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Iran Deal, the reset.....

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    brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain. Posts: 41,142
    brianlux said:
    We recently watched the film, Wavy Grave; Saint Misbehavin'".  There's a scene later in the film where Wavy and his Hog Farm group in two hippie buses are traveling through the middle east on the way to the far east to show and lend support  for the starving poor in Bangladesh.   These crazy hippies and the middle easterners got a long great, mingling and sharing cultures- at one point participating in a jam session of blended music. 

    That was about 50 years ago.  It wouldn't be allowed today, but maybe some one young with a lot of energy and vision will come along and creatively make something good between our cultures again.  It's never going to happen the way we've been going about it for the last several decades.  We need people with much greater vision.
    The iPhone killed the magic bus, Brian. Would love to see it and hopefully it will happen.  Someday. A school bus from Syria to England for a PJ show, picking up at least one resident of each country along the way. One can dream.

    I love it!  At the very least, that would make a very cool movie!
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     Esmail Qaani is likely to pursue his predecessor's policies with 'greater vigour and ruthlessness', say experts.
    https://aje.io/wlz69

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    mrussel1mrussel1 Posts: 28,926
    Wait a minute... wait a minute guys..  The US exits the JCPOA but now DEMANDS that the snap back sanctions go into place?  Is that a joke?  Does Pompeo like getting laughed at by the Security Council?  Sorry you don't get to exit the agreement and then try to leverage the agreement afterwards.  What a joke.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53847650

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    Halifax2TheMaxHalifax2TheMax Posts: 37,158
    mrussel1 said:
    Wait a minute... wait a minute guys..  The US exits the JCPOA but now DEMANDS that the snap back sanctions go into place?  Is that a joke?  Does Pompeo like getting laughed at by the Security Council?  Sorry you don't get to exit the agreement and then try to leverage the agreement afterwards.  What a joke.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53847650

    Should have heard Team Trump Treason speaking to the press in front of the Iraqi prime minister regarding Turkish incursions into northern Iraq to strike the Kurds and his relationship with both the Kurds and Turks and how the US military might is the mightiest. And then speak to the Iranians and their bounties on US soldiers and how we’ll strike them so hard your head will spin. He has not a clue.
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    josevolutionjosevolution Posts: 28,553
    edited August 2020
    mrussel1 said:
    Wait a minute... wait a minute guys..  The US exits the JCPOA but now DEMANDS that the snap back sanctions go into place?  Is that a joke?  Does Pompeo like getting laughed at by the Security Council?  Sorry you don't get to exit the agreement and then try to leverage the agreement afterwards.  What a joke.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53847650

    And the whole world is laughing at us!
    jesus greets me looks just like me ....
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    PapPap Aspra Spitia, Greece Posts: 28,586
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     https://news.yahoo.com/irans-president-says-country-rejoin-014200867.html

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said if the United States returns to the Iran nuclear deal, his country will follow within an hour.The deal was made...

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    mrussel1mrussel1 Posts: 28,926
    mickeyrat said:
     https://news.yahoo.com/irans-president-says-country-rejoin-014200867.html

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said if the United States returns to the Iran nuclear deal, his country will follow within an hour.The deal was made...

    That's good news and much firmer of a statement than I would have expected from them, particularly after our latest provocation.  It will be an uneasy few weeks until Biden takes charge.  I expect more aggression from Israel.  I would also expect Israel to test Biden early.  
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
    mrussel1 said:
    mickeyrat said:
     https://news.yahoo.com/irans-president-says-country-rejoin-014200867.html

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said if the United States returns to the Iran nuclear deal, his country will follow within an hour.The deal was made...

    That's good news and much firmer of a statement than I would have expected from them, particularly after our latest provocation.  It will be an uneasy few weeks until Biden takes charge.  I expect more aggression from Israel.  I would also expect Israel to test Biden early.  

    would assume blinken is familiar to the iranians
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     
    Biden repudiates Trump on Iran, ready for talks on nuke deal
    By MATTHEW LEE
    3 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday it's ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, in a sharp repudiation of former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” that sought to isolate the Islamic Republic.

    The administration also took two steps at the United Nations aimed at restoring policy to what it was before Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018. The combined actions were immediately criticized by Iran hawks and are likely to draw concern from Israel and Gulf Arab states.

    In addition to signaling a willingness to talk with Iran, the administration also reversed Trump’s determination that all U.N. sanctions against Iran had been restored. And, it eased stringent restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations.

    The State Department announced the moves following discussions between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British, French and German counterparts, and as Biden prepares to participate, albeit virtually, in his first major international events with world leaders.

    The announcement came a day before Biden is to speak to leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies and later in the day address the annual Munich Security Conference. At both, Biden is expected to discuss his commitment to multilateral diplomacy and his desire to undo damage that Trump's positions may have caused over the previous four years.

    In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. would accept an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting of the participants — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, along with Iran — in the original nuclear agreement.

    “The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” he said. The U.S. has not participated in a meeting of those participants since Trump withdrew from the deal and began steadily ramping up sanctions on Iran.

    Such an invitation has not yet been issued but one is expected shortly, following Blinken's talks with the British, French and German foreign ministers.

    Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the administration notified the Security Council that it had withdrawn Trump's September 2020 invocation of the so-called “snapback” mechanism under which it maintained that all U.N sanctions against Iran had been re-imposed. Those sanctions included a conventional arms embargo against Iran that had been set to expire.

    Trump's determination had been vigorously disputed by nearly all other U.N. members and had left the U.S. isolated at the world body. Thus, the reversal is unlikely to have any immediate practical effect other than to bring the U.S. back into line with the position of the vast majority of U.N. members, including some of its closest allies.

    Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills sent a letter to the Security Council saying the United States “hereby withdraws” three letters from the Trump administration that culminated in its Sept. 19 announcement that the United States had re-imposed U.N. sanctions on Tehran due to it's “significant non-performance" with its obligations.

