Abu Dhabi, May 29 (AP/UNB) — Donald Trump's national security adviser said Wednesday there was "no reason" for Iran to back out of its nuclear deal with world powers other than to seek atomic weapons, a year after the U.S. president unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.
John Bolton, long a hawk on Iran, also claimed — without offering evidence — that the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates came from naval mines placed "almost certainly by Iran."
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, Bolton told journalists that there had been a previously unknown attempt to attack the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as well.
Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Bolton's claim on Yanbu, which is the terminus, or end point, of the kingdom's East-West Pipeline. That pipeline was attacked in recent days in a coordinated drone assault launched by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
In recent weeks, tensions have soared as the U.S. beefed up its military presence in the Persian Gulf in response to a still-unexplained threat from Iran.
The U.S. also has accused Iran of being behind a string of incidents, including the alleged sabotage of oil tankers near the UAE coast and a rocket that landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, while Yemen's Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels have launched a string of drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia.
Iran, meanwhile, has announced it was backing away from the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw it limits its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord as he believes it didn't go far enough in limiting the Iranian nuclear program, nor did it address Iran's ballistic missile program.
Bolton said that without more nuclear power plants, it made no sense for Iran to stockpile more low-enriched uranium as it now plans to do. But the U.S. also earlier cut off Iran's ability to sell its uranium to Russia in exchange for unprocessed yellow-cake uranium.
Iran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to offer better terms to the unraveling nuclear deal, otherwise it will resume enrichment closer to weapons level. Bolton declined to say what the U.S. would do in response to that.
"There's no reason for them to do (higher enrichment) unless it is to reduce the breakout time to nuclear weapons," Bolton said.
Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. However, Western powers pushed for the nuclear deal to limit Iran's ability to seek atomic weapons.
Manaus, May 29 (AP/UNB) — Brazilian officials said Tuesday up to 29 inmates blamed for killing sprees in several prisons will be transferred to stricter federal facilities, after two days of unrest left 55 prisoners dead and authorities rushing to prevent the violence from spreading.
Fighting between inmates began around noon on Sunday in a prison complex in Manaus, the capital of the northern Amazonas state. The state's governor, Wilson Lima, said the deaths were the result of infighting in one of the prison's criminal groups.
"We already had intelligence indicating there was a fissure between members of the same criminal fraction," Lima said in a press conference, without specifying which group.
Drug trafficking and criminal gangs are able to run much of their day-to-day business from Brazil's prisons, where they often have wide sway. Authorities frequently try to separate factions and transfer prisoners to prevent clashes.
In the Manaus complex, an emergency security protocol was activated and within 45 minutes the situation was under control, local authorities said. Still, 15 inmates were killed, either asphyxiated or murdered with hand-crafted arms such as sharpened toothbrushes.
The following day, more fights erupted in three other facilities, all in the same city of Manaus, leaving another 40 inmates dead and pushing federal authorities to send a special taskforce to avoid a scenario similar to that of January 2017, when weeks of gruesome prison killings left over 120 victims.
Nine inmates who were transferred to federal facilities on Tuesday are believed to have ordered the killings, authorities said. It is unclear when the other 20 prisoners will be transferred to federal facilities. As a precautionary measure, another 200 prisoners have also been moved to different cells.
While police forces were intervening to separate inmates considered at-risk, two detainees were shot as they tried to take prison staff hostage.
"As the troop advanced, they (inmates) were killing people choking them inside their cells," said Col. Vinicius Almeida, who leads the state prison office.
Family members of inmates gathered outside the prisons, waiting for information on their loved ones. Some outside the Puraquequara Prison Unit, or UPP, on Tuesday told The Associated Press they heard people screaming and calling for help from within the facility Monday night.
"I'm going to stand here until they give me some news," said Ediane Costa Soares, 38, whose 19-year-old son Anderson Soares de Souza, is an inmate at UPP.
Her son does not appear on the list of victims, but Costa Soares wants reassurance of her son's well-being after the riots. "They have not told us anything."
