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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "United States International Relations"

Trump Backs Away From Barriers on Foreign Uranium

WASHINGTON — President Trump said he would not impose quotas on imports of uranium, backing away from one of many trade confrontations the administration has threatened as it tries to protect American industry.

Mr. Trump, in an announcement late Friday night, said that he did not agree with the commerce secretary’s findings that foreign uranium poses a threat to national security. It was a rare dissent for a president who has determined that foreign metals, autos and auto parts are a threat to America’s national security and should be restricted.

After several months of deliberation, the commerce secretary determined that the high volume of uranium imports do pose a threat to national security. Mr. Trump rejected that finding.

“Although I agree that the secretary’s findings raise significant concerns regarding the impact of uranium imports on the national security with respect to domestic mining, I find that a fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain is necessary at this time,” the president said in a statement.

The potential for trade barriers on foreign uranium stemmed from an investigation into whether imported uranium ore and related products, which are essential components for the United States’ nuclear arsenal, submarines, aircraft carriers and power plants, were a security threat.

Mr. Trump’s decision means that the United States will not impose the quotas that the domestic uranium industry had requested, which would have limited imports to guarantee that American miners supply one-quarter of the uranium used domestically. Instead, the president said he would establish a working group to develop recommendations in the next 90 days for reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production.

The announcement was a rare instance in which the Trump administration chose not to exercise the full extent of its powers to give American companies a trade advantage over foreign competitors.

The Trump administration has used similar national security-related investigations to levy tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, and it has threatened to do the same with imported automobiles and auto parts. Foreign leaders from Canada, Mexico, Europe and elsewhere have bristled at being branded a national security threat and imposed retaliatory tariffs on American products in return.

Image<img alt="Mr. Trump took the rare step of disagreeing with his Commerce Department’s findings that imports of uranium pose a threat to national security.

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Mr. Trump took the rare step of disagreeing with his Commerce Department’s findings that imports of uranium pose a threat to national security.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Unlike the investigations in foreign metals and cars, which the Trump administration initiated on its own, two American uranium mining companies, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels, had requested the inquiry into uranium. Both businesses claimed that subsidized foreign products had flooded the American market, putting them at a competitive disadvantage, forcing them to cut jobs and putting the domestic supply of uranium at risk.

But in seeking protection, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels found themselves at odds with American nuclear power plants and the utilities that depend on that power, which would face higher material prices and operating costs if quotas were put into place. Nuclear plants generate about one-fifth of the country’s electricity, but they are rapidly losing market share to cheaper electricity from shale gas and wind turbines.

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of uranium. But it imported 93 percent of the uranium it used in 2017, with the vast majority coming from Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Russia. In its report, the Commerce Department said that imports had risen from satisfying 85.8 percent of the domestic market in 2009 as a result of increased production by foreign state-owned enterprises that distorted global prices and made it difficult for American miners to compete.

“We are down to where we are effectively producing nothing when it comes to newly mined uranium,” said Mark Chalmers, the president of Energy Fuels. “That should shock people.”

“We’re basically chucking our car keys at the Chinese and the Russians and saying go ahead and produce our uranium for us,” he said.

Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy say they have had to cut their work force because of falling global prices. They claim that Russia and Kazakhstan have heavily subsidized their production, and China has been buying up uranium mines around the world, threatening the supply of uranium from the United States and close allies like Canada and Australia.

But those who criticized the petition — including foreign uranium miners and domestic utilities — viewed the request as a transparent grab for protection of a struggling domestic industry. They say mining uranium has not been economical in the United States for a decade, and note that the country maintains a strategic reserve of uranium that can supply the military for many years.

The Ad Hoc Utilities Group, which runs a majority of the nuclear generators in the United States, said in comments submitted to the Trump administration last September that restricting imports would endanger the viability of nuclear plants and the entire industry. The quota that the petitioners had requested would effectively tax nuclear generators by $500 million to $800 million a year, the utilities group said, risking thousands of jobs in the industry.

“Maintaining nuclear plants is a cornerstone of the present administration’s policy,” the utilities company said. “However, this investigation’s potential impact on restricting nuclear fuel imports would do just the opposite.”

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As Nations Look to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal

Westlake Legal Group merlin_148265940_3d34f4ca-6938-496a-86fd-8da1c7681316-facebookJumbo As Nations Look to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Treaties tax evasion Mnuchin, Steven T International Trade and World Market Income Tax Great Britain Google Inc France Federal Taxes (US) Facebook Inc Customs (Tariff) Corporations Corporate Taxes Amazon.com Inc

WASHINGTON — For most of the 21st century, wealthy nations have engaged in a race to the bottom on corporate taxes, cutting rates in an effort to poach business activity across borders. Very quickly, that script has flipped.

Developed countries are now moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens’ daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there.

France moved on Thursday to become the first country to impose a so-called digital tax of 3 percent on the revenue companies earn from providing digital services to French users. It would apply to large companies, numbering more than two dozen, with robust annual sales in France, including United States-based Facebook, Google and Amazon. British leaders also detailed plans on Thursday to impose a similar tax, of 2 percent, on tech giants. And the European Union has also been mulling a digital tax.

The digital revenue grab is pitting traditional allies against one another, threatening to set off a cascade of tax increases and tariffs unless political and economic leaders work out a multinational agreement to avert them. Late Wednesday, the Trump administration said it would pursue an investigation into whether France’s tech tax amounted to an unfair trade practice that could be punishable with retaliatory tariffs. Administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have also raised concerns about Britain’s move.

The French tax, which would exact a bigger toll on foreign companies than French ones, has been denounced by the American tech industry, along with Democratic and Republican leaders, who are looking for ways to avoid such one-off decisions by more closely coordinating international digital tax arrangements.

Administration officials have tried to shape an effort being led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to broker an international system for taxing digital profits. A lobbying flurry has broken out in Washington to influence the negotiations.