    Trump's move had been ignored by the rest of the Security Council and the world, and the overwhelming majority of members in the 15-nation council had called the action illegal because the U.S. was no longer a member of the nuclear deal.

    At the same time, officials said the administration has eased extremely strict limits on the travel of Iranian diplomats accredited to the United Nations. The Trump administration had imposed the severe restrictions, which essentially confined them to their U.N. mission and the U.N. headquarters building in New York.

    The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, quickly denounced the steps. “It is concerning the Biden Administration is already making concessions in an apparent attempt to re-enter the flawed Iran deal," he said. “The Trump Administration created leverage for President Biden on Iran — we should not squander that progress.”

    Earlier Thursday, Blinken and his European counterparts had urged Iran to allow continued United Nations nuclear inspections and stop nuclear activities that have no credible civilian use. They warned that Iran’s actions could threaten delicate efforts to bring the U.S. back into the 2015 deal and end sanctions damaging Iran’s economy.

    Iran is “playing with fire,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who took part in the talks Thursday in Paris with his British and French counterparts. Blinken had joined via videoconference.

    Iran has said it will stop part of International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of its nuclear facilities next week if the West doesn’t implement its own commitments under the 2015 deal. The accord has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

    Blinken reiterated that “if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments ... the United States will do the same,” according to a joint statement after Thursday’s meeting that reflected closer trans-Atlantic positions on Iran since President Joe Biden took office.

    The diplomats noted “the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access, and urge Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity.”

    They said Iran’s decision to produce uranium enriched up to 20% and uranium metal has “no credible” civilian use.

    The 2015 accord is aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Tehran denies it is seeking such an arsenal.

    “We are the ones who have kept this agreement alive in recent years, and now it’s about supporting the United States in taking the road back into the agreement,” Maas told reporters in Paris.

    “The measures that have been taken in Tehran and may be taken in the coming days are anything but helpful. They endanger the Americans’ path back into this agreement. The more pressure that is exerted, the more politically difficult it will be to find a solution,” he said.

    Iran’s threats are “very worrying,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, stressing the need “to re-engage diplomatically in order to restrain Iran, but also bring it back into compliance.”

    The diplomats also expressed concern about human rights violations in Iran and its ballistic missile program.

    In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani expressed hope Thursday that the Biden administration will rejoin the accord and lift the U.S. sanctions that Washington re-imposed under Trump, according to state television.

    Tehran has been using its violations of the nuclear deal to put pressure on the remaining signatories — France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China — to provide more incentives to Iran to offset the crippling sanctions.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president of the European Council spoke with Rouhani this week to try to end the diplomatic standoff. The head of the IAEA is scheduled to travel to Iran this weekend to find a solution that allows the agency to continue inspections.

    ___

    Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Angela Charlton and Masha Macpherson in Paris contributed.


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    Funny having adults in the room again.
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     
    Iran, world powers ready to welcome back US to nuclear deal
    By RAF CASERT
    38 mins ago

    BRUSSELS (AP) — Iran and the major powers in the agreement to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons said Friday they were ready to welcome the return of the United States to the deal.

    The chair of the group including the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran said that the participants “recognized the prospect of a full return of the US to the JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort,” referring to the acronym for the accord — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    They said they “emphasized their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation," according to a statement after their virtual meeting,

    The group said they would resume further talks next week in Vienna on the 2015 agreement, “in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures.”

    The statement also said that the group’s coordinator “will also intensify separate contacts in Vienna” with all participants of the nuclear agreement and the United States.

    In Tehran, state television quoted Abbas Araghchi, Iran's nuclear negotiator in the Friday virtual meeting, as saying in the meeting that any “return by the U.S. to the nuclear deal does not require any negotiation and the path is quite clear.”

    “The U.S. can return to the deal and stop breaching the law in the same way it withdrew from the deal and imposed illegal sanctions on Iran,” Araghchi was quoted as as saying.

    Russia's ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said that "the impression is that we are on the right track, but the way ahead will not be easy and will require intensive efforts. The stakeholders seem to be ready for that.”

    Washington pulled out of the deal unilaterally in 2018 under President Donald Trump, but successor Joe Biden has indicated that the U.S. would be willing to rejoin.

    But there are complications. Iran has been steadily violating the restrictions of the deal, like the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile and the purity to which it can enrich it. Tehran’s moves have been calculated to put pressure on the other nations in the deal — Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain — to do more to offset crippling sanctions reimposed under Trump.

    Iran has said that before it resumes compliance with the deal, the U.S. needs to return to its own obligations under the deal by dropping the sanctions.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that over the past two years, Iran has accumulated a lot of nuclear material and new capacities, and used the time for “honing their skills in these areas.”

    The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something it insists it doesn’t want to do. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.

    As part of its ongoing violations of the JCPOA, Iran last month began restricting IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities. Under a last-minute deal worked out during a trip to Tehran, however, some access was preserved.

    Under that temporary agreement, Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA, but it has promised to preserve the tapes for three months. It will then hand them over to the Vienna-based U.N. atomic watchdog if it is granted sanctions relief. Otherwise, Iran has vowed to erase the tapes, narrowing the window for a diplomatic breakthrough.


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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
    interesting. near same time if Sec Def arriving in Israel to declare unconditional support, Iran’s facility gets attacked in that way. at the same time as negotiations are beginning about re-engagement in the deal....

    Iran's supreme leader: Vienna offers 'not worth looking at'
    By JON GAMBRELL
    1 hour ago

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday dismissed initial offers at talks in Vienna to save Tehran's tattered nuclear deal as “not worth looking at,” attempting to pressure world powers after an attack on the country's main nuclear enrichment site.

    The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, came after a day that saw Iran's president similarly ratchet up pressure over the accord. European powers meanwhile warned Tehran its actions were “particularly regrettable” and “dangerous.”

