Envoy: Saudi Arabia deeply concerned over Iran’s lack of transparency with IAEA 

Envoy: Saudi Arabia deeply concerned over Iran’s lack of transparency with IAEA 
For Saudi Arabia, only cooperation among nations can lead to prosperity and stability, says Kingdom's UN envoy Abdulaziz Al-Wasil (left) at nuclear weapons treaty review. (Twitter: @ksamissionun)
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Updated 04 August 2022

Envoy: Saudi Arabia deeply concerned over Iran’s lack of transparency with IAEA 

Envoy: Saudi Arabia deeply concerned over Iran’s lack of transparency with IAEA 
  • Ambassador Abdulaziz Al-Wasil: Goal of Middle East free of nuclear weapons still hampered by Israel’s refusal to join treaty
  • Saudi Arabia's new envoy to the UN was speaking at NPT Review Conference in New York 

UNITED NATIONS: Iran’s lack of transparency with international nuclear inspectors, and its non-compliance with obligations under international nuclear agreements, constitute a threat to the non-proliferation regime and to international peace and security, according to Saudi Arabia’s new permanent representative to the UN, Abdulaziz Al-Wasil. 

The ambassador expressed his country’s “deep concerns” over Iran’s nuclear program, citing the recent International Atomic Energy Report which cast doubt on the supposed peaceful nature of Tehran’s plans. 

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports all international efforts to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons,” he said. 

Al-Wasil was speaking at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. State parties to the NPT gather every five years in New York to review the landmark, 50-year-old treaty, and the implementation of its provisions: Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, destroying existing nuclear arsenals to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world, and promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 

The last review took place in 2015, the year the Iran Nuclear Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed. The current summit was supposed to take place in 2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Al-Wasil, who was elected vice president of the conference, said his country ascribed great importance to the NPT as a cornerstone treaty aimed at creating a world free of nuclear weapons. Saudi support for the treaty proceeds from the Kingdom’s belief that only peaceful cooperation between nations can lead to prosperity and stability. 

The 1995 NPT Review Conference adopted a resolution on the Middle East, calling on states to take practical steps towards the establishment of the Middle East Weapon of Mass Destruction Free Zone. Member agreement was seen as key to securing the indefinite extension of the NPT.

The 1995 resolution on the Middle East remains valid until its objectives are realized, said Al-Wasil, stressing the collective responsibility of freeing the Middle East from nuclear weapons, while reiterating the Kingdom’s steadfast opposition to the proliferation of such weapons. 

Al-Wasil thanked Kuwait for presiding over the second session of the Conference on Establishing a Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East, convened under the aegis of the UN, based on the 1995 NPT resolution, which aimed at negotiating a binding treaty toward that goal. 

He reiterated his country’s regret that the 2012 conference, called for by the Middle East plan of action in the final outcome document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, was never convened, stressing that such a decision now represents “one of the solutions that the international community is expected to activate in light of the failure of other international frameworks, in particular the JCPOA, to  deter Iran from practices that threaten non-proliferation in the region.”

Another obstacle to achieving the universality of the NPT is Israel’s continued refusal to join the treaty, said Al-Wasil.

“This cannot be overlooked, because one of the pillars of the NPT is that it provides non-nuclear states with security safeguards against the use of atomic energy for non-peaceful purposes,” he said. “This guarantee is still missing in the Middle East so long as Israel refuses to join the treaty and subject all its nuclear facilities to the IAEA safeguards regime, ignoring the resolutions of the NPT Review Conferences.” 

Al-Wasil also voiced his appreciation for the IAEA and its director general for their efforts in improving the agency’s capabilities to enhance its role in verifying and monitoring the integrity of state parties’ nuclear programs.

The Saudi envoy also spoke of states’ right to develop peaceful nuclear programs, reaffirming his country’s commitment to a national policy that emphasizes the highest standards of transparency and reliability in the development of atomic energy for civilian purposes. 

He also stressed the importance of compliance of all state parties with all the provisions of the NPT, and the placement of all nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s safeguard system for atomic energy.


Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN
Updated 11 August 2022

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN
  • President Mahmoud Abbas to make the case for enhanced status at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23

RAMALLAH: Palestinian leaders have launched a new diplomatic drive to obtain full membership of the UN.

The campaign will culminate with a landmark speech by President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, in which he will make the case for enhanced status.

“In the absence of a political path and hope for the Palestinians to end the occupation, they have no choice but to resort to the UN to enhance the status of Palestine as a state and the Palestinians as a people on their land under occupation,” Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Arab News on Wednesday.

The UN granted Palestine non-member observer state status at a historic vote in the General Assembly in November 2012, when 138 countries voted in favor, 9 opposed it, and 41 abstained. The resolution included “the hope that the Security Council will consider positively” accepting the request for full membership. Abbas submitted this in September 2011, but it fell in the Security Council because the US threatened to use its veto.

Fatah official Sabri Saidem told Arab News that France had encouraged the Palestinians to demand full membership of the UN, and Sweden and Ireland had expressed their unconditional support for the move. He said the Palestinians would now seek more Arab and international support.

UN membership was “a long-awaited entitlement, especially with the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, the failure of US President Joe Biden’s administration to implement its vision in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and double standards when it comes to Palestine and Ukraine," he said.

