SHIELDING E.U. FIRMS FROM SANCTIONS SEEN DIFFICULT
US to press new deal ... Iran tours for status quo
Iran conservatives attack government
WASHINGTON, May 13, (AFP): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with its European partners on an agreement to counter Iran’s “malign behavior” Sunday despite its withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal.
President Donald Trump’s announcement last Tuesday that the US was exiting the 2015 nuclear accord was met with widespread dismay in Europe where companies now face the threat of sanctions if they do business with Iran.
But Pompeo said Washington was keen to thrash out a more wide-ranging deal with its allies as another top official said Iran had been “on the march” throughout the Middle East since the nuclear agreement was signed.
Pompeo, who is barely a fortnight into his new job, told Fox News Sunday that he had been tasked by the president “to work to strike a deal that achieves the outcomes that protect America.”
“That’s what we are going to do and I will be hard at it with the Europeans in the next several days,” said the top US diplomat.
“I’m hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well.
“And I will work closely with the Europeans to try and achieve that.”
The administration says the lifting of sanctions as part of the nuclear pact had allowed Iran to build up its military, with Trump claiming on Saturday that Tehran’s defense spending had risen by 40 percent since 2015.
John Bolton, who is Trump’s national security advisor, said that Tehran’s military had exploited the easing of pressure on the Iranian economy to meddle in conflicts across the Middle East in the last three years.
“If you look at the advances that Iran
ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, May 13, (AFP): On the edge of a thunderstorm somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, the US carrier Harry S. Truman rumbles as its fighters launch into the darkening sky.
With lightning bolts flashing in the distance, the 95,000-tonne nuclear-powered vessel named after the 33rd US president is waging a war thousands of miles away in Syria.
“It’s a pleasure to see a year’s worth of training in action,” Rear Admiral Gene Black, commander of the carrier strike group, notes from the ship’s bridge as the deadly choreography unfolds on the flight deck below.
Trailing fire and smoke, F-18 Super Hornet fighters blast off towards classified targets in rapid succession, alternating with refuelling planes and E-2D Hawkeye flying radars.
Sailing out from Norfolk, Virginia in April, the Harry S. Truman has been supporting attacks on Islamic State targets in Syria under Operation Inherent Resolve — a role it last played in 2016.
Ships this size are designed to “project American presence and power off any coast” according to the US navy.
“This is the biggest (strike group) to sail from the east coast in quite some time,” Black notes.
The carrier’s group currently includes a cruiser and four destroyers. A Russian warship hovers on the horizon. The strike group’s presence is an implied message to Moscow too.
“It’s a pretty potent force, with some of the latest capabilities the navy can put to sea,” the admiral adds.
Almost as long as the Empire State Building is high at close to 1,100 feet (335 metres), the flight deck teems with ‘rainbow warriors’ — sailors in brightly coloured shirts that designate their specific role in a system that, given the hazards, needs to run like clockwork.
Purple shirts fuel up the planes. Red shirts load the bomb and missile ordnance. Green shirts handle maintenance. Yellow shirts direct aircraft launch and recovery.
Working together, they can fire off two planes every 40 seconds during daylight, or 60 seconds at night.
“We’re planning on a seven-month deployment ... we could go home in a month, we could extend for a year,” the admiral says.
Below the deck hums a small city of over 5,500 people, many of them on their first deployment abroad.
“I came from a low-income home. I wanted to see the world... meet new people, get a free education basically,” says parachute rigger Caitlin Schumacher, a 25-year-old mother-of-three from Cleveland.
“It’s the most exciting thing that I’ve been a part of ... it’s eye-opening,” says Dewayne ‘Hula’ Hooper, a 26-year-old pilot from Huntingtown, Maryland.
Hooper has been training for this role for three years. He has just flown his first mission over Syria — no details are forthcoming — yet still finds landing on a moving carrier daunting.
“It’s always scary, especially at night, but you want to come home,” he says.
Home, indeed. For months to come, the 70-aircraft behemoth will be the nearest thing for those on board.
“Deployment forces us to be a unit. We rely heavily on each other,” says Naomi L Goodwyn, chief of the officers’ mess hall.
“We become a real family. That’s what deployment does, it creates lasting memories, lasting friendships,” she stresses.
After a daily shift that can be as long as 12 hours, sailors unwind by watching movies, playing video games, and staying fit.