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China closes US’ exit door from Iran nuclear deal

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 24, 2017

The signing of the first commercial contract between China and Iran to redesign Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor is a landmark event in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA) of July 2015.

The Arak plant was a major sticking point in the saga of the Iran nuclear issue. Its conversion for purely commercial / civil use is a vital template of the Iran nuclear deal. The US and Iran agreed that China could be entrusted with the sensitive task of converting Arak plant, and China which played a significant role in the negotiation of the JCOPA agreed to undertake that task.

It has taken almost two years to flesh out the commercial contract. The contract was signed in Vienna where the IAEA is headquartered. The timing of the contract is extremely interesting – on the eve of a meeting of the commission on April 25 in Vienna, which is expected to review the progress of implementation of the JCPOA.

Today’s meeting in Vienna, in turn, is invested with high importance as it will be the occasion for the US to formally present its perspective on the JCPOA before the international audience after Donald Trump became president. Does the US intend to stick to the JCPOA or does it have ulterior designs to undermine it? The answer to this big question will emerge at today’s meeting in Vienna.

In the run-up to today’s meeting, top figures in the Trump administration have spoken about the JCPOA. Most notably, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reported to the US Congress a week ago that Iran is complying with the terms and conditions of the JCPOA. Trump himself may say Iran is violating the “spirit” of the nuclear deal, but, importantly, Defence Secretary James Mattis underscored on Friday that not only is Iran sticking to the JCPOA but also that the 2015 agreement “still stands”.

Mattis’s remark resonates because he said this while on a visit to Israel and at a joint press conference with Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman. Clearly, despite its virulent opposition to the nuclear deal when it was under negotiation, Israel is now inclined to see the JCPOA as the best guarantee against Iran embarking on a nuclear weapon programme.

Conceivably, Trump who had threatened during the election campaign last year to tear up the Iran nuclear deal also sees things differently today. One principal reason would be that the US simply lacks international support to abandon the nuclear deal, which also carries the sanctity of UN approval. The European powers are pleased with Iran’s implementation of JCPOA. Russia strongly supports the JCPOA and with the signing of the commercial contract on Arak in Vienna yesterday, Beijing asserted that there is no question of going back on the nuclear deal.

However, the clout of the Israeli-Saudi Arabian lobbies in Washington cannot be ignored. These lobbies will do their utmost to cause disruptions in any normalization between US and Iran. They simply dread the prospect of US-Iranian normalization, which of course could phenomenally reset Middle East’s geopolitics.

Tehran has not gone into panic mode that Trump might tear up the JCPOA. It also understands the motivations driving the Trump administration’s allegations of Iran’s support of terrorism. Conceivably, if President Hassan Rouhani emerges victorious in the May 19 election, which seems almost certain, Tehran will use diplomacy and ‘soft power’ as its principal tools in turning the hostile external neighbourhood incrementally to its favour. (See my blog Iran’s presidential election takes predictable turn.)

Tehran will count on a savvy, street smart businessman like Trump to begin counting the loss to American interests at some point by continued self-denial of business in the Iranian market, especially when Russia and China are not wasting time to dip their fingers in the honey pot. (By the way, at a meeting yesterday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif agreed on stepping up Sino-Iranian ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ within the framework of One Belt One Road.)

For the present, though, Trump will tap into the Saudi fear of Iran to sell weapons to that country, extract petrodollars as investment in the American economy to create jobs as well as to promote American exports to the Gulf. In particular, Trump (and Wall Street) is besotted with the Saudi Aramco’s IPO, which is likely in 2018. The Saudis have an option to list the IPO in New York or London — or, by Jove, in Hongkong. Trump knows jolly well that the partial privatization could value Aramco at $2 trillion.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Tillerson and Mattis made a beeline to Riyadh within the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. Don’t be surprised if Trump also packs bags and travels to Riyadh in the coming weeks. All in all, US-Iran normalization lies in the womb of time, but Trump’s advantage in the near term lies in making abrasive noises about Iran, which would play well in the Saudi court (and pacify Israel.) But the JCPOA as such will remain untouched.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US should fulfil its end of nuclear deal – Tehran on Tillerson’s Iran remarks

RT | April 21, 2017

Instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the US should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on the review of the lifting of sanctions.

