Trump accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons

Wed Feb 15, 2017 6:47PM
US President Donald Trump (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands following a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands following a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has once again accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, arguing that he would prevent Tehran from ever gaining nukes.

“I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing, I mean ever, a nuclear weapon,” Trump said on Wednesday during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

He also called Iran’s atomic program a threat to Israel, which is believed to possess the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

“The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about,” he said.

Trump’s anti-Iran rhetoric comes as the longstanding Western dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program was settled after the conclusion of a landmark nuclear agreement in 2015. UN Security Council Resolution 2231 also endorsed the nuclear deal, which went into effect in January 2016.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also confirmed Iran’s commitment to the terms of the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

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Trump also called the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran as “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen,” saying that his administration has already introduced fresh sanctions against Tehran over its missile tests.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany started implementing the JCPOA on January 16, 2016.

The deal limited parts of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program in exchange for the complete removal of all sanctions against the country.

Earlier this month, however, Trump undermined the multilateral deal by introducing a new round of sanctions against Iran following the country’s successful test-launch of a ballistic missile, which Washington said was a breach of the JCPOA. Iran rejected the US claim, reiterating the right to develop its defense capabilities.

Israel welcomed the sanctions, calling on the US and its allies to form a “united front” against Iran to ensure Israel’s security.

Underscoring Washington and Tel Aviv’s “unbreakable” bond, Trump promised Netanyahu that his country was committed to Israel’s security.

Former US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in November 2015. (Reuters photo)

Netanyahu traveled to Washington on Wednesday for talks with Trump and an opportunity to improve US-Israeli ties after a frequently combative relationship with Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

“With this visit the United States, again, reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel,” Trump said.

The United States and Israel agreed in September on a record new package of at least $38 billion in US military aid over a 10 year period.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II. America’s military assistance to Israel has amounted to $124.3 billion since it began in 1962, according to a US congressional report last year.

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Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:32AM
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference in Brussels on February 9, 2017. (Photos by AFP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference in Brussels on February 9, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has voiced his commitment to the so-called two-state solution, while calling on Israel to halt its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian president’s stance was announced in an official statement released after US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a joint press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

Emboldened by the ever-growing pro-Israeli rhetoric of the Trump administration, the Tel Aviv regime has announced 5,000 new permits for Israeli settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories. However, during the presser, Trump told Netanyahu that he would like to see a “pull-back” on Israel’s settlement activities.

“The presidency demands that (Israel) agree to (Trump’s call), and that of the international community, to halt all settlement activities including in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds,” read Abbas’ statement.

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“The Palestinian presidency stressed its commitment to the two-state solution and to the international law and international legitimacy in the way that secures ending the Israeli occupation and establishes the Palestinian State with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital,” it added.

During the press conference, Trump refrained from directly stating whether he backed the two-state solution or not.

“I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like…I can live with either one,” he said.

On Tuesday, a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Washington would no longer insist on a “two-state solution” to the Israel-Palestine conflict but would support whatever the two sides agree to.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. 

Abbas’ statement also added that Palestine affirms its “readiness to deal positively with the Trump administration to make peace.”

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Less than a month before Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 in December, denouncing the Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation of international law.” The resolution was adopted after the US refused to veto it, in a reversal of its longstanding policy of shielding the Israeli regime from condemnatory resolutions at the world body. Trump also vowed at the time that Washington’s policies at the world body would “be different” during his administration.

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds.


Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:11AM
A man paints over racist graffiti, which included such pronouncements as "Muslims out," on the side of a mosque in what officials are calling an apparent hate crime, in Roseville, California, Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo by AP)
A man paints over racist graffiti, which included such pronouncements as “Muslims out,” on the side of a mosque in what officials are calling an apparent hate crime, in Roseville, California, Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo by AP)

The number of organized anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States nearly tripled last year, according to an annual report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The report, issued on Wednesday, revealed that there were 34 hate groups in the US in 2015, but their number climbed to 101 in the year 2016.

The study credited “incendiary rhetoric” of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with the rise in anti-Muslim hate in the country.

“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-leaning non-profit that tracks extremist groups.

The report said several senior White House officials, including Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, and Kellyanne Conway, are “serious anti-Muslim ideologues.”

“It’s hardly like the departure of Michael Flynn is going to mitigate the really serious onslaught directed at American Muslims,” Potok said.

He was referring to the former national security adviser, who resigned on Monday. He had made several anti-Muslim statements. Flynn said in August that “Islamism” was a “vicious cancer” in body of all Muslims and had “to be excised.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center report also found that there are now more than 900 active hate groups across the US, ranging from neo-Nazi groups to racist black separatist organizations.

A Neo-Nazi group marches against undocumented immigrants. (Photo by AP)

The report concluded that Trump’s sudden rise in the 2016 presidential election fomented the tide of racist and far-right extremist groups after decades of living on the fringes of American society.

“They were so turned on by what was happening in the pro-Trump world that they entered that world, rather than holding their own rallies,” said Potok, the lead author of the annual hate group report.

“We think Trump has co-opted many of the issues of the radical right,” he said. “We think that has prevented or at least slowed the growth of these groups.”

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Trump’s campaign had been hit with many controversies since its inception in early 2015. But he still managed to stun the world by defeating the heavily-favored Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the November 8 election.

Thousands of people since then have rallied in cities across the US to protest against Trump’s victory, condemning his controversial campaign rhetoric against Muslims, immigrants, women and other groups.

The real estate mogul’s controversial comments include a call to ban all Muslims from coming to America as well as stopping Mexican migrants by building a long wall along the US-Mexico border.

He has also sought a database to track Muslims across the United States and said that the US would have “absolutely no choice” but to close down mosques.

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