Atomic watchdog: Iran sticking to nuclear deal amid new US sanctions

‘Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,’ International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano said. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2018
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Atomic watchdog: Iran sticking to nuclear deal amid new US sanctions

VIENNA: Iran is implementing its side of its nuclear deal with major powers, the UN atomic watchdog policing the pact reaffirmed on Thursday, two weeks after the latest wave of reimposed US sanctions against Tehran took effect.
President Donald Trump said in May he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal for reasons including Iran’s influence on the wars in Syria and Yemen and its ballistic missile program, none of which are covered by the pact.
Germany, France and Britain have been scrambling to prevent a collapse of the deal, under which international sanctions against Tehran were lifted in exchange for strict limits being placed on Iran’s nuclear activities.
Many Western companies have canceled plans to do business with Iran for fear of breaching the sanctions Washington has put back in place. That has raised fears that Iran will breach the deal’s nuclear limits, which are designed to keep it a year away from being able to build a nuclear weapon if it chose to.
“Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano told a quarterly meeting of his agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors.
The JCPOA is the official name of the nuclear accord.
“It is essential that Iran continues to fully implement those commitments,” he added, confirming the findings of a confidential report to IAEA member states last week.
Amano did not comment on the broader impact of US sanctions, the latest round of which took effect on Nov. 5. Iran has warned it could scrap the deal if signatories France, Britain and Germany and their allies fail to preserve the economic benefits promised by its terms.
The European powers have been working on setting up a so-called special-purpose vehicle that would act as a kind of clearing house matching Iranian exports with EU exports in what amounts to a barter arrangement to circumvent US sanctions.
But the countries they have approached to host it have declined, diplomats say, delaying the project and deepening doubt as to whether Europeans can counteract the bulk of US sanctions targeting oil and other vital sources of income.


Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 22 May 2019
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Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.

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Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.