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Iran nuclear deal is ‘on life support’ | World News

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Britain, France and Germany – collectively known as the E3 – have triggered the dispute resolution mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal in order to attempt to get Iran to comply with it again.

Workers on a construction site at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant
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Workers on a construction site at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant

Sky’s diplomatic editor, Dominic Waghorn, explains.

What have Britain, France and Germany done?

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal hoped to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions with a verifiable process in return for lifting sanctions.

In that treaty there is a mechanism allowing a dispute to be resolved if any of its signatories triggered it.

Why have they triggered it?

Under Donald Trump, the US walked out on the deal in 2018. European nations are still committed, but America has used extraterritorial sanctions to make it very hard for other countries to trade with Iran or help it economically.

So Iran has felt little to no benefits. Step by step, Iran has stopped meeting some of its commitments on the deal. But Britain, France and Germany say enough is enough. Some of what Iran has done is irreversible, so it is time to act. That is why they are triggering the mechanism.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 09: U.S. President Donald Trump responds to a question from a reporter at an event for the signing of two executive orders aimed at greater governmental transparency at the White House October 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump answered questions on the pending impeachment inquiry and the Turkish offensive into northern Syria following the signing of the executive orders. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Under Donald Trump, the US walked out on the deal in 2018

Does that mean the deal is dead?

No. It is on life support. It cannot be fully revived though until America can be persuaded to return to the deal, which is currently out of the question.

In the meantime, this latest European move effectively buys time in which to try and resuscitate it. If the dispute is not resolved, the deal will be pronounced dead.

Boris Johnson has talked about a Trump deal replacing the existing one, what does he mean?

His words seem to be at odds with his own government’s policy to stand by the nuclear deal and not replace it.

Britain is trying to persuade America to return to the deal, or alternatively persuade the Iranians to agree to a new deal congenial to President Trump. His comments may be part of that endeavour. It is not clear.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson pose as they arrive for a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Pool
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Boris Johnson suggested the deal be replaced with a ‘Trump deal’

What happens next and how long have we got?

Senior officials from signatory countries will meet first, then, sometime later, ministers convene – but at each stage the process can be drawn out for weeks, if not months and years. The dispute resolution mechanism is designed to be extended indefinitely.

So this could go on forever?

In theory yes – but if Iran takes more severe action, at some point the European nations’ patience may be spent – and all sides agree the current situation is not sustainable.

What could Iran do?

Iran seems reluctant to torpedo the deal completely, but it could take action that stops short of that.

For instance it could expel inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Authority from the country. Under the agreement, they are there to verify compliance. That would precipitate a major crisis.

What if the deal does finally get killed off?

That’s the big question. The Trump Administration believes its policy of maximum pressure will bring the Iranians kicking and screaming back to negotiations, eventually.

Europeans do not – and there is no sign of that happening yet. The big fear is that the opposite happens. The deal dies and Iran sees no alternative to building the bomb.

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That doesn’t sound good…?

You’re right. America and Israel have vowed that they will never allow that to happen. If pressure, sanctions and diplomacy have not worked, there would only be military action left on the table.

It is not certain whether America has either the military muscle or political will to bomb all of Iran’s deeply buried nuclear facilities.

But if it tries, it would almost certainly trigger a war likely to suck in much of the rest of the region.

That is why Britain says it is crucial to keep giving diplomacy a chance.

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Plastic ‘pouring’ into Antarctica – with hundreds of pieces in every litre of water | Climate News

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Hundreds of pieces of plastic have been found in every litre of Antarctic seawater by scientists being followed by Sky News.

In the first attempt to quantify how much plastic has reached the pristine continent, scientists on British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) ship the James Clark Ross have filtered the water in fjords along the Antarctic Peninsula.

Tristyn Garza, from the University of West Florida, pumps water samples taken at different depths through an ultra-fine filter.

