Iraq

The Pronk Pops Show 1278, June 20, 2019, Part 1– Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done , Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos — Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos — Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Videos — Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida — Boom Boom Boom — Send Them Home — MAGA MAGA MAGA — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Keep America Great — Win Win Win — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

Pronk Pops Show 1232 March 29, 2019 Part 1

Pronk Pops Show 1231 March 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1230 March 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1229 March 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1228 March 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1227 March 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1226 March 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1225 March 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1224 March 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1223 March 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1222 March 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1221 March 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1220 March 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1219 March 4, 2019

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Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done, Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos —

Tucker: Washington is war-hungry

Pentagon releases footage of US drone being shot down by Iran

LIVE: President Trump first comments after Iran shoots down US Drone | June 20th 2019

US is bringing the Iranian economy to its knees: Nile Gardiner

Oil prices rise after Iran shoots down US drone

40% Chance of 2020 U.S.-Iran Military Conflict: Eurasia CEO

Iran shoots down US drone as tensions escalate

Video shows Iran shooting down US drone

Iran says it shot down US drone ‘violating Iranian air space’ amid growing tensions

Iran Shot Down U.S. Drone to Disrupt Trade in Persian Gulf, Senior U.S. Military Official Says

President Trump makes first comments after Iran shoots down U.S. Drone | ABC News Special Report

Iran says it’s ‘ready for war’

Iran shoots down US military spy drone | DW News

Iran says it will breach nuclear deal ‘in days’ as its uranium stockpile limit nears

Is The U.S. Going To War With Iran? | AJ+

Iran’s foreign minister accuses US, Mideast of provoking conflict

Iran’s Zarif thrashes Trump, “US driven by pathological obsession” (Munich Security Conference 2019)

Can air strikes take out Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Did Trump Just Blink or Bluff in Standoff With Iran?

Anthony Halpin

Bloomberg

Was it all a bluff? After news leaked that President Donald Trump approved and then called off U.S. airstrikes on Iran last night, it emerged he’d warned Tehran about an imminent attack while insisting he was against a war.

Today, as airlines began re-routing flights away from the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s Foreign Ministry called in the Swiss ambassador, who also represents U.S. interests, for talks.

Was the outreach why Trump abandoned the strikes? Or was this the latest example of the whipsaw approach from a president who’s twice attacked Syria but also backed away from using force after lashing out at Iran and North Korea?

The leak of Trump’s about-face also speaks volumes about the battle for influence in the White House. Hardliners clearly thought they’d convinced him to back a tough response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. Navy drone. Yet Trump was elected on a pledge to pull out of Middle East wars.

The president, who governs with the cliffhanger style of his Apprentice TV show, thrives on keeping supporters hooked on dramatic twists.

But as his 2020 re-election campaign gains steam, the stakes now include the prospect of armed conflict and instability in a region that supplies a third of the world’s oil.

Global Headlines

Biden’s burden | Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is encountering the same pitfalls as other seasoned politicians who’ve found their experience and record can be a liability. The former Delaware senator’s struggles to defend his remarks this week about finding common ground with two segregationists is an early sign of the trouble he could have explaining a complicated voting record and his nostalgia for a Washington collegiality that has steadily diminished since he was first elected in 1972.

Border control | Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to crack down on migrants crossing the border into the U.S. after the two countries entered an agreement aimed at stemming the flow of people entering Mexico from Central America. Mexico will take greater control of its southern border and ask foreigners to register their arrival.

Osaka drama | Before Trump, Group of 20 summits were dull if worthy affairs. This year’s gathering in Osaka, Japan next week promises to be anything but, as the U.S. president holds talks with China’s Xi Jinping after threatening to escalate their trade conflict. The best-case scenario would be a pause in new U.S. tariffs and a resumption of negotiations that broke down in May. The worst-case would be a new Cold War between the two largest economies.

Favorites flushed | European Union leaders cast aside the candidates who’ve dominated the race to head the next EU Commission and will start from scratch less than two weeks before a self-imposed deadline. The decision at a summit in Brussels extends gridlock that has left investors in the dark over a series of critical posts including the next president of the European Central Bank.

Bad air | As climate change tops political agendas from Washington to New Delhi, there’s no solution in sight for the bad air choking Europe’s poorest countries. While the EU has focused mostly on stability in the volatile Balkans, health problems and lost productivity from air pollution cost the continent more than 10 billion euros a year. Obsolete coal plants and cars spew smog and hundreds of thousands of people burn tires, wood and trash to stay warm.

What to Watch

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will go head-to-head in the contest to become the U.K.’s next prime minister as they seek votes from the Conservative Party’s 160,000 grassroots members over the next month. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court threw out a challenge to a decree by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ordering early parliamentary elections. The ruling confirmed a vote will take place next month and a new government should be in place by the fall. Turkey reruns the election for mayor of Istanbul on Sunday, pitting former prime minister and ruling AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim against opposition challenger Ekrem Imamoglu, who was stripped of his narrow victory in the March 31 ballot.

And finally…The U.K. is poised to generate more energy from low-carbon sources than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear plants provided 48% of the nation’s power in the first five months of this year. The U.K. has gone without burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, for the equivalent of 80 days so far in 2019, including one stretch of 18 days in a row.

–With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Daniel Ten Kate.

https://news.yahoo.com/did-trump-just-blink-bluff-100815556.html

Trump says Iran made ‘big mistake’ by taking down US drone

today

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Washington. Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting down a U.S. drone but suggested it was an accident rather than a strategic error. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” by shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz but suggested it was a foolish error rather than an intentional escalation of the tensions that have led to rising fears of open military conflict.

Asked about a U.S. response, the president said pointedly, “You’ll soon find out.”

The downing of the huge, unmanned aircraft , which Iran portrayed as a deliberate defense of its territory rather than a mistake, was a stark reminder of the risk of military conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces as the Trump administration combines a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Iran with a buildup of American forces in the region.

The drone — which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 — entered Iranian airspace “despite repeated radio warnings” and was shot down by Iran, acting under the U.N. Charter which allows self-defense action “if an armed attack occurs,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general.

Donald Trump is playing down Iran's downing of an American drone, saying that it might have been a mistake executed by someone just being "loose and stupid." He said it was a "new wrinkle" in escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. (June 20)

Trump, who has said he wants to avoid war and negotiate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, appeared to play down the significance of the shootdown.

He cast it as “a new wrinkle … a new fly in the ointment.” Yet he also said that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of U.S. Central Command air forces in the region, took a more pointed view of the shootdown in an area where Trump has blamed Iran for attacking shipping vessels.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce,” he said.

The Trump administration has been putting increasing economic pressure on Iran for more than a year. It reinstated punishing sanctions following Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of an international agreement intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from earlier sanctions.

The other world powers who remain signed on to the nuclear deal have set a meeting to discuss the U.S. withdrawal and Iran’s announced plans to increase its uranium stockpile for June 28, a date far enough in the future to perhaps allow tensions to cool.

Citing Iranian threats, the U.S. recently sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

The first U.S. reaction was Trump’s Thursday morning tweet of six forceful words: “Iran made a very big mistake.”

But later, while meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said, “I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down.

He said the American drone was unarmed and unmanned and “clearly over international waters.” It would have “made a big, big difference” if someone had been inside, he said.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Taking issue with the U.S. version of where the attack occurred, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that his country had retrieved sections of the military drone “in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.” He said, “We don’t seek war but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.”

U.S. Gen. Guastella disputed that contention, telling reporters that the aircraft was 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the nearest Iranian territory and flying at high altitude when struck by a surface-to-air missile. The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

One U.S. official said there was a second American aircraft in the area that was able to get video and imagery of the drone when it was shot down.

Congressional leaders came to the White House for an hour-long briefing in the Situation Room late Thursday with top national security officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Army Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump has said he’ll nominate as Pentagon chief.

The Senate’s top Democrat called the downing of the American drone “deeply concerning” and accused the administration of not having an Iran strategy and keeping Congress and the rest of the nation in the dark.

“The president needs to explain to the American people why he’s driving us toward another endless conflict in the Middle East,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t think Trump wanted war with Iran and the American people have “no appetite” for it either. She said the U.S. needs to be “strong and strategic” about protecting its interests but “cannot be reckless.”

Talking tougher, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Iran a “murderous regime” and said, “If they’re itching for a fight they’re going to get one.”

“We’re a lot closer today than we were yesterday, and only God knows what tomorrow brings,” said Graham, a Trump ally who talked with the president by telephone.

The senator also focused on the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying its leaders have refused to negotiate after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international agreement to limit Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

Graham said it’s imperative that the U.S. clearly tell the Iranians that any attempt to increase uranium enrichment will be seen as a “hostile act against the United States and our allies in Israel and will not go unanswered.”

Another factor: This all comes as Trump is launching his re-election campaign. He ran for president promising to bring American troops home from the Middle East and Afghanistan and has repeatedly said he wants to keep America out of “endless wars.”

Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for President George W. Bush, cautioned against thinking about politics when weighing any response to Iran.

“I suspect a successful limited counter-strike, such as taking out the missile battery that fired at the drone or the sinking of an unmanned Iranian vessel, would be seen as a well-calibrated show of resolve and discipline,” Fleischer said in an interview. He added that “if we do nothing, Iran may strike again thinking it has impunity.”

https://apnews.com/84ad15edb7324472bb867852059a0a7a

Iran shoots down US surveillance drone, heightening tensions

29 minutes ago

In this Oct. 24, 2018, photo released by the U.S. Air Force, members of the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron prepare to launch an RQ-4 Global Hawk at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk on Thursday, June 20, 2019, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. (Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan/U.S. Air Force via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, marking the first time the Islamic Republic directly attacked the American military amid tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The two countries disputed the circumstances leading up to an Iranian surface-to-air missile bringing down the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $100 million.

Iran said the drone “violated” its territorial airspace, while the U.S. called the missile fire “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf and President Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake!”

Trump later appeared to play down the incident, telling reporters in the Oval Office that he had a feeling that “a general or somebody” being “loose and stupid” made a mistake in shooting down the drone.

AP Graphic

The incident immediately heightened the crisis already gripping the wider region, which is rooted in Trump withdrawing the U.S. a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by next week while threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe doesn’t offer it a new deal.

Citing unspecified Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami. (Sepahnews via AP)

The drone took off from the southern Persian Gulf and collected data from Iranian territory, including the southern port of Chahbahar near Iran’s border with Pakistan, the Guard said in comments that appeared aimed at showing it could track the aircraft.

The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

Iran used its air defense system known as Third of Khordad to shoot down the drone — a truck-based missile system that can fire up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) into the sky, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Iranian state TV later broadcast video it described as the moment the Guard launched the surface-to-air missile that struck the U.S. drone. Chants of “God is great!” could be heard as a fireball appeared in the darkened sky.

Typically, militaries worldwide call out to errant aircraft entering their airspace before firing. It’s unclear whether Iran gave any warning before opening fire. The U.S. military says Iran fired on and missed another drone last week near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves.

The U.S. has been worried about international shipping through the strategic waterway since tankers were damaged in May and June in what Washington has blamed on limpet mines from Iran, although Tehran denied involvement.. On Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Navy showed fragments of mines that it said bore “a striking resemblance” to those seen in Iran

The RQ-4 Global Hawk was at least 34 kilometers from Iranian territory when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of the U.S. Central Command. He said it was an attempt to disrupt U.S. efforts to monitor the Persian Gulf region.

But Salami, speaking to a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj, described the American drone as “violating our national security border.”

“Borders are our red line,” the Revolutionary Guard general said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also said the drone entered Iranian airspace, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted it would take its case to the U.N. He later tweeted that Iran retrieved parts of the drone in its territorial waters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged caution, warning any war between Iran and the U.S. would be a “catastrophe for the region as a minimum.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged support for U.S. efforts to halt what he called escalating Iranian provocations.

“In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern and urged all parties to “avoid any action that could inflame the situation,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

America stations some RQ-4 Global Hawks at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, near the capital of Abu Dhabi. Associated Press journalists saw the drones on the base’s tarmac during a March 2016 visit by then-Vice President Joe Biden. The U.S. military occasionally publishes images from there of the drones, which have a distinctive hump-shaped front and an engine atop the fuselage.

Iran has claimed to have shot down U.S. drones before. In the most famous incident, in December 2011, Iran seized an RQ-170 Sentinel flown by the CIA to monitor Iranian nuclear sites after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan. Iran later reverse-engineered the drone to create their own variants.

Elsewhere in the region Thursday, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired a rocket at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq, a city in the kingdom’s Jizan province. The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki as saying it caused no damage or casualties.

The Yemeni rebel Al-Masirah satellite news channel earlier said the Houthis targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the kingdom’s border with Yemen, with a cruise missile.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, has been battling the Houthis since March 2015 in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation now pushed to the brink of famine by the conflict. In recent weeks, the Houthis have launched a new campaign sending missiles and bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.

https://apnews.com/e4316eb989d5499c9828350de8524963

 

 

Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos

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Trump slams Fed over interest rate policy

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S&P 500 closes at new record as Wall Street bets Fed will lower rates, Dow surges nearly 250 points

VIDEO02:12
The S&P 500 just closed at a record high — Here’s what four experts say to watch

Stocks rallied on Thursday, led by strong gains in tech and energy shares, as Wall Street cheered the possibility that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next month.

The S&P 500 surged 1% to 2,954.18, a record close. The broad index also hit an intraday record of 2,958.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 249.17 points higher at 26,753.17. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8% to end the day at 8,051.34.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below 2% for the first time since November 2016. Investors cheered the decline in the benchmark for mortgage rates and corporate bonds.

The energy sector rose more than 2% to lead all 11 S&P 500 sectors higher as oil prices jumped. Tech gained 1.4% after shares of Oracle surged more than 8% on stronger-than-forecast earnings. General Electric’s 2.8% rise pushed the industrials sector up more than 1.6% on the day.

“Markets are based on numbers and perception. If the perception is rates are getting cut, that’s going to drive markets higher,” said Kathy Entwistle, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS. “UBS’ stance up until yesterday was we wouldn’t see any rate cuts this year. Now we see a much larger chance of a 50-basis-point cut.”

The Fed said Wednesday it stands ready to battle growing global and domestic economic risks as they took stock of intensifying trade tensions and growing concerns about inflation. Most Fed policymakers slashed their rate outlook for the rest of the calendar year by approximately half a percentage point in the previous session, while Chairman Jerome Powell said others agree the case for lower rates is building.

Policymakers also dropped “patient” from the Fed’s statement and acknowledged that inflation is “running below” its 2% objective.

Market participants viewed the overall tone from the U.S. central bank as more dovish than expected. Traders are now pricing in a 100% chance of a rate cutnext month, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

With Thursday’s gains, the market has now erased the steep losses recorded by the major indexes in May, which were sparked by trade fears. The S&P 500 and Dow both fell more than 6% while the Nasdaq lost 7.9% last month. The three indexes were up more than 7% for June.

China and the U.S. hiked tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods in May. Stocks turned around this month as traders bet the rising trade tensions, coupled with weaker economic data, would lead the Fed to ease its monetary policy stance.

The Fed’s message on Wednesday sent the 10-year Treasury yield to as low as 1.974% before ending the day around 2.02%. The yield stood at 2.8% in January.

“The FOMC reinforced the market’s conviction,” said Steve Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard, in a note. “Barring a dramatic turnaround in the data, the next move is a cut – perhaps even a 50bp reduction.”

The dollar also took a hit against other major currencies. The dollar index dropped 0.5% to 96.65, led by a 0.6% slide in the euro. The yen and Canadian dollar also rose against the U.S. currency.

Energy shares got a boost from higher oil prices. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) climbed 2.2% as shares of Exxon Mobil gained 1.7%. Oil prices surged 5.4% after a U.S. official said a drone was shot down over Iranian airspace.

Meanwhile, Slack shares surged more than 40% in their first day of trading. The stock closed above $38 after setting a reference price of $26.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/20/stock-market-dow-futures-higher-after-fed-raises-rate-cut-hopes.html

Federal Open Market Committee

About the FOMC

Recent FOMC press conference

June 19, 2019

FOMC Transcripts and other historical materials

The term “monetary policy” refers to the actions undertaken by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve, to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve responsibility for setting monetary policy.

The Federal Reserve controls the three tools of monetary policy–open market operationsthe discount rate, and reserve requirements. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is responsible for the discount rate and reserve requirements, and the Federal Open Market Committee is responsible for open market operations. Using the three tools, the Federal Reserve influences the demand for, and supply of, balances that depository institutions hold at Federal Reserve Banks and in this way alters the federal funds rate. The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend balances at the Federal Reserve to other depository institutions overnight.

Changes in the federal funds rate trigger a chain of events that affect other short-term interest rates, foreign exchange rates, long-term interest rates, the amount of money and credit, and, ultimately, a range of economic variables, including employment, output, and prices of goods and services.

Structure of the FOMC

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of twelve members–the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The rotating seats are filled from the following four groups of Banks, one Bank president from each group: Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond; Cleveland and Chicago; Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas; and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Nonvoting Reserve Bank presidents attend the meetings of the Committee, participate in the discussions, and contribute to the Committee’s assessment of the economy and policy options.

The FOMC holds eight regularly scheduled meetings per year. At these meetings, the Committee reviews economic and financial conditions, determines the appropriate stance of monetary policy, and assesses the risks to its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth.

For more detail on the FOMC and monetary policy, see section 2 of the brochure on the structure of the Federal Reserve Systemand chapter 2 of Purposes & Functions of the Federal Reserve System. FOMC Rules and Authorizations are also available online.

2019 Committee Members

Alternate Members

Federal Reserve Bank Rotation on the FOMC

Committee membership changes at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

2020 2021 2022
Members New York
Cleveland
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
Alternate
Members
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
New York
Chicago
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis

 †For the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the First Vice President is the alternate for the President. Return to table

For additional information, please use the FOMC FOIA request form.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomc.htm

 

Fed holds rates steady, but opens the door for a rate cut in the future

The action sets up a possible confrontation between Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump, who has been pressuring the Fed to cut rates. Just Tuesday, Trump said “let’s see what he does” at the Fed meeting when asked if he still wants to demote Powell.

At the post-statement news conference, Powell was asked about his future as chairman. “I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he said.

The strong majority for this month’s decision contrasted with a sharp difference of opinion on what happens next.

The committee provided an important nod to those worried about slower growth: It dropped the word “patient” in  describing its approach to policy. The characterization was a key part of the Fed “pivot” earlier this year that signaled to the market a more dovish approach to rates.

“The Fed didn’t surprise investors with the decision to maintain rates, but the split vote tells us that a cut is on the way and it’s increasingly likely that will be in July, as bond markets have been hoping,” said Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at Premier Asset Management.

“This was probably the compromise decision — it wasn’t shocking and should offer some reassurance,” Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, said in a note. “The FOMC will still want to closely monitor the stress fractures from the bond market, middling housing and auto sales numbers, and an increasingly uncertain global economic landscape in the coming months.”

The statement also changed wording to concede that inflation is “running below” the Fed’s 2% objective. In their forecast for headline inflation this year, officials slashed the estimate to 1.5% from March’s 1.8%. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is likely now to be 1.8% from March’s 2%, according to the quarterly summary of economic projections also released Wednesday.

‘In light of these uncertainties’

The committee changed language from its May statement to indicate that economic activity is “rising at a moderate rate,” a downgrade from “solid.”

In their baseline scenario, FOMC members said they still expect “sustained expansion of economic activity” and a move toward 2% inflation, but realize that “uncertainties about this outlook have increased.”

“In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective,” the statement said. The “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion” language mirrors a statement from Powell in early June.

Very reasonable to think Fed will cut rates twice this year: Strategist

The committee characterized the labor market as “strong” with “solid” jobs growth, despite May’s disappointing nonfarm payrolls growth of 75,000. The statement further said that household spending “appears to have picked up from earlier in the year.”

The changes came amid what appeared to be little consensus among the committee about where rates go next.

Divided Fed

According to the “dot plot” of individual members’ expectations, eight members favor one cut this year while the same number voted in favor of the status quo and one still wants a rate hike. Bullard and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari have led the public discussion about the potential for rate cuts, while other members have been less firm.

Into 2020, the Fed consensus was a bit stronger, with nine members wanting a cut to a funds rate around 2.1%. The direction changes, though, in 2021, with indications of an increase of about a quarter-point, culminating in an expected long-run value of 2.5%. The funds rate most recently was trading at 2.37%.

Traders in the thin and volatile funds market had been pricing in a 26% chance of a cut at this week’s meeting. Later in the year, though, the probability for a July easing rose to 82.5% and the chances of a second cut in December were most recently at 60.4%. The market expects a third cut to come around March of 2020.

While the statement language offered some significant changes, estimates in the summary of economic projections, other than inflation, moved little from March. GDP growth is still expected to be 2.1% for the year – it was 3.1% in the first quarter, and the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a 2% gain in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is now expected to hold at a 50-year low of 3.6%, against the March forecast of 3.7%.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/19/fed-decision-fed-leaves-rates-unchanged.html

10-year Treasury yield drops below 2% for first time since November 2016

Federal funds rate

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Federal Funds Rate compared to U.S. Treasury interest rates

2 to 10 year treasury yield spread

Inflation (blue) compared to federal funds rate (red)

Quarterly gross domestic product compared to Federal Funds Rate.

