Iran’s gas exports from PSEEZ rise by 9%
Pars Special Economic Energy Zone (PSEEZ) in Iran’s southern province of Bushehr exported 1.43 million tons of gas condensate in the month to Feb. 19, registering a nine-percent increase in comparison with the corresponding period last year.
Director general of the PSEEZ’s customs department, Ahmad Pourheidar, said that despite the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May, accompanied by pressure and threats to prevent the sale of Iranian oil and gas condensate, PSEEZ’s condensate exports during the past month increased nine percent and 15 percent, respectively, in terms of volume and value, in comparison with the corresponding period last year, Shana reported.
Over three million tons of non-oil commodities worth $1.298 billion were exported from PSEEZ during the period, indicating a 13-percent increase in volume, year on year.
The zone’s products include ethylene glycol, urea, butane, propane, mono-ethylene glycol, tri-ethylene glycol, low- and high-density polyethylene, natural gas condensate and cement.
Earlier this month, Deputy Director for Development and Engineering at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Reza Dehqan said that Iran is ready to take the phases 13, 22, 23 and 24 of the South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf on stream by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20).
He added that the development projects of the phases 13, 22, 23, and 24 have made 94-percent progress, and the units are expected to start gas production in the coming days.
According to the official, all the platforms of the four phases have become operational and the related onshore gas sweetening trains are now ready to join the production line.
Referring to the development plan of Phase 14, Dehqan said some 70 percent of the project has been completed, and the phase will partially come on stream by next summer.
The South Pars gas field, divided into 28 phases, is located in the Persian Gulf, on the common border between Iran and Qatar. The field is estimated to hold 14 trillion cubic meters of gas as well as 18 billion barrels of condensates.
The field covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which lie in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers, better known as the North Dome, are located in Qatar’s territorial waters.
Iran: Western countries have forgotten their responsibility in fight against drugs
Iran says countries that are destination of smuggled drugs, especially the Western states, are not committed to the principle of joint responsibility in the fight against illicit drugs and have forgotten it.
Iran’s Secretary General of Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Headquarters Brigadier General Eskandar Momeni in a meeting with the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov in the Austrian capital slammed some Western countries for their lack of cooperation with Iran in the fight against drugs, according to IRNA.
In the meeting, Momeni explained about measures adopted by Iran in 2018 to combat illicit drugs.
“Despite illegal, cruel, and unilateral sanctions, as well as the lack of international assistance, the Islamic Republic of Iran managed to seize more than 800 tons of illicit drugs in 2018, of which 45 tons were heroin and morphine,” he said.
Last month, the Iranian police seized 600 kg of heroin destined for Italy, he said, adding that this year, 18 police forces have been martyred during the anti-narcotics campaign.
Brigadier General Momeni added that this is while, the level of international assistance to the Islamic Republic has been minimized and other countries, especially the Western countries, are not committed to “the principle of joint responsibility”.
Momeni expressed satisfaction with the approval of the ministerial statement of the UN summit, expressing hope that the new political document would help the countries implement their commitments promised over the past decade.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) of the UNODC that started on March 14 and will run until March 22 in the Austrian capital Vienna.
The UN official said that UNODC has made many efforts to attract more funding, increase cooperation and support for Iran’s government in its fight against the phenomenon.
“In international documents, the amount of discoveries in Iran is higher than that of all the countries, and Iran is preventing the transfer of narcotics to other countries of the world, and it represents a large part of its contribution to the global fight against narcotics,” Fedotov confirmed.
He said that recently Japan has provided approximately $900,000 to the country’s program.
Iran, which has a 900-kilometer common border with Afghanistan, has been used as the main conduit for smuggling Afghan drugs to narcotics kingpins in Europe.
Despite high economic and human costs, the Islamic Republic has been actively fighting drug-trafficking over the past decades.
The country has spent more than $700 million on sealing its borders and preventing the transit of narcotics destined for European, Arab and Central Asian countries.
