Rouhani blames uncertainty on FATF for insufficient investments in Iran
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani blamed the recent blackouts in the country on the failure to finance major infrastructure projects, saying a lack of decision about the bills pertaining to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards will perpetuate the problems in banking relations.
Speaking at a Wednesday cabinet meeting, Rouhani added Iran’s banking interactions with the world would not be normalized, nor will any foreign and local investor be willing to invest in the country’s projects, as long as the Expediency Council has not settled the fate of the outstanding bills on FATF, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Blaming inadequate investments in infrastructure projects for the recent power cuts, he said a lack of access to financial resources because of the FATF-related problems in working with foreign banks will deprive Iran of sufficient financing for the finalization of major plans.
“It is not possible to do anything without capital and with empty hands. Today, it must be explained to people what the problem is and why we cannot bring enough investments into the country’s market,” Rouhani added.
He also said that his administration has designed several major infrastructure projects in various fields, such as the water industry, which require between $200 billion to $300 billion in investments, noting that a lack of sufficient financing has impeded the implementation of those plans.
Iran’s Golestan province annual exports at $200m: Official
Deputy governor of Iran’s northern province of Golestan for economic coordination put the province’s exports at about $200 million a year and said the Central Asian and European countries are the main destinations for the products of the province.
In an interview with Iran Daily, Ebrahim Karimi referred to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on reducing the province’s exports, and said that this year, the province’s exports decreased by 40 percent due to the disease and closure of the Incheh-Burun border, which is one of the main gates of exports for the province’s products.
“Nevertheless, exports from other borders of the province continued during this period, and the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the trend of exporting the province’s products.”
Karimi added that thanks to the capacities that were created in the field of production in recent years, the volume of exports of Golestan Province will increase in the coming years.
According to the official, the main export items of the northern province are agricultural products, construction materials and cement.
“The province is currently the largest producer of iodine in the country which is exported to European countries.”
Golestan is an active province in terms of agriculture, he said noting that thanks to a high agricultural production capacity, the agricultural production in the province is about six million tons per year.
Golestan is among top three provinces of the country in the production of nine important agricultural products, Karimi said.
“This province ranks first in the field of rapeseed production in the country and is also the second-largest producer of wheat in Iran”.
Golestan Province, he continued, is one of the largest producers of poultry meat and eggs in the country.
Referring to the tourism attractions of this province, Karimi noted that Golestan Province has significantly developed in the field of ecotourism and that currently there are about 140 ecotourism centers across the province.
Referring to the establishment of seven handicraft markets in Golestan Province, Karimi said: “Increasing the production of handicrafts is a unique capacity that will change the economy of this sector.”
In the field of industry, considering the favorable developments in the past few years, we have witnessed a good growth in this province, he said.
Thanks to its vast capacities in agriculture sector, he said, establishment of conversion industries has boosted the provincial production.
Iran hosts intra-Afghan talks, says ready to help restore peace in neighboring country
India FM Jaishankar meets Zarif, hails Tehran’s efforts for Afghan peace
As Tehran hosts a round of intra-Afghan talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban group that the Islamic Republic stands ready to help the neighboring country resolve its conflicts and achieve lasting peace.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Seyyed Rasoul Mousavi, the head of the South Asia Department at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, announced that Tehran is hosting four delegations, including representatives of the Afghan government and Parliament, the Taliban group and prominent figures supporting the republic system in the war-torn country.
Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem Wardak also said via Twitter that the militant group’s trip to Tehran comes at the official invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar’s capital Doha, leads the delegation to Tehran, Press TV reported.
The Afghan government’s delegation is headed by former vice president Yunus Qanuni.
During his address at the beginning of the talks, Zarif pointed to the United States’ defeat in establishing peace in Afghanistan, saying the US military’s more than two decades of presence on Afghan soil has brought about widespread destruction.
“The United States has failed in Afghanistan…and its presence in the country for more than two decades has caused major damage in Afghanistan,” said Zarif. “Today, the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must take difficult decisions for the future of their country.”
He warned against the dire consequences of ongoing disputes in Afghanistan and said returning to the intra-Afghan negotiating table with a commitment to political solutions is the best option for the country’s leaders and political movements.
Zarif said the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help advance the process of talks between Afghanistan’s factions in order to resolve the conflicts and crises in that country.
