A comprehensive deal on Iran’s nuclear programme has been reached, bringing to an end a 12-year standoff that had threatened to trigger a new war in the Middle East, and potentially marking the beginning of a new era in relations between Iran and the west. A formal announcement on the agreement was due to be made at a press conference in Vienna at midday (11am BST), after a final plenary meeting at 10.30am. At some point it is expected that the US president, Barack Obama, and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, will make statements from their capitals. The deal follows 17 days of almost uninterrupted negotiations in Vienna involving foreign ministers from seven countries – Iran, US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany – and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. The talks only came to an end in the early hours of Tuesday morning, and diplomats stayed up through the night “scrubbing” the text, looking for mistakes and discrepancies. … [Read more...] about Iran nuclear deal reached in Vienna
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Donald Trump has announced he will impose “the highest level of economic sanctions” on Iran, violating an international nuclear agreement and a UN resolution, breaking decisively with US allies in Europe, and potentially triggering a new crisis in the Gulf. In a statement at the White House, Trump said this decision meant that the US would “exit the Iran deal” agreed with other major powers in 2015, and warned that “any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could be strongly sanctioned”. He then signed an executive order reimposing sanctions on any foreign company that continues to do business with Iran. The order gives companies 90-day or 180-day grace periods to extract themselves from existing Iranian contacts or face punitive US measures. The leaders of the UK, France and Germany, who are also parties to the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, issued a statement soon after Trump’s … [Read more...] about Iran deal: Trump breaks with European allies over ‘horrible, one-sided’ nuclear agreement
What is the Iran nuclear deal? Iran and a six-nation negotiating group reached a landmark agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in July 2015. It ended 12 years of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Struck in Vienna after nearly two years of intensive talks, the deal limited the Iranian programme to reassure the rest of the world that it would be unable to develop nuclear weapons, in return for sanctions relief. At its core, the JCPOA is a straightforward bargain. Iran’s acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for an escape from the sanctions that grew up around its economy over a decade prior to the accord. Under the deal, Iran unplugged two-thirds of its centrifuges, shipped out 98% of its enriched uranium and filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete. Tehran also accepted extensive monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has verified 10 times since the agreement, and as recently as … [Read more...] about What is the Iran deal and why does Trump want to scrap it?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Israel's prime minister on Friday to reaffirm the countries' close ties at a time when many in Israel fear the Trump administration intends to cut and run from the Middle East. Israeli Prime Miniser Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the Turkish offensive in Syria, and warned against 'ethnic cleansing.' President Trump, in his own comments Thursday, drew fire from critics when he described the situation in a way that echoed the Turkish government's view: ''They had terrorists, they had a lot of people in there they couldn't have. They've suffered a lot of loss of lives also. And they had to have it cleaned out,' Trump said. Trump critic George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, condemned the rhetoric in a tweet on Thursday. 'Ethnic cleansing, assisted and ratified by the president of the United States,' he said. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, … [Read more...] about Pompeo seeks to reassure Israel amid turmoil over Turkey’s military offensive after Trump said parts of Syria had to be ‘cleaned out’