settlement for the last couple of years and are now drawing down their forces. We have our differences with them. This is an area where we can potentially work together.

In the longer term, British and indeed western policy towards Iran needs to be what it always should have been, clear, robust, sustained and collective containment and deterrence. I’ve recently seen some very prominent former Obama officials argue that that’s precisely what the JCPOA was.

I didn’t think that withdrawing from the deal was particularly sensible. But that wasn’t because I thought it was a great deal. It was because I thought it bought us time – around 15 years to be precise. The task was to agree how to use that time well. But that’s not what actually happened. When the deal was formally ratified in 2015, the Obama Administration did nothing about Iran’s horizontal escalation in the region. Instead, they urged western businesses to start flooding back.

But business was reluctant – they suspected rightly that they’d find themselves in bed with some alarming partners which would spell serious trouble for them back home if these partners didn’t stop doing what they were doing in Iran, in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, not to mention further afield. And that was the problem. There was no effort to stop them nor any plan for containment and deterrence, just relief that we’d escaped from the trap we’d set for ourselves when we’d threatened consequences we weren’t prepared to deliver.

I’m glad to see we’ve now had the guts to stop a tanker we believe is smuggling Iranian oil in defiance of sanctions on Syria. The fact that the Iranians have threatened to retaliate – and may already have tried – suggests the charge is true. This won’t have been an easy decision to make. Over the last decade, there has been a startling lack of action over Iranian smuggling – of weapons, missile components and oil, even in areas where international maritime task forces – with British participation – operate such as the Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Horn of Africa and the approaches to the Red Sea. So to stop a tanker now – even if it is Syria-related – sends a message of intent. It may also suggest that we are becoming more inclined to back the US – which has probably have supplied the intelligence on which the stop order was based.

And this is one way ahead. It’s not a question of toppling the Iranian regime. That’s a matter for Iranians. Nor is it a question of war: if the Iranians insist on continuing to threaten their neighbours, imperil shipping and subvert our friends, then we need to find and use ways to stop them doing so. But we need to do so proportionately, coolly and in partnership with others who are similarly willing, the US and the French in particular: the Germans will remain ambivalent. We also need to go after the criminal money flows around the world that sustain Iran and its allies in the region. The US Department of the Treasury and the FBI have been doing so for years. We should be part of all this.

In doing so we need to make sure that our military, our intelligence and security services and our diplomatic effort are properly funded, with the right equipment, staff and skills. And that they feel they have the full backing of ministers. That’s not been the case for some years now. Putting things right will be a generational task.

Needless to say, none of this will be remotely possible if a Corbyn government gets elected. So best get cracking now…

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

British navy to Iran: Back the hell off

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Do the Iranians want a war? They nearly got one overnight, not with the US but with the United Kingdom. The British navy aimed its guns on several Iranian ships attempting to block passage through the Strait of Hormuz of a British oil tanker, which caused the smaller ships to retreat:

Three Iranian vessels attempted to stop a British tanker traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, Britain said Thursday, in the latest escalation between Iran and Western powers in recent weeks.

A British navy ship, the HMS Montrose, “was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and [the tanker] British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” the British government said in a statement.

“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” the statement said.

Last month, the Iranians shot down a US drone operating in international airspace, which nearly prompted a military strike in retaliation. The Iranians have now apparently either shifted their focus or broadened it, also in retaliation. The UK seized a Panamanian oil tanker carrying Iranian crude off the coast of Gibraltar, accusing Tehran of violating EU sanctions by selling oil to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Iran called it “an act of piracy” and threatened “consequences” for the seizure.

This seems to be the UK’s reminder that even consequences have further consequences. For the moment, anyway, the Iranians got the message. However, they clearly want to start a fight in the Strait of Hormuz with someone, even though it’s becoming clearer that the US and the UK are willing to shoot back now after the attacks on other shipping in the Hormuz area.

Iran may not have much choice. Their economy is collapsing again under the weight of US sanctions, and their population is growing restive. The Trump administration announced yesterday that more sanctions are coming now that Iran has openly admitted breaking past the restrictions on uranium enrichment:

The United States on Wednesday accused Iran of “nuclear extortion” and threatened further sanctions against Tehran, which has begun stockpiling and enriching uranium beyond the limits set in the 2015 accord that President Trump has abandoned.

The United States called an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Wednesday in response to the Iranian moves, while a senior French envoy was in Tehran exploring ways to reopen negotiations on compliance with the deal.

Iran called this “warfare“:

Iran says it’s prepared to return to “full implementation” of its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but only when matched by the full compliance of “all participants.” …

Iran’s representative to international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Gharib Abadi, told a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency Wednesday U.S. actions were “neither legitimate nor legal” and should not be accepted by the international community.

