Flash floods hit eight Iranian provinces
Urban and rural areas in eight provinces of Iran have been affected by spring floods that have killed at least 10 people over the past days.
The heavy rainfalls have resulted in flash floods in the provinces of Isfahan (central Iran), Yazd (central Iran), Kerman (southeastern Iran), Sistan and Baluchestan (southeastern Iran), South Khorasan (eastern Iran), Khorasan Razavi (northeastern Iran), Semnan (northern Iran), and Tehran (northern Iran), Tasnim News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The head of the Rescue and Relief Organization of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Mahdi Valipour, said at least 10 corpses have been retrieved from the flood-hit areas, while more than 100 people have been rescued.
He added at least six cities and 47 villages in those provinces have been affected by flash floods.
People have been warned to avoid staying in areas in proximity to river banks.
A crew of six electricity workers dispatched to the flood-stricken areas in Kerman lost their lives amid efforts to restore basic services to people affected by the natural disaster.
Iranian investor to sign IKIA development plan abandoned by French
Iran will soon sign the contract to build a new terminal at the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) in Tehran to handle 25 million passengers a year, an official said.
The new terminal, T2, is part of an expansion plan which the French abandoned in 2017 in anticipation of new US sanctions on Iran, canceling a $2.8 billion agreement, Press TV reported.
The project is now to be awarded to a domestic investor, IKIA Managing Director Mohammad Mehdi Karbalaei announced.
“Necessary measures to prepare contract documents and expedite the start of study, design and implementation of the project are being carried out rapidly, and soon the memorandum of this large investment will be signed with a well-known and prominent domestic investor,” he said.
The new terminal will be built on 410,000 square meters of land and will include a new runway, parking lots and a flight control tower, Karbalaei said.
The airport, 30 kilometers southwest of Tehran, is currently operating at an annual handling capacity of 10 million passengers mainly through its first terminal, T1. Last June, Iran opened Salam Terminal dedicated to pilgrims, but it is not part of IKIA’s master expansion plan.
Officials say the ultimate plan is to also build a third terminal, T3, to raise the capacity to 90 million passengers a year.
The idea to build IKIA was conceived before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with original designs prepared by a US consortium in order to make it a regional air travel hub but the airport was inaugurated in May 2004.
In January 2016, French industrial group Bouygues signed a preliminary deal to build and run T2, but the company as well as its fellow French partner Aeroports de Paris canceled the agreement in 2017, citing failure to get financial backing from international banks which feared US reprisals.
Iran had hired the Netherlands Airport Consultant Company (NACO) as its main adviser in the project to expand IKIA’s capacity to 35 million passengers.
NACO and the French companies were among scores of international firms which rushed to Iran as the country re-opened for business after the lifting of sanctions in early 2017, but they withdrew after then Donald Trump pulled the US out of a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed the sanctions.
The IKIA lies along the main highway linking Tehran to Bandar Abbas port in the Persian Gulf, with access to top tourist cities of Isfahan and Shiraz. A high-speed railway between Tehran to Isfahan is about to connect through the airport.
It will have four major zones: an aviation zone, a free economic zone, a special economic zone and a mixed-use zone which will be linked by road and rail to four corners of Iran in a “smart” transport network.
The IKIA is currently Iran’s second customs gateway through which $5 billion worth of goods flow into the country a year, according to Karbalaei.
Rouhani slams Israel as enemy of Palestine, entire region ahead of Int’l Quds Day
Iran’s president on Wednesday denounced Israel as the enemy of Palestinians and other nations in the region, but said the Zionist regime’s occupation of Palestine will not last forever.
“The Zionists are the enemies of the region, of security, of Palestinian people and of their neighbors, and they are the executioners and tyrants of [contemporary] history, who have displaced millions of people from their homes,” President Hassan Rouhani said at a weekly cabinet session on Wednesday as supporters of the Palestinian cause were preparing to mark the International Quds Day worldwide.
Referring to the International Quds Day, which falls on May 7 this year, Rouhani said the occasion would be a “mourning day for the Zionists” this year, Press TV wrote.
