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Airbnb Gives Renters Secret Risk Assessments And Personality Tests

credit: Airbnb
MassPrivateI | March 3, 2020

What does the Church of Scientology and Airbnb have in common? If you answered secret risk assessments and personality tests, then give yourself a gold star.

If you have you rented an Airbnb in the past six years, the odds are pretty high that you have been given a secret risk assessment and personality score.

According to an Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) complaint, Airbnb’s secret renter risk assessments are just as specious as the Church of Scientology’s personality tests.

“This complaint concerns Airbnb’s deployment of a risk assessment technique that assigns secret ratings to prospective renters, based on behavior traits using an opaque, proprietary algorithm. Airbnb has failed to show that its technique meets the fairness, transparency, and explainability standards for AI-based decision-making set out in the OECD AI Principles and the Universal Guidelines for AI.”

According to EPIC, Airbnb uses a secret algorithm to generate renter “risk scores.”

“Airbnb generates a risk assessment score for consumers before their reservations are confirmed. As the company explains on their website: Risk scoring. Every Airbnb reservation is scored for risk before it’s confirmed. We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.”

For six years, Airbnb has been using their “Determining Trustworthiness and Compatibility of a Person” algorithm to create risk scores of every renter.

Airbnb also uses their secret algorithm to rate renters personalities.

“Personality comprises the emotional and cognitive characteristic of a person. Behavior is how a person acts or reacts, sometimes toward another person, in a certain situation. A person with positive personality or behavior traits such as conscientiousness and openness, for example, is often perceived as more reliable and trustworthy. A person with negative personality or behavior traits such as neuroticism and involvement in crimes, for example, is often perceived as untrustworthy.”

Airbnb does not want people who are “shy, anxious or depressed” to rent their apartments, condominiums or homes because those types of people are likely to leave negative comments.

But Airbnb will rent to people with a “high trustworthiness score” because they are more likely to leave positive comments.

Airbnb uses their secret algorithm to check renters social network profiles, email address, telephone number, geographic location, date of birth, social connections, employment history, education history, driver’s license number, financial account information, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and device identifier.

EPIC’s complaint claims Airbnb uses their algorithm to score a renters’ trustworthiness based on their social media profiles.

“According to the patent application, machine learning inputs include personal data collected from web pages, information from databases, posts on the person’s social network account, posts on a blog or a microblog account of the person, a comment made by the person on a website, or a directory listing for a company or association.”

Airbnb’s algorithm is also used to identify renters with Machiavellianism and negative personalities.

“A particular personality trait can be badness, anti-social tendencies, goodness, conscientiousness, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy or is involved in pornography, has authored online content with negative language, or has interests that indicate negative personality or behavior traits.”

By identifying so-called negative personality or behavior traits of their renters, Airbnb has essentially turned property owners into untrained psychiatric and behavioral therapists.

Airbnb also reviews renters emails, phone conversations and in-person encounters with owners and adds them to their secret risk assessment.

“The method provides the behavior trait metrics and the personality trait metrics of the first person and corresponding metrics for a second person as input to a scoring system and obtaining as output from the system a compatibility score between the two persons.”

Airbnb’s algorithm considers derogatory or angry words an anti-social personality trait. This is horrifying, everything a renter says and does goes towards their personal risk assessment.

Airbnb’s risk assessments and personality tests are about as accurate as the Church of Scientologists E-Meter which purports to identify a person’s negative traits using “a box; a needle; one battery; two cans; and a bunch of copper wire.”

Airbnb has one more trick up their sleeve so to speak: they are also checking renters’ names against secret U.S. government watchlists.

Airbnb has turned a once innocuous thing like renting an apartment, condominium or home into a corporate surveillance nightmare replete with secret risk assessments and anti-social personality scores

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | 2 Comments

Coronavirus vs. the Mass Surveillance State: Which Poses the Greater Threat?

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | March 3, 2020

I’ll leave the media and the medical community to speculate about the impact the coronavirus will have on the nation’s health, but how will the government’s War on the Coronavirus impact our freedoms?

