Heckler Interrupts Obama in California A heckler who interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech on immigration in San Francisco on Monday says he spoke out because his family has been torn apart by U.S. immigration policy — and the administration has done nothing to help them.”Usually we’re supposed to be props,” Ju Hong told the San Jose Mercury News. „I was shaking a little bit, but thinking about me and my family and my community and my friends, the pain they have suffered under the Obama administration … it really sparked a buildup of my anger. It made me speak out.”The 24-year-old, who came to the United States from South Korea when he was 11, pleaded with the president to use an executive order to stop deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally.“My family has been separated for 19 months now,” Hong, standing on a riser behind Obama, shouted. “I need your help. You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country.””Actually, I don’t,” Obama said, „and that’s why we’re here.”As members of the Secret Service moved in to remove Hong, the president called them off, telling Hong his speech was part of an effort to get Congress to pass immigration reform.”The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. What I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting.”
Defying China, U.S. bombers and Japanese planes fly through new air zone
By Tim Kelly and Phil Stewart 5 hours ago
View gallery A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku …By Tim Kelly and Phil StewartTOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers flew over disputed islands on a training mission in the East China Sea without informing Beijing while Japan’s main airlines ignored Chinese authorities when their planes passed through a new airspace defense zone on Wednesday.The defiance from Japan and its ally the United States over China’s new identification rules raises the stakes in a territorial standoff between Beijing and Tokyo over the islands and challenges China to make the next move.China published coordinates for an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone over the weekend and warned it would take „defensive emergency measures” against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly. The zone is about two thirds the size of Britain.”If the United States conducts two or three more flights like this, China will be forced to respond. If China can only respond verbally it would be humiliating,” said Sun Zhe, a professor at the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing.”The concept of the paper tiger is very important. All sides face it.”China’s Defense Ministry said it had monitored the entire progress of the U.S. bombers through the zone on Tuesday Asian time. A Pentagon spokesman said the planes had neither been observed nor contacted by Chinese aircraft.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, when asked how China would respond to future infractions of the zone, said the country would „make an appropriate response” that depended on the „situation and degree of threat”.Qin added that China had informed „relevant countries” before setting up the zone. He would not elaborate.Following a request from the Japanese government, Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings said they stopped giving flight plans and other information to Chinese authorities on Wednesday. Neither airline had experienced any problems when passing through the zone, they added.Japan’s aviation industry association said it had concluded there was no threat to passenger safety by ignoring the Chinese demands, JAL said. Both JAL and ANA posted notices on their websites informing its passengers of their decision.The flight by the B-52 bombers was part of a long-planned exercise, a U.S. military official said.Some experts have said the Chinese move was aimed at chipping away at Tokyo’s claim to administrative control over the area, including the tiny uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.The action might have backfired, said Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Honolulu-based Pacific Forum CSIS.”This is confirming the darker view of China in Asia,” Glosserman said. „The Chinese once again are proving to be their own worst enemy … driving the U.S. closer to Japan and (South) Korea closer to the position of Tokyo as well.”U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, in her first speech since assuming her post earlier this month, criticized China’s „unilateral action” as undermining regional security.Kennedy also said Japan had shown „great restraint this past year” and urged Tokyo to continue to do so. „We encourage Japan to increase communication with its neighbors and continue to respond to regional challenges in a measured way.”BIDEN VISITS REGION NEXT WEEK-The Chinese action was also likely to bolster support in Japan for hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda to strengthen the military and loosen the limits of the post-war, pacifist constitution on its armed forces.While Washington does not take a position on sovereignty over the islands, it recognizes that Tokyo has administrative control over them and it is therefore bound by treaty to defend Japan in the event of an armed conflict.The B-52s, part of the Air Force fleet for more than half a century, are relatively slow compared with today’s fighter jets and far easier to spot than stealth aircraft.”We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus. We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.The dispute comes before a planned trip to the region by U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to travel to Japan next week and also has stops in China and South Korea.Annual U.S.