The United States has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations. That starts a withdrawal process that does not become official for a year. His statement touted America's carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an "unfair economic burden" to the U.S. economy.
Nearly 200 nations signed the climate deal in which each country provides its own goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases that lead to climate change.
"In international climate discussions, we will continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model — backed by a record of real world results — showing innovation and open markets lead to greater prosperity, fewer emissions, and more secure sources of energy," Pompeo said in a statement.
The U.S. started the process with a hand-delivered letter, becoming the only country to withdraw. The United Nations will soon set out procedural details for what happens next, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Agreement rules prevented any country from pulling out in the first three years after the Nov. 4, 2016, ratification. The U.S. withdrawal doesn't become complete until the day after the 2020 election.
President Donald Trump has been promising withdrawal for two years, but Monday was the first time he could actually do it.
Trump's decision was condemned as a reckless failure of leadership by environmental experts, activists and critics such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Donald Trump is the worst president in history for our climate and our clean air and water," said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. "Long after Trump is out of office his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement will be seen as a historic error."
The agreement set goals of preventing another 0.9 degrees (0.5 degrees Celsius) to 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) of warming from current levels. Even the pledges made in 2015 weren't enough to prevent those levels of warming.
The deal calls for nations to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts every five years, starting in November 2020. Because of the expected withdrawal, the U.S. role in 2020 negotiations will be reduced, experts said.
Climate change, largely caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas, has already warmed the world by 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) since the late 1800s, caused massive melting of ice globally, triggered weather extremes and changed ocean chemistry. And scientists say, depending on how much carbon dioxide is emitted, it will only get worse by the end of the century, with temperatures jumping by several degrees and oceans rising by close to 3 feet (1 meter).
Trump has been promising to pull out of the Paris deal since 2017, often mischaracterizing the terms of the agreement, which are voluntary. In October, he called it a massive wealth transfer from America to other nations and said it was one-sided.
That's not the case, experts said.
For example, the U.S. goal — set under President Barack Obama — had been to reduce carbon dioxide emission in 2025 by 26% to 28% compared with 2005 levels. This translates to about 15% compared with 1990 levels.
The European Union's goal was to cut carbon pollution in 2030 by 40% compared with 1990 levels, which is greater than America's pledge, said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University professor and chairman of the Global Carbon Project. The United Kingdom has already exceeded that goal, he said.
Many critics of the Paris agreement say America is the leader in cutting carbon emissions, but that's not true.
Since 2005, the United States isn't in the top 10 in percentage of greenhouse gas emission reductions. The United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Greece, the Czech Republic and other nations have done better, said Jackson, who tracks emissions.
"The U.S. agreement is not a tax on the American people. There is no massive wealth transfer," said Climate Advisers CEO Nigel Purvis, who was a lead State Department climate negotiator in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. "In fact, the agreement obligates no country to make any financial payments."
Pompeo said U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13% from 2005 to 2017 "even as our economy grew over 19 percent."
Then, in 2018, carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.7%, according to the Energy Information Administration, mostly due to extreme weather and the economy.
The reason for the long-term emissions drop is because the U.S. is using less coal and has tightened air quality standards, while Trump is pushing for more coal and loosening those standards, said Michael Gerrard, who heads Columbia Law School's climate change legal center.
For the U.S. — the second biggest carbon polluter — to be in line with Paris goals greenhouse gas emissions have to drop 80%, not 13%, Gerrard said.
"The Trump Administration's abandonment of action on climate change gives other countries an excuse not to act either. They ask — if the richest country, the one that has contributed the most to the load of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, isn't willing to act, why should we?" Gerrard said. "If someone other than Donald Trump is elected, he or she will almost certainly rejoin Paris, and the rest of the world will welcome us back with open arms."
Former Vice President Al Gore, who made climate change his signature issue, characterized the decision as a mistake but said there was still reason for hope.
"No one person or party can stop our momentum to solve the climate crisis," Gore said. "But those who try will be remembered for their complacency, complicity, and mendacity in attempting to sacrifice the planet for their greed."
Iran on Monday broke further away from its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers by doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates, linking the decision to U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the agreement over a year ago.
The announcement — which also included Iran saying it now has a prototype centrifuge that works 50 times faster than those allowed under the deal — came as demonstrators across the country marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover that started a 444-day hostage crisis.
By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cut into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon — if it chose to pursue one. Iran long has insisted its program is for peaceful purposes, though Western fears about its work led to the 2015 agreement that saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Tehran has gone from producing some 450 grams (1 pound) of low-enriched uranium a day to 5 kilograms (11 pounds), said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Iran now holds over 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, Salehi said. The deal had limited Iran to 300 kilograms (661 pounds).
Visiting Iran's underground Natanz enrichment facility, Salehi dramatically pushed a button on a keyboard to start a chain of 30 IR-6 centrifuges as state television cameras filmed, increasing the number of working centrifuges to 60.
