2021.12.29 國際新聞導讀-美國7700億美元國防撥款傲視全球、伊朗談判代表重視解除制裁、以色列攻擊敘利亞LATAKIA港口'

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2021.12.29 國際新聞導讀-美國7700億美元國防撥款傲視全球、伊朗談判代表重視解除制裁、以色列攻擊敘利亞LATAKIA港口

華盛頓仍然領先於戰略競爭對手 - 評論

許多人認為,美國的損失尚未嚴重到對其“心理形象”產生負面影響。更嚴重的後果正在顯現,我認為其中最主要的就是中國的加速崛起。

通過SALEM ALKETBI

發佈時間: 2021 年 12 月 27 日 21:11

更新時間: 2021 年 12 月 27 日 21:13

6月,俄羅斯副總理亞歷山大·諾瓦克出席聖彼得堡國際經濟論壇。

(照片來源:EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/REUTERS)

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美國從阿富汗撤軍的主要戰略影響似乎即將顯現。

許多人認為,美國的損失尚未嚴重到對其“心理形象”產生負面影響。更嚴重的後果正在感受到,其中最主要的,在我看來,是加速上漲,中國,看到它與俄羅斯的聯盟和美國對台灣和烏克蘭政策的影響加劇。

這清楚地反映了法國海軍參謀長皮埃爾·範迪埃上將去年10月在法國議會發表的講話中所描述的從國際秩序到混亂的艱難過渡。

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中國對美國戰略舉措的擔憂也有所增加,不僅在台灣方面,而且在 AUKUS 聯盟方面也有所增加,這使澳大利亞和英國可能與中國發生衝突。這場戰略地震向美國在世界各地的盟友(不僅僅是法國)傳遞了一個負面信息,即華盛頓對聯盟和夥伴關係原則的承諾。

儘管該聯盟的目標尚不明確,但在地區層面存在擔憂,而不僅僅是中國。其他亞洲國家也很擔心。該聯盟標誌著美國地緣戰略重心東移以對抗中國的崛起​​。

這可能會導緻美國與北約盟國,尤其是法國之間的關係出現潛在的無法彌補的裂痕。這符合中國的利益,有助於重塑與歐盟國家的關係。在復雜的國際形勢下,中國崛起速度明顯加快,其中有幾個跡象。

第一個是中俄雙方在普京總統和中國國家主席習近平舉行的虛擬峰會上使用的語言。

2019 年 6 月 5 日,俄羅斯總統弗拉基米爾·普京和中國國家主席習近平在俄羅斯莫斯科簽署儀式後合影(圖片來源:REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

中國表示將“堅決維護國際和地區安全”,因為與俄羅斯達成的協議以及中國對那些在 2 月份宣布外交抵制北京冬奧會的國家構成威脅,他們將“為自己的決定買單”。

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雙方同意“加大力度,形成獨立的俄中貿易金融結構”,表明俄中經濟合作(在民用和軍事領域)擺脫美元和美國製裁的影響。

預計雙方將在近期公佈具體細節。專家預測,這將導致“金融聯盟”。去年第一季度,美元在兩國貿易賬戶中的份額首次下降至 46%。

在此期間,人民幣和盧布的份額達到了 24%,而歐元的份額則上升到了 30%。這一發展是俄羅斯減少經濟對美元依賴和應對美國新制裁的戰略的一部分,也是俄羅斯採取聯合戰略擺脫美元的戰略的一部分。

6 月初,俄羅斯發布了一項重要的聲明。在聖彼得堡經濟論壇的間隙,俄羅斯財政部長安東·西盧安諾夫證實,俄羅斯將改變主權財富基金的結構,並永遠遠離美元。

“我們決定減少以美元計價的 SWF 投資。今天,我們有大約 35% 的 SWF 投資是美元,35% 是歐元。但是,我們決定完全減少美元投資,以增加歐元投資和增加黃金投資代替美元投資。在新結構下,美元將為零,歐元為 40%,人民幣為 30%,黃金為 20%,英鎊和日元各為 5%。”

