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

  • 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.”

 


Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

Updated 26 January 2020

Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

  • ahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani
  • "How long can it possibly be sustained?”

LONDON: The former crown prince of Iran says the regime is cracking from within under the pressure of a wave of fresh protests.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah, was just 17 when he fled into exile with his family during the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said the demonstrations, which have included chants for the royal family to return, show that the current regime may be coming to an end.

“The cracking from within of the system is getting more and more obvious,” he said. “When you look at the circumstances in Iran today, put yourselves in the shoes of the worst-off — how long can it possibly be sustained?”

The protests intensified in November after an increase in fuel prices. Vast crowds demonstrated in cities across the country before the regime cut the internet and killed hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown.

Large numbers returned to the streets this month, angered by the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet by the Iranian military, and Tehran’s initial insistence that it was an accident.

“The protests are very pervasive, in many sectors of society,” Pahlavi, 59, said in Washington where he lives. “They are all over the country. And a new development we haven’t seen before: the so-called silent middle class, which until now were not taking positions, are beginning to speak out.

“I’m not saying this is a guaranteed collapse. But the ingredients that get us closer to that point seem to be more prevailing these days than ever before.”

Pahlavi said he no longer has any desire to return to the throne, despite once being a rallying point for opposition groups after his father died in 1980.

However, he said he believed there could be a new Iran after the fall of the clerical regime and that his role could be as a go-between for the Iranian diaspora, foreign governments and opposition groups inside Iran.

“To the extent that there is a name recognition, I can utilise that,” he said. “I have no ambition of any kind of role or function or title. I’d like to be an advocate for the people. I don’t let any of this go to my head, I’ve been around too long for that.”

Pahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani “as a breakthrough that is positive for the region.”

He also backs the punishing US sanctions introduced when Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

He said he hopes one day to be able to return to his homeland.

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