Iranian opposition urges Europe to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Tehran

Thousands of people, some of which are supporters of the National Council Of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leader Maryam Rajavi, gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the German capital's Mitte district, in a protest against the current Iranian regime. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019

Iranian opposition urges Europe to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Tehran

  • Calls come as Europe weighs how to respond to Iran breaching 2015 atomic deal
  • Iran said it is enriching uranium beyond the limit set by the accord

LONDON: European powers must reinstate sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran’s  breach of the international accord to curb its nuclear program, the Iranian opposition in exile warned.
Europe had been attempting to preserve the 2015 deal since Donald Trump withdrew the US last year. But Iran has reacted to heightened tensions with Washington by enriching uranium beyond limits set by the agreement.
The escalation has placed European leaders in a difficult position as they scramble to  salvage the agreement.
Speaking to Arab News in London, Hossein Abedini of the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) Foreign Affairs Committee, said the only choice now is for Europe to ramp up pressure on Iran.
“The Europeans must immediately snap back sanctions,” Abedini said. “The brazen actions to breach the nuclear deal ... clearly show that the mullahs’ regime never abandoned its nuclear projects and it is trying to capitalize on a placating policy to pursue it once again.”
The NCRI, a Europe-based umbrella bloc of opposition groups that seeks an end to Iran’s theocracy, has spent years warning about Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

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But its message now comes at a critical time as Iran demands that Europe must maintain economic relations even as the US moves to isolate the regime.
A diplomat sent to Tehran by Emmanuel Macron held talks Wednesday with Iranian officials in a bid to stop the deal collapsing.
But at a recent rally in Germany, the NCRI’s president elect Maryam Rajavi urged Europe to stop appeasing the Iranian regime.
“Each euro traded with the clerics is a euro for fueling the Khamenei repression and war machine,” she said.
Any concession to Tehran, she added, increases the prospect of a “catastrophic war” by the clerics.
The 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program and halt the country gaining a nuclear weapon. In response, world powers removed sanctions that had crippled the Iranian economy for years.
But many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, said the deal had merely allowed Iran to accelerate its missile technology and fund a foreign policy of stirring up trouble in the Middle East. Donald Trump agreed, and swiftly withdrew the US after he became president.

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He reinstated punishing sanctions on Iran’s economy, reducing its main income of oil exports to a trickle. In recent months the US also ramped up its military presence in the region and accused Iran of attacking oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned European signatories of the deal last week that Tehran would “take the next step” in growing its enrichment of uranium from Sunday.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed Monday that Tehran had enriched uranium to 4.5 percent purity, beyond the deal’s limit of 3.67 percent.
Abedini said the announcement proved the Iranian regime has never given up its nuclear projects.
“Past experience shows that the regime has always deceived the international community about its real intentions,” he said.
“It is high time that the whole nuclear infrastructure of the regime is totally dismantled.”
US sanctions have also targeted senior figures in the Iranian regime, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Last month, Trump said he was imposing hard-hitting new sanctions, including on the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in response to the shooting down of a US drone.
Abedini said sanctioning Khamenei and the IRGC are “the most imperative steps which will deny the regime funds it needs to continue its destabilising policies and repression at home.”


Iraqi protesters shut roads to ports, oil fields

Updated 44 min 36 sec ago

Iraqi protesters shut roads to ports, oil fields

  • Basra saw protesters block access routes to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, as well as Rumailah oil field

BAGHDAD: Anti-government demonstrators in southern Iraq shut roads to two major ports and a key oil field Wednesday, port officials and AFP correspondents said, leading to a brief operational halt.
Correspondent in oil-rich Basra province saw protesters block access routes to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, as well as Rumailah oil field.
Trucks waiting to load up goods from the ports could be seen waiting empty behind crowds of demonstrators.
Khor Al-Zubair is used for some heavy crude exports but also to import fuel products like benzene, while Umm Qasr is the main entry point for food and medicine into Iraq.
“Export and import activities have stopped because trucks cannot enter Khor Al-Zubair or Umm Qasr ports,” one official at Basra’s port authority said.
A second official later said the route to Khor Al-Zubair had been reopened but Umm Qasr remained shut.
Sit-ins have become a go-to tactic for Iraqis demonstrating against their government since early October.
Protesters have shut the road to Umm Qasr several times, causing a delay in offloading operations that on one occasion forced around a dozen ships to unload their cargo in another country.
Road closures have also impacted heavy crude from the Qayyarah field in northern Iraq from reaching Khor Al-Zubair since earlier this month.
The prime minister’s office has warned security forces “will not allow” protesters near key infrastructure, and riot police have forced roads open in deadly crackdowns.
More than 330 people have been killed since rallies erupted on October 1 in Baghdad and across the south.
In the capital’s main protest camp of Tahrir (Liberation) Square, thousands gathered Wednesday to express their ongoing frustration.
Top leaders and political parties have focused their efforts on hiring drives, more welfare and a new electoral law as immediate measures.
Parliament met late Tuesday to discuss a draft voting law that proposes downsizing the house from 329 seats to 251, shrinking districts and distributing votes according to a complex hybrid system.
But the United Nations mission in Iraq (UNAMI) said the draft law needed more work.
“The draft electoral legislation — currently under review by the Council of Representatives — requires improvements to meet public demands,” it said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
UNAMI chief Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged lawmakers to pass legislation that “will reflect the public appetite for a new and different way of conducting politics.”
Protesters have so far been unimpressed by the government’s proposals and large crowds — most of them students — turned out on Wednesday.
“Last night’s session serves their own interests, not those of the people,” said Younes, a 28-year-old protester.
Crowds have spilled over from Tahrir onto three main bridges that lead to the western bank of the Tigris, where key government buildings and embassies are based.
On Tuesday night, they tried to cross two of the bridges to reach the so-called Green Zone but security forces deployed on the bridges fired tear gas to keep them back, a security source told AFP.