Iran to announce more violations of nuclear deal commitments on Sunday

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Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the uranium enrichment to five percent would be for ‘peaceful’ aims. (AFP)
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A picture shows the seal of the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production bearing the initials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after they were disconnected at nuclear power plant of Natanz, some 300 kilometres south of Tehran on January, 20, 2014. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019

Iran to announce more violations of nuclear deal commitments on Sunday

  • Other officials will join Araqchi in making the announcement at a news conference on Sunday morning
  • A top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader hinted Tehran could boost its uranium enrichment to five percent for “peaceful” aims, ahead of deadline it set for world powers to save a landmark 2015 nuclear deal

DUBAI: Iran's senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi will announce more reductions in its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal on Sunday, the semi-official news agency Fars reported, as Tehran says European partners failed to shield it from US sanctions.
Other officials will join Araqchi in making the announcement at a news conference on Sunday morning, Fars reported.

On Friday, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader hinted Tehran could boost its uranium enrichment to five percent for “peaceful” aims, ahead of deadline it set for world powers to save a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran is acting on its May 8 threat to suspend from Sunday parts of the agreement in response to US President Donald Trump’s re-imposition of crippling sanctions after withdrawing from the deal in May last year.

The accord capped Iran’s enrichment maximum at 3.67 percent, sufficient for power generation but far below the more than 90 percent level required for a nuclear weapon.

Uranium enrichment “will increase as much as needed for our peaceful activities,” Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an interview published Friday on the leader’s official website.

“For Bushehr nuclear reactor we need five percent enrichment and it is a completely peaceful goal,” he added.

Bushehr is Iran’s only nuclear power station and is currently running on imported fuel from Russia that is closely monitored by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

On May 8, Iran announced it would no longer respect the limits set on the size of its stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water, and threatened to abandon further nuclear commitments, including exceeding the agreed uranium enrichment maximum from July 7.

It has also threatened to resume building from that date a heavy water reactor — capable of one day producing plutonium — in Arak in central Iran, a project that had been mothballed under the deal.

The move comes in response to what Iran deems a failure by the remaining parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — to provide Tehran with relief from the US sanctions.

“The US has directly and Europeans indirectly violated” the deal, said Velayati.

“We will react proportionally the more they violate it.”


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 21 January 2020

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”