Crown Prince orders high-level probe into stampede

Updated 25 September 2015
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Crown Prince orders high-level probe into stampede

MINA: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, has ordered a high-level investigation into the stampede at the Haj pilgrimage that left at least 717 dead and 863 injured on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
During a meeting of the Haj Higher Committee, which he chairs, the crown prince said the findings of the investigation will be submitted to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, “who will take appropriate measures” in response, SPA said.
Thursday’s tragedy comes on the heels of another one, in which 108 people were killed when a massive construction crane collapsed on Makkah’s Grand Mosque on September 11 as thousands were gathering for the Haj.
It has has become the second worst in a number of tragedies to strike the pilgrimage, surpassed only by a tunnel stampede in Mina on July 2, 1990, which killed 1,426 pilgrims, mostly from Asia.
Earlier Thursday, Health Minister Khaled Al-Faleh promised that there would be a rapid and transparent investigation of the stampede, which he blamed on undisciplined pilgrims not following instructions.

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Thursday's stampede second worst tragedy at Haj

• Death toll in Mina stampede rises to 717; over 850 injured


Iran still short of nuclear deal’s enriched uranium cap: diplomats

Updated 26 min 11 sec ago
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Iran still short of nuclear deal’s enriched uranium cap: diplomats

  • Two diplomats said Iran produces around 1kg of enriched uranium a day
  • UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran currently has around 200kg of low-enriched uranium

VIENNA: Iran is still short of the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to have under its deal with major powers but it is on course to reach that limit at the weekend, the latest data from UN nuclear inspectors shows, diplomats say.

This makes it unlikely Iran will follow through on its threat to violate one of the nuclear deal’s central restrictions on Thursday, which could have unraveled the pact altogether.

It also sets up a meeting with other signatories on Friday aimed at saving the accord, which is straining under US pressure.

“They haven’t reached the limit... It’s more likely to be at the weekend if they do it,” one diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The 2015 deal, which lifted international sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities, is aimed at extending the time Iran would need to produce a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to a year from roughly 2-3 months.

On Wednesday, the UN nuclear watchdog verified that Iran had roughly 200 kg of low-enriched uranium, below the deal’s 202.8 kg limit, three diplomats who follow the agency’s work said.

Two of the diplomats said Iran was producing at a rate of around 1 kg a day, meaning it could go over the line soon after the meeting of senior officials from Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China in Vienna on Friday.

Washington pulled out of the nuclear accord last year and has imposed punishing economic sanctions against Tehran.

Iran has threatened to respond by setting aside some of the deal’s restrictions, which could cause the deal to collapse, though it has called on European powers to do more to shield it from US sanctions — a move the White House has called “nuclear blackmail.”

The European powers are scrambling to protect trade with Iran but what they can achieve pales in comparison to US sanctions aimed at slashing Iran’s vital oil exports to zero.

Diplomats have also stressed the European signatories are weary of Iranian demands that they sustain a pact that Washington has withdrawn from and said if Tehran followed suit, they would have little choice but to acquiesce in the reimposition of UN sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing the deal’s nuclear restrictions, does not generally comment on details of its inspections. It was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

“We’ve made it clear to the Iranians that we have zero tolerance on the nuclear issue,” a senior European official said. “They are close to the threshold, but we will wait for the IAEA to report back to us in the coming days.”