Oil markets jumped on Monday on concerns over potential renewed US sanctions against Iran as well as conflict in Iraq, while an explosion at a US oil rig and reduced exploration activity supported prices there. International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $57.82 (£43.47) Monday morning, up 65 cents, or 1.1 per cent, from the previous close. Prices were being pushed up by worries over renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran. Last Friday, US President Donald Trump refused to certify that Tehran is complying with the accord even though international inspectors say it is. Under US law, the president must certify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the deal. Congress will now have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran. During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil supplies were cut off global markets. While analysts said they did not expect renewed sanctions to have such a big impact again, … [Read more...] about Oil markets jump on worries of US sanctions against Iran
UN ambassador Nikki Haley insisted North Korea would get the right message as the international community seeks to halt its arms programme.Ms Haley said: "It sends the perfect message to North Korea, which is we're not going to engage in a bad deal.”She has supported the US President’s move despite it being met with widespread criticism.The 2015 Iran deal was design to curb the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for a easing of sanctions.Ms Haley said the US needs to weigh a response to Tehran’s ballistic missile test, foreign arm sales and sponsoring of terrorism.Earlier the US President stop short of terminating the deal but made it clear the option remained open to him. It sends the perfect message to North Korea, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley Critics have claimed the move will make it harder to forge a similar deal with Kim Jong-un to stop … [Read more...] about Trump sends ‘perfect message’ to North Korea by not certifying Iran deal, UN official says
Rex Tillerson worked on Sunday to reinforce the basic lines of US policy on major international issues such as Iran and North Korea, all while having to combat perceptions that his relationship with Donald Trump has deteriorated to the point the president is, in the words of one Republican senator, “castrating” his secretary of state. 'We tried nice guys': conservative hardliners stay in a trance for Trump Read more Appearing on CNN, Tillerson said the US wished to remain within the Iran nuclear deal and denied that China was confused about the administration’s North Korea policy. The secretary of state also denied that he had, in the words of interviewer Jake Tapper of CNN, been “gelded”. “I checked, I’m fully intact,” Tillerson said. “This is a very unique president,” said the former Exxon-Mobil chief, commenting on a crescendo of rumors about his vexed relationship with the White House. “I … [Read more...] about Rex Tillerson cleans up after Trump on Iran but dodges ‘castration’ questions
Donald Trump’s long-expected announcement that he would not certify the nuclear agreement with Iran should, in keeping with his aggressive posturing on the issue, have become the catalyst for what he called the “worst deal ever negotiated” being dismantled. The consequences of that happening would have been that trust in international agreements would have evaporated. Iran would be forced back into isolation, with its reformist government replaced by hardliners going full tilt in developing a nuclear arsenal. North Korea would have sped up its own nuclear and missile programmes, holding that there was no point in negotiations because the US could always renege in the future. Proliferation would continue to spread with Tehran’s neighbours in the Middle East, Turkey and possibly Egypt going down the same nuclear path and Saudi Arabia, which has supposedly already bought the bomb from Pakistan, going on a shopping spree for more. Yet as things stand now, such a … [Read more...] about Donald Trump’s speech on Iran may actually end up saving the nuclear deal
Image copyright Getty Images Political leaders around the world have weighed in on US President Donald Trump's decision to decertify the nuclear deal with Iran.Officials in the US and Europe, as well as in the Middle East, have both praised and criticised the president's strategy on the international nuclear agreement.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded shortly after Mr Trump spoke. "Today the United States is more than ever opposed to the nuclear deal and more than ever against the Iranian people", he said. Iran nuclear deal: Key details Trump vows not to sign off In a written statement, the Islamic Republican of Iran proclaimed Mr Trump's action "proves once again that the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner". The president's announcement now leaves it up to Congress to decide upon new sanctions to impose on Iran.EuropeThe European Union's Federica Mogherini said the current deal … [Read more...] about Europe ‘concerned’ by Trump Iran threat
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Corker wants to introduce legislation to "fix" the deal Donald Trump, faced with reconciling a bluntly delivered campaign promise with the tricky realities of governing, again is taking a half-step - and tossing the issue to Congress.On healthcare (repeal and replace - but you figure out how), residency for children who entered the US illegally (Daca protections are illegal, but they can remain in place for six months or maybe longer) and now the Iran nuclear deal, the president has faced sharp disagreement within his administration, leaving Congress to clean up any resulting mess.Legislators don't make great janitors, however. They've repeatedly crashed on healthcare. Legislating Daca hasn't gotten off the ground, as Trump's on-again, off-again deal with Democrats has … [Read more...] about Trump hands Iran chalice to Congress
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption After railing against it for years, President Trump announced he would refuse to recertify the Iran deal In setting out his new Iran policy, President Trump painted a stark picture of Iran as a brutal and manichean power, driven by a revolutionary ideology and eager to confront the US and its allies at almost every turn. In contrast to what he clearly sees as the lax approach of the Obama administration, Mr Trump wants to double-down on Iran - enforcing the nuclear deal more effectively and countering its growing regional influence.But beyond the tough rhetoric intended to please his own political base, what actually is new about Trump's new Iran policy? To what extent is it a departure from the Obama years? And what might its likely consequences be?Given Mr Trump's … [Read more...] about Trump’s ‘new’ Iran policy and the difficulties ahead
Image copyright Getty Images All the indications are that President Trump will refuse to recertify the present Iran nuclear deal some time before the due date of 15 October. This would light a fuse that could potentially explode the agreement. It raises questions about how Iran will respond. And it creates huge diplomatic difficulties between the US and many of its key European allies who wholeheartedly back the deal.The agreement, negotiated with Iran by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council together with Germany and the European Union, was reached in July 2015. Its aim was to ensure that Iran's nuclear programme was entirely peaceful. The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), began to be implemented in January 2016. In return for the progressive lifting of a range of economic sanctions, Iran halted some of its activities and reduced others within strict limits, all open to … [Read more...] about What will Trump do about the Iran nuclear deal?
