Iran nuclear talks restart, with US urging Tehran to take deal

Update Iran nuclear talks restart, with US urging Tehran to take deal
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Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani leaves the Palais Coburg, the venue of nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, on August 4, 2022. (REUTERS/Lisa Leutner)
Update Iran nuclear talks restart, with US urging Tehran to take deal
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Russia’s Governor to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov, center, picks up some papers as he arrives at the Coburg Palais in Vienna on Aug. 4, 2022. (AFP)
Update Iran nuclear talks restart, with US urging Tehran to take deal
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A general view shows Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria, venue of closed-door talks on Iran's nuclear program, which resumed on August 4, 2022. (REUTERS/Lisa Leutner)
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Updated 05 August 2022

Iran nuclear talks restart, with US urging Tehran to take deal

Iran nuclear talks restart, with US urging Tehran to take deal
  • Inspectors report nuclear progress at Iran's Natanz reactor
  • Mullah regime ‘ready to build atomic weapon at will’

VIENNA: Negotiators kicked off a fresh round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna on Thursday, seeking to salvage the agreement on Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
Officials from world powers and Iran were meeting in the Austrian capital for the first time since March, when negotiations, which began in 2021 to reintegrate the United States into the agreement, stalled.
A senior EU official said progress was being made on some of the remaining obstacles, including guarantees that the United States would not scupper the deal by going back on its word in the future.
“We have now quite substantial guarantees,” the official said. “It’s my understanding that Iran is happy and feels satisfied with what is in the text.”
A demand by Tehran that the United States remove the country’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s official blacklist of “foreign terrorist organizations” has been dropped from the discussions, the official added. It will instead be handled “in the future” — after the deal.
Tehran and Washington still have to agree on “issues related to sanctions lifting and a couple of nuclear questions that did not exist in March as the Iranians advanced their program,” the official said.
“We are a bit exhausted, I cannot imagine myself here in four weeks,” the EU source said. “This is not another round, we are here to finalize the text.”
“I think there is a real possibility but it’s not going to be easy.”




Iranian opposition supporters protest in front of the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria, as closed-door nuclear talks with Iran restarted on August 4,2022. (REUTERS/Lisa Leutner)

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday there was “a deal on the table” and Iran “ought to take it.”
“You’ve heard the president say we’re not going to wait forever for Iran to take this deal,” Kirby said, adding that “clearly time does appear to be getting very short in terms of being able to get to a deal.”
In late June, Qatar hosted indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in the hope of getting the process back on track — but those talks failed to make a breakthrough.
In a last-ditch effort, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell submitted a compromise proposal last month and called on the parties to accept it to avoid a “dangerous nuclear crisis.”
Borrell said the draft text includes “hard-won compromises by all sides” and “addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore” the 2015 pact.
Bilateral talks began earlier on Thursday at Vienna’s luxury Palais Coburg hotel under the auspices of the European Union’s representative Enrique Mora.
The Iranian and Russian delegations, which have traditionally been close in the negotiations, held a separate meeting.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the United States signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in July 2015. Delegations from all parties were set to partake in Thursday’s talks, but officials from the US and Iran are not expected to meet face to face.
The JCPOA aims to guarantee the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions.
But following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 under former president Donald Trump and the re-imposition of US sanctions, Tehran has backtracked on its obligations.
Iran subsequently exceeded the JCPOA’s uranium enrichment rate of 3.67 percent, rising to 20 percent in early 2021.
It then crossed an unprecedented 60-percent threshold, getting closer to the 90 percent needed to make a bomb.
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, on Tuesday warned Iran’s program was “moving ahead very, very fast” and “growing in ambition and capacity.”

Cautious optimism
Ahead of Thursday’s talks, officials expressed cautious optimism, while cautioning that the parties remained far apart on key issues.
These include sanctions, Iranian demands for guarantees and the end of a probe by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The head of the US delegation, Rob Malley, and the head of Tehran’s representatives, Ali Bagheri, said on Twitter ahead of the talks that they were coming in good faith but put the onus on each other.
Analysts said reviving the JCPOA remained the best option.
“The last thing the United States needs is a nuclear crisis with Iran that could easily escalate to a broader regional conflict,” Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said in a statement.
Ellie Geranmayeh, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), said that “at the end of the day, Tehran and Washington know the alternatives to a JCPOA collapse are terrible.”
“This is unlikely to be a meeting that resolves the outstanding issues,” but “it could create the breakthrough necessary to push the talks toward a finishing line rather than a collapse,” she said.
 

