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Iran is technically capable of producing a nuclear bomb but no political decision on such an option has been made, Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has said.

“In a few days we were able to enrich uranium to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium,” Kharrazi told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

He said, Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build it.

The bombshell revelation comes shortly after U.S. President Joe Biden pledged Washington will do everything to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weaponry. The pledge was made during Biden’s visit to Israel earlier this week, when the U.S. president and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a joint declaration on the continued strategic partnership between the two countries. Among other things, Washington pledged “never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” confirming it “is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome,” according to the declaration.

While Iran has long-maintained it had never sought to develop nuclear weaponry, the country has ramped up its nuclear activities over the past few years. Gradual expansion of the nuclear program followed the 2018 move by then-U.S. President Donald Trump to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Since then, the landmark agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has effectively fallen apart, with Washington re-imposing old sanctions and slapping new ones on Tehran. Iran, in turn, gradually suspended its obligations under JCPOA, installing new uranium-enriching equipment and boosting output of the radioactive material.

Efforts to revive the deal have yielded no result so far, with the U.S. and Iran repeatedly trading blame for lack of progress. Tehran maintains it is Washington’s responsibility to return to the original agreement and lift sanctions in full, while US officials have claimed that Iran has been raising new demands during JCPOA talks.

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Era Of Western Dominance Ending, Said Tony Blair

For the first time in modern history the East can be on equal terms with the West, as the global dominance of the US and its allies comes to an end, former British prime minister Tony Blair has said.

Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, “for a large part of the Western population, living standards are stagnating,” Blair noted in his annual lecture at the Ditchley Foundation on Saturday.

“Western politics is in turmoil – more partisan, ugly, unproductive; and fueled by social media,” which affects both domestic and international affairs, Blair said, arguing that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “should become a pivot point reviving our sense of mission.”

However, according to the 69-year-old, who led the UK government from 1997 to 2007, “the biggest geo-political change of this century will come from China, not Russia.”

“We are coming to the end of Western political and economic dominance. The world is going to be at least bi-polar and possible multi-polar,” he predicted.

China, which is “already the world’s second superpower,” will compete with the West “not just for power but against our system, our way of governing and living,” the Labour politician warned. Beijing “will not be alone. It will have allies. Russia now for sure. Possibly Iran.”

“It is the first time in modern history that the East can be on equal terms with the West,” he added.

The former premier said the events in Ukraine have made it clear the West “cannot rely on the Chinese leadership to behave in the way we would consider rational. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying in the near term that China would attempt to take Taiwan by force. But we cannot base our policy on the certainty that it would not.”

In order to stay relevant in the new environment, the West needs to develop a common strategy, “pursued with coordination, commitment and competence,” with higher defense spending to “maintain military superiority” while expanding so-called “soft power” by building ties with developing countries, Blair concluded.

Saudi Crown Prince Warns U.S. Could Have Only NATO Countries Left to Cooperate With

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud told U.S. President Joe Biden during their meeting in Jeddah that if Washington wants to have relations only with countries that share all of U.S. values, it will only have NATO states left to cooperate with, Al Arabiya reports.

Biden arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday, concluding his Middle East tour, and met with Mohammed bin Salman.

A senior Saudi official told Al Arabiya on Saturday that the meeting between Prince Mohammed and Biden lasted for three hours covering a wide range of issues.

According to the source, the Crown Prince told Biden that attempting to impose a given country’s values on another state by force is counterproductive, as demonstrated by U.S. failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mohammed bin Salman said that, if we assume that the U.S. will deal only with countries that share 100% of its values and principles, then it will have no countries that deal with it except NATO countries.

Prince Mohammed told Biden that the two countries must coexist despite their differences and that every country’s values must be respected.

The senior Saudi official told Al Arabiya that Mohammed bin Salman also mentioned U.S. “mistakes” made at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other incidents, such as the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Commenting on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Crown Prince told Biden that it was “regrettable” but said that Saudi Arabia had undertaken all the legal procedures in the Khashoggi case.

Prince Mohammed said that it is important that all countries deal with their mistakes and implement all the necessary procedures to prevent similar regrettable incidents in the future.

U.S. Approves Arms Deal With Taiwan

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has     green-lighted a new arms sale to Taiwan, including armored vehicle parts and technical assistance, potentially ratcheting up tensions with China over the breakaway republic.

The U.S. State Department approved the transaction, which is valued at up to $108 million, at Taiwan’s request, the Pentagon revealed on Friday. The blanket order will include parts for tanks and other combat vehicles, as well as technical and logistical support services provided by the US government and its contractors.

“We express sincere gratitude to the State Department for giving clearance for the order,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said. It added that the deal is based on a federal law obligating Washington to help Taipei defend itself, as well as the “Six Assurance” principles, under which the U.S. pledged to make arms sales to Taiwan without consulting China. The principles also include commitments not to formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and to refrain from pressuring Taipei into negotiations with Beijing.

The latest arms deal will enhance the Taiwanese military’s interoperability with American forces and other allies, according to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and part of China’s sovereign territory.

Taiwan and Ukraine have apparently become competing priorities for the U.S. In May, Taiwanese defense officials were forced to seek other options after the Pentagon delayed delivery of $750 million in howitzer systems by three years amid surging weapons shipments to Kiev.

The U.S. has long urged Taiwan to modernize its defenses under a “porcupine” strategy designed to make the island tougher for China to swallow. However, reacting to the latest arms sale on Friday, U.S.-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers argued that Biden’s administration apparently no longer sees force modernization as a priority.

China’s military “will naturally focus on these emerging vulnerabilities as they adapt to the shortcomings of U.S. policy,” Hammond-Chambers said. “The U.S-Taiwan Business administration Council again calls on the Biden administration to provide strategic clarity on where U.S. forces will fill gaps in Taiwan defense.”

IMF To Substantially Cut Global Growth Outlook

The International Monetary Fund will significantly reduce its forecast for global economic growth in its next update, according to Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, the IMF’s director for strategy, policy and review, as reported by Bloomberg.

“It is shock after shock which are really hitting the global economy,” she said at a Sunday panel in Bali, Indonesia, stressing that soaring prices for food and energy, a downturn in capital flows to emerging markets, the Covid pandemic, along with a slowdown in China make it “much more challenging” for policymakers to work out an effective economic strategy.

In its April report, the IMF slashed its outlook for global growth this year to 3.6%, from 4.4%, citing rising inflationary risks and aggressive central bank tightening.

In a review due this month, “we will downgrade our forecast substantially,” Pazarbasioglu said.

Monetary regulators across the globe are struggling to cope with price increases driven by supply issues, developing since the early stages of the pandemic.

“The path to a soft landing is narrowing; we think it is still a feasible path but certainly not a very easy one,” Hyun Song Shin, head of research at the Bank for International Settlements, said at the same panel, according to the news agency.


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