Yemen minister says Iranian media shows Tehran ‘behind Houthi escalation in Marib’

Yemen minister says Iranian media shows Tehran ‘behind Houthi escalation in Marib’
The minister also condemned the Houthi militia “continued targeting of residential neighborhoods and civilians in Marib.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 March 2021

Yemen minister says Iranian media shows Tehran ‘behind Houthi escalation in Marib’

Yemen minister says Iranian media shows Tehran ‘behind Houthi escalation in Marib’

DUBAI: Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani said on Monday that Iranian media close to the Supreme leader have reported that Tehran is “behind Houthi escalation in Marib,’ state news agency SABA reported.
He claimed that reports by “Kayhan newspaper” show that Tehran was behind the military escalation of the Houthi militia in Marib, as well as the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia, and the attack on a ship in the Sea of Oman.
Eryani said these attacks were in response to US raids on Iranian militia sites in Syria, and “are additional evidence of Iranian hands in all these events taking place in the region.”
Kayhan newspaper is considered as one of the most conservative Iranian newspapers run by Hossein Shariatmadari, who according to a New York Times report 2007, occupies the official position of representative of the Supreme Leader of Iran.
“The positions issued by Iranian officials and media clearly reveal the true dimensions of the battle taking place on the various fronts of the Yemeni governorate of Marib, and the developments taking place in the region,” he said.
The minister explained that these reports confirm that the Houthi militia “is just a dirty Iranian tool to kill Yemenis, try to destabilize security and stability in the region, threaten the movement of commercial ships and international shipping lines, and implement policies that spread chaos and terrorism in the region.”
He called on the international community and the permanent members of the Security Council to stop Iranian interference in Yemen, and to protect and preserve regional and international peace and security.
The minister also condemned the Houthi militia “continued targeting of residential neighborhoods and civilians in Marib.”
According to the minister, the Houthis recently attacked a densely populated area in Marib with an Iranian-made ballistic missile, which killed civilians and injured seven others and damaged a number of homes.


Israeli media report Israeli-owned ship attacked off UAE coast

Israeli media report Israeli-owned ship attacked off UAE coast
Updated 23 min 33 sec ago

Israeli media report Israeli-owned ship attacked off UAE coast

Israeli media report Israeli-owned ship attacked off UAE coast

An Israeli-owned ship was attacked off the coast of the UAE, Israel's Channel 12 TV reported.

Unnamed Israeli officials told the channel that they blamed Iran for the attack. There were no casualties in the attack, the report said.

Ship tracking websites showed the Hyperion Ray was on its ways to Fujairah, on the UAE's Arabian Sea coast.

More to follow ...  


Iran to enrich uranium to 60%, highest level ever

Iran to enrich uranium to 60%, highest level ever
Updated 13 April 2021

Iran to enrich uranium to 60%, highest level ever

Iran to enrich uranium to 60%, highest level ever
  • Nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi's comments come after attack on Natanz nuclear facility, blamed on Israel
  • Iran had been enriching up to 20% – a short technical step to weapons-grade levels

DUBAI: Iran will begin enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, higher than the program ever has before though still short of weapons grade, after an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility, an Iranian negotiator said Tuesday.
The announcement marks a significant escalation after the sabotage, suspected to have been carried out by Israel. It could result in further action by Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed never to allow Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and further raise tensions across the Mideast.
Nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi’s comment, quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency, came after Iran’s foreign minister warned that the weekend assault could hurt ongoing negotiations over its tattered atomic deal with world powers. Those talks are aimed at finding a way for the United States to re-enter the agreement, the goal of which is to limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium in exchange relief on sanctions.
Iran had been enriching up to 20 percent. That is a short technical step to weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was aware of the media reports but had no comment at the time.
Press TV, the Iranian state television’s English-language arm, separately said that the IAEA had been informed of the move. It said the enrichment would begin as of Wednesday.

