Iran seeking US-UK rift, releases footage of crew on board Stena Impero

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An Iranian Revolutionary Guard member walks onboard of Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, in Bandar Abbas port. (Reuters/Via Fars)
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A boat of Iranian Revolutionary Guard sails next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port, on July 21, 2019. (Iran, Mizan News Agency/WANA Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 24 July 2019

Iran seeking US-UK rift, releases footage of crew on board Stena Impero

  • Saudi minister Al-Jubeir condemns ‘violation of international law’ as Britain considers sanctions
  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton of trying to enlist British support for the US campaign against Iran

JEDDAH: Iran tried on Sunday to drive a diplomatic wedge between the US and the UK amid escalating tension after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf and forced it into an Iranian port.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton of trying to enlist British support for the US campaign against Iran. “Having failed to lure Donald Trump into the War of the Century, he is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire,” Zarif said.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said any attack on the freedom of navigation was a violation of international law. “Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable. The world community must take action to deter such behavior,” he said.

Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable.

Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

British ministers said they were considering their options in response to the seizure on Friday of the tanker Stena Impero with 23 crew on board. A statement to Parliament is expected on Monday.

“We are going to be looking at a series of options,” junior Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said. “We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done.”

Analysts said a military response was unlikely, but possible diplomatic and economic measures include freezing Iranian assets. Britain may also push for UN and EU sanctions to be reimposed on Iran, as the US has already done.

However, British defense expert Tim Ripley said the UK had few good options. 

“We rant and rave and we shout at the ambassador and we hope it all goes away,” he said.

“If the Americans are going to continue to enforce their embargo, there’s no incentive for the Iranians not to take more tankers. What have they got to lose?” 

Tehran released video of some of the 23-strong crew of the Stena Impero sitting around a table speaking with one of their captors, alongside fresh images showing Revolutionary Guardsmen on board the Swedish-owned vessel.

Video footage and a photo appear to show cooks preparing meals and crew members being briefed by an Iranian official onboard the Stena Impero.

The regime's foreign minister Mohammad Zarif said on Monday that Iran took measures against the ship to "implement international law," not in retaliation to actions by Britain, and was not seeking conflict.

Meanwhile, Iran thanked Saudi Arabia on Sunday for the return of an Iranian ship docked at Jeddah port since May because of technical problems.

“Iran appreciates efforts by the authorities of Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Oman to secure the safe return of the Happiness 1 oil tanker,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Britain’s May to chair emergency session on seized tanker

British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair an emergency security session to discuss how to respond to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The meeting of security ministers and officials on Monday will discuss how to secure shipping in the sensitive region, which is vital to the world’s oil supply.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also expected to brief Parliament on the Friday seizure of the Stena Impero tanker, now in a heavily guarded Iranian port.

(With AP)


Egypt sets virus vaccine target

Updated 25 min 46 sec ago

Egypt sets virus vaccine target

  • Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days

CAIRO: Assistant Health Minister and Coordinator of the Anti-COVID-19 Scientific Committee Ihab Kamal said that 842 people have volunteered in just one week to take part in Egypt’s coronavirus vaccine trials.

About 332 have been admitted in accordance with the health ministry’s requirements, which include being free from chronic disease.

Kamal said: “The number of volunteers until now is not low. We are working on raising the awareness of the citizens through various media platforms on the importance of the vaccine tests.” He added that the required number of volunteers is 6000.

He said the first two phases of the vaccine tests are complete and the third phase has begun. He added that volunteers are called for 21 days, pointing out that volunteers take a second dose in case they do not suffer any side effects. Kamal said the blood’s antibodies are measured throughout the year as part of the program.

Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced on Thursday that she had launched the third and final phase of clinical trials on two vaccines developed by Egypt. She said the results of the two vaccine trials are positive so far.

Sources said that the Ministry of Health and the three centers taking part in the trials have received many applications. However, many of the applicants do not match the prerequisites, and therefore only 335 were accepted for the trials.

Zayed said in a press conference in Cairo that the current phase targets the participation of 6000 Egyptians. She said there are three places allocated for clinical trials.

Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days. After 45 days of the first dose, antibodies produced by the vaccine are measured to test their efficiency, Zayed said.

She said that national medical committees have been formed from civil and military bodies representing Egypt’s best medical experts.

She added that a committee will oversee conducting the clinical trials and that two vaccines out of seven have reached the third phase of clinical trials.

Zayed said that the first phase of the two vaccines included a test on a small group of 10 to 20 people with the aim of ensuring safety and also determining an appropriate dose. About 200 people took part in the second phase.

The third phase aimed included trials on 45,000 people from around the world, including 6,000 Egyptians.

The Ministry of Health and the company responsible for conducting the clinical trials explained the conditions that volunteers must follow to be eligible for tests.

They include an age bracket from 18 to 60 years old according to health condition. Registration must also be carried out using official documents. Volunteers must reside in Egypt or have valid residency documents during the trial period. Moreover, volunteers must sign an “informed consent” form prior to taking part in the trial.

There are a number of health conditions that prevent volunteers from taking part in the trials, including suffering from the symptoms of fever, dry cough, exhaustion and gonorrhea during the 14 days that precede the tests.