For a hint of what’s in store, you can look to China—our role model for all things dystopian—where the contagion started.

In an attempt to fight the epidemic, the government has given its surveillance state apparatus—which boasts the most expansive and sophisticated surveillance system in the world—free rein. Thermal scanners using artificial intelligence (AI) have been installed at train stations in major cities to assess body temperatures and identify anyone with a fever. Facial recognition cameras and cell phone carriers track people’s movements constantly, reporting in real time to data centers that can be accessed by government agents and employers alike. And coded color alerts (red, yellow and green) sort people into health categories that correspond to the amount of freedom of movement they’re allowed: “Green code, travel freely. Red or yellow, report immediately.”

Mind you, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese surveillance state had already been hard at work tracking its citizens through the use of some 200 million security cameras installed nationwide. Equipped with facial recognition technology, the cameras allow authorities to track so-called criminal acts, such as jaywalking, which factor into a person’s social credit score.

Social media credit scores assigned to Chinese individuals and businesses categorize them on whether or not they are “good” citizens. A real-name system—which requires people to use government-issued ID cards to buy mobile sims, obtain social media accounts, take a train, board a plane, or even buy groceries—coupled with social media credit scores ensures that those blacklisted as “unworthy” are banned from accessing financial markets, buying real estate or travelling by air or train. Among the activities that can get you labeled unworthy are taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals.

That same social credit score technology used to identify, track and segregate citizens is now one of China’s chief weapons in its fight to contain the coronavirus from spreading. However, it is far from infallible.

Fighting the coronavirus epidemic has given China the perfect excuse for unleashing the full force of its surveillance and data collection powers. The problem, as Eamon Barrett acknowledges in Fortune magazine, is what happens after: “Once the outbreak is controlled, it’s unclear whether the government will retract its new powers.”

The lesson for the ages: once any government is allowed to expand its powers, it’s almost impossible to pull back.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the government thus far has limited its coronavirus preparations to missives advising the public to stay calm, wash their hands, and cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze.

Don’t go underestimating the government’s ability to lock the nation down if the coronavirus turns into a pandemic, however. After all, the government has been planning and preparing for such a crisis for years now.

The building blocks are already in place for such an eventuality: the surveillance networks, fusion centers and government contractors that already share information in real time; the government’s massive biometric databases that can identify individuals based on genetic and biological markers; the militarized police, working in conjunction with federal agencies, ready and able to coordinate with the federal government when it’s time to round up the targeted individuals; the courts that will sanction the government’s methods, no matter how unlawful, as long as it’s done in the name of national security; and the detention facilities, whether private prisons or FEMA internment camps, that have been built and are waiting to be filled.

On a daily basis, Americans are relinquishing (in many cases, voluntarily) the most intimate details of who we are—their biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to navigate an increasingly technologically-enabled world.

Consider all the ways you continue to be tracked, hunted, hounded, and stalked by the government and its dubious agents:

By tapping into your phone lines and cell phone communications, the government knows what you say. By uploading all of your emails, opening your mail, and reading your Facebook posts and text messages, the government knows what you write. By monitoring your movements with the use of license plate readers, surveillance cameras and other tracking devices, the government knows where you go. By churning through all of the detritus of your life—what you read, where you go, what you say—the government can predict what you will do.

By mapping the synapses in your brain, scientists—and in turn, the government—will soon know what you remember. By mapping your biometrics—your “face-print”—and storing the information in a massive, shared government database available to bureaucratic agencies, police and the military, the government’s goal is to use facial recognition software to identify you (and every other person in the country) and track your movements, wherever you go. And by accessing your DNA, the government will soon know everything else about you that they don’t already know: your family chart, your ancestry, what you look like, your health history, your inclination to follow orders or chart your own course, etc.

The ramifications of a government—any government—having this much unregulated, unaccountable power to target, track, round up and detain its citizens is beyond chilling.

Remember, even the most well-intentioned government law or program can be—and has been—perverted, corrupted and used to advance illegitimate purposes once profit and power are added to the equation.

