US maximum pressure policy defeated by Iran’s resistance strategy: Shamkhani
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani highlighted the ineffectiveness of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic and said Washington’s policy of “maximum pressure” has been defeated by Iran’s strategy of active resistance.
“The US policy of ‘maximum pressure’, which was followed by false assumptions about the collapse of Iran’s national economy, kneeled down in the face of (Iran’s) strategy of active resistance,” Shamkhani said at a meeting with members of a parliamentary faction tasked with counteracting US sanctions in Tehran on Saturday, Tasnim News Agency reported.
He stressed that the Western media has mounted “a fierce perception war” to support the US policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran.
“Despite suffering heavy economic pressures, the resilient people of Iran, because of their awareness, insight, and wisdom, were not defeated by this war and shattered the enemy’s hopes to achieve its goals,” the official added.
“The resistance leads to success when it is accompanied by an approach of continuous activity and mobility, which can be considered an effective step in the path of continuing the strategy of active resistance,” Shamkhani noted.
The remarks come against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Iranian officials, however, have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of circumventing the American bans and selling crude oil.
Iran fires up advanced centrifuges in latest nuclear step
Tehran warns clock is ticking for EU to salvage agreement
Russia supports restoration of balance within JCPOA
Iran took the third step in reduction of its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal, injecting gas into advanced centrifuges to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Saturday.
The AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told a news conference in Tehran that Iran has started up advanced centrifuges to boost the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium, warning remaining signatories of the nuclear deal that the clock is ticking for them to salvage the landmark agreement in the face of pressure by the United States.
Kamalvandi said the organization has activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes.
“The capacity of these machines is many times more than the previous machines. This started as of yesterday (Friday),” he said.
He added that Iran is now capable of raising uranium enrichment past the 20% level and, while it had no immediate plans to do, so the clock was ticking toward the point where the nuclear deal could not be salvaged.
Since May, Iran has begun to scale back its commitments to the pact following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year and Europe’s failure to fulfill their obligations set out in the deal.
The third step was taken after the Europeans failed to meet a 60-day deadline to provide Iran with meaningful economic incentives as required under the nuclear accord despite expressing vocal support for the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani first announced the decision to expand research and development (R&D) work beyond JCPOA limits on Tuesday. He gave the other side 60 more days to fulfill its commitments.
Iran’s measures reversible
Iran says its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from US sanctions, which were reimposed last year when withdrew from the deal – agreed on by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the US.
As a last-ditch effort to save the deal, French President Emmanuel Macron floated a proposal to give Iran a $15 billion line of credit. The line of credit would be guaranteed by Iran’s oil revenues and would require the US administration to ease US sanctions aimed at barring Iran from selling its oil, France’s foreign minister told reporters earlier this week.
But Trump administration officials flatly reject the possibility of easing sanctions on Iran.
Trump administration has launched “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign on Tehran to force it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.
As part of its previous response to the non-compliance by other parties, Iran has already increased its enriched uranium stockpile beyond the 300 kilogram cap set by the JCPOA and begun enriching uranium to purity rates beyond the limit of 3.67 percent.
The reductions are in accordance with Tehran’s legal rights under Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.
Kamalvandi said that the countermeasures seek to create a balance between its accorded rights and its commitments in a bid to force other signatories to implement the deal and “respect Iran’s rights”.
The spokesman added that with the third step, Iran has effectively cut back on half of its total JCPOA commitments.
Kamalvandi stressed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been informed about Iran’s new nuclear steps which it will continue to monitor.
IAEA chief in Tehran
The Acting Director General of the IAEA Cornel Feruta is scheduled to hold talks with high-level Iranian officials during a visit to Tehran today, the IAEA said in a statement.
“The visit is part of ongoing interactions between the IAEA and Iran,” the IAEA said in a statement on Friday, adding that this included “the IAEA’s verification and monitoring in Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)”.
Reactions to Iran’s move
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov said Iran’s recent decision to activate its advanced centrifuges “should not be over-dramatized”, adding that balance within the nuclear deal must be restored.
“Decision of #Iran to use more advanced centrifuges shouldn’t be over-dramatized. Yes, it’s another deviation from #JCPOA, but new activities will remain verifiable by #IAEA and reversible. No proliferation threat. Just a strong signal that balance within the JCPOA must be restored,” Ulyanov tweeted on Saturday.
