Iran and US swap threats at UNSC meeting while Israel urges ‘all possible sanctions’ over attack

Update Iran and US swap threats at UNSC meeting while Israel urges ‘all possible sanctions’ over attack
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Iran’s UN Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, top left, listens as Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdan addresses the United Nations Security Council during an emergency meeting at UN headquarters on April 14, 2024. (AP)
Update Iran and US swap threats at UNSC meeting while Israel urges ‘all possible sanctions’ over attack
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Update Iran and US swap threats at UNSC meeting while Israel urges ‘all possible sanctions’ over attack
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Security Council during an emergency meeting at UN headquarters on April 14, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 15 April 2024
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Iran and US swap threats at UNSC meeting while Israel urges ‘all possible sanctions’ over attack

Iran and US swap threats at UNSC meeting while Israel urges ‘all possible sanctions’ over attack
  • Iran envoy: If US attacks Iran, Tehran will use ‘its inherent right to respond proportionately’
  • US ambassador: If Iran attacks US, it will be held responsible

NEW YORK: Iran on Sunday said it has no intention of engaging militarily with the US in the region but will “use its inherent right to respond proportionately” if the latter initiates a military operation against it, its citizens, or security interests.

Amir Saeid Iravani, Iran’s permanent representative to the UN, told a meeting of the organization’s Security Council on Sunday that his country’s attack on Israel was “precise, only targeted military objectives and was carried out carefully to minimize the potential for escalation and prevents civilian harm.”

On Saturday, Iran launched dozens of drones and missiles in retaliation against an Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus which killed seven revolutionary guards, including two generals. Iran had warned Israel would be “punished” for the strike, which took place on April 1.

Sunday’s emergency meeting was requested by Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who called council members to “unequivocally condemn Iran (and) immediately act to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.”

Iran said that Saturday’s attack was in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which invokes the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

US ambassador Robert Wood warned that “if Iran or its proxies take actions against the United States or further action against Israel, Iran will be held responsible.”

Wood condemned “the unprecedented attack on Israel by Iran and its militant proxies and partners” in the strongest terms. Iran’s “reckless actions” not only posed a threat to populations in Israel, he said, but also to other UN member states in the region, including Jordan and Iraq.

The diplomat added: “Security Council has an obligation to not let Iran’s actions go unanswered. For far too long, Iran has flagrantly violated its international legal obligations through the actions of its IRGC, by arming Hezbollah, by arming, facilitating and enabling Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE and, more recently, merchant and commercial shipping in the Red Sea.”

Wood also accused Iran of being complicit in the October 7 attack on Israel, having provided “significant funding and training for Hamas.”

He said the US would explore “additional measures to hold Iran accountable at the UN,” and called on the Security Council to unequivocally condemn Iran’s actions and call for it “and its partners and proxies to cease their attacks.”

Israel’s Gilad Erdan compared Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler. He said that in its “plot to impose a global Shiite hegemony through its proxies, Iran has even attacked Saudi Arabia, the Aramco oil field in the UAE and anyone else they view as an obstacle.”

He told the UNSC: “The only option is to condemn Iran and utilize every means necessary to make them pay a heavy price for their horrible crimes,” and warned that Tehran was “barreling towards nuclear capabilities, has enriched uranium up to 60 percent purity, and its breakout time to produce nuclear weapons is now mere weeks away.”

“Impose sanctions on Iran before it is too late,” said Erdan, adding: “We are being fired upon from all fronts, from every border. We are surrounded by Iran’s terror proxies. The war in Gaza extends far broader than Israel and Hamas. All of the terror groups attacking Israel are tentacles of the same Shia octopus, the Iranian octopus.”




Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan shows a video of the Iran missile attack during a meeting of the Security Council on Middle East security on April 14, 2024. (REUTERS)

He warned that “while the Ayatollah regime thinks Israel is a frog in boiling water, they are wrong. This attack crossed every red line and Israel reserves the legal right to retaliate. We are a nation of lions. Following such a massive and direct attack on Israel, the entire world — let alone Israel — cannot settle for inaction.”

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzia accused the council of hypocrisy and double standards over its failure to convene in a similar fashion following Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, or what he called the “now regular attacks by Israel against Syria and Lebanon.”

The Russian envoy warned: “If the council’s inaction on such matters will continue, then your appeals to restraint by all parties can become futile.”




Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the Security Council of hypocrisy and double standard for not convening in a similar fashion following Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. (Getty Images/AFP)

China’s deputy permanent representative Dai Bing noted Iran’s statement that its military action was in response to Israel’s aggression and “the matter can be deemed concluded.”

Dai added: “If the flames of the Gaza conflict are allowed to continue raging, then the adverse spillover is set to spread still further, making the region even more unstable. Countries and peoples in the Middle East have no desire for, nor can they afford, a larger conflict or war.”

Nacim Gaouaoui, Algeria’s deputy permanent representative, said recent developments could not overrule the central question “which is the aggression on the Palestinian people in Gaza, and at the same time, it can never be used as a pretext or cover to launch a land attack against Rafah. Algeria calls again for ceasefire, and an end to Israel’s heinous killing machine.”

Slovenia condemned Saturday’s events in the same way it condemned the attack on the Iranian consulate.

Slovenia’s permanent representative to the UN Samuel Zbogar urged all parties to “choose the path of dialog and diplomacy and refrain from further retaliations.”

He said: “The sequence of these events accelerates the spiral of violence, escalating into a broader conflict of unpredictable scope. Slovenia continues to believe that a ceasefire in Gaza would have a calming effect on tensions in the region. Every moment we delay, the risk of a broader conflict increases in these chaotic times.”

Malta’s UN ambassador, Vanessa Frazier, said the Middle East was experiencing “one of the bleakest and most volatile periods in modern history, which risks spiraling out of control if all sides do not take a step back.

“Focus should be on defusing tensions by advocating for an immediate and permanent ceasefire to the war in Gaza, facilitating immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and ensuring the delivery of sustained humanitarian aid throughout Gaza. All we are witnessing are steps in the opposite direction,” she told the meeting.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone’s UN ambassador, Michael Imran Kanu, warned that “the escalating tension in the Middle East is dangerous and unprecedented, with the potential to destabilize not only the entire region, but impact global peace and security.”

The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Barbara Woodward, condemned Iran’s attack on Israel and accused Tehran of being intent on sowing chaos in the region.




Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward, addressing the Security Council meeting, accused Iran of being intent on sowing chaos in the Middle East region. (AP)

“As we have demonstrated, the United Kingdom will continue to stand up for Israel’s security, and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq.”

Nathalie Broadhurst, France’s deputy permanent representative, said Iran crossed a new threshold in its destabilizing action and was risking a military escalation for which “it would be responsible.”


Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces

Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces
Updated 11 sec ago
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Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces

Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces
  • In raw numbers, more than 1 million claims have been granted to veterans since Biden signed the so-called PACT Act into law in August 2022, the administration said Tuesday

NASHUA, N.H.: President Joe Biden, aiming to highlight his legislative accomplishments this election year, traveled to New Hampshire on Tuesday to discuss how he’s helped military veterans get benefits as a result of burn pit or other toxic exposure during their service.
“We can never fully thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made,” Biden said to the veterans and their families gathered at a YMCA. “In America, we leave no veteran behind. That’s our motto.”
In raw numbers, more than 1 million claims have been granted to veterans since Biden signed the so-called PACT Act into law in August 2022, the administration said Tuesday. That amounts to about 888,000 veterans and survivors in all 50 states who have been able to receive disability benefits under the law.
That totals about $5.7 billion in benefits given to veterans and their survivors, according to the administration.
“The president, I think, has believed now for too long, too many veterans who got sick serving and fighting for our country had to fight the VA for their care, too,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters on Monday. PACT stands for “Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics.”
The PACT Act is relatively lower profile compared to the president’s other legislative accomplishments — such as a bipartisan infrastructure law and a sweeping tax, climate and health care package — but it is one that is deeply personal for Biden.
He has blamed burn pits for the brain cancer that killed his son, Beau, who served in Iraq, and has vowed repeatedly that he would get the PACT Act into law. Burn pits are where chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste were disposed of on military bases and were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before the law, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied 70 percent of disability claims that involved burn pit exposure. Now, the law requires the VA to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pit or other toxic exposure without veterans having to prove the link.
Before Biden’s planned remarks, he went to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The president met there with Lisa Clark, an Air Force veteran who is receiving benefits through the PACT Act because her late husband, Senior Master Sergeant Carl Clark, was exposed to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, marked the milestone by praising the veterans who advocated for the law.
“For far too long, our nation failed to honor its promises to our veterans exposed to toxins in military conflicts across the globe— until we fought like hell alongside veterans to finally get the PACT Act signed into law,” Tester, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said.


Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza

Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza
Updated 9 min 49 sec ago
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Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza

Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza
  • The United States is not a member of the court, but has supported past prosecutions, including the ICC’s decision last year to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is willing to work with Congress to respond to the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders over the Gaza war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, amid Republican calls for US sanctions against court officials.
Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Blinken called the move “profoundly wrong-headed” and said it would complicate the prospects of reaching a hostage deal and a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s defense chief and three Hamas leaders “bear criminal responsibility” for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Both President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and his political opponents have sharply criticized Khan’s announcement, arguing the court does not have jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict and raising concerns over process.
The United States is not a member of the court, but has supported past prosecutions, including the ICC’s decision last year to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.
“We’ll be happy to work with Congress, with this committee, on an appropriate response” to the ICC move, Blinken said on Tuesday.
He did not say what a response to the ICC move might include.
In a later hearing, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Blinken he hoped to work together with the administration to express the United States’ opposition to the ICC prosecutor.
“What I hope to happen is that we level sanctions against the ICC for this outrage, to not only help our friends in Israel but protect ourself over time,” said Graham.
Republican members of Congress have previously threatened legislation to impose sanctions on the ICC, but a measure cannot become law without support from President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, who control the Senate.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration accused the ICC of infringing on US national sovereignty when it authorized an investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The US targeted court staff, including then-prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, with asset freezes and travel bans.


UK minister accused of ‘witch hunt’ against pro-Palestine movement

UK minister accused of ‘witch hunt’ against pro-Palestine movement
Updated 21 May 2024
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UK minister accused of ‘witch hunt’ against pro-Palestine movement

UK minister accused of ‘witch hunt’ against pro-Palestine movement
  • Michael Gove: University encampments represent ‘antisemitism repurposed for Instagram age’
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Britain ‘complicit’ in ‘genocide in Gaza’

LONDON: The UK’s secretary of state for leveling up, housing and communities has been accused of conducting a “witch hunt” after accusing pro-Palestinian demonstrators of antisemitism.
Political parties and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemned Michael Gove, with the Revolutionary Communist Party calling his accusations an attempt to distract from the Conservatives’ “support for genocide” in Gaza.
The Socialist Workers Party said he is conducting a “witch hunt (against) the Palestine solidarity movement.”
Gove announced plans to make protest organizers foot the cost of policing at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, saying they are not doing enough to stop some attendees spreading anti-Jewish messages.
“Many of those on these marches are thoughtful, gentle, compassionate people — driven by a desire for peace and an end to suffering. But they are side by side with those who are promoting hate,” he added.
“The organizers of these marches could do everything in their power to stop that. They don’t.”
Gove also said pro-Palestinian university encampments across the UK represent “antisemitism repurposed for the Instagram age,” and their presence has facilitated hostility against Jewish students on campuses.
Ben Jamal, PSC director, said in a statement: “Apologists for Israel’s genocidal violence and system of apartheid have lost the democratic and legal arguments, but continue to attempt to delegitimize Palestinian solidarity. They will not succeed.
“At a moment when Israel is on trial in the world’s highest court for the crime of genocide and the day after its Prime Minister has been threatened with ICC (International Criminal Court) arrest warrants for war crimes, it is grotesque that these smears continue.
“The real issues are that the UK government continues to arm Israel, refuses to resume funding to UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), and is attempting to protect Israel from legal accountability.
“Far from stopping the genocide in Gaza as required under international law, the UK is complicit.”


