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If US attempts to seize Iranian tankers carrying oil to Venezuela now, de-escalation will be more difficult than ever

By Scott Ritter | RT | July 3, 2020

To expand its “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign targeting Iranian oil and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command, the US has a warrant to seize the cargo of four tankers heading to Venezuela. We should expect the worst.

Just weeks ago, in May and June, the world watched with bated breath as Iran dispatched five tankers carrying cargoes of gasoline and chemicals desperately needed by the Venezuelan nation, starved as it was of the ability to refine its own gas, due to the US’ stringent economic sanctions. While protesting the move, Washington did nothing to stop it, beyond sanctioning the ships involved. In what appears to be a replay, the Iranian government has now engaged four ships – the Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna – to deliver approximately 1,163,000 barrels of gasoline to Venezuela.

In an effort to prevent this, the US government sought, and obtained, a federal forfeiture warrant on the grounds that the sale of the cargo violates the law regarding economic activity conducted by or on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command (IRGC), previously designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organization. The Iranian government has condemned the issuing of this warrant as an act of piracy.

How exactly the warrant will be executed, and what the consequences of such an action will be are scenario dependent. One possible scenario would be for the US to attempt a replay of last year’s gambit to bribe an Iranian ship’s captain to steer his vessel to a country that would then impound the tanker and its contents on behalf of the US.

The Iranian ship in question, a tanker named the Adrian Darya, had been seized by the UK on suspicion of violating EU sanctions regarding the sale of oil to Syria, and held in the port of Gibraltar. Iran, in retaliation, seized a British tanker operating in the Strait of Hormuz. After behind-the-scenes negotiations, a Gibraltan judge ordered the Iranian vessel to be released – but not before the US Justice Department had issued a warrant for the seizure of the ship.

Using the warrant as a stick, the State Department had its Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, contact the Iranian captain by email and offer him several millions of dollars to, in effect, defect with his ship and its cargo. The State Department was using a 1984 program known as ‘Rewards for Justice,’ which had been expanded under the Trump administration to target the IRGC by offering rewards of up to $15 million for information that led to the disruption of illicit Iranian activity.

In the case of the Adrian Darya, the effort failed. However, according to information contained in the complaint filed in support of the warrant, the owner of two of the ships engaged in the transport of gas to Venezuela, the Bella and Bering, both sailing under Liberian registry, indicated that he was concerned over what he called “the American threat.” The Iranian middlemen involved in the transaction had pressured him into undertaking the voyage and had offered to purchase the vessels outright, if needed. The key question for all involved is how the captains of any of the four vessels currently underway would respond if subjected to a similar solicitation of money as was made to the captain of the Adrian Darya.

Even if the US wasn’t able to entice a defection from one or more, possibly all, of the targeted tankers, the threat of seizure alone might suffice to compel the captains to abort their journeys and either return to their ports of origin, or seek to transfer the contents of their respective vessels to other tankers willing to complete the task of delivering the gasoline to Venezuela.

The consequences of a ship’s defection would more than likely be treated by Iran as the equivalent of having the vessels boarded and seized in international waters, as the end result – the confiscation of the ship’s cargo – would be the same.

Given past precedent, it is highly likely that Iran would conduct a tit-for-tat seizure of a vessel of similar capacity that was either sailing under the US flag or carrying a US-destined consignment. This would be a risky move that would probably lead to some sort of confrontation between the Iranian and American navies and might very well escalate into a general regional conflict.

Another option is that the tankers would seek to complete their mission by sailing in international waters with their onboard automatic identification system – a transponder that enables the ship’s movements to be tracked by other vessels using satellites – turned off.

This has been the practice that Iranian and Chinese vessels have engaged in during the delivery of Iranian oil to China in violation of US sanctions. Considered a very risky and dangerous move that could result in a collision with other vessels, it also makes a ship difficult to track and therefore interdict.

