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Now Europe Is Calling Out Iran Over Its Nuclear Program

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Britain, Germany, and France said Tuesday they had “been left with no choice” but to finally challenge Iran over its breaches of the 2015 nuclear accord, after Tehran announced it was abandoning limits on the enrichment of uranium altogether. The European countries announced…

Now Europe Is Calling Out Iran Over Its Nuclear Program

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Britain, Germany, and France said Tuesday they had “been left with no choice” but to finally challenge Iran over its breaches of the 2015 nuclear accord, after Tehran announced it was abandoning limits on the enrichment of uranium altogether.

The European countries announced they had triggered the “dispute resolution mechanism” outlined in the landmark deal, which will bring their grievances before the other signatories — Iran, Russia, China, and the European Union — to try to find a resolution. If they can’t reach an agreement, Iran, whose economy is already suffering under U.S. sanctions, could face the return of crippling international measures.

Under the deal, which was intended to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon, Tehran agreed to limits on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

But since the U.S. withdrew in 2018 and reimposed its own sanctions, the Islamic Republic has gradually announced that it is walking away from various restrictions imposed by the agreement. Until now, European nations have tried to hold the weakened agreement together, but their latest statement signals that they have had enough of Iran’s breaches — and that Tehran could be hit with more devastating sanctions if it fails to get back in line.

In Iran’s latest rollback of the deal on Jan. 5 — just days after a U.S. drone strike killed a top general — it announced that it was abandoning all limits on the production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel as well as nuclear weapons. Under the deal, Iran’s enrichment had been limited to 3.67 percent, to prevent the country acquiring enough 90-percent enriched uranium threshold to build a weapon.

“Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment with no limitations and based on its technical needs,” said an announcement in state media.

The statement said the country would return to its commitments when it once again derived benefits from the deal — in other words, when the U.S. lifts freezes on oil sales and assets.

Instead, the latest rollback of the deal finally forced the European nations’ hand. In response Tuesday, the three countries — referring to themselves as the “E3” — said they had worked hard to save the deal following the U.S. withdrawal, and still sought to preserve it.

READ: Iran has already hacked the U.S. at least 4 times — and could do it again

“However, in the meantime, Iran has continued to break key restrictions set out in the JCPoA. Iran’s actions are inconsistent with the provisions of the nuclear agreement and have increasingly severe and non-reversible proliferation implications,” said the statement, using the initials for the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA.”

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a strong ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, said that the best solution would be to strike a new deal, with U.S. buy-in.

READ: Here’s what war with Iran would actually look like

In an interview with the BBC Tuesday, Johnson said he acknowledged the flaws in the 2015 deal, but that the priority was to stop Iran developing a nuke.

“If we’re going to get rid of it, let’s replace it and let’s replace it with the Trump deal,” he said.

“President Trump is a great dealmaker, by his own account. Let’s work together to replace the JCPoA and get the Trump deal instead.”

The European challenge over the nuclear deal comes as Iran’s government is under strain, both at home and on the international stage. In November, protests broke out around the country in response to the impact of significant gas price hikes, prompting a violent response by security services in which hundreds of demonstrators were killed.

READ: Here’s what happened in Iran while the government strangled the internet

The government has faced even greater pressure since the U.S. assassinated top general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike earlier this month. Hours after Iran fired on U.S. military bases in Iraq in retaliation, it accidentally shot down a passenger jet leaving Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. The government’s admission of guilt for the disaster Saturday, after days of denials, has drawn protesters back into the streets and prompted widespread condemnation of the regime.

READ: Witnesses say Iranian security forces opened fire on protesters

Cover: Boris Johnson visits Stormont. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, speaking in the Great Hall, Stormont, Belfast, whilst on a visit to meet the leaders of the restored powersharing government. Liam McBurney/PA Wire URN:49550458 (Press Association via AP Images)

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Beijing to suspend buses entering or leaving capital to contain virus: state media

Beijing (AFP) – China’s capital will suspend buses that enter and exit the city boundary, state media reported on Saturday, as Chinese authorities scramble to contain a new SARS-like virus that has killed dozens in the country. According to state-run People’s Daily, “all passenger transport by road” that crosses in and out of Beijing will…

Beijing to suspend buses entering or leaving capital to contain virus: state media

Beijing (AFP) – China’s capital will suspend buses that enter and exit the city boundary, state media reported on Saturday, as Chinese authorities scramble to contain a new SARS-like virus that has killed dozens in the country.

According to state-run People’s Daily, “all passenger transport by road” that crosses in and out of Beijing will be suspended starting Sunday, citing “requirements of epidemic prevention and control”.

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George Soros Accuses Facebook of Working to Reelect President Trump

Facebook is helping to reelect President Trump in 2020 in exchange for protection, billionaire George Soros claimed Thursday in Davos, Switzerland. “Facebook will work to re-elect Trump and Trump will protect Facebook. It makes me very concerned about the outcome of 2020,” he said during a private dinner hosted by his Open Society Foundations at…

George Soros Accuses Facebook of Working to Reelect President Trump

Facebook is helping to reelect President Trump in 2020 in exchange for protection, billionaire George Soros claimed Thursday in Davos, Switzerland.

“Facebook will work to re-elect Trump and Trump will protect Facebook. It makes me very concerned about the outcome of 2020,” he said during a private dinner hosted by his Open Society Foundations at the World Economic Forum.

The left-wing financier reportedly described Trump as “the ultimate narcissist” and a “con man” who wanted the world to “revolve around him.”

“When his fantasy of becoming president became a reality,” his ego grew significantly, Soros alleged, then added, “This has turned his narcissism into a malignant disease.”

However, a Facebook spokesperson called the accusations “just plain wrong.”

January 9, the social media company announced that it would continue to allow politicians to run advertisements and “would not police the truthfulness of the messages posted,” according to Fox News.

“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies,” said Facebook’s Director of Product Management Rob Leathern.

He continued:

In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.

Soros’s Open Society Foundation’s website states that it believes “the solutions to the national, regional, and global challenges we face demand the free exchange of ideas and thought, and that everyone should have a voice in shaping the policies that affect them.”

Despite his foundation’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas, Soros called the Trump administration “a danger to the world” at Davos in 2018, and also accused social media companies of encouraging addiction to their platforms.

The billionaire stated:

The distinguishing feature of internet platforms is that they are networks and they enjoy rising marginal returns. They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide. This can be very harmful, particularly to adolescents. As Facebook and Google have grown into ever more powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation, and they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.

 “Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered,” he concluded.

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Schiff: ‘Uncontested’ that Trump Invited Ukraine ‘to Help Him Cheat’

During a press conference on Saturday, House Impeachment Manager and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated that President Trump’s impeachment defense team did “not contest that the president solicited a foreign nation to interfere in our election, to help him cheat.” And that “they acknowledge, by not even contesting this, that the facts…

Schiff: ‘Uncontested’ that Trump Invited Ukraine ‘to Help Him Cheat’

During a press conference on Saturday, House Impeachment Manager and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated that President Trump’s impeachment defense team did “not contest that the president solicited a foreign nation to interfere in our election, to help him cheat.” And that “they acknowledge, by not even contesting this, that the facts are overwhelming.”

Schiff said, “First of all, what was most striking to me about the president’s presentation today is, they don’t contest the basic architecture of the scheme. They do not contest that the president solicited a foreign nation to interfere in our election, to help him cheat. I think they acknowledge, by not even contesting this, that the facts are overwhelming. The president invited Ukraine to get involved in our election to help him cheat against Joe Biden. That is uncontested, uncontested in our presentation and uncontested in theirs.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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