    The talks already have been thrown into disarray by a weekend attack on Iran's main Natanz nuclear enrichment site suspected to have been carried out by Israel. Tehran retaliated by announcing it would enrich uranium up to 60% — higher than it ever has before but still lower than weapons-grade levels of 90%.

    "The offers they provide are usually arrogant and humiliating (and) are not worth looking at,” the 81-year-old Khamenei said in an address marking the first day of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Iran.

    He also criticized the U.S. and warned time could be running out.

    “The talks shouldn’t become talks of attrition,” Khamenei said. "They shouldn’t be in a way that parties drag on and prolong the talks. This is harmful to the country.”

    Speaking to his Cabinet, an impassioned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the first-generation IR-1 centrifuges that were damaged in Sunday's attack would be replaced by advanced IR-6 centrifuges that enrich uranium much faster.

    “You wanted to make our hands empty during the talks but our hands are full,” Rouhani said.

    Rouhani added: “60% enrichment is an answer to your evilness. ... We cut off both of your hands, one with IR-6 centrifuges and another one with 60%.”

    Rouhani also accused Israel of being behind the Natanz attack and threatened to retaliate.

    In Jerusalem at a Memorial Day commemoration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to reference Iran.

    “We must never remain apathetic to the threats of war and extermination of those who seek to eliminate us,“ he said. Israel has not claimed the attack, though it rarely does in its ongoing shadow war against Tehran.

    The talks in Vienna are aimed at finding a way for the United States to re-enter Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers and have Iran comply again with its limits. The accord, which former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from in 2018, prevented Iran from stockpiling enough high-enriched uranium to be able to pursue a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

    Late on Wednesday, the European Union said formal negotiations would resume Thursday in Vienna.

    Rouhani in his comments Wednesday insisted Iran is still hoping that the Vienna talks lead to a negotiated settlement over its program — and the accompanying lifting of punishing sanctions. Khamenei as well said he believed in his negotiators, but kept up the pressure on the West in his remarks Wednesday night.

    “They must do what we say first, and we are assured that it’s done, then we will do what is we are required to do," he said.

    France, Germany and the United Kingdom, all parties to the nuclear deal, only hours earlier issued a joint statement Wednesday expressing their “grave concern” over Iran’s decision to increase enrichment.

    “This is a serious development since the production of highly enriched uranium constitutes an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon,” the countries said. “Iran has no credible civilian need for enrichment at this level.”

    China and Russia also took part in the deal.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called Iran's enrichment decision a “provocative announcement.”

    “It calls into question Iran’s seriousness of purpose in the nuclear talks,” he said in Brussels.

    Saudi Arabia, a regional rival to Iran, similarly issued a statement, saying enriching at that level “could not be considered a program intended for peaceful purposes.” It called on Iran to “avoid escalation."

    Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, though the West and the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran had an organized military nuclear program up until the end of 2003. An annual U.S. intelligence report released Tuesday maintained the American assessment that “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that we judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

    Full Coverage:
     

    Iran previously had said it could use uranium enriched up to 60% for nuclear-powered ships. However, the Islamic Republic currently has no such ships in its navy.

    Iran had been enriching up to 20% — even that was a short technical step to weapons-grade levels. The deal limited Iran's enrichment to 3.76%

    Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, posted a letter online addressed to IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi warning against “any adventurism by (the) Israeli regime” targeting Iranian nuclear sites.

    “The most-recent cowardly act of nuclear terrorism will only strengthen our determination to march forward and to replace all (damaged) centrifuges with even more advanced and sophisticated machines,” Gharibabadi wrote.

    IAEA inspectors visited Natanz on Wednesday on their first trip since the sabotage and found Iran preparing an above-ground area for the higher enrichment, the agency said.

    Iran has “almost completed preparations to start producing (uranium gas) enriched up to 60%,” the IAEA said in a later statement. “Iran informed the agency that the necessary pipework was being finalized and that feeding of (uranium gas) enriched up to 5% into a cascade of IR-6 centrifuges would start soon thereafter.”

    The weekend attack at Natanz was initially described only as a blackout in the electrical grid feeding above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls — but later Iranian officials began calling it an attack.

    Alireza Zakani, the hard-line head of the Iranian parliament’s research center, referred to “several thousand centrifuges damaged and destroyed” in a state TV interview. However, no other official has offered that figure and no images of the aftermath have been released.

    Satellite photographs from Planet Labs Inc. of Natanz taken Wednesday and analyzed by The Associated Press showed no apparent damage above ground at the facility.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem; David Rising in Berlin; Malak Harb in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Matthew Lee in Brussels contributed to this report.


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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
     
    Progress noted at diplomats' talks on Iran nuclear deal
    By PHILIPP JENNE and KIRSTEN GRIESHABER
    Yesterday

    VIENNA (AP) — High-ranking diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and Britain made progress at talks Saturday focused on bringing the United States back into their landmark nuclear deal with Iran, but said they need more work and time to bring about a future agreement.

    After the meeting, Russia’s top representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, “noted today the indisputable progress made at the Vienna talks on restoration of the nuclear deal.”

    “The Joint Commission will reconvene at the end of the next week,” Ulyanov wrote. “In the meantime, experts will continue to draft elements of future agreement.”

    “It’s too early to be excited, but we have reasons for cautious and growing optimism,” he added. “There is no deadline, but participants aim at successful completion of the talks in approximately 3 weeks.”

    The three Western European countries involved in the talks struck a more restrained note.

    “We have much work and little time left. Against that background, we would have hoped for more progress this week,” the senior diplomats said talking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named.

    “We have yet to come to an understanding on the most critical points. Success is by no means guaranteed, but not impossible.”

    In Washington, the U.S. State Department had no immediate comment on reports of progress, incremental or not, and said the U.S. assessment of the talks remained where it was on Thursday. On that day, State Department spokesman Ned Price said there had been some movement but that an agreement was far from done or even guaranteed.

    Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, participated in the Vienna talks.

