TEHRAN: Iran has produced more than 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, the country’s nuclear chief said, far more than what the UN nuclear watchdog reported last month.
Mohammad Eslami said in an interview with state TV late Saturday that under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers the other signatories were to provide Iran with 20 percent enriched uranium needed for its research reactor.
“But it was not delivered,” he said. “If we did not produce it by ourselves this would have turned into one of our problems.”
Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran was prohibited from enriching uranium above 3.67 percent with the exception of its research reactor activities. Enriched uranium above 90 percent can be used in a nuclear weapon.
In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 20 percent fissile purity was estimated at 84.3 kilograms up from 62.8 kilograms three months earlier.
Scientists estimate that at least 170 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium is needed to make a bomb.
The nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its program is peaceful.
The US unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.
Tehran’s strategy of deliberately violating the deal is seen as an attempt to put pressure on Europe to provide it with incentives to offset crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the US pullout.
President Joe Biden has said he is open to rejoining the pact. The last round of talks in Vienna ended in June without a clear result.
Moroccans protest mass vaccination rules; some skirmishes
Decision came into effect Oct. 21 and stipulates that Moroccans must provide proof of vaccination to enter workplaces
The pass is also required to access indoor services such as restaurants, banks and travel
Updated 27 October 2021
RABAT, Morocco: Demonstrators took to the streets in cities around Morocco on Wednesday, some clashing with police as they denounced the country’s decision to require coronavirus vaccination passes to be allowed to work and enter public venues.
The decision came into effect Oct. 21 and stipulates that Moroccans must provide proof of vaccination in order to enter their workplaces. In a statement, the government has said employers have “direct legal responsibility” to enforce the decision.
The pass is also required to access indoor services such as restaurants and banks as well as domestic and international travel.
The North African kingdom of 36 million people has Africa’s highest vaccination rate, with more than 50 percent of the population fully inoculated. Earlier this month, the government also started administering booster shots.
But the abrupt and unusually widespread vaccine requirements have also prompted opposition, and led to big crowds at vaccination centers as people rushed to get shots.
In the capital, Rabat, protesters gathered outside the parliament building and chanted slogans against the rule, arguing that it goes against fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Police formed a line to prevent the angry demonstrators from getting inside the legislature.
A few protesters clashed with police as they were pushed away down Mohammed V Avenue that leads to the parliament building.
Among protesters was Nabila Mounib, a member of parliament and the secretary general of the opposition Unified Socialist Party. She joined the protest after being barred from entering the parliament building for showing up without a vaccination pass.
Similar scenes unfolded in other Moroccan cities, with dozens of protesters taking to the streets in the country’s most populous city, Casablanca, as well as tourist hotspots of Marrakech and Agadir. They shouted “United against the pass!” as police pushed and swung batons at some of the demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them.
Lebanese PM distances self from minister’s Houthi Yemen ‘self-defense’ claim
The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council said in a statement he rejected Kordahi’s comments
Najib Mikati said George Kordahi’s comments on TV did not reflect government’s, president’s position on Yemen
Updated 28 October 2021
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday distanced himself from comments made by the country’s Information Minister George Kordahi suggesting that the Iran-backed Houthis were “defending themselves” in Yemen.
Kordahi had been responding to a question from the host of “Barlamanasha3b,” an Al Jazeera-affiliated youth TV show, asking about his position on the conflict in the war-torn country.
During the interview recorded on Aug. 5, one month before being appointed information minister, Kordahi said: “The Houthis in Yemen are a resistance movement, defending themselves and not attacking anyone.” He added that the group was acting in self-defense against the “Saudi-UAE attack on Yemen.”
Mikati said: “Kordahi’s statement reflects his personal opinion which we do not accept. These comments do not express the government nor the president’s (Michel Aoun) position on the Yemeni issue. Lebanon is committed to its ties with Arab countries.”
When Kordahi’s remarks later surfaced in a video posted online, they sparked a frenzy on social media and an official protest to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Yemen’s Ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Al-Deais.
Kordahi replied by saying he had not intended “in any way, to offend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the Emirates,” and expressed his “love and loyalty to the leaders and people of the two countries.”
He added: “What I said about the war in Yemen being an absurd war that needs to stop, I said it with conviction, not in defense of Yemen, but also out of love for Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
But Al-Deais said Kordahi had only “added insult to injury, as he did not apologize, but rather confirmed what he had said.”
The Yemeni envoy added: “Kordahi’s remarks go against Lebanon’s clear position toward Yemen and its condemnation of the Houthi coup and its support for all relevant Arab and UN resolutions.”
Following a meeting with Aoun on Wednesday, Mikati added: “It is true that we distance ourselves from conflicts, but we do not distance ourselves from any Arab position in solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
This position is a constant position, and we look forward to the best relations.
