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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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Report: Trump Administration to Eliminate Refugee Admissions to Zero in Coming Year

Since the so-called “refugee ceiling” is an upper limit, and not a quota, the government is not required to meet the annual admissions number

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Migrant children sleep on the floor of a shelter in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, July 17, 2019. Asylum-seekers grappled to understand a new U.S. policy that all but eliminates refugee claims by Central Americans and many others. VOA

The Trump administration is considering more dramatic cuts to the U.S. refugee program, with one official suggesting the White House not allow any refugees into the country in the coming fiscal year.

In a Politico report released Thursday, government officials from several federal agencies attended a meeting last week and discussed several options that included a ceiling of 10,000 — well below the current refugee ceiling of 30,000, which is already an all-time low for the program.

The U.S. resettled 23,190 refugees since the beginning of fiscal 2019 last October. With 2½ months remaining until the count resets, the U.S. is on track to fall short of this year’s cap, according to U.S. State Department data.

Since the so-called “refugee ceiling” is an upper limit, and not a quota, the government is not required to meet the annual admissions number.

refugees
Trump repeatedly attempted a ban on refugees with multiple executive orders on travel during his first year in office, citing “national security” concerns. VOA

Multiple figures

Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, one of the primary refugee resettlement nongovernmental organizations in the U.S., said he has heard multiple figures proposed for the coming fiscal year, all well below the program’s historical annual threshold of around 60,000 to 70,000.

In President Barack Obama’s last year two years in office, his administration made a concerted effort to increase the number of admitted refugees, with a particular focus on Syrians fleeing conflict and persecution.

And since the U.S. president is the one who ultimately makes the final decision when it comes to the number of refugee admissions, President Donald Trump has leeway to further reduce the total allowed.

“The president hasn’t made an actual decision, that won’t happen till October. But I suspect they’re testing the waters a bit to see if, in fact, the public will respond to this, and if there will be any public outrage,” Arbeiter told VOA. “So it is a proposed number, it is not a final number, but a number anywhere between zero, and we’ve heard 3,000, 7,000 10,000, but anywhere in that range, what it effectively does is it closes the door on refugees, and effectively constitutes a total ban on refugees.”

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The journey has become more dangerous because of greater reliance by refugees and migrants on smugglers to transport them to the U.S. border. VOA

Earlier ban attempts

Trump repeatedly attempted a ban on refugees with multiple executive orders on travel during his first year in office, citing “national security” concerns. Those worries, however, were not substantiated by data and no scientific study demonstrates a correlation between refugee admissions and elevated crime or security risks.

Each year, the president makes an annual determination, after appropriate consultation with Congress, regarding the refugee admissions ceiling for the following fiscal year. That determination is expected to be made before the start of fiscal 2020 on Oct. 1, 2019.

ALSO READ: Democrats Campaigning on Medicare for All Wrestling With How to Pay for The Dramatic Overhaul

The U.S. State Department is one of the leading agencies involved in the deliberation process with the White House over refugee admissions. In an emailed statement Friday, a spokesperson reiterated the president makes the decision on the ceiling every year “after appropriate consultation with Congress.”

Beyond that, however, the spokesperson said the State Department would “not discuss internal and interagency deliberations or communications involved in such deliberations.” Last year, however, the White House was criticized by members of Congress after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the fiscal 2019 cap would be 30,000, before the legally required meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers happened. (VOA)