France wants to take action to tackle Iran’s ‘destabilizing’ behavior: Defense minister

France's Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly participates in a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentaon on Friday in Arlington, Virginia. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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France wants to take action to tackle Iran’s ‘destabilizing’ behavior: Defense minister

WASHINGTON: France wants to take action to tackle Iran’s missile program and “destabilizing” behavior, but believes scrapping the 2015 nuclear deal would help hard-liners and be a step toward future war, France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Friday.
“We need the JCPOA. Scrapping it would be a gift to Iran’s hard-liners, and a first step toward future wars,” Parly said in a speech at a Washington think tank, referring to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“But we should also be very serious about the destabilizing ballistic and regional activities. We are working on it.”
Parly spoke as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the nuclear deal could be amended only as long as his country and other signatories agreed to proposed changes.
President Donald Trump last week threatened to pull the US out of the deal week unless US lawmakers amend the law that allows and spells out the terms of Washington’s participation in the international accord.
Trump alone cannot actually terminate the 2015 agreement, which lifted sanctions that had choked Iran’s economy in exchange for Tehran rolling back its nuclear program. But withdrawal by the US would render it virtually meaningless.
Speaking at a conference in Moscow, Lavrov said on Friday that any unilateral changes to the deal “could bury this agreement, which is vital for strategic stability and nuclear non-proliferation.”

Nuclear proliferation
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry said Trump risked driving Iran toward nuclear proliferation and worsening a standoff with North Korea if Washington ended a nuclear deal with Tehran.
Kerry, who negotiated the 2015 deal, was speaking in a private lecture delivered at Geneva’s Graduate Institute.
“If you want to negotiate with (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un, and your goal is to avoid war and try to be able to have a diplomatic resolution, the worst thing you can do is first threaten to destroy his country in the United Nations,” Kerry said.
“And secondly, screw around with the deal that has already been made because the message is, don’t make a deal with the United States, they won’t keep their word,” he said.
The nuclear deal places Iran under tough restraints, including inspections, round-the-clock surveillance and tracking every ounce of uranium produced, Kerry said. “We would notice an uptick in their enrichment, like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.
“And nobody that I know of with common sense can understand what the virtue is in accelerating a confrontation with the possibility that they might decide they want to break out and make it (a nuclear bomb) now instead of 10 or 15 or 25 years from now.”
Kerry, a former senator who headed the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Swiss media that Trump’s leaving the Iranian deal’s fate to Congress was “very dangerous” and opened the door to “party politics.”
Congress cannot unilaterally renegotiate a multilateral accord, the Geneva daily Le Temps quoted him as saying. “It is possible that Congress would make an unreasonable decision that would put Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a very complicated political situation that could force him to retaliate. It’s a slippery slope.”
Khamenei said on Wednesday that Tehran would stick to its accord as long as the other signatories respected it, but would “shred” the deal if Washington pulled out, state TV reported.
If Iran violated the accord, UN sanctions would snap back into place, Kerry told the audience.
“Moreover, at that point in time folks, we have a year of break-up. We have all the time that we need in the world to be able to bomb their facilities into submission.”
Ending the deal could lead to Iran hiding fissile production facilities “deep in a mountain where we have no insight.”
“So the scenario that Trump opens up by saying ‘let’s get rid of the deal’ is actually proliferation, far more damaging and dangerous,” Kerry said.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”