Another woman, Ana Claudia Bonfim da Silva, was also seeking information about her husband, Marinaldo Chavier, serving a five-year sentence at UPP for robbery.
"It's not easy because they are treated like animals inside. But they are humans not dogs. They (authorities) should give them a job, make them work, but there is not anything like that," she said.
Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population, with more than 720,000 individuals behind bars, according to 2016 data from the online database World Prison Brief. Many facilities are severely overcrowded, up to three times more than its maximum capacity, leaving guards outnumbered.
The Anisio Jobim Prison Complex, where 15 inmates died Sunday, was the scene of gruesome infighting two years ago that left 56 prisoners dead. Many of those victims had their heads cut off or their hearts and intestines ripped out.
In a separate episode, 18 prisoners escaped Monday from a prison in the state of Goias. Officials from the prison said Tuesday they had captured six of the fugitives.
Twenty members of the federal taskforce arrived in Manaus Tuesday for a period of 90 days, said state Gov. Lima in a press conference, adding that by the end of the week the number should rise to about 100 men.
Kansas City, May 29 (AP/UNB) — A vicious storm tore through the western outskirts of Kansas City on Tuesday, spawning one or more tornadoes that downed trees and power lines, damaged homes and injured at least 11 people in the latest barrage of severe weather that saw tornado warnings as far east as New York City.
Parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey also were under tornado warnings hours after a swarm of tightly packed twisters swept through Indiana and Ohio overnight, smashing homes, blowing out windows and ending the school year early for some students because of damage to buildings. One person was killed and at least 130 were injured.
Those storms were among 55 twisters that forecasters said may have touched down Monday across eight states stretching eastward from Idaho and Colorado.
The past couple of weeks have seen unusually high tornado activity in the U.S., with no immediate end to the pattern in sight.
Tuesday offered no respite, as a large and dangerous tornado touched down on the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas, late in the day, the National Weather Service office reported. Kansas City International Airport temporarily suspended flights and forced travelers and employees to take shelter in parking garage tunnels for about an hour. A powerful twister also touched down in the nearby township of Pleasant Grove, Kansas, seriously damaging homes.
But the severe weather wasn't limited to the Midwest. Tornadoes were confirmed in eastern Pennsylvania and the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of New York City and northern New Jersey.
The winds peeled away roofs — leaving homes looking like giant dollhouses — knocked houses off their foundations, toppled trees, brought down power lines and churned up so much debris that it was visible on radar. Highway crews had to use snowplows to clear an Ohio interstate.
Some of the heaviest damage was reported just outside Dayton, Ohio.
"I just got down on all fours and covered my head with my hands," said Francis Dutmers, who with his wife headed for the basement of their home in Vandalia, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside Dayton, when the storm hit with a "very loud roar" Monday night. The winds blew out windows around his house, filled rooms with debris and took down most of his trees.
In Celina, Ohio, 82-year-old Melvin Dale Hanna was killed when a parked car was blown into his house, Mayor Jeffrey Hazel said Tuesday.
"There's areas that truly look like a war zone," he said.
Of the injured, more than two dozen were admitted to hospitals.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in three hard-hit counties, allowing the state to suspend normal purchasing procedures and quickly provide supplies like water and generators.
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center showed that suspected tornadoes touched down in several states including Indiana, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.
Monday marked the record-tying 11th straight day with at least eight tornadoes in the U.S., said Patrick Marsh, a Storm Prediction Center meteorologist. The last such stretch was in 1980.
A tornado with winds up to 140 mph (225 kph) struck Monday near Trotwood, Ohio, a community of about 24,500 people 8 miles (12 kilometers) outside Dayton. Several apartment buildings were damaged or destroyed, including one complex where the entire roof was torn away, and at least three dozen people were treated for cuts, bumps and bruises.
"If I didn't move quick enough, what could have happened?" said Erica Bohannon of Trotwood, who hid in a closet with her son and their dog. She emerged to find herself looking at the sky. The roof was gone.
