Iran rejects change, Russia says Trump would make ‘big mistake’ by leaving nuclear deal

A handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency on December 31, 2017 shows Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani attending a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Iran rejects change, Russia says Trump would make ‘big mistake’ by leaving nuclear deal

DUBAI: Russia on Saturday said Washington would be making a grave mistake by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticized remarks by US President Donald Trump, who on Friday said the US will not reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran, but would withdraw later this year unless the terms of the deal are changed.
“We are gradually coming to the conclusion that an internal decision by the US to leave the (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) has already been made or is close to being made,” Ryabkov told Interfax news agency.
“This could be one of Washington’s big foreign policy mistakes, a big miscalculation in American policy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iran said it will not accept any changes to its 2015 nuclear deal in a statement carried by the state-run IRNA news agency Saturday. The Foreign Ministry said Iran “will not accept any change in the deal, neither now nor in future,” adding that it will “not take any action beyond its commitments.”
Under the hard-won 2015 deal with Russia, the US, China, France, Britain, Germany and the EU, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of a raft of international sanctions.
Trump on Friday gave an ultimatum to “either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”
America’s allies see the accord as the best way to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions and a victory for multilateral diplomacy. Tehran categorically denies it is seeking to develop atomic weapons.
But Trump argues that his predecessor Barack Obama gave away too much to Iran in sanctions relief, without forcing the Islamic Republic to end its ballistic missile program and support for militant groups.
Ryabkov said Moscow must unite with Europe and China and undertake “intense work” to keep the existing plan intact and decried what he said was a US attempt to strongarm the situation.
“In what we heard yesterday, I don’t see any invitation for Iran to enter dialogue,” he said. “This defies the logic of the agreement.”
“Russia will do everything in its power to save the agreement,” he said.
(With the Associated Press)


Western Wall stone crashes down in Jerusalem

Updated 9 min 30 sec ago
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Western Wall stone crashes down in Jerusalem

  • Jerusalem authorities restricted access to one of Judaism's holiest sites on Monday after a massive stone block from the Western Wall fell
  • To Muslems it is the Haram al-Sharif compound, the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and home to the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock

JERUSALEM: Jerusalem authorities restricted access to one of Judaism's holiest sites on Monday after a massive stone block from the Western Wall fell to the ground below, narrowly missing a worshipper.
Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement "the stone, weighing 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds), fell close to a woman who was praying... without hitting her".
He described the fact that nobody was harmed in the incident as "a great miracle".
The statement said that Barkat visited the scene with the city engineer and safety officials, who declared the spot dangerous and closed it to the public pending further inspection.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers thronged the main, gender-segregated Western Wall esplanade for annual prayers mourning the razing of the biblical-era temples.
Monday's incident occurred at a less-visited part of the wall, where men and women are permitted to pray together contrary to Orthodox Jewish practice.
The Western Wall, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, is the holiest place at which Jews are allowed to pray.
They believe it is what remains of a supporting wall of their biblical second temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Immediately above it is the flashpoint shrine known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest in Judaism, revered as the spot where the two biblical Jewish temples once stood.
To Muslems it is the Haram al-Sharif compound, the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and home to the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.