Tillerson Threatens To Go After Iran

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Tillerson slams Iran nuclear deal as ‘failed approach,’ vows ‘comprehensive review’

Published April 19, 2017

FoxNews.com

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ratcheted up criticism Wednesday of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, publicly confirming the Trump administration is conducting a “comprehensive review” and declaring they have “no intention of passing the buck.”

In some of his toughest language yet, Tillerson said at a brief press conference that the Iran deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” and only delays it becoming a nuclear state.

He faulted the agreement for “buying off” a foreign power with nuclear ambitions, saying: “We just don’t see that that’s a prudent way to be dealing with Iran.”

The statement comes after he said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis, that the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement to evaluate whether continued sanctions relief is in the best interest of the U.S.

In the same notification, the administration said Iran is complying with the landmark nuclear deal negotiated by former President Obama, and the U.S. has extended sanctions relief to Tehran in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.

But Tillerson noted in his letter, and repeated during his appearance Wednesday, that Iran continues to foment violence around the world.

“Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace,” he said Wednesday. “Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a grave risk to international peace and security.”

While not saying definitively whether the administration is inclined to uphold or scrap the deal, Tillerson said they will meet the challenge of Iran with “clarity and conviction” once the review is done.

“The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran,” he said, claiming the deal represents the “failed approach” of the past.

Tillerson also likened Iran’s behavior to that of North Korea. He said an unchecked Iran could pursue the same path as Pyongyang “and take the world along with it.”

As a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was an outspoken critic of the deal but had offered conflicting opinions on whether he would try to scrap it, modify it or keep it in place with more strenuous enforcement. Tuesday’s determination suggested that while Trump agreed with findings by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran is keeping to its end of the bargain, he is looking for another way to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.

The nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — and Germany. Under its terms, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program, long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump Reviews Iran Deal

The Trump administration is reviewing the Obama-era nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to determine whether they will stop the deal’s suspension of U.S. sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today.

Tillerson said administration officials would review the deal despite also announcing that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 agreement reached under President Obama.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote in a Tuesday night letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The terms of the nuclear agreement require the State Department to update Congress on Iran’s compliance every 90 days. Tillerson’s letter noted that Iran is meeting the deal’s requirements.

Tillerson wrote that Trump has directed an inter-agency review of the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to “evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran … is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

What’s the Iran deal again?

In 2015, the United States and five other nations — the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran drastically limiting its nuclear activities.

Around $100 million worth of Iranian oil money and other assets were frozen prior to the agreement. In order to unfreeze that money, Iran agreed to several terms, including:

  • Dropping nearly 75 percent of its uranium centrifuges — equipment used to produce nuclear fuel for power plants or weapons.
  • Reducing its uranium stockpile by 98 percent for 15 years and keeping its level of uranium enrichment low enough to only fuel nuclear power plants, not weapons.
  • Redesigning its existing heavy-water reactor so it can’t make weapons-grade plutonium and pledging not to build more reactors for 15 years.
  • Complying with regular monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the international watchdog for nuclear power.
  • Allowing IAEA inspectors access to any site within 24 days of an inspection request.

These sanctions don’t eliminate Iran’s access to nuclear energy, but it does significantly reduce the country’s “breakout time” — the time needed to build a nuclear weapon. According to the Brookings Institution, the deal increased Iran’s breakout time to at least one year.

What does the Trump administration think about it?

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal for years, calling it a “disaster” throughout his presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016.

Since he has come into office, he has continued to blast the deal.

In July last year, Trump told CNN that the Iranians “are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear. We should double up and triple up the sanctions and have them come to us. They are making an amazing deal.”

Trump’s Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, has also criticized the deal and Iran’s actions in the Middle East. At a press conference this morning, speaking on Iran’s support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Mattis said “everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region you find Iran.”

What comes next?

At today’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump may believe that Iran is cheating on the deal.

“That’s why he’s asking for this review,” Spicer said. “If he didn’t, if he thought everything was fine, he would have allowed this to move forward. I think he’s doing the prudent thing by asking for a review of the current deal and what’s happening.”

Spicer said the administration will be conducting the review over the next 90 days, and will have more to report at the end of that period.

