Nations become ‘more united when bullied,’ Trump should understand – Iranian top official

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani responded to Donald Trump’s threats on Monday following Tehran’s announcement that its stockpiles of enriched uranium have exceeded the limits set out in the 2015 nuclear deal.

The US threats would have the opposite effect on Iranian nation, the head of Iran’s parliament said during a live broadcast on state television on Tuesday:

Mr Trump should understand that when one uses bullying language against a civilised nation, they become more united.

Although Trump himself had unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement, he warned Iran on Monday that its decision to exceed the terms of the agreement was “playing with fire.” He also reiterated that he had not forgiven Iran for the downing of US surveillance drone last month. Although he had not gone through with a counter-strike at the time, Trump stated that his clemency had given him license to “do far worse, if something should happen” in the future.

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Tehran had repeatedly said it would partially suspend its commitments if the European Union failed to take "practical and tangible steps" to help facilitate trade and protect the Iranian economy from US sanctions.

The deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament, Mahmoud Pezeshkian, expressed doubts it would be possible to negotiate with the US again after their withdraw from the agreement and provocative gestures in the Persian Gulf.

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China Will Continue To Import Iranian Oil, Says Official

Vienna: China said Friday it would continue to import Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions on the country, a day before US and Chinese leaders are to meet to try to resolve thorny trade disputes.

"We reject the unilateral imposition of sanctions," said Fu Cong, Director General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Arms Control, on the sidelines of meeting in Vienna on the implementation of the 2015 agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programme.

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Inquiry into oil tanker attacks stops short of blaming Iran

UN security council hears unidentified state was behind explosions in Gulf last month

An unidentified state actor has been blamed for attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf last month, according to an inconclusive inquiry that stopped short of explicitly pointing the finger at Iran.

The UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Norway presented the preliminary findings during a private briefing to members of the UN security council, which will also receive the final results of the inquiry and consider a possible response.

The US has accused Iran of almost certainly being behind the attacks on the four oil tankers off the Emirati coast, but the brief report, while providing evidence of the sophistication of the attack, goes nowhere near identifying the culprit.

The UAE may be waiting to see whether other intelligence agencies can provide evidence that Iran directed surrogate groups, or possibly Houthi rebels, to carry out the attack.

The four vessels – two Saudi-flagged, a Norwegian-flagged and an Emirati-flagged – were damaged by explosions in UAE territorial waters, off the port of Fujairah.

The UAE is convinced Iran was behind the attacks and that they were designed to send a clear message to the US and the Gulf states about its capacity to wreak havoc on oil shipping, including through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran is battling the effects of US sanctions, including on its ability to export oil, the lifeblood of its economy.

The initial findings showed it was “highly likely” that four limpet mines, which are magnetically attached to a ship’s hull under the waterline, were used in the attacks. The report said they had been placed by trained divers deployed from fast boats. The mines were placed soon after the ships were anchored.

The UAE believes the attacks required high-level intelligence in order to identify the four oil tankers as targets, one of which – a Saudi ship – was at the opposite end of the anchorage area at Fujairah from the three other tankers.

The report also said that detailed knowledge of the ships’ designs was required to detonate the mines without sinking the tankers. The mines were sequenced to explode within an hour of each other.

Despite the ambiguous findings, Saudi Arabia continued to blame its arch-enemy, Iran. Tehran has denied involvement.

“We believe the responsibility for this attack lies on the shoulders of Iran,” Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, said after the briefing. Saudi Arabia maintains that the attacks affect the safety of international navigation and the security of world oil supplies, requiring a response from the security council.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said after the closed-door briefing that no evidence had been presented linking Iran to the attacks. “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” Safronkov said. “This investigation will be continued.”

Tehran reacted coolly to the findings, saying the UAE was determined to blame it as part of an effort to escalate the situation and press the US into a war with Iran.

