Category Archives: World

politics news

Trump’s Nominee to Lead State Department to Face Questioning

U.S. lawmakers are about to get a glimpse into the world view of the man tapped by President Donald Trump to shape U.S. foreign policy. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, will be on Capitol Hill Thursday for confirmation hearings. Pompeo’s attitudes on perceived global threats posed by North Korea, Iran and Russia are certain to topics of discussion, as VOA’s Robert Raffaele explains.

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Mnuchin: US Can Sanction Iran, Remain in Nuclear Deal

A decision by U.S. President Donald Trump not to renew sanctions relief for Iran on May 12 would not necessarily mean the United States had withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what Mnuchin meant by his comment, but it appeared to signal the Trump administration believes the agreement will not necessarily collapse if Trump chooses not to extend U.S. sanctions relief to Iran.

The crux of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — was that Iran would restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

On January 12, Trump delivered an ultimatum to Britain, France and Germany, saying they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would refuse to extend the U.S. sanctions relief on Iran that it calls for.

U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues new “waivers” to suspend them May 12, although it is not clear how quickly they would go into effect.

Negotiations underway

European officials saw Trump’s January 12 comments as a threat to kill the deal. They have since been in negotiations with the Trump administration to see if there is a way to salvage it.

Speaking at a congressional hearing, Mnuchin said the Trump administration was in talks with allies and would “not do anything abruptly.”

“If the president decides not to sign that (waiver), it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily pulling out of the deal. What it means is that the primary and secondary sanctions will go back in place,” he told the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

The political directors of Britain, France and Germany met Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the future of the pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, two sources familiar with the matter said.

It is not immediately clear how Iran might respond to a Trump decision not to renew the sanctions waivers, but Tehran would be within its rights to argue the United States violated its commitments to ease sanctions even as Iran, as verified by international inspectors, had kept its nuclear commitments.

U.S. nuclear experts say if Trump does not waive the sanctions in May, it effectively kills the nuclear deal.

European diplomats have said that even if U.S. allies decide to remain in the agreement, Western companies would withdraw from Iran because of the threat of U.S. sanctions.

‘All about lifting the sanctions’

Democratic Representative David Price pressed Mnuchin on the issue, saying: “Are you saying that failing to waive the sanctions would not constitute pulling out of the deal? The deal is all about lifting the sanctions.”

Mnuchin did not answer the question directly.

The secretary declined to speculate on what Trump might do, repeatedly emphasizing he could not discuss the issue publicly.

Trump has voiced frustration at having to waive the sanctions again, believing his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, negotiated a bad deal for the United States in agreeing to the accord.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. It has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.

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Mnuchin: US Can Sanction Iran, Remain in Nuclear Deal

A decision by U.S. President Donald Trump not to renew sanctions relief for Iran on May 12 would not necessarily mean the United States had withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what Mnuchin meant by his comment, but it appeared to signal the Trump administration believes the agreement will not necessarily collapse if Trump chooses not to extend U.S. sanctions relief to Iran.

The crux of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — was that Iran would restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

On January 12, Trump delivered an ultimatum to Britain, France and Germany, saying they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would refuse to extend the U.S. sanctions relief on Iran that it calls for.

U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues new “waivers” to suspend them May 12, although it is not clear how quickly they would go into effect.

Negotiations underway

European officials saw Trump’s January 12 comments as a threat to kill the deal. They have since been in negotiations with the Trump administration to see if there is a way to salvage it.

Speaking at a congressional hearing, Mnuchin said the Trump administration was in talks with allies and would “not do anything abruptly.”

“If the president decides not to sign that (waiver), it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily pulling out of the deal. What it means is that the primary and secondary sanctions will go back in place,” he told the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

The political directors of Britain, France and Germany met Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the future of the pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, two sources familiar with the matter said.

It is not immediately clear how Iran might respond to a Trump decision not to renew the sanctions waivers, but Tehran would be within its rights to argue the United States violated its commitments to ease sanctions even as Iran, as verified by international inspectors, had kept its nuclear commitments.

U.S. nuclear experts say if Trump does not waive the sanctions in May, it effectively kills the nuclear deal.

European diplomats have said that even if U.S. allies decide to remain in the agreement, Western companies would withdraw from Iran because of the threat of U.S. sanctions.

‘All about lifting the sanctions’

Democratic Representative David Price pressed Mnuchin on the issue, saying: “Are you saying that failing to waive the sanctions would not constitute pulling out of the deal? The deal is all about lifting the sanctions.”

Mnuchin did not answer the question directly.

The secretary declined to speculate on what Trump might do, repeatedly emphasizing he could not discuss the issue publicly.

Trump has voiced frustration at having to waive the sanctions again, believing his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, negotiated a bad deal for the United States in agreeing to the accord.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. It has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.

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Sessions to Address Immigration at Border Sheriffs Meeting

As thousands of National Guard troops deploy to the Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to bring his firm stance on immigration enforcement to New Mexico where a group of Southwest border sheriffs are meeting Wednesday.

Sessions will speak in Las Cruces at the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition Annual Spring Meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, which is made up of 31 sheriff’s departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. 

