Iran releases mock video of Donald Trump being assassinated in revenge for Soleimani

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • REVENGE SERVED COLD Iran releases mock video of Donald Trump being assassinated by drone on golf course in revenge for Soleimani killing
  • Khamenei as saying in a recent meeting with Soleimani’s family: “Martyr Soleimani is permanent, he is alive forever.
  • “Those who martyred him – Trump and his ilk – are in the dustbin of history and will be forgotten in the dustbin of history, but he is alive forever.
  • “The martyr is like this and his enemies will be lost and buried. Of course, God willing, they will be lost and buried after they pay the price for their worldliness.”

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Iran Threatens Violence, US Warns of ‘Severe Consequences’

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • Iran Threatens Violence Against Trump Officials, US Warns of ‘Severe Consequences’ if Americans Attacked
  • On Saturday, Iran sanctioned 51 Americans over the 2020 killing of top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. The sanctions will allow Iran to seize any assets those individuals may have in Iran, but as Reuters noted, the move is largely symbolic.
  • But the Iranian regime is now indicating that it’s seeking violent revenge against members of the Trump administration, and it is essentially calling on assassins within the U.S. to carry out its wishes.
  • Commander Esmail Qaani of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps said, “We provide the ground for revenge against the Americans from inside their homes…We deal with the enemies and the crime of Commander Soleimani’s assassination with our own tactics… They did what they did, it’s far less expensive for the United States than for the children of the Resistance Front, who know no borders, to go and take revenge on themselves. This revenge has begun.”
  • The White House warned that America would work with its allies in the Middle East to “deter and respond to any attacks carried out by Iran.”

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Iran allegedly launches rocket

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • Iranian state TV says Tehran launched rocket into space
  • The state TV report, as well as others by Iran’s semiofficial news agencies, did not say when the launch was conducted nor what devices the carrier brought with it. However, the launch comes amid difficult negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal.
  • Iran’s TV aired footage of the white rocket emblazoned with the words, “Simorgh satellite carrier” and the slogan “We can”
  • However, officials were silent on whether the launched objects had actually reached orbit.
  • Iran has now abandoned all limitations under the agreement, and has ramped up uranium enrichment from under 4% purity to 60% — a short, technical step from weapons-grade levels. International inspectors face challenges in monitoring Tehran’s advances.

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Iranian and Russian officials strike positive tone on nuclear talks

(Reuters) – Iran and Russia both gave upbeat views on Tuesday about talks that kicked off this week to salvage Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with global powers, although Western nations have said the negotiations are going too slowly.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said a deal was possible in the near future if other parties showed “good faith” while Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov said a working group was making “indisputable progress” in the eighth round of talks.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States resumed on Monday in Vienna, with Tehran focused on getting U.S. sanctions lifted again, as they were under the original bargain, despite scant progress on reining in its atomic activities.

The seventh round of talks, the first under Iran’s new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, ended 11 days ago after some new Iranian demands were added to a working text.

Iran insists all U.S. sanctions must be lifted before steps are taken on the nuclear side, while Western negotiators say nuclear and sanctions steps must be balanced in the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA).

“The Vienna talks are headed in a good direction,” Iranian Minister Amirabdollahian said in comments to reporters broadcast by state media. “We believe that if other parties continue the round of talks which just started with good faith, reaching a good agreement for all parties is possible.”

France, Germany and the United Kingdom said in a statement on Tuesday that technical progress had been made in the last round and the parties now needed to fully focus on the key outstanding issues, particularly nuclear and sanctions.

They said while they were not setting an artificial deadline, there were weeks not months left to strike a deal.

“We are clear that we are nearing the point where Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program will have completely hollowed out the JCPoA,” they said.

“The negotiation is urgent – and our teams are here to work swiftly and in good faith towards getting a deal.”

ISRAEL WANTS FIRMER POSITION

The original agreement lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities but Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in 2018, a year after he became U.S president. Iran later breached many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.

The parties to the deal besides the United States – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – kicked off the new round of talks on Monday.

Iran refuses to meet U.S. officials directly, meaning other parties must shuttle between the two sides.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian envoy, said on Tuesday that a working group was making progress. “Sanctions lifting is being actively discussed in informal settings,” he wrote on Twitter.