The US could respond by placing a screen of US naval vessels just outside Venezuelan territorial waters, creating a de facto blockade that the four tankers would have to run if their respective deliveries were to be made. Whether or not the US would actually attempt a boarding and seizure is another question, as it could be seen as a violation of international law. Moreover, the potential for direct conflict with the Venezuelan navy and air force would be high, given their practice of seeking to escort Iranian tankers once they arrive in Venezuelan waters.

In the past, both Iran and the US have shown restraint in seeking to avoid any major force-on-force confrontation between their respective militaries, knowing that once initiated, de-escalation would be difficult, and the transition to a general regional war all but assured. The social, economic, and political costs to all parties involved would be prohibitively high – a universally accepted reality that usually serves as a deterrent against rash action by either Iran or the US. But the present time finds US President Donald Trump in the political fight of his life, with polls indicating a difficult, uphill fight for re-election in November.

By undertaking this attempted delivery of gasoline to Venezuela, the Iranian government has placed Trump in a dilemma that he’s worsened by seeking, and getting, a warrant for the seizure of the involved tankers. Any inaction on the part of the US will be seized on by Trump’s political opponents as a sign of his impotence as a national leader, while a seizure that results in a war with Iran would destroy any chance of the post-pandemic economic recovery he’s betting on to help carry him to victory this fall.

Once again, the world is forced to watch while its collective future is decided not in terms of what is best for the global collective, but in terms of how an action is best interpreted from an American domestic political perspective.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran resumes gas exports to Turkey after pipeline fixed

Press TV – July 1, 2020

The Iranian Oil Ministry says it has resumed exports of natural gas to Turkey despite reports in the media suggesting that exports could stop for good because of price disputes.

A spokesman of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said on Wednesday that Turkey had finished repair work on a pipeline that came out of service after an explosion on March 31, allowing Iran to resume exports.

“Exports have resumed now that repairs on gas export pipeline in the Turkish territory have finished,” said Mohammad Asgari, adding, “Iran’s gas exports to Turkey is going on as before.”

The announcement puts an end to weeks of speculations about a potential decision by Turkey to halt imports of natural gas from Iran.

Reports in April had suggested that Turkey was unwilling to repair the damaged pipeline because it was unhappy with the price of gas supplied from Iran.

Those reports said a sudden fall in international oil prices, which are used as a benchmark to determine gas prices, had caused Turkey to press Iran for a fresh negotiation on gas prices.

Authorities in Turkey had denied there was a major issue with the price, insisting that repair work on the pipeline had been delayed because of the spread of the new coronavirus in the region.

That comes as oil prices have rebounded in recent weeks mainly because of an international agreement to cut the output.

Turkey is entitled to receive around 8.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Iran each year under a 25-year contract which began in 2001.

Based on the agreement, any change in oil prices would take at least six months to have an effect on the price of gas delivered by Iran to Turkey.

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 2 Comments

If Suez Canal Blocks Iran’s Aid Ships to Lebanon & Syria, Strait of Hormuz Will Be Closed: Al-Akhbar Report

Al-Manar | July 1, 2020

Amid the squeezing US economic blockade on Lebanon and Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to aid allies and provide them with the basic consumption items by all means.

The Lebanese daily newspaper, Al-Akhbar, reported Wednesday that Iran has offered to sell oil to Lebanon which would pay in the national currency in return, adding that the Iranian ships are ready to sail without any political or geographical barrier.

In this context, the paper pointed out that the Iranians have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in case the Suez Canal is blocked to the aid ships heading to Lebanon and Syria, citing a positive Egyptian stance in this regard.

The Iranian offer, expected to leave Tehran losing hundreds of millions of dollars, is inexactly viewed in Lebanon, according to the Al-Akhbar report Hezbollah has informed the Lebanese authorities it will help finalize the deal when they approve it.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s latest speech tackled the Iranian offer on the basis of a promise his eminence received from the Supreme Leader Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Al-Akhbar mentioned.

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

American taxpayers’ money funds MKO terrorist group: Iran Foreign Ministry

Press TV – June 28, 2020

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has lambasted both Europe and the United States for aiding and abetting the anti-Iran Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group.