The top Iranian diplomat also underscored Iran’s commitment to contributing to Afghanistan’s all-out political, economic and social development after the establishment of peace there.
Iran recent months, Iran has repeatedly voiced its support for measures aimed at establishing peace in Afghanistan.
Iran, India FMs meet
After the meeting Zarif held talks with his Indian counterpart in Tehran. Zarif and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stressed the need to boost intra-Afghan dialogue that result in “political engagement” of all Afghan groups.
Jaishankar thanked Iran for its efforts to help reach a comprehensive political solution for Afghanistan.
The Indian foreign minister tweeted that he held “useful discussion” with Zarif.
Last week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh underlined the necessity for an inclusive government that would involve all Afghan groups in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban represent only a part of Afghanistan, not the whole present and future status of the country.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on June 28, Khatibzadeh noted that Iran is closely and seriously monitoring the situation in Afghanistan at the high security and political levels and is negotiating with all Afghan groups.
Tehran’s peace efforts follow the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces last week from the largest military base in Afghanistan, located in the ancient city of Bagram, about 45 miles north of Kabul.
The US began its official withdrawal back in May. Since then, the Taliban militants intensified attacks across the country and managed to gain control over more than 100 of Afghanistan’s district centers.
The US military led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in what it proclaimed was a war on terror meant to eradicate the Taliban. Twenty years forward, however, the declared objective has not been remotely achieved.
On Friday, the Taliban group said it considers the US withdrawal a “positive step” to get closer to peace and stability.
New military hardware delivered to IRGC Ground Force
The Ground Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday took delivery of a broad range of modern weapons.
In a ceremony attended by top commanders, the IRGC Ground Force received various modern combat and defense gear, including missiles, anti-armor weapons, vehicles, drones, helicopters and electronic warfare systems, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The IRGC also unveiled the ground-launched version of Almas anti-tank missile. The homegrown anti-tank missile is a top attack weapon that can hit targets within a range of eight kilometers.
The IRGC had already developed the air-launched version of Almas missile fired by the Ababil-III drones.
The other major products unveiled on Wednesday include Me’raj-113 and the Hanif unmanned aerial vehicles.
The IRGC also managed to furnish gunships with Qaem-114 missiles, which are anti-tank missiles with a range of 10 kilometers and capable of destroying stationary and moving targets with a variety of thermal and laser detectors.
A new and upgraded generation of bombs and precision-guided missiles were also among the tools and equipment delivered to the IRGC Ground Force.
Also in the combat logistic section, a set of multi-purpose vehicles and artillery joined the IRGC Ground Force.
Deputy IRGC Ground Force Commander Ali Akbar Pourjamshidian said at the ceremony that the IRGC Ground Force can conduct their operations independently at the tactical, strategic, air, naval, cyber and electronic levels.
The IRGC Ground Force is turning into a powerful strategic force in the field of ground combat, defense and security, Pourjamshidian added, according to Fars News Agency.
Iran has made giant advancements in aerospace industries, especially in designing and manufacturing pilotless drones in the past decade.
Late last month, IRGC Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami said that Iran is now able to produce wide-bodied drones which can fly 7,000 kilometers.
He said that Iran had decided to become one of the best in the world in every field, adding that the country is now one of the most advanced countries in building drones.
Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the country will not hesitate to strengthen its military capabilities, including its missile power, which are entirely meant for defense, and that Iran’s defense capabilities will be never subject to negotiations.
Envoy: Iran to produce enriched uranium metal; IAEA already informed
Iran’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations announced that Tehran intends to produce uranium metal enriched to 20% purity in the near future, adding that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been informed of the plan.
Kazem Gharibabadi said that the uranium silicide plate would be used as fuel for a research reactor in the capital Tehran, Press TV reported.
“Research and development regarding this issue with natural uranium began about three months ago. In the new process, a new fuel plate will be produced using 20% enriched uranium,” he told reporters.
“This measure, which will significantly improve the quality and quantity of radiopharmaceutical production, will make the Islamic Republic of Iran one of the leading countries in the field of nuclear technology,” the diplomat added.
Gharibabadi also stressed that the IAEA had been informed of the move nine days earlier and the relevant operations had begun right afterward.
