Crisis in the Arabian Gulf | Page 31 | World Defense

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UAE does not point fingers at any state for oil tanker attacks: Sheikh Abdullah
Wam/Moscow
June 27, 2019

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We don't desire more volatility and tensions in the region: UAE Foreign Minister.

UAE said on Wednesday that circumstantial and compelling evidence is needed to apportion blame for the last month's attacks on four oil tankers in the country's territorial waters.

"The UAE is not pointing fingers of accusation at any state for the recent attacks on four oil tankers in the country's territorial waters since clear, scientific and convincing evidence is required to do that. Should any other country have clearer evidence, the international community would certainly take it into consideration,"

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said in a joint press conference he held today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, during his current official visit to Russia.

"We are living in a turbulent region. A region that is crucial to the world and we don't desire more volatility and tensions, as we rather are seeking more stability and development," he added.

"We will continue our commitment to professionalism on this issue. We have already presented the findings of our first probe to the Security Council. The three states concerned with the issue, namely UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia, issued their statement which has also been sent to the International Maritime Organisation.

"We defined the attacks as aggressions that were most probably carried out by actors with a considerable amount of intelligence and technical expertise."

 

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U.S. tells NATO it wants to avoid war with Iran: diplomats
June 27, 2019

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told NATO allies on Thursday that the United States did not want to go to war with Iran but said it could not tolerate any further incidents, according to allied diplomats present.

After speaking for several minutes to NATO defense ministers in a closed-door session, Esper was warned by France not to involve the NATO alliance in any military mission in the Gulf. Together with Germany and other European allies, France made a plea to uphold the Iran nuclear accord.

Reporting by Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold

 

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U.S. envoy says Iran sanctions working, warns against nuclear breaches
June 27, 2019
John Irish

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PARIS (Reuters) - The U.S. policy of maximum economic pressure on Tehran is working but the sanctions do not give Iran the right to breach its nuclear commitments, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, attends an interview with Reuters at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
U.S. Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook was speaking in an interview before a meeting with senior French, British and German diplomats in Paris to convince them that the Trump administration’s policy of crippling sanctions was the best way to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

“We are dedicated to this policy of maximum economic pressure because it is working, it is denying the regime historic levels of revenue,” Hook told Reuters.

The meeting also comes with Iran on course to reach that limit of the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to have under a 2015 nuclear deal that includes the three European powers, Russia and China.

When asked about Iran possibly breaching those restrictions, Hook said it was clear there would be consequences and that despite the U.S. pullout from the accord in 2018 and subsequent sanctions, it was not an excuse to violate the accord.

“Our sanctions do not give Iran the right to accelerate its nuclear program. It can never get near a nuclear bomb. We are looking very closely at that so it doesn’t get below the one year nuclear break-out time.”

Hook said he would share his views in Paris on Iran’s “nuclear blackmail.”

The deal is meant to extend the time Iran would need to make an atomic bomb, if it chose to, to a year from some 2-3 months.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 pact last year under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear program in return for a removal of sanctions. Iran as said it wants to abide by the deal but cannot do so indefinitely as new U.S. sanctions mean it is receiving none of the benefits.

The European powers are scrambling to protect trade with Iran but what they can achieve pales in comparison to U.S. sanctions aimed at slashing Iran’s vital oil exports to zero.

But the escalating crisis has put the United States in the position of demanding its European allies enforce Iranian compliance with an accord Washington itself rejects.
France said it would ask Trump to suspend some sanctions on Iran to make room for negotiations to defuse the escalating confrontation between Washington and Tehran.

Hook said Tehran had spurned U.S. advances about talks.

“We’ve offered many carrots and a year ago we made clear that if Iran behaves like a normal nation and not a revolutionary cause then we will lift all our sanctions.”