    "I can say that now our discussions have reached a maturity, both in the disputed topics and in the sections that we are agreed on,” he told Iranian state TV. "Although we cannot yet fully predict when and how we will be able to reach an agreement, it is moving forward, although slowly.”

    The U.S. did not have a representative at the table when the diplomats met in Vienna because former President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the country out of the deal in 2018. Trump also restored and augmented sanctions to try to force Iran into renegotiating the pact with more concessions.

    U.S. President Joe Biden wants to rejoin the deal, however, and a U.S. delegation in Vienna was taking part in indirect talks with Iran, with diplomats from the other world powers acting as go-betweens.

    The Biden administration is considering a rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions in a bid to get Iran to come back into compliance with the nuclear agreement, according current and former U.S. officials and others familiar with the matter.

    Ulyanov said JCPOA members met on the side with officials from the U.S. delegation but the Iranian delegation was not ready to meet with U.S. diplomats.

    The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The reimposition of U.S. sanctions has left the Islamic Republic's economy reeling. Tehran has responded by steadily increasing its violations of the deal, such as increasing the purity of uranium it enriches and its stockpiles, in a thus-far unsuccessful effort to pressure the other countries to provide relief from the sanctions.

    The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something it insists it doesn’t want to do. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.

    The Vienna talks began in early April and have included several rounds of high-level discussions. Expert groups also have been working on how to resolve the issues around the American sanctions and Iranian compliance, as well as the “possible sequencing” of the U.S. return.

    Outside the talks in Vienna, other challenges remain.

    An attack suspected to have been carried out by Israel recently struck Iran’s Natanz nuclear site, causing an unknown amount of damage. Tehran retaliated by beginning to enrich a small amount of uranium up to 60% purity, its highest level ever.

    ___

    Grieshaber reported from Berlin. Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Matt Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


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    Talks 'intensify' on bringing US back to Iran nuclear deal
    By DAVID RISING and PHILIPP JENNE
    Today

    VIENNA (AP) — World powers held a fourth round of high-level talks Friday aimed at bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal with Iran, with both sides signaling a willingness to work out the major stumbling blocks.

    The talks began in Austria in early April. Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted following Friday's meeting that “the participants agreed on the need to intensify the process.”

    “The delegations seem to be ready to stay in Vienna as long as necessary to achieve the goal,” he wrote.

    The U.S. pulled out of the landmark 2015 deal in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump said the pact needed to be renegotiated. The deal had promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, and the Trump administration reimposed heavy sanctions on the Islamic republic in an unsuccessful attempt to bring Tehran into new talks.

    Iran reacted by steadily increasing its violations of the deal by enriching uranium to a greater purity than permitted, stockpiling more enriched uranium than allowed and using more advanced centrifuges, among other moves to try and pressure the powers remaining in the deal — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — for economic relief.

    U.S. President Joe Biden says he wants to rejoin the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, but that Iran needs to return to compliance.

    Speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, Biden said he believed the Iranians were approaching the talks seriously.

    “But how serious and what they’re prepared to do is a different story,” Biden said. “We’re still talking.”

    The pact is meant to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, something the country insists it does not want to do, and the government in Tehran has said it is prepared to reverse all of its violations but that Washington must remove all sanctions imposed under Trump.

    Still unresolved is what Iran's return to compliance would look like. Delegates to the Vienna talks concede, for example, that Iranian nuclear scientists cannot unlearn the knowledge they acquired in the last three years, but it is not clear whether Iran's new centrifuges would need to be destroyed, mothballed and locked away, or simply taken offline.

    Because the U.S. is currently out of the deal, there were no American representatives at the talks. Diplomats involved are shuttling between the Iranian side and a delegation from Washington elsewhere in Vienna.

    Iran’s delegate to the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, told Iranian state television after the meeting that his impression was that all sides were committed to finding a solution.

    “The reports that are being conveyed to us from Americans is that they are also serious about returning to JCPOA. So far, they have announced that they are ready to lift most of their sanctions, but we do not think it is enough,” Araghchi said.

    “That is why the negotiations will continue until we reach all our demands in this regard," he added. "If our demands are met, Iran will be quite serious about returning to its obligations in the full implementation of JCPOA.”

    Between the high-level meetings in Vienna of the so-called Joint Commission, expert groups have been meeting to try and come up with solutions to the outstanding issues.

    Alain Matton, a spokesperson for the EU delegation, which is chairing the meetings, said the expert discussions will continue in the days ahead.

    “And the EU as a coordinator and facilitator of the JCPOA talks will continue with separate talks with all participants and with the U.S.,” Matton told reporters. "The participants are continuing with discussions, which are held on various levels and which have as their objective the full and effective implementation of the deal by all sides and the U.S. return to the JCPOA.”

    Ahead of the talks, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the U.S. position, said Washington has laid out the concessions it’s prepared to make and that success or failure now depends on Iran making the political decision to accept those concessions and to return to compliance with the accord.

    The official said it remains possible to reach an agreement before Iran’s June presidential election, which some believe are a complicating factor in the discussions.

    Heading into the talks, Ulyanov tweeted that he saw positive signs from both sides.

    “The head of the Iranian delegation is cautious in his assessment of the current state of affairs at the Vienna talks (very similar to assessments of the US colleagues),” he tweeted. “But both #Iran and #US refrain from pessimistic conclusions. This seems to be not a bad sign.”

    _____

    Matthew Lee in Washington and Amir Vahdat in Tehran contributed to this story. Rising reported from Berlin.


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    Apathy greets Iran presidential vote dominated by hard-liner
    By JON GAMBRELL
    1 hour ago

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a presidential election dominated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's hard-line protege after the disqualification of his strongest competition, fueling apathy that left some polling places largely deserted despite pleas to support the Islamic Republic at the ballot box.