However, the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was “not surprised that Iran has announced that it’s going to violate the JCPOA”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Iran’s latest reduction in commitments to a nuclear deal was “unacceptable.”
On Saturday, Britain called Iran’s move “particularly disappointing at a time when we and our European and international partners are working hard to de-escalate tensions”.
Iran’s latest move comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions with the US in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the deal.
Tensions between the two nations deteriorated after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.
Several oil tankers were also targeted near the Persian Gulf last month, with Washington quickly blaming Iran for the suspicious attacks.
Tehran has rejected the accusations of its involvement as baseless, saying the incidents in the Sea of Oman appear to be false flags meant to frame the Islamic Republic.
The United States has engaged in significant regional military buildup, including by sending an aircraft carrier, a bomber task force, an assault ship, and around 1,500 additional forces to the Middle East.
Reuters, AFP, IRNA and Press TV
contributed to this story.
Zarif to Pompeo: US resorts to extortion, not Iran
Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday that what the US is doing is extortion, not Iran’s moves on the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran’s top diplomat made the comments a day after the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed European nations to stop what he claimed Iran’s “extortion” after Tehran again reduced its commitments under the nuclear deal in response to US sanctions.
“We are confident that the UK, France and Germany – Indeed, all civilized nations – will take decisive actions to stop Iran’s nuclear extortion,” Pompeo, who visited the European Union headquarters in Brussels earlier in the week, wrote on Twitter.
“Is it violating a UN resolution & punishing anyone observing it?” Zarif said in his tweet, referring to the US violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the JCPOA from which the US withdrew last year.
But the Iranian foreign minister responded to the Pompeo’s comments, saying that, “What exactly is EXTORTION, @SecPompeo?”.
“Is it violating a UN resolution & punishing anyone observing it? Offering bribes for theft of oil & designating those who refuse?, Zarif twitted on Saturday.
On bribes, he was referring to a recent move by US Special Representative for Iran Affairs, Brian Hook, who tried to bribe the captain of an Iranian tanker illegally detained by Britain last month to pilot the vessel to a country which could seize it on behalf of the US.
“Maybe it’s demanding Iran’s submission or its people starve? Or, is it lawful remedial measures under JCPOA?” the Iranian foreign minister added, referring to an earlier claim by Pompeo that if Iran “wants its people to eat” it must listen to the US.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have deteriorated in recent months following the US unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposition of sanctions against Iran.
Russia, Ukraine swap prisoners in landmark step to ease tensions
Russia and Ukraine carried out a long-awaited swap of 70 prisoners on Saturday, in a deal hailed by President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “first step” toward ending their conflict.
Planes carrying 35 prisoners from each side landed simultaneously in Moscow and Kiev, where the passengers emerged under sunny skies, AFP reported.
“We have taken the first step,” Zelensky said on the tarmac after greeting and hugging former prisoners. “We have to take all the steps to finish this horrible war.”
In emotional scenes at Kiev’s Boryspil airport, family members embraced and handed flowers to the former prisoners, many weeping with joy.
Among those swapped were 24 Ukrainian sailors, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Russian-Ukrainian journalist Kyrylo Vyshynsky.
“I am overflowing with happiness,” Natalya Mokryak, the mother of one of the sailors, told AFP at the airport. “I have finally seen this come true.”
Russian state television showed the Russian prisoners emerging from the plane at Moscow’s Vnukovo-2 airport used for government flights.
Anticipation had been building for days for the exchange, which involved weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow nosedived in 2014 when people in Crimea voted to rejoin to Russia and Moscow’s support for pro-Russia forces in the eastern industrial regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Fighting there has claimed more than 13,000 lives over the past five years.
Zelensky’s election in April has raised hopes that a stalled peace process could be revived.
The comedian-turned-politician vowed during his campaign to have Ukrainian prisoners in Russia returned and has said ending the conflict with Russia is his top priority.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that the exchange would be “a huge step toward normalizing relations” with Kiev.
Saturday’s exchange was “a very important step”, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Iran’s five-month copper cathode production at 110,000 tons
Domestic Economy Desk
The National Iranian Copper Industries Company (NICICO) produced 110,000 tons of copper cathode in the first five months of current Iranian year (March 21-August 22), announced managing director of the company.
