Iran Daily congratulates its readers on Norouz, the Persian New Year. The next edition will hit newsstands on April 3. The latest news can be viewed on our website.
Iran’s gas production from South Pars nearly doubled
Iran has nearly doubled gas production from South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, in the past year, said President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday.
Gas production at South Pars increased from 285 million cubic meters to 555 million cubic meters in the year from March 20, 2017, Rouhani was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“We did not need to purchase gas from any country this year for them to try to be fickle or raise prices,” Rouhani said.
Total signed a deal with Tehran last July to develop Phase 11 of South Pars Gas Field at an initial investment of $1 billion. It was the first major Western energy investment in the Islamic Republic since sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program were lifted.
Total will be the operator with a 50.1 percent stake, alongside Chinese state-owned oil and gas company CNPC with 30 percent and National Iranian Oil Company subsidiary Petropars with 19.9 percent.
Separately, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic has received $1.9 billion in foreign investment since Rouhani began his second presidential term last August.
Putin on track for commanding win in Russian election
Russians voted in a presidential election on Sunday that was expected to give Vladimir Putin an easy victory.
Opinion polls give Putin, the incumbent, support of around 70 percent, or nearly 10 times the backing of his nearest challenger..
Another term will take him to nearly a quarter century in power — a longevity among Kremlin leaders second only to Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Many voters credit Putin, a 65-year-old former KGB agent, with standing up for Russia’s interests in what they view as a hostile outside world.
“I voted for Putin,” said Lyubov Kachan, a teacher in the settlement of Ust-Djeguta, in southern Russia.
“If anything is not going our way right now, that’s thanks to the world which treats us so negatively, while he is trying to stand up to that,” she said.
The only real headache for Putin’s campaign was the possibility many voters, including Putin supporters, would not bother to come to the polls because they felt the outcome was already a foregone conclusion.
Putin’s main challenger Alexei Navalny has been barred from taking part in the poll for legal reasons, and the result of the election is in little doubt, with overall turnout likely to provide the only element of surprise.
A total of 107 million Russians are eligible to cast their votes in Sunday’s election in the world’s biggest country.
Many of those who cast their ballots voted for Putin, praising him for lifting the country out of the post-Soviet quagmire.
Of course I’m for Putin, he’s a leader,” said Olga Matyunina, a 65-year-old retired economist.
“After he brought Crimea back, he became a hero to me. Last election I didn’t vote for Putin, I don’t even remember who I voted for.”
At many polling stations the atmosphere was festive, with patriotic songs blasting out of speakers outside and cheap food available to voters.
A day of voting across Russia’s 11 time zones began at 2000 GMT on Saturday on Russia’s eastern edge, in the Pacific coast city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Voting will run until polls close at the westernmost point of Russia, the Kaliningrad region on the Baltic Sea, at 1800 GMT on Sunday.
Casting his ballot in Moscow, Putin said he would be pleased with “any” result that gave him the right to continue serving as president.
Rouhani:Insecurity detrimental to all regional countries
President urges boost in Tehran-Muscat banking cooperation
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on Sunday the spread of insecurity and instability in the Middle East will be highly detrimental to all regional countries.
In a meeting with Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran, Rouhani said Tehran and Muscat shoulder a heavy responsibility vis-à-vis regional issues and must take steps to develop regional peace and stability, Press TV reported.
He described as “very critical and worrying” the ongoing humanitarian situation in Yemen, stressing the importance of dispatching medicine and food to the war-ravaged Yemeni people and making efforts to put an end to their killing.
Rouhani expressed hope that Iran-Oman cooperation would help the Yemeni people and restore peace to the country.
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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi pressed on Rohingya crisis at ASEAN summit
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was pressed about the Rohingya crisis at an ASEAN summit in Sydney Sunday, but the regional bloc stressed it could not intervene and “force an outcome”.
Suu Kyi has been under intense global criticism for her public silence amid a brutal military crackdown that has forced nearly 700,000 of the Muslim-minority Rohingya to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine state for Bangladesh, AFP wrote.