 


Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction

Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction
Updated 56 min 6 sec ago

Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction

Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction
  • The airport, which was heavily damaged in the battle, had been disused since the extremists seized Mosul and adjacent areas in 2014

MOSUL: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi on Wednesday inaugurated the reconstruction of Mosul international airport, still in disrepair five years after the battle that expelled Daesh from the city.
Entire sectors of the northern metropolis have remained in ruins since the July 2017 recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led multinational coalition.
The airport, which was heavily damaged in the battle, has been disused since the extremists seized Mosul and adjacent areas in 2014.
Kadhemi, in an official ceremony at the airport on the southern outskirts of Mosul, laid the foundation stone for its renovation.
Airport director Haider Ali told AFP that the reconstruction has been assigned to two Turkish companies and is expected to take 24 months.
Despite the slow pace of reconstruction, the city of 1.5 million inhabitants has regained a semblance of normality: shops have reopened, traffic jams are back and international agencies have been funding restoration projects for historic sites.
But huge challenges remain.
At the end of 2021, the Red Cross estimated that 35 percent of west Mosul residents and less than 15 percent in east Mosul, which bore the brunt of the fighting, have enough water to meet their daily needs.
Kadhemi, quoted in a statement issued by his office, said that “huge efforts” were being made to rebuild the city.
In January, a provincial official spoke of a $266-million budget for major reconstruction projects, notably in the health, education and transport sectors for 2021-2022, according to the state news agency INA.


Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’
Updated 10 August 2022

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’
  • The satellite, called Khayyam, was launched into space from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal

TEHRAN: Iran dismissed as “childish” Wednesday claims by the United States that an Iranian satellite launched by Russia is intended for spying.
The satellite, called Khayyam, was launched into space on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Responding to the launch, Washington said Russia’s growing cooperation with Iran should be viewed as a “profound threat.”
“We are aware of reports that Russia launched a satellite with significant spying capabilities on Iran’s behalf,” a US State Department spokesperson said.
The head of Iran’s Space Agency, Hassan Salarieh, told reporters Wednesday that the spying allegation was “basically childish.”
“Sometimes, some comments are made to incite tensions; saying that we want to spy with the Khayyam satellite... is basically childish,” he said.
“The Khayyam satellite is entirely designed and built to meet the needs of the country in crisis and urban management, natural resources, mines, agriculture and so on.”
Ahead of the launch, there was speculation that Russia might borrow Iran’s satellite temporarily to boost its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine.
Last week, The Washington Post quoted anonymous Western intelligence officials as saying that Russia “plans to use the satellite for several months or longer” to assist its war effort before allowing Iran to take control.
Iran’s space agency stressed on Sunday that it would control the satellite “from day one” in an apparent reaction to the Post’s report.
The purpose of Khayyam is to “monitor the country’s borders,” enhance agricultural productivity and monitor water resources and natural disasters, according to the space agency.
Khayyam is not the first Iranian satellite that Russia has put into space.
In 2005, Iran’s Sina-1 satellite was deployed from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal, or any other international agreement.
Western governments worry that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, something Iran has always denied wanting to build.
Iran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from the United States.


Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower
Updated 10 August 2022

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower
  • ‘There were screams and we heard explosions from every direction,’ survivor tells Daily Telegraph
  • 3-day bombing of Gaza last week killed 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and injured hundreds

LONDON: An Israeli missile strike on a block of offices and apartments in Gaza City destroyed homes and killed innocents, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper’s on-the-ground correspondents James Rothwell and Siham Shamalakh reported from Palestine Tower, where residents were forced to “move in darkness” following an Israeli airstrike on Friday that left death and destruction.

The reporters found “clothes, sofas and other fragments of their lives … buried under collapsed walls.”

They added: “In one room, which belonged to a family of eight, blood is smeared across a wall. The air is heavy with smoke and an acrid, chemical smell which residents suspect was left by the missiles.”

The destruction came as Israel launched its biggest attack on the Palestinian territory since May 2021. The missile strike on Friday assassinated Tayseer Al-Jabari, a commander with Islamic Jihad.

Khalil Kanoon, who lives in the tower, told the Telegraph that he and his family were sitting down for lunch when the missiles hit. He reported seven missiles slamming into the building, where he lives with his family.

“My mother, my wife and I were in the kitchen and my children were playing in the bedroom,” said Kanoon.

“I was telling my wife that it seemed Israel was about to strike Gaza, and before I finished the sentence we heard a very big explosion and the windows blew out. There were screams and we heard explosions from every direction.”

Kanoon told the Telegraph that he and his family escaped the destruction, running through shattered glass barefoot, but his mother was wounded in the hand.

He added that the residents, left homeless and with little hope of urgent rehousing, were unaware that Al-Jabari was in the tower and were not pre-warned of the attack.

The airstrike on the tower was the opening attack in a three-day bombardment that killed 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and injured hundreds.

Israel said it had intelligence of imminent attacks so had to launch the airstrike to stop Islamic Jihad from assaulting Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip.

The ceasefire, introduced on Sunday night, has done little to calm the frayed nerves of the tower’s residents.

Kanoon told the Telegraph: “We condemn this unjustified Israeli strike with so many bombs targeting civilians on a weekend, where they were not pre-warned. We are calling for the buildings to be rebuilt so we can go back to our apartments.”

He added: “The situation is very hard, some families will have to rent (elsewhere), some are staying with relatives and some have nowhere to go. We also want psychological support.”

The Telegraph also visited Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where doctors told the reporters that they were mostly treating lower-limb wounds and head injuries.

“The healthcare system is exposed to collapse, even if there had been no aggression. Every year it is worse,” said Dr. Hani Sami Al-Haytham, chairman of Shifa’s accident and emergency department.

He added: “The ultrasound was donated by the Red Cross, but it is out of order and we have no alternative because of the repeated power cuts ... If the power keeps going off this causes malfunctions.”

The Telegraph said several children had been left with life-changing injuries, including 11-year-old Rahaf Suleiman, whose feet and arm had to be amputated.

Ghassan Abu Ramadan, a 65-year-old retired engineer who was injured in the strikes, said: “You can’t imagine the explosion. We can’t believe we survived.”


UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh

UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh
Updated 10 August 2022

UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh

UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh

The UAE has called on United Nations organizations to stop using the term ‘Islamic State’ when referring to Da’esh, during the UN Security Council in New York, arguing that the extremists should not be associated with the religion. 
UAE Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, Mohamed Abushahab said ijn his address that organizations should not “permit Daesh and other groups to hijack a religion of tolerance and give credence to their pretences.”  
“There is nothing Islamic about terrorism,” he added. 

Abushahab’s statement came as the UN recognized that the threat posed by Daesh and its affiliates remained ‘global and evolving’. 
“Daesh and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to incite, plan and organize terrorist attacks,” said UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov, as he presented the Secretary-General’s fifteenth report. 
Abushahab stressed that the fight against terrorism went beyond Daesh, as the ‘fight against Al-Qaeda remains a global priority’ especially after ‘the organization enters a leadership vacuum, following the death of Ayman Al-Zawahiri.’ 
During his address, he said technology could be a “double-edged sword” that can be used to improve people’s quality of life in one respect, but misused by terrorist groups in the other. 
Abushahab said ‘emerging technologies have tremendous potential to aid in efforts to prevent counter, and address terrorism.’ 
And he said the council ‘must focus on preventing the emergence of the next generation of terrorists and extremists,’ referring to the recruitment of children at refugee camps. 
“At Al-Hol camp, more than 25,000 children are at potential risk of radicalization,” said Abushahab. “Genuine efforts must be made to give these children hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future.” 
He concluded his remarks by calling on the international community to ‘seize this opportunity and act now’ to eliminate Daesh and other terrorist groups.


Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks

Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks
Updated 10 August 2022

Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks

Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks

CAIRO: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed the latest regional developments, particularly the situation in the Gaza Strip, where Cairo brokered a truce that ended last week’s fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

During the phone call, Sheikh Tamim and El-Sisi also discussed measures to strengthen bilateral ties.

The emir expressed his gratitude for Egypt’s efforts to strengthen regional peace and security.