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09 May 19. European powers reject Iran’s nuclear ‘ultimatums.’ EU, France, Germany and UK warn over Tehran’s threat to revive atomic programme. European powers have rejected Iranian “ultimatums” over a landmark nuclear deal, in a sign of the deepening crisis engulfing the accord a year after US president Donald Trump pulled out. The EU, France, Germany and the UK warned Tehran on Thursday over its threat the previous day to revive its atomic programme, a response that highlighted anxiety in European capitals over the risk of the deal collapsing. “We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments,” a joint European statement said. Iran said it would stop complying with parts of the 2015 accord because the restoration of US sanctions following Mr Trump’s withdrawal had destroyed the economic benefits it expected — and Europe had been unable to cushion the blow. France’s President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped “very deeply” that Iran would remain in the accord. “We need to maintain it, Iran must stay within this deal — and we will do everything we can to make sure it stays,” he told reporters.
Under the agreement Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from many sanctions. The Europeans said they would monitor the findings of regular International Atomic Energy Agency reviews of whether Iran was honouring its obligations under both the nuclear agreement and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Germany says Iran nuclear deal is key in regional stability As the US conducts a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, Mr Trump on Wednesday announced new measures targeting Iranian metal exports. He warned Tehran could “expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct”. On Wednesday Hassan Rouhani, Iranian president, said Tehran would take two steps relating to enriched uranium and the heavy water involved in enrichment that mean it is no longer implementing certain commitments in the 2015 accord. Tehran stopped short of violating the agreement, but Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said the country would consider pulling out of the nuclear deal entirely if it felt it needed to do so. “The Islamic republic has put withdrawal from the nuclear deal on agenda, without any doubt, but in a step-by-step process,” he told the state television on Wednesday night. The Europeans said they regretted the US reimposition of sanctions last year, adding that they would continue with efforts to support “legitimate trade with Iran”. One such effort is a new company, Instex, created by France, Germany and the UK — a group called the E3 — to enable commercial activity with the Islamic republic despite US sanctions. But Instex is not yet operational and is expected initially to focus only on a narrow range of humanitarian trade exempted from US sanctions.
Recommended The Big Read Trump gambles on curbing Tehran’s reach The EU and E3 called on countries outside the deal not to hamper efforts being made to save it by the remaining parties, which also include Russia and China. European officials say Iran’s tougher stance has left room for diplomacy, as it gives time to respond and threatens only a partial renewal of nuclear activity rather than a wholesale repudiation of the deal. But officials also warn that European countries only have a limited capacity to give Tehran what it wants, not least because they cannot force companies to trade with Iran and risk retaliation from US authorities. Mr Araghchi said Iran’s decision to halt implementation of some commitments could be reversed if the other parties delivered on their promised economic incentives. “Our policy is to give a chance to diplomacy and to other signatories to compensate their shortcomings so far,” he said. He added that no country could accuse Iran of breaching the nuclear deal “because we are using [a dispute resolution] mechanism inside the deal to safeguard the deal and continue with it at least at this stage”. Iran also threatened to ease its efforts to control drug trafficking and immigration to Europe. Mr Araghchi said Iran might reconsider its immigration policies and expel about 2m Afghan refugees, about 500,000 of whom study in Iranian schools and universities. “If sanctions prove effective and bring down our oil exports to zero, the Islamic Republic of Iran . . . may ask our Afghan brothers and sisters to leave the country,” he said. (Source: FT.com)
09 May 19. NIDV calls for EDIDP proposals from The Netherlands. On August 29, the first round of calls for European Defence Industrial Development Programme(EDIDP) will close. The NIDV calls companies to make use of this industrial program in preparation for the launch of the European Defence Fund (EDF). Combined with the Ministries of Economic
Affairs and Climate and Defence, the NIDV wants to come to strong Dutch participation in the new European programs for the EU’s defence industry. Companies are invited to contact the NIDV with their proposals or if they have questions regarding the EDIDP. The EDIDP is an industrial programme of the EU aiming to support the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the union’s defence industry. This programme will be implemented by the Commission through annual calls for proposals, to be published in 2019 and 2020. The programme, with a financial budget of €500m, will co-finance the joint development of defence products and technologies. The calls for proposals are based on a 2-year work programme defined in close cooperation with EU countries and adopted by the European Commission on 19 March 2019. There will be nine calls for proposals in 2019, and 12 in 2020. (Source: NIDV Newsletter)
06 May 19. European Union tees up new military-cooperation proposals. The European Union will launch a call for a new batch of proposals as part of Europe’s new Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative this week. At the same time, officials said that the 34 existing PESCO projects are still considered to be at a very initial “incubation phase,” meaning they have yet to come to fruition. The PESCO defense pact – a show of unity and a tangible step in EU integration – was set up in December 2017 between EU governments and involved two phases of joint initiatives, each consisting of 17 projects.
The third and latest phase, to be launched this week, is for an unspecified number of new projects. The founding PESCO members, including France, Germany and Italy, have been asked to table proposals by the summer with a view to these being approved by the end of 2019.
The new batch of projects is likely to be smaller than the previous two, the second of which was launched last November, and is expected to be more “mature” when it comes to the projects’ setup, including support by member states, one official said.
EU members are responsible for developing and implementing PESCO projects. An EU defence source said, “They are still at an initial stage, or incubation phase.”
Twelve of the existing 34 schemes are expected to reach initial operational capability by 2022, with four of these due to be implemented later this year, according to the source.