At a press conference this afternoon, Tillerson suggested that the current nuclear agreement “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran and only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” Tillerson said. He went on to say that the Iran deal “is another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions, we buy them off for a short period of time and then someone has to deal with it later. We just don’t see that that’s a credible way to be dealing with Iran.”

Earlier this week, a senior White House official told Foreign Policy that the Trump administration is considering taking a harder stance on the deal — implementing the agreements in an “incredibly strict” way — or expanding sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is an Iranian military branch intended to protect the country’s Islamic system.

There is some speculation that the Trump administration may expand sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile testing and it’s funding for terrorist acts. The administration already implemented new sanctions on Iran in early February for testing a missile.

Additional sanctions wouldn’t necessarily violate the terms of the Iran deal, but it is possible that they could push Iran to drop out of the agreement and begin to develop nuclear weapons.

Spicer said sanctions have been “an effective tool,” but added that the administration recognized the possible consequences of increasing sanctions.

“Obviously we’re well aware of any potential negative impacts that an action could have,” Spicer said. “So regardless of whether it’s an economic, political or military action, you always weigh all those kind of options.”

Obama’s US Policy is History (Ezekiel 17)

US sends message to North Korea, China with Syria strike

Agencies

The US missile strike on Syria contained a clear message for North Korea and its main ally China, but not one strong enough to push Pyongyang off its nuclear weapons path, analysts said Saturday.

While the timing was largely coincidental, the fact that US President DonaldTrump ordered the strike while hosting a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping carried particular resonance given that the North’s nuclear ambitions — and how best to thwart them — was among the top agenda items of their meeting.

And exercising the military option added some extra weight to Trump’s recent threat of unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help kerb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons programme.

Kim Yong-Hyun, a professor at Dongguk University said the strike against Syria was a statement of intent that was meant for a wide readership.

“It signals to Pyongyang that the US has a new sheriff in town who isn’t hesitant about pulling his gun from the holster,” Kim said.

But while the move might give the North pause, it is unlikely to deter a leadership that views nuclear weapons as the sole guarantee of its future survival.

“In the long term, US military actions overseas won’t help kerb the North’s nuclear pursuit,” Kim said.

Nuclear determination

The North has carried out five nuclear tests — two of them last year — and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth.

And Pyongyang has shown no sign of reining in a missile testing programme ultimately aimed at securing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

If Thursday’s strike was a warning to other countries, it was one that Pyongyang, which regularly cites US hostility as the driving force behind its nuclear weapons development, is quite familiar with.

“Trump’s attack on Syria is unlikely to have any significant effect on a North Korea that is already well versed in the threat posed by the United States,” said Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

At the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the then North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il disappeared from public view for around six weeks — and was widely believed to have gone into hiding for fear of a US attack.

Chang Yong-Seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification at Seoul National University, said Kim’s son, current leader Kim Jong-Un, had no reason to take such precautions. “Armed with nuclear weapons, he would hardly flinch at the attack in Syria,” Chang said.

As if to underline the point, North Korean state media released photos of a smiling Kim inspecting a mushroom farm.

Warning to China?

The question then arises as to what impact the US president’s willingness to exercise his military muscle may have on China’s thinking.

China is North Korea’s economic lifeline and as such enjoys more leverage over its maverick neighbour than any other country.

Like his predecessors in the White House, Trump wants China to do more to influence the North’s behaviour, but has gone further than others in threatening to go it alone if Beijing fails to step up to the plate.

In that context, the strike against Syria may resonate more firmly in Beijing than Pyongyang.

It’s a signal that Trump’s administration will not only talk, they will act”, said Wang Dong, Associate Professor and Director of the School of International Studies at Peking University.

While China has clearly lost patience with Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations, it is extremely wary of any response that might bring about North Korea’s collapse and chaos on its doorstep.

“From the Chinese point of view, there is still room to explore a path for a diplomatic solution”, Wang said.

Jia Qingguo, a professor of International Relations at Beijing University, said the North’s nuclear arsenal and highly sensitive geopolitical position meant the fallout of any military action could be catastrophic. “A small kick could provoke big disasters. It’s not like Iraq,” Jia said.

