Persian Gulf

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UK is biggest US puppet in Europe, only idiot to follow US into Iraq. But I don't think they can follow US into another (much bigger) illegal war, Brexit is a big problem enough
 

Eagle1

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Iran says U.S. cyber attacks fail, hints at possible talks
June 24, 2019 / Updated 20 minutes ago
by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

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FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday U.S. cyber attacks on its military had been a failure, while also hinting that it could be willing to discuss new concessions with Washington if the United States were to lift sanctions and offer new incentives.

The longtime foes have come the closest in years to a direct military confrontation. After Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had called off a retaliatory strike while bombers were in the air, deciding that too many people would die..

U.S. media have reported that the United States launched cyber attacks even as Trump called off the air strike. The Washington Post said on Saturday that the cyber strikes, which had been planned previously, had disabled Iranian rocket launch systems. U.S. officials have declined to comment.“They try hard, but have not carried out a successful attack,” Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s minister for information and communications technology, said on Twitter

“Media asked if the claimed cyber attacks against Iran are true,” he said. “Last year we neutralized 33 million attacks with the (national) firewall.”

Allies of the United States have been calling for steps to defuse the crisis, saying they fear a small mistake on either side could trigger war.
“We are very concerned. We don’t think either side wants a war, but we are very concerned that we could get into an accidental war and we are doing everything we can to ratchet things down,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

CONCESSIONS

The escalation began last year when the United States abandoned a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions. It accelerated sharply last month when Trump tightened sanctions sharply, ordering all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Recent weeks have seen the confrontation gain a military dimension, with the United States blaming Iran for attacks on vessels at sea, which Iran denies. Iran shot down the drone last week, saying it was in its air space, which Washington disputes.

Washington also blames Iran for attacks on Saudi targets from Yemen, where a Saudi-led alliance is fighting the Iran-backed Houthi group.

Washington argues that the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA, negotiated under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, did not go far enough, and that new sanctions are needed to force Iran back to the table to make more concessions.

Throughout the escalation, both sides have suggested they are willing to hold further talks but said the other side must first alter its behavior. In the latest comment from Tehran, an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani repeated a longstanding demand that Washington lift sanctions in line with the deal.

But the adviser, Hesameddin Ashena, also tweeted a rare suggestion that Iran could be willing to discuss new concessions, if Washington were willing to put new incentives on the table that go beyond those in the deal.

“If they want something beyond the JCPOA, they should offer something beyond the JCPOA; with international guarantees.”

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying on Monday Tehran did not “want a rise of tensions and its consequences”.
Trump said on Sunday he was not seeking war with Iran and would be prepared to seek a deal.

U.S. allies in Europe and Asia view the decision to abandon the nuclear deal as a mistake, arguing that it strengthens hardliners in Iran and weakens the pragmatic faction of Rouhani.

Trump has suggested that he backed off the military strike against Iran in part because he was not sure the country’s top leadership had intended to shoot down the drone. However, an Iranian commander said Tehran was prepared to do it again.
“Everyone saw the downing of the unmanned drone,” navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted on Sunday as saying by the Tasnim news agency. “I
can assure you that this firm response can be repeated, and the enemy knows it.”

Iranian media showed new images on Monday of what they described as pieces of the wreckage of the downed drone, which they said were recovered at sea by a fisherman off Iran’s southern coast. Other parts of the wreckage were displayed last week by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Tehran.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Jon Boyle

 

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Pompeo visits Saudi Arabia as U.S. prods Iran for talks
June 24, 2019
Stephen Kalin

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 24, 2019. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS


RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince on Monday amid heightened tensions with Tehran after President Donald Trump called off a military strike to retaliate for Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone.

Pompeo thanked King Salman for meeting him on “such short notice” at their talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, according to a pool report of journalists traveling with him. In reply, the king called Pompeo a “dear friend”.

Pompeo then met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, for a working lunch.

The top U.S. diplomat had told reporters before departing on a trip to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that Washington wanted talks with Tehran, even as it planned to impose new economic sanctions.
“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition...that understands this challenge,” Pompeo said.

Relations between longtime foes Iran and the United States have deteriorated since Trump withdrew Washington a year ago from a 2015 accord that curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.

Tensions have flared following attacks in recent weeks on oil tankers in the Gulf which the United States blames on Iran, the shooting down of the drone last week, and repeated attacks on Saudi airports and oil installations by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis.