Scientists are seeing more plastic than they would expect
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Scientists are seeing more plastic than they would expect

A sample taken from surface water in Borgen Bay on Anvers Island yielded several fibres and fragments of microplastic that were visible to the naked eye, but samples studied under the microscope reveal many more.

“It’s incredible,” she said.

“There’s lots more plastic than I was expecting to see. So far it is easily in the hundreds [of pieces] per litre of water, which is very sad because the places we are looking at are pristine and untouched.

“You would not be expecting to see human influence, but so far there definitely has been.”

Sky News was also filming as a scientist retrieved a fine-meshed net from Marguerite Bay, 250 miles further south.

The net is used to sieve plankton, tiny marine plants, from the top layer of water.

The microplastics are being found in one of the most pristine parts of the planet
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The microplastics are being found in one of the most pristine parts of the planet
The amount of plastic is putting life in the Antarctic under even more stress
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The amount of plastic is putting life in the Antarctic under even more stress

But Julian Blumenroeder, from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, also found in the net a piece of hard green plastic, possibly from a bottle top.

“The problem with microplastic is that it’s not just where lots of people live,” he said.

“It gets distributed on global ocean currents. It’s in remote, pristine places. You can find it even here.”

He is studying whether plankton are consuming tiny pieces of plastic and then passing it up the food chain.



Antarctica







How climate change is melting Antarctica

But Dave Barnes, a marine ecologist at BAS, said the amount of plastic in the South Atlantic was still rising exponentially and that some of it is now making it through the strong currents that swirl around Antarctica.

He said: “This is the last frontier, the last place we can go where systems are natural. Yet plastic is pouring into Antarctica, and a lot of the organisms here take a very long time to process a meal.

“If most of that food is full of tiny plastic fragments then they have wasted time processing a meal that not only isn’t going to give them anything, but worse, will still fill up their stomach so they can eat less next time. It’s a big worry.”

Dr Barnes said Antarctica’s marine life is already having to deal with the impact of climate change – rapidly warming water, loss of sea ice and increasing winds.

“Life in the slow lane, as many people refer to Antarctic life, is suddenly in the fast lane of stress,” he said.

The troubling discoveries came as Sky – the owner of Sky News – marked the third anniversary of its influential and award-winning Ocean Rescue campaign.

Since it launched, Sky Ocean Rescue has been committed to raising awareness of plastic pollution and giving people easy ways to take action.

This year Sky will have cut 1,000 tonnes of plastic from its business and supply chain, and the company is also investing £25m in other firms dedicated to helping us give up plastic for good.

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Coronavirus: China faces economic hit from deadly outbreak | Business News

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Beijing’s Forbidden City, part of the Great Wall and Shanghai Disneyland are among the attractions to close as China moves to contain a deadly virus that threatens to take an economic as well as a human toll.

The country has introduced travel restrictions affecting more than 30 million people across 10 of its cities in Hubei province, including Wuhan, the epicentre of the infection.

So far 26 people have died in China, with more than 800 infected.

Chinese visitor looks on near the Disney castle at Shanghai Disneyland
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Shanghai Disneyland is closed to the public during what is usually a busy holiday period

In response to the crisis, McDonald’s has temporarily shut outlets in five cities following the coronavirus outbreak, while hotels and airlines are offering refunds to people travelling to the country.

The owner of Uniqlo has closed 17 of its shops in Wuhan, with the Swedish flat-pack giant Ikea following suit with its superstore at the request of authorities.

Film premieres have also been postponed.



Sky's Tom Cheshire explains what you need to know about the coronovirus







Coronavirus: What you need to know

With parts of the country in virtual lockdown at the start of the usually busy week-long holiday to mark the Lunar New Year, the virus is expected to damage China’s growth after months of economic worries over trade tensions with the US.

Economists estimate China’s GDP for the first quarter could be hit by about one percentage point, with tourism, retail and hospitality all set to take an impact.

Shares in luxury goods firms have suffered from the anticipated drop in demand from China, and French spirits group Remy Cointreau said it was “clearly concerned” about the potential impact.