He described the silicide plate as a modern type of nuclear fuel whose technology is only available to a handful of countries.
The IAEA said in a statement on Tuesday that Iran intends to use domestically enriched uranium (U-235) with 20% purity as fuel in the Tehran reactor.
“Today, Iran informed the agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U-235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at a plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U-235, before using it to manufacture the fuel,” the statement said.
The IAEA also said the process would be a multi-step measure, suggesting that it would take much time.
The United States and European powers on Tuesday said that Iran’s latest uranium enrichment plan could imperil the talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, AFP reported.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price urged Iran to “stop this brinksmanship” and to return to Vienna for talks to “finish the work”.
Foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany expressed “grave concern” and said that Iran’s move endangers “a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations to date”.
Reacting to the news, Russia referred to the Iran’s move and the US continuation of a “maximum pressure” campaign launched by former president Donald Trump as a “vicious circle” and said the only way out of it was resuming the Vienna talks on the revival of the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the full implementation of the landmark accord.
The remaining parties to the JCPOA have been engaged in talks since early April to bring the United States back into the deal, three years after the former hawkish US president withdrew, Press TV wrote.
The US left the Iran deal in May 2018 and reimposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the JCPOA had lifted. It also placed additional sanctions on Iran.
On June 20, the sixth in-person round of the talks came to an end so that the negotiators would return to their capitals for further consultations, which turned out to be the longest break the diplomats have taken since the beginning of the negotiations.
The parties to the nuclear deal are expected to convene in the Austrian capital once again for the seventh round of talks, which is speculated to be the final round.
The new US administration, under President Joe Biden, says it wants to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it is showing an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.
Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.
Major US bases hit in Iraq, Syria; many Americans wounded
Two major US bases in western Iraq and on the other side of the border in eastern Syria have come under simultaneous attacks, with the attack on the Iraq-based outpost reportedly wounding many American personnel members.
The concurrent strikes took place on Wednesday against the Ain al-Asad airbase that hosts the US troops in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar, and the military base run by the American troops at the Al-Omar oilfield in Syria’s eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, Press TV
The attacks came more than a week after the American military conducted a deadly air raids against targets reportedly belonging to Iraqi anti-terror forces on the both sides of the Arab countries’ common border.
Iraq’s Sabereen News agency put the number of the wounded from the attack on the Iraq-based outpost at five, citing preliminary figures.
US-led coalition spokesman, Col. Wayne Marotto, however, alleged that the attack had only wounded two personnel members.
The Thar al-Muhandis Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack on Ain al-Asad. It said it struck the base with 30 Grad rockets, adding that the projectiles hit their targets accurately.
Sources said the strike had most likely been meant to destroy very important and expensive equipment and installations belonging to US troops there.
The Iraqi resistance group has identified its goal as seeking revenge for the US drone strike that martyred senior Iraqi anti-terror commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad early last year. The strike also martyred ranking Iranian counterterrorism commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and many others.
The Iraqi parliament passed a law soon afterward, ruling all forms of US-led presence in the country as illegal.
Both commanders played a key role in defeating the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh, which the US has been using as an alleged excuse to prolong its presence in Iraq and Syria, which has also been invaded by the coalition’s forces.
‘US fires back aimlessly, targeting
US forces opened “aimless” artillery fire in response to the attack on Ain al-Asad, causing damage on a number of civilian residences and a mosque in the city of Hit in Al-Anbar, reports noted.
Iraq’s Alahad TV said the coalition had responded with multiple attacks that caused fire to a number of residences located in Hit’s Al-Baghdadi area.
The coalition, however, alleged that the response had targeted the locations that had been struck with rockets.
In Syria, according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), mortar rounds were fired into the Deir ez-Zor-based military compound for the third time in recent days.
Militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of mainly Kurdish forces fighting against Damascus, reportedly claimed that they had thwarted the attack.
Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to keep up their struggle until complete expulsion of all the foreign troops. Damascus has also said it reserved the right to retaliate toward invading military forces.
Iran names final volleyball squad for Tokyo Olympics
Russian head coach Vladimir Alekno announced Iran’s 12-man squad taking part at the volleyball competitions of the Tokyo Olympics.