Although China’s state media went strong on photos and coverage of the Xi-Trump summit, it gave little space to news of the strikes against Syria, with few editorials or commentaries.

One exception was the nationalist-leaning Global Times which suggested that Trump’s “show of force” was rash and ill-considered.

“This was Trump’s first major move in international affairs, and it leaves an impression that the decision was made in haste and not without contradiction,” the newspaper said.

Preparing For War With Iran

america-vs-iranNew Iran Sanctions Bills Could Kill the Nuclear Deal, Pave the Way to War

by Tyler Cullis

Congress is in an apparent race with the Trump administration to see who can pose the greater threat to the sustainability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)–the nuclear accord between the United States, other major world powers, and Iran.

Last week, Congress introduced separate House and Senate bills that would impose new sanctions on Iran. The most imminent danger to the JCPOA is the Senate bill–the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S.722), co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The proposed Senate legislation would risk upending the U.S.’s obligations under the JCPOA and undoing the long-term restrictions the JCPOA imposed on Iran’s nuclear program, all the while setting the stage for renewed conflict between the two countries.

Several provisions of the Senate bill are troubling. Contrary to the bill’s sponsors, the proposed legislation is not consistent with the JCPOA – containing provisions that would place the U.S. in clear violation of its JCPOA commitments. Just as troubling, the bill would mandate the President to utilize existing sanctions authorities targeting Iran with greater force, all the while providing new sanctions authorities to the President to target the Islamic Republic – an effective green light to the hardline aspirations of the Trump administration. Finally, the bill would take the unprecedented step of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a branch of Iran’s armed forces – a terrorist group. Absent significant revisions to the bill, the Senate legislation will not only undermine the fundamentals of the nuclear accord, perhaps fatally. It could also quickly engulf the United States in a military conflict with Iran.

Challenge to the JCPOA

On Transition Day, which is either 8 years from Adoption Day or upon a finding from the IAEA that Iran’s nuclear program is being used for exclusively peaceful purposes, whichever is earlier, the United States is required to remove certain Iranian parties from its sanctions lists. Most, if not all, of these entities were designated for involvement in Iran’s nuclear program, but some were also involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program. To the extent that their designation was related to ballistic missiles, this bill would prohibit the President from de-listing those parties on Transition Day, unless the President can provide certification that they have not engaged in activities for which they have been designated in the three-month period preceding their de-listing. If the President cannot provide such certification, then the President would be prohibited from de-listing those parties, placing the U.S. in clear violation of its JCPOA obligations.

Most troubling, this provision–if enacted–will likely provoke an Iranian response. Iran has been careful to reciprocate each U.S. action with its own reaction (see e.g., Iran’s imposition of sanctions on U.S. companies following the U.S. Treasury’s recent announcement of new sanctions designations.) In this case, any reciprocal measure will likely involve Iran’s promised reneging of its own JCPOA commitments. In doing so, both the U.S. and Iran risk undermining the confidence that has so far sustained the JCPOA and prevented either side from terminating the agreement.

Green Light to Trump?

The bill would also mandate the President to impose sanctions on activities related to Iran’s ballistic missile program in a manner that could lead to the re-imposition of sanctions lifted under the JCPOA. Section 4 of the bill requires the President to impose blocking sanctions on persons that engage in activities that have materially contributed or pose a risk of materially contributing to the activities of the Government of Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program, as well as persons who knowingly provide financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, a person so sanctioned. For example, this provision would mandate the President to impose sanctions on Iranian banks that provide financial services – including, as a benign example, payment of employee salaries at designated Iranian government entities – in ways that would violate the JCPOA. Under the JCPOA, the United States is prohibited from re-introducing or re-imposing the sanctions lifted under the nuclear accord, including the de-listings of certain Iranian entities (e.g., most of Iran’s financial institutions). In mandating the President to broadly impose sanctions on Iranian parties even tangentially related to Iran’s ballistic missile program, this bill risks placing Washington in violation of its JCPOA commitments.

