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.
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.
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.
WASHINGTON – The United States has imposed sanctions against eight Russian companies in connection with the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA), US State Department representative told Sputnik on Saturday.
“Penalties are being applied to eight Russian entities as a result of a regular, periodic review of specific activities as required by the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act,” the representative said.
The representative also stressed that these sanctions “are separate from the broader economic sanctions that have been in place since 2014” in connection with the Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The United States imposed sanctions on 150th Aircraft Repair Plant, Aviaexport, Bazalt, Kolomna Design Bureau of Machine-Building (KBM), Rosoboronexport (ROE), Ulyanovsk Higher Aviation Academy of Civil Aviation (UVAUGA), Ural Training Center for Civil Aviation (UUTsCA), Zhukovskiy and Gagarin Academy (Z&G Academy).
The Iranian part of the gas pipeline is complete but Pakistan has run into repeated delays for the 780-km section to be built on its side of the border
A Pakistani delegation will be visiting Iran next month to revive talks on a planned gas pipeline which has been set back for years because of US and Saudi opposition, an Iranian news agency says.
Iran’s gas delivery should have started in December 2014 but Pakistan has failed to complete its section of the pipeline under the contract signed back in 2010.
According to Fars news agency, Pakistani officials have officially announced their readiness lately to resume the negotiations and decided to send a delegation to Tehran in the middle of the Persian month of Farvardin which began on March 21 or in early Ordibehesht.
“Although Pakistani officials are subject to the policies of Saudi Arabia and America, the government under pressure from the Pakistani people and businessmen is willing to provide for conditions so that the Iranian natural gas reaches Pakistan,” the source said.
According to the unnamed source, the Pakistani negotiating team has been given complete freedom to negotiate the volume, time and mode of gas imports from Iran and reach a final conclusion.
“Pricing is up for the later stage and if we reach an initial conclusion, we will also get to that phase,” the source added.
The energy crisis in Pakistan which suffers about 12 hours of power cuts a day has worsened in recent years amid 4,000 megawatts of electricity shortfall. The nation of 190 million people can only supply about two-thirds of its gas needs.
Contractually, Pakistan has to pay steep fines to Iran for failing to build and operate its section of the pipeline. Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has said that Tehran decided not to take the matter to international arbitration because Islamabad did not have any money to either pay the penalty or build the pipeline.
Pakistan has however pushed ahead with talks to receive gas from Turkmenistan through a pipeline which is exponentially longer and costlier than the Iran route and has to cross volatile terrain in Afghanistan.
Qatar is currently one of the main suppliers of liquefied natural gas to Pakistan after the two sides signed a 15-year agreement in February 2016 for shipment of 3.75 million tonnes of LNG a year.
In their last negotiations with Iran, the Pakistanis reportedly said they preferred LNG to natural gas.
However, Iranian energy experts have dismissed the proposal as another delaying tactic given that the first Iranian LNG production is years off, while the Pakistanis have started talks to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan.
For years, Islamabad has been under US and Saudi pressure to opt out of the Iran project even though this would entail going the extra mile of more than 700 km across the violence-wracked Afghanistan to get gas from Turkmenistan.
A bipartisan group of US senators in Congress have introduced a bill that would impose tighter sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile tests and other non-nuclear activities.
The bill was introduced on Thursday by 14 Democratic and Republican senators, including senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The legislation would set mandatory sanctions for anyone involved with Iran’s missile program and those who trade with them. It also would apply sanctions to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Lawmakers were expected to roll out the new sanctions ahead of a conference by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is scheduled to start Sunday.
Senators Bob Corker, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Ben Cardin and Tom Cotton are among the bill’s sponsors.
Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, claimed that the new bill had been written not to interfere with the international nuclear accord reached with Tehran.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany started implementing the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16, 2016.
In February, US President Donald Trump undermined the multilateral deal by introducing a new round of sanctions against Iran following the country’s successful test-launch of a ballistic missile, which Washington said was a breach of the JCPOA.
The US Treasury Department said Washington had imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities as part of an effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran over its missile program.
The United States claims that Iran’s recent missile test violated Resolution 2231 that endorsed the Iran nuclear agreement.
Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
The Israeli-Palestinian issues – settlements, ‘two-state solution’ and the American embassy’s re-location to Jerusalem – hogged the attention during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House last Wednesday. The Iran question became a sub-text.
That was rather odd, since for both ‘Bibi’ and Trump, Iran nuclear deal was a historic mistake and they’d sworn to “rip it up”. Clearly, Trump and Netanyahu took a deliberate decision to miss the historic opportunity last week to jointly tear up the Iran deal. The US-Israeli readout on their talks in the White House says:
- The President and Prime Minister agreed on the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies… so as to create a more secure Middle East to the benefit of all countries. The two leaders agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States, Israel, and the world. The President assured the Prime Minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability.
Again, at their joint press conference, Trump simply dodged the questions on the Iran deal – not once but twice – when asked what he intended to do about it.
The message is loud and clear: Iran nuclear deal is here to stay. A Jerusalem Post analysis noted wryly, “They may not like the deal, they may not have made it, and they may enforce it more aggressively than the Obama administration, but attempts to “rip it up” are officially over.”
The US’ European allies are pleased with Iran’s full compliance of the terms of the deal so far and, of course, they see potential trade and economic relations with Iran. Funnily enough, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visited Washington recently to stress the importance of the Iran nuclear deal and afterwards claimed that she was assured by top Trump administration officials of their “intention to stick to the full implementation of the agreement.”
The British PM Theresa May rebuffed ‘Bibi’ when he pressed during a recent visit to London that UK should follow Trump’s lead on new sanctions against Iran over its recent missile tests. The snub is significant because the UK has been Israel’s staunchest ally in Europe. Moscow went a step further to assert the Russian-Iranian partnership, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying last Thursday,
- Our position is that Iran is a reliable, stable partner, a near neighbor. Friendly relations between Russia and Iran do not depend on external circumstances. We cooperate with Iran on many issues on various international platforms, including conducting a productive dialogue on the subject of counter-terrorism, which we will continue.
Simply put, if Trump imposes sanctions against Iran, there will be no takers in the international community. Trump also knows that this is an inopportune moment to ratchet up tensions in the Middle East by provoking Iran. (By the way, Tehran showed flexibility at the recent Astana talks where Russia, Turkey and Iran adopted a document last week to form a joint group to monitor the ceasefire in Syria and facilitate the elaboration of confidence-building measures among the warring sides.)
Of course, Tehran senses that these are early days. The Iran Daily newspaper noted in a commentary on Wednesday:
- Iran’s foreign policy apparatus has thus far taken a prudent and wise approach vis-à-vis the White House’s smear campaign. It remains to be seen whether Trump will press ahead with his anti-Iran stance, or he will come to his senses and adopt a more logical tone.
Importantly, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who was a negotiator at the P5+1 and Iran talks, told the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee on Wednesday,
- Trump may adopt any scenario, and the worst scenario is, while keeping the JCPOA (Iran deal), put pressure on the Islamic Republic, introduce new non-nuclear sanctions in order to deprive Iran of the benefits of the JCPOA.
Clearly, Iran does not want to be the one to break the deal, but it will be hard-pressed not to react to additional pressure by the Trump administration to deny it the economic benefits. Meanwhile, Iran will not mothball its missile development programme. Trust Iranian diplomacy to wear down the Trump administration. Trump holds a weak hand — and as for ‘Bibi’, Iran always thought of him as just a hot air balloon. Read a spirited interview, here, by Zarif with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
US senators introduced a legislation to impose sanctions on Iran’s aircraft sector for the use of commercial aircraft to “support terrorism,” Senator Marco Rubio said in a press release on Friday.
The bill would require President Donald Trump’s administration to regularly report to Congress if Iran uses civilian aircraft for the purposes of transporting illicit cargo, such as weapons, troops, electronics or rocket or missile components.
“[Lawmakers] introduced the Iran Terror-Free Skies Act, legislation that would counter Iran’s use of commercial aircraft in support of international terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism,” the release stated. “The legislation would also require the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to impose new sanctions against these designated Iranian commercial airlines.”
Additionally, the administration would have to report the use of commercial aircraft to support Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, armed forces, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government or any foreign terrorist organizations.