Just before midnight, about 40 minutes after that tornado cut through, the National Weather Service tweeted that another one was crossing its path.
Only a few minor injuries were reported in Dayton. Fire Chief Jeffrey Payne called that "pretty miraculous," attributing it to people heeding early warnings. Sirens went off ahead of the storm.
Some of the people treated at the area's Kettering Health Network hospitals were hurt during storm clean-up itself, while others may have waited before seeking treatment from storm injuries, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Long.
A boil-water advisory was issued after the city's pumping stations lost power. Dayton Power & Light said more than 50,000 customers remained without electricity and restoration efforts could take days.
A high school gym in Dayton was designated an emergency shelter until authorities realized it was unusable. Vandalia's school system tweeted that it is ending the year two days early because of building damage. In nearby hard-hit Brookville, where the storm tore off the school's roof, classes were canceled.
In Indiana, a twister touched down Monday evening in Pendleton, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from Indianapolis. At least 75 homes were damaged there and in nearby Huntsville, said Madison County Emergency Management spokesman Todd Harmeson. No serious injuries were reported.
Pendleton residents were urged to stay in their homes Tuesday morning because of downed power lines and other dangers.
"People are getting antsy. I know they want to get outdoors, and I know they want to see what's going on in the neighborhood," Harmeson said. But he added: "We still have hazards out there."
Outbreaks of 50 or more tornadoes are not uncommon, having happened 63 times in U.S. history, with three instances of more than 100 twisters, Marsh said. But Monday's swarm was unusual because it happened over a particularly wide geographic area and came amid an especially active stretch, he said.
As for why it's happening, Marsh said high pressure over the Southeast and an unusually cold trough over the Rockies are forcing warm, moist air into the central U.S., triggering repeated severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. And neither system is showing signs of moving, he said.
Scientists say climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather such as storms, droughts, floods and fires, but without extensive study they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.
Rio De Janeiro, May 28 (AP/UNB) — Forty-two inmates were killed at three different prisons in the capital of Brazil's northern Amazonas state Monday, authorities reported, a day after 15 died during fighting among prisoners at a fourth prison in the same city.
The Amazonas state prison agency said all 42 prisoners found dead in Manaus on Monday showed signs of asphyxia.
The killings across the city's prisons recalled early 2017 when more than 120 inmates died at the hands of other prisoners during several weeks of fighting among rival crime gang members at prisons in northern states. Many of those victims had their heads cut off or their hearts and intestines ripped out.
On Sunday, 15 inmates were killed during a riot at Manaus' Anisio Jobim Prison Complex, where 56 prisoners died in the violence two years earlier.
Local authorities said prisoners began fighting among themselves before noon Sunday, and security reinforcements were rushed in and managed to regain control within 45 minutes.
Little information was released about Monday's killings.
Brazil's justice and public security ministry said it was sending a federal task force to help local officials handle the situation.
"I just spoke with (Justice) Minister Sergio Moro, who is already sending a prison intervention team to the State of Amazonas, so that he can help us in this moment of crisis and a problem that is national: the problem of prisons," Amazonas state Gov. Wilson Lima said.
Several drug-trafficking and other criminal gangs in Brazil run much of their day-to-day business from prisons, where they often have wide sway. The 2017 slayings were largely gang-related, prompting authorities to increase efforts to separate factions and frequently transfer prisoners.
Authorities have not yet said whether gang wars were behind the latest blood-letting.
Moro had to send a federal task force to help tame violence in Ceara state in January that local officials said was ordered by crime gang leaders angered by plans to impose tighter controls in the state's prisons.
Tokyo, May 27 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump said Monday he is not "personally" bothered by recent short-range missile tests that North Korea conducted this month, breaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is hosting the president on four-day state visit full of pageantry.
Standing beside Trump at a news conference after hours of talks, Abe disagreed with the U.S. president, saying the missile tests violated U.N. Security Council resolutions and were "of great regret." Abe, who has forged a strong friendship with Trump and agrees with him on many issues, is concerned because the short-range missiles pose a threat to Japan's security.
Trump was invited to Japan to be the first world leader to meet with its new emperor . Despite being far from Washington, he didn't miss the chance to lob another broadside against former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the Democrats seeking to challenge Trump in next year's presidential election. North Korea's Kim Jong Un recently criticized Biden as having a low IQ, and Trump told the world he agreed with the authoritarian leader's assessment.
The visit was designed to highlight the U.S.-Japan alliance and showcase the warm relations between the leaders. Trump said he and Abe deliberated over economic issues, including trade and Iran, during hours of talks at the Akasaka Palace, but North Korea's recent firing of short-range missiles emerged as an area of disagreement.
When asked if he was bothered by the missile tests, Trump said: "No, I'm not. I am personally not."
The Republican president has sought to downplay the significance of the missile tests, even though his own national security adviser, John Bolton, said over the weekend that they violated U.N. resolutions.
Trump continues to hold out hope of getting Kim to agree to give up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, despite two summits he's had with the North Korean leader that produced no concrete pledge to denuclearize the peninsula.
Trump praised Kim, calling him a "smart man" who might have launched the missiles earlier this month to "get attention."
"All I know is there have been no nuclear tests, no ballistic missiles going out, no long-range missiles going out and I think that someday we'll have a deal," Trump said, adding that he is in "no rush."
Trump is correct that North Korea has not recently tested a long-range missile that could reach the U.S. But earlier this month, North Korea fired off a series of short-range missiles that alarmed U.S. allies in closer proximity to North Korea, including Japan. The tests broke a pause in North Korea's ballistic missile launches that began in late 2017.
Abe reiterated his previous statement that the tests were conducted in defiance of the U.N.
"This is violating the Security Council resolution," Abe said, adding that, as North Korea's neighbor, Japan feels threatened. "It is of great regret. But at the same time between Kim Jong Un and President Trump a certain new approach was taken and that is something that I pay tribute to."
Earlier Monday, Trump said he backed Abe's interest in leveraging his country's good relations with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue between the U.S. and its nemesis in the Middle East. Abe said he is willing to do whatever he can to help to reduce escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Trump and Abe discussed the issue earlier Monday. Abe could visit Iran next month.
"Peace and stability of (the) Middle East is very important for Japan and the United States and also for the international community as a whole," Abe said.
The leaders held hours of talks after the U.S. president — at Abe's invitation — became the first world leader to meet Japan's new emperor, Naruhito, who ascended to the throne May 1.
The meeting with Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, was preceded by a grand outdoor welcome ceremony at Japan's Imperial Palace, where Trump walked solo across red carpets, reviewing Japanese troops as the guest of honor.
Trump's official visit also included golf with Abe, presenting a trophy to a sumo wrestling champion and a black-tie banquet at the palace. The visit included hours of one-on-one time for Trump and Abe, who has been trying to remain on Trump's good side despite disagreements between them on trade and other issues.
Trump didn't hold back at the news conference when he was asked about Biden, declaring himself "not a fan."
"Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-I.Q. individual," Trump said, adding that Kim probably based his assessment on Biden's record and "I probably agree with him on that."
U.S. officeholders usually avoid engaging in politics while on foreign soil, hewing to the adage that politics stops at the water's edge. But Trump's sharp attack on Biden, through his declaration of agreement with Kim, set aside that long-standing norm.
Trump and Abe largely glossed over their difference on trade, despite the potentially crippling tariffs on foreign autos that Trump is threatening to impose on Japan and the European Union. Trump declined to say what Japan would have to do to avoid those tariffs, but complained of an "unbelievably large" trade imbalance with the nation.
Still, he said he expects to reach trade deals at some point with both Japan and China, but wouldn't rush it.
"I think we will have a deal with Japan. Likewise, I think we will have a deal with China sometime into the future," he said. Trump has tried to pressure China by slapping tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods.
"I don't believe that China can continue to pay these really hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs," he said.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet during a world leaders' summit next month in Osaka, Japan.