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Is the Iran Nuclear deal in jeopardy?

A new round of sanctions could be levied against Iran, and the US could still withdraw from the agreement

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Several European players are mulling the idea of adding additional sanctions against Iran in the hopes that such actions would placate Washington into remaining a part of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Given that the deal doesn’t address the sort of missiles that Iran can develop and possess, and that it doesn’t address the possible levying of additional sanctions on any pretexts other than nuclear based pretexts, this technically leaves the way wide open for additional sanctions to be put in place against Tehran, therefore Iran’s missile program can be used as an excuse to introduce sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, and hopefully Washington will provide a thumbs up for them and decide to stay in the deal.

Part of what makes the missile program pretext look so appealing to the agreement’s European signatories is that Tehran has said that it will not consider taking action to address its missile program as long as the US and EU continue to maintain their own such programs. Ergo, since it is already plain that Tehran won’t budge on the issue,  Europe can demand such action, knowing that such demands would be fruitless, and therefore justify introducing a fresh round of sanctions. RT reports:

France, Germany and the UK have proposed new sanctions targeting Iran in an apparent attempt to keep the US within the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. New restrictions would target Iran’s missile program and activity in Syria.

The sanctions would be particularly imposed against Iranian nationals involved in the development of the country’s ballistic missile progam, Reuters reported, citing a document it obtained.

“We will therefore be circulating in the coming days a list of persons and entities that we believe should be targeted in view of their publicly demonstrated roles,” the document said, referring to the people involved in the Iranian missile program and support of the Syrian government, as reported by Reuters.

The confidential document also says that the three European nations have been engaged in “intensive talks with the Trump administration to achieve a clear and lasting reaffirmation of US support for the (nuclear) agreement beyond May 12.” Diplomats familiar with the issue told Reuters that the European powers held several rounds of talks with the US on the issue this week.

The text of the document was also sent to EU capitals on Friday to garner support for the decision to impose new sanctions, which would require the backing of all 28 EU member states.

The three nations believe that the measure is justified by the 2015 nuclear agreement. The document says that the signatories of the agreement are legally “entitled to adopt additional sanctions against Iran” as long as these new measures are not nuclear-related or are not similar to the restrictions which were previously lifted under the JPCOA.

According to Reuters, the list of sanctions could potentially include travel bans and asset freezes on individuals, as well as a ban on doing business or financing public and private companies. The document proposes building on the existing restrictions imposed by the EU against Syria.

The news came as the signatories to the deal attended a regular meeting aimed at reviewing the implementation of the agreement, which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The representatives of the US, Russia, China, France, Germany, the UK and Iran met in Vienna on Friday.

Earlier, European diplomats said they were desperate to save the deal from potential collapse by discouraging US President Donald Trump from pulling out of it in May. On May 12, Trump is expected to extend the waivers of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. He has said, however, that he would not do so if the deal is not “fixed.”

The JCPOA was negotiated in the summer of 2015 with provisions that were meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear program by reducing the number of its enrichment facilities by two-thirds, cutting its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent and keeping enrichment below the weapons-grade level. In exchange, the six powers agreed to lift sanctions that were imposed on the Islamic Republic over a decade due to its nuclear program.

However, the deal never covered Iran’s missile activities or any other actions. Iran repeatedly refused to discuss its missile program with the Western powers, adding that its missile program was being developed solely for defensive purposes.

In early March, Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri said that Tehran would enter into negotiations over the issue of the Iranian missile programs only after the US and European states destroyed the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles they possess. At the same time, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said that “it is the Islamic Republic [that] would decide on the type of missile it can possess.”

Tehran also refuses to re-negotiate the 2015 deal and said it will not accept any supplementary agreements to it. “The JCPOA is a product of long negotiations and a package of exchanges which have (already) taken place,” Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, told the IRNA news agency on Friday, as he ruled out any changes or amendments to the document.

Tehran’s compliance with the 2015 agreement was then repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN nuclear watchdog. Trump, however, repeatedly called the agreement the “worst deal ever negotiated,” and demonstrated apparent aspiration to “dismantle” it on many occasions.

Russia and China relentlessly warned the US against unilaterally revising the agreement, which they argue would hurt global security. In late January, Moscow warned that Washington “blackmails” European nations into changing or amending the deal with threats to withdraw from the agreement and demands that the deals “flaws” to be fixed.

Of Course, a new round of sanctions could be passed against Iran, and for whatever reason, the US could still withdraw from the agreement. Of course the JCPOA’s European parties would still be party to the agreement, if the US applied a sufficient degree of pressure on them to further dismantle the deal, two possible outcomes could be the result.

First, they could capitulate to Washington’s demands, effectively ending the deal and leading to the further destabilization of relations with Iran, likely leading to the resumption of Iran’s nuclear weapons development program without Western oversight.

Second, they could refuse to do so, which would further damage America’s political clout on the world stage in a manner even more detrimental than the potential trade wars that are possible as a result of newly imposed tariffs and the Jerusalem embassy issue that occurred this past December, which would further damage the possibility of any accord being struck through talks with North Korea.