The Trump administration says its ultimate goal is to force Iran back to the table for negotiations. It argues that the 2015 deal, negotiated under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, was too weak because it is not permanent and does not cover non-nuclear issues, such as Iran’s missile program and regional behavior.
(This story has been refiled to fix typo in headline)

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Richard Lough, Leigh Thomas and Mark Heinrich


 

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"the sanctions do not give Iran the right to breach its nuclear commitments"

What planet do these guys live on? ™¡£
 

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Iran warns US of stronger reaction if its borders violated again: Tasnim
Reuters
June 27, 2019

View attachment 8607
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, center, Iran’s head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, looks at debris from a downed US drone put on display by the Revolutionary Guard in Tehran on June 21, 2019. (Tasnim News/AFP)

Updated 27 June 2019

  • ‘The downing of their drone was a good experience for them to avoid any aggression against our borders’
  • Iran said the unmanned US aircraft was in its air space, which Washington denied
DUBAI: Iran warned the United States against violating its borders, with parliament speaker Ali Larijani threatening a stronger reaction, the Tasnim news agency said on Thursday, a week after Tehran shot down a US drone, spiking tension between them.

“The downing of their drone was a good experience for them to avoid any aggression against our borders,” the semi-official agency quoted Larijani as saying late on Wednesday.

“Iran’s reaction will be stronger if they repeat their mistake of violating our borders.”

Iran said the unmanned US aircraft was in its air space, which Washington denied. Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes but called them off at the last minute, later saying too many people would have died.

The rhetoric between the sides has heated up, with Trump threatening Iran’s “obliteration.” On Wednesday, Trump said any war between Iran and the United States would be swift, but reiterated his desire to avoid a military confrontation even while blasting Tehran’s leaders.

Some 116 Iranian human rights defenders and groups around the globe have warned of “devastating” consequences of a military conflict between the arch foes, said the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“We also fear that military action against Iran will be disastrous for millions of ordinary people and could lead to the type of violent sectarian civil conflict seen in neighboring countries,” said a statement signed by activists, lawyers and journalists.

Tehran and Washington have been at odds since last year when Trump exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran limiting its nuclear work, including its enrichment of uranium.

In reaction to Washington’s increasingly crippling sanctions, Tehran has quadrupled its production of uranium and said on Wednesday it will exceed limits, set by the nuclear deal, on its enrichment of uranium as of Thursday unless EU took steps to save the deal.

In an unprecedented step that has increased tensions, Trump on Monday targeted Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior Iranian officials with new US sanctions. Iran has rejected the latest sanctions as an “idiotic” move.

 

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With Iran nuclear deal on brink, world powers in 'last chance' talks
June 28, 2019
Francois Murphy, John Irish

View attachment 8609
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - World powers will warn Iran to stick to the terms of their nuclear deal when they meet on Friday for “last chance” talks, but with Tehran feeling the pressure from punishing U.S. sanctions expectations of saving the 2015 accord are low, diplomats say.

President Donald Trump last year pulled the United States out of the multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Washington has since re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran, aiming to cut the Islamic Republic’s oil sales to zero to force it to negotiate a broader deal that would also cover its ballistic missile capabilities and regional influence.

Senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia meet with Iranian officials in Vienna on Friday, with Tehran threatening to exceed the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is allowed under the deal, adding to fears of a military escalation in the region.

“We will repeat to the Iranians that nuclear issues are not negotiable. We want them to stay in the accord, but we won’t accept them messing us around,” a senior European diplomat said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Friday described the talks as a “last chance for the remaining parties ... to gather and see how they can meet their commitments towards Iran.”

An Iranian official told reporters ahead of the meeting that his country’s main demand was to sell its oil at the same levels that it did before Washington withdrew from the accord.

However, he cautioned that Tehran had lost patience with the European signatories. Until its demand is met, Iran will continue on its current path and go over limits of the deal one by one, starting with the uranium enrichment level, the official said, although none of the actions are irreversible.

“For one year we exercised patience. Now it is the Europeans’ turn to exercise patience,” he said. “They should try to find solutions, practical solutions and there’s always enough time for diplomacy and there’s always the possibility to go back, to reverse.”

“RELUCTANT TO PULL THE PLUG”
Going over such central limits of the deal could prompt European powers to re-impose sanctions through a process known as ‘snapback’. European officials have warned that Europe could go down that road, but are likely to hold back for now and wait for an assessment from the IAEA.

“Europe will react cautiously. Despite strident warnings about the consequences of an Iranian violation, Europe will be reluctant to pull the plug on one of its most important multilateral accomplishments in recent years. It will instead play for time,” said Eurasia analyst Henry Rome.

The cornerstone of European efforts to placate the Iranians is the creation of a mechanism for barter trade called Instex that would net out amounts at either end.