He says that the “costly” consequences of American sanctions mean “they should be seen as weapons of warfare.”

Iran had better be careful before they find out what warfare actually would look like against the US and UK. They’ve been testing Western responses in the Hormuz area for some time, and the British navy gave the Iranians something to think about. If the mullahs are getting nervous about the misery of their population, then they should rethink their nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as their support for Iranian proxy terror networks in the region.

The post British navy to Iran: Back the hell off appeared first on Hot Air.

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Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal Limits, and Threatens Further Violations

Iran said on Sunday that within hours it would breach the limits on uranium enrichment set four years ago in an accord with the United States and other international powers that was designed to keep Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon.

The latest move inches Iran closer to where it was before the accord: on the path to being able to produce an atomic bomb.

In recent weeks, Tehran has been making deliberate but provocative violations of the accord, as part of a carefully calibrated campaign to pressure the West into eliminating sanctions that have slashed the country’s oil exports and crippled its economy.

Last week, Iranian officials broke through similar limits on how much nuclear fuel the country could stockpile. The steps Tehran has taken are all easily reversible. Yet the new move Iran vowed to take — to increase enrichment levels beyond the 3.67 percent purity that is the ceiling under the deal — is the most threatening.

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday in Tehran, the deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said Iran would take additional steps over the limits of the accord in 60-day intervals unless international powers provide sanctions relief as detailed in the deal. President Trump withdrew the United States from the accord last year.

In violating the limits on uranium enrichment, Tehran still remains far from producing a nuclear weapon. It would take a major production surge, and enrichment to far higher levels, for Iran to develop a bomb’s worth of highly enriched uranium, experts say. It would take even longer to manufacture that material into a nuclear weapon.

Westlake Legal Group iran-strait-of-hormuz-tankers-1562502231078-articleLarge Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal Limits, and Threatens Further Violations Uranium United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Rouhani, Hassan Nuclear Weapons Nuclear Energy Macron, Emmanuel (1977- ) Iran Embargoes and Sanctions

Why This Narrow Strait Next to Iran Is So Critical to the World’s Oil Supply

Twenty percent of the global oil supply flows past Iran through the Strait of Hormuz.

But for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who signaled in May that he would order the country’s engineers to cross both thresholds if Europe did not compensate Iran for American sanctions, the breach of the enrichment limit would be a watershed. He is betting that the United States will back away from crushing sanctions or that he can split European nations from the Trump administration, which the Europeans blame for setting off the crisis.

If he is wrong, the prospect of military confrontation lurks over each escalation.

“It is a back-to-the-future moment,” said Sanam Vakil, who studies Iran at Chatham House, a research institute in London. It has revived a vexing question that policymakers have grappled with for more than a decade: Is there a permanent way to stop Iran from developing the capability to build a nuclear weapon?

In a phone conversation on Saturday seeking to head off a confrontation, President Emmanuel Macron of France asked Mr. Rouhani to explore by July 15 whether a new negotiation was possible. Mr. Rouhani agreed, according to news reports, but said that “lifting all sanctions can be the beginning of a move between Iran and the six major powers.”

So far, Mr. Trump and his top aides have vowed to continue using “maximum pressure” to force Iran to return to the negotiating table and to accept more stringent restrictions. But some of those who had negotiated the last deal say that reaching another one may now be much harder.

The Trump administration “has discredited the very concept of negotiations, and it has strengthened the hand of those inside Iran who would argue that it is no use talking to the Americans because you can never trust them,” said Rob Malley, a former National Security Council official who helped negotiate the 2015 accord.

“We have already gone through a period of sanctions, negotiations and a deal, and this time it will be harder because the distrust is even greater than it was,” added Mr. Malley, who is now president of the International Crisis Group, an independent organization that tries to defuse international conflict.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157588539_adc38059-5a07-47f3-970b-c6c11af0d4b4-articleLarge Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal Limits, and Threatens Further Violations Uranium United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Rouhani, Hassan Nuclear Weapons Nuclear Energy Macron, Emmanuel (1977- ) Iran Embargoes and Sanctions

The water facility at Arak. Iran poured cement into the core of the plutonium reactor there, preventing it from taking another path to a bomb. In recent days, however, Iranian leaders have threatened to reverse those steps.CreditHamid Foroutan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For a year after Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from what he called a “terrible” deal negotiated by his predecessor, Iran stayed within the accord’s limits. It pressed Britain, France and Germany to make good on their promises to compensate the country for oil revenues and other losses resulting from American sanctions.

There were many meetings on the design of a barter system that might allow Iran to swap oil for other goods, evading American sanctions. But progress was slow; as of last week, not a single barter transaction has been completed, and European officials said the system would never fully compensate for billions of dollars in lost oil sales.

