Iran to export over 14,000 tons of cement to Somalia
Over 14,000 tons of cement will soon be exported from the southern island of Qeshm to Somalia, said Pejman Bahrami, the deputy head of Qeshm Free Zone Organization for maritime transport and port affairs.
“A 14,500-ton cargo of bagged cement produced in Qeshm will be exported to Somalia on a Tanzanian ship named AMINA-H,” Bahrami told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday, Fars News Agency reported.
He added that the loading of the cement cargo started on Tuesday and will take four to five days.
Iranian factories have the capacity to produce over 80 million tons of cement and clinker per year.
Iran exports cement to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, the UAE, Georgia, Oman, India, Somalia and China.
Iranian officials have underlined the country’s capability to decrease dependence on oil revenues, stressing the US inability to reduce Iran’s crude sales.
According to Iran Cement Association Secretary Abdolreza Sheikhan, Iran produced 41 million tons of cement during the nine months to Dec. 21, of which 4.8 million tons were exported.
Each ton of domestically-produced cement is currently priced at $25-30 in export markets, which indicates that earnings amounted to $120-144 million, he said.
“Cement production during the nine months saw no significant change compared with a similar period last year, while exports of the product grew by two percent in weight, year-on-year. Afghanistan was our biggest export destination,” the official added.
Mogherini champions multilateralism at UN, defends Iran deal
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday championed multilateralism at the United Nations and defended the EU’s position to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.
“The European Union and the United Nations were born out of the same founding idea after the two world wars: The idea that in order to avoid yet another catastrophe, we need to have a multilateral mechanism, a mechanism to work toward win-win solutions as the only alternative to a new continental and world war,” Mogherini told the Security Council in a debate on UN-EU cooperation, Xinhua reported.
“This idea is still valid. And over the decades, our elective affinity has grown even stronger. There is a ‘European way’ to peace and security, and it is identical to the ‘UN way’ to peace and security.”
She said that it is a way that rests on mediation, peacekeeping operations, sustainable development, protection of human rights, humanitarian assistance and respect for shared rules.
“Our support for the UN and for multilateralism is a choice based on our values. At the same time, it is a pragmatic choice. A decision taken in a multilateral context is by definition more democratic and more inclusive, and therefore more robust and more sustainable over time.
“You will never hear the European Union questions whether the UN serves our interests and values, because we know that it serves universal interests and values. And we know that this is a precondition for building sustainable peace and security, which is in our own ultimate interests, always,” said Mogherini.
She defended the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, citing the need for “a solid multilateral architecture for non-proliferation and disarmament.”
Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and later reinstated sanctions against Iran. Other signatories to the deal have been trying to salvage the pact, but US sanctions have largely scared off European companies from doing business with Iran.
“Our collective security requires a solid multilateral architecture for non-proliferation and disarmament. This is why the European Union will continue to work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran,” said Mogherini.
“The global architecture for disarmament and non-proliferation is being questioned like never before. And to me, this is one of the greatest paradoxes of our times,” said Mogherini. “A new arms race – and a nuclear arms race in particular – can only make the world less secure.”
Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments has been confirmed in 14 consecutive reports of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the latest verification being just a couple of weeks ago, she said.
“Alongside Iran’s implementation, the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the deal. So we will continue to work to preserve the economic dividends of sanctions lifting.”
The Europeans have promised to help firms do business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal. Iran has itself threatened to pull out of the agreement unless EU powers demonstrably protect its economic benefits.
Rouhani meets Iraq’s top cleric Sistani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Wednesday met Iraq’s top Shia authority Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, the first such meeting for an Iranian head of state.
Rouhani sat down with Sistani at his residence on the last day of his visit to the neighboring country after paying a visit to the holy shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH) – the first Imam of Shia Muslims.
Rouhani briefed Sistani about his negotiations with Iraqi officials during his three-day trip to Iraq, a statement released by the top Iraqi cleric’s office said.
According to the statement, Grand Ayatollah Sistani welcomed “any step toward strengthening Iraq’s relations with its neighbors within the framework of mutual interests and based on respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of each other.”
He also thanked “Iraq’s friends” for helping the country defeat the Daesh terror group.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Rouhani’s Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi and Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi were also present at the meeting.
Sistani is known as the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims. His fatwas have significantly contributed to shaping Iraq’s political structure in the wake of former dictator Saddam Hussein’s overthrow.