Washington and Riyadh have publicly accused Tehran of being behind the tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has denied involvement in the blasts.
The UAE has called for a de-escalation following the attacks, including on four vessels off its coast last month which an initial investigation said was carried out by a state actor without naming a country.

Pompeo is expected to discuss “ways to support maritime security” when he meets Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, the U.S. Mission to the UAE tweeted.

There was no public indication of whether Pompeo would raise with Saudi leaders the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. A U.N. report last week called for the crown prince and other senior officials to be investigated given credible evidence against them.

The Trump administration is pressing the Saudis to show “tangible progress” toward holding to account those behind the killing and wants them to do so before the one-year anniversary of his death on Oct. 2, a senior administration official told Reuters this month.

But Trump told NBC on Sunday he did not discuss the murder in a recent phone call with the crown prince. Asked if the FBI should investigate, he responded: “I think it’s been heavily investigated.”

The murder tarnished the crown prince’s international standing. The CIA and some Western countries believe he ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Reporting By Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Maha El Dahan and Sylvia Westall in Dubai; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Peter Graff

 

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Trump says other countries should do more to protect oil tankers
June 24, 2019 / Updated 20 minutes ago


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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump stands as Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (not pictured) leaves after a meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that other countries, including China and Japan, should protect their own oil tankers in the Middle East.

“So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation,” Trump said on Twitter. “All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey.”

Trump made the comments amid an escalation in tensions with Iran, as Washington has blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers, owned by Japan and Norway, in the Strait of Hormuz and the downing of a U.S. drone off the coast of Iran. Both Washington and Tehran have said they do not want a war.

The United States is expected to unveil new sanctions against Iran on Monday, aimed at further restricting Tehran’s resources.

Trump’s remarks echo those he has made about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He has called for the alliance’s member nations to spend more on defense.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Nick Zieminski

 

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Iranians say their ‘bones breaking’ under US sanctions
24 June 2019
By NASSER KARIMI and MOHAMMAD NASIRI

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People shop at the old main bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 23, 2019. As the U.S. piles sanction after sanction on Iran, it’s the average person who feels it the most. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — As the U.S. piles sanction after sanction on Iran, it’s the average person who feels it the most.

From a subway performer’s battered leather hat devoid of tips, to a bride-to-be’s empty purse, the lack of cash from the economic pressure facing Iran’s 80 million people can be seen everywhere.

Many blame President Donald Trump and his maximalist policy on Iran, which has seen him pull out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and levy punishing U.S. sanctions on the country.

In recent weeks, Iran has threatened to break out of the deal unless European powers mitigate what it calls Trump’s “economic warfare.” Iran also appeared ready to push back against the buildup of U.S. forces in the region, after shooting down an American drone it says violated its airspace last week.

In response, U.S. officials have vowed to pile on more sanctions.

But alongside Trump, many Iranians blame their own government, which has careened from one economic disaster to another since its Islamic Revolution 40 years ago.

“The economic war is a reality and people are under extreme pressure,” said Shiva Keshavarz, a 22-year-old accountant soon to be married.

She said government leaders “keep telling us to be strong and endure the pressures, but we can already hear the sound of our bones breaking.”


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A carpet seller sits at his shop in the old main bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 23, 2019. As the U.S. piles sanction after sanction on Iran, it’s the average person who feels it the most. As the U.S. piles sanction after sanction on Iran, it’s the average person who feels it the most. At the time of the nuclear deal, Iran’s currency traded at 32,000 rials to $1. Today, it costs over 130,000 rials for one U.S. dollar. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Walking by any money exchange shop is a dramatic reminder of the hardships most people are facing. At the time of the nuclear deal, Iran’s currency traded at 32,000 rials to $1. Today, the numbers listed in exchange shop windows have skyrocketed — it costs over 130,000 rials for one U.S. dollar.

Inflation is over 37%, according to government statistics. More than 3 million people, or 12% of working-age citizens, are unemployed. That rate doubles for educated youth.

Depreciation and inflation make everything more expensive — from fruits and vegetables to tires and oil, all the way to the big-ticket items, like mobile phones. A simple cell phone is about two months’ salary for the average government worker, while a single iPhone costs a 10 months’ salary.

“When importing mobile phones into the country is blocked, dealers have to smuggle them in with black market dollar rates and sell them for expensive prices,” said Pouria Hassani, a mobile phone salesman in Tehran. “You can’t expect us to buy expensive and sell cheap to customers. We don’t want to make a loss either.”


