World ‘cannot trust Iran’ over nuclear future: Saudi foreign minister

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir says Iran needs to act as a normal country. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 23 February 2018

World ‘cannot trust Iran’ over nuclear future: Saudi foreign minister

LONDON: Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of foreign affairs, said on Thursday that the nuclear deal with Iran was unacceptable because Tehran could not be trusted to not produce a nuclear bomb in the future.
The so-called “sunset clause” in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) means that in eight to ten years’ time Iran could manufacture a nuclear bomb “within weeks.”
Addressing the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, Al-Jubeir said: “We believe the sunset provision is very dangerous. We don’t trust that Iran will not try (to make a nuclear bomb) eight to 10 years from now.
“By the time they kick out the inspectors and by the time the condemnations end, they’ll have one bomb,” he said. “By the time they get a resolution in the UN, they’ll have three bombs and by the time the resolution is in place they’ll have a dozen bombs. And we are right next to them.
“Our point is enough is enough. They need to start to act as a normal country. The revolution is over. If they want to be respected in the world they need to abide by the rules of the world.”
The sunset clause allows Iran to gradually increase production of centrifuges and uranium enrichment after eight to ten years.
Speaking in London at the Royal Institute for International Affairs at Chatham House a few hours earlier, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi denied that the JCPOA contained a sunset clause, saying the deal made clear Iran’s “permanent” commitment to not having nuclear weapons.
But he insisted the nuclear deal still gave Iran the right to continue its ballistic missile program.
“We — that is Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants — decided quite intentionally to de-link Iran’s nuclear program from any other issue. Otherwise if we had wanted to have a package — with ballistic missiles, regional issues — then we would still be in negotiations,” said Araghchi, who is also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.
“We were successful (in negotiating JCPOA) because we focused on one issue. It would be a big mistake if anyone tried to link the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to any other issue — to regional issues, to Syria or Yemen. Not only would we lose the JCPOA but it would not help those other issues.”
He accused the US of pouring “poison” on Iran by prevaricating over whether Tehran had complied with the terms of the nuclear deal.
“The US has created an atmosphere of uncertainty. This is like poison for the business community for Iran. This destructive atmosphere prevents banks, companies, entities from working with Iran.”
US President Donald Trump’s denunciations of the deal were “a violation of the letter and the text of the deal, not just the spirit.”
Iran had accepted some restrictions on its stockpiles of material as part of the deal to earn the trust of the other parties to the deal.
“We have accepted these limitations to our nuclear program to build confidence,” Araghchi said. “When these restrictions are finished it doesn’t mean Iran can go for the bomb.”
Araghchi told the Chatham House audience that while the nuclear deal “is a successful story for you — the West,” Iranians had not benefited greatly from the lifting of sanctions because of what he described as the suspicion and mistrust generated primarily by the US.


Palestinian impatience threatens Gaza cease-fire

Palestinian men prepare an object to be flown toward Israel as part of their protest, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2020

Palestinian impatience threatens Gaza cease-fire

  • There is no official announcement from the Palestinian factions about renewed hostilities

GAZA CITY: The launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory could mark the resumption of hostilities after some Palestinians expressed frustration at the lack of results from the temporary agreement with Israel.

There was no official announcement from the Palestinian factions about renewed hostilities, and Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the Committee for the Return March, described them as “individual actions.”
Egypt had brokered a short-term agreement between Hamas and Israel in October 2018 to ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and provide concessions in exchange for easing demonstrations on the border.
These included increasing the fishing zone in the Gaza Sea, allowing an increase in exports of products from the Gaza Strip, and the import of some materials that Israel had banned.
Media reports spoke of additional talks recently in Cairo to reach a long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel, which had been unsuccessful.
Bassem Naim, a Hamas leader, said the discussions were about extending the duration of the arrangement for an additional six months, as the previous timetable ended in December.
“The talk about a long-term agreement is only media gossip. The talks were centered on extending the duration of the previous understandings. There is no progress in the Israeli implementation of what has been agreed upon so far,” Naim said.
He added “Israel always make elections as excuse to prolong the period of understandings without improving them.”
The October 2018 agreement talked of two phases. The first was to provide specific facilities for the Gaza Strip, and the second was to begin after the formation of the Israeli government over a long-term truce that would include a prisoner exchange deal.
Political science professor Mokhamar Abu Saada believes that the tension on the Gaza border is over the slow implementation of the agreement.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Egypt had brokered a short-term agreement between Hamas and Israel in October 2018 to ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and provide concessions in exchange for easing demonstrations on the border.

• A Hamas leader said there is a tension in the relationship between Egypt and Hamas as a result of Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran.

“We have noticed in the previous Israeli election period that there was an escalation as Hamas and factions tried to obtain more Israeli facilities. It was a way to pressure the Israeli government as it knew that the Israeli reaction would be limited in this period,” Abu Saada told Arab News.
“Netanyahu cannot at this stage reach a long-term agreement with Hamas because of the Israeli elections, because all he wants is to keep the Gaza Strip calm without tension, but he has no ability to offer much,” he added.
Press reports talk of a tension between Hamas and Egypt that led to the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip. Taher Al-Nounou, media adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, denied this.
He said in a press statement: “The head of Hamas attaches special importance to this firm and growing relationship (with Egypt), as Egypt has from its geographical position a central role in the path of the Palestinian issue.”
Egypt allowed Haniyeh to travel on a foreign tour at the end of last year for the first time since he became head of Hamas in 2017.
A Hamas leader who declined to be identified said that there is a tension in the relationship between Egypt and Hamas as a result of Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran to participate in the funeral of Qassem Soleimani.
“Hamas promised Egypt that Haniyeh would not visit Tehran but after the assassination of Soleimani there was a necessity to do so, which angered Egypt and increased tension,” he said.
Haniyeh’s presence at the funeral sparked a debate in Palestinian circles about Hamas’s position on Iran, and on Soleimani specifically.