Iran to withdraw from nuclear deal if banks continue to stay away

A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran in this September 27, 2017 photo. (TIMA via Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Iran to withdraw from nuclear deal if banks continue to stay away

LONDON: Iran will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if there is no economic benefit and major banks continue to shun the Islamic Republic, its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday.
Under the deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions that have crippled its economy.
Despite that, big banks have continued to stay away for fear of falling foul of remaining US sanctions — something that has hampered Iran’s efforts to rebuild foreign trade and lure investment.
Adding to those concerns, US President Donald Trump told the Europeans on Jan. 12 they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would re-impose the sanctions Washington lifted as part of that pact.
But even if Trump relents and issues fresh “waivers” to continue suspending those sanctions, the existing situation is unacceptable for Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.
“The deal would not survive this way even if the ultimatum is passed and waivers are extended,” Araqchi, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, said in a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London.
“If the same policy of confusion and uncertainties about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) continues, if companies and banks are not working with Iran, we cannot remain in a deal that has no benefit for us,” Araqchi said. “That’s a fact.”
Trump sees three defects in the deal: its failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program; the terms under which international inspectors can visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites; and “sunset” clauses under which limits on the Iranian nuclear program start to expire after 10 years.
He wants all three strengthened if the US is to stay in the JCPOA.
Araqchi said Trump’s interpretation of the sunset clauses was wrong.
“There is no sunset clause in the JCPOA. Although the US administration and Trump are talking about sunset clause and that JCPOA is just for 10 years, that is not true,” he said.
“Iran’s commitment in the JCPOA not to go for the nuclear weapons is permanent.”
He also reiterated Iran’s position that the JCPOA was a non-proliferation treaty and could not be linked to any other issue.
If the nuclear deal is linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program or its regional activities, world powers “not only will lose the JCPOA, but will make other issues more complicated and more difficult to resolve,” he said.
“If we lose the JCPOA, we will face another nuclear crisis,” Araqchi said.
“For the Europeans or the world community, when we talk about maintaining the JCPOA and saving it, it’s not a choice between the Iranian or the US market, it’s not a choice for economic cooperation: it’s a choice between having security or insecurity,” he said.


Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

Updated 23 min 58 sec ago
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Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

  • Former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham being blamed for the attack

DAMASCUS: Rocket fire has killed 12 civilians in a regime-held village in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA has said blaming former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham for the attack.

SANA said 15 people were also wounded late Sunday in the attack on Al-Wadihi village south of Aleppo city and said HTS, which controls parts of Aleppo’s countryside as well as most of neighboring Idlib, was responsible.

It published graphic pictures purporting to show some of the victims in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack, including of bandaged men and children lying on stretchers, thick blankets covering their bodies.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same death toll — saying five children were among those killed — and also blamed militants based in rural Aleppo for the attack.

But the Britain-based monitor did not specify whether HTS or other allied militant groups were responsible.

The attack came as Syrian government forces have been locked in clashes with HTS fighters in nearby Hama province.

More than 35 combatants, mostly regime forces, were killed on Saturday in battles in Hama’s countryside, according to the Observatory.

Parts of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, HTS extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.