Ammon News, World

UK ministers drawing up plans to target Iran regime with sanctions: Report

[7/21/2019 7:20:11 AM]

AMMONNEWS - British ministers are making plans aimed at targeting Iran with sanctions in the aftermath of the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf, the Telegraph newspaper reported. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce on Sunday diplomatic and economic measures, including potential asset freezes, as a response to the incident, according to the report. Britain could push for United Nations and European Union sanctions to be reimposed on Iran after they had been lifted in 2016 following a deal on Iran's nuclear program, the Telegraph reported. *Reuters

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Iran guards post video of troops rappelling onto British-flagged tanker

[7/20/2019 5:34:58 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Iran's Revolutionary Guards posted a video online on Saturday showing speedboats pulling up alongside the detained British-flagged tanker Stena Impero and troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns rappelling to its deck from a helicopter. London wants to de-escalate tensions with Tehran, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday following a meeting of the UK’s emergencies committee over Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged ship in the Gulf. The meeting “reaffirmed UK desire to de-escalate,” Hunt said, adding that the Stena Impero oil tanker was seized in Omani waters “in clear contravention of international law” in “utterly unacceptable” circumstances. The seizure came hours after a court in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar said it would extend by 30 days the detention of Grace 1, an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago in an operation aided by British Royal Marines on allegations of breaching EU sanctions against Syria. *Agencies

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Iran Revolutionary Guards seize foreign tanker for ‘fuel smuggling’: State TV

[7/18/2019 7:31:54 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) seized an oil tanker carrying “smuggled fuel” last Sunday, along with 12 crew members, in the Arabian Gulf, Iran’s state television reported on Thursday. Citing a statement released by the IRGC, Iran’s Channel One reported that a foreign oil tanker carrying one million litres of “smuggled” fuel has been seized south of Larak Island, off the coast of Iran in the Arabian Gulf. According to the report, the tanker, which had 12 crew on board and can carry up to two million litres of fuel, was trying to smuggle fuel from Iranian smugglers’ boats to foreign vessels. The UK foreign office said it is seeking further information following the reports, urging Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region. The office also assured that it is continuously monitoring the security situation in the Gulf and is committed to maintaining freedom of navigation, in accordance with international law. *Al Arabiya

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Turkish diplomat, one other shot dead in Kurdish capital

[7/17/2019 5:10:40 PM]

AMMONNEWS - At least two people including a Turkish diplomat were shot dead on Wednesday in a rare attack in the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, local security officials and Turkey’s foreign ministry said. A gunman opened fire at a restaurant in Erbil where Turkish diplomats were dining before fleeing in a car driven by an accomplice, two Kurdish security officials and a witness said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility as security forces began a search for the attackers. Turkey, Iraq’s central government in Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Erbil condemned the attack, which took place weeks after Turkey launched a new military offensive against Kurdish separatist militants based in northern Iraq. Ankara’s main enemy in Iraq is the PKK group, which has based fighters in the mountainous border region, north of Erbil, during its decades-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey. Turkey and the ruling Kurdish party in Erbil, the KDP, have blamed the PKK for other Turkey-related incidents in northern Iraq including the storming of a Turkish military camp earlier this year. Turkey’s foreign ministry said one of those killed on Wednesday was a diplomat working at its consulate to semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. A statement from the Kurdish internal security service said two people were killed - the diplomat and another civilian - and one other person was wounded. The Kurdish officials and Iraqi state television earlier said three people were killed and that they were all Turkish diplomats and included the deputy consul. One witness told Reuters that an attacker entered the restaurant and started shooting before he fled in a car that was waiting for him outside. Turkey fights Kurdish militants It was a rare major security incident in Erbil, where a new president and prime minister, part of a clan that has controlled the KDP for decades, recently took office. The KDP has said it will continue to cooperate closely with Ankara against the PKK. “Nobody invited them (the PKK) here,” Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in an interview with Reuters this month. “We disapprove of their activities and ... of their presence here. We understand the concerns of the neighboring countries about security issues,” he said, adding that Erbil would look to strengthen relations with Turkey. Ankara’s forces have regularly carried out air raids against PKK targets in northern Iraq and in May dropped commandos on mountain ridges in a new operation against the militants. Turkey has called for Baghdad to take a more active role in helping it eliminate the PKK, and has waged offensives in recent years against PKK allies in northern Syria. Ankara vows ‘necessary response’ Turkey vowed to retaliate after an employee of Ankara’s consulate in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region was killed in a shooting on Wednesday. The foreign ministry confirmed in a statement an “employee was martyred” in an “atrocious attack” outside the consulate in Arbil, while presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin vowed on Twitter: “The necessary response will be given to those who committed this treacherous attack.” *Agencies

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Trump says US wants to help and work with Iran, not looking for regime change

[7/16/2019 3:10:14 PM]

AMMONNEWS - President Donald Trump said Tuesday the United States is not pushing to topple Iran's leadership but is determined to stop it acquiring nuclear weapons. "We are not looking for regime change. We are not looking for that at all," Trump said during a cabinet meeting. "They can't have a nuclear weapon." The United States quit an international deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions. Iran said last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal, and has also surpassed the 300-kilogram cap on enriched uranium reserves. Tensions have soared since Trump pulled out of the deal, with the US calling off air strikes against Iran at the last minute after Tehran downed an American drone, and Washington blaming the Islamic republic for a series of attacks on tanker ships. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Monday that the United States is "playing with fire." According to leaked diplomatic cables published at the weekend, Britain's ambassador to Washington believed Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal because it was associated with his predecessor Barack Obama. "The administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons -- it was Obama's deal," wrote the envoy, Kim Darroch, who resigned amid a storm triggered by the release of the sensitive documents. *Agencies

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Iran threatens to restore pre-2015 nuclear capabilities

[7/15/2019 3:06:20 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Iran will restore the nuclear capabilities it had before its nuclear deal with world powers, unless European countries fulfill their obligations, the spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said on Monday, according to IRNA news agency. Iran has repeated that European countries must do more to guarantee it the economic benefits it was meant to receive in return for curbs to its nuclear program under the deal, which Washington abandoned last year. *Reuters

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Netanyahu warns of ‘crushing’ retaliation after Hezbollah chief’s remarks

[7/14/2019 10:11:56 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned the head of Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah that “crushing” retaliation would follow any attack, after its leader said the group’s rockets could reach Tel Aviv. “Over the weekend we heard (Hassan) Nasrallah’s boasting about his attack plans,” he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “Let me be clear - if Hezbollah dares to make the mistake of attacking Israel, we will lay upon it and on Lebanon a crushing military blow,” he added. In a Friday interview broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah warned that key Israeli sites along the Mediterranean coast, including Tel Aviv, were “within range of our rockets.” The head of the Lebanese group also said that Israel’s arch-foe Iran was “able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” but “will not start a war.” Last week, Netanyahu said that “Iran has been threatening the destruction of Israel” and warned that Israel’s fighter jets “can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran.” Hezbollah is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the United States, and is the only faction not to have disarmed after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war. But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there. The Jewish state recently uncovered and destroyed six tunnels passing under the border from Lebanon into Israel. It alleges Hezbollah had planned to use the tunnels for attacks in Israel. Nasrallah’s interview was to mark the anniversary of the start of his movement’s 2006 war with Israel, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. *AFP

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