Rouhani: Maximum public vaccination government’s top priority
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said widespread and maximum vaccination of the country’s people against the coronavirus is the government’s top priority.
In an address to the 219th meeting of the Government’s Economic Coordination Headquarters on Tuesday, Rouhani added that despite the enemy’s pressures on Iran and the bottlenecks caused by its economic war and sanctions on Tehran, which have stymied money transfers to and from the country, different sectors of the government have done their utmost to remove obstacles to supplying COVID-19 vaccines to the people, IRNA reported.
In May 2018, the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in 2015, and reimposed Washington’s sanctions on Tehran, mainly targeting the country’s oil and banking sectors.
He noted that although the Iranian government has also been faced with other limitations, such as a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the world and the huge global demand for the product, it managed to, in cooperation with all other public and private organizations, mobilize the country’s capacities to this end.
On Sunday, Rouhani said his administration’s attention to the domestic health sector and endeavors to develop it have been unprecedented ever since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
He described constructing and equipping the country’s hospitals as an urgent priority.
The president noted that amid its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out in Iran in late February 2020, his government has continued efforts to further equip the country’s hospitals, provide better services to patients and develop the domestic health sector’s infrastructure.
Daily infections, deaths
The Iranian Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that more than 25,400 new coronavirus cases were detected in the country during the past 24 hours, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Speaking at a daily press conference on Tuesday, the Health Ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the total number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Iran surpassed 2,286,900 after the detection of 25,492 new cases since yesterday.
Of the newly cases detected, 3,365 patients have been hospitalized, she added.
Among those currently undergoing treatment in Iranian medical centers, 4,911 coronavirus patients are in critical condition, Lari regretted.
She put at 67,525 the total COVID-19 death toll in Iran, saying the disease has taken the lives of 395 patients over the past 24 hours.
At least 1,810,500 patients have so far either recovered from the disease or been discharged from hospitals across Iran, the spokeswoman said.
She said that over 14.6 million coronavirus diagnostic tests have so far been carried out in Iran, and over 480,000 people have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier, the Health Ministry announced that 257 cities in the country are coded red (very high-risk), while 129 cities are categorized as orange (high-risk), adding that based on a decision by the National Task Force for Fighting the Coronavirus, travel to and from these cities is prohibited.
It put the number of the country’s yellow (medium-risk) and blue (low-risk) cities at 51 and 11, respectively.
Last Saturday, all Iranian cities located in the red and orange zones entered a two-week partial lockdown.
The number of people infected with COVID-19 across the world has surpassed 142 million, with the death toll exceeding 3.04 million.
Iran unveils first homemade rotor for power plants
Iran unveiled its first turbine rotor built by the country’s specialists for electricity generation, entering the league of five leading producers of the machine.
The 82.5-megawatt rotor was unveiled during an online ceremony attended by Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian on Tuesday, Tasnim News Agency reported.
With 2,539 blades, it was built for a nominal speed of 3,000 rotations per minute and can withstand steam temperatures of up to 510 degrees centigrade, the report said.
For its production, Iran Power Plant Repairs (IPPR) company reverse-engineered a General Electric-made rotor despite the lack of access to its construction documents, relevant drawings and the possibility of contacting the US manufacturer.
Its purchase from foreign suppliers, without factoring US sanctions and money transfer complications, would have cost Iran 900 billion rials (€3 million) but the local manufacturer produced it with only 350 billion rials, Tasnim said.
Ardakanian said the real value is far greater than the rials being saved through the local production. “The confidence and morale that such a job creates is certainly not measurable with these numbers,” he said.
“It offers a ray of light into a secure future filled with vitality, prosperity and development not only in our country, but in the region,” he added.
The implementation of the project manifests the high capacity of human resources in Iran, which can motivate many young students and graduates of the country’s universities and technical and vocational centers, Ardakanian said.
Iran prides itself on having the fourth largest legion of engineering graduates, where some 5 million engineers provide it a vital base to build a knowledge-based
The turbine blades manufacturing project is the latest in Iran’s self-sufficiency drive which has gained momentum amid international companies’ refusal to trade with the Islamic Republic.
Power and infrastructure group MAPNA, being billed as the Iranian Siemens, is the largest contractor for steam, gas and combined cycle and renewable power plants in Iran and has carried out major projects in the Middle East and beyond.
Ardakanian said IPPR should also have an eye on the regional markets in its planning.
“These products will make Iran one of the largest producers of this industry in the world and with the increasing development of economic relations, the Iran Power Plant Repairs company and those involved in this industry in other sectors will certainly have a large market under their thumb.”