In his letter to the Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acknowledged that Iran was compliant to the accord, but blasted the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

Tillerson claimed that Tehran has been fueling various military conflicts in the Middle East, undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

It was the first time that the Congress was informed on how Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), usually referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, under the Trump administration. The State Department must update US senators on the issue every 90 days.

Zarif took to Twitter to respond to Tillerson’s claims, stressing that Washington should “fulfill its own commitments” as part of the deal.

“Worn-out US accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance w/ JCPOA,” the Foreign Minister added as cited by Reuters.

Moscow commented on Tillerson’s claim by saying that secretary of state should have separated the allegations of terrorism and the nuclear deal as they “have nothing in common,” according to Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control.

“If the deal does not work, then specific complaints should be made regarding its functioning. The Americans can’t do this. The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], an independent participant in this process, confirms that the Iranians are implementing everything. Therefore, any claims are irrelevant here, it seems to me,” Ulyanov said.

Washington blames Tehran for supporting various groups that it views as terrorist organizations, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen.

Iran has also been backing the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, also sending military advisers and fighters to Iraq to help fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) there.

The Iranian nuclear deal, which took years to negotiate, restricted the nuclear ambitions of Tehran in exchange for lifting financial and oil sanctions.

The accord signed between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, the US, plus Germany) and the EU was touted as one of the main foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration.

However, Donald Trump called it “the worst deal ever negotiated” during his campaign for the White House.

A special inter-agency review of policy towards Iran will now look into if the lifting of sanctions against Tehran was in the interest of the US.

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Pentagon chief in Israel to discuss Iran, Syria

Press TV – April 21, 2017

US Defense Secretary General James Mattis has arrived in Israel for talks expected to focus on Iran and Syria as well the strategic relations between Tel Aviv and Washington.

Mattis arrived in Tel Aviv Thursday afternoon from Cairo on the third leg of a week-long tour of the US allies in the Middle East.

Marking the first time he has visited Israel as the Pentagon chief, Mattis was greeted by an official honor guard at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday morning.

He then met the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

Mattis hopes to hear directly from Israeli leaders their concerns about regional issues, with Iran’s influence topping the list.

‘No doubt Syria has chemical weapons’

The conflict in Syria, where the US and Israel seek to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, is also on the agenda, according to the prime minister’s office.

Israel was one of the first US allies to salute President Donald Trump for a recent missile strike on a Syrian airbase, where they alleged a suspected chemical attack originated.

Speaking during a press conference with Lieberman on Friday, Mattis said there can be “no doubt” that Syria has retained some chemical weapons and warned President Assad not to use them.

“There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt,” he said.

The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been pushing to overthrow the Syrian government through the use of proxy militant forces in the country.

Iran has been lending advisory support to Syria in its battle against the foreign-backed militants, but has avoided direct military involvement in the conflict.

Known as the “Mad Dog,” Mattis has famously said the three gravest threats to US national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”

While in Riyadh on Wednesday, the Pentagon chief reiterated the Trump administration’s position that Iran seeks to “destabilize” the region.

He told reporters after meeting with senior Saudi officials that “everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.”

US-Israeli ties reached a low point over the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, including the United States.

Former President Barack Obama pushed for the agreement, to the dismay of Netanyahu who argued it would only strengthen Iran in the region.

Israeli leaders were emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, who has described the nuclear accord as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and threatened to “rip it up.”

In his latest criticism on Thursday, Trump blasted the deal as “a terrible agreement” that “shouldn’t have been signed,” and accused Iran of “not living up” to its spirit.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Complaints Over Implementation of Nuclear Deal With Iran Irrelevant – Moscow

© Sputnik/ Andrey Stenin
Sputnik – April 20, 2017

US complaints over how the nuclear deal on Iran is being implemented are irrelevant, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, Mikhail Ulyanov, said Thursday.

On April 19, US President Donald Trump ordered a National Security Council-led interagency review of the JCPOA to evaluate Iran’s compliance with the deal, with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson stating that the nuclear deal “fails to achieve the objective of non-nuclear Iran.” Tehran, in its turn, stressed that the deal was an international treaty and cannot be changed, adding that Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA.

