US vs China: Smartphone Wars

July 7, 2019 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – If Washington’s goal was to pressure and isolate China by targeting smartphone giant Huawei, it seems to have accomplished the exact opposite. In the process, the US has only accomplished in exposing its own growing weakness and unreliability as a trade partner amid a much wider, misguided and mismanaged “trade war.”

While we’re only talking about smartphones and economic competition, however fierce, the outcome of this smartphone battle amid a much wider trade war will have an impact on global power and who wields it in the years to come.

Losing Ungracefully  

By May 2019, Huawei had firmly climbed to the number two spot in global smartphone sales at the expense of US-based Apple. By the first quarter of 2019 it had shipped 59.1 million phones compared to Apple, now third place, at between 36-43 million phones, IDC (International Data Corporation) reported.

IDC and many other articles based on its data would note that while Huawei and Apple have traded places in the past over who held second place among global smartphone sales, Huawei’s ascension this time seemed much more permanent.

Those watching the trajectory and inner workings of both tech giants will have noticed Apple’s decline as endemic internal management problems coupled with growing global competition tattered its reputation and consumer appeal.

Was it just a coincidence that just as first quarter sales data emerged, the US announced one of its more dramatic turns amid its wider trade war with China? The Trump administration would announce a ban on all American-made goods to Huawei including microchips made by Intel and Qualcomm as well as the Android operating system (OS) made by US tech giant Google.

Coupled with this move was a public relations blitz across the US media and their partners working within nations moving closer to China. In Thailand, for example, local media trained and influenced by US interests attempted to undermine consumer confidence in Huawei in the wake of US sanctions against the company.

This one-two punch was a partial success. Sales did slump and Huawei was faced with significant obstacles. But significant obstacles are not the same as insurmountable obstacles, and overcoming obstacles is often how true competitors strengthen themselves.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger 

For Huawei, a tech giant integral to China’s wider economic and political success upon the global stage, it has all the resources and support it needs to weather the toughest of storms.

In the wake of US sanctions, and even in the lead up to them, Huawei has begun to source critical parts from non-US companies. It is also investing significantly in its own in-house alternatives to US manufactured microchips and even in an alternative OS to replace Android.

Digital Trends in its article “Huawei’s Android-alternative operating system: Everything you need to know,” helps illustrate just how determined Huawei is to overcome these obstacles.

The fact that work on the OS supposedly began as early as 2018 indicates that Huawei executives are under no illusions regarding American goodwill. If America is to play nicely with Huawei and other Chinese companies, it will be because Huawei and other Chinese companies took steps leaving the US no other choice but to do so.

Android is an open source OS. This means that its code is free for all developers to access and use. It was the key to Android’s wide success, and thus Google’s domination of the smartphone OS market, but it is also a weakpoint in Google and the US government’s attempts to hobble Huawei.

Huawei’s alternative OS will be compatible with the open source Android system. Android applications can still be downloaded and used on a Huawei phone running Huawei’s OS, but instead of doing so through Google’s online application store, it will be done through Huawei’s.

As some media have pointed out, this means that Huawei’s setbacks by being restricted from Android will only be temporary. Long-term, Google stands to lose tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of customers who will instead be using Huawei’s alternatives.

Google could even lose its dominion over smartphone OS development if Huawei made its own alternative as accessible and as appealing as Android, minus the political and economic threats aimed at nations Washington finds displeasing.

Maybe this is why the US appears to be backing off (for now), if only partially, from its initial threats against Huawei. Nothing the US is doing to Huawei actually addresses why US companies themselves are losing the smartphone war to begin with. Should companies like Huawei overcome what little leverage the US still has over global telecom tech, it will have a stronger smartphone product coupled with stronger, alternative infrastructure out of reach of US influence.

In efforts to isolate China, the US may be succeeding in only isolating itself.

US Threats Undermine Confidence in the US, Not China  

Other nations needed little imagination to realise that if the US could target Chinese companies simply for outcompeting American corporations, they could easily find themselves next. This has made them sympathetic to China’s current challenges.

While media influenced by the US in various nations have aided US efforts to undermine China’s Huawei, the nations themselves have not.

In Thailand, for example, the Thai government has moved forward with plans to partner with Huawei to develop its national 5G network despite mounting pressure not to from the US, NPR would report.

Huawei is still a popular brand in Thai markets, in third place behind Oppo (also a Chinese brand) and Samsung, Bangkok Post reported.

Thai government agencies have been assuring consumers that US sanctions will not impact Huawei goods sold in Thailand in the short-term, while Huawei takes steps to ensure there will be no impact in the long-term.

