Zarif: World not interested in abiding by US anti-Iran sanctions
The Iranian foreign minister said that the world is not interested in abiding by the US sanctions against Iran, adding that important countries are trying to stand against the sanctions.
Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters that measures taken by the European countries indicate that they are committed to the nuclear deal in both word and action.
Zarif said the European Union’s move to activate the “blocking statute” on Tuesday and their consultations with different countries show that they are trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal, but it is important how far they would go.
The EU on Tuesday activated the blocking statute to safeguard its firms active in Iran against US secondary sanctions.
The sanctions, which took effect on Tuesday, prohibit Iran from using US currency. They also bar trading in cars, metals and minerals that include gold, steel, coal and aluminum. Iran will also be barred from buying US and European aircraft.
The Iranian foreign minister described US President Donald Trump’s recent calls for direct talks with Tehran as “propaganda.” He said if they want to prove their sincerity, they should go back to the 2015 nuclear deal.
“The Americans have never been honest and Trump’s move was propaganda,” Zarif said.
“The main reason for it is that Trump has no concern for the Iranian people or international obligations,” the top diplomat added.
“Trump’s main goal is opposing the Iranian people (and what proves this is that) the first batch of sanctions relates to planes,” Zarif said, adding that Iran had planned to receive 200 passenger planes but the purchase was canceled because of the US sanctions.
“The planes were to be used by the Iranian nation, so they are lying and their target is the Iranian people,” he added.
The comments came after Trump last week voiced a willingness to meet with Iran’s leadership, without preconditions.
Official: Pistachio exports earned Iran $1b last year
By Sadeq Dehqan
Iran exported pistachios worth $1 billion in the year to March 2018, said the secretary of Pistachio Association of Semnan Province.
Mansour Abbasian told Iran Daily that Iranian pistachio fetched between $10 and $12 per kilogram in global markets.
Iran exports 75 percent of its pistachio harvest to China, India, central Asian countries and Europe while the rest is consumed in the country, he pointed out.
Iran’s pistachio production exceeded 200,000 tons in the above-mentioned year, Abbasian added.
He cited Kerman, Khorasan, Qazvin and Semnan as the top pistachio producing provinces.
Pointing to stiff competition between Iran and the US in the global pistachio market, the secretary of Pistachio Association of Semnan Province said that US pistachio production was double the amount produced by Iran last year.
The official said Iran’s pistachio production declined this year due to spring frost.
Pistachio cultivation in Iran goes back to thousands of years whereas pistachio farming in the US began in the 1930s with Persian seeds.
The two countries dominate the world’s trade in pistachios. They have been jointly controlled up to 80 percent of annual pistachio output for the last decade.
Iran’s pistachio growers have faced additional pressures from US sanctions, tariffs and restrictions on their ability to access international financial mechanisms over the past four decades. This has helped the US market expand, with farmers — mainly across California — planting the crop.
The US imposes over 240 percent tariff on Iranian pistachios. This means that even without sanctions, the US market has been all but cut off for Iran.
China, Germany defend business with Iran in face of US threats
German FM: We are fighting for Iran deal
China and Germany defended their business ties with Iran on Wednesday in the face of US President Donald Trump’s warning that any company trading with the Islamic Republic would be barred from the United States.
The comments from Beijing and Berlin signaled growing anger from partners of the United States, which reimposed strict sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, over its threat to penalize businesses from third countries that continue to operate there.
“China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-armed jurisdiction,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
“China’s commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions,” it added.
“China’s lawful rights should be protected.”
China, Iran’s top oil customer, buys roughly 650,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Tehran, or seven percent of China’s total crude oil imports. At current market rates, the imports are worth some $15 billion a year.
State energy firms CNPC and Sinopec have invested billions of dollars in key Iranian oil fields such as Yadavaran and North Azadegan and have been sending oil to China.
The reimposition of US sanctions followed Trump’s decision earlier this year to pull out of a 2015 deal to lift the bans in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
Tuesday’s sanctions target Iran’s purchases of US dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and the auto sector.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”
Fight to keep deal alive
Meanwhile, the German government said US sanctions against Iran that have an extraterritorial effect violate international law, and Germany expects Washington to consider European interests when coming up with such sanctions.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran is a “mistake”, and warned that isolation of the country could lead to “chaos”.
“We still think that it is a mistake to give up on the nuclear accord with Iran,” Maas said in an interview with the daily Passauer Neue Presse.
“Nobody is saying the deal was perfect, but it is definitely better than having no deal at all,” he said.
Maas said that Germany and the EU will fight to keep the deal alive, even without the US.
“We are fighting for the deal because it also serves our purpose by bringing about security and transparency in the region.”
Noting Iran’s geographic proximity to Europe, Maas warned that “anyone who’s hoping for regime change must not forget that whatever follows could bring us much bigger problems.”
In a desperate bid to save the nuclear accord, European governments have pledged to do what they can to keep business links with Tehran.
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North Korea raps US restoration of sanctions on Iran
Rouhani calls US ‘unreliable’
North Korea’s foreign minister on Wednesday criticized the US decision to snap back sanctions on Iran following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
In a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Ri Yong-ho said the US and the subsequent reimposition of the sanctions that had been lifted under the multilateral agreement are wrong and run counter to international law, Press TV reported.
Ri added that Tehran and Pyongyang enjoy friendly relations and share common views on various regional and international issues.
