British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging the United States and its allies to strike a new nuclear deal with Iran to replace the current, fraying agreement.
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of that deal last year and slapped new sanctions on Tehran. Those sanctions have further hurt Iran's struggling economy. Tehran has resumed enriching uranium to limits beyond those set in the agreement.
Speaking Monday at the United Nations, Johnson said ``whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it's time now to move forward and do a new deal.''
Johnson's 10 Downing St. office clarified that Britain still backed the existing deal and wanted Iran to return to compliance.
Johnson is due to meet both Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Trump, when asked about Johnson's call for a new Iran deal, said: ``Boris is a very smart man.'' He did not elaborate.
Iran's top diplomat says President Donald Trump ``closed the door to negotiations'' with the latest U.S. sanctions, which raised the status of Iran's central bank to a ``global terrorist'' institution.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the U.N. on Monday: ``I know that President Trump did not want to do that,'' adding he ``must have been misinformed.''
Zarif also said he had no reason to believe Yemen's Houthi rebels were lying when they claimed responsibility for the recent attack on key Saudi oil facilities.
He called it a ``high-precision, low-impact'' attack with no casualties, and said: ``If Iran was behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery.''
Zarif said President Hassan Rouhani will be proposing a new Hormuz Peace Initiative for the region with two key principles: Non-intervention and non-aggression.
Iran is criticizing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he said Britain has concluded Iran was responsible for attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil industry.
Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemning ``fruitless efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran.''
Mousavi said ``the British government should stop selling lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia'' over its war in Yemen.
Johnson told reporters flying with him Sunday to New York for the U.N. General Assembly that Britain ``is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran'' for the Sept. 14 drone-and-missile attack.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. also blame Iran. Iran denies being responsible. Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed the attack, though analysts say the cruise missiles used didn't have the range to be fired from Yemen.
Iran's government spokesman says legal proceedings against a British-flagged oil tanker held by Tehran since July have concluded, though he doesn't know when the vessel will leave.
Ali Rabiei made the comments Monday amid growing speculation about the fate of the Stena Impero. However, the ship has not turned on its satellite-tracking beacon in 58 days nor has there been any sign that it has left its position off the Iranian coast near the port city of Bandar Abbas.
Stena Bulk, the ship's Swedish owners, also has not said anything about the ship's departure.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized the Stena Impero in July after authorities in Gibraltar seized an Iranian crude oil tanker. That ship has since left Gibraltar, leading to hopes the Stena Impero would be released.
France's president says he still hopes to mediate between Iran and the U.S. to help ease tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Speaking to reporters flying with him to the United Nations in New York Sunday, Emmanuel Macron said he remains ``cautious'' in attributing responsibility for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Britain blame Iran for the attacks.
As President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are taking part to the high-level U.N. meetings, Macron said ``both protagonists are there ... Something may happen.''
Trump has suggested he is open to meeting the Iranian leader.
Macron has taken a leading role in efforts to try to save a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, following Trump's decision to pull the U.S. from the deal and impose new sanctions.
Iran's president says his country will offer its own rival security coalition in the Persian Gulf, as the U.S. sends more troops to Saudi Arabia and heads its own regional military coalition.
Hassan Rouhani, before travelling to attend the U.N. meetings, said Monday that Iran will invite ``all littoral states of the Persian Gulf'' to join its coalition ``to guarantee the region's security.''
He says the initiative is not limited to ``security'' but also encompasses economic co-operation and will be presented in detail at the United Nations.
Rouhani describes the coalition as a plan for ``long-term'' peace in the area.
The proposal comes amid heightened Mideast tensions following a series of attacks, including a missile-and-drone assault on Saudi Arabia's oil industry that U.S. alleges Iran was behind. Tehran denies the charge and has warned against retaliatory strikes.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain has concluded Iran was responsible for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and the U.K. will consider taking part in a U.S.-led military effort to bolster the Gulf kingdom's defences.
But Johnson also says the U.K. will work with allies to ``de-escalate'' Mideast tensions.
The Conservative prime minister told reporters flying with him Sunday to New York for the U.N. General Assembly that Britain ``is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran'' for the Sept. 14 attack by drones and cruise missiles.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. also blame Iran.
The Pentagon announced Friday it will send additional U.S. troops and missile defence equipment to the region. Johnson said, if asked, the U.K. would ``consider in what way we could be useful.''
The Canadian Press & the Associated Press. All rights are reserved.
Iran's Guard Says Ready for 'Any Scenario' Amid US standoff
By Amir Vahdat
Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard is ready for combat and ``any scenario,'' its chief commander said Saturday, as the country's nuclear deal with world powers collapses and the U.S. alleged Iran was behind a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that shook global energy markets.
Iran has denied involvement in the Sept. 14 attack that was initially claimed by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New York for the U.N. meetings, has warned that any retaliatory strike on Iran by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in ``an all-out war.''