In a tweet on Sunday, the Iranian ministry said the MKO “is by all means a terror cult,” adding that while European countries are sheltering the terrorist members of this group, the United States is funding their anti-Iran activities.

“Europe is home to this rogue entity & American taxpayers’ money has funded the atrocities of this corrupt grouplet,” it said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry concluded by saying that as a result of their full support for the MKO, Europe and the US “both have [their] hands in the massacre of innocent Iranians” by this terrorist organization.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, had already condemned Western countries for their unbridled support for this terrorist cult, saying the MKO supporters have the blood of thousands of Iranians on their hands.

Mousavi made the remarks in a tweet on Saturday, which marked the 39th anniversary of a deadly attack by the MKO terrorists, which killed scores of Iranian officials, including then head of Supreme Judicial Council Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.

The MKO has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials since victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist attacks over the past four decades, about 12,000 have fallen victim to MKO’s acts of terror.

Washington and the European Union have removed the MKO from their lists of terrorist organizations. The anti-Iran terrorists enjoy freedom of activity in the US and Europe, and even hold meetings with American and EU officials.

June 28, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Hafte Tir Bombing: A Blast which Shocked the Iranian People

By Robert Fantina | American Herald Tribune | June 26, 2020

In 1979, the people of Iran successfully and mainly peacefully overthrew the United States-supported government, led by the brutal autocrat, the Shah of Iran. In ridding themselves of this repressive dictator and freeing themselves from the shackles of U.S. imperialism, they established the Islamic Republic of Iran.

While the revolution had widespread popular support, as does the government to this day, it was not without opposition groups. The MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq, or the People’s Muhajedin Organization of Iran), is one such opposition organization. It is a violent terrorist group that is currently supported by the U.S. government. Members of the MEK have never accepted the revolution, and on June 28, 1981, three years after the revolution, they bombed the Islamic Republic Party headquarters in Tehran. This horrendous crime was committed during a meeting of party leaders, and killed seventy-three people, including the Chief Justice, Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who had been a leader in the revolution.

Thirty-nine years have passed, but the memory of these martyrs has not dimmed.

Hujjat al-Islam Seyyed Mehdi Qureshi, Islamic Revolution Leader Representative in Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province, commented that “Iran’s stable position has been achieved thanks to the bravery of the martyrs.” Those martyrs’ names, many in addition to those who died on June 28, 1981, are etched upon the hearts of the Iranian people, and include General Qassem Soleimani, murdered by the U.S. in January of this year.

Any government has people who oppose it: citizens of the nation who disagree with one or more policies, and law-abiding people work within the system to achieve changes they seek. Generally, when a majority of the population wants certain changes, those changes are implemented.

Yet within Iran and outside it, a small terrorist group seeks the violent overthrow of the government, despite having so little support to do so. Why, one could ask, would the mighty United States support such a group, when it decries any terrorist activity?

The hypocrisy of U.S. government officials has been discussed and documented by this writer often. The U.S. is only interested in self-determination when the people of any nation choose a form of government that will follow all U.S. dictates. The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not do so. They form alliances with nations that the United States holds in contempt, and they come to the aid of those nations when required to do so, such as in fighting U.S.-financed terrorists in Syria.

Iran has not invaded another nation in over 200 years, and its leaders have a ‘no first strike’ doctrine. In the U.S.’s 244-year history, it has invaded at least 84 of the 193 countries that are recognized by the United Nations. And its continued hostility towards Iran has only increased with the administration of the unstable president, Donald Trump.

In the United States, lobby groups finance election campaigns, thus making the elected officials beholden to those groups, not their constituents. Prominent among these groups are pro-Israel lobbies, which consider Iran to be their rival for hegemony in the Middle East. Among the global community, only Israel and Saudi Arabia opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement signed with Iran and several other countries that regulated Iran’s nuclear development program, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Only Israel and Saudi Arabia praised the U.S. violation of it.

