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Found 55 results

  1. TEHRAN: Iran´s Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday rejected claims that one of its drones had flown close to an American aircraft without its lights on, blaming poor US identification systems. It was the latest in a spate of close encounters between US and Iranian aircraft or warships in the waters of the Gulf in recent weeks that have sparked recriminations as relations sour. "The Guards´ drone patrols... will continue in the Persian Gulf with precision, constantly and in the framework of protecting the borders of the Islamic republic of Iran and regardless of the psychological atmosphere created by alien forces," the Guards drone unit said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.republic of Iran and regardless of the psychological atmosphere created by alien forces," the Guards drone unit said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency. It added that the US claims of "unsafe and unprofessional" conduct were perhaps the result of "a weakness in their identification and recognition systems". The US Navy said on Monday that an Iranian QOM-1 drone had flown within 300 metres (1,000 feet) of an aircraft based on the carrier USS Nimitz operating in international waters in the Gulf the previous night. "Despite repeated radio calls to establish communications and remain clear, the QOM-1´s controlling station was unresponsive and the (drone) did not use any aircraft navigation lights while it made several passes in close proximity to Nimitz and its escort ships during active flight operations, coming within 1,000 feet of US aircraft," Navy spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey said. The incident followed an August 8 encounter between an Iranian drone and an F/A-18E Super Hornet. Washington said the US jet was forced to manoeuvre to avoid a collision, with the drone passing just 30 metres (100 feet) away at its closest point. On July 28, the USS Nimitz was involved in an incident with Guards naval vessels that culminated in it scrambling a helicopter to fire warning flares. On July 26, a US Navy patrol ship fired warning shorts at a Guards vessel after the two came within (137 metres) (150 yards) of each other in disputed circumstances.shorts at a Guards vessel after the two came within (137 metres) (150 yards) of each other in disputed circumstances.Guards vessel after the two came within (137 metres) (150 yards) of each other in disputed circumstances.
  2. Iran?s President Hassan Rouhani TEHRAN: Iran?s President Hassan Rouhani warned on Tuesday that Iran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers within hours if the United States keeps on imposing new sanctions. In a speech to parliament, he also hit out at US counterpart Donald Trump saying that he had shown the world that Washington was "not a good partner". Rouhani´s comments come with the nuclear deal under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and strikes, and Washington imposed new sanctions -- with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement. Rouhani warned that Iran was ready to walk out of the 2015 deal, which saw the lifting of most international sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, if Washington persisted. "Those who try to return to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past delusions," he said in the televised address. "If they want to go back to that experience, definitely in a short time -- not weeks or months, but in the scale of hours and days -- we will return to our previous situation very much more stronger." He said Iran did prefer to stick with the nuclear deal, which he called "a model of victory for peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism" but that this was not the "only option". Rouhani said Trump had shown he was an unreliable partner not just for Iran but for US allies. "In recent months, the world has witnessed that the US, in addition to its constant and repetitive breaking of its promises in the JCPOA (nuclear deal), has ignored several other global agreements and shown its allies that the US is neither a good partner nor a reliable negotiating party," he said. He highlighted Trump´s decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and international trade deals. Iran´s parliament on Sunday approved more than half a billion dollars in funding for the country´s missile programme and foreign operations of the elite Revolutionary Guards in response to the new US sanctions. ´Wanted to nominate women´ Rouhani was addressing lawmakers as deliberations start over his new ministerial line-up, which must be approved by lawmakers in the coming days. The president, who started his second term a fortnight ago, has faced criticism from reformists over his elderly and all-male cabinet. "I wanted to nominate three women ministers but it did not happen," he said, without explaining why. "All ministers must use women in high-ranking positions... and especially female advisers and deputies," he added. Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric, won a resounding re-election victory in May in large part due to the backing of reformists who supported his message of greater civil liberties and equality. Many felt let down by the lack of women ministers, saying he had bowed to pressure from the conservative religious establishment, although he did appoint two female vice presidents and a senior aide -- positions which do not require parliamentary approval. He defended his cabinet selections on Tuesday, and pointed to his choice for a new telecoms minister, 35-year-old Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, as "our first experience in choosing from the youth, someone who has grown up after the revolution".
  3. PHOTO: File TEHRAN: Flash floods triggered by heavy rain in northeastern Iran have left at least 11 people dead and two missing, the Red Crescent said on Saturday. "So far 11 people have died in this accident ? eight of them in Khorasan Razavi, two in Golestan and another in North Khorasan," Red Crescent rescue chief Morteza Salimi told the ISNA news agency. Friday´s storms caused flooding in five provinces and some villages remained cut off on Saturday. The two people missing were part of a family of three whose car was washed away by the torrent in Golestan province. One of them, a woman, has been found dead and the search is continuing for the other two.