Perhaps more importantly, this provision would also effectively provide a green light to the Trump administration to take a much harder line against Iran for its non-nuclear activities. Some in Congress might think that is a good thing, but the context is everything. First, this puts the JCPOA itself at risk, as the U.S. has certain affirmative obligations under the nuclear accord to prevent interference with Iran’s realizing the full benefits of the sanctions-lifting and refrain from adopting policies or taking actions intended to make the normalization of trade and economic relations between Iran and the rest of the world more difficult. Imposing broad new sanctions on Iran would clearly contradict these basic principles of the agreement. Second, it was not more than a few months ago when the Trump administration put Iran “on notice,” a forewarning of the ambitions of some in the administration to set the stage for a possible military showdown between the two countries. In urging the President to more broadly sanction Iran, Congress risks empowering these more extreme hardline elements in the White House. So far, President Trump has mimicked the prior administration in his use of the sanctions tool; bipartisan support for cracking down on Iran via this legislation could quickly turn the tide and give his administration the confidence to pursue a more aggressive stance toward Iran that could well trigger a military conflict.

Designating IRGC a Terrorist Group

The bill would also designate the IRGC a terrorist group. The bill’s proponents have been willfully obtuse as to the effect of this particular provision (§ 8 of the bill), but it is nonetheless true.

Specifically, the bill would require the President to impose the sanctions identified in Executive Order 13224 on the IRGC and its officials, agents, and affiliates. EO 13224 is the foundational order to the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 594, and persons designated pursuant to the Order are routinely known as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). Organizational SDGTs are U.S.-designated “terrorist groups.” The bill’s proponents have variously argued that (1) Congress is not mandating the President to designate the IRGC an SDGT, but instead only to impose the sanctions outlined in EO 13224 to the IRGC; or (2) that the SDGT designation cleverly avoids designating the IRGC a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This is, at the same time, deliberately misleading and beside the point. First, in order to implement this provision, the President will designate the IRGC pursuant to EO 13224 – i.e., as an SDGT. Congress will not be able to wash its hands of this command; it has directed the President. Second, whether to designate the IRGC an FTO or an SDGT is beside the point: considering current sanctions on the IRGC, there are few actual sanctions consequences as a result of either designation. The concerns with designating the IRGC a terrorist group are “extra-legal.”

What are those concerns? Designating the IRGC a terrorist group has zero sanctions consequences, but important real-life ramifications. Currently, the IRGC is designated under no less than three separate U.S. sanctions programs and is subject to robust secondary sanctions. Designating the IRGC an SDGT will thus only duplicate existing sanctions, adding nothing. However, as the U.S. defense establishment has long warned, there could be important consequences to labeling the IRGC a terrorist group, including, but not limited to, possible retaliation against U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, who are vulnerable to Iran-backed militias. If such a scenario came to pass, the potential for open hostilities between the U.S. and Iran would have been effectively triggered by the (legally inconsequential) designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Passage of the Senate bill would thus render the U.S. non-compliant with its JCPOA obligations, while also providing an effective stamp of approval to President Trump to utilize his sanctions authorities to target Iran in ways that could fatally undermine the JCPOA and pave the path towards war. Important revisions will need to be made in the weeks ahead if Congress intends to avoid responsibility for unraveling the Iran nuclear accord.

The Next Terrorist Attack Will Be In Our Ports (Revelation 14)

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The Next Terrorist Attack Will Be In Our Sea Ports

Gulftainer Scandal Connects Obama, the Clintons and the Media

Roger Aronoff image

By Roger Aronoff —— Bio and Archives January 5, 2017

In a recent column, I challenged the notion that the Obama administration has been scandal free. This has been the assertion, most recently, of Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, in a softball interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. The media have covered for the multiple scandals that have occurred right under their noses, and this is nothing less than willful blindness. It has applied to the Obama administration, the Clinton Foundation and recent presidential campaign, as well as going back to the Clinton administration. One largely overlooked scandal that ties together the Clintons, Barack Obama and the media’s willful blindness is the Gulftainer scandal.

This clear case of malfeasance comes at the expense of national security and American safety. As we reported in 2015, a United Arab Emirates subsidiary company, Gulftainer USA, was granted a lease “at the vital national security hub of Port Canaveral, Florida.” Now a recent Occasional Paper from the Center for Security Policy (CSP) shows that Gulftainer’s parent company, The Crescent Group, is connected to Iraq’s illicit nuclear program, and may have benefited from associations with the Obamas and Clintons. CSP has done an excellent job connecting these very disturbing dots.