The 2015 deal extended the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb – if it chose to – to at least a year from about two to three months. Most experts say that time is now less than before the deal, although Iran says it only wants to master nuclear technology for civil uses.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel would not automatically oppose a nuclear deal but world powers must take a firmer position.

Israel says it will never allow Iran to get nuclear weapons and that all options are on the table. Israeli leaders have said that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.

“We are not the bear who said ‘No’,” Bennett said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, referring to a popular naysaying character from children’s literature.

“For sure there can be a good agreement. For sure. We know the parameters. Is that expected to happen now in the current dynamics? No. Because there needs to be a much firmer position.”

Bennett declined to comment on Israel’s military strike capabilities against Iran, saying he preferred the approach of “speak little and do a lot.”

(Reporting by Miranda Murray in Berlin, Jeffrey Heller, Dan Williams and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, and Dubai newsroom; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by David Clarke)

Iran nuclear talks resume with Tehran focused on sanctions relief

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) -Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed on Monday with Tehran focused on one side of the original bargain, lifting sanctions against it, despite scant progress on reining in its atomic activities.

The seventh round of talks, the first under Iran’s new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, ended 10 days ago after adding some new Iranian demands to a working text. Western powers said progress was too slow and negotiators had “weeks not months” left before the 2015 deal becomes meaningless.

Little remains of that deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities. Then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it in 2018, re-imposing U.S. sanctions, and Iran later breached many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.

“If we work hard in the days and weeks ahead we should have a positive result…. It’s going to be very difficult, it’s going to be very hard. Difficult political decisions have to be taken both in Tehran and in Washington,” the talks’ coordinator, European Union envoy Enrique Mora, told a news conference.

He was speaking shortly after a meeting of the remaining parties to the deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – formally kicked off the round on Monday evening.

“There is a sense of urgency in all delegations that this negotiation has to be finished in a relatively reasonable period of time. Again, I wouldn’t put limits but we are talking about weeks, not about months,” Mora said.

Iran refuses to meet directly with U.S. officials, meaning that other parties must shuttle between the two sides. The United States has repeatedly expressed frustration at this format, saying it slows down the process, and Western officials still suspect Iran is simply playing for time.

The 2015 deal extended the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to at least a year from around two to three months. Most experts say that time is now less than before the deal, though Iran says it only wants to master nuclear technology for civil uses.

END OF THE ROAD

“The most important issue for us is to reach a point where, firstly, Iranian oil can be sold easily and without hindrance,” Iranian media quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.

Mora, however, said both the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s nuclear restrictions would be discussed.

Iran insists all U.S. sanctions must be lifted before steps are taken on the nuclear side, while Western negotiators say nuclear and sanctions steps must be balanced.

U.S. sanctions have slashed Iran’s oil exports, its main revenue source. Tehran does not disclose data, but assessments based on shipping and other sources suggest a fall from about 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 to as low as 200,000 bpd. One survey put exports at 600,000 bpd in June.

Mora said he decided to reconvene the talks during many officials’ holidays between Christmas and the New Year so as not to lose time, but he added that talks would stop for three days as of Friday “because the facilities will not be available”, referring to the luxury hotel hosting most meetings.

When the seventh round wrapped up, incorporating some Iranian demands, negotiators from France, Britain and Germany said in a statement: “This only takes us back nearer to where the talks stood in June”, when the previous round ended.

“We are rapidly reaching the end of the road for this negotiation,” they added.

(Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie, David Goodman, Philippa Fletcher and Alison Williams)

 

Biden aide says nuclear talks with Iran could be exhausted in ‘weeks’

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -The United States and its partners are discussing time frames for nuclear diplomacy with Iran, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday, adding that current talks with Tehran may be exhausted within weeks.

“We’re not circling a date on the calendar in public, but I can tell you that behind closed doors we are talking about time frames and they are not long,” he told reporters during a visit to Israel.

Asked to elaborate on the timeline, Sullivan said: “Weeks.”

Israel has long hinted that if it thinks diplomacy, now focused on slow-moving talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, has hit a dead end, it could resort to pre-emptive strikes against its sworn enemy.

But there have been doubts among security experts whether Israel has the military capability to effectively halt Iran’s program on its own, or if Washington would back its moves.

