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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

US Sanctions Iran Nuclear Group after Threat ‘Highlighted’ by Israeli Intelligence

Israel and the US are working hard to counter Iran’s nuclear threat. Illustrative photo of Netanyahu discussing Iran’s “secret nuclear files”. Photo courtesy of: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The United States last week levied sanctions on a total of 31 persons and entities for their connections to an Iranian group believed to be a threat capable of re-launching Iran’s nuclear weapons program when the timing was right—and Israeli spycraft helped showcase that risk. The sanctions target those affiliated with Iran’s Organization for Defense Innovation and Research, known in Farsi by the acronym “SPND.” That entity, according to a background briefing from two US Senior Administration Officials published by the State Department, is headed by the founder of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and controls groups specializing in radiation, explosives, and missiles.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released from his office on Saturday, congratulated US President Donald Trump and other key figures in the US Administration for the sanctions moves, which his office said came in the “wake” of Israel unveiling an Iranian nuclear program archive in 2018.

“Iran continues to deceive the international community and lie to the world about its military nuclear program,” said Netanyahu. “The Iranian regime continues to conceal its capabilities and to strive for nuclear weapons. Iran endangers the peace of the Middle East and the entire world and must be blocked.” … Continue Reading

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

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