Kerry says war chances rising after US leaves Iran deal

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry spearheaded diplomacy that led to the 2015 agreement in which Iran promised to scale back its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. (File Photo / Reuters)
Updated 05 October 2018

Kerry says war chances rising after US leaves Iran deal

WASHINGTON: Former secretary of state John Kerry voiced fear Friday of conflict with Iran after the United States pulled out of a denuclearization deal, saying regional leaders had privately pressed him for military strikes.
Kerry spearheaded diplomacy that led to the 2015 agreement in which Iran promised Western powers, Russia and China to scale back its nuclear program drastically in return for sanctions relief.
By pulling out of the accord, President Donald Trump has “made it more likely that there will be conflict in the region because there are people there who would love to have the United States of America bomb Iran,” the former senator and presidential candidate told the Council on Foreign Relations as he promotes his memoir, “Every Day is Extra.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an outspoken critic of the Iran deal, had also asked then US president Barack Obama for the green light to bomb Iran, Kerry said.
While UN inspectors found that Iran was complying with the accord, Trump declared the deal to be a disaster for not addressing other US concerns with Iran including threats to Israel, support for militant moves such as Hezbollah and Tehran’s missile program.
But Kerry said the United States was “actually getting them to do things, quietly,” including on easing the conflict in war-ravaged Yemen, and believed that President Hassan Rouhani was “trying to move the country in a different direction.”
“What Trump has done is now empower the guys in Iran who said don’t deal with the United States, they’ll burn you,” Kerry said.
“He has made it more likely that if there is an implosion in Iran internally through pressure or otherwise, it will not be an unknown Jeffersonian democrat who is going to appear and take over, it will be the IRGC or another Ahmadinejad, and we will be worse off and the people of Iran will be worse off,” he said, referring to the hard-line Revolutionary Guards and former firebrand president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Trump has lashed out at Kerry for meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif since leaving office, accusing him of violating an obscure US law that prohibits private citizens from negotiating on disputes with foreign governments.
Kerry said Trump was seeking to distract from his own scandal related to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and said it was normal for former officials to maintain communication with foreign counterparts.


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”