問題在於:美國無法主動對抗戰略對手並展示其作為世界秩序超級大國的影響力。

共和黨參議員特德克魯茲將此描述為現任政府“軟弱”的結果,導致該國外交政策出現“災難”,有利於中國、俄羅斯和伊朗等國家。他們不再相信美國總統會對他們採取威懾行動。

另一個更嚴重的美國外交政策絆腳石:接近與伊朗等國結盟水平的中俄協調(包括在維也納談判中進行的三邊協調和磋商)主要是為了在幾個方面分散美國的注意力——台灣、烏克蘭、伊朗核問題——並將其置於損害其聲望、影響力和全球影響力的困境中。

主要問題是:美國的政策是否導致了這種同時開放的戰線,或者是它的競爭對手和對手故意利用自前總統特朗普上任以來的局勢來取得收益和重大讓步,例如伊朗的情況,還是戰略擴張? ,就像中國和俄羅斯的情況一樣?

北京利用亞洲國家對 AUKUS 聯盟的擔憂來確保他們的友誼和和解。中國國家主席曾保證,中國“永遠不稱霸,不利用規模欺負小國,與東盟共同防止干涉”。

當然,美國的一些立場引起了中國的憤怒,中國稱這種行為“極其危險”,例如國會代表團訪問台灣和台北正式邀請參加“民主峰會”,而北京被排除在外。喬拜登總統與中國領導人的虛擬峰會甚至沒有開始緩和緊張局勢。

不過,總統在峰會上發表了兩項聲明,可以解讀為白宮對中國態度的轉變。首先是他的聲明,他的國家“不支持台灣獨立”。

但北京似乎並沒有認真對待這些保證,因為它們是在 AUKUS 聯盟宣布之後立即出現的,當時北京需要實際確認華盛頓不支持台灣獨立。這很好地解釋了中國希望加強與俄羅斯的關係以對抗華盛頓不斷試圖減緩中國戰略崛起的企圖。

最終,下一場全球衝突可能不會以軍事對抗告終。即使在新的冷戰情景中也不行。但可能會發生旨在結束美元主導地位的經濟和技術衝突以及貨幣戰爭,美元自二戰以來一直是美國在世界上影響力的主要支柱之一。

但事實是,2020年美元在世界外匯儲備中的比重有所下降,但仍為60%,而歐元約佔20%,人民幣僅佔世界外匯儲備的2%左右。

考慮到軍事力量對比等數字指標,以及美國與其戰略對手之間的差距,可以令人信服地得出結論,國際主要大國之間為製定新的遊戲規則而展開的激烈鬥爭在後-冠狀病毒世界可能已經開始。無論如何,它的結局是看不到的。

作者是阿聯酋政治分析家和前聯邦國民議會候選人。

Washington still ahead of strategic rivals - comment

US losses are not yet so great as to negatively affect its 'mental image,' as many believe. More serious consequences are being felt, chief among which, in my view, is the accelerated rise of China.

By SALEM ALKETBI

Published: DECEMBER 27, 2021 21:11

Updated: DECEMBER 27, 2021 21:13

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak attends the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June.

(photo credit: EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/REUTERS)

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The main strategic implications of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan seem to be on the horizon.

US losses are not yet so great as to negatively affect its “mental image,” as many believe. More serious consequences are being felt, chief among which, in my view, is the accelerated rise of China, seen in its alliance with Russia and exacerbated by the impact of US policies toward Taiwan and Ukraine.

This clearly reflects what the chief of staff of the French navy, Adm. Pierre Vandier, described in his speech to the French parliament last October as a harsh transition from international order to chaos.

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Chinese concerns about US strategic moves have also increased, not only with respect to Taiwan but also with respect to the AUKUS alliance, which has drawn Australia and the UK into a possible conflict with China. This strategic earthquake sends a negative message to US allies around the world, not just France, about Washington’s commitment to the principles of alliance and partnership.

Although the goals of the alliance are not yet clear, there is cause for concern at the regional level, and not just for China. Other Asian countries are also worried. The alliance signals that the US geostrategic center of gravity has gone east to counter the rise of China.

This may cause potentially irreparable rifts in the relationship between the US and NATO allies, especially France. It is in China’s interest and can help reshape its relations with EU countries. Under these complex international circumstances, China’s rise is accelerating significantly, of which there are several signs.

