Trump threatens ‘obliteration if Iran attacks anything American’

US president says any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Trump threatens ‘obliteration if Iran attacks anything American’

  • US National Security Adviser John Bolton said Washington was still willing to talk to Iran

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American” as Tehran and Washington traded insults.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said new US sanctions against Ayatalloh Ali Khamenei were pointless because Iran’s supreme leader had no assets abroad, and described the White House’s actions as “mentally retarded.”

Iran also pledged to further increase its enrichment of uranium, in breach of the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program. “As of July 7, Iran will forcefully take the second step of reducing its commitments” to the deal, said Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Iran that violating the accord would be a serious mistake and that France, Britain and Germany were making it clear to Tehran that it was not in its interest to do so.

Trump said the US was still open to negotiations but would retaliate if Iran resorted to violence. “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,” he said.

US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, visiting Israel, said the offer of talks remained on the table provided Iran was willing to go beyond the terms of the 2015 deal.

“The president has held the door open to real negotiations to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support for international terrorism and other malign behavior worldwide,” Bolton said.

“All Iran needs to do is to walk through that open door. They’ll either get the point or ... we will simply enhance the maximum pressure campaign further.”


Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

Updated 33 min 21 sec ago
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Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

  • Hazza Al-Mansoori 'living a dream' as he and backup astronaut train for space mission in September
  • Soyuz-MS 15 launch could be the beginning of a bold new era of Arab exploration of space

DUBAI: More than 30 years after an Arab first journeyed into space, an  Emirati is preparing to become the latest Arab space traveler when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) in September.

For months, Hazza Al-Mansoori and backup pilot Sultan Al-Neyadi have been undergoing intensive training in Russia, Germany and the US to prepare for the mission. The first Emirati to travel into space will make the historic journey on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.

During the eight-day mission, he will conduct a tour of the ISS for Arabic viewers on Earth and carry out 15 experiments for the Science in Space schools competition conducted by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

The crew, who will include an American and a Russian, are allowed to take up to 1 kg of personal items with them on the mission.

“I will take my family photo and share the experience of being in space with them,” Al-Mansoori said. There will also be an image of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father, meeting American astronauts in 1976.

“I am also going to take an Emirati flag. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.”

‘I will take an Emirati flag into space. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.’

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori

Al-Mansoori will join an elite space club comprising Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman and Syria’s Muhammed Faris. Prince Sultan became the first Arab to travel to space as part of space shuttle Discovery’s crew in 1985. Faris was a crew member of USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987.

The Emirati astronaut is aware that history is resting on his shoulders. Speaking to the media recently during his training program in Houston, Al-Mansoori  said it is a huge personal honor to be the first Emirati chosen for space exploration.

“I’m excited about the whole mission, but especially to experience the microgravity and be living in the ISS, and conducting daily experiments and working with the amazing group on board,” he said.

Al-Mansoori and Al-Neyadi have been undergoing rigorous training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program includes familiarization with NASA equipment on board the space station, and handling emergency situations, such as ammonia gas leaks and depressurization.

The Emiratis have been trained to fend for themselves if the return goes off course and they land in the wilderness of Russia.

Speaking of the Soyuz-MS 15 mission, Yousuf Al-Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, said: “We strive to see the UAE Astronaut Program achieve its objective of preparing generations of Emiratis who will contribute to enhancing the country’s position in space science and research to serve the ambitious aspirations aimed at building a national knowledge-based economy.”

The September launch could prove to be the beginning of a bold new era for Arabs and space. Al-Neyadi, the backup pilot, has been promised a seat on a future mission, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia are drawing up ambitious plans for the development of the region’s space industry.