Federal Funds Rate and Treasury interest rates from 2002-2019

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate. The target rate is chosen in part to influence the money supply in the U.S. economy[3]

Contents

Mechanism

Financial institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accountsNOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007–2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjustments in the interest rate on reserves.[5] The target rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[6] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[7]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[8]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of 19 December 2018 the target range for the Federal Funds Rate is 2.25–2.50%.[9] This represents the ninth increase in the target rate since tightening began in December 2015.[10]

The last full cycle of rate increases occurred between June 2004 and June 2006 as rates steadily rose from 1.00% to 5.25%. The target rate remained at 5.25% for over a year, until the Federal Reserve began lowering rates in September 2007. The last cycle of easing monetary policy through the rate was conducted from September 2007 to December 2008 as the target rate fell from 5.25% to a range of 0.00–0.25%. Between December 2008 and December 2015 the target rate remained at 0.00–0.25%, the lowest rate in the Federal Reserve’s history, as a reaction to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its aftermath. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[11]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, the price of borrowed funds – the federal funds rate – falls. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the federal funds rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, the interest rate will normally rise.[12]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[13] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the federal funds rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[14][15]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [16][17][18]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[19][20][21]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[22]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[23]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25–0.50[24]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50–0.75[25]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75–1.00[26]
  • Jun 14, 2017 — 1.00–1.25[27]
  • Dec 13, 2017 — 1.25–1.50[28]
  • Mar 21, 2018 — 1.50–1.75[29]
  • Jun 13, 2018 — 1.75–2.00[30]
  • Sep 26, 2018 — 2.00–2.25[9]
  • Dec 19, 2018 — 2.25–2.50[31]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and housing fell.[32]

International effects

A low federal funds rate makes investments in developing countries such as China or Mexico more attractive. A high federal funds rate makes investments outside the United States less attractive. The long period of a very low federal funds rate from 2009 forward resulted in an increase in investment in developing countries. As the United States began to return to a higher rate in 2013 investments in the United States became more attractive and the rate of investment in developing countries began to fall. The rate also affects the value of currency, a higher rate increasing the value of the U.S. dollar and decreasing the value of currencies such as the Mexican peso.[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  2. ^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions(PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. August 24, 2011. p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  3. ^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. January 30, 2008. Archived from the original on April 13, 2001. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  4. ^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Stefan Homburg (2017) A Study in Monetary Macroeconomics, Oxford University Press, ISBN978-0-19-880753-7.
  6. ^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  7. ^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s”(PDF)Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  8. ^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007.
  9. Jump up to:ab “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement” (Press release). Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  10. ^ Tankersley, Jim (March 21, 2018). “Fed Raises Interest Rates for Sixth Time Since Financial Crisis”The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  11. ^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  12. ^ David Waring (February 19, 2008). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  13. ^ “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  14. ^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. ^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. ^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. ^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. ^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. ^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. ^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  21. ^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  22. ^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  23. ^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  24. ^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  25. ^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016.
  26. ^ Cox, Jeff (March 15, 2017). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”CNBC. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  27. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 14, 2017.
  28. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 13, 2017.
  29. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. March 21, 2018.
  30. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 13, 2018.
  31. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  33. ^ Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough (March 16, 2017). “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer”The New York Times. Retrieved March 18,2017Rising interest rates in the United States are driving money out of many developing countries, straining governments and pinching consumers around the globe.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

The Impact of an Inverted Yield Curve

The term yield curve refers to the relationship between the short- and long-term interest rates of fixed-income securities issued by the U.S. Treasury. An inverted yield curve occurs when short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates.

From an economic perspective, an inverted yield curve is a noteworthy event. Below, we explain this rare phenomenon, discuss its impact on consumers and investors, and tell you how to adjust your portfolio to account for it.

Interest Rates and Yield Curves

Typically, short-term interest rates are lower than long-term rates, so the yield curve slopes upwards, reflecting higher yields for longer-term investments. This is referred to as a normal yield curve. When the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates narrows, the yield curve begins to flatten. A flat yield curve is often seen during the transition from a normal yield curve to an inverted one.

Normal Yield Curve

Figure 1 – A normal yield curve

What Does an Inverted Yield Curve Suggest?

Historically, an inverted yield curve has been viewed as an indicator of a pending economic recession. When short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates, market sentiment suggests that the long-term outlook is poor and that the yields offered by long-term fixed income will continue to fall.

More recently, this viewpoint has been called into question, as foreign purchases of securities issued by the U.S. Treasury have created a high and sustained level of demand for products backed by U.S. government debt. When investors are aggressively seeking debt instruments, the debtor can offer lower interest rates. When this occurs, many argue that it is the laws of supply and demand, rather than impending economic doom and gloom, that enable lenders to attract buyers without having to pay higher interest rates.

Inverted Yield Curve

Figure 2 – An inverted yield curve: note the inverse relationship between yield and maturity

Inverted yield curves have been relatively rare, due in large part to longer-than-average periods between recessions since the early 1990s. For example, the economic expansions that began in March 1991, November 2001 and June 2009 were three of the four longest economic expansions since World War II. During these long periods, the question often arises as to whether an inverted yield curve can happen again.

Economic cycles, regardless of their length, have historically transitioned from growth to recession and back again. Inverted yield curves are an essential element of these cycles, preceding every recession since 1956. Considering the consistency of this pattern, an inverted yield will likely form again if the current expansion fades to recession.

Upward sloping yield curves are a natural extension of the higher risks associated with long maturities. In a growing economy, investors also demand higher yields at the long end of the curve to compensate for the opportunity cost of investing in bonds versus other asset classes, and to maintain an acceptable spread over inflation rates.

As the economic cycle begins to slow, perhaps due to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank, the upward slope of the yield curve tends to flatten as short-term rates increase and longer yields stay stable or decline slightly. In this environment, investors see long-term yields as an acceptable substitute for the potential of lower returns in equities and other asset classes, which tend to increase bond prices and reduce yields.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Consumers

In addition to its impact on investors, an inverted yield curve also has an impact on consumers. For example, homebuyers financing their properties with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) have interest-rate schedules that are periodically updated based on short-term interest rates. When short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, payments on ARMs tend to rise. When this occurs, fixed-rate loans may be more attractive than adjustable-rate loans.

Lines of credit are affected in a similar manner. In both cases, consumers must dedicate a larger portion of their incomes toward servicing existing debt. This reduces expendable income and has a negative effect on the economy as a whole.

The Formation of an Inverted Yield Curve

As concerns of an impending recession increase, investors tend to buy long Treasury bonds based on the premise that they offer a safe harbor from falling equities markets, provide preservation of capital and have potential for appreciation in value as interest rates decline. As a result of the rotation to long maturities, yields can fall below short-term rates, forming an inverted yield curve. Since 1956, equities have peaked six times after the start of an inversion, and the economy has fallen into recession within seven to 24 months.

As of 2017, the most recent inverted yield curve first appeared in August 2006, as the Fed raised short-term interest rates in response to overheating equity, real estate and mortgage markets. The inversion of the yield curve preceded the peak of the Standard & Poor’s 500 in October 2007 by 14 months and the official start of the recession in December 2007 by 16 months. However, a growing number of 2018 economic outlooks from investment firms are suggesting that an inverted yield curve could be on the horizon, citing the narrowing spread between short- and long-dated Treasuries.

If history is any precedent, the current business cycle will progress, and slowing in the economy may eventually become evident. If concerns of the next recession rise to the point where investors see the purchase of long-dated Treasuries as the best option for their portfolios, there is a high likelihood that the next inverted yield curve will take shape.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Fixed-Income Investors

A yield curve inversion has the greatest impact on fixed-income investors. In normal circumstances, long-term investments have higher yields; because investors are risking their money for longer periods of time, they are rewarded with higher payouts. An inverted curve eliminates the risk premium for long-term investments, allowing investors to get better returns with short-term investments.

When the spread between U.S. Treasuries (a risk-free investment) and higher-risk corporate alternatives is at historical lows, it is often an easy decision to invest in lower-risk vehicles. In such cases, purchasing a Treasury-backed security provides a yield similar to the yield on junk bondscorporate bondsreal estate investment trusts (REITs) and other debt instruments, but without the risk inherent in these vehicles. Money market funds and certificates of deposit (CDs) may also be attractive – particularly when a one-year CD is paying yields comparable to those on a 10-year Treasury bond.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Equity Investors

When the yield curve becomes inverted, profit margins fall for companies that borrow cash at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, such as community banks. Likewise, hedge funds are often forced to take on increased risk in order to achieve their desired level of returns.

In fact, a bad bet on Russian interest rates is largely credited for the demise of Long-Term Capital Management, a well-known hedge fund run by bond trader John Meriwether.

Despite their consequences for some parties, yield-curve inversions tend to have less impact on consumer staples and healthcare companies, which are not interest-rate dependent. This relationship becomes clear when an inverted yield curve precedes a recession. When this occurs, investors tend to turn to defensive stocks, such as those in the food, oil and tobacco industries, which are often less affected by downturns in the economy.

The Bottom Line

While experts question whether or not an inverted yield curve remains a strong indicator of pending economic recession, keep in mind that history is littered with portfolios that were devastated when investors blindly followed predictions about how “it’s different this time.” Most recently, shortsighted equity investors spouting this mantra participated in the “tech wreck,” snapping up shares in tech companies at inflated prices even though these firms had no hope of ever making a profit.

If you want to be a smart investor, ignore the noise. Instead of spending time and effort trying to figure out what the future will bring, construct your portfolio based on long-term thinking and long-term convictions – not short-term market movements.

For your short-term income needs, do the obvious: choose the investment with the highest yield, but keep in mind that inversions are an anomaly and they don’t last forever. When the inversion ends, adjust your portfolio accordingly.

Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey, Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators Eastland (Mississippi) and Talmadge (Georgia) Who Got Things Done — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers and Big Lie Media Playing Identity Politics and Divide and Conquer — Videos —

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

SUSAN WALSH / AP

Joe Biden was a freshman senator, the youngest member of the august body, when he reached out to an older colleague for help on one of his early legislative proposals: The courts were ordering racially segregated school districts to bus children to create more integrated classrooms, a practice Biden opposed and wanted to change.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attemptingto bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The recipient of Biden’s entreaty was Sen. James Eastland, at the time a well-known segregationist who had called blacks “an inferior race” and once vowed to prevent blacks and whites from eating together in Washington. The exchange, revealed in a series of letters, offers a new glimpse into an old relationship that erupted this week as a major controversy for Biden’s presidential campaign.Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.” He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that “the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”

But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies.

The letters were provided Thursday to the Washington Post by the University of Mississippi, which houses Eastland’s archived papers. They were reported in April by CNN.

Biden’s campaign late Thursday issued a statement saying that “the insinuation that Joe Biden shared the same views as Eastland on segregation is a lie.”

“Plain and simple. Joe Biden has dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights,” the statement said.

The controversy over Biden’s comments this week have continued to reverberate at a crucial time in the campaign, with matters of race dominating the political discussion ahead of several prominent gatherings, including the first presidential debate next week and a multicandidate event before black voters in South Carolina on Friday. It has emerged as a complex political problem for Biden, who has been trying to campaign as a civil rights champion while explaining past views that are out of step with today’s Democratic base.

Biden’s Wednesday remarks sparked one of the sharpest intra-Democrat exchanges of the campaign, when Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of his black 2020 rivals, criticized both Biden’s work with segregationists and the language that he used in describing it.

On Wednesday, Biden called Booker. Biden’s campaign also distributed talking points to supporters, emphasizing that Eastland and Talmadge “were people who he fundamentally disagreed with on the issue of civil rights.”

Late Thursday, the former vice president met with a small group that included black members of Congress, one of the participants said.

Divisions also emerged in Biden’s campaign over how he should handle such situations. Aides alternately argued that he simply misspoke in telling the anecdote, that he shouldn’t be telling it at all or that his remarks demonstrate his ability to work with those with whom he disagrees and the words were being purposefully twisted for political gain.

The letters show that Biden’s courtship of Eastland started in 1972, before he had taken office, and that he wrote to the older senator listing his top six committee assignment requests, with Foreign Relations and Judiciary at the top. A few weeks later, Biden thanked Eastland, writing that he was “flattered and grateful” for his help. He also referred to the December 1972 car crash that killed his wife and daughter and injured his two sons.

“Despite my preoccupation with family matters at this time, I intend to place the highest priority on attending to my committee responsibilities,” Biden wrote.

Biden supporters have repeatedly pointed to his efforts on civil rights issues to cast him as a champion of equality. Not only did he share an eight-year partnership with the first black president, he also worked alongside black leaders throughout his career on extending the Voting Rights Act, amending the Fair Housing Act and creating the holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.et in the debate over the merits of busing as a solution to greater integration, Biden’s avowed stance against it put him at odds with some civil rights leaders.

 

 

It was in that context that he courted the support of Eastland — at the time the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as other senators.

In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices.

“My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,” he wrote to Eastland. “It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.”

“I believe there is growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing,” he added. The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration.

 

“That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,” Biden wrote. “The Supreme Court seems to have recognized that busing simply cannot be justified in cases where state and local officials intended no discrimination.”

In later letters to Eastland, Biden continued pushing his legislation.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland.

“Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”

After Biden’s remarks at the Wednesday night fund-raiser, advisers played down his comments about Eastland as a garbled rendition of a familiar Biden anecdote. In particular, they sought to excuse Biden for saying that Eastland didn’t refer to him as “boy” — an insult leveled at black men — but as “son.”

“He just misspoke,” said one Biden adviser. “The way Biden usually tells the story, he says Eastland didn’t call him ‘senator,’ he called him ‘son,’ ” the adviser said. “Eastland called him ‘boy’ and ‘son’ also. This was Eastland’s way of diminishing young senators.”

In the campaign statement Thursday, Biden’s national press secretary, Jamal Brown, said Biden’s “strong support for equal housing, equal education and equal job opportunities were clear to all Delawareans in the 1970s.”

Biden sought to ensure that black students received “the resources necessary to deliver the quality education they deserved,” he said.

Brown added that throughout his public life, Biden “fought the institutional problems that created de facto segregated school systems and neighborhoods in the first place: redlining, school lines drawn to keep races and classes separate and housing patterns and discrimination.”

Almost the entire Democratic field is set to attend a fish fry Friday night hosted by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a leading black figure in the state and one who has remained supportive of Biden.

It would be the first public appearance Biden is making with the same Democratic presidential hopefuls who have heaped criticism on him for the comment.

In demanding an apology, Booker said Wednesday that Biden’s “relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”

Asked about Booker’s remarks by reporters, Biden declined to offer an apology and instead demanded one from Booker. The two men later spoke privately.

“Cory shared directly what he said publicly — including helping Vice President Biden understand why the word ‘boy’ is painful to so many,” said Sabrina Singh, a Booker campaign spokeswoman. “Cory believes that Vice President Biden should take responsibility for what he said and apologize to those who were hurt.”

Biden’s campaign would not elaborate on the call, but it is clear the topic could linger over the coming days.

Biden has scheduled a sit-down interview with MSNBC, his campaign has been sending out talking points to surrogates, and some black supporters are eager to hear the former vice president offer a fuller explanation.

“I think he’s got to address it head on and show people what his line of thinking was,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina who is close with Biden’s team. “I don’t think they need to get off course with their strategy. I just think they have to address it as it comes up and move on.”

Other Biden supporters, however, think he’s taking just the right approach and standing by his long-held beliefs.

I encouraged campaign staff that I know to say: ‘Don’t back off on this. This is precisely why you’re the right guy in the right place at the right time.’ And I was glad to see that he didn’t,” said Dave O’Brien, a longtime Biden supporter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“You know that some of the other issues, he’s got to evolve with the times, which he has,” O’Brien added. “But there are points where you need to make a stand, so I was very glad to see him not back off on this issue.”

https://www.inquirer.com/politics/nation/joe-biden-james-eastland-segregation-democratic-primary-20190621.htmlPosted: June 20, 2019 – 10:59 PM

Biden not apologizing for remarks on segregationist senators

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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden refused calls to apologize Wednesday for saying that the Senate “got things done” with “civility” even when the body included segregationists with whom he disagreed.

His rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, including the two major black candidates in the contest, roundly criticized Biden’s comments. But Biden didn’t back down and was particularly defiant in the face of criticism from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said the former vice president should apologize for his remarks.

Biden countered that it was Booker who should apologize because the senator “should know better” than to question his commitment to civil rights.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden said. “I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career.”

Speaking on CNN, Booker responded: “I was raised to speak truth to power and that I shall never apologize for doing that. And Vice President Biden shouldn’t need this lesson.”

The firestorm is quickly becoming one of the most intense disputes of the Democratic presidential primary, underscoring the hazards for Biden as he tries to turn his decades of Washington experience into an advantage. Instead, he’s infuriating Democrats who say he’s out of step with the diverse party of the 21st century and potentially undermining his argument that he’s the most electable candidate in the race.

The controversy began at a New York fundraiser Tuesday when Biden pointed to long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned more smoothly a generation ago than under today’s “broken” hyperpartisanship.

“We didn’t agree on much of anything,” Biden said of the two men, who were prominent senators when Biden was elected in 1972. Biden described Talmadge as “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” and said Eastland called him “son,” though not “boy,” a reference to the racist way many whites addressed black men at the time.

Yet even in that Senate, Biden said, “At least there was some civility. We got things done.”

A pile on from Biden’s rivals quickly ensued. Booker said he was disappointed by Biden’s remarks.

“I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together,” said Booker, who is African American.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democratic presidential candidate and a white man who is married to a black woman, tweeted: “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a black presidential candidate, said Biden was “coddling” segregationists in a way that “suggests to me that he doesn’t understand … the dark history of our country” — a characterization Biden’s campaign rejects.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another 2020 candidate, said, “For the vice president to somehow say that what we’re seeing in this country today is a function of partisanship or a lack of bipartisanship completely ignores the legacy of slavery and the active suppression of African Americans and communities of color right now.”

The tumult comes at a crucial point in the campaign. Biden is still recovering from controversy he sparked earlier this month when he angered many Democrats by saying he didn’t support federal taxpayer money supporting abortion. He later reversed his position.

He’s among the more than 20 candidates who will descend on South Carolina this weekend to make their case to black voters at a series of Democratic events.

Meanwhile, most Democratic White House hopefuls will again gather in Miami next week for the first presidential debate of the primary season. Biden will almost certainly come under fire there for his comments this week.

He sought to defuse the tension on Wednesday by saying he was trying to argue that leaders sometimes have to work with people they disagree with to achieve goals, such as renewing the Voting Rights Act.

“The point I’m making is you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like the people in terms of their views,” he said Wednesday. “But you just simply make the case and you beat them without changing the system.”

He has received support from some black leaders. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chairman and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, said Biden’s opponents deliberately ignored the full context of his argument for a more functional government.

“Maybe there’s a better way to say it, but we have to work with people, and that’s a fact,” Richmond said, noting he dealt recently with President Donald Trump to pass a long-sought criminal justice overhaul. “I question (Trump’s) racial sensitivity, a whole bunch of things about his character … but we worked together.”

Likewise, Richmond said, Biden mentioned Jim Crow-era senators to emphasize the depths of disagreements elected officials sometimes navigate. “If he gets elected president, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate” to overcome filibusters, Richmond noted. “He could be less genuine and say, ‘We’re just going to do all these things.’ But we already have a president like that. (Biden) knows we have to build consensus.”

Biden also drew a qualified defense from Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black senator from his party. Scott said that Biden “should have used a different group of senators” to make his point but that his remarks “have nothing to do with his position on race” issues. Scott said the reaction reflects an intense environment for Democrats in which the desire to defeat Trump means “anything the front-runner says that is off by a little bit” will be magnified.

https://apnews.com/5b57473cfcda44e4b35c8a40759a26fc

The gloves come off in the Democratic primary

This was the week that the battle for the nomination got real.

The tenor of the Democratic presidential primary has verged on courteous from the start: To the extent that Democrats went after Joe Biden, it was usually not by name. And Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren kept their rivalry decidedly civil.

This week, with the first debates of the election season days away, the gentility came to an end.

Biden’s remarks at a New York fundraiser that “at least there was some civility” when he worked with segregationists in the Senate unleashed a torrent of criticism from his rivals and the left. And a story in POLITICO about centrists coming around to Warren as an “anybody but Bernie” alternative set off Sanders and his allies.

“We knew the primary wouldn’t be all puppies and rainbows forever,” said Ben LaBolt, a former adviser to Barack Obama. “And as the debates approach you can see a new dynamic emerging.”

The reaction from Biden’s rivals to his comments was fierce.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose wife is African American, noted that one of the segregationists Biden invoked, James Eastland of Mississippi, would have outlawed his marriage. Sen. Cory Booker, who is black, took offense that Biden seemed to make light of Eastland calling him “son” but not “boy.”

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys’,” Booker said.

Booker called on Biden to apologize but Biden took a different path. Outside a fundraiser Wednesday night, a defiant Biden said he had nothing to be sorry for and that it’s Booker who should apologize for questioning someone without “a racist bone in my body.”

“He knows better,” Biden said.

The crossfire marked some of the most direct and intense exchanges so far of the 2020 primary campaign. And it signals that with less than a week until the first televised debate, the field is done tiptoeing around.

“Running for president is no tea party. It’s a battle. And it is customary for candidates to begin to engage at this stage. The polite preliminaries are over,” said Democratic strategist and former Obama hand David Axelrod. “And since there is generally broad agreement on issues, if not solutions, the disputes necessarily turn on other things.”

In a separate episode, Sanders dispatched a tweet that was viewed as a sideswipe of Warren.

“The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly ‘anybody but Bernie,’” Sanders wrote on Twitter, sharing a POLITICO storyheadlined: “Warren emerges as potential compromise nominee.”

Sanders faced his own backlash over the remark.

“If we had a multi-party parliament, it’d be pretty normal for Sanders and Warren to campaign against each other for leadership in a Social Democratic Party. That said, I still find this move pretty dissapointing [sic] and unnecessary. Draw contrasts if you want, but not like this,” tweeted Waleed Shadid, communications director of the progressive group Justice Democrats.

Shadid later noted that Sanders on CNN said his remark was targeted at the moderate think tank Third Way, and not Warren.

Still, the escalating tensions come as Warren is gaining on Sanders in polls. She leapfrogged him in recent surveys in Nevada and California. And a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Warren and Sanders virtually tied for second, with Warren, at 15 percent, gaining five points in one month. Biden still led the field at 32 percent.

“Biden’s numbers have held up higher than expected and a number of challengers are going after his gaffes more aggressively than before,” LaBolt said. “Warren has begun eating into Bernie’s numbers and he is trying to fend her off.”

