Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Iran Counters U.S. Sanctions With New War Spending, Warships To The Atlantic Ocean, China And Russia Push Talks As N Korea Steps Back

Iranian leaders are responding to the latest round of sanctions signed by US President Donald Trump with a two-pronged approach: increased defense and intelligence spending by roughly $600-800 million and marshalling military vessels to the Atlantic Ocean.

"We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future," Sayyari added. In April, Sayyari reportedly said, "redeployment in the Atlantic Ocean, intelligence superiority, development of communications, progress in the development of the Makran coast and building new vessels are among the Navy’s plans this year."

The legislative measure was reportedly passed to chants of “Death to America.” About half of the new funding will go to ballistic missile development, the Wall Street Journal reported, while $61 million will be allocated to Iran’s nuclear program. The bill has the backing of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. The next step for the bill is to go to an oversight body, the Guardian Council, which is expected to support it.

"The bill had very wisely tried not to violate the [nuclear deal] and also gives no chance to the other party to manipulate it. This bill is an astute response to the enmity and wickedness of the United States against Iran," Araqchi told Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), an Iranian state-run media outlet.
On August 2, US President Donald Trump signed into law a new round of sanctions targeting Iran, North Korea and Russia. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House by a margin of 419-3 and the Senate by a vote of 98-2. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul were the two “no” votes in the upper legislative chamber.
"Neither the US nor Iranian leaders want to seem soft to their domestic constituencies," Abrahms noted, adding "sanctions against Iran, I predict, is just one of a broader set of countermeasures coming against Iran."

Within the past week alone, unarmed Iranian drones have harassed US aircraft and carriers in the Persian Gulf on two separate occasions, which the US Navy described as "unsafe and unprofessional" encounters. On Tuesday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement that the "IRGC’s drones are equipped with standard navigation systems and are guided accurately and professionally; therefore, claims made by Americans are rooted in weakness of their diagnostic and identification systems or otherwise in their intention to mislead the public opinion."

China and Russia pushed Tuesday for talks to defuse the "confrontational spiral" between the US and North Korea after Kim Jong-Un stepped back from a planned missile strike near Guam.

The North Korean leader said he would wait and see how the United States behaved before deciding whether to execute the planned launch of four missiles over Japan towards the tiny US territory in the Pacific.

Some analysts suggested Kim was opening a possible path to de-escalating tensions, which spiked dramatically with recent bellicose exchanges between US President Donald Trump and Pyongyang.

The North's official KCNA news agency said Kim was briefed on the "plan for an enveloping fire at Guam" during an inspection on Monday of the Strategic Force command in charge of the nuclear-armed state's missile units.

But it said Kim would "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" before executing any order.
"In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the US to make a proper option first," he added.
China said Tuesday that the North Korean nuclear crisis had reached a "turning point" and it was time to enter peace talks.

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