Almost six months after it was created, it is still not operational and diplomats say it will only be able to handle small volumes for items like medicine, not the large oil sales Iran is seeking.

European officials argue that it is crucial to show Iran that it is not isolated. At Friday’s meeting they will demonstrate that it is progressing by offering credit lines to facilitate its implementation. But when and if there is a first transaction remains unclear.

“They are impatient on Instex, but it’s complicated,” said one European diplomat. “We’re able to show progress now, but they say it’s not enough. Well that’s tough luck for them. We are doing our best.”

The European powers will also stress their frustration with Tehran publicly pointing the finger at them. They say neither Russia or China, which imported some 40 percent of its oil from Iran prior to sanctions, have done much to ease Tehran’s economic woes.

“It’s about time they also stepped up,” said the diplomat.

Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London; Editing by Nick Tattersall


 

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Iran says progress at nuclear deal talks not enough to change course
June 28, 2019

View attachment 8611

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi attends a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria, June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger


VIENNA (Reuters) - Progress was made at talks on Friday aimed at saving the Iran nuclear deal but probably not enough to convince the Islamic Republic to change its decision to go over the deal’s core atomic restrictions one by one, Iran’s envoy to the talks said.

“It was a step forward, but it is still not enough and not meeting Iran’s expectations,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters after the talks. “I will report back to Tehran and the final decision will be by Tehran to take.”

Reporting by John Irish and Francois Murphy; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

 

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Chinese envoy to nuclear talks guarded on buying Iranian oil
June 28, 2019

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A journalist takes a picture as Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi and Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmit attend a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria, June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) - China’s envoy to talks aimed at saving the Iran nuclear deal on Friday was guarded when asked if his country was willing to defy U.S. sanctions and buy Iranian oil but said his country rejects those sanctions.

“We reject the unilateral imposition of sanctions and for us energy security is important,” Fu Cong, director general of the Department of Arms Control of the Chinese Foreign Ministry told reporters after the talks.

“We do not accept this zero policy of the United States,” he said when asked if China would buy Iranian oil.

Reporting by John Irish and Francois Murphy
 

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Iran files complaint to United Nations about U.S. drone: Tasnim
June 28, 2019


View attachment 8614
The purported wreckage of a U.S. military drone is seen displayed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Friday it had formally filed a complaint to the United Nations against the United States over the violation of its airspace with an unmanned drone shot down by Tehran earlier this month, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

“The complaint was filed to the U.N. Security Council over the aggression against our airspace by the American drone ... the complaint states that Tehran reserves the right to respond firmly if the U.S. repeats the violation,” Tasnim quoted deputy Foreign Minister Gholamhossein Dehghani as saying.

Tensions spiked between Tehran and Washington after Iran downed a U.S. military drone on June 20 that it said was flying over one of its southern provinces on the Gulf. Washington said the drone was shot down over international waters.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

 

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U.S. says Saudi pipeline attacks originated in Iraq: Wall Street Journal
June 28, 2019

View attachment 8633

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in May originated in Iraq, not Yemen, U.S. officials have concluded, drawing questions from Iraqi officials who have asked Washington for more information supporting the claim, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence on the May drone attacks say they originated in southern Iraq, the Journal reported, saying that most likely pointed a finger at Iran-backed militias in that region.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, who have been battling a Saudi-led military coalition for four years, said they carried out the drone strikes against the East-West pipeline.

The drone attack happened two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged by sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The attacks took place against a backdrop of U.S.-Iranian tension following Washington’s move last month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.

The State Department declined to comment on the report.

At a weekly news conference on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi denied the attacks could have come from Iraqi territory.

“All of our intelligence services and our air force denied these reports because the air space is known,” Mahdi said. “As far as we are concerned, we have no proof and we have no evidence in this matter.”

He said none of the Iraqi intelligence or military services that monitor its air space detected any launch. “There was no movement on that day on this subject,” he said.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom in Washington, Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis

 

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US Deploys F-22 Stealth Fighter Jets to Gulf
29 June, 2019
View attachment 8670
In this photo from September 16, 2017, an F-22 Raptor does a fly-by during the airshow at Joint Andrews Air Base in Maryland. (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Nearly a dozen Air Force F-22 stealth fighters have deployed to the Arabian Gulf, part of a force buildup requested by US Central Command in May in response to what it called heightened Iranian threats against American forces in the region.

