Iran stresses nuclear program peaceful after UN watchdog report

Iran stresses nuclear program peaceful after UN watchdog report
Above, a screengrab of an engineer inside Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant on April 10, 2021 during a ceremony inaugurating the cascades of 164 IR-6 centrifuges and 30 IR-5 devices at the facility. (Iranian Presidency/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 August 2021

Iran stresses nuclear program peaceful after UN watchdog report

Iran stresses nuclear program peaceful after UN watchdog report
  • The Islamic republic has gradually rolled back its nuclear commitments since 2019

TEHRAN: Iran has stressed its nuclear activities are peaceful and conform to safeguard obligations, after the UN nuclear watchdog said it has established a process to accelerate production of highly enriched uranium.
International Atomic Energy Agency director Rafael Grossi informed IAEA member states that Iran was boosting such capacity at its Natanz enrichment plant.
“All of (Iran’s) nuclear programs and actions are in complete compliance with the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), Iran’s safeguards commitments, under IAEA supervision and previously announced,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Tuesday.
The UN agency verified on Saturday that “Iran had configured a new operational mode for the production of UF6 enriched up to 60 percent U-235,” Grossi said in a statement.
This involved using two centrifuge cascades compared with one previously, he added.
Iran had started in mid-April to enrich uranium to 60 percent.
The Islamic republic has gradually rolled back its nuclear commitments since 2019, a year after then US president Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal and began imposing sanctions.
The 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran “will pursue its peaceful nuclear program based on its needs, sovereign decisions and within safeguard obligations’ framework until the full and unconditional implementation of the JCPOA by America and other parties,” Khatibzadeh said.
Six rounds of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers — with the US indirectly taking part — were held in Vienna between April and June in an attempt to revive the accord.
The last round concluded on June 20, with no date set for another.


Officials: Iraq arrests mastermind of deadly 2016 bombing

Officials: Iraq arrests mastermind of deadly 2016 bombing
Updated 18 October 2021

Officials: Iraq arrests mastermind of deadly 2016 bombing

Officials: Iraq arrests mastermind of deadly 2016 bombing
  • The suicide car bombing in the central Karradah district was the deadliest attack by a single bomber in the Iraqi capital after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion
  • Two Iraqi intelligence officials said the man identified as Ghazwan al-Zobai, an Iraqi, was detained during a complex operation

BAGHDAD: Iraq said Monday it has detained the mastermind behind a deadly 2016 bombing in a Baghdad shopping center, which killed around 300 people and wounded 250.
The suicide car bombing in the central Karradah district was the deadliest attack by a single bomber in the Iraqi capital after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Two Iraqi intelligence officials said the man identified as Ghazwan Al-Zobai, an Iraqi, was detained during a complex operation that was carried out with the cooperation of a neighboring country they did not name. He had been tracked by authorities for months.
They told The Associated Press that Al-Zobai was detained in an unidentified foreign country and transported to Iraq two days ago. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak of the operation on the record.
The 29-year-old Al-Zobai was an Al-Qaeda militant when he was imprisoned by the Americans in Iraq at Cropper prison until 2008, and then escaped from Abu Ghraib prison in 2013. He joined the Daesh group after that.
The officials said Al-Zobai plotted many attacks in Iraq, the most infamous of which was the 2016 bombing in Karrada in 2016. He operated under the Alias Abu Obaida.
At least 292 people died from the bombing, most of them from an ensuing fire that turned the Hadi shopping center into an inferno. The blaze was fed by a tinderbox of shops filled with clothing and oil-based perfumes for sale and lined with flammable panels.
Al-Zobai’s arrest came in the second such operation conducted by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service since Iraq’s federal elections Oct. 10.
Iraqi officials said they captured Sami Jasim, an IS leader last Monday in a similar operation abroad. Jasim had a $5 million bounty on his head from the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, which describes him as having been “instrumental in managing finances for IS terrorist operations.”


Syria buries former lawmaker shot near Israeli border

Syria buries former lawmaker shot near Israeli border
Updated 18 October 2021

Syria buries former lawmaker shot near Israeli border

Syria buries former lawmaker shot near Israeli border
  • Midhat Saleh, a well-known figure in Syria, was fatally shot Saturday at the Israeli border in the Golan Heights where he ran a government office
  • Syria said he was killed by Israeli sniper fire

DAMASCUS, Syria: A former Syrian lawmaker allegedly felled by Israeli sniper fire was laid to rest Monday in an official funeral attended by hundreds of people near Damascus.
Midhat Saleh, a well-known figure in Syria, was fatally shot Saturday in Ein el-Tineh, a village along the Israeli border in the Golan Heights where he ran a Syrian government office. Syria said he was killed by Israeli sniper fire. Israeli military and other officials declined to comment on the charge.
Israeli media, however, said Saleh had been assisting the Iranian military presence against Israel. If the Syrian claims are confirmed, it would mark the first time that Israeli snipers are known to have killed someone identified as an Iranian-linked target across the border.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the area. Most of the world does not recognize the annexation, though the Trump administration declared the territory to be part of Israel.
On Monday, Saleh’s coffin, wrapped in a Syrian flag, was brought in an ambulance from the Mamdouh Abaza hospital in Qunetira to Jaramana, on the outskirts of Damascus, for burial at a Druze cemetery. Hundreds of people attended, in addition to senior officials and Druze clerics.
Saleh was born in Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan, and was jailed several times by Israel, most recently for 12 years until 1997. He later moved to Syria, was elected to parliament in 1998 and served as an adviser to the government on the Golan issue.
Saleh’s son, Golan, a 17-year-old student, said that his father has always told him that the territory would return to Syria.
“I am proud that my father was martyred,” he said.


