South Korea’s Iranian crude imports top 55,000 bpd in August
South Korea imported 232,723 tons (1.71 million barrels or 55,161 bpd) of Iranian crude, including condensate, in August, according to preliminary data released by the Korea Customs Service on Monday.
The data is based on customs clearance and there can be a time discrepancy between clearance and actual arrival of the goods, according to customs officials, Platts reported.
Final oil trade data for August will be released later this month by state-run Korea National Oil Corp.
For the first eight months this year, Iranian crude oil imports fell 42.3 percent year on year to 57.91 million barrels, from 100.44 million barrels in same period last year, according to the customs data.
In 2017, Iranian crude oil imports increased 32.1 percent to 147.87 million barrels. The country’s monthly imports of Iranian crude had increased since January 2016 when the US and EU lifted sanctions on Iran.
The US has pressed Iran’s oil customers, including South Korea, to completely eliminate imports by November 4. South Korea’s crude oil imports from its biggest supplier Saudi Arabia also fell 4.8 percent year on year to 3.89 million tons, or 28.51 million barrels, in August, from 29.95 million barrels a year earlier.
In total, South Korea imported 12.62 million tons (92.5 million barrels or 2.98 mbd) of crude oil in August, down 8.8 percent from 101.45 million barrels a year earlier. But the August imports were also down 4.3 percent from 96.67 million barrels in July.
For January-August, the country’s crude oil imports rose 1.2 percent year on year to 746.62 million barrels, compared with 737.72 million barrels in the year-ago period.
In 2017, the country imported a total 1.118 billion barrels of crude oil, up 3.7 percent from 1.078 billion barrels in 2016.
Iran says receives new ‘trade proposals from Europe’
Iran has received new proposals from Europe that would potentially meet its demand for practical guarantees for continued trade and keep Iran in a nuclear deal with five world powers, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday amid attempts by the US to derail that agreement.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, Bahram Qassemi added previous proposals by Europe had failed to guarantee that Iran would continue to be able to sell its oil at desired levels and have access to the international financial market, Press TV reported.
“The past proposals were partially unworkable, or lacked the necessary guarantees; we put them aside,” Qassemi said. “Alternative proposals were made; and we’re looking for mechanisms that would enable [continued] economic cooperation between Iran and Europe [in the face of US restrictions].”
He expressed hope that the new proposals would go far enough in satisfying Iranian demands.
While the former US administration — with which Iran negotiated — largely adhered to its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, the current administration of President Donald Trump chose to unilaterally stop implementing American obligations and ultimately withdrew from it on May 8.
The Trump administration also reintroduced the previous sanctions and imposed new ones on the Islamic Republic. It also introduced punitive measures — known as secondary sanctions — against third countries doing business with Iran.
Despite the American withdrawal, Iran stayed in the deal but stressed that the other parties to the agreement now had to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they wanted Tehran to continue to remain in it.
A first round of American sanctions — targeting Iranian access to the US dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector — took effect in August.
A second round, forthcoming on November 4, will be targeting Iran’s oil sales and its Central Bank. Europe has been taking a range of measures to meet the Iranian demand for practical guarantees.
But Iran has said Europe must act more swiftly.
Qassemi said technical contacts between the two sides were underway and were happening at a faster pace.
He hoped that a ministerial meeting would be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this year between Iran and the five other remaining parties to the deal “so that we can move on to newer stages.”
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Salehi: US pullout from Iran nuclear deal threatens regional peace
IAEA confirms Iran’s commitment to JCPOA
The US withdrawal from the nuclear deal struck between Iran and major powers is “doomed” to seriously affect peace and security in the Middle East, Iran’s atomic chief said on Monday.
“As discerned almost unanimously by the international community, this ominous move is doomed to have serious repercussions for the international and regional peace and security,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told an annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Salehi, a veteran negotiator with the West, did not elaborate on what those repercussions might be.
“The international community’s opposition to the US withdrawal ... does not nearly reflect the deep anger at the American unilateralism but also the concerns about the extremely difficult situation in our immediate region with all its pervasive chaos and the existing menace of terrorism,” Salehi said in his speech to the IAEA General Conference.
US President Donald Trump announced in May that Washington was pulling out of the 2015 deal, which lifted international sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities. Many fear the US withdrawal will lead to the deal’s collapse.
Some US sanctions lifted under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have already been put back in place while others are due to resume in November. European powers have scrambled to protect Iranian oil revenues and shield companies from the US measures to keep them operating in Iran, but many firms have pulled out regardless.
