France warns Iran against ‘sham’ nuclear negotiating stance

France warns Iran against ‘sham’ nuclear negotiating stance
Jean-Yves Le Drian said must not come to talks with a “sham” negotiating stance. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 November 2021

France warns Iran against ‘sham’ nuclear negotiating stance

France warns Iran against ‘sham’ nuclear negotiating stance
  • France said on Thursday a strong message should be sent to Iran over its nuclear activities and a lack of cooperation.

PARIS: France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Iran on Friday not to come to the next round of talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with a “sham” negotiating stance, a day after Paris urged the board of the UN atomic watchdog to send Iran a tough message.
Tehran had earlier responded to Paris by saying the International Atomic Energy Agency, which verifies Tehran’s compliance with the 2015 deal with world powers limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, must be “free of any political conduct.”
The statements highlighted rising tension before the US, Iran and world powers resume indirect negotiations on reviving the deal on Nov. 29, five days after a meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.
Western diplomats say time is running low to resurrect the pact, which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, dismaying the other world powers involved — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
Six rounds of indirect talks were held between April and June. The negotiations were interrupted after the election of a new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who has said Iran will not back down in the talks.

Opinion

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Paris warned Tehran over what US and European diplomats view as unrealistic demands, including a call for all US and EU sanctions imposed since 2017 to be dropped.
The foreign minister told Le Monde newspaper Paris wanted first to establish whether talks would resume where they ended in June.
“If this discussion is a sham, then we will have to consider the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) empty,” he said, referring to the 2015 deal.
“The United States is ready to return to the negotiations where they left off in June, so that they can be concluded quickly. We will assess from the 29th and in the following days whether this is also the Iranian will.”
France said on Thursday a strong message should be sent to Iran over its nuclear activities and a lack of cooperation.
The US envoy for Iran warned that Tehran was approaching the point of no return for reviving a nuclear deal after it boosted its stocks of enriched uranium before talks resume this month.
Robert Malley said Iran risked making it “impossible” to gain any benefit from resuming the agreement, which has been on hold since then president Donald Trump walked away in 2018.
Tehran said the IAEA must not be politicized.


Egypt to run for Global Counterterrorism Forum presidency

Egypt to run for Global Counterterrorism Forum presidency
Updated 14 sec ago

Egypt to run for Global Counterterrorism Forum presidency

Egypt to run for Global Counterterrorism Forum presidency

CAIRO: Egypt has said it intends to run for the presidency of the Global Counterterrorism Forum during a meeting of its coordination committee in March.

The Foreign Ministry said the decision reflects Cairo’s keenness to contribute to strengthening international efforts to combat terrorism.

Egypt is one of the founding countries of the forum, which was established in 2011 and has 30 member states. It cooperates closely with regional and international organizations, including the UN.

Egypt has co-chaired the Capacity-building in the East Africa Region Working Group with the EU since 2017 within the forum’s framework.


Syria prison battle toll tops 150, concern over fate of minors

Syria prison battle toll tops 150, concern over fate of minors
Updated 24 January 2022

Syria prison battle toll tops 150, concern over fate of minors

Syria prison battle toll tops 150, concern over fate of minors
  • More than 100 Daesh fighters late Thursday stormed Ghwayran prison using suicide truck bombs and heavy weapons
  • The fighting died down Sunday evening as the US-backed SDF consolidated control over areas around the jail and declared the entire city locked down for a week