In the right (or wrong) hands, benevolent plans can easily be put to malevolent purposes.

We’re not quite there yet. But that moment of reckoning is getting closer by the minute.

In the meantime, we’ve got an epidemic to survive, so go ahead and wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. And stock up on whatever you might need to survive this virus if it spreads to your community.

We are indeed at our most vulnerable right now, but as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it’s the American Surveillance State—not the coronavirus—that poses the greatest threat to our freedoms.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at Whitehead can be contacted at

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

CIA has been hacking China for 11 YEARS, says Chinese cybersecurity firm citing Vault 7 leak

RT | March 3, 2020

US spies have been hacking into Chinese aviation, energy, internet and even government sectors for more than a decade, Beijing-based cybersecurity firm Qihoo 360 said after a probe based on ‘Vault7’ tools published by WikiLeaks.

Coming from a major and reputable Chinese cybersecurity vendor, the accusations – made public on Monday on the company’s blog, in both English and Chinese – carry extra weight. According to Qihoo, a group of hackers designated APT-C-39 has been confirmed as coming from the US Central Intelligence Agency.

“Qihoo 360 data have shown that the cyber-weapons used by the organization and the cyber weapons described in the CIA Vault 7 project are almost identical.”

The attacks were traced as far back as September 2008, with the greatest concentration of targets in Beijing, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, the company said. Among the targeted sectors were civil aviation, scientific research institutions, oil and petroleum industries, internet companies and Chinese government.

The cybersecurity firm came to a conclusion that the attack was initiated by a “state-level hacking organization” because  the hackers had used “CIA-exclusive cyber weapons” such as Fluxwire and Grasshopper – long before they were publicly revealed to have been developed by US spies, when WikiLeaks published the so-called “Vault7” cache of documents, in March 2017.

Control commands and encryption schemes of APT-C-39 also lined up with Vault7 disclosures, while compilation times matched “North American business hours,” Qihoo said.

The CIA coder accused of leaking the documents, Joshua A. Schulte, is currently on trial for espionage in the US.

Another Chinese antivirus company, Qi-Anxin, published a report in September 2019 also accusing the CIA of hacking Chinese companies, notably the aviation sector. Qi-Anxin’s research was also based on analyzing CIA software made public by WikiLeaks.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | Leave a comment

Email Scandal: Hillary Clinton Ordered to Provide Deposition In Person After ‘Preposterous’ Defence

Sputnik – March 3, 2020

The almost six-year-long saga relates to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business while secretary of state. Although the FBI investigation resulted in no charges, it still remains to be seen whether her unusual email practices were meant to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.

A federal judge has ordered Hillary Clinton to provide a sworn deposition in person about her private email server.

The order, issued on Monday by US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, grants the request of conservative watchdog Judicial Watch to depose Clinton about her correspondence and documents related to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The court also ordered the deposition of Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and two other State Department officials. It also allowed Judicial Watch to subpoena Google for documents and records associated with Clinton’s emails during her time at the State Department from 2009 to 2014.

Republican officials and members of Congress had accused then-Secretary of State Cinton of failing to prevent the attack, which left four Americans dead. She defended her handling of the episode.

Judicial Watch’s lawsuit seeking Benghazi-related records led to a scandal in 2015 when it helped discover that Clinton had repeatedly used her own private email server, rather than a government-issued one, during her time as Secretary of State. Records of official correspondence must be kept under federal law, and Clinton’s reliance on a private account sparked concerns that she was seeking to sidestep that requirement.

Clinton email controversy

The email scandal haunted Clinton’s presidential campaign and was weaponised against her by then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The FBI concluded in July 2016 that she had been “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”. Although Clinton insisted that she had never received or sent classified material, the FBI discovered that she had send out over a hundred emails that should have been regarded as classified.

Around 30,000 emails, deemed to be work-related, were provided to the State Department; her aides had also deleted around 32,000 emails, which they claimed to be non-work related, before any subpoenas were issued.

The bureau, however, recommended bringing no criminal charges against Clinton and referred the case to the Justice Department, which closed it with no charges. The FBI reopened its probe just days before the November election after new emails were discovered.

