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Iran’s Zarif Tells Trump to ‘Try Respect’ Instead of Threats

The U.S. also suspects Iran was behind the sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates

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Iran, Zarif, Trump, Respect, Threats
The increased tensions with Iran began brewing a year ago when Trump pulled the United States out of the six-nation nuclear deal with Iran. VOA

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump “try respect” instead of issuing threats.

He was responding to a Twitter post Sunday in which Trump said: “If Iran wants to fight, that will the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Zarif said Trump, under pressure from a group that includes his National Security Adviser John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is hoping to achieve what “other aggressors failed to do.'”

“Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone,” Zarif wrote. “Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran.'”

Iran, Zarif, Trump, Respect, Threats
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump “try respect”. Flickr

Last week, Trump appeared to be backing away from his apparently hawkish stance against Iran, saying he would be open to talks.

When asked by a reporter at the White House on Thursday if the United States was going to war with Iran, Trump replied, “I hope not.”

But there has been no apparent let up in the tensions between the United States, its regional allies and Iran.

The State Department says a “low-grade rocket” fell inside the green zone in Baghdad, less than a kilometer from the U.S. embassy Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported.

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U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said the Pentagon was aware of an explosion outside the embassy, adding, “There were no U.S. or coalition casualties, and Iraqi Security Forces are investigating the incident.”

A State Department spokesman says the U.S. will not tolerate such attacks and that it will hold Iran responsible “if any such attacks are conducted by its proxy militia forces.”

Saudi Arabia is blaming Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for a drone attack on two Saudi oil-pumping stations last week.

The U.S. also suspects Iran was behind the sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last week. Two of the damaged tankers were Saudi.

Iran, Zarif, Trump, Respect, Threats
Trump said: “If Iran wants to fight, that will the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Pixabay

The Saudis also say they will not tolerate Iranian aggression.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that,” foreign affairs minister Adel al-Jubeir said Sunday. “But at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this will all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests.”

Saudi King Salman has called for emergency summits with Gulf and Arab leaders on May 30 to discuss what the kingdom’s official news agency describes as “aggressions and their consequences.”

An Iranian news agency quotes Iran’s Revolutionary Guard head Hossein Salami as saying the country does not want war, but is “not afraid” of it.

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A statement from the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet Sunday spoke of increased maritime patrols and exercises in the Arabian Sea that highlight the “lethality and agility to respond to threat”

The Pentagon has already sent bombers to the region.

The increased tensions with Iran began brewing a year ago when Trump pulled the United States out of the six-nation nuclear deal with Iran.

Under the agreement, Iran limited its uranium enrichment program in exchange for the end of sanctions and economic relief.

The limitations were meant to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, something Iran denied it had been doing.

Trump, in an interview with Fox News recorded last week and broadcast Sunday, said he does not “want to fight” but that when it comes to Iran, “you can’t let them have nuclear weapons.”

The reimposed U.S. sanctions have left the Iranian economy in tatters and Iran complains it has yet to see the promised economic benefit from the countries that are still part of the nuclear deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced two weeks ago he was pulling out of part of the nuclear deal and would restart some uranium enrichment if there were no economic benefits by early July. (VOA)

Next Story

Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details

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Trump, Sales, Vaping
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A woman buys refills for her Juul at a smoke shop in New York, Dec. 20, 2018. VOA

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

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“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.

Mint flavor

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

‘Tobacco 21’ law

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Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)