US says reviving Iran deal ‘far from certain’ despite EU mission

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell with British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss during G7 foreign ministers’ summit in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany. (Reuters)
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell with British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss during G7 foreign ministers’ summit in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 May 2022

US says reviving Iran deal ‘far from certain’ despite EU mission

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell with British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany.
  • US President Joe Biden favors returning to the accord scrapped by his predecessor Donald Trump but he has rejected a number of demands of Iran, notably removing the powerful Revolutionary Guards from a US terrorism blacklist

WASHINGTON: The US said on Friday it remained uncertain if a nuclear deal with Iran can be revived after the EU gave an upbeat assessment of a trip to Tehran.
A State Department spokesperson voiced appreciation for envoy Enrique Mora’s visit but added: “That said, at this point a deal remains far from certain.”
The spokesperson said: “Iran needs to decide whether it insists on extraneous conditions and whether it wants to conclude a deal quickly, which we believe would serve all sides’ interests.
“We and our partners are ready, and have been for some time. It’s now up to Iran.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier said in Germany that stalled negotiations with Iran have been “reopened” after Mora’s trip.
US President Joe Biden favors returning to the accord scrapped by his predecessor Donald Trump but he has rejected a number of demands of Iran, notably removing the powerful Revolutionary Guards from a US terrorism blacklist.

BACKGROUND

President Joe Biden favors returning to the accord scrapped by his predecessor Donald Trump but he has rejected a number of demands of Iran, notably removing the powerful Revolutionary Guards from a US terrorism blacklist.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Seven major economies in Germany, Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, said an EU envoy visited Tehran this week for talks that had “gone better than expected.”
Borrell said: “The negotiations have been stalled for two months due to this disagreement about what to do with the Revolutionary Guard.”
Borrell added: “These kind of things cannot be solved overnight, but let’s say the negotiations were blocked and they have been deblocked. Which means there is a perspective of reaching agreement.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian echoed Borrell’s assessment, saying on Twitter that the discussions between the EU envoy and Iran’s negotiator “were another opportunity to focus on initiatives to resolve the remaining issues.”
“A good and reliable outcome is within reach if US makes its decision & adheres to its commitments,” Abdollahian wrote.
Meanwhile, Mora said on Friday that he was briefly detained with colleagues at Frankfurt Airport while transiting from Tehran to Brussels, in breach of diplomatic rules.
Mora said he had received “not a single explanation” from German authorities for why he was detained.
“An EU official on an official mission holding a Spanish diplomatic passport. Took out my passport and my phones,” he wrote on Twitter.
He said the EU ambassador to the UN in Vienna and the head of the EU’s Iran task force were also detained.
“We were kept separated,” Mora wrote.
“Refusal to give any explanation for what seems a violation of the Vienna Convention.”
German federal police said the three diplomats were singled out for checks by a computerized system due to their travel from Tehran, rather than any information about them as individuals.
They were released after 40 minutes, police said.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores. (AP)
Updated 41 min ago

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion
  • Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi
  • The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores

ABU DHABI: Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, police said.
Initial reports “showed that 64 people sustained minor injuries, 56 others were moderately wounded, and two people died,” police tweeted.
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores before being brought under control, they added.
Four of the damaged buildings were “safely” evacuated, with efforts underway to find their residents temporary housing “until the buildings are completely secured,” the police said.
Pictures released by Abu Dhabi police showed first responders tending to a person on a gurney, and debris and broken glass strewn across the pavement.
A witness told The National newspaper that he heard two explosions around lunchtime.
“The first sound was small and people started calling the fire and police,” said the man, who was not identified.
“Then soon, there was a big blast. It was a really big sound. The windows shook and in some offices, the windows shattered.”
The authorities gave no indication of foul play.
However, the UAE has been on heightened alert since a Houthi drone and missile attack killed three oil workers in Abu Dhabi on January 17.


Two Iranian pilots killed after F7 jet crashes - IRNA

Two Iranian pilots killed after F7 jet crashes - IRNA
Updated 43 min 41 sec ago

Two Iranian pilots killed after F7 jet crashes - IRNA

Two Iranian pilots killed after F7 jet crashes - IRNA

Two Iranian pilots died after their F7 fighter jet crashed near Anarak, 200 km (124 miles) east of the city of Isfahan, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday.


Death toll rises to 10 after building collapses in Iran’s Abadan city

Death toll rises to 10 after building collapses in Iran’s Abadan city
Updated 58 min 37 sec ago

Death toll rises to 10 after building collapses in Iran’s Abadan city

Death toll rises to 10 after building collapses in Iran’s Abadan city
  • The 10-story residential and commercial building partly collapsed on Monday

DUBAI: The death toll from a building collapse in the southern Iranian city of Abadan has reached 10, with some people still missing, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
The 10-story residential and commercial building partly collapsed on Monday, leaving at least 80 people under the rubble, according to state TV.
“After hours of emergency efforts, 30 people trapped under the rubble were extracted alive and taken to hospital to treat their injuries,” a deputy governor of the Khuzestan province told IRNA.
The number of people still trapped under the rubble remains unclear.