Sullivan said the United States continues to believe that “diplomacy, deterrence and pressure” remain the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Sullivan said that in his meeting with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, “we discussed means of ensuring that we are holding the international community together to maintain the pressure on Iran to live up to its obligations and to come back into compliance” with the 2015 pact.

“And in terms of operational matters, I think those are best left for private diplomatic discussions between the United States and Israel,” he added.

Earlier, Sullivan told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that the United States and Israel are at a “critical juncture” for forging a shared security strategy.

In public remarks after his own talks with Sullivan, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called on world powers not to allow Iran to play for time at the nuclear negotiations, in recess at Iran’s request and expected to resume next week.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying it only wants to master nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Washington has been spearheading efforts to revive the 2015 deal in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Israel bitterly opposed the deal and former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2018.

Sullivan, sent by President Joe Biden on a 30-hour visit to Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories, updated Israel on developments in the Vienna talks and the two sides exchanged views on the way forward, the White House said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he and Sullivan discussed “the strategy for combating Iran’s nuclear program and the way in which the U.S. and Israel cooperate on this issue.”

Since Trump pulled out of the agreement, Iran has breached the pact with advances in sensitive areas such as uranium enrichment. Sullivan called the U.S. withdrawal “catastrophic.”

(Writing by Dan Williams and Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Howard Goller, Alison Williams and Grant McCool)

Canada and others say patience running out with Iran over downed plane

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and Britain on Thursday said they could consider new steps in line with international law against Iran if it failed to respond by Jan. 5 to demands for reparations after the downing of a passenger airliner last year.

Most of the 176 people killed when Iran shot down a Ukrainian jet in January 2020 were citizens from those four countries, which created a coordination group that seeks to hold Tehran to account.

“The Coordination Group’s patience is wearing thin,” it said in a statement, adding that the group had pressed Tehran to open talks on reparations and to deliver justice but said Iran had shown it was reluctant to respond in a timely manner.

It said Iran should respond by Jan 5 or the group would “have to seriously consider other actions to resolve this matter within the framework of international law” but gave no details.

Tehran says Revolutionary Guards accidentally shot down the Boeing 737 jet and blamed a misaligned radar and an error by the air defense operator at a time when tensions were high between Tehran and the United States.

Last month, families of victims alleged in a report that high-ranking Iranian officials were responsible. In June, Canada said it had found no evidence that the downing of the plane had been premeditated.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Edmund Blair)

New friends – UAE de facto ruler, Israel’s Bennett in “historic” meeting

ABU DHABI (Reuters) -Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan hosted Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday in the first ever public meeting between the United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler and an Israeli leader.

Israel’s ambassador to Abu Dhabi said the issue of Iran was on the agenda for their talks, which follow the formalization of Israel-UAE relations last year under a U.S.-led regional initiative.

While shared concern about Iranian activity was among reasons for the diplomatic moves, the UAE has also been trying to improve relations with Tehran.

Releasing photographs of Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed smiling and shaking hands, the Israeli leader’s office described the meeting as “historic.”

Before he flew home later in the day, Bennett’s office said in a statement that Sheikh Mohammed had accepted an invitation to visit Israel. There was no immediate confirmation from UAE officials.

A statement on state news agency WAM said Sheikh Mohammed voiced hope for “stability in the Middle East” and that Bennet’s visit would “advance the relationship of cooperation towards more positive steps in the interests of the people of the two nations and of the region”.

The Palestinians, whose diplomacy with Israel has been stalled since 2014, have deplored the Israeli-Emirati rapprochement.

Israeli Ambassador Amir Hayek declined to elaborate on any discussion of Iran but he told Israel’s Army Radio: “The prime minister did not only come here solely to address the Iranian issue.”

With world powers now trying to renew the Iran nuclear deal, Abu Dhabi last week sent an envoy to Tehran. A U.S. delegation is due in the UAE this week to warn Emirati banks against non-compliance with sanctions on Iran.

Iran is Israel’s arch-foe, but it has not been mentioned publicly by Bennett since he set off on Sunday to the UAE with pledges to promote bilateral commerce and other forms of civilian cooperation.

