Iran to detail preparatory measures to reduce obligations under nuclear deal
Iran will release important details about the measures it has taken so far to suspend some of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal, in reciprocation of a move by the United States to unilaterally scrap that deal.
Tasnim News Agency reported on Sunday that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) would in a press briefing Monday [today] release “very important information” regarding the “limitless increase of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile” as well as measures taken to prepare for the second phase of the scaling back of its obligations
The briefing will be held at the Arak heavy water reactor facility today, with more than 70 media personnel in attendance.
The latest measures undertaken by Iran to re-design the Arak research reactor and to increase the production of heavy water at the facility would also be detailed during the Monday session.
The US imposed a series of sanctions on Iran after it withdrew from the deal. Those sanctions have inhibited Iran’s access to the economic benefits promised under the agreement.
On May 8, one year since Washington’s exit from the agreement, Tehran announced a decision to scale back its own commitments and gave a 60-day deadline for the other parties to the deal to ensure that Iran would be able to receive the economic dividends.
Tehran said at the time that it would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water during that period.
On Saturday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi stressed that Iran’s 60-day deadline would by no means be extended.
Speaking at a meeting with Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmid, Araqchi said that Tehran would proceed with the next steps – i.e. enter the second phase – unless the nuclear deal parties met Iran’s demands.
Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan to boost trilateral cooperation
Presidents of Iran, Russia, and Azerbaijan will convene in the Russian resort city of Sochi in August to further work on ways to boost tripartite cooperation to form a strong regional bloc of trade and transit.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet for a tripartite summit in the resort city of Sochi in August, according to Minister of North Caucasus Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Chebotarev speaking in the second Iran-North Caucasus trade conference, reported Sputnik.
Earlier Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan Mikhail Bocharnikov said that a Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran summit is expected by the end of this year in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also said in Beijing in April that he would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at a summit in Russia during August.
“We agreed to hold another Russian-Azerbaijani-Iranian summit in Russia in August,” Putin said.
The first Iran-Russia-Azerbaijan summit was held in August 2016 in Baku and the second tripartite summit was held in Tehran in November 2017.
Back in March, Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan, in a meeting with Governor General of Tehran province Anoshiravan Mohseni Bandpei, pointed to the trilateral agreement between Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia to expand relations in the fields of electricity and energy and establishing an electricity corridor, adding, “The Rasht-Astara railway came on stream over the past few days and I hope that these measures will provide a good ground for continuing bilateral and trilateral consultations.”
Iranian and Russian officials, businessmen, and economic activists started two three-day economic events in the Iranian cities of Tehran and Isfahan on Sunday in a bid to discuss avenues for bolstering economic relations.
The 15th Iran-Russia Joint Economic Cooperation Commission and 2nd Iran-North Caucasian Region Business Forum are underway for a period of three days in Tehran and Isfahan provinces from Sunday in the presence of senior public and private sectors officials of the two countries.
The opening ceremony of the 2nd Trade, Historical, Cultural and Scientific Forum between Iran and North Caucasus Region will be held in Tehran on Monday in the presence of Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian.
On the sidelines of 15th summit of Iran-Russia Joint Economic Commission, a number of nine Working Groups and three specialized committees are being held in the presence of a great number of public and private sectors of the two countries in the fields of industry, energy, transport and ICT (information and communication technology).
Last month, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak, in a telephone conversation, examined the latest status of the joint projects of the two countries in areas of energy cooperation.
Iran has the highest number of oil deals with Russia for the development of its oil and gas fields.
Early in May, Iranian and Russian Foreign Ministers Mohammad Javad Zarif and Sergei Lavrov inked a document which eases visa issuance for the two countries’ citizens.
The cooperation document was endorsed in a ceremony in Moscow on May 8.
After the ceremony, Lavrov said that the protocol will improve relations between the Iranian and Russian nations, especially the traders.
Tehran and Moscow have in recent years made efforts to further increase their economic and trade cooperation to confront the US sanctions against both nations.
In a relevant development late in April, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei and Russian Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Georgy Kalamanov in a meeting in Moscow explored avenues for widening economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
The two sides discussed cooperation in the field of auto-manufacturing, railroad and airplane manufacturing as well as issues on joint cooperation commission slated to be held in June.
