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Nothing ‘Off the Table’ in Responding to Iran’s Missile Launch, says US President Donald Trump

Trump's tweets have stated how seriously the US plans to deal with Iran's association with the missile firings

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President Donald Trump . Courtesy: VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that Iran has been “formally put on notice” for its ballistic missile launch, and warned that “nothing is off the table” in dealing with Tehran.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump also continued his condemnation of the agreement that the U.S. and five other world powers reached to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump said Iran should be “thankful” for the agreement, and that the country was “ready to collapse” before the billions of dollars were unfrozen.

Later, at a White House meeting with Harley-Davidson executives and union members, Trump said “nothing is off the table” in response to a reporter who asked whether military action against Iran was an option.

The nuclear deal required Iran to limit its enrichment of uranium and convert several of its nuclear facilities to other uses.

On Wednesday, it was Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who condemned Iran’s recent missile launch, declaring it “just the latest in a series of incidents” in which Iran has threatened the U.S. and its regional allies over the past six months.

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He said leaders in Tehran were emboldened to take such action now because the nuclear agreement is “weak and ineffective,” and because the other nations involved in the agreement failed to take action to rein in Iran’s military ambitions.

 

During a briefing at the White House, Flynn accused former President Barack Obama and other members of his administration of not being tough enough on Tehran.

 

Ian Lustick, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told VOA the U.S. has to be careful in dealing with Iran’s actions, citing as an example that Iran could make things worse for the 6,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

“The majority of the population in Iraq is Shia, and sympathetic in one way or another to Iran,” Lustick said. “There are very large and powerful militias in Iraq that are commanded by and trained by the Iranians. Those are some of the best fighting units that have had success against ISIS.”

ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

Warning to Iran

Iran also is being advised to proceed cautiously. Houchang Hassan-Yar, an international relations professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, told VOA Persian that the tone of Trump’s warnings toward Tehran is similar to the tough rhetoric of former President George W. Bush, and marks a contrast with Obama’s “cerebral” approach.

“Given Trump’s unpredictability and the fact that his national security and military advisers have written extensively about Iran as a regional threat to U.S. interests and those of U.S. allies, Iranian rulers would be well advised to think carefully about their next steps,” Hassan-Yar said.

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A U.S. advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran, says international businesses are uncertain about Tehran’s behavior. UANI has discouraged its contacts from trying to establish new deals with Iran.

FILE – An Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is displayed by the Revolutionary Guard during a military parade, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Sept. 21, 2016. VOA

 

In an interview with VOA Persian, UANI President David Ibsen said companies are asking whether Iranian missile tests will result in a reimposition of financial sanctions on Tehran.

“They also ask, if a company has dual national citizens [in Iran], will they be kidnapped or held incommunicado by the Iranian regime? Will they be doing business with front entities for the regime or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps? All these risks are very real, and companies have taken our warnings to heart,” Ibsen said.

Resolution 2231

Iran confirmed Wednesday that it carried out a missile launch Sunday, but said this did not violate the nuclear agreement by six world powers and Tehran in 2015. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted after the nuclear deal was reached, called on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles, but it did not specifically ban such activity.

Shahir Shahidsaless, an Iranian-Canadian political analyst, told VOA Persian on Wednesday that the resolution’s lack of an explicit ban on ballistic missile activity is problematic for Washington.

“The United States cannot rely on this resolution to condemn Iran at the U.N. Security Council, and for the same reason, Russia and China will not cooperate with the U.S. on this,” Shahidsaless said.

The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, addresses a Security Council meeting of the United Nations, Feb. 2, 2017. VOA

 

The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, addresses a Security Council meeting of the United Nations, Feb. 2, 2017.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, denounced Iran’s missile launch as “absolutely unacceptable” during a Security Council meeting Tuesday, and said the Trump administration will not turn a “blind eye” to such actions.

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Britain’s U.N. envoy, Matthew Rycroft, echoed Haley’s concerns.

Iran’s U.N. mission issued a statement reiterating Tehran’s position that “Security Council Resolution 2231 does not prohibit legitimate and conventional missile activities.” (VOA)

Next Story

President Donald Trump Can Begin Steps to Pull United States Out of Landmark Paris Climate Agreement

It was negotiated in 2015 with lots of prodding by the United States and China and went into effect Nov. 4, 2016

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President, Donald Trump, United States
In the Paris agreement, nearly 200 countries set their own national targets for reducing or controlling pollution of heat-trapping gases Wikimedia Commons

For more than two years President Donald Trump has talked about pulling the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. Starting Monday he finally can do something about it.

