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US Reimposes Sanctions on Iran; Israel Tells Europe ‘Time Has Come to Stop Talking’

US President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on Iran Sanctions. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

United States President Donald Trump announced the first stage of renewed American sanctions on Iran on Monday, ahead of the official reimposition of sanctions at midnight on Tuesday. The anticipated move follows Trump’s decision in May to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond,” said Trump in a statement posted to the White House website. “…By exiting the JCPOA, the United States is able to protect its national security by applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The initial round of reset sanctions focuses on cars, precious metals and Iranian currency, according to Trump’s comments. In November, banking and Iran’s energy industry—including oil—will be targeted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Trump for making the move on Monday, calling it an “important decision.” … Continue Reading

Israel Threatens War with Iran if Critical Naval Waterway Blocked

Could Israel fight Iran at sea? Naval ship off the coast of Israel. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

With rhetoric between the United States and Iran soaring, the Iranians are making threatening to blocking key shipping lines—and Israel is now on record as threatening to militarily fight back if Iran carries through. “If Iran tries to block the Bab-el-Mandeb, I am convinced that it will find itself facing a determined international coalition to prevent this. This coalition would also include the State of Israel and all its arms,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in comments released by his office, referring to the waterway known as the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a key artery for international oil shipping.

The Iranians have focused their threats on the closer and more significant Strait of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world. However, CNBC reported that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have already attacked Saudi oil tankers in the Bab-el-Mandeb, through which 5 million barrels of oil are shipped per day. While that’s less than a third of what goes through Hormuz, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is also more critical for Israel, as it links the Red Sea coast in Israel’s south to the Indian Ocean and is therefore the naval gateway for Asian trade with the Jewish State. Netanyahu specifically mentioned that Houthi attack in his comments, which were delivered to an Israeli naval officers’ graduation ceremony.

Meanwhile, the US believes that Iran is about to launch significant naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz. According to a report from Fox News, the US expects the drill to involve 100 gun boats and get underway this week. … Continue Reading

Iranian Leader Calls Israel ‘Cancer’ on Twitter; Netanyahu Warns Germany that Iran Wants Religious War in Syria

June 4, 2018 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Netanyahu and Merkel. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach / GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while visiting the country where the original Holocaust was first devised found some common ground with the host nation of Germany—opposing the current proponent of a new Holocaust, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei posted in English to Twitter, “Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. #Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.” The shocking tweet included the hashtag “#GreatReturnMarch”, referencing the weekly Gaza riots near Israel’s border fence.

Speaking with Israeli ally and opponent of anti-Semitism German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu alluded to the Holocaust in his condemnation of Khamenei’s comments. “This is amazing that in the beginning of the 21st century, somebody talks about destroying Israel. It means destroying another six million plus Jews,” said Netanyahu in comments with Merkel released by his office. “It’s quite extraordinary that this goes on, but this is what we face.”

It’s not only Israel that faces the Iranian threat. Netanyahu warned that Iran’s grander designs in Syria include an inter-Islam religious war between Shiites and Sunnis that would lead to an even greater refugee crisis for Europe. … Continue Reading

Iran Threatens to Enrich Nuclear Fuel Higher than Ever If Demands Not Met

Radiation Warning Symbol. Public Domain.

With the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, the Europeans are striving to keep the accord from collapsing. The Iranians, for now, are playing along—but on this condition: If they don’t receive the economic benefits promised them, they will not only exit the deal and go back to their old nuclear program, they’ll make it more advanced than ever. And they may just do it secretly, away from the eyes of international inspectors.

“If our interests are not materialized, we will withdraw from the nuclear deal and will enrich [nuclear fuel] to 20% degree or any level that we want out of their sight,” Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakh was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying last week.

Previously, Iran claimed to enrich uranium to 20%—a medical-research-level grade much higher than needed for nuclear energy and well on the path to the 90% enrichment needed for nuclear weapons. So exceeding the 20% threshold would actually make Iran a greater threat than before. … Continue Reading

Beginning of Open War? Iran Launches 20 Rockets at Israel

Iran fired missiles at Israel directly instead of enabling terror partners instead. Illustrative image of rocket. By Joshua Spurlock

Iranian forces in Syria launched 20 rockets at Israel around midnight on Thursday in a dramatic escalation, less than 30 hours after the United States announced they were pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. In the attack—reported by the IDF Spokesperson in a series of posts on Twitter—a number of rockets were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system. No injuries were reported by the attack, which targeted IDF posts on the Golan Heights in Israel’s north. The IDF Spokesperson later confirmed via Twitter that none of the rockets hit targets in Israel.

Israel’s response was the largest official series of strikes in Syria in decades. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus tweeted that “dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria” were targeted and posted a map showing hits in more than 30 different locations across Syria. A sizable grouping of those targets were around the capital of Damascus.

“This Iranian aggression is another proof of the intentions behind the establishment of the Iranian regime in Syria and the threat it poses to Israel and regional stability,” said the IDF Spokesperson in a separate series of tweets, following up by stating that “the IDF will not allow the Iranian threat to establish itself in Syria. The Syrian regime will be held accountable for everything happening in its territory.”

The Times of Israel reported that the Iranian attack came from the south of Syria. The government-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said that Israel struck back by firing missiles at Syria, triggering Syrian air defenses. The SANA report claimed that Israel had also been behind a missile attack 24 hours earlier. … Continue Reading

Iran Warns of Rapid Nuclear Enrichment, ‘Trouble’ If US Nixes Nuclear Deal

April 22, 2018 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Could Trump fix the Iran nuclear deal? Radiation Warning Symbol. Public Domain.

The nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers intended to increase the time it would take Iran to develop nuclear weapons if they ever chose to “break out” and move full speed towards nukes. There are many steps in that process, but a key step is developing the nuclear fuel for the bomb. And getting their nuclear fuel creation back to where they were before the nuclear deal would only take Iran four days.

That’s the threat from the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, who warned on Saturday they could rapidly restore their nuclear fuel enrichment back to their previously known top level of research-grade at 20 percent—weapons-grade is 90 percent—if the global powers dropped the nuclear deal. And that’s not all Iran could do.

Salehi, whose comments were published by the Fars News Agency, further said without providing details that Iran has other means to respond to the United States if they were to back out of the deal as President Donald Trump has threatened. Salehi said Iran is “prepared to move like an army” and hinted that American allies—perhaps including Israel—could also be targeted by Iran. “We hope that the other side makes a wise decision and avoids moves that would trouble them and others as well,” Salehi said. … Continue Reading

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