Ditch N-deal, UK urged

Iraq PM can­cels visit to an­gered Iran

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON, Aug 12, (Agen­cies): The United States urged Bri­tain on Sun­day to ditch its sup­port for a 2015 nu­clear deal with Iran and in­stead join forces with Wash­ing­ton to counter the global threat it says Tehran poses.

De­spite op­po­si­tion from Euro­pean al­lies, US Pres­i­dent Trump in May pulled the United States out of a deal be­tween world pow­ers and Tehran un­der which in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions were lifted in re­turn for curbs on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gramme.

Since then, Bri­tain, France and Ger­many have sought to keep the deal alive, while Trump has pre­pared new sanc­tions, say­ing a broader and more bal­anced deal is needed. Iran has de­nounced the sanc­tions as “US uni­lat­er­al­ism”.

US Am­bas­sador to Bri­tain Woody John­son crit­i­cised Tehran for fund­ing “proxy wars and ma­lign ac­tiv­i­ties” in­stead of in­vest­ing in its econ­omy. He said Iran needed to make tan­gi­ble and sus­tained changes to be­have like a nor­mal coun­try.

“Un­til then, Amer­ica is turn­ing up the pres­sure and we want the UK by our side,” John­son wrote in the Sun­day Tele­graph news­pa­per.

“It is time to move on from the flawed 2015 deal. We are ask­ing global Bri­tain to use its con­sid­er­able diplo­matic power and in­flu­ence and join us as we lead a con­certed global ef­fort to­wards a gen­uinely com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment.”

Asked about John­son’s ar­ti­cle, the British for­eign of­fice pointed to com­ments from Mid­dle East min­is­ter Alis­tair Burt, who last week ruled out Bri­tain go­ing along with the United States.

Burt said the deal was an im­por­tant part of re­gional se­cu­rity and that, with the Euro­pean Union, the gov­ern­ment was try­ing to pro­tect British com­pa­nies from the US sanc­tions when deal­ing with Iran. Bri­tain re­mained open to talks with the United States on how to ad­dress con­cerns about Iran.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said last week that Trump’s re­pu­di­a­tion of the nu­clear deal was il­le­gal and Iran would not yield to Wash­ing­ton’s re­newed cam­paign to stran­gle Iran’s vi­tal oil ex­ports.

But protests have bro­ken out in Iran as its cur­rency has col­lapsed in value and in­fla­tion has soared. The protests have of­ten be­gun with slo­gans against the high cost of liv­ing and al­leged fi­nan­cial cor­rup­tion, but quickly turned into antigov­ern­ment ral­lies.

PM can­cels visit

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi has can­celled a visit to Iran, his press of­fice said Sun­day, as the premier came un­der strong Ira­nian crit­i­cism over his stand on re­newed US sanc­tions against Tehran.

Abadi will still go ahead with a planned visit to Turkey on Tues­day but has scrapped the Iran leg of the trip “be­cause of his busy sched­ule”, his of­fice said.

An Iraqi of­fi­cial had said Satur­day that Abadi

would visit both neigh­bour­ing Turkey and Iran to dis­cuss eco­nomic is­sues.

Ac­cord­ing to Iraqi po­lit­i­cal sources, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, Iran ini­tially agreed to the visit but changed its mind be­cause it was un­happy about Abadi’s re­marks.

The premier said last Tues­day that Iraq — which re­lies on neigh­bour­ing Iran as a source of cheap im­ports — would re­luc­tantly com­ply with US sanc­tions against Tehran that took ef­fect the same day.

“We don’t sup­port the sanc­tions be­cause they are a strate­gic er­ror, but we will com­ply with them,” said Abadi, whose coun­try is an ally of both Tehran and Wash­ing­ton. “In gen­eral, sanc­tions are un­just.”

On Sun­day, Ira­nian supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Bagh­dad lashed out at Abadi as the Tehran visit was called off.

“These ir­re­spon­si­ble re­marks have al­ready been con­demned by many peo­ple. It’s a dis­loyal at­ti­tude to­wards the hon­est po­si­tion of Iran and the blood of the mar­tyrs this coun­try has spilt to de­fend the land of Iraq” against ji­hadists, said Mou­jtaba al-Hus­sein.

“We are sad­dened by this po­si­tion which shows he has been de­feated psy­cho­log­i­cally in the face of the Amer­i­cans,” he said.

The US sanc­tions were reim­posed af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with­drew from a land­mark 2015 nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and world pow­ers.

In Tehran, the for­eign min­istry was more guarded about a pos­si­ble visit by Abadi.

A min­istry spokesman said he had “so far not re­ceived any of­fi­cial news or in­for­ma­tion what­so­ever about this trip”, the semi-of­fi­cial ISNA news agency re­ported.

Khamenei on Satur­day called for “swift and just” le­gal ac­tion from new courts af­ter the head of the ju­di­ciary said

the coun­try faced an “eco­nomic war”, state tele­vi­sion re­ported.

The rial cur­rency has lost about half of its value since April un­der the threat of re­vived US sanc­tions, with heavy de­mand for dol­lars among or­di­nary Ira­ni­ans try­ing to pro­tect their sav­ings.

The cost of liv­ing has also soared, spark­ing spo­radic demon­stra­tions against prof­i­teer­ing and cor­rup­tion, with many pro­test­ers chant­ing anti-gov­ern­ment slo­gans.

The cen­tral bank and the ju­di­ciary have blamed “en­e­mies” for the fall of the cur­rency and a rapid rise in the price of gold coins, and the ju­di­ciary has said more than 60 peo­ple in­clud­ing a for­mer cen­tral bank deputy have been ar­rested on charges car­ry­ing the death penalty.

The ju­di­ciary has sug­gested that arch­foes the United States and Is­rael as well as re­gional ri­val Saudi Ara­bia and gov­ern­ment op­po­nents liv­ing in ex­ile are fo­ment­ing the un­rest.

“The cur­rent spe­cial eco­nomic con­di­tions are con­sid­ered an eco­nomic war,” ju­di­ciary chief Ay­a­tol­lah Sadeq Amoli Lar­i­jani said in a let­ter to Khamenei, call­ing for the set­ting up of spe­cial courts to deal quickly with fi­nan­cial crimes, the tele­vi­sion re­port said.

Khamenei agreed, say­ing: “The pur­pose (of the courts) should be to pun­ish those guilty of cor­rupt eco­nomic prac­tices swiftly and justly,” the TV added. “The courts should be ad­vised to (en­sure) the ac­cu­racy of their rul­ings.”

New Is­lamic rev­o­lu­tion­ary courts will be set up for two years and di­rected to im­pose max­i­mum sen­tences on those “dis­rupt­ing and cor­rupt­ing the econ­omy”, and ap­peal rights will be curbed, Amoli Lar­i­jani pro­posed in his let­ter, read on state tele­vi­sion.

“Sixty-seven sus­pects have been ar­rested, some of whom were re­leased on bail, and more than 100 peo­ple in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and of­fi­cials, as well as pri­vate em­ploy­ees and oth­ers have been given travel bans,” ju­di­ciary spokesman Gho­lamhos­sein Mohseni Ejei said in re­marks car­ried by state tele­vi­sion.

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