Iran denies PKK presence on its soil – accuses Turkey of invading Iraq’s sovereignty!

Structure on the Syria-Iraq border recently bombed in a US air strike

IRAN has summoned Turkey’s Ambassador, Derya Ors, over the Turkish interior minister’s ‘unacceptable’ claim about the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in the Islamic Republic.

The Turkish envoy was called in on Sunday and notified of the protest.
The development came after earlier the same day, Turkey had summoned the Iranian Ambassador, Mohammad Farazmand, over remarks alleging Ankara had violated Iraq’s sovereignty.
Farazmand was called in to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry after Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi, said Tehran opposed Turkish intervention in Iraq and the Kurdistan region.
In an exclusive interview with Rudaw, broadcast on Saturday, Masjedi said: ‘We reject military intervention in Iraq, and Turkish forces should not pose a threat or violate Iraqi soil.
‘The security of the Iraq’s Kurdistan region should be maintained by Iraqi forces and the region’s forces.
‘It is completely unacceptable to us for Turkey, or any other country, to intervene in Iraq militarily or have a military presence there.’
Masjedi added: ‘Therefore we believe the Turks must return to their international position and be stationed there, and the security of Iraq be maintained by the Iraqis.’
In summoning the Iranian ambassador to Ankara, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said Ankara rejected comments by the Iranian envoy to Baghdad, insisting that Turkey always informs relevant parties, including Baghdad, of its plans to target militants.
Turkish jet fighters have launched an operation against Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq, according to Turkey’s Defence Ministry.
The PKK, designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 in the fight for an autonomous Kurdish region.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the decades-long conflict.
A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015 and attacks on Turkish security forces have increased since then.

  • Mikhail Gorbachev, who was the last leader of the former Soviet Union, has called on US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to resolve their differences through negotiation and work towards further restrictions on nuclear weapons so as to ‘avoid nuclear war.’

Gorbachev said, in an interview with the Russian Interfax news agency on Saturday, that the two leaders (who spoke by phone after Biden’s inauguration last month) should meet and discuss further arms curbs.
‘I believe that it is imperative that the presidents meet. Experience shows that it is necessary to meet and negotiate,’ the 89-year-old former Soviet leader said.
‘It is clear that the main thing is to avoid nuclear war. Since such a problem must be avoided, it is impossible to solve it alone, it is necessary to meet. If the desire to achieve disarmament and to strengthen security prevails, so much can be accomplished,’ he added.
Tensions escalated between the two sides under former US president Donald Trump, fuelled by allegations of sweeping cyberattacks and a litany of other disagreements over security-related matters and nuclear arms control.
Earlier this year, Gorbachev urged Washington and Moscow to mend relations and bridge gaps hampering progress in the improvement of bilateral ties, saying that the current situation was ‘of great concern.’
He said that once the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) nuclear accord – the last standing nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the US – is extended ‘a more ambitious treaty’ could be negotiated.
On January 29, Russian president Putin signed a law extending the New START which the ex-American administration had failed to extend.
New START was signed between Washington and Moscow under then US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.
Russia has long called for extending the treaty – which was due to expire on February 5th – the way it is, but the Trump administration only entered talks on the matter last year and conditioned the extension on a list of demands.
The negotiations then hit a stalemate as the two sides failed to hammer out their differences.
The treaty allows the two states to have no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. It also envisages a strict compliance verification process.
New START is the last remaining nonproliferation deal between Russia and the US, after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), another key arms control treaty, expired in August 2019.
Last week, US bombers flew a mission close to the Russian navy, that was when Gorbachev made the plea for talks.
The US Air Force announced in a statement that its B-1 bombers had flown their first Bomber Task Force mission over the Norwegian Sea since deployment to the Scandinavian country, in an apparent show of force near Russian naval bases.
The planes ‘conducted tactical missions with Norwegian F-35 and Norwegian naval assets in the Norwegian Sea,’ the statement said.
The US bombers arrived in Norway earlier last week, accompanied by support aircraft and over 200 Air Force personnel at Orland Air Base, where Norway’s F-35 fleet is also stationed.
The Norwegian Sea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean in the Arctic area, is adjacent to the Barents Sea, which is regarded as ‘Russia’s Naval Backyard’ and home to the Russian Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarines.
The Russian Defence Ministry had previously announced plans for missile tests in the area between February 18 and February 24.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern about the increasing activities of the US-led NATO forces near its western borders.

  • Iran has received 250,000 doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China as the country continues the nationwide vaccination of priority groups. The consignment arrived at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Sunday morning.

Iran’s Food and Drug Organisation had already authorised the conditional emergency import and use of the Sinopharm vaccine.
In recent weeks, Iran has imported two batches of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, containing 120,000 doses in total.
The vaccination drive against the coronavirus pandemic began in Iran on February 9th, with frontline health workers receiving the Sputnik V vaccine.
The second phase of the rollout started last Thursday covering other vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the disabled, and those injured during the 1980s Iraq-imposed war.
Kianoush Jahanpour, spokesman for Iran’s Food and Drug Organisation, tweeted on Saturday that the inoculation of the Covid-19 vaccine to medical staff, the elderly and the war veterans living in nursing homes, will reach 110,000 doses this week.
The first phase of vaccinations will continue until Nowruz, (the Iranian New Year) he said, adding that there will be no changes in the prioritisation of the vaccination programme and no VIP jabs.
In addition to the Russian and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines, Iran is expected to receive 16.8 million doses of vaccines from COVAX, the multi-agency group dedicated to assuring fair access to vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.
At the same time, Iranian scientists have been working on domestic vaccines, two of which – COVIran Barekat and Razi COV-Pars – are currently in the human trial phase.
Razi COV-Pars, an mRNA recombinant vaccine, which is administered via injection and inhalation, went into clinical trial at Tehran’s Rasoul Akram Hospital on Sunday.
A total of 133 volunteers will get the vaccine, which is a product of the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute.
Iran has been fighting the deadliest pandemic the world has seen in many decades amid the illegal US sanctions that have seriously hampered efforts to stem the outbreak.
So far, more than 1.63 million Iranians have been infected with Covid-19. The Health Ministry announced on Sunday that the death toll from the pandemic had crossed the 60,000 mark.