The first is the language used by the Chinese and Russian sides at a virtual summit between President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping pose after signing ceremony in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019 (credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

China said it would “resolutely safeguard international and regional security” in light of the agreement with Russia and China’s threat to countries that declared a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February that they “will pay” for their decision.

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The two sides agreed to “intensify efforts to form an independent financial structure for Russian-Chinese trade,” indicating an effort to remove Russian-Chinese economic cooperation (in the civilian and military spheres) from the influence of the dollar and US sanctions.

The parties are expected to announce specific details in the near future. Experts predict that this will lead to a “financial alliance.” The share of the dollar in trade accounts between the two countries fell for the first time in the first quarter of last year to 46%.

The yuan and ruble’s share reached 24% during this period, while the euro’s share rose to 30%. This development is part of Russia’s strategy to reduce the economy’s dependence on the dollar and counter the new US sanctions, as well as the adoption of a joint strategy to move away from the US currency.

An important Russian announcement was made in early June. On the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed that his country would change the structure of the sovereign wealth fund and move away from the US dollar for good.

“We decided to reduce SWF investments in dollars. Today we had about 35% of SWF investments in dollars and 35% in euros. However, we have decided to completely reduce the dollar investments and replace the dollar investments with an increase in euro investments and an increase in gold investments. With the new structure, the dollar will be at zero, the euro at 40%, the yuan at 30%, gold at 20%, and the British pound and yen at 5% each.”

Here’s the rub: America’s inability to take the initiative against strategic adversaries and demonstrate its influence as the world order’s superpower.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz described this as the result of the “weakness” of the current administration, leading to a “disaster” in the country’s foreign policy in favor of countries like China, Russia and Iran. These no longer believe the US president would take deterrent action against them.

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Another, more serious, US foreign policy stumbling block: Sino-Russian coordination approaching the level of a joint alliance with countries like Iran (including ongoing trilateral coordination and consultation at the Vienna negotiations) is primarily aimed at distracting the US on several fronts – Taiwan, Ukraine, the Iranian nuclear issue – and putting it in a difficult position that damages its prestige, influence and global leverage.

The main question is: Has US policy caused this simultaneous opening of fronts, or have its rivals and adversaries deliberately exploited the situation, since former President Trump’s tenure, to make gains and significant concessions, as in the case of Iran, or to expand strategically, as in the case of China and Russia?

Beijing has exploited Asian countries’ concerns about the AUKUS alliance to secure their friendship and rapprochement. The Chinese president had assured that his country would “never seek hegemony, not use its size to bully smaller countries, and work with ASEAN to prevent interference.”

Of course, some US positions have drawn the ire of China, which has called such actions “extremely dangerous,” such as the visit of a congressional delegation to Taiwan and the formal invitation of Taipei to participate in the “Summit of Democracies,” while Beijing was excluded. President Joe Biden’s virtual summit with the Chinese leader did not even begin to ease tensions.

However, the president made two statements at the summit that could be interpreted as a change in the White House’s attitude toward China. The first was his statement that his country “does not support Taiwan independence.”

But Beijing does not seem to take these assurances seriously, because they came immediately after the AUKUS alliance announcement, when Beijing needed practical confirmation that Washington does not support Taiwan's independence. This is a good explanation for China’s desire to strengthen ties with Russia to counter Washington’s constant attempts to slow China’s strategic rise.

Ultimately, the next global conflict may not end in military confrontation. Not even in a new Cold War scenario. But there could be economic and technological conflicts and currency wars aimed at ending the dominance of the dollar, which has been one of the main pillars of American influence in the world since World War II.

However, the fact is that the share of the dollar in the world’s foreign exchange reserves decreased in 2020. But it is still at 60%, while the euro represents about 20% and the Chinese yuan only about 2% of world foreign exchange reserves.

Taking into account the military balance of power and other numerical indicators, as well as the gap between the US and its strategic adversaries, one can convincingly conclude that the intense struggle between the major international powers to set the new rules of the game in the post-coronavirus world may have already begun. In any case, its end is not in sight.

The writer is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate.

