Iranian FM visit to China of great importance in current circumstances: Envoy
Iran’s Ambassador to China Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh said an upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to Beijing is of great importance in the current circumstances.
The Iranian diplomat said that various issues will be discussed during Amir-Abdollahian’s trip to China, according to IRNA.
According to China’s Foreign Ministry, the Iranian top diplomat is scheduled to visit China on Friday.
“China and Iran resolutely support each other on the core issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press conference on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Amir-Abdollahian will discuss a 25-year cooperation agreement signed by the two countries.
The comprehensive strategic partnership agreement was signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran in 2021, Press TV reported.
The Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was announced in a joint statement during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tehran in 2016.
The cooperation roadmap consists of 20 articles, covering Tehran-Beijing ties in “Political, Executive Cooperation, Human and Cultural, Judiciary, Security and Defense, and Regional and International” domains, according to the statement released back then.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has said the document is a roadmap for trade, economic and transportation cooperation, with a special focus on the private sectors of the two sides.
China’s imports of Iranian oil hit record since 2018 sanctions
China’s imports of Iranian crude oil last year hit a record high since the US imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018 with the aim of bringing the country’s oil sales down to zero, Bloomberg reported.
Chinese refiners brushed off the risk of the sanctions to take in 324 million barrels from Iran and Venezuela in 2021, about 53% more than the year before, data from market intelligence firm Kpler cited by the news provider showed.
“That’s the most since 2018, when China took 352 million barrels from the two nations,” it added, Press TV wrote.
According to Braemar and industry consultant Energy Aspects Ltd., Chinese imports of sanctioned crude should stay elevated around current levels early this year.
China’s private refiners are main customers of Iran’s floating oil cargoes through spot purchases. Crude from Iran stored in tankers offshore Asia is an attractive option given that it can be delivered quickly. There are millions of barrels of crude floating off China and around Singapore and Malaysia that include Iranian oil.
Rising crude prices incentivized the private refiners, known as teapots, to snap up more oil from Iran and Venezuela without worrying about the risk of the sanctions because they don’t have US-based businesses and do not need the American financial system for trade.
Oil markets are closely watching negotiations underway in Vienna between Iran and the remaining parties to an international nuclear agreement for a breakthrough to resume purchases from the country.
Petroleum Minister Javad Owji has said Iran will return to its pre-sanctions crude production level as soon as the US sanctions are removed. Petroleum ministry officials have said they are confident most output could be restored within a month.
On Sunday, head of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr said the private sector is contributing greatly to the country’s current oil sales.
He said Iran’s oil revenues have increased significantly over the past few months and the country has received the payment for all its crude oil sales since the new government administration.
“In the thirteenth government, part of the country’s lost oil markets has been revived and we have received the payment for all the oil we have sold so far,” Khojasteh-Mehr said.
Iran ready to bolster interactions with regional states: FM
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tuesday Iran is ready to promote interactions with all regional countries in bilateral and multilateral formats.
Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Doha on the second leg of his regional tour after wrapping up a visit to the Omani capital of Muscat and met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
During the meeting, the foreign minister conveyed warm greetings of President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi to the Qatari emir and elaborated on the latest developments in mutual relations in various political, security, trade and economic fields.
He stressed the importance of broadening cooperation in the economic sector.
Amir-Abdollahian also reaffirmed the Iranian administration’s policy of expanding ties with neighboring countries and said Tehran and Qatar should exchange high-level delegations for consultations to that effect.
The two sides also discussed the talks in Vienna on the removal of US sanctions against Iran and the crises in Afghanistan and Yemen.
The Qatari emir, for his part, pointed to the significance of Tehran-Doha relations, particularly on regional issues, and said his country was keen to strengthen cooperation.
Iran’s main priority
Later in the day, Amir-Abdollahian held separate meetings with Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
The Iranian minister said the expansion of ties with neighboring countries was a top priority for the Islamic Republic and emphasized the importance of economic cooperation given the capacities existing in Iran.