  4. ANKARA: Turkey has begun building a "security wall" along part of its border with Iran, regional officials said Tuesday, in a move aimed at stopping Kurdish separatists. Pictures showing huge concrete blocks being moved into place were published on the governor's website for the eastern Agri province. Turkish authorities announced the construction of a 144-kilometre long barrier in May as a means of blocking cross-border movements by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The entire Turkish-Iranian frontier is around 500 kilometres long. The PKK ? which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since the 1980s ? is considered by Ankara and its Western allies as a "terrorist" group. On the diplomatic front, Turkey has been involved in co-sponsoring talks on a Syria peace deal held in Kazakhstan's capital with Iran and Russia. To beef up security on its Syrian border, Turkey began constructing a similar wall two years ago to prevent Daesh fighters moving easily between the two countries and to clamp down on illegal crossings. In June, Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said 690 kilometres out of a planned 828 kilometres of the wall had been completed along the frontier with Syria. He added that further border security measures would be put in place once the construction had been completed.
  5. DUBAI: Iranian security forces have broken up a group linked to Daesh which was planning attacks on religious centers in the country and trying to hide weapons in home appliances, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday, The agency said the operation was conducted jointly with another country's agents and a total of 27 suspects were arrested. The agency did not name the other country. Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack in June in which suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran, killing 18 people. It threatened more attacks against Iran. Intelligence Ministry agents "were able to arrest a terrorist group linked to Daesh that intended to carry out terror operations in religious cities ...," IRNA said. "The terrorists were trying to bring (weapons and ammunition) into the country by concealing them in home appliances," the agency quoted a ministry statement as saying. It said 10 people were arrested at the group's leadership center abroad and 17 people inside Iran. Five of the 17 were due to carry out the attacks in Iran and the other 12 were supporting them, statement said. The statement did not identify the religious centers it said were the targets. On Sunday, Iranian media said Iran's Revolutionary Guards had killed two people in clashes with a group of militants in the northwest of the country, where shootouts with Iranian Kurdish militant groups based in Iraq are common. In June, Iran announced the arrests of the members of a group linked to Daesh which had planned bombings and suicide attacks.
  6. Iranian troops march during a military parade in Tehran. ? Reuters FILE TEHRAN: At least four soldiers were killed and eight injured when one of their colleagues opened fire on a military air base in southern Tehran on Sunday, the Iranian military said in a statement. The incident was "probably related to psychological problems of the soldier who suddenly started firing on his comrades," the statement said. It took place on a shooting range, and could also have been the result of a gun misfiring, the statement added. "The injured were transported to a medical centre and an investigation has been opened," it said. State television reported a similar incident last month when a serviceman opened fire at a barracks in Abyek, around 40 kilometres northwest of Tehran, killing three and injuring six. The gunman in that incident, who had reportedly been denied a transfer to his home town, shot himself but survived his injuries, according to the ISNA news agency. Military service of two years is mandatory for Iranian men when they turn 19.
  7. TEHRAN: Iran criticised the position adopted by European governments against its missile tests, during a visit by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday. Mogherini met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif ahead of an inauguration ceremony for President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran. Iran´s missile tests and a satellite launch on July 27 were "not in contradiction" with UN resolutions, Zarif´s office said in a statement after the meeting. Britain, France and Germany last week joined the United States in calling for UN action in response to the satellite launch, saying the technology could be used for ballistic missiles and was "threatening and provocative". "This is the wrong path," Zarif said in the statement. UN Resolution 2231 was implemented alongside a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, urging Iran to refrain from testing missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear weapon and says the missile tests are part of its legitimate defence programme.
  8. A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the US, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. PHOTO: Reuters file TEHRAN: Iran said on Thursday that new sanctions imposed by the United States had violated its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and that the country would respond. "We believe that the nuclear deal has been violated and we will react appropriately," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said on state television, following news that US President Donald Trump had signed the new sanctions into law. "We will certainly not fall into the trap of US policy and Trump, and our reaction will be very carefully considered." Trump signed off the new sanctions ? which also target Russia and North Korea ? on Wednesday. The sanctions target Iran´s missile programme and human rights violations, which were not covered under the 2015 nuclear deal. However, Iran says they go against the spirit of the agreement and said earlier this week that it would lodge a complaint with the commission that oversees its implementation.
