US ‘seeking new options’ to block a nuclear Iran

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Tuesday that
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Tuesday that "time is running out" for Iran to engage in "real negotiations.” (AFP photo/Pool)
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Updated 15 December 2021

US ‘seeking new options’ to block a nuclear Iran

US ‘seeking new options’ to block a nuclear Iran
  • Talks in Vienna expected to fail as Iran rejects IAEA access to Karaj site
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: Iran is still not engaged in real negotiations

JEDDAH: The US is pursuing other ways to halt Iran’s drive toward building a nuclear weapon amid a growing belief that talks on the issue will fail.

Negotiations resumed in Vienna last week to try to revive the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers.

The US withdrew from the deal under Donald Trump in 2018, and Iran responded by enriching uranium to levels prohibited under the agreement.

“We continue in this hour, on this day, to pursue diplomacy because it remains at this moment the best option, but we are actively engaging with allies and partners on alternatives,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to return to the agreement and Iranian officials maintain they are serious about the talks.

But Tehran has been accused of backsliding on progress made earlier this year and playing for time.

FASTFACT

Recent rounds of talks are deadlocked on which sanctions Washington is prepared to lift, and guarantees demanded by Iran to protect against the prospect of a future US withdrawal.

Blinken’s remarks came after Biden said the US was preparing “additional measures” against Iran. Blinken also echoed a statement by European countries involved in the talks.

“Time is running out, and Iran is still not engaged in real negotiations,” he said. “Unless there’s swift progress ... the Iran nuclear agreement will become an empty shell.”

The 2015 agreement has been disintegrating since Trump pulled out. The deal ensured sanctions relief for Iran in return for tight curbs on its nuclear program, which was placed under extensive UN monitoring. Trump went on to reintroduce sanctions, prompting Tehran to start disregarding the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities.

Recent rounds of talks are deadlocked on which sanctions Washington is prepared to lift, and guarantees demanded by Iran to protect against the prospect of a future US withdrawal.

Iran insists on the immediate removal of all sanctions in a verifiable process. The US has said it would remove curbs “inconsistent” with the nuclear agreement if Iran resumed compliance with the deal, implying it would leave in place others such as those imposed under terrorism or human rights measures.

Iran also seeks guarantees that “no US administration” will renege on the pact again, but Biden cannot promise this because the nuclear deal is a nonbinding political understanding, not a legally binding treaty.

“How can we trust Americans again? What if they ditch the deal again? Therefore the party that violated the deal should provide guarantees that it will never happen again,” a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday.

“This is their problem, not ours to solve. They can find a solution and give us guarantees.”


UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London

UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London
The two sides issued a joint statement following the launch. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 July 2022

UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London

UK-Egypt Association Council inaugurated in London
  • Foreign ministers discuss areas of cooperation, including investment and addressing climate change

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, and the UK’s minister of foreign and commonwealth affairs and development, Liz Truss, inaugurated the UK-Egypt Association Council in London.

The two sides issued a joint statement following the launch, stressing it created a new platform to promote the ambitions expressed in the agreement between the UK and Egypt, signed in December 2020.

The statement revealed that the two ministers held talks on developing the strategic partnership between their countries, and welcomed a number of commercial successes between them, including the project to manufacture monorail linear trains in the English city of Derby with the support of the British Export Finance Corp.

This comes in addition to the sale of two marine supply units that belonged to the Royal Navy to Egypt, including contracts for renewal and development.

The statement added that the cooperation included the opening of a new solar energy field with a capacity of 66 megawatts by Globeleq, with an investment of $80 million; the launch of commercial operations by Lekela Wind Energy, with an investment of $325 million; and the approval of an investment of $100 million by British International Investment to acquire Alpha Medical Group.

The two ministers also discussed prospects for enhancing economic cooperation between the UK and Egypt, and agreed to work intensively to develop bilateral trade and investment, including addressing any obstacles to trade, and working to improve market access in the agricultural, healthcare, energy and financial sectors through the establishment of a trade subcommittee. 

The Egyptian and UK governments also affirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation and investments in healthcare and education, and welcomed the deepening of their technical cooperation, which will support joint work to overcome barriers to market access in priority sectors.

Future cooperation includes the signing of a declaration of intent between the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency and the British Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, to help reform Egyptian legislation on renewable energy.

The two ministers welcomed the strengthening of cooperation in Africa and the discovery of tripartite cooperation opportunities with African countries in various fields, especially infrastructure.

The UK welcomed Egypt’s preparations to host COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November, stressing its desire to build on the Glasgow Climate Charter and previous UN climate change goals. 

Egypt and the UK both stressed the importance of supporting developing peoples in achieving a fair transition towards sustainable development patterns that are environmentally friendly and compatible with efforts to combat climate change, including the transition towards sustainable energy and green hydrogen, in addition to adapting to the effects of climate change, through the sustainable and integrated management of natural resources, enhancing resilience and building technical and technological capacities.

The two ministers also discussed a large number of bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest, including human rights, mentioning their desire to hold meetings of the Association Council regularly to continue strengthening cooperation between London and Cairo.

The UK commended Egypt for its leadership and efforts in the field of renewable energy generation and for providing opportunities for British investors and companies in the energy sector.


Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks

Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks
Updated 06 July 2022

Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks

Egyptian, Cypriot presidents hold talks

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a phone call from his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades to discuss regional issues of common interest and ways to enhance bilateral relations.

El-Sisi affirmed Egypt’s “pride” in the “distinguished cooperation” with Cyprus, “and the positive development it is witnessing.”

He stressed Egypt’s aspiration to promote various aspects of that cooperation — especially in the security, military, energy and economic levels — in a way that contributes to achieving the interests of the two friendly peoples.

They also discussed ways of coordinating efforts with Egypt as a leading partner of the EU in terms of combating terrorism, extremist ideology and illegal immigration.


El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE
Updated 06 July 2022

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi expressed Cairo’s aspirations to enhance cooperation with the UAE, citing plans for increased investments in information technology, energy and communications.

El-Sisi’s statement came after he received the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al-Jaber in the presence of a number of officials from the two countries.

A spokesman for the Egyptian presidency said the meeting covered several areas for raising investments between Egypt and the UAE.

The Egyptian presidential spokesman said that El-Sisi conveyed his greetings to the President of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, welcoming the increase in Emirati investments in Egypt to consolidate the strong brotherly relations between the two countries.

Al-Jaber conveyed to El-Sisi the greetings of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, praising the attractive investment and commercial climate in Egypt in light of the comprehensive development process the country is witnessing under the leadership of El-Sisi, which he said provides various opportunities for Emirati and foreign investments in the region.

The Emirati minister added that the UAE is keen to strengthen strategic cooperation frameworks between the two countries.


Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties
Updated 06 July 2022

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties
  • Army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition

CAIRO: Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decree relieving the five civilian members of the sovereign council from their duties, a statement on the council’s telegram account said on Wednesday.
Burhan said on Monday the army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition, and urged political and revolutionary groups to start talks to form a transitional government.


Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
  • At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian man was killed by the Israeli military during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Rafiq Riyad Ghannem, 20, was “shot by the occupation (Israeli army)” near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the ministry said in a statement, adding that he was killed in the town of Jaba.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Sunday, a 17-year-old Palestinian died after being shot a day earlier in another Israeli army raid in the same town.
At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank, among them suspected militants and non-combatants.
Israeli security forces have launched near-daily raids in the West Bank following a spate of attacks in Israel in recent months.
Nineteen people — mostly Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed mainly in attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Three Arab Israeli attackers have also been killed.