LEADER of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has called on Iranian authorities not to back down in the face of the United States’ ever-increasing demands.
Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks on Wednesday in a meeting with a group of top university students and members of Iran’s National Elites Foundation. ‘We have, time and again, told the Iranian authorities that if you surrender in the nuclear case, the Americans will bring up the issue of the missiles. If you back down further, they will pick on the issue of Iran’s support for resistance,’ Ayatollah Khamenei asserted.
‘If you keep backing down even further, they will bring up the issue of human rights. Then, if you accept their standards, they will go for eliminating the religious standards in our government,’ the Leader added.
The Leader was pointing to recent remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has said that the Islamic Republic’s continued support for the resistance movement in the region made it ‘very difficult’ to help Tehran improve its banking system and business practices.
Ayatollah Khamenei said that some American officials would cite his ‘pessimism towards the US’ during their meetings with Iranian officials, asking, ‘How can one ever be optimistic towards you, given such remarks?’
The Leader further highlighted Iran’s vast capacities for making progress as well as its human and natural resources, saying even the Westerners admit this issue. The praise for Iran’s potentials is not ‘mere rhetoric,’ Ayatollah Khamenei added, warning that hindering Iran’s scientific progress is among the major goals of enemies.
l The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) says it is in talks with Denmark’s Maersk Group to extract oil from the world’s largest gas field known as South Pars in Iran. Negotiations have been held for the second phase development of the South Pars oil layer, NIOC Deputy Managing Director Gholam-Reza Manuchehri told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday.
‘Using modern technologies and horizontal drilling in view of the heaviness of the oil at the South Pars layer are the most important development scenarios for this oil field which is shared with Qatar,’ he said.
NIOC plans to drill 300 wells at the South Pars oil layer, which requires improved recovery (IOR) and enhanced recovery (EOR) technologies to reach crude oil. Only a few international companies are in possession of such technologies, with the Danish company considered to be a ‘powerful’ candidate for the development of the South Pars oil layer, Manuchehri said.
‘Negotiations with the Danish company are underway but nothing is final yet,’ he said. As in gas extraction, Qatar is ahead of Iran in developing the oil layer, having already completed the drilling of 300 wells which started production in 1991, according to Manuchehri.
‘Iran would need at least two-thirds of this amount of drilling to increase production from the oil layer to 200,000 barrels per day over a period of 20 years,’ he said. Maersk Group is cooperating with Qatar in the shared field which the tiny Persian Gulf country calls North Dome.
Manuchehri said the development of the South Pars oil layer is among the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum’s priorities, to be offered under the new oil contract model. Iranian companies are working on the first phase of the project and expect to pump 35,000 barrels of oil a day before the end of the current Persian year in March 2017.
South Pars is the world’s biggest gas field with 30 trillion cubic metres of reserves, divided to 24 phases on the Iranian side for development. Iranian companies are currently carrying out the gas phases but they look for a foreign partner to bring the oil layer to operation.
Maersk is also interested in developing Iran’s deepwater hydrocarbon reserves in the Caspian Sea, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said in January during a visit to Tehran by Denmark’s Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen. The Danish company has already been involved in deepwater oil drilling the Caspian Sea for Azerbaijan.
Maersk has also experience in building world-class FPSO vessels for floating oil and gas production, storage and offloading oil and gas, which Iran needs at the South Pars oil layer. Iran has offered four projects in the Caspian Sea, blocks 24, 26 and 29, as well as the Sardar-e Jangal oil field to foreigners for exploration and development.
• The Iranian Air Force has used 2,000-pound laser-guided munitions and precision-guided missiles against mock targets on the last day of a major aerial drill in central Iran. The munitions were used on Wednesday, which was the third and last day of the drills code-named Fada’eeyan-e Harim-e Velayat 6 (The Devotees of the Velayat Sanctuary 6), in the central province of Isfahan’s Anarak district.
Brigadier General Massoud Rouzkhosh, the spokesman for the maneuvres, said the day saw fighter planes taking on predetermined mock targets. The heavy bombs, he said, used Computer Control Group (CCG) laser homing guidance units, adding that F-7 fighters had separately dropped other optimised bombs against preset mock targets.
Also during the day, F-4 military aircraft used tactical air-to-surface Maverick missiles and conducted surgical attacks using smart rockets, while ultra-light and unmanned aircraft were used to enable communication as well as reconnaissance and the destruction of the targets.
On Tuesday, the Air Force successfully conducted electronic warfare as part of the manoeuvres, using advanced communications systems and secure wireless or wire-connected networks, flight apparatus systems, and tactical systems. The day also witnessed the application of deceptive jamming methods against mock enemy radars.
The attack aircraft used over the three days also included domestically-built Sa’eqeh as well as F-5, F-14, Sukhoi Su-24 and MiG-29 planes. Rouzkhosh said earlier that among the maneuvres’ points of strength were the amplification of the force’s firepower and the enhancement of its precision targeting capabilities. Iran says its military might poses no threat to other countries, stating that its defence doctrine is based on deterrence.
• Iran says it is unconcerned about the ‘interventionist’ remarks made by United States officials, a day after Washington sounded concern over the sentencing of dual American-Iranian nationals over spying for Washington.
The Iranian government and people attach no importance to the inquisitive rhetoric and excessive demands of American officials, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Wednesday.
‘Efforts towards causing a rift among the Iranian nation’s closely-united ranks against American statesmen’s intrusive policies have never led and will never lead to any result,’ he added.
On Tuesday, six Iranian nationals were sentenced to 10 years in prison each on charges of espionage and collaboration with the US government. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Ja’afari Dolatabadi identified the convicts as Baqer and Siamak Namazi, both of whom have dual Iranian-American citizenship, Nazaar Zakaa, Farhad Abd-e Saleh, Kamran Qaderi and Alireza Omidvar.
Siamak Namazi was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in October 2015 and his father, Baqer, was detained in February. Siamak formerly worked for the Sharjah-based oil and gas company Crescent Petroleum. Baqer is a former Iranian provincial governor and served as a UNICEF representative in Somalia, Kenya, Egypt and other countries.
Later on Tuesday, the US State Department expressed ‘deep’ concerns about reports that the American citizens had been handed down jail terms and demanded that all incarcerated US nationals be freed in Iran.
Qassemi further said that such ‘impolitic implied threats’ would not only prove unconstructive, but also increase the Iranian nation’s distrust of the US. The spokesman suggested that the State Department is attempting to lend an international aspect to such domestic issues as Iran is confronting spying activities within its borders.