Two months ago, when the United States accelerated the sanctions and moved to cut Iran’s oil revenues to near zero, Tehran decided to begin step-by-step violations of the accord, saying the United States had taken the first move to dissolve it.

Iran has not said how far beyond the enrichment limit it plans to go. Historically, although it has never been known to have approached the 90-percent enrichment required for weapons-grade material, its move raises the prospect of a race toward that goal.

Even a move to 20 percent enrichment — the top level it hit before the deal was reached, in what Iran called an effort to make medical isotopes at a small reactor that the United States gave to Tehran more than 40 years ago — would put it within months of being able to produce weapons-grade fuel.

At first glance, Iran is much further away from that goal than it was before it agreed to the 2015 deal, which set its nuclear efforts back by a matter of years.

In a phone conversation on Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran was asked by President Emmanuel Macron of France to explore by July 15 whether a new negotiation was possible.Credit-/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Under the deal, Iran exported 98 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, chiefly to Russia, leaving it with a minimal amount. It dismantled more than two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges it was operating. It poured cement into the core of its Arak plutonium reactor, preventing it from taking another path to a bomb. (In recent days, however, Iranian leaders have threatened to reverse those steps.)

Perhaps most important, Iran agreed to comprehensive inspections by international monitors, who continue their work. They report relatively few troubles.

Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies who is among the most vociferous critics of the 2015 deal, argued that despite the accord’s shortcomings, in some ways United States policy toward Iran was now working out better than anyone could have planned.

Although he faulted the 2015 deal for weaknesses such as its planned sunset over the next five to 10 years, he conceded that in the short term the Obama administration had persuaded Iran to dismantle so much of its nuclear infrastructure that it has drastically prolonged the amount of time Iran would need to develop a bomb.

That has reduced Iran’s leverage — and helps explain Mr. Rouhani’s drive to break out of some of the accord’s restrictions.

But because the Trump administration is hammering Iran with economic sanctions that are more painful than ever before, the country does not have the kind of money it once did to pour into the nuclear effort or other military activities.

So far, President Trump and his top aides have vowed to continue using “maximum pressure” to force Iran to return to the negotiating table and accept more stringent restrictions.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Crude oil exports have reportedly fallen to about 300,000 barrels a day, compared with about a million a day at the time Iran agreed to the 2015 deal. And the result has brought on a severe crisis in the Iranian economy.

“If you were a Martian who landed on the Washington Mall yesterday and you were given a briefing on Iran policy, you would think, wow, those Americans are really smart when they work together,” Mr. Dubowitz said. “The net result is that Iran is a lot worse off today in terms of nuclear infrastructure and worse off in its economic pain.”

Yet paradoxically, some analysts and former officials argue, the experience of that deal falling apart may also increase the challenge of once again thwarting Iran’s nuclear progress.

Aided in part by sanctions relief provided under the deal, Tehran has fortified itself. Its nuclear facilities, especially a centrifuge center at Natanz, are surrounded by antiaircraft guns. Its missile program has far more reach than it did previously, in part because a side agreement, negotiated at the time of the 2015 deal, weakened the wording on United Nations restrictions on Iran’s missile program.

And the country’s reach is greater: It has helped allied militias build up and dig in around the region, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and those militias may in turn help Iran retaliate against the United States.

Its cybercorps, built after an American-Israeli cyberattack on the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in the years before the 2015 accord, is capable of hitting American infrastructure — and has proved it with attacks on American banks.

Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility in 2007. Aided in part by sanctions relief provided under the deal, Tehran has fortified itself. Its nuclear facilities, especially a centrifuge center at Natanz, are surrounded by anti-aircraft guns.CreditHasan Sarbakhshian/Associated Press

Because of the stronger position of Iranian allies around the region and the significant advances in Iran’s conventional missile program, “repercussion across the region could be far bigger” from the escalating conflict with the United States, said Ellie Geranmayeh, who studies Iran at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“You are probably going to see a few things go pop in the region over the summer weeks — like oil facilities being targeted,” she said, “to try to raise the cost not only for the Saudis and Emiratis, but also to try to raise the cost for Trump personally in the run up to his election.”

Mr. Trump, often caught between his desire to flex muscles and his aversion to another Middle East war, must now decide whether to negotiate, lower the sanctions pressure or consider military options.

For now, the Iranians appear to be speaking primarily to the Europeans. The European Union, Britain, France and Germany all signed the 2015 deal and, in defiance of the Trump administration, continue to support it.

Persuading the Europeans to join another American-led campaign to pressure Iran “is going to be a much harder sell,” Ms. Geranmayeh said. “The Europeans are pointing the blame for the failure of this agreement directly at the U.S. rather than Iran.”