“Kordahi’s comments will not affect the general course, especially since the constants of the Lebanese position on relations with Arab countries were stated in its ministerial declaration. The interview with Kordahi took place before he was appointed minister and was broadcast yesterday,” Mikati said.
Separately, Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that Kordahi’s comments reflected his “personal stand” and “do not reflect the government’s position.”
In a statement, it said: “The ministry has repeatedly condemned the terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia and maintains its position in defending the security and safety of its Gulf brothers, for whom it holds love, respect, and appreciation, and refrains from interfering in their internal and external policies.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council noted that Kordahi’s remarks showed his limited knowledge and lack of understanding of the situation in Yemen.
GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf condemned, “the Lebanese minister of information’s defense of the Houthi coup group, while ignoring the intransigence of the Houthi movement against all international efforts to end the Yemeni crisis, and at a time when the Saudi Houthi group is targeting missiles and marches, targeting the defenseless Yemeni people, and preventing relief aid from reaching the stricken areas.”
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari on Wednesday met with Al-Deais.
In a statement issued by the Saudi embassy, Al-Bukhari reaffirmed “the Kingdom’s position on supporting legitimacy in Yemen, reaching a political solution, in accordance with the terms of reference represented by the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism, the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference and the resolution 2216, in order to preserve Yemen’s unity, integrity, respect its sovereignty and independence, and reject any interference in its internal affairs.
“The Iranian-backed Houthis continue hostilities and terrorist operations by firing ballistic missiles and booby-trapped drones to target civilians and civilian objects in Saudi Arabia, violating international and humanitarian law by using civilian populations in Yemeni civilian areas as human shields, and launching booby-trapped boats and remotely marching, posing a serious threat to regional and international security,” he said.
The Saudi envoy highlighted, “the legitimate right of the Saudi-led coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, to take and implement the necessary measures to deal with these hostilities and terrorist attacks, and to prevent the smuggling of weapons into these militias that poses a threat to the freedom of maritime navigation and global trade in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Red Sea.”
Al-Bukhari praised “the efficiency” of Saudi air defenses in intercepting and responding to more than 400 ballistic missiles, 791 drones, and at least 205 naval mines.
Supporters prevent Lebanese Forces leader Geager from attending hearing
Updated 28 October 2021
BEIRUT: Supporters of the Christian Lebanese Forces party on Wednesday blocked roads to leader Samir Geagea’s residence as he failed to turn up for a hearing at army intelligence over fatal clashes in Beirut.
Geagea was summoned to the hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, amid claims by the Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement that Lebanese Forces (LF) supporters shot dead seven of their followers in clashes on Oct. 14.
Geagea has denied the claims and said he is being unfairly targetted for his support of a probe by Judge Tarek Bitar into the August 2020 Beirut port explosion that Hezbollah opposes.
“We won’t let anyone, not Hezbollah nor Iran nor Syria or anyone try to subjugate us,” LF protester Fadi told Reuters.
“We are here today in 2021 sacrificing for Samir Geagea just like he sacrified for us in 1994 so Lebanon could remain and we could remain,” Fadi, who did not give his last name, said.
Geagea, a former warlord, was imprisoned after Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war and released in 2005 following the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after three decades of occupation.
Western envoys met with Sudan’s PM in his residence
The mission added that the envoys found Hamdok in good health
Updated 27 October 2021
CAIRO: Envoys from France, Germany, Norway, the UK, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations met with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at his residence, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (UNITAMS) wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
The mission added that the envoys found Hamdok in good health.
US urges Iran to show ‘good faith’ in talks resumption
Iran's negotiator said after talks with EU mediators in Brussels that Tehran had agreed to resume talks
“This window will not remain open forever as Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps”: State Department
Updated 27 October 2021
WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday urged Iran to show “good faith” and quickly revive a nuclear deal after the clerical state indicated it would return to negotiations in Vienna next month.
Iran's nuclear negotiator said after talks with European Union mediators in Brussels that Tehran had agreed to resume talks in Vienna next month. These discussions had been on hiatus since June.
"We are prepared to return to Vienna, and we believe that it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to mutual full compliance" with the 2015 nuclear deal, a State Department spokesperson said.
The talks should focus on "closing the small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of the sixth round of talks in June," he said.
"As we have also been clear, this window will not remain open forever as Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps, so we hope that they come to Vienna to negotiate quickly and in good faith."
President Joe Biden has repeatedly offered to return to the nuclear accord reached in 2015 but his administration has voiced growing frustration at the prolonged delay, which comes as a new hardline government gets settled in Tehran.
Then president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions, leading Iran to step up contested nuclear work in protest.