MAPNA Group CEO Abbas Aliabadi recently said the company has built 5,000 megawatts of thermal power plants across the world and begun manufacturing hydrogen-fueled turbines.
“MAPNA has defeated the world’s greats in the power plant construction in price and quality, because it has been able to offer world-class equipment at a lower price to the international market,” he said in February.
According to Aliabadi, the company plans to manufacture 4.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbines for installation in Iranian wind farms and unveil its MGT-75 turbine that uses hydrogen for power.
Pakistani FM in Iran for talks on ties, regional issues
Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for talks with senior Iranian officials on issues of mutual interest and the latest regional security developments.
A statement by Pakistan’s Embassy in Tehran said Qureshi’s trip is taking place at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
During his three-day visit, Qureshi will hold delegation-level talks with Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. He will also travel to the holy city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran.
The two foreign ministers will “review bilateral relations with a view to further deepening cooperation in diverse fields,” the statement said.
Regional security situation including the latest developments in the Afghan peace process and the Jammu & Kashmir dispute will also be on the agenda.
“They will also deliberate on strengthening regional cooperation under the umbrella of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).”
During the trip, the third official border between Iran and Pakistan, called
Tomorrow (Wednesday) also coincides with this trip, the third official border crossing between the two countries will be opened in the Iranian town of Pishin and the Pakistani town of Mand.
According to the statement, Qureshi’s visit to Iran “is part of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries” which comes on the heels of visit by Zarif to Pakistan in November 2020.
The two foreign ministers also met in March 2021 on the sidelines of 9th session of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Qureshi last visited Iran in January 2020.
Prior to his departure for Tehran on Tuesday, the Pakistani foreign minister shed light on the objectives and purposes of the visit in a video message.
In the message, Qureshi thanked his Iranian counterpart for visiting Pakistan several times, saying the visits helped the two neighbors hold crucial meetings, Press TV wrote.
“There have been several developments in the Afghan peace process,” the minister said. “Being neighbors to Afghanistan, the peace process is equally important for Iran.”
He emphasized that he would be informed about Iran’s views in this regard so that “the two sides will be able to develop a focus of strategy following talks.”
Qureshi expressed gratitude for Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for his clear stance on the Kashmir issue.
“We will also talk about progressing with regard to the bilateral relations. Iran had expressed interest in Pakistan’s proposal of border markets, and we would talk about it, too,” the Pakistani foreign minister said.
He added that Iran is not only a neighbor of Pakistan but also a tested friend, saying, “We have always supported each other in difficult times.”
“We will be in efforts to cement the existing bilateral relations and bring stability in them,” Qureshi said.
At a recent meeting with top Pakistani media figures and researchers, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed hope that the sanctions against Tehran will be lifted, saying the Islamic Republic of Iran has the capacity to turn into an economic power in the region.
Iran: Nuclear deal talks moving forward despite challenges
EU, Russia hail progress in Vienna meetings
Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, wrapped up another round of talks in the Austrian capital with negotiators voicing satisfaction with efforts to revitalizing the troubled accord.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement the meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission revolved around “the latest status of technical discussions and initial drafts”.
Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have been in talks this month in an effort to keep alive the landmark agreement which has been unravelling since former US president Donald Trump pulled out of it in 2018 and imposed tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The withdrawal prompted Iran to, in turn, ramp up its nuclear activities a year later.
The talks are aimed at determining which sanctions the United States should lift before rejoining the deal and which measures Iran should take to come into compliance with the accord.
According to the Foreign Ministry’s statement, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who leads Iran’s delegation in Vienna, said “talks are moving forward despite difficulties and challenges”.
“The Iranian delegation will halt the talks whenever negotiations move toward excessive demands, time killing and irrational bargaining,” Araqchi said.
He said Saturday that “a new agreement is taking shape” and that “parties can start working on a joint text.”
But before the Tuesday talks, Araqchi rejected the notion that Iran could settle for any “temporary agreement”.
Araqchi underlined that Iran only uses the talks to discuss the potential of that “final step” toward elimination of the oppressive sanctions.
The European Union’s representative, Enrique Mora, on Twitter hailed “progress made over the last two weeks” but noted that “much more hard work needed.”
Mora said a “third expert group was created to address sequencing issues”.
“I continue to think that diplomacy is the only way forward for the JCPOA to address ongoing challenges.”
Russian Ambassador in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov also tweeted that participants “took note with satisfaction of the progress made in negotiations to restore the nuclear deal”.
Ulyanov said the delegations took a break to allow them to consult with their capitals.
He said on Monday that the talks had “entered the drafting stage”.
“Practical solutions are still far away, but we have moved from general words to agreeing on specific steps toward the goal,” Ulyanov added.
