Iran annual steel production at 31.9m tons: WSA
By Reza Abesh Ahmadlou
Iranian steelmakers cast 31.9 million tons of crude steel during 2019, according to figures released by World Steel Association (WSA).
The statistics show a 17.72-percent rise for Iran compared to the corresponding figure of 2018, which stood at 24.52 million tons, reported imidro.gov.ir on Saturday.
Iran was the 10th and 14th steelmaker of the world in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
According to the WSA report, China topped the list of crude steel producers in 2019 with 996.34 million tons.
Based on the report, the second to sixth places went to India, Japan, the US, Russia and South Korea with 111.24 million tons, 99.24 million tons, 87.93 million tons, 71.57 million tons and 71.42 million tons, respectively.
World crude steel production reached 1.848 billion tons for 2019 — up 3.5 percent compared to the amount for 2018, which was 1.782 billion tons.
According to the Islamic Republic’s Vision Plan, the country’s total steel production capacity is to hit 55 million tons a year by 2025, with exports figure expected to reach 10-15 million tons.
The World Steel Association (WSA) is one of the largest and most dynamic industry associations in the world. WSA members represent approximately 85 percent of the world’s steel producers, including over 150 steel producers with nine of the 10 largest steel companies, national and regional steel industry associations and steel research institutes.
Tehran decries US ‘harassment’ of Iranians at Canada border
Iran condemned as “unconstitutional and inhuman”, treatment of travelers of Iranian origin by US border guards, saying Washington should be held to account for ‘the harassment.’
The reaction by Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi on Saturday came after Canadian news agency CBC revealed that US border officers had been instructed to target and interrogate Iranian-born travelers, according to Press TV.
The revelation follows reports that up to 200 people of Iranian descent traveling from Canada were detained and questioned for hours at multiple Canada-US border crossings during the weekend of Jan. 4 in the wake of the US assassination of a top Iranian military commander.
“Such highly discriminatory practices against people, purely because of their race, nationality, or religion, are wholly rejected in terms of international human rights laws and practices, and the US government is responsible for them,” Mousavi said.
“Given that these people have been questioned by US border guards and security forces about their political views and faiths and their internet accounts broken into, this is a case of inquisition and gross human rights violation.”
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confiscated their passports and held some of them waiting for as long as 10 hours, refusing to grant them entry to the US.
The Iranians were repeatedly asked about their birthplaces, family members, schooling, and work histories and whether they accepted of the US assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.
CBP had denied it was detaining Iranians and blocking them from entering the country based on their heritage, but US border officers have told CBC News that they in fact were instructed to target and interrogate Iranian-born travelers.
Mousavi said, “These actions against Iranians are in line with the US regime’s hostile and spiteful policy towards Iran and Iran’s identity and existence.”
“At one time,” he said, the actions “appear in the form of a decision to ban Iranians from entering the United States. At another, they emerge in the threat to attack Iranian cultural and civilization centers.”
Following the US assassination of Gen. Soleimani, President Donald Trump said the US had identified 52 Iranian sites, some “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture”, and warned they would be “HIT VERY FAST AND HARD” if Tehran struck at the US.
Mousavi said the “cowardly assassination of the mythological hero in the fight against terrorism” was in line with the same hostility and spite which the United States bears against the Iranians.
More recently, this hostility “has appeared in the form of the harassment of Iranians at American borders”, he added.
Dems say oust Trump or he’ll betray again
Closing out their case, House Democrats warned in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial that the president will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election.
They then implored Republican senators to allow new testimony before rendering a final verdict, AP reported.
“Give America a fair trial,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager, said Friday. “She’s worth it.”
Schiff delivered Democrats’ final remarks in the Senate trial after three days of methodical and impassioned arguments detailing charges that Trump abused power by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of political rivals, then obstructed Congress’ investigation into the matter.
