NATO chief concerned about Iran missile program

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are displayed at Baharestan Square in Tehran on Sept. 24, 2017. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday said the alliance had concerns about Tehran’s “continuous development of missile capabilities.” (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Updated 13 October 2017

NATO chief concerned about Iran missile program

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday refused to intervene in the row over the Iran nuclear deal, but said the alliance had concerns about Tehran’s “continuous development of missile capabilities.”
US President Donald Trump is set to “decertify” the landmark 2015 agreement which curtailed Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, leaving lawmakers to decide whether to withdraw completely.
Stoltenberg refused to be drawn on whether he thought the deal was working, but stressed that compliance with its conditions was essential if it was to have any meaning.
“It is not for NATO to make assessments about compliance, that’s for nations that are part of the agreement and the IAEA to make that kind of assessment,” he told AFP in an interview.
And he reiterated NATO concerns about issues not covered in the deal, in particular Iran’s ballistic missile program.
“The nuclear deal covers the development of nuclear weapons but it doesn’t cover missile programs and we are concerned about the continuous development of missile capabilities of Iran,” he said.
Trump has derided the agreement as “the worst deal” and accused Tehran of not living up to the “spirit” of it, but UN inspectors say Iran is meeting the technical requirements of its side of the bargain. International allies, particularly the EU, have lobbied for it to stay, arguing that it is effective.
But last month Iran said it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) capable of carrying multiple warheads, in defiance of warnings from Washington.
A decision by Trump to decertify the deal would leave it at grave risk, with the US Congress having 60 days to decide whether to re-impose specific sanctions on Tehran that were lifted because of the diplomatic pact.
It would risk unpicking 12 years of careful diplomacy between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US — who crafted the deal.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 33 min 30 sec ago

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”