Tehran defies world, issues new threat to boost nuclear program

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the statement. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 August 2019

Tehran defies world, issues new threat to boost nuclear program

  • Foreign minister Zarif snubs Trump talks offer
  • Pentagon chief seeks Asian allies for Gulf naval force

JEDDAH: Iran issued a new threat on Saturday to boost its nuclear program in defiance of international condemnation, as it emerged that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had snubbed an offer from US President Donald Trump of talks at the White House.

Tehran has said repeatedly that it would breach the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear activities unless the other signatories find ways to shield its economy from US sanctions. Washington pulled out of the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), last year.

Last month, Iran threatened to restart deactivated centrifuges and increase enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, both breaches of the JCPOA.
“The third step in reducing commitments to the agreement will be implemented in the current situation,” Zarif said on Saturday.
“We have said that if it is not completely implemented by others then we will also implement it in the same incomplete manner. And of course all of our actions have been within the framework of the JCPOA.”
Trump withdrew from the agreement last year and reimposed a raft of economic sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy.  Last week the US extended sanctions to Zarif himself, blocking any property or interests he has in the US. Zarif said he was proud to be penalized by America “for defending the rights of Iranian people.”

However it emerged at the weekend that last month, at the height of a crisis over Iranian harassment of commercial shipping in the Gulf, Zarif had rejected an invitation from Trump for talks at the White House.

The offer was extended by Senator Rand Paul with permission from the president. Zarif said it was up to Tehran to decide whether to accept it, and in any case he would not agree to a White House meeting that produced only a photo opportunity and a two-page statement.

Trump has said that although Iran is a corrupt, incompetent and dangerous regime, and a threat to regional security and US interests, he is open to talks.

Meanwhile US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was in discussions with allies in Asia on Saturday about a contribution to a US-led force to protect shipping from Iranian state piracy in the Strait of Hormuz.

“I think we’ll have some announcements coming out in the coming days, where you’ll see countries begin to sign up,” Esper said.


Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

Updated 20 August 2019

Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

  • The museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies

CAIRO: The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to open in 2022, is already a beacon for future Egyptian prosperity.

Built to showcase Egypt’s civilization and heritage, the museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies, as well as housing a very important restoration center which will help in preserving Egyptian Pharaonic heritage.

It is hoped the GEM will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

Egypt began work on the museum in 2008 at a cost of approximately $550 million, with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities funding $100 million, with the remainder facilitated through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in addition to local and international donations.

Covering the third phase of the build, Japanese support was not limited to the loan, but extended to the financial and technical support of the museum’s preservation and conservation center. 

Moreover, Japan currently supports the museum’s archaeological database and the team chosen to cultivate and manage it. 

The JICA also organizes a program that holds several restoration training sessions in both Egypt and Japan, in partnership with the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. 

Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan Ayman Kamel talked about the details of Japan’s participation in constructing the GEM.

“This project, which was launched years ago, is a success story in Egyptian-Japanese bilateral relations,” Kamel said.

BACKGROUND

It is hoped the Grand Egyptian Museum will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

He added that Japan contributed in supporting one of the Egyptian centers specializing in monument restoration, providing “unmatched” Japanese eco-friendly materials and technology. 

Kamel predicted that following its inauguration, the GEM would be a source of pride not only for Egypt and Japan but also for the whole world.

“The final inauguration will take place in 2022 when all construction operations are completed.”

Japan’s Ambassador to Egypt Masaki Noke said the GEM was a “huge project that transfers heritage to the coming generations” and hailed Egypt for carrying out “this huge archaeological project.” 

Noke added that the Japanese were very happy to participate in this huge achievement which he considered of paramount importance “not only on the economic level but also on the human level in general.”

Around 42,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt in 2018, adding to an increasingly large community of Japanese residents, and a sizable presence of archaeological missions working in the country.  

Egyptian archaeological expert Ahmed Kadry told Arab News that there are currently 10 Japanese archaeological missions in Egypt with universities and institutions.

Kadry said that the GEM’s inauguration in 2022 will change the perspective of museum tourism the world over, and hailed to work of Japanese and Egyptian archaeologists for their work in the field of diagnostic examination of monuments by using hand-held devices called XRFs, a primary examination machine using X-rays.

He added the results of such examinations provided useful information regarding the preparation of painted layers “which help in not only deepening the understanding of the condition of murals once they are restored but also in conducting more research to gain more knowledge in the field of archaeology.”

In July 2018, Dr. Tadayuki Hara, an associate professor and senior research fellow at the Institute for Tourism Studies, gave a lecture on how to improve the value of touristic assets in Egypt at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, where he cited the importance of the GEM in Egypt’s future.

“Revenues can be created through great memories,” Dr. Hara said. “That can be achieved through the GEM, the project that Japan is taking part in constructing.”