He urged the enhancement of bilateral cooperation, particularly in trade, economic and investment fields and said Iran’s policy was based on the expansion of ties with regional and neighboring countries with the purpose of establishing stability in the region.
The Qatari foreign minister, for his part, said his country attached importance to enhancing ties with Iran, especially in the economic area.
The Iranian and Qatari foreign ministers also exchanged views about regional and international issues, especially the Afghan and Yemeni crises.
Many Western societies ignore structural forces behind poverty, blame victims
By Mohammad Memarian*
Hunger, in its most naked, brutal form, is not an exclusively Third World or Global South issue. Rather, it is indeed a pressing problem in many, if not all, richest countries of the world. But to be able to make people think otherwise is in itself “the measure of how well our societies have managed to keep the uncomfortable reality of food poverty firmly out of public view and public discourse,” wrote Graham Riches, professor emeritus of social work at the University of British Columbia, in a foreword to his book ‘First World Hunger Revisited: Food Charity or the Right to Food?’, published in 2014 by Palgrave Macmillan. Interestingly, the subtitle to the original version of the book, ‘First World Hunger’ published by Palgrave Macmillan in 1996, reads as ‘Food Security and Welfare Politics.’ The change in the subtitle reflects emergence of new discourses in regards to humans’ right to food.
“Hunger is fundamentally a matter of human rights in all societies,” said Riches in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily. That much is universally recognized as established by the Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Riches, however, takes it to another level: States, both individually and collectively, are responsible for eliminating hunger. “Downloading hunger or food insecurity to charity is a failure of human rights and duty of care obligations,” he said.” Charity, especially in its corporatized form as in food banks, is another key theme he has investigated in his most recent book, ‘Food Bank Nations: Poverty, Corporate Charity and the Right to Food, published by Routledge in 2018. “Charity aid may be a matter of immediate necessity but never a long term solution,” he said.
*Mohammad Memarian is a staff writer at Iran Daily.
The very fact that hunger is a real issue in the First World is striking. Do you have current statistics regarding the prevalence of raw hunger in developed countries?
Pre-COVID-19 national and FAO-VOH international statistics report the prevalence of individual and household ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’ food insecurity (popularly understood as ‘hunger’). The prevalence in OECD High Income and Upper Middle Income member states is reported in Food Bank Nations.
For OECD High Income countries: Europe (25 countries) 41 million (8.6% pop); UK 8.4m (12.9%); Australia 2.8m (11.7%); Canada 3m (8.3%); Chile 2.6m (14.5%); Japan 3.7m (2.9%); Korea 3.3m (6.4%); New Zealand 0.5 (11.1%); USA 33.3m (10.2%).
And for OECD Upper Middle Income Countries: Mexico 36.7m (26.9%); Turkey 17.4m (No percentage applicable).
It should be noted the OECD HI/UMI data likely underestimates the prevalence of rich world food insecurity due to the absence of routinely collected robust national food insecurity data (Canada and USA excepted), methodological differences and exacerbation of food insecurity due to COVID-19. Charitable food bank data is an unreliable indicator of the prevalence of food insecurity. In Canada only 1 in 4 food insecure individuals use food banks.
Some suggest using “food insecurity” instead of “hunger” in discussing lack of access to proper food in developed countries. Is that just a politically correct choice, or does it have analytical significance?
Hunger is rightly associated with famine, starvation, stunted growth, malnutrition and deep poverty in the Global South and with international food aid and local charity as primary relief. Therefore, it is understandable but confusing when ‘hunger’ is at the same time used as a concept to discuss poverty and lack of access to food in the Global North.
Yet, during the 1960’s rediscovery of poverty in the USA, hunger became the rallying cry for action. As Janet Poppendieck has commented, ‘Anti-poverty activists made a strategic decision at that time to pursue reform and expansion of food programmes, rather than the more adequate cash assistance (as in European style welfare states) that might have made such programmes unnecessary’. She notes, quoting journalist Nick Kotz, that advocates for the poor identified hunger ‘as the one problem to which the public might respond. They reasoned that “hunger” made a higher moral claim than any of the other problems of poverty. Federally supported housing and jobs programs could wait; but no one should go hungry in affluent America’. This perception proved correct given the global expansion of corporately backed US-style charitable food banking since the late 1980s.
