Iran rejects US chemical weapons accusations

Iran promised its delegation would provide the OPCW with a detailed reply. (AFP)
Updated 23 November 2018
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Iran rejects US chemical weapons accusations

  • The US accused Iran on Thursday of failing to declare a chemical weapons program to the global watchdog in breach of international agreements
  • The US allegations are the latest salvo against Iran from the administration of President Donald Trump

TEHRAN: Iran “strongly rejected” on Friday US accusations that it has a chemical weapons program and accused Washington of breaching its own commitments to the international watchdog.

The US allegations are the latest salvo against Iran from the administration of President Donald Trump, who earlier this year pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran and reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions.

“The United States... has made, as is its habit, baseless accusations against the Islamic republic which we strongly reject,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Such incorrect and false accusations are due solely to enmity toward the Iranian nation and are intended to deflect international attention from its own broken commitments and continued support for the Zionist regime’s chemical arsenal and for terrorist groups.”

The US accused Iran on Thursday of failing to declare a chemical weapons program to the global watchdog in breach of international agreements.

US envoy Kenneth Ward told the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague that Tehran was also seeking deadly nerve agents for offensive purposes.

Iran promised its delegation would provide the OPCW with a detailed reply and in turn accused the US of being the “only member state that has a chemical weapons arsenal and has, until now, not acted on its obligations to destroy it.”

Iran is one of the few countries that has been attacked with chemical weapons since the end of World War I in 1918.

Chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during its 1980-88 war with Iran killed tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers and civilians.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 31 min 49 sec ago
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.