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Netanyahu Slams Europe for Evading Iran Sanctions, ‘Supporting Murderous Regime’

December 1, 2019 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Netanyahu sternly critiqued Europe’s Iran policy. PM Netanyahu and EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Avi Ohayon (GPO).

Against the backdrop of Iranian attacks in the region and the regime cracking down on protestors at home, six more European nations recently joined the economic tool intended to circumvent American sanctions on Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was incensed at the “absurd” European move and voiced his concerns on Sunday.

“These European countries should be ashamed of themselves. Have they learned nothing from history? Well, apparently not,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office. “They are enabling a fanatic terrorist state to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, thereby bringing disaster to themselves and upon everyone else.”

The Israeli premier’s frustration came after the main three European nations—France, Germany and the United Kingdom—last Friday “warmly” welcomed a half dozen other European nations agreeing to join the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). The move “demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)” nuclear deal with Iran, said the statement published by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson. … Continue Reading

Europe Threatens to Begin Withdraw from Nuclear Deal If Iran Continues to Advance Nuke Program

Germany one of multiple EU nations wanting new nuclear deal with Iran. German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The European Union last week threatened Iran that they may withdraw from the international nuclear deal and resume global sanctions on Iran if Tehran takes another sizable enough step in their nuclear program. The Guardian reported last Thursday that the message comes as Iran—having already withdrawn from certain components of the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—have threatened a fourth move in November if economic relief is not granted them. Before re-engaging sanctions, Europe would need to engage the JCPOA’s dispute mechanism to arbitrate the disagreement between the sides.

The response from Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman on Monday, according to the Fars News Agency, was to call a move by Europe to trigger the dispute mechanism “illegal” and “already dead”. Seyed Abbas Mousavi was quoted by Fars as saying that if Europe does not make a significant enough economic move for Iran, the Islamic Republic would carry out their threat to continue its withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

With that in the background, the United States believes the recent Iranian drone and missile attack on the Saudi oil industry has changed the calculus for Europe and that a number of European allies believe the JCPOA needs to be amended—something the Trump Administration has been demanding for years. … Continue Reading

Iran Threatens to Further Escalate Nuclear Program Conflict with Third Step

August 4, 2019 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Iran is planning new antagonistic nuclear steps.
Illustrative official meeting. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Having already increased their nuclear fuel stockpile and the quality of their nuclear fuel enrichment beyond the limits imposed under the nuclear deal, Iran is now warning that their third step in withdrawing from commitments in the deal is coming up. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted by the Fars News Agency as telling the Iranian Parliament on Saturday they would “assuredly” take that next step if the world powers fail to boost economic benefits to Iran. What that third move would be was not made clear.

The Iranians in recent months began reneging on their commitments under the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), warning that they would continue to expand their nuclear program if the Europeans didn’t effectively mitigate United States’ sanctions on Iran. While the nuclear program remains solidly in the civilian range—Iran has announced 4.5% uranium enrichment quality has been achieved, whereas 90% is needed for nuclear weapons—there are threats of advancing that element further to medical research levels and even beyond.

The Fars News report noted that recently Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said there wouldn’t be “any problem” for Iran to advance to 20% enrichment quality—the level needed for medical research—and that there are “options even higher than that.” He did claim that they would act based on Iran’s needs and not just go for higher levels as a scare tactic. … Continue Reading

US Accuses Iran of Nuclear ‘Extortion’ at UN Meeting with World Powers

Renewed US sanctions on Iran making an impact. President Donald J. Trump signs an Executive Order on Iran Sanctions. Illustrative. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The United States on Wednesday harshly criticized Iran’s recent nuclear advancements in a meeting with other world powers at the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog Board of Governor’s meeting, while separately US President Donald Trump threatened increased sanctions on Iran on Twitter. Recent announcements by Iran that the Islamic Republic had exceeded certain nuclear fuel limits imposed under the nuclear deal have been confirmed by International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano, with those reports published to the IAEA website.

In view of Iran’s moves, US Ambassador Jackie Wolcott told the 35-nation Board of the IAEA, “There is no credible reason for Iran to expand its nuclear program, and there is no way to read this as anything other than a crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the international community.”

“This is an interpretation the Iranian regime itself readily admits, stating openly that it will continue to engage in such provocations until it receives various economic benefits.”

Wolcott, in comments posted to the US Mission to International Organizations in Vienna website, said the US is “committed to denying” Iran receives such economic benefits as a result of the their latest aggressive actions. President Trump took it one step further, warning that more sanctions were on the way, while again slamming the nuclear deal with Iran that the US exited last year. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Says Iranian Aggression Spike Due to Generous Nuke Deal, Not US Actions

PM Netanyahu & US National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Photo courtesy of: Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically pushed back against the narrative that the latest Iranian acts of aggression—including attacking the global oil industry and shooting down an American drone—are due to recent decisions from United States President Donald Trump, particularly his pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran. On the contrary, Netanyahu argues that the instigator of Iran’s uptick in violence was actually the financial benefits accorded to Iran by the nuclear agreement, and they started years ago.

“The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of cash, massive cash into Iran’s economy, would moderate Iran. They argued that Iran would become inward-focused, would start nation-building. And in fact, the opposite has happened. The very opposite has happened,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office with visiting US National Security Adviser John Bolton

“Iran used those hundreds of billions of dollars to fund empire-building, not nation-building—that is the stamping of one state after the other, and the devouring of one state after another in the Middle East. Those who argue that Iran’s aggression began after the recent actions are not living on the same planet. This is completely false.”

The debate is key because of what the US response should be—the Americans could return to the nuclear deal with Iran and lessen sanctions as a result, or they could press forward with Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. One of the leading candidates to challenge President Trump in the 2020 US Presidential elections is Joe Biden, who was Vice President when the nuclear deal was signed. While not stating his ultimate response to the current Iran situation, Biden recently claimed on Twitter that Trump’s decision to leave the deal has led to the increase in Iranian aggression. … Continue Reading

UN Nuclear Watchdog Says Iran Increasing Nuclear Fuel Production

Radiation Warning Symbol. Public Domain.

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Monday said Iran’s nuclear material production was growing, the BBC reported, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) leader also expressed he was “worried” about the overall situation. That same day, Iran’s Foreign Minister had the audacity to point the finger at Israel’s defensive nuclear program as a threat in the region.

Per a report by the Fars News Agency, Mohammed Zarif referenced comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a year ago outside the Dimona nuclear plant warning Israel’s enemies in general of the severe consequences of attacking Israel. That not-so-subtle self-defense rhetoric, however, pales in comparison to the Iranian comments about destroying Israel, in self-defense or otherwise. And Netanyahu pointed to that hostility in turning the tables on Zarif in comments on Monday.

“Zarif is lying again. Iran is the one that openly threatens, every day, to destroy the State of Israel. Iran continues to entrench itself militarily in Syria. And today, the IAEA reports that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “I repeat: Israel will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that threaten our existence and endanger the entire world.” … Continue Reading

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