And in its attempts to show international leadership — and not go it alone, as Mr. Trump has in his trade wars with China and other partners — the administration is pushing the Senate to vote next week on a package of long-foundering updates to international tax treaties, which could demonstrate to allies that it is serious about leading the effort to broker a digital armistice.

Countries have competed to reduce corporate tax rates, and attract business activity both physically and on paper, for two decades. The average rate tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has fallen seven percentage points since 2000, to just over 21 percent today. France and the United States both cut rates substantially for 2018, with Mr. Trump’s signature tax cuts bringing the American rate of 21 percent right to the international average.

Technology companies’ revenue has surged worldwide, but not their tax payments, prompting many wealthy governments to complain that digital businesses are not paying their fair share. The European Union calculates that digital company revenue is growing more than four times as fast as revenue for other multinational companies, partly from ad sales to European consumers.

Because the firms have relatively light physical presences in Europe, they benefit from the current system, which taxes companies based on where their operations and assets are — and not where their sales are generated. The European Union has said this has allowed tech companies to pay less than half the effective tax rate of other multinationals, and European leaders want to tax them in a way that takes into account where their users are.

Mr. Mnuchin has spent much of his time discussing the issue at international forums with finance ministers from around the world.

During meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in April, Mr. Mnuchin said it was a “priority” to find an international solution, and he pressed France and Britain to abandon their own tax plans once a compromise is reached.

At the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Japan in June, Mr. Mnuchin underscored his concerns, and the finance ministers agreed in their communiqué to work toward finding a common set of rules to close loopholes that global technology companies have been using to reduce their tax bills.

“I’m not in favor of the current digital tax that has been proposed by France and the U.K.,” Mr. Mnuchin said, warning a system of unilateral digital taxes would not work. “We have significant concerns with both of those.”

The United States has called for a tax that is based on companies’ income, not sales, and said specific industries should not be singled out with a different standard. The Treasury secretary has dispatched his deputy, Justin Muzinich, to help broker an agreement. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a “road map” in May, agreed to by nearly 130 countries, toward finding agreement on a global digital tax plan.

France has said that it will repeal its tax once a group agreement is reached. The subject will come up again when finance minsters gather in Chantilly, France, for the summit of the Group of 7 industrialized nations next week. Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has suggested that France’s tax will help accelerate an international pact.

“We are willing, especially with Steven Mnuchin, to give new impetus during the G7 in Chantilly on the very specific topic of minimum taxation,” Mr. Le Maire said in an interview last month.

The Treasury Department said in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that it is considering a range of responses to the French tax.

“We have and will continue to urge France to forbear from such unilateral actions and join with us in an intensive effort to reach a comprehensive, multilateral solution,” wrote Kimberly J. Pinter, deputy assistant secretary in Treasury’s office of legislative affairs.

As negotiations persist, administration officials and Republican Senate leaders have worked together to break a decade-long logjam on updating international tax treaties, some of which were negotiated in the early years of the Obama administration.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, moved on Thursday to set up a vote on the quartet of treaties next week, in what would be a bipartisan victory for multinational companies. The package is expected to succeed in garnering the support of two-thirds of senators voting on the issue.

The so-called tax protocols would update existing tax treaties with Spain, Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland. They would allow companies with operations in those countries to avoid some previous tax penalties for transferring money to their operations abroad, in a provision proponents say would encourage multinationals to invest more in the United States. They would also update the existing treaties to allow for more detailed sharing of information among countries on individual and corporate taxpayers.

The treaties were held up for years by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who objected to that information sharing. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overrode his complaints and voted to advance the treaties last month.

A host of large and powerful trade groups, including the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Business Roundtable, has been urging Senate leaders to approve the measures. “Tax treaties help the U.S. economy by allowing U.S. companies to more efficiently conduct their businesses abroad and by making the U.S. more hospitable to foreign investment,” the groups wrote this spring in a letter to Senator Jim Risch, the Idaho Republican who leads the Foreign Relations Committee.

One of the companies that stands to benefit is a Spanish-owned steel maker with a large plant in Kentucky, North American Stainless, which has been pushing Mr. McConnell and other senators to schedule a vote.

North American Stainless is the subsidiary of Acerinox, and employs more than 1,300 workers in Kentucky. A company executive told a Senate panel in 2014 that ratifying the tax protocol with Spain could boost Acerinox’s investments in Kentucky, by ending a 10 percent tax on dividend payments from the American subsidiary to the parent company.

In pushing for the tax treaties, Treasury officials have argued that they would promote fair and efficient taxation by the United States and treaty partners, reduce the risk of double taxation and help combat tax evasion by improving the flow of information among tax authorities.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the tax treaties were a priority for Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. McConnell and that the Senate’s bipartisan work on the issue would fuel economic growth.

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China and U.S. Differ Over Agricultural Purchases Trump Boasted About

Westlake Legal Group merlin_154849968_f087c222-4547-4ce6-8ea0-519b1a2b92a9-facebookJumbo China and U.S. Differ Over Agricultural Purchases Trump Boasted About United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Soybeans International Trade and World Market Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

WASHINGTON — President Trump emerged from a June meeting in Japan with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, saying that China would immediately begin purchasing American farm products in return for a trade truce that would forestall more United States tariffs on Chinese goods.

China did not see it that way. People familiar with the negotiations say China has denied making any explicit commitment to buy American farm products during those discussions and instead saw large-scale purchases as contingent on progress toward a final trade deal that is still nowhere in sight.

That is raising questions among trade experts about whether the United States gave up more than it got during Mr. Trump’s recent efforts to de-escalate the trade war.

Mr. Trump agreed to delay imposing tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese imports and said he would ease restrictions on Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant blacklisted in May by the Commerce Department. In exchange, Mr. Trump said China would snap up American farm products.

“China is going to be buying a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product, and they’re going to start that very soon, almost immediately,” Mr. Trump said on June 29. “We’re going to give them lists of things that we’d like them to buy. Our farmers are going to be a tremendous beneficiary.”