The opening arguments appear to have done nothing to shake Republicans’ support for Trump or persuade enough centrist GOP lawmakers to call for new witnesses, including Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. In his final appeal to lawmakers and a divided nation, Schiff argued that a guilty verdict in the Senate is the only remedy left to curb what he called the “’imminent threat” posed to the nation by Trump’s unconstitutional impulses.
“He is who he is,” Schiff declared. “You know it’s not going to stop. ... It’s not going to stop unless the Congress does something about it.”
The moment of history was apparent, only the third impeachment trial of a US president, as were the partisan views of the Trump presidency and the effort to end it.
When Schiff cited a news story with someone close to Trump saying any Republican voting with Democrats would have their “head on a pike,” GOP senators in the chamber began murmuring, “That’s not true.”
The House impeached Trump last month, accusing him of abusing his office by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of Biden and other matters while withholding military aid from a US ally that was at war with bordering Russia. A second article of impeachment accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House ensuing probe.
Said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, “We’re going to rebut and refute, and we’re going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow.”
Republicans are defending Trump’s actions as appropriate and are casting the impeachment trial as a politically motivated effort to weaken him in his reelection campaign. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and eventual acquittal is considered likely.
Before that, senators will make a critical decision next week on Democratic demands to hear testimony from top Trump aides, including Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who refused to appear before the House. It would take four Republican senators to join the Democratic minority to seek witnesses, and so far the numbers appear lacking.
With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, Friday’s session opened with an overarching case from Democrats that Trump’s actions with Ukraine were not unique but part of a pattern of “destructive behavior” now threatening the core foundations of American democracy.
Schiff told the senators that Trump has shown repeatedly that he is willing to put his personal political interests above those of the country he is sworn to protect.
When the House started investigating his actions, Democrats said, Trump blatantly obstructed the probe. Even then-president Richard Nixon, they argued, better understood the need to comply with Congress in some of its oversight requests.
The impeachment trial is set against the backdrop of the 2020 election, as voters assess Trump’s presidency and his run for a second term. Four senators who are Democratic presidential candidates are off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.
The House mounted its Trump case after a government whistleblower complained about his July 2019 call with Ukraine. The House relied on testimony from current and former national security officials and diplomats, many who defied White House instructions not to appear.
Evidence presented in the House probe has shown that Trump, with lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pursued investigations of Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on a Ukrainian gas company’s board, and sought a probe of a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election.
It’s a story line many in the president’s camp are still pushing. Giuliani, in an appearance Friday on “Fox & Friends,” insisted he would present evidence on his new podcast.
At close, Schiff predicted the Trump team will try to distract senators from the case, in part by lodging personal attacks against all the House prosecutors. He reminded senators what is at stake and read the articles of impeachment one more time.
Esteghlal, Shahr Khodro through in ACL playoffs
Iran’s Esteghlal opened its campaign at the 2020 AFC Champions League in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 victory over Kuwait SC in the preliminary round in Dubai, the UAE, with Shahr Khodoro beating Bahrain’s Al Riffa 2-1.
Cheick Diabaté had a brace before skipper Voria Ghafouri scored a sublime free-kick to give Farhad Majidi, who replaced Italian Andrea Stramaccioni in December, an impressive debut as the permanent head coach of the Blues.
Saturday’s victory set a playoff encounter with Qatar’s Al Rayyan at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday, with the winner given a place in the group stage.
Elsewhere, Amin Qaseminejad’s late winner sealed a 2-1 victory over Al Riffa for Shahr Khodro after Mohammadreza Khal’atbari’s opener was canceled by Saleh Taher in the first half.
Shahr Khodro will play away to Qatar’s Al Sailiya on Tuesday for a place in Group B of the competition.
The two Iranian sides had been initially scheduled to host their preliminary-round fixtures in Iran on January 21 before the Asian football governing body moved the fixtures to a neutral venues due to “security concerns.”
