US allies furious that Trump couldn’t be bothered to read a 5-page document they prepared for him

Top American allies in Europe are reportedly upset that President Donald Trump tore up the Iran nuclear agreement without even engaging with their concerns about taking such actions.

The Washington Post reports that the United Kingdom, France and Germany had spent the past several months trying to negotiate with the U.S. State Department about a restructured version of the Iran nuclear deal that would address some of Trump’s stated concerns about the agreement.

Even though the sides were reportedly close to an agreement in April, Trump decided to tear up the pact anyway, much to European leaders’ annoyance.

To make matters worse, the Post reports that French President Emanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson all believed Trump hadn’t even bothered to understand their concerns.

“When Macron, Merkel and Johnson traveled to Washington in the days and weeks before Trump’s announcement, all came away with the feeling Trump had not read the five-page document they had prepared and perhaps was even unaware of the effort,” the publication reports. “In Brussels, where the E.U. is headquartered, many are skeptical that any further discussion is possible with the United States.”

Bolton: U.S. sanctions ‘possible’ on European firms over Iran

White House National Security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said U.S. sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran were “possible, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

Bolton’s comments, in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union, struck a more hawkish note than Pompeo’s, who was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on May 8 announced that the United States was withdrawing from a 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

So far, China, France, Russia, the U.K., EU and Iran remain in the accord, which placed controls on Iran’s nuclear program and led to a relaxation of American economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.

Bolton, asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, told CNN: “It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments.”

Pompeo said he was “hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well.”

Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran deal has upset European allies, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

This week, Israel and Iran engaged in an extensive military exchange on the heels of Trump’s decision to leave the deal. On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a telephone call that he was worried about stability in the Middle East, according to Macron’s office.

Bolton would not respond directly when asked whether Trump might seek “regime change” in Iran, or whether the U.S. military would be ordered to make a preemptive strike against any Iranian nuclear facility.

“I’m not the national security decision maker,” Bolton said, adding that Trump “makes the decision and the advice that I give him is between us.”

Bolton said Trump “has I think very clear policies, both with respect to North Korea and Iran. Those are the policies that we are pursuing.”

When pressed by CNN on whether the administration would sanction European firms, Bolton said, “I think the Europeans will see that it’s in their interest ultimately to come along with us.”

Bolton said Europe was still digesting the May 8 move by Trump.

“I think at the moment there’s some feeling in Europe – they’re really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions. I think that will sink in; we’ll see what happens then,” Bolton said.

[Reuters]

Media

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-sanctions-uk-europe-iran-business-trade-trump-john-bolton-a8349611.html

Trump working with Chinese president to help China’s ZTE ‘get back into business’

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are working to give Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp “a way to get back into business, fast.”

“President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The Chinese technology company earlier this month suspended its main operations after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American supplies to its business.

As one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, ZTE relied on U.S. companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Intel Corp for components.

[Reuters]

ZTE is banned from selling devices in the US because they violated our own sanctions and sold equipment to Iran. Remember, just this week Trump thought sanctions on Iran are so important he left the Iran deal to impose new sanctions on the country.

Do you realize how insane this is?

The company reached a settlement in March 2017 with the Commerce Department and Treasury Department for $1.19 billion and the promise to terminate several employees and punish others.

ZTE disclosed earlier this year that while it had gotten rid of several employees, the company hadn’t properly reduced the bonuses of some workers, or issued letters of reprimand. The inaction wasn’t consistent with a progress report ZTE issued in July. It’s because of those false statements that the Commerce Department decided to act.

Trump: We didn’t pay for release of prisoners from North Korea

President Trump on Thursday evening touted the release of three Americans prisoners from North Korea who arrived home this week, noting that the U.S. did not pay for their release.

“[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un did a great service to himself and to his country by doing this. But those hostages came out, with respect, we didn’t pay for them,” Trump said during a rally in Elkhart, Ind.

“What he did was the right thing, but they came out for nothing and the others came out for $1.8 billion in cash,” Trump added.

Trump appeared to be referring to a January 2016 deal in which the Obama administration agreed to pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a case related to the sale of military equipment before the Iranian revolution.

The payment coincided with the release of five imprisoned American citizens who were released in exchange for seven Iranians detained in the U.S.

The White House at the time disputed that it was a ransom payment.

Trump early Thursday morning greeted the three Americans who were freed from captivity in North Korea earlier this week. He has touted their release as an act of good will by Kim ahead of a planned summit between the two leaders on June 12 in Singapore.

“The relationship is good, and hopefully, I mean for all of us, for the world, hopefully something very good is going to happen,” Trump said at Thursday’s rally.

[The Hill]

Reality

In 1979, Iran’s then-monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid $400 million to the United States government to purchase military parts. But that year’s revolution toppled the shah, and the military parts were never delivered.