Ardeshir Sa’d-Mohammadi also said on Saturday that Khatun Abad Smelting Plant, subsidiary of NICICO has plans to increase its annual production to 120,000 tons from current 80,000 tons by mid-March 2020, imidro.gov.ir reported.
The official also added that NICICO’s annual copper cathode exports will increase 100 percent by the end of current Iranian year, according to company’s strategy.
According to a report by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) Iran’s copper cathode production capacity will reach 655,000 tons by 2025.
Iran’s copper reserves stand at 21 million tons which is 1.3 percent of the global total, the report added.
The NICICO’s copper concentrate production capacity is currently over 1.2 million tons per year and, based on a development plan, this figure is set to reach 2.5 million tons by 2025.
At present, six copper mines are operating in the country.
Nadal one win away from getting to 19 majors, closing gap on Federer
When Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in their titanic Wimbledon final, he moved to within four majors of the Swiss’ 20 for the first time.
Federer could have someone even closer to him by the time the US Open ends, CNN reported.
If pal and sporting rival Rafael Nadal defeats 23-year-old upstart Daniil Medvedev, he would get to 19 majors and close to within one of Federer for the first time.
It would tie him with the top-ranked Djokovic on two majors in 2019, and few would have forecast that after Nadal was crushed by the Serb in the Australian Open final, then slumped — by his unprecedented standards — early on his preferred surface of clay.
He ended the clay swing by winning a 12th French Open title, though, and the Spaniard indeed won’t have to face either of his two toughest rivals, Federer or Djokovic, today after back and shoulder injuries surfaced in their defeats to Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka, respectively, this week.
That’s ironic, since of the Big Three, it’s Nadal whose body has let him down the most, especially his tender knees. A knee injury forced Nadal to retire just last year in the semifinals here against Juan Martin del Potro.
“Of course, I would love to be the one who achieves more grand slams, but I still sleep very well without being the one who have more grand slams,” Nadal told reporters.
“I am happy about my career. I am very happy about what I’m doing. I’m going to keep working hard to try to produce chances. Sunday is one. It’s just one more chance, that’s all. My opponents are going to keep playing. If I’m able to win on Sunday, okay, will be amazing. If I lose, I hope to keep having chances in the future to add things.
“But as I always say to you, and is true: I would love to be the one to have more, yes, but you cannot be all day frustrated or all day thinking about what your neighbor has better than you. You have to be happy with yourself.”
Both Nadal and Medvedev advanced in straight sets under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof on a wet New York day. Nadal got the better of Italian 24th seed Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1 after Medvedev overcame rejuvenated Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3.
Winning tight first sets proved pivotal for the victors, especially since their opponents held the upper hand. The big-serving Berrettini led the tiebreak 4-0 and had two set points at 6-4, while Dimitrov held a set point on the Medvedev serve at 5-6 before the tiebreak.
Nadal’s record against first-time grand slam finalists doesn’t bode well for Medvedev: 5-1.
The one he lost? To Wawrinka in the 2014 Australian Open final, when the now 33-year-old suffered a back injury in the warmup.
Barring an injury, it’s difficult to see fifth-seeded Medvedev — a lanky baseliner who can defend with the best of them and crush 130 mile-per-hour serves to boot — bucking the trend.
Sure, the Russian has made finals in
Washington, Canada, Cincinnati and now the US Open — only luminaries Andre Agassi and Ivan Lendl have done that before in the Open Era in the same season — but he was crushed by Nadal 6-3, 6-0 in the final in Canada.
He has also had a draining fortnight in New York, never previously making a grand slam quarterfinal.
Cramps, a shoulder injury, abductor problem and quadricep complaint have all arose, and now he gets warrior Nadal.
“Talking about Rafa, it’s tough to find words,” Medvedev told reporters. “So many players and so many people found them before me. He’s one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport.
“He’s just a machine, a beast on the court. The energy he’s showing is just amazing.
“To play him in your first grand slam final should be, I want to say, a funny thing. It’s not going to be a funny thing, but it’s going to be an amazing thing to live.”
A recent meeting
Medvedev, the leader of a young, talented Russian trio that includes Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov, said the recent clash with lefty Nadal could help him, as demoralizing as it was.
“His energy was much higher than mine,” said Medvedev, who has made a habit of beating left-handers this tournament. “He kind of, I would say, (ate) me on the court because the start was kind of similar.
“I had one break point, then he got a break, but I only lost with one break. Then he was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger, and I was only going down.