Of course, with the appointment of Mike Pompeo as the new Secretary of State, the JCPOA’s prospects become even more endangered due to his ‘hawkish’ approach towards Iran. Between the possible introduction of new sanctions by the UK, France, and Germany, as well as the potential withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal in May, the prospects for Iran and the rest of the Middle East could become considerably more capricious.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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Another witness named by Ford becomes third person to deny being at party

A woman believed to have been one of five people at a party 35 years ago where Ford claims she was assaulted by Kavanaugh is now the fourth person to deny being at any such party.

The Duran

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Via The Washington Examiner


A witness, reportedly named by Christine Blasey Ford as one of the people at the high school party where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday she was not there.

The attorney for Leland Ingham Keyser told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Keyser does not remember being at the party Ford described as the location of the alleged assault.

“Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford,” Keyser said in the statement. CNN reported Keyser is a lifelong friend of Ford’s.

Keyser, whom the New York Times reported is one of the people Ford named as being in attendance at the party, is the third witness who has denied knowing about the alleged assault. Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth said earlier this week they did not remember the party in question.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation.

The news comes after Ford, through her attorneys, tentatively agreed to testify on Thursday, after days of negotiations over the timing and conditions of her

Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had repeatedly extended deadlines set for Ford’s team on the decision, including three on Friday and one at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Grassley threatened to proceed with a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday if he did not hear from Ford.

“Five times now we [have] granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed [with] her desire stated one [week] ago that she wants to tell senate her story,” Grassley tweeted Friday. “Dr Ford if u changed ur mind say so so we can move on I want to hear ur testimony. Come to us or we to u.”

The extended discussions have been labeled a delaying tactic by some Republicans.

Ford’s attorneys and Grassley’s aides will reportedly continue negotiations Sunday on the details of the conditions of Ford’s testimony, per the New York Times.

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Was NYT Story About Rosenstein ‘Coup Attempt’ A Setup?

The New York Times is reporting that Rod Rosenstein pushed a plan to record President Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

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Via Zerohedge


Is the FBI trying to goad President Trump into firing the man in charge of supervising the Mueller probe? That’s what Sean Hannity and a handful of  Trump’s Congressional allies think.

According to a report in Politico, Republicans in Congress are approaching a story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attempting to organize a palace coup with extreme caution, despite having twice nearly gathered the votes to remove him in the recent past.

On Friday, the NYT reported a bombshell story alleging that Rosenstein had tried to recruit administration officials to secretly tape conversations with the president in order to help justify removing Trump under the 25th amendment. Rosenstein vehemently denied the story, which was largely based on confidential memos written by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. And others who were reportedly in attendance at meeting between McCabe and Rosenstein said the Deputy AG was being “sarcastic” when he suggested that the president be taped.

Meanwhile, Trump allies including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz are saying that the story should be treated with suspicion. Jordan and Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows once filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein. But now, both Meadows and Jordan intend to proceed with caution, telling Politico that he would like to see the memos that the story was based on.

House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who led a charge to impeach Rosenstein this summer, have said they want to hear from Rosenstein and see documents allegedly describing the comments before they decide what to do.That’s awarded Rosenstein a courtesy they’ve never given him in the past.

“I think Rod needs to come before Congress this week and explain under oath what exactly he said and didn’t say,” Meadows said at the Values Voters Summit Saturday.

The newfound hesitation to oust Rosenstein highlights a cautious approach Trump allies have adopted as the Republican party barrels toward a potential bloodbath in the midterms. Some Republicans fear Trump firing Rosenstein now would only further energize Democrats making the case to voters that the president is corrupt and needs to be reined in by a Democratic House.

[…]

In a Friday interview, Jordan, one of Rosenstein’s fiercest critics in Congress, sidestepped questions about whether the House should revisit Rosenstein’s impeachment or try to hold him in contempt of Congress. Rather, he said, a more focused push to obtain sensitive documents from the Justice Department — which Trump’s allies say would expose anti-Trump bias and corruption the FBI — is the most urgent priority.

“I want to see those memos and evaluate them,” said Jordan, who has clashed publicly with Rosenstein over access to documents and accused him of threatening House Intelligence Committee staffers, an allegation Rosenstein denied.

Politico cites two possible explanations for lawmakers’ hesitation: Republicans are running out of time before members devote themselves full-time to their reelection campaigns. Republicans are worried that the story could have been intentionally planted to provoke Rosenstein’s firing in order to improve Democrats’ chances of retaking the Senate AND the House (Trump actively moving to crush the Mueller probe would be quite the propaganda win for the Dems).

Sean Hannity took this latter theory a step further during his show on Friday evening, where he urged Trump not to fire Rosie and instead insisted that the story could have been a “trap”. He added that he had been told by “multiple sources” that the story was planted by unspecified “enemies of Trump.”

“I have a message for the president tonight,” Hannity said Friday night. “Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody…the president needs to know it is all a setup.”

Still, a handful of conservative commentators, including Laura Ingraham, urged Trump to fire Rosenstein immediately. And for Trump’s part, he hinted at a rally Friday night in Missouri that he planned to “get rid” of the “lingering stench” at the DOJ, which many interpreted as a hint that his firing is imminent.

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