"With the grace of God, I start the gas injection," the U.S.-trained scientist said.
The deal once limited Iran to using only 5,060 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas. An IR-6 centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times faster than an IR-1, Iranian officials say.
Salehi also announced that scientists were working on a prototype he called the IR-9, which worked 50-times faster than the IR-1.
As of now, Iran is enriching uranium up to 4.5%, in violation of the accord's limit of 3.67%. Enriched uranium at the 3.67% level is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%. At the 4.5% level, it is enough to help power Iran's Bushehr reactor, the country's only nuclear power plant. Prior to the atomic deal, Iran only reached up to 20%.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will announce further steps away from the accord sometime soon, government spokesman Ali Rabiei separately said Monday, suggesting Salehi's comments could be followed by additional violations of the nuclear deal. An announcement had been expected this week.
Iran has threatened in the past to push enrichment back up to 20%. That would worry nuclear nonproliferation experts because 20% is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels of 90%. It also has said it could ban inspectors from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Vienna-based IAEA declined to comment on Iran's announcement. The IAEA previously said Iran planned to build two cascades, one with 164 IR-2M centrifuges and another with 164 IR-5 centrifuges. A cascade is a group of centrifuges working together to more quickly enrich uranium.
Iran broke through its stockpile and enrichment limitations to try to pressure Europe to offer it a new deal, more than a year since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord. But so far, European nations have been unable to offer Iran a way to help it sell its oil abroad as it faces strict U.S. sanctions.
Salehi again expressed Iran's ability to step back if a deal is made.
"If they return to their commitments, we also will go back to our commitments," he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Iranians to implement the 2015 nuclear deal, a spokesman said.
"It was a very significant diplomatic achievement," U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said. "He regrets any steps away from that agreement by any of the parties."
Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, urged Iran "to reverse such steps without delay and to refrain from any further measures that would undermine the nuclear deal."
The White House in a statement, noting the 40th anniversary of the hostage crisis, said the U.S. "will continue to impose crippling sanctions" until Iran changes its behavior. The U.S. also imposed new sanctions Monday on members of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's inner circle.
Meanwhile Monday, demonstrators gathered in front of the former U.S. Embassy in downtown Tehran to mark the takeover. The resulting hostage crisis saw Islamist students seize the post in response to U.S. President Jimmy Carter allowing Iran's autocratic leader, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to receive medical care in the U.S. While some hostages found freedom amid the crisis, 52 Americans were held for 444 days until U.S. President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in Jan. 1981.
"Thanks to God, today the revolution's seedlings have evolved into a fruitful and huge tree that its shadow has covered the entire" Middle East, said Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi, the commander of the Iranian army.
However, this year's commemoration of the embassy seizure comes as Iran's regional allies in Iraq and Lebanon face widespread protests. The Iranian Consulate in Karbala, Iraq, a holy city for Shiites, saw a mob attack it overnight. Violence there killed three people and wounded 19, Iraqi officials said.
Trump retweeted posts by Saudi-linked media showing the chaos outside the consulate. The violence comes after the hard-line Keyhan newspaper in Iran reiterated a call for demonstrators to seize U.S. and Saudi diplomatic posts in Iraq in response to the unrest.
The collapse of the nuclear deal coincided with a tense summer of mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities that the U.S. blamed on Iran. Tehran denied the allegation, though it did seize oil tankers and shoot down a U.S. military surveillance drone.
The U.S. has increased its military presence across the Mideast, including basing troops in Saudi Arabia for the first time since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Both Saudi Arabia and the neighboring United Arab Emirates are believed to be talking to Tehran through back channels to ease tensions. Rouhani recently sent a letter to both Bahraini and Saudi leaders on regional peace and security, said Rabiei, the Iranian government spokesman.
A US Border Patrol agent who tried to stop some people believed to have crossed the border illegally shot and killed one of them Monday after the man pulled a gun and opened fire, authorities said.
Two agents approached a group four people about a mile from U.S.-Mexico border and chased one of them who took off running, New Mexico State Police said.
"At some point during the foot pursuit, the suspect fired a weapon at the two Border Patrol agents," state police spokesman Ray Wilson said in a statement.
One of the agents shot back, hitting the man, who died at a hospital. No agents were hurt during the shooting in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a suburb of El Paso, Texas.
The three other people in the group were arrested, a Border Patrol spokesman said. It's unclear what charges they face.
The agent's name was not released, and police were still working to determine the deceased man's identity.
The CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting an internal investigation.
The FBI also is investigating. Albuquerque FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to say which agency would make a final determination about the agent.
Federal authorities blocked off the crime scene, closing a main road in Sunland Park and stretching crime tape between their patrol vehicles.
An auto shop and a car dealership on either side of the street were closed.
Argentine President-elect Alberto Fernández met with his Mexican soon-to-be counterpart Monday seeking to boost bilateral and regional cooperation in his first foreign trip since winning election last month.