The US Treasury Department would have to impose new sanctions against Iranian commercial airliners if Trump determines they have engaged in illicit military activities after the Iran nuclear deal was implemented on January 16, 2016.
US officials of the new administration have labeled Iran as the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world despite lacking evidence proving the claim.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi
Iran says Israel’s atomic weapons arsenal represents the biggest threat to world peace, dismissing new allegations by Israeli and US leaders against Iran’s nuclear program as “hollow” and “worthless”.
The reaction on Thursday came a day after US President Donald Trump called Iran’s nuclear program a threat to Israel during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
“The statements did not contain any new point except being a repetition of hollow and worthless allegations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.
Terming the nuclear deal with Iran as “the worst” agreement ever, Trump pledged to impose new sanctions on Iran to prevent the country from what he called developing a nuclear weapon.
Qassemi said, “Such claims are repeated while the International Atomic Energy Agency, in its reports, has time and again confirmed Iran’s nuclear program as peaceful – a fact which has been verified many times by different countries.”
“The bitter truth is that these remarks and inadmissible allegations are repeated by a regime which is not committed to any international law and convention and has hundreds of warheads in its atomic arsenal,” he said.
Israel, Qassemi said, “is viewed as the biggest threat to peace and security in the Middle East and the world and its ponderous file of endless atrocities and inhuman actions against the oppressed Palestinian people and other neighbors is recorded in numerous UN reports.”
In their joint news conference, Netanyahu applauded Trump for his harsh stand on Iran which was slapped with new sanctions by the new US administration in violation of the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On Tuesday, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano confirmed that Iran was implementing the nuclear agreement under which Tehran has undertaken to scale back its nuclear program in return for lifting of the sanctions.
Qassemi said, “Nuclear weapons are haram (forbidden) from the religious standpoint, corresponding with the fatwa of the Eminent Leader of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei) and have no place in Iran’s military doctrine.”
The Islamic Republic, he said, will seriously continue to pursue those components of its peaceful nuclear program which are validated by the United Nations Security Council within the framework of the JCPOA.
Under Resolution 2231, the Security Council has endorsed the nuclear deal, which went into effect in January 2016.
On his campaign trail, Trump threatened to annul the deal, which he has lambasted as “the worst accord ever negotiated” and “one of the dumbest” ones he has come cross.
Washington has taken a tougher line on Iran since Trump took office on January 20. Last month, the US said it had put Tehran “on notice” after the Islamic Republic tested a ballistic missile which is not prohibited by the nuclear deal.
Britain’s sickening infatuation with Israel continues
Here in the UK the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) has initiated a judicial review in a bid to halt UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia on suspicion that they are being used against civilians in Yemen. The indiscriminate nature of Saudi air-strikes makes it highly likely that British weaponry is being deployed in breach of international humanitarian law.
The slaughter has been going on for nearly 2 years leading to a humanitarian crisis of appalling magnitude and great cruelty. Since the Yemen campaign began the British government has granted export licences for more than £3.3 billions worth of war equipment when there was a “clear risk” that some of it would be used in violation of all norms of human conduct.
It is claimed that the Government has ignored warnings by senior civil servants and its own arms control experts, and some records of expressed concern have gone missing. This is no great surprise when we discover that export licensing is overseen by none other than the Secretary of State for international trade, Liam Fox. For Fox has ‘form’ as a crazed stooge of Israel and a sworn enemy of Iran.
Fox, while Secretary of State for Defence, was quoted on the Conservative Friends of Israel website as saying: “…We must remember that in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided.”
And in June 2015 Fox declared: “It is logical to assume that Iran’s intentions are to develop a nuclear weapons capability and any claims that its intentions are exclusively peaceful should not be regarded as credible… Iran’s nuclear intentions cannot be seen outside the context of its support for terror proxies, arguably the defining feature of its foreign policy. The risks are clear.”
Fox was forced to resign as Defence Secretary in 2011 following scandalous goings-on between him, his ‘close friend’ Adam Werritty, the UK ambassador to Israel and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran.