At the same time, if the Europeans conclude that Iran has gone too far beyond the deal, they could ask the United Nations Security Council to reimpose “snapback” sanctions — swift and sweeping penalties set out under the 2015 deal that would add to Iran’s pain.

Iran appears to be emphasizing a desire to return to compliance if the United States does as well, in a bet that it can persuade the Europeans to drag their feet about imposing any penalties. But each step Iran takes makes that bet more risky.

“At some point the Europeans, too, will start wanting to show the Iranians that there is a price to be paid for their behavior, just as Iranians are now showing the U.S.,” Mr. Malley said. “If there is a cycle that emerges, then sooner or later you are heading to the unraveling of the deal.”

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With Latest Threat, ‘We Have Unseated U.S. Presidents In The Past,’ Iran Seems To Be Wearing A Neon Sign That Says ‘Notice Me’

Westlake Legal Group iran-new-deal-620x315 With Latest Threat, ‘We Have Unseated U.S. Presidents In The Past,’ Iran Seems To Be Wearing A Neon Sign That Says ‘Notice Me’ President Trump President Rouhani Iran Hessameddin Ashena Front Page Stories Foreign Policy Featured Story Allow Media Exception 2020


In the fifth provocation over the past three weeks, advisor to Iranian President Rouhani, Hessameddin Ashena, took to Twitter to issue a Fourth of July message to President Trump. “We have unseated an American President in the past. We can do it again. Trump can listen to Pompeo and we’ll make sure he stays a one-term President. Or he could listen to @TuckerCarlson and we might have a different ball game.”

Ashena’s claim of “unseating an American President” is a reference to former President Carter who lost his bid for reelection in 1980. Iran had refused to release 52 American hostages whom had been held for 444 days. By the time President Reagan had ended his inaugural address on January 20, 1981, the hostages had been freed.

His reference to Tucker Carlson comes as a result of reports last week that Carlson had been advising President Trump against involving the U.S. in a war with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the other hand, seems to favor military action.

Iran seems to be wearing a large neon sign which says, “Notice Me.” Three weeks ago, they attacked two oil tankers leaving the Strait of Hormuz. Next, they shot down a U.S. drone which they claimed had flown into their airspace. Then, in rapid-fire fashion this week, Iran first announced they had breached the enriched uranium stockpile limit set forth by the nuclear deal. Next, they threatened to begin enriching uranium above the 3.67% concentration which they had agreed to unless sanctions were lifted by Sunday. And on Thursday, Rouhani’s advisor sent the above tweet to warn Trump that they hold his second term in their hands.

Following Iran’s threat to enrich beyond the 3.67% concentration level, but prior to Ashena’s tweet on Thursday, Trump send the following tweet.

Judging by their numerous recent provocations, the country’s economy may be in even more dire condition than we had thought. After pulling out of the nuclear deal last year, Trump reimposed economic sanctions against Iran and has intensified them since then. The administration has also designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign has had the desired effect. (I posted about the damage the sanctions have already inflicted on their economy here and here.)

Reuters reported last week that Iran crude oil exports in June had fallen to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). In Aril 2018, the month before Trump’s decision to leave the nuclear deal, Iran’s oil exports had averaged 2.5 million bpd.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Iran’s government budget, set in December, is built on the assumption that daily oil exports would be 1.5 million barrels, bringing $24 billion in annual revenue, according to Rahim Zare, a member of Iran’s economic commission.

Iranian officials had been banking that they would be able to keep exporting about 800,000 barrels a day, a level at which they felt the country could muddle through, as it did during the height of Obama-era restrictions, former Iranian officials said. Most of today’s exports go to China.

Iran has actually been exporting more oil than they’ve reported. The WSJ reports:

Iran has found ways to smuggle oil, often by shipping crude to a remote location, turning off its location equipment and making furtive transfers to other ships, shipping experts say. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said last month far more oil was being shipped from Iran than reported.

But the limits of those efforts were underlined Thursday when the government of Gibraltar, an overseas territory of the U.K., said it had stopped a tanker to Syria. Sam Madani, co-founder of TankerTrackers.com, said the tanker left Iran on April 17 laden with some type of fuel.

Up until now, believing that Trump would be a one-term president, Iran has been “waiting out” his presidency and following a policy of  “strategic patience.” Now that Trump’s reelection is a real possibility, Iran appears to be reassessing this position.

It’s unclear how France, Germany and the UK will react to Iran’s most recent provocations. I posted about their noncommittal responses to news that Iran had breached their enriched uranium stockpiles on Monday here. All three European countries have been reluctant to take action against Iran because of their profitable trade relationships with Iranian companies.

However, it’s important to note that they “have done little to help Tehran push back against American sanctions, resulting in international isolation.”