Yemeni army reports 4,276 Houthi truce violations

Yemeni army reinforcements arrive to join fighters loyal to Yemen's government in Marib on November 16, 2021. (AFP)
Yemeni army reinforcements arrive to join fighters loyal to Yemen's government in Marib on November 16, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2022

Yemeni army reports 4,276 Houthi truce violations

Yemeni army reinforcements arrive to join fighters loyal to Yemen's government in Marib on November 16, 2021. (AFP)
  • Militia attacks continue on government troops in Marib, Taiz, Saada and Hajjah

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s army has said that the Iran-backed Houthis have violated a UN-brokered truce more than 4,276 times since day one by mobilizing fighters and launching drone and missile attacks on government troops, even as the militia indicated its acceptance of its renewal.

The truce, which is the longest since the war began, came into effect on April 2 and has led to reduced violence and deaths across the country, the UN said.

But the Yemeni army said the Houthis continued to gather heavy artillery, military vehicles, and fighters outside the strategic city of Marib, had attacked government troops in Marib, Taiz, Saada, and Hajjah, and created new military outposts.

Members of Yemen’s government forces search for explosive devices in a house in the village of Hays in the western province of Hodeida on Monday. (AFP)

“The Houthis are challenging the truce and international resolutions. They have not adhered to the truce,” Maj. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili, an army spokesperson, told Arab News on Monday.  

FASTFACT

The UN’s Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg is pushing the government and militia to extend the truce and put into place its unfulfilled components, including opening roads in Taiz and other provinces.

The Houthi violations come as the UN’s Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg pushes the government and militia to extend the truce and put into place its unfulfilled components, including opening roads in Taiz and other provinces.

On Sunday, the head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi Al-Mashat, said the movement would accept an extension of the truce with its opponents, boosting hopes of stopping hostilities across the country for another two or three months.

“We affirm that we are not against extending the truce, but what is not possible is the acceptance of any truce in which the suffering of our people continues,” the Houthi leader said.

In Aden, the head of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, also expressed his support on Saturday for current efforts by international mediators to extend the truce.

At the same time, activists and rights groups intensified their campaigns on the ground and on social media to highlight the grave consequences of the Houthi siege on thousands of Taiz residents.

The Abductees Mothers’ Association, an umbrella group for relatives of those abducted in Yemen, said Sunday that checkpoints manned by the Houthis outside Taiz had seized 417 people seeking to enter or leave the city since the beginning of the war.

The Houthis have laid a siege on Yemen’s third-largest city since early 2015 after failing to seize control of it due to strong resistance from troops and local fighters.

The Houthis barred people from driving through the main roads, deployed snipers, and planted landmines, forcing people into using dangerous and unpaved roads.  

“Civilians in #Taiz are forced to use alternative long, narrow, winding, and unsafe routes, which caused a lot of accidents that killed and injured hundreds of victims,” tweeted the American Center for Justice, a rights group established by Yemeni activists. It added that Houthi snipers indiscriminately gunned down civilians while they carried out their everyday activities.

“Most of the children sniped by Houthi snipers were targeted while fetching water, grazing the sheep, playing near their homes, or returning from schools,” the organization said.


Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘was forced to sign false confession at airport’

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (AFP)
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2022

Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘was forced to sign false confession at airport’

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (AFP)
  • It’s a tool. So I am sure they will show that some day

LONDON: A British-Iranian charity worker who was detained in Tehran for almost six years says she was forced by Iranian officials to sign a false confession to spying before she was freed two months ago.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said British government officials were present at Tehran airport when “under duress” she signed the false admission to spying.
She said she was told by Iranian officials that “you won’t be able to get on the plane” unless she signed.
“The whole thing of me signing the forced confession was filmed,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday.
“It’s a tool. So I’m sure they will show that some day.”
Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Tulip Siddiq, who represents Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s home district in London, said the revelation raised “serious questions” for the British government.
She said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss “must set out in Parliament what she knew about this shocking revelation and what consequences it could have for my constituent.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained at Tehran’s airport in April 2016 as she was returning home to Britain after visiting family in Iran. She was employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, but she was on vacation at the time of her arrest.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison after she was convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups denied.
She had been under house arrest at her parents’ home in Tehran for the last two years.
She and another dual citizen, Anoosheh Ashoori, were released and flown back to the UK in March.
Their release came after Britain paid a £400 million ($503 million) debt to Iran stemming from a dispute over tanks that were ordered in the 1970s but were never delivered.