Iran: NATO chief’s remarks misguided, irresponsible spinning of facts
Iran’s EU mission vehemently condemned recent statements by the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the need for Iran to fully implement its obligations under its safeguard agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog.
Iran’s diplomatic mission to the European Union, which is based in Brussels, Belgium, made the remarks in a Monday tweet, after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg addressed Iran’s nuclear agreement and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) following a meeting with the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Brussels, Press TV reported.
“The NATO Secretary-General has reportedly ‘restressed Allies’ continued calls on Iran to uphold and fully implement all its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the Iranian mission said in a press release posted on its Twitter account.
It added that utterance of such remarks by the NATO chief would require the moral high ground, emphasizing that standing next to a man whose respective regime is neither a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nor any other international disarmament instrument of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), does not help Stoltenberg in terms of the credibility of what he states.
“Such remarks are either misguided or a grossly irresponsible spinning of facts, not to mention highly irrelevant,” the mission added.
It reiterated Iran’s full compliance with the NPT and its complete implementation of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
According to the press release, making such statements while standing next to the representative of a regime that “flouts international humanitarian law and violates the fundamental human rights of the people, on the one hand, and has made a mockery of non-proliferation and disarmament mechanisms, on the other hand, is only an indescribably sad irony.”
The Iranian mission concluded by calling on the NATO secretary-general to “practice what he preaches specifically as regards this ‘ally’ and invite it to accede to the NPT,” while refraining from such misguided calls on Iran.
In the meeting with the Israeli foreign minister, the NATO secretary-general once again stressed the Allies’ continued calls on Iran to uphold and fully implement all its obligations under the NPT and the IAEA Safeguard Agreement, and refrain from all activities he claimed are inconsistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iran is among the first countries to have signed the NPT. The country has also put its peaceful nuclear program under surveillance of the UN nuclear watchdog.
This is while Israel, the sole nuclear-armed entity in the region, is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime, however, refuses to either accept or deny having the weapons.
It has also evaded signing the NPT amid staunch endeavor by the United States and other Western states on international levels in favor of its non-commitment to the accord.
Iran second-largest global producer of sponge iron in 2020: Report
Iran was the second-largest global
producer in 2020 of sponge iron, a pre-reduced ferrous material used to make steel, according to latest figures by the World Steel Association (WSA).
The figures cited in a report by Iran’s state-run metals conglomerate IMIDRO showed that sponge iron production in the country reached 30.2 million tons last year, up 5.96 percent against 2019, Press TV reported.
That puts Iran only second to India at 33.6 million tons of sponge iron output in 2020, said IMIDRO report.
Sponge iron, or what is technically known direct-reduced iron (DRI), accounts for a bulk of the feedstock used in the Iranian steel mills.
WSA figures showed Iran’s raw steel production totaled 29 million tons last year, making the country the 10th-largest steel producer in the world in 2020.
IMIDRO and its subsidiary steel makers churned out a total of 18.9 million tons of steel last year as the company became the 18th-largest steel producing firm in the world, showed the figures.
Iran has continued to develop its massive metals industry by investing more in mines and building new mills and smelters across the country in recent years.
That has come despite US sanctions targeting the country’s metals trade since 2019.
Government authorities are now boasting of a higher role for minerals in Iran’s non-crude exports, saying the country is gradually moving away from sheer reliance on oil revenues by building out its metals sector.
Government estimates suggest Iran could reach an annual steel output of 55 million tons by 2025.
Iran offers help to neighboring Iraq after tragic hospital fire
Iran expressed its preparedness to offer assistance to neighboring Iraq after a fatal fire tore through the COVID-19 isolation ward at a hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh voiced sympathy with the Iraqi government and people, especially the families of the victims, Press TV reported.
Offering the Iranian people and government’s condolences to Iraq, he wished divine mercy for the dead and recovery for the injured.
Khatibzadeh said Iran stands ready to provide medical assistance to Iraq.
At least 66 people have been killed and more than 100 other wounded in Monday’s fire at Nasiriyah’s Imam Hussein Hospital, Alsumaria TV network reported.
