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Trump ‘dissuaded’ from launching missile attack on Iran’s nuclear site

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(Last Updated On: November 17, 2020)

US President Donald Trump was reportedly talked out of launching a missile strike on Iran’s main nuclear site last week by advisers who warned it could trigger a war, the New York Times reported.

According to the article Trump is however still “mulling options to punish Tehran” for increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

A meeting between Trump and his senior advisers took place last week and among those present were Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Current and former US officials told the New York Times the meeting took place a day after international inspectors informed UN members that Iran had significantly increased its stockpile of nuclear material.

A separate source confirmed the New York Times’ account of the meeting to Reuters, saying: “[Trump] asked for options. They gave him the scenarios and he ultimately decided not to go forward.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency, a watchdog for the UN, reported in a confidential document last Wednesday that Iran’s uranium stockpile is now 12 times larger than the limit set under the nuclear accord Trump pulled out of in 2018.

The agency said that as of November 2 Iran had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) reported on August 25.

The nuclear deal signed in 2015 with the US, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).

The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the deal.

Natanz, also called the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, is located about 200 miles south of Tehran and most of the complex is underground. It is subject to monitoring by IAEA under the nuclear accord.

In its latest report the IAEA also said that Iran had barred its inspectors from accessing another site where there was evidence of past nuclear activity.

The officials who spoke to the New York Times said Trump reacted to the IAEA report by asking his aides about what options he had to respond to Iran’s nuclear expansion.

They said Pompeo and Milley outlined the risks of military escalation, and that officials left the meeting with the impression that Trump had been dissuaded from launching a missile attack.

But, they said Trump may still be looking into ways to strike Iranian assets and allies, including militias in Iraq, the New York Times reported.

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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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Turkey could run Kabul airport, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Having previously run Kabul airport, Turkey can take similar steps in the future with Qatar and Afghanistan if the three countries reach a deal, the Turkish president said on Friday.

“So far, we have had a lot of effort in Afghanistan’s infrastructure and superstructure … We were operating the Kabul Airport. In the future, if agreements can be reached, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, we can take such steps,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

About the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s recent visit to Turkey, Erdogan said the group asked for humanitarian aid and “made requests concerning the functionality of new process in Afghanistan.”

Erdogan vowed to provide “all manner of support” to the Afghan people as long as the interim administration “takes a just stance in protecting the rights of the Afghan people.”

He said the IEA should also take a fair stance in their relations with Turkey.

An IEA delegation visited Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

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