Spain’s Rajoy says ‘critical point’ reached in Catalonia
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Friday his government has reached a “critical point” as it seeks to use emergency measures to stop Catalonia’s separatist bid.
“We have reached a critical point,” Rajoy told a press conference following an EU leaders summit in Brussels that backed his conservative government, AFP reported.
“We have tried by all means to avoid a difficult situation,” he added.
“But you will understand it is difficult for a country, for an EU government, to see... the rule of law being liquidated” in a banned independence referendum in Catalonia, he said.
Rajoy’s cabinet is due to meet today to decide which powers to seize from Catalonia, which controls its own healthcare, education and policing.
Political parties pushed meanwhile for elections as a way out of the country’s worst crisis in decades.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has warned any move to seize powers could push regional lawmakers to declare unilateral independence following a chaotic referendum on October 1 on whether to split from Spain.
Iran warns of adopting violent policies to resolve world problems
Iran’s frist vice president said violent policies should not be allowed to be replaced by dialogue-based solutions, stressing that Tehran strongly supports negotiation as the best solution to problems in the world.
Es’haq Jahangiri told a summit of the D-8 countries in Istanbul that interactions among all nations to resolve tensions based on common interests as well as the principle of mutual win needed to be promoted.
“We should never let militaristic and violent policies replace dialogue-based solutions,” said the Iranian official, warning that such policies could put people living in Muslim countries at the risk of “death and destruction”, Press TV reported.
“We need to struggle to replace dominant multilateralism with unilateralism, bullying-oriented approaches with dialogue-oriented mechanisms and also political interventions with regional and international cooperation,” Jahangiri said in his speech at the D-8 summit.
He also warned that the policies pursued by the administration of US President Donald Trump could deteriorate the current conflicts in the Middle East.
Jahangiri said the world specifically needed to be aware about the consequences of what he described as “the expansionist and extremist aspirations” of America as well as Israel on the stability of the region.
The Iranian official added that the unilateralism and racism as expressed in viewpoints of certain leaders were things of the past. This is while the world is already living in the age of democracy, multiculturalism, tolerance and coexistence, he emphasized.
Iran’s first vice president further emphasized that followers of all faiths need to stand against any form of terrorism and violence, stressing that a fight against the mentalities that nurture terror groups like Daesh needed such a unity.
The world, he said, needed to stand together to prevent those policies from spreading violence, radicalism, war and discord in the Muslim world.
“Discord, violence and terrorism anywhere and through any name are dangerous and even more dangerous if presented in the name of religion, ethnicity and nationality. We are honored to have been presented with a religion, a culture and a civilization that promote mercifulness, affection, ethics, justice and freedom.”
Tillerson: European business deals with Iran are safe
EU leaders hope to save nuclear deal from Trump
Russia raps US for ‘irresponsible’ stance
France: Iran deal valid despite US move
The United States does not intend to disrupt European business deals with Iran, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday.
Speaking one week after President Donald Trump refused to certify the Iran nuclear deal and left its fate to the US Congress, Tillerson said that he would address European allies’ business concerns.
“The president’s been pretty clear that it’s not his intent to interfere with business deals that the Europeans may have under way with Iran,” Tillerson said.
“He’s said it clearly: ‘That’s fine. You guys do what you want to do’.”
Trump has threatened a “total termination” of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran unless Congress tightens sanctions on the country and European allies address US demands.
“We’ve been working with the Europeans for six months,” Tillerson said.
“They have been brought along with this same thought process. It doesn’t mean that they necessarily agree entirely with it ... Now we will start a more formalized process with them now that the policy’s been adopted.”
Trump’s threat to ditch the landmark agreement, which saw Tehran scale back its nuclear work in return for an end to sanctions, has sparked a chorus of foreign support for the pact.
European trade with Iran has surged since the nuclear deal went into effect in January 2016.
EU trade with Iran in 2016 was around $16 billion (14 billion euros), but most large European banks are reluctant to invest, fearing giant US fines, or being locked out of the US market.
In the interview, Tillerson said little about the fate of lucrative Boeing contracts to sell passenger planes to Iran, or General Electric agreements to sell equipment and technologies to Iran’s energy sector.
The Journal said Tillerson would not discuss the multibillion-dollar deals reached by Boeing Company. The first major US company to announce a major business venture with Iran, last year Boeing agreed to sell dozens of commercial planes to Tehran.
EU reaffirm full commitment
European Union leaders on Thursday reaffirmed their full commitment to the nuclear deal, hoping that the US Congress would not let it collapse despite relentless criticism by Trump.
“We fully stay committed to the complete implementation by all sides of the Iranian nuclear deal. We see this as a key security interest for the European Union and the region,” said the bloc’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini.
“At a time of acute nuclear threats the European Union is determined to preserve the JCPOA as a key pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture,” Mogherini said, using the accord’s technical name.
She also described the agreement as “the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy facilitated by the European Union” and endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.
“The European Union is committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the JCPOA. The European Union underlines that the lifting of nuclear related sanctions has a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran,” she added.
The EU leaders’ joint statement, agreed after talks in Brussels on Thursday, “reaffirms full commitment to the Iran nuclear deal.”
The bloc has been stepping up efforts to save the deal, saying it was crucial to regional and global security, and it has appealed to the US Congress not to let it fall.
Trump has given Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran, lifted under the pact.
The EU leaders also highlighted the need to protect their companies and investors dealing with Iran from any adverse effects should Washington reinstate the sanctions, officials said.