Saeid Marouf, Javad Karimi (setters); Milad Ebadipour, Meysam Salehi, Morteza Sharifi (outside hitters); Seyyed Mohammad Mousavi, Masoud Gholami, Ali-Asghar Mojarrad (middle blockers); Amir Ghafour, Saber Kazemi (opposite spikers); Arman Salehi, and Mehdi Marandi (liberoes) will leave Iran for the Japanese capital on July 17.
Pouria Fayyazi and Reza Abedini, who were members of the team at the recently-finished Volleyball Nations League (VNL) in Italy, as well as Ebrahim Mirzajanpour were the players to be dropped by the Russian ahead of the Games.
Farhad Qaemi, Bardia Sa’adat, Mohammad-Taher Vadi, and Amirhossein Esfandiar had already been omitted by Alekno.
All teams will have until 8:00 p.m. on July 22 to make a couple of changes to their squads in case of emergency.
Alekno, who had only took charge of the Asian powerhouse in mid-April, led Iran to a below-par 12th spot in the 16-team VNL table.
However, the introduction of some new faces as well as a proper mixture of youth and experienced players offered glimpses of hope for the Olympics under the Russian, who enjoys a glittering record with his home country at the Games, having won the gold in 2012 following a bronze medal in Beijing 2008.
Iran is pitted in Pool A of the volleyball contests in Tokyo against the host nation Japan, Poland, Italy – the silver medalist in Rio 2016 – Canada, and Venezuela.
Looking to emulate their last-eight spot in Rio, Iran will begin their campaign against favorites Poland on July 24, with the last game of the preliminary round coming against Japan on August 1.
Pool B will see the defending champion Brazil, USA, Russia, Argentina, France, and Tunisia squaring off for four spots in the quarterfinals.
The Tokyo Olympics, postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will kick off in the Japanese capital on July 23.
Iran-Germany-Canada film ‘Metamorphosis in Slaughterhouse’ awarded at US festival
A joint film of Iran, Germany, and Canada, ‘Metamorphosis in the Slaughterhouse,’ directed by Iranian director Javad Daraei and produced by Mehdi Koohzadeh, won the grand prize of the 17th edition of the Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival in Texas, the US.
The festival was held with all COVID-19-related health protocols in place, Mehr News Agency reported.
The film narrates the story of a family who must move from their village.
Shadi was a little girl when her parents were accused of murdering a girl and thus killed by the villagers. She was then adopted by her uncle and grew up under his care. Now, Shadi must face the problems caused by the village residents.
Fariba Talebi, Saeed Ahmadi, Fariba Torkashvand, Farahnaz Manafi-Zaher, Rahmat Shekarkhandeh, Foujan Ahmadi, Mahshid Khosravi, Iman Sarraf, Arezou Balali-Dehkordi, Sarina Yousefi, Mohammad Eqlimi, Amir-Abbas Qazaee, and Avin Kouhzadeh are among the film’s
The film has been screened in at least 17 international film festivals including the International Children’s Film Festival Bangladesh, the International Film Festival Cyprus, the Salerno International Film Festival and the Efebo d’Oro, the International Prize for Cinema and Narrative, both in Italy.
Iran: Resisting foreign occupation is self-defense, not ‘terrorism’
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations highlighted the Islamic Republic’s stance that resistance against foreign occupation constitutes self-defense, insisting on the right of Palestinians to resist the occupation of their land by the Israeli regime.
“Our longstanding legal position is that any resistance against occupation and foreign intervention in the exercise of self-defense cannot be considered terrorism,” said Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi on Tuesday, while addressing the UN General Assembly’s Session on Terrorism and Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.
“In this context, the Palestinian people have every right to resist the occupation of their territory by the Zionist regime,” he added, according to Press TV.
He paid “special tribute to the victims of terrorism”, particularly Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, a prominent figure in the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, reiterating that “he was assassinated in a terrorist attack perpetrated by US forces” outside Baghdad International Airport in January 2020.
“It is also our strong belief that under the pretext of fighting terrorism, no state has the right to commit acts of aggression, interference in the internal affairs of other states, or condone flagrant violations of human rights and humanitarian law, such as torture, kidnapping, illegal detention, disappearance, or extrajudicial execution and targeted killing,” he said, in apparent reference to the atrocities committed by US military forces and CIA operatives around the globe in recent years, particularly in Muslim nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
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