FM Zarif: Time for US to kick habit, end addiction to sanctions
On the sixth anniversary of the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif highlighted the failure of the US’ so-called ‘maximum pressure campaign’ and crippling sanctions, citing Tehran’s progress, including in the nuclear field, despite the bans.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Zarif marked the anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying, “6 years ago today, #JCPOA resolved a UNSC Chapter VII issue without resorting to war.”
He pointed to different approaches of US administrations since the conclusion of the deal in 2015, noting they failed to achieve their goals and will do so in the future, as he released a table featuring Iran’s expansion of its peaceful nuclear program in terms of figures despite US sanctions and pressures.
“Obama realized his “crippling sanctions” would not cripple Iran or its centrifuges. Trump ineptly thought “maximum pressure” would,” Zarif said in his tweet, adding, “Never will.”
He also criticized the US addiction to imposition of sanctions, stressing it was time for Washington “to kick the habit.”
Zarif’s remarks come as the fate of the historic deal is in limbo due to the US withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions coupled with the failure of the European signatories to shield business with Tehran in the face of Washington’s punitive measures.
US President Joe Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama’s administration when the deal was clinched, has expressed willingness to rejoin the deal.
His administration, has, however, taken no palpable measures to that goal, and instead asked Iran to return to compliance by halting its countermeasures.
Iran says the ball is in the US court to prove its sincerity and goodwill by removing its sanctions in a verifiable way, as it was Washington, not Tehran, which unilaterally left the JCPOA in defiance of global criticism.
Since April, the remaining parties to the JCPOA have been holding talks aimed at reviving the deal.
The sixth in-person round of the negotiations in the Austrian capital came to an end on June 20, as participant delegations returned to their capitals for further consultation.
A clear date has yet to be decided for the start of the seventh – and likely final – round of talks in Vienna.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday that the delegations in Vienna talks are reaching the final stage of the negotiations.
“In short, in view of the progress made thus far, it could be said that we are approaching the end of the Vienna talks. There are certain outstanding issues, but the important point is that issues resolved so far outweigh those that remain unresolved,” Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.
“We have come a long way so far, but the rest of the way is not going to be an easy path,” he added.
Iran’s petchem output set to grow by 10m tonnes: CEO
Iran’s petrochemical industry is now endowed with a 90-million-tonne production capacity, which is set to reach a record 100 million tonnes by the end of current Persian calendar year in late March, according to the CEO of National Petrochemical Company (NPC).
Behzad Mohammadi said the petrochemical industry earned Iran $15 billion in revenue from domestic and foreign sales of petrochemicals, last calendar year, shana.ir reported.
Speaking to Iran Petroleum, Mohammadi added that foreign investors were yet to hint at cooperation with Iran as hopes are growing for the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers, also known as JCPOA, and concomitant removal of US sanctions.
“However, if investors want to cooperate with the Iranians, we need their cooperation in the technical knowhow sector,” added the official.
“Many foreign companies left Iran, as sanctions were restored. Now, the return of these companies depends on the political circumstances in the country. As long as necessary conditions are not fulfilled, we have to go ahead as we are doing now. But generally speaking, if we take a look at the petrochemical industry in terms of development, production and exports, we will find out that we have been largely resilient. Therefore, it could be argued that our conditions were not severely affected by sanctions. Of course, we could have fared much better in terms of development; however, the petrochemical industry has an acceptable record now.
“As JCPOA talks go ahead, we have not received any serious signal from foreign investors, but there are signs of overture and better atmosphere for external communications. As far as cooperation with foreign investors is concerned, the petrochemical industry needs the partnership of major foreign companies for providing investment and technical knowhow. In some points, we need to use foreign technology.”
Key chapter in Iran-China pact
“Following the Iran-China 25-year cooperation pact, we have not yet had any talks with the Chinese, but petrochemicals constitute a very significant chapter in the pact,” insisted NPC chief.
“We have listed incomplete projects and those that need finance. Our projects are incorporated in this package, but we have not held talks to discuss details. The petrochemical industry supplies nearly 35% of national hard currency generation. Last [calendar] year we met our commitments for hard currency generation for the Central Bank at 150%. The petrochemical industry has been highly instrumental in stabilizing the economic conditions in the country.”
Petchem exports at 25m tonnes
“Last Persian calendar year (ending March 20), despite restrictions caused by sanctions, as well as decline in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, we exported 25 million tonnes of products, which yielded $10 billion. We also sold 10 million tonnes on domestic markets for $5 billion. There is no other industry in the country to supply 10 million tonnes of products to its downstream sector. Such amount of products would result in prosperity and unrivalled job creation at 15,000 small and large-sized enterprises in the downstream sector of the petrochemical industry,” said Mohammadi.
Output capacity up
Speaking of the prospect of growth for petrochemical output in the country, Mohammadi said, “The annual growth in demand for petroleum products is less than 0.9% at the global level. The rate stands at about 5% when it comes to petrochemical products, an important sign of necessity for the further development of the petrochemical industry. Therefore, we need to use rich oil and gas deposits as feedstock and follow a roadmap towards quick and smart development of the petrochemical industry and generation of wealth.”