After sanctions were re-imposed following this U.S. violation of international law, this writer contacted a friend in Tehran. He was told that, while the sanctions were unfortunate, the Iranian people are accustomed to living with them, and would continue to do so as long as necessary. There was no talk of defeat; he didn’t suggest that the government should or would accede to U.S. demands. He was not resigned: he simply indicated that the Iranian people would continue to live their lives and make whatever adjustments were necessary due to the sanctions.

This is the attitude that makes Iran great, and that inspires Iranians to sacrifice their lives for their country. When one powerful country is besieged by another, more powerful one, but refuses to surrender, its people’s pride in their nation only increases. And this year, on the anniversary of the Hafte Tir bombing, the memory of those who were working for the people and gave their lives in that mission will again be remembered. Also remembered will be other Iranian martyrs, those who died in the August 30, 1981 bombing of the Prime Minister’s office, General Soleimani and so many others, whose names may not be as well known, but who are remembered and beloved by their countrymen.

The anniversary of the Hafte Tir bombing should be commemorated around the world as a symbol of the destruction and death caused by terrorism, and as a memorial to those innocent servant-leaders who died in it. It should also serve as a reminder to some governments, such as that of the United States, that their unjust plans for world hegemony will not be achieved, and that support for terrorists is an affront to the basic human dignity of mankind. It should remind nations across the globe that the U.S., the most violent nation on the planet, continues its economic and medical terror against a free and peaceful nation.

It has been thirty-nine years since those seventy-three Iranian officials lost their lives in the service of their country. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten in Iran, or by people of decency and compassion around the world.

June 28, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel honors cyber-terrorists behind May attack on Iranian port

PressTV – June 26, 2020

The Israeli military has honored units, which had been involved in a May cyberattack against Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port on the coast of the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz.

The units that took part in the terrorist operation against the Iranian port have received “certificates of appreciation” from the head of Tel Aviv’s military intelligence apparatus Tamir Hayman.

The elements honored by the Israeli military include troops in the regime’s Unit 8200, which is Israel’s cyber spy agency.

A statement by the Israeli military claims that the cyberattack, carried out on May 9, has yielded “a unique and impressive operational achievement.”

However, Iranian officials said at the time that the attack briefly knocked computers at Shahid Rajaee port terminal offline.

Mohammad Rastad, managing director of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, said the terrorist attack “failed to penetrate the PMO’s systems and was only able to infiltrate and damage a number of private operating systems at the ports”.

According to intelligence and cybersecurity officials, cited by the Washington Post, the attack was carried out by Israeli operatives. It came after the occupying regime said it had been the target of an attempt to penetrate the computers that operate water distribution systems in Israel.

The sprawling Shahid Rajaee port facility is the newest of two major shipping terminals in the Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas, on the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has been the target of US and Israeli cyber terrorism for a decade, including attempts to remotely sabotage the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

In 2010, US and Israeli intelligence agencies unleashed a computer worm called Stuxnet on Iranian uranium-enrichment plants in an attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. The Washington Post reported two years later that the US National Security Agency (NSA), its spy service CIA, and Israel’s military had worked together to launch Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The attack was followed by Mossad’s assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists.

Iranian officials have said the attacks worked to the US and Israeli detriment, helping improve the Islamic Republic’s readiness against acts of sabotage.

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Iran ready for coop with IAEA as long as it retains independence: Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani
Press TV – June 24, 2020

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran is prepared, as before, to continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as long as the UN nuclear watchdog does not deviate from the legal frameworks and does not fall under Israeli and American influence.

“Iran is prepared to take the agency’s legal inspections and engage in close cooperation with it within the framework of the [standing] regulations,” Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday.

“For us, cooperation with the agency has always formed the basis,” he said, adding, “We will maintain this [principle] today too.”

He said the Islamic Republic has invariably enjoyed a “friendly” relationship with the watchdog, whose inspectors have examined the country’s nuclear facilities regularly and confirmed its non-diversion from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world countries in more than a dozen reports.