Their counties are located within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Immigrant rights activists promised to protest Sessions’ visit on Wednesday, as they rejected his past characterization of the border region during a 2017 visit to El Paso, Texas, as “ground zero” in the Trump administration’s fight against cartels, and human traffickers. 

“He treated our home like a war zone, referring to it as ‘ground zero,”’ said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso. “He was wrong then, and he is wrong now.” 

El Paso is some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Las Cruces.

Sessions’ trip to Las Cruces, a city about an hour north of the border, comes as construction begins nearby on 20-miles (32-kilometers) of steel fencing that officials say is a part of President Donald Trump’s promised wall. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have described the new, heightened barrier as a structure that will be harder to get over, under and through than the old post and rail barriers that has lined the stretch of the border’s El Paso sector. 

Sessions has issued an order directing federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, citing a “crisis” on the border. 

A 37 percent increase in illegal border crossings in March brought more than 50,000 immigrants into the United States, which was triple the number of reported illegal border crossings in the same period last year. It was still far lower, however, than the surges during the last years of the Obama administration and prior decades. 

The attorney general’s “zero-tolerance” for border-crossing prosecutions calls for taking action against people who are caught illegally entering the United States for the first time. In the past, such offenses have been treated as misdemeanors. 

He also recently set quotas for immigration judges to reduce enormous court backlogs, saying they must complete 700 cases a year to earn a satisfactory grade. The quotas take effect Oct. 1. 

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Sessions to Address Immigration at Border Sheriffs Meeting

As thousands of National Guard troops deploy to the Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to bring his firm stance on immigration enforcement to New Mexico where a group of Southwest border sheriffs are meeting Wednesday.

Sessions will speak in Las Cruces at the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition Annual Spring Meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, which is made up of 31 sheriff’s departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. 

Their counties are located within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Immigrant rights activists promised to protest Sessions’ visit on Wednesday, as they rejected his past characterization of the border region during a 2017 visit to El Paso, Texas, as “ground zero” in the Trump administration’s fight against cartels, and human traffickers. 

“He treated our home like a war zone, referring to it as ‘ground zero,”’ said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso. “He was wrong then, and he is wrong now.” 

El Paso is some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Las Cruces.

Sessions’ trip to Las Cruces, a city about an hour north of the border, comes as construction begins nearby on 20-miles (32-kilometers) of steel fencing that officials say is a part of President Donald Trump’s promised wall. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have described the new, heightened barrier as a structure that will be harder to get over, under and through than the old post and rail barriers that has lined the stretch of the border’s El Paso sector. 

Sessions has issued an order directing federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, citing a “crisis” on the border. 

A 37 percent increase in illegal border crossings in March brought more than 50,000 immigrants into the United States, which was triple the number of reported illegal border crossings in the same period last year. It was still far lower, however, than the surges during the last years of the Obama administration and prior decades. 

The attorney general’s “zero-tolerance” for border-crossing prosecutions calls for taking action against people who are caught illegally entering the United States for the first time. In the past, such offenses have been treated as misdemeanors. 

He also recently set quotas for immigration judges to reduce enormous court backlogs, saying they must complete 700 cases a year to earn a satisfactory grade. The quotas take effect Oct. 1. 

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Zuckerberg Apologizes for Data Breach, Promises Change

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified on Capitol Hill for the first time Tuesday, answering lawmakers’ concerns about the social media giant’s failure to protect the private information of as many 87 million users worldwide from Trump-affiliated political firm Cambridge Analytica. VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson has more from a key day in the internet privacy debate on Capitol Hill.

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Zuckerberg Apologizes for Data Breach, Promises Change

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified on Capitol Hill for the first time Tuesday, answering lawmakers’ concerns about the social media giant’s failure to protect the private information of as many 87 million users worldwide from Trump-affiliated political firm Cambridge Analytica. VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson has more from a key day in the internet privacy debate on Capitol Hill.

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Top US Homeland Security Adviser Resigns

Tom Bossert, U.S. President Donald Trump’s top Homeland Security adviser, abruptly resigned Tuesday, the latest in a long line of senior officials to leave the Trump administration.

No reason was given for his resignation, but it came a day after staunch conservative John Bolton took over as Trump’s third national security adviser in the 15 months of his presidency. Both Bloomberg News and CNN reported that Bossert was quitting at Bolton’s request.

The 43-year-old Bossert had served in Trump’s White House since his inauguration, a key adviser to the president on cybersecurity, who also was a prominent official in handling the government’s response last year to devastating hurricanes in Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Bossert appeared often on television news talk shows to represent the Trump administration’s view on terrorism threats. But he was passed over to become national security adviser in favor of Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, when Trump dismissed H.R. McMaster.

“The president is grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “Tom led the White House’s efforts to protect the homeland from terrorist threats, strengthen our cyber defenses, and respond to an unprecedented series of natural disasters. President Trump thanks him for his patriotic service and wishes him well.”

Since the start of the year, Trump has ousted his secretary of state, changed national security advisers, dismissed his veterans affairs secretary, named a new CIA director and watched as other key White House advisers departed, including his top lawyer handling Trump’s response to the ongoing criminal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

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