‘Cheating’ Iran must not have arms embargo lifted: Experts

‘Cheating’ Iran must not have arms embargo lifted: Experts
A warehouse can be seen after it was damaged at the Natanz facility, one of Iran's main uranium enrichment plants .(File/AFP)
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Updated 11 September 2020

‘Cheating’ Iran must not have arms embargo lifted: Experts

‘Cheating’ Iran must not have arms embargo lifted: Experts
  • “Cheating” behavior includes delaying inspections, lying and tampering with evidence, Jafarzadeh said
  • The discussion took place against the backdrop of ratcheting tension between the US and Iran

LONDON: Tehran has engaged in a longstanding pattern of “cheating” behavior to derail scrutiny from the international community into its nuclear ambitions, said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy chairman of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Such behavior includes delaying inspections, lying and tampering with evidence, he added as a led a virtual policy panel on Thursday, attended by Arab News, to discuss a new report on Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The discussion highlighted examples of Tehran refusing to cooperate with, or actively misleading, inspectors — including from the IAEA — as proof that it continues to deserve suspicion over its motives for continuing its nuclear program and seeking the lifting of international sanctions
Jafarzadeh was joined by three senior analysts: Kirsten Fontenrose of the Atlantic Council, Ilan I. Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council and Steven P. Bucci of the Heritage Foundation.
They discussed Tehran’s links to regional and international terrorism, and its “belligerence” toward its neighbors.
The discussion took place against the backdrop of ratcheting tension between the US and Iran in the wake of the former pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, in 2018, followed by its efforts this year to see the re-imposition of UN sanctions on Tehran, including the extension of an arms embargo.
Fontenrose said the end of the embargo would have major repercussions for the region, making it easier for Iran to arm its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and proxy militias in other countries — including Syria, Yemen and Iraq — with state-of-the-art weaponry.
“When thinking about whether to allow the embargo to end, Europe should investigate whether the IRGC’s plans … will be made more dangerous if the IRGC has access to advanced weaponry,” she added.
“Russia should take seriously the recent letter from a united Gulf Cooperation Council to the UN urging that the embargo stay in place. The US and Europe need to arrive at one voice on the embargo.”
Bucci echoed her fears over the prospective end of the embargo. “Bottom line: The Iranian regime conducts foreign policy and diplomacy by terror,” he said.
“It’s really a remarkable record of nefarious activity that has caused problems for the world. Funding (of the IRGC) is going to be shot through the moon if this arms embargo comes off.”
Berman, one of the US’s leading experts on Iran and defense policy in the Middle East, said given Tehran’s actions in the region, Washington will want to see greater international consensus about a firm line on Iranian violations of the terms of the JCPOA. Otherwise, he added, the US will be forced to act unilaterally against Tehran.
“The violations that are cited in the latest IAEA report are significant,” he said. “This is a question of legitimacy for the UN Security Council — whether when faced with very clear evidence of violations of an international understanding, the UN Security Council is prepared to move.”
The panel also discussed the shifting state of domestic politics in Iran, and its ability to change the country’s direction away from the path set by the regime, with Jafarzadeh citing “the uprising that has continued over the past two or three years.”
He said: “We’ve had several rounds of uprisings. This COVID-19 thing is going to be a big problem for the Iranian regime because the people are taking their anger (out) against the regime. The issue of corruption has become a key, key issue.”
Berman said: “What we’ve seen over the last two and a half years … in terms of the protests, in terms of the social uprisings, in terms of the persistent unrest that you’ve seen on the Iranian streets, represents a fundamental rejection of the Iranian regime itself.”


Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 
Updated 21 min 31 sec ago

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 
  • With millions living in tents across country’s northwest, threat of COVID-19 is severe
  • $1.6m awarded by non-profit organization funded by UK, US, Canadian, Dutch governments

LONDON: Syria’s White Helmets, the civilian rescue group that recovers victims from rubble after airstrikes in the war-torn country, is now making personal protective equipment (PPE) to further its life-saving mission.
The civil defense service, which has worked to reduce the harm of indiscriminate shelling from the Assad regime, has received a $1.6 million award for the production of PPE from a non-profit organization funded by the UK, US, Canadian and Dutch governments.
Funds from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge group have led to the creation of a PPE-producing facility that has manufactured some 2 million masks.
It is also producing protective gowns and face shields — key equipment in the fight against COVID-19 — and handling the disposal of used PPE for northwest Syria’s population, who live in a precarious area that is predominantly out of the regime’s control. 
“The COVID-19 pandemic was the most difficult challenge the White Helmets faced in 2020,” said Munir Mustafa, its deputy general manager for humanitarian affairs.
“We witnessed the spread of the virus in north-western Syria among humanitarian workers and medical personnel, while the global pandemic made cross-borders logistics almost impossible.”
The White Helmets has enhanced community efforts to keep people safe from COVID-19 amid pressing security challenges.
“Our volunteers and fellow humanitarians, health care providers and other essential workers are safer now and can continue caring for Syrian civilians and responding to the pandemic,” Mustafa said.
The White Helmets, established in 2014, was originally formed for search-and-rescue efforts and to broaden the provision of first responders. It claims to have saved some 120,000 lives.
Its role has developed as challenges facing the Syrian people have grown. Violence in the country has demolished health care facilities, decimating communities and cutting off millions from crucial medical care. 
The bombing of civilian areas has forced many to flee to temporary refugee facilities that are often cramped and in poor condition.
With millions living in tents across the country’s northwest, the threat of COVID-19 is severe.
Around 500 cases of COVID-19 are being recorded per day in northwest Syria, but experts say the true number is much higher due to inadequate testing infrastructure.
The Humanitarian Grand Challenge said: “The White Helmets’ ability to manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment inside Syria will not only protect those working in the overwhelmed health system, but reduce the spread of the virus among the most vulnerable.”