Should Trump tear up the deal, Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran would “shred” it.
The bloc sees the agreement as a chief international success of recent years, and fears tearing it apart would hurt its credibility as well as harming diplomatic efforts for future agreements.
Russia supports JCPOA
Also on Thursday, Russia said it remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araqchi, in Moscow that Russia and Iran could not be indifferent to the “irresponsible” US stance on the JCPOA.
Araqchi said the JCPOA is not a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather an international document that is endorsed by the UN Security Council.
“We should not allow a country to make a decision for the world, and I think that Russia and Iran share a common stance on this issue,” Araqchi pointed out.
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Turkey, Iran will use national currencies in trade
Turkey and Iran will use national currencies in trade to further improve mutual turnover between the two countries.
This was announced by Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri in a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara, azernews.az reported.
He noted that Ankara and Tehran are keen on strengthening bilateral trade and economic relations and the use of the national currency will help increase trade turnover.
Earlier, during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Iran, the twom countries reached an agreement on using national currencies in trade.
Jahangiri further stated that Iran can also increase oil and gas supplies to Turkey.
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Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, why do media keep saying it does?
By Adam H. Johnson, fair.org
When it comes to Iran, do basic facts matter? Evidently not, since dozens and dozens of journalists keep casually reporting that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program” when it does not—a problem FAIR has reported on over the years (e.g., 9/9/15). Let’s take a look at some of the outlets spreading this falsehood in just the past five days:
Business Insider (10/13/17): “The deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aims to incentivize Iran to curb its nuclear weapons program by lifting crippling international economic sanctions.”
New Yorker (10/16/17): “One afternoon in late September, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called a meeting of the six countries that came together in 2015 to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
Washington Post (10/16/17): “The administration is also considering changing or scrapping an international agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
CNN (10/17/17): “In reopening the nuclear agreement, [Trump] risks having Iran advance its nuclear weapons program at a time when he confronts a far worse nuclear challenge from North Korea that he can’t resolve.”
The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs. A handful, including, of course, the US and Israel, have nuclear weapons programs. One is used to power cities, one is used to level them.
If you are skeptical, just refer to a 2007 assessment by all 16 US intelligence agencies which found Iran had “halted” its nuclear weapons program. Or look at the same National Intelligence Estimate in 2012, which concluded again that there “is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” Or we can listen to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which concurred with the US intelligence assessment (Haaretz, 3/18/12).
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Iraqi forces complete Kirkuk province takeover
Iraqi forces took control on Friday of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk following a three-hour battle with Kurdish Peshmerga forces, security sources said.
The district of Altun Kupri, or Perde in Kurdish, lies on the road between the city of Kirkuk – which was recaptured by Iraqi forces on Monday – and Erbil, capital of the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq that voted in a referendum last month to secede from Iraq against Baghdad’s wishes, Reuters wrote.
A force made up of Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service units, Federal Police and Popular Mobilization began their advance on Altun Kupri on Friday, said an Iraqi military spokesman.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew from the town, located on the Zab river, after battling the advancing Iraqi troops with machineguns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades, Iraqi security sources said. Neither side gave immediate information about casualties in the fighting.
The Iraqi central government forces have advanced into Kirkuk Province largely unopposed as most Peshmerga forces withdrew without a fight.
The government advance has transformed the balance of power in northern Iraq and is likely to scuttle the secession aspirations of the Kurds, who voted overwhelmingly on Sept. 25 to break away from Iraq and take the oilfields of Kirkuk with them.
The fighting at Altun Kupri marked only the second instance of significant violent resistance by the Kurds in Kirkuk Province. Dozens were killed or wounded in the previous clash on Monday, the first night of the government advance.
Altun Kupri is the last town in Kirkuk Province on the road to Erbil, lying just outside the border of the semiautonomous region established after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Iraqi forces are seeking to reestablish Baghdad’s authority over territory which the Kurdish forces occupied outside the official boundaries of their region, mostly seized since 2014 in the course of the war on Daesh terrorists.
Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on Friday for the state to protect Kurds in northern Iraq, a rare political intervention by a figure whose words have the force of law for most of Iraq’s Shia majority.
EU leaders approve first step to Brexit trade talks
EU leaders agreed Friday to start internal work on the bloc’s relationship with Britain after Brexit, giving some progress for embattled Prime Minister Theresa May to take back home.
EU President Donald Tusk said in a tweet the bloc’s other 27 leaders meeting in Brussels had agreed to begin preparations for trade talks even though not enough progress has been made on the terms of the divorce, AFP reported.
“Brexit conclusions adopted. Leaders green-light internal EU27 preparations for 2nd phase,” Tusk said on Twitter as EU leaders met without May to discuss the issue. It took the leaders 90 seconds to approve the conclusions, an EU source said. The toughest sticking point has been the bill Britain will pay as it leaves the EU club. European capitals are demanding detailed written commitments on finance before progressing to trade talks, fearing that Brexit will blow a hole in the bloc’s budget. In a move that risks being seen as a snub to the EU’s gesture, May insisted once again on Friday that a detailed financial deal could only be reached once Britain’s future relationship with the bloc was agreed.
“The full and final settlement will come as part of the final agreement that we’re getting in relation to the future partnership. I think that’s absolutely right,” she said at the end of the Brussels summit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck an optimistic note following a summit dinner on Thursday night where May addressed the leaders. Merkel said that despite delays in the negotiations, she could see “zero indications that we will not succeed” in reaching a final agreement.