In June 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign in Iraq, Sistani called on his followers to rush to the military’s help in the fight against the terrorist outfit.
The fatwa helped bring together Shia fighters, Sunni tribesmen as well as Christian and Izadi volunteers under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to reverse Daesh’s gains and ultimately end the terror group’s territorial rule in Iraq in late 2017.
Rouhani visited the holy shrines of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam, and his half-brother Abbas ibn Ali (PBUH), in the holy city of Karbala on Tuesday.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani began his official Iraq visit on Monday, which featured several meetings and the signing of memorandums of understanding for the expansion of bilateral ties in various fields.
In a joint statement, the two neighboring states hailed Rouhani’s Iraq visit as a “turning point” in efforts to strengthen “strategic” cooperation based on non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
Press TV contributed to this story.
Ethiopia black boxes bound for Europe, crash pilot had in-plane issues
The Ethiopian Airlines pilot whose jet crashed killing 157 people had reported flight-control problems, the company said on Wednesday, as it prepared to send the black boxes to Europe from a disaster that has rocked the global aviation industry.
The still unexplained crash, which happened just after take-off from Addis Ababa, followed another disaster involving a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people. Though there is no proof of links, the twin disasters have spooked passengers, led to the grounding of most of Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet and hammered shares in the world’s biggest plane maker, Reuters reported.
Since the Indonesia crash, there has been attention on an automated anti-stall system that dips the aircraft’s nose down.
Ethiopia Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw said it was still unclear what happened on Sunday, but its pilot had reported control issues – as opposed to external factors such as birds.
“The pilot reported flight control problems and requested to turn back. In fact he was allowed to turn back,” he said.
A decision where in Europe to send the black boxes would be taken by Thursday, the airline said.
Multiple nations, including the European Union, have suspended the 737 MAX, grounding about two-thirds of the 371 jets of that make in operation around the world, according to Reuters calculations.
Many airlines were managing to keep to schedule by using other jets while economic woes meant some may be grateful for a pause. The biggest impact could be on future deliveries given Boeing has nearly 5,000 more 737 MAXs on order.
India said it would not take any deliveries until safety concerns were cleared and Ethiopian Airlines said it would decide whether to cancel orders after a preliminary probe.
Passengers were fretting too, with many seeking reassurances they would not be flying on a 737 MAX. Kayak.com was the first big site to say it would modify filters to allow customers to exclude particular types of planes from queries.
Nevertheless, the United States held out against suspension and Boeing affirmed its “full confidence” in the model.
Boeing shares have fallen some 11 percent since the crash, losing $26.65 billion of market value.
More than a dozen relatives of those who perished paid their respects on Wednesday at the rural site where Flight ET 302 came down in a fireball. Workers set up tents decorated with white roses.
Given problems of identification of charred remains, it will take days to start returning them to families, probably weeks for some which will require dental or DNA testing.
The victims came from more than 30 nations.
Of the top 10 nations by air passenger travel, all but the United States and Japan halted the 737 MAX. Egypt, Thailand, Lebanon, Serbia, Kosovo and Uzbekistan joined them on Wednesday.
Resisting pressure, the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) acting administrator Dan Elwel said its review had shown “no systemic performance issues.”
The three US airlines using the 737 MAX – Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines – stood by the aircraft.
Global warming may trigger heart attack risk
Extreme temperatures can have a deadly effect on a person’s heart, new research showed.
Many heart attacks worldwide have been triggered by wild temperature swings brought on, in part, by global warming, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal, UPI wrote.
The researchers say an elevated set of risk of factors like diabetes and hyperlipidemia make people more vulnerable to death from heat.
“In the case of very high and very low temperatures in particular, this has been clearly demonstrated,” Kai Chen, a researcher at the Institute of Epidemiology at German Research Center for Environmental Health and study author, said in a news release.
“In this latest study, we wanted to see to what extent the heat and cold-related heart attack risk has changed over the years.”
The researchers compared the data of heart attack patients from 1987 to 2014 with data from 2001 to 2014. The patient data was compared to weather data from both time periods.
“Our analysis showed that, over the last few years, the risk of heat-induced heart attack with increasing average daily temperature has risen compared to the previous investigation period,” Chen said.
Chen said those with diabetes or hyperlipidemia were at greater risk during the second period, which the researchers suspect is partly
influenced by global warming — because increased heat makes is more likely that people with either condition have a health event.
Cold weather can also increase blood pressure in people poor heart health, which could lead to a cardiac event — and ultimately a heart attack.