Egypt poverty rate falls 3% despite pandemic

Egypt poverty rate falls 3% despite pandemic
Updated 18 October 2021

Egypt poverty rate falls 3% despite pandemic

Egypt poverty rate falls 3% despite pandemic
  • Extreme poverty in Egypt (the percentage of people who cannot secure their food needs) decreased nationwide

CAIRO: Egypt’s poverty rate has fallen to the lowest level in 20 years, according to data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

The agency said that poverty rates in Egypt fell to 29.7 percent during the 2019-2020 fiscal year — a decline of 2.8 percent from the 32.5 percent recorded in 2017-2018. It added that this reflects the success of the country in striving for social justice in conjunction with economic reforms implemented by the state.

The agency said that extreme poverty in Egypt (the percentage of people who cannot secure their food needs) decreased nationwide to 4.5 percent in 2019-2020, down from 6.2 percent in 2017-2018.

The agency noted a correlation between growing family sizes and financial insecurity, saying: “The increase in the size of the family is a cause and a consequence of poverty. At the same time, it is a result of poor families not having sufficient social protection and therefore resorting to having more children for social protection when old or ill as a source of income.”

CAPMAS said that 80.6 percent of individuals who live in families with 10 or more members are poor, and that 48.1 percent of individuals who live in families with 6-7 members are also poor, compared to 7.5 percent of families with fewer than four members.

The agency indicated that education levels are the most relevant indicator of poverty, as poverty rates decrease as the level of education rises among parts of the population.

The percentage of poor among Egyptians with no formal education reached 35.6 percent in 2019-2020, compared to 9.4 percent for university graduates.

CAPMAS said that the Egyptian state is “making a lot of efforts” to protect the poor with the aim of improving the quality of life of citizens.

Social programs launched by the Egyptian government form the cornerstone Egypt’s Vision for Sustainable Development 2030.

The agency said that one of the most important programs is the national project for the development of Egyptian rural villages, which aims to improve living standards, build infrastructure, support people with disabilities and boost urban services.

The CAPMAS results came as the International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for the growth of the Egyptian economy during 2021, despite lowering estimates for the global economy.


Fire at an oil waste disposal unit in Jebel Ali in Dubai under control

 Fire at an oil waste disposal unit in Jebel Ali in Dubai under control
Updated 18 October 2021

Fire at an oil waste disposal unit in Jebel Ali in Dubai under control

 Fire at an oil waste disposal unit in Jebel Ali in Dubai under control

DUBAI: Dubai Civil Defense teams have brought under control a fire that broke out at an oil waste disposal site in the Jebel Ali Industrial Area, located far from factories in the zone, the Dubai Media Office said.

The site saw heavy smoke due to the burning of oil waste in a deserted portion of the industrial area.

No casualties have been reported.


Fire at the Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery in Kuwait under control

Fire at the Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery in Kuwait under control
Updated 18 October 2021

Fire at the Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery in Kuwait under control

Fire at the Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery in Kuwait under control
  • A number of minor injuries and cases of suffocation were reported

DUBAI: A fire broke out at the Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery in Kuwait on Monday morning is now under control, state-run news agency KUNA has reported.

Kuwait National Petroleum Company earlier said in a tweet that fire broke out in one of the facility’s atmospheric residue desulphurization (ARD) units.

“The firefighting teams in the refinery are currently dealing with the fire, knowing that no injuries occurred as a result of the accident,” KNPC earlier said in a tweet.

A number of minor injuries and cases of suffocation as a result of inhalation of fumes occurred among the contractor’s workers, the company said.

First aid was provided to the injured on the site and all of them are in good condition, and other injured were transferred to Al-Adan Hospital and their condition is stable, it added.

“ARD Unit No. 42 and all lines leading to it have been isolated and the refinery’s fire brigade is still dealing with the accident,” KNPC said.

“The refinery and export operations were not affected, and the local marketing and supply operations of the Ministry of Electricity and Water were not affected by the fire.”

The Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery, on a 10.5 square-kilometer site, began operating in 1949. It is the largest of three refineries of the state petrol company, producing about 466,000 barrels of petrol per day.

A fourth refinery with a production capacity of 615,000 barrels per day is under construction and set to begin operation by the end of the year.

The oil-rich Gulf emirate produces about 2.4 million barrels of petrol per day, most of which is exported.

with AFP