-Japan naval exercises are also taking place in waters off the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Kyushu, to the east of China’s new zone. The drills, which involve the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, recently taking part in the Philippine typhoon relief effort, were planned before China’s announcement of the zone.CHINA DEMANDS FLIGHT PLANSThe new Chinese rules mean aircraft have to report flight plans to China, maintain radio contact and reply promptly to identification inquiries and bear clear markings of their nationality and registration.On Monday, civil aviation officials from Hong Kong and Taiwan said their carriers entering the zone must file flight plans. A transport ministry official in Seoul said South Korean planes would do the same.Qantas Airways Ltd said on Wednesday its pilots would keep China informed of their flights through the area.The United States and Japan have sharply criticized China’s airspace declaration, prompting Beijing to lodge counter protests and warn Washington to stay out of the dispute.An outspoken retired Chinese military figure, former Major General Luo Yuan, wrote on Tuesday that China should use force in the zone if needed, adding the United States especially had to comply or face the consequences. Some experts, however, questioned whether China had the military assets to fully implement the new measures.While the zone is outside China’s territorial airspace, the Chinese Defense Ministry has said its establishment had a sound legal basis and accorded with common international practices.Other countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea have similar zones but only require aircraft to file flight plans and identify themselves if those planes intend to pass through national airspace.In addition, China sent its sole aircraft carrier on a training mission for the first time into the oil- and gas-rich South China Sea on Tuesday, upsetting the Philippines.China claims almost the entire South China Sea, conflicting with claims from Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in California, David Alexander, Matt Spetalnick and Lesley Wroughton in Washington, Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in Beijing and Lincoln Feast in Sydney. Editing by Dean Yates and Nick Macfie)“He blames Congress but not himself,” Hong told the Daily Californian. “He said he’s in full support [of immigration reform], but he’s not doing anything. An executive order is not violating the law.”It’s not the first time Hong, who graduated in 2012, has taken to civil disobedience to make his point.In August, he was one of six protesters arrested after interrupting a ceremony welcoming former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as the new president of UC-Berkeley. In 2011, Hong and six other undocumented student activists were arrested at a rally in San Bernadino, Calif., after blocking a street in protest of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws. (The rally was in support of the Dream Act, which enabled undocumented students to qualify for financial aid.)“This is my last year at Cal,” Hong said after his 2011 arrest. „After I graduate, now what? Even with a degree from UC-Berkeley, I cannot legally work.”Hong was part of a group of San Francisco-based activists (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education) in attendance at Obama’s speech.„Mr. President, I did not heckle you,” Hong wrote on Twitter. „I was speaking the truth.”
Russia outraged by giant Louis Vuitton suitcase
View gallery MOSCOW (AP) — Politicians didn’t like it, the public didn’t like it, so the gigantic Louis Vuitton suitcase is being booted out of Red Square.The GUM department store on Red Square, which is responsible for 30-feet (nine meters) high and 100-feet (30-meters) long construction, promised in a statement released Wednesday that it would be dismantled.Politicians and public alike condemned the exhibit, a stone’s throw from the tomb of communist leader Vladimir Lenin. State news agencies reported that the Kremlin had demanded the removal of the display.The construction is part of an exhibition called „The Soul of Travel,” marking Vuitton’s 150th anniversary and was to open on Dec. 2. Louis Vuitton said the construction was a copy of a model owned by a Russian noble, Prince Vladimir Orlov.
