Friday, April 20, 2018
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the United States on Thursday of “unpleasant” consequences if it pulls out of the 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reported.
“Iran has several options if the United States leaves the nuclear deal. Tehran’s reaction to America’s withdrawal of the deal will be unpleasant,” Zarif said upon his arrival in New York.
President Donald Trump, who has blasted the 2015 nuclear deal as “the worst deal ever negotiated”, in January decided to extend a waiver on nuclear sanctions that were imposed on Iran.
However, he made clear it was the last time he would extend the waiver and has given the European signatories a May 12 deadline to “fix the terrible flaws” of the deal.
Trump sees three defects in the deal: a failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program; the terms under which international inspectors can visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites; and “sunset” clauses under which limits on the Iranian nuclear program start to expire after 10 years. Trump wants all three strengthened if the United States is to stay in the deal.
The EU is eager to safeguard the pact, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions for at least a decade.
Seeking to respond to Trump’s criticism of the nuclear accord and Tehran more broadly, France, Britain and Germany proposed directing sanctions at Iranian “militias and commanders” fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, but have failed to convince their partners to agree to the move.
Iran has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other parties respect it, but threatened to “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.
The Times of Israel reports: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a fiery address at a torch-lighting ceremony marking Israel’s 70th Independence Day, declared that the Jewish state is becoming a “world power” and said its light will overcome its enemies’ “darkness.”
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Iran's supreme leader warned top officials Wednesday that their country was facing threats of espionage and subversion from foreign foes who sought to undermine the Islamic Republic and its increasingly large sphere of influence in the Middle East.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranian Ministry of Intelligence officials to be ready to fight an "intelligence war" over public opinion and the integrity of the country's ruling ideology that required both offensive and defensive strategies to win. Without naming any specific foes, Khamenei praised his spies for thwarting the plots of "the intelligence systems of the opposition" and recommended forming a united front at a time when tensions were rising with the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia.
"We are now placed in the middle of this great, big battlefield; one side of it being the System of the Islamic Revolution; the other side is the huge, powerful front of the enemies," Khamenei said, according to his official website. "We have to resist during this war, against the plans of the adverse front; to overcome the enemy, we have to develop offensive strategies besides defensive ones, so that a strategical blueprint on playing field is laid out by our intelligence services."
The Iranian Foreign Ministry came out strongly Tuesday against Israeli airstrikes that killed Iranian personnel on a Syrian air base last week, warning that "Tel Aviv will be punished for its aggressive action." The attack was followed by a trilateral U.S., French and U.K. cruise missile strike Friday on three Syrian government research centers allegedly involved in a chemical weapons attack in rebel territory the previous weekend. Iran is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and, along with Russia, has helped him overcome a seven-year uprising supported by the West, Turkey and Gulf Arab states. READ MORE
A tearful little boy grappling with big existential questions after the death of his father received some touching words of consolation from Pope Francis.
The poignant moment between the pontiff and the child on Sunday highlighted Francis’ enduring emphasis on prioritizing mercy.
The child, whom Francis referred to as Emanuele, met the pope during a papal visit to the St. Paul of the Cross parish on the outskirts of Rome. During a question-and-answer session with children of the parish, Emanuele approached the microphone to ask Francis a question.
But the child froze before he could get his words out. He can be seen sobbing into his hands in videorecordings of the encounter.
Francis encouraged the boy to come forward and whisper the question into his ear. The pope gave the boy a hug and the pair had a quiet chat before Emanuele returned to his seat.
Francis then addressed the crowd, saying that Emanuele had granted permission to share the conversation.
He revealed that Emanuele was crying for his father, who had recently died. The boy told the pontiff that his dad was an atheist, but a good man who had all four of his children baptized.
“Is Dad in heaven?’” the boy asked the pope.
“A boy that inherited the strength of his father also had the courage to cry in front of all of us,” the pope said. “If this man was able to create children like this, it’s true that he is a good man.”
“That man did not have the [gift] of faith, wasn’t a believer. But he had his children baptized. He had a good heart,” Francis added.
The pope said that God decides who goes to heaven, and that God has “the heart of a father.” He asked the young girls and boys in the audience if they thought God would abandon a father like Emanuele’s, who was a good man.
“No,” the children shouted back.
“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope said, according to a translation provided by the Catholic News Service. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.”
This isn’t the first time Francis has acknowledged that atheists can work for good.
In a 2013 homily, the pope reiterated the Christian belief that eternal salvation is attained through Jesus Christ. But he declared that all humans are created in the image of God, and that all have a duty to do good. This principle of doing good to others is one that unites all of humanity, the pope said, including atheists.
“Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said in that sermon.
TEL AVIV — As Israelis prepare to celebrate the country’s 70th anniversary starting at sundown tonight, the Israel Defense Forces are on high alert for the possibility of direct Iranian retaliation for a reported Israeli strike in Syria that targeted an Iran-operated airbase.
WASHINGTON, DC — Iran has “converted and radicalized thousands of Latin Americans” throughout the years by dispatching imams to the region and establishing mosques and “cultural centers” that Hezbollah used as recruiting tools, an expert on the Islamic Republic indicated while testifying before a House panel.
Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel celebrated 70 years since the country's foundation on Wednesday, lauding its improbable economic success and military prowess, but facing a range of political and security challenges.
The anniversary of the proclamation of the state of Israel by founding father David Ben-Gurion began at sundown on Wednesday under the Hebrew calendar, but falls on May 14 according to the Western calendar.
At the traditional Jerusalem torch-lighting ceremony kicking off what Israelis call Independence Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed what he called "real seeds of peace" he said were beginning to sprout among some of Israel's Arab neighbours.
He did not elaborate, but there have been signs of warming ties, particularly with Saudi Arabia which -- like Israel -- sees Iran as a growing threat.
"Our hand is outstretched in peace to all of our neighbours who want peace," Netanyahu said in Hebrew.
"And to our enemies who think that we are a passing phenomenon, I have news for you: In 70 years from now you fill find here a country seven times stronger than what we have done so far. This is just the beginning!"
The ceremony will be followed throughout the evening by open-air concerts, public dancing and fireworks across Israel. READ MORE