But Beijing has yet to engage in any large purchases of American farm goods since the meeting. Two people familiar with Chinese economic policymaking said China did not believe that an explicit agreement had been struck for specific farm purchases.

On Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, a chief White House economic adviser, said the United States expected China to begin making purchases of soybeans, wheat and potentially energy products, but acknowledged they had yet to materialize.

“The president, in a good-faith showing, has indicated that we will cease any new tariffs, any new tariffs,” Mr. Kudlow said. “Now, President Xi is expected — or we hope, in return for our accommodations — to move immediately, quickly, while the talks are going on, on the agriculture front. It’s good faith, but it would be real transactions.”

“Haven’t seen them yet, by the way,” Mr. Kudlow added. “But, yes, that was part of the conversation.”

It appears to be just the latest misstep in a drawn-out negotiation between the United States and China. And it suggests that, despite descriptions of progress by American officials, a protracted trade war that has rocked global markets and clamped down on trade between the world’s two largest economies is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Beijing continues to push for the United States to remove the tariffs it has placed on $250 billion worth of Chinese products up front and let China carry out changes to its intellectual property laws and other regulations more gradually, people with knowledge of the talks say. The Trump administration has insisted that its tariffs remain while China makes the promised changes, but it is also eager to find a solution where China will move ahead with large purchases of agricultural goods.

Negotiators from the two countries are continuing to work toward a deal, and large-scale purchases could still happen. On Tuesday, Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with China’s vice premier, Liu He, and its commerce minister, Zhong Shan, to continue talks, according to a senior administration official.

In a statement on Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Commerce said the two sides “exchanged views on implementing the consensus reached in Osaka” by Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi.

American officials also said on Tuesday that they were already going ahead with part of what Mr. Trump described as his concession: relaxing a ban on Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that the United States cut off from buying American technology amid national security concerns. The administration will issue licenses for American companies that want to do business with Huawei “where there is no threat to national security,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

The United States has moved to cut the company off from access to American suppliers by placing it on the so-called entity list, which restricts sales of American technology for national security reasons. But companies can apply for licenses to sell specific products, circumventing the ban.

It remains unclear exactly which types of products could be exempted. The American technology industry has been lobbying the administration, saying the restrictions could cut it off from a valuable source of revenue. The ability to continue selling to Huawei could offer a reprieve to American companies like Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom and Google, which sell Huawei microchips, software and other specialized parts that go into its smartphones and telecom equipment.

Some critics have described the administration’s decision to allow more sales to Huawei as a significant concession — and say it remains unclear what the United States will obtain in return.

“If President Trump has in fact bargained away the recent restrictions on #Huawei,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said on Twitter on June 29, “then we will have to get those restrictions put back in place through legislation.”

Trade talks with China came to a halt in early May, when Chinese negotiators said they could not accept some provisions that had tentatively been agreed to in a draft pact. The United States accused Beijing of backtracking. Both sides immediately escalated their trade war, with Mr. Trump raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods and threatening to tax nearly all Chinese imports. China retaliated with higher tariffs on American goods.

The prospect of a prolonged trade conflict has shaken stock markets and Mr. Trump’s political base heading into the 2020 election. So hopes were high when Mr. Trump emerged from a meeting with Mr. Xi in late June with a temporary truce.

The president has been eager to reduce the trade war’s pain on American farmers, who send about one-third of their crops to China. Farmers are an important source of political support for the president, but they have been battered by the conflict in which the United States has ramped up tariffs on China.

China has placed retaliatory tariffs on American products, including soybeans. And Beijing has directed its state-owned companies to start and stop purchases of American products as a lever in the conflict. Its huge state-owned agricultural trading companies, which handle food imports, have been shifting their orders to other countries, like Brazil.

In the days leading up to the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi in Osaka, China made large purchases of soybeans as an apparent good-will gesture. On June 28, the United States Agriculture Department announced that Chinese importers had bought 544,000 tons of soybeans, the largest sale to China since late March.

But no unusually large purchases have been reported since then, and it remains unclear whether China will continue making significant purchases.

Chinese officials have maintained that any further purchases would be made only as part of a trade deal rather than as a unilateral concession, said Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University and the former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division.

“China has made a commitment in principle to purchase more American goods, including agricultural products, but it is a commitment conditional on some progress in the trade talks,” Mr. Prasad said. “China has no intention of following through on its commitment if the trade talks founder.”

When questioned directly about Mr. Trump’s statement on farm purchases last week, a spokesman from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce avoided giving a specific answer.

“China and the United States have strong complementarities in the field of agricultural products trade, and there is huge space for cooperation,” said the spokesman, Gao Feng, adding that China did not want to see agricultural trade affected by trade frictions between the countries.

“Agricultural trade is an important issue that needs to be discussed by both sides,” Mr. Gao said.

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Trump Administration Will Allow Some Companies to Sell to Huawei

Westlake Legal Group 09DC-TRADE-01-facebookJumbo Trump Administration Will Allow Some Companies to Sell to Huawei United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy International Trade and World Market Blacklisting

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is following through with plans to allow American companies to continue doing business with Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment giant, just weeks after placing the company on a Commerce Department blacklist.

On Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the administration will issue licenses for American companies that want to do business with Huawei “where there is no threat to national security.” And another top official suggested the move would allow chip makers to continue selling certain technology to Huawei.

The comments confirm President Trump’s surprise announcement last month, after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that the United States would relax restrictions on Huawei as part of an effort to restart stalled trade talks with China. Weeks earlier, the Commerce Department said it had placed the company and its dozens of affiliates on a list of firms deemed a risk to national security, effectively barring it from buying American parts and technologies without seeking United States government approval.

Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House National Economic Council, said at a CNBC event on Tuesday that the United States has “opened the door — relaxed a bit, the licensing requirements from the Commerce Department” for companies that sell to Huawei.