He said the Quds Day, which was named by the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini to champion the Palestinian cause, is a source of pride for Iran and a legacy of the late leader.
“The Zionists thought that the issue of Quds was done for good, and that their occupation was consolidated. But then the Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini) created this earthquake (the Quds Day) and made them realize that Quds is victorious,” he said.
The president further said that the Palestinian people will sooner or later return to their land, and that Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque will be liberated from the occupation.
Rouhani said Israel tried very hard to overthrow Iran’s Islamic Revolution soon after its came to fruition, adding that all the difficulties the Iranian nation has been facing up to the current day are somehow rooted in Israeli enmity.
He explained that Iran and six world powers were on the verge of reaching a nuclear agreement nearly a year before the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was inked in 2015, but Israel and certain reactionary countries in the region told the US to hold off for a few months.
They told the US, according to Rouhani, that “we will reduce oil prices so Iran would be forced to agree to whatever you say”. And that is how they managed to hamper the signing of a deal, he recalled.
He said they continued their conspiracies against Iran even after the JCPOA was clinched and that they succeeded in one of their plots during the 2016 US election, which saw former US president Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.
Rouhani was referring to the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 by Trump, who under intense lobbying by Israel and Saudi Arabia adopted a very hostile policy of sanctions and threats against the Islamic Republic.
“The Zionists got Trump elected and they knew [Trump] was an inept person who can be fooled easily,” he said. “They made him their mercenary and scrapped the JCPOA, thinking the deal was finished for good.”
‘Sanctions have been broken’
The Iranian chief executive also voiced optimism about the ongoing talks in Vienna to secure a revival of the JCPOA under the new US leadership, which has promised to rejoin the deal and abandon Trump’s Iran policy.
“As the head of the Executive Branch, I announce before the people that the sanctions have been broken, and if we stand united, the sanctions will be lifted soon,” he said, emphasizing that the other side has no way but to return to all of its commitments under the JCPOA.
Rouhani lauded the Iranian negotiators, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, saying, “What our negotiators did in Vienna with regard to the sanctions has been a big job, and if the other side fully returns to law, to its commitments and to the [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231, I think things will be wrapped up soon.”
The negotiations are in the right framework and direction, he reiterated.
Talks in Vienna began early last month with three rounds having already been concluded.
The next round is scheduled to begin on Friday, when negotiators from the participants to the JCPOA – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – as well as the US would return to the Austrian capital after consulting with their respective capitals.
Russia’s top negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov said on Tuesday that the talks are still making progress in spite of the “wishful thinking” of some bad actors.
On Saturday, after the conclusion of the third round of the talks, Araqchi said the discussions have reached a level of “maturity” and “clarity”.
Iran: Vienna talks would have stalled if US had insisted on keeping sanctions
Blinken says US has shown ‘seriousness’ to rejoin JCPOA
EU: Negotiations ‘difficult’ but source of hope
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied a report that the United States does not intend to remove all its sanctions on the Islamic Republic in order to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal.
“If the United States had insisted on such matters, the talks would have halted by now,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told IRNA, referring to the ongoing discussions between Iran and the remaining parties to the landmark agreement, known as the JCPOA, in Vienna to revitalize it.
Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are set to resume a fourth round of weekly talks in the Austrian capital on Friday to discuss steps that the US is required to take to rejoin the deal from which former US president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.
A US delegation has been in a separate location in Vienna, hence representatives of the five powers and the European Union, which coordinates the talks, shuttle between both sides because Iran has rejected direct talks Americans.
Khatibzadeh said that “differences between Iran and the US in Vienna are not few” and that “some US stances are not acceptable”.
“That is why the Iranian delegation is conducting the talks carefully and punctiliously,” he added.
Press TV on Tuesday quoted “an informed source” as saying that America’s “continued refusal to terminate all the sanctions” on Iran “will definitely bring the Vienna negotiations… to a halt”.
“America’s insistence on not terminating these sanctions will lead to a definitive halt in the negotiations” the unnamed source told the broadcaster.
“The so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) as well as visa and U-turn regulations are all in violation of Article 29 of the deal,” the source was quoted saying.