The sanctions have contributed to a slide in Iran’s currency, the rial, which has lost about two-thirds of its value this year, hitting a record low against the US dollar this month.
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My Brexit plan or crash out of EU: UK PM warns rebels
British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted her Brexit plan was the only alternative to leaving the EU without an agreement – something the IMF said Monday would inflict “substantial costs” on the UK economy.
Despite strong opposition in her Conservative party and criticism in Brussels, May has stuck by the so-called Chequers proposal to keep close trade ties with the European Union after Brexit on March 29 next year, AFP reported.
“The alternative to that will be not having a deal,” she told the BBC in an interview out Monday in response to the opponents of her blueprint for Brexit.
May will meet EU leaders in Salzburg on Wednesday and Thursday, as she seeks a breakthrough in talks on the Brexit divorce and the future UK-EU trading relationship.
The International Monetary Fund on Monday said Britain’s economy would suffer “substantial costs” should it leave the EU without a deal.
Brussels and London have failed to resolve “fundamental” aspects of Brexit and this could leave London defaulting to World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs, the IMF said in its annual outlook on the UK economy.
“Fundamental questions -- such as the future economic relationship between the two and the closely-related question of the status of the land border with Ireland -- remain unanswered,” it noted in a statement.
“Resolving these questions is critical to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on WTO terms that would entail substantial costs for the UK economy – and to a lesser extent the EU economies – particularly if it were to occur in a disorderly fashion,” the IMF added.
Problems in Parliament
The gloomy assessment contrasts with that of May, who indicated last week that a no-deal hard Brexit would not be a disaster for Britain.
May remains confident of striking an acceptable deal with Brussels.
But even if she gets an accord in the coming weeks, it must be signed off in Parliament, where she can only muster a slender majority.
The main opposition Labour party’s Brexit spokesman said Sunday that it could not back a deal unless it delivered the “exact same benefits” as Britain currently has inside the single market and customs union – an unlikely prospect.
That would mean only a small number of May’s Conservative MPs need to rebel in order to bring down her blueprint – and plenty of hardcore Brexiteers are infuriated by it.
May expressed confidence parliament would approve the deal -- but warned there was no alternative if Britain wanted to avoid a “no deal” scenario.
“Do we really think... that if parliament was to say, ‘No, go back and get a better one’, do we really think the EU is going to give a better deal at that point?” she said.
May has proposed that Britain follow EU rules in trade in goods after Brexit, to protect manufacturing supply lines and avoid a “hard border” between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland.
May also insisted no other plan on the table would ensure “frictionless” trade on the island of Ireland.
But critics say her proposal would tie Britain too closely to the EU, and argue that the Irish issue can be resolved through trusted trader schemes and the use of technology.
Former foreign minister Boris Johnson, who quit in July in protest at the Chequers plan, launched a fresh attack on it in his weekly newspaper column on Monday.
“The whole thing is a constitutional abomination,” Johnson, who has previously compared the plan to a “suicide vest”, wrote in The Daily Telegraph.
Anarchist group attacks Iranian Embassy in Greece
Members of an anarchist group in Greece reportedly attacked the Iranian Embassy building in the capital Athens with bottles of paint.
Some 10 members of the anarchist group Rouvikonas riding motorbikes hurled the bottles at the outer walls of the Iranian Embassy at 6 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on Monday, the Greek Reporter online news portal said.
They fled afterwards.
The Greek Reporter said no arrests had been made. And it was not clear if the Iranian ambassador and other diplomatic personnel had already arrived at the perimeters for the daily work, Press TV reported.
Iranian officials are also yet to confirm the attack.
The group has on several occasions attacked official and government buildings in Greece with paint, including the building of the Greek Foreign Ministry in July.
On Friday, the Iranian Embassy in France was attacked by supporters of a terrorist group calling itself the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdestan, which is based in northern Iraq.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had earlier, on September 9, fired missiles at the terrorist group’s headquarters in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
The IRGC said the missile strikes were in response to recent terrorist activities along the Iranian border with Iraq and came after terrorist ringleaders ignored serious warnings by officials from the Iraqi Kurdistan region about the Islamic Republic’s determination to dismantle their bases and the need to end their activities against Iran.
Following the violation of the Iranian diplomatic perimeters in Paris, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that the French police’s response to the incident had been slow and that Iran was studying the matter.
Rouvikonas, the anarchist group involved in the Monday raid against the Iranian Embassy in Athens, also said later in a post on Facebook that the attack had been in response to “Iran’s brutal repression of the Kurds,” according to the Greek Reporter.
Saudi war machine revs up as UN envoy visits Yemen
Saudi Arabia intensified its invasion of Yemen as the United Nations special envoy for the violence-scarred country arrived in the capital Sana’a on Sunday in an attempt to cobble together a conflict resolution mechanism.
On Sunday, Saudi warplanes killed seven civilians, including women and children, in Bayda, attacking the central Yemeni province’s town of Radman. Eight others were also wounded in the attack, Press TV reported.
Earlier in the day, two people lost their lives in a missile attack on the northern province of Sa’ada, and four more died in airstrikes on the southwestern province of Hodeida.
The UN official Martin Griffiths arrived in the capital to meet with officials from Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The movement took over Yemen’s affairs in 2015 after Yemen’s former government resigned and its head, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, fled to Riyadh, leaving the country in political turmoil.
A Saudi-led coalition has been attacking Yemen ever since, trying unsuccessfully to restore the former Riyadh-allied officials. So far, around 15,000 Yemenis have died during the invasion.
Griffiths invited the Houthis and the former officials to talks in Geneva in early September in an attempt to restore a UN-backed negotiation process that had broken off in 2016.
The Houthi representatives, however, could not attend the talks after Saudi Arabia refused to allow an Omani airplane, which had been meant to fly the officials, to land on the Yemeni soil.
Yemen’s Saba news agency, however, said the UN had stricken an agreement to evacuate wounded Houthi fighters using Sana’a airport.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also said that the UN was working to open a ‘humanitarian air bridge’ to take Yemeni cancer patients for treatment at qualified facilities.
The WHO’s country representative for Yemen Nevio Zagaria said, “The aim is to help patients suffering from cancer, chronic diseases and congenital anomalies receive the treatment they need,” adding that 12 health conditions had been targeted.
The air bridge would operate for an initial trial period of six months, the WHO said, without specifying where the patients would be sent for treatment.
“Eighty percent of patients for this flight are women and children,” Zagaria said, noting, “The air bridge is one of their last hopes.”
Ronaldo relieved to end Juve drought
Cristiano Ronaldo thanked his Juventus teammates for helping him through a dry spell after he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo.
The 33-year-old failed to find the net in his first three Serie A matches following a €112m transfer from Real Madrid in July before finally breaking his duck on Sunday, goal.com reported.
He scored from close range after 50 minutes to break the deadlock and then followed up with a second 15 minutes later, angling in a drive to secure the points for Massimiliano Allegri’s men.
Ronaldo praised the way Juventus broke down a stubborn visiting defense and admitted that his failure to find the net had been starting to play on his mind.
“I’m very happy, we started well,” he told Mediaset.
“Sassuolo defend well, but we put in an intense performance and deserved to win.
“I really wanted to score these first goals and I’m happy to have found the net.
“This is football. The important thing is that the team wins. Obviously, I was a little tense with all the talk of Real Madrid and not scoring, but I thank my teammates for supporting me throughout.
“I knew that I was working well and it was only a matter of time. I am adapting well to Italian football.”
Juventus travels to Valencia for its opening Champions League fixture on Wednesday and Ronaldo is looking forward to playing again in a competition he has won three times in the last three years with Madrid.
Manchester United and Young Boys are also in Group H and Ronaldo acknowledged that a tough task lies ahead for Juventus, which reached the quarterfinals last season.
“The Champions League is my favorite tournament,” he said.
“It’s a very difficult group, we know that we can do well and Juve must focus on being the best.”
Germany rolls out world’s first hydrogen train
Germany on Monday rolled out the world’s first hydrogen-powered train, signaling the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology.
Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French TGV-maker Alstom, began running a 100-kilometre (62-mile) route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany – a stretch normally plied by diesel trains, AFP wrote.
“The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production,” Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge said at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, the station where the trains will be refueled with hydrogen.
Alstom has said it plans to deliver another 14 of the zero-emissions trains to Lower Saxony state by 2021, with other German states also expressing an interest.
Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that leaves steam and water as the only emissions.
Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries on board the train.
The Coradia iLint trains can run for around 1,000 kilometers on a single tank of hydrogen, similar to the range of diesel trains.
Alstom is betting on the technology as a greener, quieter alternative to diesel on non-electrified railway lines – an attractive prospect to many German cities scrambling to combat air pollution.
“Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run,” Stefan Schrank, the project’s manager at Alstom, said.
Other countries are also looking into hydrogen trains, Alstom said, including Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy and Canada. In France, the government has already said it wants the first hydrogen train to be on the rails by 2022.