If Iran continues to test the limits of the nuclear deal, even Europe’s patience might end which could mean the end of the deal and the restoration of international sanctions against them.

Iran leaders assume that Trump won’t take military action against them, because “it could cost the president the election.” I think that’s a dangerous assumption. Trump came very close to a military strike on the country last week. At a certain point, most Americans would support retaliatory action – not a war, but isolated military strikes on several Iranian military targets.

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of Bourse & Bazar, a business analysis website focused on Iran, offered his take on Iran’s current position:

Iranian leaders say they won’t negotiate with Mr. Trump on anything unless he lifts sanctions first, and has so far refused to discuss its conventional military means. But Iran’s strategy is aimed at finding a way to the negotiating table.

Iran believes that increasing nuclear activities and ramping up tensions serve to make negotiations a priority for the U.S.  It also allows Iran to amass bargaining chips in case it decides to enter into future negotiations.

The main thing people need to realize is that the only escalation maps being debated in Iran are those that lead to talks. Iran wants to avoid becoming like Cuba, where sanctions are locked-in forever because the country has ceased to be geopolitically relevant enough for the U.S. to care about changing its strategy.

There are two reason why I don’t believe Trump would lift sanctions at this point. First, they are working so well. And second, such a move would make him appear weak in the eyes of the world. But he has been known to surprise us.

Stay tuned.

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In His Own Words: Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif

Westlake Legal Group 04zarifqna-facebookJumbo In His Own Words: Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif Zarif, Mohammad Javad United States International Relations Nuclear Weapons Iran Embargoes and Sanctions

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian most closely associated with the 2015 nuclear agreement, has come under fire in Tehran and Washington as the deal approaches collapse. Hard-liners in Tehran accuse him of falling for false promises from the Americans. Trump administration officials call him a trickster who acts like a moderate while remaining steadfastly loyal to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.

Trump administration officials have talked of imposing economic sanctions on Mr. Zarif, even though he remains essential to any negotiated settlement of the current standoff between the countries.

In an exclusive interview conducted by email, Mr. Zarif talked about these issues at length. His remarks are reproduced here, edited slightly for length and clarity.

The nuclear deal you negotiated, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is now in jeopardy. Do you regret trusting the United States and the West?

I believe JCPOA was and remains the best POSSIBLE agreement on the nuclear issue. None of the participants were happy with all elements of the deal, but it addressed the major concerns of all. It was negotiated by all with open eyes about what was possible and what was not. We did not neglect anything. We accepted the reality that we could not resolve all our differences in this deal and we agreed to leave them out.

It is also important to note that, contrary to public statements by its detractors on all sides, JCPOA was not built on trust. It was indeed based on explicit recognition of mutual mistrust. That is why it is so long and detailed. Paragraph 36 of JCPOA is a clear example that we negotiated this deal with the full understanding that we could not trust the commitment of the West. We are exercising that option within the deal right now, which can indeed prevent the deal from total collapse, which will be detrimental to the interest of all including the United States.

(Paragraph 36 provided a mechanism to resolve disputes and allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance.)

Do you think that the nuclear deal can be salvaged? Or do you anticipate continued erosion since President Trump withdrew from the agreement?

We will remain committed to the deal as long as the remaining participants (E.U., France, Germany, U.K., Russia and China) observe the deal. Survival or collapse of the JCPOA depends on the ability and willingness of all parties to invest in this undertaking. In a nutshell, a multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally.

Has this turn of events jeopardized your career as Iran’s top diplomat?

My preferred career has always been teaching. I will resume that sooner or later, with more to share with my students.

[Mohammad Javad Zarif finds himself mistrusted by both sides as the nuclear deal appears ready to collapse.]

Have you seen hard-liners tweeting and joking and comparing you to the 1970s movie about an Iranian who tries live out a fantasy of American life? What do you say to this?

I did not see that movie, so I do not know. But I do not mind if people have a good laugh about me. That is another way of making myself useful!

Officials of the Trump administration have talked about designating you as a target of economic sanctions. What will it mean if Washington sanctions you?

Everyone who knows me knows that I, or my family, do not own any property outside Iran. I personally do not even have a bank account outside Iran. Iran is my entire life and my sole commitment. So I have no personal problem with possible sanctions.

The only impact — and possibly the sole objective — of a possible designation would be to limit my ability to communicate. And I doubt that would serve anyone. Certainly, it would limit the possibility of informed decision making in Washington.