In an attempt to calm tensions the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is due to visit Tehran next week as a mediator between the US and Iran. The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, is also due to visit Tehran before Abe’s trip.

Germany remains a signatory to the nuclear deal signed in 2015 from which Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018.

Trump then pursued a policy of strong economic sanctions against Iran but he has dialled down his bellicose rhetoric in the last week, waiting to see if any of the mediators can find a basis for setting up direct talks between him and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president. Iran will demand the lifting of economic sanctions as a precondition of talks.

On Friday Tehran again ruled out extending the nuclear deal to cover Iran’s ballistic missile programme, something the French president, Emmanuel Macron, suggested should be addressed this week.

France, Germany and the UK have stood by the nuclear deal but have largely failed to find a financial mechanism that protects European companies from the threat of US sanctions if they trade with Tehran. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted and there is a lively debate in Tehran on whether it is tenable to hold out against talks.

Iran is due to show reporters around its heavy water reactor in an attempt to show the implications of the measures it is taking to increase the level of enriched uranium. In response to the US economic pressure, Tehran says it is taking steps to extricate itself from the deal, with the next steps on uranium enrichment due in 30 days.

Germany and Japan are certain to urge Iran to hold back from taking any steps that could be interpreted as abandoning the deal.

Speaking at a conference in Bratislava, Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign affairs minister, said the Iran nuclear deal had not delivered “a peaceful and normal Iran”.

He said: “We are faced with escalation in the region and bellicose rhetoric from Iran, which continues to foster and use sectarianism as a means to insert itself into the Arab world.”

The Iran deal, he said, “did not tackle this dangerous ballistic missile programme or Iran’s regional policies, which include interference in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and support for proxy forces including the terrorist group Hezbollah”.

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The Only Thing that Works with Iran is Respect,' Iranian FM Said

Tehran, June 3 (Prensa Latina) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Yavad Zarif has demanded respect for his nation, which, according to him, it is the only possibility of listening to the other side.

In an interview with ABC TV, broadcast in Tehran on Monday, Zarif passed remarks on the book 'The Art of Agreement', written by Donald Trump, in which the US president describes some trading methods.

It may progress in the market, but not with Iran, Yavad Zarif said, and added that it can be effective with other nations in a short period and not in the long term, 'but not with Iran in a short period, or in the medium and long term. The only thing that really works with Iran is respect', he said.

Zarif warned threats never work with Iran; try with some respect, that can really work, he added.

According to Zarif, Iranians will not lost courage by the art of the agreement pressure, the strategy followed by the US government with sanctions to renegotiate another nuclear agreement.

In any case, he said, there will be serious consequences if the United States holds its economic pressure campaign, which he termed as an economic terrorism that affects the Iranian people.

'If President Trump's objective is to impose pressure on ordinary Iranians, he is certainly getting done', but he will not make up with his political goals by using pressure', he said.

The Iranian FM rejected claims about an alleged Iranian threat to the region and replied that the US Navy is really the one that destabilizes.

'We call this region Persian Gulf for just one reason, it is by our side. We have the right to defend ourselves. What if Iran went to California or Florida coasts', he asked.

The United States, he denounced, is the one sending nuclear warships to our jurisdictional waters, to our region.

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Washington sanctions threaten Middle East security – Iranian Deputy FM

US sanctions threaten the security of the Middle East, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has warned. Araqchi made his statement while on a diplomatic tour of the Gulf region, following military tension with the US.

Speaking in Kuwait on Monday, Araqchi said that Washington’s policy of economic sanctions threatened “the security of the entire region,” according to a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website. “Countries in the region should be vigilant about this threat,” he added.

Araqchi’s pronouncement came after several weeks of escalating military tensions in the Persian Gulf. The US deployed an aircraft carrier group and bomber aircraft to the region citing unspecified Iranian threats, and following alleged acts of Iranian “sabotage” on commercial oil tankers near the Emirati port of Fujairah, earlier this month.

