Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are pushing a proposal that calls for President Donald Trump to declare that Tehran has failed to comply with the agreement and to threaten an unprecedented economic embargo designed to rattle the regime. The document, which has been circulating on Capitol Hill and in the White House, says the president should declare to Congress next month that the deal is no longer in the national security interest of the United States. Then the president would make clear his readiness to hit Iran with a “de-facto global economic embargo” if it failed to meet certain conditions over a 90-day period, including opening military sites to international inspectors.
The Trump administration imposed new sanctions against 11 firms and individuals for allegedly aiding Tehran’s ballistic missile program and helping it to conduct cyberattacks and support terrorism, the U.S. Treasury said Thursday. The new sanctions come as the administration is set to waive sanctions related to the 2015 international nuclear agreement. The new sanctions allow Washington to keep a modicum of economic pressure on Iran despite reluctantly keeping a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in place for now.
The Trump administration on Thursday extended sanctions relief to Iran, avoiding imminent action that could implode the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, even as President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Tehran of not respecting the entire agreement. The extensions of the waivers on nuclear sanctions, first issued by the Obama administration, were accompanied by new penalties imposed against 11 Iranian people and companies accused of supporting Iran's ballistic missile program or involvement in cyber-attacks against the U.S. financial system.
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IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s pursuit of ballistic missiles and continued support for designated terrorist organizations violates the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in London Thursday. Tillerson recalled the preamble of the agreement, which expected the deal “will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security,” and contrasted it with the regime’s continued malign activity in the region. “Iran is clearly in default of these expectations of the JCPOA,” he said.
The United States is “seeking excuses” to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran by demanding military site inspections, one of the Islamic republic’s top security officials said on Friday.
The United States is looking to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East with a more aggressive approach in cyberspace. “They operate almost entirely in what we refer to as the gray zone, that space between normal international competition and armed conflict,” the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, said Wednesday in Washington, calling it “an area ripe for cyberspace operations.”
The United States must consider the full threat it says Iran poses to the Middle East when formulating its new policy toward Tehran, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday, adding that Iran had breached the spirit of a 2015 nuclear deal.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to hold a first meeting on the Iran nuclear deal with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other parties to the agreement next week at the United Nations, diplomats said Thursday.
Two months after an Israeli legal rights NGO warned US-based Boeing that it will place liens on its planes if it followed through with a since completed deal with Iran, a Chicago federal court is asking US [President] Donald Trump to decide if Boeing must disclose details of the controversial transaction.
NORTH KOREA AND IRAN
As North Korea continues its march towards developing a reliable long-range nuclear missile, US officials are becoming increasingly vocal about concerns over Pyongyang's ties to another familiar adversary: Iran. Despite current restrictions in place to monitor and curtail Iran's nuclear program, several lawmakers and members of the intelligence community have warned in recent weeks that Tehran could theoretically purchase technology or knowledge related to building a nuclear weapon in the future.
The German Federal Court of Justice will rule on whether three businessmen can face criminal penalties for selling nuclear technology to Iran, allegedly to be used to develop weapons, prior to the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers… The businessmen – Bernd Gehrad L., René L. and Ralf C. – delivered 51 highly specialized valves to Iran between 2010 and 2011. The value of the valves, including the delivery to a sanctioned Iranian company, amounted to €1 million.
Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to set up de-escalation zones in Syria for six months, negotiators for the three nations said in a joint statement Friday after talks in Kazakhstan. The zones will include, fully or partly, Eastern Ghouta, the provinces of Idlib, Homs, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama, according to the statement. The six-month term may be extended in the future.
In recent weeks, Tehran’s foreign exchange and gold markets have experienced instability as the local currency has declined in value and the price of gold has risen. The Iranian currency, Toman has lost around 12% of its value. Hadi Ghavami, deputy chairman of parliament’s Budget Commission has said that the instability has several reasons, but the main culprit is lower oil prices creating a sudden budget deficit for the government.
Iran's on-off space programme has received a boost after a recent satellite launch was seen to annoy Washington, with Tehran dusting off plans for a manned mission, perhaps with Moscow's assistance. "Ten skilled pilots are currently undergoing difficult and intensive training so that two of them... can be selected for the space launch," the head of the science ministry's aerospace research centre, Fathollah Omi, told the state broadcaster last week. He said the plan was to put humans into suborbital space "in less than eight years".
OPINION & ANALYSIS
On August 24th, Qatar announced that it was sending an Ambassador back to Tehran. This move by Doha sparked a series of columns in Saudi and Emirati publications that highlighted Qatar’s close relations with the Quartet’s (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt) mutual opponent, rival, and at times, “fren-enemy” — the Islamic Republic of Iran. Similar to previous publications during the feud, most of these stories can be considered hyperbolic disinformation that reasserts the Quartet’s core complaint that Qatar is making nice with the enemy and thereby undermining the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Washington commentators and US officials also met these reports with concern, given the Trump administration’s efforts to pushback on Iran’s regional behavior. While Iran does present a dangerous problem the GCC must solve, Qatar’s relationship with the Islamic Republic is quite complex.
In this case, the experts are not only wrong on the facts, but they are also looking at the situation through the wrong end of the telescope. For all of his faults, Trump’s instinctive desire to end the nuclear deal is more reality-based than the arguments of his critics. He should stop listening to them and begin the process of decertifying the nuclear agreement.
So what are the president’s options for October? He can still tear up the deal entirely, a scenario endorsed by John Bolton and previously promised by Trump. Another option would be to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal but not reinstate sanctions, not yet anyway… Obama, it’s abundantly clear, painted his successor—whether it was to be Trump or Hillary Clinton—into a corner, one colored in the hues of the Islamic Republic. The question is whether Trump is capable of charting a way out.
I believe Qatar has a big problem — not knowing what they want. Unless they make up their mind, they won’t stop playing games and changing their stand so frequently. Saudi Arabia is right to demand a clear and stated position before we go forward! With Iran and company, any less is pointless!