“If the deal does not work, then specific complaints should be made regarding its functioning. The Americans cannot do this. The IAEA, an independent participant in this process, confirms that the Iranians are implementing everything. Therefore, any claims are irrelevant here, it seems to me,” Ulyanov said.

Ulyanov noted that it was necessary for Tillerson to separate the notions of terrorism and the nuclear deal, which have nothing in common.

The JCPOA was signed by Iran and the P5+1 countries — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States plus Germany in July 2015, ensuring the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program in return for the gradual lifting of sanctions against Tehran. The deal came into force on January 16, 2016, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran was ready to implement the program to reduce its nuclear potential. However, the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran in February 2017 after a medium-range ballistic missile test has been carried out by Tehran in late January.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran complying with commitments under nuclear deal: Tillerson

Press TV – April 19, 2017

The Donald Trump administration has notified Congress that Iran has been compliant with its commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement, and that the administration is reviewing whether a continued suspension of the sanctions serves the national interests of the United States.

In a letter to Rep. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration has undertaken a full review of the nuclear accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led inter-agency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States,” Tillerson said in a statement Tuesday.

The White House must send certification of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA to Congress every 90 days, and it was the first issued by the Trump administration.

Tillerson, however, accused Iran of being “a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods,” and noted the administration would review the nuclear deal with that in mind.

Similar accusations leveled by US officials have in the past drawn strong reactions from Iranian authorities. Early this month, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi advised US Defense Secretary James Mattis against making such “unwarranted and malicious accusations against Iran.”

He said Washington should instead oblige its regional allies to halt their widespread financial, ideological, and military support for the terrorist outfits that have been plaguing several countries.

As a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Trump frequently criticized the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever negotiated,” but offered conflicting opinions on whether he would try to scrap it, renegotiate its terms or keep it in place.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany – sealed the JCPOA in July 2015 following 18 months of intense negotiations.

Under the deal, which took effect in January last year, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic.

Iran has warned that it would restore its nuclear activities to the pre-JCPOA level, if the US fails to keep its end of the bargain.

At an international conference on nuclear policy in Washington last month, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini strongly defended the JCPOA, pointing out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had confirmed Iran’s compliance five times.

Opponents of the JCPOA, including Israel and its allies in the US Congress, accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons and insist that the deal would not guarantee that the country was not striving to that end any longer.

Iran has always said that it seeks to allay international concerns about its nuclear program which is peaceful and civilian.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Iran: US in no position to talk about human rights

Press TV – April 14, 2017

Tehran says Washington is in no position to comment on the issue of human rights after the US imposed sanctions on an Iranian individual and an organization for what it called their “rights abuses.”

The United States on Thursday added Sohrab Soleimani, the supervisor of Security and Law Enforcement Deputyship at Iran’s Prisons Organization, and the Tehran Prisons Organization to its “human rights-related” sanctions list.

“The US government, due to its failed domestic and international record, is not in a position to comment or act on the human rights situation in other countries,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Friday.

“Nor has any international authority trusted such responsibility with the US administration to assess on its own the human rights situation in other countries and to make decisions for them,” he added.

Sohrab Soleimani is the younger brother of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps whose occasional sojourn among the Iraqi forces on the anti-Daesh battleground has drawn international attention.

Baghdad has hailed Soleimani as being among the “trustworthy” commanders for the Iraqi government.

This is the second time since US President Donald Trump’s January inauguration that Washington targets Iranian individuals and institutions with sanctions.

​Qassemi said “unilateral and coercive sanctions” by the US are an “illegitimate measure which has negative effects on the enjoyment of human rights of individuals.”

“Such repetitive measures in line with specific political objectives of the American government, declaring unilateral sanctions under baseless allegation of human rights violations against individuals or entities of independent states, breach the tenets of international law and international human rights law and are illegitimate and illegal,” he said.

In March, the US State Department said Washington had sanctioned 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or violating export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

The move prompted Iran to announce retaliatory sanctions on 15 American companies over their support for Israeli crimes and terrorism.

“The American government’s interventionist measures, more than anything, are aimed at covering up the problems of human rights in that country and diverting world opinion from its crimes and its support for systematic and gross violations of human rights by some of its allies in the region, in particular the Zionist regime, which have dark human rights records,” Qassemi said on Friday.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

US threatens Russia, Iran with more sanctions for Syria’s support

Press TV – April 10, 2017

The United States has threatened Russia and Iran with tougher sanctions over their support for Syria, saying nothing “is off the table” in this regard.