Even then, though, the withdrawal process takes a year and wouldn’t become official until at least the day after the 2020 presidential election.

In the Paris agreement, nearly 200 countries set their own national targets for reducing or controlling pollution of heat-trapping gases. It was negotiated in 2015 with lots of prodding by the United States and China and went into effect Nov. 4, 2016.

The terms of the deal say no country can withdraw in the first three years. So Monday is the first time the U.S. could actually start the withdrawal process, which begins with a letter to the United Nations. And it doesn’t become official for a year after that, which leads to the day after the election.

President, Donald Trump, United States
Youths demonstrate for climate change during the “Fridays for Future” school strike, in front of the Ecology Ministry in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2019. VOA

If someone other than Trump wins in 2020, the next president could get back in the deal in just 30 days and plan to cut carbon pollution, said Andrew Light, a former Obama State Department climate negotiator now at the nonprofit World Resources Institute.

Light and other experts say the withdrawal by the United States, the second biggest climate polluter and world’s largest economy, will hurt efforts to fight global warming.

“Global objectives can’t be met unless everybody does their part and the U.S. has to play the game,” said Appalachian State University environmental sciences professor Gregg Marland, who is part of a global effort to track carbon dioxide emissions. “We’re the second biggest player. What happens to the game if we take our ball and go home?”

Someone else, probably the biggest polluter China, will take over leadership in the global fight, said MIT economist Jake Jacoby, who co-founded the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

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The penalty for the U.S. “is not in economic loss. The penalty is in shame, in discrediting U.S. leadership,” Jacoby said.

Asked what the U.S. plans next, State Department spokesman James Dewey on Friday emailed only this: “The U.S. position with respect to the Paris Agreement has not changed. The United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”

The agreement set goals of preventing another 0.5 degrees Celsius to 1 degree Celsius of warming from current levels. Even the pledges made in 2015 weren’t enough to prevent those levels of warming.

The deal calls for nations to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts every five years, starting in November 2020 in at a meeting in Scotland. Because of the expected withdrawal, the U.S. role in 2020 negotiations will be reduced, Light said.

President, Donald Trump, United States
Even then, though, the withdrawal process takes a year and wouldn’t become official until at least the day after the 2020 presidential election. Pixabay

Climate change, caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas, has already warmed the world by 1 degree Celsius since the late 1800s, caused massive melting of ice globally, triggered weather extremes and changed ocean chemistry. And scientists say, depending on how much carbon dioxide is emitted, it will only get worse by the end of the century with temperatures jumping by several degrees and oceans rising by close one meter.

Trump has been promising to pull out of the Paris deal since 2017, often mischaracterizing the terms of the agreement, which are voluntary. In October, he called it a massive wealth transfer from America to other nations and said it was one-sided

That’s not the case, experts said.

For example, the U.S. goal – set by Barack Obama’s administration – had been to reduce carbon dioxide emission in 2025 by 26% to 28% compared to 2005 levels. This translates to about 15% compared to 1990 levels.

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The European Union’s goal was to cut carbon pollution in 2030 by 40% compared to 1990 levels, which is greater than America’s pledge, said Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, who chairs the Global Carbon Project, a group of scientists that track carbon emissions worldwide. The United Kingdom has already exceeded that goal, he said.

“The U.S. agreement is not a tax on the American people. There is no massive wealth transfer,” said Climate Advisers CEO Nigel Purvis, who was a lead State Department climate negotiator in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. “In fact, the agreement obligates no country to make any financial payments.”

Formally getting out of the Paris agreement is bad, but at this point after years of rhetoric is more symbolic than anything, said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb. She said she is more worried about other Trump carbon pollution actions, such as fighting California’s tougher emissions and mileage standards and rollbacks of coal fired power plant regulations.

The U.S. was not on track to reach its Paris pledge, according to the federal Energy Information Administration’s latest projections.

The EIA projects that in 2025 emissions will be at 4959 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 17% below 2005 levels, about 500 million tons short of the goal. Emissions in 2018 were nearly 2% higher than in 2016, the agency’s latest energy outlook says. That spike likely was from extreme weather and economic growth, Marland and Jacoby said. (VOA)