Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Israel, Saudi Arabia & Egypt wanted US to bomb Iran before nuclear deal – John Kerry

Israel, Saudi Arabia & Egypt wanted US to bomb Iran before nuclear deal – John Kerry
The leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt all pressurized the US to bomb Iran prior to negotiations on the 2015 nuclear deal, former US secretary of state John Kerry said. He described the proposition as a “trap in lots of ways” for Washington.
Kerry, who chaired the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee before heading the US diplomatic corps in 2013, recalled how he met Saudi King Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his capacity as legislator. All three leaders lobbied him for military action against Iran. “Each of them said to me: You have to bomb Iran, it’s the only thing they are going to understand,” he said.
“I remember that conversation with President Mubarak. I looked at him and said: It’s easy for you to say. We go bomb them and I bet you’ll be the first guy out there the next day to criticize us for doing it. And he went: ‘Of course, ha-ha-ha-ha!’” Kerry said. “It was a trap in a lot of ways. But more importantly, Prime Minister Netanyahu was genuinely agitating towards action.”
It was not clear when the meetings Kerry mentioned took place. He chaired the committee from 2009. Mubarak was deposed in February 2011, while King Abdullah died in January 2015.
Kerry, who was part of a panel of experts at a nuclear weapons reduction forum at Washington National Cathedral on Tuesday, used the occasion to defend the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which he helped to negotiate. The deal, in which Russia was also a major negotiator, placed restrictions on the Iranian nuclear industry in exchange for lifting UN, US and EU economic sanctions against Tehran. Kerry said without the deal Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt would likely be developing nuclear weapons of their own today while a military conflict with Iran would be a very likely possibility.
The former top US diplomat criticized President Donald Trump for trying to undermine the deal. During the election campaign, the Republican nominee repeatedly called the agreement “a bad deal” and threatened to scrap it once elected. “That was a blatant over-simplistic political appeal to the American Jewish community. That’s all what it was, because most of those people hadn’t read the agreement,” Kerry said, adding that the rhetoric had “polluted the water” for American diplomacy.
Trump has since refused to recertify the agreement, arguing that the US got disproportionately few benefits from it, and referred the document to US legislators. The move was criticized by other signatory nations, which slammed Washington for compromising the landmark deal, with Kerry subscribing to it during the panel. Kerry said he was not sure what positive outcome the Trump administration could expect from “giving the nuclear agreement to the Congress to fix,” adding that whatever “fix” was suggested for the deal, it would be perceived in Tehran as “a backdoor effort to kill the deal.”
Kerry suggested that Washington should not make the nuclear agreement hostage to whatever other differences it has with Tehran, be it Iranian missile development, ties with Hezbollah or Houthi rebels in Yemen. He said that the only reason missile-related sanctions against Iran were not lifted under the deal was that then-US envoy to the UN, Samantha Powers, “very cleverly snuck them in at the last minute… and nobody really noticed it.”
Saudi Arabia has lashed out at Tehran on numerous occasions recently, even comparing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler. Tehran hit back by saying that it was Riyadh who causes tensions and “wages war” in the region.

Praljak: Bosnian Croat war criminal dies after taking poison in court

Media captionSlobodan Praljak drank a small vial of liquid after his prison sentence was upheld.
A Bosnian Croat war criminal has died in hospital after drinking poison during an appeal hearing in The Hague.
Slobodan Praljak, 72, died in hospital, with the UN court announcing that the courtroom was now "a crime scene".
On hearing that his 20-year jail term had been upheld, the ex-commander of Bosnian Croat forces said he was not a criminal and then drank from a bottle.
In 2013, he was sentenced for crimes in the city of Mostar during the Bosnian war in 1992-95.
Praljak was one of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders up before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
They were attending the final appeals judgment to be handed down by the court.
Though allies against the Bosnian Serbs in the war, Bosnian Croats and Muslims also fought each other for a period of 11 months, with Mostar seeing some of the fiercest fighting.

'Don't take away the glass'

After hearing the verdict, General Praljak stood and raised his hand to his mouth, tipped his head back and appeared to swallow a glass of liquid.
"I have taken poison," he said.
Presiding judge Carmel Agius immediately suspended the proceedings and an ambulance was called.
"Okay," the judge said. "We suspend the... We suspend... Please, the curtains. Don't take away the glass that he used when he drank something."
Before the curtains were lowered, the courtroom could be seen in a state of confusion, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports from The Hague.
Emergency rescue worker run to the court building in The Hague. Photo: 29 November 2017Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionEmergency rescue workers were called into the court building to assist Slobodan Praljak
An ambulance could later be seen arriving outside the tribunal while a helicopter hovered above the scene.
Several emergency rescue workers also rushed into the building carrying equipment in backpacks.
In a statement, the ICTY said Praljak "was immediately assisted by the ICTY medical staff".
It said Praljak "was transported to a nearby hospital to receive further medical assistance where he passed".
An independent investigation is now under way.
Meanwhile, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said he regretted the death of Slobodan Praljak.
"His act, which we all unfortunately witnessed today, speaks most of a deep moral injustice towards six indicted Croats from Bosnia and the Croatian people.
"The government expresses its condolences to all victims of all crimes committed in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We voice dissatisfaction and regret about the verdict," Mr Plenkovic said.