“We’re calling [Russia and Iran] out,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in an interview broadcast on CNN on Sunday.

“But I don’t think anything is off the table at this point. I think what you’re going to see is strong leadership. You’re going to continue to see the United States act when we need to act,” she added.

The comments were made after US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would look into stepping up sanctions on Russia and Iran, which support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The two countries are already under various types of US sanctions.

Washington has alleged that the government of President Assad is responsible for the last week’s suspected chemical attack in Idlib province which killed more than 80 people.

Moscow and Damascus have denied that the Syrian government had anything to do with the attack. The Russian Defense Ministry said the US had no proof of chemical weapons at al-Shayrat airbase, where it fired 59 Tomahawk missiles, killing several people and reportedly destroying a number of Syrian aircraft.

Iran has condemned both the alleged chemical attack and the US missile strike on Syria, saying Washington’s illegal action will embolden terrorist groups in the Middle East region.

‘US has evidence that Assad was behind attack’

In her interview with CNN, Haley insisted that the US administration has evidence that the Syrian government was behind the April 4 chemical attack

“What we’ve seen is, you know, in our meetings this week, we were told of the evidence,” she said. “We saw the evidence. The President saw the evidence. All of that is naturally classified. And I’m sure when they can declassify that, they will.”

On Sunday, Haley once again threatened Syria with further military action, saying President Donald Trump could order more strikes if necessary. She issued a similar threat hours after the April 7 missile strike.

“I was trying to give warning and notice to the members of the Security Council and the international community that (Trump) won’t stop here,” she said, adding. “If he needs to do more, he will do more.”

‘US strike intended to send message to Russia’

In a separate interview NBC News on Sunday, Haley said the US missile attack in Syria was intended to send a message to the Russian government.

“The entire administration was in agreement that this was something that had to be done. This was something that needed to tell Assad, ‘Enough is enough,'” she said.

“And this is something to let Russia know, ‘You know what? We’re not going to have you cover for this regime anymore. And we’re not going to allow things like this to happen to innocent people.'”

She went on to say that the United States will not allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to “have Assad’s back anymore.”

Tillerson asks Russia to drop support for Assad

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is set to visit Moscow this week, on Sunday demanded that Moscow stop supporting the Assad government.

“I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad, because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility,” Tillerson told ABC News.

The United States and its allies have repeatedly used chemical weapons as a pretext to pressure the Syrian government, despite the fact that Damascus volunteered to destroy its chemical stockpile in 2014 following a poisonous attack outside the capital. The deal was brokered by the US and Russia in 2013.

Tillerson accused Moscow of failing to enforce the 2013 agreement meant to get Syria rid of its chemical arsenal.

“I’m disappointed because I think the real failure here has been Russia’s failure to live up to its commitments under the chemical weapons agreements that were entered into in 2013,” he said.

“Both by the Syrian government and by Russia as the guarantor to play the role in Syria of securing chemical weapons, destroying the chemical weapons and continuing to monitor that situation,” he added.

‘Russia also responsible for April 4 chemical incident’

The top US diplomat said the April 4 chemical incident happened because of Russia’s failure “to achieve its commitment to the international community.”

“I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad,” he added, “because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility.”

The allegations of chemical arms use are still made against Syria even as the dismantling of the country’s entire stockpile of chemical weapons as well as relevant production facilities was supervised by the United Nations.

Foreign-backed militants have repeatedly used chemical weapons against Syrian troops, some of which have been verified by UN officials, but the attacks have often been ignored by Western governments.

In December 2015, a cousin of former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi said that chemical weapons used in Ghouta which were blamed on the Syrian government were in fact stolen from Libya and later smuggled into Syria via Turkey.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 2 Comments

G7 ‘Unlikely to Support’ US-UK Push to Slap More Sanctions on Russia

Sputnik – April 10, 2017

In an interview with Sputnik, Russian political analyst Alexey Zudin expressed doubt over the G7 countries’ willingness to agree with the UK Foreign Secretary’s latest demand to inflame the sanction war with Russia.