NGOs seek climate trial of French oil giant TotalEnergies

NGOs seek climate trial of French oil giant TotalEnergies
Updated 21 May 2024
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NGOs seek climate trial of French oil giant TotalEnergies

NGOs seek climate trial of French oil giant TotalEnergies
  • The complaint was filed at Paris judicial court days before TotalEnergies holds annual shareholders meeting
  • The offenses carry prison sentences ranging between one year to five years and fines of as much as $163,000

PARIS: NGOs filed a criminal complaint against French oil giant TotalEnergies and its top shareholders in Paris on Tuesday, seeking a trial for involuntary manslaughter and other consequences of climate change “chaos.”
The case targets the company’s board, including chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, and major shareholders that backed its climate strategy, including US investment firm BlackRock and Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank.
In a statement, the three NGOs and eight individuals said they accused the group of “deliberately endangering the lives of others, involuntary manslaughter, neglecting to address a disaster, and damaging biodiversity.”
The complaint was filed at the Paris judicial court, which has environmental and health departments, three days before TotalEnergies holds its annual shareholders meeting.
The prosecutor now has three months to decide whether to open a judicial investigation, the NGOs said. If it does not go ahead, the plaintiffs can take their case directly before an investigative judge.
The offenses carry prison sentences ranging between one year to five years and fines of as much as 150,000 euros ($163,000).
“This legal action could set a precedent in the history of climate litigation as it opens the way to holding fossil fuel producers and shareholders responsible before criminal courts for the chaos caused by climate change,” the NGOs said.
The plaintiffs include “victims or survivors of climate-related disasters” in Australia, Belgium, France, Greece, Pakistan, the Philippines and Zimbabwe.
TotalEnergies did not immediately return a request for comment.
Oil and gas companies, other corporations and governments are facing a growing number of legal cases related to the climate crisis worldwide.
TotalEnergies is facing other legal cases in France related to climate change.
Outside the Paris judicial court, the NGOs held a banner reading “climate change kills” and “let’s put shareholders behind bars” — with the “share” in shareholders crossed out and replaced by the “death.”
The latest complaint aims to “recognize the deadly consequences of their decisions, their stubbornness in voting for fossil projects which threaten the stability of the climate and therefore of all living things,” Claire Nouvian, founding director of conservation group Bloom, said at a news conference.
Fossil fuels — oil, gas and coal — are the biggest contributors to heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the plaintiffs in the Paris case is Benjamin Van Bunderen Robberechts, a 17-year-old Belgian whose friend Rosa died in flash floods in Belgium at the age of 15 in 2021.
In Paris to file the complaint, he said he had come to “demand justice” against those “who choose profit over human lives and climate.”
In their statement, the plaintiffs said “TotalEnergies has known the direct link between its activities and climate change” since at least 1971.
“TotalEnergies followed a climate skeptic line in order to waste time, delay decision-making and protect its increasing investments in fossil fuels,” they added.
They said they hope to set a legal precedent “whereby opening new fossil fuel projects would be considered criminal.”
While the case was filed on Tuesday, TotalEnergies announced a deepwater project off the coast of Angola, with production set to start in 2028 to extract 70,000 barrels per day.


Gunmen kill around 40 people in attack in northcentral Nigeria: official

Gunmen kill around 40 people in attack in northcentral Nigeria: official
Updated 21 May 2024
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Gunmen kill around 40 people in attack in northcentral Nigeria: official

Gunmen kill around 40 people in attack in northcentral Nigeria: official
  • Armed men invaded Zurak community, shooting sporadically and torching houses
  • Local youth leader Shafi’i Sambo also said at least 42 people had been killed in the raid

LAGOS: Gunmen riding motorbikes killed around 40 people in a raid on a mining community in northcentral Nigeria, opening fire on residents and torching homes, the local government said on Tuesday.
The attack late on Monday on Wase district in Plateau state was the latest violence in an area which has long been a flashpoint for disputes over resources and for outbreaks of intercommunal clashes.
Armed men invaded Zurak community, shooting sporadically and torching houses, Plateau state commissioner for information Musa Ibrahim Ashoms told AFP by telephone.
“As we speak, about 40 people have been confirmed dead. Zurak is a popular mining community,” he said.
Local youth leader Shafi’i Sambo also said at least 42 people had been killed in the raid.
Wase has deposits of zinc and lead, while Plateau as a whole is known for its tin mining industry.
Sitting on the dividing line between Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, Plateau often sees outbreaks of violence sparked by disputes between nomadic herders and pastoral farmers.
Climate change has also helped escalate tensions over grazing land, water access and other resources such as the state’s metal reserves.
Parts of northwest and northcentral Nigeria have also been terrorized by heavily armed criminal gangs, who raid villages to loot and carry out mass kidnappings for ransom.
In January, intercommunal clashes erupted in Plateau’s Mangu town that left churches and mosques burned, more than 50 people dead and thousands displaced.