Crimes against Muslims

Praljak, the former commander of the main staff of the Bosnian Croat defence forces (HVO), was jailed for crimes against humanity.
Informed that soldiers were rounding up Muslims in Prozor in the summer of 1993, he had failed to make any serious efforts to stop the action, the UN war crimes tribunal found.
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Presentational grey line
Praljak had also failed to act on information that murders were being planned, as well as attacks on members of international organisations and the destruction of the city's historic Old Bridge and mosques.
Those appearing with him included Jadranko Prlic, the former prime minister of the Bosnian Croats' breakaway statelet.
Set up by mandate of the UN Security Council in 1993, the ICTY is due to close when its mandate expires at the end of the year.

Related Topics

5 athletes who underwent gender reassignment

5 athletes who underwent gender reassignment
Gender issues frequently appear in the news, with equality and the topic of changing gender often heatedly debated. As with people in other spheres of life, athletes are also affected by these themes.
RT Sport takes a look at five athletes who went through gender reassignment and significantly changed their lives.
1. Bruce / Caitlyn Jenner
William Bruce Jenner, a former football player, later switched to decathlon and won the 1976 Olympics decathlon gold at the Montreal Olympic Games, setting a world record.
The same year he received the James E. Sullivan award, a prize given to the "outstanding amateur athlete in the United States."
Jenner also built up a successful TV career, participating in various shows, including the reality television series ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’.
In 2015 Jenner, who has six children from three marriages, revealed his identity as a trans woman in an exclusive cover shoot for the Vanity Fair magazine, with the new name of Caitlyn Jenner.
Caitlyn has been called the world’s most famous openly transgender woman.
2. Yvonne / Balian Buschbaum
A former German pole vaulter whose personal best was marked at 4.70 meters, Buschbaum clinched the title of the European Junior champion in 1999 and went on to add two more awards to her record by finishing second at the 2002 European indoor championships and third at the continental outdoor meeting the same year. She also competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, finishing sixth.
A post shared by Balian Buschbaum (@buschbaumbalian) on 
She retired from sport in 2007 due to a persistent Achilles tendon injury which kept her from performing at the highest level. The next year she made the decision to transition and underwent a surgery, announcing that her new name would be Balian.
3. Rene Richards
An American former tennis player who participated in the US Open men’s and women’s draws.
In 1975 Richards underwent male-to-female gender reassignment surgery and fought for the right to compete against women, appealing the United States Tennis Association decision which had denied her access into the women’s tour.
Her efforts were rewarded in 1977 when the New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor, allowing Richards to enter the women’s tennis events. The same year she reached the US Open final in doubles, where she and her partner Betty-Ann Stuart were defeated by Martina Navratilova and Betty Stove.
4.Heidi / Andreas Krieger
An East German female shot putter who won gold at the 1986 European Athletics Championships in Stuttgart with a result of 21.10 meters.
A systematic intake of steroids, initiated by East German officials, triggered an irreversible genetic change in her body and Krieger began developing male characteristics.
In 1997, unwitting doper Krieger underwent gender reassignment surgery and became Andreas.
East Germany’s state-sponsored doping plan, aimed to produce Olympic champions with the help of performance-enhancing drugs, operated for decades until it was finally exposed following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The Heidi Krieger Medal is now awarded annually to German athletes who combat doping.
5. Mianne Bagger
Bagger was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 25, 1966, but moved to Australia in 1977. At the age of 25 she started hormone therapy and three years later in 1995 she underwent sex reassignment surgery.
Her participation in amateur golf tournaments triggered a wave of criticism, with many claiming that a male-born golfer had an advantage over other female competitors. But the Australian Women's Golf Association allowed Bagger to play.
In 1999, Bagger claimed her first South-Australian championship, and confirmed her status as the strongest female amateur golfer in the country in 2001 and 2002.
In 2003 she was denied access to the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association (ALPG), as only competitors born as women could enter, according to membership rules.
In September 2004, the Ladies European Tour voted on amending its membership entry criteria, allowing Mianne to join the tour. The same year the ALPG also changed its rules, allowing Bagger to take part in tournaments under its guidance.

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