World: Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy - PressFrom - US
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WorldHard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy

01:25  18 september  2019
01:25  18 september  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Netanyahu says Iran had another secret nuclear weapons development site

Netanyahu says Iran had another secret nuclear weapons development site Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Tehran had been developing nuclear weapons at a secret site in Abadeh in Iran. © MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benjamin Netanyahu It was the first time that Netanyahu had identified the site, which, he said, was discovered in a trove of Iranian documents Israel previously obtained and released publicly last year. "In this site, Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said, adding that it was south of Iranian city of Isfahan.

President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran . He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions.

President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran . He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions.

Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy
Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy
Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy
Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy

President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran. He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions.

UK summons Iran ambassador, says assurances over oil tanker breached

UK summons Iran ambassador, says assurances over oil tanker breached UK summons Iran ambassador, says assurances over oil tanker breached

Thanks to Trump, the Iranian hard - liners were proved entirely correct. The United States did walk away from the deal, reimposed the old sanctions and added new ones, all despite international opprobrium and without any clear idea of how this might lead to a “better” nuclear deal.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have escalated in the wake of the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, but the dispute goes much deeper. WSJ's Niki Blasina explains what is behind the strained relationship and why it could jeopardize peace efforts in the region.

But Iran, American officials say, responded with violence. The officials have accused Iran of orchestrating or even launching a major attack on Saturday against critical Saudi Arabian oil installations, jolting international energy markets and humiliating a key American ally.

The slap-the-other-cheek tactic is hardly surprising, Iranian scholars say. Tehran, they said, has concluded that its recent aggressions have effectively strengthened its leverage with the West and in the region. And despite his occasional outburst of threats, Mr. Trump is deeply reluctant to risk an open-ended military confrontation in the Middle East that would endanger world oil supplies in the middle of a re-election campaign.

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Iran's Khamenei rejects talks with United States

Iran's Khamenei rejects talks with United States Iran will never hold one-on-one talks with the United States but could engage in multilateral discussions if it returns to the 2015 deal on Iran's nuclear programme, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, according to state television. © Reuters/TIMA AGENCY Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran U.S. President Donald Trump has said he could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, possibly at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later this month.

TEHRAN — When Iran ’s supreme leader sent a note to the country’s president, thanking him for bringing the nuclear negotiations with the United States and other world powers to a conclusion, he added an important caveat.

TEHRAN — Flexing their muscles, some of the toughest anti-American voices in Iran said on Tuesday that the United States remains their country’s top enemy, guilty of “uncountable” crimes. Their remarks hinted at a developing struggle over domestic influence because of the nuclear deal with world powers.

“Iranian hard-liners consider Trump’s inconsistency to be weakness,” said Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. For Iranian hard-liners, he said, “their policy of ‘maximum resistance’ is working.”

Mr. Trump has imposed punishing sanctions on Iranian oil exports, and analysts argue that desperation has convinced Iranian leaders, who call the sanctions “economic warfare,” that striking back is their only choice. But Iranians say Mr. Trump has already demonstrated his aversion to using military force to follow through on his threats.

American officials concluded that Iranian forces sabotaged a handful of oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz in May and June, and shot down an American surveillance drone in June. Mr. Trump initially ordered a wave of American airstrikes in retaliation for the downing of the drone, but he called it off at the last moment.

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Iran's Rouhani blames U.S., Saudi for conflict in region Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday Tehran did not want conflict in the region and accused the United States and a Saudi-led military coalition of starting a war in Yemen, according to Iranian news agencies. © Erdem Sahin/Pool via REUTERS Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is pictured during a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019. Erdem Sahin/Pool via REUTERS "We don't want conflict in the region... Who started the conflict? Not the Yemenis.

Iran ’s Executions By The Numbers. The Iranian regime executed at least 753 people in 2014 according to one report, which is up from 687 in 2013 while the total has steadily increased since 2004. Twenty five of those executed were women, and 53 of the executions were public.

An American-educated Iranian expert on water who returned to Iran to take a cabinet-level job in the government of President Hassan Rouhani officially resigned in exile on Wednesday, a month after having left the country while under pressure from hard - liners .

Then the administration’s leading Iran hawk, John Bolton, was forced out as national security adviser, reportedly over a disagreement with the president over talks with Tehran.

Iran, demanding relief from sanctions, appears to be lashing out, whether directly or through allies. The muted reactions from Washington — including the initial response to Saturday’s attack — appear to have validated that strategy, several analysts said.

Even as Mr. Trump added his voice to the chorus of officials pointing to Iranian responsibility for the attack, he repeated his aversion to armed conflict and hopes for negotiations, saying, “I know they want to make a deal.” He had already said any retaliation over the attack would depend on input from Saudi Arabia, which put off the question by calling for a United Nations inquiry.

“He is a not a lion, he is a rabbit,” said Ali Bigdeli, a political analyst in Tehran, of Mr. Trump.

“This counts as a big boost for Iran,” he added. Whatever the degree of Iranian involvement, he said, the attack “is a showcase of Iran’s power and influence.”

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TEHRAN — President Hassan Rouhani, endorsed by Iran ’s supreme leader on Thursday with a nationally televised cheek-kiss, is starting his second term under newly intense pressure from both hard - line opponents and many of his own reform-minded supporters.

TEHRAN — The chants of “Death to America” and the burning of American flags in the streets are as familiar a part of life here as air pollution and traffic jams. With the United States and Iran on the verge of a potentially historic nuclear accord, however

Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and an Iranian-backed faction in Yemen, the Houthis, has claimed it. But the strikes demonstrated more clearly than ever that Iranian forces or their regional surrogates can imperil American clients and global oil supplies, even while under punishing sanctions.

“The Saudi air defenses have been proved completely worthless,” said Michael Knights, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They are not going to be ready for Round 2.”

Some Iranian officials appeared to boast after the attack about the leverage they had gained. “Iran has not used all its winning cards yet in the oil war with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” Mohamad Imani, a military strategist for the Revolutionary Guards, wrote on his Telegram channel.

Nor does Iran appear to be suffering any penalty in international diplomacy, said Ellie Geranmayeh, a scholar of Iran at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The European powers, she said, blame Mr. Trump for starting the escalation that led to the attack by withdrawing the United States from the 2015 deal that world powers had signed with Iran to remove sanctions in exchange for limitations on the country’s nuclear program.

After abandoning the accord last year, the Trump administration imposed punishing sanctions on Iranian oil sales in a bid to win a more restrictive nuclear pact. European powers, opposing the American sanctions and hoping to salvage the 2015 deal, have sought to offer relief.

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Hard - liners and others remain a significant voice in Iranian affairs, however, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls all key military wings and programs such as missile development. Also, the parliament’s role is limited

TEHRAN — Antigovernment protests roiled Iran on Tuesday, as the death toll rose to 21 and the nation’s supreme leader blamed foreign enemies for the unrest. But the protests that have spread to dozens of Iranian cities in the past six days were set off by miscalculations in a long-simmering power

President Emmanuel Macron of France has recently proposed a $15 billion line of credit to encourage Iran to comply with the deal, apparently hoping that the United States will return to it — possibly after the election of a new president. And none of the European powers have indicated that they are pulling back from their diplomatic efforts.

Ms. Geranmayeh argued that the attack on Saudi oil facilities was “a warning shot” that may have been calculated to improve Iran’s leverage in any negotiations with Mr. Trump or the Europeans. Or, if the Iranians were impatient with the pace of European diplomacy, she argued, the attacks might goad the Europeans to hurry.

Iranian hard-liners have long held a cynical view that American decision makers understand only the threat of force, scholars say. But in the first year after Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear accord, Iran continued to abide by it and refrained from any retaliation, a policy it called “strategic patience.”

It got them nothing, analysts say. Initial European efforts to coax Washington back to the deal went nowhere. American allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — all regional rivals to Iran — urged Washington to increase the pressure.

Then the Trump administration began using the global reach of the American financial system to try to block Iranian oil sales anywhere in the world, cutting off the lifeblood of the Iranian economy.

Tehran embarked on a dual strategy to fight back. Publicly, it began taking calibrated steps to exceed the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, citing certain provisions in the agreement as justification for its noncompliance.

UK tanker seized by Iran to be released soon, official says

  UK tanker seized by Iran to be released soon, official says The British tanker detained by Iran in July will be freed soon, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted an Iranian maritime official as saying on Sunday.The Stena Impero, which was detained for alleged marine violations following the British seizure of an Iranian tanker, could be released later in the cay, Reuters reported, noting that the U.K. released the Iranian ship in August. The legal case against the vessel will still proceed, the head of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran in Hormozgan Province, Allahmorad Afifipour, told Fars news, according to Reuters.

TEHRAN — For more than a year, Iran ’s president, Hassan Rouhani, had been walking a political tightrope by trying to restore some level of relations with the country’s archenemy, the United States. His hard - line opponents pelted him with eggs for his efforts

Hard - liners in the judiciary and security and religious establishments "have been saying to the Iranian public: ' See , we told you so' " about the And that has given them space to "suffocate the reformists," said Omid Memarian, deputy director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran .

At the same time, Western officials have concluded, Iran began to demonstrate that it can threaten global oil markets, forcing others to share its economic pain. In addition to the attacks on tankers, which American officials say Iranian forces carried out with naval mines, Iran has also seized a few ships, including a British-flagged oil tanker that was taken in an apparent retaliation for the capture of an Iranian tanker by British forces near Gibraltar.

It suffered little penalty. The United States declined to retaliate for the tanker sabotage. With Britain eager to lower the temperature, officials in Gibraltar, a British territory, freed the detained Iranian vessel last month.

The European powers accelerated their efforts to provide sanctions relief and preserve the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Even the United Arab Emirates appeared to step back from conflict. The Emirates declined to publicly blame Iran for the damage done to tankers in its waters. Instead, Emirati officials held talks with Iran about maritime security. And at the same time, the Emirates began to withdraw from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen against the Houthis.

The Emirates “have awoken to the fact that they are very exposed,” said Sanam Vakil, a scholar of Iran and the Persian Gulf at Chatham House, a policy institute in London.

With the Emirates signaling that it wants to avoid further escalation, she said, Tehran was beginning to succeed in its long-held goal of dividing the anti-Iran alliance in the region.

“They have already been able to split off the U.A.E., so Saudi Arabia is next,” Ms. Vakil said.

Ultimately, Ms. Vakil said, the Iranians appear to have concluded from the recent American actions that confrontation cannot lose, because even a potential American military action would almost certainly be a limited strike designed to avoid a prolonged ground war. Domestically and in the region, surviving such a strike could strengthen the current Iranian government by rallying public opinion.

“They are challenging American supremacy and forcing the international community to come to terms with a new relationship with the Islamic Republic,” she said. “They come out ahead no matter what happens.”

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