The Joint Commission will meet again early next week.
No concessions beyond JCPOA
Earlier in the day, Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei rejected the possibility of giving concessions beyond those offered within the framework of the JCPOA.
“Technically, it is possible to lift all the sanctions that violate the JCPOA and fully revive the agreement in the short term. We hope to achieve the desired outcome through constructive negotiations,” Rabiei told a weekly briefing, Press TV reported.
“We are in no hurry to reclaim our obvious rights in the agreement and we are not willing to give any concessions beyond the framework of the JCPOA,” he added.
China’s Xi calls for fairer world order, rejects hegemony
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for a rejection of hegemonic power structures in global governance, amid growing tensions between Beijing and Washington over a widening range of issues.
Speaking at the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Xi criticized efforts by some countries to “build barriers” and “decouple”, which he said would harm others and benefit no one.
“The world wants justice, not hegemony,” Xi said in remarks broadcast to the forum, Reuters reported.
“A big country should look like a big country by showing that it is shouldering more responsibility,” he said.
China has long called for reforms of the global governance system to better reflect a more diverse range of perspectives and values from the international community, including its own, instead of those of a few major nations.
While Xi did not identify any country in his remarks, Chinese officials have in recent times referred to US “hegemony” in public criticisms of Washington’s global projection of power in trade and geopolitics.
Xi said that “the future destiny of the world should be decided by all countries”.
“One or a few countries shouldn’t impose their rules on others, and the world shouldn’t be led on by the unilateralism of a few countries,” he added, according to Xinhua.
Without singling out the US, the Chinese president warned against building barriers that are against market principles.
“Attempts to erect walls or decouple run counter to the law of economics and market principles. They would hurt others’ interests without benefiting oneself,” Xi stated, in a veiled reference to Washington’s efforts to reduce dependence on Chinese supply chains and curb export of products such as advanced computer chips to China.
“Bossing others around or meddling in others’ internal affairs will not get one any support,” Xi said, while giving assurances that China will never engage in an arms race.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden held his first face-to-face White House summit since taking office, in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in which China topped the agenda.
In a display of economic cooperation to the exclusion of China, Biden said Washington and Tokyo will jointly invest in areas such as 5G technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, genomics and semiconductor supply chains.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson censured the US-Japan alliance and said the two were in fact ganging up to form cliques and fanning bloc confrontation while talking about a “free and open” Indo-Pacific.
“It will only enable the world to see with increasing clarity the detrimental nature of the US-Japan alliance, which attempts to undermine regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson said.
However, despite the persistent confrontation between the US and China, both sides have rediscovered a common interest in battling climate change, after bilateral talks on fighting greenhouse emissions fizzled out during the Trump era.
The US president will host a virtual climate conference on Thursday and Friday with world leaders. The Chinese president will participate in the event.
Iran welcomes Iraqi mediation with regional Arab states: Envoy
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq said on Tuesday Tehran welcomes Baghdad’s mediation to help mend ties with some regional Arab states, following unconfirmed reports that Iranian and Saudi officials had held discussions in Iraq.
“The Islamic Republic supports Baghdad’s mediation to bring Tehran closer to countries with which we have faced challenges or with which political cooperation has stopped, and Iraqi officials have been notified of this,” Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, told IRNA.
In response to a question whether Iraq’s mediation has produced any results, Masjedi said, “We have not yet reached clear results and significant progress. Let us wait for the work to go forward and we can see practical results.”
The ambassador noted it would be in the interest of the region if such mediation efforts lead to improvement of relations.
“Both Iran and those regional countries that have been trying to create tensions with Tehran in recent years have displayed a tendency to resolve tensions, and Iraq is willing to play a role in reducing regional tensions,” Masjedi pointed out.
The remarks by the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad came a day after Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that Tehran always welcomed dialogue with Saudi Arabia, without confirming that talks had been held.
The Financial Times reported Sunday that senior Iranian and Saudi officials had held talks in Baghdad on April 9 to mend relations and were due to hold another meeting soon, quoting unnamed sources, AFP wrote.
According to the FT, the talks also included discussions about Yemen’s Houthis and “were positive”.
Two regional sources reportedly told Reuters that Saudi and Iranian officials held discussions in Iraq in a bid to ease tensions.
“What matters is that Iran has always welcomed talks with the Saudi kingdom and considers this beneficial to the people of both countries and regional peace and stability,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
“This thinking will continue,” he added without elaborating.
According to the FT, the talks were facilitated by Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Riyadh has not officially commented on the report, while the Saudi English-language Arab News daily quoted an unnamed Saudi official as denying the talks.
Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in 2016.