View gallery Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and leader of the liberals in the European Parliament, …By Robin Emmott and John O’DonnellvBRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union backed down on Wednesday from threats to suspend agreements granting the United States access to European data, rejecting calls for a tougher stance over alleged U.S. spying.The move marks an abrupt about-turn for the European Commission, the EU executive, after warnings it issued in July to U.S. officials following revelations that Washington had spied on European citizens and EU institutions.Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s commissioner for home affairs, said she had found no proof of U.S. wrongdoing, either in the sharing of flight passenger records or in the tracking of international payments.„I have received written assurances from the U.S. authorities,” Malmstrom said, referring to the SWIFT payments system in Belgium, which exchanges millions of messages on transactions globally and which the United States has access to in order to intercept terrorism plots.„The Commission does not suspend an agreement with an international partner on the basis of two articles in the newspaper,” she told a news conference.Malmstrom also said there had been no abuse of the Passenger Name Record agreement, which covers data provided by passengers when booking tickets and checking in for flights.The spying allegations have complicated EU-U.S. ties at a delicate moment in transatlantic relations, as Brussels and Washington are negotiating a free-trade pact that would encompass almost half the world’s economy.The Commission’s decision is also a setback for the European Parliament, which had demanded an end to the accords unless Washington revealed the extent of its surveillance in Europe, made public by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.„I know that citizens’ trust in Europe has been shaken by the Snowden case … We have engaged with the United States to bring clarity on these cases,” Malmstrom said.The United States denies any wrongdoing and the U.S. embassy to the European Union in Brussels welcomed Wednesday’s decision to uphold the data-sharing agreements, saying in a statement they reflected „the breadth and depth of U.S.-EU cooperation”.‘HUNKY DORY’-EU lawmakers voted last month to suspend Washington’s ability to track international payments through the SWIFT database because of suspicions that U.S. agents trawled too deeply for information, abusing an agreement giving the United States only limited access.Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Liberal member of the European Parliament, criticized the Commission’s move.„They are putting diplomatic relations ahead of citizens rights. The Commission is being extremely timid to the Americans,” she told Reuters.„They have done an investigation and concluded that everything is hunky dory. This is not serious,” she said, adding that taking the United States at its word was naive.Lawmakers fret that the United States is covertly drawing extra information from SWIFT following leaked U.S. documents aired by Globo, Brazil’s biggest television network, indicating that Washington has secretly tapped into the database.Malmstrom said she would stay alert to any unlawful U.S. behavior but had already warned the European Parliament she had no plans to propose a suspension of SWIFT to EU members.The data-sharing agreements are part of transatlantic cooperation following the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.(Additional reporting by Tom Korkemeier and Adrian Croft; Editing by Gareth Jones)
Ukrainian protesters demand release of Tymoshenko
View gallery KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Thousands of people demonstrated in central Kiev for a fifth straight day on Wednesday to protest the Ukrainian government’s decision not to sign an agreement with the European Union but to restore ties with Russia instead.About 5,000 people were on Independence Square, listening to music and singing, several hours before the evening’s demonstration was scheduled to start. Tuesday night’s protests drew an estimated 7,000 people.Earlier Wednesday, a couple of thousand demonstrators rallied outside the Ukrainian government building to call for the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.The EU had made the release of Tymoshenko, the political rival of President Viktor Yanukovych, a condition for signing the political and trade agreement at a summit that begins Thursday in Vilnius, Lithuania. Yanukovych still plans to attend the EU summit.The freeing of Tymoshenko „would be a sign, a symbol, that Ukraine is truly ready for change and is ready to become part of Europe,” Igor Nesterovich, 42, who had come to the capital from the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk to take part in the protests.Yanukovych’s government has explained its decision to back away from efforts to integrate with the European Union by saying that Ukraine could not afford to sacrifice trade with Russia.The protesters had been split between two central squares, but on Wednesday afternoon those on Europe Square took down their tents and moved to Independence Square, the center of the 2004 Orange Revolution.Tymoshenko was the heroine of the peaceful Orange Revolution, which overturned Yanukovych’s victory in a rigged presidential election. She narrowly lost to Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election, and the next year was sent to prison in a case widely seen as political retribution.
