Iran ‘will not renegotiate N-deal’

Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. (AP file photo)
Updated 16 January 2017
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Iran ‘will not renegotiate N-deal’

DUBAI/TEHRAN: Iran will not renegotiate its nuclear agreement with world powers, even if it faces new US sanctions after Donald Trump becomes president, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on Sunday.
US “hostility” to Iran is growing day by day despite Tehran’s nuclear deal, the senior Iranian official said, ahead of the first anniversary of the historic accord.
“The United States has done whatever it can do (to) slow down Iran’s progress” after the deal, said Araghchi, the chief Iranian negotiator in the agreement that took effect on Jan. 16 last year.
“In the last 12 months, we have witnessed delays and the disrespecting of promises by the US and some countries.
Their hostility increases by the day,” Araghchi told reporters.
Trump, who will take office on Friday, has threatened to either scrap the agreement, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program and lifts sanctions against it, or seek a better deal.
“There will be no renegotiation and the (agreement) will not be reopened,” said Araqchi, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator at the talks that led to the agreement in 2015, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.
“We and many analysts believe that the (agreement) is consolidated. The new US administration will not be able to abandon it,” Araqchi told a news conference in Tehran, held a year after the deal took effect.
“Nuclear talks with America are over and we have nothing else to discuss,” he added.
“It’s quite likely that the US Congress or the next administration will act against Iran and imposes new sanctions.”
Under Iran’s agreement with the US, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, most UN sanctions were lifted a year ago. But Iran is still subject to an UN arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.
The agreement between Tehran and six world powers saw a range of international sanctions lifted in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran has seen a rise in oil exports and increased investment in manufacturing since it came into force.
But Iranian officials have accused Washington of failing to abide by the deal, including with a raft of other sanctions related to non-nuclear issues that have helped deter major Western banks from returning to Iran.
The president-elect vowed during last year’s campaign to tear up the agreement, considered a key victory for President Barack Obama.
Araghchi said it made little difference who was in the White House as international law required Washington to implement the deal.
“Whether its Obama or Trump, the US president is committed to canceling laws that are against it,” Araghchi said, adding that there would be no further discussions with US officials.
“Our nuclear negotiations with the Americans are finalized and we have no other political talks with them,” he said. “In our view, everything is over.”


Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

Updated 11 min 30 sec ago
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Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

  • Veteran Shiite politician Adel Abdul Mahdi informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi
  • Decision reached after extensive negotiations between pro and anti-Iran factions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s rival Shiite blocs in parliament have agreed on who they want as the next prime minister after making progress in negotiations towards forming a government, negotiators told Arab News.

The two factions, one pro Iran and the other anti, have agreed to work together as a coalition, negotiators told Arab News on Tuesday.

The veteran Shiite politician and former vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi was informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi, negotiators said. 

He will be assigned on Sept. 25 to form a government if his nomination is approved by the Kurdish blocs. 

Before the appointment of prime minister, the president has to be selected. There is no indication that the Kurds, who get the post according to the Iraq’s power sharing agreement, have decided on who to nominate. 

Iraq’s parliament has been split between the Reform alliance and Al-Binna’a alliance after elections in May.

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READ MORE: Iraq parliament elects Sunni lawmaker Al-Halbousi as speaker, breaking deadlock

Rival Iraqi factions make coalition deal and end Al-Abadi’s prime minister hopes

Rival Shiite factions trade blame for who drove the burning of buildings in Basra

Iran accused of hijacking Basra protests after a week of violence that shook Iraq

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Reform is controlled by Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of the country’s most influential Shiite clerics who opposes Iranian influence in the country.

Iran-backed Al-Binna’a is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the head of Badr organization, the most prominent Shiite armed faction.

At the first parliamentary session earlier this month, both coalitions claimed they have the most number of seats which would give them the right to form a government.

Within hours, violent demonstrations erupted in Basra, Iraq’s main oil hub, killing 15 demonstrators and injuring scores of people. The Iranian consulate was set on fire along with dozens of government and party buildings.

The violence on the street reflected the stand-off in parliament and threatened to erupt into fighting between the armed wings associated with the different Shiite groups.

The agreement between the two blocs was the only way to end the violence and prevent a slide into intra-Shiite  fighting, senior leaders involved in the talks said.

Several meetings between Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri were held in Al-Sadr’s residency in the holy city of Najaf last week to defuse the crisis.

Both parties’ desire for a truce seemed clear on Saturday at a parliament session to elect the speaker and his deputies. The two blocks showed their influence without colliding with each other. Al-Binna’a presented its candidate for the speaker post and stepped down after winning to make way for the Reform bloc to present its candidate for the post of first deputy of the speaker without competition.

The negotiations teams continued their meetings over the following days to agree on the details of the government program and select the nominee for the prime minister among the dozens of candidates presented by the forces belonging to the two alliances.

The first results of talks between the two blocs came out on Tuesday when Al-Amiri withdrew from the race “to open doors for more talks,” and avoid  conflict between the alliances.

“We will not talk on behalf of Al-Binna’a or the Reform. We both will agree on a candidate. Compatibility is our only choice,” Al-Amiri, said at a press conference in Baghdad.

“Today, Iraq needs to be saved, as we saved it from Daesh, so we have only two options, either we choose to impose the wills and twist each others arms or choose the understanding between us.”

 Iraq has been a battleground for regional and international powers, especially Iran and the United States, since 2003 US-led invasion. 

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to Iraq and Syria, and General Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran's Al Quds Force, are deeply involved in the negotiations. 

The candidate for prime minister should also enjoy the blessing of the religious powers in Najaf, represented by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Shiite spiritual leader and most revered figure in Iraq, negotiators said.

“The situation is complicated as there are three different sides that enjoy the right to use veto. They are Iran, US and Najaf,” a key negotiator of Al-Sadr’s negotiation team told Arab News.

“One ‘no’ is enough to exclude any candidate. Not only that, Sadr and Amiri also have their conditions and we still have difficulty reconciling all of them.”

The marathon negotiations, which run every day until late at night, finally reached a shortlist for prime minister.

The three names reached were Adel Abdul Mahdi, a former leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Falih Al-Fayadh, the former national security adviser, and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the head of the intelligence service.

Adel Abdul Mahdi was the chosen one, three negotiators from different sides told Arab News.

“We have agreed to nominate Adel Abdul Mahdi as he is the only one who was approved by the three sides (Iran, the US and Najaf),” an Al-Sadr negotiator told Arab News.