On the campaign trail and since becoming president, Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised the Iran nuclear deal, labelling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”. The US leader is now expected to decertify the agreement, leaving it up to Congress to decide whether to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran. What was the agreement? Officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Obama-era accord was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Under the 2015 agreement with six nations – the US, France, Germany, China, Russia and the UK – Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear programme for at least 10 years in exchange for the loosening of economic sanctions that had crippled its economy. Why does Mr Trump oppose the deal? During his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly last month, Mr Trump said, “We cannot abide by an agreement if … [Read more...] about What is the Iran nuclear deal and why does Trump hate it?
EU business leaders have said they are prepared to do everything they can to salvage the Iran nuclear deal in the event of a US withdrawal, as the Danish credit agency extended export guarantees to Tehran in the run-up to a showdown with Donald Trump. The US president has reportedly decided to decertify Iran’s compliance with the landmark nuclear deal next week. On Thursday, he told a meeting of US military leaders that Tehran was not living up to the “spirit of the agreement” and cryptically added they were witnessing “the calm before the storm”. 'Calm before the storm': Trump set to walk away from Iran nuclear deal Read more If Trump decides not to continue certifying the deal it could unravel, but Europe’s business community hopes the economic benefits of the agreement would encourage Iran to stick to its commitments even if the US falters. Speaking at the Europe-Iran forum in Zurich this week, Helga Schmid, the secretary … [Read more...] about Europe’s business heads aim to keep Iran nuclear deal despite US threat
Image copyright Getty Images The fate of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the major world powers is in the balance.The deal, which came into effect in October 2015, (known by the cumbersome title of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), imposed constraints on Tehran's nuclear activities, in return for the lifting of some economic sanctions.It is easy to forget that the deal came about in an atmosphere where there was growing talk about the possibility of a military strike against Iran. Israel and many of Washington's Gulf allies were alarmed by Iran's growing assertiveness in the region and - despite Tehran's denials - believed that it had an active nuclear weapons research programme. It also had a sophisticated ballistic missile effort that might one day be used to carry such a weapon.Iran - they feared - could eventually have been where North Korea is today. And, for the nuclear agreement's advocates, … [Read more...] about What will happen to the Iran nuclear deal?
A rift between the Trump administration and Europe, over whether to stick to a nuclear agreement with Iran, deepened considerably on Wednesday after a meeting on the deal’s implementation at the United Nations in New York. The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, emerged from the meeting conceding that Iran was abiding by the letter of the 2015 deal, but he still insisted Tehran was not fulfilling the “expectations” of the agreement. He confirmed that Donald Trump had made a decision on whether to continue to stick with the deal or walk away next month. The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who was hosting the session of a multilateral joint commission on implementation, said there was no doubt the agreement was being kept and she warned that if any country broke it, it would be in violation of the UN Security Council resolution that enshrined the deal in international law. “All member states are considered to be bound by its … [Read more...] about Tillerson says Iran is not meeting ‘expectations’ of nuclear deal
The French government will use meetings at the UN this week to try to persuade Donald Trump not to abandon the nuclear agreement with Iran, warning that the deal’s collapse would trigger a “spiral of proliferation” in the Middle East, the French foreign minister said. Trump and Netanyahu ready united assault against Iran nuclear deal Read more Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Iran was abiding by the terms of the 2015 deal, and that verification measures were being “strictly implemented” by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). President Trump, however, has claimed that Tehran has violated the deal, at least “in spirit” and has threatened he would not certify Iranian compliance when the state department is required to report on its implementation on 15 October. Le Drian argued the deal was vital to global security. “It’s essential to maintain it to prevent a spiral of proliferation that would encourage … [Read more...] about France tells Trump that quitting Iran nuclear deal risks ‘spiral of proliferation’
Tensions between the US and UK over whether to tear up the Iran nuclear deal were exposed on Thursday when the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said the US viewed Iran as being in default of the deal’s expectations but the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, urged the world to have faith in its potential to create a more open Iran. Tillerson repeatedly emphasised that the US decision about whether to end the agreement – signed in 2015 – will be based on a wider assessment of Iranian behaviour, including in Yemen and Syria, and not just on whether Tehran is complying with the strict terms of the deal. Donald Trump resumed his attacks on the agreement on Thursday, calling it “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen”. Trump claimed Iran had “violated so many different elements, but they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal”. He did not say what he would do on 15 October, when Congress requires the administration to certify … [Read more...] about Tensions surface between UK and US over Iran nuclear deal