Initial police reports suggested that an oxygen tank explosion inside the hospital’s COVID-19 ward was the likely cause of the incident.
Karim Hemmati, the president of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), called his Iraqi counterpart Yasin Ahmed Abbas on Monday night to express Iran’s readiness to send aid to Iraq and support the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.
Similarly, on Tuesday, Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi spoke over the phone with an official from the Iraqi Health Ministry.
He expressed regret over the incident and sympathy with the Iraqi people and authorities.
The diplomat also extended his condolences to the bereaved families and asked God Almighty to grant forgiveness to the dead and for the immediate healing of the injured.
Masjedi stressed Iran’s readiness to help those affected by the blaze.
The Iraqi official, for his part, thanked the Iranian ambassador for calling the Iraqi Health Ministry, saying the move shows a sense of humanity and good neighborliness among the officials the Islamic Republic.
Zarif: Iran’s commitment to dialogue, diplomacy proved
Iran’s foreign minister said the Islamic Republic has, at a global level, demonstrated its determined commitment to dialogue and diplomacy by its active participation in different international assemblies to address myriads of challenges, including by taking part in Vienna negotiations to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers over the past few months.
Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks in an address to the Midterm Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held online, IRNA reported.
“Our determination has been manifested despite Europe’s abject failure in fulfilling its economic pledges to our people in the aftermath of Washington’s illegal withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan if Action (JCPOA) and the new US administration’s reluctance to abandon the failed policy of ‘maximum pressure,” he added.
Iran signed the JCPOA with the P5+1 in July 2015. However, in May 2018, the US withdrew from the agreement in pursuit of the so-called maximum pressure policy against Tehran in a bid to bring the Islamic Republic to the negotiation table and hammer out a new deal.
The withdrawal was under the administration of former US president Donald Trump, who was a vocal critic of the JCPOA, signed under his predecessor Barack Obama. In response, Iran used its rights under the agreement to retaliate by ramping up its nuclear activities in gradual steps, the latest of which was a plan to produce enriched uranium metal, Press TV reported.
Following Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, which saw Democrats return to the White House, the US showed interest in returning to the JCPOA, leading to negotiations between the parties to the accord in Vienna with the aim of bringing Washington back into compliance.
However, three months after the beginning of the Vienna talks, the US is still declining to remove all the sanctions that were reimposed after the former administration pulled out of the deal, and has failed to provide assurances that it will not exit the deal again, while keeping the “maximum pressure” in place.
The sanctions had been lifted when the JCPOA went into effect in January 2016.
Slamming Washington’s unilateral measures, Zarif said multilateralism has been weakened and its promotion is being threatened by certain powers’ unilateralism and bullying moves, noting that the US extreme unilateral adventurism is the most important challenge “we all are in a way faced with”.
The continuation of the present situation will weaken the rule of law and threaten peace and stability across the globe, he added.
While some states are threatened by economic terrorism and military aggressions, other countries tolerate the pressures resulting from the US protectionist policies, Zarif said.
“To defend multilateralism, it is necessary that any potential interest or advantage of resorting to illegal and unilateral measures be repudiated and banned and any pressure in contradiction to international law and the UN resolutions be vetoed.”
At present, he added, NAM is more than ever duty-bound to form a united front to reject unilateralism and promote multilateralism in an effort to collectively address all complicated challenges the movement is currently faced with.
“[Addressing] the large number of the global challenges we are currently faced with has heightened the need for more collective measures at the international level. As a matter of fact, multilateralism is no longer deemed a conservative alternative; but the sole appropriate response to the world’s severe crises.”
Iran’s top diplomat stressed that NAM, as a prominent intergovernmental platform, can provide an appropriate opportunity for promoting and increasing global participation on the international scene in an era when unilateralism and protectionism is increasing.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest test of global solidarity different generations have ever been faced with.
“The disease reminded us of the extent to which we are dependent on each other and how determining and important international cooperation aimed at protecting the collective health as well as our prosperity and security is.”
