World ‘cannot trust Iran’ over nuclear future: Saudi foreign minister

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir says Iran needs to act as a normal country. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 23 February 2018
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World ‘cannot trust Iran’ over nuclear future: Saudi foreign minister

LONDON: Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of foreign affairs, said on Thursday that the nuclear deal with Iran was unacceptable because Tehran could not be trusted to not produce a nuclear bomb in the future.
The so-called “sunset clause” in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) means that in eight to ten years’ time Iran could manufacture a nuclear bomb “within weeks.”
Addressing the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, Al-Jubeir said: “We believe the sunset provision is very dangerous. We don’t trust that Iran will not try (to make a nuclear bomb) eight to 10 years from now.
“By the time they kick out the inspectors and by the time the condemnations end, they’ll have one bomb,” he said. “By the time they get a resolution in the UN, they’ll have three bombs and by the time the resolution is in place they’ll have a dozen bombs. And we are right next to them.
“Our point is enough is enough. They need to start to act as a normal country. The revolution is over. If they want to be respected in the world they need to abide by the rules of the world.”
The sunset clause allows Iran to gradually increase production of centrifuges and uranium enrichment after eight to ten years.
Speaking in London at the Royal Institute for International Affairs at Chatham House a few hours earlier, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi denied that the JCPOA contained a sunset clause, saying the deal made clear Iran’s “permanent” commitment to not having nuclear weapons.
But he insisted the nuclear deal still gave Iran the right to continue its ballistic missile program.
“We — that is Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants — decided quite intentionally to de-link Iran’s nuclear program from any other issue. Otherwise if we had wanted to have a package — with ballistic missiles, regional issues — then we would still be in negotiations,” said Araghchi, who is also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.
“We were successful (in negotiating JCPOA) because we focused on one issue. It would be a big mistake if anyone tried to link the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to any other issue — to regional issues, to Syria or Yemen. Not only would we lose the JCPOA but it would not help those other issues.”
He accused the US of pouring “poison” on Iran by prevaricating over whether Tehran had complied with the terms of the nuclear deal.
“The US has created an atmosphere of uncertainty. This is like poison for the business community for Iran. This destructive atmosphere prevents banks, companies, entities from working with Iran.”
US President Donald Trump’s denunciations of the deal were “a violation of the letter and the text of the deal, not just the spirit.”
Iran had accepted some restrictions on its stockpiles of material as part of the deal to earn the trust of the other parties to the deal.
“We have accepted these limitations to our nuclear program to build confidence,” Araghchi said. “When these restrictions are finished it doesn’t mean Iran can go for the bomb.”
Araghchi told the Chatham House audience that while the nuclear deal “is a successful story for you — the West,” Iranians had not benefited greatly from the lifting of sanctions because of what he described as the suspicion and mistrust generated primarily by the US.


Syria's Kurds hand three Russian orphans to Moscow

Updated 2 min 37 sec ago
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Syria's Kurds hand three Russian orphans to Moscow

  • Three Russian orphans were handed to a delegation from Moscow who will transfer them back home

QAMISHLI: The Kurdish administration in northeast Syria said Monday it handed over three Russian orphans to a delegation from Moscow who will transfer them back home.
Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar said the children, aged five to seven, are being sent back at the request of Russia.
He told AFP their parents had been affiliated with the Daesh group, although it was not immediately clear how or when they arrived in Syria.
A member of the Russian government delegation said the siblings are from the country's North Caucasus region. The majority-Muslim southern territory is home to most of the Russians that joined Daesh.
Nelly Kouskova said the children were orphaned nearly one year ago, without providing details.
Their aunt back in Russia had asked authorities to help bring them home, Kouskova told a press conference.
Since the death of their parents the children have been living in the Al-Hol camp, a Kurdish-run shelter designed to accomodate 20,000 people.
But due to the mass exodus of people fleeing the battle to oust Daesh from its final strip of territory -- over which Kurdish-led forces claimed victory on Saturday -- the numbers have swelled to 70,000.
More than 9,000 foreigners, including over 6,500 children, are being held in the overcrowded camp, the Kurdish administration said on Monday.
Syria's Kurds have repeatedly called for the repatriation of foreign Daesh suspects and their relatives.
But the home countries of suspected Daesh members are reluctant to take them back, due to potential security risks and the likely public backlash.
Russia, however, can be seen as a pioneer in systematically returning children of suspected jihadists home.
Last month, 27 children aged four to 13 were flown from Iraq to the Moscow region. That followed the repatriation from Iraq of 30 children in late December.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in late 2017 called the drive to return the children "a very honourable and correct deed" and promised to help.
Some other foreign governments have also taken steps to bring the children of militants home.
France has repatriated five orphaned children of French militants' from camps in northeast Syria, the government said on March 15, in the first such transfer.
Belgium has said it will help the repatriation of children younger than 10, as long as the link with one Belgian parent is proven.