One Swedish study showed that when it’s extremely cold, increasing the temperature by just 7.4°C can reduce a person’s risk of having a heart attack by 2.8 percent.
Conversely, extreme heat can lower blood pressure, causing a person’s heart to beat faster and putting them at risk for a cardiovascular event.
Alexandra Schneider, a researchers at the Institute of Epidemiology at German Research Center for Environmental Health and lead author of the new study, say that extreme weather events — such as the 2018 heat waves in Europe — may cause cardiovascular disease occurrence to increase. She also said there is likely going to be a decrease in cold-related heart attacks in places such as Germany, but that very cold days will continue to represent a trigger for heart attacks.
“Our study suggests that greater consideration should be given to high temperatures as a potential trigger for heart attacks — especially in view of climate change,” Schneider said.
Ronaldo lauded in Spanish media after Juve gives Atletico ‘momentous beating’
Cristiano Ronaldo was lauded in the Spanish press after his stunning hat-trick in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid sent Juventus into the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Ronaldo’s record-equaling eighth treble in Europe’s elite competition hauled Juventus back from a 2-0 defeat in the first leg in Madrid and sent the Serie A leader through 3-2 on aggregate, Reuters reported.
It was the fifth time the Portuguese forward had helped to knock Atletico out of the Champions League, having won the 2014 and 2016 finals against the Madrid club and beating it in the quarterfinals in 2015 and semifinals in 2017 with Real Madrid.
“Cristiano imposes his law,” said the front cover of Spanish newspaper Marca, while daily AS hailed Ronaldo, who is the leading goalscorer in the competition, as “the king of the Champions League.”
There was also a sense of regret that Real, which had a humiliating exit at the hands of Ajax Amsterdam last week, had allowed its all-time top scorer to leave for €103 million (£88.5 million) last July.
“Madrid should never have let a player like this escape, when he had a contract, was the all-time top scorer and one of the patrons of the four Champions League wins,” added Marca.
“They gave away a legend for €100 million. We just saw that Ronaldo is priceless. Letting him go was a historic error. Cristiano wasn’t worth €100 million, he was worth a billion.”
There was also criticism for Atletico’s negative tactics and its attempt to merely defend its lead. Diego Simeone’s side did not manage to have one shot on target in the 90 minutes.
“With Cristiano in the mood for a demolition and on one of those nights which make him the most ravenous and lethal striker in history, Juventus walked all over Atletico,” said El Pais.
“Simeone’s team fell the Italian way. They only wanted to defend, and they received a momentous beating.”
Atletico, which has lost three European Cup finals, had targeted reaching this year’s showpiece in its Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
Now its only focus is chasing down La Liga leader Barcelona, which has a seven-point advantage at the top of the Spanish top flight.
Midfielder Saul braced himself for criticism back home and gave a scathing assessment of his side’s display.
“We will get attacked from all sides and we have to face it,” he said.
“They were superior to us in every sense, we couldn’t even manage to kick them or foul them or show our character. We had space but we couldn’t cause their goalkeeper any danger. We lacked intelligence.”
Ronaldo’s remit was, in large part, to help the Turin club win the Champions League.
“This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before,” said Ronaldo, who has now scored 18 goals in his past 14 Champions League knockout appearances and has been directly involved in 76 goals in 77 knockout matches (62 goals, 14 assists).
“It was always going to be a special night and it was – not only for the goals but for the team.
“This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League. We enjoyed a magical night. Atletico were a difficult team but we were strong too. We will see what will happen.”
“The lads have shown great maturity,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“They interpreted the game at their best, I have to congratulate them. This is what we wanted in the first leg.
“Tonight we were lucid, there was the risk of having a hysterical match, as if everything had to be done in 10 minutes.”
Tehran, Tbilisi to expand cultural ties
In a meeting between Iran’s cultural attaché in Tbilisi, Hamid Mostafavi, and the director of Giorgi Leonidze State Museum of Literature, Lasha Bakradze, they discussed the expansion of cultural and artistic cooperation.
During the meeting, both sides talked about holding photo exhibitions on Tehran-Tbilisi historic relations, IRNA reported.
Referring to the cultural and historic relations between Iran and Georgia, Mostafavi said the presence of various works and documents in museums, libraries, scientific and research centers of both countries paves the way for conducting further joint programs and holding scientific seminars as well as exhibitions.