Iran hints US could be behind ‘suspicious’ tanker attacks
Japan says ‘cannot simply believe’ US allegation against Iran
Iran’s parliament speaker hinted Sunday that Washington could be behind the “suspicious” tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman to pile pressure on Tehran.
“The suspicious actions against the tankers... seem to complement the economic sanctions against Iran considering that (the US) has not achieved any results from them, [also,] especially, given America’s historical record in the area [of false flag ops],” Ali Larijani told MPs according to IRNA.
He backed his remark by saying there had been a precedent “during World War II, when Americans targeted their own ships near Japan to create an excuse for hostility”.
A Japanese-owned tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, and a Norwegian-operated one, the Front Altair, were attacked on Thursday and left ablaze as they were passing through the Gulf of Oman.
The attacks took place at the same time that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran for talks aimed at defusing tensions between Iran and the United States.
Shortly after the incidents on Thursday morning, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, without offering any evidence. Iran has rejected the accusation, and a piece of footage later released by the US as proof of Iranian involvement has been discredited by experts and dismissed by other governments.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the US claim as “baseless” and said Washington had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran – (without) a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence”.
Larijani mocked remarks by Pompeo, who urged Iran to “meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not with terror, bloodshed, and extortion.”
The Iranian official then named a series of measures taken by the US against Iran and asked if they constituted “diplomacy.”
“Is it diplomacy to start a face-off with a revolutionary nation with acts of economic terrorism, [economic sanctions] which they themselves call the toughest ever?” said.
“Is it diplomacy, Mr. Pompeo, to renege on one’s promises in the nuclear agreement?” he said, referring to the US’s unilateral withdrawal from a multilateral deal with Iran.
Ever since that pullout in May 2018, the administration of US President Donald Trump has been waging what it calls a campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran.
Japanese government sources said Sunday that Tokyo considers Washington’s allegations about Iran’s involvement in the tanker attacks unconvincing and asked for concrete evidence.
“The US explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation,” senior government official told Kyodo News.
Pompeo said in a press conference Thursday that the US assessment was based on their “intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
A source close to Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said that Pompeo’s claims “are not definite proof that it’s Iran.”
“Even if it’s the United States that makes the assertion, we cannot simply say we believe it,” he said.
If having expertise sophisticated enough to conduct the attack could be a reason to conclude that the attacker was Iran, “that would apply to the United States and Israel as well,” said a source at the Foreign Ministry.
The attacks occurred around the time Abe was meeting with Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.
The Japanese government has refrained so far from commenting on who is responsible for the attacks.
AFP and Press TV also contributed to this story.
Hong Kong leader apologizes as massive rally chokes city
Hundreds of thousands of protesters choked Hong Kong’s streets for a second straight Sunday in a defiant rebuke of a reviled extradition law, piling pressure on the city’s embattled leader who apologized for causing “conflict” but refused to step down.
Huge crowds marched for hours in tropical heat, calling for the resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam, who was forced to suspend the bill as public anger mounted, AFP reported.
Throngs of black-clad protesters snaked their way for miles through the streets to the city’s parliament – a repeat of a record-breaking demonstration last Sunday that organizers said more than a million people attended.
As night fell the huge crowds had once more taken over multiple major thoroughfares, including outside the legislature, with the police seemingly ceding the streets to the jubilant masses.
Critics fear the law will entangle people in China’s courts and damage the city’s reputation as a safe business hub.
Lam’s office put out a statement late Sunday admitting that shortcomings in how her administration handled the law had “led to a lot of conflict and disputes” and “disappointed and distressed many citizens”.
“The chief executive apologizes to the citizens and promises to accept criticism with the most sincere and humble attitude,” it said.
It came a day after she announced she would postpone the law indefinitely.
Still, Sunday’s statement fell well short of demands that she resign, shelve the bill permanently and apologize for police using tear gas and rubber bullets earlier in the week.
The international finance hub was rocked Wednesday by the worst political violence in decades as protesters were dispersed by baton-wielding riot police.