The president, however, cautioned that “the agency too should pay attention not to deviate from its legal path.”

On Friday, the IAEA’s Board of Governors adopted a resolution — drawn up by the UK, France, and Germany — that called on Iran to allow access to two sites that Israeli intelligence services claim are related to Tehran’s nuclear program. Tehran has condemned the resolution, rebuffed the allegations, and reminded the agency that it cannot request inspections based on accusations made up by intelligence agencies.

“I fear these charlatans may tarnish the agency,” Rouhani said, referring to the Israeli regime and the United States that changelessly backs the regime’s stances and allegations. “They dupe the agency and push it away from its course.”

“The agency’s task consists of reporting on the manner of application of nuclear materials. That is what the agency is supposed to do,” the president said.

He, accordingly, urged the IAEA to act justly in its assessments and retain its independence.

Rouhani, meanwhile, berated the European trio for their falling under Tel Aviv and Washington’s pressure in devising of the anti-Iranian resolution, while praising Russia and China for their decisive stance against the resolution.

On US offer of talks

Separately, the chief executive referred to the United States’ new offer of talks with Iran.

The Islamic Republic is always prepared for negotiations as soon as the US renews commitment to the international regulations, he said, adding that it was Washington that left the negotiation table in the first place by reneging on its commitments.

Washington left the nuclear deal in 2018, although the accord has been endorsed by the UN Security Council as a resolution.

“They were the ones, who created trouble, broke the negotiation table, and tyrannized the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said.

He also urged that the US apologize to the Iranian people for the economic damage that it has tried to afflict on them through the sanctions that it reinstated after leaving the deal, and compensate the nation.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran has ‘no problem’ talking to US if it apologizes & offers refund over nuclear deal – President Rouhani

RT – June 24, 2020

Nothing is preventing Tehran from engaging in talks with Washington, provided that it comes up with apologies – and reimbursement – for losses in the 2015 nuclear pact America walked out on, President Hassan Rouhani has said.

“We have no problem with talking to the US,” Rouhani declared, in a nationally-broadcast speech on Wednesday. The only condition is that “Washington meets its obligations under the nuclear deal, apologizes and compensates Tehran for its withdrawal from the 2015 pact,” the president said, as quoted by Reuters.

Rouhani made it clear, however, that “these calls for talks with Tehran are just words and lies.” US President Donald Trump has previously offered to negotiate with Iran without any preconditions and to meet with Rouhani in person.

Washington repeated the offer of “serious talks” this January – but the timing of this couldn’t have been more questionable, as it came on the heels of the death of Qassem Soleimani, a renowned Iranian military leader, in an American missile strike.

Tehran, for its part, has consistently ruled out dealing with Washington under pressure, or trading vital national interests.

Last year, however, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that he pitched a suggestion to the US, under which Iran would permanently accept international inspections of its nuclear program, in return for the lifting of US sanctions.

Following his pattern of being suspicious towards Iran, Trump green-lighted the pullout from the hard-earned nuclear pact in 2018. Shortly after the US formally ceased to be a member, it slapped Iran’s oil trade, finances, investment activities, and other crucial sectors with sweeping penalties under the so-called “maximum policy pressure.”

This week, Washington will try to secure a UN backing for an indefinite extension of an embargo that bans countries from selling or transferring arms to Iran unless approved by the Security Council. In order to pass, their draft resolution requires nine votes in favor and no vetoes from China, Russia, Britain or France – a quartet of countries still adhering to the 2015 nuclear deal.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Iran parliament: IAEA resolution proof of structural discrimination within UN nuclear watchdog

Press TV – June 21, 2020

The majority of lawmakers at the Iranian parliament have denounced an anti-Iran resolution recently passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, saying the document is another indication of “structural discrimination” within the UN atomic watchdog.

In a statement read out on Sunday by Ali Karimi Firouzjaee, a member of the parliament’s presiding board, 240 MPs argued that the IAEA resolution — introduced by the three European signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, namely France, Germany, and Britain — explicitly demonstrated the trio’s “excessive demands.”