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Iran completes first clinical trial phase of Fakhra COVID-19 jab: Project manager
The first phase of the clinical trial of the Iranian COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed Fakhra, was completed, said the manager of the project to develop the vaccine.
In an address to a ceremony to mark the first phase’s completion, Ahmad Karimi said following the collection and final analysis of the data, the second phase will begin, IRNA reported.
Being developed by the Iranian Defense Ministry, the jab has been named after the former head of the ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated near Tehran in November 2020 in an act of terror, according to Press TV.
The first phase of the vaccine’s human trial kicked off in March in a ceremony attended by Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami and Health Minister Saeed Namaki. The first volunteer was Martyr Fakhrizadeh’s son.
Karimi noted that the protocols pertaining to the second phase have been presented to the Health Ministry, expressing hope that the phase would begin after obtaining the required permits from the ministry.
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Iran’s Constitutional Council allows top military commanders to run for president
Under a set of new, specifically-defined qualifications, top military commanders in Iran are now allowed to run for president, and a long-running public debate about whether or not men of the military should be able to contest presidential elections has been effectively settled.
Iran’s Constitutional Council, which interprets the Constitution and vets candidates’ qualifications based on those interpretations for general elections, announced on Wednesday that earlier, broadly-worded criteria had now been clarified in specific detail, Press TV wrote.
One criterion says, “ministers, provincial governors, mayors of cities with a population of above two million, [and] top commanders of the armed forces with the status of major general and higher” can now register for candidacy.
Formerly, the council had to interpret a rather broadly-worded constitutional article on the qualifications of president on a case-by-case basis for each nominee.
The new specific criterion ends a debate that had been unfolding publicly for years about whether military men should be authorized to run for an inherently civilian office. Since the Constitution does not directly address the issue, the two sides of the debate both had ammo at their disposal. Opponents argued that officers should remain in their barracks and leave the office of the presidency to civilians. Proponents pointed to the managerial skills of distinguished officers and said they could run safely by resigning from their military posts first.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether the new interpretation addressed another public debate — about the gender of potential candidates. While laying out the broad qualifications of president, the Iranian Constitution stipulates that the individual be, among other things, a political and religious “rajol.” The word is borrowed from Arabic and literally translates as “man.” Some constitutional scholars argue that it should not be taken literally and that a woman of high political status and/or background should be considered “a political rajol” as well and thus be entitled to run for president.
Iran is preparing to hold its 13th presidential election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution on June 18. Hopefuls will be able to register as early as next week.
No military commander who is on duty has declared a presidential bid yet. But several people with military backgrounds have, among them former defense minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Second-Brigadier General Saeed Mohammad.
A Greater Eurasia through deeper Iran-Russia integration
By Farshid Farahnakian*
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently gave news of the decision to start negotiations for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) free trade agreement between the union`s member states: Iran, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.
The importance of this order is better understood if put into perspective: the East-West Corridor connects Shanghai to the heart of Europe, and the North–South Corridor links Saint Petersburg to Mumbai. The only region in the world in which these two corridors converge is Iran and Eurasia.
The EAEU helps boost and reinforce this corridor since one of Iran`s challenges in doing so is to attract transit through the corridor. Consistent trade between Iran and the Union means a well-trafficked corridor.
Economic experts believe that if the United States’ tariff war on China escalates, and the US continues trampling the achievements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China will eventually join the EAEU, whose members have ancient racial and cultural links with the country, are mostly placed along the Silk Road, and will consequently turn the region into the world`s new economic hub in the next decade.
In a Supreme EAEU Council session, Putin added that the union is working on a cooperation agreement with China. Both countries, Russia and China, stress the issue of confronting the United States’ hegemony and seek to neutralize its outrageous policies in the East. NATO`s expansion to the very borders of Russia and China hindered in the South China Sea led to the “China-Russia mutual understanding of the international threat”.
Aside from the confronting US policy, another reason for this strategic cooperation is rooted in the concept of a “Greater Eurasia” which is increasingly popular among Russian intellectuals, which means Russia turning back from the West to the Far East. In the eyes of Russia, it is Asia that is going to accommodate technological and economic markets of the future.
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