Still, one Democratic veteran of the 2016 campaign, ex-Sanders adviser Mark Longabaugh, said the current tangles are nothing like what he experienced in that campaign. There’s plenty of time for it to get there, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“I don’t know if the gloves are off. I think the gloves may be getting a little loose — pulling out the fingertips to take the gloves off.” Longabaugh said. “Having been through the 2015-16 experience, I gotta tell ya, that was much more combative than anything you’ve seen in this race — not anything close.”

Not far from anyone’s mind are the first debates in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

“While this type of engagement is expected,” LaBolt said, “candidates should be careful not to cross any lines that could significantly damage potential nominees for the general.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/20/2020-election-democratic-primary-1373202

 

 

Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida –Send Them Home — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Videos

TRUMP 2020: President Trump Re-Election Campaign Rally – FULL SPEECH

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With Florida rally, Trump aims for a 2020 campaign ‘reset’

Trump to launch 2020 re-election bid in Florida

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Crowds grow for Trump rally in Orlando

People are lining up for President Trump’s event on Tuesday

THE PRESIDENT IS BACK: President Trump Returns From MASSIVE Orlando Rally

The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider?

President Trump is running for reelection as an outsider candidate. But it’s a knotty challenge for someone who holds the world’s most powerful office.

Trump’s speech in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, which officially launched his 2020 bid, was rife with rhetoric portraying himself — and by extension his supporters — as victims of nefarious elites.

The president said that he and his allies were besieged by a “permanent political class” and “an unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests.”

“Our patriotic movement has been under assault from the very first day,” Trump insisted at one point. Moments before, he told the crowd, “the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently.”

It’s the kind of language that makes Democrats roll their eyes. Trump, they note, is a billionaire property developer, born into wealth, who won the presidency on his first attempt — yet he portrays himself as the tribune of “the forgotten men and women of our country” whom he invoked in his January 2017 inaugural address.

But Trump’s unconventionality might, in itself, help him retain some kind of outsider cachet in a way that is unusual for an incumbent president.

“For any other president, yes, it is a challenge,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the 2016 presidential primaries.

“But Trump is unlike any other president. Trump has been at war with the establishment since the moment he set foot in the White House,” he said.

It is certainly true that Trump was viewed with suspicion by the Republican Party from the time he began his presidential run — and that his language and attitudes are viewed with distaste by much of the Beltway political class.

But dislike for Trump’s personal antics is hardly confined to D.C. elites.

A Pew Research Center poll in March showed pluralities of the public believing that he was not “trustworthy,” “even-tempered” or “well-informed.”

For all Trump’s supposed concern with less affluent Americans, 56 percent of the respondents in the Pew poll said they did not believe he cared about “people like me,” whereas just 40 percent said he did care.

The GOP has largely made peace with him, with former rivals including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) becoming enthusiastic supporters, congressional dissenters such as former Rep. Mark Sanford(R-S.C.) having been defeated in primaries and Trump now in firm control of the party apparatus.

Skeptics also point to both policies and personnel — from the steep cut in the corporate tax rate in 2017 to the 16-month run of the ethically challenged Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency — as evidence that the swamp has remained undrained under Trump.

But Trump allies are insistent that the president’s feel for the cultural mores of blue-collar America remains a potent and underrated political weapon.

“He is certainly an outsider to the political establishment. They still don’t get him and he is not coming around to their way of thinking,” said Barry Bennett, who worked as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. “He may live inside the gates but he does not live inside the establishment. … I don’t know anyone who believes he has become some kind of Georgetown socialite.”

Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump friend, insisted, “I have never ever met anyone, any Trump supporter, who believes anything else besides the fact that he’s an outsider.”

There is clearly a political dividend to be gained if Trump can hold onto his outsider image.

In the recent past, voters in presidential elections have often chosen the candidate seen as less steeped in the ways of Washington.

Former President Obama won election twice as a change agent, initially winning the White House as the first black president and then securing a second term over GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the personification of a genteel Republican establishment.

Former President George W. Bush had only a tenuous claim to outsider status, given he was the son of a president — yet his campaign was able to paint then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as a creature of Washington in the 2004 presidential election.

Before that, former President Clinton used his down-home Arkansas image as a weapon against an incumbent president, Bush’s father, George H.W Bush, and then won a second term over another GOP establishment favorite, then-Sen. Bob Dole (Kan.).

Independent observers acknowledge that Trump’s style, divisive though it is, could help him be seen as much more of a disruptor even than these recent predecessors.

“It’s almost impossible for an incumbent to run as an outsider, but Trump has held onto that credential,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications. “He is parlaying that into how he sees himself — running against the Democrats, the media, the elites.”

Republicans, meanwhile, argue that Trump’s outsider image could be especially useful if Democrats pick former Vice President Joe Biden as their nominee.

Biden, in their telling, is much easier to brand as a creature of Washington given his decades in the Senate. There will be a different challenge if Democrats instead choose one of Biden’s rivals who is a fresher face on the national political scene, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); or more radical, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.).

Trump, billionaire Manhattanite though he may be, has long used the idea that he is sneered at by a snobbish elite to his own advantage.

On Tuesday, he told his supporters that Democrats “want to destroy you.”

It was a stark and visceral remark even by Trump’s standards.

But, after his 2016 victory, even his critics can’t be so sure it won’t work.

https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/449436-the-memo-can-trump-run-as-an-outsider

A Second Term for What?

Trump can’t win by relitigating 2016 and playing only to his base.

President Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign on June 18.PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

President Trump announced his campaign for a second term at a rally in Orlando on Tuesday evening that recounted his first-term record and 2016 victory before thousands of rapturous supporters. The only thing missing was an agenda for 2020.

The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile.

Donald Trump Launches Campaign

The President is also right that his opponents have refused to recognize the legitimacy of his election. House Democrats may still try to impeach him for not obstructing an investigation into what wasn’t a conspiracy with Russia. His sense of “grievance,” to quote the media meme about his speech, on that point is entirely justified.

Yet Mr. Trump is asking for four more years, and his preoccupation with vindicating 2016 won’t resonate much beyond his core supporters. Most voters have moved on from 2016, which is why a majority opposes impeachment in every poll. They don’t much care about Mr. Trump’s greatest hits about Hillary Clinton, who alas for the President will not be on the ballot in 2020. They want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

This is all the more important given the way his first term has evolved on policy. One paradox is that his main policy successes have come from pursuing a conventional conservative agenda. The failures have been on the issues like trade and immigration that are the most identified with Trumpian disruption.

The economy’s renewed growth spurt came from tax reform, deregulation, liberating energy production and ending the anti-business harassment of the Obama years. His remaking of the judiciary and rebuilding of the military unite Republicans of all stripes. Criminal justice reform was the result of years of spade work on the right and left.

Mr. Trump deserves credit for pursuing all of this despite often ferocious opposition that might have intimidated a different GOP President. That’s true in particular of his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, where U.S. Democratic and media opinion is aligned with Europe’s elites.

On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. He must now confront the asylum crisis at the border with no help from Democrats. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.

The other paradox of the Trump Presidency is his low approval rating despite a stronger economy. The polls show his approval rating on the economy is above 50% but his overall approval is 44.3% in the Real Clear Politics average. The difference is best explained by Mr. Trump’s polarizing behavior, which has alienated in particular college-educated voters and Republican women. In the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, Mr. Trump is underwater with white college-educated women by a remarkable 20 percentage points.

Mr. Trump may figure he can persuade some of those skeptics by making the Democratic nominee even more unpopular than he is. If the Democrats oblige by nominating Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, that might be possible. But that is making a bet on the other party’s mistake, and a re-election campaign is typically a referendum on the incumbent.

Which is all the more reason to offer voters something more for a second term. He could put Democrats on the spot for high housing prices and homelessness by talking about restrictive zoning for elites and high property taxes. He could offer to reform higher education by making schools responsible for some of the debt of students who can’t repay loans, or invigorate vocational education to help young people who can’t go to college.

He could package health-care proposals to expand choice, reduce prices and make insurance portable; his administration has already proposed some of them. He could advance his theme of “draining the swamp” by offering ideas to reform the civil service. We’d include entitlement reform, but then Mr. Trump has shown no interest and we don’t believe in political miracles.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and Mr. Trump won’t win as a policy wonk in any case. But Mr. Trump also won’t win by relitigating the 2016 election or playing only to his political base. He needs more than he offered voters on Tuesday night.

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda
A Fox News poll has found that Democrats prefer a “steady” candidate to a “big agenda” candidate. But going up against the scale of Donald Trump will be tough, so how do frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren compare? Image: Getty

‘This election is about you. Your family, your future & the fate of YOUR country’: Trump lays it on the line at 20,000-strong Orlando rally as he kicks off 2020 re-election campaign with his entire family and obligatory digs at ‘Crooked Hillary’

  • The president spent the first half-hour of a Tuesday night rally hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton 
  • Trump said his team wondered if it should hold the rally in a venue which can hold 20,000 people
  • ‘Not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests… Congratulations!’ the president said to cheers
  • The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism when she wound up an arena of supporters
  • Husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming, ‘CNN Sucks!’ 
  • ‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. We’re going to fight like hell,’ Eric said 
  •  Donald Trump Jr. mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours
  • ‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said, claiming the ex-VP has four-person crowds 

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

‘The Democrats don’t care about Russia, they only care about their own political power. They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I’ve ever known or worked with,’ he argued. ‘But they are really going after you. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about us, it’s about you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.’

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend
First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump's first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended - with his audience chanting 'Lock her Up!' in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

Trump's campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Trump’s campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Michael Boulos, Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Donald Trump Jr. arrive at a rally for US President Donald Trump

FLOTUS Melania introduces her husband at Trump 2020 rally

The president said, ‘They wanted to deny you the future you demanded and the future that America deserved and that now America is getting. Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable, it’s not going to happen. Not gonna happen.’

Trump claimed that Democrats as a party would use the ‘power of the law to punish their opponents’ if they’re handed the reigns to the country.

‘Imagine if we had a Democrat president and a Democrat Congress in 2020. They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents – which they’re trying to do now anyway – they’ll always be trying to shield themselves,’ he claimed. ‘They will strip Americans of their Constitutional rights while flooding the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base and they’ll get votes someplace down the future. That’s what it’s about.’

Broad attacks on the Democratic Party and ‘radical socialism’ were the most stringent assaults that Trump would levy all night.

He said, ‘More than 120 Democrats in Congress have also signed up to support “Crazy Bernie Sanders” socialist government takeover of health care.

‘He seems not to be doing too well lately,’ the president said as an aside. ‘They want to end Medicare as we know it and terminate the private health insurance of 180 million Americans who love their health insurance. America will never be a socialist country.’

It was his only mention at the rally of one of his most formidable opponents. Former Democratic President Joe Biden was also a footnote in the speech, earning two mentions, as a part of the ‘Obama-Biden’ duo that Trump said ruined American foreign policy and drove down the nation’s economy.

‘Remember the statement from the previous administration? Would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing? Well, tell “Sleepy Joe” that we found the magic wand. That’s a sleepy guy,’ the president added.

Trump outlined his vision tweeting: ‘Don’t ever forget – this election is about YOU. It is about YOUR family, YOUR future, & the fate of YOUR COUNTRY. We begin our campaign with the best record, the best results, the best agenda, & the only positive VISION for our Country’s future! #Trump2020’

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Trump rails against Democrats, Mueller and ‘fake news’ at 2020 rally
Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Clinton.

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism first. She wound up an arena of supporters with a claim that the media was saying Clinton was going to be the 45th President of the United States days before the election. ‘They have always been wrong,’ she declared.

Attacks on the media as ‘fake news’ and ‘dishonest’ from Lara and her husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming ‘CNN Sucks!’ minutes later.

The Trumps said their family has been under attack from one group or another since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015.

‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. And guys we are going to fight like hell – our family is going to fight like hell for this country. We will never ever stop fighting, and we will never ever, ever stop winning,’ the president’s son said. ‘And guys, we love you very much. We’re all going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. So we’re going to see you.’

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president.

‘I don’t know about you, but I look around this room and when Joe Biden’s putting about seven people in an audience, I’m saying, “I think they may be a little wrong with the polling.” But what they hell do I know?’ he said.

National polls show Biden beating Trump in a general election. A Quinnipiac University survey that came out Tuesday found that the former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41, the newly-released poll showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told DailyMail.com inside the rally that Quinnipiac is ‘c**p’ in response to the latest poll showing bad news in a critical swing state for the controversial president.

Trump had already warned the public that this official launch of 2020 campaign would be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Trump attacks Democrats at his Orlando rally
Don Jr. brushed off the threat from Biden, 76, as he campaigned for his father, 73, on Tuesday in Orlando. He called Biden and his competitors a ‘clown show’ and gave the Democrat a new nickname. ‘Sloppy Joe,’ he called him, as he hit Biden for flip-flopping.

‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said. ‘To his group of about four people in the audience, “Government has failed you.” Usually, as he’s groping someone. It ain’t pretty, but there’s something off with that guy.’

The president’s son said he agrees that government is broken and it’s a problem. ‘The problem is Joe, you’ve been in government for almost 50 years. If government failed you, maybe you’re the problem Joe Biden,’ he said. ‘It’s not rocket science.’

Trump warned the public that the campaign rally would be ‘wild,’ and Don Jr. helped him deliver on the pledge.

He mocked Biden’s pledge to cure cancer, asking, ‘Why the hell didn’t you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?’

Don Jr. blamed the media for giving Biden a pass. ‘Why did not one of them say, “Well, Joe, how exactly are you going to do that?” And why didn’t you do that in the last eight years as vice president and the prior 40 years in government and the Senate?’

His father later claimed that he’d cure cancer in remarks that followed. ‘We will push onward with new medical frontiers. We will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases, including cancer and others and we’re getting closer all the time,’ he said.

Attacks on Clinton and media were a common theme throughout the night, with Trump pausing and waiting for his supporters to cheer, ‘CNN SUCKS!’ and ‘Lock her Up!’ as he talked about the former secretary of state’s acid-washed emails and her loss to him in the last election.

‘It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of our election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did,’ he complained.

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Vice President Mike Pence, escorted in by Karen Pence, speaks before Trump takes the stage on Tuesday evening

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

Melania's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

Melania’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

President Trump said as he opened the event that he could feel the ‘magic’ in Orlando – a play on the name of the city’s professional basketball team.

He spoke to supporters in the same arena that the team plays in, which is a venue that can hold roughly 20,000 people.

‘You know, I said, “This is a very big arena for a Tuesday night.” I said, “You know, if we have about three or four empty seats, the fake news will say – headlines: he didn’t fill up the arena.” So I said maybe we shouldn’t take the chance, maybe we shouldn’t go to Orlando, maybe we should go someplace else,’ Trump said in his opening remarks. ‘I said, “No, I think we’ll go to Orlando.” And, not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests. That means you folks have come out very, very good.’

Supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats at Tuesday evening’s show.

Saundra Kiczenski, a Michigan native who works in retail, waited from 7am on Monday. She said she’d been to rallies in support of the president in 15 states. She spent Monday night on the pavement in a sleeping bag.

‘I took the hotel pillow and slept on the ground,’ she told DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon as she waited to get in.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he tweeted on Tuesday morning.

A cover band with aging rockers who call themselves ‘The Guzzlers’ revved up the crowd under a beating sun at a ‘festival’ the campaign held in an outdoor parking lot, where vendors sold a captive and cramped group sodas, snow cones and Trump umbrellas.

Sweltering heat that topped 87 degrees soon turned to pouring rain, giving the umbrellas a dual purpose for supporters like Richard Snowden who chose to remain.

A resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, Snowden said he’d be ‘remiss’ to have skipped the kickoff. He told DailyMail.com from the comfort of a party-style tent his group had pitched that he’d attended 54 rallies since Trump announced his candidacy for office in 2015.

But even Snowden called himself a pragmatist and said of the president’s reelection odds, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk.’

‘The incumbency will help. He won’t catch them flat-footed this time,’ he observed, as he waited for the rally to begin. ‘And he won’t have the dislike of Hillary working in his favor,’ he said in remarks that proved to prescient.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he'd be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

 

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport

Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport in Orlando

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, and Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump, right, wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be ‘wild,’ after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7156179/Trumps-2020-kickoff-features-media-bashing-attacks-Joe-Biden-old-foe-Hillary-Clinton.html

 

Trump, in 2020 campaign mode, calls Democrats ‘radical’

today

President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term.

Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando’s Amway Center on Tuesday night, Trump complained he was “under assault from the very first day” of his presidency by a “fake news media” and an “illegal witch hunt” that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.

He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of “un-American conduct” and saying Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” he said. Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out “radical” and “unhinged” to describe the rival party.

Trump has long railed against the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the ongoing probes by House Democrats in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report .

President Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally. "We're going to keep it better than ever before," he declared. (June 18)

The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump’s 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his run three years ago. Even after two-and-a-half years in the Oval Office, Trump remains focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington.

Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday morning that Trump had raised $24.8 million in less than 24 hours for his reelection.

In his speech, Trump spent considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.

Thousands of Trump supporters began gathering outside the arena on Monday.

“Trump has been the best president we’ve ever had,” said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from Orlando.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching outside the rally.

Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors.

Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 race, calling it “a defining moment in American history.” He said that in the years since, he had upended Washington, staring down “a corrupt and broken political establishment” and restoring a government “of, for and by the people.”

He never has really stopped running. He filed for reelection on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne. He has continued holding his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies in the months since.

Trump asked the crowd whether he should stick with “Make America Great Again” or upgrade his slogan. His new one — “Keep America Great” — was greeted with boisterous cheers.

Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to take charge of the Republican Party and then the presidency as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. In 2016, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. He has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

The president underscored that on the eve of the rally in must-win Florida, returning to the hardline immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term.

Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us” in ways that are “dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.”

Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered “an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.”

But those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe his version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.Critics have pointed out his constant promotion for his golf courses, both at home and abroad, and note that this daughter, White House senior aide Ivanka Trump, made $4 million last year from her stake in the president’s Washington hotel, which has become a favored destination for foreign nationals looking to curry favor with the administration.

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: a political rebel.

Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs.

Near the rally’s end, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and “many diseases,” including eradicating AIDS in America.

https://apnews.com/947182a691e6498ca4488e9fc8f9e4b5

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

 

A sunshine state of mind! Melania and Donald Trump gaze lovingly at one another as they leave the White House hand-in-hand and head to Florida for the president’s 2020 rally

  • Trump, 73, and Melania, 49, departed the White House together on Tuesday to fly to Florida
  • The President will be officially launching his 2020 campaign with a rally at the Amway Center
  • The first lady wore a summery $2,290 white eyelet Andrew Gin dress with a pair of red and white polka-dot heels
  • She grinned at her husband as they walked hand-in-hand to Marine One
  • Melania is not expected to speak at the event, which will include an estimated 20,000 people

Donald and Melania Trump had a rare romantic public moment on Tuesday as the two left the White House for Orlando, Florida.

The President and first lady walked hand-in-hand across the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on their way to Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally.

Cameras caught the couple sharing a warm smile as they held onto each other, Trump, 73, dressed in a navy suit and red tie and his 49-year-old wife took advantage of the June heat in a $2,290 summery white eyelet dress from Andrew Gin, and red polka-dot heels.

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn't wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida+19

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania's hands in both of his own+19

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania’s hands in both of his own

The couple isn’t typically much for PDA but shared an intimate smile as they walked passed photographers.

They held each other’s hands, with Trump stopping at one point in order to clasp Melania’s left hand in both of his own.

Melania beat the heat, which is hovering in the mid-to-high 80s in Washington, D.C. today, in a breezy but figure-flaunting white sleeveless dress, which featured a seasonally appropriate eyelet patter with floral cutouts on the top.

She accessorized with a pair of dark sunglasses and red and white pointy-toe pumps. while wearing her brown hair blown out around her shoulders.

The couple, who married in 2005, celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary in January, just one year less than he was married to his first wife Ivana.

The couple grinned as they boarded Marine One and then switched planes for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s+19

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses+19

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps+19

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done+19

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done

They’re flying down not to Mar-a-Lago but Orlando, where Trump is kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign at the Amway Center in front of an estimated 20,000 people.

Trump’s campaign is transforming the area outside the arena to have a festival-like atmosphere, with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time.

The most coveted positions are not seats at all, but standing positions near the front of the stage. Backers of the president in that area are likely to get a handshake, a selfie or Trump’s autograph at the event that formally marks the beginning of his campaign for a second term.

All of Trump’s children and his wife Melania will be with him at the event, sources told DailyMail.com, as will the Mike Pence, the president’s running mate and the nation’s vice president.

The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said, but given the president’s tendency to call on people to speak, she could end up addressing the crowd.

Donald Trump, Jr., on the other hand is expected to give remarks before the rally.

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress+19

It will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat+19

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress, which will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said+19

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said

Change of plan? The couple's 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them+19

Change of plan? The couple’s 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them

Family affair: Trump's adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there+19

Family affair: Trump’s adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews+19

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together+19

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together

The president’s eldest son is a frequent presence at campaign events — with and without his father — and often serves as a warm-up act for the president’s supporters. He’s also campaigned and raised money for other Republican candidates since his father entered politics.

His girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality, is also scheduled to be at the rally. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s reelection campaign.

Senior advisers and family members to the president Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are also expected to be at the rally.

It’s unclear if Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, will be in Orlando. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s campaign, but is also pregnant with the couple’s second child. She made a state trip to the UK in early June.

It will be 13-year-old Barron Trump’s first appearance at a campaign rally since his father took office.

Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany, who has been less involved than her older siblings in her father’s campaigns and administration, will also be there.

Orlando Trump supporters stakeout spots ahead of rally

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign+19

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday+19

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Wild: The Republican incumbent set the tone in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

President Trump release his 2020 campaign ad for re-election

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at this evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he said.

Trump had apparently dropped a claim that ‘thousands’ turned up on Monday, with about 250 people camping overnight. But the numbers grew steadily as temperatures soared in Orlando Tuesday, reaching 87 degrees before an hour-long downpour that soaked a waiting crowd.

