Iran threatens to quit global nuclear treaty and build a bomb

Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Iran threatens to quit global nuclear treaty and build a bomb

  • The fate of the 2015 pact has been in doubt since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out
  • The only country ever to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea

JEDDAH: Iran threatened on Monday to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), paving the way for construction of a nuclear bomb.

The threat is Iran’s latest gambit to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, and reimposed sanctions. In response, Iran began enriching uranium in breach of the agreement, in an attempt to put pressure on European states to save the deal.

That tactic backfired last week when Britain, France and Germany declared Iran to be in violation of the JCPOA, and triggered a dispute mechanism under which the issue will be referred to the UN Security Council, with full UN sanctions reimposed within 60 days.

“If the Europeans continue their improper behavior or send Iran’s file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Monday.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “The European powers’ claims about Iran violating the deal are unfounded. Whether Iran will further decrease its nuclear commitments will depend on other parties and whether Iran’s interests are secured under the deal.”

The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War. Signed by 190 countries, it bans signatories other than the US, Russia, China, Britain and France from acquiring nuclear weapons, in return for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programs for power generation, overseen by the UN.

The only country to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea, which expelled nuclear inspectors and openly tested atomic weapons. Nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and Israel never signed.

Iran “will quicken the pace of its nuclear program” if it quits the NPT, security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik told Arab News. It would also expose the extent to which Tehran had already breached the JCPOA, said Karasik, senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington DC.

“North Korea pulled out of the treaty in 2003 and of course went on to build nuclear weapons,” he said. 

“So Iran and North Korea would be in the same strategic box in terms of any possible further negotiating, because of the personal relationships between their nuclear scientists.

“In the wake of the Ukrainian passenger plane debacle, Iran’s decision-making in relation to the West and its neighbors is undergoing a shift toward more aggression.”


Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

A Yemeni tries to catch locusts on the rooftop of his house as they swarm several parts of the country bringing in devastations and destruction of major seasonal crops. (AFP)
Updated 33 min 40 sec ago

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

  • Billions of locusts invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring seasonal crops

AL-MUKALLA: Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity.

Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such as dates and causing heavy losses.
“This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters,” Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, an agricultural official from Hadramout’s Sah district, told Arab News on Sunday.
Images and videos posted on social media showed layers of creeping locusts laying waste to lemon farms in Marb, dates and alfalfa farms in Hadramout and flying swarms plunging cities into darkness. “The locusts have eaten all kinds of green trees, including the sesban tree. The losses are huge,” Abu Baker added.
Heavy rains and flash floods have hit several Yemeni provinces over the last couple of months, creating fruitful conditions for locusts to reproduce. Farmers complained that locusts had wiped out entire seasonal crops that are grown after rains.
Abu Baker said that he visited several affected farms in Hadramout, where farmers told him that if the government would not compensate them for the damage that it should at least get ready for a second potential locust wave that might occur in 10 days.
“The current swarms laid eggs that are expected to hatch in 10 days. We are bracing for the second wave of the locusts.”  
Last year, the UN said that the war in Yemen had disrupted vital monitoring and control efforts and several waves of locusts to hit neighboring countries had originated from Yemen.

This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters.

Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, a Yemeni agricultural official

Yemeni government officials, responsible for battling the spread of locusts, have complained that fighting and a lack of funding have obstructed vital operations for combating the insects.
Ashor Al-Zubairi, the director of the Locust Control Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadramout’s Seiyun city, said that the ministry was carrying out a combat operation funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Hadramout and Mahra, but complained that the operation might fall short of its target due to a lack of funding and equipment.
“The spraying campaign will end in a week which is not enough to cover the entire plagued areas,” Al-Zubairi told Arab News. “We suggested increasing the number of spraying equipment or extending the campaign.”
He said that a large number of villagers had lost their source of income after the locusts ate crops and sheep food, predicting that the outbreak would likely last for at least two weeks if urgent control operations were not intensified and fighting continued. “Combating teams could not cross into some areas in Marib due to fighting.”
The widespread locust invasion comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 10 sent an appeal for urgent funds for its programs in Yemen, warning that people would face starvation otherwise.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation and because of the lockdowns, the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.