Iran prepares enrichment escalation at Fordow plant, IAEA report shows

Iran prepares enrichment escalation at Fordow plant, IAEA report shows
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Updated 21 June 2022

Iran prepares enrichment escalation at Fordow plant, IAEA report shows

Iran prepares enrichment escalation at Fordow plant, IAEA report shows

VIENNA: Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels, a United Nations nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters on Monday showed.
The move is the latest of several steps Iran had long threatened to take but held off carrying out until 30 of the 35 countries on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors backed a resolution this month criticizing it for failing to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites.
With indirect US-Iran talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal long stalled, any further escalation in Tehran’s standoff with the West risks killing off hopes of reining in the Islamic republic’s nuclear advances and lifting US sanctions against it.
IAEA inspectors verified on Saturday that Iran was ready to feed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, the material centrifuges enrich, into the second of two cascades, or clusters, of IR-6 centrifuges installed at Fordow, a site dug into mountain, the confidential IAEA report to member states said.
Iran informed the IAEA on Monday that passivation of the cascade, a process that precedes enrichment and also involves feeding UF6 into the machines, had begun on Sunday.
Importantly, the 166-machine cascade is the only one to have so-called “modified sub-headers,” which make it easier to switch to enriching to other purity levels. Western diplomats have long pointed to that equipment as a source of concern since it could enable Iran to quickly enrich to higher levels.

AWAITING CLARIFICATION
Iran has also not told the agency clearly what purity the cascade will enrich to after passivation. Iran had previously informed the IAEA that the two IR-6 cascades could be used to enrich to 5 percent or 20 percent purity.
“The Agency has yet to receive clarification from Iran as to which mode of production it intends to implement for the aforementioned cascade, following the completion of passivation,” the report said, which the IAEA confirmed.
At a different site, Iran is already enriching to up to 60 percent, close to the roughly 90 percent of weapons-grade and far above the 2015 deal’s cap of 3.67 percent. Iran has breached many of the deal’s limits in response to the US withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
In response to the Board of Governors’ resolution, Iran has ordered the removal of IAEA cameras installed under the 2015 deal and pressed ahead with the installation of IR-6 centrifuges at an underground plant at Natanz where the deal lets it enrich but only with far less efficient IR-1 machines.
The 2015 deal does not allow uranium enrichment at Fordow.


President of UAE pardons 737 prisoners ahead of Eid Al-Adha

President of UAE pardons 737 prisoners ahead of Eid Al-Adha
Updated 8 sec ago

President of UAE pardons 737 prisoners ahead of Eid Al-Adha

President of UAE pardons 737 prisoners ahead of Eid Al-Adha
  • The presidential pardon comes within UAE's humanitarian initiatives based on forgiveness and tolerance

ABU DAHBI: President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered the release of 737 prisoners in the UAE, ahead of Eid Al-Adha, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The pardoned prisoners had received prison sentences for a variety of offenses and the President also pledged to settle the financial obligations of the released prisoners.

The pardon is part of the UAE's humanitarian initiatives based on the values of forgiveness and tolerance, allowing the released prisoners to begin a new chapter in their lives and positively contribute to society, WAM reported.

In November, the former president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan also ordered the release of 870 prisoners to commemorate the UAE's milestone 50th National Day.

This was followed by the release of 540 prisoners in March, ahead of Ramadan.

With Eid Al-Adha approaching, the President's annual pardon aims to strengthen family bonds by reuniting inmates with their mothers, wives, and children.


Israel expands permits for Palestinians on Eid Al-Adha

Israel expands permits for Palestinians on Eid Al-Adha
Updated 44 min ago

Israel expands permits for Palestinians on Eid Al-Adha

Israel expands permits for Palestinians on Eid Al-Adha
  • The decision will allow 400 Palestinians to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • Their trips will take them from Erez Crossing to Al-Aqsa on shuttle buses

 

GAZA CITY: For the first time in years, Israel has announced that it will provide temporary visitor permits to Gaza Strip residents during the Eid Al-Adha festival.

The decision will allow 400 Palestinians to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, while 500 others will be permitted to visit first-degree relatives in the West Bank and Israel.

Ghassan Elyan, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian Territories, announced on Facebook that 400 visitor permits to Jerusalem for men aged over 55 and women aged over 50 will be issued.

Their trips will take them from Erez Crossing to Al-Aqsa on shuttle buses. They will then return to Gaza on the same day.

The approval of the permits, Elyan said, came from Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz “after assessing the security situation.”

He also announced the provision of wider permissions to West Bank residents, including family visits to Israel without specifying the number of permits, 200 permits to visit the city of Eilat, as well as allowing 500 Palestinians to travel through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Working hours at some crossings between the West Bank and Israel will be expanded. The crossing with Jordan will also be included in the expansion.

The move came as part of Israeli steps to quell tensions in the Gaza Strip and maintain peace in areas bordering Gaza, according to analysts.

Israel announced an increase in the quota of permits for Palestinians to work in the country from 10,000 to 12,000, despite rumors of an increase to 30,000 several months ago.

Mustafa Ibrahim, a Palestinian columnist, said that the move is an attempt to maintain calm and that the permits offered “do not change the reality of the Gaza Strip.”

Ibrahim told Arab News that without granting permits to at least 50,000 Palestinians to work in Israel, no change will occur in the Gaza Strip. “Israel forgets that the solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip has to be political, not humanitarian,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs department, which submits permit applications to Israel, announced that it was closing its permit line several hours after the Israeli decision due to a surge in applicants.

“Due to a huge number of citizens who have submitted requests to pray at Al-Aqsa and to visit relatives, and the limited number allowed by the Israeli side, we announce the closure of the counter to receive applications,” it said.

In previous years, Israel allowed elderly people residing in Gaza to visit Al-Aqsa, but the trips were halted due to what Israel described as a lack of security due to the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip.

Israel refuses to allow Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip to visit their relatives in the West Bank, except in cases of marriage, death and sometimes visits to patients with first-degree relatives.

Israel laid a strict siege on Gaza since Hamas — which it considers a hostile entity — took control of the area in 2007. It only allows the humanitarian passage of patients and imposes severe restrictions on the import of goods.

Imad Khalil, 56, was among the early birds who submitted an application to pray at Al-Aqsa, hoping he could visit Islam’s third holiest site for the first time in about 25 years.

But Najat Muhammad was unable to submit her application to visit her family in the West Bank, because by the time her turn came, the counter to receive requests was closed. She has not seen her loved ones in eight years.

“Israel did not allow me to visit my mother and brothers in the city of Tulkarm. My father died eight years ago, and since then I have been trying to get a permit but to no avail, and now I have failed to apply for a permit again,” she told Arab News.


Man in Jordan arrested for killing his two daughters and burying them

Man in Jordan arrested for killing his two daughters and burying them
Updated 57 min 25 sec ago

Man in Jordan arrested for killing his two daughters and burying them

Man in Jordan arrested for killing his two daughters and burying them
  • The man confessed to violently beating his daughters, aged 9 and 12, to death

AMMAN: A man was arrested on Monday for killing his two daughters and burying them near his house in Ramtha, Jordan.

According to the Public Security Directorate, a woman filed a complaint alleging that her ex-husband, who suffers from mental illness, violently beat her four children and that she feared for their lives.

The police immediately went to his house to arrest him and, while searching for the four children, found only two. Listening to their statements, the police confirmed that the man was violent with them.

The pair also claimed that the man murdered their two younger sisters, aged 9 and 12, before burying them near the house.

During interrogation, the father confessed to beating one of his daughters to death 10 days ago. Days later, he beat the other, who also died.

The directorate confirmed that the public prosecutor and the forensic doctor were immediately notified, and the bodies of the two girls were exhumed and transferred for an autopsy.

The other two children were taken to hospital to be checked on their physical and psychological states.


Greek PM criticizes ‘constant aggressive behavior’ of Turkey

Greek PM criticizes ‘constant aggressive behavior’ of Turkey
Updated 05 July 2022

Greek PM criticizes ‘constant aggressive behavior’ of Turkey

Greek PM criticizes ‘constant aggressive behavior’ of Turkey
  • Greece has voiced strong support for Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion
  • Mitsotakis noted he was referring to “the constant aggressive behavior of Turkey,” with which relations have shown increasing strain over the past two years

ATHENS: Greece’s prime minister said Tuesday that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “turning point” in the course of Europe, stressing that any type of outcome that could embolden aggression by other nations on the continent must be avoided.
Greece, which has long-standing disputes with far larger neighbor Turkey that brought them to the brink of war three times in the last half-century, has voiced strong support for Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion.
“The battle of Ukraine is not just another event on the international scene. It is a turning point in the course of Europe,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
“We owe it today to Ukraine to avert any type of fait accompli which could be imitated tomorrow by new potential trouble-makers,” he said.
Mitsotakis noted he was referring to “the constant aggressive behavior of Turkey,” with which relations have shown increasing strain over the past two years. Although both NATO members, the two countries have decades-old disputes over a series of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Recent quarrels have focused on Greek islands off Turkey’s coast, with Ankara accusing Athens of maintaining a military presence there in violation of treaties. Greece counters it is acting according to international law and is defending its islands in the face of Turkish hostility.
“One thing is certain, we do not need new revisionism and the revival of imperial fantasies,” Mitsotakis said. “And another thing is also certain, Greece will not tolerate any questioning of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Greek prime minister said his country was “keeping our doors shut to threats, keeping our windows open to peaceful contacts. Disputes between nations are resolved based on international law, not through bullying.”
Last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of violating its airspace — something which Greece frequently accuses Turkey of doing to its own airspace, and denies violating Turkey’s.
“We don’t have an issue like ‘let’s go to war with Greece, let’s make war.’ But Greece is not standing by their promises,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers, accusing Greece of having violated Turkish airspace 147 times.
“Of course, if you’re going to violate our airspace like this, then what falls on us? My air force will give you the necessary visuals. That’s what our air force is doing,” Erdogan said, adding that “our armed forces are doing their duty and if these airspace violations continue after this, we will continue to do our duty in the same way.”
The Turkish president said the leaders of many NATO countries had tried to reconcile him and Mitsotakis. Erdogan said that “we are not thinking that right now,” but would see what happens in the future and evaluate it then.


Egyptian minister stresses importance of Brazilian trade relationship

Egyptian minister stresses importance of Brazilian trade relationship
Updated 05 July 2022

Egyptian minister stresses importance of Brazilian trade relationship

Egyptian minister stresses importance of Brazilian trade relationship
  • Brazil is Cairo’s largest trading partner in South America

CAIRO: The Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Nevin Gamea has stressed the depth and history of the bilateral relations between Egypt and Brazil during her speech at the Arab-Brazilian Economic Forum.

Brazil is Egypt’s largest trading partner in the Latin American continent, with trade exchange rates reaching about $2.5 billion in 2021.

She noted the Brazilian business community enjoys great investment opportunities in the Egyptian market in transportation, spare parts, pharmaceuticals, engineering and textiles. Emergency markets and investment trends include renewable energy.

The forum has been visited by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Osmar Chohfi, president of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, and a large number of ministers, ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic missions.

Gamea invited the Brazilian representatives to visit Egypt, to see the achievements of the Egyptian economy over the past eight years, to identify opportunities for cooperation and to benefit from free trade agreements signed with more than 80 countries that enable companies to produce goods in Egypt and export them without customs duties.

The Egyptian minister said that the free trade agreement between Egypt and the Mercosur countries, which entered into force in 2017, has played a pivotal role in promoting trade with Egypt, especially from Brazil, noting that the agreement contributed to increasing the competitiveness of Egyptian exports and enhancing its access to all countries in the South American trade bloc. 

Gamea said that links with the Brazilian market represent a pivotal focal point in wider market access and marketing goods to neighboring countries.

Gamea added that after the agreement was signed, Egyptian exports to Brazil rose from $155 million in 2017 to $541 million in 2021, pointing out that the agreement provided access to many strategic goods at competitive prices.

The minister congratulated the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce on its 60th anniversary, praising its efforts in supporting economic relations between Arab countries and Brazil.

She also congratulated the chamber on the opening of its regional headquarters in Cairo, which will contribute to strengthening trade relations between the two countries.