HASAKAH: Kurdish forces locked down a Syrian city Monday to trap Daesh group fighters who attacked a prison there five days earlier, leaving more than 150 dead in fierce battles.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) charged that the Daesh militants were using hundreds of minors as “human shields” inside the Ghwayran prison in the northeastern city of Hasakah.
The UN childrens’ agency UNICEF called for the protection of some 850 minors detained inside the jail, some as young as 12, warning that they could be “harmed or forcibly recruited” by the Daesh.
More than 100 Daesh fighters late Thursday stormed Ghwayran prison using suicide truck bombs and heavy weapons, setting off days of clashes both inside the facility and in surrounding neighborhoods.
The fighting died down Sunday evening as the US-backed SDF consolidated control over areas around the jail and declared the entire city locked down for a week.
“To prevent terrorist cells from escaping... the Kurdish administration in northeast Syria announces a complete lockdown on areas inside and outside Hasakah city for a period of seven days starting on January 24,” the administration said.
Businesses were ordered to close with the exception of essential services, such as medical centers, bakeries and fuel distribution centers.
Civilians were hunkering down Monday in their homes as Kurdish fighters backed by the US-led coalition combed the area for hideout extremists, said an AFP correspondent.
The SDF erected several checkpoints at the entrances to Hasakah, with even tighter security measures imposed in neighborhoods adjacent to the jail, the correspondent said.
The SDF said in a statement its advances inside the prison where stymied by the use of hundreds of minors as “human shields” by Daesh extremists holed up in a dormitory.
The group said the adolescents, who had been detained over suspected links to extremists, were being kept in a “rehabilitation center” in the jail.
The Britain-based group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that a precarious lull in fighting continued to hold, as holdout extremists were refusing to surrender.
The group raised the death toll from the clashes to 154 killed since Thursday, including 102 extremists, 45 Kurdish fighters and seven civilians.
In other parts of Syria’s northeast under the administration’s control, a nightime curfew was set to go into force Monday from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 am.


Saudi Arabia condemns Houthi missile attacks on Abu Dhabi, Jazan

Saudi Arabia condemns Houthi missile attacks on Abu Dhabi, Jazan
Updated 4 min 48 sec ago

Saudi Arabia condemns Houthi missile attacks on Abu Dhabi, Jazan

Saudi Arabia condemns Houthi missile attacks on Abu Dhabi, Jazan
  • Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the militia had caused corruption in Yemen, as well as killing its civilians
  • Kuwait condemned the attacks and stressed the need for an international stance against the militia

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry condemned the ‘repeated’ Houthi attacks on civilians and vital facilities in the south of the Kingdom and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE’s defense ministry said it had shot down two Houthi missiles targeting Abu Dhabi on Monday with no casualties reported, state news agency WAM said.
An F-16 destroyed a ballistic missile launcher in Al-Jawf, Yemen immediately after the attack.

On Monday Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the militia had caused corruption in Yemen, as well as killing its civilians.
It also stressed the urgent need for the international community to act against the repeated Houthi attacks.
Saudi Arabia further called on the United Nations Security Council to put an end to the aggressive behavior of the militia.
In Saudi Arabia, two residents sustained minor injuries after the Houthis fired a ballistic missile that fell in the industrial area of Ahad Al-Masarihah, Jazan on Sunday, shortly before the attempted attack on Abu Dhabi.
Bahrain denounced the Houthi attacks targeting civilians.
Similarly, Kuwait condemned the attacks and stressed the need for an international stance against the militia.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the attacks against both countries were a clear violation of international law.
The Gulf Cooperation Council has further said the continued Houthi attacks reflect the militia’s rejection of all peace efforts in Yemen.
Developing

 


UAE confirm missile launcher site in Yemen destroyed after second attack on Abu Dhabi

UAE confirm missile launcher site in Yemen destroyed after second attack on Abu Dhabi
Updated 24 January 2022

UAE confirm missile launcher site in Yemen destroyed after second attack on Abu Dhabi

UAE confirm missile launcher site in Yemen destroyed after second attack on Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: An F-16 destroyed a ballistic missile launcher in Al Jawf, Yemen in the early hours of Monday immediately after the Houthis fired two ballistic missiles at Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s MOD Joint Operations Command said.

The UAE’s defense ministry said earlier on Monday that it had shot down two Houthi missiles targeting the country, state news agency WAM reported.

There were no injuries from the shrapnel which fell in over the emirate of  Abu Dhabi.

A statement on WAM said the ministry was “ready to deal with any threats and that it takes all necessary measures to protect the state from all attacks.”

Last week, three people were killed after a drone attack by the Iran-backed militia on Abu Dhabi, sparking international condemnation of the group’s indiscriminate actions against civilians.