To regain its funds, Iran filed a claim against the United States in 1981 in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between the two nations. The body, located at the Hague, was established amid negotiations to end the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, in which pro-revolution students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

The $1.7 billion dollars Trump mentioned was a settlement of claims, and was announced by the State Department months before Iranian detainees were transferred back home to America.

Media

White House blames ‘typo’ for major claim on Iran’s nuclear program

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday blamed a “typo” for a controversial statement issued late Monday that initially said Iran currently “has” a secret nuclear program — a conclusion that would have major implications for the Iran nuclear deal.

In the statement issued under Sanders’ name, the Trump administration originally wrote that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” a position that conflicted with international monitors who have found Iran to be in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal it signed with other nations, including the U.S., in 2015.

The statement was later amended online to switch to the past tense, that “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.” On the White House website, the statement is published without a correction or other acknowledgment of the error, and a corrected email was not sent to reporters.

“We think the biggest mistake that was made was under the Obama administration by ever entering the deal that you referenced in the first place,” Sanders told reporters on Tuesday. “The typo that you referenced was noticed, immediately corrected and we are focused on moving forward on the safety and security of our country.”

The White House statement came in response to a Monday presentation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal, lambasting the agreement and accusing the Iranian government of deceiving the international community on the subject of its nuclear program.

Netanyahu’s presentation was met with skepticism by many who argued that it contained little new information, and Sanders, in her Monday statement, said “the United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully.”

Despite having to defend the White House’s edited statement, Sanders still went on the offensive at Tuesday’s briefing, slamming the Iran deal that the president has often threatened to withdraw the U.S. from.

“The problem is that the deal was made on a completely false pretense. Iran lied on the front end. They were dishonest actors and so the deal that was made was made on things that weren’t accurate and we have a big problem with that,” she said.

[Politico]

US Sees ‘No Indication’ Iran Launched a Ballistic Missile, Despite Trump Tweet

US intelligence radars and sensors “picked up no indication” of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the latest US assessment.

Iranian reports that the nation tested a new ballistic missile so far does not appear to be true, the official said, adding: “As far as we can see, it did not happen.”
State-run broadcaster Press TV reported the launch on Saturday, according to footage broadcast on Iranian state television.

“Iran has released footage of the successful test-launch of its new ballistic missile, Khorramshahr, a few hours after it was unveiled during a military parade in the capital city of Tehran,” Press TV said.

But the telemetry, or electronic signals, of a ballistic missile launch would have been picked up by a variety of US assets in the region who keep an around the clock eye on Iran’s weapons activities, the official said.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the apparent launch on Saturday: “Iran just test fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

The footage shown on Iranian television appears most likely to be a re-run of a previous test launch, the official said.

The official did not know if Trump received an intelligence briefing about the launch before sending the tweet.

Fox News was the first to report that the US believes the launch did not take place.

[CNN]

The Trump administration just quietly admitted that the Iran deal is working

In February, President Donald Trump said that the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran was “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen.” His comments were a direct echo of candidate Trump’s rhetoric: In one 2016 speech, he said, “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

While Trump refused to commit to tearing it up on day one, he repeatedly suggested that the deal was a “disaster” and that his administration would enforce it more harshly or perhaps seek to renegotiate its terms and make it a “totally different deal.”

Tuesday night, the Trump administration quietly took a very different line.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that “certifies” Iran is complying with the terms of the deal, including the terms that place strict limits on its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. The deal, Tillerson said, was working.

Tillerson was careful to note that Tehran was “a leading state sponsor of terror,” and announced that Trump was initiating a review that will “evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the [Iran deal] is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

But that kind of high-level review of major policy initiatives is actually quite normal for new administrations. According to experts across the political spectrum, the clear upshot of this letter is that the Iran deal is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

“My sense is the deal will be left largely intact,” Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow in the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy says. “[Tearing it up] is more trouble than it’s worth.”

That’s not to say that the US and Iran will be on good terms. The Trump administration is likely to take a more confrontational line on Iran when it comes to other issues, like Tehran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian ballistic missile program.

But it does mean that US-Iran relations, which focused on the nuclear standoff for years, won’t be changing as much under Trump as the president’s own words had suggested.

(h/t Vox)

Trump Fails Again on Iran Deal Details

Donal Trump on Meet the Press

In his interview with Todd, Trump stated that Iran would get to keep its $150 billion from the deal even if it does not live up to it. As Politifact noted, that figure is in line with, but very much on the very highest end of evaluations of the value the regime’s frozen assets as a result of international sanctions. (The general consensus is somewhere in the ballpark of $100 billion, according to experts interviewed by Politifact, though without U.S. participation, the maximum amount Iran could recover is $40 billion.)

“No sanctions relief?” Todd asked.

“‘We will never give you back your money. We will never … give you back your $150 billion. You’re never getting that money back,’” Trump said he would say in negotiations with Iranian leaders.

Links

http://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trumps-11-worst-foreign-policy-gaffes-us-election-syria-mexico-iraq/

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/aug/16/donald-trump/donald-trump-iran-gets-keep-150-billion-even-if-us/