Fernández said topics of discussion with Andrés Manuel López Obrador in their private conversations at Mexico's National Palace included improving what he described as a deteriorated commercial relationship and mutual concerns over political upheaval in countries like Chile and Ecuador. He said they barely touched on the political standoff in Venezuela because both men's stances are well-known.
Fernández said the two shared a similar vision of how to see the Americas and the world, and outlined a regional vision prioritizing equality and boosting marginalized people.
"They are alternatives to what has ruled in recent years, for example in Argentina, and it is a return to finding a political system that returns the equity lost in Latin America, the equilibrium lost in Latin America, the social equality lost in Latin America," Fernández said in a news conference following the encounter.
He expressed "satisfaction in meeting with someone who thinks so similarly to me."
After topping conservative incumbent Mauricio Macri on Oct. 27, a key South American partner would have normally been a more likely first stop for Fernández rather than Mexico City, which is a 10-hour flight from Buenos Aires and is far more closely tied to the United States commercially and otherwise.
But there were few good options close to home. The likes of Brazil and Colombia are run by conservative governments with which Fernández has little in common ideologically. Left-led countries like Venezuela and Bolivia have their own political crises going on. Neighboring Chile is both conservative-led and in the midst of deadly political protests, and analysts say visiting there would have been seen as validating the government's use of force against demonstrators.
So the president-elect turned to the northern hemisphere and López Obrador, a like-minded, center-left politician who's often referred to by his initials, "AMLO," and who regularly espouses nonconfrontation and nonintervention in others' affairs as a cornerstone of Mexico's foreign policy since taking office last December.
"Mexico is far away, with few ties," said Shannon O'Neil, senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, "but rhetorically leftist, so safe."
"I think (Fernández) is trying to situate himself publicly within Latin America and that rules out a very large number of countries," agreed Gregory Weeks, a political scientist specializing in Latin America at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. "And so what he's able to say is that 'I align myself more or less along the same lines as AMLO, and so symbolically he can go forward from there. He's established that 'I prioritize the left,' and then he can visit Brazil or other countries after that."
Argentina is mired in a crisis of its unknown with rampant inflation, deep indebtedness and widespread poverty, and Fernández said his inauguration Dec. 10 "is not a magical date" after which the problems he blames on his predecessor will be quickly solved.
"On Dec. 10 the government changes, the economic reality does not," he warned, adding that Argentina's external debt rose in the last three years to 95% of GDP, 40% of his compatriots will be in poverty when he takes office and resolving the crisis won't be easy.
As for the debt, he said: "It's not that we don't want to pay ... obligations must be met. What they must understand is that we cannot fulfill it by asking our people for more sacrifice."
Fernández said Argentina and Mexico share deep cultural ties and Argentina owes the North American nation "an eternal debt" for taking in the thousands who fled to political exile during the military dictatorship decades ago.
He said the commercial relationship fell by the wayside and now the challenge is to build it back up. Later Monday he was to meet with Mexican private sector leaders to encourage them to do business in Argentina, and he said he hoped to meet with billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the world's wealthiest men.
"Argentina needs investment," Fernández said.
But Weeks said there's probably a limit to how much the trade relationship can yield, given established partnerships with neighbors.
"They can establish some new agreements on trade or energy or something like that, but I think Argentina is rooted in South America and it will be working with (trade bloc) Mercosur, it will be working with Brazil, just because of the historical relationship," he said. "So it's hard for me to see this becoming anything big."
Turkey captured the elder sister of the slain leader of the Islamic State group in northwestern Syria on Monday, according to a senior Turkish official, who called the arrest an intelligence "gold mine."
Little is known about the sister of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Turkish official said the 65-year-old known as Rasmiya Awad is suspected of being affiliated with the extremist group. He did not elaborate.
Awad was captured in a raid Monday evening on a trailer container she was living in with her family near the town of Azaz in Aleppo province. The area is part of the region administered by Turkey after it carried out a military incursion to chase away IS militants and Kurdish fighters starting 2016. Allied Syrian groups manage the area known as the Euphrates Shield zone.
The official said the sister was with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children. The adults are being interrogated, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol.
"This kind of thing is an intelligence gold mine. What she knows about (IS) can significantly expand our understanding of the group and help us catch more bad guys," the official said.
Al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi from Samarra, was killed in a U.S. raid in the nearby province of Idlib last month. The raid was a major blow to the group, which has lost territories it held in Syria and Iraq in a series of military defeats by the U.S-led coalition and Syrian and Iraqi allies.
Many IS members have escaped through smuggling routes to northwestern Syria in the final days of battle ahead of the group's territorial defeat earlier this year, while others have melted into the desert in Syria or Iraq.
The reclusive leader al-Baghdadi was known to be close to one of his brothers, known by his nom de guerre Abu Hamza.
Al-Baghdadi's aide, a Saudi, was killed hours after the raid, also in northwestern Syria, in a U.S. strike. The group named a successor to al-Baghdadi days later, but little is known about him or how the group's structure has been affected by the successive blows.