A new Quinnipiac poll showed Trump losing Florida to Democratic nemesis Joe Biden. The former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41 per cent, the newly-released survey showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7155853/Melania-Trump-smiles-warmly-husband-depart-Orlando-campaign-kickoff-rally.html

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1260, May 20, 2019, Story 1: Breaking News — Islamic Republic of Iran Don’t Mess With United States or Your Toast — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Still Sounding Like A Non-interventionist Foreign Policy? — Videos — Story 3: President Trump on Immigration Proposal and Using E-Verify — Videos

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Story 1: Breaking News — Islamic Republic of Iran Don’t Mess With United States or Your Toast — Videos

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

~President Trump

The US Versus Iran

Trump: I don’t want war with Iran

Trump warns Iran not to threaten the US again

Hannah: U.S. launched a major form of economic warfare against Iran

What is going on with Iran?

Iran’s oil production cut drastically by US sanctions: Kevin Book

President Trump: Iran might be confused about U.S. military plans – ENN 2019-05-17

Iran regime is beginning to panic: National security analyst

Graham: We’re going to bring the Iranian regime down

The Heat: US-Iran sanctions

HOW THE U.S. MILITARY WOULD STRIKE IRAN: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW || RHINO 2019

U.S vs IRAN – WHY IRAIN WON’T LAST EVEN A FEW DAYS IN A WAR WITH THE U.S ?

US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

Former US official Blinken: ‘Getting out of the Iran nuclear agreement was a mistake’

Iran nuclear deal: How have US sanctions impacted the economy?

U.S. tightens sanctions on Iranian oil

US sanctions are already being felt by Iran: John Bolton

Trump clashes with EU over Iran sanctions

 

 

Reports: Iran quadruples production of enriched uranium

an hour ago
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ADDS LOCATION – In this Sunday, May 19, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic transports cargo to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a replenishment-at-sea in the Arabian Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/U.S. Navy via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the U.S. over Tehran’s atomic program, nuclear officials said Monday, just after President Donald Trump and Iran’s foreign minister traded threats and taunts on Twitter.

Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.

But by increasing production, Iran soon will go beyond the stockpile limitations set by the accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to come up with new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Middle East already on edge. The Trump administration has deployed bombers and an aircraft carrier to the region over still-unspecified threats from Iran.

Already this month, officials in the United Arab Emirates alleged that four oil tankers were damaged in a sabotage attack; Yemeni rebels allied with Iran launched a drone attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia; and U.S. diplomats relayed a warning that commercial airlines could be misidentified by Iran and attacked, something dismissed by Tehran.

A rocket landed Sunday near the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone of Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, days after nonessential U.S. staff were ordered to evacuate from diplomatic posts in the country. No one was reported injured. Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul told The Associated Press that the rocket was believed to have been fired from eastern Baghdad, an area home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.

The Iranian enrichment announcement came after local journalists traveled to Natanz in central Iran, the country’s underground enrichment facility. There, an unidentified nuclear scientist gave a statement with a surgical cap and a mask covering most of his face. No one explained his choice of outfit, although Israel is suspected of carrying out a campaign targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.

The state-run IRNA news agency later quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as acknowledging that capacity had been quadrupled. He said Iran took this step because the U.S. had ended a program allowing it to exchange enriched uranium to Russia for unprocessed yellowcake uranium, as well as ending the sale of heavy water to Oman. Heavy water helps cool reactors producing plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons.

Before Iran’s announcement, Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Trump’s remarks reflect what has been a strategy of alternating tough talk with more conciliatory statements he says is aimed at keeping Iran guessing at the administration’s intentions. He also has said he hopes Iran calls him and engages in negotiations.

He described his approach in a speech Friday, saying, “It’s probably a good thing because they’re saying, ‘Man, I don’t know where these people are coming from,’ right?”

But while Trump’s approach of flattery and threats has become a hallmark of his foreign policy, the risks have only grown in dealing with Iran, where mistrust between Tehran and Washington stretch back four decades. While both Washington and Tehran say they don’t seek war, many worry any miscalculation could spiral out of control.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif soon responded by tweeting that Trump had been “goaded” into “genocidal taunts.” Zarif referenced both Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan as two historical leaders that Persia outlasted.

“Iranians have stood tall for a millennia while aggressors all gone,” he wrote. “Try respect – it works!”

Zarif also used the hashtag #NeverThreatenAnIranian, a reference to a comment he made during intense negotiations for the 2016 nuclear accord.

Trump campaigned on pulling the U.S. from the deal, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Since Trump withdrew America a year ago from the pact, the U.S. has re-imposed previous sanctions and come up with new ones, as well as warning other nations they would be subject to sanctions as well if they import Iranian oil.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told journalists in Geneva that Iran should not doubt the U.S. resolve, warning that “if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate.”

“We want the situation to de-escalate because this is a part of the world where things can get triggered accidentally,” Hunt said.

Meanwhile, Oman’s minister of state for foreign affairs made a previously unannounced visit Monday to Tehran, seeing Zarif, the state-run IRNA news agency said. The visit by Yusuf bin Alawi comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said last week. Oman long has served as a Western backchannel to Tehran and the sultanate hosted the secret talks between the U.S. and Iran that laid the groundwork for the nuclear deal negotiations.

In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s military intercepted two missiles fired by the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. The missiles were intercepted over the city of Taif and the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, the Saudi-owned satellite channel Al-Arabiya reported, citing witnesses. The Saudi Embassy in Washington later confirmed the interceptions.

Hundreds of rockets, mortar rounds and ballistic missiles have been fired into the kingdom by the rebels since a Saudi-led coalition declared war on the Houthis in March 2015 to support Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

The Houthis’ Al-Masirah satellite news channel denied that the rebels had any involvement with this round of rocket fire.

Between the two targeted cities is Mecca, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba that Muslims pray toward five times a day. Many religious pilgrims are in the city for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bassem Mroue in Baghdad, Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.

US would need ‘one million soldiers’ to invade Iran, warns Brit admiral

US FORCES would need at least one million soldiers to defeat and occupy Iran in what could be another Iraq War-style quagmire, a top Brit admiral has warned.

US would win war against Iran in ‘two strikes’ says Senator

Iran and the US have been at loggerheads in recent weeks as Washington dispatched warships and warplanes to the region citing “credible threats’” from Tehran.Admiral Lord West – the former First Sea Lord of the Royal navy – gave a dire assessment of the potential conflict as tempers flare int he Middle East.He told Daily Star Online the US would need at least one million troops to successfully pacify Iran, and a half-baked attack could throw the region further into chaos. The 50-year Royal Navy veteran warned “idiots” in both the US and Iran are dangerously hyping tensions. It comes amid disputed reports the US is dusting off Iraq War-era plans to deploy 120,000 troops to the region.He urged the West to do more to come to the table with Iran or face the possibility of a “nuclear war in the Middle East”.

Iran is restarting its missile programme in response to US sanctions would started a new arms race with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the admiral warned.

“You would need a million men”

Admiral Lord West

Admiral Lord West told Daily Star Online: “I think Donald Trump himself doesn’t want there to be a conflict – but there are powerful factions in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US who believe an attack would be a good thing.

“This includes John Bolton. They think they would destroy the Iranian armed forces, there would be regime change, and all the garden would be rosy.

“The only problem with that is – they would be completely wrong.”

He added: “They don’t want to invade Iran, they went there to be a nice fold over into a new regime.

“And if you don’t get that, then you get this hostile regime causing mayhem in the region with terrorist proxies and missiles.

“Invading Iran, taking it over, and then coercing into becoming a different sort of country, you would need a million men. “

Iranian soldiers BREAKING POINT: Iran has accused the US of waging a ‘psychological war’ on them (Pic: GETTY)
Admiral West – who was the last man to leave the sinking HMS Ardent during the Falklands War – described sabre rattling from both sides as “extremely dangerous”. US forces have sent aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a group of B-52 bombers to the Middle East as they publicly cite an imminent danger posed by Iran.British general Chris Ghika undermined the US warnings on Iran, saying there is “no increased threat” – as Washington evacuated “non-emergency” staff from its missions in Iraq. US Central Command however contradicted Major General Ghia – saying his comments “run counter to identified credible threats available to intelligence from the US and allies”.Tehran has reportedly moved missile boats in the Persian Gulf, and the US suspect the regime of being behind sabotage attacks on four oil tankers. Royal Navy hero Admiral West said while Iran is a “bloody nuisance” – US politicians are making a mistake in thinking it would a “quick war” like “lancing a boil”.
USS Abraham LincolnRING OF STEEL: USS Abraham Lincoln and her strike group have moved into the Middle East (Pic: GETTY)
https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/779762/iran-us-war-invasion-middle-east-warships-bombers-donald-trump-john-bolton-admiral-west

United States withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

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On May 8, 2018, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.[1][2][3][4]

Unofficially known as the “Iran Deal” or the “Iran Nuclear Deal”, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached in July 2015 by Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilChinaFranceRussiaUnited KingdomUnited States—plus Germany)[5][6] and the European Union. In a joint statement responding to the U.S. withdrawal, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom stated that United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the nuclear deal remained the “binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute”.[7]

The withdrawal caused concerns in Iran due to its impact on the economy.[8] The withdrawal was praised by American conservatives in the United States, who saw the deal as weak.[9][10] Others in the US, including former president Barack Obama and his vice president Joe Biden, criticized the decision, while various European countries that were signatories, including the UK, France, and Germany, expressed regret at the decision.[11][12]

On 17 May 2018 the European Commission announced its intention to implement the blocking statute of 1996 to declare the US sanctions against Iran illegal in Europe and ban European citizens and companies from complying with them. The commission also instructed the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran.[13][14][15]

 

Background

In July 2015, an agreement was concluded with IranChinaFranceGermanyRussia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. It provided that Iran’s nuclear activities would be limited in exchange for reduced sanctions.[16] According to the JCPOA, every 90 days the President of the United States would certify, among other things, that Iran was adhering to the terms of the agreement.[17] Leading up to the United States’ withdrawal, the IAEA asserted that its inspectors had verified that Iran had implemented its nuclear-related commitments since the agreement.[18] Describing the view of the U.S. State Department, assistant secretary for legislative affairs Julia Frifield wrote, “The JCPOA is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document. The JCPOA reflects political commitments between Iran, the P5+1, and the EU.”[19]

With the conclusion of the agreement, then-candidate Donald Trump made the renegotiation of the JCPOA one of his main foreign affairs campaign promises,[20] saying at a campaign rally that “this deal, if I win, will be a totally different deal.”[21] Trump described the Iran deal as a “disaster”,[22] “the worst deal ever”,[22] and so “terrible” that could lead to “a nuclear holocaust”.[22][23]

The Trump administration certified in April 2017 and in July 2017 that Iran was complying with the deal.[24][25] On October 13, 2017, Trump announced that the United States would not make the certification provided for under U.S. domestic law, on the basis that the suspension of sanctions was not “proportionate and appropriate,” but stopped short of terminating the deal.[26]

International context

The JCPOA ended some of the sanctions on Iran while suspending others, subject to waivers. These include waivers of oil sanctions implemented in January 2012, which require periodic re-certification. Throughout 2017 Trump contemplated not re-certifying, and thus effectively pulling out of the deal.[27] According to Jarrett Blanc of the Obama administration, since the JCPOA is not a treaty but an agreement between several countries, it has no formal provisions for withdrawal, but a member of the deal could stop complying with its obligations.[27]

Following Trump’s denial of the deal, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the JCPOA was a firm decision and that no single country could break it. She proposed a “collective process” to preserve the deal, saying, “This deal is not a bilateral agreement … The international community, and the European Union with it, has clearly indicated that the deal is, and will, continue to be in place.”[28] French President Emmanuel Macron warned Trump not to withdraw from the deal, and told German magazine Der Spiegel that doing so “would open the Pandora’s box. There could be war.”[29] The Global Times, a Chinese newspaper, wrote that America’s reputation as a major power would be undermined in the eyes of the world if it reneged on a deal simply because of a transition in government.[30]

Political influences and decisions

Some reports suggest that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s “Iran Lied” presentation influenced the withdrawal.[31][32] A little more than a week after Netanyahu’s presentation, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the deal.[33][32] He announced the withdrawal during a speech at the White House on May 8, 2018, saying, “the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.”[34] Trump added that there was “definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents — long concealed by Iran — conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.”[34] According to Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the agency tasked with verifying and monitoring Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, Iran has been in compliance with the JCPOA and there is no evidence otherwise.[35][36][37][38] According to David Makovsky, a Middle East scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Iran was not in compliance, because under the deal’s terms Iran was supposed to reveal all of its research into nuclear weapons, and that based on Netanyahu’s evidence, “it seems clear that they did not.”[39]

Role of George Nader

In March 2018, The New York Times reported that George Nader, a lobbyist for the UAE, turned Trump’s major fundraiser Elliott Broidy “into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates…High on the agenda of the two men…was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson“, a top defender of the Iran deal in the Trump administration, and “backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar”.[40] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) was critical of the deal, though he later said he wanted to “save” it. A “trove of hacked emails” show that FDD was also funded by George Nader through Elliott Broidy.[41]

Announcement

Trump announces United States withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018.

At 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.[42] He called the agreement “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”[42] and added, “[i]t didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”[42]

Reactions

Support

  •  United States:
    • The Republican Party (GOP) supported Trump’s decision to withdraw.[43]
    • US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Trump “absolutely made the right decision”.[2]
    • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the deal was “deeply flawed” and that “Iran’s hostile actions since its signing have only reaffirmed that it remains dedicated to sowing instability in the region.” [44]
    • Senator Lindsey Graham “strongly” supported the decision, and added that Trump “made a strong and convincing case for this position.” [44]
    • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the withdrawal.[45]
    • National Security Adviser John Bolton supported the decision.[45]
    • Former Vice President Dick Cheney supported the withdrawal.[46]
  •  Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a live televised address shortly after the announcement of U.S. withdrawal, said, “Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.”[47]

Opposition

  • Secretary-General António Guterres said he is “deeply concerned by [the] announcement that the United States will be withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and will begin reinstating US sanctions”.[48]
  •  United States:
    • The Democratic Party criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw.[43]
    • Former President Barack Obama said “the deal was working and it was in US interests.”[2][49]
    • Former Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US should have preserved the deal.[2]
    • Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice said it was a “foolish decision”.[50]
    • Former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said the withdrawal was a “major strategic mistake”.[51]
    • Former Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said the decision was “a reckless strategic mistake of immense consequence”.[51]
    • Former Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns said the disavowal was “reckless and one of the most serious mistakes of his presidency”.[51]
    • Former NSA Director, Former CIA Director, retired USAF four-star General Michael Hayden said that “Iran is further away from a weapon with this deal than they would be without it”.[52]
    • Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders criticized the decision: “Trump’s speech today was the latest in a series of reckless decisions that move our country closer to conflict.”[53]
    • Harvard political scientist Gary Samore said that if “President Trump thinks he can crash the nuclear deal, reimpose international economic sanctions, and force Iran to negotiate a better deal, he is mistaken”.[51]
    • Harvard political scientist Graham T. Allison said that it was “a bad choice for the U.S. and bad choice for our ally Israel”.[51]
    • Harvard political scientist Matthew Bunn said that Trump had freed Iran to build up its ability to make nuclear bomb material.[51]
    • Harvard political scientist Stephen Walt said it was Trump’s “most consequential foreign-policy blunder”.[54]
    • Former Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated his longstanding support for the Iran Nuclear Deal, 5/16/2018 [55]
  •  Iran: In an official statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that they were extremely concerned that the United States was repeatedly acting contrary to the opinion of the majority of states and exclusively in its own narrow-minded and opportunistic interests, in flagrant violation of international law.[56]
  •  ChinaChina’s Special Envoy on the Middle East IssueGong Xiaosheng stated that the People’s Republic of China would continue to preserve and implement the comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, saying that ‘dialogue is better than confrontation’.[56]
  •  France:
    • Former French President François Hollande said that Donald Trump’s personality was driven by “its cynicism, its vulgarity and its egocentricity” and, therefore, the only thing he wanted was “to tear up the deal”.[57]
    • The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, expressed concern about the political stability of the region, but reaffirmed that the deal was not dead despite the American withdrawal.[56]
    • Former French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius said the withdrawal was “extremely dangerous for the stability of the Middle East”.[58]
  •  United Kingdom:
    • Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that the Iran deal was “so much better” than any alternative.[59]
    • Former UK Secretary for Foreign Affairs William Hague said that leaving the Iran deal was “a great error”.[60]
  •  Israel – Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Trump’s decision made the world “more uncertain”.[61]
  •  Austria – Jan KickertAustrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, denounced as “wrong and unjustifiable” a move by the U.S. administration to decertify Iran’s compliance with the Iran deal.[62][63]

Diplomatic consequences

Supporting countries

  •  Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the withdrawal a “brave decision and it is a ‘bold’ withdrawal from a ‘disastrous’ deal”.[64]
  •  UAE Foreign Ministry has announced support for the decision.[65]
  •  Bahrain‘s government issued a statement welcoming the withdrawal.[66]
  •  Yemen‘s government announced its full support for the decision.[67]
  •  Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry stated that “Iran used economic gains from the lifting of sanctions to continue its activities to destabilize the region, particularly by developing ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist groups in the region.”[68]
  •  Egypt also supported the withdrawal.[69]

Opposing countries

Signatories

  •  Iran‘s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, calling Trump’s words “cheap and petty”, said during a speech: “We kept saying not to trust the US and here is the result…. Aside from at least 10 obvious lies, this person -referring to Donald Trump– threatened the nation of Iran and the Islamic Republic, which I, on behalf of the nation of Iran, respond with: Like hell you will!… The persistent enmity of the US is with the nature of the [Islamic] system and the nuclear energy is nothing more than an excuse. If we go along with their wishes today, tomorrow they will bring more excuses…. Our officials and authorities tell me that they want to continue the JCPOA with these three European countries – referring to FranceGermany and the United Kingdom. I don’t trust these three countries either.”[70] President Hassan Rouhani said: “The US has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments.”[2] He stated Iran’s intention of continuing the nuclear deal, but ultimately doing what’s best for the country, “I have directed the Atomic Energy Agency to prepare for the next steps, if necessary, to begin our own industrial enrichment without restriction,” Rouhani said in a statement just minutes after Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal. “We will wait several weeks before acting on this decision. We will be consulting with friends, our allies and members who have signed on to the agreement. Everything depends on our national interests. If our nation’s interests are attained in the end, we will continue the process.”[71] He stated that the nuclear deal would continue if Iran was able to meet the demands of the Iranian people with the cooperation of five countries in a short period.[56]
  •  European Union top diplomat Federica Mogherini said the EU was “determined to preserve the deal”.[2] The EU Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, understand that the US does not want anymore to co-operate with other countries. According to him, the US as an international actor has lost vigour, and will lose influence in the long term.[72]
  •  France‘s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said It was “not acceptable” for the US to be the “economic policeman of the planet”.[73] Leaders of France, Germany, and the UK have jointly expressed “regret” at Trump’s decision.[74]
  •  Germany expressed “regret” at Trump’s decision.[74]
  •  United Kingdom expressed “regret” at Trump’s decision.[74]
  •  Russian Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters there would be “inevitable harmful consequences to any actions towards breaking [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].”[75] Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the United States, saying “once again we see that Washington is trying to revise key international agreements, this time to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Jerusalem issue and a number of other agreements.”[76]
  •  China‘s foreign ministry reiterated that all sides should continue to uphold their end of the agreement and that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said many times that Iran is in compliance with the agreement.[77] Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China’s Foreign Ministry, said that “[a]ll sides need to continue upholding the pact.”[77][78]

Middle East[

  •  Turkey‘s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the decision by the United States to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will cause instability and new conflicts.[79]
  •  Jordan‘s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned of “dangerous repercussions” and a possible arms race in the Middle East unless a political solution was found to free the region of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.[80]
  •  Syria “strongly” condemned Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.[81]

Others

  •  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that he regrets the decision.[82]
  •  Ireland‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he was “greatly disappointed by the US announcement that it is withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran”.[83]
  •  Italy‘s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the Iran nuclear agreement must be preserved.[84]
  •  Japan‘s foreign ministry said Japan continues to support the deal and that it “hopes for a continued constructive response from the nations involved”.[82]
  •  Netherlands‘ Deputy Vice Prime Minister Hugo de Jonge said that the Netherlands will try to keep the Iran deal intact as much as possible, and will make efforts to this end on a diplomatic level. Furthermore, he said that the Dutch government finds the decision by American President Trump to pull out of the Iran deal extremely unwise, since it will impact international security and thus also the security of the Netherlands.[85]
  •  New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the withdrawal was a step backwards.[86]
  •  Singaporen Permanent Representative to the United Nations Foo Kok Jwee urged “all relevant parties to remain committed to the JCPoA”.[87]
  •  Spain‘s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy criticized Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal.[88]
  •   Switzerland authorities said the US withdrawal does not change their position and respect for the accord.[89]

Neutral countries

  •  Oman reiterated its friendly and cooperative relations with the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and stated that it will continue to follow-up on this development and make all possible and available efforts to maintain the security and the stability in the region. Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that they value the stance of the five partners to adhere to this agreement, thus contributing to regional and international security and stability.[90]
  •  Qatar stressed that the main priority is to free the Middle East from nuclear weapons and to prevent the entry of regional powers in a nuclear arms race.[91]
  •  India called for diplomacy to resolve the dispute over the Iran nuclear deal. The foreign ministry was measured in its response: “All parties should engage constructively to address and resolve issues that have arisen with respect to the JCPOA,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.[92]

Public opinion in the United States

A majority of Americans said the United States should remain in the JCPOA.