“It’s great that I have this experience playing him in the final of a Masters. I know what to expect. I know how to prepare for it.”
When they met at the Rogers Cup in August, Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev.
That might not mean a different outcome.
If Nadal has benefited from a smooth path to the finale, Medvedev’s road to the last stage could have been tougher on paper, too. Nadal will be the first top-20 player he will have encountered.
Nadal figures to be the heavy crowd favorite at the start of the match, after Medvedev drew the ire of New Yorkers by snatching a towel from a ball person, giving fans the middle finger and trolling them in an interview following a third-round win over Feliciano Lopez.
The incidents came three years after he was defaulted from a second-tier Challenger for making a racist remark and two years after he collected a fine at Wimbledon for throwing coins toward the chair umpire following a defeat.
Turning the crowd around
Medvedev, however, hasn’t put a foot wrong in recent rounds and received a nice ovation after defeating Dimitrov.
“I can only say I’m a really calm person in life,” said Medvedev. “I actually have no idea why the demons go out when I play tennis.
“Especially when I was a junior, I had a lot of problems with my attitude. I was not getting defaulted, but ... to have a game penalty was easy.
“I was working hard because every time I do something wrong on the court, I’m sitting with myself, ‘I’m not like this in normal life. Why does it happen?’ I don’t want it to happen like this.
“So, I have been working a lot on it, and I have improved a lot. Sometimes it still happens. But talking about normal life, to make me angry, you need to do something crazy for one week in a row.”
Something crazy might need to happen for Nadal to leave New York without a 19th grand slam title.
Iran director, actor awarded at Venice festival’s side event
An international, prestigious cultural foundation in Italy, Blue Knowledge, awarded Iranian-Armenian director of ‘Yeva’, Anahid Abad, with the Marco Polo Project Award on the sidelines of Venice International Film Festival.
Iranian actor, who is known for his role in ‘Queen’ and ‘A Five Star’, Homayoun Ershadi also received the same award.
The award was part of the Marco Polo Project of the Blue Knowledge – a cultural foundation established in 1992 with the initial aim of supporting cultural projects in Africa. Over the years, it expanded its activities to cover all cultural fields, including art, cinema, literature and music. Blue Knowledge organizes events, seminars and workshops and grants awards to spread and promote art across the world, ifilmtv.com reported.
Blue knowledge was in charge of screening the film and is slated to fund Abad’s next film project.
‘Yeva’ was screened on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 76th Venice festival which wrapped up on September 7 in Italy. The prestigious festival opened on August 28 with the screening of ‘The Truth’, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda.
The film is about a young woman named Yeva who escapes her influential in-laws with her daughter Nareh, after her husband’s tragic death and takes refuge in one of the villages in the disputed enclave of Karabakh, Armenia.
Trump impeachment fight looms over freshmen Dems at home in California
It didn’t take long for freshman Rep. Katie Porter to get the question that’s been roiling House Democrats this summer: Should Congress impeach President Donald Trump?
When a constituent told her that “impeachment was a mistake” – because it would help Trump politically – in her first question at an August town hall in her home district, the California Democrat didn’t hesitate.
“I came out in favor of impeaching Donald Trump because no American, especially not a democratically elected President, can be above the rule of law,” Porter said, sparking rousing applause from the several hundred attendees packed into the Islamic Center of Irvine on a recent Saturday afternoon, CNN reported.
“I was one of the first people who flipped a seat to come out on this,” she continued. “People said, ‘Well, you know, this might be risky. You might not get reelected.’ I said I’m here to do what’s right.”
Porter’s exchange underscores the questions that she and other freshman House Democrats who won Republican seats last year are facing as they’re confronted by constituents with a wide mix of impassioned opinions: An urge to embrace impeachment, trepidation that impeachment will actually help Trump get reelected and outright anger over the Democrats’ flirtation with seeking to remove the sitting president from office.
The Democrats such as Porter who have come out for an impeachment inquiry faced voters at town halls over the past month who cheered their position, urged them to go forward with impeachment but also cautioned about the political consequences they could face. Democrats who haven’t backed an impeachment inquiry, meanwhile, are still being pushed by liberal Democrats to get on board.
As lawmakers head back to Washington next week following a six-week recess, the impeachment question will return front and center, with time running short for advocates to get the House moving ahead of House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s stated goal of deciding on introducing articles of impeachment by the end of the year.