The war on drug trade originating from Afghanistan has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past four decades.
The Iranian official also in a separate meeting with Pakistani officials urged the Asian country to tighten security control over regions bordering Iran, and to strengthen its cooperation with Iran to better fight the drugs smuggling.
“The smugglers, unfortunately, use Pakistan as a safe region to smuggle illegal drugs into Iran,” Momeni said at a meeting with Pakistani delegation attending the summit in Vienna.
Iran is ready to cooperate on borders security, intelligence and operations, with the aim of spotting international smuggling gangs, as well as decreasing demand for the drugs, Momeni said.
Iran to launch counterpart to EU trade channel soon
Iran will soon set up its part of a new payments vehicle, devised to bypass US sanctions, Abdolnaser Hemmati, the governor of Central Bank of Iran (CBI), said.
“During the talks that my colleagues had with the representatives of the three European countries (Britain, France and Germany) and the president of INSTEX at the CBI office in Tehran, they gave a full description of the Iranian mechanism in line with the European mechanism,” Hemmati said late.
“We are waiting for practical measures from Europe,” the official added.
Hemmati noted that the launch of the Iranian trade counterpart to INSTEX known as STFI does not mean that Tehran will wait for the European payments vehicle to go operational.
He said Iran will continue to trade with its partners through specific methods it has designed to get around sanctions.
INSTEX is based in Paris and is managed by the German banking expert Per Fischer who was in Tehran for talks this week.
“Important step to discuss with Iranian counterparts how to make the EU-Iran trade mechanism operational!” the French Embassy in Tehran said on its official Twitter account in reference to the move.
The three European countries that are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal along with Russia and China established INSTEX for non-dollar trade with Iran in response to the US withdrawal in May from the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement which lifted international sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities.
INSTEX is conceived as a way to help match Iranian oil and gas exports with purchases of EU goods.
The US has criticized the trade mechanism and demanded that the EU withdraw from the nuclear agreement.
Tasnim and Reuters contributed to this story.
Trump signs first veto to secure funding for border wall
Donald Trump signed the first veto of his presidency Friday, overriding congressional opposition to secure emergency funds to build more walls on the US-Mexico border.
Trump declared in the Oval Office that he was “proud” to sign the veto.
It came after he suffered an embarrassing defeat on Thursday when senators, including fellow Republicans, voted to terminate his declaration of an emergency on the Mexican border.
Surrounded by law enforcement officials, senior aides and people who have lost loved ones to cross-border crime, Trump said the veto reaffirming his power to get the funds without Congress was to “defend the safety of all Americans.”
“The mass incursion of illegal aliens... has to end,” he said. “People hate the word ‘invasion’ but that’s what it is... Our immigration system is stretched beyond the breaking point.”
Trump’s emergency declaration allows him to secure funding for construction of border walls after he failed to get authorization from Congress.
Opponents, who accuse Trump of executive overreach and overhyping the problem on the border, could now use court challenges to halt the emergency measure.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives and a leader in the fight to prevent Trump’s wall plans, called Trump’s action a “lawless power grab.”
“The House and Senate resoundingly rejected the president’s lawless power grab, yet the president has chosen to continue to defy the Constitution, the Congress and the will of the American people,” she said in a statement.
The Senate would have to vote to override the veto as well, requiring more Republicans than the original 12 to sign on, which is unlikely to happen.
US Attorney General William Barr said the president’s emergency declaration was legal.
It is being challenged in court as an unconstitutional usurpation of Congress’ power of the purse.
Trump has made border security an over-arching domestic issue in his presidency and says it will remain at the center of the agenda in his 2020 reelection bid.
Although there has been a surge in arrival of families and children at the border, overall apprehensions at the boundary are down substantially from a decade or more ago.
Researchers have said that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, despite Trump repeatedly linking immigration and crime.