Should the United States withdraw from the Iran deal?[93]
Stay in
63%
Leave
29%
No opinion
8%

According to the CNN poll conducted between May 2, 2018, and May 5, 2018, the strongest proponents of withdrawing from the deal were Republicans at 51%.[93]

According to the Pew Research Center, 53% of the American public and 94% of U.S. scholars in international relations disapproved of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear weapons agreement.[94][95][96]

Aftermath

Protests around former U.S. embassy in Tehran, 8 May 2018

According to Tony Blinken, a former Obama deputy secretary of state who took part in the negotiation of the original deal, the JCPOA’s future depends on Iran’s willingness to abide by it, and so on the economic benefit the deal will give Iran.[97] The Israeli military put their forces on alert. Israeli citizens living in the Golan Heights were told to prepare bomb shelters.[98]

Trade

Trump also wants to sanction European companies that trade with Tehran.[99]

After the signing of the JCPOA, in December 2016, Boeing signed a $17 billion deal with Iran and Airbus signed a $19 billion one. These deals could be canceled.[100] China is involved in a $1.5 billion deal for infrastructure, and its CITIC bank provides $10 billion lines of credit to Iranian banks. Using euros and the yuan, this bank should not be subject to US sanctions against companies that use US dollars.[101]

The French company Total S.A. won a project in the South Pars gas field that could be hit by US sanctions. In anticipation of a possible pull-out by Total, Chinese company CNPC signed a $1 billion deal giving it the option to take over Total’s commitments.[102]

  • Oil prices became unstable amid uncertainty of how President Trump’s sanctions might affect the flow of crude oil out of Iran.[103] According to some experts, oil supplies may be affected if Iran reduces its export.
  • In a phone interview with MSNBC, Former Secretary of State John Kerry said, “[Trump] has taken a situation where there was no crisis, and created crisis.”[104] “We [the United States] are in breach of the agreement,” Kerry warned.
  • On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, on the floor of the Iranian ParliamentMajlis, conservative MPs, set fire to a copy of the JCPOA amid chants of “death to America.”[105] They also set fire to a United States flag.[105] Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has attempted to moderate Iran’s response. Rouhani promised to abide by the agreement for the time being and directed his diplomats to negotiate with the deal’s remaining signatories, saying the agreement could survive without the United States.[106]
  • John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a Milpitas, California cybersecurity company, said that Iran might attempt cyberattacks on American infrastructure: “They were in some very sensitive areas of airport networks where they could conceivably cause serious disruption …but the malicious code was identified and the hackers were booted off”. He declined to identify which U.S. airports were affected, saying only that there were multiple targets.[107]
  • Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said, “Trump’s decision will not have any impact on our oil export”.[108]
  • Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said, “The holy system of the Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground”.[109]
  • Iran announced its readiness to enrich uranium on an “industrial scale” starting in 2025. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said in a statement, “The President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has been tasked with taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran’s brave nuclear scientists”.[110]

See also

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_withdrawal_from_the_Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action

 

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Iran Talks Vienna 14 July 2015 (19067069963).jpg

Officials announcing the agreement
Created 14 July 2015
Ratified N/A (ratification not required)
Date effective
  • 18 October 2015 (Adoption)[1]
  • 16 January 2016 (Implementation)[2]
Location Vienna, Austria
Signatories  China
 France
 Germany
 European Union
 Iran
 Russia
 United Kingdom
 United States(withdrew)[3]
Purpose Nuclear non-proliferation

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOAPersianبرنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, romanizedbarnāmeye jāme’e eqdāme moshtarakacronymبرجام BARJAM[4][5]), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany),[a] and the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward JCPOA began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations for the next 20 months and in April 2015 agreed on a framework for the final agreement. In July 2015 Iran and the P5+1 confirmed agreement on the plan along with the “Roadmap Agreement” between Iran and the IAEA.[8]

Under JCPOA, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related sanctions.

On 13 October 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would not make the certification provided for under U.S. domestic law, but stopped short of terminating the deal.[9]

IAEA inspectors spend 3,000 calendar days per year in Iran, installing tamper-proof seals and collecting surveillance camera photos, measurement data and documents for further analysis. IAEA Director Yukiya Amano stated (in March 2018) that the organization has verified that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments.[10] On 30 April 2018 the United States and Israel said that Iran had not disclosed a past covert nuclear weapons program to the IAEA, as required by the 2015 deal.[11][12]

On 8 May 2018 President Trump announced United States withdrawal from JCPOA.[13][14] Following the U.S.’s withdrawal, the EU enacted an updated blocking statute on 7 August 2018 to nullify US sanctions on countries trading with Iran.[15] In November 2018 U.S. sanctions came back into effect intended to force Iran to dramatically alter its policies, including its support for militant groups in the region and its development of ballistic missiles.[16]

In February 2019 the IAEA certified that Iran was still abiding by the deal.[17]

 

Background

nuclear weapon uses a fissile material to cause a nuclear chain reaction. The most commonly used materials have been uranium 235 (U-235) and plutonium 239 (Pu-239). Both uranium 233 (U-233) and reactor-grade plutonium have also been used.[18][19][20] The amount of uranium or plutonium needed depends on the sophistication of the design, with a simple design requiring approximately 15 kg of uranium or 6 kg of plutonium and a sophisticated design requiring as little as 9 kg of uranium or 2 kg of plutonium.[21] Plutonium is almost nonexistent in nature, and natural uranium is about 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7% U-235. Therefore, to make a weapon, either uranium must be enriched, or plutonium must be produced. Uranium enrichment is also frequently necessary for nuclear power. For this reason, uranium enrichment is a dual-use technology, a technology which “can be used both for civilian and for military purposes”.[22] Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.[20][22]

Iranian development of nuclear technology began in the 1970s, when the U.S. Atoms for Peace program began providing assistance to Iran, which was then led by the Shah.[23] Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 as a non-nuclear weapons state and ratified the NPT in 1970.[23]

In 1979 the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.”[23] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.[23]

Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khan network.[23] Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment”.[23] According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.”[23] Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful”.[24]

In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, the Arak heavy-water production facility and the Natanzenrichment facility.[23][25] In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants.[23] In late February, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz.[25] In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.[25]

In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3).[23][25] The United States refused to be involved in these negotiations.[25] In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment.[23][25] In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections.[23] This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution”.[23]

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason.[25][26] Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement”.[23][25] Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.[23][25]

In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.[23][25] After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium.[25] In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons.[25] In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1.[25] The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.[25] Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010).[27] The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter.[27] The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposed sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country.[23][25] However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.[27][b]

In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions.[23] In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, revealed the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying, “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.”[33] Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.[25]

In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.[34] ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure”, under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment.[34] ElBaradei also said, “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system”.[34]

A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future.[35] A July 2015 Congressional Research Service report said, “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”[35]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerryshakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the P5+1 and Iran concluded negotiations about Iran’s nuclear capabilities on November 24, 2013

In March 2013, the United States began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side.[25][36] In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran.[25][37] Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad”. However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process.[38] In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani called for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program.[39] In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.[25][39] Former officials alleged that, in order to advance the deal, the Obama administration shielded Hezbollah from the Drug Enforcement Administration‘s Project Cassandrainvestigation regarding drug smuggling and from the Central Intelligence Agency.[40][41] As a result of the Politico report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered an investigation to determine the veracity of the allegations.[42]

After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.[43] The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement.[39] The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014.[44] On that day, the IAEA issued a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.[39][44]

A major focus on the negotiations was limitations on Iran’s key nuclear facilities: the Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor and production plant (which was under construction, but never became operational, as Iran agreed as part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (interim agreement) not to commission or fuel the reactor); the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; the Gachin uranium mine; the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant; the Isfahan uranium-conversion plant; the Natanz uranium enrichment plant; and the Parchin military research and development complex.[45]

Negotiations

Foreign Ministers from the P5+1 nations, the European Union, and Iran in Vienna, Austria, on November 24, 2014

The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.[46][47]

The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal,[48] in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014.[49] The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014[50] and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.[51]

An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015.[52][53] The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.

Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2015, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburglasting for seventeen days.[54] At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement.[54] As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?”[54] Zarif gave assurances that he was.[54]

Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement.[55] At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.[56]

The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a public letter written by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on.[57][58] That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it.[57] After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”[57]

The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system”.[59]

Signatories

Souvenir signatures of lead negotiators on the cover page of the JCPOA document. The Persian handwriting on top left side is a homage by Javad Zarif to his counterparts’ efforts in the negotiations: “[I am] Sincere to Mr. Abbas [Araghchi] and Mr. Majid [Takht-Ravanchi].”[60]

Blue: Current signatories of the JCPOA.
Red: Withdrawn signatories

Resolution

The JCPOA is part of resolution 2231 voted by every member of the UN Security Council, with following timetable:

  • 2015 July 20: Resolution voted by every member of the UN Security Council
  • Adoption Day: October 2015
  • Implementation Day: 16 January 2016: the JCPOA came into effect.
  • Transition Day: eight years from Adoption Day or upon receipt by the Security Council of the report from the IAEA stating that the IAEA has reached the Broader Conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities.
  • Resolution 2231 (2015) Termination Day: Ten years from Adoption Day

Summary of provisions

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) runs to 109 pages, including five annexes.[47] Major provisions of the final accord include the following:[47][61][62]

Nuclear[edit]

JCPOA summary of enrichment-related provisions
(sources: The Economist[63] Belfer Center[64]:29)
Capability Before JCPOA After JCPOA
(for 10-year period)
After 15 years
First-generation
centrifuges installed
19,138 capped at 6,104 Unconstrained[U 1]
Advanced centrifuges installed 1,008 0
Centrifuge R&D Unconstrained Constrained
Stockpile of
low-enriched uranium
7,154 kg 300 kg
Stockpile of
medium-enriched uranium
196 kg 0 kg
The physical limits phase out over 10 to 15 years[64]

  1. ^ According to the JCPOA, “The sequence and milestones set forth above and in Annex V are without prejudice to the duration of JCPOA commitments stated in this JCPOA.”
  • Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium was reduced by 97 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years.[47][65][66][67] For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.[65][66][68]However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power.[69] This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium).[65][66][67] These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”.[64][70]
  • For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium,[47][65] with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period.[45][66][67] The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrifuges.[71][72] Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.[65]
  • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.[45] This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.[65]
  • Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), is to modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex.[73] All spent fuel will be sent out of the country.[45] All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. In exchange, Iran received 130 tons of uranium in 2015 and in late 2016 was approved to receive 130 tons in 2017.[74] For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing.[75] Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.[45]
  • Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.[45][65][67]
  • Iran is implementing an Additional Protocol that will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented”.[76]
  • A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[65][66][c]
    • The IAEA will have multilayered[87] oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies“.[88] For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites.[88][89] The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras.[57][90] Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.[87]
    • The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.[57]
    • If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns.[89] The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations.[91] Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns.[89] If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered.[89] Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves.[89] If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days.[92][93] The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them”.[92] If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).[93]

As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[47][65][94][d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months”.[64] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates.[96][97] By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today”.[98]

The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease.[47][94] By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months.[47][94] The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.”[64]

Exemptions

Reuters reported that exemptions were granted to Iran prior to 16 January 2016. The reported purpose of the exemptions was so that sanctions relief and other benefits could start by that date, instead of Iran being in violation. The exemptions included: (a) Iran able to exceed the 300 Kg of 3.5% LEU limit in the agreement; (b) Iran able to exceed the zero Kg of 20% LEU limit in the agreement; (c) Iran to keep operating 19 “hot cells” that exceed the size limit in the agreement; (d) Iran to maintain control of 50 tonnes of heavy water that exceed the 130 tonne limit in the agreement by storing the excess at an Iran-controlled facility in Oman.[99] In December 2016, the IAEA published decisions of the Joint Commission that spell out these clarifications of the JCPOA.[100]

Sanctions

The following provisions regarding sanctions are written into the JCPOA:

  • Following the issuance of a IAEA report verifying implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures, the UN sanctions against Iran and some EU sanctions will terminate and some will be suspended. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will recover approximately $100 billion of its assets (U.S. Treasury Department estimate) frozen in overseas banks.[101]
    • Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.[102]
  • The United States will “cease” application of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions[103] by presidential action or executive waiver.[104] Secondary sanctions are those that sanction other countries for doing business with Iran. Primary U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. firms from conducting commercial transactions with few exceptions, are not altered by the JCPOA.[105]
    • This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016”.[103][106][107]
    • Sanctions relating to ballistic missile technologies would remain for eight years; similar sanctions on conventional weapon sales to Iran would remain for five years.[47][108]
    • However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place.[67][109] U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.[102]
  • No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.[110]
  • If Iran violates the agreement, any of the P5+1 can invoke a “snap back” provision, under which the sanctions “snap back” into place (i.e., are reimplemented).[65][66][110]
    • Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation.[67][111] If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both.[111] The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal.[56][111] The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
    • Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions”.[71]

Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions.[111] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the United States would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”[112]

15 year term

After the 15 years, the treaty will come to its term; then the extraordinary restrictions will no longer be applicable.[113]

At that time, in 2030, it is understood that people involved in the 1979 revolution will no longer be politically active.[113]

Some critics of the treaty consider as plausible that at its expiration Iran could make a bomb.[113]

In the same time, with this treaty Iran also ratified the Additional Protocol of the NPT and so, be subject to inspection and oversight by the IAEA after this delay.[113]

Records

According to several commentators, JCPOA is the first of its kind in the annals of non-proliferation and is in many aspects unique.[114][115][116][117][118] The 159-page JCPOA document and its five appendices, is the most spacious text of a multinational treaty since World War II, according to BBC Persian.[119]

This is the first time that the United Nations Security Council has recognized the nuclear enrichment program of a developing country[119][120] and backs an agreement signed by several countries within the framework of a resolution (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231).[119][121] For the first time in the history of the United Nations, a country—Iran—was able to abolish 6 UN resolutions against it—169617371747180318351929—without even one day of implementing them.[119] Sanctions against Iran was also lifted for the first time.[119]

Throughout the history of international law, this is the first and only time that a country subject to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter has managed to end its case and stop being subject to this chapter through diplomacy.[119][122][123] All other cases have ended through either regime changewar or full implementation of the Security Council’s decisions by the country.[124]

Gary Sick states that during the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), no country other than Iran has ever voluntarily agreed to put such extraordinary restrictions on its nuclear activities.[125]

During the final negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stayed in Vienna for 17 days, making him the top American official devoting time to a single international negotiation in more than four decades.[126] Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the record of an Iranian Foreign Minister being far from home with 18-days stay in Vienna,[119] and set the record of 106 days of negotiations in 687 days, a number higher than any other chief nuclear negotiator in 12 years.[127] The negotiations became the longest continuous negotiations with the presence of all foreign ministers of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[119]

Pictured here, Iranian Minister of Foreign AffairsMohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry shaking hands at the end of negotiations on 14 July 2015, Vienna. They shook hands on 26 September 2013 in the United Nations Headquartersfor the first time.[128]

The negotiations included ‘rare events’ in Iran–United States relations not only since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but also in the history of the bilateral relations. The U.S. Secretary of State and Iranian Foreign Minister met on 18 different dates—sometimes multiple occasions a day—and in 11 different cities, unprecedented since the beginning of the relations.[129] On 27 April 2015, John Kerry visited the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations to meet his counterpart. The encounter was the first of its kind since the Iran hostage crisis.[129][130] On the sidelines of the 70th session of the United Nations General AssemblyU.S. President Barack Obama shook hands with the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, marking the first such event in history. The event was also noted in form of diplomatic ranks, as a head of state shook hands with a minister.[131] Obama is reported to have said in the meeting: “Too much effort has been put into the JCPOA and we all should be diligent to implement it.”[132]

Reactions

Process

Incorporated into international law by the United Nations Security Council[edit]

As provided for in the JCPOA, the agreement was formally endorsed by the UN Security Council,[133][134] incorporating it into international law.[135][136] There was initially disagreement on if the deal is legally binding on the United States.[e]

On 15 July 2015, the American ambassador to the UNSamantha Power, circulated a fourteen-page draft to Council members.[134] On 20 July 2015, the Security Council unanimously approved the fourteen-page resolution—United Nations Security Council resolution2231[143]—in a 15–0 vote.[136] The resolution delays its official implementation for 90 days, to allow for U.S. Congressional consideration under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.[135][136] The resolution lays out the steps for terminating sanctions imposed by seven past Security Council resolutions, but retains an arms embargo and ballistic missile technology ban.[133][136] The resolution also did not affect the sanctions imposed separately by the United States and the European Union.[136] The resolution also codifies the “snapback” mechanism of the agreement, under which all Security Council sanctions will be automatically reimposed if Iran breaches the deal.[133]

Speaking immediately after the vote, Power told the Security Council that sanctions relief would start only when Iran “verifiably” met its obligations. Power also called upon Iran “to immediately release all unjustly detained Americans”, specifically naming Amir HekmatiSaeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian, were imprisoned by Iran was detained at the time, and Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in the country.[136][144] Hekmati, Abedini, and Rezaian were subsequently released in a January 2016 prisoner exchange, which Secretary of State Kerry said had been accelerated by the nuclear agreement.[145]

Approved by European Union

On the same day that the Security Council approved a resolution, the European Union formally approved the JCPOA via a vote of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (the group of EU foreign ministers) meeting in Brussels. This sets into motion the lifting of certain EU sanctions, including those prohibiting the purchase of Iranian oil.[136][146] The EU continues its sanctions relating to human rights and its sanctions prohibiting the export of ballistic missile technology.[136] The approval by the EU was seen as a signal to the U.S. Congress.[146]

Review period in the United States Congress

Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew defending the JCPOA at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 23 July 2015

Under U.S. law, the JCPOA is a non-binding political commitment.[147][148] According to the U.S. State Department, it specifically is not an executive agreement or a treaty.[149] There are widespread incorrect reports that it is an executive agreement.[150][151] In contrast to treaties, which require two-thirds of the Senate to consent to ratification, political commitments require no congressional approval, and are not legally binding as a matter of domestic law (although in some cases they may be binding on the U.S. as a matter of international law).[150][f]

On 22 May 2015, President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 into law;[g] this legislation passed by the Senate in a 98-1 vote and the House in a 400-25 vote, and was approved by President Obama on 22 May 2015.[159] Under the Act, once a nuclear agreement was negotiated with Iran, Congress had sixty days in which it could pass a resolution of approval, a resolution of disapproval, or do nothing.[160] The Act also included additional time beyond the sixty days for the president to veto a resolution and for Congress to take a vote on whether to override or sustain the veto.[161] Republicans could only defeat the deal if they mustered the two-thirds of both houses of Congress needed to override an expected veto by Obama of any resolution of disapproval.[160][162]

On 19 July 2015, the State Department officially transmitted to Congress the JCPOA, its annexes, and related materials.[163] These documents included the Unclassified Verification Assessment Report on the JCPOA and the Intelligence Community‘s Classified Annex to the Verification Assessment Report.[163] The sixty-day review period began the next day, 20 July,[163][164][160] and ended 17 September.[165] Senator Ted Cruz introduced a resolutionseeking a delay in the review period, arguing that the sixty-day congressional review under the Act should not begin until the Senate obtains a copy of all bilateral Iran-IAEA documents. This resolution did not pass.[166][167]Ultimately, a resolution of disapproval was brought to the Senate floor, but failed. A resolution of approval was brought to the House floor, but it, too, failed. As a result, the agreement went into effect following congressional review period.[168]

Obama administration

The international community had long sought a landmark diplomatic agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, and such an agreement was also a long-sought foreign-policy goal of the Obama administration.[169][170][171]

In comments made in the East Room of the White House on 15 July 2015, President Obama urged Congress to support the agreement, saying “If we don’t choose wisely, I believe future generations will judge us harshly, for letting this moment slip away.”[172] Obama stated that the inspections regime in the agreement was among the most vigorous ever negotiated, and criticized opponents of the deal for failing to offer a viable alternative to it.[172] Obama stated: “If 99 percent of the world’s community and the majority of nuclear experts look at this thing and they say ‘this will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb,’ and you are arguing either that it does not … then you should have some alternative to present. And I haven’t heard that.”[173][174] The same day, Obama made a case for the deal on the agreement in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.[175] Obama stated:

With respect to Iran, it is a great civilization, but it also has an authoritarian theocracy in charge that is anti-American, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, sponsors terrorism, and there are a whole host of real profound differences that we [have with] them … [T]heir argument was, ‘We’re entitled to have a peaceful nuclear program.’ … You know, I have a lot of differences with Ronald Reagan, but where I completely admire him was his recognition that [we] were able to verify an agreement that [was negotiated] with the evil empire [the Soviet Union] that was hellbent on our destruction and was a far greater existential threat to us than Iran will ever be … I had a lot of disagreements with Richard Nixon, but he understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path. You test these things, and as long as we are preserving our security capacity—as long as we are not giving away our ability to respond forcefully, militarily, where necessary to protect our friends and our allies—that is a risk we have to take. It is a practical, common-sense position. It’s not naïve; it’s a recognition that if we can in fact resolve some of these differences, without resort to force, that will be a lot better for us and the people of that region.[175]

Also on 15 July, Vice President Joe Biden met with Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, where he made a presentation on the agreement.[176]

On 18 July, Obama devoted his weekly radio address to the agreement, stating, “this deal will make America and the world safer and more secure” and rebutting “a lot of overheated and often dishonest arguments about it”.[177] Obama stated “as commander-in-chief, I make no apology for keeping this country safe and secure through the hard work of diplomacy over the easy rush to war.”[177] On 23 July, President Obama met in the White House Cabinet Room with about a dozen undecided House Democrats to speak about the agreement and seek their support.[178]

The debate over the agreement was marked by acrimony between the White House and with Republicans inside and outside of Congress. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said that under the agreement “the Obama administration will become the leading financier of terrorism against America in the world.”[179] Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called the president “naive” and repeatedly invoked the Holocaust, saying that the president’s policy would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven”.[180] This comparison was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and various Israeli government officials.[180][181][182] At a 27 June news conference, Obama specifically criticized Huckabee, Cruz, and Cotton, saying that such remarks were “just part of a general pattern we’ve seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad”, especially from “leaders in the Republican Party”.[179] Obama stated that “fling[ing] out ad hominem attacks like that … doesn’t help inform the American people” and stated: “This is a deal that has been endorsed by people like Brent Scowcroft and Sam Nunn … historic Democratic and Republican leaders on arms control and on keeping America safe. And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”[183]