The Islamic Republic has voluntarily implemented the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and allowed the IAEA to conduct the most rigorous inspections of its nuclear sites in the history of the Vienna-based agency, read the statement.

The lawmakers further complained about the hypocrisy of the European trio, saying they devised “the illegal anti-Iran resolution” contrary to their claims to remain committed to the Iran deal and to make efforts to salvage the deal.

The IAEA resolution clearly indicates, the MPs warned, that the three European states “have once again fallen into the trap of the United States and the Zionist regime, and joined forces with them in the failed US project of exerting maximum pressure against Iran, hence dealing another blow to international multilateralism.”

Passed by a 25-2 margin with seven abstentions, the IAEA resolution called on Iran to “fully cooperate” with the IAEA and “satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay,” including by providing “prompt” access to two nuclear sites.

Tehran has rejected allegations of non-cooperation with the IAEA, arguing that the mentioned sites are totally irrelevant to its current nuclear program, and that the agency’s insistence on inspecting the two locations comes on the basis of fabricated information provided by Israel.

“Iran’s parliament strongly condemns the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution, which was adopted against Iran’s national interests based on a proposal by three European countries, Britain, France and Germany, under pressure from the US regime and the fake Zionist regime on June 19, 2020,” the statement read, adding that the resolution was “another sign of structural discrimination within the IAEA.”

The Iranian lawmakers also expressed their gratitude to China and Russia for voicing their opposition to the biased resolution, which they called “an obvious attempt at political extortion.”

“In addition to expressing gratitude to the states that did not support the move, the parliament considers the non-binding resolution another sign of the culture dominating the IAEA, which allows nuclear-armed member states not honoring their own NPT commitments to block other states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology.”

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

France’s test of nuclear-capable ballistic missile inconsistent with NPT obligations: Iran

Press TV – June 20, 2020

Iran has voiced concern over a recent test-firing of an intercontinental nuclear-capable ballistic missile by France, saying the test is in clear violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and inconsistent with the European country’s commitments vis-à-vis nuclear disarmament.

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran expresses its concern over the move and believes that the French government should not overlook its international obligations enshrined in Article 6 of the NPT and the NPT Review Conferences,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Saturday.

He added that France must fully comply with its international obligations regarding nuclear disarmament.

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that nuclear weapons pose a threat to global peace and security, and said testing such weapons would undermine the NPT as the basis for international non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

The French Ministry of Armed Forces announced on June 12 the launch of an M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from Le Téméraire, a Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.

“The nuclear-powered Le Téméraire successfully fired an M51 strategic ballistic missile off Finistère,” Defense Minister Florence Parly announced in a Twitter post.

The launch was carried out without a nuclear warhead off France’s Western coastal region of Brittany. The missile was tracked throughout its flight phase by radars and by the missile range instrumentation ship Monge (A601), landing several hundred kilometers away in the North Atlantic.

The M51 – which replaced the M45 in 2010 – weighs 52,000 kilograms with a 12-meter length and a diameter of 2.3 meters. Its operational range is reported to be 8,000 to 10,000 kilometers with a speed of Mach 25. The three-stage engine of the ballistic missile is directly derived from the solid propellant boosters of the European Ariane 5 space rocket.

Moreover, the M51 carries six to ten independently targetable (Multiple Independently targeted Reentry Vehicle) TN 75 thermonuclear warheads which, since 2015, have been replaced with the new Tête nucléaire océanique (TNO or oceanic nuclear warhead) warheads. The new warheads are reportedly maneuverable (Maneuverable Re-entry Vehicle) in order to avoid potential ballistic defenses.

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Refusal to Bomb Iran ‘Disproves’ Bolton’s Memoir, His Ex-Chief of Staff Says

Sputnik – 20.06.2020

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s hawkish former national security advisor, is set to release a damning memoir about his White House stint. It is widely believed that he was ousted after sparring with the president over US policy on Iran.