Given the shared areas of interest between the Georgian museum and Iran’s Golestan Palace, Mostafavi suggested holding photo exhibitions to introduce historic relations between Iran and Georgia.
Bakradze, for his part, welcomed the proposal and voiced his readiness for maintaining joint cooperation, especially in holding the exhibition.
He also expressed hope for both countries to continue friendly ties in the future.
The museum was founded in 1930 upon the initiative of David Arsenishvili, a legendary museum-founder, who also was the creator of Tbilisi Theater Museum, and later the famous Andrej Rublow Museum in Moscow.
Earlier, the Archbishop of Georgia Elijah II said that relations between Iran and Georgia have been flourishing throughout history.
Iran to overtake Qatar in South Pars with new gas phases
Iran on Sunday will launch four new development phases of the world’s largest gas field at South Pars with a capacity to produce 112 million cubic meters per day, the Ministry of Oil said.
President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Bushehr on the Persian Gulf to inaugurate two refineries built with $10 billion of investment. With their launch, Iran’s daily gas production will surpass that of Qatar with which it shares the offshore field, reported Press TV.
The $5 billion refinery for Phase 13 is fully operational, with the first shipping of its gas condensate delivered on March 11 for export, the project’s operator Payam Motamed said. Another refinery for phases 22, 23 and 24 will come online Sunday.
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UN Security Council in talks on saving Yemen truce deal
The United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors with the world body’s envoy for Yemen on Wednesday in an attempt to salvage a stalled truce deal seen as crucial to diplomatic efforts to end the war.
Yemen’s former government and its Saudi and Emirati allies agreed in talks with Houthi fighters nearly a month ago to begin a redeployment of forces from the flashpoint city of Hodeida, but nothing has happened on the ground, AFP reported.
UN Envoy Martin Griffiths had told the council on February 19 that the initial stage of the pullback would happen in the following days, marking the first concrete step toward de-escalation.
The redeployment was initially agreed in December under a cease-fire deal reached in Sweden seen as a breakthrough toward ending the devastating war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
UN diplomats said the Houthis were refusing to pull away from the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa as agreed due to fears that forces linked to the Saudi-led coalition will move in to take over those facilities.
General Michael Lollesgaard, who heads a newly-created UN mission to monitor the redeployment from Hodeida, joined Griffiths in updating the council behind closed doors.
Ahead of the council meeting, the envoy met with ambassadors of the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia, which are the permanent council members.
On Tuesday, the ambassadors of the P5 in Yemen said they were “extremely concerned” that agreements reached in Stockholm had not been implemented and expressed support for UN efforts to “secure the earliest possible implementation of the arrangements” for redeploying forces from the ports and city of Hodeida.
The ambassadors said the pullback should begin “without further delay and without seeking to exploit the redeployments by the other side.”
Earlier this week, 12 children and 10 women were killed by strikes in Yemen’s northern Hajjah Province that left up to 30 people wounded including 14 children, the UN humanitarian coordinator said.
Later this month, the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen will enter its fifth year, with millions of civilians facing famine.
The conflict has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian conflict.
Iran warns of firm response if Israel acts against its oil shipments
Iran will respond firmly to any Israeli naval action against its oil sales, Iran’s defense minister said on Wednesday, in comments that came a week after Israel said its navy could act against Iranian oil “smuggling” to enforce US sanctions.
Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran has the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the international community would also not accept such action.
Hatami said such confrontation would be considered as “piracy” and warned that “if it happens, we will firmly respond.”
“Certainly, if they (the Israelis) have such an intention, the issue would constitute piracy and an [instance of] international insecurity,” he told IRNA.
“The Iranian Armed Forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” Hatami said.
US President Donald Trump last year quit the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed some sanctions, aiming to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship crude.
Netanyahu threatened to stop what he called Iran’s “covert” oil shipments over maritime routes meant to “circumvent” US sanctions.
“As these attempts expand, the navy will have a more important role in efforts to block these Iranian actions,” Netanyahu said.
Iran’s Navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Iranian warships stepped in on Friday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
An Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander also said on Wednesday that enemies will regret any confrontation with Iran.
“We never welcome any war, but we are ready to respond to any invasion. We hope the aggressors do not need to understand this point by trying it and paying a high price,” Major General Gholamali Rashid said.
The Israeli Navy is mostly active in the Mediterranean and Red Sea.
Iran has one of the world’s biggest tanker fleets in the world.
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