Nation and World briefs for June 11

Stern words from Iran: US cannot ‘expect to stay safe’

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s foreign minister warned the U.S. on Monday that it “cannot expect to stay safe” after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran, taking a hard-line stance amid a visit by Germany’s top diplomat seeking to defuse tensions.

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A stern-faced Mohammad Javad Zarif offered a series of threats over the ongoing tensions gripping the Persian Gulf. The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s decision over a year ago to withdraw America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Trump also reinstated tough sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil sector.

“Mr. Trump himself has announced that the U.S. has launched an economic war against Iran,” Zarif said. “The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war.”

Zarif also warned: “Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it.”

Zarif’s ramped up rhetoric marked a sharp departure for the U.S.-educated diplomat and signals that Iran is taking a harder line toward the West. His public threats, which came during a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, were striking because Zarif was the one who helped secure the nuclear deal, alongside the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani. However, he does not make the decision on whether to go to war. That is left to the supreme leader.

Trump signals frustration with Fed’s independent policies

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump complained Monday that President Xi Jinping enjoys a major advantage in the U.S.-China trade war in that he controls China’s central bank while Trump must deal with a Federal Reserve that is “very destructive to us.”

Trump made clear in an interview with CNBC his frustration with a system that provides political independence for America’s central bank — something most economists see as vital to its credibility. Trump noted that China’s president, by contrast, is essentially also head of the Chinese central bank.

“He can do whatever he wants,” Trump said in the interview.

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Trump also complained that even though he selected four of the Fed’s five board members, including elevating Jerome Powell to chairman, “We have people on the Fed that really weren’t, you know, they’re not my people.”

Speaking of the Fed’s policymaking committee, the president expressed exasperation that the panel raised its key short-term rate four times last year and acted to reduce the Fed’s balance sheet — action that had the effect of tightening credit — despite his public warnings against it.

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