Iran postpones debate on terror financing

Fighters from the Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigade walk into the Wadi al-Salam cemetary in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on December 10, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2018
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Iran postpones debate on terror financing

TEHRAN: Iran's parliament voted Sunday to suspend discussion of joining the UN Terrorism Financing Convention for two months, while it waits to see whether its nuclear deal with world powers will survive.
There has been an often furious debate among Iranian lawmakers over whether to join the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which requires members to pass numerous laws against terrorism financing and money-laundering.
Iran and North Korea are currently the only countries on the FATF black-list, adding to their difficulties in accessing global banking.
But many conservative lawmakers argue the new laws -- in the works since last year -- will cut off Iranian support to Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas -- whose military wings are designated as terrorist organisations by the United States and European Union, among others.
They say the legislation will also condemn members of the Revolutionary Guards listed as terrorists by the US, including the head of its external operations, Qassem Soleimani.
But Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister, defended the efforts to join the FATF, saying it was firmly in Iran's interests.
"This very parliament was the victim of Daesh terrorism this time last year... Without international cooperation and joining international conventions, it is impossible to confront it," said Aragchi.
"Inside the country there are some holes and weaknesses in banking networks, which unfortunately facilitates terrorist groups and drug-smuggling," he added.
Daesh carried out twin attacks last June on Iran's parliament and the tomb of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini, killing 17.
Iran, a majority Shiite country, is considered a primary enemy by extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh -- and has directly fought these groups in Syria and Iraq.
But with the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal last month and ordering full sanctions to be reimposed on Iran, many say it is pointless to join the FATF.
The other parties to the nuclear deal -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- are working to salvage the deal and maintain trade ties, but most international banks already refuse to work with Iran for fear of US penalties.
On Sunday, lawmakers voted 138 to 103 (with six abstentions) on suspending the discussion around the Terrorism Financing Convention for two months, while they wait to see how the nuclear deal discussions play out, according to ISNA.


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 5 min 46 sec ago
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers

BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.