The Air Force arm of US Central Command on Friday said the F-22 Raptors arrived this week at Qatar’s al-Udeid air base to "defend American forces and interests."

It posted to its website photos of several F-22s arriving there on Thursday and said this is the first time F-22s have deployed to al-Udeid.

Four B-52 strategic bombers were deployed to al-Udeid days after a May 5 White House announcement that the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group also was being rushed to the region in response to "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" and as a "message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force."

At the request of Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of Central Command, additional Patriot air-and-missile defense systems also were sent to the Gulf region in recent weeks.

He also is receiving additional surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft to improve the military's ability to monitor potential Iranian threats against shipping in the Gulf area.

 

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Iran to soon exceed enriched uranium limit under nuclear pact
Reuters
June 29, 2019
View attachment 8677
Abbas Araghchi (R), political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and Helga Schmid (L), Secretary General of the European Union's External Action Service (EEAS), take part in a meeting of the JCPOA attended by the E3+2 and Iran on June 28, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. (AFP)

  • The Europeans say breach of the agreement by Iran would escalate confrontation at a time when Tehran and Washington are at risk of a miscalculation that could trigger a war
  • The countries that are still parties to the 2015 nuclear accord held urgent talks with Iranian officials on Friday in Vienna in hopes of persuading Tehran to hold off
DUBAI: Iran will soon exceed an enriched uranium limit under its nuclear deal, after remaining signatories to the pact fell short of Tehran’s demands to be shielded from US sanctions, the semi-official Fars news agency cited an “informed source” as saying.

“As the commission meeting in Vienna could not satisfy Iran’s just demands ... Iran is determined to cut it commitments to the deal and the 300 kg enriched uranium limit will be soon breached,” the unnamed source said, according to Fars.

The countries that are still parties to the 2015 nuclear accord - European powers Britain, Germany and France plus Russia and China - held urgent talks with Iranian officials on Friday in Vienna in hopes of persuading Tehran to hold off.

Iran’s envoy to a meeting of the remaining signatories to the agreement said on Friday that European countries had offered too little at last-ditch talks to persuade Tehran to back off from its plans to breach limits imposed by the deal.

The Europeans say breach of the agreement by Iran would escalate confrontation at a time when Tehran and Washington are at risk of a miscalculation that could trigger a war.

 

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F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft arrive in Qatar
F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes were deployed to Qatar for the first time, as tensions between Iran and the United States continue to heighten.
July 1, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk


View attachment 8925
The United States has deployed F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes to Qatar, the Defense Department announced on Friday. File Photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward/U.S. Air Force

July 1 (UPI) -- F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes were deployed to Qatar for the first time, Defense Department officials said, as tensions between Iran and the United States heightened.

Between five and 12 of the advanced tactical planes arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, from which the United States runs its Middle East air operations, a U.S. Central Command statement said on Friday. It also houses about 10,000 U.S. troops.The planes arrived on Thursday from Moron Air Base in Spain, a week after a U.S. drone was shot down near the Strait of Hormuz by Iran. The incident nearly led to a decision for air strikes on Iranian targets. The United States also blamed Iran for mine attacks against commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman in June.

A U.S. troop surge of about 2,500 troops in the region began in May, and the Pentagon has not ruled out additional increases in personnel. New sanctions were places on Iran, and the United States is reportedly seeking international partners in a military coalition to pressure Tehran.

The arrival of the F-22s is part of a previously announced deployment of new forces into the Middle East to improve U.S. ability to protect its forces throughout the region, notably in Iraq and Syria.

Credible intelligence indicated that Iranian forces and their regional allies could be planning to attack Americans in the region, U.S. officials said. Combat engineer forces have been sent to the region to bolster defensive structures, as well as several Army batteries and the Patriot missile system, a defensive anti-missile, anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system.

F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft arrive in Qatar
 

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Iran 3.67% enriched uranium stocks exceed 300kg of JCPOA ( Iran nuclear deal )
Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile has passed the 300-kilogram limit under its nuclear deal, an unnamed source familiar with the matter told Fars on Monday.
 

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