美國總統拜登簽署7700億美元國防法案

除了應對地緣政治威脅,尤其是俄羅斯和中國的戰略之外,該法案還包括為美軍增加 2.7% 的工資,以及更多的飛機和海軍艦艇採購。

通過路透

發佈時間: 2021 年 12 月 27 日 18:36

更新時間: 2021 年 12 月 27 日 19:42

白宮(說明性)。

(圖片來源:維基共享資源)

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白宮週一表示,美國總統喬·拜登( Joe Biden)簽署了 2022 財年的《國防授權法案》(NDAA),該法案授權了 7700 億美元的國防開支。

本月早些時候,參議院和眾議院以壓倒多數投票支持國防法案,民主黨和共和黨都大力支持國防部的年度立法政策。

NDAA 受到廣泛的行業和其他利益團體的密切關注,因為它是僅有的每年成為法律的主要立法之一,並且因為它解決了廣泛的問題。六年來,NDAA 每年都會成為法律。

2022 財年 NDAA 授權的軍費開支比去年增加約 5%,是在因中俄政策爭端陷入僵局後,參眾兩院民主黨人和共和黨人進行激烈談判後達成的妥協。

除了應對地緣政治威脅,尤其是俄羅斯和中國的戰略之外,它還包括為軍隊增加 2.7% 的工資,以及更多的飛機和海軍艦艇採購。

2021 年 12 月 7 日,在美國華盛頓白宮戰情室的安全視頻通話中,美國總統喬·拜登與俄羅斯總統弗拉基米爾·普京在西方擔心莫斯科計劃襲擊烏克蘭的情況下進行了虛擬會談。(圖片來源:The White眾議院/通過路透社講義)

NDAA 包括 3 億美元用於為烏克蘭武裝部隊提供支持的烏克蘭安全援助倡議,40 億美元用於歐洲防禦倡議,1.5 億美元用於波羅的海安全合作。

在中國方面,該法案包括為太平洋威懾倡議撥款 71 億美元、國會支持台灣保衛戰的聲明,以及禁止國防部從中國新疆地區採購強迫勞動生產的產品。

它創建了一個由 16 名成員組成的委員會來研究阿富汗戰爭。拜登在 8 月結束了這場衝突——迄今為止該國最長的戰爭。

US President Biden signs $770 billion defense bill

The bill includes a 2.7% pay increase for US troops, and more aircraft and Navy ship purchases, in addition to strategies for dealing with geopolitical threats, especially Russia and China.

By REUTERS

Published: DECEMBER 27, 2021 18:36

Updated: DECEMBER 27, 2021 19:42

The White House (illustrative).

(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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US President Joe Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, for fiscal year 2022, which authorizes $770 billion in defense spending, the White House said on Monday.

Earlier this month, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the defense bill with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans for the annual legislation setting policy for the Department of Defense.

The NDAA is closely watched by a broad swath of industry and other interests because it is one of the only major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year and because it addresses a wide range of issues. The NDAA has become law every year for six decades.

Authorizing about 5% more military spending than last year, the fiscal 2022 NDAA is a compromise after intense negotiations between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans after being stalled by disputes over China and Russia policy.

It includes a 2.7% pay increase for the troops, and more aircraft and Navy ship purchases, in addition to strategies for dealing with geopolitical threats, especially Russia and China.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin amid Western fears that Moscow plans to attack Ukraine, during a secure video call from the Situation Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2021. (credit: The White House/Handout via REUTERS)

The NDAA includes $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides support to Ukraine's armed forces, $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and $150 million for Baltic security cooperation.

On China, the bill includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a statement of congressional support for the defense of Taiwan, as well as a ban on the Department of Defense procuring products produced with forced labor from China's Xinjiang region.

It creates a 16-member commission to study the war in Afghanistan. Biden ended the conflict - by far the country's longest war - in August.

