Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country’s armed forces Sunday to increase their “defensive preparedness,” hitting out at a US warning of possible military action.
He told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran “will never accept such stupid remarks,” a jab at General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, though he did not name him.
Dempsey said Thursday that should ongoing diplomacy with Iran fail, “the military option… to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact.”
“All bodies from the ministry of defense to the army and the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) should increase their military and defensive preparedness. This should be regarded as an official directive,” Khamenei said.
Israel slams Russia’s sale of advanced missile defense system S-300 to Iran; Russian president warns Israel not to arm Ukraine in retribution: ‘It will be counterproductive.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israel against selling arms to the Ukraine in response to Russia’s decision to green-light the sale of an advanced missile defense system to Iran. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the deal, saying it would only bolster Iran’s regional aggressions.
“It’s the Israeli leadership’s choice. It’s their right to do what they think is appropriate. If (the arms they choose to sell) are lethal weapons, I think it will be counterproductive. It will only lead to another round of conflicts, to a rise in the number of victims, and the outcome will be the same,” Putin reportedly told state-run media Saturday.
Israeli analysts expressed shock and amazement Friday night at US President Barack Obama’s stated openness to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions, and his defense of Russia’s agreement to supply a sophisticated air defense system to Iran.
“Jaws dropped” around the studio, said the Channel 10 News diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit, as news broke of Obama’s declared empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to supply Tehran with the S-300 missile defense system.
“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”
The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben David, chipped in, “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him [for this long]? That’s what is astonishing.”
Responded Caspit, “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”
Europe’s failure to reach a debt agreement with Greece would create “uncertainties” for the whole worldUS Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned that the European and global economies could face uncertainty if European Union negotiations on more financing for Greece fail.
In a meeting with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Netherlands finance minister and president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Mr Lew “emphasized that time is of the essence for Greece to agree to a comprehensive set of reforms”, the US Treasury said in a statement.
Mr Lew encouraged Mr Dijsselbloem to “continue engagement toward a constructive outcome”, and “underscored that not reaching agreement would create immediate hardship for Greece, and uncertainties for Europe and the global economy more broadly”, it added.
The commander of the US army in Europe has warned that Nato must remain united in the face of a “real threat” from Russia.
“It’s not an assumption. There is a Russian threat,” Lt-Gen Frederick “Ben” Hodges said.
“You’ve got the Russian ambassador threatening that Denmark will be a nuclear target if it participates in any missile defence programme. And when you look at the unsafe way Russian aircraft are flying without transponders in proximity to civilian aircraft, that’s not professional conduct.”
Gen Hodges spoke to the Telegraph on the sidelines of a military debriefing after an exercise to move live Patriot missiles 750 miles across Europe by road and deploy them on the outskirts of Warsaw.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday evoked the memory of the Holocaust in his criticism of European plans to label products from the settlements, suggesting that European nations might as well label them “with a yellow star” such as the one used by Nazi Germany to identify Jews before and during the Holocaust.
The foreign ministers of 16 of the European Union’s 28 member states recently sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini asking her to promote the labeling of settlement-made products in store chains throughout Europe.
Liberman called the plan “hypocritical, sanctimonious and cynical,” noting that the murder and expulsion of Palestinians by Islamic State in Syria was “going by quietly” in Europe.
European stocks slid, posting the biggest retreat since they began rallying in January, as concern over Greek debt was exacerbated by declines in the U.S. and Asia.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 1.8 percent to 403.69 at the close of trading, completing the worst week of the year. The Greek ASE Index slid 3 percent, with the National Bank of Greece SA and Alpha Bank AE tumbling more than 7 percent, as the country struggles to win more aid to avoid a default. Germany’s DAX Index plunged 5.5 percent this week, the most since 2011.
European stocks fell for a second day after reaching a fresh peak Wednesday, taking weekly losses to 2.2 percent. The Stoxx 600’s still up 18 percent this year amid European Central Bank stimulus, and trades near the highest level relative to projected profits of its members in at least a decade.