Questions still remain

“Judicial Watch argued that Secretary Clinton’s existing testimony has only scratched the surface of the inquiry into her motives for setting up and using a private server,” Judge Lamberth said in the 11-page ruling. “Secretary Clinton has repeatedly stated that convenience was the main reason for using a private server, but Judicial Watch justifiably seeks to explore that explanation further.”Clinton previously explained her use of a private server in a sworn written statement, but this deposition would be the first time she had to answer questions on the case in person.

“To argue that the Court now has enough information to determine whether [the] State [Department] conducted an adequate search is preposterous,” Lamberth wrote. “Even years after the FBI investigation, the slow trickle of new emails has yet to be explained.”

He stressed that some of the questions remain to date: “How did she arrive at her belief that her private server emails would be preserved by normal State Department processes for email retention? … Did she realise State was giving ‘no records’ responses to her FOIA requests for emails? … And why did she think that using a private server to conduct State Department business was permissible under the law in the first place?”

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

US Judge Demands Company Charged in Russiagate Present Subpoenaed Evidence in Person

Sputnik – March 3, 2020

A US federal judge has threatened to hold Concord Management, a Russian company indicted by former special counsel Robert Mueller, in civil contempt if it does not present subpoenaed company records in person.

On Monday, US District Judge Dabney Freidrich demanded that St. Petersburg-based Concord Management supply her Washington, DC, court with subpoenaed company records by sending someone tasked with record-keeping to deliver them from Russia in person. She rejected a sworn statement, Courthouse News reported.

Concord’s legal representative, attorney Eric Dubelier, adamantly rejected Freidrich’s suggestion that the defense was engaged in something “sneaky,” calling the US government’s position “a ridiculous argument.”

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors urged the judge to hold Concord in civil contempt in a Thursday court filing.

“We are starting to have some concerns about whether Concord is participating in this case,” US Attorney Adam Jed said in court on Monday. “It gives us pause … that they are just going to write something down and give it to the US government,” he said of the sworn statement.

Concord replied on Friday with its own filing arguing its case for not being held in civil contempt, accusing the US Department of Justice of showing a “manifest disregard of the record and controlling law.”

“The primary foundation for its demand – that Concord’s counsel did not thoroughly explain the bases for Concord’s responses to the subpoenas – not only is not found in any court order but this Court expressly rejected the notion that such an explanation could be required,” Dubelier argued in the filing. The attorney noted that no court order had ever required such an explanation.

“And here again, the government’s incredulity over the adequacy of the response, real or feigned, does not reveal a failure to respond, much less a violation of any court order related to such a response. Simply put, the basis for a contempt finding is a product of the government’s argument, not the relevant record,” he noted.

The trial is anticipated to begin next month, with the discovery process having dragged on for nearly two years as Concord lawyers challenged Mueller’s authority to charge the company, then urged the DoJ to hold Mueller and Attorney General William Barr in contempt for publishing the Mueller report.

In a highly unorthodox move, the DoJ has refused the sharing of discovery materials with the defense, arguing that since Concord is partially owned by Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, doing so would help the Russian government react to US attempts to thwart alleged criminal activities. During discovery, the prosecution and defense typically share their positions and the evidence supporting them before the trial itself begins.

Concord is accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States by allegedly financing the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election because Prigozhin is allegedly tied to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence claimed is the ‘troll farm’ behind the alleged interference. Along with Concord, Mueller indicted a dozen IRA employees in February 2018.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Trump campaign sues Washington Post for ‘millions of dollars’ over ‘false and defamatory’ statements on ‘Russia collusion’

RT | March 3, 2020

Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign has reportedly filed a libel suit against the Washington Post for “millions of dollars,” accusing the newspaper of publishing “false and defamatory” statements about alleged collusion with Russia.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court in Washington, DC on Tuesday, highlights two articles published by the Post in 2019 linking Trump’s team to alleged foreign interference in the 2016 election, Fox News reported.