土耳其市場在里拉崩盤後停滯不前,由高危女性經營

與土耳其各地的組織和公司一樣,由於貨幣危機,里拉在 2 個月內貶值了 48%,導致市場業務急劇萎縮。

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發佈時間: 2021 年 12 月 27 日 16:10

2021 年 9 月 27 日,一名貨幣兌換商在土耳其安卡拉的貨幣兌換處計算土耳其里拉鈔票。

(圖片來源:路透社/CAGLA GURDOGAN)

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八年前,Hazal Tunc 和她的朋友們創立了土耳其第一個女性專用的街頭市場,以幫助家庭暴力和離婚的受害者,並為她們提供工作和安全——直到現在。

與土耳其各地的組織和公司一樣,由於貨幣危機,里拉僅在過去兩個月內就貶值了 48%,導致市場業務急劇萎縮。

以庫爾德人為主的東南部城市迪亞巴克爾(Diyarbakir)的市場早年貿易興旺,但在過去兩年中出現下滑,尤其是在過去六個月裡,里拉崩盤導致價格飆升並破壞了家庭預算。

46 歲的 Tunc 是三個孩子的母親,她幫助建立了水果、蔬菜和水果市場,“現在銷售完全停止了。過去,顧客過去常常買兩公斤胡蘿蔔。現在他們來買三根胡蘿蔔。”手工藝品。

里拉危機是由總統塔伊普·埃爾多安( Tayyip Erdogan ) 無視通貨膨脹急劇上升和經濟學家發出警告而推動降低利率引起的。

土耳其總統塔伊普·埃爾多安於 2021 年 10 月 16 日在土耳其伊斯坦布爾舉行的新聞發布會上發表講話(來源:REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

'每個人都放棄了'

在更幸福的日子裡,多達 256 名婦女靠在街市上賣東西謀生,但現在已經減少到 69 人。

“人們的購買力幾乎完全消失了——我們的銷售力也是如此,”Tunc 說。“大家都放棄了。”

在政府公佈存款保護計劃後,里拉上周大幅反彈,國家支持一系列賣出數十億美元的市場干預措施。

那時她不為所動。

“如果他們(政府)可以乾預,他們為什麼要等三個月、四個月?” 她說。“很多人自殺了,他們負債累累。如果(政府)能解決這個問題,他們為什麼不這樣做?”

一周前,在政府採取行動之前,一美元值 18 里拉。週一,它的價值為 11.4 里拉,但仍比一年前下跌 35%。

經濟學家表示,里拉仍然脆弱,人們的生活水平也隨之下降。由於進口價格飆升以及零售商承擔不斷上漲的商品、能源和勞動力成本,預計明年的年度通貨膨脹率將從上個月的 21% 躍升至 30%。

蔬菜供應商 Hanim Dogan 說,人們現在甚至連基本食品都買不起。

“晚上麵包4里拉,第二天早上7里拉。人們被難住了,不知道該怎麼辦。一個人以前買了5公斤橙子,現在買了1或2公斤,”她說。 .

“財務狀況變得非常困難。”

Turkish market run by at-risk women at standstill after lira crash

Like organizations and companies across Turkey, the market has seen business shrivel dramatically as a result of a currency crisis in which the lira has lost as much as 48% of its value in 2 months.

By REUTERS

Published: DECEMBER 27, 2021 16:10

A money changer counts Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Ankara, Turkey September 27, 2021.

(photo credit: REUTERS/CAGLA GURDOGAN)

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Hazal Tunc and her friends founded Turkey's first women-only street market eight years ago to help victims of domestic violence and divorcees, and it has provided them with jobs and security - until now.

Like organizations and companies across Turkey, the market has seen business shrivel dramatically as a result of a currency crisis in which the lira has lost as much as 48% of its value in the past two months alone.

The market in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir enjoyed buoyant trade in its early years but declined in the last two, particularly in the last six months as the lira crash has sent prices soaring and ravaged household budgets.

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"Sales have come to a complete standstill. In the past, customers used to buy two kilos of carrots. Now they come and buy three carrots," said Tunc, 46, a mother of three who helped found the market for fruits, vegetables and handicrafts.

The lira crisis was prompted by President Tayyip Erdogan's push for lower interest rates despite a sharp increase in inflation and warnings from economists.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey October 16, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

'EVERYONE HAS GIVEN UP'

In happier days, up to 256 women made a living selling their wares at the street market, but that has dwindled to 69.

"People's purchasing power is almost completely gone - and so is our selling power," Tunc said. "Everyone has given up."

The lira staged a sharp rebound last week after the government unveiled a deposit-protection plan, and the state backed a series of market interventions selling billions of dollars.

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Tunc was unimpressed.

