Trump warns of calm before the storm, may decertify Iran nuclear deal

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Trump warns of calm before the storm, may decertify Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is planning to decertify the landmark Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, paving the way for the potential re-imposition of sanctions, two leading US dailies reported Friday.
Trump will argue that the agreement is not in America’s interest, the Washington Post reported, quoting four people close to him.
The New York Times, quoting people briefed on the matter, reported that Trump plans to decertify the accord but leave it in force and make Congress decide whether to re-impose sanctions.
Decertification would allow Trump to argue that he has rejected the accord as pledged, but has not completely ignored senior advisers and lawmakers who say it should stand.
“They (Iran) have not lived up to the spirit of the agreement. The Iranian regime supports terrorism, and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East,” said Trump, who described the deal as an “embarrassment” at the UN General Assembly.
“That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. You will be hearing about Iran very shortly,” he added, telling reporters that this might be “the calm before the storm.”
Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Arab News: “Decertification, if it occurs, is an indispensable first step to fixing a fatally flawed nuclear deal.”
He added: “It’s also an integral part of a comprehensive American pressure strategy to target Iranian regime aggression abroad and repression at home.”
Alex Vatanka, a specialist on Iran at the Middle East Institute, asked: “Will they (Congress) want to hold the blame for the death of the nuclear deal?”
He also questioned whether Trump holds enough political capital with Congress to compel it to take action.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey told Arab News that while supporters of the nuclear deal argued that it would advance peace and stability in the Middle East, “Iran has in some respects vastly increased its destabilizing activities, from Yemen and Lebanon through Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, since the summer of 2015.”
So far, Iran has reaped the economic benefits of the deal but has refused to change its policies in the region, he said. “It’s not all about the agreement. It’s also about Iran’s behavior in the region,” Jeffrey added.


Rahul startles bitter foe Modi with a hug

Indians watch television showing Congress party President Rahul Gandhi hug Prime Minister Narendra Modi during parliament session, at an electronics shop in Jammu, India, Friday, July 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 21 min 26 sec ago
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Rahul startles bitter foe Modi with a hug

  • Critics accuse the BJP of divisive politics and of trying to undermine India’s pluralistic foundations enshrined in the constitution
  • Modi, startled by Gandhi’s gesture, froze in his seat in an image that was repeatedly played on television screens across the country and went viral on social media

NEW DELHI: Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi created a flutter in parliament on Friday, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi a surprise hug during a heated debate and said he had nothing but love for his bitter political foe.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has repeatedly targeted Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, as a “failed dynast” out of touch with ordinary people and ill-suited for public life.
But Gandhi, who is girding up for national elections next year, said his politics were above hate and that he bore no personal rancour toward Modi who has also targeted the young leader in the past.
Soon after closing a speech tearing into Modi’s four years in office, Gandhi strode across the floor and put his arms awkwardly around the seated prime minister in a rare gesture that caught Modi unawares.
“You have anger against me, you can call me names, you can abuse me, but I don’t have a speck of hatred against you. I will take out this hatred out of you and turn it into love,” Gandhi said as lawmakers thumped their desks and others looked on.
He was speaking on a no-confidence motion against Modi that the government is certain to defeat because of its majority in parliament, but which the opposition hopes will focus attention on the government’s failures in office.
Critics accuse the BJP of divisive politics and of trying to undermine India’s pluralistic foundations enshrined in the constitution. Gandhi’s mother, the Italian-born Sonia, has also been attacked for her foreign origins.
Modi, startled by Gandhi’s gesture, froze in his seat in an image that was repeatedly played on television screens across the country and went viral on social media. Modi later called back Gandhi to his seat and shook hands, smiling.
Modi himself is known for his bear hugs, embracing world leaders such as US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The ruling BJP is setting up next year’s vote as a presidential-style contest between the experienced Modi with long years of service in government against Gandhi, portrayed as a political novice handed the reins of his Congress party because of the accident of birth.
But Gandhi, after a poor start in politics losing a string of elections to Modi’s party, is drawing crowds as he seeks to exploit Modi’s failure to deliver tens of thousands of jobs he promised India’s youth and a broader decline in law and order.
“What an astonishing performance by @RahulGandhi,” said Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in a Twitter post. “It was a game-changing speech, tearing apart the Govt’s claims & ending with that unscripted hug that has literally taken the BJP’s breath away.”