Tusk: US JCPOA withdrawal caused no positive effect
European Council President Donald Tusk said on Saturday the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement had not brought about any positive effect.
Speaking at the G7 summit in Biarritz, he took the US President Donald Trump to task for abandoning the nuclear deal with Iran.
Despite the US withdrawal, Europe is still supporting the nuclear agreement which was signed between Iran and P5+1 group of countries – Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany.
Tensions between the two countries have increased following the US pullout from the agreement in 2018 and reimposition of sanctions against Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.
Tensions deteriorated after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.
Several oil tankers were also targeted near the Persian Gulf last month, with Washington and its ally Saudi Arabia quickly blaming Iran for the suspicious attacks.
Tehran has rejected the accusations of its involvement as baseless.
The United States has engaged in significant regional military buildup, including by sending an aircraft carrier, a bomber task force, an assault ship, and around 1,500 additional forces to the Middle East.
US sanctions obstructing Iran’s efforts to fight transnational organized crimes
US unilateral and illegal sanctions against Iran are obstructing Tehran’s efforts to fight against transnational organized crimes, such as drug trafficking, an Iranian official said.
Addressing the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Iran’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations Kazem Gharibabadi underlined the importance of international unity to uproot the organized crimes trespassing international borders, according to IRNA.
Referring to the emergence of new aspects of organized crimes such as cybercrimes and transnational crimes as a major challenge, the Iranian official highlighted the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach towards the issue.
“In this sensitive era that multilateralism has been endangered due to illogical and adventurist policies of a certain government, strong and coordinated international cooperation is necessary under supervision of the United Nations,” he said.
The Iranian envoy referred to the efforts made by Iran to fight drugs trafficking through adopting extensive approaches and policies and minimizing the negative consequences of narcotics consumption.
He stressed the fact that the illegal sanctions imposed by the US on Iran in its most cruel forms are the biggest threat to achieve sustainable development agenda in the country and other neighboring states.
The sanctions have hindered international cooperation and implementation of regional and bilateral initiatives, the Iranian official said, adding that those who imposed sanctions are directly responsible for the disastrous consequences of creating disturbance in fighting narcotics, organized crimes and terrorism.
Following the US unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Washington reimposed economic sanctions against Tehran, causing many problems for the country.
Rouhani urges national unity amid US sanctions
President Hassan Rouhani hailed national unity as key to withstanding hardships amid US-imposed sanctions on Iran.
“Without doubt we will get through this historic chapter through unity between the government and the people,” Rouhani said on Saturday, Press TV reported.
The president made the remarks on the advent of Iran’s “Government Week”, paying tribute along with his cabinet to Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic, at his mausoleum south of the capital Tehran.
Every year starting on August 23, Iran marks Government Week commemorating the late President Mohammad Ali Rajaei and Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar along with other government officials who lost their lives in a terrorist MKO bombing in the capital on August 30, 1981.
Speaking at the ceremony, Rouhani stressed that Iran’s enemies will cease attempting to undermine the country once they lose hope in their ambitions.
“The enemy’s loss of hope is our great objective. For our nation to gain hope in its future is, however, another and more important goal. As long as this hope endures, this path will also be carried on,” he said.
Referring to anti-Iran sanctions imposed by Washington after the Trump administration withdrew from the multilateral 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year, Rouhani stressed that “unity, endeavor and resistance is what will render the enemy hopeless.”
Rouhani said Iran has striven to achieve good relations with countries of the East and the West, yet Trump’s “amateur” government has created much trouble for the people of Iran, the region and the US.
The president added that despite Washington’s “increased pressure targeting the Iranian population over the past year”, the country’s situation is showing signs of improvement.
“A recent bimonthly report along with statistics released yesterday by the Statistical Center of Iran reported that monthly inflation has decreased compared to previous months,” he said.
Zarif heading to Asia in push against US sanctions
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will head to East Asia on Sunday, his office said, as part of a diplomatic push to win relief from biting US sanctions.