Early on Monday, Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile targeting the southern province of Asir, prompting the coalition supporting the Yemeni government to hit a launchpad used by the Houthis in Al-Jouf.

On Sunday, two people where injured following ballistic missile in Jazan.

 


Iran nuclear agreement unlikely without release of US prisoners - Malley

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and Barry Rosen, campaigning for the release of hostages imprisoned by Iran, sit at a table during an interview with Reuters in Vienna, Austria, January 23, 2022. (REUTERS)
U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and Barry Rosen, campaigning for the release of hostages imprisoned by Iran, sit at a table during an interview with Reuters in Vienna, Austria, January 23, 2022. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 January 2022

Iran nuclear agreement unlikely without release of US prisoners - Malley

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and Barry Rosen, campaigning for the release of hostages imprisoned by Iran, sit at a table during an interview with Reuters in Vienna, Austria, January 23, 2022. (REUTERS)
  • The indirect talks between Iran and the United States on bringing both countries back into full compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal are in their eighth round

VIENNA: The United States is unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal unless Tehran releases four US citizens Washington says it is holding hostage, the lead US nuclear negotiator told Reuters on Sunday.
The official, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, repeated the long-held US position that the issue of the four people held in Iran is separate from the nuclear negotiations. He moved a step closer, however, to saying that their release was a precondition for a nuclear agreement.
“They’re separate and we’re pursuing both of them. But I will say it is very hard for us to imagine getting back into the nuclear deal while four innocent Americans are being held hostage by Iran,” Malley told Reuters in an interview.
“So even as we’re conducting talks with Iran indirectly on the nuclear file we are conducting, again indirectly, discussions with them to ensure the release of our hostages,” he said in Vienna, where talks are taking place on bringing Washington and Tehran back into full compliance with the deal.
In recent years, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security-related charges.
Rights groups have accused Iran of taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage, while Western powers have long demanded that Tehran free their citizens, who they say are political prisoners.
Tehran denies holding people for political reasons.

MESSAGE SENT
Malley was speaking in a joint interview with Barry Rosen, a 77-year-old former US diplomat who has been on hunger strike in Vienna to demand the release of US, British, French, German, Austrian and Swedish prisoners in Iran, and that no nuclear agreement be reached without their release.
Rosen was one of more than 50 US diplomats held during the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis.
“I’ve spoken to a number of the families of the hostages who are extraordinarily grateful for what Mr.Rosen is doing but they also are imploring him to stop his hunger strike, as I am, because the message has been sent,” Malley said.
Rosen said that after five days of not eating he was feeling weak and would heed those calls.
“With the request from Special Envoy Malley and my doctors and others, we’ve agreed (that) after this meeting I will stop my hunger strike but this does not mean that others will not take up the baton,” Rosen said.
The indirect talks between Iran and the United States on bringing both countries back into full compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal are in their eighth round. Iran refuses to hold meetings with US officials, meaning others shuttle between the two sides.
The deal between Iran and major powers lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities that extended the time it would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb if it chose to. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, reimposing punishing economic sanctions against Tehran. Iran responded by breaching many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions, to the point that Western powers say the deal will soon have been hollowed out completely.

LEVERAGE
Asked if Iran and the United States might negotiate directly, Malley said: “We’ve heard nothing to that effect. We’d welcome it.”
The four US citizens include Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, 50, and his father Baquer, 85, both of whom have been convicted of “collaboration with a hostile government.” Namazi remains in prison. His father was released on medical grounds in 2018 and his sentence later reduced to time served. While the elder Namazi is no longer jailed, a lawyer for the family says he is effectively barred from leaving Iran.
“Senior Biden administration officials have repeatedly told us that although the potential Iranian nuclear and hostage deals are independent and must be negotiated on parallel tracks, they will not just conclude the nuclear deal by itself,” said Jared Genser, pro bono counsel to the Namazi family.
“Otherwise, all leverage to get the hostages out will be lost,” he added.
The others are environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 66, who is also British, and businessman Emad Shargi, 57.