    Opinion polling by state-linked organizations, along with analysts, indicated that judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi — who already is under U.S. sanctions — was the front-runner in a field of only four candidates. Former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati is running as the moderate candidate but hasn’t inspired the same support as outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, who is term-limited from seeking the office again.

    As night fell, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

    As fear over turnout mounted, Iran’s Interior Ministry extended voting by two hours, to 2 a.m. Saturday, citing the need to accommodate “crowds” at several polling stations nationwide.

    “My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this," said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. "I have no candidate here.”

    Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders and the lower participation in Western democracies. But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran's theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

    The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord. Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also blocked from running, said on social media he'd boycott the vote.

    Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

    If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

    It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran's nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

    Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

    Khamenei cast the first vote from Tehran, urging the public to "go ahead, choose and vote.”

    Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, voted from a mosque in southern Tehran. The cleric acknowledged in comments afterward that some may be “so upset that they don’t want to vote.”

    "I beg everyone, the lovely youths, and all Iranian men and women speaking in any accent or language from any region and with any political views, to go and vote and cast their ballots,” Raisi said.

    But few appeared to heed the call. There are more than 59 million eligible voters in Iran, a nation of over 80 million people. However, the state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has estimated a turnout will be just 44%, which would be the lowest since the revolution. Officials gave no turnout figures Friday, though results could come Saturday.

    Fears about a low turnout have some warning Iran may be turning away from being an Islamic Republic — a government with elected civilian leadership overseen by a supreme leader from its Shiite clergy — to a country more tightly governed by its supreme leader, who already has final say on all matters of state and oversees its defense and atomic program.

    “This is not acceptable,” said former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who sought to change the theocracy from the inside during eight years in office. “How would this conform to being a republic or Islamic?”

    For his part, Khamenei warned of “foreign plots” seeking to depress turnout in a speech Wednesday. A flyer handed out on the streets of Tehran by hard-liners echoed that and bore the image of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. A polling station was set up by Soleimani’s grave on Friday.

    Some voters appeared to echo that call.

    “We cannot leave our destiny in the hands of foreigners and let them decide for us and create conditions that will be absolutely harmful for us,” said Tehran voter Shahla Pazouki.

    Also hurting a moderate like Hemmati is the public anger aimed at Rouhani over the collapse of the deal, despite ongoing talks in Vienna to revive it. Iran’s already-ailing economy has suffered since, with double-digit inflation and mass unemployment.

    “It is useless,” said Ali Hosseini, a 36-year-old unemployed resident in southern Tehran, about voting. “Anyone who wins the election after some time says he cannot solve problem of the economy because of intervention by influential people. He then forgets his promises and we poor people again remain disappointed.”


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    Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency as turnout low
    By JON GAMBRELL
    2 hours ago

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory Saturday in the country's presidential election, a vote that both propelled the supreme leader's protege into Tehran's highest civilian position and saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic's history.

    The election of Ebrahim Raisi, already sanctioned by the U.S. in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, became more of a coronation after his strongest competition found themselves disqualified from running.

    That sparked calls for a boycott and many apparently did stay home — out of over 59 million eligible voters, only 28.9 million voted. Of those voting, some 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections and suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates.

    Iranian state television immediately blamed challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. sanctions for the low participation. But the low turnout and voided ballots suggested a wider unhappiness with the tightly controlled election, as activists criticized Raisi's ascension.

    “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran," Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said.

    In official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes overall, nearly 62% of the total 28.9 million cast. Had the voided ballots gone to a candidate, that person would have come in second place. Following Raisi was former hard-line Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei with 3.4 million votes.

    Former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati, a moderate viewed as a stand-in for outgoing President Hassan Rouhani in the election, came in third with 2.4 million votes. Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi was last with just under 1 million.

    Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who gave the results, did not explain the high number of voided ballots. Elections in 2017 and 2012 saw some 1.2 million voided ballots apiece. Iran does not allow international election observers to monitor its polls.

    While Iran does not have mandatory voting, those casting ballots do receive stamps showing they voted on their birth certificates. Some worry that could affect their ability to apply for jobs and scholarships, or to hold onto their positions in the government or the security forces.

    Hemmati, like the three other candidates, conceded even before the results were released.

    “I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote on Instagram.

    Abroad, Syrian President Bashar Assad immediately congratulated Raisi's win. Iran has been instrumental in seeing Assad hold onto the presidency amid his country's decade-long grinding war.

    Separate congratulations came from Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the vice president and prime minister of the hereditarily ruled United Arab Emirates. The UAE has been trying to de-escalate tensions with Iran since a series of attacks on shipping off its coast in 2019 that the U.S. Navy blamed on Iran.

    Also congratulating Raisi was Oman, which has served as an interlocutor between Tehran and the West.

    Rouhani, who in 2017 dismissed Raisi as an opponent in his re-election as someone only knowing about “executions and imprisoning” people, met the cleric Saturday and congratulated him.

    "I hope I can respond well to the people’s confidence, vote and kindness during my term,” Raisi said.

    Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic. Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott in this election, something anathema in the country. Semiofficial media put Ahmadinejad in a graphic alongside Iran's enemies.

    A constitutional panel under Khamenei disqualified reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

    Raisi's election puts hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though still short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

    Raisi also has become the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the 1988 mass executions, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners. The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

    “Raisi’s ambivalence about foreign interaction will only worsen the chances that Washington could persuade Tehran to accept further limits on its nuclear program, regional influence, or missile program, at least in Joe Biden’s first term in office,” wrote Henry Rome, an analyst at the Eurasia Group who studies Iran.

    Iranian presidents have almost all served two four-year terms. That means Raisi could be at the helm what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

    Khamenei praised the voter turnout in a statement Saturday.

    “Not complaints about the economic problems of poor people, not the frustrations about the threat of the pandemic and not opposition aimed at disappointing people could overcome the determination of the nation of Iran,” he said.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.