  9. WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged on Tuesday that he and President Donald Trump disagree over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and said the two men discuss how to use the international agreement to advance administration policies. Trump at times vowed during the 2016 presidential election campaign to withdraw from the agreement, which was signed by the United States, Russia, China and three European powers to curb Iran's nuclear programme in return for lifting most Western sanctions. Trump has preserved the deal for now, although he has made clear he did so reluctantly after being advised to do so by Tillerson. "He and I have differences of views on things like JCPOA, and how we should use it," Tillerson said at a State Department briefing, using the acronym for the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Tillerson said that Washington could "tear it up and walk away" or stay in the deal and hold Iran accountable to its terms, which he said would require Iran to act as a "good neighbour." Critics say the deal falls short in addressing Iran's support for foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, arms shipments around the Middle East and ballistic missile tests. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tillerson's remarks. Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month that he predicts Iran will be judged "noncompliant" with the Iran deal at the next deadline in October, and that he would have preferred to do so months ago. Tillerson expressed a more nuanced view of the deal's potential benefits on Tuesday. "There are a lot of alternative means with which we use the agreement to advance our policies and the relationship with Iran, and that's what the conversation generally is around with the president as well," Tillerson said. European officials would likely be reluctant to re-impose sanctions, especially the broader measures that helped drive Iran to negotiate over its nuclear programme in the first place, he said. New US sanctions on Iran in July were a breach of the nuclear deal and Tehran had lodged a complaint with the body that oversees the pact's implementation, a senior Iranian politician said. Tillerson acknowledged that the United States is limited in how much it can pressure Iran on its own and said it was important to coordinate with the other parties to the agreement. "The greatest pressure we can put to bear on Iran to change the behaviour is a collective pressure," he said.
  10. Sailors man the rails as the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz with Carrier Strike Group 11, and some 7,500 sailors and airmen, depart for a 6-month deployment in the Western Pacific from San Diego, California, US, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files BEIRUT: The Iranian Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday that the US Navy ships came close to their vessels in the Gulf and shot flares. The USS Nimitz and an accompanying warship drew close to a rocket-bearing Iranian vessel on Friday and sent out a helicopter near a number of Guards vessels close to the Resalat oil and gas platform, the Guards said in a statement published by their official news site Sepah News. "The Americans made a provocative and unprofessional move by issuing a warning and shooting flares at vessels?,? the statement said. ?[The] warriors, without paying attention to this unconventional and unusual behaviour from the American vessels, continued their mission in the area and the aircraft carrier and accompanying battleship left the area." A US military statement said a US Navy helicopter saw several IRGC vessels approaching US forces at a high rate of speed and deployed flares after it could not establish communications with the boats. The statement said the interaction was "safe and professional". Last Tuesday, a US Navy ship fired warning shots when an Iranian vessel in the Gulf came within 150 yards (137 metres) in the first such incident since President Donald Trump took office in January, US officials said. In a statement, US Naval Forces Central Command said the patrol craft, named Thunderbolt, fired the warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel after it ignored radio calls, flares and the ship's whistle. The vessel belonged to the Revolutionary Guards, the statement said, adding that it stopped its unsafe approach after the warning shots were fired. A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Iranian boat was armed but that the weapons were unmanned. The Thunderbolt was accompanied by a number of other vessels, including those from the US Coast Guard. Years of mutual animosity had eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran last year as part of a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. But serious differences remain over Iran's ballistic missile programme and conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration, which has taken a hard line on Iran, recently declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers, but warned that Tehran was not following the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it. During the presidential campaign last September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the US Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water".
  11. Simorgh rocket is launched and tested at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre, Iran/Reuters TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday condemned new sanctions passed by the US Congress against its missile programme, which President Donald Trump is set to sign into law, and vowed to continue it. "We will continue with full power our missile programme," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told state broadcaster IRIB. "We consider the action by the US as hostile, reprehensible and unacceptable, and it´s ultimately an effort to weaken the nuclear deal," Ghasemi added, referring to a 2015 agreement with the United States and other world powers that lifted some sanctions on Tehran. "The military and missile fields... are our domestic policies and others have no right to intervene or comment on them. "We reserve the right to reciprocate and make an adequate response to the US actions," he said. The sanctions bill, which also targets Russia and North Korea, was passed by the US Senate on Thursday, two days after being approved by the House of Representatives. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday that President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law. Separately on Friday, Washington imposed new sanctions targeting Iran´s missile programme a day after Tehran tested a satellite-launch rocket. The US Treasury singled out six companies owned or controlled by Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which it said was central to the programme, freezing their US assets and barring US citizens from dealing with them.
