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Zarif: U.S. must accept consequences if nuclear deal is ditched

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Thursday that Iran reserves the right to respond should the US, as a party to the 2015 nuclear deal, withdraw from the landmark agreement. Zarif compared Tehran’s full commitment to its side of the bargain to Washington’s breach of the deal, which is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Press TV reported. On 11 occasions, he said, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has implemented all its obligations under the JCPOA, but “the US has consistently violated the agreement especially by bullying others from doing business with Iran.” Zarif also slammed the European countries’ appeasement to US President Donald Trump as a deadline looms for Washington to announce whether it will continue suspending anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted under the nuclear accord.

“In the last year or so, we’ve been told that President Trump is unhappy with the deal and it now appears that the response from some Europeans has been to offer the United States more concessions from our pocket,” he said. “This appeasement entails promises of a new deal that would include matters we all decided to exclude at the outset of our negotiations, including Iran’s defensive capabilities and regional influence. But please understand on both issues, it is Iran, not the West, that has serious grievances and much to demand,” he added.

Trump may expel Russian diplomats in response to nerve-agent attack in Britain

in Senza categoria by

U.S. and European officials said Saturday that President Trump is close to expelling 20 or more Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. The move, which could prompt a new wave of retaliatory expulsions of U.S. diplomats in Russia, may come as early as Monday. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the United States is considering a “range of options to respond to Russia’s outrageous actions in the UK, both to demonstrate our solidarity with our ally and to hold Russia accountable for its clear breach of international norms and agreements.”

U.S. and China clash at U.N. rights forum on Beijing text

in ASIA/POLITICS by

China and the United States clashed at the United Nations, where the U.S. delegation rejected a resolution brought by Beijing that it said sought to glorify Xi Jinping’s “win-win” agenda and subordinated human rights to development or trade. China led a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council that calls for “mutually beneficial cooperation”. Senior Chinese diplomat Jiang Duan urged states to adopt the text, whose co-sponsors included Pakistan and Egypt, by consensus. But U.S. diplomat Jason Mack called for a vote on China’s resolution, which was then easily adopted by the 47-member forum. The U.S. delegation cast the only “no” vote, while 28 states voted in favor, including China, and 17 abstained with one delegation absent. “China is attempting through this resolution to weaken the U.N. human rights system and the norms underpinning it” Mack said.

The National Iranian American Council criticizes Bolton pick at Trump’s war gabinet

in MIDLE EAST by

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) on Friday slammed US President Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor warning that “with Bolton pick, Trump is assembling an Iran war cabinet”. “Donald Trump may have just effectively declared war on Iran. With the appointment of John Bolton, and nomination of Mike Pompeo at State, Trump is clearly putting together a war cabinet. As the world awaits Trump’s May 12 decision as to whether he will abandon the Iran nuclear deal, all of the signs now point to a decision to move to war footing”, president of the National Iranian American Council, Trita Parsi, declared. “Bolton is an unhinged advocate for waging World War III. He has explicitly called for bombing Iran for the past ten years. Bolton’s first order of business will be to convince Trump to exit the Iran nuclear deal and lay the groundwork for the war he has urged over the past decade. Additionally, he has called for supporting the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist organization and other separatist groups inside of Iran”, he pointed out.

After his appointment, John Bolton tried to distance himself from his past statements. He added: “The important thing is what the President says and the advice I give him, not the past”.

 

U.S.-South Korea military exercises to resume next month

in ASIA/DEFENCE by

Seoul and Washington said the United States and South Korea next month will resume joint military exercises, that will go ahead despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Foal Eagle field exercise is scheduled to begin on April 1 and go on for a month, while the computer-simulated Key Resolve will be held for two weeks starting in mid-April. The South Korean and U.S. militaries usually stage the two drills in March for about two months but the period of this year’s field exercise was cut by half, mainly due to the Olympics.

The exercises will be of a “scale similar to that of the previous years” and are meant “to improve our readiness against various North Korean threats”, a South Korean military official told reporters.

The Pentagon said the North Korean military had been notified about the schedule for the drills by the United Nations Command. “Our combined exercises are defence-oriented and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan said.

 

US allocates 2.5 million dollars to the assistance of Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia

in AMERICAS by

The United States approved on Tuesday to allocate, “with immediate effect,” 2.5 million dollars to the assistance of Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia. The drift of the regime of Nicolás Maduro has caused in recent months a massive flight, which has led to a humanitarian emergency on the border between the two countries, especially in the city of Cúcuta. These funds, in addition to the contribution of 36.5 million that the Administration of Donald Trump reserved to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the region, fall on the organizations that provide food and health assistance to the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who arrive daily in Colombia.

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick for CIA director, tied to use of brutal interrogation measures

in AMERICAS by

President Trump on Tuesday chose CIA veteran Gina Haspel to be the spy agency’s next director, picking a woman who spent multiple tours overseas and is respected by the workforce but is deeply tied to the agency’s use of brutal interrogation measures on terrorism suspects. Haspel, 61, would become the first woman to lead the CIA if she is confirmed to succeed outgoing director Mike Pompeo, who has been picked to serve as secretary of state.

Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to hold historic face-to-face meeting

in ASIA/POLITICS by

South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong saud US President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un for a historic face-to-face meeting. Chung Eui-yong made the announcement of Kim’s offer in Washington on Thursday, after talks with Mr Trump at the White House. Chung said Kim was “committed to denuclearisation” and would refrain from any further nuclear and missile tests and he wanted to meet Trump as “soon as possible” and that Trump said “he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula. White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, later confirmed Chung’s comments.

“If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet following an inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest” South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said.

China also has welcomed the development, saying the Korean peninsula issue was “heading in the right direction” and calling for “political courage”. No American president has ever met with a North Korean leader.

Trump imposes tariffs on steel and aluminum, but offers relief to allies

in AMERICAS/ECONOMY by

President Trump on Thursday signed a pair of proclamations that impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum while offering relief to some U.S. allies, as the president took his most significant step yet away from free trade but stopped short of the global tariffs his GOP allies begged him to avoid. The tariffs, set to take effect in 15 days, do not apply to imports from Canada and Mexico so that U.S. officials can assess progress as they renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Other countries with a “security relationship” to the United States may seek exemptions by opening talks with the administration on “alternative ways” to address the threats the administration alleges their products pose to national security.

Pushback on Trump tariffs gathers steam, Mexico rejects bid to split NAFTA

in AMERICAS/ECONOMY by

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY – Republican lawmakers stepped up calls for President Donald Trump to pull back from proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as key trading partner Mexico rejected a bid by Washington to drive a wedge between it and Canada in talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. On Tuesday, Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, raised concerns about the impact of the tariffs on American manufacturing and agriculture. Agriculture is a potential target for retaliatory tariffs from China if Trump pushes ahead. Moreover Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo raised the prospect of reprisals if Washington pushed ahead with tariffs and insisted NAFTA remain “a trilateral accord” in response to a U.S. proposal to hold talks with Canada and Mexico separately.

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