"If they (the government) could intervene, why did they wait three months, four months?" she said. "Many people committed suicide, they went into debt. If (the government) could solve this, why didn't they do it?"

One week ago, before the government moves, one dollar was worth 18 lira. On Monday it was worth 11.4 lira, though still down 35% from a year ago.

Economists say the lira remains vulnerable, and with it people's living standards. Annual inflation is expected to jump toward 30% next year from 21% last month, as import prices soar and retailers cover rising goods, energy and labor costs.

Vegetable vendor Hanim Dogan said people now struggled even to buy basic food items.

"In the evening bread costs 4 lira, and the next morning it is 7 lira. People are stumped and don't know what to do. A person who bought 5 kilos of oranges before, now buys 1 or 2 kilos," she said.

"The financial situation has become very difficult."

伊朗的石油出口是維也納核談判的焦點,高級外交官說

核談判自上個月在強硬的伊朗總統易卜拉欣·賴西當選後中斷五個月後恢復以來進展甚微。

通過路透

發佈時間: 2021 年 12 月 27 日 12:21

2021 年 12 月 17 日,歐洲對外行動署 (EEAS) 副秘書長恩里克·莫拉 (Enrique Mora) 和伊朗首席核談判代表阿里·巴蓋里·卡尼 (Ali Bagheri Kani) 和代表團在奧地利維也納等待 JCPOA 聯合委員會會議的開始

(圖片來源:路透社)

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伊朗外交部長表示,週一在奧地利恢復的核談判的主要焦點將是在一個可核查的過程中取消美國的所有製裁,以保證德黑蘭不受阻礙地出口石油的能力。

據官方媒體報導,與世界大國為挽救伊朗 2015 年核協議的談判,即聯合綜合行動計劃 (JCPOA),將於 1800 年(格林威治標準時間 1700)在維也納恢復。

伊朗媒體援引外交部長侯賽因·阿米拉卜杜拉希安的話說:“對我們來說,最重要的問題是,首先,伊朗石油可以輕鬆、不受阻礙地出售。”

“石油(銷售)的錢將作為外幣存入伊朗銀行——這樣我們就可以享受聯合綜合行動計劃規定的所有經濟利益。”

2018 年,時任美國總統唐納德特朗普退出 JCPOA,並重新對德黑蘭實施嚴厲的經濟制裁,一年後伊朗作為回應,恢復並加速其鈾濃縮,這是獲得核武器的潛在途徑。

伊朗“第 17 屆偉大先知”演習期間發射的導彈(圖片來源:Saeed Sajjadi/Fars News Agency)

伊朗的主要收入來源石油出口在美國的製裁下大幅下降。德黑蘭沒有披露數據,但基於航運和其他來源的評估表明,從 2018 年的每天約 280 萬桶 (BPD) 降至低至 200,000 桶/日。一項調查顯示,6 月份出口量為 600,000 BPD。

核談判自上個月在強硬的伊朗總統易卜拉欣·賴西當選後中斷五個月後恢復以來進展甚微。

“今天,談判桌上有一份可接受的聯合文件,我們稱之為 12 月 1 日和 12 月 15 日的文件,”阿米拉布多拉希安說。他說,這兩份文件都與核問題以及美國的製裁有關。

“從今天起,我們的談判將在這份聯合文件的基礎上開始。保證和驗證是議程上的問題之一,”他說。

Iran's oil exports are focus of Vienna nuclear talks, top diplomat says

The nuclear talks have made scant progress since they resumed last month after a five-month hiatus following the election of hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

By REUTERS

Published: DECEMBER 27, 2021 12:21

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021

(photo credit: REUTERS)

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Iran’s main focus in nuclear talks that resume in Austria on Monday will be the lifting of all US sanctions in a verifiable process that guarantees Tehran’s unhindered ability to export its oil, the foreign minister said.

Negotiations with world powers to salvage Iran's 2015 nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are to resume in Vienna at 1800 (1700 GMT), state media reported.

"The most important issue for us is to reach a point where, firstly, Iranian oil can be sold easily and without hindrance,” Iranian media quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.

"The money from the oil (sales) is to be deposited as foreign currency in Iranian banks - so we can enjoy all the economic benefits stipulated in Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."

In 2018, then US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed stringent economic sanctions against Tehran, which responded a year later by resuming and then accelerating its enrichment of uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons.