Since Huawei is not the first Chinese tech company targeted by the US in such a manner, and with other Chinese-made smartphones becoming popular in nations like Thailand (Oppo for example), China as a nation will only pour further resources in protecting Chinese companies from the coercive measures taken by the US.

Other nations are not only sympathetic toward Chinese efforts, they themselves will likely take similar measures regarding their own industries.

The ongoing trade war with China is not the only example of economic warfare used by the US. We see much more extreme examples of US economic warfare aimed at Iran and Venezuela.

Growing US pressure placed on Russia is another example. The US has even gone as far as threatening nations like Germany with sanctions for moving ahead with a German-Russian pipeline (Nord Stream 2).

The US has revealed itself as an unreliable trade partner, bitter at any prospect of competition or genuine cooperation. Amid its trade war with China it has pressured its own allies to hamper trade with China, a move that benefits China’s trade partners in no conceivable way. The US is willing to do anything to anyone to cling to global economic supremacy and the power that stems from holding it in its own hands. Sharing it with China and Russia or even its own allies in Europe and East Asia dilutes both the potency of that power, and its ability to weild it with potent impunity.

False Pretexts Aren’t Just for Hot Wars

The US regularly uses false pretexts to launch its many real wars around the globe. Fabrications regarding “weapons of mass destruction” were used to justify the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Disingenuous humanitarian concerns regarding imaginary abuses were used to justify the US military intervention in Libya. Serial but baseless accusations over chemical weapon use has been used to justify US military intervention in Syria.

But fabricating justifications to go off to war isn’t reserved merely for hot wars. The US is citing supposed security concerns to target China’s Huawei, coincidentally just as it permanently overtakes US-based Apple in global smartphone sales, and amid a wider trade war built on entirely different (but also fabricated) claims.

The fact that the US is lying about its motivations to target Huawei should be another warning to Beijing over the trustworthiness of the current circles dominating US economic and political power. It should also be a warning to the rest of the world when doing business with the US.

A robust strategy must be adopted by nations and between nations to protect themselves from the still potent and disruptive power the US holds over global economics.

Whether it is attempts by the US to undermine confidence in a nation’s economy, smear a nation’s tourism industry, attempts to reverse the global success of companies like Huawei or even sabotage energy deals made by the US’ own allies with nations Washington considers adversaries, what amounts to highly dangerous American-led economic warfare remains a critical threat to global peace and stability.

Strategies for protecting national industries by developing domestic industrial capacity and relying less on sourcing critical components from unreliable partners like the US is essential. So is protecting bilateral trade through the creation of financial exchange systems out of reach of US sanctions. Being able to counter Washington’s manufactured narratives used to justify its coercive economic behavior is also key.

Just as growing military prowess and unity of purpose among Eurasian nations have helped impede the growing number of America’s many and very destructive real wars, similar economic prowess and unity of purpose will be required to stifle America’s likewise disruptive economic warfare waged globally.

Huawei’s success or failure serves as a weather vane indicating in just what direction this balance of power is headed.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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New scandal around empire of lies

By Mohammad Ghaderi

July 19, 2019

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump, who is also the commander in chief of the country’s armed forces, falsely claimed that a U.S. warship had downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said the USS Boxer shot down the drone after it got within 1,000 yards, “ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew.”

Also, the Pentagon announced the Iranian drone was within a “threatening range” of the Boxer.

“At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

The interesting point here is that even the Pentagon did not bother to confirm Trump’s hallucination regarding downing of an Iranian drone, since its statement does not at all refer to the owner of the drone.

But regarding Trump’s false claim, which is an intelligence disaster for a country which boasts of the biggest and most modern army in the world, a few points should be noted:

1- More than approximating reality, Trump’s false and hallucinatory claim of having downed an Iranian drone is rather indicative of the great shock the U.S. suffered after Iran’s Revolution Guards forces downed the Global Hawk spy drone recently, which has become a bitter nightmare for the U.S. president. America’s inability to provide answer in kind to the IRGC’s firm action has severely marred the image of U.S. military power.

This is to say that resort to such false claims by the White House depart to the public mind nothing but desperation.

2- It seems that for Trump to make such a false claim is in fact the indication of the onset of a new era of media and propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic, with the hope to realize on the political and media arena what has not been achieved in field, thus concealing a deep degree of military powerlessness of the U.S.

Although Trump’s recent move shows how deeply the U.S. has been impressed by a psychological vibe surrounding the ever-increasing military power of Iran, in case the U.S. Army’s decision-making processes are based on such sort of information we should expect increasing risk of U.S. military presence as well as unexpected moves that should ensue.