Zarif will visit China, Japan and Malaysia, fresh on the heels of a tour of Western European nations, spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said late on Friday on the ministry’s Telegram channel.
“Seeking to follow up on and implement the Islamic Republic of Iran’s proactive and balanced diplomacy, Zarif will head a delegation to China, Japan and Malaysia in East Asia starting on Sunday,” Mousavi said.
“Bilateral relations and most importantly regional and international issues are some of the topics our foreign minister will discuss with the aforementioned countries’ officials during the trip,” said Mousavi.
Tehran has long-enjoyed close relations with a number of Asian and East Asian countries as part of a greater policy of diversifying and strengthening its foreign relations.
Iran’s ties with Asian countries have proven to be vital in countering US attempts to isolate the country, specifically after Washington withdrew from the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions.
Europe’s failure to provide meaningful economic incentives as required under a 2015 deal and protect its trade with Iran against Washington’s sanctions has also convinced Iran to further shift to the East. The United States imposed sanctions on Zarif late last month in a bid to target any assets he has in America and squeeze his ability to function as a globetrotting diplomat. But Zarif hailed his visit to France on Friday following trips to Finland, Sweden and Norway.
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Trump, EU clash over trade at G7 opening
US president to face EU pressure over Iran nuclear deal
US President Donald Trump and EU leaders exchanged trade war threats Saturday as they arrived in France for a G7 summit of wealthy democracies overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions before it had even begun.
“Trade wars will lead to recession, while trade deals will boost the economy,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said in Biarritz, the chic Atlantic resort chosen by French host President Emmanuel Macron to stage the annual meeting, AFP reported.
Trump flew into Biarritz on Air Force One hours after promising to impose punishing tariffs on French wine imports if Macron doesn’t withdraw a tax on US tech giants.
And Tusk vowed that the EU “will respond in kind.”
“The last thing we need is a confrontation with our best ally, the United States,” he said. “This is not our initiative, this trade and tariff struggle, but we have to be ready and we are ready.”
It was a combative opening to the G7 summit, traditionally a forum for frank yet cordial discussions among leaders from the world’s leading economies – but much less so since Trump’s election.
European leaders are also using the summit to mount a tough push for action against fires in the Amazon rainforest, despite Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s angry response to what he sees as outside interference.
Echoing a warning from France, Tusk said Bolsonaro’s response to the fires and his downplaying of climate change threw into question a major EU-South America trade deal.
“We of course stand by the EU-Mercosur agreement, which is also about protecting the climate and the environment,” he said.
“But it is hard to imagine a harmonious process of ratification by the European countries as long as the Brazilian government allows for the destruction of the green lungs of planet Earth.”
G7 leaders were greeted by a mass protest outside Biarritz, though 13,000 police have been deployed to keep them far from view.
Organizers said 15,000 people rallied around 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the G7 gathering at the border town of Hendaye for a march over the Bidassoa River toward the Spanish town of Irun.
Red, white and green Basque flags waved above a crowd that included anti-capitalists, environmental activists as well as a few dozen of France’s “yellow vest” anti-government protesters, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
“It’s important to show that people are mobilized and do not accept the world they’re offering us,” said Elise Dilet, 47, of the Basque anti-globalization group, Bizi.
The rally was peaceful so far, after police said 17 people had been arrested as of Friday night amid clashes with protesters camped out near Hendaye.
Talks in the beach resort, known for fierce rainstorms that blow in from the Atlantic, will also be dominated by the darkening clouds over the world economy.
Wall Street stocks slumped Friday after Trump escalated his trade war with China that is seen as responsible for a global slowdown.
“We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far... better off without them,” Trump tweeted on Friday, saying US companies were “hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.”
His outburst came after China imposed tariffs on US imports worth $75 billion in response to an earlier round of American measures.
Trump hit back immediately, raising tariffs still further.
And as he left for Biarritz, Trump also fired a salvo at France, threatening to slap heavy tariffs on its wine in response to its move to impose a sales tax on tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Google.