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    Diplomats to meet in Vienna for more Iran nuclear talks
    BY PHILIPP JENNE and KIRSTEN GRIESHABER
    37 mins ago

    VIENNA (AP) — Further talks between Iran and global powers were planned Sunday to try to negotiate and restore a landmark 2015 agreement to contain Iranian nuclear development that was later abandoned by the Trump administration.

    Senior diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia, and Britain were due to meet at a hotel in the Austrian capital.

    Top Russian representative Mikhail Ulyanov wrote in a tweet Saturday that the members of the members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, “will decide on the way ahead at the Vienna talks. An agreement on restoration of the nuclear deal is within reach but is not finalized yet.”

    Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs said Sunday that almost all JCPOA agreement documents had been readily negotiated and that the diplomats involved would shortly return to their home countries — not only for further consultations with their respective governments but also for final decision-making.

    “We are now in a situation that we think almost all the agreement documents are ready,” Seyyed Abbas Araghchi said in Vienna ahead of the meeting.

    "Of the main issues that remain disputed, some have been resolved and some remain, but it has taken on a very precise form and it is quite clear what the dimensions of these disputes are,” he added.

    “We will stop the talks and return to the capitals for a few days not just for further consultations but for decision-making," the Iranian top negotiator in the Vienna talks said. "But now, I can not say exactly for how many days.”

    The U.S. does not have a representative at the table when the diplomats met in Vienna because former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the country out of the deal in 2018. Trump also restored and augmented sanctions to try to force Iran into renegotiating the pact with more concessions.

    However, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled willingness to rejoin the deal under terms that would broadly see the United States scale back sanctions and Iran return to 2015 nuclear commitments. A U.S. delegation in Vienna is taking part in indirect talks with Iran, with diplomats from the other world powers acting as go-betweens.

    Sunday's meeting is the first since Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election earlier this week.

    The election of Ebrahim Raisi puts hard-liners firmly in control across the government at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though still short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

    Raisi also has become the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office, over his involvement in the 1988 mass executions, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

    ___

    Amir Vahdat contributed reporting from Tehran, Iran.


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    edited August 2021
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    Iran and EU say Vienna nuke talks will resume in coming days
    29 mins ago

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The European Union and Iran agreed on Saturday to resume negotiations in Vienna in the coming days over Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

    The agreement could help relieve tensions after the talks stalled for months, while Iran enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels under decreasing international oversight.

    continues.....


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    Iran's president says he's serious about reviving nuke deal
    By AYA BATRAWY
    2 hours ago

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran’s president said Wednesday his country was serious about reviving a deal to put curbs on its nuclear program but questioned whether it could trust America's commitment to any eventual accord.

    In 2018, former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal brokered by the Obama administration. That has led Tehran to abandon over time every limitation the accord imposed on its nuclear enrichment.

    Ebrahim Raisi addressed the U.N. General Assembly as talks to revive the nuclear deal approached a take-it-or-leave-it moment.

    “Our wish is only one thing: observance of commitments,” Raisi said, noting it was the U.S. that pulled out of the accord.

    He asked whether Iran can “truly trust without guarantees and assurances” that the U.S. will live up to its commitments this time.

    European Union officials have warned the window for securing a deal is about to close. The 2015 agreement placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which Tehran insists it has never received.

    “America trampled upon the nuclear accord," said Raisi, who was sworn in as president only a year ago. His speech marks the first time he has taken the podium at the U.N. in his role as president. Last year, he delivered remarks to the assembly virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.

    He also blasted what he said was lopsided scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear activities while other nations’ nuclear programs remain secret, a reference to Israel.

    Wearing a traditional black turban identified with Shiite clerics, Raisi also told the gathered leaders that Iran wants to have "extensive relations with all our neighbors” — an apparent reference to foe Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries in the region.

    Saudi Arabia and Iran have held a number of direct talks since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, though tensions remain high between the two. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates recent reopened its embassy in Tehran and sent an ambassador there.

    Raisi also deplored sanctions imposed on Iran, calling them a “punishment on the people of Iran.”

    Western sanctions have eaten away at Iran’s reserves and exacerbated inflation in the country, which hit 40% last year. Over the summer, Iran’s currency hit its lowest level ever against the U.S. dollar.

    Raisi's speech comes a politically sensitive time in Iran. Protesters have clashed with police in recent days in cities across the country, including the capital, over the death of a 22-year-old woman who was being held by the morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strictly-enforced dress code.

    Raisi has offered condolences to the woman’s family and promised an investigation, while other Iranian officials have accused unnamed foreign countries of seizing on the incident to foment unrest. Her death has ignited long-simmering anger among many Iranians, particularly young people, at the country’s ruling clerics.

    Raisi, who was elected last year in a vote that saw low turnout and several candidates disqualified, has been described as a protege of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    In 2019, Raisi was sanctioned by the United States in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, a little over a decade after the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the country’s shah and ushered in its current theocratic-led system.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Joseph Krauss contributed to this report.

    ___

    For more AP coverage of the U.N. General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly


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    Iran acknowledges accusation it enriched uranium to 84%
    By JON GAMBRELL
    Today

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran on Thursday directly acknowledged an accusation attributed to international inspectors that it enriched uranium to 84% purity for the first time, which would put the Islamic Republic closer than ever to weapons-grade material.

    The acknowledgement by a news website linked to the highest reaches of Iran's theocracy renews pressure on the West to address Tehran's program, which had been contained by the 2015 nuclear deal that America unilaterally withdrew from in 2018. Years of attacks across the Middle East have followed.

    Already Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently regained his country's premiership, is threatening to take military action similar to when Israel previously bombed nuclear programs in Iraq and Syria. But while those attacks saw no war erupt, Iran has an arsenal of ballistic missiles, drones and other weaponry it and its allies already have used in the region.

    The acknowledgment Thursday came from Iran's Nour News, a website linked to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Nour News separately is sanctioned by Canada for having “participated in gross and systematic human rights violations and perpetuated disinformation activities to justify the Iranian regime’s repression and persecution of its citizens" amid nationwide protests there.

