Iran nuke deal on table as UK’s Johnson heads to Washington

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. (AFP file photo)
Updated 07 May 2018

Iran nuke deal on table as UK’s Johnson heads to Washington

  • Iran's president has warned that if the US quits the nuclear deal, it will regret it like never before.
  • Johnson says the UK, US, and European partners "are united in our effort to tackle the kind of Iranian behavior that makes the Middle East region less secure."

LONDON/TEHRAN: The British foreign secretary is traveling to the US on Sunday for a two-day visit, during which he will meet Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton, Britain said.

The discussions in Washington will center on Iran, North Korea, Syria and other issues, according to Britain’s Foreign Ministry, and come ahead of a visit to Britain by President Donald Trump planned for July 13.

“On so many of the world’s foreign policy challenges the UK and US are in lockstep,” Boris Johnson said in a statement, citing the poisoning in Britain of Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal, and opposition to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and to the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea.

“The UK, US, and European partners are also united in our effort to tackle the kind of Iranian behavior that makes the Middle East region less secure — its cyber activities, its support for groups like Hezbollah, and its dangerous missile program, which is arming Houthi militias in Yemen,” he added.

Trump has said he wants to reimpose US sanctions on Iran that were lifted in 2015 in exchange for Iranian commitments to curb its nuclear program. He has given Britain, France and Germany — who still back the deal — a May 12 deadline to fix what he views as its flaws. 

These include its failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, the terms by which inspectors visit suspect Iranian sites, and “sunset” clauses under which some terms expire.

Trump also caused upset in Britain and France on Saturday by suggesting US-style gun rights might have stopped a recent surge in knife crime in London and past deaths from terrorist attacks in Paris.

Iran has warned that if the US quits the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers then Washington would regret it “like never before.” 

“If the United States leaves the nuclear agreement, you will soon see that they will regret it like never before in history,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech in northwestern Iran on Sunday.

Trump has threatened to abandon the agreement when it comes up for renewal on May 12, demanding his country’s European allies “fix the terrible flaws” or he will re-impose sanctions.

“Trump must know that our people are united, the Zionist regime (Israel) must know that our people are united,” Rouhani added.

The nuclear deal was struck in 2015 between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, then led by Barack Obama.

Under the pact, sanctions were lifted in return for a commitment not to pursue a nuclear bomb, but Iran says it is not reaping the rewards despite complying with the deal.

The Islamic republic has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program was for civilian purposes. Rouhani did not specify how Iran would react if the US pulls out of the deal.

But he said he had given “the necessary orders,” notably to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, in anticipation of Trump’s decision.

On Thursday Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Tehran would quit the nuclear deal if the US withdraws.

Meanwhile, Britain’s ambassador to the US said on Sunday his country believes it is still possible to address Trump’s concerns about the Iran nuclear deal in time to prevent him from pulling out of the agreement.






‘Braking’ boundaries: Palestinian women seek new chances

Updated 12 min 34 sec ago

‘Braking’ boundaries: Palestinian women seek new chances

  • Palestinian women are pushing boundaries in the traditionally conservative city of Hebron
  • ‘(Society) has changed a little. There have been some developments, but not enough’

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories: As the 30-ton truck weaves through the crowded Palestinian streets, groups of men stop and gawp at the diminutive figure of Dalia Al-Darawish in a purple headscarf seated behind the wheel.
Darawish is preparing for an exam to become one of only a handful of qualified female Palestinian truck drivers, a test the 26-year-old sees as about more than just driving.
“It is symbolic,” she said. “It shows we can do anything — that as a woman you can work, drive a trailer or whatever.”
The mother-of-two is among several Palestinian women pushing boundaries in the traditionally conservative city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, amid a growing assertiveness of women’s rights.
Darawish said she had faced criticism from both sexes as she trained, but the men were far more vocal.
“They are some who supported, a minority,” she said. “But then there are people shouting in the street, ‘No, why are you driving a trailer?!’”
“Whenever I made any mistake you would find men shouting, ‘It’s impossible (for you)’.”
At the driving center, she shakes slightly as her black-moustached examiner Issam Bedawi explains the test.
After briefly demonstrating her ability to detach and re-attach the trailer, the two clamber up into the carriage and drive off.
Recent months have seen protests in the West Bank after a 21-year-old woman was allegedly killed by her family members after posting a photo with her soon-to-be fiancé on Instagram.
The demonstrators are demanding more protection for women, but also a more prominent political movement for women’s rights.
Palestinian women still often give up their careers to care for children.
A World Bank study last year found that 58 percent of skilled women between 25 and 34 were unemployed, compared to 23 percent of men.
The general unemployment rate for women (44 percent) is double that of men, according to official Palestinian statistics.
Wafaa Al-Adhami had long dreamt of being an artist, but didn’t have the opportunity to study growing up.
But five years ago and with the kids older, she returned to her passion, studying hours of videos about artists on YouTube.
“Painting and art courses are expensive and I had no time,” she said. “So I loved educating myself.”
“Every artist has their own style, and I wanted to find mine,” she said.
From her living room table with an array of children passing through, she developed a specific layering technique for her work, pouring the paint onto the canvas before sculpting and manipulating it.
The result is a 3D texture that she says is unique among Palestinian artists.
Her inspiration ranges from Palestinian icons such as the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem to more Jackson Pollock-inspired surrealism.
A recent 40-work exhibition was a big hit.
Elsewhere in the city, 31-year-old Asia Amer has set up what she believes is Hebron’s first women-only restaurant.
The idea behind the Queen Restaurant, she said, is to give women a space to feel at home.
Those who normally wear the hijab can remove the headscarf if they wish.
“I felt that it was the right of women to have a place they can relax in — where there are no restrictions or people watching her,” she said.
“I am proof that Palestinian women don’t just stay at home to cook and look after the children.”
Back at the driving test center, Darawish pulls the trailer to a stop and waits nervously as Bedawi tallies up the score.
“I’m happy to say she passed,” he announces. “Everything I asked of her during the test she did fantastically.”
Darawish doesn’t even know if she will work as a truck driver, as right now she is still looking after her children.
But she said she wanted to help drive change in attitudes.
“(Society) has changed a little. There have been some developments, but not enough,” she said.
“If there had been big movement, men who see a woman driving a trailer would be happy or they wouldn’t say anything at all.”