By Dominic Evans 47 minutes ago
View gallerySyria’s President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Venezuelan state television TeleSUR …By Dominic EvansBEIRUT (Reuters) – Western countries which demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down should either stop dreaming or forget attending peace talks in January, Syria said on Wednesday.Responding to an announcement that the long-delayed „Geneva 2” conference aimed at resolving Syria’s civil war will be held on January 22, it said Assad’s government would take part in the meeting but reiterated that it had no plans to surrender power.The statement highlighted the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between opposing sides in the 2-1/2 year conflict, which has killed more than 100,000 people, caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, and driven millions from their homes.The head of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebel brigades has rejected the Geneva talks and says there will be no ceasefire during the meeting. Powerful Islamist fighters have gone further, threatening to put on trial anyone who attends talks which do not deliver Assad’s ouster.The National Coalition opposition group, which also has Western support but minimal influence over fighters on the ground, says it will decide next month whether to go to Geneva.It has previously said it is ready to attend if humanitarian aid corridors are set up and political prisoners released, and insists Assad can play no future role in Syria.Assad, however, has consolidated his power around Damascus and central Syria after months of steady military gains. With support from Iran and Russia and backed by fighters from Lebanon and Iraq, his soldiers recaptured towns this month on the edge of the capital and the southern approaches to Aleppo.More secure than a year ago from the mainly Sunni rebels, whose ranks are also swelled from abroad by an influx of Islamist jihadi fighters, he faces little internal pressure to make concessions to his foes.„The age of colonialism, with the installation and toppling of governments, is over. They must wake from their dreams,” a foreign ministry source said on Wednesday in response to French and British calls for Assad to step aside.„If they insist on these delusions, there is no need for them to attend Geneva 2,” said the source in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency.„Our people will not allow anyone to steal their right to choose their future and their leadership,” the source said. „The official Syrian delegation is not going to Geneva to surrender power.”Underlining the continued emphasis which both sides place on a military solution to the conflict, the statement also said that „eliminating terrorism” – a phrase used by authorities to describe their battle with the rebels – would be the top issue for the government delegation in Geneva.CEASEFIRE CALL The foreign ministers of Turkey and Iran called on Wednesday for a ceasefire in Syria before the January 22 talks.Russia, which with the United States and international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is helping convene the conference, said no side could set preconditions for it, and that calls for Assad’s departure aimed to scuttle the meeting.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said „there will never be ideal conditions” for the talks.„All those who say it’s necessary to wait for a military balance to be achieved on the ground, or for all external aid from all sides to be stopped, or for a date for President Assad’s exit from his post…this is all done, in my opinion with the unseemly aim of creating difficulties for the conference or causing it to fail entirely,” he said.The fractured opposition should be represented by a single delegation, he said.Russia has been seeking to bring an array of opposition leaders to Moscow for talks before the conference. The effort has borne no fruit so far, but Lavrov said that all opposition groups Russia had spoken with had expressed interest, and that a date was being discussed.The protracted conflict in Syria grew out of anti-Assad demonstrations which erupted in March 2011, inspired by uprisings across the Arab world.Their violent suppression ignited a conflict that has split Syria among ethnic and religious factions backed by competing foreign powers. It has also inflamed sectarian tensions across the region between Sunnis and Shi’ites.On Wednesday, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 17 rebels, five of them from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), were killed in heavy fighting around the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.Government forces, backed by Shi’ite Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and the Abu Fadl al-Abbas brigades, a militia made up of foreign Shi’ite militants, also suffered unspecified casualties in the clashes, the monitoring group said.Rebels east of Damascus are struggling to break a blockade that has cut off food, supplies and weapons for six months.(Additional reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
View galleryMOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman hit back at the European Union on Tuesday, saying it was wrong to criticize Russia over Ukraine’s decision to back away from a trade deal with the EU and draw closer to Moscow.„In this case it is inappropriate to speak of any kind of pressure,” Interfax news agency quoted Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying in Russia’s first public response to a strongly worded statement from EU leaders on Monday.The remarks reflected tension between Russia and the EU over the shift by Ukraine, which abruptly halted preparations to sign up for the trade pact with the EU at a summit in Vilnius on Friday and said it would cultivate closer trade ties with Moscow.Ukraine’s decision followed months of Russian warnings that Moscow could impose punitive trade measures on its neighbor and hints that it could cut natural gas shipments.In a statement on Monday, the EU’s two most senior officials said they „strongly disapprove of the Russian position and actions in this respect.”Peskov said Putin had repeatedly stated Russia’s position that it would welcome any decision by Ukraine, Interfax reported.Russia wants Ukraine to bring into a Customs Union with other former Soviet republics. Moscow has also accused the EU of putting pressure on Kiev.(Reporting by Jason Bush, Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)
