Iran’s steel exports hit 675,000 tons in January
According to statistics released by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), major Iranian steelmakers exported 675,000 tons of steel in the first month of 2020.
They also exported 5.88 million tons of finished and semi-finished steel in the first 10 months of the current Iranian year, to January 20, a 25-percent increase year-on-year, reported Press TV.
The figures did not include exports by Iran’s small private sector mills which like other Iranian producers send the bulk of their products to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Iranian steel mills are monitoring the global market for any gap from falling Chinese exports in the wake of a coronavirus epidemic.
China is the world’s largest steel exporter, but overseas orders for Chinese steel are reportedly declining. According to S&P Global Platts, Turkey, Iran and Russia are in a race to fill the gap in the market.
Iran’s industrial metals, specifically steel, are the latest target in the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, but officials say the sector is unfazed and keeps growing.
In December, 2019, the US government launched the latest salvo in the campaign as it warned against exports of steel-making materials to Iran.
The US Department of State cautioned that those involved in transfers or exports to Iran of graphite electrodes and needle coke, which are essential materials for Iran’s steel industry, were at risk of sanctions regardless of their nationality or location.
However, Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani put the damper on Washington’s haughty grandstanding, saying Iranian producers had obtained the technology to make graphite electrodes.
Iran is a leading producer of steel in the world, with officials saying exports continue despite the US sanctions.
The country plans to raise steel output to 55 million tons a year by 2025, of which 20 to 25 million tons would be earmarked for exports.
Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Jafar Serqini has said Iran currently has 35 million tons of steel production capacity. Iran’s steel exports will exceed 11 million tons this Iranian year.
Iran open to talks, but won’t succumb to pressure: AEOI chief
Iran open to talks, but won’t
succumb to pressure: AEOI chief
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran is open to talks on the country’s nuclear program, but will not bow to pressure for its decisions.
Salehi made the remarks during a meeting with the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, in Vienna, Press TV reported.
“Relations with the IAEA are very good and based on mutual understanding, and as an international authority, this organization and its decisions should not be influenced by political inclinations,” Salehi said.
In his meeting with Grossi, the AEOI chief also underlined, “Iran welcomes negotiation and logic, but will not make any decisions under pressure.”
The IAEA head, for his part, praised Iran’s cooperation with the international organization in various areas and demanded that the Islamic Republic continue constructive cooperation with the agency as in the past.
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US to renew sanctions waiver on Iraq’s imports of Iranian gas: Official
US to renew sanctions waiver
on Iraq’s imports of
Iranian gas: Official
The United States will grant Iraq a 45-day extension to a waiver allowing Baghdad to continue importing Iranian gas despite American sanctions, an Iraqi official told AFP on Wednesday.
The US slapped tough sanctions on the Iranian energy sector in late 2018 and initially granted Iraq a 45-day waiver before repeatedly extending it for 90 or 120 days.
Iraq relies on gas and electricity imports from its neighbor Iran to supply about a third of its power grid, crippled by years of conflict and poor maintenance.
“The extension this time will be for just 45 days, with some strict conditions,” the senior Iraqi official said.
The two countries were still in talks over what exactly those conditions were.
US pressure on Iraq
Washington has repeatedly insisted Iraq wean itself off Iran by partnering with American companies to capture natural gas to use for its power plants and to improve transmission of electricity into homes to reduce waste.
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Iran-Russia trade rising despite external conditions: Moscow
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said the trade turnover between Tehran and Moscow is rising despite the challenging external conditions.
The Russian official noted that the trade turnover increased to $2b last year, TASS reported on Tuesday.
Trade relations between the two countries increased after anti-Iran sanctions were removed as a result of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
However, the United States’ unilateral pullout from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposition of sanctions against Iran have created obstacles in the way of expansion of trade ties between Iran and Russia.
Russia, as one of the signatories to the nuclear deal, has repeatedly denounced the US illegal sanctions against Iran and has tried to continue its economic relations with Tehran.
Morgulov said the two countries’ trade turnover amounted to $1.74b in 2018 and $1.58b in the period between January and September 2019.
Agriculture products are the backbone of the trade between Tehran and Moscow. Trade turnover in the agriculture sector amounted to 1.28b in the period between January and September 2019, an increase of 41.6% year-on-year.
Russia’s exports to Iran include machinery, steel, wagons, wood, vegetable oil, corn, barley, red meat, and other goods, while its imports from Iran are mostly dairy products, vegetables, and fruits.