The interview came after The Times reported that during the upcoming G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Italy, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will urge the G7 member states to tighten sanctions against Russia following the latest developments in Syria.

The newspaper said that “Britain is pushing western nations to impose new sanctions on Russia if it fails to cut ties with President Assad as the conflict over Syria escalates.”

According to The Times, the document was prepared ahead of the G7′ ministerial meeting which kicks off in Lucca, Italy, later on Monday. The newspaper said that Johnson wants the G7 to issue a joint statement after an alleged chemical attack in Syria, according to which Russia should stop supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and withdraw its troops from Syria.

In case of Moscow’s refusal, new sanctions will follow in addition to those already slapped on Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine, according to The Times.

Alexey Zudin, of the Moscow-based Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies think tank, said that this move, initiated by Washington and London, is unlikely to be supported by other G7 countries.

“It is unlikely G7 members will agree to this, at least for now. It seems that the absence of proof [pertaining to the Syria chemical attack] has not put off the main initiator, the US, and its closest ally Britain, which is not the case with other G7 countries who are hardly likely to support the American position,” Zudin said referring to “clear collaboration between Washington and London on the issue.”

According to him, this move is timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow, which begins on April 11.

“It would be pointless for Tillerson to start his visit with a direct threat to his Russian colleagues, about the US preparing a new package of anti-Russian sanctions, which is why this role was delegated to UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson,” Zudin concluded.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is not aware of any possible new US sanctions against Russia over Syria, as neither President Donald Trump or his administration have made any statements.

“Not knowing what is at issue, and we really do not know what is at issue, it is difficult to talk about any reaction,” Peskov told reporters.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that Trump and members of his team “have started to have” conversations related to imposing sanctions on Russia and Iran in connection to their support for Damascus.

“Yes, there was a statement by the US ambassador, but we have not heard about any statements to this effect from President Trump or his representatives,” Peskov said.

Last Thursday night, at least five people were killed and seven others injured after the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs.

US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Idlib province on Tuesday, which Washington blames on the Syrian government.

Syrian President Assad argued that his government has no chemical weapons left, and never used the stockpile Syria used to maintain.His government handed over this stockpile, which included precursors to the nerve gases sarin and VX as well as hydrogen fluoride, to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a global chemical weapons watchdog, in 2013 amid international pressure.

All of the weapons were then destroyed by the OPCW, which completed this task in January 2016.

SEE ALSO:

Trump Considering Sanctions Against Russia, Iran for Supporting Syria

New Sanctions Against Russia ‘Part of a Deal Between Trump, US Establishment’

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump tends to see Iran as a many-splendoured thing

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 6, 2017

The signing of a $3 billion deal on Tuesday between Boeing Company and Iran’s Aseman Airlines on purchase by the latter of thirty 737 MAX aircraft has been possible only with the approval of the Donald Trump administration. An earlier agreement of last December – a whopping deal of $16.6 billion – on purchase by Iran Air of 80 passenger planes from Boeing, which was reached during the Obama administration, also stands unchallenged by Trump.

The 17th century Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric Jonathan Swift once wrote, “A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.” President Donald Trump has no love lost for Iran, but then, money appeals to his head – even Iranian money. Trump won’t stand in the way of American companies doing lucrative business with Iran.

The fact of the matter is that there are churnings in the US-Iran engagement. Bloomberg reported this week that Senator John McCain, who has been a leading voice against the Iran nuclear deal, sees nothing wrong with Boeing’s deal. He says,

I have opposed the Iranian agreement and I am not interested in doing anything to help the Iranians but what they’ve done is completely legal. They’ve got the money and it’s not a weapons system, so it doesn’t require any involvement from the Congress.

Now, this was the politician who once famously said, “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!” Again, Senator Ben Cardin, who is the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, says there is little Congress can do to block the plane sale as long as it meets the terms set out in the nuclear deal.

Evidently, the mood in the Congress is shifting, because the $3 billion deal on Tuesday is expected to create or sustain about 18000 jobs in America. According to Bloomberg, Boeing shares rose 0.8 percent to $178.07 at 2:02 p.m. in New York on Tuesday. “The gain was the third largest among the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.”