On 5 August, Obama gave a speech before an audience of around 200 at American University, marking a new phase in the administration’s campaign for the agreement.[184][185] Obama stated: “Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war—maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon. How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?”[184] In his speech, Obama also invoked a speech made by John F. Kennedy at American University in 1963 in favor of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.[184] Obama also said that the opponents of the agreement were the same people who created the “drumbeat of war” that led to the Iraq War and criticized “knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar, rhetoric that renders every decision made to be a disaster, a surrender”.[184]

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a senior Democrat, made a different assessment of prospects for war by distinguishing between nuclear and non-nuclear aspects of the agreement. In each case he asked whether we are better off with the agreement or without it and his conclusion was: “… when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.” Then Schumer assessed the Iranian government, saying, “Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another ten, twenty, or thirty years? To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great.” And, finally, Schumer concluded: “I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”[186]

In the same speech, Obama stated: “Just because Iranian hard-liners chant ‘Death to America‘ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.”[185][187] This statement was criticized by congressional Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “crass political rhetoric” that was a strategy to “Demonize your opponents, gin up the base, get the Democrats all angry, and rally around the president.” McConnell said “This is an enormous national security debate that the president will leave behind, under the Constitution, a year and a half from now, and the rest of us will be dealing with the consequences of it. So I wish he would tone down the rhetoric and let’s talk about the facts” and promised that Republicans would discuss the agreement respectfully in September.[188][189] Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, asserted that the president was “trying to shut down debate by saying that those who have legitimate questions, legitimate questions—are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran”.[190] The president subsequently stood by his statement, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest calling it a “statement of fact”[188] and the president saying in an interview, “Remember, what I said was that it’s the hard-liners in Iran who are most opposed to this deal. And I said, in that sense, they’re making common cause with those who are opposed to this deal here. I didn’t say that they were equivalent.”[187] In the same interview, Obama said: “A sizable proportion of the Republicans were opposed before the ink was even dry on the deal.”[187]

In comments made at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado in July 2015, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the JCPOA will improve the U.S. ability to monitor Iran, saying “[The agreement] puts us in a far better place in terms of insight and access” than no agreement.[191] While Clapper remains “concerned about compliance and deceit”, but “pointed out that during the negotiation period [Iran] complied with rules” negotiated under the interim agreement (the Joint Plan of Action).[191]

Public debate

An intense public debate in the United States took place during the congressional review period.[192] “Some of the wealthiest and most powerful donors in American politics, those for and against the accord”, became involved in the public debate,[193] although “mega-donors” opposing the agreement have contributed substantially more money than those supporting it.[194] From 2010 to early August 2015, the foundations of Sheldon AdelsonPaul Singer, and Haim Saban contributed a total of $13 million (at least $7.5 million, at least $2.6 million, and at least $2.9 million, respectively) to advocacy groups opposing an agreement with Iran.[194] On the other side, three groups lobbying in support of the agreement have received at least $803,000 from the Ploughshares Fund, at least $425,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and at least $68,500 from George Soros and his foundation.[194] Other philanthropists and donors supporting an agreement include S. Daniel AbrahamTim GillNorman LearMargery Tabankin, and Arnold Hiatt.[193]

Many Iranian Americans, even those who fled repression in Iran and oppose its government, welcomed the JCPOA as a step forward.[195] The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iranian American Bar Association, and other Iranian American organizations welcomed the JCPOA.[196] The NIAC released a statement saying: “Our negotiators have done their job to win a strong nuclear deal that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon, all the while avoiding a catastrophic war. Now is the time for Congress to do theirs. Make no mistake: if Congress rejects this good deal with Iran, there will be no better deal forthcoming and Congress will be left owning an unnecessary war.”[197] NIAC created a new group, NIAC Action, to run advertisements supporting the agreement.[194] NIAC also organized an open letter from 73 Middle East and foreign affairs scholars stating, “reactivating diplomatic channels between the United States and Iran is a necessary first step” to reduce conflict in the region, and that while “the nuclear deal will not automatically or immediately bring stability to the region … Ultimately, a Middle East where diplomacy is the norm rather than the exception will enhance U.S. national security and interests,”[198] Signatories to the letter include John EspositoEhsan YarshaterNoam ChomskyPeter BeinartJohn Mearsheimer, and Stephen Walt.[198]

U.S. pro-Israel groups divided on the JCPOA.[199] The American Israel Public Affairs Committee opposes the agreement, and formed a new 501(c)(4) group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, to run a television advertising campaign against the JCPOA.[184][199][200][201] In August 2015, it was reported that AIPAC and Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran plan to spend between $20 million and $40 million on its campaign.[202] From mid-July to 4 August 2015, AIPAC’s Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran spent more than $11 million running network television political advertisements opposing the agreement in 23 states, spending more than $1 million in the large states of California, Florida, New York, and Texas.[202][203] In the first week of August, AIPAC said that it had 400 meetings with congressional offices as part of its campaign to defeat the agreement.[202]

In contrast to AIPAC, another pro-Israel organization, J Street, supports the agreement, and plans a $5 million advertising effort of its own to encourage Congress to support the agreement.[202][204] During the first week of August, J Street launched a $2 million, three-week ad campaign in support of the agreement, with television ads running in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.[205][206] From mid-July through early August, J Street reported having 125 meetings with congressional offices.[202] J Street has also paid to fly prominent Israelis who support the agreement (including Amram Mitzna, a retired Israeli general, member of the Knesset, and mayor of Haifa) to the United States to help persuade members of Congress to support the agreement.[202]

The group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) opposes the agreement and committed to spending more than $20 million on a national “TV, radio, print and digital campaign” against the agreement.[194][207] After UANI announced its opposition, the group’s president and co-founder, nonproliferation expert Gary Samore, announced that he had concluded “that the accord was in the United States’ interest” and supported the agreement.[194][208] Samore thus stepped down as president and was replaced by ex-Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.[208] By 20 August, UANI had released its third national television ad against the agreement.[207]

Anti-JCPOA bus advertisement in New York City. The bus ad was sponsored by New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an opponent of the agreement.[209]

Various other groups that have also run ad campaigns for or against the agreement. John R. Bolton‘s Foundation for American Security and Freedom has run advertisements against the agreement, as has “Veterans Against the Deal”, a group which does not disclose its donors.[210] Various pro-agreement ads were run by MoveOn.org (which ran an ad with the title “Let Diplomacy Work” theme), Americans United for Change (which warned “They’re back—the Iraq war hawks are fighting the Iran deal, want more war” over photos of Bolton, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld), and Global Zero (which ran a humorous ad featuring actors Jack BlackMorgan Freeman, and Natasha Lyonne).[210]

The New York-based Iran Project, a nonprofit led by former high-level U.S. diplomats and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, along with the United Nations Association of the United States, supports the agreement.[211] The Rockefeller fund has also supported the San Francisco-based Ploughshares Fund, which has spent several years marshaling support for an agreement.[211]

On 17 July 2015, a bipartisan open letter endorsing the Iran agreement was signed by more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors and high-ranking State Department officials.[212][213] The ex-ambassadors wrote: “If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East. In our judgment the [plan] deserves Congressional support and the opportunity to show it can work. We firmly believe that the most effective way to protect U.S. national security, and that of our allies and friends is to ensure that tough-minded diplomacy has a chance to succeed before considering other more costly and risky alternatives.”[212][213] Among the signatories to the letter were Daniel C. KurtzerJames R. JonesFrank E. LoyPrinceton N. LymanJack F. Matlock Jr.Donald F. McHenryThomas E. McNamara, and Thomas R. Pickering.[213]

A separate public letter to Congress in support of the agreement from five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel from administrations of both parties, and three former Under Secretaries of State was released on 26 July 2015.[214] This letter was signed by R. Nicholas BurnsJames B. CunninghamWilliam C. HarropDaniel Kurtzer, Thomas R. Pickering, Edward S. Walker Jr., and Frank G. Wisner.[215] The former officials wrote: “We are persuaded that this agreement will put in place a set of constraints and monitoring measures that will arrest Iran’s nuclear program for at least fifteen years and assure that this agreement will leave Iran no legitimate avenue to produce a nuclear weapon during the next ten to fifteen years. This landmark agreement removes the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region and to Israel specifically.”[215]

Another public letter to Congress urging approval of the agreement was signed by a bipartisan group of more than sixty “national-security leaders”, including politicians, retired military officers, and diplomats.[214] This letter, dated 20 July 2015, stated: “We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. … We have followed carefully the negotiations as they have progressed and conclude that the JCPOA represents the achievement of greater security for us and our partners in the region.”[214][216] Among the Republicans who signed this letter are former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Anderson Hills, and former Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum.[214] Among the Democrats who signed the letter are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Senate Majority Leaders George J. Mitchell and Tom Daschle, former Senator Carl Levin, and former Defense Secretary William Perry.[214][217]Also signing were former National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; Under Secretaries of State R. Nicholas Burns and Thomas R. Pickering; U.S. Ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Stuart Eizenstat; Admiral Eric T. OlsonUnder Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy; and Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn.[217]

On 8 August 2015, 29 prominent U.S. scientists, mostly physicists, published an open letter endorsing the agreement.[218][219] The letter, addressed to President Obama, says: “We congratulate you and your team on negotiating a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more than Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and provides a basis for further initiatives to raise the barriers to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the globe.”[219] The letter also states that the agreement “will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements”.[218][219] The 29 signatories included “some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control”, many of whom have held Q clearances and have been longtime advisers to Congress, the White House, and federal agencies.[218] The five primary authors were Richard L. Garwin (a nuclear physicist who played a key role in the development of the first hydrogen bomb and who was described by The New York Times as “among the last living physicists who helped usher in the nuclear age”); Robert J. Goldston (Director of the Princeton Program on Science and Global Security and former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory); R. Scott Kemp (an MIT professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a former science advisor for nonproliferation and arms control at the State Department); Rush D. Holt (a physicist and former U.S. Representative who is now the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science); and Frank N. von Hippel (Princeton Professor of Public Policy and former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy). Six Nobel Prize in Physics laureates co-signed the letter: Philip W. Anderson of Princeton UniversityLeon N. Cooper of Brown UniversitySheldon L. Glashow of Boston UniversityDavid Gross of the University of California, Santa BarbaraBurton Richter of Stanford University; and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[218] Among the other scientists to sign are Siegfried S. Hecker (a Stanford physicist and the former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory); Freeman Dyson (of Princeton), and Sidney Drell (of Stanford).[218]

On 11 August 2015, an open letter endorsing the agreement signed by 36 retired military generals and admirals, titled “The Iran Deal Benefits U.S. National Security: An Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals”, was released.[220][221] The letter, signed by retired officers from all five branches of the U.S. armed services, said that the agreement was “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons”, and said, “If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones.”[221] The signers included General James E. “Hoss” Cartwright of the Marine Corps, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Joseph P. Hoar of the Marine Corps, the former commander of the U.S. Central Command; and Generals Merrill McPeak and Lloyd W. Newton of the Air Force.[220][221] Other signers include Lieutenant Generals Robert G. Gard Jr. and Claudia J. Kennedy; Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn; Rear Admirals Garland Wright and Joseph Sestak; and Major General Paul D. Eaton.[221]

The above letter was answered on 25 August 2015, by a letter signed by more than 200 retired generals and admirals opposing the deal.[222][223][224] The letter asserted: “The agreement does not ‘cut off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it provides Iran with a legitimate pathway for doing exactly that simply by abiding by the deal. … The JCPOA would threaten the national security and vital interests of the United States and, therefore, should be disapproved by the Congress.”[224][225] This letter was organized by Leon A. “Bud” Edney; other signers included Admiral James A. Lyons; Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, former vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.[223]

Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni said that he had refused requests from both sides to sign their letters, saying to Time magazine: “I’m convinced that 90% of the guys who signed the letter one way or the other don’t have any clue about whether it’s a good or bad deal. They sign it because somebody’s asked them to sign it.” As to the JCPOA Zinni said: “The agreement’s fine, if you think it can work. But if this is a Neville Chamberlain then you’re in a world of shit.”[225]

On 13 August, retired Senators Carl Levin of Michigan, a Democrat, and John Warner of Virginia, a Republican, co-wrote an op-ed in support of the agreement—titled “Why hawks should also back the Iran deal”—published in Politico.[226] Levin and Warner, both past chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued, “If we reject the agreement, we risk isolating ourselves and damaging our ability to assemble the strongest possible coalition to stop Iran” in the event that military action was needed in the future.[226] Levin and Warner wrote, “The deal on the table is a strong agreement on many counts, and it leaves in place the robust deterrence and credibility of a military option. We urge our former colleagues not to take any action which would undermine the deterrent value of a coalition that participates in and could support the use of a military option. The failure of the United States to join the agreement would have that effect.”[226] On 14 August, retired senators Richard Lugar of Indiana, a Republican, and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, a Democrat, also wrote in support of the agreement.[227] In a column for Reuters, Lugar and Johnston argued, “Rejection of the agreement would severely undermine the U.S. role as a leader and reliable partner around the globe. If Washington walks away from this hard-fought multilateral agreement, its dependability would likely be doubted for decades.”[227] They also wrote: “Tehran would be the winner of this U.S. rejection because it would achieve its major objective: the lifting of most sanctions without being required to accept constraints on its nuclear program. Iran could also claim to be a victim of American perfidy and try to convince other nations to break with U.S. leadership and with the entire international sanctions regime.”[227]

On 17 August 2015, a group of 75 arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts issued a joint statement endorsing the agreement.[228][229] The statement says, “the JCPOA is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” and that the JCPOA’s “rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly, providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon”.[228][229] The letter was organized through the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.[229] Among the 75 signatories are the Valerie Plame and Joseph C. Wilson; former IAEA director-general Hans BlixMorton H. Halperin; and experts from the Brookings InstitutionStimson Center, and other think tanks.[228][229] On 3 September, an open letter to President Obama signed by 56 people was issued criticizing the JCPOA as “unverifiable”. The letter said: “Guided by our experience with U.S. and foreign nuclear weapons programs—as well as with the history and practice of arms control, nonproliferation, and intelligence matters, we judge the current JCPOA to be a very bad deal indeed.”[230] Signers included Boykin; Bolton; ex-CIA director James Woolsey, former national security advisor Robert McFarlanePaula A. DeSutter, former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation; various former ACDA officials; and former Sandia National Laboratories president/director C. Paul Robinson.[230]

Foreign diplomats are also involved in the congressional debate. The Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer appeared on cable television shows to attack the agreement, while ambassadors from European nations, including Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, “came on to say the precise opposite”.[231] Dermer also lobbied members of Congress on Capitol Hill against the agreement,[232] while diplomats from France, Britain, and Germany made the rounds on Capitol Hill to advocate for the agreement.[233] On 4 August, P5+1 diplomats held “a rare meeting of world powers’ envoys on Capitol Hill” with about 30 Senate Democrats to urge support for the agreement, saying, “If Congress rejects this good deal, and the U.S. is forced to walk away, Iran will be left with an unconstrained nuclear program with far weaker monitoring arrangements, the current international consensus on sanctions would unravel, and international unity and pressure on Iran would be seriously undermined.”[234]

On Meet the Press on 6 September 2015, former Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed support for the nuclear agreement with Iran, saying that it was “a pretty good deal”.[235] Powell said that various provisions accepted by Iran—such as the reduction in centrifuges and the uranium stockpile and the agreement to shut down its plutonium reactor—were “remarkable changes” that stopped the Iranian pathway to a nuclear weapons program. Powell also defended the verification provisions of the agreement, saying: “I think a very vigorous verification regime has been put into place.”[235]

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross, a longtime American negotiator in the Middle East, wrote that he was not yet convinced by either proponents or opponents of the agreement.[236] Ross wrote that the United States should be focused on “deterring the Iranians from cheating” (e.g., by producing highly enriched uranium) after year fifteen of the agreement.[236] Ross wrote, “President Obama emphasizes that the agreement is based on verification not trust. But our catching Iran cheating is less important than the price they know they will pay if we catch them. Deterrence needs to apply not just for the life of the deal.”[236] As part of a deterrence strategy, Ross proposed transferring to Israel the U.S. Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) “bunker buster” bomb at some point before year fifteen of the agreement.[236] In a 25 August op-ed in The Washington Post, Ross and David H. Petraeus again argued for transferring the MOP to Israel.[237]

The Jewish American community was divided on the agreement. On 19 August 2015, leaders of the Reform Jewish movement, the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, issued a lengthy public statement expressed a neutral position on the agreement.[238][239]The statement, signed by the leaders of the Union for Reform JudaismCentral Conference of American RabbisReligious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Association of Reform Zionists of America, reflected what Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ, called “deep divisions within the movement”.[238] On 20 August 2015, a group of 26 prominent current and foreign American Jewish communal leaders published a full-page ad in The New York Times with a statement backing the agreement; signers included three former chairs of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as well as former AIPAC executive director Tom Dine.[240] Separately, a group of 340 rabbis organized by Ameinu issued a public letter to Congress on 17 August 2015, in support of the agreement, saying: “We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”[241] The signers were mostly Reform rabbis, but included at least 50 rabbis from the Conservative movement and at least one Orthodox rabbi.[242] Prominent rabbis who signed this letter included Sharon BrousBurton VisotzkyNina Beth CardinLawrence KushnerSharon Kleinbaum, and Amy Eilberg.[241] In a separate letter released 27 August, eleven Democratic Jewish former members of Congress urged support for the agreement; the letter noted the signatories’ pro-Israel credentials and said that the agreement “halts the immediate threat of a nuclear-armed Iran”, while a rejection of the deal would “put Iran back on the path to develop a nuclear weapon within two to three months”.[243] Signatories included former Senator Carl Levin and former Representatives Barney FrankMel LevineSteve Rothman, and Robert Wexler.[243]

Conversely, a group of 900 rabbis signed an open letter written by Kalman Topp and Yonah Bookstein in late August, calling upon Congress to reject the agreement.[244] The Orthodox Union and American Jewish Committee also announced opposition to the agreement.[245][246]

The Roman Catholic Church has expressed support for the agreement. In a 14 July 2015 letter to Congress, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated that the JCPOA was “a momentous agreement” which “signals progress in global nuclear non-proliferation”.[247][248] Cantú wrote that Catholic bishops in the United States “will continue to urge Congress to endorse the result of these intense negotiations because the alternative leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the Church”.[247][248]

On 25 August 2015, a group of 53 Christian faith leaders from a variety of denominations sent a message to Congress urging them to support the agreement.[249] The Christian leaders wrote: “This is a moment to remember the wisdom of Jesus who proclaimed from the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). … There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it.”[249] The letter was coordinated by a Quaker group, the Friends Committee on National Legislation.[249] Signatories to the letter included Jim Wallis of SojournersJohn C. Dorhauer, general minister and president of the United Church of ChristShane Claiborne; Adam Estle of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church; A. Roy Medley, the head of American Baptist Churches USA; the Reverend Paula Clayton Dempsey of the Alliance of Baptists, senior pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed; and Sister Simone Campbell, a leader of the Catholic “Nuns on the Bus” campaigns.[249][250]

Congressional committee hearings

A hearing on the JCPOA before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took place on 23 July 2015. Secretary of State Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Moniz testified.[178][251] Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee chairman, said in his opening statement that when the talks began the goal was to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program, whereas the achieved agreement codified “the industrialization of their nuclear program”.[252][253] Corker, addressing Secretary of State Kerry, said, “I believe you’ve been fleeced” and “… what you’ve really done here is you have turned Iran from being a pariah to now Congress, Congress being a pariah.”[233] Corker asserted that a new threshold in U.S. foreign policy was crossed and the agreement would “enable a state sponsor of terror to obtain sophisticated, industrial nuclear development program that has, as we know, only one real practical need”.[254] The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, said he had many questions and his hope was that the answers will cause a debate “in Congress and the American people”.[254] Democrats, led by Senator Barbara Boxer of California, expressed support for the agreement, with Boxer saying that criticisms by Republicans were “ridiculous”, “unfair”, and “wrong”.[178][233] Corker and Cardin sent a letter to Obama saying the bilateral IAEA-Iran document should be available for Congress to review.[233]

At the hearing Kerry, Lew, and Moniz “were unequivocal in their statements that the accord was the best that could be achieved and that without it, the international sanctions regime would collapse”.[178] Kerry warned that if the United States would be “on our own” if it were to walk away from a multi-lateral agreement alongside the five global powers.[233] Kerry stated that the belief that “some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation” could be achieved was “a fantasy, plain and simple”.[178] The Washington Postreported, “Moniz emerged as the calm center of the proceedings, beginning his interjections with recitations of what he described as ‘facts,’ and mildly observing that Republican characterizations were ‘incorrect.'”[233] Kerry, Lew, and Moniz faced “uniform animus of Republicans” at the hearing,[178] with Republican senators giving “long and often scathing speeches denouncing what they described as a fatally flawed agreement and accusing the administration of dangerous naivete” and showing “little interest in responses” from the three cabinet secretaries.[233] The Washington Post reported on twelve issues related to the agreement over which the two sides disagreed at the hearing.[255]

On 28 July, Kerry, Moniz, and Lew testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.[256] Committee chairman Ed Royce, Republican of California, said in his opening statement, “we are being asked to consider an agreement that gives Iran permanent sanctions relief for temporary nuclear restrictions.”[256][257] “Royce also said the inspection regime ‘came up short’ from ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and criticized the removal of restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and conventional arms.”[258] The committee’s ranking member, Representative Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, said he has “serious questions and concerns” about the agreement.[258][259] Kerry, Lew, and Moniz spent four hours testifying before the committee.[260][261] At the hearing, Kerry stated that if Congress killed the deal, “You’ll not only be giving Iran a free pass to double the pace of its uranium enrichment, to build a heavy-water reactor, to install new and more efficient centrifuges, but they will do it all without the unprecedented inspection and transparency measures that we have secured. Everything that we have tried to prevent will now happen.”[262]

Senators John McCain (Republican of Arizona), the committee chair, and Jack Reed (Democrat of Rhode Island), the committee ranking member, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the JCPOA, 29 July 2015.

