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Don't let Trump and Netanyahu start another Middle Eastern war

UNITED STATES approval of initial reconciliation moves between the two Korean states should not blind us to the reality that President Donald Trump remains a threat to peace.

Trump’s enthusiastic welcome for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bizarre “Iran Lied” press conference confirms the danger that they both pose to the people of the Middle East and central Asia.

Not only would Trump and Netanyahu not recognise the truth if it jumped up and sank its teeth into their backsides but the Israeli leader is constantly on the lookout for dead cats to throw onstage to divert attention away from the many corruption allegations he faces.

Netanyahu claims that Israeli intelligence agents have stolen huge amounts of Iranian data said to confirm that Iran’s nuclear weapons programme could be reactivated at any time.

The point, of course, is that Tehran has not reactivated it, insists that it has no intention of doing so and is, moreover, constrained from such behaviour by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) international treaty signed by Iran, the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Netanyahu’s bravura performance has echoes of former US secretary of state Colin Powell’s 2003 United Nations speech, laying out details of Iraq’s illegal weapons programme assembled by US intelligence services, complete with aerial photographs of key installations, to make the case for invasion.

The UN security council wasn’t convinced, the invasion proceeded in any case and it was only after Iraq was devastated, with hundreds of thousands of civilians dead, that the widely suspected truth emerged — the “intelligence” case was a fit-up.

It followed in the murky footsteps of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident when fabricated claims that North Vietnamese naval vessels had fired torpedoes towards the USS Maddox were used to justify greater US military involvement against Vietnam.

Netanyahu’s assertions that Tehran lied and is planning to reactivate a nuclear weapons-capable programme don’t pass the credibility test.

Iran is desperate for remaining trade and investment sanctions to be lifted to enable its economy to emerge from its current stagnation.

Behaving in a way to alienate the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog and the JCPOA signatories would be an act of suicidal adventurism.

The IAEA is not convinced of Netanyahu’s case even if Trump is, reiterating that it has “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”

Nor are Washington’s European Nato allies France, Germany and even Britain, for whom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had to admit that “the Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust about Iran’s intentions.

“Rather it is based on tough verification, including measures that allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both visited the US president last week to make the case for keeping the JCPOA deal intact and tackling other concerns in fresh talks with Iran.

Trump appears still undecided over whether to accept the advice of his European allies or to up the ante towards war against Iran, which is Netanyahu’s preferred option.

Israel’s programme of missile strikes against Iranian forces in Syria who are assisting President Bashar al-Assad’s campaign to defeat jihadist units armed, trained and financed by regional powers, is fraught with dangers of escalation.

Paris, Berlin and London must remain united in their resolve to defend the JCPOA accord and to persuade Washington not to fall in line with Tel Aviv’s military recklessness.

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