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US NewsIran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal

05:45  29 july  2019
05:45  29 july  2019 Source:   msn.com

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The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year but Iran and Europe are in talks to try to salvage it. British forces impounded the Iranian tanker in early July near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating European Union sanctions on Syria, an act Britain said had nothing to do with the nuclear

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Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal © Jon Nazca/Reuters The Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was seized this month in the Strait of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria.

BRUSSELS — Iran for the first time tied the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker to the ailing nuclear deal on Sunday, calling it illegal and a violation of the agreement.

By making that link, Iran appeared to be trying to press the Europeans to make good on the promised financial benefits of the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A.

“Since Iran is entitled to export its oil according to the J.C.P.O.A., any impediment in the way of Iran’s export of oil is actually against the J.C.P.O.A.,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said after emergency talks in Vienna with other parties to the nuclear deal.

Trump and Iran may be on the brink of a war that would likely be devastating to both sides

Trump and Iran may be on the brink of a war that would likely be devastating to both sides A war with Iran would likely be disastrous and further destabilize a region that's been consumed by conflict for years. Trump almost launched a military strike against Iran in late June but called it off at the last minute. A series of tanker seizures in the Strait of Hormuz could further escalate the already tense situation.. Tensions between the US and Iran have reached historic heights in recent weeks, prompting fears of a military confrontation that could escalate into all-out war. Here's a breakdown of what's going on, how we got here, and what the stakes are.

Iran on Sunday called Britain's seizure of an Iranian oil tanker a breach of an ailing 2015 nuclear deal , after remaining parties to the accord met in Vienna in a bid to keep it alive. British authorities detained an Iranian tanker off the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar in early July on allegations it was

An Iranian official has said a British oil tanker should be seized , if a detained Iranian ship is not Iran 's Foreign Ministry condemned the initial seizure of the vessel as illegal and accused the UK of Iran 's threat to retaliate against the impounding of its super- tanker is an indication of how hurt Tehran

Video: Nuclear deal meeting 'constructive' amid tension (Reuters)

The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year but Iran and Europe are in talks to try to salvage it.

British forces impounded the Iranian tanker in early July near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating European Union sanctions on Syria, an act Britain said had nothing to do with the nuclear deal.

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On July 19, Iranian commandos seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important waterway for oil shipments, arguing that it had committed violations but formally denying that it was a tit-for-tat response.

Iran releases video of capture of British-flagged oil tanker

Iran releases video of capture of British-flagged oil tanker Iran's Revolutionary Guards posted a video online showing speedboats pulling up alongside the Stena Impero tanker, its name clearly visible. Troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns rappelled to its deck from a helicopter, the same tactics used by British Royal Marines to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago.

The seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the Gibraltar coast by British Royal Marines and the faltering nuclear deal appear to be moving fast towards a head-on diplomatic crash. On Tuesday, Iran ’s hardline media hammered away at the government of President Hassan Rouhani over the seizure of

Iran appeared to link the British seizure of its tanker and the ailing nuclear deal . Only some of the 12 tankers were previously known to have recently delivered Iranian oil . The continued flow of oil highlights the difficulty that the Trump administration has had in using sanctions to bring Iranian oil

Gallery: Key moments in Iran's recent clashes with the West (Reuters)

Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal

Since then, Iran has blown hot and cold over suggestions that both sides release the tankers and Tehran promises not to send the oil to Syria, in part because London insists that the decision on what to do with the Iranian tanker must go through the courts.

Iran also warned against the British idea of sending a European-led naval force to escort tankers in the Persian Gulf, where the United States has already increased its military presence. A government spokesman in Tehran, Ali Rabiei, said the proposal “carries a hostile message, is provocative and will increase tensions.”

At the same time on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran congratulated the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, and said that he hoped that Mr. Johnson’s “familiarity with the issues of the relations of Iran and England and your presence once in Tehran will be a considerable help in getting rid of existing obstacles in the growth and expansion of relations between us.”

It is 'impossible' for the UK to defend every ship from Iran, the Royal Navy is 'too small' and admirals need more cash, says defence minister Tobias Ellwood amid Iran crisis

It is 'impossible' for the UK to defend every ship from Iran, the Royal Navy is 'too small' and admirals need more cash, says defence minister Tobias Ellwood amid Iran crisis Tobias Ellwood denied that the UK had taken its 'eye off the ball' and said the Government was looking at a 'series of options' after Iranian forces seized a UK-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero.