Missiles fired during Iran's ''17th Great Prophet'' drill (credit: Saeed Sajjadi/Fars News Agency)

Oil exports, Iran’s main revenue source, have plunged under US sanctions. Tehran does not disclose data, but assessments based on shipping and other sources suggest a fall from about 2.8 million barrels per day (BPD) in 2018 to as low as 200,000 BPD. One survey put exports at 600,000 BPD in June.

The nuclear talks have made scant progress since they resumed last month after a five-month hiatus following the election of hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

“Today, there is an acceptable joint document on the negotiating table that we call the December 1 and December 15 documents,” Amirabdollahian said. Both documents, he said, related to the nuclear issue as well as US sanctions.

“From today, our negotiations will start on the basis of this joint document. Guarantees and verification are among the issues on the agenda,” he said.

Alleged Israeli airstrike hits Latakia Port for second time in a month

This is the third alleged Israeli airstrike on Syria this month.

By TZVI JOFFRE

Published: DECEMBER 28, 2021 05:00

Updated: DECEMBER 28, 2021 23:43

A Firefighter douses flames after Syrian state media reported an alleged Israeli missile attack in a container storage area, at Syrian port of Latakia, Syria

(photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

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An alleged Israeli airstrike targeted the commercial port in Latakia in northwestern Syria for the second time in a month early Tuesday morning, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

This is the second alleged Israeli airstrike on the Latakia Port this month and the third alleged Israeli airstrike on Syria, in general, this month.

A Syrian military source told SANA that the strike was carried out from over the Mediterranean Sea and targeted the port's container yard, sparking large fires and causing massive damage. Firefighters reported that they had brought the fire under control about seven hours later, although the fire continued to burn for hours afterwards.

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Videos reportedly from the scene showed large explosions that could be seen from a distance lighting up the night sky. According to SANA, a nearby hospital and a number of other buildings and shops were also damaged due to the airstrike.

Smoke rises from a fire in a container storage area, after Syrian state media reported an Israeli air strike on the port of Latakia on December 7. (credit: SANA/REUTERS)

Syria's Alikhbariya TV news reported the strikes were much larger than those that hit the port earlier this month, with explosions heard in Tartus, over 44 miles (70 km.) from Latakia. The report added that while ambulances were present at the scene, there was no information on any casualties.

The Iranian ship SHIBA was docked at the Latakia port last week before leaving on Saturday. It is unclear if containers unloaded by the ship at the port were the targets of the Israeli airstrike on Tuesday morning. According to independent tracking sites, in late November an Iranian vessel called DAISY docked at Latakia just days before the strike on the port on December 7.

The Muslim Brotherhood published a statement concerning the airstrikes on Tuesday afternoon, saying the movement would "continue to adhere to the sanctity of our people, land, sea and air against all forms of Zionist, Russian and Iranian aggression."

The movement ridiculed the Assad government for failing to respond to the repeated alleged Israeli airstrikes on Syrian territory, calling it "those who have still reserved the right to respond for half a century, under the weight of the Zionist slaps day and night."

The Latakia area is a stronghold for Russian forces in Syria, with the Russian Khmeimim Air Base located near the major port city.

Syrian social media users expressed outrage on Tuesday that Russia did not activate air defense systems to counter the alleged Israeli airstrikes. An article on Al-Mayadeen TV about the airstrikes also questioned why the Russian forces did not respond to the airstrikes.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday evening that Syrian air defenses were not activated during the air strikes due to the fact that a Russian military transport aircraft was landing at the Khmeimim Air Base.

The Russian Defense Ministry additionally claimed that the strikes caused "minor material damage" to the port and that there were no casualties among Syrian forces.

In 2018, fourteen Russian soldiers were killed when a Russian military aircraft was downed by a Syrian air defense missile during alleged Israeli airstrikes near Latakia. Moscow expressed outrage at Israel at the time, largely blaming it for the incident.

Two weeks ago, a Syrian soldier was killed in another alleged Israeli airstrike targeting sites in southern Syria. Independent reports and satellite imagery indicated that the airstrike two weeks ago targeted a runway at the Damascus International Airport and an air defense radar station in southern Syria.

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