On Saturday, Gen. Hossein Salami, at a ceremony displaying pieces of an American drone Iran shot down in June, said that his forces have carried out ``war exercises and are ready for any scenario.''
He added: ``If anyone crosses our borders, we will hit them.''
Zarif claimed in a tweet that Saudi Arabia does not believe its own allegations that Iran was responsible for the attack on Saudi oil sites.
``It is clear that even the Saudis themselves don't believe the fiction of Iranian involvement'', Zarif said, pointing to what he described as a Saudi retaliatory attack on Houthi forces in southwestern Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthi rebels since March 2015. The U.N., Gulf Arab nations and the U.S. accuse Iran of supplying arms to the Houthis, something Tehran denies.
Analysts say the missiles used in the Sept. 14 assault wouldn't have enough range to reach the oil sites in eastern Saudi Arabia from impoverished Yemen. The missiles and drones used resembled Iranian-made weapons, although analysts say more study is needed to definitively link them to Iran.
Salami added that Iran does not want to start a conflict, but appeared to warn the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that Iran is prepared.
``We won't stop until the destruction of any aggressor. And we will not leave any secure spot,'' he said. ``Do not miscalculate and do not make a mistake.''
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs criticized Iran.
``The more engagement you have with Iran the more Iran believes its aggressive behaviour is acceptable in the world, and that is not acceptable, so those issues need to be considered,'' Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference. He said the kingdom was waiting for the investigation's conclusion on where the strikes came from ``so we can respond.''
Meanwhile, tiny, oil-rich Kuwait continued to sound the alarm over the potential for tensions to spiral out of control. Its state-run KUNA news agency on Saturday quoted the CEO of Kuwait Flour mills and Bakeries Co. as saying that it has foodstuffs available for upward of eight months if necessary. Mutleg al-Zayed said the company had a readiness to cope ``with ramifications that may emerge as a result of conditions in the region,'' without elaborating.
Already, Kuwait has raised the readiness of its armed forces and increased security at its ports.
President Donald Trump signalled on Friday that he was not inclined to authorize an immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attacks on the Saudi oil industry, saying he believes showing restraint ``shows far more strength'' and he wants to avoid an all-out war.
The Pentagon said the U.S. will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to beef up security.
Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal more than a year ago, said separately Friday that America ``just sanctioned the Iranian national bank.'' He did not elaborate.
The U.S. Treasury Department said it took action against the Central Bank of Iran.
Iran's central bank chief, Abdolnasser Hemmati, sought to shrug off the new sanctions on Saturday. According to the state-run IRNA news agency, Hemmati said re-imposing sanctions on Iran's central bank shows the U.S. has little leverage left.
Associated Press writers Fay Abuelgasim in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.
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Trump Increases Sanctions on Iran
According to News Sources, on Friday President Trump announced new sanctions against Iran, following Yemeni attacks against Saudi oil installations days ago.
In particular, the fresh sanctions include those targetting Iran's national bank. Mr. Trump did not reveal the details of the sanctions, however.
Reportedly, today's sanctions are the most severe sanctions ever imposed on a country. The president said that the sanctions go "right to the top".
Earlier today U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said that the most recent sasnctions against Iran are substantial and "very big"; he maintained that the sanctions go to the "last source" of funds for Iran.
Since the Yemeni attacks took place days ago, the U.S. and a number of other countries have accused Iran of being responsible for crippling a large part of Saudi Arabia's petroleum production. However, Iranian authorities have denied that their country was behind the attacks.
Earlier this week Mr. Trump ordered the Treasury Department to increase sginificantly sanctions imposed on Iran.
News Sources & APS Radio News
US Says Attack on Saudi Oil Site Was an Iranian 'Act of War'
By Jon Gambrell, Aya Batrawy & Fay Abuelgasim
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil installations an ``act of war'' against the kingdom by Iran, as the Saudis displayed missile and drone wreckage and cited other evidence they said shows the raid was ``unquestionably sponsored by Iran.''
Iran, which has denied involvement in the attack, warned the U.S. it will retaliate immediately if it is targeted.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, said he is moving to increase financial sanctions on Tehran over the attack.
At a news conference, Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said the attack Saturday that did heavy damage to the heart of the Saudi oil industry was ``launched from the north and was unquestionably sponsored by Iran.'' Yemen is south of Saudi Arabia, while Iran and Iraq lie to the north.
Al-Malki stopped short of accusing Iran of actually firing the weapons itself or launching them from Iranian territory.
Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to the Saudi-led war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of people.
At the news conference, the Saudis displayed broken and burned drones and pieces of a cruise missile that Al-Malki identified as Iranian weapons collected after the attack. He also played surveillance video that he said showed a drone coming in from the north.