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Advisor to Rouhani warns Trump: We’ve ended U.S. presidencies before — so listen to Tucker Carlson

Westlake Legal Group tc Advisor to Rouhani warns Trump: We’ve ended U.S. presidencies before — so listen to Tucker Carlson Tucker Carlson Trump The Blog rouhani Obama nuclear keane Iran hesameddin ashena Bolton

Just a normal day in geopolitics in 2019, with an apparatchik in a fundamentalist Muslim regime publicly trolling the president of the United States by warning him to listen to Fox News’s peacenik 8 p.m. host instead of to his cabinet.

Coming tomorrow: The North Koreans call for urgent trilateral high-level denuclearization talks between Kim Jong Un, Trump, and Judge Jeanine.

God, Hannity must have seen this and been so jealous. And John Bolton must have seen it and felt vindicated in believing that Tucker is a useful idiot.

The president they allegedly “unseated” was Carter by refusing to release American hostages until Reagan had already been safely elected. Trump has been trolling them today too in response to the news this morning that Iran might begin enriching uranium beyond the low levels needed to merely power a reactor.

If Iran were to go from 3.67 percent enrichment to 20 percent, the risk of an Iranian “breakout” to weapons-grade uranium would rise dramatically, probably forcing the U.S. and/or Israel to act. They’re threatening him now to try to get him to lift some of the sanctions that are choking off their economy as a prelude to talks, but he’s refused thus far. If he won’t budge, what do they do next to pressure him? Attacking American assets would ignite a war. Ratcheting up enrichment might be their only “peaceful” way of getting his attention and showing they mean business.

By the way, if they’re looking to influence Trump by encouraging him to listen to certain advisors, Tucker’s probably not the person they should be touting. The man they should be looking to is Gen. Jack Keane. Per Politico, a segment he did on Fox on the day Trump was mulling whether to attack Iran for downing a U.S. drone hugely influenced Trump’s thinking:

“Our viewers may have forgotten, but during the tanker war in the late ‘80s when Reagan did take some action, we actually made a mistake,” Keane said, referring to President Ronald Reagan. “We had a USS warship shoot down an Iranian airliner in Iranian airspace. Two-hundred ninety people killed. Sixty-six of them were children. And we took that for a Tomahawk F-14. That was clearly a mistake by the ship’s crew in doing that. And we acknowledged that we made a horrific mistake.”

Keane’s reference to the United States’ accidental downing of an Iranian commercial airliner in 1988 made a profound impact on the president, who was “spooked” when he learned of the incident, according to two sources briefed on his reaction. The president made repeated comments about the tragedy on the evening of the 20th, leading aides to believe that Keane’s brief history lesson exacerbated Trump’s pre-existing doubts about carrying out the strike.

The good news: Trump ended up making a good call, one which a huge majority of voters support. The bad news: Whether we end up starting a major Middle East war with Iran may depend on whoever Fox News happens to have on during a given day and whether Trump happens to be watching at a particular moment.

Nothing to worry about.

Exit question: Has Tucker explained his view on the air yet of what the U.S. should do about Iran’s nuclear program? He’s been clear on the “no war” part. Would he drop sanctions as well and revert to the terms of the Obama nuclear deal? If he supports Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign in hopes of squeezing Iran until they agree to denuclearize, what should we do if they make good on their threat to start escalating enrichment instead?

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Rouhani Says Iran Will Begin Enriching Uranium at Higher Level in Days

Westlake Legal Group 03Iran-facebookJumbo-v3 Rouhani Says Iran Will Begin Enriching Uranium at Higher Level in Days Uranium United States International Relations Rouhani, Hassan Nuclear Weapons Iran Embargoes and Sanctions

LONDON — Iran will “take the next step” on Sunday and begin to enrich uranium beyond the levels specified under its 2015 accord with the United States and other global powers, President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, state news outlets reported.

Mr. Rouhani’s pledge to accelerate the country’s uranium enrichment is the latest step in an escalating confrontation with the United States over President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear pact and imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

On Monday, Tehran increased its stockpile of low-grade enriched uranium above the cap stipulated in the accord. But its announced intention to enrich uranium to a higher level of purity is considered a far more significant breach of the nuclear deal, as it would bring Iran much closer to producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran has maintained over the years that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes, and that the more highly enriched uranium was intended for use in a reactor that produces medical isotopes.

But to forestall Iran’s decades-long pursuit of the technology to build a nuclear bomb, the United States, the European Union and several world powers agreed in 2015 to lift sweeping economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limitations on its nuclear activity.

Mr. Trump withdrew from that deal last year, demanding that Iran agree to more stringent limits on its nuclear and conventional military activities. This May, the United States added to its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran by moving to block the country’s oil sales anywhere in the world, cutting its exports to around 300,000 barrels a day from 2.5 million. Officials in Tehran have denounced those latest restrictions as “economic warfare.”

The other signatories to the nuclear deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — have continued to support it and urged Iran to do the same. But Tehran has threatened to stop complying with the agreement unless the European nations take measures to relieve the economic pain inflicted by the United States.