The FM emphasized that like other cases, the pandemic is in need of a coordinated and strong international response in a way to immediately increase all countries’ access to diagnostic tests, treatment and vaccines.
He said the Islamic Republic of Iran has constantly displayed its commitment to multilateralism as a powerful foreign policy.
“Likewise, we still continue to defend the prospect of collective, cooperative and sustainable security in the West Asia. To this end, we are actively cooperating with the United Nations in efforts to establish peace in Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. We proposed ‘Hormuz Peace Initiative’ and also ‘Tehran Dialogue Forum’ in the Persian Gulf as comprehensive approaches toward cooperation and resolving disputes.”
Explosion reported at Israel’s Ashdod reactor facility
An explosion was reported at the Israeli regime’s Ashdod reactor facility in the south of the occupied territories, with reports not providing details on the cause of the blast or the number of possible casualties.
The blast was reported by the Israeli journalist Edy Cohen, who posted a video on his Twitter account on Tuesday and said the explosion had taken place at the Ashdod reactor facility in southern Israel, according to Press TV.
Israeli media sources said the blast had rocked the regime’s Ashdod oil refinery and that firefighters were dispatched to the scene after hearing the sound of the explosion.
Hebrew-language sources said the blast caused fuel leaks at the refinery and efforts were underway to stop the leakage.
In recent months, similar incidents have taken place in important facilities run by the Israeli regime.
In April, a powerful explosion rocked a sensitive Israeli missile factory allegedly during a test for advanced weapons in the city of Ramla.
Over 160 unmarked graves found in Canada: Indigenous people
Indigenous people in Canada belonging to Penelakut Tribe in British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands said they have found more than 160 “undocumented and unmarked” graves in the area, which was also once home to the Kuper Island Residential School.
The tribe informed neighboring First Nations communities of the discovery in a newsletter posted online on Monday morning, according to cbc.ca.
“We are inviting you to join us in our work to raise awareness of the Kuper Island Industrial School, and confirmation of the 160+ undocumented and unmarked graves in our grounds and foreshore,” the notice said.
No further details were provided. The tribe did not say how the graves were found, whether children’s remains are suspected of being buried there or whether ground-penetrating radar was used.
Officials did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.
The school operated from 1890 to the 1970s on Penelakut Island, formerly known as Kuper Island, which is among the Southern Gulf Islands.
On Thursday, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation near Kamloops, British Columbia, is expected to reveal further details of its recent discovery, on the grounds of another former residential school, of what were said to be the buried remains of an estimated 215 children.
A series of similar, grim announcements followed, linked to former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Penelakut Chief Joan Brown encouraged residential school survivors to heal in the newsletter.
“It is impossible to get over acts of genocide and human rights violations. Healing is an ongoing process, and sometimes it goes well, and sometimes we lose more people because the burden is too great,” Brown said.
She invited community members to participate in the March for the Children in Chemainus, British Columbia, on August 2 to remember the students who were forced to attend the Kuper Island Residential School and to move forward on the path to healing and reconciliation.
In recent months, the discovery of corpses in unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools have once again put the horrific abuse of generations of indigenous people in Canada under the spotlight, according to Press TV.
On June 30, the Lower Kootenay Band, a First Nation based in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia, said that a ground-penetrating radar had revealed 182 human remains at St. Eugene’s Mission residential school near the city of Cranbrook in British Columbia.
The group added that some of the remains had been buried in shallow graves only three and four feet deep.
The latest finds have reopened old wounds in Canada regarding the notorious residential schools, which were mostly operated by the Roman Catholic Church on behalf of the government of Canada during the 19th and 20th centuries.
In all, 130 boarding schools forcibly separated more than 150,000 indigenous children from their families and had them attend state-funded schools in a campaign aimed at presumably assimilating the minors into the Canadian society.
Thousands of children died of disease, malnutrition, neglect, and other causes at the schools, where physical as well as sexual abuse was rife.
Earlier in June, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced the discovery of 751 possible unmarked graves.
In May, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc said it had discovered 215 unmarked graves, most of which were believed to be those of children.