Tehran defies world, issues new threat to boost nuclear program

Tehran defies world, issues new threat to boost nuclear program
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the statement. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 August 2019

Tehran defies world, issues new threat to boost nuclear program

Tehran defies world, issues new threat to boost nuclear program
  • Foreign minister Zarif snubs Trump talks offer
  • Pentagon chief seeks Asian allies for Gulf naval force

JEDDAH: Iran issued a new threat on Saturday to boost its nuclear program in defiance of international condemnation, as it emerged that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had snubbed an offer from US President Donald Trump of talks at the White House.

Tehran has said repeatedly that it would breach the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear activities unless the other signatories find ways to shield its economy from US sanctions. Washington pulled out of the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), last year.

Last month, Iran threatened to restart deactivated centrifuges and increase enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, both breaches of the JCPOA.
“The third step in reducing commitments to the agreement will be implemented in the current situation,” Zarif said on Saturday.
“We have said that if it is not completely implemented by others then we will also implement it in the same incomplete manner. And of course all of our actions have been within the framework of the JCPOA.”
Trump withdrew from the agreement last year and reimposed a raft of economic sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy.  Last week the US extended sanctions to Zarif himself, blocking any property or interests he has in the US. Zarif said he was proud to be penalized by America “for defending the rights of Iranian people.”

However it emerged at the weekend that last month, at the height of a crisis over Iranian harassment of commercial shipping in the Gulf, Zarif had rejected an invitation from Trump for talks at the White House.

The offer was extended by Senator Rand Paul with permission from the president. Zarif said it was up to Tehran to decide whether to accept it, and in any case he would not agree to a White House meeting that produced only a photo opportunity and a two-page statement.

Trump has said that although Iran is a corrupt, incompetent and dangerous regime, and a threat to regional security and US interests, he is open to talks.

Meanwhile US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was in discussions with allies in Asia on Saturday about a contribution to a US-led force to protect shipping from Iranian state piracy in the Strait of Hormuz.

“I think we’ll have some announcements coming out in the coming days, where you’ll see countries begin to sign up,” Esper said.


Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
A military vehicle is stationed on the tarmac of Yemen’s Aden airport. Yemen says the Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace to the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 56 min 50 sec ago

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
  • International community urged not to surrender to ‘blackmailing and intimidation’ 
  • Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace, Yemen PM said

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s prime minister has vowed to address any impact on humanitarian assistance or the remittances of citizens abroad following the US move to designate the Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed also urged the international community not to surrender to “Houthi blackmailing” and intimidation.
Saeed defended his government’s strong support of the designation during a virtual interview with foreign journalists sponsored by the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.
He said that his government had formed a committee to handle any effects on the delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Houthi-controlled areas and the remittances of Yemenis abroad.
“We are determined to prevent any impact of the decision on the Yemenis. We have formed a committee to mitigate effects of the decision,” he said.
When the US announced its intention to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization last week, Yemen’s government quickly urged the US administration to put the decision in place, predicting it would stop Houthi crimes and their looting of humanitarian assistance, and would smoothe the way for peace.
Referring to the impact of the US designation on peace talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, Saeed said that the decision would not undermine peace efforts. He said that the Houthis would be accepted as part of the Yemeni political and social spectrum when they abandoned hard-line ideologies and embraced equality and justice.

The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, Yemen’s prime minister

“This is an important pressure card on them and a real definition of them,” he said, adding that the Yemenis would not allow the Houthi movement to rule them.
“Yemen would not be ruled by a racist and terrorist group,” he said.
Formed under the Riyadh Agreement, Yemen’s new government’s ministers narrowly escaped death on Dec. 30 when three precision-guided missiles ripped through Aden airport shortly after their plane touched down.
The government accused the Houthis of staging the attack, saying that missile fragments collected from the airport showed that they were similar to missiles that targeted Marib city in the past.
The prime minister said that the Yemeni government had offered many concessions to reach an agreement to end the war. It had agreed to engage in direct talks with the Houthis in Stockholm in 2018 despite the fact that the Yemeni government forces were about to seize control of the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. However, the Stockholm Agreement had failed to bring peace to Yemen, he said.
“The government forces were about to capture the city within five days maximum. The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed,” Saeed said.
In Riyadh, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Friday appointed Ahmed Obeid bin Daghar, a former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, as president of the Shoura Council.
Hadi also appointed Ahmed Ahmed Al-Mousai as the country’s new attorney general.
Fighting continues
Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis broke out on Sunday for the third consecutive day in contested areas in the districts of Hays and Durihimi in the western province of Hodeidah. Official media said that dozens of Houthi rebels and several government troops were killed in the fighting and loyalists pushed back three assaults by Houthis in Durihimi district.
In neighboring Hays, the Joint Forces media said on Sunday that the Houthis hit government forces with heavy weapons before launching a ground attack in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the district.
The Houthis failed to make any gains and lost dozens of fighters along with several military vehicles that were burnt in the fighting, the same media outlets said. Heavy artillery shelling and land mines planted by the Houthis have killed more than 500 civilians since late 2018, local rights groups said.