Iran open to talks over its ballistic missiles

In this Feb. 3, 2007 file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan 255 miles south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2017
0

Iran open to talks over its ballistic missiles

ANKARA/LONDON/WASHINGTON: Iran has suggested to six world powers that it may be open to talks about its ballistic missile arsenal, seeking to reduce tension over the disputed program, Iranian and Western officials familiar with the overtures told Reuters.
Tehran has repeatedly vowed to continue building up what it calls defensive missile capability in defiance of Western criticism, with Washington saying the Islamic Republic’s stance violates its 2015 nuclear deal with the powers.
But the sources said that given US President Donald Trump’s threats to ditch the deal reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, Tehran had approached the powers recently about possible talks on some “dimensions” of its missile program.
“During their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month, Iran told members of the (world powers) that it could discuss the missile program to remove concerns,” an Iranian source with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met his counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the first time, on the fringes of the UN gathering on Sept. 20.
“The Americans expressed their worries about Iran’s missile capability and Zarif said in reply that the program could be discussed,” the Iranian source told Reuters.
US and Western officials did not confirm the matter was discussed at the Zarif-Tillerson meeting. But two US officials said Iran had recently been “keeping it alive” by feeding certain media reports and via third parties such as Oman.
A former US Defense Department official said Iran’s overtures had reached Washington in recent weeks.
“Iran has put feelers out saying it is willing to discuss its ballistic missile program and is using contacts ... officials who were ‘holdovers’ from the Obama administration,” the former official said.
A US official with first-hand knowledge of dealings with the Islamic Republic said Zarif had been recycling offers that “have been lying dormant on the table for some time.
“Zarif knows that if Trump goes ahead and decertifies Iran, it (Iran) will be on the high ground, and the US will be isolated among the (six powers),” the official said.


Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

Updated 19 August 2018
0

Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

JERUSALEM: Israel’s top court on Sunday doubled the prison sentence of a police officer who shot dead a Palestinian teenager in 2014, an incident documented by video footage.
The supreme court ruling said the original nine-month prison term handed to Ben Deri by the Jerusalem district court earlier this year did not sufficiently reflect the severity of his actions.
Deri had admitted to fatally shooting Nadeem Nuwarah, 17, on May 15, 2014 during a day of clashes in Beitunia, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters.
The clashes were on the anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when more than 700,000 fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel’s creation.
Footage recorded by US broadcaster CNN captured a group of five or six border police officers in the area, one of whom could be seen firing at the time when the youth was hit.
Some five minutes earlier, Nuwarah was seen on other CNN footage throwing stones at Israeli forces.
But when Deri shot him, he was not engaged in any such action, simply walking in the general direction of Deri’s force with his hands to his sides, the Sunday decision noted.
Deri had said during his trial he had mistakenly introduced live ammunition into his M-16 instead of rubber bullets.
But even the firing of rubber bullets was not justified at that point, the court said.
The April district court sentencing had “not sufficiently given expression to the value of the human life severed by Deri,” Sunday’s ruling read.
“The prison term sentenced by the district court is not close in expressing the severity of such an intentional deed, combined with the severe negligence that caused the deceased’s death,” supreme court justice Noam Solberg wrote in his decision, supported by another judge and opposed by one.
Right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which represented Deri, said the supreme court’s ruling could “jeopardize the motivation and operational abilities of our soldiers.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that while Deri’s actions might have been wrong, “that doesn’t mean his punishment should be increased.”