Libya deputy PM quits, saying he has ‘failed’

Libyans from Sirte who returned home after National Accord (GNA) forces drove Daesh out from the city. A deputy leader of the GNA resigned saying he had failed. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2017
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Libya deputy PM quits, saying he has ‘failed’

TRIPOLI: One of three deputy premiers in Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) resigned on Monday, saying he had failed in his mission.
Moussa Al-Kouni told a press conference in the capital of the chaos-ridden North African country that he could no longer stay in the post.
“I’m resigning because I have failed,” said a visibly moved Al-Kouni, who is originally from southern Libya and represents the Tuareg minority in the GNA.
“We (in the GNA) are responsible because we accepted this mission.
“We take responsibility for everything that has happened in the past year: Dramas, violence, murder, rape, invasion, the squandering of public funds... Regardless of the extent of the crimes, we are responsible,” he said.
Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 downfall of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
In March last year, the internationally backed GNA was formed, intended to replace two rival administrations, one in Tripoli and one in the country’s far east.
It is also the centerpiece of Western hopes to stem an upsurge of radicalism in Libya and halt people trafficking across the Mediterranean that has led to thousands of drownings.


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

Updated 25 min 57 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.”