What should be noted regarding Trump’s claim, is that according to statements by Iranian authorities, all Iranian drones in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, including the one mentioned by Trump, have returned home after their reconnaissance missions, and that the USS Boxer has been unable to engage in any sort of confrontation with the drone. This is why we should conclude that Trump has intended to take initiative and create a favorable media vibe for his administration.

3- Creating tension by resorting to false news making is a mechanism constantly tapped by the U.S. and its Western allies, which is especially used over the Persian Gulf with a number of objectives. One of the main objectives is to present Iran as a threat to other regional countries and those whose economy somehow depends on the security of the Persian Gulf. A great part of this hype is created especially to mild the backward Arab leaders, especially those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

4- The other noteworthy point is that based on the entire international rights, especially those concerning the rights governing seas, since a great part of the Persian Gulf waters are part of Iran’s territory, it is naturally Iran’s right to use whatever in its power to secure the region. This is while none of the international protocols allow U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf. This is why the White House, seeking help from its allies such as the UK, is trying to misrepresent the Persian Gulf as insecure, and thereby to justify its bullying presence in the region.
* Author: Mohammad Ghaderi , Tehran Times editor in chief and political commentator

His page on Twitter : @ghaderi62 – and Gmail address : m.ghaderi62@gmail.com

Enemy Miscalculation to Turn Iran’s Defensive Strategy into Offensive: IRGC

Source: Press TV

Chief Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami
Chief Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami

The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has warned enemies against the possibility of a turn in the country’s military strategy from the current defensive strategy toward an offensive one.

“As far as the strategy is concerned, we act defensively, meaning that we will not be the ones to start or initiate any war,” Major General Hossein Salami said during an inspection of the level of preparedness of the country’s defensive forces in an area near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

The area, known as Naze’at comprises four islands in the Persian Gulf, which are of great importance to the country’s efforts to maintain the security of the strategic waterway.

“The situation is, however, completely opposite when it comes to [the country’s] tactical attitude, and should enemies commit any miscalculation, our defensive strategy would turn into an offensive one,” Salami added, noting the offensive transition would involve the Islamic Republic’s entire defensive capacities.

Salami also underlined the region’s significance for the country and the entire global economy, adding, “Using the pretext of the region’s sensitivity to enable extra-regional military presence here would only stoke insecurity and compromise standing security arrangements in the region.”

Salami asserted that the Islamic Republic enjoys perfect command over the waters lying in the northern part of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. The country maintains the command as means of defending its territorial integrity, naval superiority, and aerial security, he added.

“On behalf of the Iranian nation, we engage in defensive development in all areas,” he stated.

The United States has resorted to significant military buildup in the region, which has seen it sending over an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber taskforce, an assault ship, and thousands of additional forces.

President Donald Trump and other US officials have, however, recurrently disowned any intention to engage in warfare with Iran, claiming that the American equipment and troops are actually meant to prevent one.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Salami cautioned enemy think tanks against plotting any adventurism or mischief against the Iranian nation.

He finally hailed the “infallible readiness” of the Iranian Armed Forces, especially the IRGC, for engaging in all-out defense of the country’s security and interests.

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Hezbollah Parliamentary Bloc Confronts US Sanctions, Stresses Saudi, ‘Israel’ to Pay Heavily for Any War on Iran

July 11, 2019

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The Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc held Thursday at its headquarters in Haret Hreik its weekly meeting chaired by its head Hajj Mohammad Raad, tackling the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Hezbollah bloc considered that the US sanctions on its head MP Hajj Mohammad Raad and member MP Hajj Amin Sherri as well as the party’s security official Wafiq Safa as a persistence on the aggression against the Lebanese, stressing that they may never affect the resistance in face of the Israeli enemy and the terrorist groups.

The statement also reiterated Hezbollah support to the Yemeni people in face of the Saudi ongoing aggression, pointing to the looming victory of the Yemenis whose intensified military operations have pushed the coalition states to start withdrawing from Yemen.

Hezbollah parliamentary bloc further highlighted Iran’s right to increase the Uranium enrichment and back the resistance groups in the region in face of the US policy based on withdrawing from the nuclear deal and tightening sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In this regard, the statement warned that any US war on Iran would lead the region and the whole would into a major turmoil, stressing that Saudi and the Zionist entity would pay heavily during such a confrontation.

Locally, the Loyalty to Resistance bloc called on the political parties to adopt the reconciliatory approach in coping with the Qabrshmoun incident, highlighting Hezbollah insistence on protecting the poor from any financial pressure that may be exerted by the 2019 state budget law.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Zarif Mocks US for its Defeat at Yesterday’s IAEA Meeting – General Suleimani: US Administration Inherently Brings Insecurity

July 11, 2019
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

The US requested a meeting of the Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors against Iran, but it ended up in its own isolation, according to the Iranian foreign minister on Thursday.

