Western Countries Warn Iran against Lack of Cooperation with IAEA

Photo distributed by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the opening session of its quarterly meeting on Tuesday.
Photo distributed by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the opening session of its quarterly meeting on Tuesday.
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Western Countries Warn Iran against Lack of Cooperation with IAEA

Photo distributed by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the opening session of its quarterly meeting on Tuesday.
Photo distributed by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the opening session of its quarterly meeting on Tuesday.

Western powers have warned Tehran that its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency is “significantly lacking” and “far short of the expectations”, following an agreement between the UN agency and Tehran last March.

The European Union expressed its concerns about the increasing risk of a nuclear proliferation crisis in the Middle East as a result of Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program.

Laura Holgate, US Ambassador to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and to the IAEA, told the Board of Governors of the IAEA meeting this week: “Iran’s level of cooperation remains significantly lacking overall, and far short of the expectations outlined by the Board in November.

Holgate pointed to a resolution passed by the Board of Governors in November condemning Iran’s behavior and calling for “immediate and urgent” cooperation.

In March, the Director of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, announced that an agreement was reached with Iran for cooperation and the re-installation of surveillance cameras. But since then, Tehran has only allowed the agency to install surveillance cameras at one site and surveillance equipment at two, which Grossi described as “slow progress.”

The US ambassador also expressed her concern about the increase in Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium by 60 percent, saying: “No other country in the world today utilizes uranium enriched to 60 percent for the purpose Iran claims. We again call on Iran to end this deeply troubling activity that runs counter to the behavior of all other states worldwide. Iran argues it is unfairly targeted by others. The reality remains that Iran continues to single itself out through its own actions. Iran should cease its nuclear provocations that pose grave proliferation risks.”

France, Britain and Germany, issued a statement expressing similar concern, and stressed that there was no “civilian justification” for enriching uranium at such a high rate.

“The risk of a nuclear proliferation crisis in the region has further increased as a result of Iran’s escalating nuclear trajectory. The EU remains committed to the JCPOA. We regret that Iran has not made the necessary decisions and not taken the necessary steps. On the contrary, it continues to significantly escalate its nuclear program,” the statement read.

It added: “Iran’s actions, which have no credible civilian justification in Iran’s declared nuclear program, carry very significant proliferation-related risks. These actions, which raise grave concerns about Iran’s intentions, include continued and accelerated accumulation of enriched uranium, far beyond JCPOA thresholds for quantity and level of enrichment, including a sharp rise of material at 20%, as well as at 60% which is of particular proliferation concern. The stockpile of HEU enriched at up to 60 per cent has increased by almost 30% since the last quarterly report.”

For his part, the European Union ambassador in Vienna, Stephan Klement, warned of the increasing risk of a nuclear proliferation crisis in the Middle East as a result of Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program.

He said on Twitter that the EU “strongly urges Iran to reverse its alarming nuclear trajectory. We call on Iran to return immediately to its non-proliferation commitments...”



Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
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Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)

As of Saturday, President Joe Biden was still planning to stay in the 2024 presidential race. But on Sunday afternoon, he shocked many of his senior staff by telling them he was withdrawing just before making the decision public, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Biden began to come to a decision on Saturday night that he should withdraw from the 2024 race. He had spent weeks defiantly insisting he would stay in the race despite pressure from some Democrats to pull out.

At 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, however, Biden told his senior team he had changed his mind and would withdraw, the sources said.

One minute later, at 1:46 p.m., Biden made his bombshell announcement.

The decision came less than a month after Biden had a disastrous debate against Republican Donald Trump that raised questions about the mental acuity of the 81-year-old Democratic president.

Biden came to his decision over the 48 hours preceding the announcement, after digesting large amounts of data and polls that showed his path to victory largely out of reach, two sources said. He agonized over the decision, but when he made up his mind, he moved quickly, a senior White House official said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke multiple times on Sunday ahead of his announcement, a person familiar with their conversations said.

Biden, who has been at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home since testing positive for COVID on Wednesday, shared his decision with his senior team by reading the letter to them that he would soon release publicly on social media.

"He read the letter to us and wanted us to understand his thinking. He said he had wrestled with it over the last 48 hours," the official said.

Shortly after the call, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients called senior White House staff together to inform them of the decision.

"This was really closely held," the official said. "It came as a surprise to most White House folks."

DIVIDED PARTY

After the debate, Biden began losing ground to Trump in battleground states, and Biden's campaign was pursuing a razor-thin path to reelection.

"It became hard with the growing opposition within the party. We have to be united going into November. That was a factor," the senior White House official said, while noting there had still been significant support for Biden across the country.

“I'm still processing it," said Marcus Mason, an at-large member of the Democratic National Convention.

"The president will go down in history as a patriot who put his country and party over his own ambitions," Mason said.

The president, still nursing a cough after his COVID diagnosis, had spent the weekend stewing over Democratic pressure to force him to leave the race, aides said. With him were long-time senior aides Annie Tomasini, Steve Richetti and Mike Donilon and a top aide to first lady Jill Biden, Anthony Bernal.

Biden had been particularly irked at former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Biden advisers believed was orchestrating a pressure campaign to get him to stand down.

Hours before the announcement, the Biden campaign denied reports he was planning to drop out.

"It is false. And I think that it is false to continue to try to gin up this narrative," deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks told MSNBC's "The Weekend” on Sunday morning.

There were plenty of signs Biden had been thinking about pulling out for several days, with sources saying the Democratic incumbent had been doing some soul-searching.