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Secretary of State Says US-Europe Talks on Fixing Iran Nuke Deal ‘Underway’

January 28, 2018 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Will Europe join the US on Iran? German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

United States President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to Europe earlier this month—fix problems with the Iran nuclear deal or the United States will pull out of the accord this spring. On Saturday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that talks have started and they are seeking to determine exactly what needs to be addressed to bolster efforts to counter Iran’s nefarious actions and nuclear ambitions.

Tillerson, in a press briefing published by the State Department, said they have agreed to work with Europe to “identify what areas we believe have to be addressed and a mechanism by which we can address those.” He said that working groups have been meeting in an effort to reach agreement on principles, “what is the scope of what we will attempt to address, and also how might we engage the Iranians on discussions to address these issues.”

Said Tillerson, “The work is underway. If it was easy, it would have already been done. We recognize the challenges, but we think we have to do everything we can to address those.” … Continue Reading

Germany Pushing for New Iran Sanctions to Keep Trump from Nixing Nuke Deal

Germany is trying to lead Europe on Iran. German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

United States President Donald Trump was clear earlier this month when he said that Europe needed to increase restrictions on the Iranian nuclear and missile programs or else the US would terminate their role in the Iran nuclear deal. And it appears Germany was listening, because Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that Berlin is promoting new sanctions on Iran’s missile program and destabilizing activities in the Middle East, according to diplomats. The report said Germany, the UK, and France would intend the new sanctions—which would be outside the context of the nuclear deal with Iran—to acknowledge Trump’s concerns about Iran and to convince Trump to keep America in the nuclear accord.

The German Foreign Office had already tweeted that they “take note” of Trump’s statement on the Iran nuclear deal and that they would “talk to our European partners about next steps. We remain committed to the continued full implementation of the agreement.”

The Germans aren’t the only ones lobbying Europe to take the step. After Trump’s ultimatum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on the topic. Netanyahu encouraged Macron that “Trump’s statement should be taken seriously and that those who wish to keep the deal should fix it,” according to a summary of that talk posted to Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Ofir Gendelman’s Twitter feed. Netanyahu also intended to discuss Iran with US Vice President Mike Pence during the American’s visit to Israel this week. … Continue Reading

Iran: If Europe Threatens Missile Program, Missiles Will Threaten Europe

Will France be in range of Iran’s missles? Eiffel Tower in Paris. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

A leader in Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC) warned on Saturday that if the Europeans push to limit the Iranian missile program, the Islamic Republic might expand their missile range to reach Europe. Lieutenant Commander of the IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami, in comments to state TV and republished by the Fars News Agency, claimed that they have limited the range of their missiles intentionally to 2,000 kilometers (roughly 1,200 miles).

He said this is short of reaching Europe, but he warned that could change if the Europeans insist on negotiating the limits of Iran’s missile program, as some have wanted.

“If the Europeans want to enter the sanctum of our missiles, we may drop this limitation to the range (of our missiles),” Fars quoted Salami as saying. He claimed that their missiles are limited in range to the nations that threaten them, and that “if Europe wants to turn into a threat, the range of our missiles will increase. We respect them. They should respect us too.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Slams Iranian Aggression; Tehran Threatens Nuclear Response to Deal Collapse

PM Netanyahu addresses Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday had a litany of accusations to share about Iranian misdeeds in the Middle East, from religious persecution to attempting a regional takeover. Earlier that same day, Iran reminded everyone of their ultimate threat by openly warning they would halt additional nuclear inspections if the nuclear deal between them and the major powers were to be annulled. “If the nuclear deal is annulled, we will stop implementation of the Additional Protocol,” said Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi according to a report by the Fars News Agency.

That “Additional Protocol” refers to expanded access to Iranian sites and information for the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the agency’s website. But even if the deal is kept as is, Salehi said Iran still isn’t letting international inspectors see everything, specifically emphasizing that Iran won’t permit inspections of their military sites.

Refusing access to those sites was one complaint from United States President Donald Trump, which he noted in last week’s speech are suspected of having played a role in Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program, per the White House website. Netanyahu, for his part, reemphasized the danger posed if the nuclear deal with Iran remains as is, while also detailing what else Iran has been doing in the region. He again applauded Trump for saying that too. … Continue Reading

Israel, Regional Allies Applaud Trump Call to Better or Bust Iran Nuke Deal

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the Iran Strategy. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

United States President Donald Trump on Friday delivered a message that American allies in the Middle East have been waiting to hear: either improve the Iran nuclear deal, or cancel it altogether. “I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons,” said Trump in comments posted to the White House website. “…However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated. It is under continuous review, and our participation can be cancelled by me, as President, at any time.”

In particular, Trump wants changes to the so-called “sunset clauses” that cut back on restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in coming years. The Iran nuclear accord is a controversial multilateral agreement between the major world powers and Iran that was put in place during the administration of Trump’s predecessor, former-President Barack Obama. The deal offered sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for concessions by Iran limiting their nuclear activities.

In addition to Trump’s ultimatum to fix the nuclear deal or else, he also announced plans to place “tough sanctions” on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the powerful government-sponsored paramilitary group that has been involved in terrorism around the world. Israel, Saudi Arabia and others in the region expressed their support for Trump’s new approach to Iran. … Continue Reading

Iran Develops New Long-Range Missile, Promises to Continue Program

Will Iranian President Rouhani moderate Iran, or is he just for show? Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

The same day that Iran publicized to the world the development of a new long-range missile that can carry multiple warheads, their supposedly moderate President Hassan Rouhani proclaimed that they would continue to “strengthen” those weapons. The Fars News Agency quoted him as claiming the missiles—the newest of which have a range of at least 1,800 km and are capable of reaching Israel—are for deterrence purposes. “We will strengthen our military and defense power as much as we assume as necessary for deterrence and we will strengthen not only our missiles but also our Ground Force, Air Force and Navy,” Fars quoted Rouhani as saying.

In a separate article, Fars reported that the Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, not only was boasting about the new missile’s range, but also that it can carry multiple warheads so it can hit more than one target. He said that it would be put into operation soon.

The Iranian missile program has been repeatedly criticized by the United States, who see it as not only threatening Israel but their country as well. Missile technology is a key component of a nuclear weapons program so as to deliver the powerful bombs at farther distances. … Continue Reading

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