The humanitarian crisis was one of the key topics at a three-day special summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia.
“We discussed the situation in Rakhine state at considerable length today,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the closing press conference.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is this year’s ASEAN chair, said Myanmar’s neighbors were concerned about the ongoing situation but could not “force an outcome”.
Both leaders said they would back efforts to reach a long-term solution to end the crisis, and were supporting humanitarian efforts to help those displaced.
The 10-nation ASEAN prides itself on consensus diplomacy and non-interference in each other’s affairs.
But the exodus has sparked rare tension within the association, and Muslim-majority Malaysia has called for an independent ASEAN-led investigation into allegations of army abuse.
Malaysia’s leader Najib Razak increased the pressure on Suu Kyi Saturday, saying the Rohingya issue could threaten regional security as he warned those affected could fall prey to extremist and terror groups like Daesh.
Rohingya reject return
Meanwhile, a camp leader said Sunday that Rohingya holed up in a border “no man’s land” after fleeing Myanmar will only accept repatriation to their home villages, rejecting any move to transit camps for fear of long-term confinement.
The UN describes it as a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Muslim Rohingya.
Overwhelmed by the influx, Bangladesh wants Myanmar to take them back and the neighbors agreed to start repatriating refugees in January. But so far no Rohingya have returned.
The camp leader told reporters they would not bow to pressure to return or to move forward into Bangladesh.
“We have no intention to enter Bangladesh. We are not Bengali... we are Myanmar original citizens,” Dil Mohamed, 51, told reporters through barbed wire in an interview in “no man’s land”, during a government-steered trip through the Maungdaw border district.
Dil said the villagers – who number around 6,000 – would return to Myanmar only if they are guaranteed safety, compensation for the homes burned down in the army clearance and permission to resettle in their old villages.
China urges US to ‘correct mistake’ on Taiwan
China called on the United States to “correct its mistake” after President Donald Trump approved new rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet with their Taipei counterparts.
US representatives can already travel to democratic Taiwan and Taiwanese officials occasionally visit the White House, but meetings are usually low profile to avoid offending China, AFP wrote.
The “Taiwan Travel Act”, which Trump signed on Friday following its passage in the US Congress, encourages visits between US and Taiwanese officials “at all levels”.
Washington cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 in favor of Beijing under the “one China” policy. But it maintains trade relations with the island and sells it weapons, angering China.
China sees Taiwan as a renegade province and has long stated its desire for reunification.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the bill’s clauses, while not legally binding, “severely violate” the one China principle and send “very wrong signals to the ‘pro-independence’ separatist forces in Taiwan.”
“China is strongly opposed to that,” Lu said in a statement issued on Saturday.
“We urge the US side to correct its mistake, stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way,” he said. The new US law describes Taiwan as “a beacon of democracy” in Asia, and states that “Taiwan’s democratic achievements inspire many countries and people in the region.”
Trump’s signature, announced late on Friday — when the White House usually tries to bury news — comes amid increasing tensions between the mainland and the self-ruled island.
Beijing has cut off official communications with Taipei because President Tsai Ing-wen refuses to acknowledge the democratic island as part of “one China.”
The travel act also comes amid trade tensions between the United States and China as Trump mulls fresh measures that have raised fears of a tit-for-tat trade war.
Rare metals on Mars, Earth implicate colossal impacts
New research revealed that a giant impact on Mars more than four billion years ago would explain the unusual amount of ‘iron loving’ elements in the Red Planet.
Planets form as small dust grains stick together and agglomerate with other grains, leading to bigger bodies termed ‘planetesimals’, phys.org wrote.
These planetesimals continue to collide with each other and are either ejected from the solar system, gobbled up by the Sun, or form a planet.
This is not the end of the story, as planets continue to accrete material well after they have formed.
This process is known as late accretion, and it occurs as leftover fragments of planet formation rain down on the young planets.