“We hope that the temporary agreement, which is aimed at creation of a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), will give an extra impetus to expansion of ties,” Morgulov said, adding that the agreement “was enforced last October.”
After several years of negotiations, Iran and the EEU reached a free trade agreement in early 2019, which came into force in late October.
Based on this agreement, about 840 commodity items are subject to preferential tariffs, which means tariffs on some goods are reduced and for some commodities, tariffs are levied.
Iran is a very important market in the region and development of ties with this country is of high significance for the EEU members.
Signing the free trade agreement between Iran and this union has laid the ground for the expansion of trade ties between the two sides.
Iran said in February that its trade volume with the union surpassed $1 billion since implementation of the agreement between the two sides.
President urges ministries to help people in snow-hit north
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered four ministries to mobilize efforts to help the people in the northern provinces hit by heavy snowfall.
At least seven people were killed and 85 others wounded in the heavy snowfall and avalanches that hit northern Iran, especially Gilan and Ardebil provinces.
In a weekly session of the cabinet on Wednesday, Rouhani ordered the roads and urban development, energy, information and communications technology, and interior ministries to mobilize all their capacities to expedite the aid and rescue service work and relieve the problems caused by the heavy snowfall in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The president also assigned Head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization Mohammad Baqer Nobakht as his representative to visit the crisis-hit areas in order to address the problems.
The heavy snowfall in Gilan, which began on Sunday evening, with a height of up to 1.5 meters in some areas, created serious problems for the residents of at least 52 cities of the province, such as power cuts in almost all areas including the provincial capital of Rasht, IRNA reported.
In Gilan, the snow started on Sunday evening in the western part of the province, and spread to the central and eastern parts on Monday and Tuesday.
The power access of 256,000 people in Gilan was cut, but the Energy Ministry managed to restore the access for some 50,000. The snowstorm also caused outages in telephone and mobile communications.
An official of National Emergency Service said five people were killed in an avalanche triggered by heavy snow in Gilan.
The official added that two more people were killed in Rasht, the capital of Gilan Province, and dozens injured due to extreme weather conditions and snow-related incidents across the province.
Rescue teams were dispatched to a key road north of the country to help cars trapped in the snow.
Earlier reports in the Iranian media suggested that the snowfall and strong winds had dumped one meter of snow on the northernmost parts of the road near Rasht.
Also the heavy snowfall, which began on Saturday in Iran’s western and northwestern provinces, caused some roadblocks in the region.
Height of the snow has reached six meters in the Qarah Bolagh district in the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, a provincial official said Monday.
The snowstorm has been unprecedented in the region for the past few years, Head of Mahabad’s Road Maintenance and Transportation Office Mohsen Khademi said.
He added a number of cars and vehicles belonging to the office, including two snow grinders, were completely buried under mound of snow.
Referring to rescue of 25 people trapped in the snowstorm along the roads in areas in the province, Khademi added that the weather conditions prevented the emergency services from reaching the cars trapped in the snow.
Fossil fuel pollution behind four million premature deaths a year: Study
Air pollution from burning fossil fuels is responsible for more than four million premature deaths around the world each year and costs the global economy about $8 billion a day, according to a study.
The report, from Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, found that burning gas, coal and oil causes three times the number of deaths as road traffic accidents globally, the Guardian reported.
Children, especially those living in low-income countries, are particularly affected with an estimated 40,000 dying each year before they reach their fifth birthday because of exposure to particulate pollution from fossil fuels.
“Air pollution is a threat to our health and our economies,” said Minwoo Son, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.
“Every year, air pollution from fossil fuels takes millions of lives, increases our risk of stroke, lung cancer and asthma, and costs us trillions of dollars.”
The study, released on Wednesday, analyzed global datasets of surface level concentrations of common pollutants PM2.5, ozone and NO2 to calculate the health impact and the subsequent economic cost for 2018. It found:
NO2, from petrol and diesel vehicles, power plants and factories, is linked to roughly four million new cases of asthma in children each year. Approximately 16 million children live with the condition due to exposure to fossil fuel pollution.
Tiny particulate pollution – known as PM2.5 – is attributed to roughly 1.8 billion days of work absence because of illness each year.
China, the US and India are hardest-hit financially by the impact of dirty air with estimated costs of $900 billion, $600 billion and $150 billion each year respectively.