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The broadcaster also quoted the negotiator as saying Iran would introduce another 1,000 centrifuges at Natanz, without elaborating.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had threatened to go to 60 percent enrichment in February if the country needed.
“We are determined to develop our nuclear capabilities in line with the needs of the country,” Khamenei said then, according to a transcript of his speech published by his website. “For this reason, Iran’s enrichment will not be limited to 20 percent, and we will take whatever action is necessary for the country.”
Iran previously had said it could use uranium enriched up to 60 percent for nuclear-powered ships. The Islamic Republic currently has no such ships in its navy.
Details remained scarce about the weekend attack at Natanz. The event was initially described only as a blackout in the electrical grid feeding above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls — but later Iranian officials began referring to it as an attack.
The US has insisted it had nothing to do with Sunday’s sabotage. Instead, Israel is widely believed to have carried out the assault that damaged centrifuges, though it has not claimed it.
But earlier Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif still issued a warning to Washington.
“Americans should know that neither sanctions nor sabotage actions would provide them with an instrument for talks,” Zarif said in Tehran alongside visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “They should know that these actions would only make the situation difficult for them.”
Zarif separately renewed his earlier warning to Israel over the sabotage, saying that if Iran determines its archenemy was behind it, “then Israel will get its response and will see what a stupid thing it has done.”
Kayhan, the hard-line Tehran newspaper, urged Iran to “walk out of the Vienna talks, suspend all nuclear commitments, retaliate against Israel and identify and dismantle the domestic infiltration network behind the sabotage.”
“Despite evidence that shows the role of the US as main instigator of nuclear sabotage against Iran, unfortunately some statesmen, by purging the US of responsibility, (aid) Washington’s crimes against the people of Iran,” the paper said in Tuesday’s editions.
While Kayhan is a small-circulation newspaper, its editor-in-chief, Hossein Shariatmadari, was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has been described as an adviser to him in the past.
Such a walkout remains unlikely as the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, whose main diplomatic achievement was the 2015 accord, hopes to get the US to rejoin it and provide desperately needed sanctions relief. However, pressure does appear to be growing within Iran’s theocracy over how to respond to the attack.
The talks in Vienna — among Iran, world powers still in the deal and the US — are aimed at reviving America’s role in the agreement that former President Donald Trump abandoned and lifting the sanctions he imposed. Iran, in turn, would return to the limits set by the deal and dilute its growing stockpile of uranium — some of which has been enriched up to a short step away from weapons-grade levels.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, though the West and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Tehran had an organized military nuclear program up until the end of 2003. However, the deal prevents it from having enough of a uranium stockpile to be able to pursue a nuclear weapon.
Rouhani met later Tuesday with Lavrov and stressed the importance of all parties returning to the deal. Russia is a member of the nuclear deal.
“We are neither ready to accept less than that, nor are we after achieving more than that,” he said.


Iran sees record spike in COVID cases after holiday travels

Iran sees record spike in COVID cases after holiday travels
Updated 13 April 2021

Iran sees record spike in COVID cases after holiday travels

Iran sees record spike in COVID cases after holiday travels
  • Authorities blamed the surge on millions travelling across the country for Iranian New Year last month
  • Health ministry said on Tuesday 24,760 new daily cases were identified, taking the total to 2,118,212 cases

DUBAI: Iran on Tuesday reported a record 24,760 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, as the worst-hit country in the Middle East faced a fourth coronavirus wave.
Authorities have blamed the latest surge on millions traveling across the country for Iranian New Year last month and taking part in family gatherings in defiance of health precautions promoted by the government.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Tuesday that 24,760 new daily cases were identified, taking the total to 2,118,212 cases. The daily death toll rose to 291, the highest since Dec. 9, to bring the total to 65,055.
Lari said 295 counties have been classified as very high-risk “red” zones, and 99 as high-risk “orange” areas, while 45 counties were rated “yellow” and just 9 as low-risk “blue” zones.
On Saturday, Tehran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country affecting 23 of the country’s 31 provinces.
Non-essential businesses, schools, theaters and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday in Iran.


