Israeli PM Netanyahu urges more pressure on Iran after latest nuclear move

“This is not the time to hold talks with Iran; this is the time to increase the pressure on Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2019

Israeli PM Netanyahu urges more pressure on Iran after latest nuclear move

  • Iran ended limits to its nuclear research and development in its latest response to US sanctions

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for more international pressure on Iran Thursday after it ended limits to its nuclear research and development in its latest response to US sanctions.

“This morning we were informed of another violation, more defiance, by Iran, this time in its striving to attain nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said before leaving for London, where he will meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

“This is not the time to hold talks with Iran; this is the time to increase the pressure on Iran.”

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on Wednesday came shortly after the United States hit Iran with further unilateral sanctions, the latest in a series of punitive measures including a crippling embargo on Iranian oil exports.

Iran and three European countries — Britain, France and Germany — have been engaged in talks to save a landmark 2015 nuclear accord that has been unraveling since US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May last year.

Iran is Israel’s main enemy and Netanyahu campaigned strongly against the 2015 deal, then urged Trump to withdraw from it.

Despite having opposed the deal, Netanyahu has recently called on European nations to enforce its parameters as he and the United States seek to raise the pressure on Iran.

Tensions between Israel and Iran were heightened in recent weeks.

On August 24, Israel carried out a strike in Syria it says stopped a plan by an Iranian force to carry out a drone attack on its territory.

Hours later, Tehran-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah accused Israel of using drones to attack its Beirut stronghold. Israel did not acknowledge that attack.

Hezbollah responded on Sunday by firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli military targets across the Lebanese border, prompting Israel to fire back. There were no casualties.


Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 53 min 35 sec ago

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”


In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”