Iran says it can discuss other issues if nuclear deal successful

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the US and its European allies should ensure the 2015 nuclear deal is a success before demanding to negotiate on other issues such as Tehran’s regional activities or ballistic missile program. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Iran says it can discuss other issues if nuclear deal successful

PARIS: The United States and its European allies should ensure the 2015 nuclear deal is a success before demanding to negotiate on other issues such as Tehran’s regional activities or ballistic missile program, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said on Thursday.
“Now they ask Iran to enter discussions on other issues. Our answer is clear: make the (deal) a successful experience and then we discuss other issues,” Abbas Araqchi told a conference.
He said the new US administration’s policy on Iran was “destructive” and violated the terms of the accord with world powers.
With US President Donald Trump warning of a last chance for “the worst deal ever negotiated,” Britain, France and Germany are working on a plan to satisfy him by addressing Iran’s ballistic missile tests and its regional influence while preserving the 2015 accord.
Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a Euromoney conference in Paris, Araqchi said there was no link between its influence in the Middle East region and the nuclear accord with major powers.
Iran has repeatedly refused to discuss its missile program as demanded by the United States and the Europeans, saying it is purely defensive.
Tehran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.
BLAME GAME
Araqchi dismissed Western assertions that Iran’s regional activities are destabilizing.
“We have always fought against terrorism. Iran has always played a key role in bringing stability and peace to the region ... There is no link between the (nuclear) deal and our role in the region,” Araqchi, also a senior negotiator in the Iran nuclear talks, told Reuters.
Trump’s ultimatum has effectively put the deal on life support until mid-May.
Speaking at the same conference, Britain’s Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said European powers were determined to save the deal and assuage the United States, but he warned that Iran also needed to mitigate Western concerns over its regional activities.
“We and our European partners are absolutely clear. We want the deal to succeed,” Burt said. “We don’t want to see the JCPOA (deal with Iran) go down and are working with our European partners to mitigate concerns the United States may have to ensure it continues.”
Negotiations between Europeans and the US officials to meet Trump’s conditions are ongoing.
The first challenge the Europeans face is dissecting divergent US statements about what Trump wants to keep issuing “waivers” to US sanctions. Without the waivers, which expire May 12, the US sanctions return, effectively killing the deal.
“Iran also needs to avoid taking actions which threaten regional security,” Burt said specifically pointing to claims that Tehran has supplied ballistic missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Iran has denied those allegations and has repeatedly said its missile program is purely defensive.
Iran backs Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war, militias in Iraq, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
“Iran has always played a key role in establishing peace, restoring security and fighting against terrorism across the region,” Araqchi said.


Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

Updated 19 August 2018
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Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

JERUSALEM: Israel’s top court on Sunday doubled the prison sentence of a police officer who shot dead a Palestinian teenager in 2014, an incident documented by video footage.
The supreme court ruling said the original nine-month prison term handed to Ben Deri by the Jerusalem district court earlier this year did not sufficiently reflect the severity of his actions.
Deri had admitted to fatally shooting Nadeem Nuwarah, 17, on May 15, 2014 during a day of clashes in Beitunia, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters.
The clashes were on the anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when more than 700,000 fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel’s creation.
Footage recorded by US broadcaster CNN captured a group of five or six border police officers in the area, one of whom could be seen firing at the time when the youth was hit.
Some five minutes earlier, Nuwarah was seen on other CNN footage throwing stones at Israeli forces.
But when Deri shot him, he was not engaged in any such action, simply walking in the general direction of Deri’s force with his hands to his sides, the Sunday decision noted.
Deri had said during his trial he had mistakenly introduced live ammunition into his M-16 instead of rubber bullets.
But even the firing of rubber bullets was not justified at that point, the court said.
The April district court sentencing had “not sufficiently given expression to the value of the human life severed by Deri,” Sunday’s ruling read.
“The prison term sentenced by the district court is not close in expressing the severity of such an intentional deed, combined with the severe negligence that caused the deceased’s death,” supreme court justice Noam Solberg wrote in his decision, supported by another judge and opposed by one.
Right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which represented Deri, said the supreme court’s ruling could “jeopardize the motivation and operational abilities of our soldiers.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that while Deri’s actions might have been wrong, “that doesn’t mean his punishment should be increased.”