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Iranian merchants conduct their business at a carpet market of the old main bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 23, 2019. As the U.S. piles sanction after sanction on Iran, it’s the average person who feels it the most. Depreciation and inflation makes everything more expensive. A simple cell phone is about two months’ salary for the average government worker, while a single iPhone costs 10-months’ salary. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)


“The cause of our problems is the officials’ incompetence,” he told The Associated Press as fellow motorbike drivers called out for passengers in Tehran. “Our country is full of wealth and riches.”

The riches part is true — Iran is home to the world’s fourth-largest proven reserve of crude oil and holds the world’s second-largest proven reserve of natural gas, after Russia.

But under Trump’s maximum-pressure campaign, the U.S. has cut off Iran’s ability to sell crude on the global market, and threatened to sanction any nation that purchases it. Oil covers a third of the $80 billion a year the government spends in Iran, meaning that a fall in oil revenues cuts into its social welfare programs, as well as its military expenditures.


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Motorbike taxi divers carry goods at the old main bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) Hossein Rostami, a 33-year-old motorbike taxi driver and deliveryman, said the price of brake pads alone had jumped fivefold.

The rest of the country’s budget comes from taxes and non-oil exports, among them oil-based petrochemical products that provide up to 50% of Iran’s $45 billion in non-oil export.

In Tehran’s Laleh park, retired school teacher Zahra Ghasemi criticized the government for blaming “every problem” on U.S. sanctions.

She says she has trouble paying for her basic livelihood. The price of a bottle of milk has doubled, along with that of vegetables and fruit.

“We are dying under these pressures and a lack of solutions from officials,” Ghasemi said.

Years of popular frustration with failed economic policies triggered protests in late 2017, which early the following year spiraled into anti-government demonstrations across dozens of cities and towns.

The current problems take root in Iran’s faltering efforts to privatize its state-planned economy after the devastating war with Iraq in the 1980s, which saw 1 million people killed.

But Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said earlier this month that the crunch on oil exports is hitting harder today than during the 1980s war, when Saddam Hussein’s forces targeted Iran’s oil trade.

“Our situation is worse than during the war,” Zanganeh said. “We did not have such an export problem when Saddam was targeting our industrial units. Now, we cannot export oil labeled Iran.”

Still, many Iranians pin the economic crisis on corruption as much as anything else.


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People shop at the old main bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 23, 2019. The most-visible place to see the effect of the economic hardship most face comes from walking by any money-exchange shop. Depreciation and inflation makes everything more expensive, from fruits and vegetables to tires and oil all the way to the big-ticket items, like mobile phones. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

“Our problem is the embezzlers and thieves in the government,” said Nasrollah Pazouki, who has sold clothes in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar since before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “When people come to power, instead of working sincerely and seriously for the people, we hear and read after a few months in newspapers that they have stolen billions and fled.”

He added: “Whose money is that? It’s the people’s money.”

Sanctions do cause some of the problems, said Jafar Mousavi, who runs a dry-goods store in Tehran. But many of the woes are self-inflicted from rampant graft, he said.

“The economic war is not from outside of our borders but within the country,” Mousavi said. “If there was integrity among our government, producers and people, we could have overcome the pressures.”

Yet people come and go each day to work on Tehran’s crowded metro, seemingly earning less each day for the same work. In one train car, Abbas Feayouji and his son Rahmat play mournful-sounding traditional love songs known as “Sultan-e Ghalbha,” or “King of Hearts” in Farsi.

“People pay less than before,” said the elder Feayouji, a 47-year-old father of three, as he took a short break to speak to the AP. “I don’t know why they do, but it shows people have less money than before.”

 

Persian Gulf

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Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has dismissed as false reports claiming that the country’s oil export decreased in June due to reinforcement of sanctions imposed by the United States.

“This report is an absolute lie,” Zanganeh told Fars news agency on Monday while reacting to unverified data published online allegedly showing that Iran’s sale of oil had decreased significantly in June to few hundred thousand barrels per day (bpd).

The Reuters news agency cited industry sources and tanker data as saying on Monday that Iran’s crude exports in June dropped to 300,000 bpd, down from an estimated amount of 400,000-500,000 bpd in May.

Zanganeh declined to give any detail about the actual figure of Iran’s current oil export, saying that would not be to Iran’s benefit.

“I don’t give any figure. That would be to our harm,” said the minister, without elaborating.

 

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Trump imposes new U.S. sanctions on Iran, including supreme leader
24 June 2019
by Steve Holland, Stephen Kalin

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WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions on Iran on Monday following Tehran’s downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called “the hostile conduct of the regime.”

“Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support,” Trump said.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programs and its activities in the region.

Iran said on Monday U.S. cyber attacks on its military had failed, as Washington sought to rally support in the Middle East and Europe for a hardline stance that has brought it to the verge of conflict with its longtime foe.

Washington has blamed Tehran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf in recent weeks, which Iran denies. On Monday, the United States said it was building a coalition with allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes.

A coalition of nations would provide both material and financial contributions to the program, a senior U.S. State Department official said, without identifying the countries.

“It’s about proactive deterrence, because the Iranians just want to go out and do what they want to do and say hey we didn’t do it. We know what they’ve done,” the official told reporters, adding that the deterrents would include cameras, binoculars and ships.

The United States accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets.

In a joint statement on Monday, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Britain expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian “destabilizing activity” to peace and security in Yemen and the region.

The confrontation between Iran and the United States heated up last Thursday when Iran shot down an American drone, saying it had flown over its air space.

Washington, which said the drone was in international skies, then appeared to come close to attacking Iranian military targets, with Trump saying that he aborted a retaliatory air strike 10 minutes before it was to go ahead.

Trump said he decided the strike, to punish Iran for shooting down the drone, would have killed too many people.

U.S. media have reported that Washington launched cyber attacks last week even as Trump called off his air strike. The Washington Post said on Saturday that the cyber strikes, which had been planned previously, had disabled Iranian rocket launch systems. U.S. officials have declined to comment.

FEARS OF WAR
Iran dismissed the cyber attacks as a failure.
“They try hard, but have not carried out a successful attack,” Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s minister for information and communications technology, said on Twitter.

“Media asked if the claimed cyber attacks against Iran are true,” he said. “Last year we neutralized 33 million attacks with the (national) firewall.”

Allies of the United States have been calling for steps to defuse the crisis, saying they fear a small mistake by either side could trigger war.
“We are very concerned. We don’t think either side wants a war, but we are very concerned that we could get into an accidental war and we are doing everything we can to ratchet things down,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to the Middle East to discuss Iran with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two Gulf Arab allies that favor a hard line. Pompeo met King Salman as well as the king’s son, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, visited Oman and was headed to Europe to explain U.S. policy to allies. He told European reporters on a phone call ahead of his arrival that Trump was willing to sit down with Iran, but that Iran must do a deal before sanctions could be lifted.

CONCESSIONS
U.S.-Iran relations have deteriorated over the past year since the United States abandoned a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

U.S. allies in Europe and Asia view Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear deal as a mistake that strengthens hardliners in Iran and weakens the pragmatic faction of President Hassan Rouhani.

France, Britain and Germany have sent an official diplomatic warning to Iran if Tehran reduces its compliance with the accord, two European diplomats said on Monday.
It was not immediately clear what consequences Iran might face for non-compliance.

Washington argues that the agreement known as the JCPOA, negotiated under Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, did not go far enough, and new sanctions are needed to force Iran back to the table to make more concessions.

Both sides have suggested they are willing to hold talks while demanding the other side move first. In the latest comment from Tehran, an adviser to Rouhani repeated a longstanding demand that Washington lift sanctions before any talks.

But the adviser, Hesameddin Ashena, also tweeted a rare suggestion that Iran could be willing to discuss new concessions, if Washington were willing to put new incentives on the table that go beyond those in the deal.
“If they want something beyond the JCPOA, they should offer something beyond the JCPOA; with international guarantees.”

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Stephen Kalin in Jeddah; Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels; Writing by Peter Graff and Grant McCool; Editing by Jon Boyle and Howard Goller

 

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Pompeo in Mideast talks on building a coalition against Iran
24 June 2019
By AYA BATRAWY 30 minutes ago

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, walks with U.S. Charge d'Affaires Steve Bondy, left, and United Arab Emirates Minister of State Ahmed al-Sayegh, right, as Pompeo arrives in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, June 24, 2019, for talks on Iran. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks Monday with the Saudi king and crown prince about countering the military threat from Iran by building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries.

Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that President Donald Trump repudiated last year.

With tensions running high in the region after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone on June 20 and Trump said he aborted a retaliatory strike, Iran’s naval commander warned that his forces won’t hesitate to down more U.S. drones that violate its airspace. The U.S. has been building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. announced additional sanctions Monday on Iran aimed at pressuring the Iranian leadership into talks. The sanctions, re-imposed after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, have crippled the Iranian economy and pushed up the cost of living. Iran has decried U.S. sanctions, which essentially bar it from selling its oil internationally, as “economic terrorism.”

