As Iran Sails West, the U.S. and Europe Close Ranks

Tehran to Send Warships Close to US Waters as Tensions Between Them Escalate

 

Iran sent new signals of military boldness this past week, while critics of the regime in the U.S. and Europe worked through their legal systems to pressure the Tehran leadership financially, with
.prospects for trans-Atlantic unity against the regime inching forward

The U.S. Navy Times has reported that the Iranian navy intends to send warships to the Atlantic ocean as early as this spring. A senior U.S. commander opined that the presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf had driven Tehran to draw up plans to approach U.S. waters as a kind of deterrent measure. Statements by Iranian officials seemed to imply as much. Tehran’s IRNA news agency has quoted Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani, the deputy commander of the Iranian navy, as saying that the move aimed to “thwart Iranophobia plots” and “secure shipping lanes.” Fars news agency added that the vessels — which would be equipped with anti-ship and anti-aircraft guns as well as surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capacities — would likely dock in the waters of Venezuela, an Iranian ally

In Washington on Monday, an outspoken opponent of the Iran nuclear deal joined the Trump administration as Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Security Council. Richard Goldberg had previously served in the Illinois governor’s office, as well as the Senate, where he negotiated several rounds of sanctions against Iran, before joining the Foundation of Defense of Democracies, a bastion of support for a tough line on Tehran

Elsewhere in Washington, a legal event with potential bearing on Iranian financial matters began Tuesday. Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian was to testify in a federal court that he suffered acute psychological abuse while held hostage by the Iranian government on trumped-up charges — and that the government was motivated by a desire to gain advantages vis a vis the U.S. with respect to Iranian nuclear negotiations. His lawsuit, demanding millions of dollars in damages from Iran, is a further case made possible to the “terrorism exception” to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, enabling U.S. citizens to take foreign governments to court in the United States on charges of terrorism, torture, or hostage-taking

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the European Union came together to impose their first new sanctions on Iran since the signing of the Iranian nuclear accord in 2015. The move was prompted by evidence of further Iranian terror plots in targeting Iranian opposition activists in France and Denmark. Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen Tweeted, “Very encouraging that EU has just agreed on new targeted sanctions against Iran in response to hostile activities and plots. EU stands united — such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences.” Reporting by the New York Times noted that the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, had provided European authorities with the knowledge that enabled the plots to be disrupted

 


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