How can we conceptualize hunger?
Hunger remains a difficult term to conceptualize. Three dimensions are typically distinguished in biological, social, and economic terms. As it is noted in ‘Food Bank Nations’, these comprise the following: An uneasy and painful personal sensation caused by lack of food; undernourishment, in the sense that individuals consume less than their calorific/protein/nutrient requirements for an active and healthy life; a condition in which people do not get enough food to provide for the nutrients for fully productive, active and healthy lives; a physiological condition at individual level which may result from food insecurity caused by a household level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food; ‘very low food security’ (USDA), which, according to Poppendieck, is the US ‘federal euphemism for hunger’; and ‘severe food insecurity’, that is experiencing hunger due to financial constraints.
Despite ambiguities it is important in the rich world to name hunger for what it is: Lack of dignity and choice and the material deprivation and lived experiences of millions of people, including low incomes, joblessness, precarious work, inadequate benefits, homelessness, and growing inequality. Yet, its popular usage emboldens charitable food banking to continue ‘feeding the need’ with surplus and wasted food while governments look the other way.
Then, how should we see ‘hunger’ vis-à-vis ‘food insecurity’?
Hunger is fundamentally a matter of human rights in all societies: A moral, legal and political question first and foremost directed at the state. It highlights the need for evidence-based food insecurity data focused on eliminating hunger as a targeted goal of poverty reduction strategies: Advocating for income-based solutions including livable wages, adequate income security, affordable housing, employment training and building systems or social security.
But, food insecurity has its merits. It is not a ‘politically correct’ term. It is a researched and validated concept particularly when defined as the lack of access to food due to financial constraints, in other words an income not a food problem. It is a critical analytic concept with application across the Global North and South. It is a key social determinant of health informing the need for social, cultural and economic and policies directed at poverty reduction strategies in all societies for achieving zero hunger by 2030, which is one of the UN-set Sustainable Development Goals.
You’ve observed that charitable food provision is becoming increasingly “corporatized” in many countries. One might argue that corporations have already been part of the problem, and corporatization can only exacerbate the issue. How do you see that?
The global corporate capture of charitable food banks, backed by the world’s ‘Big Food’ multinationals redistributing surplus and wasted food to feed hungry people, has been underway since the export of US food banking to Canada (1981); followed by expansion to France and the European Federation of Food Banks (1986); and worldwide growth in the last twenty years driven by the Global Foodbanking Network (since 2006) and the Food Bank Leadership Institute (since 2007).
Transnational corporate food banking is part of the problem, not solution to widespread food insecurity. While promising solidarity with those lacking access to food, it is a form of ‘uncritical’ solidarity. Notably food banks, like the people they serve, are always running out of food. Much like faith-based or secular food charity in historical times, corporatized food banks may mitigate immediate food needs for brief periods of time, but deeper structural issues are neglected.
But they seem to help discharge a moral duty.
Of course, there is a moral responsibility to feed hungry people. Yet, there is no evidence that distributing ‘left-over’ food to ‘left-behind’ people solves their inability to shop for food with choice and dignity, an incapacity caused by low wages and inadequate benefits. Rather, institutionalized food charity perpetuates it. Such expressions of Big Food corporate social responsibility dependent on voluntary, unpaid labour may be well intentioned but in practice support corporate branding and cheap food policies which the poor still cannot afford. Nor does surplus food assistance prevent the mounting environmental crisis of global food waste.
Regrettably, the corporatized parallel food charity economy promotes itself as a false solution to both food waste and food poverty. Corporate food waste, however, is a symptom of a dysfunctional industrial food system (further exacerbated by broken ‘just-in’ time food supply chains during COVID-19). Food insecurity is a symptom of income inequality and broken systems of social security which deny vulnerable populations the right to food. Meanwhile corporate food philanthropy enables governments to look the other way by ignoring public policy and the right to an adequate standard of living.
