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Iran nuclear deal ‘won’t outlast Trump’s first term’ in office

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A general view of streets in Tehran, Iran on the first anniversary of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 16, 2017.

Fatemah Bahrami | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A general view of streets in Tehran, Iran on the first anniversary of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 16, 2017.

In January, Trump demanded that France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. Congress “fix” the deal by May 12, by committing to tougher measures against Iran.

Eurasia Group’s Chairman Cliff Kupchan said in a note Wednesday that the agreement is unlikely “to survive President Donald Trump’s first term in office” and that the “re-imposition of U.S. secondary sanctions” – the sanctions that prevent other countries from doing business with Iran — is likely.

He said Iran, a country that has got its economy back on its feet thanks to the nuclear deal, would likely react with “rhetorical fury” to such a scenario and could “likely lash out” in the Middle East. He explained this could mean Iran using a more aggressive policy in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen or — most dangerously — toward Saudi Arabia.

With no love lost between Trump and Iran, the political consultancy reduced the odds of the nuclear deal’s survival from 55 percent to 35 percent as it described the main dangers to the deal.

Why the deal is likely to fail

The first threat to the Iran nuclear deal comes in the form of the appointment of “Iran hawks” John Bolton as national security advisor (he replaces HR McMaster on April 9) and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state.

Kapchan said the combination of Bolton and Pompeo’s appointments, coupled with “insufficient progress by the European parties and the U.S. Congress on ‘fixing’ the nuclear deal, now make it unlikely that the agreement will survive President Donald Trump’s first term in office.”

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Europe gears up to another GDP contraction as coronavirus cases grow

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Sweden’s high virus death toll may be linked to mild flu seasons: Chief scientist

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People walk on Stranvagen in Stockholm on September 19, 2020.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND | AFP | Getty Images

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist has partly blamed the country’s high coronavirus death toll on mild flu outbreaks in recent winters.

“When many people die of the flu in the winter, fewer die in heat waves the following summer. In this case, it was Covid-19 that caused many to die,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter earlier this week.

‘What has now been seen is that the countries that have had a fairly low mortality for influenza in the last two, three years, such as Sweden, [also] have a very high excess mortality in Covid-19,” he said, according to a translation provided in The Times newspaper.

“Those which had a high flu mortality rate, such as Norway, during the last two winters, have fairly low Covid mortality. The same trend has been seen in several countries. This may not be the whole explanation but part of it.”

Much attention has been paid to Sweden during the coronavirus pandemic because of its decision to not completely lock down its public life and economy. Most of Europe did so as coronavirus cases surged in spring.

Tegnell’s public health agency instead recommended mostly voluntary measures, such as good hygiene, social distancing guidelines and working from home if possible.

Bars, restaurants, most schools and businesses remained opened, however, and face masks are not widely worn. Sweden did ban mass gatherings and visits to elderly care homes, however, although this latter restriction is due to be lifted soon despite a high death toll from Covid-19 being seen in such institutions. 

Sweden’s no-lockdown policy was seen by Tegnell as a way to achieve a degree of herd immunity in the population, he told CNBC in April. 

Herd immunity among a population, usually achieved through vaccination, is reached when around 60% of citizens are deemed immune. With no vaccine available, however, scientists have been looking closely at whether exposure to and recovery from Covid-19 leads to long-term immunity.

Pursuing herd immunity has proved controversial in Sweden because allowing the virus to spread (albeit with some measures in place), has put vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with existing health conditions at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill and dying. In July, WHO officials warned that patients who recover from the virus may be able to get it again, saying that some studies suggest immunity may wane after a few months. 

Sweden has reported a higher number of infections and deaths than its neighbors, although, with around 10 million people, it has roughly double the population of its neighbors Denmark, Finland and Norway. To date, Sweden has recorded almost 90,000 cases and 5,870 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Denmark, by contrast, has recorded under 25,000 cases and 641 deaths.

Unlike major European economies France, Spain and the U.K., which are seeing coronavirus cases rise again in what is being described as a second wave of the pandemic, Sweden was initially thought to be avoiding a resurgence. However, outbreaks among sports teams have emerged in recent weeks, and rising cases in the capital Stockholm mean the city could now be headed for more restrictions.

“Stockholm has seen a clear increase recently, across all age groups,” Tegnell said in a press conference, Dagens Nyheter reported Tuesday. “We are discussing with Stockholm whether we need some additional possibility to take measures to reduce transmission.”

What possible measures could be introduced was not discussed, but Stockholm’s Health and Medical director Bjorn Eriksson, said an uptrend in the Stockholm region could lead to a “very serious situation again.”

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Tesla sues to overturn Trump administration tariffs on China

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