Meanwhile, US Senate has postponed the bill to impose new sanctions against Iran. Republican Senator Bob Corker, who is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said on Tuesday that the bill will not move forward for now. The proposed bill enjoys “bipartisan” support and aims at slapping tighter sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles. Corker has given a curious explanation:

We’ve got a Iran sanctions bill that has a number of co-sponsors that wasn’t able to mark up at present because of concerns about how the European Union might react and (Iranian) elections that are coming up.

Now, the stunning part of what Corker implied is that the US is fervently hoping that President Hassan Rouhani will get re-elected in the presidential election on May 19. Clearly, Iranian leadership’s platform to expand relations with western countries has caught the imagination of American elites and they don’t want new sanctions to hurt Rouhani’s chances of victory!

Indeed, what needs to be factored in here is also the testimony by the head of US Strategic Command Gen. John Hyten before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Iran is not attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, and that it is abiding by the terms of the deal. The general effectively said that it is untimely to slap additional sanctions against Iran.

To my mind, Tehran senses that the tide is turning. Trump held back from endorsing the anti-Iran tirade by the visiting Saudi Deputy Crown Prince recently. (See my recent opinion piece US-Saudi reset is real but rather unpredictable.)

In an extraordinary interview on Monday with a Persian-language daily, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has disclosed that Tehran will exercise strategic patience vis-à-vis Trump administration. Zarif said,

The (Iranian) establishment in its entirety has reached the conclusion that we shouldn’t give them (the Americans) any excuse. This should not be taken to mean that we back away from our plans… but we don’t seek tension.

Importantly, Zarif implied that it is “some regional actors” (read Israel and Saudi Arabia) who are ratcheting up pressure on the Trump administration, “who want to steer the US into adopting policies which leave us with no choice but to contravene it (nuclear deal of 2015).” Any long-time observer of US-Iran relations will take note that such a remark by an Iranian FM would have been simply unthinkable not too long ago.

To be sure, the ground beneath the feet is shifting under the cloud cover of rhetoric. Historically, Iranians have got along far better with Republican presidencies. There is a story that refuses to go away that Tehran had deliberately delayed the release of the American hostages to January 20 1981 so as to time it perfectly with Ronald Reagan’s inaugural  – and that this was also what Reagan’s team had preferred through back channels. At any rate, Reagan who had some of the most anti-Iranian rhetoric to his credit while on the campaign trail in 1980, is today remembered better for the infamous Iran-Contra Affair. Trump, by the way, has never hidden his admiration for Reagan as his role model.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia-Iran strategic ties keep US guessing

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 26, 2017

For a variety of reasons, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Moscow on March 26-27 will attract attention in world capitals. The scheduling of the visit when there is less than eight weeks left for Iran’s presidential election on May 19 where he is hoping to secure a second term, makes a very important point. To be sure, there is much visible mix-up in the conservative camp in Iran, while the reformist-moderate forces have rallied behind Rouhani. Iranian elections are notoriously unpredictable, but Russia seems to expect continuity in Iranian policies for another 4-year period.

Most European and Middle Eastern capitals will share this perception, and, arguably, even the Donald Trump administration cannot be unaware of it. Nonetheless, a ‘bipartisan’ group in the US senate announced a new bill on Thursday that would impose tighter sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program. But then, the announcement comes just before Sunday’s start of the annual conference in Washington of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, and thereby hangs a tale.

The Trump administration’s tough talk on Iran notwithstanding, Tehran remains committed to the 2015 nuclear deal. The litmus test will be whether Washington holds up its end of the bargain as regards the lifting of nuclear–related sanctions. So far, the Trump administration has done nothing to unilaterally tear up the nuclear deal – and, Iran too has been careful not to give cause to complaint regarding failure on its part in implementing the deal.

On the other hand, the European Union has maintained support for the Iran nuclear deal. At a recent Track II held in Beirut, former Iranian diplomat and a close associate of Rouhani, Seyed Hossein Mousavian gave his prognosis on the US’ options: “They would let the deal go on, but they would try to undo practically the Iranian nuclear deal through many other sanctions under … the umbrella of terrorism, missiles, human rights and regional issues.”