The demise of the pact would revive questions about whether Tehran might seek to develop a nuclear weapon and, if so, whether the United States or Israel might then take military action to prevent that.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran are already spilling out in other ways. The United States was within minutes of launching a missile strike against Iran last month in retaliation for the shooting down of an American surveillance drone, before Mr. Trump reversed the order.

The United States and other allies have also accused Iran of using naval mines to damage a total of six tankers in two attacks around the crucial oil shipping lanes in and out of the Persian Gulf, accusations Iranian officials have denied.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Mr. Rouhani said that Iran would move on Sunday to enrich uranium to higher levels “in any amount that we want, any amount that is required,” regardless of the limits set by the deal.

“Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table,” Mr. Rouhani said. “Go back to understanding, to respecting the law and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Under those conditions, all of us can abide by the nuclear deal.”

In addition, Mr. Rouhani said with new specificity that Iran would also start taking steps on Sunday to restart its Arak nuclear reactor, which could eventually be used to produce plutonium and provide an alternate path to developing a bomb.

Iran had said under the 2015 accord that it had removed the core of the reactor and filled it with cement. If the United States and the other signatories do not provide the sanctions relief they had promised, he said, Iran will return the Arak reactor to “the condition that you say is dangerous and can produce plutonium.”

“We will return to that unless you take action regarding all your commitments,” he said.

The European Union, in its most significant break with the Trump administration, has sought to throw the Iranians the sort of economic lifeline that would persuade them to continue honoring the terms of the deal. But a proposed alternative trading mechanism to help Iran bypass the new American sanctions has largely failed, and Mr. Rouhani had set a deadline of the first week in July for the Europeans to deliver on their promises of help.

As that deadline approached, Iran this week took its first small step beyond the 2015 agreement by surpassing the deal’s cap in its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

Taken alone, that step does little to bring Iran closer to the potential development of a nuclear weapon. And the stockpile could easily be reduced to compliance by shipping the excess abroad. But the violation of the 2015 agreement nonetheless served as a warning that the pact itself was in imminent danger.

In response, top diplomats from the European Union, Britain, France and Germany released a statement on Tuesday warning that they were “extremely concerned” and that “our commitment to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance with Iran.“

“We are urgently considering next steps” under the terms of the 2015 agreement, the Europeans said, though they did not elaborate.

Mr. Rouhani’s statement on Wednesday appeared to rebuff those warnings, setting the stage for Iran to resume production of more highly enriched uranium.

The Iranians have said they are trying to preserve the nuclear deal, but they have expressed increasing impatience with the Europeans’ requests that Tehran abide by the 2015 agreement — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A., — long after the Trump administration stamped it a dead letter.

“Iran is committed to the full implementation of the #JCPOA: as long as E3/EU implement THEIR economic commitments,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter late Tuesday night, referring to the European Union and its three signatories to the deal, Britain, France and Germany.

“So moving forward, Iran will comply with its commitments under the JCPOA in exactly the same manner as the EU/E3 have — and will — comply with theirs,” Mr. Zarif added. “Fair enough? “


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Gingrich: Not Sure If Iran Can Do Anything ‘Bad Enough’ To Europeans For Them To End Their Pro-Iranian Posture

Westlake Legal Group iran-new-deal-620x315 Gingrich: Not Sure If Iran Can Do Anything ‘Bad Enough’ To Europeans For Them To End Their Pro-Iranian Posture Strait of Hormuz President Trump Newt Gingrich Middle East iran nuclear deal Iran Front Page Stories Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Featured Story Allow Media Exception


On Monday Iran’s state media outlet, IRNA, reported that Iran has breached the 300kg cap for enriched low-grade uranium set forth by the JCPOA (nuclear deal). Under the agreement, Iran had agreed to these limits in return for relief from economic sanctions.

IRNA also said the regime would soon begin to enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% concentration limit. According to an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal,Tehran threatened this breakout if Europe didn’t do enough to circumvent U.S. sanctions, and now it’s daring the West to do something to stop it…The loud announcement of a nuclear breakout is intended to scare the world into coaxing President Trump to back off the sanctions pressure.”

This information was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog. IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl issued a statement which said: “We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the Agency verified on July 1st that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded 300 kg of UF6 enriched up to 3.67% U-235 (or the equivalent in different chemical forms).”

Late Monday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran had not violated the agreement. He claimed the agreement gave them the right to respond after Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

(Note: E3 includes Germany, Britain and France; +2 adds Russia and China.)

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Abbas Mousavi commented on this latest development saying, “We told the Europeans that if more practical, mature and complete measures were taken, Iran’s reduction (to its) commitments could be reversed. Otherwise, we will continue.”