On 29 July, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kerry, Moniz, and Lew appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a three-hour hearing.[263] Carter and Dempsey had been invited to testify by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the committee; Kerry, Moniz, and Lew attended the hearing at the invitation of the Pentagon.[264][265] In his opening statement, McCain said that if this agreement failed and U.S. armed forces were called to take action against Iran, they “could be at greater risk because of this agreement”. He also asserted that the agreement may lead American allies and partners to fateful decisions and result in “growing regional security competition, new arms races, nuclear proliferation, and possibly conflict”.[266] The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said Congress had an obligation “to independently validate that the agreement will meet our common goal of stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon” and stated, “the agreement, no matter your position on it, is historic and, if implemented scrupulously, could serve as a strategic inflection point in the world’s relations with Iran, for international non-proliferation efforts, and for the political and security dynamics in the Middle East.”[267][268]

Carter said the agreement prevented Iran from “getting a nuclear weapon in a comprehensive and verifiable way”.[264] He assured the committee that the deal would not limit the U.S. ability to respond with military force if needed.[269] In response to a question from McCain, Carter said he had “no reason to foresee” that the agreement would cause Iran’s threatening behavior to change more broadly, stating “That is why it’s important that Iran not have a nuclear weapon.”[265][270] Dempsey offered what he described as a “pragmatic” view.[263] He neither praised nor criticized the deal, but did testify that the agreement reduced the chances of a near-term military conflict between the United States and Iran.[263] Dempsey said that the agreement works to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but does not address other concerns about Iran’s malign activities in the region, ranging from “ballistic missile technology to weapons trafficking, to … malicious activity in cyberspace”.[271] Dempsey testified, “Ultimately, time and Iranian behavior will determine if the nuclear agreement is effective and sustainable” and stated that he would continue to provide military options to the president.[271] Senator Joni Ernst expressed disagreement with President Obama who stated that the choice was the Iran nuclear deal or war. When General Martin Dempseytestified that the United States had “a range of options” and he presented them to the president, Ernst said: “it’s imperative everybody on the panel understand that there are other options available.”[272][273]

Under the JCPOA, Iran must submit a full report on its nuclear history before it can receive any sanctions relief.[274] The IAEA has confidential technical arrangements with many countries as a matter of standard operating procedure.[274][275][276] “Republican lawmakers refer to these agreements as ‘secret side deals’ and claim that the JCPOA hinges on a set of agreements no one in the administration has actually seen.”[275] Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Republican opponent of the agreement, said that Kerry had “acted like Pontius Pilate” and “washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing Congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.”[277] On 30 July, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a resolutionseeking a delay in the review period, arguing, “The 60-calendar day period for review of such agreement in the Senate cannot be considered to have begun until the Majority Leader certifies that all of the materials required to be transmitted under the definition of the term ‘agreement’ under such Act, including any side agreements with Iran and United States Government-issued guidance materials in relation to Iran, have been transmitted to the Majority Leader.”[166][167] On 5 August, Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, spoke with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a closed briefing about two IAEA documents: an agreement on inspection protocols with Iran and an agreement with Iran regarding Iranian disclosure of its previous nuclear activity (known as Possible Military Dimensions).[275][278] Following this briefing with Amano, Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee chairman, told reporters: “The majority of members here left with far more questions than they had before the meeting took place” and “We can not get him to even confirm that we will have physical access inside of Parchin.” The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Benjamin Cardin told reporters: “I thought today was helpful, but it was not a substitute for seeing the document.”[279]

State Department spokesman John Kirby responded, “There’s no secret deals between Iran and the IAEA that the P5+1 has not been briefed on in detail” and stated “These kinds of technical arrangements with the IAEA are a matter of standard practice, that they’re not released publicly or to other states, but our experts are familiar and comfortable with the contents, which we would be happy to discuss with Congress in a classified setting.”[276] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation writes that: “The arrangement specifies procedural information regarding how the IAEA will conduct its investigation into Iran’s past nuclear history, including mentioning the names of informants who will be interviewed. Releasing this information would place those informants, and the information they hold, at risk.”[274] Mark Hibbs of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Thomas Shea, a former IAEA safeguards official and former head of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, wrote that the charges of a “secret side deal” made by opponents of the agreement were a “manufactured controversy“.[84] Hibbs and Shea noted: “The IAEA has safeguards agreement with 180 countries. All have similar information protection provisions. Without these, governments would not open their nuclear programs for multilateral oversight. So IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was acting by the book on August 5 when he told members of Congress that he couldn’t share with them the details of [the] verification protocol the IAEA had negotiated with Iran as part of a bilateral ‘roadmap.'”[84] David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former IAEA nuclear inspector, stated that the demands for greater transparency regarding the agreement between Iran and IAEA “aren’t unreasonable” and, “Iran is a big screamer for more confidentiality. Nonetheless, if the IAEA wanted to make it more open, it could.”[280] Albright also proposed that the United States “should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted”.[281]

Congressional support and opposition

Republican leaders vowed to attempt to kill the agreement as soon as it was released, even before classified sections were made available to Congress, and “Republican lawmakers raced to send out news releases criticizing it.”[282] According to The Washington Post, “most congressional Republicans remained deeply skeptical, some openly scornful, of the prospect of relieving economic sanctions while leaving any Iranian uranium-enrichment capability intact.”[283] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said the deal “appears to fall well short of the goal we all thought was trying to be achieved, which was that Iran would not be a nuclear state”.[283] A New York Times news analysis stated that Republican opposition to the agreement “seems born of genuine distaste for the deal’s details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran’s nuclear abilities”.[282] The Washington Post identified twelve issues related to the agreement on which the two sides disagreed, including the efficacy of inspections at undeclared sites; the effectiveness of the snapback sanctions; the significance of limits on enrichment; the significance of IAEA side agreements; the effectiveness of inspections of military sites; the consequences of walking away from an agreement; and the effects of lifting sanctions.[255][h]

One area of disagreement between supporters and opponents of the JCPOA is the consequences of walking away from an agreement, and whether renegotiation of the agreement is a realistic option.[255] Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, an opponent of the agreement, called for the U.S. government to keep sanctions in place, strengthen them, and “pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be”.[186] Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, said that he believed that it was “hyperbole” to say that the agreement was the only alternative to war.[255] President Obama, by contrast, argued that renegotiation of the deal is unrealistic, stating in his American University speech, “the notion that there is a better deal to be had. … relies on vague promises of toughness” and stated, “Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they are not being straight with the American people. … Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.”[185] Obama also argued, “those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. Instead of strengthening our position, as some have suggested, Congress’ rejection would almost certainly result in multi-lateral sanctions unraveling,” because “our closest allies in Europe or in Asia, much less China or Russia, certainly are not going to enforce existing sanctions for another five, 10, 15 years according to the dictates of the U.S. Congress because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on Iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It was not based on the belief that Iran cannot have peaceful nuclear power.”[185] Secretary of State Kerry has echoed these remarks, saying in July 2015 that the idea of a “‘better deal,’ some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation . … is a fantasy, plain and simple, and our intelligence community will tell you that”.[255][291] Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, a supporter of the agreement wrote: “Some say that, should the Senate reject this agreement, we would be in position to negotiate a “better” one. But I’ve spoken to representatives of the five nations that helped broker the deal, and they agree that this simply wouldn’t be the case.”[292][i]

On 28 July 2015, Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, the longest-serving Jewish member now in Congress, announced in a lengthy statement that he would support the JCPOA, saying, “the agreement is the best way” to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that a rejection of the agreement would lead the international sanctions regime to “quickly fall apart”, as “sanctions likely would not be continued even by our closest allies, and the United States would be isolated trying to enforce our unilateral sanctions as to Iran’s banking and oil sectors.”[260][296][297]

A key figure in the congressional review process is Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[162] Cardin took a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu opposing the agreement and participated in a private 90-minute session with Energy Secretary Moniz supporting the agreement.[162] On 21 July, Cardin said that if the agreement is implemented, the United States should increase military aid to Israel and friendly Gulf states.[162]

On 4 August 2015, three key and closely watched Senate Democrats—Tim Kaine of Virginia (a Foreign Relations Committee member), Barbara Boxer of California (also a Foreign Relations Committee member), and Bill Nelson of Florida—announced their support for the agreement.[298] In a floor speech that day, Kaine said that the agreement is “far preferable to any other alternative, including war” and, “America has honored its best traditions and shown that patient diplomacy can achieve what isolation and hostility cannot.”[298] In a similar floor speech the same day, Nelson said that: “I am convinced [that the agreement] will stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years. No other available alternative accomplishes this vital objective”[299][300] and “If the U.S. walks away from this multinational agreement, I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility.”[301] Conversely, another closely watched senator, Chuck Schumer of New York, who is expected to make a bid to become Senate Democratic leader,[192]announced his opposition to the agreement on 6 August, writing, “there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one”[186][302]

According to an Associated Press report, the classified assessment of the United States Intelligence Community on the agreement concludes that because Iran will be required by the agreement to provide international inspectors with “unprecedented volume of information about nearly every aspect of its existing nuclear program”, Iran’s ability to conceal a covert weapons program will be diminished.[303][304] In a 13 August letter to colleagues, ten current and former Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence (including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff) referred to this assessment as a reason to support the agreement, writing, “We are confident that this monitoring and the highly intrusive inspections provided for in the agreement—along with our own intelligence capabilities—make it nearly impossible for Iran to develop a covert enrichment effort without detection.”[304][305] The ten members also wrote “You need not take our word for it” and referred members to the classified assessment itself, which is located in an office in the Capitol basement and is available for members of Congress to read.[304][305]

Congressional votes

A resolution of disapproval was initially expected to pass both the House and Senate, meaning, “the real challenge for the White House is whether they can marshal enough Democrats to sustain the veto.”[306][307] Two-thirds of both houses (the House of Representatives and the Senate) are required to override a veto, meaning that one-third of either house (146 votes in the House, or 34 in the Senate) could sustain (uphold) President Obama’s veto of a resolution of disapproval.[308][309]

By early September 2015, 34 Senators had publicly confirmed support for the deal, a crucial threshold because it ensured that the Senate could sustain (i.e., uphold) any veto of a resolution of disapproval.[310] Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland announced support on 2 September, a day after Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania also announced support, reaching 34 votes and assuring that an eventual disapproval resolution passed in the Senate could not override an Obama veto.[311] By the following day, 38 Democratic senators supported the deal, 3 were opposed, and 5 were still undecided.[312]

By 8 September, all senators had made a commitment on the agreement, with 42 in support (40 Democrats and two independents) and 58 opposed (54 Republicans and four Democrats).[310] It is possible for senators in support of the agreement to kill the disapproval resolution outright in the Senate by effectively filibustering it, making it unnecessary for Obama to veto a disapproval resolution at all.[310] However, this is only possible if at least 41 vote to do so, and several senators in support of the agreement, including Coons, “have suggested they’d prefer an up-or-down vote on the deal instead of blocking it altogether”.[310]

The apparent success of a strategy to marshal congressional support for the deal, linked to a carefully orchestrated rollout of endorsements (although Democratic Senate Whip Dick Durbin and other officials disputed the suggestion of coordination[313]) was attributed to lessons learned by the White House and congressional Democrats during struggles in previous summers with Republicans, in particular, over Obama’s health care legislation.[314] An August 2015 meeting at which top diplomats from the UK, Russia, China, Germany, and France told 10 undecided Democratic senators they had no intention of returning to the negotiating table was reported to be particularly crucial.[314] Senator Coons said: “They were clear and strong that we will not join you in re-imposing sanctions.”[314]

On 20 August 2015, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that House Democrats had the votes to uphold a veto of a resolution of disapproval.[315] To sustain a veto, Pelosi would need to hold only 146 of the 188 House Democrats;[316] by 20 August, about 60 House Democrats have publicly declared their support for the final agreement,[317] and about 12 had publicly declared their opposition.[315] In May 2015, before the final agreement was announced, 151 House Democrats signed in support for the broad outlines in the April framework agreement; none of those signatories have announced opposition to the final agreement.[309]

It was originally expected that the House would vote on a formal resolution of disapproval introduced by Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.[318][j] As the Senate moved toward a vote on a resolution of disapproval, House leadership (under Republican control) planned to vote on a similar resolution of disapproval.[321] However, conservative Republicans “revolted in protest” as “the chamber’s right flank wanted tougher action from its leader” and the House Republican leadership (under Speaker John Boehner) planned to vote instead chose to bring a resolution of approval to the floor “as a way to effectively force Democrats who had voiced support for the president to formally register such endorsement”.[321] On 11 September 2015, the resolution failed, as expected, on a 162-269 vote; 244 Republicans and 25 Democrats voted no, while 162 Democrats and no Republicans voted yes.[321][322] On the same day, House Republicans held two additional votes, one on a resolution claiming that the Obama administration had failed to meet the requirements of a congressional review period on the deal and another resolution which would prevent the United States from lifting any sanctions.[321][323] The former resolution passed on a party-line vote, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed; the latter resolution passed on nearly a party-line vote, with all Republicans and two Democrats in favor and every other Democrat opposed.[321][323][324] The House action against the resolution was a “symbolic vote that will have no consequence for the implementation of the deal”, and the two anti-agreement measures passed by the House were seen as “unlikely to even reach Obama’s desk”.[323][324]

On 10 September, the day before the vote, House speaker Boehner threatened to “use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented” and said that a lawsuit by House Republicans against the president (claiming that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was not followed) was “an option that is very possible”.[323][325] Four months later, however, House Republicans abandoned their plans for a lawsuit against the administration over the JCPOA.[326]

Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit against President Obama and members of Congress in July 2015 in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, asserting that the agreement should be considered a treaty requiring Senate ratification.[327][328]Klayman’s suit was dismissed for lack of standing in September 2015.[329]

Review period in Iran

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei issued a letter of guidelines to President Rouhani, ordering him on how to proceed with the deal.[330][331] On 21 June 2015, the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) decided to form a committee to study the JCPOA and to wait at least 80 days before voting on it.[332] Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali Akbar Salehi, defended the deal in Parliament on the same day.[332] Although the Iranian constitution gives Parliament the right to cancel the deal, it was reported that this outcome is unlikely.[332] The New York Times reported, “the legislators have effectively opted to withhold their judgment until they know whether the American Congress approves of the deal.”[332]

In televised remarks made on 23 July 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected domestic criticism of the JCPOA from Iranian hardliners, “such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its allies”, which “have criticized the accord as an invasive affront to the country’s sovereignty and a capitulation to foreign adversaries, particularly the United States”.[333] In remarks described by The New York Times as “blunt” and uncharacteristically frank, Rouhani claimed a popular mandate to make an agreement based on his election in 2013 and warned that the alternative was “an economic Stone Age” brought on by sanctions which (as the Times described) have “shriveled oil exports and denied the country access to the global banking system“.[333] On 26 July, a two-page, top-secret directive sent to Iranian newspaper editors from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council surfaced online.[334] In the document, newspapers are instructed to avoid criticism of the agreement and to avoid giving the impression of “a rift” at the highest levels of government.[334] The BBCreported that the document appears to be aimed at constraining criticism of the JCPOA by Iranian hardliners.[334]

On 3 September, Iranian supreme leader Khamenei said that the Majlis should make the final decision on the agreement.[335] On the same day, Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament, said that he support the agreement and that: “The agreement needs to be discussed and needs to be approved by the Iranian parliament. There will be heated discussions and debates.”[335]

Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul wrote: “those [in Iran] supporting the deal include moderates inside the government, many opposition leaders, a majority of Iranian citizens, and many in the Iranian American diaspora—a disparate group that has rarely agreed on anything until now.”[336] Within the government, Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement, “are now the most vocal in defending it against Iranian hawks”.[336] Also vocally supporting the agreement are former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami and moderates within parliament.[336] The agreement is also supported by most prominent opposition leaders, including Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a 2009 presidential candidate who is under house arrest for his role as a leader of the Green Movement.[336]

Conversely, “the most militantly authoritarian, conservative, and anti-Western leaders and groups within Iran oppose the deal.”[336] The anti-agreement coalition in Iran includes former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former head of Atomic Energy Organization of IranFereydoon Abbasi, ex-nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili; and various conservative clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders.[336] This group has “issued blistering attacks on the incompetence of Iran’s negotiating team, claiming that negotiators caved on many key issues and were outmaneuvered by more clever and sinister American diplomats”.[336]

Anti-JCPOA representatives of Islamic Consultative Assembly protested Ali Akbar Saheli and made death threats toward him[337]

Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehqan said on 2 September that Iran would not allow the IAEA to visit every site or facility that it wishes.[338]

The Majlis special commission for examining the JCPOA, has invited Ali Shamkhani, as well as members of former nuclear negotiation team including Ali Bagheri and Fereydoon Abbasi to comment on the deal.[339] During the session, Saeed Jalili, ex-chief negotiator has slammed the deal, stating “approximately 100 absolute rights” of Iran were conceded to the opposing side. He believes the deal is “unacceptable” because Iran makes an “exceptional [nuclear case], replacing ‘permission’ with ‘right’ under the NPT, and accepting unconventional measures”.[340] He also believes that the deal has crossed the red lines drawn by the Supreme leader of Iran. His testimony was criticized by commission members Masoud Pezeshkian and Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani.[341] In another session, current negotiatiors Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi defended the deal, led by Javad Zarif.[342]

In the Iranian media, the leading reformist newspapers, Etemad and Shargh, “continue to write approvingly of the negotiations and their outcome”.[343] Conversely, the leading conservative paper Ettelaat has criticized the agreement.[343] The most “bombastic and hard-line criticism of the deal” has come from Kayhan, which is edited by Hossein Shariatmadari and closely associated with Khamenei, the supreme leader.[343]

The agreement is supported by many Iranian dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate, human rights activist, and Iranian exile Shirin Ebadi, who “labeled as ‘extremists’ those who opposed the agreement in Iran and America”.[336] Likewise, dissident journalist and former political prisoner Akbar Ganji expressed hope, “step-by-step nuclear accords, the lifting of economic sanctions and the improvement of the relations between Iran and Western powers will gradually remove the warlike and securitized environment from Iran.”[336] Citing Iran’s human rights situation and the “lack of religious and political freedom in the country”, some dissidents opposed the agreement, including Ahmad BatebiNazanin Afshin-Jam, and Roozbeh Farahanipour, who signed an open letter arguing, “more pressure should be applied to the regime, not less.”[344]

On 13 October, The New York Times and many other major U.S. news sources reported that the Iranian Parliament had approved the JPCOA by a vote of 161 votes in favor, 59 against and 13 abstentions. Major Iranian news sources including Fars News Agency and Press TV, referred to as a semi-official government source by U.S. media, reported that what was actually approved was a document consisting of the text of the JPCOA, supplemented by text unilaterally added by Iran and not agreed by the P5+1.[345][346][347][348][349][350]

Adoption Day

On 18 October 2015, EU High Representative Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif jointly announced “Adoption Day” for the JCPOA, noting actions taken and planned by the EU, Iran, the IAEA, and the United States, and stating, “All sides remain strongly committed to ensuring that implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action can start as soon as possible.”[351]

Implementation Day

Last meeting between diplomatic teams of Iran and the United States, at the Palais Coburg Hotel in Vienna

After the IAEA confirmed that Iran met the relevant requirements under the JCPOA, all nuclear sanctions were lifted by the UN, the EU and the United States on 16 January 2016.[352]

Washington imposed new sanctions on 11 companies and individuals for supplying Iran’s ballistic missile program on the first day of the implementation.[353][354][355] According to Kerry, $1.7 billion in debt with interest is to be paid to Tehran. However, some Iranian financial institutions including Ansar BankBank Saderat, Bank Saderat PLC, and Mehr Bank remain on the SDN List[356] and a number of U.S. sanctions with respect to Iran including existing terrorism, human rights and ballistic missiles-related sanctions will remain in place.[357]

Deterring Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons

Some argue that deterrence is the key to ensuring not just that Iran is in compliance with the agreement but also to preventing them from developing nuclear weapons.[358] Former Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn, a supporter of the agreement, wrote it would be better to have permanent or longer-term restrictions on Iran’s enrichment program, but preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is possible, “provided the United States and key partners maintain a strong and credible deterrent against a future Iranian decision to go for the bomb”.[359] According to Michael Eisenstadt, Director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “deterring Iran from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons will remain the core imperative driving U.S. policy in the coming years”.[360]

Four days after the JCPOA was adopted, Khamenei delivered a speech, highlighting his fatwa and rejecting the claim that the nuclear talks rather than Iran’s religious abstinence prevented Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said:

The Americans say they stopped Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. They know it’s not true. We had a fatwa (religious ruling), declaring nuclear weapons to be religiously forbidden under Islamic law. It had nothing to do with the nuclear talks.[361]

In a letter[362] addressed to Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, President Barack Obama raised the issue about U.S. ability to deter Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons:

The JCPOA, moreover, does not remove any of our options when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. As I have repeatedly emphasized, my Administration will take whatever means are necessary to achieve that goal, including military means. Should Iran seek to dash toward a nuclear weapon, all of the options available to the United States—including the military option—will remain available through the life of the deal and beyond.[362]

Ambassador Dennis Ross, former top Mideast official, and General David Petraeus, former CIA director, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, “Bolstering deterrence is essential in addressing key vulnerabilities” of the agreement. Petraeus and Ross asserted that if Iran decide to race toward a nuclear weapon “there is a need not to speak of our options but of our readiness to use force”, since the threat of force is far more likely to deter the Iranians. They said the president could resolve their concerns by stating that he would use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including producing highly enriched uranium, even after the deal ends in 15 years. It is “critically important for the president to state this clearly, particularly given his perceived hesitancy to use force”, they said.[358][363]

In the same letter, Obama detailed the possible non-military unilateral and multilateral responses to be employed should Iran violate the agreement, however, the president made it clear: “Ultimately, it is essential that we retain the flexibility to decide what responsive measures we and our allies deem appropriate for any non-compliance.”[362] Flexibility meant that Obama rejected specifying “the penalties for smaller violations of the accord” in advance.[364]

The open letter, which was signed by more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors and high-ranking State Department officials endorsing the agreement, begins with the words: “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran stands as a landmark agreement in deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”[213][214] In contrast, Michael Mandelbaum, the Christian A. Herter Professor at the Johns Hopkins UniversitySchool of Advanced International Studies, wrote that nuclear nonproliferation in the Middle East ultimately depended “not on the details of the Vienna agreement but on the familiar Cold-War policy of deterrence”. Mandelbaum added that if President Obama will leave office without Iran building the bomb, “the responsibility for conducting a policy of effective deterrence will fall on his successor.”[365] Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz expressed his view on deterring Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons as follows: “Nothing currently on the table will deter Iran. Sanctions are paper protests to an oil-rich nation. Diplomacy has already failed because Russia and China are playing both sides.”[366]

Aftermath

Legal Status

In a letter sent to then U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, the U.S. State Department said that the JCPOA “is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document”.[367]

According to the Congressional Research Service, different definitions for ‘treaty’ are used in international law and in domestic U.S. law. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties “The term “treaty” has a broader meaning under international law than under domestic law. Under international law, “treaty” refers to any binding international agreement. Vienna Convention, art. 1(a). Under domestic law, “treaty” signifies only those binding international agreements that have received the advice and consent of the Senate.”[368]

Denial of Recertification

The United States certified in April 2017 and in July 2017 that Iran was complying with the deal.[369][370]

On 13 October 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would not make the certification required under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, accusing Iran of violating the “spirit” of the deal and calling on the U.S. Congress and international partners to “address the deal’s many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons”.[371]

Declaring that he would not certify the deal, Trump left it up to Congress whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran and “blow up” the deal. But Trump’s aides sought to enact rules indicating how the United States could “reimpose sanctions”, and Trump listed three items that could provide such a “trigger” for leaving the deal: Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile, Iranian rejection of “an extension of the deal’s existing constraint on its nuclear activities”, and “evidence that Iran could manufacture a bomb in less than 12 months”. Trump described the deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.[372]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that getting out from the Iran nuclear deal would “carry a high cost” for the United States,[373] and that no president was allowed to “single-handedly revoke” the deal signed by the UN.[374]

After Trump said that he “cannot and will not” recertify the nuclear deal with Iran, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel supported the deal in a joint statement. Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said that the agreement was working well and that no one country could break the deal made by Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union. She suggested a “collective process” for keeping the deal. Russia’s foreign minister confirmed that Iran was abiding by the deal.[374]

US withdrawal

Trump announces US withdrawal on May 8th.