Just lately prime minister Theresa May has accused Iran of working with Hezbollah, interfering in Iraq, sending fighters to Syria to help Assad, and supporting the Houthis in the conflict in Yemen. The British Government, of course, can meddle where it pleases and recently concluded another huge arms deal with the Saudis which, says Mrs May, is for the sake of long-term security in the Gulf. She argues that the same extremists who plot terror in the Gulf states are also targeting the streets of Europe: “Gulf security is our security.”
However, public pressure to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia is now so great that the Government has adopted a new export licensing scheme that hides the value and scale of weaponry being supplied.
The reason for the British Government’s current hostility towards Iran was plain from what David Cameron told the Knesset in 2014: “A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world not just Israel. And with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that it is never allowed to happen.” That position carries forward into the present day and beyond, and serves as an excuse for the rednecks who rule our political swamp to carry on being unpleasant to the Muslim world.
After sucking up to Trump Britain rolls out red carpet to another of the world’s undesirables
Theresa May lost no time in welcoming Mr Netanyahu to London. The two leaders this week agreed to establish a new UK-Israel Trade Working Group to strengthen their existing trade and investment relationship and “to prepare the ground for a post-Brexit trade agreement”. What good that will do in the face of rising popularity among the public of boycotting everything Israeli remains to be seen.
Regional issues including Syria and Iran are to be on the agenda for discussion. And regarding Palestine May repeated the mantra that “We remain committed to a two-state solution as the best way of building stability and peace for the future”…. though she doesn’t say what that will look like.
Netanyahu also met with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and they sat alongside the desk on which the Balfour Declaration was composed in 1917. As for the forthcoming Balfour Declaration centenary celebrations, a statement said that May invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to attend events taking place in the UK “as a Guest of Government” and that Prime Minister Netanyahu “also invited her to visit him in Israel”.
Netanyahu didn’t miss the opportunity to warn that Iran “seeks to annihilate Israel” and called on nations to back renewed sanctions against the Iranian regime.
Israel’s ‘nest of spies’ in London
I looked up one of my old reports about how Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, argued five years ago that British policy was being driven in an underhand fashion by the Israel lobby. He linked Matthew Gould, the then British ambassador to Israel, with the Fox-Werritty scandal and raised questions about meetings between Gould, Liam Fox and Fox’s strange friend Adam Werritty. Werritty was referred to as Fox’s adviser but according to reports he was backed financially by Israel lobbyists and had no security clearance and therefore no authorised role.
Murray, with many useful contacts from his days as an ambassador, claimed to have serious evidence connecting Gould with a secret plan to attack Iran, but the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Secretary blocked questions. Murray published his story ‘Matthew Gould and the plot to attack Iran’ here.
In it he pointed out that “Matthew Gould does not see his race or religion as irrelevant. He has chosen to give numerous interviews to both British and Israeli media on the subject of being a Jewish ambassador, and has been at pains to be photographed by the Israeli media participating in Jewish religious festivals. Israeli newspaper Haaretz described him as ‘not just an ambassador who is Jewish, but a Jewish ambassador’. That rather peculiar phrase appears directly to indicate that the potential conflict of interest for a British ambassador in Israel has indeed arisen.”
He went on to say that Gould stood suspected of participating with Fox and Werritty “in a scheme to forward war with Iran, in co-operation with Israel”. The stonewalling by the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office led Murray to conclude that “something very important is being hidden right at the heart of government”.
Labour MP Paul Flynn remarked that no previous ambassadors to Israel had been Jewish so that a conflict of interest and accusations of going native would be avoided. He was immediately rebuked. Flynn also asked about meetings between Werritty and Gould, as some reports suggested that Gould, Werritty and Fox discussed a potential military strike on Iran with Mossad. “I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories,” said Flynn, “but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran.”
Fox had earlier made the idiotic claim: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies”, and the Jewish Chronicle hailed him as “a champion of Israel within the government”. Furthermore Fox continually rattled the sabre against Iran which, of course, is no threat to Britain but regarded by Israel as a bitter enemy. Iraq too was Israel’s enemy, not ours. Yet Fox, according to the theyworkforyou.com, voted “very strongly” for the Iraq war. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Afghanistan.
Given that Fox so eagerly waved the flag of a foreign military power and was a man with dangerous beliefs and demonstrably weak judgement, how could those who appointed him not see that he was unfit to serve as a Minister of the British Crown – unless they were similarly tainted?
When the Werritty relationship came to light Fox jumped before being flung from the battlements. But instead of melting into obscurity he has now been rehabilitated into the senior ranks of Government and is once again a Minister of the Crown. And after watching the trail blazed by our former Jewish ambassador to the Jewish State, we now gawp with fascination at the inevitably messy conflicts of interest arising from Trump’s pick for US ambassador to Israel – David Friedman, a Jewish lawyer with scant respect for international law or Middle East sensitivities.
Despite the strong whiff of misconduct David Cameron rewarded Gould with head of The Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance (OCSIA), which includes e-crime, working with private sector partners on exchanging information, and engaging with international partners in improving the security of cyberspace and information security. Did it seem right for such a person to be in charge of crucial security matters at the heart of our Government? What was in fellow Zionist David Cameron’s mind when he appointed him?
Could it have had anything to do with the UK-Israel academic collaboration ventures with cyber research funding, which involve partnerships between British and Israeli universities and cover research areas such identity management, regulating cyber security, privacy assurance, mobile and cloud security, human aspects of security, and cryptography?
Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on digital co-operation in March 2014. And Gould’s new appointment came at a time when the Cameron government was lecturing us on threats to national security and announcing plans to trawl through our personal emails and web browsers in order to “keep us safe”. Question was, who would trawl Gould’s private emails?
The vipers in our bosom
CAAT expect a decision on the judicial review on arms to Saudi Arabia in 4 to 6 weeks. In the meantime an undercover Al Jazeera report has revealed that a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, was plotting with stooges among British MPs and other vipers in the political snake-pit to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan, a noted sympathiser of the Palestinian’s struggle. This should have resulted in the expulsion of the ambassador himself, the Israeli propaganda maestro and Netanyahu’s pet, Mark Regev, who took up the post last year. Regev is the sort of person no sensible government would let into their country. But he was let off the hook and the affair hurriedly smoothed over with an announcement from the Foreign Office that the matter was closed.
Craig Murray, however, has been digging again. The Foreign Office deflected his many questions and dismissed the idea that Masot was anything more than a member of the technical and administrative staff at the embassy. “This is plainly a nonsense,” says Murray. “Masot, as an ex-Major in the Israeli Navy and senior officer in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is plainly senior to many who are on the Diplomatic List.” He concludes that the Foreign Office is complicit in “a large nest of Israeli spies seeking to influence policy and opinion in the UK in a pro-Israeli direction. That is why the government reaction to one of those spies being caught on camera plotting a scandal against an FCO minister, and giving £1 million to anti-Corbyn MPs, was so astonishingly muted.”
All this and the recent UN resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s continuing squats on Palestinian land as illegal and an obstacle to peace, has done nothing to disturb the cosy relationship between Her Majesty’s Government and the obnoxious Israelis.
On the contrary, after May’s meeting with Netanyahu a Downing Street spokesperson said they focused on, yes, cyber security: “In their discussions, the Prime Ministers committed to working together to build on our longstanding relationship and the strong ties that already exist between our two countries in a wide range of areas, from trade and investment, to innovation and technology, and defence and security. They talked about the important work we do together on intelligence-sharing and cyber-security, and committed to talk further about how we can deepen this cooperation, to help keep our people safe”.
Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF then pursued a career in industrial marketing, primarily in oil, electronics, card technology and retail automation. More recently he freelanced with innovation and marketing research consultancies. Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Psychology degree Exeter University. Served as a county councillor (Cambridgeshire) and spokesman on the Police Authority. Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.
Since retiring has been a newspaper columnist and produced two photo-documentary books.
A senior Russian diplomat has expressed surprise at an outcry provoked by the new US administration over Iranian missile work, saying Tehran’s missile tests are not violating any UN bans, legally speaking.
“This outcry about Iran’s ballistic missile launches. I was surprised to hear even American experts speaking on CNN and calling it a violation of bans by the UN Security Council,” said Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin in an interview with RT published Tuesday.
He was referring to Resolution 2231 adopted by the Security Council in July 2015 to underpin the landmark nuclear deal inked days earlier between Tehran and the P5+1 group of states, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, the US plus Germany.
