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Trump Toughens Iran Strategy, Decertifies Tehran’s Compliance With Accord

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President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump announces a new Iran policy from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. voa
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Saying Iran is not living up to the spirit of a two-year-old nuclear agreement it signed with Western powers, President Donald Trump Friday unveiled a tough new strategy toward Tehran, including additional sanctions aimed at blocking the regime’s path to develop nuclear weapons.

“Today, I am announcing our strategy along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon,” Trump said in a nationally televised address at the White House.

He stopped short of pulling the United States out of the 2015 deal involving Iran, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany and the European Union. But he said he would no longer certify Iran’s compliance with its terms, effectively giving Congress 60 days to consider whether further action is necessary.

“We cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”

Global reaction

European powers France, Britain and Germany together issued a statement following Trump’s address, saying preservation of the JCPOA with Iran is “in our joint national interest.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Friday said his country sees the JCPOA as non-negotiable, and would remain committed to it as long at it serves the national interests.

In a nationally televised address, Rouhani charged that Trump’s comments were full of “insults and fake accusations” against Iran.

“The Iranian nation has not and will never bow to any foreign pressure. … Iran and the deal are stronger than ever. … Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will continue its fight against regional terrorists,” Rouhani said.

Obama administration officials involved in crafting the agreement say any attempt to tinker with it is fraught with numerous pitfalls, and will require close coordination with allies and lawmakers.

“This action is completely unnecessary and arbitrary,” said Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser to former President Barack Obama. “The question at play in certification is whether or not Iran is complying with terms of the nuclear deal, and as you know, the Trump administration itself has twice certified that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.”

Gary Samore, who held senior positions on arms control and non-proliferation in the Obama and Clinton administrations, described Trump’s move as “mostly political theater.”

“President Trump gets to denounce the Iran agreement, which he’s heavily criticized, but at the same time, the U.S. will continue to comply with the agreement by waiving sanctions. So for now, it really doesn’t change anything,” Samore told VOA.

“President Trump found it embarrassing and irritating to have to certify this ‘bad deal’ every 90 days, and he made it clear to his advisers that he wasn’t’ going to do that anymore,” Samore added. “And they’ve come up with a way for him to stop performing this task but not destroy the agreement.”(VOA)

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Merkel Told Putin, US Complicated Middle East Situation

"But if you want to solve problems, you have to talk to each other," Merkel was quoted as saying.

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in a bid to inform Merkel's and Macron's respective meetings with US President Donald Trump in Washington this week, German federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said Sunday, reported Xinhua news agency.
Angela Merkel, wikimedia commons

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Middle East situation had been complicated by the US’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

According to a statement issued by the German government, Merkel made the remarks on Friday during her meeting with Putin in Russia’s Black Sea city of Sochi, Xinhua news agency reported.

Merkel told Putin that Germany, like the rest of Europe, did not want to leave the agreement and wanted to continue to support it. With regard to the Iranian nuclear programme, the agreement gives “more security, more control and, above all, more transparency”.

But there are also topics “that have to be talked about with Iran”, Merkel said, referring to the concerns of the Iranian ballistic missile program, and the question of how to proceed after the expiration of each element of the nuclear agreement.

Merkel
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, wikimedia commons

Merkel stressed after her talks with Putin how important it was to have an open exchange of ideas, especially if the two countries have different views, adding that the German-Russian cooperation had endured serious differences.

“But if you want to solve problems, you have to talk to each other,” Merkel was quoted as saying.

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With regard to the situation in Ukraine, Merkel said the Minsk accord was the “only basis” to achieve peace in east Ukraine, and agreed with Putin that it was important to station a UN peacekeeping troop in the area.

With regard to Syria, Merkel said that Germany would continue to support UN’s mediation efforts with full force, saying it was important the already-agreed upon process of constitutional reform really got going. (IANS)