News Briefs – January 6, 2020

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NATO suspends training Iraqi soldiers over security concerns

NATO says it has suspended a training mission for soldiers in the Iraqi army in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
The military alliance said in a statement Jan. 4 that even if the Canadian-led mission is to continue in the future, security concerns for its personnel were “paramount.”
Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the mastermind of its regional security strategy. He was killed early Jan. 3 near the Baghdad international airport along with senior Iraqi militants in an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump. The attack has caused regional tensions to soar and tested the U.S. alliance with Iraq.
“We continue to take all precautions necessary,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said in a statement. “NATO’s mission is continuing, but training activities are temporarily suspended,”
The Iraqi mission consists of several hundred staff from allied nations and non-NATO countries. AP
 

Iran abandons nuclear deal over slaying of general

Iran said Jan. 5 it would no longer abide by any of the limits of its unraveling 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, abandoning the accord’s key provisions that block Tehran from having enough material to build an atomic weapon.
Iran insisted in a state television broadcast it remained open to negotiations with European partners, who so far have been unable to offer Tehran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite U.S. sanctions. It also didn’t back off of earlier promises that it wouldn’t seek a nuclear weapon.
However, the announcement represents the clearest nuclear proliferation threat yet made by Iran since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in May 2018. It also further raises regional tensions, as Iran’s longtime foe Israel has promised never to allow Iran to be able to produce an atomic bomb.
The announcement came after another Iranian official said it would consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets Jan. 5 in Iran to walk alongside a casket carrying the remains of Soleimani, the former leader of its expeditionary Quds Force that organizes Tehran’s proxy forces in the wider Mideast.
The leader of one such proxy, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said Soleimani’s killing made U.S. military bases, warships and service members spread across the region fair targets for attacks. A former Revolutionary Guard leader suggested the Israeli city of Haifa and “centers” like Tel Aviv could be targeted.
Iran’s state TV cited a statement by President Hassan Rouhani’s administration saying the country will not observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities.
It did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its program. AP

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