It’s interesting that the US failed to ratify the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which includes the right to food. Why did the US fail to ratify it?
Historically, the US has protected its sovereignty by favouring civil and political rights while regarding economic, social and cultural rights as aspirational. Regarding the ICESCR the comments of Amnesty International are worth noting:
“The United States signed the Covenant in 1979 under the Carter administration but is not fully bound by it until it is ratified. For political reasons, the Carter administration did not push for the necessary review of the Covenant by the Senate, which must give its ‘advice and consent’ before the US can ratify a treaty. The Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations took the view that economic, social, and cultural rights were not really rights but merely desirable social goals and therefore should not be the object of binding treaties. The Clinton administration did not deny the nature of these rights but did not find it politically expedient to engage in a battle with Congress over the Covenant. The George W. Bush administration followed in line with the view of the previous Bush administration.”
Interestingly, when the Obama administration was considering ICESCR ratification, despite not taking action, it nevertheless understood that the rights therein are to be realised progressively. Equally of interest is Iran’s ratification of the ICESCR (1975), a year before Canada and the UK.
Some observers argue that there is a foundational myth promoted in capitalist societies, indicating that “hard work always pays off,” or more bluntly put, “if you have failed, in all likelihood you haven’t tried hard enough.” Exonerating the system, that myth effectively puts the blame for poverty on the poor. First, in your opinion, how widespread is this line of thinking in western societies?
This is a debate about protecting the work ethic in western societies. In residual welfare states, the Victorian poor law principle of ‘less eligibility’ still informs welfare assistance and workfare programs directed at moving jobless, underemployed and precarious workers back into the labour force. It requires no financial benefits should be greater than the income received by the lowest paid wage earner, otherwise the work ethic will be undermined. Inevitably, such conditional and often punitive welfare policies blame the victim for the poverty they are experiencing rather than underlying structural causes.
Yet it remains a myth that ‘hard work always pays off’. For example, in the case of food insecurity in Canada 65% of food insecure households across the country depend on employment income. Simply having a job is no guarantee that you can put food on the table. What is required, at least, is full employment, adequate incomes and benefits, affordable housing, fair income distribution, progressive taxation and a supportive welfare state. In other words, the progressive realisation of an adequate standard of living.
The “hard work always pays off” myth puts the blame for hunger on the hungry. Consequently, that myth might inform the perception that the hungry lost their entitlement to the proper food out of their own fault. To what extent, if any, do you think this criticism might explain the replacement of “right to food” discourse with “charitable food provision” discourse?
Yes, food as a basic human need being left to the happenstance of under-resourced and ineffective charity is a clear example of governments, particularly in wealthy food secure countries (by imports and local production) neglecting their ratified obligations under international law to ensure food security for all. We are all ‘rights holders’ whether employed or not but whereas governments as State Parties to the ICESCR Covenant are the ‘primary duty bearer’ for the progressive realization of the human right to adequate food.
Sadly, extensive ‘charitable food provision’ replaces the ‘right to food’ by enabling indifferent governments to ignore the food needs of vulnerable populations. The continuing prevalence of high levels of domestic hunger in wealthy societies is not the fault of the food insecure but the failure of governments to ensure fair income distribution in market economies and the right to an adequate standard of living. Corporatized food banking signifies a neglect of public policy.
In explaining the adequate standard of living for all humans to which “everyone has the right,” food is the first example set forward in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Narrowly construed, each state is responsible for providing such a standard of living for its subjects. In a broader, more progressive interpretation, however, it’s a universal duty: Eliminating hunger from earth is a universal commitment of each and every state. To what extent, if any, do the richest states of the world find themselves responsible for contributing to that cause, rather than, say, assuming the good things they do for other countries are merely charitable enterprises?