Iran welcomes tourists from around the world: Minister
Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ali-Asghar Mounesan has, in a statement, described Iran as highly safe and secure, and ready to welcome tourists from around the globe, inviting them to experience a unique journey to the land of history and civilization.
In the statement released on Saturday, Iran’s culture minister said, “The world has got involved in shocking upheavals as well as ups and downs due to unprecedented progress made in science and technology. As such, the modern human is also influenced by the urban and mechanical life and his soul requires refinement and relief. In such a situation, only travel and tourism can give us relief, joy and sympathy and provide us with unforgettable experiences and memorable coexistence.
In fact, tourism could be considered as a familial or friendly gathering, the pivotal contents of which are kindness, interaction and cooperation. In this chaotic era, tourism is like a gentle breeze endearing our souls and uniting all the people from around the world, regardless of their race, country, language, and beliefs.
With a deep and practical faith in this attitude, the Iranian government is trying its best to pave the way for international tourists and this is why there is a significant growth in tourism infrastructure in our country. In this regard, some incentive such as visa waiver, 90-day visa on arrival, standard residence services, attractive tourism packages, and the most inexpensive and secure tours to Iran along with the last international tourism standards have enabled us to experience a 53 percent increase in our inbound tourism. In addition, when it comes to the prices, Iran has the most competitive prices for tourism in the world and has emerged as a new phenomenon in the world of tourism, attracting the attention of many countries.
Iran’s tourism industry has recently received considerable attention from different countries. Iran’s unique tourist attractions are a good reason to have a journey to the land of history, civilization and nature.
With 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 34,000 Nationally Registered Heritages and 600 active museums, Iran has a huge capacity to receive international tourists. In addition, high security, inexpensive tours, premium travel facilities, hospitable people, numerous historic and natural treasures, unique ecotourism facilities, diverse tourism packages (historic-cultural tourism, sport tourism, marine tourism, food tourism, and medical tourism), interesting rituals, and diverse handicrafts and traditional arts provide enough reasons to visit Iran.
The rich history and civilization of this land, the numerous and spectacular tourist attractions, four-season weather, and high cultural and ethnic diversity have made an invaluable treasure of Iran and put this country in the top 10 tourist destinations in terms of cultural and natural attractions. Towering mountains, breathtaking glaciers, dormant volcanoes, pristine forests, green foothills, delightful lakes, springs and waterfalls, picturesque beaches and wonderful islands, historical sites and distinct architecture, globally registered cities and villages, diverse and colorful handicrafts, and delicious traditional cuisine are only a small part of the beauties you can visit while staying in Iran.
With such advantages, each day the beautiful and safe cities of Iran are welcoming thousands of tourists from different countries, having enjoyed the unique experience, most of whom decide to return and bring new fellow travelers with them. Hereby, I invite all the tourists from around the world to visit Iran during these first days of the new Christian year and final months of the Persian year, and seize the opportunity of experiencing an eventful journey to the land of history and civilization. The country-size guesthouse of Iran is wholeheartedly ready to receive tourists from all around the world.”
Xi warns of viral gravity as China rushes to build hospitals
Xi warns of viral gravity
as China rushes
to build hospitals
President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China was facing a “grave” situation as authorities took urgent action to halt the spread of a virus that has killed 41 people and is overwhelming hospitals at the epicenter of the health emergency.
The world’s most populous country scrambled to contain the disease that has already infected nearly 1,300 people, building a second field hospital to relieve overwhelmed medical facilities and closing more travel routes as the country marked the Lunar New Year holiday, AFP wrote.
“As long as we have steadfast confidence, work together, scientific prevention and cures, and precise policies, we will definitely be able to win the battle,” Xi said, after more countries reported cases. In Wuhan, the epicenter of the emergency, 450 military medics were deployed to help treat patients in the central city, where a seafood and live animal market has been identified as the center of the outbreak.
Wuhan authorities will race to build a second new hospital within a fortnight, state media reported, adding 1,300 new beds.
