Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has said it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues. But Iran has made any talks conditional on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the United States withdrew from the nuclear pact with world powers in May 2018. “We have always believed in talks … if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere,” Rouhani said in his Sunday speech. In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper, Pompeo dismissed Rouhani’s idea as “the same offer that he offered to John F. Kerry and Barack Obama,” referring to the former U.S. secretary of state and president. “President Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal) which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster,” Pompeo said. Confrontations between Washington and Tehran have escalated, culminating in an aborted plan for U.S. air strikes on Iran last month after Tehran downed a U.S. drone. Trump called off the retaliatory U.S. air strike at the last minute.
Three days after the U.S. and North Korean leaders held their historic third meeting, North Korea’s U.N. Mission accused the Trump administration Wednesday of talking about dialogue but being “more and more hell-bent” on hostile acts. A press statement from the mission pointed a finger at U.S. efforts to exert “overt pressure” and have the world’s nations implement U.N. sanctions. First, it said, the U.S. and 23 other countries sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions on North Korea demanding urgent action “under the absurd pretext of ‘excess in the amount of refined petroleum imported.’” The United States and the other countries accused the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, or DPRK, of violating U.N. sanctions by importing far more than the annual limit of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products, which are key for its economy. But last month Russia and China blocked the sanctions committee from declaring that Pyongyang breached the annual import limit. The mission said the United States, Britain, France and Germany then circulated a joint letter to all U.N. member states on June 29 “calling for repatriation of the DPRK workers abroad, thus inciting an atmosphere of sanctions and pressure against the DPRK.” It added that not only does this speak “to the reality that the United States is practically more and more hell-bent on the hostile acts against the DPRK, though talking about the DPRK-U.S. dialogue,” but the letter was sent by the U.S. Mission “under the instruction of the
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani: “Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table. Go back to understanding, to respecting the law and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Under those conditions, all of us can abide by the nuclear deal.”
As Iran prepares to surpass limits set by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, each step it takes narrows the time the country’s leaders would need to have enough highly enriched uranium for an atomic bomb — if they chose to build one. The United Nations says Iran has so far respected the deal’s terms. But by Thursday, Iran says it will have over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium in its possession, which would mean it had broken out of the atomic accord. European countries that are still a part of the nuclear accord face a July 7 deadline imposed by Tehran to offer a better deal and long-promised relief from U.S. sanctions, or Iran will also begin enriching its uranium closer to weapons-grade levels. Breaking the stockpile limit by itself doesn’t radically change the one year experts say Iran would need to have enough material for a bomb. Coupled with increasing enrichment, however, it begins to close that window and hamper any diplomatic efforts at saving the accord. “I worry about the snowball effect,” said Corey Hinderstein, a vice president at the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative who once led the U.S. Energy Department’s Iran task force. “Iran now takes a step which puts Europe and the other members of the deal in an even-tougher position.” Under terms of the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to have less than 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67%. Previously, Iran enriched as high as 20%,
A year after the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, the pact is at severe risk of collapse and the European Union is caught in the middle, struggling to keep supply lines open to the Islamic Republic’s wilting economy under the threat of U.S. sanctions. With few real options left, their trust in the Trump administration running low, and fears rising that conflict could break out, major powers Germany, France and Britain have been reduced to repeating calls for restraint as pressure builds and Iran threatens to walk away from the painstakingly drafted 2015 deal. In an effort to keep Iran’s economy afloat and save an agreement they believe has stopped Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the Europeans are turning to diplomacy to try to encourage other countries to buy more Iranian oil. They also have set up a barter-type system to evade possible U.S. sanctions. “We have to do everything to solve the conflict situation with Iran in a peaceful manner,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday. “We will do everything to impress on all sides, but especially to make clear to Iran, that this serious situation mustn’t be aggravated.” The pact, which ensures that Tehran’s nuclear program be restricted to civilian uses in exchange for economic assistance, was signed by Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, France Germany and Britain. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in May 2018. “We are relying on Iran continuing to abide by it,” German Chancellor
Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country’s atomic agency said Monday while also warning that Iran could enrich uranium up to 20% — just a step away from weapons-grade levels. The announcement by Behrouz Kamalvandi, timed for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, puts more pressure on Europe to come up with new terms for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal. The deal has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the accord last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, deeply cutting into its sale of crude oil abroad and sending its economy into freefall. Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the U.S. sanctions. The development comes in the wake of apparent attacks on oil tankers last week in the Mideast, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it has used mines in the past against commercial traffic around the crucial Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes. Kamalvandi accused Europeans of “killing time” as the clock runs down. “If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, Kamalvandi said. President Hassan Rouhani, greeting France’s new ambassador to Tehran on Monday, similarly warned that time was running out for the deal. “The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have
Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country’s crisis, The Associated Press has learned. The financial and travel restrictions are being mulled by a core group of five nations — U.K., France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands — before being proposed to the European Council, said diplomats and members of the Venezuelan opposition with knowledge of the plan. A total of five sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly. While Maduro is among a dozen officials who could be hit with sanctions, no final decision has been made, two people said. The group still needs to breach internal divisions before making a formal proposal to the EU’s executive branch. Greater consensus exists for punishing top members of the armed forces and judiciary who have been instrumental in the arrest of allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, whose family is believed to live in Spain. Also on the list is Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez, a top Maduro aide and envoy to talks with the opposition sponsored by Norway, and Jorge Márquez, who is head of the powerful communications regulator which was responsible for pulling the plug on Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 and Britain’s BBC earlier this year. Steady progress is being made on building
Turkey and the United States have been at odds on several fronts including Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says it would jeopardise Turkey’s role in building Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, which it says would be compromised by S-400s.
North Korea’s second missile test on Thursday signals it is serious about developing new, short-range weapons that could be used early and effectively in any war with South Korea and the United States, analysts studying images of the latest launches say.
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon - a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch, and manoeuvre in flight.
Photos released by state media on Friday showed Thursday’s test involved the same weapon. The tests have increased tensions after the last U.S.-North Korea summit collapsed in February in Hanoi with no agreement over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.