The study argues that the solutions to the air pollution crisis are clear – and would also help tackle the climate emergency.
It says moving to a clean energy and transport system would have economic as well as health benefits. It cites research published in the US recently by the Environmental Protection Agency that shows every $1 invested under the US Clean Air Act yielded at least $30 in return.
Likewise, a weekly car-free day in
Bogota, Colombia, yielded up to $4 in health benefits for every $1 invested.
“This is a problem that we know how to solve,” said Son.
“By transitioning to renewable energy sources, phasing out diesel and petrol cars, and building public transport. We need to take into account the real cost of fossil fuels, not just for our rapidly heating planet, but also for our health.”
Sepahan thrashes Al Ain in ACL opener; Persepolis beaten by Al Duhail
Iran’s Sepahan got off to flying start at the 2020 AFC Champions League with a 4-0 demolishing of the UAE’s Al Ain while in Group C Persepolis suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar’s Al Duhail on Tuesday.
Mohammad Mohebi gave Sepahan a first-half lead with a sublime header before goals from Brazilian Kiros Stanlley, Soroush Rafiei and Mohammad Tayebi sealed an emphatic victory for Amir Qalenoei’s men in Group D.
Sepahan will travel to Doha to face Qatar’s Al Sadd SC – which played to a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr – next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in Doha’s Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium, Yahya Golmohammadi’s Persepolis was stunned by two goals inside first 13 minutes by a Mario Mandzukic-inspired Al Duhail.
The Croatian international striker – who left Italian giant Juventus to join Qatari league leader in January – opened his account with just five minutes into the Asian elite club competition with a close-range header on Almoez Ali’s cross.
The Iranian defenders should have done better on the goal as they stopped playing and protested an assumed shove by the Croatian before the ball fell to Ali for the cross.
The Qatari side again capitalized on a moment of defensive error by Persepolis as Han Kwang-song collected a loose ball at the edge of the area and found Edmilson in the box. The Brazilian fired low to double his side’s lead in the 13th minute.
Iranian Reds suffered further blow as prolific midfielder Mehdi Torabi was forced out injured by the interval.
Despite dominating the ball possession in the second half Golmohammadi’s men still failed to create clear-cut opportunities with their best chance coming in the stoppage time when Anthony stokes’ long-range effort was cleared by keeper Mohammed Musa.
Persepolis will take on Emirati side Sharjah next week.
Sharjah was beaten 1-0 at home by Saudi team Al Taawoun.
Record-holder titles with most awards at 38th Fajr Film Festival
Three Iranian films garnered the most awards at the 38th Fajr Film Festival’s closing ceremony, held on February 11 in Tehran.
‘Butterfly Stroke’, directed by Mohammad Kart, brought the best supporting actress award for Tannaz Tabatabai’s role in Kart’s directorial debut which also brought Amir Aqaei the best supporting actor honor.
The best editor award went to Esmaeil Alizadeh. The film also received the best sound engineer, and audience choice award.
The film narrates the story of some ostracized people from poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Tehran. The people have to pretend to be strong if they want to survive the brutality of their environment, ifilmtv.com reported.
A number of top-rating Iranian actors such as Mohammad-Javad Ezzati, Tannaz Tabatabaei, Mahlaqa Baqeri, Pantea Bahram and Amir Aqaei star in the film.
‘Day Zero’, directed by Saeid Malekan, brought the best costume design award for Amir Malekpur and best special effects for Mohsen Ruzbehan.
Malekan’s film also received Best Film in the New Look section and the Special Jury Prize.
The Golden Simorgh for the Best Film, from the national point of view, also went to this movie.
The film is about Iran’s intelligence and police operations to arrest the Jundallah terrorist group founder and leader Abdul-Malik Rigi.
Iranian actors Amir Jadidi and Saeid Soheili play two lead roles in the project alongside a couple of international actors.
‘The Sun’, Majid Majidi’s drama about child labor in Tehran, won the Crystal Simorgh for Best Film.
Majidi and his co-producer Amir Banan received their award during the closing ceremony of the festival organized at Tehran’s Milad Tower.
The film, co-written by Majidi and Nima Javidi, won the award for Best Screenplay.
The film also received the Best Set Design award for Keyvan Moqaddam.
A cast of Iran’s A-list film stars, including Ali Nassirian and Tannaz Tabatabaei, and some students of a special school for child workers in the slums of Tehran played roles in the movie. The group of child workers received honorable mentions.
