UK Border staff ‘seize missile parts that were being sent to Iran’ at Heathrow

Iran has continued to expand its missile arsenal despite the deal with international powers signed in 2015 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. (AFP)
Updated 02 August 2018

UK Border staff ‘seize missile parts that were being sent to Iran’ at Heathrow

  • The parts were described as being sent for use in Iran’s oil industry, but UK Border Force staff stopped the shipment
  • Two ‘O rings’ — small components made of rubber used to form seals in warheads to stop leakages — were detected

LONDON: Attempts to ship missile parts to Iran have been thwarted by UK border agents at Heathrow Airport.
Two ‘O rings’ — small components made of rubber used to form seals in warheads to stop leakages — were detected during an inspection of cargo leaving the airport, according to a report in London’s Evening Standard.
The parts were described as being sent for use in Iran’s oil industry. But UK Border Force staff stopped the shipment, suspecting that they were actually going to be used in the construction of missiles.
Monique Wrench, UK Border Force’s deputy director at Heathrow Airport, told the newspaper: “We had a couple of O rings that we identified. O rings are pieces of rubber that go between tubes to stop leakage to seal them. They can be used in oil, but they can also be used for warheads and the like. Our staff stopped them from going to Iran.
“It is a component part. It looked like it was going to an oil refinery. But the dots don’t quite join up here.”
Wrench refused to comment on whether any arrests were made in connection with the incident and confirmed that an investigation was being launched by HM Revenue and Customs.
The selling, supplying or transportation of missile-related goods or technology to Iran is banned in the UK, and those found guilty face heavy fines and a possible prison sentence.
In June, UN tests found that Houthi militia missiles fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen had been manufactured in Iran.
Col. Turki Al-Maliki of the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthis said last month that as many as 163 ballistic missiles and 66,362 projectiles have targeted Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the military operations.
Iran has continued to expand its missile arsenal despite the deal with international powers signed in 2015 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Donald Trump has withdrawn the US from the nuclear deal and one of his chief complaints was that the agreement had failed to tackle Iran’s missile capabilities.


Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

Updated 11 December 2019

Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

  • The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries. 

The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims.

“After the CAB, we are going to bring in the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” Home Minister Amit Shah said after the passage of the bill. 

The fear among a large section of Indians is that by bringing in the CAB and the NRC — a process to identify illegal immigrants — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to target Muslim minorities. 

They insist that the new bill protects all other communities except Muslims, who constitute around 14 percent of India’s total population.

The opposition Congress Party said that the bill was a move to “destroy the foundation” of India.

“The CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” party leader Rahul Gandhi posted in a tweet.

Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s sister and a prominent opposition leader, called the bill “India’s tryst with bigotry.”

However, BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma said: “The opposition is communalizing the bill. 

The CAB saves minorities who owe their origin to India from being prosecuted on grounds of religious status. The same is not the case with Muslims since they have not been prosecuted because of their religion.”

Eight northeastern states observed a day-long strike against the CAB. 

“Once the bill is implemented, the native tribal people will become permanent minorities in their own state,” Animesh Debbarma, a tribal leader who organized the strike in the state of Tripura said.

“The bill is against our fundamental rights and it is an attack on our constitution and secularism,” he told Arab News.

In Assam, some places saw violence with a vehicle belonging to the BJP state president vandalized.

In New Delhi, different civil society groups and individuals gathered close to the Indian Parliament and expressed their outrage at the “open and blatant attack” on what they called the “idea” of India.

“The CAB is not only against Muslim minorities but against all the minorities — be it Tamils or Nepali Gurkhas — and is a blatant attempt to polarize the society in the name of religion and turn India into a majoritarian Hindu state,” Nadeem Khan, head of United Against Hate, a campaign to connect people from different faiths, said.

Rallies and protests were also organized in Pune, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow.

On Tuesday, more than 600 academics, activists, lawyers and writers called the bill “divisive, discriminatory, unconstitutional” in an open letter, and urged the government to withdraw the proposed law.

They said that the CAB, along with the NRC, “will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic.”

Delhi-based activist and a prominent human rights campaigner, Harsh Mander, said: “I feel the CAB is the most dangerous bill that has ever been brought by the Indian Parliament. We need a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose this legislation.”

Meanwhile, the international community is also watching the domestic debate on the CAB. 

Describing the initiative as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,”  a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought US sanctions against Shah and other Indian leaders if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed.

EU ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, in a press conference in New Delhi on Monday said that he hopes: “The spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution will be upheld by the Parliament.”