 

 


Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital
Updated 11 August 2022

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

SANAA, Yemen: Heavy rains lashing Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, which dates back to ancient times, have in recent days collapsed 10 buildings in the Old City, the country’s Houthi rebels said Wednesday.
At least 80 other buildings have been heavily damaged in the rains and are in need of urgent repairs, said the rebels, who have controlled Sanaa since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war more than eight years ago.
The Old City of Sanaa is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the area believed to have been inhabited for more than 2 millennia. Its architecture is unique, with foundations and first stories built of stone, and subsequent stories out of brick — deemed to be some of the world’s first high-rises.
The buildings have red brick facades adorned with white gypsum molding in ornate patterns, drawings comparisons to gingerbread houses — a style that has come to symbolize Yemen’s capital. Many of the houses are still private homes and some are more than 500 years old.
In a statement, Abdullah Al-Kabsi, the culture minister in the Houthi administration, said the rebels are working with international organizations and seeking help in dealing with the destruction. There were no immediate reports of dead or injured from the collapses.
The houses had withstood centuries but this season’s intense rains have proved too much for the iconic structures. Bricks and wooden beams now make for massive piles of rubble in between still-standing structures.
The rains show no signs of letting up.
“I get scared when I hear the rain and pray to God because I am afraid that my house will collapse over me,” Youssef Al-Hadery, a resident of the Old City said.


Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows
Updated 10 August 2022

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows
  • Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 45 percent of its wheat needs came from Ukraine and Russia
  • Importers are unable to store significant amounts of wheat due to infrastructure limitations at Yemeni ports

ADEN: Yemen has secured enough wheat to cover two-and-a-half months of consumption, a commerce ministry document dated Aug. 4 showed, as global disruptions and local currency instability risk deepening the war-torn country’s hunger crisis.
A review by the internationally recognized government in Aden showed 176,400 tons of wheat available — 70,400 stockpiled and 106,000 booked for August/September delivery — according to the document.
This is in addition to 32,300 tons of wheat available from the United Nations, which feeds some 13 million people a month in Yemen, the document showed.
Yemen is grappling with a dire humanitarian crisis that has left millions hungry in the seven-year conflict that divided the country and wrecked the economy. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 45 percent of its wheat needs came from Ukraine and Russia.
HSA Group, one of Yemen’s largest food conglomerates, said it had booked around 250,000 tons of wheat from Romania and France, sufficient to supply the market until mid-October, and that it is looking to secure a further 110,000 tons.
“Following the announcement of the Ukraine grain deal, we are currently looking to secure Ukrainian wheat for the Yemeni market if it remains affordable and accessible,” an HSA spokesperson, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal last month to restart exports from Ukraine, cut off since Russia’s February invasion, which could ease grain shortages that have driven up global prices. So far, however, there have not been any shipments of wheat.
Yemeni importers are unable to store significant amounts of wheat due to infrastructure limitations at Yemen ports and the country’s limited storage capacity, the HSA spokesperson said, and therefore the firm books new shipments every 2-3 weeks depending on availability and global prices.
Another issue facing importers is Yemen’s foreign reserves shortage and a serious devaluation of the currency in some parts of the country, where food price inflation has soared.
The Aden-based central bank has put in place an auction mechanism to ease access to foreign currency, but no import financing mechanism is currently in place to support the market.


Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast
Updated 10 August 2022

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast
  • The decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two MPs
  • Compensation of 100 billion Lebanese pounds is being sought

BEIRUT: Judicial authorities in Lebanon Wednesday ordered the temporary seizure of the property of two deputies in the case of the deadly explosion which destroyed Beirut port two years ago.
“Judge Najah Itani has issued a temporary seizure order worth 100 billion Lebanese pounds on the property of MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter,” a judicial source told AFP.
The source said the decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two for having “used their rights... in an arbitrary manner by filing complaints intended to hinder the investigation.”
Compensation of 100 billion Lebanese pounds is being sought.
On Thursday, crisis-hit Lebanon marked two years since the massive port blast ripped through Beirut.
The dockside blast of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate, one of history’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and decimated vast areas of the capital.
After the tragedy, the bar launched legal proceedings against the state on behalf of nearly 1,400 families of victims.
However, an investigation into the cause has been stalled amid political interference and no state official has yet been held accountable over the tragedy.
Khalil and Zeaiter, of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal party, filed a total of 20 complaints against Judge Tareq Bitar for obstructing the investigation which he himself was carrying out.
Politicians on all sides have refused to be questioned by the judge.
Officials close to the powerful Hezbollah movement have also curtailed Bitar’s work with a series of lawsuits.
His investigation has been paused since December 23.
On Thursday’s second anniversary of the blast, relatives of victims demanded an international inquiry.


Syria says Daesh leader killed in south

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south
Updated 10 August 2022

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south
  • Security forces carried out a "special operation" in the Daraa area that led to the death of "the terrorist Abu Salem al-Iraqi"
  • The security source said Iraqi had been the military chief of the extremist group in the country's south

DAMASCUS: A leader of Daesh group blew himself up in southern Syria after being surrounded by government forces, state media reported on Wednesday, citing a security source.
The official SANA news agency said security forces carried out a “special operation” in the Daraa area that led to the death of “the terrorist Abu Salem Al-Iraqi.”
Iraqi “triggered his explosive belt after being surrounded and wounded,” the agency said.
The security source said Iraqi had been the military chief of the extremist group in the country’s south.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, which has a vast network of sources on the ground, said Iraqi died on Tuesday.
It said he had been hiding out in the area since 2018, and had taken part in killings and attacks there.
Daraa province has mostly been under regime control since 2018, but rebel groups still control some areas under a truce deal agreed with Russia, an ally of Damascus.
After a meteoric rise in 2014 in Iraq and Syria that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory, Daesh saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapse under a wave of offensives.
It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist Sunni Muslim group still carry out attacks in both countries.
Syria’s war began in 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.