They have already begun building a new field hospital to deal with the outbreak, which state media said could be ready in just over a week.
The new virus has now infected people nationwide and in nearly a dozen other countries, with France saying three cases were confirmed there – the first known European infections.
Iran said started health screenings for passengers arriving from East Asian countries at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.
Xi chaired a Communist Party leadership meeting which urged regional governments to make “the safety of the masses’ lives and their physical health a top priority”, state media said.
In Hong Kong, where five people have tested positive for the virus so far, city leader Carrie Lam declared the situation an “emergency” and schools, currently on holiday, will remain closed until February 17. China’s aggressive response has won praise, especially compared to the SARS outbreak, when it was accused of reacting sluggishly and stonewalling the international community.
Iran’s FM: ‘Disaster for Europe to be so subservient to US’
Iran’s FM: ‘Disaster for Europe to be so subservient to US’
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal for failing to meet their commitments under the agreement, saying that they are acting as “subservient” to the United States.
In an interview with German weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, published on Friday, Zarif complained that Britain, France, and Germany – collectively known as the EU3 or E3 – have failed to protect the Iranian economy in the face of sanctions reimposed following the unilateral US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018.
“It’s a disaster for Europe to be so subservient to the US. Anybody who accepts unilateralism is helping it. The Europeans call us and say: We’re sorry, we cannot do anything. The Europeans can’t buckle to Trump and then try to act like the strong man against Iran,” he emphasized.
The Europeans, he added, established the Instrument Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) to enable companies to do business with Iran, but they “haven’t succeeded in carrying out a single transaction” through the payment channel more than a year and a half after the US exit from the JCPOA.
Asked about the Europeans’ recent move to trigger a dispute mechanism devised in the JCPOA, Zarif said that it was actually Iran that activated the mechanism back in 2018.
‘No legitimate grounds’
“The Europeans have no legitimate grounds for resorting to this mechanism. They can’t just refer something to the Security Council because they are Europeans and they have blue eyes. And it’s not only us who think this, but also the Russians and the Chinese. The Europeans will be up against a major battle,” he said.
Shortly after the Europeans triggered the dispute mechanism, a Washington Post report revealed that US President Donald Trump had threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobile imports if the E3 refused to formally accuse Iran of violating the JCPOA.
The mechanism involves the dispute being referred to the JCPOA’s Joint Commission that will have a minimum of 15 days to resolve the issue. If the complainants are still not satisfied, they can refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which could vote to reimpose any sanctions lifted under the JCPOA.
“Unfortunately, the Europeans don’t view Iran as a partner. We triggered the dispute resolution back in 2018. As a result of that process, the Europeans, Russia, China, and Iran issued a statement in June 2018. Among other things, it was stated that it is essential that Iran benefit economically from the nuclear agreement. But the Europeans didn’t do anything. They have not fulfilled their obligations. The Europeans have to come down from their high horse,” Zarif said.
“Let me make it very clear to the Europeans: If they want to implement their obligations, we will be prepared to go back to full compliance immediately. But implementing their obligations is not just about making announcements that they are committed to JCPOA. I could also make the same announcement: We are committed to the agreement, we love the agreement, we want it to stay alive forever. Words are cheap. Europe should show us one single action. But what have they done?”
Zarif rejected the idea that the deal is deal.
“Inspections and transparency about Iran’s activities are an important part of the agreement, and they are still happening. The EU has not fulfilled parts of the agreement and Iran has not fulfilled parts, but that doesn’t mean it is dead,” he said.
Tensions ‘particularly grave’
Zarif was asked about the US assassination of Iran’s top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
He said that tensions between Iran and Washington are “particularly grave” because “the US government undertook a terrorist operation against an official of the Iranian government.”
“The attack was based on a misperception. The US believed that by assassinating General Qassem Soleimani, it would improve its position in the region. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that people were dancing in the streets of Iraq. But there were huge funeral processions. It has created a very difficult moment in this region. The United States will certainly not benefit from this,” the Iranian foreign minister said.