Majidi’s film narrates the story of a child who works in a tire graveyard and his mother is hospitalized because of mental illness. The deprived child who is living in a poor neighborhood is told by one of his neighbors that there is a treasure in the basement of his school. So the child, accompanied by his friends, gets involved in an adventure to find the treasure.
The 38th edition of the festival kicked off on February 1 and closed on February 11.
Since its establishment in 1982, the Fajr Film Festival has played a vital role in the development of Iranian cinema.
Supervised by Iran’s Culture Ministry, the festival hosts veteran directors and new filmmakers from Iran every year.
The international version of the festival will be held in April 2020.
Sanders wins in New Hampshire as Biden crashes
in New Hampshire as Biden crashes
Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire’s high-stakes Democratic primary on Tuesday, according to US network projections, leaving rivals including party stalwart Joe Biden in his wake as he staked his claim to challenge President Donald Trump in November.
Sanders, the flag-bearer for the party’s progressive wing, had 26 percent of votes with most of the count complete in the northeastern state, where he routed Hillary Clinton in 2016, AFP reported.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank the people of New Hampshire for a great victory tonight,” Sanders told cheering supporters after NBC and ABC called the result in his favor.
“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” the senator from neighboring Vermont added as raised the roof with his rallying cry for fairer taxes and health care reform.
Indiana ex-mayor Pete Buttigieg finished in second place at 24 percent as he readied for the more difficult battlegrounds ahead.
“Now our campaign moves on to Nevada, to South Carolina, to communities across our country. And we will welcome new allies to our movement at every step,” he said.
Midwestern moderate Amy Klobuchar maintained a late surge to place third on about 20 percent, while liberal Elizabeth Warren finished in fourth at about nine percent.
Trump weighed in, tweeting: “Bootedgeedge (Buttigieg) is doing pretty well tonight. Giving Crazy Bernie a run for his money. Very interesting!” Trump tweeted.
After months atop the pack, Biden had already conceded he expected to do badly in New Hampshire, as he did a week earlier in Iowa – and the former vice president’s worst fears were beginning to materialize as he languished in fifth with just over eight percent.
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Drop in China virus cases raises hopes despite growing death toll
Drop in China virus cases raises hopes despite growing death toll
The number of new cases in China dropped for a second straight day in a virus outbreak that has infected about 45,000 people and killed more than 1,100, health officials said on Wednesday.
The number of new cases has trended down in the past week, raising hopes that the epidemic may be peaking, according to AP.
The National Health Commission said 2,015 new cases had been tallied on Tuesday, the second straight daily decline and down from nearly 3,900 a week ago. Commission spokesman Mi Feng said the situation is still grim but “we have seen some positive changes.”
Leading Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan told doctors in Wuhan that while the rest of China may have turned the corner, more efforts are still needed to stop the spread of the virus in the city and the rest of Hubei Province, the hardest-hit area.
The total number of cases in mainland China reached 44,653 and the death toll hit 1,113. Two people have died elsewhere, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.
A Chinese drug manufacturer announced it has begun producing a drug developed by US company Gilead Sciences Ltd. for possible use against the new virus.
While most of the infections have been in China, it has gradually rippled overseas. In Japan, 39 new cases were confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined at Yokohama, bringing the total to 174 on the Diamond Princess.
A Formula One race in Shanghai in April became the latest event canceled because of the virus. Organizers said they would consider holding it later in the year if the situation improves.
DBS told 300 employees to work from home after it learned that an employee had been infected by the virus. The Singapore bank said all staff on the same floor should do so as a precautionary measure. The city-state has 50 confirmed cases.
In China, state media said a large cluster of cases in a district of Tianjin, a port city southeast of Beijing, has been traced to a department store. One third of Tianjin’s 104 confirmed cases are in Baodi district, where the store is located, Xinhua reported.
China is struggling to restart its economy after the annual Lunar New Year holiday was extended to try to curb the spread of the virus. Traffic remained light in Beijing and many people were still working at home.
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised tax cuts and other aid to industry as the government tries to limit growing damage to the economy. The outbreak has become the latest political challenge for Xi and China’s ruling Communist Party.
Xi’s announcement of tax cuts came as companies face increasing losses due to the closure of factories, offices, shops and other businesses in the most sweeping anti-disease measures ever imposed.
The government needs to “maintain stable economic operation and social harmony,” Xi said in comments broadcast on state television.