  12. Simorgh rocket is launched and tested at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre, Iran, in this handout photo released by Tasnim News Agency on July 27, 2017. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Iran successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, state television reported on Thursday, an action the United States said breaches a UN Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development. Iranian state television showed footage of the firing of the rocket, mounted on a launch pad carrying pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The rocket launch violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday. That resolution, which endorsed a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, calls upon Iran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology. It stops short of explicitly barring such activity. "We would consider that a violation of UNSCR 2231," Nauert said at a briefing with reporters when asked about the launch. "We consider that to be continued ballistic missile development. ? We believe that what happened overnight, in the early morning hours here in Washington, is inconsistent with the Security Council resolutions." Tehran denies it has missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. "The Imam Khomeini Space Centre was officially opened with the successful test of the Simorgh (Phoenix) space launch vehicle," state television said. "The Simorgh can place a satellite weighing up to 250 kg (550 pounds) in an orbit of 500 km (311 miles)." "The Imam Khomeini Space Centre ? is a large complex that includes all stages of the preparation, launch, control and guidance of satellites," state television added. The United States this month slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and said Tehran's "malign activities" in the Middle East had undercut any "positive contributions" from the 2015 accord curbing its nuclear program. President Donald Trump, who this month reluctantly recertified Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published this week that the United States had been "extremely nice" to Iran by saying it was complying with the terms of the deal. Trump said he thinks the United States will declare Iran to be noncompliant at the next deadline, which is in October. "They don't comply," he told the Journal. "I would be surprised if they were in compliance." Nauert on Thursday called Iran's rocket launch a "provocative action" that violated the "spirit" of the nuclear deal. Iran says its space program is peaceful, but Western experts suspect it may be a cover for developing military missile technologies. On Monday, Scott Kripowicz of the directorate for international affairs at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency told a conference in Israel, "Space-launch activities which involve multi-stage systems that further the development of technologies for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are becoming a more realistic threat. "In this region, Iran has successfully orbited small satellites and announced plans to orbit a larger satellite using the Simorgh space-launch vehicle, which could be configured to be an ICBM," Kripowicz said. "Progress in Iran's space program could shorten the pathway to an ICBM, as space-launch vehicles use similar technologies, with the exception of their payloads," he added.
  13. TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran would respond in kind to any breach by the United States of the 2015 nuclear deal after the House of Representatives passed a new sanctions bill. "If the enemy steps over part of the agreement, we will do the same, and if they step over the entire deal, we will do the same too," Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting aired by state broadcaster IRIB. The Iranian parliament´s national security and foreign affairs committee said it would hold an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss its response. The parliament voted earlier this month to fast-track a bill introduced in June that would increase funds for Iran´s missile programme and Revolutionary Guards. "We must always develop our defence capability and we will strengthen our defensive weapons regardless of the opinion of others," Rouhani said. The US House passed a new sanctions bill on Tuesday targeting Iran´s Revolutionary Guards, as well as Russia and North Korea. Iran´s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said the bill was "very clearly a hostile measure" even if it was only "a compilation of previous US sanctions in the non-nuclear fields". Araghchi led the negotiating team that reached the deal with world powers in 2015 known as the JCPOA, under which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions. The new sanctions bill "can influence the successful implementation of the JCPOA and reduce Iran´s benefits under the JCPOA," Araghchi said. "That´s why it is incompatible with various sections of the JCPOA which the US has committed to implement with good intention and in a constructive atmosphere," the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying. The UN and other signatories to the nuclear deal have agreed that Iran has stuck to its commitments, which has been reluctantly accepted by the administration of President Donald Trump. "The new US administration has been forced to confirm Iran´s loyalty to the deal twice within the past six months and it has had no other option as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in various reports has clearly expressed Iran´s compliance with its commitments," Araghchi said.