Certainly, all UN member states have universal human rights obligations not only to end hunger within their own boundaries and to eliminate it world-wide. Given that food is a basic human need and fundamental right, the richest states bear a particular responsibility to act in full compliance with their UDHR/ICESCR obligations to ensure all their peoples are enabled to feed themselves and their families with choice and dignity. Under international law, downloading hunger or food insecurity to charity either within their own societies or to international food aid and local food charity in the poor world is a failure of human rights and duty of care obligations. Of course, such aid may be a matter of immediate necessity but never a long term solution. Public policy and the right to food matter.
As Louise Arbour, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and UN high commissioner for human rights has written: ‘There will always be a place for charity, but charitable responses are not an effective, principled or sustainable substitute for enforceable human rights guarantees’.
US biggest state sponsor of terror, source of insecurity worldwide: Iran
The spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces described the United States as the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world, saying Washington is the source of insecurity across the globe.
Speaking in the city of Kerman on Tuesday, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said the criminal US regime exposed its true face before the world by its “brazen” assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
“The US is the world’s biggest terrorist-nurturing country and the looter of the property of the people and the oppressed,” Shekarchi said, according to Press TV. “No insecurity happens in the world unless the United States is involved.”
On January 3, 2020, the US military conducted an air operation under former president Donald Trump’s order, targeting Lt. Gen. Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport after his arrival. The attack also killed the general’s companions, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
Both commanders were highly popular because of the key roles they played in eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
Iran called Soleimani’s assassination “state terrorism” and vowed to put an end to the US military’s presence in the region as the ultimate act of revenge.
In retaliation, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, and another airbase in Erbil on January 8, 2020, as a result of which 110 US troops were diagnosed with “traumatic brain injuries”.
In announcing the missile strikes, The IRGC warned the “Great Satan” that repeating such mischievous acts would lead to “a more painful and more decisive response.” It also advised the American people to demand the withdrawal of their country’s forces from the region in order to save their lives.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Shekarchi said General Soleimani was kind and compassionate toward the people while being firm, brave, and invincible in the face of the enemy.
He also noted that the martyred commander stood up against the Daesh terrorist group and destroyed the “predatory animal”.
“Who armed and supported this predatory animal?” he asked, hinting at the US government. “We should be careful not to confuse the martyr with the executioner.”
He also asserted that the enemy suffered more from the martyrdom of General Soleimani compared to when he was leading the Resistance Front, pointing to the increasing public pressure to expel American forces from the region.
UN-appointed rights experts condemn ‘unrelenting human rights violations’ at Guantánamo Bay
A group of independent human rights experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council has condemned the continued operation of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba as a site of “unparalleled notoriety” and “a stain on the US government’s commitment to the rule of law”.
The detention camp, sited within a US naval base on the island, was set up in 2002 to house prisoners captured in Afghanistan, and at its peak housed some 780 people, most of whom were detained without trial.
Of the 39 detainees still held at Guantánamo, only nine have been charged, or convicted of crimes. Between 2002 and 2021, nine detainees died in custody, two from natural causes and seven reportedly committed suicide. None had been charged or convicted of a crime.
In a statement released on Monday to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the facility, the experts called on the US, a newly elected member of the council, to close Guantánamo , and declared that two decades of “practising arbitrary detention without trial accompanied by torture or ill treatment is simply unacceptable for any government, particularly a government which has a stated claim to protecting human rights”.
‘Site of unparalleled notoriety’
“Despite forceful, repeated and unequivocal condemnation of the operation of this horrific detention and prison complex with its associated trial processes, the United States continues to detain persons many of whom have never been charged with any crime,” the experts said.
“Guantánamo Bay is a site of unparalleled notoriety, defined by the systematic use of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against hundreds of men brought to the site and deprived of their most fundamental rights”, they added, going on to describe the facility as a symbol of a systematic lack of accountability for state-sponsored torture, ill treatment, and impunity granted to those responsible.
As the remaining detainees get older, their health is deteriorating, and the US Department of Defense has reportedly requested a budget of around $88 million to build a hospice.
The level of medical assistance and torture rehabilitation treatment available to the prisoners is, say the experts, inadequate, despite being required under international law.
The experts called on the US to close the site, return detainees home or to safe third countries, while respecting the principle of non-refoulement, which means that they cannot be sent to a country in which they could be subject to persecution.
