US and European trio reaffirm determination to limit Iranian nuclear research

Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain met in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the region, and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken joined them by videoconference on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Twitter/@GermanyDiplo)
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Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain met in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the region, and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken joined them by videoconference on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Twitter/@GermanyDiplo)
Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain met in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the region, and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken joined them by videoconference on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Twitter/@GermanyDiplo)
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Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain met in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the region, and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken joined them by videoconference on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Twitter/@GermanyDiplo)
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in Vienna in 2015, was based on Iran providing safeguards that it would not make an atomic bomb, in exchange for a gradual easing of international sanctions. (File/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in Vienna in 2015, was based on Iran providing safeguards that it would not make an atomic bomb, in exchange for a gradual easing of international sanctions. (File/AFP/Getty Images)
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Updated 19 February 2021

US and European trio reaffirm determination to limit Iranian nuclear research

Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain met in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the region, and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken joined them by videoconference on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Twitter/@GermanyDiplo)
  • Eu’s Charles Michel: I spoke with Rouhani, EU supports full implementation of JCPOA
  • US easing draconian restrictions imposed by Trump administration on movements of Iranian diplomats accredited at the UN

CHICAGO: US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK on Thursday reaffirmed their determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, according to American officials.

Blinken said that if Iran returns to full compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including a review of its activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Washington will open discussions with the Iranian government.

He hosted a virtual meeting with the foreign ministers of the three European nations, sometimes referred to as the E3, during which they discussed Iran and the de-escalation of tensions in the Gulf, offered support for the efforts by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths to end the war and address the humanitarian crisis in the country, denounced attacks targeting Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and condemned the military coup in Myanmar.

“They stressed in particular the urgency of ending the war in Yemen, while reaffirming their steadfast commitment to the security of their regional partners,” according to an official US statement.

“They expressed concern about the recent Houthi offensive against Marib and strikes against civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, calling upon the Houthis and all Yemeni parties to engage constructively in the political process.”

The officials said that any return to the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, would require IAEA-supervised inspections to monitor and verify Iranian compliance with the terms of the 2015 agreement, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018.

“The E3 and the United States are united in underlining the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access, and urge Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity,” according to the statement.

“They reiterated their full support for the professional and impartial role of the IAEA and its director general, and their efforts to implement the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.”

The officials said there is no “credible civil justification” for Iran to continue enriching uranium to 20 percent or produce uranium metal, a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.

“The E3 welcomed the prospect of a US and Iranian return to compliance with the JCPOA,” the statement continued. “The E3 and the United States affirmed their determination to then strengthen the JCPOA and, together with regional parties and the wider international community, address broader security concerns related to Iran’s missile programs and regional activities. We are committed to working together toward these goals.

“The ministers also called on Iran to release all our arbitrarily detained nationals and reunite them with their families. They also expressed deep concern about the continuing grave human-rights violations in Iran.”

The officials urged military leaders in Myanmar to “immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically elected government, refrain from violence, release all those unjustly detained, and respect human rights and the rule of law.”

Myanmar’s democratically elected government was removed from power by a military coup on Feb. 1.

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Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October
Updated 6 min 48 sec ago

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

AMMAN: Jordan's state carrier Royal Jordanian (RJ) will resume direct flights to Damascus as of Oct. 3, an official statement on state-owned Mamlaka television said.
Flights had been suspended due to the decade old conflict in Syria.


El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant
Updated 6 sec ago

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant
  • The plant, which costs 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion), has a production capacity of about 5.6 million cubic meters per day of triple-treated water

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has inaugurated the Bahr El-Baqar water treatment plant, the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world.

The plant, which costs 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion), has a production capacity of about 5.6 million cubic meters per day of triple-treated water.

It includes four units, each with a production capacity of 1.4 million cubic meters per day.

The water produced by the station will be transferred to the lands of North Sinai as part of a national project to develop the governorate and optimize the use of water resources.

Egypt is implementing various large projects to benefit from agricultural drainage water.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said several development projects have been implemented in the Sinai during the last six years, including water desalination and energy, at a total cost of more than 700 billion Egyptian pounds.


Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report
Updated 28 September 2021

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report
  • Mohammad Eslami plans to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear power sector

MOSCOW: Iran’s vice president and head of the country’s atomic energy organization, Mohammad Eslami, has arrived in Moscow for talks with the chief executive of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, the RIA news agency cited Iran’s embassy as saying on Tuesday.
Eslami plans to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear power sector, it said.


Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know
Updated 28 September 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know
  • Organizers of the Dubai expo hope to attract 25 million visits
  • People with special needs can get a free entry ticket to the Expo site

DUBAI: With only three days until launch, Expo 2020 Dubai is ready to welcome on Oct. 1 visitors to the Arab World’s largest global gathering to date.

Expos are among the biggest international events that take place every five years, where this year’s 191 participating countries, businesses and individuals from across the globe gather to explore, innovate, discuss, and share ideas and experiences.

The UAE became the first Arab country to organize this global event when it beat four other countries – Turkey, Brazil, Thailand and Russia – in 2013 for the right to host Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Expo’s logo is inspired by an ancient ring dating back to the Iron Age, which was recovered from an archeological site discovered by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Organizers of the Dubai expo hope to attract 25 million visits during the duration of the event, despite the complexities posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Expo 2020 Dubai site covers an area of 4.38 square-kilometers of the Dubai South District, near the Al-Maktoum International Airport. It is also divided into three thematic districts: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

The 15,000- square-meter UAE pavilion, designed by renowned architect and engineer Dr. Santiago Calatrava, will be the biggest while Saudi Arabia’s 13,059- square-meter pavilion comes next.

Organizers have taken precautions to ensure safety and health of participants and visitors to the expo, thus requiring visitors aged 18 and above to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.

Non-vaccinated visitors who have not been tested meanwhile can use the coronavirus testing facility adjacent to the site.

People with special needs can visit the site for free, while their companions would be given a 50 percent discount for their tickets.


Illinois congresswoman slams Iron Dome funding and ‘theft’ of Sheikh Jarrah homes

Illinois congresswoman slams Iron Dome funding and ‘theft’ of Sheikh Jarrah homes
Updated 28 September 2021

Illinois congresswoman slams Iron Dome funding and ‘theft’ of Sheikh Jarrah homes

Illinois congresswoman slams Iron Dome funding and ‘theft’ of Sheikh Jarrah homes
  • Marie Newman tells taxpayers it is possible to change US foreign policy and speak out against Israel’s human rights abuses

CHICAGO: Illinois Congresswoman Marie Newman told constituents on Sunday they “can make a difference” in strengthening US support for Palestinian rights, and to curb excessive funding demands by Israel.

Newman was one of only nine House of Representatives members who voted against a bill last week giving Israel $1 billion to purchase more short-range missiles for its Iron Dome defense system.

Speaking at the Palestine American Club in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Newman urged Americans to target donors who give hundreds of millions of dollars to the Senate’s 100 members as a means of forcing change.

“Start talking to senators. Remember, in Congress, in the House of Representatives, we only have the purse that we can deal with. We (members of Congress) can only say yea or nay to money,” Newman explained, noting that the House addresses funding while the Senate and administration addresses policy.

“So, that is why the Iron Dome vote is important, right? It is to say, ‘No, Israel. You can’t have another billion dollars.’ What we have to do is start talking to people who actually make policy.”

Congress voted on Sept. 23 to separate Israel’s Iron Dome vote from the larger and stalled vote to fund American news. The US already gives Israel $500 million annually for the missile defense system under an agreement signed by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Arab Americans denounced Congress for removing the Iron Dome funding vote from the larger spending bill that remains stalled in partisan, political bickering. Another attempt to pass it may not take place until Thursday.

“Instead of passing a bill to address the immediate and critical needs of the American people in the larger spending bill, Congress put Israel above the American people and removed the Iron Dome funding so Israel would not have to wait the way American taxpayers are waiting and suffering,” said Hassan Nijem, president of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland, which co-sponsored Newman’s appearance.

“It’s shameful when 420 members of Congress vote so quickly to give Israel, a foreign country, $1 billion. But they can’t seem to find the time or the courage to help American citizens overcome their challenges.”

Newman was among nine members of Congress who voted against the Iron Dome appropriation. The nine were immediately attacked by Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan on Monday who said they were “either ignorant or anti-Semitic.”

Newman did not address Erdan’s personal attacks, and instead focused on how US citizens can get their government to reprioritize spending to address their needs.

She said that activists need to focus on the corporations, businesses and individuals who donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Senate members who are responsible for defining so-far failed US policy efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

“So, you have to start talking to their donors and you have to start making them realize this is an important humanitarian issue, and that everybody is safer in the region when Palestine is safe and free and able to move, and be healthy and prosperous — everybody will be happier,” Newman said.

Newman said she is also working to reinforce communications between Arab and Muslim Americans and the staff of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, announcing the creation of an Arab and Muslim American Council in the 3rd District.

“We have to start talking to the senators and we have to start talking with the administration.”

Newman also addressed the continued human rights “crisis” in Sheikh Jarrah in the occupied West Bank city of East Jerusalem, where Israel is taking homes and property from Christian and Muslim civilians and giving them to Jewish settler organizations.

“I always like to be very clear that this is home theft. When you steal someone’s house and you are a victim, it is called home theft. It is not right here in Chicago. It is not right in Palestine. It is not right in Montreal. It is not right in Hong Kong,” Newman said.

“So, we put together a letter that typically would only be signed by seven, eight or nine members of Congress. But because my team is amazing, and I decided to do a lot of outreach and to be very tenacious, we had 25 members of Congress sign on to the letter.”

Most of Newman’s remarks addressed the needs of the 3rd Congressional District, explaining that she is supporting an infrastructure bill that would provide economic and educational support to families hard pressed by the nearly two-year long pandemic.

“Roads and bridges bring lots of jobs. On the human infrastructure side of the package, it will bring paid leave, universal child care, two years of community college free for young people, middle-aged people or our elders who want to go back to school,” she said.

The proposed spending bill that remains deadlocked in the House would increase deductions for small businesses and reduce taxes between 5-10 percent. She also said that the spending bill provides funding to improve the nation’s infrastructure to improve the environment, and help Americans facing financial and health difficulties.

A first-term member of Congress, Newman was elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District in November 2020. The district has been held by a Democrat since 1975 and is overwhelmingly Democratic. It was ranked as having the eighth-largest Arab-American population of 50 American congressional districts by The New York Times, and largest concentration of Palestinian-American voters.