  14. BEIRUT: Iran announced the launch of a new missile production line on Saturday, according to state media, against a backdrop of tension between the United States and Tehran. The Sayyad 3 missile can reach an altitude of 27 km (16 miles) and travel up to 120 km (74 miles), Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan said at a ceremony. The missile can target fighter planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and helicopters, Dehghan said. Last week, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, and said Tehran's "malign activities" in the Middle East undercut any "positive contributions" coming from a 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The measures signaled that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place the agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. The U.S. government said it was targeting 18 entities and people for supporting what it said were "illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity". Those sanctioned had backed Iran's military or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components, it said. Others had "orchestrated the theft of U.S. and Western software programs" sold to Iran's government, the Treasury Department said. On Monday, the Trump administration said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement but that it was in default of the spirit of the accord. It was the second time Trump has certified Iranian compliance with the agreement since he took office in January, despite having described it as "the worst deal ever" during his 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing then-President Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated the accord. Dehghan said at the ceremony on Saturday that the recent $110 billion military deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, announced during Trump?s visit to Riyadh in May, was intended as a threat to Iran. "We recently witnessed an immense purchase that some countries in the region paid as a ransom to America and they intend to bring weapons into the region, and this purchase was done with the goal of threatening Iran," Dehghan said according to the website for state TV.
  15. US President Donald Trump reacts as he leaves a Made in America roundtable meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 19, 2017/Reuters WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump warned that Iran would face "new and serious consequences" unless all unjustly detained American citizens were released and returned, the White House said in a statement on Friday. Trump urged Iran to return Robert Levinson, an American former law enforcement officer who disappeared more than 10 years ago in Iran, and demanded that Tehran release businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer. The statement capped a week of rhetoric against Tehran. On Tuesday, Washington slapped new economic sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and said Tehran's "malign activities" in the Middle East undercut any "positive contributions" coming from the 2015 nuclear accord. Those measures signaled that the Trump administration was seeking to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place an agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. Friday's statement said Trump and his administration were "redoubling efforts" to bring back all Americans unjustly detained abroad. Iran's president threatens response to new US sanctions Iran's parliament on Tuesday voted to streamline a bill that would increase funding for the country's missile programme and Revolutionary Guards An Iranian court sentenced 46-year-old Siamak Namazi and his 80-year-old father Baquer Namazi to 10 years in prison each on charges of spying and cooperating with the United States. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained Siamak in October 2015 while he was visiting family in Tehran, relatives said. The IRGC arrested the father, a former Iranian provincial governor and former UNICEF official in February last year, family members said. Levinson, a former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and for the Drug Enforcement Administration, disappeared in Iran in 2007 and the US government has a $5 million reward for information leading to his safe return. An Iranian court sentenced Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-born US citizen graduate student from Princeton University, to 10 years in jail on spying charges, Iran's judiciary spokesman said on Sunday. "Iran is responsible for the care and wellbeing of every United States citizen in its custody," the White House said in the statement. Separately, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Oman's foreign affairs minister, Yusuf bin Alawi on Friday. Washington has in the past sought Oman's mediation to help in securing the release of detained Americans abroad. Last year American prisoners held captive by Yemen Houthi rebels were released after Omani mediation. Oman also paid bail that ultimately helped in the release of three American hikers in 2010 and 2011.
  16. MOSCOW: New US sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme are unfounded, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday, the RIA news agency reported. Washington slapped new economic sanctions against Iran on Tuesday over its ballistic missile programme, saying Tehran's "malign activities" in the Middle East had undercut any "positive contributions" coming from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. RIA also cited Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Foreign Ministry's department for non-proliferation and arms control, as saying that the United States was fulfilling its own part of the Iran nuclear deal "very badly."
  17. The US slapped fresh sanctions on Iran Tuesday over its ballistic missile program, just hours after Washington admitted the Islamic Republic was complying with a landmark nuclear deal signed two years ago. Iran's parliament retaliated by voting for extra funding for the missile program, a move that speaker Ali Larijani said would show the Americans that Iran "will resist them with all its power." The heightened tensions came after President Donald Trump was forced to back off from a key campaign promise to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran, which eased sanctions in return for limiting its ability to produce material for atomic weapons. Trump had described it as "the worst deal ever" and accused Iran of continuing to back terrorism in the Middle East. But on Monday the White House admitted that the Islamic Republic was sticking to the nukes agreement. It noted, however, that while Iran might be meeting its requirements on paper, it was ?unquestionably in default of the spirit" of the accord. In announcing the new sanctions against 18 individuals and entities in Iran, the State Department said it "remains deeply concerned about Iran's malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity." It cited Iran's support for Hezbollah, Hamas, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Huthi rebels in Yemen fighting a US-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia. In addition to earmarking an additional $260 million for its ballistic missile program, Iran's parliament also agreed Tuesday to allot a similar amount to the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, accused by Washington of fomenting unrest across the region. The Pentagon has also repeatedly voiced concern over a string of high-profile incidents in waters off Iran involving Iranian vessels. It has accused the Revolutionary Guards of conducting risky maneuvers around US warships in the Gulf, some of which resulted in the Americans firing warning shots. "These sanctions target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, and send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran?s provocative and destabilizing behavior," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Washington is also concerned about the fate of Xiyue Wang, a 37-year-old Chinese-American researcher at Princeton University who was recently sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison. Iran pushback While the US complained about Iran's defiance of the spirit of the nuclear accord, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he would make his own complaints about US non-compliance when representatives of the five nuclear powers - China, Russia, France, Britain, the United States - plus Germany meet in Vienna on Friday to take stock of the deal. Zarif accused the Trump administration of failing to lift sanctions in line with the deal. He said he had no communication with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in stark contrast to his predecessor John Kerry, with whom Zarif negotiated the groundbreaking nuclear deal. "It doesn't mean there can't be. The possibilities for engagement... have always been open," said Zarif in New York, where he was attending a UN forum on development. He said he was willing to discuss Wang's case "on humanitarian grounds" but stressed that Iran's courts were independent of the government. Trump and his top security officials have always taken a tough line on Iran: his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, fought Iranian-backed militias during the US occupation of Iraq while serving as a Marine general, and memories are still fresh of Hezbollah's attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983.