Thai protesters keep up anti-government push
View gallery \ BANGKOK (AP) — Flag-waving protesters vowing to topple Thailand’s prime minister took to the streets of Bangkok for a fourth day Wednesday, massing in the thousands at half a dozen government ministries and raising fears of fresh political violence in the divided Southeast Asian nation.The protests were peaceful, though, and as night fell, Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration still controlled every ministry except the Finance Ministry, despite an opposition threat to seize them all.„Whether we succeed or not is not the most important” thing, said Taweesak Maham, a 55-year-old Bangkok resident. „What’s important is that the people in the country came out this time to be understood, to symbolically show what the people want.”In a city of some 10 million people, the demonstrators appeared to number in the tens of thousands — far less than the 100,000-plus mustered when they began Sunday. The numbers indicate they are unlikely to bring down the government on their own without more popular support, or judicial or military intervention.By late afternoon, whistle-blowing throngs had massed inside or around at least six of the government’s 19 ministries, although they left half of them after a few hours. One large group led by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban entered a sprawling government office complex that houses the Department of Special Investigation, the country’s equivalent of the FBI, and prepared to camp there overnight.Yingluck has repeatedly offered to negotiate an end to the crisis. So far, security forces have not even fired tear gas to prevent protesters from forcing the closure of multiple government offices.View gallery.”An anti-government protester blows a whistle at Industry Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, N …„We must not regard this as a win-or-lose situation,” Yingluck told reporters at parliament. „Today no one is winning or losing, only the country is hurting.”A Thai government tourism official said the country has lost 300,000 tourists from the ongoing protests so far, at a cost of half a billion U.S. dollars.Late Tuesday, police issued an arrest warrant for Suthep, a former lawmaker. There appeared to be no attempt to detain him, however, as he led some 6,000 supporters early Wednesday out of the Finance Ministry, which had been converted into an ad hoc protest headquarters since crowds stormed it Monday.As Suthep walked through the crowd at the DSI offices, he was regarded as a hero, treating admirers to a big smile in the manner of the veteran politician he is. Many of the occupiers are from the country’s south, Suthep’s homeland and the stronghold of the opposition Democrat Party, which is aligned with the protest. Free food and water is available at all times, but boredom or paranoia causes a few to turn their attentions to foreign journalists, who are eyed warily. On Tuesday, a German photographer was roughed up at one of the other protest sites.Suthep says his goal is to replace the government with a non-elected council, a change he said was necessary to eradicate the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.View gallery.”Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy premier leading the protest movement, talks to anti-government pr …Thaksin, Yingluck’s billionaire older brother, was ousted by a 2006 military coup and fled the country to avoid a two-year prison term on a corruption conviction. He continues to sharply divide the nation, with his supporters and opponents battling for power.In broad terms, the confrontation pits the Thai elite and the educated middle-class against Thaksin’s power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.The anti-government campaign started last month after Yingluck’s ruling Pheu Thai party tried to pass an amnesty bill that critics said was designed to absolve Thaksin and others of politically related offenses and allow him to return home. The Senate rejected the bill in a bid to end the protests, but the rallies have gained momentum.Suthep served as deputy prime minister under a previous Democrat Party administration, which faced mass protests led by Thaksin’s „Red Shirt” supporters, who occupied Bangkok’s city center for two months in 2010. Those demonstrations ended in an army crackdown which left about 90 people dead and left swathes of downtown in flames.Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001, and the Democrats were crushed by Yingluck’s ruling party during a landslide vote that brought her to power in 2011.View gallery.”Anti-government protesters gather outside the Industry Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Nov …Suthep has rejected new elections, which the now-opposition Democrats are certain to lose.Akanat Promphan, a protest spokesman, earlier said the offensive to seize government offices would be extended nationwide. On Wednesday, protesters gathered around 20 of Thailand’s 77 provincial halls, where the local governments are located. Most of them are southern provinces.Yingluck’s government is also fending off sharp criticism during a parliamentary no-confidence debate this week. A vote is expected Thursday, although it would be impossible to unseat Yingluck since her party controls the House of Representatives.___Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker, Grant Peck, Raul Gallego Abellan and Yves Van Dam contributed to this report.