Benefited from associations with the Obamas and Clintons

Hamid Jafar is the founder and chairman of the Crescent group of companies, according to the Crescent Petroleum website. However, as Alan Jones and Mary Fanning write for the CSP, Hamid Jafar “is the brother and the business partner of Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar—the Baghdad-born nuclear physicist who masterminded Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program.”

In other words, the company has links to terror. Jones and Fanning write that David Kay, a “U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991–1992” who returned to Iraq after 2003, says that Dr. Jafar told him, “You can bomb our buildings. You can destroy our technology. But you cannot take it [nuclear technology] out of our heads. We now have the capability.”

Dr. Jafar is currently CEO of Crescent’s URUK Engineering & Contracting subsidiary, although his brother claimed for years that he had “no business relationship” with Dr. Jafar, according to Jones and Fanning.

These are the business ties of a company in charge of shipping containers out of a port with close proximity to an Air Force base, a submarine base, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Yet despite the risks, the mainstream media continue to look the other way on the Gulftainer scandal.

The First Nuclear Attack Will Be In LA (Revelation 14)

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Effect of Nuclear Blast at Port Would Be National

August 16, 2006|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

A nuclear explosion at the Port of Long Beach would have catastrophic consequences for the United States, killing 60,000 people immediately, exposing 150,000 more to hazardous radiation and causing 10 times the economic loss resulting from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, according to a long-awaited study released Tuesday.

Two years in the making, the detailed analysis by the Rand Corp.’s Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy paints a terrifying picture not only of the possibility of such an attack but of its immediate and long-term effects on Southern California, the nation and the global economy.

“It would be bad enough if a terrorist organization were ever able to get a nuclear device inside the boundaries of the United States,” said Michael A. Wermuth, director of Rand’s homeland security research. “But this report shows that an attack of this scale can have far-reaching implications beyond the actual point of the attack itself.”

The study examined the effects of terrorists concealing a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb in a shipping container and having the weapon explode shortly after it was unloaded onto a pier at the Port of Long Beach.

Within the first 72 hours, according to the study, the blast would “devastate a vast portion of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.”

In addition to the human casualties, the report says, the blast and subsequent fires might destroy the infrastructure and all ships in the Port of Long Beach and adjoining Port of Los Angeles, which combined comprise the nation’s busiest port of entry and handle about one-third of the nation’s imports.

If the attack led to the closure of all U.S. ports as a security measure, the report says, the ripple effect would be global since the value of imports and exports from American ports represents about 7.5% of world trade activity.

Additionally, the study says, 2 million to 3 million people might need to relocate because the nuclear fallout would contaminate a wide swath of the region. And the destruction of port area refineries, responsible for a third of the gas west of the Rockies, could create critical shortages of gasoline.

“It would take years to recover economically” from such an attack, Wermuth said. “It would take any number of years before some of the area close to ground zero could be rebuilt, and some of it would not be habitable for 20 years.”

The report is the latest to address concerns about the vulnerability of the nation’s ports nearly five years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Wermuth emphasized, however, that the study was not meant to predict that such an attack was likely.

Rather, he said, it was to analyze the potential consequences of a terrorist event “so all the various entities, both government and private, can see how dependent the broader economy is on a geographically specific part of the economy.”

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) echoed Wermuth’s comments about the scenario.

“The report does not estimate the likelihood of such an attack,” said Harman, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Committee on Homeland Security.

But it does underscore “the need to radically improve security at our ports,” Harman said, calling the ports “a gaping hole in American security for years.”

Approaching The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

6:07 pm 12 Mar, 2017

India aims to isolate Pakistan diplomatically. Ever since the Uri terror attacks, New Delhi has been making all efforts to corner Pakistan and expose its backing of terror outfits from its own soil.

But General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, is of the belief that India’s attempts might make Pakistan use nuclear weapons.

“India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan, hinders any prospects for improved relations,” General Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The General acknowledged India’s surgical strikes in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) but said that actions such as these “increase the likelihood for miscalculation by both countries”.

According to the General, isolation attempts and military actions are “troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange.”

Pakistan has around 130 nuclear warheads; 10 more than India’s. But while New Delhi has ratified the “no first use” policy, Islamabad continues to ignore it. And what is even more concerning is that Pakistan’s ruling establishment openly issues nuclear threats.