Many accused the police of using excessive force and anger was further fanned by authorities calling the largely young protesters “rioters”.
Nearly 80 people were injured in the unrest – including 22 police officers – with both sides showing a willingness to escalate action and reaction to levels unseen in the usually stable business hub.
One man died late Saturday when he fell from a building where he had been holding an hours-long anti-extradition protest.
He had unfurled a banner on scaffolding attached to an upscale mall, but fell when rescuers tried to haul him in. Police said they suspected the 35-year-old was suicidal.
Throughout the day, demonstrators queued for hours to leave flowers and tributes where he fell.
Advisers and pro-establishment lawmakers urged Lam to delay the bill after Wednesday’s violence.
Official: Turkey will continue cooperation with Iran despite US pressure
By Sadeq Dehqan & Farzam Vanaki
Despite Washington’s pressure, Ankara will not stop cooperation with Tehran, said Seyyed Jalal Ebrahimi, the secretary general of Iran-Turkey Joint Chamber of Commerce.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and P5+1, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran. The states refraining from abiding by the sanctions, mainly targeting Iran’s oil sector, face US penalties.
He added Iran and Turkey have an obligation to conduct trade and maintain economic relations with each other.
Continued on Page 2
As Trump accuses Iran, he has one problem: His own credibility
By Peter Baker
WASHINGTON — To President Trump, the question of culpability in the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is no question at all. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he declared on Friday.
The question is whether the writing is clear to everyone else. For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.
For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.
Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own.
“The problem is twofold for them,” said John E. McLaughlin, a deputy CIA director during the Iraq war. “One is people will always rightly question intelligence because it’s not an exact science. But the most important problem for them is their own credibility and contradictions.”
The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.
At one point shortly before taking the oath of office, he compared intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany and ever since has cast doubt on their findings about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Continued on Page 2
Turkey’s Erdogan sees Russian S-400s delivery starting in July – NTV
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expected Russian S-400 missile defense systems to start arriving in Turkey in the first half of July, broadcaster NTV reported on Sunday, a development set to fuel tensions with NATO ally Washington.
The S-400s are not compatible with NATO’s systems and have been a growing source of discord between Turkey and the United States in recent months, Reuters reported.
“We discussed the S-400 subject with Russia. Indeed the S-400 issue is settled,” Erdogan was cited as telling reporters on his plane returning from a visit to Tajikistan, where he attended a summit and met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think they will start to come in the first half of July,” he added, giving a more specific forecast than he has in the past.
US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan this month outlined how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet program unless Ankara changed course from its plans to buy the missile systems.
Erdogan said he would discuss the issue with US President Donald Trump when they meet at this month’s G-20 summit.
“When someone lower down says different things, then we immediately make contact with Mr. Trump and try to solve issues with telephone diplomacy. Matters don’t take long there,” he said.
Messi ‘bitter’ as Colombia stuns Argentina
Lionel Messi said his team was feeling bitter after Argentina lost its opening Copa America match 2-0 to Colombia despite dominating the second half.
Goals from Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata in the final 20 minutes gave Colombia its first tournament victory over Argentina in 20 years as Messi’s hopes of finally landing a major international tournament after losing in four finals suffered a serious blow, AFP reported.
“We leave here feeling bitter,” said Messi following the Group B clash in Salvador.
“In the second half we had our chances.”
One of the best of those fell to the 31-year-old Barcelona icon but he headed wide after Colombia’s goalkeeper David Ospina got down quickly to push out a header from center-back Nicolas Otamendi.
But although Argentina dominated possession and created more chances in the second period, it rarely caused Ospina any serious concerns.
“We didn’t want to start this way, obviously, but now we have to lift our heads and keep going,” said the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who lined up in an enviable forward trio with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria of Paris Saint-Germain.
“In the first half we retreated a little and were holding on, but in the second we really opened up,” said Messi, the Argentina captain.
“Whenever you lose it’s hard for us, we usually take it badly. Now we have to think about Paraguay.”
Argentina can still make the knockout stages with games against Paraguay and guests Qatar, the Asian champion, to come.
