Iran’s Khamenei issues new threat to ramp up Iran’s nuclear program

Iran’s Khamenei issues new threat to ramp up Iran’s nuclear program
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the seizure of the ship “piracy”. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 July 2019

Iran’s Khamenei issues new threat to ramp up Iran’s nuclear program

Iran’s Khamenei issues new threat to ramp up Iran’s nuclear program
  • He pledges revenge for UK tanker seizure
  • Concerns grow for UAE vessel in Strait of Hormuz

DUBAI: Iran vowed on Tuesday to ramp up its nuclear program and repeated threats of retaliation against the UK for seizing an illegal Iranian oil shipment to Syria.

Since the beginning of July, Tehran has been escalating breaches of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions.

Increasing its enrichment of uranium is an attempt by Tehran to pressure Britain, France and Germany — the European signatories to the JCPOA — into finding a way round crippling US sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump after he withdrew from the deal last May.

“We have started to reduce our commitments and this trend shall continue,” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday.

“Europe made 11 commitments, none of which they abided by. We abided by our commitments and even beyond them. Now that we’ve begun to reduce our commitments, they oppose it. How insolent!”

HIGHLIGHT

It was the first time Khamenei had explicitly pledged to press ahead with Iran’s nuclear program, rejecting European appeals to restore enrichment limits preventing rapid development of a nuclear weapon.

It was the first time Khamenei had explicitly pledged to press ahead with its nuclear program, rejecting European appeals to restore limits on enrichment aimed at preventing the rapid development of a nuclear weapon.

He also repeated threats of retribution against the UK for its seizure this month of an Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gibraltar. The Grace 1 was transporting a million barrels of Iranian oil to Syria, in breach of EU sanctions.

“Evil Britain commits piracy and steals our ship ... and gives it a legal appearance. The Islamic Republic ... will not leave this wickedness unanswered and will respond to it at an appropriate time and place,” he said.

Britain called for calm. “Escalation in the Gulf is not in anyone’s interests and we have repeatedly stressed that to the Iranians,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

Amid tension in the Gulf, US defense officials believe Iran may have seized a small UAE oil tanker that turned off its tracker on Saturday night in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Riah, a 58-meter coastal vessel that operated from Dubai and Sharjah on the west coast to Fujairah in the east, is now in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base on it.

“We certainly have suspicions that it was taken,” a US official said. “Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility. But the longer there is a period of no contact ... it’s going to be a concern.”

 


Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
Bookseller Yaqoub Mohamed Yaqoub, 45, sits by his roadside stall where he has been working for 15 years, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2021

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
  • Unrest ricocheted beyond North African country, triggering uprisings, crackdowns, civil wars

KHARTOUM: As Sudan’s transitional government shifts the nation from the Islamist rule of ousted strongman Omar Bashir, a new schoolbook has sparked controversy for reproducing Michelangelo’s iconic “Creation of Adam.”
Khartoum’s government has embarked on deeply controversial reforms in a bid to boost its international standing and rescue its ailing economy — but bringing it into a confrontation with those who see changes as anti-Islamic.
The offending picture, in a history textbook for teenagers, has become a flashpoint in the argument. “It is an ugly offense,” said Sudan’s Academy of Islamic Fiqh, the body ruling on Islamic law, which issued an edict banning teaching from the book.
Michelangelo’s fresco, depicting the Biblical story of God reaching out with his hand to give life to Adam, is a flagship piece of 16th century Renaissance art that forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Rome.
“The book glorifies Western culture in a way that makes it the culture of science and civilization — in contrast to its presentation of Islamic civilization,” the Fiqh academy added.

BACKGROUND

In a viral video, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting ‘apostasy’ and ‘heresy.’

Furious Muslim clerics have railed against the book and other changes to the school curriculum.
In one video widely shared on social media, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting “apostasy” and “heresy.”
Another urged followers to “burn the book.”
But others defended the changes, saying they were part of necessary education reforms.
“The picture is not in a religious book,” teacher Qamarya Omar said.
“It is in a history book for the sixth-grade under a section called European Renaissance, which makes it placed in context.”