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Both sides have bandied threats at each other, but Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed the notion of open conflict two weeks ago, saying “We don't seek a war, and they don’t either.” Nevertheless, US President Donald Trump announced the deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East on Saturday, ostensibly for “defensive” purposes.

After waving the stick, Trump then dangled the carrot on Monday. “I do believe that Iran would like to talk,” he said. “And if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also.”

No talks

Although Araqchi stated on Sunday that “there are no direct or indirect talks between Iran and the US,” the diplomat embarked on a tour of three Gulf states the same day, to discuss cooperation and development. Araqchi visited Oman on Sunday and Kuwait on Monday, and will wrap up the tour with a visit to Qatar.

At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Pakistan and Iraq over the weekend. Speaking in Baghdad on Sunday, Zarif welcomed dialog with Iraq, which fought a brutal war against Iran under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. The eight-year conflict claimed more than a million lives and ended in stalemate in 1988.

Zarif proposed a non-aggression pact with its neighbors, some of whom are US allies. However, he also cautioned that the Islamic Republic is ready to defend itself against any attack, be it “an economic war or a military one.”

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The Iranian FM also spoke out against US sanctions, enforced since Washington unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Deal) last year, saying the US is “bullying other countries into compliance with its unilateral measures.”

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Iran’s short-range missile can reach US fleet in Gulf – Revolutionary Guards deputy commander

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has said that the US fleet in the Gulf is already within striking distance of his country’s short range missiles, adding that the US could not sustain a new war in the region.

“Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (US) warships in the Gulf,” Mohammad Saleh Jokar, the IRGC’s deputy for parliamentary affairs, was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying Friday. Jokar added that the US would be unable to sustain a conflict with Iran on account of financial, personnel and social reasons.

It marks the latest escalation in a war of words between the two countries as tensions mount amid renewed sanctions and political pressure from the US, along with a build-up of US forces in the region.

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“Iran is not after a conflict in the region but has always defended its interests powerfully and will do so now too,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday.

US carriers always deploy as part of a battlegroup so Iran’s large fleet of smaller fast boats would find it very difficult to get within striking distance without themselves being destroyed by US surface warships.

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The guided missile destroyers USS Gonzalez and USS McFaul recently joined the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group on stand-by off the coast of Oman.

In recent years, Iran has developed the Khalij Fars (‘Persian Gulf’) anti-ship ballistic missile, which uses infrared guidance to slam a 1,433lb warhead into moving naval targets. Iran also unveiled the Mach 4 version of the Khalij Fars, the Hormuz -1 and -2 which is designed to seek out enemy radar systems and destroy them.

The Persian Gulf is quite narrow (ranging from 35 miles to 220 miles across in parts), for a carrier battle group and could afford the IRGC the opportunity to amass launchers within range of the US fleet with relative ease.

The consequences of any armed conflict between Iran and the US “would be literally incalculable” according to James Jatras, a former US diplomat and GOP Senate policy adviser.

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“One doesn’t really know where this goes next – let’s suppose Iran strikes the UAE or the Saudi oil fields or strikes the Israelis ... then what do those parties do next?” Jatras told, emphasizing that the conflict would quickly escalate to include US regional allies in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“Especially the Israelis who everybody knows have nuclear weapons. Although I doubt very much they would use those unless they were really down to an existential threat.”

Jatras also warned that “Moscow and Beijing would be foolish to stand back and watch the US take another piece off the chessboard” despite Pompeo’s attempts at warning the Kremlin against involvement in any potential conflict with Iran.

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Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Tonkin? Trump warns Iran it will 'suffer greatly' if it does 'anything'

Blame for the "sabotage operations" that damaged four oil tankers off the coast of the UAE has been placed at the feet of "Iran or Iran-backed proxies," courtesy of anonymous "US officials" breathlessly quoted by MSM.