Speaking at a conference attended by Iranian governors from across the country in Tehran on Thursday, the Iranian top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to the yesterday’s meeting of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, which was held on Wednesday at the request of the United States to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s nuclear program, saying that “the US held a meeting of the Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors but it ended up in its own isolation. The world superpower failed to gain even a ‘one single line statement’ from the Board of the Governors at the presence of all its allies.”

The foreign minister also said that the US has held four UN Security Council meetings against Iran since last year, one of which was chaired by its president, but they failed to gain a ‘single-word statement’ or a resolution from the Security Council.

Zarif referred to the US National Security Adviser John Bolton who had predicted that the Islamic Republic would not see its 40th anniversary two years ago, saying  “the United States miscalculated that the Islamic Republic would collapse…and conveyed this belief to its allies that if they kill time, the Islamic Republic would collapse.” He added that “but with reliance on the people, the Iranian nation have proven the Westerners and the US calculations to be wrong.”

July 11, 2019

Iran's Quds Force Chief, Major General Qassem Suleimani

Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qasem Suleimani stressed that security destabilization is part and parcel of the US administration’s nature.

“The U.S. government inherently brings insecurity. You can’t find any region where they could have brought security by their force and presence,” Suleimani said via Twitter.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Taking a Minute to Walk in Iran’s Shoes

Iran Feature photo

Feature photo | Mourners carry flag-draped caskets in a funeral procession for 150 soldiers whose remains were recently recovered. The soldiers were killed during the war with then-US-backed-Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran, Iran, June 27, 2019. Vahid Salemi | AP

If one can learn anything from the modern history of Iran, it’s that great powers will sell — and have sold — them out at a moment’s notice.

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Iran has seen its fair share of the damage imperialism has inflicted on the world — joint Russian and British control over Iran during the Qajar era, then the killing of one fifth of the Iranian population between 1917-19 (as documented in Barry Rubin’s The Middle East: A Guide to Politics, Economics, Society and Culture, p. 508) from famine brought on by the confiscating of foodstuff by occupying British forces that had violated Iran’s neutrality in World War I. This was followed in WWII by a coup that ousted Reza Shah, the then-king of Iran, also at a time when Iran had declared neutrality, in a British coup that put his son Mohammad Reza Shah on the throne of the kingdom. We need not mention the joint American-British coup, in which hundreds were killed, that toppled the popular Mosaddegh government because of its nationalization of the Iranian oil industry (which would have damaged American and British interests in Iranian oil).

The only time Iran saw an actual democratic movement succeed in giving power to the people that foreign powers were not able to abort was with the Islamic Revolution of 1979; and, even after that, the AmericansEuropeans, and even Arab countries of the Persian Gulf aided Saddam Hussein in a war he instigated against Iran — providing him with arms and chemical weapons, as well as intelligence.



A lesson in wariness

Taking these historical events (and many more instances) into account, it is no wonder that Iranians would be very wary of any moves made by the United States and other global powers, namely those with a colonial track record. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal) could have very well marked a paradigm shift in relations with Iran, but instead, the Europeans did not abide by their commitments, and the Americans just up-and-left the agreement as soon as Trump got around to Iran. Not only that but, instead of abiding by their commitments, they’re trying to milk even more out of the deal — promising they’ll abide by their commitments if Iran offers more to an already done deal. What this means is they are being asked to add concessions in their ballistic missile program, much to the benefit of Arab Persian Gulf monarchies that are on a trend of increased militarization.

Trump's War On Iran. (Image: Carlos Latuff For MintPress News)

Credit | Carlos Latuff

Which brings us to the region’s latest round of tensions.

Given the already-stated facts, one has to understand, first and foremost, that Iran is dealing with a number of countries that have a history of falsifying facts, not standing by their agreements, and going into war in order to secure their own economic interests at the expense of other peoples. One must not forget the Indian famine in WWII, caused by food being exported from India to Britain, killing more than 20 million Indians, in reference to which Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

Living in such a flammable neighborhood — where the United States and its allies recently occupied its neighbors to the east and west and built military bases — and with such historical baggage, it’s not far-fetched that Iran, being the region’s most stable country, would rather rely on deterrence and defensive capabilities to secure itself than give concessions that could damage its security to powers that can hardly be trusted to keep their own word, as their own history suggests.

