Israeli minister: Iran could face military answer to nukes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discusses with his advisor as he attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on September 12, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Israeli minister: Iran could face military answer to nukes

JERUSALEM: An Israeli Cabinet minister says if Iran chooses to continue pursuing a nuclear program it will face a “military” answer.
Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz was responding Wednesday to the Iranian nuclear chief’s warning that the Islamic Republic’s program stands ready to build advanced centrifuges and further enrich uranium.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran won’t be deterred by President Donald Trump’s sanctions and withdrawal from the global nuclear deal.
Katz says if Iran presses forth it will face a “direct threat from the United States and its allies.”
The US withdrawal from the deal has already badly shaken Iran’s economy, crashing its currency, the rial. Katz says Iran can either succumb to Trump or watch its economy collapse.
Israel and Iran are arch enemies.


Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

Updated 14 min 43 sec ago
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Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

  • Jordan PM says most refugees not returning yet
  • Amman says funding crucial to keep economy afloat

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon.
Razzaz told representatives of major Western donors, UN agencies and NGOs that relatively few refugees had gone back since Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s army last summer regained control of southern Syria, where most had fled from.
“The number of refugees that so far returned voluntarily is low and most have no intention of going back any time soon,” Razzaz told a meeting to launch a UN-funded government plan that earmarks $2.4 billion in funding needs for 2019.
Officials say only around 10,000 refugees out of a total estimated at 1.3 million had left since the two countries opened the vital Nassib-Jaber border crossing last October.
Razzaz echoed the UN view that unstable conditions inside Syria, where large-scale destruction, fear of retribution and military conscription has made many reluctant to return.
“We are now entering a new phase of the Syrian crisis, however the impact is still ongoing. The conditions for their return are not present,” Razzaz added.
The prime minister warned against donor fatigue in a protracted crisis where the needs of refugees and vulnerable Jordanians were largely unchanged.
Maintaining funding that covers education, health and crucial services for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and local communities was crucial to ease rising pressures on the debt-burdened economy, he added.
“Aid helped Jordan in staying resilient in a difficult regional setting,” Razzaz said, adding the refugee burden had strained meagre resources such as water and electricity, with a donor shortfall covered from state finances.
Jordan is struggling to rein in record public debt of $40 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product, under a tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity plan.
Major donors say more than $6 billion had been extended to Jordan since 2015, which economists credit for rejuvenating once sleepy northern border towns, while refugee entrepreneurship brought a pool of cheap labor and new skills, triggering a property boom and higher productivity.
The kingdom received around $1.6 billion last year alone.
“The level of funding to Jordan that still remains is exceptional in global comparison,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Anders Pedersen, adding needs had evolved from the humanitarian aid required early in the conflict to development projects that benefit the economy.