The president has said he wants a wall to prevent immigrants from crossing into the United States illegally. Democrats deny there is an emergency at the border, saying border crossings are at a four-decade low. Most Republicans support Trump’s position that the border is out of control. However, there were defections in Thursday’s Senate vote by Republican senators angered at what they see as Trump’s improper seizing of power over the government purse strings – a role reserved for the legislature.
Trump thanked Republican senators who voted for his declaration in a Twitter post earlier on Friday. “Watch, when you get back to your State, they will LOVE you more than ever before!” he said.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.
Violence returns as France’s yellow vest protests enter fourth month
Protesters set fire to a bank and ransacked stores on Paris’ landmark shopping street in a new flare-up of violence as France’s yellow vest demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms entered their fourth month.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons as the protests turned violent again after weeks of relative calm during marches and declining numbers of participants, Reuters reported.
A branch of Banque Tarneaud spewed flames before firefighters arrived and two news-stands on the Champs Elysees avenue caught fire as bonfires burned in the streets.
Protesters threw cobblestones at riot police through clouds of tear gas in front of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe monument, which was ransacked at the peak of the protests in December.
Police had arrested more than 80 protesters by mid-afternoon as demonstrators looted stores around the Champs Elysees and ransacked the high-end Fouquet’s restaurant.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the protests were small compared with a few weeks ago, with only 8,000 people participating in Paris.
“But within this 8,000, there are more than 1,500 ultra violent people who are there just to smash things up, to fight and to attack,” he said, adding more than 1,400 police officers were mobilized.
“I’ve given instructions to the police this morning for great firmness so that nothing slips by,” he added.
Protesters have promised to draw bigger numbers to mark the fourth month since the movement erupted in mid-November, over since-scrapped fuel tax hikes and the high cost of living.
Named after the high visibility vests French drivers have to keep in their cars and worn by protesters, the revolt quickly swelled into a broader movement against Macron and his reforms.
However, the weekly demonstrations, held every Saturday in Paris and other cities, have been generally getting smaller since December, when Paris saw some of the worst vandalism and looting in decades.
After the spike in violence, Macron offered a package of concessions worth more than 10 billion euros (£8.52 billion) aimed at boosting the incomes of the poorest workers and most pensioners.
His government ordered police to crack down on the protests in January, leading to complaints of police brutality after a series of injuries.
The 41-year-old former investment banker also launched a series of national debates which are aimed at determining what polices people want the government to focus on.
Saturday’s protests coincide with the end of the debates.
Iran to face Spain, Puerto Rico, Tunisia at FIBA World Cup
Iran will face Spain, Puerto Rico and Tunisia at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, starting on August 31.
The draw for the FIBA’s flagship competition took place in front of some 8,000 spectators at Shenzhen Bay Arena in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday, where Iran was drawn in Group C of the tournament.
Iran will open its campaign against the Caribbean side Puerto Rico on August 31 before playing Tunisia on September 2.
On September 4, the final day of the group stage, the Asian powerhouse will face the winner of the competition in 2006 and three-time Olympics silver medalist Spain.
Iran beat Australia 85-74 in the Iranian capital of Tehran last February to seal a third-place finish in Group F of the Asian qualifiers, following Australia and Japan, and secure a place in the competition for the third consecutive time.
Beijing, Tehran have unique opportunities to expand ties
As two civilized countries, China and Iran face unprecedented opportunities and capacities for the expansion of mutual cooperation, especially in Silk Road festivals and projects, a member of the Propaganda Committee of Communist Party of China said.
Chen Ching, also the director general of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the province of Gansu, made the remarks in an interview with IRNA on Saturday.
She pointed to long-standing cultural relations and friendship between the two countries and said that many provinces like Gansu Province in northwestern China have an eye on closer ties with Iran.
The official highlighted the role of Iran in the Silk Road, and went on to say, “Silk Road is a plan belonging to the international community and is a way to link countries to each other, in which all countries are considered, but the role of Iran is more evident.”
She underlined, “We are very keen that the Islamic Republic of Iran is using all its power to take part in Silk Road projects and can cooperate with various provinces of China.”