Iran warns sabotage affects Vienna talks over nuclear deal

Iran warns sabotage affects Vienna talks over nuclear deal
Updated 13 April 2021

Iran warns sabotage affects Vienna talks over nuclear deal

Iran warns sabotage affects Vienna talks over nuclear deal
  • Kayhan, the hard-line Tehran newspaper, urged Iran to walk out of the Vienna talks
  • Mohammad Javad Zarif’s made his remarks alongside visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Iran’s foreign minister warned Tuesday that an attack on its main nuclear enrichment site at Natanz affects ongoing negotiations in Vienna over its tattered atomic deal with world powers.
Mohammad Javad Zarif’s remarks, alongside visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, come as the US has insisted it had nothing to do with the sabotage Sunday at the Natanz nuclear facility. While not claiming the attack, Israel is widely believed to have carried out the still-unexplained assault that damaged centrifuges there.
“Americans should know that neither sanctions nor sabotage actions would provide them with an instrument for talks,” Zarif said in Tehran. “They should know that these actions would only make the situation difficult for them.”
Kayhan, the hard-line Tehran newspaper, urged Iran to “walk out of the Vienna talks, suspend all nuclear commitments, retaliate against Israel and identify and dismantle the domestic infiltration network behind the sabotage.”
“Despite evidence that shows the role of the US as main instigator of nuclear sabotage against Iran, unfortunately some statesmen, by purging the US of responsibility, (aid) Washington’s crimes against the people of Iran,” the paper said in Tuesday’s editions.
While Kayhan is a small-circulation newspaper, its editor-in-chief, Hossein Shariatmadari ,was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has been described as an adviser to him in the past.
Such a walkout remains unlikely as the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, whose main diplomatic achievement was the 2015 accord, hopes to get the US to rejoin it and provide desperately needed sanctions relief. However, pressure does appear to be growing within Iran’s theocracy over how to respond to the attack.
Details remained scarce about what happened early Sunday at Natanz. The event was initially described only as a blackout in the electrical grid feeding above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls — but later Iranian officials began referring to it as an attack. Israeli media, which has close ties with the military and intelligence services of that country, have described the sabotage as a cyberattack, without offering evidence or sourcing to support that.
The extent of the damage at Natanz also remains unclear, though Iran’s Foreign Ministry has described it as damaging Iran’s first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, the workhorse of its nuclear program. A former Iranian Revolutionary Guard chief said Tuesday that the assault set off a fire while a civilian nuclear program spokesman mentioned a “possible minor explosion.”
In remarks aired late Monday by state television. the former head of the country’s civilian nuclear arm offered his own description of the attack, calling its design “very beautiful.” The attack appeared to target both the power grid at Natanz, as well as the facility’s emergency backup power fed by separate batteries, Fereydoun Abbasi said.
Abbasi said a similar attack targeted Iran’s underground Fordo facility in 2012 with two explosions: one 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) away at a power station and the other at Fordo’s emergency battery system.
“We had predicted that and we were using a separate power grid,” Abbasi said. “They hit but nothing happened for our machines.”
It remains unclear on which power source Natanz in central Iran relies. Satellite photographs appear to show an electrical substation at the facility’s northwest corner.


Prince Hamza of Jordan will not face trial: Jordanian media

A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on April 11, 2021 shows Jordanian King Abdullah II (R), Prince Hassan Bin Talal (L) and Prince Hamzah (C) arriving at the Raghadan Palace in the capital Jordan. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2021

Prince Hamza of Jordan will not face trial: Jordanian media

A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on April 11, 2021 shows Jordanian King Abdullah II (R), Prince Hassan Bin Talal (L) and Prince Hamzah (C) arriving at the Raghadan Palace in the capital Jordan. (AFP)
  • Prince Hamzah will be dealt with 'within the framework of the royal family'

DUBAI: Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh denied there had been a “coup,” and that the former Crown Prince Hamza bin Hussein will not face a trail, local media reported on Monday citing lawmakers.  
Members of parliament, Saleh Al-Armouti, Mohammad Al-Alaqma and Omar Ayasrah, told Roya News TV that their prime minister confirmed that “there was no coup” and that those involved were arrested with the exception of Prince Hamzah, “who will be dealt with within the framework of the royal family.”
Last week, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said that Prince Hamza had been liaising with foreign parties over a plot to destabilize the country and had been monitored for some time.
The authorities intercepted communications between Prince Hamza and foreign parties over the timing of steps to undermine Jordan’s security, Safadi said at a news conference.
Evidence showed Prince Hamza had been communicating with outside entities, the so-called Jordanian opposition, and had recorded two videos in Arabic and English in an “incitement attempt,” Safadi added.
He also said the wife of Prince Hamza had also made contact with a representative of a foreign country to secure escape.
He added Jordanian intelligence had intercepted certain communications at what he called the “zero hour,” adding that “it was clear they had moved from design and planning into action.”
He said some 14-16 people are under arrest in addition to senior officials whose arrest had already been announced.
Safadi confirmed that the security efforts to foil the attempt had been fully Jordanian and that all suspicious activities were now under full control.
The security services have asked for those involved in the plot to be referred to the state security court, he said.