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India’s ‘substantial sacrifice’ helped seal Iran deal: White House

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New White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

 

Washington: Acknowledging India’s “substantial sacrifice” in backing the sanctions regime against Iran, the White House has again warned that if the Republican-controlled Congress unilaterally kills the Iran nuclear deal, it would greatly damage America’s standing.

“No longer would countries like India, who have been making a substantial sacrifice over the years, have any interest or incentive to continue to enforce those sanctions against Iran,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.

Indian leaders had agreed to curtail the import of oil from Iran making an “economic sacrifice” and backed the sanctions against Tehran to advance US effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon through diplomacy, he said.

“In essence …countries like India had agreed that they would take these steps, even at their own expense, to try to reach this broader international agreement,” he said.

Earnest recalled that when the sanctions were originally put in place, US officials traveled around the world “including to India, sat down with the Indian government and asked them to curtail the amount of Iranian oil that they imported into the country”.

“And we acknowledged in the context of those discussions that this would be an economic sacrifice that the people of India and that the economy of India would have to make,” he said.

“But Indian leaders agreed to it by saying that this is something that they were willing to do if they can advance our effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon through diplomacy,” Earnest said.

“And the good news is that that agreement has been reached. And it is an agreement that is supported by the international community — 99 percent of the world as the President (Barack Obama) has described it,” Earnest said.

“And that’s why it would be so damaging to the standing of the United States for the United States Congress to act unilaterally to kill this deal,” he said.

“No longer would countries like India, who have been making a substantial sacrifice over the years, have any interest or incentive to continue to enforce those sanctions against Iran,” Earnest said.

“There is no basis, there is no credible claim for why they would be willing to do that,” he said.

“And there is no denying the significant negative impact on United States credibility for the United States to be isolated in this way.”

“That’s why the President has said if Congress were to move forward to kill this deal or kill this agreement, it would, in fact, yield a better deal for Iran,” Earnest said.

“Because what we would see is that Iran would get sanctions relief; they would have the ability to sell oil to India and get the proceeds of doing so…without having to submit to the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country’s nuclear programme,” he said.

“That’s why I’ve long said that the case before Congress is that Iran is going to get sanctions relief,” Earnest said.

“The question is whether or not the United States and the international community is going to get anything for it. And that is ultimately the choice before members of Congress right now,” he said.

(IANS)

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U.S. Commerce Department Recommends White House on How to Proceed with Auto Industry Tariffs

Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its "Section 232" national security report shrouded in secrecy.

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Auto industry, tariffs
Robots swing a cab and bed into place for a new heavy duty pickup truck on the assembly line where Chevrolet Silverado trucks are being built at General Motors Flint Assembly in Flint, Michigan, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

The U.S. auto industry urged President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs, after the U.S. Commerce Department sent a confidential report to the White House late on Sunday with its recommendations for how to proceed.

Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy, which will make it much harder for the industry to react during the next 90 days Trump will have to review it.

“Secrecy around the report only increases the uncertainty and concern across the industry created by the threat of tariffs,” the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association said in a statement, adding that it was “alarmed and dismayed.”

“It is critical that our industry have the opportunity to review the recommendations and advise the White House on how proposed tariffs, if they are recommended, will put jobs at risk, impact consumers, and trigger a reduction in U.S. investments that could set us back decades.”

Representatives from the White House and the Commerce Department could not immediately be reached.

Auto industry, tariffs
Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy. VOA

The industry has warned that possible tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially devastate the U.S economy by slashing jobs.

Administration officials have said tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. Last year, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as talks with the two trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner.

“We believe the imposition of higher import tariffs on automotive products under Section 232 and the likely retaliatory tariffs against U.S. auto exports would undermine – and not help – the economic and employment contributions that FCA, US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors make to the U.S. economy,” said former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, the president of the American Automotive Policy Council.

ALSO READ: US States Sue Trump’s Administration for Obtaining Border Wall Funds

Some Republican lawmakers have also said they share the industry’s concerns. In a statement issued on Monday, Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski said she fears the Commerce Department’s report could “set the stage for costly tariffs on cars and auto parts.”

“President Trump is right to seek a level playing field for American businesses and workers, but the best way to do that is with a scalpel, not an axe,” she added. (VOA)