Within the framework of the Silk Road, the way to expand relations in various fields, especially trade between Iran and Chinese provinces, including Gansu, has been opened to Iran, the Chinese official added.
She called for the two countries to have greater opportunities for exchanges and tourism, cultural and artistic exchanges, by using the potential of the two countries and holding festivals and conferences.
Cyclone hits Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, killing 140
Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone that has killed more than 140 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands who are cut off from roads and telephones in mainly poor, rural areas.
Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three southern African countries, according to the UN and government officials, AP reported.
Hardest hit is Mozambique’s central port city of Beira where the airport is closed, electricity is out and many homes have been destroyed. The storm hit Beira late Thursday and moved westward into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in eastern areas bordering Mozambique.
Homes, schools, businesses, hospitals and police stations have been destroyed by the cyclone. Thousands were marooned by the heavy flooding and, only caring for the lives, abandoned their possessions to seek safety on higher ground.
UN agencies and the Red Cross are helping with rescue efforts that include delivering food supplies and medicines by helicopter in the impoverished southern African countries.
The number “is constantly changing” World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel was quoted by UN News as saying.
Mozambique’s President Filipe said the damage is “very worrisome” and said that the flooding made it difficult for aircraft to land and carry out rescue operations, according to Mozambique’s state radio.
Zimbabwe government spokesman Nick Mangwana said Saturday that 24 people have died from the floods so far in Zimbabwe. The deaths are mainly in Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani, a mountainous area along the eastern border with Mozambique that is popular with tourists. No tourist deaths were recorded, he said.
The dead included two school students who were among dozens of children trapped in a dormitory after rocks fell from a nearby mountain, said Mangwana.
Roads and bridges were swept away, slowing rescue efforts by the military, government agencies and non-governmental organizations, he said.
Zimbabwe state television station, ZBC, reported that 150 people are missing.
South Africa’s military has sent in aircraft and 10 medical personnel to help in Mozambique and Malawi, it said in a statement Saturday.
Rouhani calls for fighting Islamophobia in West after New Zealand massacre
Mosque attack suspect in court
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Friday massacre of Muslim people in New Zealand highlighted the need for “all out confrontation against… the Islamophobia pervasive in the West which is unfortunately encouraged by some Western governments.”
“This barbaric crime, which resulted in the martyrdom and injury of a number of innocent and defenseless worshippers, is another proof of the need for an all-out fight against terrorism and hate-mongering toward other religions and ethnic groups, and the Islamophobia which is common in the West, and unfortunately fueled by certain Western governments,” Rouhani said in his message published on his website after the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand that killed 49 worshippers and wounded dozens.
He promised Iran’s Foreign Ministry would “diligently” follow the “arrest and trial of the perpetrators of this heinous act.”
“This crime indicated that terrorism is still among the important issues of the world, and needs an integrated fight and a united approach by all countries against violence and extremism in any part of the world,” he noted.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is still committed to decisive fight against terrorism and racism, and is sure that, thanks to the unity and solidarity of Muslim people, such blind and aimless plots by the enemies would result in nothing but further disgrace for them,” he added.
Rouhani also called on the international community, particularly Muslim states, to show serious reaction to these anti-human crimes, and “disgrace the overt and covert sponsors of such moves.”
The Australian gunman behind the massacre, identified as Brenton Tarrant, broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a “manifesto” in which he denounced immigrants, calling them “invaders”.
In his manifesto, Tarrant said he saw US President Donald Trump as “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
Suspect in court
The right-wing extremist charged over the horrifying attacks flashed a white power gesture as he appeared in court Saturday, while a shellshocked community began digging graves for the 49 people he stands accused of slaying.
28-year-old Tarrant stood largely impassive in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read the first of what are expected to be a host of murder charges he is likely to face.
Flanked by armed police, the former personal fitness trainer gestured an upside-down “okay” – a symbol used by white power groups worldwide.
He did not request bail and was remanded in custody until an April 5 court appearance.
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