The enhancement of relations with Iran and confronting unilateralism are among North Korea’s strategic policies, he said.
The North Korean diplomat further briefed Rouhani on the negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington that took place in Singapore in June.
Meanwhile, President Rouhani said that due to its performance in recent years, the US has become an “unreliable” state in the eyes of the international community – a state which does not honor its commitments. Under the current circumstances, he said, friendly countries should stand together and boost their cooperation.
Iran is willing to expand relations and cooperation on all fronts with the global community, including Pyongyang, Rouhani added.
The president also said that Iran seeks peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, and that Tehran attaches significance to the developments in that region. Ri arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for an official visit at his own request. Earlier he met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues.
The two ministers expressed satisfaction with the quality of Tehran-Pyongyang ties and welcomed further enhancement of relations.
The last time he visited Tehran, Ri accompanied a North Korean delegation to take part in President Rouhani’s inauguration ceremony.
The North Korean minister, whose country has for years been under pressure by the US, arrived in Tehran hours after Washington reimposed its sanctions on Iran.
The US unilaterally pulled out of that deal in May. Tehran has invariably called for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, while discouraging regional tensions that could pave the way for foreign intervention.
The Islamic Republic has also warned Pyongyang of Washington’s unreliability when it comes to deal making.
Iran’s Vaezi: Media’s role crucial in promotion of transparency
The media are promoting greater transparency regarding the performance of the government, which has been among the strategic approaches of the government, said the president’s chief of staff.
The media are intermediaries between the Iranian people and the government, Mahmoud Vaezi added in an address to the staff of Iran Cultural and Press Institute (ICPI) on Wednesday during a visit to the institute on the occasion of Iran’s National Reporter’s Day.
Congratulating the ICPI’s staff on the occasion, he stressed, “If we believe that Iran’s Islamic establishment is also a republic, we are required to know that media is an inseparable part of this belief.”
Promotion of greater transparency has been among the main policies of Rouhani’s administrations over the past five years, Vaezi said, adding that when the issues of promoting greater transparency and having free access are addressed, inevitably the topic of the media is also raised as the media act as a bridge linking people with the government and officials.
Stressing that a high status is required to be attached to the media, Vaezi said, “Compliments have always been paid to [Iranian] reporters. Nevertheless, the 11th and 12th administrations have gone beyond those compliments and have seriously believed in the media.
“We should believe that the situation in the world has changed. Since 40 years ago, the circumstances in our country have also undergone changes. The people, themselves, now decide their destiny.”
It is no longer the period when a government or ruler was deemed the sole decision-maker, he said, adding today, state officials should comply with people’s demands and make their decisions based on public demands. Vaezi noted that achieving this requires strong media.
Today, it is impossible to set up media monopoly in a country and dictate the people, through it, what they should want, he added.
“Nowadays, monopolizing fails to be an effective strategy. We can flourish only through a healthy competition.”
Vaezi said President Hassan Rouhani’s administration believes in greater transparency and free media.
“We are paying the price of this belief of ours. Today, the government has created an atmosphere in which those who believe in media monopoly cannot easily carry out their intentions.”
He added he knew what he was doing during his four-year term in office as Iran’s minister of information and communications technology.
“When the bandwidth is increased 15 times and free access to high-speed internet is provided to close to 50 million people, it means that nothing can, any longer, be hidden from the people and nothing will remain hidden. We seek to give people access to correct information, not any data.
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UN urges Myanmar to pave way for Rohingya returns
United Nations aid agencies called on Myanmar on Wednesday to improve conditions in Rakhine state for the safe return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and provide a clear pathway to citizenship for those eligible.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a joint statement that they needed full access to Rakhine state and were still awaiting permission for international staff to be based in the town of Maungdaw following requests made on June 14, Reuters reported.
The United Nations signed an outline deal with Myanmar in early June aimed at eventually allowing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in Bangladesh to return safely and by choice. But the secret agreement offers no explicit guarantees of citizenship or freedom of movement throughout the country.
The UN agencies said that substantial progress was urgently needed in three key areas: “granting effective access in Rakhine State; ensuring freedom of movement for all communities; and addressing the root causes of the crisis”.
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s western Rakhine state after a military crackdown that started in August last year in response to attacks by ARSA, a Rohingya armed group, on security posts.
Myanmar has rejected accusations of ethnic cleansing and dismissed most accounts of atrocities, blaming Rohingya “terrorists”. It says it is ready to accept back those who fled.
The Rohingya, who regard themselves as native to Rakhine state, are widely considered as interlopers by Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and are denied citizenship.
The UN said that Rohingya remaining in Rakhine are under local orders that severely restrict their freedom of movement, preventing them from reaching jobs, school and health care, and called for these to be lifted.
Pakistan’s opposition parties protest alleged vote fraud
Pakistan’s opposition parties held a rally in the capital calling for the head of the elections oversight body to step down following allegations of fraud and irregularities in last month’s elections.
Wednesday’s protest, involving hundreds of supporters, came hours after the caretaker government said it would try to transfer power on August 14, when nation celebrates Independence Day. Imran Khan, a former cricket star whose party won the most votes, is expected to be the next prime minister, AP wrote.
Khan’s opponents say the military intervened in the July 25 elections on his behalf, allegations denied by the army. Khan has vowed to investigate the charges.
A European Union team that monitored the balloting has said the election results were largely credible.