Pakistan’s defence minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif has issued such threats twice – first against India and then against Israel.

At the same time the General admitted that Pakistan will have to end granting safe havens to terrorists on its soil for an improved security environment.

He said that though Pakistan has made a few moves, there has not been any permanent action against terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network “which poses the greatest threat” to US-led forces in Afghanistan.

Reuters

The Nuclear Prelude (Revelation 8)

India-Pakistan conflict could escalate into ‘nuclear exchange’, says US General

Updated: Mar 10, 2017 10:38 IST

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington

A top US military general has warned that India’s policy to “diplomatically isolate” Pakistan hinders of the improvement of ties between the countries enhancing the risk, thus, of conventional conflict leading to a nuclear exchange.

General Joseph L Votel told the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee at a hearing on Thursday that attacks in India from terrorists based in Pakistan and the reaction “likelihood for miscalculation by both countries” and “India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations”.

“This,” he told senators, “is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers.”

The general spoke of India’s concerns about lack of action against India-focused militants based in Pakistan and the surgical strike undertaken by the Indian military against terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan in 2016.

The general’s command overseas US operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and he echoed the country’s mounting concern with Pakistan, who he called a critical partner in counterterrorism, when he said that “of particular concern to us is the Haqqani Network (HQN) which poses the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan”.

To date, he stressed, “the Pakistan military and security services have not taken lasting actions against HQN” despite repeated calls from to the “Pakistanis to take the necessary actions to deny terrorists safe haven and improve security in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region”.

Saying “there are challenges with respect to the US-Pakistani relationship, we have endeavoured to maintain a substantial level of engagement with our Pakistani military counterparts”.

Iran Fires Another Nuclear Missile (Daniel 8:4)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully tested a ballistic missile, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported Thursday.The report quotes Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard’s aerospace division, as saying the missile destroyed a target from a distance of 250 kilometers (155 miles). It said the sea-launched ballistic missile dubbed Hormuz 2 was tested last week.The Hormuz 2 is capable of hitting floating targets with high accuracy within a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles), Fars said. It provided no additional details.Meanwhile, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying the Revolutionary Guard had prepared a ballistic missile for civilian purposes but plans to launch it were canceled after a threat by the United States.

“We have prepared a ballistic missile for carrying a satellite for civilian purposes … but some people sent it to the warehouse after a threat by the Americans. This behavior is humiliating,” he said.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Last month, Iranian media reported the Revolutionary Guard launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises in the country’s central desert.

Trump Puts Pressure On The Iranian Horn

Trump administration pledges ‘great strictness’ on Iran nuclear deal

A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in… REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration pledged on Tuesday to show “great strictness” over restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities imposed by a deal with major powers, but gave little indication of what that might mean for the agreement.

The 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers restricts Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Trump has called the agreement “the worst deal ever negotiated”. His administration is now carrying out a review of the accord which could take months, but it has said little about where it stands on specific issues.

The Trump administration also gave few clues about any potential policy shift on Tuesday in a statement to a quarterly meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors.

“The United States will approach questions of JCPOA interpretation, implementation, and enforcement with great strictness indeed,” the statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation board said, citing the deal’s full name: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But the U.S. statement, the first to the Board of Governors since Trump took office in January, also repeated language used by the administration of former U.S. president Barack Obama, for whom the deal was a legacy achievement.

“Iran must strictly and fully adhere to all commitments and technical measures for their duration,” it said – wording identical to that used in the U.S. statement to the previous Board of Governors meeting in November.

The IAEA, which polices the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities under the deal, last month produced a quarterly report saying that Iran’s stock of enriched uranium had halved after coming close to a limit imposed by the agreement.

That report was the first to specify how much enriched uranium Iran has, thanks to a series of agreements between Tehran and major powers clarifying items that would not count toward the stock.

Some major powers had criticized previous reports for not being specific enough on items such as the size of the enriched uranium stock, and the U.S. statement called for future reports to be as detailed.

“We welcome inclusion of the additional level of detail, and expect it will continue in the future,” it said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Gareth Jones)