“We are opening that up for a limited time period,” Mr. Kudlow said.

That could offer a reprieve to American companies like Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom and Google, which sell microchips to Huawei and other specialized parts that go into its smartphones and telecom equipment.

American technology companies have been lobbying the administration, saying that the ban will cut them off from a major source of revenue, while doing little to hold back Huawei’s technological advancement, since Huawei will merely purchase some less-advanced components from competitors in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere instead.

Mr. Kudlow also said negotiations with China, which fell apart in May and seemed on the brink of collapse, are set to resume.

“The most important thing, the headline, is that talks and negotiations will resume, after a couple months of hiatus,” he said.

On Tuesday, Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Minister Zhong Shan to continue negotiations aimed at resolving the outstanding trade disputes between the United States and China, according to a senior administration official. Both sides will continue these talks as appropriate, the official said.

Whether those talks can result in a trade deal is not yet clear. Deep differences remain, including whether China will agree to codify changes to its trade practices in Chinese law, as the administration has demanded. And the United States has not yet committed to lifting any of the tariffs it has placed on $250 billion worth of goods.

And while Washington is relaxing its restrictions on Huawei, a broader effort to crack down on China’s ability to buy American technology is continuing.

Mr. Ross, speaking at an export control conference in Washington, said the administration would continue efforts to protect America’s development of advanced technologies, including potentially curbing the ability of other countries to buy sensitive technology.

He said the administration was updating its export control policies to reflect a “fusion” between China’s military and its civilian businesses, which Mr. Ross called a threat to America. And he warned companies not to sacrifice intellectual property and other trade secrets in order to gain access to growing markets like China.

“The future prosperity of the United States depends on our strategic advantage in advanced technologies,” Mr. Ross said. “It is wrong to trade sensitive I.P. or source codes for access to a foreign market,” he said, “no matter how lucrative that market might be.”

Mr. Ross stopped short of announcing long-expected additions to the list of products subject to American export controls, but said the Commerce Department would continue to review which technologies might need protection.

“If new export controls seem necessary, the department seeks public input and strives for multilateral agreements, so that important controls are universally adopted,” he said.

Mr. Ross said that the department would soon announce members of an “emerging technology technical advisory committee to help review those technologies,” whose members would be announced shortly, and who would help “modernize” the department’s export control list.

Commerce was tasked with creating new rules for protecting sensitive American technologies from foreign incursions by a defense bill that Mr. Trump signed into law last August. But the department has found creating the list of sensitive technologies to be a difficult task.

Rules that are too restrictive could weigh heavily on businesses that depend on freely trading components around the world, and ultimately hamstring their ability to design and manufacture products in the United States. Companies could be forced to move their research sites abroad, potentially putting the position of the United States as a hub for research and development at risk.

“This is the dilemma,” said William Reinsch, who led what now is called the Bureau of Industry and Security under the Clinton administration. “You have to constantly walk this line between controlling too loose and letting stuff you want out, and controlling too tight and incentivizing other people to make it.”

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Leaked British Cables Critical of Trump Lead to Diplomatic Uproar

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Leaked British Cables Critical of Trump Lead to Diplomatic Uproar United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J May, Theresa M Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain Darroch, Kim (1954- )

WASHINGTON — President Trump celebrates his bond with Queen Elizabeth II. He is less charitable about those who serve her.

On Monday, Mr. Trump said the White House would no longer deal with the British ambassador to the United States after the envoy described the Trump administration as “clumsy and inept” in confidential cables that were leaked. The president also accused Prime Minister Theresa May of botching Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union, reviving a critique he first leveled against her a year ago.

Mr. Trump’s criticisms, delivered in a pair of midday tweets, were a rude farewell to Mrs. May and a British leadership that is likely to be replaced in the coming weeks by harder-line, pro-Brexit forces more to the president’s liking. In his rebuke of the ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, Mr. Trump came close to declaring him persona non grata — an extraordinary breach between the United States and one of its closest allies.

The British government scrambled to repair the damage, dispatching its trade minister to Washington to apologize to the president’s elder daughter, Ivanka Trump. The sudden rupture of the so-called special relationship came barely a month after the queen feted Mr. Trump with a 41-gun salute and a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

It was a reminder of the fact that underneath the pageantry, the ties between Britain and the United States have been fraying for some time.

“What a mess she and her representatives have created,” Mr. Trump said of Mrs. May. “I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way.” Of Mr. Darroch, he said, “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him.”

Mr. Trump’s threat left Mr. Darroch’s status uncertain, though the British government stoutly defended his right to send home “honest, unvarnished assessments” of the political situation in Washington. In a statement on Monday, the government lamented the leaking of the cables, which, it said, “do not reflect the closeness of, and the esteem in which we hold, the relationship.”

The diplomatic uproar came at an awkward moment for Britain, which has been isolated and paralyzed by its looming deadline to leave the European Union. After failing to win support in Parliament for a negotiated exit, Mrs. May announced she would step down as leader of the Conservative Party and relinquish the prime minister’s post as soon as the party elects a new leader.

Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit former foreign secretary and former mayor of London, is the odds-on favorite to replace her — a prospect that clearly delights Mr. Trump, who all but endorsed him last month during his visit to Britain. Mr. Johnson has pledged to pursue a “no deal” exit from the European Union.

“The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new prime minister,” Mr. Trump said. “While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!”

Mr. Trump praised the queen as a “spectacular woman” and claimed that during their meetings, her staff said she had not had so much fun in 25 years. By contrast, he and Mrs. May joked uneasily about their differences over how Britain handled its negotiations with the bloc.

“I seem to remember the president suggested that I sue the European Union,” Mrs. May said. “Which we didn’t do. We went into negotiation, and we came out with a good deal.”

“I would have sued, but that’s O.K.,” Mr. Trump replied. “I would have sued, and settled, maybe.”

