- Associated Press - Monday, July 15, 2019

BRUSSELS (AP) - The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a crisis between the United States and Iran (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

Israel’s prime minister has responded to the European Union’s efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal by comparing it to “European appeasement in the 1930s” of Nazi Germany.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement Monday came as European leaders are looking to deescalate tension in the Persian Gulf region. They’re calling on Iran to stick to the 2015 nuclear deal despite the pullout by the United States and its re-imposition of harsh economic sanctions.

Netanyahu charges that some leaders “won’t wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles fall on Europe.”



The prime minister has been an outspoken critic of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and has accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran denies those accusations, insisting its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

Netanyahu says Israel will do “whatever it takes” to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Israel is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal, which it neither confirms nor denies. 

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7:55 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says “I think we avoided the worst” in the ongoing Iran crisis thanks to a fresh dynamic in the effort toward dialogue.

Macron said Monday during a visit to Serbia that the new diplomatic momentum in recent weeks has stopped “overreaction by Iranians” and allowed for “a constant dialogue with the Americans.”

European nations, with France in the lead, are trying to deescalate tensions in the Persian Gulf area and save the 2015 nuclear between Iran and world powers. The United States unilaterally pulled out of the deal last year and renewed harsh economic sanctions on Iran. Tehran has recently responded by increasing its uranium enrichment, surpassing limits set by the deal.

Macron said he’d speak with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after returning to Paris on Tuesday, and also with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Last week, Macron sent his top diplomatic aide to Tehran.

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3:25 p.m.

The Netherlands is studying a U.S. request to provide military backing in the Strait of Hormuz to protect commercial shipping in the key passage.

Dutch Foreign Affairs minister Stef Blok said Monday that the government would work through mid-September assessing the request before making a decision. He said it depended on the military equipment that would be needed and the overall security risks.

“We will use the summer to see what answer we will come up with,” Blok said.

European Union nations are looking to deescalate tensions in the Persian Gulf area and are calling on Iran to stick to the 2015 nuclear deal signed with several world powers, despite the pullout of the United States from the accord and the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

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3:15 p.m.

France’s foreign ministry says that a researcher with dual French-Iranian nationality has been arrested in Iran.

A ministry statement on Monday said France is seeking information about Fariba Adelkhah and consular access to her “without delay.”

It said that there has been “no satisfactory response to its demands as of today.”

The statement said the ministry was recently informed about Adelkhah’s disappearance and wants information on the “situation and conditions” of her arrest.

The news of her arrest comes at a difficult time amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. and other western countries.

Sciences Po, the elite school where Abdelkhah works, confirmed her arrest but refused to comment.

Iranian opposition websites abroad say Abdelkhah disappeared in June.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Sunday acknowledging a dual national had been arrested, without elaborating.

Adelkhah is best known for her book “Being Modern in Iran,” about changes in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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1:10 p.m.

China has called on all parties to remain committed to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, saying the U.S. should respect the interests of others and abandon its maximum-pressure approach.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that “all parties should keep calm and exercise restraint and stay committed to solving problems through dialogue under the framework of a comprehensive agreement.”

He described U.S. pressure as the root cause of recent developments, and said it’s “better for the one who made the trouble to fix it.”

Iran recently begun surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in the 2015 deal.

Geng says China hopes “the U.S. will abandon its wrong practices, respect the legitimate rights and interests of other parties and not hinder the implementation of the agreement.”

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10:40 a.m.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says that even if the window to find a diplomatic solution to the standoff over the Iran nuclear deal is quickly closing, he still holds out some hope that the agreement can be salvaged. 

Hunt said ahead of a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday that Iran would still be “a good year away” from developing a nuclear weapon, allowing for more time to make sure the nuclear deal can be preserved. 

Hunt says the deal “isn’t dead yet and we are totally committed” to keeping the region denuclearized.

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10:30 a.m.

A senior German official insists Iran must fulfill the terms of the nuclear deal to realize hopes of better economic ties with the outside world.

Iran, which is suffering from U.S. sanctions re-imposed after Washington withdrew from the deal last year, recently begun surpassing uranium enrichment limits set by the 2015 deal.

It says these moves can be reversed if given enough economic incentives. European powers still on board the deal are setting up a barter-type system known as INSTEX to trade with Tehran.

Michael Roth, Germany’s deputy foreign minister, said as he arrived at a meeting in Brussels on Monday: “We want to uphold our part of the agreement.”

He added that INSTEX “makes economic cooperation possible, but it is necessary for Iran to keep to the commitments it made. It must stay true to the agreement, otherwise this all makes no sense.”

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9:20 a.m.

European Union nations are looking to deescalate tension in the Persian Gulf area and call on Iran to stick to the 2015 nuclear deal despite the pullout of the United States and the re-imposition of sanctions.

Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said on Monday that “it is still not too late, but Iran really has to stick to its obligations.”

At their regular monthly meeting, the EU foreign minister will also look to drum up further support for its barter-type system to trade with Tehran and get around possible U.S. sanctions. Ten nations are already on board.

Iran has said it needs improved economic ties with Europe since the United States has re-imposed harsh sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, exacerbating an economic crisis that has sent its currency plummeting.

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