“The petrochemical production capacity was 65 million tonnes in the Iranian calendar year to March 2020. Implementation of 17 new projects has brought the figure to 90 million tonnes, a historic record in this industry. Among the second jump projects, 10 remain to become operational. They have had 84% progress, which would come online by March 2022. Then, the petrochemical production capacity would reach 100 million tonnes, which would mean that the petrochemical development target has been met.”
Iran can produce 90% enriched uranium if required: Rouhani
President Hassan Rouhani said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has developed such great capabilities in its peaceful use of nuclear technology that it can begin uranium enrichment to a purity level of 90 percent if a reactor requires that type of fuel.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Rouhani hailed his administration’s success in maintaining and strengthening the domestic nuclear industry’s capabilities, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The AEOI has proved that it can produce uranium enriched to 20 and 60 percent purity levels, the president noted.
“Even if a reactor needs 90 percent [enriched uranium] one day, we’ll have no problem and can [produce it],” he noted.
Iran has demonstrated that it can do anything in the course of its peaceful use of nuclear technology, Rouhani added.
He also said his administration’s success in striking the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the P5+1 in July 2015, having the sanctions lifted, and increasing the country’s oil exports reveals that it is possible to resolve the major and complicated problems between Iran and the other countries or international organizations through dialogue and constructive interactions.
The president added his administration has handled the bulk of the job in the negotiations on the JCPOA revival and the termination of the US unilateral sanctions, noting that the ground is prepared for the next administration to complete the task.
In comments in late June, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the administration of President-elect Ebrahim Raeisi will handle the negotiations on the restoration of the nuclear deal if Tehran’s desirable demands are not met by the end of the outgoing administration’s term in office (August 3).
Raeisi, Iran’s former Judiciary chief, won the June 18 presidential election by a landslide to become the country’s eighth president.
In a press conference after winning the election, Raeisi took a swipe at the US and the European states for, respectively, violating the JCPOA and failing to honor their commitments under the nuclear deal.
The latest round of talks to revive the JCPOA began in Vienna on April 6 between Iran and the remaining signatories to the nuclear deal, namely the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany.
The US left the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposed on Iran the economic sanctions that had been lifted after the deal went into effect in 2016. Tehran retaliated with remedial nuclear measures that it is entitled to take under the JCPOA’s Paragraph 36.
The current negotiations examine the potential of revitalization of the nuclear deal and the US likely return to it.
Iran to keep defending Palestine until liberation from Israel: Raeisi
Iran’s President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim
Raeisi reiterated the Islamic Republic’s support for the Palestinian nation until the liberation of Al-Quds from Israeli occupation.
He made the vow in separate phone conversations with Ismail Haniyeh and Ziyad al-Nakhalah, leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian resistance movements based in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV channel reported on Tuesday, according to Press
“Rest assured that Iran will continue to defend Palestine and support its nation until the liberation of Al-Quds,” the president-elect told the resistance leaders.
Raeisi also congratulated the Palestinians on their victory against the Israeli regime during the latest war on Gaza, stressing that the oppressed nation and the heroic resistance of Palestine once again shone in a decisive test as they forced Israel to retreat in their push toward liberating Al-Quds al-Sharif.
Tel Aviv launched the bombing campaign against Gaza on May 10, after Palestinians retaliated against violent raids on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes at Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Al-Quds.
Apparently caught off guard by unprecedented rocket barrages from Gaza as part of Operation Al-Quds Sword, Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance groups accepted with Egyptian mediation.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 260 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli offensive, including 66 children and 39 women, and 1,948 others were wounded.
Haniyeh, for his part, congratulated Raeisi on his victory in Iran’s June 18 presidential election and appreciated the Islamic Republic’s support for the Palestinian issue.
Similarly, Nakhalah wished success for Raeisi and thanked Iran for backing the Palestinian nation and its resistance movement.
US waives Iran oil sanctions, gives Tehran access to frozen funds
The US State Department reportedly
informed Congress of its decision to waive the unilateral sanctions on Iran’s oil trade so that Tehran can pay off its debts to Japanese and Korean exporters from its frozen funds, without being able to transfer the funds to the country.
According to a notification sent to Congress by the State Department, the waiver, signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, allows the “transfer of Iranian funds in restricted accounts to exporters in Japan and the Republic of Korea,” the Washington Free Beacon reported, Press TV wrote.
The waiver said that allowing the funds to be used to “repay exporters in these jurisdictions will make those entities whole with respect to the goods and services they exported to Iran [and] address a recurring irritant in important bilateral relationships”.
It would also “decrease Iran’s foreign reserves”, the waiver added, according to the news outlet.
The State Department stressed that the waiver “does not allow for the transfer of any funds to Iran”, and will make whole Japanese and Korean companies that exported non-sanctioned goods and services before US sanctions were tightened by the previous administration.
Blinken signed the sanctions waiver to give Japan and Korea another 90 days to complete transactions with Iran, a State Department spokesperson said.