The net result of such new sanctions would be to deprive Iran from the economic benefits of the nuclear deal. However, the US can only create conditions where Iran is unable to optimally reap economic benefits out of the nuclear deal, but not to ‘isolate’ Iran from the world community. This is where Rouhani’s trip to Moscow serves a big purpose for Tehran. Russia is an irreplaceable partner for Tehran today. The reports from Tehran suggest that Rouhani is carrying a substantial economic agenda for discussions in Moscow.

Having said that, for both Russia and Iran, their cooperation is of strategic importance and is hugely consequential on the ground in regional and international politics, especially on the Syrian frontlines. That is why sustained attempts by the West, GCC states and Israel to exploit any daylight in the Russian-Iranian relationship failed to make headway. Writing for the influential Fox News, Frederick Kagan at the American Enterprises Institute – neither a friend of Iran nor of Russia – in an opinion piece titled Pitting Russia against Iran in Syria? Get over it urged the Trump administration to recognise Russia-Iran cooperation as a geopolitical reality for a foreseeable future:

  • American policy-makers must get past facile statements about the supposed limits of Russian and Iranian cooperation and back to the serious business of furthering our own interests in a tumultuous region. The Russo-Iranian coalition will no doubt eventually fracture, as most interest-based coalitions ultimately do. Conditions in the Middle East and the world, however, offer no prospect of such a development any time soon.

To my mind, Trump’s policies toward Iran are evolving cautiously and there could be surprises in store. The Iranians seem to understand that although Big Oil wields big clout with the Trump administration and a US-Saudi Arabian reset is in the making, the two sides have divergent concerns in many vital areas and an anti-Iran alliance as such — comprising the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia — seems far-fetched. In a fascinating op-ed last week in the establishment paper Tehran Times, Mousavian wrote:

  • The fight against ISIS also cannot be won by America alone. Trump’s… challenge will be to form a new coalition to defeat and destroy ISIS. To be successful, it will need to be far more cohesive and effective than the one built by Obama. Engaging more with the actors most effectively fighting ISIS on the ground, namely Russia and Iran and their allies, will be critical in this regard.

To a great extent, Russia and Iran are sailing in the same boat. Entrenched groups in the US oppose tooth and nail any improvement in the US’s relations with Russia and Iran. However, Russia and Iran will not take no for an answer from Trump administration in the fight against the ISIS in Syria. Both are grandmasters in reconciling contradictions. Both would hope that cooperation over Syria would help them leverage their respective relationship with the US. Mousavian’s opinion piece titled Trump’s ISIS challenge is here.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Central Bank of Iran slams, to contest Luxembourg assets seizure

Press TV – March 26, 2017

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has strongly criticized a recent decision by a court in Luxembourg to seize $1.6 billion of the Islamic Republic’s assets, saying the verdict did not amount to the enforcement of a related ruling by a US court.

In a statement on Sunday, the CBI announced that it would use all means at its disposal to protest and appeal the decision by the Luxembourg court, adding that legal efforts would continue until the rights of the Iranian nation are restored.

“The recent decision by the court in Luxembourg does not mean the recognition and enforcement of the US court verdict and the aforementioned seizure [of assets] only is a preliminary measure, which can be countered through various means,” it said.

“There are numerous means available under Luxembourg laws to counter it, such as protesting and appealing the verdict at higher courts, and the Central Bank [of Iran], with the cooperation of the Iranian Presidency’s Center for International Legal Affairs, will make the utmost use of the above means,” the statement added.

“Measures by the United States of America in line with issuing so-called terrorism rulings against the Iranian government are in various respects violations of international law and conventions.”

According to the statement, the procedure adopted by the US against Iran is in contravention of the immunity of governments under international law and a violation of the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights signed between Iran and the US in 1955.

Furthermore, the CBI said, the execution in other countries of the ruling in absentia lacks any justification and basis in international law.

“The Islamic Republic has cataloged in detail the reasons for the illegality of this measure by the government of the United States of America in a petition registered at the International Court of Justice,” added the statement.

It added that several years ago, in response to the intensification of US sanctions against Iran, the CBI launched a campaign to “curtail the share of the US dollar in its income basket and this measure was implemented gradually but continuously. This policy is also followed closely today.”

