Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’

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President Hassan Rouhani said last month Iran would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water. (AP/File photo)
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Behrouz Kamalvandi made the comment in a news conference on Monday. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019
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Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’

  • US, Europe reject Tehran’s threat to increase its uranium stockpile

JEDDAH: Iran faced a backlash from Europe and the US on Monday after it threatened to breach uranium stockpile limits set by the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program.

The White House said Iran’s new threat was “nuclear blackmail” and European signatories to the agreement said the regime in Tehran must stick to its commitments.

Iran set a 10-day countdown on Monday to exceed the 300-kilogram limit set on its enriched uranium stocks, dealing another blow to the crumbling nuclear accord signed by Tehran and six international powers.

“Iran’s enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left their capabilities intact,” US National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said. “President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also rejected the Iranian ultimatum. “We have already said in the past that we will not accept less for less. It is up to Iran to stick to its obligations,” he said. “We will certainly not accept a unilateral reduction of obligations.”

A spokesman for the British government said the European signatories to the deal had “consistently made clear that there can be no reduction in compliance.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would hold talks with Iran and its partners to avoid any further escalation in the region.

“I regret the Iranian announcements made … and we strongly encourage it to be patient and responsible,” Macron said. He said there was a window between now and July 8 for more dialogue to save the nuclear deal.

“All forms of escalation do not go in the right direction and won’t help Iran itself and the international community, so we will do all we can with our partners to dissuade Iran and find a possible path for dialogue.”

European countries have been trying to save the nuclear deal since US President Donald Trump withdrew last May and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. Iran has demanded their help to sidestep the sanctions, and in particular to enable it to sell oil on world markets.


Detainee allegedly tortured in Sudan dies: doctors

Updated 17 min 43 sec ago
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Detainee allegedly tortured in Sudan dies: doctors

  • The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service
  • It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir’s rule that first erupted in December

KHARTOUM: A Sudanese civilian detained and allegedly tortured by security agents in a central town has died in custody, a doctors committee linked to the country’s protest movement said Sunday.
The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the doctors committee said in a statement.
The detainee “passed away on July 20, 2019 from torture while in detention at the NISS office in Dilling,” the statement said without elaborating on the circumstances of his arrest.
“NISS continues to torture and claim innocent civilian lives illegally without facing any consequences.”
Officers of NISS were not immediately available for comment.
Rights groups and activists had regularly accused NISS agents of cracking down on dissidents and restricting freedoms during the regime of veteran leader Omar Al-Bashir who was ousted in April.
It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir’s rule that first erupted in December.
Dozens were killed and hundreds of protesters, activists and opposition leaders were arrested during the months-long campaign that led to Bashir’s overthrow and subsequent demonstrations calling for civilian rule.
Last week a power-sharing deal was inked between the protest leaders and the ruling generals who seized power after ousting Bashir.
More talks between the two sides to thrash out some pending issues have been suspended following differences within the protest movement itself over the power-sharing deal.