The Israel Hayom newspaper, quoting unnamed officials, said Bennett was expected to brief Sheikh Mohammed on intelligence regarding Iranian-supplied militias and drones in the region.

Israel last month broached setting up joint defenses against Iran with Gulf Arab states. Hayek said military sales to UAE are in the works, though Israeli industry sources say advanced Israeli air defense systems have yet to be offered.

“Israel is in cooperation with a new friend, with a partner for the long-term, and the considerations will be both considerations of defense and also considerations of how you work with a country which is very, very, very friendly to Israel,” Hayek said.

Bennett said he told his government to step up efforts to reach a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates by the first quarter of 2022.

Israel-UAE bilateral trade in goods alone reached nearly $500 million so far in 2021 – up from $125 million in 2020 – and is expected to continue growing rapidly.

(Writing by Dan Williams and Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

U.S. and Israel ramp up pressure on Iran as diplomacy stalls

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States and Israel increased pressure on Iran on Thursday as nuclear talks stalled, with Israel’s visiting defense chief calling for discussions on joint military readiness to be able to halt Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

Reuters exclusively reported that Thursday’s U.S.-Israeli agenda was expected to include discussions about possible military exercises that would prepare for a worst-case scenario to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail and if their nations’ leaders request it.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the start of the meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz, that Iran had failed to offer constructive diplomatic engagement in talks that President Joe Biden had hoped would revive a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Austin said Biden was “prepared to turn to other options” if the current American policy on Iran fails.

“We are completely aligned in our commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is a national security interest of the United States and Israel and the world,” Austin said.

Gantz described Iran, Israel’s arch foe, as “the biggest threat to the global and regional peace and stability.”

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying it wants to master nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. But sweeping demands by Iran’s new, hardline government in talks have heightening suspicions in the West that Iran is playing for time while advancing its nuclear program.

With the 2015 deal’s nuclear benefits now badly compromised, some Western officials say there is little time left before the foundation of the deal is damaged beyond repair. Under the accord, Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

DETERRENCE

The Pentagon declined comment on the Reuters report, which also disclosed an Oct. 25 briefing by Defense Department officials to U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on the full range of military options to ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon.

“I know there’s interest in a certain Reuters report,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing.

“I will tell you this: We routinely conduct exercises and training with our Israeli counterparts and I have nothing to announce to or speak to or point to or speculate about today.”

Drills by the United States and Israel could address calls by Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. official and Middle East expert, and others to signal openly to Tehran that the United States and Israel remain serious about preventing it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Biden needs to disabuse Iran of the notion that Washington will not act militarily and will stop Israel from doing so,” Ross wrote last month.

Ross also suggested the United States could signal a willingness to give the Israelis the U.S. military’s bunker-busting Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound (13,600-kg)bomb.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns said on Monday that the CIA does not believe Iran’s supreme leader has decided to take steps to weaponize a nuclear device but noted advances in its ability to enrich uranium, one pathway to the fissile material for a bomb.

Burns cautioned that, even if Iran decided to go ahead, it would still require a lot of work to weaponize that fissile material before attaching a nuclear weapon to a missile or other delivery system.

“But they’re further along in their mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and that’s the kind of knowledge that is very difficult to sanction away or make disappear,” he said.

U.S. officials have also long worried about America’s ability to detect and destroy dispersed components of Iran’s nuclear weaponization program once enough fissile material for a bomb were produced.

(Additional reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Mary Milliken and Daniel Wallis)

U.S. envoy to return to Vienna over weekend for Iran talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley plans to travel to Vienna over the weekend for fresh talks on reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday.

The talks seek to find a way for the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the agreement, under which Iran restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to start violating the nuclear restrictions about a year later. Iran struck the original deal with six major powers: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Enrique Mora, the senior European Union official chairing the talks, said on Twitter that they would resume on Thursday.

The talks have effectively been indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States, with diplomats from other nations shuttling between them because Tehran has refused face-to-face meetings with U.S. officials.

Noting the EU statement that talks resume on Thursday, the State Department spokesman told reporters: “We understand that there will be a day of meetings before the heads of delegations need to attend … so Special Envoy Malley and his inter-agency delegation will plan to join the talks over the weekend.”

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Simon Lewis and Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)