    The comments by Nour News follow days of muddled comments by Iran not directly acknowledging the accusation by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran had enriched up to 84%.

    Bloomberg first reported Sunday that inspectors had detected uranium particles enriched up to 84%. The IAEA, a United Nations agency based in Vienna, has not denied the report, saying only “that the IAEA is discussing with Iran the results of recent agency verification activities.”

    In its comments Thursday, Nour News urged the IAEA to “not fall prey to the seduction of Western countries” and declare that Iran's nuclear program was “completely peaceful.”

    “It will be clear soon that the IAEA surprising report of discovering 84% enriched uranium particles in Iran’s enrichment facilities was an inspector’s error or was a deliberate action to create political atmospheres against Iran on the eve of the meeting of" its board, Nour News said on Twitter. The board, a group of nations that oversees the IAEA, will meet beginning March 6 in Vienna.

    The IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday over Nour News' remarks.

    It wasn't immediately clear where the 84% enrichment allegedly took place, though the IAEA has said it found two cascades of advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Iran's underground Fordo facility “interconnected in a way that was substantially different from the mode of operation declared by Iran to the agency in November last year.” Iran is known to have been enriching uranium at Fordo up to 60% purity — at level which nonproliferation experts already say has no civilian use for Tehran.

    Iran also enriches uranium at its Natanz nuclear site.

    Weapons-grade uranium is enriched up to 90%. While the IAEA's director-general has warned Iran now has enough uranium to produce “several” nuclear bombs if it chooses, it likely would take months more to build a weapon and potentially miniaturize it to put on a missile.

    The new tensions over Iran's program also take place against the backdrop of a shadow war between Iran and Israel that has spilled out across the wider Middle East. Netanyahu, who long has advocated military action against Iran, mentioned it again in a talk this week.

    “How do you stop a rogue nation from acquiring nuclear weapons?” Netanyahu rhetorically asked. “You had one that’s called Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was stopped by military force, ours. You had a second one that is called Syria that tried to develop nuclear weapons. And it was stopped by a military action, ours.”

    He added: “A necessary condition, and an often sufficient condition, is credible military action. The longer you wait, the harder that becomes. We’ve waited very long.”

    ___

    Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twiter.com/jongambrellAP.


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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
    now had the original deal not been fucked with by jewish adolph and abandoned by fuckstick , I wonder where we would be today?
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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
    edited May 2023
    not the deal related but important nonetheless....


     
    Iran exchanges heavy gunfire with Taliban on Afghan border, escalating tensions over water rights
    By Jon Gambrell
    Today

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Taliban and Iran exchanged heavy gunfire Saturday on the Islamic Republic's border with Afghanistan, killing and wounding troops while sharply escalating rising tensions between the two countries amid a dispute over water rights.

    Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted the country's deputy police chief, Gen. Qassem Rezaei, accusing the Taliban of opening fire first Saturday morning on the border of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province and the Afghan province of Nimroz. IRNA said Iran inflicted “heavy casualties and serious damage."

    From the Taliban's view, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor accused Iran of shooting first. Takor said the firefight killed two people, one from each country, and wounded others. He described the situation as now being under control.

    IRNA, quoting Iranian police, said two border guards had been killed. However, that number may be higher. The semiofficial, English-language newspaper Tehran Times said the fighting killed three Iranian border guards. IRNA said the Milak border crossing with Afghanistan, a major trade route, was closed until further notice over the gunfight.

    “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers dialogue to be a reasonable way for any problem,” Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khawarazmi said in a statement. “Making excuses for war and negative actions is not in the interest of any of the parties.”

    The advocacy group HalVash, which reports on issues affecting the Baluch people in the predominately Sunni province of Sistan and Baluchestan, quoted residents in the area saying the fighting took place near the Kang district of Nimroz. It said some people in the area had fled the violence.

    Videos posted online, purportedly from the area, included the crackle of machine gun fire in the distance. HalVash later posted an image of what appeared to be the remains of a mortar round, saying that “heavy weapons and mortars are being used.”

    Later videos from HalVash purported to show Iranian forces firing a mortar, as well as Taliban troops firing American-made machine guns at an Iranian border post. Other Taliban fighters drove armored vehicles likely left behind by NATO forces.

    Iran vowed not let the Taliban attack stand.

    “The border forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran will decisively respond to any border trespassing and aggression, and the current authorities of Afghanistan must be held accountable for their unmeasured and contrary actions to international principles," IRNA quoted Iran's police chief, Gen. Ahmadreza Radan, as saying.

    The clash comes as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this month warned the Taliban not to violate Iran's water rights to the Helmand River. Raisi's remarks represented some of the strongest yet over the long-running concerns about water in Iran.

    Drought has been a problem in Iran for some 30 years, but has worsened over the past decade, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The Iran Meteorological Organization says that an estimated 97% of the country now faces some level of drought.

    The Taliban seized Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war. In the time since, Afghanistan has become the most repressive in the world for women and girls, depriving them of virtually all their basic rights, according to the U.N. Hunger remains endemic.

    While not directly accepting the Taliban government, Iran has maintained relations with Afghanistan's new rulers. Tehran also has called on the Taliban to allow women and girls to go to school.

    Earlier on Saturday, the Taliban's Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with an Iranian envoy to Afghanistan to discuss the Helmand River water rights, according to tweets from Afghan Foreign Ministry official Zia Ahmad. IRNA acknowledged the meeting, saying “that issues between the two countries will be better resolved through dialogue.”

    But tensions have otherwise been rising. Another video posted online in recent days purportedly showed a standoff with Iranian forces and the Taliban as Iranian construction workers tried to reinforce the border between the two countries.

    In recent days, pro-Taliban accounts online also have been sharing a video with a song calling on the acting defense minister, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, to stand up to Iran. Mullah Yaqoob is the son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s late founder and first supreme leader.

