This is what tough guys gets. Who likes a nuclear war?
Breaking News: Iran says it is ending all its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal and will no longer limit uranium enrichment
Iran’s nuclear program ‘will have no limitations in production.’
Iran’s government said it was no longer abiding by a commitment it made under the 2015 nuclear deal and it would not limit its enrichment of uranium.
The decision to lift all restrictions on the production of nuclear fuel meant the effective end of the nuclear deal, experts said, though Iran left open the possibility that it will return to the limits if sanctions are lifted.
“It’s finished. If there’s no limitation on production, then there is no deal,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonprofit in Washington.
The announcement came after Iran’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the country’s nuclear policy in the aftermath of Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani’s assassination.
The statement said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will end its final limitations in the nuclear deal, meaning the limitation in the number of centrifuges. Therefore Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production including enrichment capacity and percentage and number of enriched uranium and research and expansion.”
But the government said Iran would continue its cooperation with International Atomic Agency.
The announcement followed several steps by Iran to move away from the terms of the agreement, nearly two years after President Trump withdrew the United States from the deal. Since that renunciation, the Trump administration has imposed severe sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy.
The nuclear agreement had ended many economic sanctions on Iran in return for its verifiable pledge to use nuclear power peacefully. The European parties to the deal, including Britain, France and Germany, had struggled to preserve the agreement amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Iran’s statement Sunday did not include details about its enrichment ambitions. And the country did not say it was expelling the inspectors who monitor its nuclear program. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted:
Mark Fitzpatrick, a nuclear expert on Iran and associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote on Twitter that the announcement was “ambiguous,” with room for “both negotiation and escalation.”
Iraq’s Parliament votes to oust U.S. coalition troops.
Iraqi lawmakers voted 170-0 on Sunday in favor of expelling American troops from their country, just days after a United States drone strike killed the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force on Iraqi soil.
The vote was not final and many lawmakers did not attend the session. But Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi drafted the language and submitted the bill to Parliament, leaving little doubt about his support.
The drone strike that killed the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, at the Baghdad airport on Friday also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias.
The attack was viewed in Iraq as a violation of the nation’s sovereignty, and the country’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that it had summoned the American ambassador in Baghdad.
Iraq’s Parliament was divided over demands from angry citizens to expel American troops. Many of its 328 members, primarily Kurds and Sunnis, did not attend Sunday’s session and did not vote. In his speech to lawmakers, Mr. Mahdi laid out two possibilities: to either quickly end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq, or to set a timeline for that expulsion.
The measure approved by the Parliament did not include a timeline, and only instructed the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq. Officials said no decision had been made about whether any American troops would be able to stay, or under what conditions.
Iranian officials reacted to the vote with congratulatory messages and said General Soleimani’s death had delivered a huge victory over the United States.
Hesameddin Ashena, a top adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, in a Twitter post, said: “Expanding friendship with our neighbors and domestic unity are the best gifts for protecting our national security. America and Israel are the only winners of a rift between neighbors.”
Asked about the vote on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States would continue to battle the Islamic State. “It is the United States that is prepared to help the Iraqi people get what it is they deserve and continue our mission there to take down terrorism from ISIS and others in the region,” he said in an interview on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
If American forces leave the country, European Union and coalition forces will likely have to follow, because they rely on the American logistics and intelligence resources to protect their forces and the civilians that work with them. NATO has already announced the suspension of its training mission for Iraqi forces.
American allies fear an assassination’s consequences.
From Israel to Saudi Arabia, the United States’ allies in the Middle East have long warned Washington about Iran’s campaigns in the region — many of them masterminded by General Suleimani.
But with scant exception, their response to his killing has been silence.
Iran has built close ties with the government of Syria and armed groups in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. That puts many Iranian partners within firing range of American allies like Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
For many of them, the wisest course of action over the weekend seemed to be to say nothing.
“Saudi Arabia and all the gulf countries are just quiet,” said Khalid al-Dakhil, a political sociologist in Saudi Arabia. “They don’t want to antagonize the Iranians, because the situation in the region is so delicate, so divided, so sensitive, that you don’t want to stir it up further.”
The spread of Iran’s network means that it could rely on allied forces to strike — for instance at Saudi oil facilities, just across the Persian Gulf — while giving Tehran a way to deny responsibility.
And many officials in the Middle East are concerned about the degree of support they can expect from Mr. Trump should they become targets of Iranian retaliation, cyberattack or sabotage. Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi deputy defense minister, flew to Washington this weekend to meet with American officials.
In Iraq, pro-Iranian militias pose a powerful threat to groups that prefer the United States.
In Lebanon, American allies kept quiet to avoid Hezbollah, a major political party and the country’s strongest military force.
And even in Israel, celebrations were muted, with officials wanting to avoid any suggestion of involvement in the killing.
“The entire region is on edge, as we are in unchartered territory,” said Taufiq Rahim, a senior fellow at the foundation New America who works in the Persian Gulf. “There is no way to be ready for what comes next, because anything could be a target.”
U.S.-led coalition suspends its fight against ISIS.
The American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria said on Sunday that it was pausing its yearslong mission of attacking the Islamic State and training local forces in both countries as United States forces braced for retaliation from Iran over the killing of its top military commander.
A statement from the American command pointed to recent attacks on Iraqi and American bases, one of which killed an American contractor last month. “We have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” it said of the fight against ISIS.
After the killing last week of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani — who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of troops over the years — the approximately 5,200 troops in Iraq and several hundred in Syria are focused on fortifying their outposts.
The assassination of General Suleimani removed the leader of one of the Islamic State’s most effective opponents. He had been responsible for building up the alliance of Iran-backed militias that played a significant role in driving the militants out of their strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
Also on Sunday, Islamic State militants attacked Iraqi security forces near the northern city of Kirkuk, killing two Iraqi soldiers and injuring another, the Iraqi Joint Command said.
Trump and Pompeo say U.S. could attack Iran directly.
Echoing President Trump’s remarks the day before, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Sunday that the United States could attack Iran itself if leaders there took hostile actions against American interests in the aftermath of the drone strike that killed a top general.
“I’ve been part of the discussion and planning process — everything I’ve seen about how we will respond with great force and great vigor if the Iranian leadership makes a bad decision,” Mr. Pompeo said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We hope that they won’t, but when they do, America will respond.”
In appearances on five television news shows on Sunday morning, Mr. Pompeo underscored Mr. Trump’s message the previous day that the United States had chosen sites to attack within Iran if Tehran ordered assaults on American assets or citizens in retaliation for a drone strike that killed General Suleimani in Baghdad.