Russia urges Gulf nations to consider a joint security mechanism

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was attending a security conference in New Delhi, India. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Russia urges Gulf nations to consider a joint security mechanism

  • Tensions in the Gulf have risen following the US killing of Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani
  • Lavrov said unilateral sanctions were a problem in today’s world

NEW DELHI: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday Moscow has been urging Gulf countries to consider a common security mechanism for the region and it was time the world got rid of unilateral measures such as sanctions.
“We have been suggesting to the Gulf countries to think about collective security mechanisms ... starting with confidence building measures and inviting each other to military exercises,” Lavrov told a security conference in Delhi.
Tensions in the Gulf have risen following the US killing of Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani and a retaliatory missile attack by Iran on US forces in Iraq.
“Since I mentioned about Arabian Gulf, we are very much concerned about what is going in there,” Lavrov said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is also attending the conference in Delhi that comes just a day after Britain, France and Germany formally accused Iran of violating the terms of its 2015 agreement to curb its nuclear program, which eventually could lead to the reimposing of UN sanctions.
Iran’s Fars news agency quoted Zarif as saying overnight that the use of the dispute mechanism was legally baseless and a strategic mistake.
Lavrov said unilateral sanctions were a problem in today’s world.
“So the 21st century is the time when we must get rid of any methods of dealing in international relations which smack of colonial and neo-colonial times. And sanctions, unilaterally imposed sanctions, they are not going to work.”
After pulling out of the Iran deal, the United States slapped sanctions back on Iran and has gradually increased its “maximum pressure” campaign targeting the Islamic Republic’s revenues from oil, mining and other industries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Tuesday for US President Donald Trump to replace the Iranian nuclear deal with his own new pact to ensure the Islamic Republic does not get an atomic weapon.
Trump said in a tweet he agreed with Johnson for a “Trump deal.”
US Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger will also be addressing the Delhi meeting on Thursday.

Iran’s president warned Wednesday that European soldiers in the Mideast “could be in danger” after the three nations challenged Tehran over breaking the limits of its nuclear deal.

President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks in a televised Cabinet meeting represent the first direct threat he’s made to Europe as tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington over President Donald Trump withdrawing the US from the deal.

“Today, the American soldier is in danger, tomorrow the European soldier could be in danger,” Rouhani said. He did not elaborate, though European forces have deployed alongside Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rouhani separately criticized Europe’s “baseless” words regarding the nuclear deal. Iran had been holding out for Europe to offer a means by which Tehran could sell its oil abroad despite US sanctions. However, a hoped-for trading mechanism for other goods hasn’t taken hold and a French-pitched line of credit also hasn’t materialized.

After Soleimani’s killing, Iran announced it would no longer abide by any of the nuclear deal’s limits, which had been designed to keep Tehran from having enough material to be able to build an atomic bomb if it chose. However, Iran has said it will continue to allow the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog access to its nuclear sites. Rouhani on Wednesday also reiterated a longtime Iranian pledge that Tehran doesn’t seek the bomb.

The European nations reluctantly triggered the accord’s dispute mechanism on Tuesday to force Iran into discussions, starting the clock on a process that could result in the “snapback” of UN and EU sanctions on Iran.

The Europeans felt compelled to act, despite objections from Russia and China, because every violation of the deal reduces the so-called “breakout time” Iran needs to produce a nuclear bomb, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told parliament. Under the deal’s limits, experts believed Iran needed a year to be able to have enough material for a weapon.


Emmanuel Macron loses cool with Israeli security in ‘Chirac moment’ at Jerusalem church

Updated 16 min 51 sec ago

Emmanuel Macron loses cool with Israeli security in ‘Chirac moment’ at Jerusalem church

JERUSALEM: When French President Emmanuel Macron visited Jerusalem’s Old City Wednesday, he also trod in the footsteps of one of his predecessors, Jacques Chirac, by engaging in a heated argument with Israeli security.

The altercation broke out when Israeli security forces pushed past the French detail and were first to enter the Church of Saint Anne, which is French state property.

“Everybody knows the rules. I don’t like what you did in front of me,” an animated Macron loudly told the Israeli personnel, speaking in English, in the crush to enter the building, which remains French territory under international treaties.

“Go out — outside please!” he added in a raised voice in scenes captured in video footage that quickly spread on social media.

The Roman Catholic church, located at the start of Via Dolorosa in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, has been part of France’s territories in the Holy Land since the 1850s.

The rules that have been in place “for centuries,” Macron told the Israeli officers, “will not change with me, I can tell you, OK? So everybody, respect the rules.”

Macron will on Thursday attend a ceremony to commemorate the liberation 75 years ago of Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz death camp in what was then occupied Poland.

Wednesday’s tense scenes recalled a 1996 Jerusalem visit by late former president Chirac during which he also lost his cool with Israeli security agents who were pressing him to move on.

Chirac heatedly told them their actions were a “provocation” and angrily asked: “What do you want? Me to go back to my plane and go back to France, is that what you want?”