Mehr News Agency & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Mohammad Zargham and Steve Holland / Reuters – 2017-07-19 00:56:59
Iran May Opt to Drop N-deal in
Face of Major Violation by US
Mehr News Agency
NEW YORK (July 18, 2017) — Iran’s FM Zarif in an interview with the National Interest said if it comes to a major violation of nuclear deal by Washington, Tehran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal.
Editor of the National Interest, Jacob Heilbrunn, spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview in New York on July 17, 2017. The following is an excerpt from the interview:
In regard to his response to the Trump administration in the face of Washington’s violation of the spirit — if not the letter — of the Iran nuclear accords, Zarif said “we’ve taken a route that has been prescribed within the nuclear deal, taken it to the joint commission, and we will discuss that in the joint commission to make sure that the shortcomings by the United States are remedied.
This has been the subject of an ongoing debate within the joint commission, not only during the Trump administration but also during the previous Obama administration, when it took the United States, for instance, several months to clear the purchase of airplanes.”
He went on to add, “It took the US longer to clear the purchase of Airbus airplanes than it took for the purchase of Boeing airplanes. But nevertheless for Airbus it took about nine months and for Boeing it took about four months. Which in our view was too long, so we took the issue to the joint commission. And some parts of it were remedied, some parts of it were not, and this is the avenue that is open to us now.”
“If it comes to a major violation, or what in the terms of the nuclear deal is called significant nonperformance, then Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal,” he stressed.
“Certainly Iran started an understanding, not just with the United States, but with the P5+1, endorsed by the Security Council, and at this stage we are content with simply implementing that agreement . . . But in order for that to serve as a solid foundation, we want to make sure that the obligations by all sides have been fully and faithfully implemented. And if we get that, then we have an opening to further progress,” Zarif said.
About Iraq’s situation, he said “It’s a situation where the initial US invasion of Iraq has led everybody to lose.”
“If we have greater influence in Iraq than some of our neighbors or some external countries, it’s because we made the right choices,” Zarif said, while referring to Iran’s support to Iraq in the fight against ISIL.
About the future of Iranian influence in Syria, Zarif said “we have had a consistent policy of fighting extremism and terrorism whether it was in Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban, or, even during the time that the United States was in occupation of Iraq. The same applies to Syria.”
Zarif went on stress that not all countries follow the example of Iran on this: ” You have countries in the region who have consistently supported extremists. The people who recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan are the same as the ones who are imposing pressure on Qatar, the same as the ones who are having difficulty with Iran, both in Syria and Iraq and in the region generally.”
“But we are not about excluding them. This is not our aim. We do not believe that our region will be secure if we exclude Saudi Arabia,” Zarif said, adding “We believe that Saudi Arabia is an important part of that security, as we believe that other countries in the region should be an important part of that security understanding.”
About the future of Iran-US relations, he said “it all depends on the approach that the United States will try . . . It has to set aside the assumption that it can create turmoil in the region and draw financial benefits from it.”
“We have a very sober understanding of the situation in the region where we are located, and we hope that the United States can also have such a sober understanding,” said Zarif.
US Imperils Nuclear Deal With New Iran Sanctions
Iran FM Complains of Continuing US Violations of Pact
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 18, 2017) â€“ Less than 24 hours after formally certifying Iran’s compliance with the P5+1 nuclear deal, the Trump Administration has announced a new round of sanctions against Iran, nominally for having a ballistic missile program.
This bizarre disconnect between reality and policy was prefaced in the statement confirming compliance, during which administration officials vowed Iran “won’t go unpunished” for non-specific allegations that they are violating “the spirit” of the deal.
Ballistic missile sanctions are a highly controversial way to sanction Iran, as the UN resolution on the missiles explicitly forbids Iran developing nuclear-capable missiles. Many view this old resolution as tantamount to obsolete because of the P5+1 deal, and Iran has repeatedly noted it makes no sense to complain about their conventional missiles when they’re complying with the nuclear deal and obviously have no warheads.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif expressed anger at the latest round of moves, noting that the US has been in repeated violation of the P5+1 deal in preventing companies doing business with Iran. He noted Iran has had to repeatedly take the US to the joint commission on the deal to seek redress, and warned that major US violations could ultimately force Iran to withdraw from the deal.
That’s likely the goal of the Trump Administration’s moves, as they are very well aware that the US “ripping up” the deal, as Trump has promised to do, would alienate Europe, and hoping that if they continue to violate the deal Iran might just give up and withdraw, allowing them to shift the blame for a failure that’s still very much the fault of the US government.
US Puts New Sanctions on Iran over Ballistic Missile Program
Mohammad Zargham and Steve Holland / Reuters
WASHINGTON (July 16, 2017) — The United States slapped new economic sanctions against Iran on Tuesday over its ballistic missile program and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any “positive contributions” coming from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord.
The measures signaled that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place an agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.
The US government said it was targeting 18 entities and people for supporting what is said was “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity.”
Those sanctioned had backed Iran’s military or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components, it said. Others had “orchestrated the theft of US and Western software programs” sold to Iran’s government, the Treasury Department said.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity,” the State Department said in a statement.
It said the activities “undercut whatever ‘positive contributions’ to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge” from the nuclear agreement.
On Monday, the Trump administration said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement but it was also in default of the spirit of the accord and Washington would look for ways to strengthen it.
It was the second time Trump certified Iranian compliance with the agreement since he took office in January, despite having described it as “the worst deal ever” during his 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing then-President Barack Obama whose administration negotiated the accord.
“Even as we continue to work to prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, we cannot look away while Iran threatens our country and our allies in ways beyond their nuclear threat,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Tuesday.
‘Poison the Atmosphere’
The statement listed Iranian support for groups including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas movement, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Iran condemned Washington’s sanctions announcement as “contemptible and worthless.”
Iran “will reciprocate the move by imposing sanctions on a number of American natural and legal persons who have taken steps against the Iranian people and other Muslim nations in the region,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CBS News the sanctions “poison the atmosphere” and violate the “spirit” of the nuclear agreement.
“We will look at it and see whether it violates the letter of the deal. And we will act accordingly,” he said.
The Trump administration is reviewing policy on Iran, not only looking at Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal but also its behavior in the region which Washington says undermines US interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
Trump’s reservations about the nuclear deal held up the White House’s announcement on compliance, a US official said. In the end, Trump agreed reluctantly to recertify the agreement after being advised repeatedly by his top national security aides to do so, another senior US official said.
Behind the scenes, advisers argued that there was no alternative but to recertify the deal for now because the past sanctions regime the United States had with European allies against Iran is no longer in place and unilateral sanctions are not as effective as multilateral ones.
The State Department also called on the Iranian government to release US citizens Baquer Namazi, Siamak Namazi, Xiyue Wang and other “unjustly detained US citizens” and said it was deeply concerned about reports of their declining health.
“Iran should immediately release all of these US citizens on humanitarian grounds,” the State Department said.
Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and David Alexander in Washington; Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut
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