Pompeo, considered a hard-liner in Washington, referred to Iran as “the world’s largest state sponsor of terror” before he embarked on the hastily arranged Middle East stops on his way to India, Japan and South Korea.

He said he’d be speaking with leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition ... not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe” that is prepared to push back against Iran.

But Germany, France and Britain, as well as Russia and China, remain part of the nuclear accord that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for set limits on its uranium enrichment levels. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal last year.

Germany, Britain and France have sent envoys to Tehran recently, signaling they remain committed to diplomacy and dialogue. They cautioned against moves that can lead to conflict between the U.S. and Iran.

Berlin appears cool toward U.S. talk of a global coalition against Iran as it tries to salvage the nuclear deal. German media have drawn parallels between Pompeo’s talk of a coalition and President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” against Iraq in 2003, which Germany and France opposed.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger said his country had “taken note via the media” of Pompeo’s comments and that Germany’s “top aim is and remains a de-escalation of the serious situation.”

On Monday, Trump tweeted that China and Japan depend on the security of the Persian Gulf waterways for the bulk of their oil imports, and he asked why the U.S. is protecting the shipping lanes for other countries “for zero compensation.”

“All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey.” He said the U.S. doesn’t “even need to be there” because it produces much of its own energy needs.

Brian Hook, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, said one option could be to “enhance” an existing multinational maritime force of about 30 countries that currently fights drug and arms smuggling in the region.

Alternatively, he said allied nations with commercial interests in the oil-rich region could launch an all-new maritime security initiative.

Another option could be military ships patrolling the Gulf waters and equipped with surveillance equipment to keep watch on Iran.

The narrow Strait of Hormuz, which lies between Iran and Oman and opens to the Persian Gulf, is paramount for Asian oil importers. An estimated 18 million to 20 million barrels of oil — much of it crude — pass through the strait every day.

The U.S. Navy, which has its 5th Fleet based in Bahrain to protect the strait, escorted oil tankers to ensure American energy supplies in the 1980s when Iran and Iraq were targeting each other’s exports, but the U.S. is no longer as reliant on Arabian producers.

Today, any conflict that threatens tankers would badly disrupt crude supplies for energy-hungry countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia, which are among the top five importers of Arabian oil.

After his meetings in Saudi Arabia with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo tweeted that he had a “productive meeting” with the monarch and discussed “heightened tensions in the region and the need to promote maritime security” in the Strait of Hormuz.

Pompeo then traveled to neighboring Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, another close U.S. ally.

The regional stops may be aimed at reassuring Washington’s Sunni Gulf Arab allies that the White House remains committed to keeping pressure on Shiite Iran following Trump’s decision against retaliation, which likely raised questions about U.S. willingness to use force against the Islamic Republic. On a visit to Israel on Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, also considered a U.S. hard-liner, said Iran should not “mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness.”

Iran’s naval commander, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, declared that Tehran is capable of shooting down other American spy drones that violate its airspace, saying “the crushing response can always be repeated.” He spoke during a meeting of defense officials in Iran.

Trump has wavered between bellicose language and actions toward Iran and a more accommodating tone, including an offer for negotiations. Iran has said it is not interested in a dialogue with Trump.

Saudi Arabia and the U.S. accused Iran of being behind attacks on tankers near the Persian Gulf in recent weeks, while the UAE has been urging diplomacy to avert a wider conflict.

On the eve of Pompeo’s visit to the kingdom, Yemen’s Iranian-allied rebels attacked a Saudi airport near the Saudi-Yemen border, killing a Syrian resident and wounding 21 other civilians, the Saudi military said.

The Houthi rebels claimed they used bomb-laden drones to attack the Abha airport, the second in less than two weeks. Drones were also used against a Saudi oil pipeline last month.

Saudi Arabia has been at war with the rebel Houthis in Yemen for more than four years. The Houthis say the attacks are a response to relentless Saudi airstrikes on Yemen that have killed thousands.
___

Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai; Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; Geir Moulson in Berlin; and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed.

Pompeo in Mideast talks on building a coalition against Iran
 

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Europeans warn Iran against reducing nuclear deal commitments
June 24, 2019 / Updated 2 minutes ago

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PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France, Britain and Germany have sent an official diplomatic warning to Iran about the serious consequences Tehran faces if it scales back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, two European diplomats said on Monday.