“The secretary of state previously signed a waiver to allow funds held in restricted Iranian accounts in Japan and Korea to be used to pay back Japanese and Korean companies that exported non-sanctioned items to Iran,” the spokesperson said.
“These repayment transactions can sometimes be time-consuming, and the secretary extended the waivers for another 90 days.”
The waiver comes during an almost one-month pause in the talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the former US administration of Donald Trump ditched in 2018 and reimposed sanctions mainly targeting Iran’s oil sector.
The restoration of the deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is expected to be faced with strong opposition from Republicans in Congress, who mostly backed Trump’s withdrawal from the deal and his so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
‘Talks to resume after Raeisi takes office’
Bloomberg quoted a source as saying that the seventh round of the talks in the Austrian capital is expected to begin after Iran’s President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi is sworn in as president early next month.
Iran has already announced that the country’s stance on the JCPOA “will not alter with a change of administration”.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price has said American diplomats are prepared to go back to Vienna to continue the talks, but insisted, on several occasions, that questions about when the seventh round would begin have to be “addressed to Tehran”.
“As we’ve made clear, we are prepared to continue engaging in the context of these indirect negotiations with Iran. We’re prepared to return to a seventh round of talks,” Price said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
Last week, Russia’s lead negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov said no date has been set for the seventh round of the negotiations because Tehran “needs more time for preparations” following its June 18 presidential election, which saw the rise of Raeisi to power. The sixth round was concluded two days after the election.
In Vienna, disagreements have persisted over a number of issues, including how to sequence US sanctions removal and Tehran’s forfeiture of its nuclear advances, with Iran arguing that since Washington was the party that violated the terms of the agreement, it should take the first step back to the deal by removing its unilateral sanctions.
Tehran has also asked for guarantees that the US won’t again leave the JCPOA under a new administration, while on the other hand, the administration of US President Joe Biden says it cannot give such guarantees. The White House has also asked for follow-on talks about other issues, such as Iran’s missile program, which Tehran has strongly rejected.
Iran is also dissatisfied with the scope of the sanctions that the US is willing to remove, saying the US sanctions removal must cover all the sanctions that were imposed on the Islamic Republic after the JCPOA went into force in January
Palestinian factions condemn UAE Embassy inauguration in Israel as ‘treason’, ‘great sin’
The Gaza-based resistance movements condemned the
inauguration of the UAE Embassy in Israel, describing it as “treason” and a “great sin” against the Palestinian people, Al Mayadeen reported.
The UAE officially inaugurated its embassy in Israel, less than a year after the two sides agreed to establish formal relations under a US-brokered deal.
The inauguration ceremony on Wednesday was hosted by the UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohammad al-Khaja, with the regime’s President Isaac Herzog in attendance, according to Press TV.
The embassy is situated in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building, also known as the Bursa.
Israel opened its embassy in the Emirati capital in late June. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Israeli Consulate in Dubai during a two-day visit.
In reaction to the UAE’s move, the Hamas resistance movement issued a statement saying, “The opening of the UAE Embassy in Israel is an insistence on [committing] a great sin against the people of Palestine and the entire region, who completely reject any form of dealing and normalization with the Zionist regime.”
It added, even more dangerous is that this behavior comes from the UAE in the aftermath of the Zionist regime’s terrorist attacks and aggression against the Palestinian people and their sanctities, in which innocent civilians were massacred and houses were reduced to rubble with people inside them before the eyes of the entire world.
Hamas said the UAE’s move is tantamount to legitimizing the Zionist enemy and encouraging it to perpetrate more crimes against the Palestinian people and forge ahead with its racist and extremist plans.
Before long, the likes of the UAE, which have normalized ties with Israel, will realize what a grave crime they have committed against their own people and those of the region, the statement added.
Hamas noted, “We stress the necessity of abandoning this dangerous Emirati policy, and taking efforts to correct this wrong path.”
In addition, spokesman of the Islamic Jihad resistance movement Tariq Salmi said in a press statement that it will be recorded in history that at a time when the occupiers and usurpers were accelerating their crimes in Al-Quds, demolition of houses and attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Emirati rulers were opening their embassy in the occupied lands.
He added, “This embassy may have been built on the ruins of a house or piece of land belonging to a Palestinian family that had been abandoned or destroyed during the 1948 Palestinian exodus (also known as Nakba).”
In reaction to the same issue, a member of the Palestinian Fatah movement’s Central Committee, Abbas Zaki, said Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is a traitor, and the UAE must be expelled from the Arab League due to normalizing ties with Israel.
Israel and the UAE have signed a raft of deals in various areas, ranging from tourism to aviation and financial services, since they signed the normalization agreement in August last year.
Israeli ministers had previously visited the UAE, but Lapid is the most senior Israeli diplomat to have made the trip, and the first to travel on an official mission.
Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with the Emirati foreign minister and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by former US president Donald Trump at the White House on September 15 last year.
Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Al-Quds as its capital, view the deals as a betrayal of their cause.