In his cables, Mr. Darroch described the White House as a “uniquely dysfunctional environment” and said Mr. Trump was an unpredictable character. “There is no filter,” he wrote. He also said the president faced the prospect of further disclosures that could lead to “disgrace and downfall.”

The cables were obtained by a British tabloid, The Mail on Sunday, which published them over the weekend. The leak prompted theories about whether pro-Brexit forces were less interested in harming Mr. Darroch, whose tenure in Washington is nearing an end, than in torpedoing a likely successor: Mrs. May’s national security adviser, Mark Sedwill. Mr. Sedwill is viewed by some in London as having maneuvered to prevent the government from pursuing a no-deal Brexit.

For all of his private criticism, Mr. Darroch has cultivated close ties with people in Mr. Trump’s orbit. He hosted lavish diplomatic parties at the ambassador’s baronial residence that drew a parade of prominent officials, including Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner; a former Trump White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly; the former White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; and Mr. Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway.

In London on Monday, former diplomats debated whether Mr. Trump had effectively made Mr. Darroch persona non grata in Washington, a step that generally leads to a diplomat’s removal.

“I think Sir Kim is done in Washington,” said Lewis A. Lukens, who served as deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy in London from 2016 to 2019. “It’s a shame because he has been an extraordinarily effective ambassador for the U.K. in Washington. And he was just doing his job — providing the government in London with his candid, honest assessment of the dynamics in Washington.”

Sir Christopher Meyer, who was ambassador in Washington from 1997 to 2003, said it was too early to know what the president’s tweet meant for Mr. Darroch’s status.

“Does he mean that Kim will never be able to meet him again?” he asked. “Does he mean access to the White House staff, like the chief of staff, is blocked? Does he mean that Kim is denied access to the National Security Council?”

Mr. Meyer said Mrs. May’s support seemed unshakable, but that when a new prime minister takes office in two weeks, the situation may change. A new prime minister, he said, could select a political appointee who could “take a strong partisan position,” instead of a career diplomat like Mr. Darroch.

He said he doubted it would be Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader, whom Mr. Trump has repeatedly recommended for the job.

“Farage? Well, Darth Vader could be appointed, if that was the wish of the British government,” Mr. Meyer said. “But now he’s sitting on top of a burgeoning political party. I think his larger ambition would be there, rather than in Washington.”

Whatever the motivation, analysts agreed that the leak was particularly destructive, given the fragility of Britain’s diplomatic position. The British government has parted company with the United States over the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord and Mr. Trump’s attacks on the NATO alliance.

“The overall relationship is in bad shape,” said Thomas Wright, an expert on Europe at the Brookings Institution. “There are so many things that Trump has done to irk or undermine the U.K. government.”

Mr. Trump’s state visit, he said, was choreographed to paper over those differences, reflecting how dependent on the United States British officials believe they will be once Britain leaves Europe. So did Britain’s panicky reaction to the leaked cables. Britain’s trade minister, Liam Fox, said he planned to apologize to Mr. Trump’s daughter when the two meet this week during his visit to Washington.

“Either our Civil Service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way,” Mr. Fox said Monday on BBC Radio.

His act of contrition with Ms. Trump speaks equally to her rising status in the administration and Britain’s dwindling status as it faces a post-Brexit future.

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Trump Says He Will No Longer Deal With British Ambassador Whose Critical Cables Were Leaked

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Trump Says He Will No Longer Deal With British Ambassador Whose Critical Cables Were Leaked United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J May, Theresa M Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain Darroch, Kim (1954- )

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out on Monday at Britain’s ambassador to the United States, saying the White House would no longer deal with him after the publication of confidential cables in which the ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, disparaged Mr. Trump’s administration as “clumsy and inept.”

Mr. Trump’s criticism, delivered in a pair of midday tweets, escalated the tensions between the United States and Britain that erupted after the cables were published on Saturday by a British tabloid, The Mail on Sunday. The president broadened his criticism to include Prime Minister Theresa May, whom he accused of botching Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union.

“What a mess she and her representatives have created,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way.”

Of Mr. Darroch, the president said, “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him.” Mr. Trump’s statement came close to declaring Mr. Darroch persona non grata — an extraordinary breach between the United States and one of its closest allies.

British officials scrambled to contain the damage from Mr. Darroch’s unvarnished private assessments of the president and his administration. Britain’s trade minister, Liam Fox, said he planned to apologize to Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, for the leaking of the cables at a meeting this week during his visit to Washington.

“Either our Civil Service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way,” Mr. Fox said Monday on BBC Radio.

Mr. Fox’s gesture of contrition speaks equally to Ms. Trump’s rising status in the administration and Britain’s dwindling status as it faces a post-Brexit future. But it is not clear that it will be enough to mollify the president. On Sunday, Mr. Trump told reporters he would not bother to criticize Mr. Darroch beyond saying, “We are not big fans of that man.”

A day later, however, Mr. Trump made clear that he took the ambassador’s criticism personally, and he used it as an occasion to renew his past critique of Ms. May.

The diplomatic row comes at a deeply awkward moment for Britain, which has been paralyzed and increasingly isolated by its looming deadline to leave the European Union. After failing to win support in Parliament for a negotiated exit, Ms. May announced she would step down as leader of the Conservative Party and relinquish the prime minister’s post as soon as the party elects a new leader.

Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit former foreign secretary and mayor of London, is the odds-on favorite to replace Ms. May. That prospect clearly delights Mr. Trump, who all but endorsed him during a visit to Britain last month, and celebrated the coming change in leadership on Monday.

“The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new prime minister,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!”

In his cables, Mr. Darroch described the White House as a “uniquely dysfunctional environment” and said Mr. Trump was an unpredictable character. “There is no filter,” he wrote. He also said that the president faced the prospect of further disclosures that could lead to “disgrace and downfall.”

For all of his private criticism, Mr. Darroch has cultivated close ties with people in Mr. Trump’s orbit. He hosted lavish diplomatic parties at the ambassador’s baronial residence that drew a parade of prominent officials, including Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner; the former chief of staff, John F. Kelly; the former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; and Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway.

