DUBAI/VIENNA (REUTERS) - Iran announced on Monday (July 1) it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, drawing a warning from US President Donald Trump that Teheran was "playing with fire". Teheran's announcement marked its first major step beyond the terms of the pact since the United States pulled out of it more than a year ago. However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the move was not a violation of the accord, arguing that Iran was exercising its right to respond to the US walkout. The step, however, could have far-reaching consequences for diplomacy at a time when European countries are trying to pull the United States and Iran back from confrontation. It comes less than two weeks after Mr Trump said he ordered air strikes on Iran, only to cancel them minutes before impact. Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported that the country's enriched uranium stockpile has now passed the 300-kg (661 lb) … [Read more...] about Trump says Iran ‘playing with fire’ with uranium enrichment
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WASHINGTON: Acting US Defence Secretary Mark Esper will be ready to update European allies on tensions with Iran as he heads to NATO headquarters this week during his inaugural trip as Pentagon chief, a senior US official said.Esper, whose first full day in the Pentagon was on Monday (Jun 24), led the Army until the surprise resignation of Patrick Shanahan as acting defence secretary last week. Esper is now the third person in six months to work at the defence secretary's desk.His first week coincides with a previously scheduled NATO defence ministerial meeting, where the focus will be on other pre-planned discussions - including an approaching end to the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia.But Kathryn Wheelbarger, an acting assistant defence secretary, said Pentagon officials would raise Iran during one of the NATO sessions on Wednesday or Thursday."We are prepared to provide an update to the (NATO) alliance," Wheelbarger … [Read more...] about Iran in focus as new Pentagon chief heads to NATO
MECCA: Saudi Arabia convened emergency Arab summits on Thursday (May 30) to deliver a strong message to Iran over regional security after recent attacks on Gulf oil assets, as American officials said a US military deployment had deterred Tehran.Saudi King Salman told a Gulf Arab meeting, ahead of a separate Arab summit, that Iran's development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its threatening of global oil supplies posed a risk to regional and international security."It must be said that the absence of a severe and firm stance towards the subversive actions of the Iranian regime in the region caused it to go too far, as we see today," he said.Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have lobbied Washington to contain their foe, Shi'ite Muslim Iran, have said they want to avoid war after drone strikes on oil pumping stations in the kingdom and the sabotage of tankers off the UAE coast.Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering the drone strikes, which were claimed by Yemen's Iran-aligned … [Read more...] about Saudi king calls for firm Arab stance against threats from Iran
FUJAIRAH: Four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged in mysterious “sabotage attacks” that have inflamed Gulf tensions amid a standoff between the United States and Iran. In the face of growing international concern, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow and headed to Brussels instead for talks Monday with European officials, as Britain warned of the danger of conflict erupting “by accident” in the Gulf. Turning up the pressure on Tehran after the United States deployed B-52 bombers and an assault ship to bolster an aircraft carrier in the region, President Donald Trump warned that Iran would “suffer greatly” were it to “do anything” to threaten US interests. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake,“ Trump warned at the White House. “If they do anything they will suffer greatly.” Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan proposed a revamped military plan at a … [Read more...] about Oil tankers ‘sabotaged’ as Gulf tensions soar
THE US-CHINA TRADE IMPASSE The deadlock is not about to be resolved any time soon. We have not heard all that much from the Chinese government directly but editorials from Chinese media are now giving us a sense of the way Beijing is viewing the current impasse. The People’s Daily wrote that “at no time will China forfeit the country's respect” while The Global Times said “the perception that China cannot bear it (a trade war) is a fantasy and misjudgment”. So what? That the debate is now being framed, not in purely economic terms, but in terms of respect and dignity will make a deal that much harder to reach. There is very little room when one is negotiating with dignity on the line. Trade talks have come back from the brink before, but given the perception of Beijing in Washington is worsening, and vice versa, few are predicting a rapid end to the trade war. What if talks fail: Expect a significant fallout that will impact the global economy. The … [Read more...] about Asian Insider May 13: What if trade talks fail?