    “We are a government, we have power,” the song goes. “Our leader Mullah Yaqoob will stand against Iran or we are not the republic’s government. We are not slaves, our leader Mullah Yaqoob will stand against Iran.”

    ___

    Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Islamabad and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.


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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603

     
    What's behind the tentative US-Iran agreement involving prisoners and frozen funds
    By JON GAMBRELL and MATTHEW LEE
    Today

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United States and Iran reached a tentative agreement this week that will eventually see five detained Americans in Iran and an unknown number of Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. released from custody after billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets are transferred from banks in South Korea to Qatar.

    The complex deal — which came together after months of indirect negotiations between U.S. and Iranian officials — was announced on Thursday when Iran moved four of the five Americans from prison to house arrest. The fifth American had already been under house arrest.

    Details of the money transfer, the timing of its completion and the ultimate release of both the American and Iranian prisoners remain unclear. However, U.S. and Iranian officials say they believe the agreement could be complete by mid- to late-September.

    A look at what is known about the deal.

    WHAT’S IN IT?

    Under the tentative agreement, the U.S. has given its blessing to South Korea to convert frozen Iranian assets held there from the South Korean currency, the won, to euros.

    That money then would be sent to Qatar, a small, energy-rich nation on the Arabian Peninsula that has been a mediator in the talks. The amount from Seoul could be anywhere from $6 billion to $7 billion, depending on exchange rates. The cash represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid — for oil purchased before the Trump administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

    The U.S. maintains that, once in Qatar, the money will be held in restricted accounts and will only be able to be used for humanitarian goods, such as medicine and food. Those transactions are currently allowed under American sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear program.

    Some in Iran have disputed the U.S. claim, saying that Tehran will have total control over the funds. Qatar has not commented publicly on how it will monitor the disbursement of the money.

    In exchange, Iran is to release the five Iranian-Americans held as prisoners in the country. Currently, they are under guard at a hotel in Tehran, according to a U.S.-based lawyer advocating for one of them.

    WHY WILL IT TAKE SO LONG?

    Iran does not want the frozen assets in South Korean won, which is less convertible than euros or U.S. dollars. U.S. officials say that while South Korea is on board with the transfer it is concerned that converting $6 or $7 billion in won into other currencies at once will adversely affect its exchange rate and economy.

    Thus, South Korea is proceeding slowly, converting smaller amounts of the frozen assets for the eventual transfer to the central bank in Qatar. In addition, as the money is transferred, it has to avoid touching the U.S. financial system where it could become subject to American sanctions. So a complicated and time-consuming series of transfers through third-country banks has been arranged.

    “We have worked extensively with the South Koreans on this and there’s no impediment to the movement of the account from South Korea to Qatar,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday.

    In Doha, Qatar's Minister of State Mohammed Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi said, “What we have achieved in this agreement reflects the confidence of these parties in the State of Qatar as a neutral mediator and international partner in resolving international disputes by peaceful means.” He did not address how the money would be policed.

    WHO ARE THE DETAINED IRANIAN-AMERICANS?

    The identities of three of the five prisoners have been made public. It remains unclear who the other two are. The American government has described them as wanting to keep their identities private and Iran has not named them either.

    The three known are Siamak Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison on internationally criticized spying charges. Another is Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist serving a 10-year sentence.

    The third is Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and also received a 10-year sentence.

    Those advocating for their release describe them as wrongfully detained and innocent. Iran has used prisoners with Western ties as bargaining chips in negotiations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    WHY IS THIS DEAL HAPPENING NOW?

    For Iran, years of American sanctions following former U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers has crushed its already-anemic economy.

    Previous claims of progress in talks over the frozen assets have provided only short-term boosts to Iran’s hobbled rial currency.

    The release of that money, even if only disbursed under strict circumstances, could provide an economic boost.

    For the U.S., the administration of President Joe Biden has tried to get Iran back into the deal, which fell apart after Trump's 2018 withdrawal. Last year, countries involved in the initial agreement offered Tehran what was described as their last, best roadmap to restore the accord. Iran did not accept it.

    Still, Iran hawks in Congress and outside critics of the 2015 nuclear deal have criticized the new arrangement. Former Vice President Mike Pence and the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch, as well as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have all compared the money transfer to paying a ransom and said the Biden administration is encouraging Iran to continue taking prisoners.

    WILL THE U.S. RELEASE IRANIAN PRISONERS HELD IN AMERICA?

    On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry made a point of bringing up those prisoners. American officials have declined to comment on who or how many Iranian prisoners might be released in a final agreement. But Iranian media in the past identified several prisoners with cases tied to violations of U.S. export laws and restrictions on doing business with Iran.

    Those alleged violations include the transfer of money through Venezuela and sales of dual-use equipment that the U.S. says could be used in Iran’s military and nuclear programs.

    DOES THIS MEAN IRAN-U.S. TENSIONS ARE EASING?

    No. Outside of the tensions over the nuclear deal and Iran's atomic ambitions, a series of attacks and ship seizures in the Mideast have been attributed to Tehran since 2019.

    The Pentagon is considering a plan to put U.S. troops on board to guard commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil shipments pass moving out of the Persian Gulf.

    A major deployment of U.S. sailors and Marines, alongside F-35s, F-16s and other aircraft, is also underway in the region. Meanwhile, Iran supplies Russia with the bomb-carrying drones Moscow uses to target sites in Ukraine amid its war on Kyiv.

    ___

    Lee reported from Washington.


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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
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    mickeyratmickeyrat up my ass, like Chadwick was up his Posts: 36,603
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    Not today Sir, Probably not tomorrow.............................................. bayfront arena st. pete '94
    you're finally here and I'm a mess................................................... nationwide arena columbus '10
    memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.................................... first niagara center buffalo '13
    another man ..... moved by sleight of hand...................................... joe louis arena detroit '14
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