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Trump Says He Will No Longer Deal With British Ambassador Whose Critical Cables Were Leaked

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Trump Says He Will No Longer Deal With British Ambassador Whose Critical Cables Were Leaked United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J May, Theresa M Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain Darroch, Kim (1954- )

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out on Monday at Britain’s ambassador to the United States, saying the White House would no longer deal with him after the publication of confidential cables in which the ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, disparaged Mr. Trump’s administration as “clumsy and inept.”

Mr. Trump’s criticism, delivered in a pair of midday tweets, escalated the tensions between the United States and Britain that erupted after the cables were published on Saturday by a British tabloid, The Mail on Sunday. The president broadened his criticism to include Prime Minister Theresa May, whom he accused of botching Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union.

“What a mess she and her representatives have created,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way.”

Of Mr. Darroch, the president said, “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him.” Mr. Trump’s statement came close to declaring Mr. Darroch persona non grata — an extraordinary breach between the United States and one of its closest allies.

British officials scrambled to contain the damage from Mr. Darroch’s unvarnished private assessments of the president and his administration. Britain’s trade minister, Liam Fox, said he planned to apologize to Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, for the leaking of the cables at a meeting this week during his visit to Washington.

“Either our Civil Service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way,” Mr. Fox said Monday on BBC Radio.

Mr. Fox’s gesture of contrition speaks equally to Ms. Trump’s rising status in the administration and Britain’s dwindling status as it faces a post-Brexit future. But it is not clear that it will be enough to mollify the president. On Sunday, Mr. Trump told reporters he would not bother to criticize Mr. Darroch beyond saying, “We are not big fans of that man.”

A day later, however, Mr. Trump made clear that he took the ambassador’s criticism personally, and he used it as an occasion to renew his past critique of Ms. May.

The diplomatic row comes at a deeply awkward moment for Britain, which has been paralyzed and increasingly isolated by its looming deadline to leave the European Union. After failing to win support in Parliament for a negotiated exit, Ms. May announced she would step down as leader of the Conservative Party and relinquish the prime minister’s post as soon as the party elects a new leader.

Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit former foreign secretary and mayor of London, is the odds-on favorite to replace Ms. May. That prospect clearly delights Mr. Trump, who all but endorsed him during a visit to Britain last month, and celebrated the coming change in leadership on Monday.

“The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new prime minister,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!”

In his cables, Mr. Darroch described the White House as a “uniquely dysfunctional environment” and said Mr. Trump was an unpredictable character. “There is no filter,” he wrote. He also said that the president faced the prospect of further disclosures that could lead to “disgrace and downfall.”

For all of his private criticism, Mr. Darroch has cultivated close ties with people in Mr. Trump’s orbit. He hosted lavish diplomatic parties at the ambassador’s baronial residence that drew a parade of prominent officials, including Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner; the former chief of staff, John F. Kelly; the former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; and Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway.

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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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NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia

BRUSSELS — NATO military officials are exploring whether to upgrade their defenses to make them capable of shooting down newly deployed Russian intermediate-range nuclear missiles after a landmark arms treaty dissolves next month, according to three European officials.

Any change to the stated mission of NATO’s current missile defense system — aimed at threats from outside the region, like Iran — would probably divide the alliance’s member countries and enrage Russia, which has long said it views NATO’s missile defense site in Romania and one under construction in Poland as a threat to its nuclear arsenal and a source of instability in Europe.

“It would be a point of no return with the Russians,” said Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon official and expert on the alliance. “It would be a real escalation.”

The United States announced in February its intention to withdraw from the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 in the waning years of the Cold War, citing Moscow’s years of violations, a step the NATO alliance supported.

The treaty, which prohibits missiles with a range of 310 to 3,420 miles from Europe, will be terminated on Aug. 2 unless Moscow and Washington come to agreement to revive it in the next few weeks.

NATO ambassadors will make one last attempt to push Russia to withdraw its new cruise missiles and revive the treaty on Friday in Brussels.

Discussions about new missile defense measures are at their earliest stages, officials cautioned. NATO’s chief spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, denied that any studies of the feasibility of upgrading the ballistic missile defenses were underway. She said the alliance had repeatedly made clear that the existing ballistic missile defense system “is neither designed nor directed against Russia.”

But the alliance is considering new air and missile defenses, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced last week without revealing details. And given the rising threat of the Russian cruise missiles, NATO members are expected to order the alliance to study defense options, either after the October defense ministers’ meeting or the December leaders’ summit, a senior alliance official said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157431471_e2f75b17-e6b1-46f5-8e59-e1012d158b25-articleLarge NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Treaties Russia Nuclear Weapons North Atlantic Treaty Organization Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Europe Eastern Europe Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

The NATO Aegis defense system in Romania in 2016. The systems there and in Poland are currently incapable of firing the interceptor used to strike intermediate-range missiles.CreditKay Nietfeld/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press

Such an order would require all 29 allies to agree to it. But some officials think that if the treaty ends, the allies will at least be willing to examine the options. The senior official said that if the allies ultimately could not agree on shifting the mission of the ballistic missile defense sites, they may be open to a compromise that would introduce new systems to defend against Russian cruise missiles.

The push for improved defenses is fueled by Russia’s fielding of a new class of missiles as well as the expected demise of the treaty — a casualty of deteriorating relations between Russia and the United States. Eastern European countries, particularly Poland and the Baltic states, believe they are under growing threat of nuclear bullying by Moscow and have been eager to see the alliance develop new defenses.

Based on intelligence from multiple allied agencies, NATO countries have forged a consensus that the new Russian nuclear-capable cruise missiles pose a threat. The missiles, some American and European analysts fear, could give Moscow significant leverage, using the threat of attack to force other countries to de-escalate or give in to Russian demands during a crisis.