The 34 schemes include a harbor and maritime surveillance and protection (HARMSPRO) project, designed to deliver a new maritime capability with the ability to conduct surveillance and protection of specified maritime areas, from harbors up to littoral waters.
Another is the Training Mission Competence Centre which aims to improve the availability and professionalism of personnel for EU training missions. The list also includes a European armoured infantry vehicle and cyber rapid response teams.
Other projects involve developing new equipment, such as infantry fighting vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, indirect fire support, strategic command-and-control systems for EU defense missions, minesweeping drones, upgrading maritime surveillance and developing a joint secure software defined radio.
Long blocked by London, PESCO, is one of the most tangible steps in EU integration since Britons voted to leave the bloc, as militaries begin to plan, spend and deploy together.
The eventual aim of PESCO is to develop and deploy forces together, backed by a multi-billion-euro fund for defense research and development. The idea aims to bring together European countries with a military capacity and political desire to collaborate on planning, carry out joint analyses of emerging crises and to react to them quickly.
Speaking recently in the European parliament in Brussels, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä welcomed the establishment of PESCO as a “step in the right direction” but said PESCO members “should now concentrate on implementation and reaching results.”
The EU source said, “Some might find it surprising that the 34 projects are still at the ideation phase but you have to remember that the PESCO project was launched only recently so the record is not bad. We are not talking about a ‘project factory’ but a commitment on the part of participating members to work more closely in the area of security and defence.”
EU defence expert Paul Taylor wrote, “It is worth noting that the PESCO effort is still at a relatively early stage of development.”
Jamie Shea, a senior fellow at Friends of Europe, a leading Brussels think tank, commented, “It is welcome news that the number of PESCO projects is likely soon to grow still further beyond the current 34. But to sustain political and public interest in this initiative it is important that we see soon the first deliverables to show that the good intentions are being followed with real and new European military capabilities.”
Shea added, “Moreover the key test for the success of PESCO will not just be to generate more multinational efforts but also to produce capabilities that plug the current shortfalls in the EU’s most urgent requirements and move it towards its goal of strategic autonomy.” (Source: Defense News)
06 May 19. Russia pitches Turkey the Su-57 fighter jet if F-35 deal with US collapses. Russia is “ready to cooperate” with Turkey to sell its new-generation Su-57 fighter jet in case the Ankara government and Turkish companies are expelled from the U.S.-led F-35 program, according to a senior Russian defense official.
“These fifth-generation Russian fighter jets [Su-57] have outstanding qualities, and show promise for export,” said Sergei Chemezov, head of Russia’s state-owned Rostec Corporation.
Chemezov’s statement came in confirmation of an Apr. 19 Defense News story that said if U.S. officials were to expel Turkey from the multinational group that builds the F-35, Turkish defense officials likely would pursue Russian fighter jet technology.
“We cannot afford to leave the F-35 not substituted,” a senior Turkish military officer told Defense news. He declined to comment on the replacement options, as this would require “technological, economical and political deliberations.”
But a defense procurement official said a “geostrategic assessment” would make Russian options emerge as the natural choice. “Russian fighter technology would the first best choice if our American allies behaved in an un-allied way and questioned Turkey’s membership in the Joint Strike Fighter program,” the official said.
Washington has threatened to expel Ankara from the multinational program if Turkey deploys the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system on its soil.
If Turkey accepts the S-400, “no F-35s will ever reach Turkish soil. And Turkish participation in the F-35 program, including manufacturing parts, repairing and servicing the fighters, will be terminated, taking Turkish companies out of the manufacturing and supply chain for the program,” wrote a group of bipartisan lawmakers from the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Source: Defense News)
05 May 19. Turkey says it will not bow to U.S. sanctions over S-400 deal. Turkey will never bow to U.S. sanctions over its agreement to purchase Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday regarding a deal that has strained ties between the NATO allies. Washington says the systems are not compatible with NATO equipment and may compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. It has warned of possible U.S. sanctions if Ankara pushes on with the Russian deal. Turkey, a prospective buyer and a partner in the production of the F-35s, has said the S-400s and jets would not impact each other and that it will not abandon its deal with Russia. It has proposed forming a working group with Washington to assess the impact of the S-400s, but says it has not received a response yet.
Speaking to broadcaster Kanal 7, Oktay said the U.S. concerns are unreasonable and that the planned July delivery date for the S-400s remained unchanged.
“When Turkey signs an agreement, Turkey keeps its promise. We signed this agreement and certain payments were made,” Oktay said. “I don’t think the arguments and concerns here have a lot to lean on,” he said.
The United States has also offered to sell Turkey its rival Raytheon Co. Patriot defense systems, which Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara was still evaluating.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who will visit Turkey next week, told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday that decisions about defense procurement were up to individual countries.
“The issue of procuring military materiel is a national decision for countries, but the ability of allied armies to work together is a fundamental issue for NATO to run its operations and missions,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.
He said he welcomed talks between Ankara and Washington on the procurement of the Patriot systems and talks between Turkey and the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium on its SAMP-T systems.
In March Reuters reported Washington was exploring whether it could remove Turkey from production of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, angered by Ankara’s refusal to back down from its planned purchase of the Russian missile system.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the F-35 project would collapse if Turkey did not participate.
Turkey has said it expected U.S. President Donald Trump to use a waiver to protect it against penalties over the S-400s, after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Ankara could face retribution for the deal under the U.S. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
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