Iran’s actions in Mideast key concern, says Merkel

The Israeli premier is lobbying against Iran’s nuclear deal during talks in Europe. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2018

Iran’s actions in Mideast key concern, says Merkel

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she agreed with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran’s activities in the Middle East were a concern, particularly for Israel’s security. 

“We have the same goal that Iran must never get a nuclear weapon and the difference between us is how to do that,” she said at a joint news conference with Netanyahu.

The Israeli premier, who is on a tour to persuade European countries to follow the US administration of Donald Trump in tearing up a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran, said Tehran has been able to bankroll a growing military presence in countries such as Syria and Yemen because sanctions had been lifted in exchange for its halt in nuclear enrichment activities.

He will travel to Paris on Tuesday to meet with President Emmanuel Macron before coming to Britain on Wednesday for discussions with Theresa May.

“The Times” newspaper on Monday reported that Israel had shared secret files with European security services showing Iran’s determination to build an atomic bomb.

Among the documents seized by Israel from a Tehran warehouse in January, is a memorandum that formally hands responsibility for the production of weapons-grade enriched uranium to the Iranian defense ministry.

The document, seen by The Times was sent from the Iranian atomic energy authority to the defense ministry around 2001, authorizes the military to take over the task of enriching uranium hexafluoride (UF6) by centrifuges from three percent to more than 90 percent. 

Netanyahu is expected to use the finds from the files to make the case to May on Thursday that the deal with Tehran has been based on a false pledge from Iran that it never pursued a nuclear weapons program.

Iran wants to “basically conduct a religious campaign in largely Sunni Syria but try to convert Sunnis,” he said at Monday’s joint press conference with Merkel.

“This will inflame another religious war — this time a religious war inside Syria and the consequences will be many, many more refugees and you know where exactly they will come,” he said.

Iran’s activities across the Middle East threaten to drive another wave of refugees to Europe, Netanyahu said after Monday’s talks with Merkel.

Merkel also said that talks and the nuclear agreement, torn up by the US, offered ways of thwarting Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions.

“We support Israel’s right to security and have said this to Iran at all times,” she said.

Merkel defended the nuclear accord as ensuring “at least for a certain time, that Iran’s activities are under control” noting that Tehran had been “on the brink of having a nuclear weapon” before the deal was signed.

But she acknowledged that a supplementary deal with Tehran covering its ballistic missile program as well as its interventions in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen was needed.

“But we believe that this can be achieved with tough negotiations,” she said.

Asked about Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei comments on Twitter Sunday calling Iran a “malignant cancerous tumour”, Merkel said Germany and its partners had “repeatedly and with great clarity told Iran that we will stand up for Israel’s right to security.”

Western powers view Iran’s involvement in its neighbors affairs as destabilizing for the region while Israel sees it as a direct threat to its existence.

From ‘minga’ to ‘Maga’ — how the UN heard two world views

US President Donald Trump during a working luncheon hosted by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, front, at the United Nations in New York Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 26 September 2018

From ‘minga’ to ‘Maga’ — how the UN heard two world views

  • Trump had his own ideas for solving those very same problems, but they owed little to the minga philosophy

NEW YORK: The president of the United Nations General Assembly, Maria Espinosa, introduced the concept of “minga” to the packed audience at the organization’s HQ on East 44th Street in New York; but an hour later President Donald Trump had reasserted his own view of the world, under the “Maga” banner.
Opening the first day of the UN general debate — the centerpiece of the organization’s annual get together — Espinosa, from Ecuador, explained that minga was a principle by which the people of the Andes lived their lives. Its main tenet was the principle of living and working together in harmony for the betterment of all — an idea sure to win approval at the UN.
With minga the world could solve the big issues it faces, from gender inequality through the environment down to peace and security.
Trump had his own ideas for solving those very same problems, but they owed little to the minga philosophy. Instead, he saw the world through the prism of “strong independent nations” which together would advance the state of mankind.
And, as he made clear, the US was the leader of this band of nation, so his oft-declared amibition of “making America great again” (Maga) would bring the rest of the world along with it to greatness.
“Inside everyone listening here today is the heart of a patriot, filled with the passion that inspired reform and revolutions, economic good, technological progress and works of art. Sovereign independent nations are the only vehicles where freedom, democracy and peace have been enhanced. So we have to protect them,” the president explained.
Not everyone in the audience agreed with Trump’s unilateral view of the world, nor with America’s perceived role in it.
Before he had taken the podium — in presidential dark grey suit, white shirt and long red tie — the two previous speakers had stressed the traditional UN values of collectivism and multilateralism, and received warm applause from the delegates for doing so.
Two South American leaders, President Michel Timer of Brazil and President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, both talked about the challenges of multilateralism, and obliquely criticized the US over its long-running embargo of Cuba, as well as what they said was the role of American banks in dominating their economies, to the detriment of their people.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said that multilateralism was “under fire exactly when we need it the most, and, in contrast to Trump’s later comments about trade deficits, explained that what the world was really suffering from was a “trust deficit”, which could sink the international order in a bloody quagmire similar to the First World War.
President Trump made light of such dire warnings. In fact, he was adamant that the future was good, with a booming US economy, strong stock markets, full employment, tax reform and increased see spending on the US military.
“In the two years of my presidency, we have seen more progress that almost any other administration in the history of this country,” he said. The delegates murmured in response.