Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi in a meeting with China’s Ambassador to Tehran Pang Sen decried the US administration for waging a trade war in defiance of the longstanding norms of international relations.
Trump’s insistence upon unconditional talks with Tehran a preplanned scenario
By Seyed Hossein Mousavian*
Last year, the current US national security adviser John Bolton who plays the fundamental role in dealing with the Iran issue in the White House, presented a plan for Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and implementation of a project to topple the Iranian government to Trump and the country’s national security team.
The plan comprised key strategies about the form of the unilateral US withdrawal from the JCPOA — signed between Iran and P5+1, consultation and cooperation with Israel and Saudi Arabia, carrying out heavy diplomatic work on Europe, and making the necessary move to topple the Iranian government.
Some of the moves stipulated in this plan are:
1. Imposing a wide spectrum of new sanctions; 2. Raising and focusing on the issue of Iran’s peaceful ballistic missile program, terrorism in the region, and Tehran’s regional role; 3. Holding talks with Israel for launching military operations against Iran; 4. Collaborating with the Persian Gulf littoral (Arab) states to reduce Iran’s regional role; 5. Launching a propaganda campaign against Iran claiming that Tehran has violated the spirit and terms of the JCPOA; 6. Ordering US embassies to conduct comprehensive anti-Iran diplomatic activities; 7. Drawing up and executing comprehensive and extensive plans to shape public opinion in the US and the world as it desires, 8. Adopting the contradictory tactics of intensifying pressure on China and Russia and then supporting them for holding talks with Iran and limiting the country’s regional role; 9. Compiling a complete list of foreign companies active in Iran and devising a plan to compel them to stop their cooperation with the country; 10. Devising an extensive plan for holding talks with members of US Congress to convince them to accompany and back Trump in his new anti-Iran moves and projects; 11. Limiting Iranians’ role in the international arena by, for instance, banning their entry into the US; 12. Activating American judicial authorities to pass decrees aimed at blocking Iran’s possessions and properties; and 13. Supporting separatist Kurds and Arabs in Iran.
Moves by the Trump administration, three of which will be listed in the following paragraph, during the past 12 months have been precisely aimed at facilitating the execution of these strategies:
1. The speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, addressing a gathering of Iranian-Americans in the US; 2. The Bolton-hatched plot that the US discloses fake information prior to its withdrawal from the JCPOA, claiming that Iran is still seeking to build a nuclear bomb; and 3. Inviting Iran to come to the negotiating table following Washington’s exit from the JCPOA.
When a few days ago, Trump said he is willing to enter into negotiations with Iran without any preconditions, I had no doubt that Iran would refuse the offer. Therefore, in an article published in the Persian-language Etemad newspaper, entitled, ‘If I were in Rouhani’s shoes,’ I suggested to President Hassan Rouhani, in response to Trump’s offer, to propose that he come and visit Tehran. Some in Iran were surprised by my proposal while others described it as humor. A number of people told me, “In the recent interviews you have given, you stressed that you are against talks with the US under the present circumstances. Why have you changed your stance?”
It was crystal clear for me that Trump’s insistence on announcing his willingness to hold talks with Tehran was part of the pre-planned scenario against Iran, and that it was better for Iran to foil this plot by proposing that Trump travel to Tehran.
However, since Trump is unpredictable, he might welcome Iran’s offer to visit Tehran. In this case, the Israeli-Saudi lobby as well as American neocons would trigger a political earthquake in the US and prevent Trump from taking this trip. In the event that this scenario unfolds, the ball will remain in Washington’s court. We observed that within three days after Iran rejected the US proposal for holding negotiations, Trump made the offer again, while Tel Aviv and Riyadh opted to remain silent.
Following the complete reimposition of the first and second phases of US sanctions on Iran, President Trump may repeat his willingness for talks with Iran several times and then cease, so that concurrent with intensifying sanctions pressure on Tehran, he could put the blame on Iran and present himself as a man of peace and dialogue.
At the present time, it is critical that Iran take the following measures while focusing on these five areas: 1. Minimizing the impacts of the new sanctions; 2. Improving the condition of the domestic economy; 3. Using an effective and efficient diplomacy; 4. Enlightening international public opinion; and 5. Foiling plots by anti-Iran lobbies in the US and the West.
Achieving this will not be possible without strong will, unity, national concord, a correct understanding of domestic, regional and international circumstances, and a comprehensive – yet realistic – plan.
* Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a former Iranian diplomat.
Iran arrests 45 on corruption charges
The Iranian Judiciary said on Monday that 45 people have been arrested on charges of disrupting the foreign currency, gold coin, and automobile markets in the country in recent months as the country prepares to face a reimposition of US sanctions.
The Judiciary’s spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei added that people with lesser charges have been released on bail, IRNA reported.
On Sunday, Ahmad Araqchi, who was a vice governor at the Central Bank of Iran in charge of forex, was arrested along with several other unnamed individuals, including a government clerk and four currency brokers, IRIB quoted Ejei as saying.
Araqchi was reportedly fired by the new governor of the Central Bank on Saturday, apparently over his handling of the currency crisis.
Rouhani sacked the governor of the Central Bank, Valiollah Seif, last week, and replaced him with Abdolnasser Hemati, the former head of the Central Insurance of Iran.
The rial has lost about half of its value since April because of heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who fear the effects of the US sanctions.
