UN nuclear inspectors should have access to Iran bases: US

Ambassador Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, speaks to the media on August 25, 2017 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don Emmert
Updated 26 August 2017
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UN nuclear inspectors should have access to Iran bases: US

JEDDAH: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley voiced concern on Friday that nuclear inspectors were not granted access to Iranian military bases.
“I have good confidence in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), but they’re dealing with a country that has a clear history of lying and pursuing covert nuclear programs,” Haley told a news conference after returning from a trip to Vienna, where the agency is based.
“We’re encouraging the IAEA to use all the authorities they have, and to pursue every angle possible,” to verify Tehran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist, said there are several sites in Iran that are pursuing its nuclear program without notifying the IAEA.
“Iran conducts major nuclear research in its military bases, specifically the Parchin site,” he told Arab News on Friday.
“There’s a recently revealed site in Parchin called Pajouhesh Kadeh (Research Institute), which is operated by the Center for Explosives, Blast Research and Technologies. This center is believed to be the main player behind attempts to weaponize Iran’s nuclear program.”
Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran is prohibited from conducting advanced nuclear research and development, but it appears to still be doing so, he said.
“Iran has long been determined not to allow the IAEA to inspect its military sites. This issue raises significant suspicions,” Rafizadeh added.
“Without the inspection of Iran’s military sites, specifically Parchin, it would be impossible to ensure whether or not Tehran is complying with the nuclear deal.”
He said Tehran has a long history of defying the IAEA’s terms and deceiving the international community regarding its nuclear program and activities.

UN mission in Lebanon
Meanwhile, the US is wrestling with other UN Security Council members over renewing the UN peacekeeping mission mandate in Lebanon, which Washington is calling to strengthen against the wishes of Paris and Moscow.
Annual renewal of the mandate, which expires at the end of August, is normally uneventful, but the Trump administration this year is pushing to bolster the force’s authority against arms movements by the Shiite militia Hezbollah.
“The Security Council cannot adopt a business-as-usual approach when so much is at stake,” said Haley in a statement on Wednesday.
“We call on the members of the Security Council to join us in taking real action to make UNIFIL a stronger peacekeeping mission and to stand up against forces of terror in Lebanon and around the region.”
She said beefing up the force is necessary as “Hezbollah openly boasts about its illegal stockpile of weapons and publicly threatens” Israel, a key US ally.
But France on Wednesday said it wants the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon to stick to its current mandate.
Anne Gueguen, France’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, told reporters that Paris saw no need to change the 2006 Security Council resolution that sets the mission’s current mandate.
“We want to keep the mandate as such,” she said. Gueguen spoke before the talks on whether to extend the mandate for another year.
After the talks, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow also saw no need to change the mandate, a position he said was shared by many at the session. “We think this mandate should be renewed in the present form,” he said.


Indonesia identifies location of ferry that sank in volcano crater lake

Updated 22 min 48 sec ago
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Indonesia identifies location of ferry that sank in volcano crater lake

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia has identified the suspected location of an overcrowded passenger ferry that sank last week in a deep volcanic crater lake but will need international help to recover the wreckage, the chief of the national search and rescue agency said Monday.
The ferry had some 200 people on board, about five times over capacity, but only 18 people including the boat’s captain survived the sinking in rough weather June 17 on Lake Toba.
The rescue agency said in a statement Sunday an object that was possibly the ferry was at a depth of 490 meters (1,607 feet). Few bodies have been recovered and officials have said many of the dead are likely trapped inside the vessel.
Syaugi, who uses one name, said in a television interview that Indonesia needs international help to recover the wreckage.
Sonar equipment from Indonesia’s navy was deployed on Friday. Divers could reach depths of only 50 meters (164 feet) in the lake’s cold and dark waters.
Anguished relatives have criticized the search effort but Syaugi denied it, saying there had been an “all out” effort.
“We will do our best to salvage this wreck,” he said. “Because we do not have robots, we are trying to find from other countries, but most of them have tools to lift a vessel from just 100 meters depth and the wreck must be cut first.”
“For us, the most important thing is to get as many victims as possible,” Syaugi said.
Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, with weak enforcement of safety regulations often to blame.
Lake Toba, formed out of an ancient super volcano, is a popular sightseeing destination on the island of Sumatra and among the destinations that Indonesia’s government is promoting as a magnet for domestic and foreign tourists.