“Those are great American companies, and frankly, I don’t want France going out and taxing our companies. Very unfair,” he told reporters at the White House.
“And if they do that, we’ll be taxing their wine... like they’ve never seen before.”
In a televised address ahead of the summit, Macron said his goal was “to convince all our partners that trade tensions are bad for everyone”.
Iran nuclear program
Trump is likely to find himself under pressure from the Europeans, particularly Macron, to ease off on his policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran over its nuclear program.
Since pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, Trump has slapped sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Macron wants him to put a “pause” on the policy, an aide said recently, which would enable talks to find a new diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that Macron’s “suggestions” to find a way out of the current impasse were “moving in the right direction.”
China warns US to stop ‘wrong’ trade actions or face consequences
China said on Saturday it strongly opposes Washington’s decision to levy additional tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese goods and warned the United States of consequences if it does not end its “wrong actions”.
The comments made by China’s Ministry of Commerce came after the US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Washington will impose an additional 5% duty the Chinese goods, hours after Beijing announced its latest retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods, in the latest tit-for-tat moves in their bilateral trade dispute, Reuters reported.
“Such unilateral and bullying trade protectionism and maximum pressure violates the consensus reached by head of China and United States, violates the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, and seriously damages the multilateral trade system and the normal international trade order,” China’s ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“China strongly urges the United States not to misjudge the situation or underestimate determination of the Chinese people,” it added.
Trump’s latest tariff move, announced on Twitter, said the United States would raise its existing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to 30% from the current 25% beginning on Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the communist People’s Republic of China.
The intensifying US-China trade war stoked market fears that the global economy will tip into recession, sending US stocks into a tailspin, with the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC down 3%, and the S&P 500 .SPX down 2.6%.
US Treasury yields also declined as investors sought safe-haven assets, and crude oil, targeted for the first time by Chinese tariffs, fell sharply.
Trump’s tariff response was announced after markets closed on Friday, leaving potentially more damage for next week.
“Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of Fair and Balanced Trade that it has become a great burden to the American Taxpayer,” Trump said on Twitter. “As President, I can no longer allow this to happen!”
US companies pressed to quit China
Also, Trump said on Friday he was ordering US companies to look at ways to close their operations in China and make more of their products in the United States instead, sending US markets down sharply in the new rhetorical strike at Beijing as trade tensions mounted.
Trump cannot legally compel US companies to abandon China immediately. He gave no detail on how he might proceed with any such order.
“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them.”
The US Chamber of Commerce rebuffed Trump’s suggestion and urged China and the United States to quickly reach a deal in the long-running trade issue. “While we share the president’s frustration, we believe that continued, constructive engagement is the right way forward,” the group said.
Experts said tax policy changes and sanctions could be used to restrict or reduce US business activity in China, but it would take years to disentangle the world’s two largest economies. The consequences of a complete break to the world economy would be severe, they said.
China, for instance, holds $1.11 trillion in US Treasury securities.
For many products sold in the United States, there are few alternatives to Chinese production, and shifting production for major goods produced there could take years and be expensive.
American companies could also sue the US government in response to any order to shutter plants in China. The most effective option for Trump would be to restrict federal procurement from any companies that do business in China.
That would hit companies like Boeing Co (BA.N), Apple and General Motors (GM.N), which are both big US contractors and have large business interests in China. Many US companies have already begun moving some operations out of China due to rising labor costs. But others, including General Motors, have large plants there to supply the Chinese market. They would resist any pressure to close their facility there, given the size and importance of the Chinese market, Reinsch said.
Last week, Trump backed off his Sept. 1 deadline for 10% tariffs on remaining Chinese imports, delaying duties on cellphones, laptops and other consumer goods.
The US Trade Representative’s Office delayed tariffs on more than half the $300 billion in Chinese-made goods telling companies the delay covered product categories where China supplies more than 75 percent of total US imports.
Iran wins taekwondo World Cup gold, collects four poomsae medals
Iran collected five medals, including men’s team gold, at the 2019 WT World Cup Team & Poomsae Championships in Wuxi, China.
Representing Iran, Islamic Azad University’s five-man team, comprising Hossein Lotfi, Amir-Mohammad Bakhshi, Sina Bahrami, Erfan Nazemi and Saeid Rajabi, overcame South Korea 71-66 in the final on Saturday to lift the trophy.
Russia and China 1, which was beaten by Iran in the semifinal, settled for the joint-bronze medals.
Before the World Cup Team competitions got underway, Iran’s Seyedeh Masoumeh Hosseini grabbed the women’s under-40 gold medal in poomsae contests, followed by American Kathy Do and Wen-yi Chen of Chinese Taipei.
Hosseini’s second triumph came in the over-30 pair category, where she teamed up with Sina Qezel-Ahmad for the gold medal.
USA and Canada grabbed the silver and bronze of the division respectively.
Qezel-Ahmad took his personal tally to two with a men’s under-40 silver, following Justin Wang of the US.
The duo of Yasaman Farrokhi and Mohammad-Mehdi Karami finished their campaign with a junior pair bronze, alongside Chinese Taipei.
Thailand took the gold of the division, with Vietnam finishing runner-up.
More than 380 athletes took part in the three-day event in the Chinese city on August 23-25.
Iran’s 32nd Nat’l Handicrafts Exhibition to open in Tehran
The 32nd National Handicrafts Exhibition will open at the Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds today and will run until August 31.
The exhibit will feature an array of personal ornaments, woodwork, illuminated manuscripts, miniatures, textile prints, enamel work, leather work, handwoven textiles, calligraphy, traditional musical instruments, metal work, and marquetry to name a few.
In the past couple of years, dozens of high-quality Iranian handicrafts have been honored with the UNESCO Seal of Excellence.
An official in Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, Abdolhossein Kafiri, said that provinces which have registered the geographical indication trademark of World Intellectual Property Organization in the handicrafts field will display their products.
He predicted that the current edition of the exhibition will have a 15 to 20 percent rise in its visitors, compared to last year.
Concurrent with the event, the 28th edition of the Iran Handmade Carpet Exhibition, as a unique event in the field of handmade Persian rugs, will also be held at the fairgrounds.
The sponsor and organizer of this event, the Iran National Carpet Center will provide special facilities and options for foreign businessmen in the field.
A number of business and trade delegations from various countries are expected to visit the exhibition and hold trade talks with Iranian producers and exporters of handwoven carpets.
Early in January, for the first time, an exhibition was held in Sulaymaniyah in Iraq’s Kurdistan region to showcase handicrafts and souvenirs made by Iranian artists from various provinces.
Iranian tanker switches destination, heads to Turkey
An Iranian-flagged oil tanker pursued by the US amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington changed its listed destination to a port in Turkey instead of southern Greece early Saturday.
The Adrian Darya, formerly called the Grace 1, was released from detention off Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions in mid-August which Iran denied.
The crew of the supertanker updated its listed destination in its Automatic Identification System to Mersin, Turkey, a port city in the country’s south and home to an oil terminal.
Previous data had shown that the vessel, which carries 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth some $130 million, was heading to the port of Kalamata in Southern Greece. But new data from MarineTraffic on Saturday showed the vessel will now sail past Greece through the Mediterranean and dock at the southern Turkish port of Mersin. The ship-tracking website showed the Adrian Darya’s position as just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. At current speeds, it estimated the Adrian Darya would reach Mersin in about a week. The United States, which claims the tanker is controlled by the Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has told countries in the region not to assist it.
The Adrian Darya had put its intended destination as Kalamata, Greece, even though the port did not have the infrastructure to offload oil from the tanker. The US State Department then pressured Greece not to aid the vessel.
The Adrian Darya’s detention and later release by Gibraltar have added fuel to the growing tensions between Washington and Tehran, after Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago. The US reimposed and created sanctions largely blocking Iran from selling crude oil aboard, a crucial source of hard currency for the Islamic Republic.
AP and Reuters contributed to this story.