Zarif also noted that Iran’s missile strike on US forces in Iraq was “Iran’s formal military response” to the assassination.
“There was no intention of causing any casualties with the missile attack – we were executing our right to self-defense in a proportionate manner. But the real response will come from the people of the region, who are showing that they are absolutely disgusted with the US behavior. The Americans will see that Soleimani as a martyr will be much more effective than a General Soleimani,” he pointed out.
Zarif said Iran’s missile strike dealt a blow to the US military might.
“The damage we have done to the US is extensive, because with all its military might, it could not prevent the missiles from hitting its base. It shows how vulnerable the US is. But the Americans have inflicted the real damage themselves through the hatred the US created in the people of the region.”
He further stressed that the assassination of the senior Iranian commander will bring about the end of the US presence in the region.
“Soleimani’s murder is the beginning of the end of the US presence – certainly in Iraq, but elsewhere in the region, too. It may not be tomorrow, but we have millennia of history, so we are not in a hurry,” Zarif said.
He also praised the Iranian general for fighting the Daesh terrorist group.
“The US, Europe, and the entire international community is indebted to General Soleimani for the victory over Daesh. The realities in the region are incomprehensible to the United States,” the top Iranian diplomat said.
Asked about the possibility of negotiations between Iran and the US following Soleimani’s murder, Zarif said he does not rule it out.
“I never rule out the possibility that people will change their approach and recognize the realities. For us, it doesn’t matter who is sitting in the White House. What matters is how they behave. The Trump administration can correct its past, lift the sanctions and come back to the negotiating table. We’re still at the negotiating table. They’re the ones who left. The US has inflicted great harm on the Iranian people. The day will come when they will have to compensate for that. We have a lot of patience,” he said.
Press TV contributed to this story.
Rescuers scramble to find survivors after Turkey quake kills 22
to find survivors
after Turkey quake kills 22
Rescue workers raced against time Saturday to find survivors under the rubble after a powerful earthquake claimed at least 22 lives and left more than 1,000 injured in eastern Turkey.
The magnitude-6.8 quake struck on Friday evening, with its epicenter in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig Province, and was felt in neighboring countries, AFP reported.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 39 people have been rescued from collapsed buildings in Elazig, with a further 22 people estimated to be trapped under the rubble. He said the death toll had risen to 22.
Among those found alive was a pregnant woman who was rescued 12 hours after the quake hit, state news agency Anadolu said.
Nearly 2,000 search and rescue personnel were sent to the region while thousands of beds, blankets and tents have been provided, the Turkish presidency said.
The rescue efforts have been taking place in freezing temperatures as wood and plastic were burned to keep crowds warm.
Some 20 rescuers were on top of the remains of one collapsed building, slowly clearing the rubble one bucket at a time surrounded by broken wooden beams and concrete.
Sivrice – a town with a population of about 4,000 – is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar Lake – one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and the source of the Tigris River.
The lake is home to a “Sunken City”, with archaeological traces dating back 4,000 years in its waters.
The interior minister said 18 people were killed in Elazig while four died in Malatya.
Among the 1,031 people injured were residents in other provinces in the southeast including Diyarbakir, Batman, Sanliurfa, Adiyaman and Kahramanmaras, the Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 128 people were still receiving treatment including 34 in intensive care but added that no one was in a critical condition.
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Leader: Public turnouts herald ‘unique phenomenon’
Public turnouts herald ‘unique phenomenon’
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Saturday recent developments that followed the US assassination of a top Iranian military commander heralded a “unique phenomenon” which would determine the path of history.
“This year, your meeting is held in the midst of important events, each of which in a way is a sign of the grandeur and credibility of the Islamic Iran and its revolutionary nation,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a message read out in Vienna at the 54th meeting of the Union of Islamic Students’ Associations in Europe, Press TV reported.
Continued on Page 2