Planetary scientist Ramon Brasser of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and geologist Stephen Mojzsis of the University of Colorado, Boulder took a closer look at a colossal impact during Mars’ late accretion that could explain the unusual amount of rare metallic elements in Mars’ mantle, which is the layer below the planet’s crust.
Their recently published paper, ‘A colossal impact enriched Mars’ mantle with noble metals’, appeared in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
When proto-planets accrete enough material, metals such as iron and nickel begin to separate and sink to form the core.
This explained why Earth’s core is mainly composed of iron, and it is expected that elements that readily bond with iron should also mainly exist in the core.
Examples of such ‘iron loving’ elements, known as siderophiles, are gold, platinum and iridium, to name a few.
Just like Mars, however, there are more siderophiles in the Earth’s mantle than would be expected by the process of core formation.
Brasser said, “High pressure experiments indicate that these metals should not be in the mantle.
“These metals don’t like being dissolved in silicate and instead they prefer to sink through the mantle into the Earth’s core.
“The fact that we do have them at all means that they must have arrived after the core and the mantle separated, when it became much more difficult for these metals to reach the core.”
A 2016 paper by Brasser and colleagues conclusively showed that a giant impact is the best explanation for Earth’s high siderophile element abundance.
The amount of siderophiles accumulated during late accretion should be proportional to the ‘gravitational cross section’ of the planet.
This cross section is effectively the cross hairs that an impactor ‘sees’ as it approaches a target planet.
The gravitational cross section
extends beyond the planet itself, as the world’s gravity will direct an object towards it even when the object was not on a direct collision course. This process is called gravitational focusing.
The earlier paper showed that Earth has more siderophiles in the mantle than it should, even according to the gravitational cross section theory.
The scientists explained this by showing that an impact of a lunar-sized body on the Earth (in addition to the event that formed the Moon) would have enriched the mantle with enough siderophiles to explain the current value.
An early giant impact
Analysis of Martian meteorites show that Mars accreted another 0.8 percent by mass (weight percent) of material via late accretion.
In the new paper, Brasser and Mojzsis show that for Mars to have amended its mass by about 0.8 weight percent in a single impact event required a body at least 1,200 kilometers in diameter.
They further argue that such an impact ought to have occurred some time between 4½ and 4⅔ billion years ago.
Studies of zircon crystals in ancient Martian meteorites can be used to date the formation of the Martian crust to before 4⅔ billion years ago.
As such, a giant impact should have caused widespread crustal melting and such a catastrophic event must have occurred before the evidence for the oldest crust.
If the impact occurred as early in the planet’s history as 4½ billion years ago, then the siderophiles should have been stripped away during core formation.
This history provides firm bookend constraints on when the impact happened.
Understanding late accretion is not just important for explaining the siderophile abundance, but also for placing an upper limit on the age of Earth’s biosphere.
Brasser said, “During each impact, a small bit of Earth’s crust is locally melted.
“When the accretion is very intense, almost all of Earth’s crust is molten. As the accretion intensity decreases, the amount of crustal melting also decreases.
“We argue that the earliest time you could form a biosphere is when the accretion is low enough so that less than 50 percent of the crust is molten at any given time.”
The surface of Mars also has an unusual dichotomy, which could be explained by a giant impact.
The southern hemisphere exists as an ancient cratered terrain, and the northern hemisphere appears younger and smoother and was influenced by extensive volcanism.
A giant impact might also have created the Martian Moons, Deimos and Phobos, although an alternative theory is that the highly porous Phobos could be a captured asteroid.
Iran claims three Karate 1 PL silvers
Hamideh Abbas-Ali, Bahman Asgari and the men’s kata team put a fitting end to Iran’s campaign at the third round of competitions of the 2018 Karate 1 Premiere League in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, claiming three prestigious silver medals.
On Sunday, Abbas-Ali, representing Iran in the women’s +68kg kumite contests, squared off against Ayumi Uekusa in the final and settled for a second-spot finish after suffering a defeat against the 25-year-old Japanese.
Also on the final day of the competitions, Asgari was beaten 4-2 by Japan’s Ken Nishimura to collect the men’s -75kg kumite silver.
Additionally, Iran’s three-a-side team comprising Amir-Bahador Tadayyon, Roozbeh Roshani and Soheil Sajedifar grabbed the men’s kata team silver, having suffered a 5-0 defeat in the final against Italy.
Some 683 karatekas, representing 74 countries, participated in the competitions on March 16-18.
Next round of the Premier League will be held in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on April 6-8.
Turkish forces take control of Syria’s Afrin
Turkey’s flag was flying in Syria’s Afrin on Sunday after Turkish troops and Ankara-backed militants chased out Kurdish militia forces to seize control of the northern city.
In a major gain for Ankara’s two-month operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, Turkish-led forces pushed into Afrin apparently unopposed, taking up positions across the city, AFP reported.
The advance came as Syria’s war entered its eighth year this week. In Afrin, Turkish forces and their Syrian militant allies took all neighborhoods of the city after they made a lightning advance inside on Sunday.
Civilians were seen fleeing the city and plumes of smoke rose into the sky as mines exploded.
Around 250,000 civilians had left in recent days after pro-Ankara militants all but surrounded the city, fleeing southward to territory still held by the YPG or controlled by the Syrian regime.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey-backed militants had taken control of the city center at 8:30 a.m. (0530 GMT). The Turkish leader has said the operation could move on to other Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria. “Our work is not finished.... but terrorism is finished in Afrin,” Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said on Twitter.
“Their project of creating a terrorism corridor and a terrorist state has been thwarted.”
Residents said it appeared that YPG units had withdrawn from the city without a fight.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor relying on sources on the ground, says more than 280 civilians have been killed since the campaign began on January 20 – including 16 at a hospital on Friday. The observatory said Sunday that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters had been killed since the start of the offensive on January 20, most of them in airstrikes and artillery fire. More than 400 pro-Ankara militants have also been killed, it said. The Turkish military says 46 Turkish soldiers have died.
Iranians preparing for Norouz celebrations
Meaning of Norouz
In the Persian language, Norouz is taken from No (new) and rouz (day). It means ‘new day’, symbolizing new life, and new beginnings. Every year, Norouz coincides with the start of spring and traditionally celebrates the rebirth of nature. It also coincides with the spring equinox.
In recognition of the importance of this ancient rite, Norouz was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. UN General Assembly recognized March 21 as the International Day of Norouz in 2010. More precisely, however, Norouz marks the day of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, which can occur anytime between March 19-22, depending on the year as well as one’s location. In 2016 it was added to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Canada also passed a law recognizing March 21 as Norouz Day.
UNESCO has registered Norouz celebrations as shared practices of 12 countries. Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan were listed by the UN agency in 2009 as countries where Norouz is celebrated. A new proposal was drawn up last year to include five more countries namely Afghanistan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Renowned Muslim scholars, such as the Persian Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, known as Biruni (973-1048), Mahmud ibn Hussayn ibn Muhammed al-Kashgari (1005-1102), and Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) were among the many intellectuals who studied the date of Norouz. ahead.
Total says will apply for waiver if US withdraws from Iran deal
French oil major Total is committed to the development of an Iranian gas field and will apply for a waiver if US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdraws from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposes sanctions on Tehran, the company’s chief executive said.
“If the US decides to put back the sanctions, we have to look at what the consequences are…and then we will see, either Donald Trump decides to maintain the waivers and we will move on with the project,” Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, thenational.ae reported.
“If the US decides not to sign the waiver, then what will be our position, it’s quite simple – as the project has been awarded prior to that decision during the period of time that we could sign … we will argue that we should benefit from the grandfather clause and we will ask for a waiver from the US authorities.”
In July last year, Total became the first Western energy company to sign a deal with Iran when it agreed as part of a 20-year contract to develop Phase 11 of the country’s South Pars field, the world’s largest gas field that is shared with Qatar. The project will have a production capacity of 2 billion cubic feet per day or 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day including condensate.
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