Obama defends Iran policy amid Israel anger
View gallery San Francisco (AFP) – US President Barack Obama defended his administration’s Iran policy but said „huge challenges” remained to successfully implement a landmark deal on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.Obama has come under fierce criticism from Republican rivals at home and key allies abroad, such as Israel, for pursuing a diplomatic solution to the Iran question.Israel decried the breakthrough agreement reached in Geneva on Sunday — under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions — as a „historic mistake.”Obama, however, insisted that the US policy of diplomacy twinned with sanctions had been more productive than rhetoric, stating that „tough talk” alone would not guarantee US security.„For the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress on Iran’s nuclear program,” Obama said. „Key parts of the program will be rolled back.”Obama said diplomacy would continue over the coming months in a bit to settle „once and for all” the „threat of Iran’s nuclear program.”„Huge challenges remain, but we cannot close the door on diplomacy, and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems,” Obama said.View gallery.”Graphic showing major facilities in Iran affected by a new nuclear deal (AFP Photo/)„We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of violence, and tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security.”Earlier Monday, France said the European Union could begin lifting sanctions on Iran next month as world powers set about implementing the deal with Tehran while seeking to placate a furious Israel.In a radio interview, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said EU foreign ministers were to meet next month to discuss lifting some sanctions as part of the deal, a move he said could take place „in December.”One senior Western diplomat, who refused to be named, told AFP the focus in the coming weeks would be „swift implementation”.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday decided to send his national security advisor to Washington for talks on Iran after warning the deal will convince Tehran it has a free hand to achieve a breakout nuclear capability.Obama has repeatedly tried to reassure Netanyahu, calling him on Sunday to discuss the issue.View gallery.”US President Barack Obama speaks on immigration reform at Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in …The Geneva deal came just days after Iran’s supreme leader described Israel as a „rabid dog” that was „doomed to collapse”.Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, and Israel — the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power — has repeatedly warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat.‘Israel’s security at heart’ Speaking in Jerusalem, the EU ambassador-designate to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, told a crowd of diplomats and the country’s intelligence minister that the 28-member bloc had „Israel’s security at heart.”The so-called P5+1 world powers that negotiated the accord with Iran — the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany — say it is a key first step that wards off the threat of military escalation in the volatile Middle East.Under the deal, which lasts for six months while a more long-lasting solution is negotiated, Tehran will limit uranium enrichment to low levels used only for civilian energy purposes.It will also neutralize its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is close to weapons-grade and therefore an area of top concern.In return, the Islamic state will get some $7 billion in sanctions relief in access to frozen funds and in its petrochemical, gold and precious metals and auto sectors.But the raft of international sanctions that have hobbled the Iranian economy remain untouched.Fabius said that Iran committed „to giving up the prospect of a nuclear weapon” as part of the interim deal.„As much as Iran can move forward where civilian nuclear energy is concerned, it cannot do so for the atomic weapon,” he added.But these pacifying moves have failed to convince many Israelis, and a poll conducted by the daily Israel Hayom found more than three-quarters of Israeli Jews believe Iran will keep up its nuclear drive despite the Geneva deal.Most Iranian newspapers on Monday hailed the Geneva deal, attributing the relatively swift success to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.Zarif, who led the Iranian delegation at the talks, received a hero’s welcome when he returned home and insisted Monday that the „structure of Iran’s nuclear program was preserved.”