Official: Israel upgrading contingency plans for Iran attack

Official: Israel upgrading contingency plans for Iran attack
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz during a helicopter tour of the Gaza border area, southern Israel March 2, 2021. (REUTERS)
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Updated 06 March 2021

Official: Israel upgrading contingency plans for Iran attack

Official: Israel upgrading contingency plans for Iran attack
  • Israeli Prime Minister blamed Iran for mysterious explosion that hit Israeli-owned vessel in Gulf of Oman while Tehran denied.
  • Iranian nuclear escalation must be stalled, Israeli defence minister told Fox News

TEL AVIV, Israel: Tension seems to be rising between Iran and Israel as the latter’s defense minister said his country is upgrading contingency plans to strike Iranian targets if Tehran shows signs of nuclear escalation.
Israel is still working on its plans, but that “we have them in our hands of course,” Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz told the American cable network Fox News on Thursday.
His comments came as President Joe Biden considers re-joining a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear program, with some changes to toughen curbs on Tehran’s activities.
The US’s Former President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the atomic accord in 2018 and imposed a so-called campaign of maximum pressure, including sanctions, on Tehran.
Since then, Iran has stepped up uranium enrichment. The UN nuclear watchdog — the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which monitors Iran’s nuclear program — said earlier this week that Iran nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November in violation of its deal with world powers.
Deadlock over how to revive the deal struck between Iran and the Biden administration, with Tehran demanding an immediate lifting of sanctions while the US calling on Iran to first return to full compliance with the agreement’s restrictions.
Israel has vehemently opposed the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, tensions have been rising between arch foes Israel and Iran. Last week, an Israeli-owned cargo ship, the Helios Ray, was damaged by a mysterious explosion in the strategically important Gulf of Oman.
Iran denied accusations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they attacked the vessel.
During Fox News interview, Gantz was asked about the ongoing uranium enrichment and whether Israel was completing preparations to strike Iranian targets if needed.
“We have them (plans) in our hands of course but we will continue constantly improving them,” Gantz said. “The Iranian nuclear escalation must be stalled. If the world stops them before, it’s very much good. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves.”
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Unlike Iran, Israel’s atomic program, which is widely believed to include an undeclared nuclear bomb program, is not under the watch of the IAEA.
During the interview, Gantz showed a map of Lebanon that he said includes ground forces, missiles and launching sites set up by the militant Hezbollah group, a proxy for Iran.
“This is a target map. Each one of them has been checked legally, operationally, intelligence-wise and we are ready to fight,” he said.
Previously, Israel’s military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, warned that in future conflicts, Israel would use heavy force in residential areas where Hezbollah rockets are stored and launched. He has said Israeli troops would warn civilians to evacuate their homes before launching such strikes.

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region

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Lebanon Information Minister to resign

Lebanon Information Minister to resign
Updated 4 sec ago

Lebanon Information Minister to resign

Lebanon Information Minister to resign
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi said he would resign on Friday to “give Lebanon a chance.”
“I will resign this afternoon,” Kordahi told AFP. “I do not want to cling to this position, if it can be useful, I want to give Lebanon a chance.”
An official at the presidency confirmed to AFP that President Michel Aoun had received a call from Kordahi confirming he would submit his resignation.

France’s Macron meets UAE’s ‘MBZ’ at start of Gulf tour

France’s Macron meets UAE’s ‘MBZ’ at start of Gulf tour
Updated 3 min 27 sec ago

France’s Macron meets UAE’s ‘MBZ’ at start of Gulf tour

France’s Macron meets UAE’s ‘MBZ’ at start of Gulf tour
  • Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar

DUBAI: French President Emmanuel Macron met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Friday at the start of a two-day Gulf tour with some lucrative deals set to be signed including several for Rafale fighter jets.
Macron was greeted at the leadership pavilion at Dubai’s Expo site for talks with Sheikh Mohammed, known as “MBZ,” after which they are expected to announce a series of contracts and agreements.
“I don’t want to reveal the Christmas present” before the meeting, UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash told journalists in the build-up to the talks in Dubai.
Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar, host of next year’s World Cup, before traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The UAE, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, is expected to order dozens of Rafale jets to replace its Mirage 2000 aircraft acquired in the late 1990s.
The Emirates is the fifth biggest customer for the French defense industry with 4.7 billion euros from 2011-2020, according to a parliamentary report.
Macron is accompanied by a large delegation in Dubai including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Defense Minister Florence Parly.


Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog
Updated 03 December 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has urged Syrian authorities to cooperate with the chemical weapons watchdog and implement all decisions related to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Kingdom’s position on the matter was reiterated by the Saudi permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ziyad Al-Attiyah.

He said: “The use of chemical weapons and toxic chemicals as weapons anywhere by any person and under any circumstances is reprehensible and completely contradicts the provisions of the convention and the legal rules and standards of the international community.”

His comments came during the 26th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on Thursday in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Al-Attiyah also highlighted the importance his country attached to implementing its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, believing in its objectives, and based on its consistent policy to strengthen cooperation to ban weapons of mass destruction and prevent their spread.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia was keen to help free the Middle East of all WMDs, a move that would increase international peace and security.

Al-Attiyah thanked the organization’s director general, Fernando Arias, for his efforts toward the cause, adding that the Kingdom would be supporting his reappointment for a second term.


Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
Updated 03 December 2021

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
  • The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil

IRBIL: At least three civilians and seven Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters have been killed in northern Iraq in an attack blamed on the Daesh jihadist group, the forces said Friday.
The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil, killing three civilians, a statement said. The peshmerga, Kurdistan’s armed forces, launched an operation in response, and seven fighters died when “an explosive device planted by Daesh elements” blew up.


Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials
Updated 31 min 58 sec ago

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials
  • The US and Iran both sounded pessimistic about the chances of reinstating the deal,

DUBAI/VIENNA: The seventh round of indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which began this week, will end on Friday with a formal meeting of the remaining parties to the deal, European and Iranian officials said.

The meeting of Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China is in a format known as the Joint Commission which has bookended previous rounds of talks. The Iranian official said the meeting would be held around noon (1100 GMT). The aim is to resume the talks next week, the European diplomat said.

“The Europeans want to return to their capitals for consultations ... We are ready to stay in Vienna for further talks,” an Iranian official close to the talks said.

On the fourth day of indirect US-Iran talks on bringing both nations fully back into the deal, the United States and Iran both sounded pessimistic about the chances of reinstating the deal, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.