New Sanctions And Whispers Of War In Europe-Iran Standoff

Europe is threatening stiffer sanctions on Iran following a recent attack by students on the British Embassy in Tehran. Diplomacy remains the strategy of choice for the Europeans, but at least one German lawmaker isn’t ruling out military intervention.

Student protestors rally outside the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday, November 29
Student protestors rally outside the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday, November 29
Christoph B. Schiltz

BERLIN -- The conflict between Europe and Iran has escalated. E.U. foreign ministers have now agreed to work on sanctions that could include stopping oil imports and cutting Iran's financial system off from the West. "We decided that this time sanctions would be much harsher," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.

The catalysts for the new measures under discussion were the attacks on the British Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students, and the expulsion of the British ambassador. In a statement, the minister said: "The Council views these actions against Great Britain as actions against the entire European Union."

The new sanctions will be finalized in January and will add another dimension to the conflict between the Europeans and Iranians over Tehran's alleged plans to produce atomic weapons. Germany, France and the United Kingdom expressed particularly strong support for harsher sanctions.

Cutting off oil imports from Iran has been repeatedly discussed in the past, but members could never agree on the matter. Greece and Italy have been vehemently opposed to the idea since both countries import significant amounts of their oil supply from Iran.

But now France's top diplomat, Juppé, is saying that the European Union will work together with various partners to increase deliveries from other countries to make up for the deliveries from Iran. "It's doable," he stressed.

Upping the ante

According to Walter Posch, an Iran expert at the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), such sanctions "will be interpreted by the Iranian government as a sign that the European Union is looking for regime change." And, Posch said, that would have consequences. For one thing, Tehran's willingness to cooperate in negotiations about its nuclear program could fade. There is also the danger that in the future the Iranian government could behave even more aggressively towards the West.

On the other hand, Posch said, the new sanctions are a lot more than pinpricks and will make the country's economic development – and with it, the survival of the present regime – that much more difficult. Iran presently sells nearly a fifth of its oil to Europe. That oil covers about 6% of the European Union's needs.

Earlier sanctions have already hurt Iran, said Posch: "They have contributed significantly to the country's underdevelopment." Up until now, 143 Iranian companies and organizations had been blacklisted. Following the recent ministerial meeting that number went up to 433.

The hardest hit companies are those that produce technology. Exempted from the sanctions are manufacturers of agricultural and pharmaceutical products. The ministers also raised the number of Iranian individuals who may not travel to the European Union from 37 to 113, although travel bans are symbolic more than anything else.

Not ruling out the military option

Israel, meanwhile, stated that the option to attack the Iranian nuclear program militarily remained open. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel retains the option as a "last resort."

Barak added that he did not believe international sanctions against Iran would work. He also said Israel does not intend to launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities "at this point." "We don't need unnecessary wars. But we definitely might be put to the test," he said.

In Germany, Philipp Mißfelder, Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union spokesman for foreign policy issues in the German parliament, also said that military options with regard to Iran could not be excluded. First, however, sanctions should be tightened. "But I say very clearly that even those who want to put the focus on diplomatic efforts cannot entirely rule out a military option," Mißfelder said.

The politician went on to say that Iran was the biggest threat in the Middle East "because they are trying to produce an atomic bomb and would certainly not hold back from using it."

So far, Iran seems unimpressed by all the debates and the announcement of new sanctions. On Thursday, the government released 11 people who had been arrested for storming and plundering the British Embassy.

Brussels took this move to mean that the plunderers were being protected by influential circles in the regime. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has so far remained silent about the incident that led London to expel all Iranian diplomats in the United Kingdom and to close its embassy in Tehran. Berlin, Paris and The Hague have all recalled their ambassadors from Tehran.

German security operatives suspect Iran of planning strikes on U.S. military airports in Germany in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran. According to Posch, "Iran will attack a number of targets should it be attacked." These would include sites not only in Germany but in Turkey and the Gulf region as well. "It would depend on what military bases the Americans were launching their attacks from," he said.

Read the original story in German

Photo - YouTube

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.


South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.



In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.


Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️


"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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