The relationship between Russia and the West has spiraled downward since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia’s destabilization of Ukraine forced the alliance to reinforce its eastern flank with new troop deployments and military exercises. Moscow responded with its own military upgrades, ultimately including the deployment of a new class of ground-based cruise missiles that the West said violated the I.N.F. treaty. Russia’s election interference, its intervention in Syria and the attempted poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer in Britain further heightened tensions.

Any move by NATO to redirect its missile defenses or expand its system with new capabilities could be a tipping point. Russians have never believed the alliance’s denials that its interceptor system would not eventually be used to shoot down Russian missiles. The system has remained a persistent irritant for Moscow, which questioned why the alliance still needed it after Iran agreed in 2015 to pause its nuclear enrichment program and threatened to direct missiles at the alliance interceptor sites.

Officials at Russia’s NATO embassy did not return requests for comment.

Last week, allied defense ministers approved an examination of potential responses to the Russian deployment of so-called SSC-8 cruise missiles, the weapon NATO accuses Moscow of deploying in violation of the treaty, according to three NATO officials. They include expanding existing deterrence exercises and publicizing the alliance’s nuclear exercises, which are highly secretive. Drawing more attention to the allied nuclear exercises and arsenal would help deter Moscow’s use of its own weapons, some officials think.

NATO will probably need to examine more broadly what defenses it needs against the cruise missiles. Such work, if approved this year, would include exploring whether it can upgrade its Aegis Ashore radar and interceptor sites in Romania and Poland and looking at new radar or air defense capabilities against the cruise missiles.

Upgrading existing ballistic missile defense capabilities, including its two Aegis Ashore sites, would be complex. The NATO Aegis systems in Romania and Poland are incapable of firing the interceptor used to strike intermediate-range missiles. And given their close positions to Russia, the systems have significantly less time to detect, lock onto and attempt to intercept the missiles.

The United States Missile Defense Agency has examined how existing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems could be upgrade with new radar, software and interceptors to allow them to strike intermediate ballistic missiles and potentially cruise missiles, according to current and former officials briefed on the discussions.

Newer technologies like high-velocity projectiles and directed-energy lasers are likely to provide a far better defense long term, experts said. Ballistic missile defenses intercept missiles high in the atmosphere, while cruise missiles fly relatively low to the ground.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, has said the alliance is considering new air and missile defenses.CreditVirginia Mayo/Associated Press

Fielding new systems to defend against a cruise missile threat, rather than upgrading the existing ballistic missile defense, may also prove more politically palatable. “If NATO is to update its systems, it may undermine its yearslong claim that the launchers were never meant to counter Russia,” said Bruno Lété, a defense analyst in the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

But many Europeans see themselves as in the line of fire with the new Russian cruise missile deployments, he said. “There is a clear incentive for NATO to see if they can upgrade the existing systems to counter Russian intermediary missiles,” Mr. Lété said. “From a military perspective, this would be a relatively simple, decisive and cost-effective step.”

Russian military doctrine, according to American and European military strategists, is increasingly focused on using limited nuclear strikes to quickly end a potential conflict in Moscow’s favor. Such a use of nuclear weapons for a battlefield effect is unthinkable to European politicians and has made some allied officials more open to examining the practicality of using the existing missile defense system to defend against Russia.

“We want to make sure the Russians don’t want to exercise nuclear blackmail, and missile defense is the way to take away that intimidation, to deter that intimidation,” Mr. Townsend said.

American officials have focused on trying to deter Russian intermediate-range missiles by quickly developing their own ground-launched cruise missile, a class the I.N.F. treaty has banned. Many in the alliance oppose deploying new offensive weapons. NATO planners are not expecting a directive to add offensive capabilities, only to expand defensive measures, the senior allied official said.

Since April, the Aegis site in Romania has been undergoing an upgrade. Officials said it was long planned and did not involve recalibrating the system.

If the alliance wants to counter Russian cruise missiles, it may make more sense to deploy new technologies like directed-energy lasers, microwaves or electronic warfare measures, said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“We have invested in ballistic missile defenses, but frankly the cruise missile threat is a growing threat and we just haven’t fielded the capabilities to deal with it,” Mr. Gunzinger said.

Even if the alliance opts not to upgrade its Aegis Ashore sites, Mr. Gunzinger said, Russia’s new weapons will force it to field new air and missile defenses. Without them, it would be difficult to reinforce its front-line troops during a conflict, he said.

“Deterring Russia is going to take a different posture in Europe,” Mr. Gunzinger said. “It will take air and missile defenses to counter their salvos, it will take electronic warfare capabilities, it will take long-range precision strike.”

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He Enjoys American Coffee and Restaurants. Is He a Credible Negotiator for Iran?

Iranian hard-liners have long mocked their foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, as the make-believe American, after a character in a comic Iranian movie who puts on an accent, wardrobe and lifestyle to live out a fantasy of American life.

A resident of the United States on and off for nearly 30 years, Mr. Zarif was the Iranian most closely associated with the negotiation of the 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from sweeping economic sanctions.

To ordinary Iranians and reformists, that made him a hero. To hard-liners, though, he was a dupe, seduced by the West into a deal that the Americans would never live up to.

Now, with the nuclear deal on the brink of collapse, with the Trump administration reimposing crushing sanctions on Iran, and Tehran threatening to restart elements of its nuclear program, Mr. Zarif is coming under renewed fire not only from hard-liners in Tehran but also from Washington. White House officials say that President Trump has requested sanctions specifically against the Iranian foreign minister, stirring debate in both countries about the administration’s intentions.

Hawks like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, argue that Mr. Zarif’s American affectations are what make him dangerous. Mr. Zarif and his patron, President Hassan Rouhani, are “polished front men for the ayatollah’s international con artistry,” Mr. Pompeo has said, suggesting that the foreign minister uses his flawless, idiomatic American English as a ruse to mask his allegiance to the hard-line agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But critics shoot back that threatening Iran’s top diplomat makes no sense, given Mr. Trump’s repeated insistence that his ultimate goal is to restart negotiations with Iran. Cutting off the intermediary for any such talks, the critics say, may ultimately leave the administration no choice other than confrontation.