Three diplomats said the European signatories to the deal lodged the diplomatic demarche, the term for a formal note, on June 22, with two saying the communication aimed to warn Iran specifically against scaling back its commitments to the accord.

It was not immediately clear what consequences Iran might face for non-compliance.

Iran has said it will not give the European powers more time beyond July 8 to save the nuclear deal. It has said it is ready to go through with a threat to enrich uranium to a higher level if Europe cannot shield Tehran from U.S. sanctions.

The move by the Europeans highlights the growing frustration they have with Iran, which has put the onus on them to do more to shield Tehran from the crippling impact of sanctions.

“They have made the strategic choice to blame the Europeans for everything,” said one diplomat. “The more the Iranians do things that potentially violate the accord, the less inclined we are to make efforts to help them. It’s a vicious circle.”

It was unclear whether Iran had responded to the European demarche, although Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted by state TV on June 23 as saying it would not back down on its decision to scale back commitments.

The three European powers, along with Russia and China, have been trying to salvage the nuclear agreement since the United States pulled out of it in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have hit the Iranian economy hard.

Among the steps Europe has taken is the creation of a limited trade mechanism intended to make it possible for countries to go on trading with Iran outside the scope of the U.S. sanctions. But the mechanism is not yet operational.

Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by John Irish in Paris and Robin Emmott in Brussels; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Editing by Luke Baker, William Maclean


 

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Mnuchin says Trump order will lock up billions more in Iranian assets
June 24, 2019 / Updated 5 minutes ago

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin answers question from reporters about the United States new sanctions on Iran at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S., June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Monday the new executive order signed by President Donald Trump will lock up billions of additional dollars in Iranian assets, squeezing the country further amid escalating tensions with Washington.

Mnuchin said the order was in the works before last week’s downing by Iran of a U.S. military surveillance drone but was in response to that as well as to previous Iranian actions in the Gulf.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

 

Persian Gulf

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What did Europeans do to help Iran so far? Are they buying oil? Nope. Are they maintaining business in Iran? Nope. Are they at least using INSTEX to facilitate humanitarian trade yet? ... Nope.

EU has no will to stand up to US sanctions so they have no leverage to encourage Iran to do anything
 

Eagle1

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Russia to counter new US sanctions on Iran: reports
Updated 19 sec ago
Reuters
June 24, 2019
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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said sanctions would aggravate tensions. (File/AFP)

  • Russia did not elaborate on what actions they would take
  • The deputy foreign minister said US should be seeking dialogue with Iran
MOSCOW: Russia and its partners will take steps to counter new sanctions that Washington has said it will impose on Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on Monday.

In the comments reported by TASS and RIA, Ryabkov did not specify what those steps would be.

He said the imposition of US sanctions would aggravate tensions, and Washington should instead be seeking dialogue with Tehran, the agencies quoted him as saying

 

Eagle1

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Iran says U.S. sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy: Tweet
25 June 2019

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday that U.S. sanctions imposed on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials in the country permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing the sanctions on Monday, taking a dramatic and unprecedented step to increase pressure on Iran after Tehran’s downing of an American drone last week.

Washington said it would also impose sanctions on Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif later this week.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Twitter.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security,” Mousavi tweeted.

Iran says the U.S. drone was flying over southern Iran. Washington said it was downed in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf.
Trump said that the sanctions were in part a response to the shooting down of the drone, but would have happened anyway.

The latest sanctions are aimed at denying Iran’s leadership access to financial resources, blocking them from using the United States financial system or having access to any assets in the United States.

Iran and the United States have been at odds since last year when Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimposed sanctions on it.

Khamenei is Iran’s utmost authority who has the last say on all state matters.

Iran would not accept talks with the United States while it is under the threat of sanctions, Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told reporters in New York.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Kim Coghill

 

Scorpion

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More sanctions hurting the people of Iran not the regime but it seems the only way around to bring revolt from inside Iran. The economy is on the edge of getting collapsed, inflation increased and currency fell hard against the dollar. Iranian regime turned to using cryptocurrency and black market to sell its oil.
 

Persian Gulf

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More sanctions hurting the people of Iran not the regime but it seems the only way around to bring revolt from inside Iran. The economy is on the edge of getting collapsed, inflation increased and currency fell hard against the dollar. Iranian regime turned to using cryptocurrency and black market to sell its oil.
40 years of these sanctions you support have harmed Iranian people but didn't bring revolution, but keep going, who needs evidence!
 

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