The unofficial rate for the rial fell to a record 119,000 last week and stood at 98,500 on Sunday night.
Russia’s plan to increase oil output against OPEC deal
Iran’s OPEC governor on Monday accused Russia and Saudi Arabia of supporting US sanctions against Tehran through increasing their oil output.
Hossein Kazempour Ardebili said Russia, a non-OPEC member, Saudi Arabia and some other countries will increase their crude production to impact Iran’s oil exports. He said this is a “very hostile approach” against the Islamic Republic, IRNA reported.
Kazempour Ardebili said a rise in Russia’s oil output runs counter to a global deal to reduce crude production and “endangers long-term unity among oil producers.” He said it is also against Moscow’s agreement with OPEC.
Iran’s OPEC governor cited Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying that Moscow plans to increase its output by 170,000 barrels per day. He added that the UAE and Kuwait also want to increase theirs.
The official said his criticism of Russia only pertains to a deal with OPEC and will not include wider relations between the two countries.
On June 22, OPEC said in an official statement that members agreed to return to 100-percent compliance with the 2016 deal which began on July 1. The group said compliance reached 152 percent in May 2018, which meant that OPEC was cutting about 600,000 bpd more than it intended.
Iran disputes that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to any significant output increases at its meeting in June.
Iran condoles with Indonesia after deadly earthquake
Iran’s Foreign Ministry conveyed condolences to the Indonesian nation and government over the deaths of scores of people in a powerful earthquake that rocked the Southeast Asian country’s tourist island of Lombok on Sunday.
In a message on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi expressed sympathy with Indonesians, including families of victims of the tragedy, the Foreign Ministry’s official website reported.
Scenes of destruction greeted rescue workers across Indonesia’s resort island of Lombok on Monday, after the earthquake of magnitude 6.9 killed at least 98 people and prompted an exodus of tourists rattled by the second powerful quake in a week.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said it expected the death toll to rise once the rubble of more than 13,000 flattened and damaged houses was cleared away, REUERS reported.
Indonesia sits on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.
EU vows to protect trade with...
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“Of course, American bullying and political pressures may cause some disruption, but the fact is that in the current world, America is isolated,” he said. After months of fierce rhetoric, Trump surprised observers last week when he offered to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions.
But Zarif suggested it was hard to imagine negotiating with the man who tore up an agreement on which Iran and world powers had spent the “longest hours in negotiating history”.
“Do you think this person (Trump) is a good and suitable person to negotiate with? Or is he just showing off?” he said.
There have been ongoing rumors that Trump and Rouhani could meet in New York later this month, where they are both attending the UN General Assembly – though Rouhani reportedly rejected US overtures for a meeting at last year’s event.
Over the weekend Trump once again floated the idea of meeting, tweeting “I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!”
Reuters, AFP, and Sputnik contributed to this story.
Glimmer of hope for patching up Tehran-Riyadh ties
By Our Staff Writer
Since President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, Iran has been seeking to ease tensions and patch up ties with regional and trans-regional countries.
However, some events have adversely impacted relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Consequently, Riyadh announced in January 2016 that it was severing diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Irrespective of differences over Syria and Yemen, the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr by the kingdom, a fatal stampede at Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, which led to the deaths of more than 2,000 pilgrims including hundreds of Iranians, as well as attacks on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad contributed to the severance of bilateral ties. Nonetheless, reports suggest that Riyadh and Tehran are mending relations. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Saudi Arabia agreed to admit an Iranian diplomat to head an office representing Iranian interests in the kingdom.
According to the ministry, the office is expected to be set up within the Swiss diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia, based on an agreement signed in 2017.
Reports say the head of the Oman and Yemen Department at Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Alibek has been appointed as the caretaker of the Islamic Republic’s interests section in the city of Jeddah.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan, who will likely become Pakistan’s next prime minister, has vowed to help settle differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Experts say that since Pakistan has established good ties with Tehran and Riyadh, Khan’s mediation will yield positive results. The two regional powers are expected to resume low-level ties although tensions have escalated between them over the past weeks.
One the one hand, Saudis have supported Washington’s approach against the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On the other hand, Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if it cannot export its oil due to US sanctions.
Strained ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran are closely interlinked with the new strategy of the US government. This strategy has increased regional divisions and provided political and arms support for Iran’s enemies. Hence, Western-made weapons can be massively exported to the region. Saudi Arabia’s huge arms deal with the Trump administration is in line with this strategy.
A few days ago,it was reported that Trump planned to gather Persian Gulf leaders in Washington for an October summit to create a military alliance dubbed “Arab NATO,” against Iran.
Hadi Seyyed Afqahi, a political expert on the Middle East, believes the US wants Arab NATO to trigger a war against Iran. He says this is because Washington is aware that Tehran would respond in kind to its psychological war against the Islamic Republic. Taleb al-Hassani, a Yemeni writer and analyst, has also commented on the formation of the coalition. He says these Persian Gulf countries know that they are controlled by the US and that they are not ready to get engaged in a war with Iran. He predicts a disastrous consequence for these nations if they enter into a war with Tehran.
Some of the regional countries are important to the US as long as they play the role of a cow being milked.
Sajjad Abedi, a defense-security expert, says the militarization of the Persian Gulf poses a threat to Iran’s security.
By arming the countries of the Persian Gulf, the US aims to force Iran to turn its military potential toward it southern neighbors.