A Luxembourg court on Wednesday denied a request by Tehran to retrieve $1.6 billion of Iranian assets claimed by the US as compensation for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The New York Times released a report on March 6 about a confidential ruling by a Luxembourg court to freeze $1.6 of CBI assets in a financial institution in the European country.

According to informed sources, the Luxembourg court ordered the freezing of the CBI assets after a group of terror attack victims, who had won a default judgment against Iran in the US, filed a lawsuit at the European court to try to enforce it, the report said.

In 2011, the group had persuaded a federal judge in New York, George B. Daniels, to find that Iran had provided assistance to al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks, an allegation vehemently dismissed by the Islamic Republic. In 2012, the judge ordered Iran to pay the victims two billion dollars in compensatory damages and five billion dollars in punitive damages.

That judgment stagnated for years, as there was no obvious financial source to collect it. However, after the nuclear sanctions against Iran were lifted, following a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, which was signed last year, the group referred the case to the Luxembourg court as it came to light that the Clearstream system in Luxembourg, which facilitates international exchanges of securities, was holding $1.6 billion in CBI assets.

In a similar case in April, the US Supreme Court issued an order authorizing the transfer of around two billion dollars of frozen Iranian assets to the families of the victims of a 1983 bombing in Beirut, which targeted a US Marine Corps barracks in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and other attacks blamed on Iran. The assets belong to the CBI, which have been blocked under US sanctions.

Iran has denied any role in the attacks and strongly criticized the move by the US.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran announces sanctions on 15 US companies

Press TV – March 26, 2017

Iran has announced retaliatory sanctions on 15 American companies over their support for Israeli crimes and terrorism two days after Washington imposed bans on nearly a dozen foreign companies or individuals for aiding the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that these companies have directly and/or indirectly collaborated with the Israeli regime in committing its savage crimes in occupied Palestine, thrown their weight behind the regime’s terrorist acts or contributed to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Therefore, any transactions with these companies and businesses shall be prohibited, their assets shall be subject to freezing, and no visas shall be issued for individuals holding positions in or associated with these corporations, the statement further noted.

The ministry also said Washington’s unilateral bans were imposed on Tehran “under fabricated pretexts,” censuring the restrictive measures as a violation of “international law” as well as the spirit and text of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On Friday, the US State Department said Washington had sanctioned 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or violating export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

The statement further emphasized Iran’s resolve to develop its peaceful missile power as part of the nation’s “inalienable” right to enhance its deterrence and defense might in the face of threats.

The US sanctions targeted 11 companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates for transferring technology to Iran that it claimed could boost the country’s ballistic missile program.

Here is the list of the sanctioned US corporations:

Beni Tal security company has collaborated with the Israeli military in the suppression of Palestinian people.

United Technologies has sold Black Hawk military helicopters to the Israeli regime which have been used to bomb occupied territories and Palestinian refugee camps.

Raytheon has supplied Israel with technologically advanced military weapons that have been used against Palestinian people during the Gaza war.

ITT Corporation has provided the Israeli military with equipment it has used to stage nightly raids in Palestinian villages and refugee camps.

Re/Max has been involved in illegal real estate transactions in Israeli settlements across occupied Palestinian territories.

Oshkosh Corporation has been supplying the Israeli military with parts for armored vehicles used to restrain the Palestinian population.

Magnum Research Inc. has collaborated with Israeli military industries in the manufacturing of firearms and military equipment.

Kahr Arms has provided spare parts and developed light weapons used by the Israeli army in cooperation with the regime’s military industry.

M7 Aerospace LP, purchased by US subsidiary of the Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems, has been active in the production and development of Israeli radar and missile systems.

Military Armament Corporation has provided services and equipment linked to the weapons used by Israeli police.

Lewis Machine and Tool Company has provided weapons spare parts and services to the Israeli military’s arms industry.

Daniel Defense has provided the Israeli military’s arms industry with spare parts and services for weapons manufacturing.

Bushmaster Firearms International has provided the Israeli military’s arms industry with spare parts and services for weapons manufacturing.

O.F. Mossberg & Sons has supplied Israel with weapons, which are used by the regime’s military and police forces in the crackdown on Palestinian civilians.

H-S Precision, Inc. has provided the Israeli regime with weapons manufacturing technology.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry stated that the list could expand to include more entities.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments