Nematzadeh inaugurates Iran’s largest lead, zinc mine
Extraction from Iran’s largest and the world’s second largest lead and zinc reserve began on Tuesday at a ceremony attended by Industry, Mine and Trade Minister Mohammadreza Nematzadeh.
According to Mehr News Agency, the Managing Director of Mahdiabad Lead and Zinc Mining Complex Amin Safari said, “The mine is located 116 kilometers southeast of Yazd city and contains over 160 million tons of lead and zinc with purities of 2.3 and 7.3 percent, respectively.”
Barite reserves of the mine stands at over 10 million tons with specific gravity of 3.6 and the complex produces 4,000 tons of barite and 1,200 tons of lead and zinc per year, said the official.
He stated that a contract was inked with Mobin Trust Consortium based on which 185 million tons are expected to be recovered and an 800,000-ton zinc concentrate unit for will be constructed within five years.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Nematzadeh said 4.5 million tons of steel were exported in the year to March 20, 2017 while the target for the current year has been set at seven million tons.
He said 100 mining regions had been introduced to eager domestic and foreign investors and contracts to conduct feasibility studies have been inked for two-thirds of them.
Underlining the need for new explorations and discoveries in addition to extraction, the minister hoped that Mahdiabad Lead and Zinc Mining Complex will attain full output capacity within four years.
Referring to private sector involvement in the country’s industrial development, Nematzadeh said that government’s agenda includes support for private investments.
The minister called for export-oriented production asserting that the objective could not be attained unless investments were made to export to major global markets.
Zarif: US must change its overall sanctions policy
Washington has to reassess its approach of issuing sanctions against other countries as they are a liability for the US, said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
During a press conference held in New York with President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass on Monday, Zarif noted that the US will become the prisoner of its own sanctions if it does not alter is current policies, Press TV reported.
Zarif stressed that imposing sanctions on other countries usually does not yield a positive outcome. Last month, US Senate voted for a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, alleged support for terrorism, and human rights violations. Iran’s top diplomat criticized the US and its allies over their refusal to take part in a UN-organized summit aimed at banning the use of nuclear weapons.
Earlier in the month, the United States, along with Britain and France, announced that they would never become party to the global treaty that was endorsed by 122 countries at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Zarif noted that Iran would always remain dedicated to its vow over never producing nuclear weapons. “We believe that nuclear weapons do not augment anybody’s security. Our objection to nuclear weapons does not recognize friend or foe. We simply believe that nuclear weapons are unacceptable and – in our view – illegal because of their consequences,” he said.
The Iranian foreign minister also noted that despite differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, he hoped that Tehran and Riyadh could work together towards resolving the issues.
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Trump again certifies Iran’s compliance with JCPOA
Zarif: Iran may withdraw from deal in case of US violations
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers.
It was the second time Trump certified Iranian compliance with the agreement since he took office in January 2016, despite criticizing it during the presidential campaign as “the worst deal ever,” Reuters reported.
However, Trump claimed that Tehran was in default of the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it.
Trump, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and “the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit” of the agreement, one official said. That assessment carries no legal force, while Trump’s certification that Iran is technically complying clears the way for sanctions to remain lifted.
The Trump administration notified Congress of Iran’s compliance for the first time in April.
Under US law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump had faced a congressionally mandated deadline of Monday to decide.
Zarif warns of US violation
Also on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that any major JCPOA violation on behalf of the US may result in Tehran’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal signed between Iran, the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany.
Zarif made the remark during an interview with The National Interest magazine.
“If it comes to a major violation, or what in the terms of the nuclear deal is called significant nonperformance, then Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal,” he said.
Zarif further stressed that the Islamic Republic wishes for the deal to serve as a solid foundation for all its parties and not the ceiling.
“We wanted that agreement to be the foundation and not the ceiling. But in order for that to serve as a solid foundation, we want to make sure that the obligations by all sides have been fully and faithfully implemented,” he added.
Iran’s top diplomat further noted that the US has shortcomings in commitments stipulated in the nuclear accord, while stressing that these shortcomings will be addressed by the joint commission to make sure they are remedied.
“This has been the subject of an ongoing debate within the joint commission, not only during the (US President Donald) Trump administration but also during the previous (Barack) Obama administration, when it took the United States, for instance, several months to clear the purchase of airplanes,” he said in reference to the purchase of Airbus airplanes.
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EU: JCPOA Joint Commission to meet in Vienna on July 21
A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will be held on July 21 in Vienna, chaired by Deputy Secretary General of European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmid.
The meeting will be held by the G5+1 (UK, US, Russia, China, France, plus Germany), EEAS, European Union’s diplomatic service, reported on Tuesday.
The meeting provides the opportunity to address the issue of the implementation of the JCPOA with regard to nuclear and sanctions-related commitments.
It will be held while the US government announced on Monday that Iran has been living up to its JCPOA commitments, but claimed that Tehran has violated the spirit of the nuclear deal.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed in a letter to Congress that Iran has been compliant with its commitments under the JCPOA.
According to US law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance under the JCPOA. It is the second time that such notification is being confirmed under US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the JCPOA, calling it the “worst deal ever.”
He had even said during his presidential campaign that in case of being elected as US president, his “number-one priority” would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”
However, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is currently in New York to attend the United Nations High Ranking Political Assembly, commented on the cases of the US’ defiance of the landmark nuclear deal in an interview with the National Interest, stressing, “If it comes to a major violation, or what in terms of the nuclear deal is called significant nonperformance, then Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal.”
Macron puts France top of ‘soft power’ rankings: Survey
Japan rises to sixth place
France has leapfrogged the United States and Britain as the world’s top so-called soft power, helped by the election of President Emmanuel Macron, a study of countries’ non-military global influence showed Tuesday.
While France has risen, Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House has seen the US slip from the top last year to third place in the Soft Power 30 study, compiled by PR Company Portland Communications and the University of Southern California, according to AFP.
Japan has risen from sixth to seventh place.
Soft power measures a country’s ability to secure international alliances and influence others through its attraction and appeal.
The study uses polling in 25 countries and digital data to measure a country’s influence.
It takes into account factors such as the ability of countries to attract foreign students to its universities and tourists, as well as its cultural allure.
France’s rapid rise from fifth place last year, when it was in the doldrums under unpopular ex-president Francois Hollande, is partly due to the centrist Macron’s election in May.
But the country’s diplomatic reach also played a key role.
“France’s greatest strength lies in its vast diplomatic network,” the study says.
“It is unrivalled in terms of membership to multilateral and international organizations, as well as in its diplomatic cultural missions.
“With Macron having long campaigned for cooperation and integration, it is not unreasonable to expect France’s global engagement and influence to grow.”
France also remains the world’s top tourist destination, the report said.
The terror attacks that have cost the lives of more than 230 people since 2015 “have not stopped tourists flocking to France and enjoying its rich cultural offering, cuisine, and lifestyle,” the report says.
The top five countries by order are France, Britain, US, Germany and Canada. Japan has risen to sixth place from seventh, Switzerland is seventh and Australia slips to eighth.
The survey attributes the US decline – it has slipped from first last year to third – to a deterioration of “global sentiment” as a result of Trump’s “America First” policy.
The US was still “unrivalled” in higher education, technological innovation and the production of film, music and TV, it pointed out.
Britain loses influence
Meanwhile, the report’s authors warn that Britain’s fall – it was top of the rankings last year – “should serve as a warning of what is likely to come for post-Brexit British influence”.
With negotiations under way for Britain to leave the European Union within two years, the report says: “It is hard to imagine the direction of travel for British soft power... will be upwards in the future.”
Shishegaran designs poster for Iran’s Mirzakhani
Art & Culture Desk
Iranian graphic artist Behzad Shishehgaran designed a poster in remembrance of the Iranian mathematician genius, Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to receive the prestigious Fields Medal for mathematics, who died on Saturday following a long battle with breast cancer.
The 40-year-old fought the ailment for four years and was recently hospitalized in the US as the cancer spread to her bone marrow.
Shishehgaran designed several cultural and social posters on different occasions, Mehr News Agency reported.
He said he created the poster to appreciate the great Iranian mathematician.
Shishegaran was born 1952 in Tehran. He graduated from Tehran School of Fine Arts with a diploma in painting. He went on to earn a BA in graphic design from Tehran University of Art.
He has created 18 collections of artworks since 1971 as well as designing numerous political, social and cultural posters.
Republican senators sink Trump’s healthcare bill
Two more US Republican senators announced their opposition Monday to their party’s efforts to revamp Obamacare, derailing the controversial legislation in its current form and potentially dealing a monumental setback to President Donald Trump.
Republican leaders are desperate for a major legislative victory this year – and keen to fulfill Trump’s campaign pledge to dismantle the 2010 health care reforms of his predecessor Barack Obama, formally called the Affordable Care Act.
But they had no votes to spare.
Republicans control 52 of the chamber’s 100 seats. Democrats are united against the controversial legislation, while Republicans Susan Collins and Rand Paul declared their opposition last week.
So when Senate conservatives Mike Lee and Jerry Moran announced late Monday they could not support the bill, the news sent shockwaves across Washington.
“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” Moran – who faced considerable opposition at home in Kansas to the measure – said in a statement, adding that the new bill “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address health care’s rising costs.”
For Lee, “in addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”
Their defections mean that the bill has no chance of even getting a vote on the Senate floor unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decides to make significant changes to woo skeptics back into the fold.
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Cairo: Qatar crisis will be resolved if Doha fulfills demands
Egypt ends visa-free entry for Qataris
Egypt is standing by the list of demands it and three Persian Gulf Arab countries made of Qatar and will keep sanctions against Doha in place, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his Kuwaiti counterpart on Monday.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5, cutting diplomatic and transport ties with the tiny Persian Gulf monarchy, after accusing it of financing terrorist groups and close relations with Iran. Doha denies the accusations.
Kuwait has been leading mediation efforts between Qatar and the four Arab states boycotting it. Its top diplomat Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah met Shoukry and President Abdel Fattah al Sisi in Cairo on Monday.
“The Foreign Minister affirmed to his Kuwaiti counterpart Egypt’s commitment to the list of demands presented to the state of Qatar and the continuation of sanctions taken against it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.
Shoukry told Sabah the only way the crisis would be resolved was if Qatar fulfilled the demands, which include curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down the pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite TV channel, closing a Turkish military base, and downgrading its relations with Iran.
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Mottaqian bags world para athletics silver
Iran’s Hashemiyeh Mottaqian exceeded expectations at the ongoing 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in England, and was awarded the silver medal.
In the women’s javelin throw F56 class, the 31-year-old Iranian pitcher claimed the silver medal with her best attempt of 20.66m at the Olympic Stadium in London on Monday evening to take Iran’s overall tally to seven medals in the competitions, Press TV reported.
Latvian contestant Diana Dadzite won the gold medal with a throw of 27.07m and Martina Willing from Germany earned the bronze with 20.57m.
Earlier in the competitions, Javad Hardani, Mohsen Kaedi, Ali Mohammad-Yari and Mehran Nekoei-Majd had claimed four silver medals.
Mohsen Majidi and Ali-Asghar Javanmardi had also garnered two bronzes.
The World Para Athletics Championships started in London on July 14, and will continue until July 23.
Separatists in eastern Ukraine unveil plan for new state
The separatists’ leader of a breakaway region in eastern Ukraine announced proposals to abolish Ukraine and create a new state in its place on Tuesday, comments that could further undermine a 2015 peace deal that is already faltering.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dismissed the idea, describing Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), as part of “a puppet show,” with Russia pulling his strings in order to relay a message, Reuters reported.
Zakharchenko, who scarcely would have expected anything other than outright rejection from Kiev, said in a declaration that he and his allies were proposing a new state called Malorossiya (Little Russia) to be set up with its capital in Donetsk.
Malorossiya was the term used to describe swathes of modern-day Ukraine when they were part of the Russian Empire.
“We are proposing to residents of Ukraine a peaceful way out of a difficult situation without war. It’s our last proposal,” Zakharchenko said in a statement. The new state would be federal, with regions enjoying a large degree of autonomy.
He said the move was backed by delegates from different Ukrainian regions, though a statement from the neighboring separatist territory of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic said it had been unaware of the initiative.
His declaration cast a shadow over the faltering Minsk peace agreement between the separatists and the Ukrainian government which has failed to quell fighting between the two sides and has only been partially implemented since an uprising broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Yevhen Marchuk, Ukraine’s representative in talks on implementing the peace deal, told Ukrainian TV channel 112.ua that Zakharchenko’s declaration would complicate negotiations and looked like a Russian attempt to sabotage the process.
France, which along with Germany has been closely involved in trying to resolve the Ukraine crisis, condemned the idea and demanded Russia do more to prevent further escalation.
A German government spokeswoman also criticized the move, calling it “totally unacceptable.”
Ukraine’s top military commander, Viktor Muzhenko, said on social media that the Ukrainian people would “bury” Malorossiya, calling the plan one of the separatists’ “sick fantasies.”