Fred Fleitz, John Bolton’s former chief of staff, believes that Donald Trump’s decision not to go to war with Iran negates the premise of Bolton’s upcoming book.

“When we hear that the president doesn’t have principles [and] he’s not qualified to lead, this incident that Bolton puts forward as the turning point for his relationship with President Trump,” Fleitz told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on Thursday. “In my mind, it disproves the whole book.”

The United States and Iran were on the brink of war last summer after a US drone was shot down after allegedly violating Iranian airspace. Donald Trump reportedly approved a retaliatory strike in June 2019 but abruptly backed away.

He said he had made the call with 10 minutes to spare after being told that it might kill as many as 150 people. The decision has also been attributed to his broader unwillingness to entangle the United States in another protracted military conflict.

John Bolton, one of the key architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Donald Trump’s hardline Iran policy, quit the administration in September 2019. He was said to have had disagreed with the president on many foreign policy matters, and media reports at the time linked Bolton’s dismissal to him going against the planned easing of Iran sanctions.

“The job of these senior advisers is to work with the president, not to fight with them and implement his policies,” Fleitz said. “And I’m very sorry that John Bolton couldn’t figure out how to do that.”

Bolton has kept a low profile since his departure. He refused to testify during Trump’s impeachment inquiry in the House and indicated he would speak at the Senate trial, but Republicans voted against bringing in witnesses.

He is scheduled to publish a memoir next week, titled The Room Where It Happened. According to excerpts published in the US, the book contains several damning allegations against the president, including one that he asked China’s Xi Jinping to buy US agricultural goods to help him get re-elected this year, and another that he defended the Saudi crown prince after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to distract from his daughter’s email scandal.

This week, the Trump administration sued Bolton, alleging unlawful disclosure of classified information and breach of contract, in a bid to prevent him from publishing the book.

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | 4 Comments

Russia: UN chief report blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities not based on convincing evidence

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
Press TV | June 17, 2020

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the UN chief’s report on Iran’s involvement in the last year attacks on Saudi oil facilities is biased and not substantiated by facts.

“What we surely won’t argue with is, unfortunately, that the report can hardly be called balanced and calibrated,” the ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

She added Russia will present a “detailed analysis” of the UN report during the relevant discussion at the Security Council later on June 30.

“We can also speak about a lack of impartiality and the absence of strong facts to support the accusations leveled at Iran,” she noted, stressing “Nobody has ever presented any convincing evidence of Iran’s violations to the Security Council members.”

The Russian official said that the report was not valid, arguing the “self-appointed inspectors” had claimed based on their “personal observations” that what they saw was “roughly reminiscent of what Iran had once demonstrated at arms exhibitions.”

Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the Security Council that cruise missiles used in attacks on oil facilities and an airport in Saudi Arabia last year were of “Iranian origin.”

He also said the “items may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent” with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the international nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – signed between Iran and major world powers in 2015. The allegations were roundly rejected by Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said in a statement that the claims appear to have been made under political pressure from the US and Saudi regimes.

“Preparing reports with political motivation will not change the facts and it is clear to all that the current circumstances in the region have directly resulted from the wrong policies of the United States and the child-killing Saudi regime,” the statement said.

The ministry highly recommended that the UN Secretariat not play into the hands of the US in its “pre-planned scenario to annul the cancellation of Iran’s arms embargo.” It also warned the UN against contributing to such a dangerous trend by preparing illegal reports.

Separately, Iran’s UN Mission also responded to the report on Friday, saying, “Iran categorically rejects the observations contained in the report concerning the Iranian connection to the export of weapons or their components that are used in attacks on Saudi Arabia and the Iranian origin of alleged US seizures of armaments.”

US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstated Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Tehran. His administration has also been piling up pressure on the United Nations to extend and strengthen the embargo on Iran, which is set to expire in October under the nuclear deal.

Washington seeks to restore all Security Council sanctions lifted against Iran if the 15-member body fails to preserve the UN ban on selling conventional arms to Iran.

June 17, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment