Trump to make decision on Iran deal in ‘coming days’

Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran in this October 26, 2010 file photo. US President Donald Trump is expected to reveal his decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal in the coming days. (REUTERS/Mehr News Agency/Majid Asgaripour/Files)
Updated 05 October 2017
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Trump to make decision on Iran deal in ‘coming days’

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will reveal his decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal in the coming days, the White House said Thursday.
“The president is going to make an announcement about the decision that he’s made on a comprehensive strategy that his team supports, and we’ll do that in the coming days,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Flying in the face of advice from some of his closest advisers, Trump is expected to withhold certification of Iran’s compliance with the agreement, effectively leaving its fate with Congress.
White House officials cautioned against rumors that Trump would make a speech revealing his decision next Thursday. But the decision must come by an October 15 deadline.
Trump has railed against the Obama-era deal which offered Iran massive sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Ahead of the October 15 deadline, several officials familiar with White House deliberations told AFP Trump has made it clear he does not want to certify Iran’s compliance with the accord.
Every 90 days Trump must tell Congress whether Iran is living up to its end of the bargain, something that has already caused him political pain on two occasions.
The Trump administration has publicly accused Iran of violating the “spirit” of the accord — known as the JCPOA — although some officials privately admit there is a thin line between testing the limits and a material breach.
The administration has made it clear that it wants Iran to stop ballistic missile tests and stop “nefarious” behavior across the Middle East, two issues that were not part of the agreement.
Trump’s decision would have little impact in and of itself, but the Republican controlled Congress could decide, within 60 days, to impose sanctions, or simply not respond.
The build up to Trump’s decision has been dominated by intense debate inside the White House and fierce lobbying in Congress.
European ambassadors and diplomats have been camped out on Capitol Hill, trying to argue against any punitive actions that invite Iran to decide the United States in non-compliance.
Meanwhile the deal’s opponents, like Senator Tom Cotton have argued that Iran is not in compliance and sanctions and even military action against Iran should be considered.
Cotton met Trump at the White House on Thursday to make his case, and the president was expected to meet military leaders later in the day.


Britain identifies Russians suspected of Skripal nerve attack — report

Updated 19 July 2018
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Britain identifies Russians suspected of Skripal nerve attack — report

LONDON: British police have identified several Russians who they believe were behind the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the Press Association reported on Thursday, citing a source close to the investigation.
Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, and his daughter Yulia, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4.
Britain blamed Russia for the poisonings and identified the poison as Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack.
After analyzing closed-circuit television, police think several Russians were involved in the attack on the Skripals, who spent weeks in hospital before being spirited to a secret location, Press Association reported.
“Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack,” the unidentified source close to the investigation said, according to PA.
“They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian,” said the source, adding security camera images had been cross checked with records of people who entered the country.
A police spokesman declined to comment on the report.
After the attack on the Skripals, allies in Europe and the US sided with Britain’s view of the attack and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Russia retaliated by expelling Western diplomats. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement and accused the British intelligence agencies of staging the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.
Mystery surrounds the attack.
The motive for attacking Skripal, an aged Russian traitor who was exchanged in a Kremlin-approved spy swap in 2010, is still unclear, as is the motive for using of an exotic nerve agent which has such overt links to Russia’s Soviet past.
Novichok put the Skripals into a coma, though after weeks in intensive care they were spirited to a secret location for their safety.
“My life has been turned upside down,” Yulia Skripal told Reuters in May. “Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful.”
A British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died this month after coming across a small bottle containing Novichok near the city of Salisbury where the Skripals were struck down. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, is still in hospital.
A British police officer was also injured by Novichok while attending to the Skripals in March.