Aliyev to visit Tehran
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will visit Iran in a few days upon the invitation of his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Javad Jahangirzadeh said Wednesday, IRNA reported.
No military aspect to Iran’s satellite carriers: Defense minister
No military aspect to Iran’s satellite carriers: Defense minister
Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran’s satellite carriers have nothing to do with its military activities and lie completely outside the country’s defensive practices.
“The satellite carriers have nothing to do with the subject of missiles, and constitute a completely non-defensive and non-military issue,” Hatami said following a government meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Press TV reported.
According to the defense chief, a satellite might be used for defense-related purposes, but the carriers are totally non-defensive in nature.
On Sunday, the Iranian Space Agency said the country had launched its domestically-made Zafar satellite using a Simorgh satellite carrier, but that the missile had fallen short of reaching the designated orbit.
The agency added that the data from the launch would be used to optimize future launch attempts.
As with every country that has experimented with satellites, the Iranian nation likewise has a vested right to avail itself of the technology, he added, noting that the country would, therefore, strongly pursue its relevant plans in this regard.
The Iranian defense minister was apparently reacting to claims made by France and the US about Tehran’s space program following the launch.
Reacting to the launch on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of trying to improve its ballistic missile skills through the satellite launch and vowed to exert more pressure.
A day earlier, France also criticized the launch and suggested that it was inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to missiles “designed to be capable of” delivering nuclear weapons.”
Also in a statement on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry rejected France’s statement on the Islamic Republic’s space program, saying it is Tehran’s inherent right to develop science and technology, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi reiterated that Iran’s missile defense program has nothing to do with the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 because Iranian missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.
Commenting on Iran’s missile activities, the Iranian defense ministry noted that the defense program was in complete accord with international regulations that prohibit the development of projectiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
“Nothing of the kind exists in the Islamic Republic,” Hatami said. “All of our missiles, which we take pride in and which constitute an important factor of Iran’s defense and military power, are made with conventional warheads.”
“The projectiles are high in precision, something that the Americans came in proper touch with at Ain al-Asad,” he said.
The US airbase, which is located in Iraq’s western Anbar Province came under retaliatory ballistic missile strikes by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) last month.
The strike was prompted by the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, and a number of others in a set of drone strikes targeting Baghdad’s civilian airport.
“We do not need anything beyond this. Our missiles are precision-guided and fitted with conventional warheads,” Hatami added.
The Islamic Republic, he added, was likely to launch its Zafar (Triumph)-2 Satellite in the beginning of the next year on board Simorq (Phoenix) Satellite Carrier.
The official said the country considered the vehicle and satellite technology to be one of the subject matters of its research activities.
He said the Islamic Republic would pursue the research “until it reaches a stable stage,” and the country attains the ability to “do this in the form of a sustained practice.”
US to renew sanctions waiver on Iraq’s imports of Iranian gas: Official
From Page 1
Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding with US powerhouse General Electric last year and has been in talks with other energy firms, but contracts have not yet been signed.
Both American and Iraqi officials told AFP the US was frustrated with Baghdad’s slow progress.
The latest waiver was set to expire this week but the US did not want to create additional pressure on prime minister-designate Mohammad Allawi, who is trying to form a new cabinet at a time of turmoil in Iraq.
Failing to renew the waiver could have exposed Iraq to secondary sanctions for dealing with the energy sector and Central Bank of Iran, both blacklisted by the US.
The waiver has allowed Iraq to continue importing about 1,400 megawatts of electricity and 28 million cubic meters (988 million cubic feet) of Iranian gas over the last 15 months.
Baghdad pays for the imports by depositing Iraqi dinars into an account at the state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), which Iran is technically allowed to use to purchase non-sanctioned goods.
A few payments have been made, but Iran had been unable to access the funds due to ongoing technical disputes.
TBI chairman Faisal al-Haimus told AFP last month that if the waiver was not renewed, his bank would be forced to stop processing the payments.
In May 2018, the US administration abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy and finance sectors in November 2018 as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal.
The sanctions have negatively impacted the economy of Iran and many countries in the region, including Iraq.
Gas imports from Iran generate as much as 45 percent of Iraq’s 14,000 megawatts of electricity consumed daily. Iran transmits another 1,000 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor.
Iraq and Iran share a 1,400-kilometer-long border. For their run-of-the-mill maintenance, Iraqis depend on Iranian companies for many things from food to machinery, electricity, natural gas, fruits, and vegetables.
The administration of US President Donald Trump is pressing Iraq to stop buying natural gas and electricity from Iran or at least show signs that it is reducing the imports. The US has also urged Iraq to establish contracts with US companies.
Iran open to talks, but won’t succumb...
From Page 1
Tehran and six major world powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – signed a nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2015, which was ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
But US President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the landmark agreement, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade.
Under Washington’s pressure, the three European signatories to the JCPOA have so far failed to protect Tehran’s business interests.
Last May, Iran began to gradually reduce its commitments under the JCPOA to both retaliate for Washington’s departure, and trigger the European trio to respect their obligations towards Tehran.
On January 5, Iran took a fifth step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.
Iran says its retaliatory measures are reversible as soon as the European signatories find practical ways to shield mutual trade from the US sanctions.
President urges ministries to help people in snow-hit north
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.