Ditch N-deal, UK urged
Iraq PM cancels visit to angered Iran
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.