Anonymous officials are an integral part of a good casus belli. Their deeds should be heroic enough that merely fact-checking their story reflects badly on the journalist attempting it. What kind of cynical reporter would question the bravery of "Curveball," the informant who spilled the beans about Saddam Hussein's "mobile biological weapons laboratories," sealing the doom of a million Iraqis with the Weapons of Mass Destruction myth? Yet credulous reporters are once again repeating the conclusions of an anonymous official without asking how he arrived at them.

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With meters-wide holes in the side of each ship, there were no injuries or deaths – not even a drop of precious oil leaked from the tanker vessels "sabotaged" in the Persian Gulf. The nature of the "attack" dovetails with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's overly broad criteria for a "swift and decisive response." An attack by Iran "or its proxies" on "US interests or citizens" was all it would take to bring the wrath of Uncle Sam crashing down on Tehran, and here, as if on cue, Iran (or its proxies!) supposedly has blown a hole into the side of a ship destined to bring oil to the US.

If Iran were so rash as to risk such a conflict, they would probably seek to do some real damage. But such seemingly suicidal acts are a dime a dozen in the run-up to US wars. Syrian President Bashar Assad supposedly attacked his people with chemical weapons just days after then-US president Barack Obama announced his infamous "red line," warning Assad not to use chemical weapons lest he experience the full force of democracy, American style.

Israel's Mossad was reportedly the source of the tip that Iran was planning some kind of attack on the US in the first place – a vague yet "credible threat" that provided an ideal rationale to deploy the USS 'Abraham Lincoln' carrier group, a bomber task force, a battery of Patriot missiles, and potentially up to 120,000 troops to the CENTCOM region, even though the source themselves admitted the warning was "unclear." 

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The media mouthpieces who sold Americans the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yugoslavia don't seem to be putting too much effort into selling the idea of a war with Iran as a coherent narrative. Aside from Pompeo's constant repetitions of the '#1 sponsor of terror' canard, there is suspiciously little mythmaking going on – no babies being thrown from incubators, no Viagra-fueled rape brigades marching through Tehran. The media has been busy smearing Venezuela with stories that grown men and women are fighting each other for the last zoo animal to eat, and stealing gold fillings out of corpses, but the stories about Iran are positively half-baked.

Even the US president doesn't seem to know what's going on, other than that he's supposed to be rallying the troops. "I'm hearing little stories about Iran. If they do anything, they will suffer greatly," he told reporters.

Which is exactly the problem. How can they help but do "anything?" Meanwhile, by placing billions of dollars off Iranian waters and daring all comers to attack, knowing it will be blamed on Iran, the US has created a situation almost guaranteed to trigger war.

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Iran tells foreign envoys it will 'stop implementation' of some nuclear deal commitments

Iran told ambassadors from the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia that it will renege on “some commitments” under the 2015 nuclear deal, but will not quit the pact completely.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani appeared Wednesday on national TV to announce the decision to scale down implementation of the 2015 deal, which is officially called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He said the Iranian move was reciprocal action to US complete withdrawal from it under President Donald Trump.

Rouhani announced that Tehran will be gradually suspending its commitments under the deal, giving other parties subsequent periods of 60 days to negotiate a reversal of those actions. He blamed European signatories of failing to compensate to Iran the damage done by US unilateral sanctions after Washington broke its part of the bargain.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif earlier told reporters Tehran would be backing out of some "voluntary commitments" under the 2015 agreement as a response to the EU's inability to stand up to the pressure of Washington's attempts to isolate Iran.

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The JCPOA was signed under Barack Obama and offered Iran lifting of international and unilateral economic sanctions in exchange for voluntarily restricting its nuclear program. The document was signed by Iran, China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the US and the EU.

Trump sided with Israel in calling the agreement “the worst deal ever” and refused to keep Washington’s part of the bargain in May last year. The US has since re-imposed the unilateral sanctions, which had been lifted from Iran under the JCPOA terms, and is currently seeking to cripple its oil export by targeting buyers with secondary sanctions.

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