They also called for reparations to be made for tortured and arbitrarily detained prisoners, and for those who authorized and engaged in torture to be held accountable, as required under international law.
Decade-long court date delays
Since the opening of the detention centre in 2002, only 12 detainees are reported to have been charged, and just two convicted by Military Commissions.
The trial of the five accused of directly participating in the 2001 plot that led to planes being hijacked, and flown into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon, have still not begun.
Pre-trial hearings on motions to suppress evidence of torture, are now going into a tenth year. In their statement, the experts express deep concern at these delays. “We particularly highlight the failures of the United States judicial system to play a meaningful role in protecting human rights, upholding the rule of law and enabling a legal black hole to thrive in Guantánamo with their apparent approval and support,” they declare.
The experts praised lawyers defending the detainees who have “battled to protect the rule of law and identified the persistent human rights failures in the day-to-day operation of commissions” which, they say, continue to violate the requirements of impartiality, independence and non-discrimination and should never have been used in the way they were deployed at Guantánamo.
Chinese ambassador hails Iran support for Beijing Games
Chinese Ambassador to Tehran Chang Hua praised Iran’s support for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.
The Chinese envoy made the remarks during a visit to the National Museum of Sports, Olympics and Paralympics in Tehran on Tuesday.
Speaking to Seyyed Reza Salehi-Amiri, the president of the National Olympic Committee of Iran, the Chinese envoy said, “I would like to offer my gratitude for your recent letter to the Chinese Olympic Committee and other efforts in showing your support for the Games.”
Salehi-Amiri, hailing the deep-rooted ties between the two countries, said, “China has always been an excellent host for numerous sporting events. I am confident the Winter Games will also take place in perfect circumstances, and the Iranian teams will be looking forward to participating in Winter Games and also Asian Games.
The Winter Games will kick off on February 4 and the Asian Games are scheduled to take place in Hangzhou in September.
The United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia have announced their political boycott of the Games in recent months over China’s human rights record, an allegation China has dismissed as “political posturing”.
Iran envoy: U.S. must return all Achaemenid tablets
Arts & Culture Desk
Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations said the United States must return all Achaemenid tablets it has borrowed for archeological studies to Tehran without any excuse.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi added close to 90 years ago, the tablets were lent to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago for three years and have not been fully returned to Iran yet, IRNA reported.
He noted that the tablets are part of Iran’s culture and history and belong to the people of the country, saying the U.S. keeps postponing their return under a different pretext each time.
“This comes as the Americans themselves admit that the tablets have been given to them on loan and not returned fully yet.”
The envoy stressed that Iran’s request is clear, stressing that the tablets must be handed over to the Iranian government safe and sound and in their entirety.
The archive includes more than 30,000 clay tablets that were shipped to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago as a loan authorized by the Iranian government in 1935, and arrived in Chicago
The institute was slated to study the artifacts for three years and then return them to Iran, but it has failed to fulfill the commitment after several decades.
Parts of the archive were returned to Iran in 1948, 1971, and 2004, but a large part of it is still held by the institute.
In October 2019, Iran’s Minister of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Ali Asghar Mounesan said that over 1,700 clay tablets have returned home after being held in the U.S. for 80 years.
Back in February and following years of ups and downs, the fate of the ancient Persian artifacts was left in the hands of a U.S. court, which ruled in Iran’s favor.
The University of Chicago has defended Iran’s right to the artifacts, arguing that the Oriental Institute has an obligation to return them as promised.
Also known as the Persepolis Administrative Archives, comprising Persepolis Fortification Archive and Persepolis Treasury Archive, the two groups of clay administrative archives were discovered in Persepolis during legal excavations conducted by the archaeologists from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the 1930s.
Russia says pessimistic on U.S. talks, won’t let them drag on
Russia said on Tuesday it was not optimistic after a first round of talks with the United States on the Ukraine crisis and would not allow its demands for security guarantees from the West to become mired in tortuous negotiations.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was positive that Monday’s talks in Geneva had been held in an open, substantive and direct manner, but Russia was interested only in results.