US intelligence officials are under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement, in an echo of the politicisation of intelligence that led up to the Iraq invasion, according to former officials and analysts. The collapse of the 2015 deal between Tehran, the US and five other countries – by which Iran has significantly curbed its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief – would trigger a new crisis over nuclear proliferation at a time when the US is in a tense standoff with North Korea. Intelligence analysts, chastened by the experience of the 2003 Iraq war, launched by the Bush administration on the basis of phoney evidence of weapons of mass destruction, are said to be resisting the pressure to come up with evidence of Iranian violations. The Guardian view on sanctions: an essential tool | Editorial Read more “Anecdotally, I have heard this from members of the … [Read more...] about White House ‘pressuring’ intelligence officials to find Iran in violation of nuclear deal
It was always going to be a state ceremony of grandeur and pomp, but the current turbulence in Middle East politics ensured that Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration as President of Iran became an occasion of significant resonance. Iran, its adversaries Saudi Arabia and the Donald Trump administration have demanded, should once again be shunned as a pariah state. The US has imposed tough new sanctions and President Trump is threatening to pull the plug on the nuclear deal between the country and international powers which has been achieved through years of painstaking negotiations. Hawks in his team have talked about instigating regime change in Tehran. In the event representatives from a hundred countries turned up in Tehran. The likes of Robert Mugabe and Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly of North Korea, may be ignored by Washington and Riyadh. But the presence of senior figures from most Western European countries, including Britain's Minister of … [Read more...] about Rouhani warns Trump he ‘risks his political life’ over Iran nuclear deal
The White House is seeking to put more pressure on Iran while still retaining the 2015 nuclear accord.The US government said it was targeting 18 entities and people for supporting what is said was “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity”.Two of those entities were designated by the State Department “for engaging, or attempting to engage, in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery”.State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “Iran’s other malign activities are serving to undercut whatever 'positive contributions' to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge.”Ms Nauert also criticised Iran for continuing to develop its ballistic missile program, which the United States and other countries consider a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.In a … [Read more...] about US slap new sanctions on Iran ‘for threatening international peace’ after missile test
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images US secretary of state gives no indication America is preparing to pull out of nuclear deal. By Nahal Toosi 4/20/17, 7:30 AM CET Updated 4/20/17, 7:38 AM CET WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is putting Iran on notice … again. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took harsh aim at the Islamic Republic on Wednesday, accusing it of being a terrorist-sponsoring, human-rights violating, destabilizing force with long-term nuclear ambitions akin to those of North Korea. But while Tillerson reiterated that President Donald Trump’s administration was reviewing the United States’ overall Iran policy, he gave no indication America was preparing to pull out of the nuclear deal the Obama administration and several foreign governments struck with Iran nearly two years ago. “In deed and in propaganda, Iran foments discord,” Tillerson said in a rare appearance before reporters at the … [Read more...] about Tillerson takes aim at Iran in rare press appearance
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sought to reassure lawmakers Wednesday that a recently agreed Iran nuclear deal would not prevent Washington from using military force against Iran if needed. "If Iran were to commit aggression, our robust force posture ensures we can rapidly surge an overwhelming array of forces into the region, leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach," Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee." US President Barack Obama's administration is attempting to sell skeptical lawmakers on the Iran nuclear deal reached earlier this month, which Carter defended as preferable to a military strike. "This is a good deal because it removes a continued source of threat and uncertainty in a comprehensive and verifiable way, by preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," he said. "It's a deal that takes no option away from a future president. This is an important achievement and a deal that … [Read more...] about Ashton Carter tells US Congress all options remain against Iran News DW.COM
By Javier Solana, distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution, former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary-General of NATO MADRID – It is unfortunate that so few international agreements have been reached in recent years. During a period when great-power competition has generally trumped cooperation, two significant exceptions – the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement – offer hope that formalized, multilateral responses to global challenges are still possible. But now Donald Trump is threatening to renege on both agreements, and his election as President of the United States has revealed their fragility. If the US withdraws from, or fails to comply with, either deal, it will strike a heavy blow to a global-governance system that relies on multilateral agreements to resolve international problems. To see what is at stake, consider the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the E3/EU3+3 (the five … [Read more...] about Opinion: Trump, Iran, and Stability in the Middle East