On May 8, 2018, the United States officially withdrew from the agreement after President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering the reinstatement of harsher sanctions.[375] In his May 8 speech, Trump called the Iran deal “horrible” and said the United States would “work with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms.[376] The IAEA has continued to assess that Iran has been in compliance with JCPOA and that it had “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009” [377] Other parties to the deal stated that they will work to preserve the deal even after the US withdrawal.[378]

Consequences of US withdrawal

The Iranian currency dropped significantly right after Trump announced the US withdrawal. The leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: “I said from the first day: don’t trust America”.[379] The American flag was set on fire in Iran’s Parliament.[380] The next evening, May 9, according to IDF sources, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Forces based in Syria launched rockets at Israeli military targets. Reporters for CNN said that, “if confirmed,” it appears to be “the first time Iranian forces have fired rockets directly at Israeli forces.”[381] This was never confirmed.

Ali Khamenei’s conditions for Europe to preserve the JCPOA

Following the U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA, Iran supreme leader Ali Khamenei presented seven conditions for Europe to meet its commitments. Among them was that European powers must take steps to preserve business relations with Iranian banks and purchase Iranian oil despite U.S. pressure. He also said there was no need to hold new discussions about Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities.[382]

Iran’s response

One year after the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed several unilateral sanctions on Iran, Iran took certain countermeasures. As a first step, according to Rouhani, Iran halted sales of excess enriched uranium and heavy water to other countries. Rouhani also said that Iran would resume enrichment of uranium beyond 3.67 percent if other parties could not fulfill their duties to let Iran benefit from the economic advantages of the JCPOA. Iran made this decision after all major European companies abandoned doing business with Iran out of fear of US punishment.[383]

On 14 May 2019, in a meeting with senior officials, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, described negotiations with the United States on another nuclear deal as “poison” and said, “We don’t seek a war, and they don’t either. They know it’s not in their interests”.[384]

See also

Notes …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019, Story 1: United States Sends Aircraft Carrier Group and Bomber Task Force To Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats — Videos — Story 2: After Nearly 700 Rockets From Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza Strip Kills 4 Israelis and 22 Palestinians — Israeli Airstrikes Attack Hamas and Kill Commander in Gaza City — Ceasefire Reached But Most Likely Will Not Hold — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Threatens To Impose a 25% Tariff on $200 Billion of Chinese Exports into United States After Chinese Communist Renege on Trade Deal Commitments — Time To Pull The Trigger on 25% Tariff on Chinese Goods — Videos

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Story 1: United States Sends Aircraft Carrier Group and Bomber Task Force To Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats — Videos —

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US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

HOW THE U.S. MILITARY WOULD STRIKE IRAN: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW || RHINO 2018

U.S. sends USS Lincoln to Mideast to warn Iran

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Iran threatens to block main oil rout

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The Collapse of the American Empire?

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American Pie Don McLean Full Length 1989 Video from Original 1971 72 Song

Don McLean – American Pie better quality

American Pie

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me
Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend
Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
Songwriters: Don McLean

Scoop: Israel passed White House intelligence on possible Iran plot

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

Israel passed information on an alleged Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf to the U.S. before national security adviser John Bolton threatened Iran with “unrelenting force” last night, senior Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: Bolton’s unusual and aggressive statement included news that the U.S. would move an aircraft carrier to the region. The officials said intelligence gathered by Israel, primarily by the Mossad intelligence agency, is understood to be part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement.

Behind the scenes: Information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf were raised two weeks ago in talks held at the White House between an Israeli delegation headed by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and a U.S. team led by Bolton, the Israeli officials told me.

  • The intelligence about a possible Iranian plot is not very specific at this stage, but the officials said it was clear the threat was against a U.S. target in the Gulf or U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

The bottom line: An Israeli official told me Mossad drew several scenarios for what the Iranians might be planning:

“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it, but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf.”

— Israeli official

US sending aircraft carrier to Mideast, citing Iran threats

49 minutes ago
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to the media on the sidelines of the Arctic Council ministers’ working dinner at the Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi, Finland, Monday, May 6, 2019. The U.S. is dispatching an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Middle East following what it says are indications that Iran and its proxy forces are preparing to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East ahead of schedule and warning that Iran and its proxy forces are showing “troubling and escalatory” indications of a possible attack on American forces in the region.

Exactly what prompted the action was unclear, but it marked a further step in sharply rising tensions between the Trump administration and the Islamic Republic.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday night the U.S. was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, intending to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on American forces or allies.

Neither Bolton nor other officials would provide any details about the supposed threat, which comes as the Trump administration wages a campaign of intensifying pressure against Iran and nearly a year after it withdrew from an Obama-era nuclear deal with Tehran.

In Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency on Monday quoted an anonymous official as saying that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani planned a broadcast address Wednesday and might discuss “counteractions” Tehran will take over America’s withdrawal from the international nuclear deal.

The agreement limited Iran’s enrichment of uranium amid Western concerns that Tehran’s program could allow it to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

With its pressure campaign, the U.S. administration is trying to get Iran to halt activities such as supporting militant activities that destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. allies, including Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“Our objective is to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo told reporters during a visit to Finland. “When they do that, we will welcome them back.”

The order to the carrier group would get the Abraham Lincoln into the Middle East about two weeks earlier than initially planned following exercises in the Mediterranean region, according to a U.S. defense official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, so spoke on the condition of anonymity. It forces the ships to cancel a planned stop in Croatia.

For years, the U.S. maintained a carrier presence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East region. During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were two carriers in the area, but that was reduced to one.

Last year the administration decided to end the continuous carrier presence, and send a strike group only intermittently into the region. The U.S. Navy currently has no aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Bolton said the U.S. wants to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on U.S. interests or those of America’s allies.

Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, questioned whether the U.S. adequately understands Iranian motivations and actions, and whether the military move was warranted.

“I don’t think we should let the Iranians pull our chain at the time and place of their choosing,” he said. “You can communicate seriousness to the Iranians without moving a lot of assets around, because moving assets is expensive and keeps assets from being in other places.”

He added, however, that Iran has the capability to harm Americans, but it’s difficult to assess the situation without knowing more about the intelligence that prompted the move.

Along with the Lincoln, Bolton mentioned “a bomber task force,” which suggested the Pentagon is deploying land-based bomber aircraft somewhere in the region, perhaps on the Arabian Peninsula.

Pompeo said the actions undertaken by the U.S. have been in the works for a while. The request for the accelerated move came over the weekend from the military’s U.S. Central Command after reviewing various intelligence reports for some time, according to the U.S. official. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the request on Sunday.

“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said. “If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

Asked if the Iranian action was related to the deadly events in Gaza and Israel — militants fired rockets into Israel on Sunday and Israel responded with airstrikes — Pompeo said, “It is separate from that.”

The Trump administration has been intensifying its pressure campaign against Iran.

Last month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, a decision that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

The U.S. also recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, the first ever for an entire division of another government.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reimposed punishing sanctions including those targeting Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors.

 

Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, other resources dispatched to Middle East over unspecified Iran threats

Story 2: After Nearly 700 Rockets From Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza Strip Kills 4 Israelis and 22 Palestinians — Israeli Airstrikes Attack Hamas and Kill Commander in Gaza City — Ceasefire Reached But Most Likely Will Not Hold — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Israel’s Netanyahu orders ‘massive strikes’ on Gaza militants | DW News

State of Palestine: Hamas official reportedly killed in Israeli air strike

Gaza Fires Rockets and Israel Strikes Targets in Latest Flare-Up

Ceasefire reached between Israel, Gaza militants

In The News: Hamas Rocket Attack

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Hamas militants fire rockets towards Israel as an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip can be seen fr

Meet Israel’s Super Weapon: Why No One Wants to Mess With Israel’s Air Force

Future Weapons of Israel 2019.(צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל‬)

Israeli military: Rockets fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv

Who are the Palestinians? An Arab Invention. CBN.

Israel and Palestine Explained

War – Edwin Starr

Billy Joel – Piano Man (Video)

Piano Man
It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin
He says, “Son, can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”
La la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright
Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be
He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me”
As the smile ran away from his face
“Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place”
Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talkin’ with Davy, who’s still in the Navy
And probably will be for life
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinkin’ alone
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, “Man, what are you doin’ here?”
Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
Songwriters: Billy Joel
Piano Man lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start the Fire (Official Video)

 

Israel kill Hamas commander in airstrike and ‘prepares Gaza ground invasion’ as it hits back after 600 militant rockets kill four and injure 66

  • An Israeli man, 58, became the first citizen to be killed in the Middle East hostilities since the 2014 war
  • Seven Palestinians, including a pregnant mother and her baby daughter, were also reportedly killed 
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu said Hamas is paying a ‘heavy price’ and has ordered ground troops up to Gaza’s border
  • Three Israelis, including an 80-year-old woman, were also wounded by rocket fire in the weekend of combat

Israel has reportedly killed a Hamas commander in a series of airstrikes amid reports it is planning to invade Gaza following a series of skirmishes with Palestinians.

A military statement said that commander Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri had been killed in a targeted air strike on his car on Sunday.

Khudri was reportedly responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza. Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an air strike on his car.

Four Israelis and 22 Palestinians, including two pregnant woman and an infant, have died so far in air strikes which began as Palestinians fired 600 rockets across the border on Friday.

It comes as Israel’s ground troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza perimeter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas, the dissident group which rules Gaza, is paying a ‘heavy price’ for its attacks on his country.

And he has ordered a large military corps up to the besieged enclave as the month-long ceasefire is left in tatters.

A building in Gaza city is totally destroyed by an explosion on Sunday as Israel fired high-powered missiles across the border into Palestinian territory

A building in Gaza city is totally destroyed by an explosion on Sunday as Israel fired high-powered missiles across the border into Palestinian territory

A missile from Israel's 'Iron Dome' defence system is launched to defend the border from Palestinian rocket attacks. The Iron Dome works to intercept the rockets and explode them in midair

A missile from Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defence system is launched to defend the border from Palestinian rocket attacks. The Iron Dome works to intercept the rockets and explode them in midair

Palestinians inspect a destroyed car of Hamas member Hamed Al-Khodari after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Sunday

Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in Gaza City as part of Benjamin Netanyahu's retaliation front

Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in Gaza City as part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s retaliation front

Israel's troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza border (airstrikes aftermath in the Strip) after Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets on to their territory which killed the first Israeli citizen since 2014

Israel’s troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza border (airstrikes aftermath in the Strip) after Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets on to their territory which killed the first Israeli citizen since 2014

Seven Palestinians have also died, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old-baby, in airstrikes which formed part of Israel's retaliation (pictured: building in the enclave destroyed)

Seven Palestinians have also died, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old-baby, in airstrikes which formed part of Israel’s retaliation (pictured: building in the enclave destroyed)

Palestinians are seen in a damaged house near a totally collapsed building after Israeli army carried out airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza during cross-border hostilities in the southern city of Ashkelon

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza during cross-border hostilities in the southern city of Ashkelon

Israeli airstrikes targeted the city of Rafah on the Gaza strip after Hamas militants launched a barrage of rockets across the border

I

In a statement to his cabinet this morning, Mr Netanyahu said: ‘I instructed the military this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip and ordered it to reinforce the troops around the Gaza Strip with tanks, artillery and infantry force.’

Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four, was struck in the chest by shrapnel during a missile strike on the city of Ashkelon near the border and marked the fighting’s first Israeli fatality in five years.

Eight Palestinian militants have also died in airstrikes which formed part of Israel’s retaliation that Mr Netanyahu has vowed to continue.

A pregnant woman and a one-year-old baby were also killed, but Israel is claiming that their deaths were caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

And Israeli Defence Forces are standing by to invade the blockaded Gaza strip, according to the Independent.

The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators aimed at preventing a fraying ceasefire from collapsing altogether.

It also comes at a sensitive time for Israel, which is to mark its Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday this week, before hosting the Eurovision song contest in the middle of the month. Prolonged fighting could overshadow the Eurovision and potentially deter international travelers from coming in for the festive event.

On Saturday video footage of a family screaming in fear during rocket attacks was posted on social media.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group that opposes Israel’s existence, have fought three wars and dozens of smaller flare-ups of violence since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 5, 2019 shows an explosion following an airstrike by Israel

The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators (pictured: A target explodes during airstrikes in Gaza City, May 4)

An explosion is pictured among buildings during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on May 4, 2019

Palestinians gather on the beach in Gaza City as smoke and fire billow following airstrikes by Israel in response to rockets fired by Palestinian militants

The Gaza health ministry reported a 22-year-old man as well as a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother killed, with 17 others wounded

The Gaza health ministry reported a 22-year-old man as well as a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother killed, with 17 others wounded

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites (pictured: Gaza City)

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites (pictured: Gaza City)

Missiles are fired from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells,

Missiles are fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells,

Gaza's militant strongholds came under fire (fireball pictured) from Israeli troops after they launched rockets into southern Israel

Gaza’s militant strongholds came under fire (fireball pictured) from Israeli troops after they launched rockets into southern Israel

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 13 miles from the Gaza border, police said (pictured: Gaza City)

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 13 miles from the Gaza border, police said (pictured: Gaza City)

They engaged in several days of heavy fighting in March before Egypt brokered a truce in which Israel agreed to ease a crippling blockade on Gaza in exchange for a halt in rocket fire.

In recent days, Hamas accused Israel of reneging on its pledges as militants began to fire rockets into Israel.

In a familiar scene, air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel throughout the day and into the evening as barrages of rockets were repeatedly fired.

Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 14-month-old girl, Seba Abu Arar, was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their home in east Gaza City. Her pregnant mother, 37, was severely wounded and died later at the hospital, the ministry added. Another child was moderately injured.

Pictured: Smoke and flames rise following an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza city Israeli airstrike
Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them (pictured: An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike)

Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them (pictured: An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike)

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday (pictured: Fire rises in Gaza on May 4)

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday (pictured: Fire rises in Gaza on May 4)

In the morning, Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli airstrike, and 13 other Palestinians were wounded. Late on Saturday, health officials said a 25-year-old man was killed by an Israeli drone missile as he was traveling on a motorbike in northern Gaza.

In Israel, medical officials said an 80-year-old woman was severely wounded by rocket fire, a 50-year-old man was moderately wounded by shrapnel and a teenage boy was mildly hurt as he ran for cover. Israeli police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged.

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday. It said the shooting was not coordinated with Hamas, but said it holds Hamas, as the territory’s ruling power, responsible for all fire emanating from Gaza.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said ‘the United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel.’

‘We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self defense against these abhorrent attacks,’ she said in a statement.

Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on May 4, 2019

Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on May 4, 2019

Israeli bomb squad inspect the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Yad Mordechai

Israeli bomb squad inspect the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Yad Mordechai

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike across the border in the Gaza Strip+28

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike across the border in the Gaza Strip

By nightfall, the army said militants had fired well over 200 rockets into Israel. It said dozens of the rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket-defense system. But it closed roads near the Gaza border to civilian traffic and closed a popular beach as a security precaution.

The military said it struck some 120 targets in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad military compounds, a Hamas rocket-manufacturing site and a ‘high-end Islamic Jihad tunnel’ that it said stretched into Israel for use in attacks.

Late on Saturday, Israel struck a building that it said housed Hamas military intelligence offices in Gaza City. Another airstrike hit a six-story commercial and residential building. Journalists said the building housed the office of Turkey’s news agency Anadolu. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said it was closing the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast altogether and sealing Israel’s two land crossings with Gaza. The crossings are used by Palestinian medical patients to enter and exit the territory, and provide the main entry for cargo into the blockaded territory.

The U.N.’s Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said the United Nations was working with Egypt to restore calm and called on all sides to ‘de-escalate’ and restore recent understandings.

A missile fired from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells races towards Gaza

A missile fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells races towards Gaza

Damage to a house is seen after a rocket fired from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli city Kiryat Gat, May 4

Damage to a house is seen after a rocket fired from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli city Kiryat Gat, May 4

A statement from Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for at least some of the rocket fire and said it was prepared for more if necessary (pictured, rocket fired from Gaza towards Israel)

‘Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all,’ he said in a statement.

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, sharply criticized the rocket attacks on Twitter, saying ‘firing indiscriminately against civilians (is) unacceptable.’

Islamic Jihad, which sometimes acts independently of Hamas, threatened to fire longer range rockets toward Israel’s heartland. In a video that also was seen an implicit claim of responsibility, it showed archived footage of militants attaching warheads to rockets.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

Under the recent understandings, Israel agreed to expand a fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, increased imports into Gaza and allow the Gulf state of Qatar to deliver aid to cash-strapped Gaza. But like previous Egyptian-mediated agreements, those understandings have shown signs of unraveling in recent days.

On Friday, two Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli forces during the weekly protests along Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. Palestinian militants also shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers along the border fence. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting. In response, Israeli aircraft carried out retaliatory strikes, killing two Hamas militants.

Hamas has hoped that Egyptian mediators could further ease the blockade, which has ravaged Gaza’s economy. For over a year, the Islamic group has orchestrated mass demonstrations each week along the Israeli frontier to draw attention to Gaza’s plight. More than 200 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed in the border protests.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6994193/Israels-army-ready-launch-ground-invasion-Gaza-militants-fired-450-rockets.html

Hamas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Hamas
حركة المقاومة الاسلامية
Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum
Chief of the Political Bureau Ismail Haniya
Deputy Chief of the Political Bureau Mousa Abu Marzouq and Khaled Mashal[1]
Founder Sheikh Ahmed YassinAbdel Aziz al-RantissiMahmoud Zahar and 4 others.
Founded 1987
Preceded by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood
Headquarters GazaGaza Strip
Ideology
Religion Sunni Islam
International affiliation Muslim Brotherhood
Axis of Resistance
Colours Green
Legislative Council (2006)

74 / 132

Party flag
Flag of Hamas.svg
Website
hamas.ps/en

Hamas (Arabic: حماس Ḥamās, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian SunniIslamist fundamentalist organization.[9][10] It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007.[11][12] During this period it fought several wars with Israel.[13] It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union.[14][15][16] Russia, China, and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it so.[17][18][19][20]

Hamas was founded in 1987,[21][22] soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,[23][24] which in its Gaza branch had been non-confrontational towards Israel, refrained from resistance, and was hostile to the PLO.[25] Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[26][27] The group has stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, including their descendants, to return to what is now Israel,[28][29][30][31] although clarifying that this does not mean recognition of Israel or the end of the conflict.[32] Hamas’s military wing objected to the truce offer.[33] Analysts have said that it seems clear that Hamas knows that many of its conditions for the truce could never be met.[34]

The military wing of Hamas has launched attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, often describing them as retaliatory, in particular for assassinations of the upper echelon of their leadership.[35] Tactics have included suicide bombings and, since 2001, rocket attacks.[36][37][38][39] Hamas’s rocket arsenal, though mainly consisting of short-range homemade Qassam rockets,[40] also includes long-range weapons that have reached major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Haifa.[41][42] The attacks on civilians have been condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.[43][44] A 2017 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll in the Palestinian territories revealed that Hamas violence and rhetoric against Israelis are unpopular and that a majority of Palestinians would rather Hamas “accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.”[45]

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a plurality in the Palestinian Parliament,[46] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.[47][48] In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.[49] Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza,[49] after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank.[49] Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic