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BEIRUT, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday the US withdrawal from world powers' 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran would have negative consequences for Middle East stability.

"The unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement (in May) will have negative repercussions for security and stability in the region," Aoun wrote on Twitter, his first public comment on the accord.

"Lebanon considered (the deal) a cornerstone for stability in the region, helping make it an area free of weapons of mass destruction," Aoun's office said in a statement summarising a meeting between him and Iranian foreign ministry official Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

Aoun said he welcomed the commitment of other countries to continue with the deal.

Under the 2015 accord, Iran won a lifting of international sanctions in return for verifiable curbs on its disputed uranium enrichment programme.

 

 

 

TEHRAN, Iran, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran says if President Donald Trump wants to negotiate after pulling the United States out of the international deal meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, he'll have to make the call.

Monday's remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi came after Trump last week said that with the United States increasing sanctions on Iran, "at a certain point they're going to call me and say 'let's make a deal,' and we'll make a deal."

Ghasemi says, however, "maybe someday he will call Tehran and ask for negotiations - this is more likely."

If Trump calls, it's not clear whether anyone will answer, with Iran's top leadership rejecting talks with the US.

Other nations in the deal are negotiating with Iran to try and make it work without Washington.

BRUSSELS, July 14, 2018 (MENA) - Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said on Saturday Iran should realize that the world will not allow it to have nuclear weapon.

In statements to Al Arabiya al Hadath channel on the fringe of the NATO anti-Daesh meeting in Brussels, Jubeir affirmed his country's support for US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out form the nuclear deal with Iran.

"Iran should be aware that seclusion and pressure would likely mount if it didn't change its hostile policies," the Saudi top diplomat warned.

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - The US State Department said on Tuesday it had designated al-Ashtar Brigades, which it described as an Iran-backed terrorist group in Bahrain, as a foreign terrorist organization.

It said in a statement that the group was established in 2013 with the aim of toppling the Bahraini government, and had killed police officers in bomb and gun attacks. Members of the group have received weapons and explosives from Iran, it added.

The designation denies the group access to the US financial system, the statement said.

LONDON, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran's vice-president acknowledged on Tuesday that US sanctions would hurt the economy, but promised to "sell as much oil as we can" and protect banking.

Eshaq Jahangiri said Washington was trying to stop Iran's petrochemical, steel and copper exports. "America seeks to reduce Iran's oil sales, our vital source of income, to zero," he said, according to Fars news agency.

"It would be a mistake to think the US economic war against Iran will have no impact," Jahangiri added.

President Donald Trump said in May he would pull the United States out of an international accord under which Tehran had agreed to limit its nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump said he would reintroduce sanctions and Washington later told countries they must stop buying Iran’s oil from November 4 or face financial consequences.

On Tuesday, the US ambassador to Germany also called on Berlin to block an Iranian bid to withdraw large sums of cash from bank accounts in Germany.

Jahangiri said Iran’s foreign ministry and the central bank have taken measures to facilitate Iran’s banking operations despite the US sanctions. He did not elaborate.

European powers which still support the nuclear deal say they will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran - though a number of firms have already said they plan to pull out.

Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatory countries to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — offered a package of economic measures to Iran on Friday but Tehran said they did not go far enough.

"We think the Europeans will act in a way to meet the Iranian demands, but we should wait and see," Jahangiri said.

He added that the US pressure on Iran came as the United States launched an "economic war with China and even its allies", referring to trade tensions between Washington and many of its main trading partners.

He also accused Washington of trying to use the economic pressure to provoke street protests in Iran.

A wave of anti-government demonstrations against economic hardship and alleged corruption engulfed cities across the country in late December and early January.

LONDON, July 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Oil prices rose on Monday as increased global demand and US efforts to shut out Iranian output using sanctions outweighed drilling data suggesting US shale production would climb.

Benchmark Brent was up 60 cents at $77.71 a barrel by 10:20 GMT. US crude was down 25 cents at $73.55.

The United States says it wants to reduce oil exports from Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil producer, to zero by November, in a move that will oblige other big producers such as Saudi Arabia to pump more.

But Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have little spare capacity and oil demand has risen faster than supply over the last year.

At the same time, exports from several OPEC producers, including Venezuela and Libya, have been falling.

"If the Saudis and others replace the losses from Iran, there will be basically no spare capacity left," Societe Generale analyst Michael Wittner said.

US oil output is increasing but is unlikely to be able to fill the supply gap if US. sanctions are successful in blocking Iranian exports.

US energy companies last week increased the number of rigs drilling for oil by five to 863, up 100 year-on-year, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm said in a report on Friday.

The US rig count, an early indicator of future output, is much higher than a year ago as energy companies have ramped up production in response to higher prices.

But the US oil market is still tightening.

Crude oil inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US crude futures, have fallen to their lowest in 3-1/2 years, data showed last week.

"Cushing is clearly screaming out for crude," said Virendra Chauhan, oil analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore.

OPEC, Russi and other producers agreed in June to a modest increase in output to dampen oil prices, which recently hit 3-1/2 year highs.

A rise in supply will reverse some of the output cuts that OPEC and other major producers put in place in early 2017 to end several years of glut.

The tightness at Cushing and the potential increase in Gulf exports "both have implications for how quickly the prompt overhang in the market can clear, and thus provide some direction for prices", Chauhan said.

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