  18. WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will "very shortly" make an announcement on Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers that President Donald Trump has called a "bad deal," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday. Under US law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran's compliance with the 2015 deal. Monday is the deadline, and a senior US official said last week the administration was very likely to say Iran was adhering to the agreement although Trump has reservations about it. "The secretary of state will have an announcement very shortly on that deal," Spicer told reporters. "I think you all know that the president has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal, a bad deal for the United States."
  19. DUBAI: Tehran police shot dead a man who attacked a clergyman and other people with a knife at a metro station on Saturday, Iranian state television reported. Hadi Tamhidi, deputy governor of the Shar-e Rey district in south Tehran, said the unidentified man attacked the clergyman with a knife after a dispute, and injured another man. Police shot and wounded the assailant, who later died of his injuries, Tamhidi said, adding that the assailant was mentally "unbalanced". A spokesman for the metro said traffic at the Shar-e Rey station had returned to normal after the incident.
  20. TEHRAN: The landmark nuclear deal signed two years ago on July 14, 2015 by Iran and major world powers led to a partial lifting of international sanctions on Tehran. Struck in Vienna by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) plus Germany, the deal established controls to prevent Tehran from developing an atom bomb. The UN atomic agency said as recently as June 2 that Tehran is sticking to the terms of the deal, having neither enriched uranium to prohibited levels, nor built up illegal stocks of low-enriched uranium or heavy water. Nuclear downsizing The objective of the accord is bring to a minimum of one year, for at least 10 years, the "breakout time", or the time Iran needs to produce enough fissile material to make an atom bomb. It is also meant to ensure that any moves to do so will be easily detectable. Under the deal, Tehran agreed to slash the number of uranium centrifuges, which can enrich uranium for nuclear fuel as well as for nuclear weapons, from more than 19,000 to 5,060, maintaining this level for 10 years. All enrichment takes place at the Natanz facility. The Fordo site, containing an additional 1,044 centrifuges, is no longer allowed under the accord to enrich uranium. Iran´s pre-deal stockpile of 12 tonnes of low-enriched uranium -- enough for several nuclear weapons if further enriched -- is under the deal reduced to 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds), a ceiling that will last for 15 years. Only enrichment to low purities is allowed, also for 15 years. Iran´s Arak reactor is also to be redesigned so that it does not produce weapons-grade plutonium, the alternative to highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. Tehran will not build another heavy water reactor for 15 years. Controlling the deal A so-called Additional Protocol is applied, allowing for closer inspections, including potentially of military bases. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also employs high-tech surveillance equipment and has access to facilities such as uranium mines and centrifuge workshops for periods of up to 25 years. Sanctions The accord, adopted by the UN Security Council on July 20, 2015, came into force on January 16, 2016, opening the way for a partial lifting of international sanctions on Iran. UN embargos on conventional arms and on ballistic missiles have been maintained up to 2020 and 2023 respectively. Many international sanctions have since been lifted, opening the door for foreign investors. In early July, French group Total, heading an international consortium, signed $4.8-billion deal with Iran. However, Washington has imposed new measures targeting Iran´s ballistic missile programme and activities in the region.
  21. The US Supreme Court last month reinstated a modified version of President Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries including Iran - AFP TEHRAN: An Iranian cancer researcher with alleged links to a hardline militia in Iran says he was denied entry to the United States and deported with his family. Mohsen Dehnavi had flown to the US with his wife and three small children to conduct postdoctoral research at Boston Children's Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University. They were stopped by the immigration police at Boston's Logan international airport and deported the next day, Dehnavi told state broadcaster IRIB at Tehran airport on Wednesday night. "The US government, with the new restrictions on Iranians, did not let us enter although the goal of our trip was scientific and our research was aimed at saving cancer patients," he said. Dehnavi said the police detained them for 30 hours without any outside contact and confiscated his research equipment and laptop. "They said it is clear to us that you are a top scientist in children's cancer treatment which is a completely humane, non-military and non-dangerous field, but we cannot allow you into the US due to existing security protocols," he said. Dehnavi said he had been in contact with Harvard for two years and obtained his visa in March. According to the archives of the conservative Fars news agency, Dehnavi was head of the Basij militia at the prestigious Sharif University in 2007. Iran's vice president for science and technology, Sorena Sattari, said the researcher had been deported on the basis of "unconventional excuses" and that it was cancer patients who would suffer the consequences, Tasnim news agency reported. Former US secretary of state John Kerry called the incident "tragic". "A doctor comes to the US to save lives and this happens. This is not who we are," he wrote in a tweet Wednesday in response to an article on the case in The Boston Globe. The US Supreme Court last month reinstated a modified version of President Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries including Iran. Trump says the ban is needed to keep "terrorists" out of the country but Tehran has called it "truly shameful". The Basij paramilitary volunteer force, established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the 1979 revolution, played a key role in crushing opposition protests in 2009. Largely recruited from among young Iranians, the militia also plays an important social role, being deployed in vaccination campaigns and relief efforts after earthquakes and other natural disasters. In 2013, Dehnavi was a key campaign official of Saeed Jalili, a hardline opponent of President Hassan Rouhani in the presidential election, according to Fars and Khabar Online reports at the time.
  22. According to Asif Ali Durrani, the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project will be completed within the next two years. Photo: prideofpakistan.com TEHRAN: Pakistan?s Ambassador to Iran, Asif Ali Durrani, in an interview with Iranian Student?s News Agency (ISNA), said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor will benefit both Gwadar and Chabahar ports. When asked about the Gwadar and Chabahar ports, Durrani commented that both the ports complement each other and that the goal of the China-Pakistan corridor is to promote regional trade in South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. He also said that Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project will be completed within the next two years. The project was halted due to the sanctions imposed on Iran, preventing investment in the region, but since sanctions had been lifted the work is in progress. Durrani stressed that Pakistan will refrain from taking sides in a dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia. According to Durrani, Pakistan wants ?unity and peace? among Muslim countries and seeks to fight terrorism and extremist activities. He hopes that the neighbouring countries will resolve their problems through negotiations. ?It was in this spirit that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Iran last year with the view to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia. We sincerely hope that the two brotherly countries would be able to resolve their outstanding differences through dialogue.? He further said, ?We do not take sides on issues which may cause disunity between brothers. Our participation in the alliance is consistent with our policy of achieving unity among the Muslim countries.? He remarked that an agreement had been made between President Rouhani and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to improve economic relations and increase bilateral trade by $5 billion in the next five years. According to statistics issued by the Iranian government, bilateral trade had seen a surge of 28% in 2016-17.