Eighteen drones and seven cruise missiles were launched in the assault, Al-Malki said, with three missiles failing to make their targets. He said the cruise missiles had a range of 700 kilometres (435 miles), meaning they could not have been fired from inside Yemen.
``This is the kind of weapon the Iranian regime and the Iranian IRGC are using against the civilian object and facilities infrastructure,'' Al-Malki said, referring to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. He added: ``This attack did not originate from Yemen, despite Iran's best effort to make it appear so.''
Pompeo, who landed in Saudi Arabia shortly after the news conference, took a harder line, telling reporters: ``The Saudis were the nation that was attacked. It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly.''
He said en route to Saudi Arabia that ``it doesn't matter'' whether the Houthis claim they were behind the attack. ``This was an Iranian attack,'' he said.
``It doesn't change the fingerprints of the ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply,'' Pompeo said, referring to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei.
The attack came after a summer of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
Iran sent a note to the U.S. via Swiss diplomats Monday, reiterating that Tehran denies involvement in the aerial attack, the country's state-run IRNA news agency reported. The Swiss have looked after American interests in Iran for decades.
``If any action takes place against Iran, the action will be faced by Iran's answer immediately,'' IRNA quoted the note as saying. It added that Iran's response wouldn't be limited to the source of the threat.
The U.S. State Department had no comment on the warning.
Trump, meanwhile, tweeted: ``I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!''
He did not elaborate, and it was not immediately clear what further means are available since he has already cut deeply into Iran's oil market. National Security Council officials declined to comment.
IRNA also reported that Iran's delegation to the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting has yet to receive the necessary U.S. visas. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to travel to New York on Friday, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani following on Monday.
The U.N. meeting had been considered as an opportunity for direct talks between Rouhani and Trump.
Asked in Los Angeles whether Rouhani will come to New York, Trump said, ``I really don't know. If it was up to me, I'd let them come.''
``I've always felt the United Nations is very important,'' he added. ``I think it's got tremendous potential. I don't think it's ever lived up to the potential it has. But I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come.''
As the host of the U.N.'s headquarters, the U.S. is required to offer world leaders and diplomats visas to attend meetings. But as tensions have risen, the U.S. has put increasing restrictions on Iranians like Zarif.
In Tehran, Rouhani told his Cabinet that Saudi Arabia should see the weekend attack as a warning to end its war in Yemen, where it has fought the Houthi rebels since 2015 and sought to restore the internationally recognized government.
Rouhani said Yemenis ``did not hit hospitals, they did not hit schools or the Sanaa bazaar,'' referring to the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes.
He said the Houthis were responsible for the attack on the oil installations: ``They attacked an industrial centre to warn you. Learn the lesson from the warning.''
Gambrell and Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Robert Burns, Deb Riechmann and Darlene Superville in Washington and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
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Saudi Arabia Joins US Led maritime Coalition After Attack
By Jon Gambrell
Saudi Arabia said Wednesday it joined a U.S.-led coalition to secure the Mideast's waterways amid threats from Iran after an attack targeting its crucial oil industry.
The kingdom's decision to enter the International Maritime Security Construct came ahead of a planned visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Saudi officials separately planned to share information about the weapons used to attack a Saudi oil field and the world's largest crude oil processing plant Saturday.
Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, but the U.S. and Saudi Arabia say they suspect Iran carried out the assault. Iran denies that, though it comes amid a summer of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency carried a statement Wednesday morning quoting an unnamed official saying the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct.
Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom already have joined the mission.
``The kingdom's accession to this international alliance comes in support of regional and international efforts to deter and counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade in order to ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy and contribute to maintain the international peace and security,'' the news agency said.
U.S. military officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
The coalition aims to secure the broader Persian Gulf region. It includes surveillance of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world's oil travels, and the Bab el-Mandeb, another narrow strait that connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden off Yemen and East Africa. Smaller patrol boats and other craft will be available for rapid response. The plan also allows for nations to escort their own ships through the region
The U.S. Navy already has sent Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers to chokepoint positions, like either end of the Strait of Hormuz. There, they observe ship traffic and monitor for anything unusual as drones and other aircraft fly surveillance routes overhead.
The U.S. blames Iran for the apparent limpet mine explosions on four vessels in May and another two in June sailing in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, something Iran denies being behind. Iran also seized a British-flagged oil tanker and another based in the United Arab Emirates.
It's unclear what role the kingdom will play in the coalition. Bahrain already serves at the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
Wednesday's announcement comes after Saudi Arabia's energy minister said late Tuesday that more than half of the country's daily crude oil production that was knocked out by an attack had been recovered and that production capacity at its targeted plants would be fully restored by the end of the month.
``Where would you find a company in this whole world that went through such a devastating attack and came out like a phoenix?'' Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said about state-owned Saudi Aramco, which was the target of the attacks. His question to reporters, many of them Saudi, drew applause.
Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.
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