 

A wise decision

Iran made a wise decision in its downing of the RQ-4 drone. Usually, the shooting down of military surveillance drones does not lead to military escalation, though it does lead to an increase in tension. By doing so, Tehran was successful in warning any aggressor — be it the United States or any other country, for that matter — that it is not willing to compromise on matters of security or national pride (though the U.S. claims the drone was flying above international waters — 8000 miles away from U.S. soil — the debris has since been recovered by Iranian authorities in Iranian waters).

Iran US Drone

An Iranian general looks at debris from a U.S. military drone shot down by Iran’s air defense system, June 21, 2019. Meghdad Madadi | Tasnim via AP

The wisdom of this decision is that Iran delivered the intended message without causing any escalation — which doubtless would have been the outcome if it had downed a manned military plane that was also in its sites in the vicinity of the drone. It was a message that Trump had clearly received, and for which he expressed appreciation to Iranian authorities (although why he would bother to thank Iran if it was attacking a plane flying over “international waters” as he said is truly baffling).

In addition to that — although it had the legal right to shoot down the drone for flying over its airspace, which extends to 12 nautical miles from its borders — Iran also has the right to demand identification from any aircraft flying close to its territory. For more perspective, U.S. Air Defense Identification Zones extend 200 miles from the U.S. border and, as testified to by a former U.S. Air Force navigator, any unidentified drone flying that close to the U.S. border would most likely be shot down. The shooting down of this unidentified drone, even supposing the U.S.’s version of events were true, is perfectly warranted on Iran’s part, and does not allow the U.S. any measure of retaliation in “self-defense,” because no lives were lost in its downing.

Moreover, Iran clearly showed other countries what it was able to achieve independently through its reliance on its own capabilities. It downed the world’s leading military power’s aircraft for infringing on its airspace, and did so without hesitation because it sees itself as truly “sovereign.” Although the U.S. may threaten Iran with its military might and its presence in the region, Iran’s ballistic missile program has allowed it to turn that very strength into a weakness by having American bases, and 25,000 American troops, within targeting range.

A war with Iran would devastate the region. A war with Iran, Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Ansarullah is in the interest of no one, and God only knows what other surprises Iran might have in store for conspiring Arab monarchies. The smart move would be to repair the JCPOA in order to avoid further escalation in the region.

Karim Sharara is a Lebanese PhD student who’s lived in Tehran since 2013 studying political science at the University of Tehran with a focus on Iranian affairs. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Member of Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy Commission: We’ll Force the West to Back Down

Mokhtar Haddad

Tehran – The announcement by the Islamic Republic of Iran to increase its uranium enrichment rate beyond 3.67% has triggered various reactions worldwide.

Al-Ahed News sat down with the second deputy chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Mohammad Javad Jamali Nobandegani to discuss the issue.

Nobandegani explained that “a few years ago Iran signed an agreement on joint action with the P5+1.”

“The parties to this agreement were supposed to implement the commitments agreed upon. The Islamic Republic fulfilled all of its commitments in this regard. The world was supposed to see a new atmosphere. But the United States under [US] President [Donald] Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran and did not fulfill its commitments. The European side was content to say that this is a good agreement and Iran must remain committed to it. Instead of practical measures, they only talked and did nothing,” he added.

“After Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal more than a year ago, the Europeans promised Iran that within a few weeks they would fulfill their obligations in the framework of 11 items, including buying oil, lifting sanctions on petrochemical companies and paying money to Iran’s accounts,” Nobandegani said. “They, unfortunately, turned out to be wasting time.”

According to the Iranian MP, Brussels and Washington are playing the good cop, bad cop routine.

“It appears that there is an undeclared agreement between the Europeans and the Americans, in which they divided the roles so that Iran does not enjoy the potentially positive benefits of the nuclear agreement, and we are seeing it today,”

Nobandegani opined.

“As a result of this behavior, we recently decided to implement articles 26 and 36 of the nuclear accord,”

Nobandegani stated.

“But unfortunately today, we see some of these countries are still behaving badly. In this context, we saw Britain’s recent act of piracy in Gibraltar … This European behavior is an escape forward. “

“Everyone in the Islamic Republic, including the political parties, the political movements, the three authorities and the Iranian people today have one voice that this Western behavior must be confronted with all force. Just as the West cannot undermine the will and steadfastness of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its people, Iran has proved that it can return to its previous nuclear activities,” Nobandegani stressed.

“Iran’s steadfastness, will and resistance will force the West and the Americans to back down,” he warned. “Iran will continue to wait for a positive reaction from the Europeans so that it can determine the best course of action.”

Nobandegani concluded by saying that the

“Europeans must prove that their decisions are independent of the US, and they know the importance and impact of the nuclear agreement at the international level.”

“If this agreement interests them as they claim, they should pay the price even if sanctions are imposed on some European companies.”

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