  23. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Reuters WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia's new crown prince and likely next king shares US President Donald Trump's hawkish view of Iran, but a more confrontational approach toward Tehran carries a risk of escalation in an unstable region, current and former US officials said. Iran will almost certainly respond to a more aggressive posture by the United States and its chief Sunni Arab ally in battlefields where Riyadh and Tehran are engaged in a regional tussle for influence. Saudi King Salman made his son Mohammed bin Salman next in line to the throne on Wednesday, handing the 31-year-old sweeping powers, in a succession shake-up. Prince Mohammed, widely referred to as "MbS," has ruled out any dialogue with arch rival Iran and pledged to protect his conservative kingdom from what he called Tehran's efforts to dominate the Muslim world. In the first meeting between Trump and MbS at the White House in March, the two leaders noted the importance of "confronting Iran's destabilising regional activities." But that could have unintended consequences, said some current and former US administration officials. The greatest danger for the Trump administration, a longtime US government expert on Middle East affairs said, was for the United States to be dragged deeper into the sectarian conflict playing out across the Middle East, a danger that could be compounded by Trump?s delegation of responsibility for military decisions to the Pentagon. If the administration gives US commanders greater authority to respond to Iranian air and naval provocations in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, things could easily spiral out of control, the official said. US-backed forces fighting in Syria are also in close proximity with Iranian-backed forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. US military jets twice this month shot down Iranian-made drones threatening US and coalition forces in southeastern Syria. The United States also supports the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen through refueling, logistics and limited intelligence assistance. "If we were to witness an incident at sea between an Iranian and a US vessel in the Gulf, at a time of immense distrust and zero communication, how likely is it that the confrontation would be defused rather than exacerbated?" said Rob Malley, vice president for policy at the International Crisis Group. "If there's a more bellicose attitude towards Iran, Iran is likely to respond," said Malley, a former senior adviser on Middle East affairs under President Barack Obama. Eric Pelofsky, who dealt with Middle East issues at the White House under Obama, said the administration had "laboured pretty hard to avoid a direct clash between Saudi Arabia and Iran on the high seas," in part because it would expand the Yemen conflict and there were questions "about what the outcome of such an encounter might be." But Luke Coffey, director of the Foreign Policy Center at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, doubted Iran would retaliate in a major way. "Iran has very limited ability or options to retaliate against US forces in the region without suffering an overwhelming US response," Coffey said. "I think Tehran knows this so they will stick to low-level tactics like harassing US ships in the Gulf. This will be just enough to be annoying but not enough to be considered 'retaliating,'" he said. Close relationship MbS was the driving force behind the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen against Iran-allied Houthi rebels, launched in March 2015. He also appears to have orchestrated this month's breach with neighbour Qatar, which was accused by Riyadh and three other Arab states of cozying up to Iran, funding terrorism or fomenting regional instability. Qatar denies the allegations. "There?s a danger that his foreign policy instincts, that do tend to be aggressive, especially toward Iran, but also toward Sunni extremism, might end up distracting from what he wants to get done economically," said a former Obama administration official, referring to "Vision 2030," MbS's signature economic and social reform agenda. Malley, who has met MbS, said his attitude toward Iran "stems from his strongly felt conviction that for too long the kingdom has been a punching bag, a passive witness to Iranian action, true or assumed, in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's own eastern province." "His view is that Saudi Arabia absorbed those blows and now there's no reason to absorb them anymore," Malley said. That dovetails neatly with Trump who has said Iran promotes evil and is a key source of funding and support for militant groups. MbS has also developed a close relationship with Trump's influential son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who at 36 is close in age to him. MbS's "desire to confront or even defeat Iran has appeal in the White House, where the crown prince has done an admirable job forging a relationship with the Kushners, who are of his generation," said the US official. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had dinner with MbS when the US president visited Riyadh last month, the first stop on Trump's maiden international visit. Another senior administration official told Reuters that while Washington did not have advance warning of MbS's promotion, it could see it coming. "This is why the president has tried to foster good relations with him," the official said.
  24. TEHRAN: Iran has targeted militants in Syria with missiles in retaliation for deadly attacks in Tehran. Late Sunday, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched six missiles from western Iran into Syria´s mostly Daesh held Deir Ezzor province, hitting their command base, the Guards said. The strike was "revenge" for twin attacks in Tehran on June 7 that killed 17 people in the first Daesh claimed attacks inside Iran, a Guards spokesman added. As well as punishing "terrorists", it was intended to show that Iran is capable of projecting military power across the region, officials and experts said. Sunday´s strike was the first known missile attack launched from Iran into foreign territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. "The missile attacks were only a small part of Iran´s punitive power against terrorists and enemies," Guards spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said Monday. "International and regional supporters of the terrorists must realise the warning message of the missile operation." Iran has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of backing "terrorists". US President Donald Trump meanwhile accuses Iran of backing terrorism, a charge it denies and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
  25. QUETTA: A mortar shell fired from Iran landed in the Prom area of Panjgur District in Balochistan early Sunday morning. Officials of the district administration said on Monday that no loss of life or damage was reported in the incident. They informed that a strong protest has been lodged with the Iranian border officials, and that a flag-meeting has been called on Tuesday (tomorrow) to resolve the matter as this is the third such violation in recent weeks. Five mortar shells fired from Iran land in Chaghai No casualties reported, according to security officials On May 27, a man was killed in mortar shelling from the Iranian side of the border in Panjgur. The district commissioner had informed that a mortar shell landed on a vehicle, instantly killing one man inside and causing extensive damage nearby. A ?strong protest? as well as a ?flag meeting? was called then too. A week prior to that, five mortar shells fired from Iran landed in the Chaghai area of the province. No casualties were reported in the incident.