Trump offers Putin help with Siberian wildfires — Kremlin

Heavy smoke covers the center of the eastern Siberian city of Chita, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits the region. Russian authorities have declared a state of emergency in five areas, including all of the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk regions, which lie north of Mongolia. (AP)
Updated 01 August 2019

Trump offers Putin help with Siberian wildfires — Kremlin

  • The Kremlin said the two leaders had spoken by phone at Washington’s initiative
  • Putin ordered the Russian army to help firefighters battle the wildfires

MOSCOW: US President Donald Trump offered his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin help in putting out vast wildfires that are raging in Siberia, the Kremlin said late on Wednesday, a move it said Putin took as a sign that battered ties can be restored.
The Kremlin said the two leaders had spoken by phone at Washington’s initiative, hours after Putin ordered the Russian army to help firefighters battle the wildfires.
The fires have spread to around 3 million hectares of mostly remote forest, an area almost the size of Belgium, according to the Federal Forestry Agency, wafting smoke across Siberia and prompting several regions to declare states of emergency.
“The US president offered Russia cooperation in fighting forest fires in Siberia,” the Kremlin statement said.
“President Putin expressed his sincere gratitude for such an attentive attitude and for the offer of help and support.”
Putin told Trump that Moscow would take him up on his offer if necessary, the Kremlin said, adding: “The Russian president took this step from the US president as a sign that in the future we can restore full-scale ties between our two countries.”
Russia has long been keen to try to start rebuilding battered US-Russia relations, which remain strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in US politics, which Moscow denies.
The two leaders agreed to continue their contacts over the phone and in face-to-face meetings, the Kremlin said.
The White House confirmed the two men had spoken by phone and said they had discussed the wildfires as well as trade between their two nations.


IAEA urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

Updated 21 November 2019

IAEA urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

  • IAEA said in a report last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran

VIENNA: The UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday urged Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at an undeclared site, as a landmark deal aimed at curbing Tehran's atomic activities threatens to collapse.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report made public last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency".
The agency's acting head Cornel Feruta said IAEA and Iranian officials would meet in Tehran next week to discuss the matter, adding that the UN body had not received any additional information.
"The matter remains unresolved... It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly," he told IAEA member states at a meeting of the agency's board of governors.
A diplomatic source told AFP that the IAEA would send a high-ranking technical delegation to Iran next week.
The particles are understood to be the product of uranium which has been mined and undergone initial processing, but not enriched.
While the IAEA has not named the site in question, diplomatic sources have previously said the agency asked Iran about a site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past.
Sources say the IAEA took samples from the site in the spring and that Iran has been slow in providing answers to explain the test results.
The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers has been faltering since last year when the United States pulled out and started to reinstate punishing sanctions on Tehran, leaving the other signatories struggling to salvage the agreement.
Over the past few months, Iran has breached several parts of the deal it signed with the US as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, in which it committed to scaling back its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
But Britain, France and Germany have said they are extremely concerned by Iran's actions in stepping up its uranium enrichment and other breaches.
Enrichment is the process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead.
On Monday, the IAEA confirmed Iran's stock of heavy water for reactors has surpassed the 130-tonne limit set under the agreement.
Heavy water is not itself radioactive but is used in nuclear reactors to absorb neutrons from nuclear fission.
Heavy water reactors can be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons as an alternative to enriched uranium.
The IAEA has also said one of its inspectors was briefly prevented from leaving Iran, calling her treatment "not acceptable".
Iran has cancelled the inspector's accreditation, saying she triggered a security check at the entrance gate to the Natanz enrichment plant last month.
The IAEA has disputed the Iranian account of the incident, without going into details.