“There are no clear deadlines here, no one is setting them - there is just the Russian position that we will not be satisfied with the endless dragging out of this process,” he said, according to Reuters.
Russia has pushed the West to the negotiating table after massing troops near Ukraine’s border as it presses a set of far-reaching demands that would prevent Ukraine from ever joining NATO and roll back two decades of alliance expansion in Europe.
Washington has said it cannot accept these demands, although it is willing to engage on other aspects of Russia’s proposals by discussing missile deployments or limits on the size of military exercises.
Peskov said the situation would be clearer after two further rounds of talks that Russia is due to hold this week – with NATO in Brussels on Wednesday and at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna on Thursday.
Russian and U.S. negotiators gave no sign of narrowing their differences in briefings after the first session in Geneva.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the two sides had “in some ways opposite views”. He told reporters: “For us it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “We were firm ... in pushing back on security proposals that are simply non-starters to the United States.”
Iran: West foot-dragging prolonging negotiations
Talks between Iran and other members of the 2015 nuclear deal appeared to be reaching a “critical stage”, with delegates holding bilateral and multilateral meetings in Vienna to patch up differences for the revival of the troubled accord, known as the JCPOA.
Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani met separately Russian and Chinese representatives to the Vienna talks as well as diplomats of the three European signatories of the agreement – France, Britain and Germany – and Enrique Morra, the European Union’s political director who chairs JCPOA talks.
Russia: JCPOA talks underway in ‘varying geometry’; chances of solution increase
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s chief negotiator and ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna, tweeted on Tuesday that the Vienna talks are being held in “varying geometry”.
In another tweet, Ulyanov said during his meeting with Baqeri Kani on Monday, they “changed views and assessments on the whole spectrum of contentious issue”.
The Vienna talks aim to resuscitate the JCPOA by bringing the United States back to compliance with the deal almost four years after its unilateral withdrawal that was followed by the reimposition of sanctions on Iran.
The pullout under former US president Donald Trump prompted Iran in 2019 to drop key aspects of its JCPOA commitments in retaliation. Now his successor Joe Biden seeks to reenter the nuclear agreement.
China’s chief negotiator Wang Qun said his country supports Iran’s logical demands on its nuclear program.
“China firmly backs Iran on its logical demands on nuclear activities,” Wang told reporters after his lengthy meeting with Baqeri Kani on Monday.
Iran wants the Biden administration to give assurances that future governments will not violate the multilateral agreement again. Tehran also demands that all those sanctions be removed “effectively, practically and verifiably” after the JCPOA is restored.
In an interview with Al Jazeera news channel published on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that the talks are heading in the right direction but noted that the Western side’s foot-dragging in returning to its JCPOA obligations is prolonging the negotiations.
“The talks are in their right direction… if they (the Western side) really have serious intentions and will, we can reach a good agreement,” Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that a good deal means that all parties are satisfied with.
The top diplomat, however, said Iran has yet to see “serious willpower” from the US and three European parties.
“We do not yet see new initiatives from the West… They do not seem ready to return to their commitments quickly, so we feel that the West is still dragging its feet,” he said.
Amir-Abdollahian stressed that a deal is struck once the West fully complies with its JCPOA commitments.
Talks have gained momentum
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that the Vienna talks have “picked up speed” and the chances of reaching a solution have increased.
“The Vienna talks have gained momentum. We believe that the chances of reaching a solution… have increased. This is a positive moment. All parties are showing readiness to find a solution to the remaining problems, “Ryabkov told reporters in Geneva, according to TASS.
He said “various schemes” can be thought of for the ultimate goal that is to implement the JCPOA in the original parameters.
But he emphasized that “hypothetical intermediate steps are not a replacement, not a substitution, not an alternative to the basic agreement”.
Ryabkov also rejected the idea of setting deadlines for reaching a final deal.
“Under the conditions of artificial time pressure, we will not achieve anything… We cannot put any time limiters at all. We just need a quick move forward,” he said.