Midfielder Leandro Paredes, who forced a diving save out of Ospina with one long range strike and sent a second whistling past the post, was pleased with the second half performance.
“We created a lot but unfortunately they scored in our best period,” he said.
Colombia was the better side in a goalless first half but scored twice against the run of play in the second period, with both goals coming from substitutes.
“I came on and helped my team. We did the best we could and we managed to turn the game around at the end of the second half. We played really well,” said Zapata, who this season helped Italian Atalanta qualify for the Champions League for the first time in its history.
Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, who only took over Colombia after leaving his job with Iran at the end of the January-February Asian Cup, paid tribute to the side’s collective effort.
“Colombia as a team was the best player on the pitch. We played with a lot of discipline, concentration, with responsibility, and players with the quality of James (Rodriguez) and (Radamel) Falcao helped us a lot in this organization,” said Queiroz.
And he praised his team for “controlling Messi a bit,” noting that “we’re always talking about him and you cannot neutralize him.”
Both he and Argentina counterpart Lionel Scaloni agreed that each side had its moments during the game.
“In some moments we were on top, then they were superior to us – that’s how football goes, there are different stages in matches,” said Scaloni.
Colombia, though, is well placed to win the group now.
“We’re still a long way from where we want to go,” warned Colombia’s playmaker James Rodriguez.
Minister: Iran-Turkmenistan friendship ties to be modernized
Art & Culture Desk
Mutual cultural cooperation will pave the way for bilateral collaboration in other fields, said the Turkmenistan Culture Minister in Tehran on Sunday.
The relations between Iran and Turkmenistan will be promoted in the light of modernization of the two states, Atagely Shamuradov made the statement at the opening ceremony of Turkmenistan Cultural Week, which is being held at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall from June 16 to 18, adding
He said “both countries have always enjoyed good relations and their friendship ties are ever-increasing.”
Handicrafts and artifacts of both countries have always had a high appeal for both Turkmen and Iranians, he said.
Cultural week aims to develop familiarity with traditions that both countries have in common, Shamuradov added.
According to him, in 2018, Days of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran were successfully held in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat.
‘Ruhnama’ (The Book of the Soul), written by Saparmurat Niyazov, the president of Turkmenistan from 1990 to 2006, will be introduced at a special meeting, which is to be organized at the National Library and Archives of Iran.
The opening ceremony concluded with performances of traditional Turkmen music.
Groups of Turkmen dancers and musicians will give performances during the festival.
Exhibitions, which are scheduled to be organized at the Iranian Artists Forum, will showcase artworks by Turkmen artists. In addition, Turkmen costumes and handicrafts will be on view at showcases at the forum.
Groups of Turkmen dancers and musicians will give performances during the festival.
The forum will also host workshops and meetings which will be organized by a group of Turkmen and Iranian artists on Monday.
A lineup of movies by Turkmen filmmakers will also be screened during the festival, which will end with a roundtable on the Silk Road at the Sa’di Hall of Milad Tower.
G20 agrees to tackle ocean plastic waste
Group of 20 environment ministers agreed on Sunday to adopt a new implementation framework for actions to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste on a global scale, the Japanese government said after hosting the two-day ministerial meeting.
Environment and energy ministers of the Group of 20 major economies met this weekend in Karuizawa, northwest of Tokyo, ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, western Japan, on June 28-29, Reuters wrote.
One of the top issues was ocean plastic waste as images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic have sparked outrage, with many countries banning plastic bags outright.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants his country to lead the world in reducing marine plastic trash, including developing biodegradables and other innovations.
The new framework is aimed at facilitating further concrete action on marine waste, though on a voluntary basis, after the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany adopted the “G20 action plan on marine litter” in 2017.
Under the new framework, G20 members will promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans through various measures and international cooperation.
They will also share best practices, promote innovation and boost scientific monitoring and analytical methodologies.
“I’m glad that we, including emerging countries and developing countries, were able to form a broad international framework,” Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, told a news conference.
Japan plans to host the first meeting under the new framework this autumn when officials of environment ministers in the G20 countries are due to meet for the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue.