Navy commander: Regional maritime security center to be launched in Chabahar port
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said an international maritime security coordination center will be launched in Iran’s southeastern port city of Chabahar.
According to a decision made at the 7th edition of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which was hosted by France from June 28 to July 1, the center will be launched for the Indian Ocean rim countries, enabling them to exchange information aimed at ensuring maritime security, Khanzadi said in a televised interview on Saturday night.
He added that it is the first such center in the region and the regional states can dispatch their representatives to the center in Chabahar port, according to IRNA.
Referring to the IONS meeting, the Iranian commander said that navy commanders of 36 countries also discussed the issue of piracy and ways to fight maritime insecurity caused by pirates.
Pointing to the Iranian Navy’s overseas missions, the commander said Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had once called on the navy to arrange plans for the presence in countries such as Gambia, where the US began to enter forcibly to take captives as slaves centuries ago.
Highlighting Iran’s growing naval presence in the Atlantic Ocean and African coasts, Khanzadi said, “The presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy, which represents a country that supports the oppressed, sends a special message. By the way, our flotilla was present in (the coasts of) that country (Gambia) last week.”
Presence in Atlantic Ocean
He also referred to Iran’s naval presence in the Atlantic Ocean, saying, “Our presence in the Atlantic Ocean is a response to the Americans’ claims that Iran could never sail in the ocean,” Khanzadi said.
The remarks came as the Iranian ships, the frigate Sahand and the base ship Makran, are sailing in the Atlantic Ocean as the first mission of the Iranian Navy in the oceans, Mehr News Agency reported.
“While Americans are present some 12 miles off Iranian waters, they are afraid of Iran’s naval fleet in the Atlantic that is sailing 5,000 miles far from the US,” added Khanzadi.
Makran ship carries 110,000 tons of fuel and can stay in waters for 10 years without the need for refueling, he said, adding that the ship is equipped with an advanced water desalination system which can provide a persistent presence of naval fleet in the high seas.
Iran built Makran ship in six months, which surprised Western countries, the commander noted.
In recent years, Iran’s naval forces have increased their presence in international waters to secure naval routes and protect merchant vessels and oil tankers against pirates.
He also hailed Iran’s capabilities in producing naval vessels, saying that some of the Iranian vessels are now thousands of kilometers away from Iran, escorting Iranian tankers, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Khanzadi said his forces will receive new homegrown equipment within the next few months, including a warship, a destroyer, a missile-launching hovercraft and an oceangoing reconnaissance vessel.
He said the Iranian Defense Ministry is going to furnish the navy with a new hovercraft armed with missiles in the coming months.
Moreover, the Damavand destroyer and Konarak warship will join the navy’s fleet in early fall, he added.
According to the commander, the navy’s first oceangoing reconnaissance vessel will go into service in the not-too-distant future.
Cumulative gas extraction from South Pars Field exceeds 1.8tcm
Over 1.8 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of natural gas has been produced from the giant South Pars Gas Field in southern Iran since the beginning of the field’s development up to March 20, according to Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) which is in charge of developing the huge gas field.
As announced by the POGC, the total amount of gas production from the South Pars field, which Iran shares with Qatar in the Persian Gulf, reached 1,867 billion cubic meters from the beginning of operation until the end of the previous Iranian year (March 20), IRNA reported.
Some 2.2 billion barrels of gas condensate have also been produced from this joint field since the beginning of development.
The value of South Pars products, on the development of which nearly $80 billion has been invested, is estimated at $335 billion so far, according to the POGC.
The huge South Pars field covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran’s territorial waters. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers, called North Dome, are situated in Qatar’s territorial waters.
The field is estimated to contain a significant amount of natural gas, accounting for about eight percent of the world’s reserves, and approximately 18 billion barrels of condensate.
The development of the South Pars field started in 1998 and 29 different phases were defined for the project along with a separate oil block. The field, however, is currently divided into 24 standard offshore phases, the output of which is processed by 14 gas refineries on land.
Since the beginning, the field’s development project has gone through so many ups and downs and many foreign and domestic companies have contributed to the completion of the field’s various phases.
France’s Total, Italy’s Eni, Malaysia’s Petronas, Russia’s Gazprom, Norway’s Statoil, and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are some of the foreign companies which have worked on the field for different phases and in different time spans.
Despite all the US pressures which led to the departure of almost all of the foreign companies from the project, and despite all the technical and engineering problems faced in the process, Iran has managed to proudly finish the development of almost all the phases of the field and even the field’s oil layer is also producing nearly 50,000 barrels per day of oil.
Leader appreciates Palestinian people’s message of gratitude
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday appreciated a message sent by a group of Palestinians residing in Syrian camps to express their gratitude for his and the Iranian people’s support for the Palestinian uprising.
The Palestinians’ message had been conveyed on their recent victory during the 12-day war waged by Israel.
The Leaders’ response was made in a letter by Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Qomi, the vice president for international relations at the office of Ayatollah Khamenei, to the head of the Iran-Palestine Friendship Association, Mohammad al-Buhaisi, IRNA reported.
Replying on behalf of Ayatollah Khamenei, Qomi wrote Palestinians’ Operation Al-Quds Sword against the Zionist forces was a manifestation of just a small part of the resistance front’s power and authority.
The message hailed the heroic efforts of the zealous Palestinian people in defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Quds.
It also read: “Through the solidarity and synergy among the people of all Palestinian territories and the admirable coordination among all resistance groups, this time, the heroic defense showed well that the days of the domination of the usurper and racist Zionists have come to an end, and the era of the defeat of the Holy Land’s usurpers and the liberation of Palestine and Holy Al-Quds has begun.”
Tel Aviv launched a brutal bombing campaign against the besieged Gaza Strip on May 10, following Palestinian retaliation against violent raids on worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes at the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Al-Quds, Press TV wrote.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, 260 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli offensive, including 66 children and 40 women. At least 1,948 others were also wounded.
In response, Palestinian resistance movements, chief among them Hamas, launched Operation Al-Quds Sword and fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories, killing 12 Israelis.
Apparently caught off guard by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.
Iran on MKO circus: Western politicians selling themselves cheap
Slovenian envoy summoned over PM participation, remarks
Iran denounced the presence of certain Western politicians in a hybrid physical and virtual meeting organized by the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), saying they are selling themselves cheap for the circus.
The event linked the MKO terrorists at their camp in Albania with hired supporters among US senators, British MPs and French lawmakers as well as protests in cities including Berlin on Saturday, Press TV reported.
The summit also featured speeches by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa.
Infuriated by the massive participation of Iranians in the June 18 presidential election, Pompeo claimed in his online address that the vote was “in fact, a boycott and the regime knows it”.
Similarly, Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the MKO terrorist cult and president of its umbrella National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), alleged that the poll was a “sham”.
In response, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted, “Bought Western politicians (incl #LyingCheatingStealing Pompeo) sell themselves cheap for a Europe-hosted circus arranged by a once Saddam-backed terrorist cult with Iranian blood on its hands.”
“Insatiable thirst for $$ & anti-Iran obsession is driving shameful Western hypocrisy,” he added in his tweet posted on Saturday night.
The MKO has conducted numerous assassinations and bombings against Iranian statesmen and civilians since the 1979 victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Its members fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq, where they enjoyed backing from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to the MKO’s acts of terror.
The anti-Iran cult was on the US government’s list of terrorist organizations until 2012. Major European countries, including France, have also removed it from their blacklists.
A few years ago, the MKO elements were relocated from their Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province to Camp Hurriyet (Camp Liberty), a former US military base in Baghdad, and later sent to Albania.
The MKO terrorists enjoy freedom of activity in the US and Europe, and even hold meetings with European and American officials.
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US troops stationed in Syrian gas refinery under mortar fire attack
A powerful explosion has rocked the gas refinery that US forces are using as a military base in the east of the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor.
According to a war monitor, the blast was caused by a mortar shell landed in the Conoco gas field, where American troops are stationed, Press TV reported.
A US military official, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said the incident left no casualties or damage.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
American troops have recently been targeted in Syria following last month’s US airstrikes against resistance groups on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Earlier in the week, the United States’ biggest military base in Syria’s Al-Omar oilfield was hit by a number of “massive” explosions.
Over the past years, the US has been maintaining an illegal military presence on Syrian soil, collaborating with anti-Damascus militants and stealing the country’s crude oil resources.
Washington led scores of its allies as part of the coalition into the Arab country and neighboring Iraq in 2014 under the pretext of fighting the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh.
Various reports and regional officials, however, provided evidence of the coalition’s role in relocating Daesh’s elements about in both the countries.
In Syria, the United States has been trying to keep a tight control over certain strategic areas, including the eastern oilfield, where it is engaged in large-scale theft of the country’s crude.
The Iraqi parliament and Damascus have both ruled the US-led coalition’s operation in the countries as illegal.
‘The happiness is immense’: Messi overwhelmed by first international trophy
Lionel Messi spoke of his “immense happiness” after the Argentina star finally ended his long wait for international glory with victory in the Copa America final against Brazil.
Despite his dizzying array of domestic medals, an international honour with the Albiceleste has eluded the 34-year-old – until now, goal.com reported.
A first-half goal from Angel di Maria was enough to secure a 1-0 victory against Brazil at Maracana and secure Argentina’s first Copa America title since 1993. Messi was named player of the tournament after scoring four goals and laying on five assists in what was his 10th tournament appearance for his country.
The striker sunk to his knees at the final whistle before being mobbed by his ecstatic team-mates.
Speaking to reporters after the game a clearly emotional Messi attempted to comprehend the scale of his achievements.
“It’s crazy, the happiness the feeling is inexplicable. I knew that at some point it was going to happen,” he said. “The objective was clear and we were able to be champions. The happiness is immense. Many times I have dreamed of this.
“I told Fideo (Di Maria) that today he was going to have his revenge and that’s how it was. I want to share this with those team-mates who were so close so many times and it was not given to them. This is also for them.
“I feel that God was saving this moment for me, against Brazil in the final and in his country. Great credit has to go to (coach) Lionel (Scaloni). He always wanted the best for the national team. He knew how to put together a winning team and he deserves your appreciation.
“I needed to get rid of the thorn of being able to achieve something with the national team, I had been very close for many years. I knew that at some point it was going to go wrong, it was going to happen and I think there is no better moment than this.”
Five Iranian children win awards at US Arts Olympiad
Arts & Culture Desk
Five members of the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA) won awards at the 6th Arts Olympiad – International Child Art Foundation, in Washington, D.C., the US.
The IIDCYA has submitted 15 artworks to the 6th edition of the Olympiad, which is to be held on the themes of art and sports, IRNA wrote.
The event announced the winners ahead of the event, which is set to run from July 30 to August 1.
Sogol Fattahi (12 years old, from Kermanshah Province), Rastin Jaferi (eight years old, from Lorestan Province), Hasti Abedi (nine years old, from West Azarbaijan Province), Ali Gholami (12 years old, from Khuzestan Province), and Hosna Eskandari (nine years old, from Hamedan Province) are the winners of the US painting Olympiad.
The purpose of the event is to foster students’ creativity by changing their self-image, according to icaf.org.
The organizers of the event argue that students’ revised self-image solidifies when they depict themselves as artist-athletes in their paintings, drawings or digital art.
Iranian commander: Security prevails on border with Afghanistan
An Iranian Army commander assured that the situation is normal along the border with Afghanistan where the Taliban are making gains, stressing that “full security” prevails in the region.
In an interview with IRNA on Sunday, Second Brigadier General Mahmoud Mahmoudi, the commander of the army’s 30th operational headquarters in the eastern Iranian province of South Khorasan, which borders Afghanistan, said while some areas have been captured by the Taliban, the overall control of the country remains in the hands of the government, Press TV reported.
Mahmoudi confirmed that the Taliban have captured some areas along Iran’s eastern border, but stressed that Iranian Army forces are stationed in the region and have everything under control.
“Given the developments in Afghanistan, full security has been provided at the border’s zero point and there is no cause for concern for people and those residing near the frontier,” he said.
“Of course, inside Afghanistan anything may happen and some places may be seized by the Taliban. But that will not affect Iranian people and Armed Forces, thanks to the management of the situation at the national, regional and local levels and owing to the vigilance of our military, security and border forces.”
Over the past weeks, the Taliban have overrun areas in Afghanistan bordering five countries – Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan.
On Friday, the militant group claimed that it had seized control of 85 percent of the Afghan territory, a declaration government officials dismissed as part of a propaganda campaign.
The Taliban gains come amid the withdrawal of US-led troops from the country after two decades of war and occupation.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian has said efforts are underway to dislodge the Taliban from their newly acquired positions.
In the aftermath of Taliban’s seizure of the border crossings on the Afghan soil, a number of the country’s border guards and customs staffers fled to Iran.
Commenting on the situation of the Afghan border guards and customs office employees on Sunday, Iranian Police spokesman General Mehdi Hajian said they have been repatriated to Kabul by plane, Tasnim News Agency reported.
He added said these people had fled to an Iranian Border Police station, requesting entry to the country following the recent outbreak of insecurity in Afghanistan.
The problems of those Afghan forces and staffers were addressed, their weapons were taken, and they were accommodated on the Iranian soil, General Hajian noted.
The general said those Afghan forces were flown back to Kabul following an official request from the Afghan government, made via diplomatic channels, and upon a decision by the Iranian authorities.
As fighting escalates between the two sides in the war-torn country, negotiators from the Afghan government and the Taliban held a series of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha to discuss the stalled peace process.
Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry for Peace Affairs, said on Saturday that “serious discussions are taking place between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban negotiators” in Doha, Press TV wrote.
“These meetings are held every single night between the two sides and the discussions are focused on a number of important issues,” Anwari added.
The spokesman underlined that the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have, over the past few days, exchanged views on at least five key issues, including a future constitution, cease-fire, political roadmap and political participation in the transition period.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s office in Qatar, also confirmed in a statement that the heads of both teams, along with some of their negotiators, had met in Doha.
“They discussed topics of the agenda, accelerating the Afghan negotiations process and reaching mutual understanding in this regard,” he said.
The meetings were the first announced gathering of both sides since mid-May and after the talks stalled in April, when the US announced it would complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by September 11.
Since the beginning of the pullout earlier this year, violence has escalated across the war-ravaged country.
US President Joe Biden has said the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan will conclude on August 31 after nearly 20 years of war, ahead of the September 11 deadline.
About 650 American troops are likely to stay in Afghanistan to provide security at the US Embassy after US forces leave the country, The Associated Press reported last week. Hundreds of more troops will also stay at the Kabul airport.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext of the so-called war on terror. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity and violence persist to this day.
China joins Russia in condemning new US sanctions against companies
China vigorously denounced new sanctions imposed by the United States against dozens of Chinese and Russian companies and entities – two days after Russia slammed the US move.
The US on Friday announced sanctions against 23 Chinese companies and other entities “for their involvement in, or risk of becoming involved in, activities contrary to interests of United States,” Press TV reported.
Fourteen companies were blacklisted over accusations of involvement role in alleged human rights abuses in the far-west Xinjiang region, five for their ties to China’s military, and another four for doing business with other firms that had already been sanctioned by the US.
The US also imposed sanctions on six individuals and legal entities from Russia, drawing a rebuke from Moscow.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Sunday demanded that Washington reverse the move or face retaliatory measures.
“This is an unjustified pressure against Chinese companies and a serious violation of economic and trade rules. China decisively objects to this,” the ministry said in a statement. “We will take the necessary steps to vigorously defend our legitimate rights and interests,” it added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also said earlier that Beijing “will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
He said that Washington suppresses Chinese companies and industries under the pretext of human rights.
This is not the first time Washington has targeted Chinese firms over human rights allegations in the western province of Xinjiang.
In 2019, the administration of former president Donald Trump added some of China’s top artificial intelligence startups to its economic blacklist over what it claimed were “human rights” abuses against Muslim minorities.
Beijing denies allegations by the West that Uighur Muslims have been forced into camps in Xinjiang, saying it is addressing underdevelopment and lack of jobs in the area.
Chinese officials have characterized the camps as “vocational education and employment training centers” for “criminals involved in minor offenses.”
Announcing the new sanctions against Russian entities, the US accused the companies of attempting “to procure items, including US-origin items, for activities contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”
Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov denounced the move as another “confrontational step by Washington.”
“This is another confrontational step as part of Washington’s deliberate efforts to restrict the access of domestic enterprises to high-precision technologies from abroad,” Antonov said in a statement on Friday.
He said Washington’s move “fundamentally contrasts with the statements of the United States authorities, including during the summit in Geneva, about the need to normalize the entire range of bilateral relations.”
Antonov was referring to the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, held last month when both sides acknowledged that bilateral relations were at rock bottom.
No major breakthrough was made in the long list of issues between the two rivals, but Biden and Putin agreed to hold further talks on arms control and to return their respective ambassadors to their posts.
Diplomatic relations between the US and Russia deteriorated in March, when Biden branded Putin a “killer,” prompting a tit-for-tat recalling of ambassadors.
More recently, tensions escalated over the Russian-speaking Donbass region of Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces have been fighting since 2014.