However, global stock markets, including London’s top-flight FTSE 100, rose after the outbreak was not declared a global emergency.

Gareth Leather from the research consultancy Capital Economics told Sky News the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which also began in China and killed nearly 800 people, may give an indication on the likely impact of the latest virus.

Speaking to the Ian King Live programme, he said: “If you look at 2003, the sectors of the economy in China that were hardest hit and also across the rest of Asia were things such as tourism, retail sales, restaurants.

“People were afraid to go out shopping, go out to the movies… and so all those sectors plummeted.

“But as soon as SARS stopped and was brought under control they rebounded again quite strongly.

“The chances are if its a similar kind of outbreak you will get a short, sharp downturn and then rebounding pretty quickly.”

But given it coinciding with celebrations to mark the Year of the Rat, he added: “In terms of the timing it couldn’t really be worse.”

Mr Leather also warned it was not just China which would take an economic hit, with Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia all set to feel the impact from the drop in tourism.



Passengers at Shanghai railway station wear facemasks as they travel home for the Lunar New Year







China faces ‘short, sharp downturn’

Meanwhile, Gloria Guevara, president of the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), said transparent communication was vital to “contain panic and mitigate negative economic losses”.

The group had estimated the previous SARS outbreak of 2003 cost the global travel and tourism sector up to £38bn.

Ms Guevara said: “The most effective management of a crisis requires rapid activation of effective emergency plans, and we can see that in the early days of this outbreak, the Chinese government has acted rapidly.

“However, quick, accurate and transparent communication is also crucial in order to contain panic and mitigate negative economic losses. Containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself.”

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Coco Gauff, 15, knocks out Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka | World News

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American teenager Coco Gauff has produced a performance for the ages to knock out defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka.

The 15-year-old has already made headlines around the world but none of her achievements so far could compare to this as she took apart one of the best players in the world at the Rod Laver Arena.

Naomi Osaka didn't like losing to someone younger than her
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Naomi Osaka didn’t like losing to someone younger than her

Gauff has now reached the fourth round at two grand slams as she comfortably defeated the player who lifted the trophy here 12 months ago.

The teenager kept her head impressively while Osaka lost hers, tumbling out of the tournament 6-3 6-4 in a flurry of errors.

Gauff was stunned by her achievement, saying: “Two years ago I lost first round in juniors, and now I’m here. This is crazy.

“I was just telling myself one point at a time and keep fighting because you never know what happens on this court.

“I’m on Rod Laver Arena, I can’t believe this.”

Gauff said she had been too shy to speak to Laver when she passed him in the corridor but hoped to set up a meeting.

Laver was quick to respond on Twitter, saying: “Hello CocoGauff – congratulations on your incredible victory tonight. I would love to meet you too.”

“I love her, but I don’t like this feeling of losing to her,” said 22-year-old Osaka, who had easily beaten Gauff at the US Open last summer.

“I think just losing to her, that hurts more than the defending champion thing. I think it’s because I have an age problem. I don’t like losing to people that are younger than me. I took this very personally.”

In the next round, the teenager will face another young American, 21-year-old 14th seed Sofia Kenin, who battled past Zhang Shuai 7-5 7-6 (7).

Gauff shocked tennis fans when she beat Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon last year. She beat her again in the first round in Melbourne on Monday.

Gauff’s victory on Friday came several hours after title favourite Serena Williams had been stunned by a player who won just 15 points against her in their last meeting at the US Open.

Williams' emotions were obvious during the match
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Serena Williams’s emotions were obvious when she lost

China’s Wang Qiang had vowed to improve after that match and she certainly kept her promise, going toe to toe with Williams and not losing her cool when the 23-time grand-slam champion fought back.

The 38-year-old’s defeat meant the wait to equal Margaret Court’s record went on, but Williams added: “I definitely do believe [I can do it] or I wouldn’t be on tour.”

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