The document terminated the provisions of previous UN resolutions, calling on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Explaining the legal language used in Resolution 2231, Churkin said the document merely “calls” on Tehran not to conduct tests of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but does not impose any ban on Tehran.
“Those bans were there before, all those bans were lifted,” said the Russian official. “Technically or legally you cannot argue that they are violating any kind of a prohibition.”
He also said no evidence has been provided to support the claims that Tehran’s missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Late last month, Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley slammed a missile test by Iran as “absolutely unacceptable.”
US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn also said following the January 29 test that Washington was “officially putting Iran on notice,” claiming that the launch was “in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”
The Islamic Republic has, on numerous occasions, asserted that its missiles are not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and that it is not involved in such missile work.
In March 2016, Russia blocked the potential ratification of a United Nations Security Council resolution against Iranian missile tests in a session called by the former US administration.
Explaining Russia’s opposition to an anti-Iran resolution, Churkin said back then that in the view of veto-wielding Russia, Resolution 2231, which endorsed a nuclear deal between Iran and six other countries, did not legally prohibit Iranian ballistic missile tests.
He said the text explicitly did not ban Iranian missile test-launches.
“A call is different from a ban, so, legally, you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” Churkin said. “The legal distinction is there.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Churkin warned that the United States’ tensions with Iran might work to affect Moscow’s relations with Washington.
“There are so many complexities, so many issues which can create additional problems, including problems which might affect our relations with the US,” he said.
The envoy cautioned the US against behaving emotionally instead of relying on facts when it comes to Iran.
“In international life, you have to differentiate between your emotions, what you want to see and what you have the right to expect from another country,” he said.
Churkin further took on US President Donald Trump’s recent comment to Fox News that the Islamic Republic is “terrorist state number one.”
The envoy pointed to the active role the Islamic Republic is playing in the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terror group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq.
Iran has been providing military advisory support to the countries’ respective militaries in their fight against the terrorists, an assistance that has been met with appreciation from both governments.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also reacted to Trump’s remarks, saying, “We disagree with this postulate.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Washington, London and their allies to create a “joint front” against Iran, citing Tehran’s supposedly aggressive behavior as the reason. Iranian analysts told Sputnik Persian that Israel “has no right” to come up with such initiatives since it is the main reason behind regional tensions.
“Israel is the main source of all conflicts in the Middle East,” Hossein Ruyvaran, an expert on the Middle East and the Arab world who teaches at the University of Tehran, said. “Since this state was established in 1948, the region has been plagued by many wars sparked by Israel – in 1948, 1956, 1973, 1982, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014. The Israeli regime is the main reason for regional tensions due to its ambitions. This regime has tried to change the geopolitical orientation in the region.”
These remarks came in response to Netanyahu calling on the United States and the United Kingdom to adopt a tough stance on Iran due to Tehran’s ostensibly “defiant aggression” and in light of the country’s “defiance against the international order.”
“Claims that Iran is the key threat [in the Middle East] and the main reason behind all troubles in the region are groundless,” Ruyvaran said. “Israel has tried to use these accusations to turn the West against Iran. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has adopted Resolution 2234 which strongly condemns Israel’s unlawful settlements on occupied lands.”
Hassan Hanizadeh, Iranian political analyst and former chief editor of the Mehr News Agency, expressed similar sentiments. He referred to Netanyahu’s remarks as “anti-Iranian political propaganda.”
“Not many countries are ready to support Israel since everyone knows that Israel has occupied Arab lands, including the Golan Heights, Gaza and East Jerusalem,” he said. “This is why Israel has no right to accuse Iran of aggression since it itself is an aggressor. … Israel has no right to mention or urge to create a front against Iran. If a front against aggression must be created, then it should be targeted against Israel, not Iran.”Netanyahu’s comments came after Iran had tested a new ballistic missile last week. The United States imposed new sanctions on Tehran, with US President Donald Trump tweeting that the Islamic Republic has been “formally put on notice” for conducting the test. He added that Iran was “playing with fire.”
Tehran has repeatedly said that its missile program is defensive in nature and does not threaten other countries. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said that the test was not intended “to send a message” to the new US administration.