Iran for the first time tied the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker to the ailing nuclear deal , calling it illegal and a violation of the agreement. By making that link , Iran appeared to be trying to press the Europeans to make good on the promised financial benefits of the 2015 agreement known as the

AS tensions escalate over the seizure of a British oil tanker , spy chiefs believe Iran may give the green light to proxy fighters to unleash attacks if open warfare erupts. Iranian Revolutionary Guard commandos preparing to seize a British oil tanker on Friday.

Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal Abbas Araghchi (Center R), political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and Helga Schmid (Center L), Secretary General of the European Union's External Action Service (EEAS), take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019 at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mr. Johnson visited Tehran in 2017 as foreign secretary.

A British-Iranian dual national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016. A deal that would free both the tanker and Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be a significant coup for Mr. Johnson, but he is also expected to come under pressure from President Trump to join the United States in abandoning the nuclear pact and increasing pressure on Iran.

Iran agreed to accept limits on its nuclear program in the 2015 accord in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against it. After the United States withdrew from the deal last year, the Trump administration imposed even harsher sanctions this year aimed at shutting off Iran’s oil exports, its main source of income.

First picture INSIDE the British tanker captured by Iran: Terrified crew huddles on board vessel after it was seized by gunmen

First picture INSIDE the British tanker captured by Iran: Terrified crew huddles on board vessel after it was seized by gunmen Members of the Stena Impero's 23-strong crew are seen sitting on the floor of the UK-flagged vessel while an Iranian official speaks to them with what appears to be a pile of shoes nearby (pictured).

“We witnessed the seizure of an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Strait of Gibraltar which in our view is a violation of [the deal ],” the diplomat told reporters. Tehran, which accused the UK of practicing “piracy,” seized the British -flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz

The British defense secretary called the seizure “a hostile act,” and the government warned ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz. LONDON — Britain on Saturday threatened Iran with “serious consequences” for seizing a British -owned oil tanker the previous evening as the government

Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal © PA Wire/PA Images A general view of HMS Montrose at HMNB Devonport, Plymouth. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

The new measures include secondary sanctions against third countries that do business with Iran. European countries have been trying to construct an alternative trading platform using barter to allow Iran to bypass the American-linked global financial system to avoid the new sanctions.

Those efforts have so far come to nothing, even though European officials have said for months that the system was nearly ready. Even then, only goods that would not be sanctioned, like food, medicine and medical products, would be traded.

To pressure the other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union — Iran has argued that under the terms of the agreement it is entitled to breach the pact’s restrictions since Iran is not getting the benefits it was promised for compliance. So far it has breached limits on uranium stockpiles and levels of enrichment, but not so drastically as to cause the other signatories to do more than admonish Iran to stick to the deal.

Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal FU Cong, Deputy Permanent Representative, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Disarmament Affairs of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations Office) speaks to the media after the meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019 at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Iran threatened another breach — to begin activity again at the Arak heavy-water reactor. Ali Akbar Salehi of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization told legislators of the plan on Sunday, according to state-run media.

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He denied, as Iran regularly does, that Tehran has any intention of building a nuclear weapon.

At the same time, Iran’s escalatory tactics in the Gulf, and its seizure of tankers, have been partly counterproductive, hardly encouraging Britain or the other Europeans to go out of their way to defend the nuclear deal. The Europeans have consistently warned Tehran that it must stick to the deal as written if it expects the other signatories to do the same.

Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal © ASSOCIATED PRESS The European Union's political director Helga Schmid and Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, center from left, wait for a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, July 28, 2019.

“It’s clear that the ongoing escalation, particularly in the Gulf, has been and is playing a big part of the reason why the deal in and of itself is in deeper and deeper trouble,” Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to the European Union foreign policy chief, told the BBC.

“Of course that escalation in the Gulf is taking place precisely because there has been a violation of the J.C.P.O.A. by the United States. But as the escalation continues it becomes increasingly difficult politically and therefore technically to summon the will to see this mechanism follow through with its first transactions.”

In Vienna, there were talks to try to de-escalate tensions.

Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal © PA HMS Duncan, one of the Royal Navy's six Type 45 destroyers

All parties agreed to preserve the nuclear deal and “to continue to implement the J.C.P.O.A. in a balanced manner,” said Fu Cong, China’s representative at the talks. “All sides have expressed their strong opposition against the U.S. unilateral imposition of sanctions,” he said. At times during the talks there were some “tense moments,” Mr. Fu said.

Mr. Araghchi, the Iranian delegate, said that “I think the atmosphere was constructive and the discussions were good,” but added that “I cannot say that we resolved everything.” He said that preparation for another meeting at ministerial level was underway, but no date had been set. And he confirmed that the barter mechanism is “not functioning yet, but it is in its final stages.”

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