Iranian activists claim regime has hidden nuclear facility

Iranian activists claim regime has hidden nuclear facility
Activists have exposed Iran’s secret production of nuclear weapons. They said details of the nuclear site will be revealed at a press conference on Friday. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 15 October 2020

Iranian activists claim regime has hidden nuclear facility

Iranian activists claim regime has hidden nuclear facility
  • ‘The mullahs of Iran are a thousand times more rotten, decadent,’ says Ali Safavi

DETROIT: Ali Safavi, a member of Iran’s parliament in exile, said on Wednesday that Iran has built a nuclear weapons site that it has been hiding from the rest of the world in violation of international law.

Safavi, who said the details of the nuclear site would be revealed at a press conference on Friday by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), added that the world needed to act not only to block Iran’s production of nuclear weapons but to stop the regime’s repression and brutality against its people.

Appearing on Detroit-based radio program “The Ray Hanania Show,” which is sponsored by Arab News newspaper and the US Arab Radio Network, Safavi said Europe especially had failed to act to stop the massacres from taking place.

 

 

“The European countries out of economic interests, their shortsighted interests, they are basically losing the strategic game. They should instead side with the people of Iran,” Safavi said.

“This regime is on its way out. For the Europeans to continue to deal with this regime commercially, politically, and lend it legitimacy, they are betting on a losing horse. And, of course, come liberation day, the Iranian people will remember all of this.”

Safavi added that “no amount of political concession, economic concession, saved the Shah from being overthrown,” referring to the late Shah Reza Pahlavi who was ousted in February 1979 after 38 years in power.

“The mullahs of Iran are a thousand times more rotten, decadent, repressive and illegitimate,” Safavi said.

“It’s high time from our perspective that the Europeans abandon this policy and join the policy of maximum pressure and hold the regime to maximum pressure and hold the regime to account.”

 

 

Following Safavi’s radio appearance, NCRI officials announced that they would host a press conference on Friday, October 16, to unveil details of the secret nuclear facility in Iran and provide satellite imagery and the names of the key Iranian regime officials involved.

Safavi and NCRI officials said that information on the nuclear center and the Iranian regime’s nuclear bomb-making efforts had been provided by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) network within Iran.

“Over the past two decades, the NCRI has exposed some of the most important sites and centers of Tehran’s nuclear weapons program,” they said.

They listed them as the Natanz uranium enrichment and Arak heavy water sites in August 2002; the Kalaye electric centrifuge assembly and testing facility in February 2003; the Lavizan-Shian sites in May 2003; the Fordo underground enrichment site in December 2005; the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, SPND (in July 2011) and METFAZ’s Pazhouheshkadeh at Plan 6 in Parchin in April 2017.

Safavi blamed the failure of European nations to rally against supporting the Iranian regime, a pattern he said was reflected in the failed policies of President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

“You have seen for example the Obama administration and the so-called Iran nuclear deal which has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran including $1.8 billion in cash. What did that do?’ Safavi asked.

 

 

“First of all it didn’t stop Iran from continuing its nuclear weapons war. It didn’t stop the regime from expanding and advancing its ballistic missile program. Nor did it stop the regime from spreading its nefarious activities to the rest of the Middle East.”

More must be done, he said.

“The question in my mind and in the minds of millions of Iranians, is why is Europe doing this? Back in 2009 when millions were in the streets of Iran calling for the overthrow of the mullahs chanting death to the dictators,” Safavi said.

“They were also chanting in the same breath Obama are you with us or are you with the mullahs? Of course, everyone knows that the Obama administration was silent about that and of course the mullahs prevailed by the use of force.”

 

 

Safavi said the Europeans must do more and that even President Trump, who had done a great deal, could also do more.

“I think the (Trump) administration can do more, certainly. I think it should work to provide Iranians with the kind of technology that they could have access to the Internet at the times of protests and uprising so that the mullahs cannot cut them off from the rest of the world,” he said, noting the Iranian resistance was staying out of the American general elections.

“They can totally cut off the regime from the world and national system. They can maybe present a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for the Iranian regimes’ human rights dossier to be addressed and those responsible to be held accountable,” he said.


Taliban order male students, teachers to school

Taliban order male students, teachers to school
Updated 17 September 2021

Taliban order male students, teachers to school

Taliban order male students, teachers to school
  • A statement published on Facebook Friday did not include girls of that age

ISTANBUL: The Taliban’s education ministry says all male students of grades 6 to 12 and male teachers should resume classes across Afghanistan, starting on Saturday.
The statement published on Facebook on Friday did not include girls of that age, and the lack of guidance highlighted ongoing concerns that the Taliban might impose restrictions on girls and women.
Since taking over power last month, the Taliban had allowed girls in grades one to six to resume classes. When they ruled Afghanistan previously in the 1990s, the Taliban had forbidden girls and women from attending school and work.
In some of the provinces, women still are not allowed to continue their work, with exceptions for women who have worked in health departments, hospitals and education.

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Trial begins over COVID outbreak in Austrian ski resort

Trial begins over COVID outbreak in Austrian ski resort
Updated 17 September 2021

Trial begins over COVID outbreak in Austrian ski resort

Trial begins over COVID outbreak in Austrian ski resort
  • An independent commission last year concluded that authorities in the Tyrol region acted too slowly to shut down ski resorts

VIENNA: A civil trial opened Friday in Austria over the government’s handling of a coronavirus outbreak at an Alpine ski resort during the early stages of the pandemic that relatives say resulted in unnecessary infections and deaths.
Sieglinde and Ullrich Schopf, the widow and son of a 72-year-old Austrian man who died of COVID-19 after becoming infected in Ischgl, are seeking about 100,000 euros ($117,000) compensation from the government. Their is seen as a test case for a larger class action suit involving hundreds of people who fell ill with COVID-19 following a trip to the Paznaun valley in February and March 2020.
The family is supported by Austria’s Consumer Protection Association, which said it is open to a negotiated settlement.
The outbreak in Ischgl, a popular resort in western Austria, is considered one of Europe’s earliest “super-spreader” events of the pandemic.
“Stopping people from leaving and arriving in the Paznaun valley or at least issuing a travel warning — the authorities failed to do that,” said Alexander Klauser, a lawyer representing the Schopf family. “Thousands of people left the Paznaun valley unhindered, thousands of people arrived without a clue that they were in danger.”
An independent commission last year concluded that authorities in the Tyrol region acted too slowly to shut down ski resorts in the valley after it became clear they were dealing with one of Europe’s first coronavirus outbreaks in March. But the panel didn’t find evidence that political or business pressure played a role in the decisions.
Klauser, the lawyer, said that even after authorities issued a directive to close apres-ski bars it wasn’t enforced strongly enough.
“Open air mass gatherings which were forbidden according to the directive continued,” he said. “The police just watched on without doing anything.”


Japan Foreign Minister condemns attacks by Yemen Houthis

Japan Foreign Minister condemns attacks by Yemen Houthis
Updated 17 September 2021

Japan Foreign Minister condemns attacks by Yemen Houthis

Japan Foreign Minister condemns attacks by Yemen Houthis

TOKYO: Japanese Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu on Friday condemned Houthi attacks earlier this month on Saudi Arabia.

“On September 4, a missile attack in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia was launched and repeated transporter attacks by Houthis against Saudi Arabia have been carried out. We strongly condemn such actions,” Motegi told Arab News Japan at a press conference.

Motegi stressed that the Japanese government was attempting to help in negotiations in order for a truce to be reached between the Houthis and various other parties.

“We very much support the activity by Ambassador Grandberg, Special Envoy for Yemen of the United Nations, and various other initiatives to end the disputes in Yemen and in the international community,” Motegi said.

The Japanese minister said during his recent visit to the Middle East, he more firmly supported a peaceful truce in Yemen.

Motegi said Japan will continue to collaborate with the relevant countries within and outside of the Middle East to achieve peace and security in Yemen.

“Ninety percent of the crude oil arriving in Japan comes from the Middle East and from such perspective peace and stability in the region is of crucial importance for Japan.”


Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station

Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station
Updated 17 September 2021

Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station

Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station
  • The three astronauts emerged about 30 minutes later and were seated in reclining chairs just outside the capsule
  • State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert

BEIJING: A trio of Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Friday after a 90-day stay aboard their nation’s first space station in China’s longest mission yet.
Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo landed in the Shenzhou-12 spaceship just after 1:30 p.m. (0530 GMT) after having undocked from the space station Thursday morning.
State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert where it was met by helicopters and off-road vehicles. Minutes later, a crew of technicians began opening the hatch of the capsule, which appeared undamaged.
The three astronauts emerged about 30 minutes later and were seated in reclining chairs just outside the capsule to allow them time to readjust to Earth’s gravity after three months of living in a weightless environment. The three were due to fly to Beijing on Friday.
“With China’s growing strength and the rising level of Chinese technology, I firmly believe there will even more astronauts who will set new records,” mission commander Nie told CCTV.
After launching on June 17, the three astronauts went on two spacewalks, deployed a 10-meter (33-foot) mechanical arm, and had a video call with Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
While few details have been made public by China’s military, which runs the space program, astronaut trios are expected to be brought on 90-day missions to the station over the next two years to make it fully functional.
The government has not announced the names of the next set of astronauts nor the launch date of Shenzhou-13.
China has sent 14 astronauts into space since 2003, when it became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own.
China’s space program has advanced at a measured pace and has largely avoided many of the problems that marked the US and Russian programs that were locked in intense competition during the heady early days of spaceflight.
That has made it a source of enormous national pride, complementing the country’s rise to economic, technological, military and diplomatic prominence in recent years under the firm rule of the Communist Party and current leader Xi Jinping.
China embarked on its own space station program in the 1990s after being excluded from the International Space Station, largely due to US objections to the Chinese space program’s secrecy and military backing.
China has simultaneously pushed ahead with uncrewed missions, placing a rover on the little-explored far side of the Moon and, in December, the Chang’e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.
China this year also landed its Tianwen-1 space probe on Mars, with its accompanying Zhurong rover venturing out to look for evidence of life.
Another program calls for collecting samples from an asteroid, an area in which Japan’s rival space program has made progress of late.
China also plans to dispatch another mission in 2024 to bring back lunar samples and is pursuing a possible crewed mission to the moon and eventually building a scientific base there, although no timeline has been proposed for such projects. A highly secretive space plane is also reportedly under development.


Jakarta residents win landmark air pollution case against Indonesian president

Jakarta residents win landmark air pollution case against Indonesian president
Updated 17 September 2021

Jakarta residents win landmark air pollution case against Indonesian president

Jakarta residents win landmark air pollution case against Indonesian president
  • Jakarta, home to over 10 million people, is one the world's most-polluted cities with the concentration of PM2.5 regularly exceeding WHO norms
  • Citizen lawsuit was filed by Jakarta residents in July 2019 against the president and six other top government officials

JAKARTA: A Jakarta court on Thursday found Indonesian President Joko Widodo and government officials guilty of neglecting their obligation to fulfill citizens' rights to clean air, in a landmark lawsuit residents hope will force authorities to act on the capital city's notorious pollution.

Jakarta, home to over 10 million people, is one the world's most-polluted cities with the concentration of PM2.5 — inhalable microscopic pollution particularly harmful to human health — regularly exceeding World Health Organization norms, often manifold.

The citizen lawsuit was filed in July 2019 by 32 plaintiffs against the president, ministers of environment, home affairs and health, as well as the governor of Jakarta and two leaders of neighboring provinces. The plaintiffs, including activists and people suffering from pollution-related diseases, did not request compensation but tighter air quality checks.

In a hearing that took place after being adjourned eight times since May, the court ruled the officials had violated environmental protection laws and failed to combat air pollution in the capital and its satellite cities that fall under jurisdiction of Banten and West Java provinces.

“We ordered the first defendant (the president) to tighten the national air quality standard that is sufficient based on science and technology to protect humans’ health, the environment, the ecosystem, including the health of the sensitive population,” presiding judge Saifuddin Zuhri said.

The court also ordered the second defendant, the environment minister, to supervise the governors of Jakarta, Banten, and West Java in tightening transboundary emissions.

Transboundary pollution from Banten and West Java contributes to the poor and deteriorating quality of Jakarta's air. In 2018, national capital witnessed 101 days with unhealthy air, and 172 in 2019, according to the Center on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). The main contributors to PM2.5 pollution are dozens of industrial facilities and coal power plants located less than 100 kilometers from the city.

Jeanny Sirait, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs said they welcomed the verdict, even though the court did not explicitly rule the government had violated the right to clean but only contravened the law by failing to fulfill it.

"This is a breakthrough verdict," she said. "It is very rare to find judges that have environmental and public interest perspectives."
 

A train moves down its track as the hazy city skyline is seen in the background in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana) 

One of the plaintiffs, Istu Prayogi, a 56-year-old tourism lecturer who health has suffered due to air pollution told Arab News he was glad for the victory, although slightly disappointed that the officials' negligence was not classified as a human rights violation.

“We now have a hope for all people to get their rights to clean air fulfilled," he said. "We have a legal standing to oblige the government to do that, even though they should have fulfilled that in the first place, but this is a court ruling and as a rule-based country, it’s the highest order.”

Another plaintiff and environmental activist Khalisah Khalid said the verdict was also an example that court can be an avenue for citizens who seek justice.

“As plaintiffs and regular citizens, we will continue to monitor the defendants to make changes in the government policies as mandated by the verdict," she said. "It is for everyone’s interests, health, and safety including our future generations to have a good quality of life."