“It just makes it harder or impossible for the Iranians to choose some kind of diplomacy,” said Jeff Prescott, a former senior director for Iran on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama.

In an extensive email exchange, Mr. Zarif said he felt little personal risk from American sanctions. “Everyone who knows me knows that I or my family do not own any property outside Iran,” he wrote. “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.”

Washington, Mr. Zarif argued, would only be hurting itself by cutting him off.

“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,” he wrote. “Certainly it would limit the possibility of informed decision-making in Washington.”

As for the allegation of “con artistry,” Mr. Zarif said that he never asked the Americans to trust him and he never trusted them either, least of all during the negotiations of the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157458888_eee3e2ce-a8e3-4a13-be22-3ef67330ed89-articleLarge He Enjoys American Coffee and Restaurants. Is He a Credible Negotiator for Iran? Zarif, Mohammad Javad United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Tehran (Iran) Pompeo, Mike Nuclear Weapons Khamenei, Ali Gerecht, Reuel Marc Embargoes and Sanctions Bolton, John R

Mr. Zarif with John Kerry, the secretary of state at the time, in New York in 2016. Mr. Zarif was an on-and-off resident of the United States for nearly 30 years.CreditBryan R. Smith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Contrary to public statements by its detractors on all sides, JCPOA was not built on trust,” Mr. Zarif wrote in the email, referring to the agreement. “It was indeed based on explicit recognition of mutual mistrust. That is why it is so long and detailed.”

Mr. Zarif’s status in Tehran has already suffered severely with the waning fortunes of the nuclear deal. After pulling out of the agreement last year, the Trump administration in May tightened its sanctions to penalize anyone in the world who seeks to buy Iranian oil, slashing Iranian exports and plunging the economy into a tailspin.

Mr. Khamenei has said without naming Mr. Zarif or Mr. Rouhani that those who persuaded him to negotiate with Washington had made a grave mistake.

Other hard-liners have argued that Mr. Zarif should now resign, face impeachment, or be put on trial for the crime of leading Iran into an agreement that dismantled years of nuclear research and investment for no ultimate benefit.

“Mr. Zarif and his government put all their eggs in the basket of foreign policy and the nuclear deal,” Abdul Reza Davari, a conservative adviser to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president, said in a telephone interview from Tehran. “It has been a spectacular failure, and now they are hanging on life support, hoping a change of administration in the U.S. would save them.”

Iranian officials have often said that they have sought only peaceful uses of nuclear power, not a nuclear weapon — a claim widely disputed in the West. But with the 2015 deal now all but dead, many conservatives in Tehran are pushing for Iran to resume its programs for the enrichment of nuclear material “as a sign of strength,” Mr. Davari said.

Some in his hard-line faction remain open to negotiations with Mr. Trump, Mr. Davari said, but no longer through Mr. Zarif.

Mr. Zarif briefly resigned in February after conservatives in the Iranian military failed to include him in a visit to Tehran by the president of Syria. (Mr. Khamenei interceded to keep Mr. Zarif at work.)

[By email, Mohammad Javad Zarif discusses his hopes for the nuclear deal, as well as his own future.]

Iranian moderates, while defending Mr. Zarif, are also preparing political eulogies. “We have never had a foreign minister like Zarif in the history of Iran,” said Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent reformist politician. “What he achieved with the nuclear deal — gaining the trust of both Americans and Mr. Khamenei — was nothing short of a miracle.”

At the top echelons of the Iranian political system, where knowledge of the United States is generally shallow and suspicions run deep, Mr. Zarif stands out for his ease among Americans. He came to the United States at 17 to attend college, and was an undergraduate at San Francisco State University in 1979 when the Islamic revolution broke out in Tehran. (He pitched in by helping lead a group of student revolutionaries who took over the Iranian consulate in San Francisco.)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Mr. Zarif a “polished front man” for the hard-line policies of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.CreditPool photo by Jacquelyn Martin

He remained in the United States, first as a student and then as a diplomat, for much of his adult life. With his command of American English, he comes off to Westerners as urbane and at times even wry.

“Seriously?” he quipped this week by Twitter, quoting a White House news release claiming that “even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”

His friends say he prefers American coffee to the typical Iranian tea, and he also enjoys dining out in American restaurants — although he is careful never to allow himself to be photographed in a setting where alcohol is visible, which the hard-liners could use against him at home in Tehran.

American supporters of imposing sanctions on Mr. Zarif argue that his effectiveness at passing for one of their countrymen is what makes him so dangerous. It helps him hide the fundamentally anti-American and expansionist character of the government he serves, they say.

“I would call him the whitewasher-in-chief,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a former C.I.A. official who studies Iran. “Zarif has gotten away, almost, with murder, because he has been depicted as something he is not — a moderate — when he is totally loyal to the Supreme Leader and totally loyal to the revolution.”

Mr. Gerecht added that the sanctions would send a message to the American public about Mr. Zarif and his patron, Mr. Rouhani.

“It is important to the narrative, to dispatch the notion that Zarif or Rouhani is part of this ‘moderate’ wing that will bring about normalcy,” Mr. Gerecht said.

But Mr. Zarif, in an email, said that the issue of the moment was not about him or the Iranian government, but about the nuclear deal, which he said was never intended to “resolve all our differences.”

“It was negotiated by all with open eyes about what as possible and what was not,” he wrote, and it “remains the best POSSIBLE agreement on the nuclear issue.”

As for the hard-liners who deride him as “Mamal Amricayi”— the make-believe American — Mr. Zarif said he had never seen the movie.

“But I do not mind if people have a good laugh about me,” he added. “That is another way of making myself useful!”

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