The complaint, which was seen by the news outlet, alleges that the Post was “well aware” that the statements were false but published them anyway for the “intentional purpose” of hurting Trump’s campaign. The articles were part of the newspaper’s “systematic pattern of bias” against Trump, it said.

One of the articles, published on June 13, stated that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s extensive investigation into alleged collusion concluded that Trump’s campaign “tried to conspire with” a “sweeping and systematic” attack by Russia during the 2016 election.

Trump’s team noted that Mueller’s report in fact “concluded there was no conspiracy” between then-candidate Trump’s campaign and Russia – and that no US person intentionally coordinated with any alleged Russian effort to interfere with the 2016 election.

The second article, published on June 20, suggested Trump had “invited” both Russia and North Korea to “offer their assistance” to his campaign. This was also described as “false and defamatory” since there “has never been any statement” by anyone associated with Trump’s campaign inviting the two countries to interfere or assist.

The lawsuit also says there is “an extensive record” of statements from Trump’s campaign and the White House disavowing any notion of Russian assistance and “not a shred of evidence” that there were contacts between the campaign and North Korea.

Trump’s campaign said the lawsuit had been filed in order to “publicly establish the truth” and “properly inform” readers, as well as to seek “appropriate remedies for the harm caused.” The complaint says Trump’s campaign was damaged “in the millions of dollars” – the exact amount to be determined in court.

The suit against the Post comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit filed by Trump’s campaign against the New York Times last week in relation to a 2019 op-ed, which it said contained similarly false statements intended to influence the 2020 presidential election.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The Myth of Moderate Nuclear War

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 3, 2020

There are many influential supporters of nuclear war, and some of these contend that the use of ‘low-yield’ and/or short-range weapons is practicable without the possibility of escalation to all-out Armageddon. In a way their argument is comparable to that of the band of starry-eyed optimists who thought, apparently seriously, that there could be such a beast as a ‘moderate rebel’.

In October 2013 the Washington Post reported that “The CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria amid concern that moderate, US-backed militias are rapidly losing ground in the country’s civil war,” and the US Congress gave approval to then President Barack Obama’s plan for training and arming moderate Syrian rebels to fight against Islamic State extremists. The belief that there could be any grouping of insurgents that could be described as “moderate rebels” is bizarre and it would be fascinating to know how Washington’s planners classify such people. It obviously didn’t dawn on them that any person who uses weapons illegally in a rebellion could not be defined as being moderate. And how moderate is moderate? Perhaps a moderate rebel could be equipped with US weapons that kill only extremists? Or are they allowed to kill only five children a month? The entire notion was absurd, and predictably the scheme collapsed, after expenditure of vast amounts of US taxpayers’ money.

And even vaster amounts of money are being spent on developing and producing what might be classed as moderate nuclear weapons, in that they don’t have the zillion-bang punch of most of its existing 4,000 plus warheads. It is apparently widely believed in Washington that if a nuclear weapon is (comparatively) small, then it’s less dangerous than a big nuclear weapon.

In January 2019 the Guardian reported that “the Trump administration has argued the development of a low-yield weapon would make nuclear war less likely, by giving the US a more flexible deterrent. It would counter any enemy (particularly Russian) perception that the US would balk at using its own fearsome arsenal in response to a limited nuclear attack because its missiles were all in the hundreds of kilotons range and ‘too big to use’, because they would cause untold civilian casualties.”

In fact, the nuclear war envisaged in that scenario would be a global catastrophe — as would all nuclear wars, because there’s no way, no means whatever, of limiting escalation. Once a nuclear weapon has exploded and killed people, the nuclear-armed nation to which these people belonged is going to take massive action. There is no alternative, because no government is just going to sit there and try to start talking with an enemy that has taken the ultimate leap in warfare.

It is widely imagined — by many nuclear planners in the sub-continent, for example — that use of a tactical, a battlefield-deployed, nuclear weapon will in some fashion persuade the opponent (India or Pakistan) that there is no need to employ higher-capability weapons, or, in other words, longer range missiles delivering massive warheads. These people think that the other side will evaluate the situation calmly and dispassionately and come to the conclusion that at most it should itself reply with a similar weapon. But such a scenario supposes that there is good intelligence about the effects of the weapon that has exploded, most probably within the opponent’s sovereign territory. This is verging on the impossible.