President Trump said, “They know what they’re doing. They know what they’re playing with. And I think they’re playing with fire.”

China reacted to this news as expected. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang addressed the story at a press briefing. He told reporters that China “regrets” Iran’s decision, but said:

US maximum pressure is the root cause of tensions…We call on all parties to view this from a long term and overall perspective, exercise restraint and uphold the JCPOA (nuclear deal) together so that there won’t be further escalation in the tense situation.

Russia also blames the U.S.  Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov said “Iran was facing unprecedented and unthinkable US sanctions, including an oil trade embargo”…and called it “an attempt to strangle the country.”

The bigger question becomes, will Germany, Britain or France act? Judging from the statements made by European leaders, it would appear not. All responses basically call on Iran to reverse their stockpiling process and not to do this again. None of them have called for renewed sanctions because they want to continue trading with Iran. They refuse to give up their profitable business relationships with Iranian companies.

French President Emmanuel Macron “recalled his attachment to the full respect of the 2015 nuclear accord and asks Iran to reverse without delay this excess, as well as to avoid all extra measures that would put into question its nuclear commitments.”

According to Al Jazeera, the statement said “Macron would take steps in coming days to ensure Iran met its obligations and continued to benefit from the economic advantages of the deal.”

A German foreign ministry source told Reuters the country was “very concerned. We call on Iran to reverse this step and not to further undermine the nuclear agreement.” The source added that “Germany would carefully consider next steps together with other participants in the JCPOA.”

The EU and the UN issued similar statements, each asking Iran to comply with the agreement and to reverse the stockpiling process.

The WSJ editorial board wrote that many Europeans will “blame Washington more than Tehran” for this latest provocation. They wrote:

But it’s been clear all along that the regime has viewed the deal as a pause, not an end, to its nuclear ambitions. In 2016 the country overproduced heavy water, which the Obama Administration then purchased. Earlier this year the country’s top nuclear official acknowledged the regime had long been preparing to break out from the deal and pursue nuclear weapons.

Iran also ignores United Nations Security Council bans on missile tests and weapons sales. The regime maintains a destabilizing presence in Syria, plots terrorist attacks in Europe, and calls for the destruction of Israel. Its recent attacks on oil pipelines throughout the Middle East are part of a pattern that long preceded the U.S. maximum-pressure policy.

Iran’s actions should instead prompt Europe to join the U.S. in sanctions. Some in Europe are hoping Mr. Trump will lose his re-election bid and a Democrat will rejoin the nuclear accord. But we’ve learned enough about Iran’s behavior to know that the regime always intended to use the deal to finance its adventures abroad, while biding its time and getting stronger as it waits for the date it could escape the deal’s strictures and become a nuclear power.

Though it’s unlikely our European friends will stand with us against Iran, Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” appears to be working. In a recent post entitled “Trump Can Defeat Iran Without Firing a Single Shot,” I wrote that the daily loss of oil revenue to Iran caused by the existing sanctions is estimated at $120 million. That’s $3.6 billion each month or $43.8 billion per year.

Newt Gingrich appeared on Fox & Friends this morning to discuss Iran. (Video below.) He doesn’t believe there’s anything Iran can do to the Europeans “bad enough” to make them end their pro-Iranian posture because there’s too much profit there.

The problem for the Iranians is that the sanctions are really biting and month-by-month, their economy is getting worse. And people are getting more and more unhappy.

They are lashing out desperately trying to somehow change their circumstances by either getting us to back off or frankly by getting us to attack them. I think they think they could use nationalism to defend the homeland against Americans.

The best strategy is to “be calm, be patient, just continue to increase the pressure economically.” He thinks Iran is very close to breaking. “This is a very, very shaky regime.”

Sen. Tom Cotton was a guest on the show and brought up the importance of Iran’s control over the straight of Hormuz.

Gingrich first pointed out that the U.S. is energy independent. But, he said, Trump would be wise to talk to the Chinese, the Indians and the Japanese and say, “What are you going to do? You’re the countries that need the oil.” They need to put pressure on the Iranian government.

I think it’s safe to assume that neither Germany, Britain or France will act against Iran.

Still, the U.S. economic sanctions are working. And last week, President Trump’s executive order imposed new sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top government officials. Gingrich is correct that Iran has been lashing out desperately. In just the last three weeks, they’ve attacked two oil tankers passing through the Strait of Hormuz, shot down a U.S. drone and now the regime has announced they’ve violated the terms of the nuclear agreement.

The Iranians are angry. Let’s make them even angrier.

The post Gingrich: Not Sure If Iran Can Do Anything ‘Bad Enough’ To Europeans For Them To End Their Pro-Iranian Posture appeared first on RedState.

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