War is confusing in the extreme, and tactical planning can be extremely complex. But there is no precedent for nuclear war, and nobody — nobody — knows for certain what reactions will be to such a situation in or near any nation. The US 2018 Nuclear Posture Review stated that low-yield weapons “help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely”. But do the possible opponents of the United States agree with that? How could they do so?

The reaction by any nuclear-armed state to what is confirmed as a nuclear attack will have to be swift. It cannot be guaranteed, for example, that the first attack will not represent a series. It will, by definition, be decisive, because the world will then be a tiny step from doomsday. The US nuclear review is optimistic that “flexibility” will by some means limit a nuclear exchange, or even persuade the nuked-nation that there should be no riposte, which is an intriguing hypothesis.

As pointed out by Lawfare,

“the review calls for modification to ‘a small number of existing submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warheads’ to provide a low-yield option.

It also calls for further exploration of low-yield options, arguing that expanding these options will ‘help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely.’ This is intended to address the argument that adversaries might think the United States, out of concern for collateral damage, would hesitate to employ a high-yield nuclear weapon in response to a ‘lower level’ conflict, in which an adversary used a low-yield nuclear device. The review argues that expanding low-yield options is ‘important for the preservation of credible deterrence,’ especially when it comes to smaller-scale regional conflicts.”

“Credible deterrence” is a favourite catch-phrase of the believers in limited nuclear war, but its credibility is suspect. Former US defence secretary William Perry said last year that he wasn’t so much worried about the vast number of warheads in the world as he was by open proposals that these weapons are “usable”. It’s right back to the Cold War and he emphasises that “The belief that there might be tactical advantage using nuclear weapons – which I haven’t heard being openly discussed in the United States or in Russia for a good many years – is happening now in those countries which I think is extremely distressing.” But the perturbing thing is that while it is certainly being discussed in Moscow, it’s verging on doctrine in Washington.

In late February US Defence Secretary Esper was reported as having taken part in a “classified military drill in which Russia and the United States traded nuclear strikes.” The Pentagon stated that “The scenario included a European contingency where you’re conducting a war with Russia and Russia decides to use a low-yield, limited nuclear weapon against a site on NATO territory.” The US response was to fire back with what was called a “limited response.”

First of all, the notion that Russia would take the first step to nuclear war is completely baseless, and there is no evidence that this could ever be contemplated. But even if it were to be so, it cannot be imagined for an instant that Washington would indulge in moderate nuclear warfare in riposte. These self-justifying wargames are dangerous. And they bring Armageddon ever closer.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | | 2 Comments

European sanctions-busting payment channel for Iran registers ZERO transactions – Iranian ambassador

RT | March 3, 2020

Over a year since its launch, the EU’s INSTEX financial mechanism – designed to facilitate trade with sanctions-hit Iran – has not carried out any operations, Iran’s ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali has revealed.

“The Europeans have developed the INSTEX mechanism, but to date, as I’m talking to you, no transactions have been made,” Jalali said during a meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian senate.

The special purpose vehicle INSTEX was established by France, Germany and the United Kingdom in January 2019 in an attempt to rescue the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. The move came after the US, which used to be one of the parties of the landmark deal, unilaterally abandoned the accord and restored tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic. After the trade channel became operational, six more EU states – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – decided to join it.

While the mechanism is still far from being implemented, having such a financial instrument could be more vital than ever for Iran, as it has been hit hardest among Middle Eastern countries by the coronavirus outbreak. The pneumonia-causing disease that originated from China has already killed 66 people in the country and infected more than 1,500.

Although the European initiatives to save the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), look good on paper, Iran has repeatedly slammed the partners for their lack of action. Since the US’ withdrawal from the deal, Tehran has been gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments. One of the latest steps was made in January, when it announced that it would determine the enrichment level and the amount of enriched material it produced only in accordance with its own needs.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment