IRAN’S President Hassan Rouhani says the lifting of all US sanctions will create ‘a new atmosphere’ for the Islamic Republic’s economic cooperation with the world.
In a meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic in Tehran on Sunday, Rouhani condemned the United States’ illegal sanctions and economic war against the Iranian people for the past three years.
He said the new administration in Washington has pledged to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
‘Given the shift in circumstances at the international level and the apparent willingness of the new US administration to return to the JCPOA, with the complete lifting of the sanctions, a new atmosphere will emerge for Iran’s cooperation and economic interactions with the world,’ the Iranian president said, calling on ‘friendly countries to try to seize this opportunity.’
However, the fate of the JCPOA, signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany – after years of diplomacy and intensive negotiations, still remains unclear.
It was in 2018 when then US President Donald Trump unilaterally scrapped the agreement and imposed tough economic sanctions against Iran.
While the Trump administration described its anti-Iran measures as a ‘maximum pressure’ policy, Tehran slammed them as ‘economic war,’ ‘economic terrorism’ and also ‘medical terrorism’ – as Covid vaccinations are not allowed in.
Joe Biden, the current US president, has repeatedly spoken of willingness to rejoin the deal. But in practice he has so far been sticking with Trump’s futile pressure campaign. Washington says Tehran should return to ‘full compliance’ with the deal before the US returns.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani said Iran valued peace, stability and security in the Balkans and the peaceful coexistence of all ethnic and racial groups.
The two foreign ministers then signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the improvement of bilateral cooperation and Rouhani urged the expansion of ties in political, economic and trade fields.
According to the document, Iran and Serbia would expand friendly relations based on the principles of equality, sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, mutual respect and common interests.
Rouhani also talked about the coronavirus pandemic. He said Tehran is ready to expand scientific cooperation with Belgrade in the fight against the disease.
Selakovic said his country had always supported and would continue to support the JCPOA and Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme.
Serbia, he added, remains determined to have friendly relations with Iran.
- The presence of American troops in Iraq is ‘100 per cent illegal’ as – contrary to its stated intention – the United States is using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to prolong its stay in the country, according to a political analyst.
The comments by Edward Corrigan, a Canadian international law expert and journalist, came after the Iraqi parliament’s defence and security committee last week demanded the evacuation of all US combat troops from the American embassy in Baghdad.
Badr al-Ziyadi, a member of the defence and security committee, said the US wants to keep its forces in Iraq and has no intention of ever withdrawing.
Two lawmakers with the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in the Iraqi parliament also warned of US intentions for a permanent military presence in Iraq.
The MPs stressed that the Iraqi security forces are capable of protecting the country themselves, adding the US combat forces have no role in fighting terrorism in Iraq.
‘I agree the US troops are not there to combat terrorism. They are a disruptive force, and while they claim to be fighting terrorism they are in fact enabling the terrorists and using the terrorists as a pretext to stay in Iraq. Their purpose is to try and destabilise the country,’ Corrigan told the media on Saturday.
‘Their presence is 100 per cent illegal. They do not have the permission of the Iraqi authorities to be there,’ the Canada-based analyst said, adding: ‘There is also no United Nations Security Council resolution making their presence legal under international law.
‘The US troops are an illegal occupation force.’
Corrigan also stressed: ‘There is a lot of animosity against the American troop presence in Iraq … The Iraqi parliament and Iraqi political leaders have frequently called for the US troops’ withdrawal … which shows the United States has contempt for Iraq’s sovereignty.’
Asked about the consequences of the continuation of US troop deployment in other countries against the will of the targeted nation, Corrigan pointed out this is in breach of international law and has already brought about attacks on American forces.
‘The US thinks it is above international law and can do what it wants,’ he said.
‘The Americans are also illegally in Syria and are stealing Syria’s oil and other resources in violation of international law and against the will of the Syrian government. There are mounting attacks against the American troops in Syria and also in Iraq. I expect that these attacks will intensify until the American troops leave.’
Anti-American sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the US assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad on January 3rd, 2020.
Just days later, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq. There are currently about 2,500 American troops in Iraq.
Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.
- The former head of military intelligence for the Israeli army says Iran’s first ever launch of 60-per cent uranium enrichment after the sabotage incident at Natanz last Sunday shows the country was prepared for the attack.
The ‘terrorist’ attack disrupted the flow of power at the Natanz nuclear facility, prompting Iran’s enemies to speculate that the incident would set back Iran’s enrichment programme for at least nine months. However, Tehran’s immediate launch of the 60-per cent enrichment debunked those claims.
That shows ‘Iran has been waiting for this attack for 20 years,’ Amos Yadlin told the media on Saturday.
Yadlin was allegedly one of the pilots who bombed Iraq’s nuclear power plant in Osirak in June 1981, just days before it was set to ‘go hot’.
As the head of military intelligence for the Israeli army, he also helped design a second operation against what Tel Aviv claims is Syria’s secret nuclear power plant in 2007, but Damascus denies having ever had such a programme.
At the time, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein said he was ‘surprised’ as was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Iran was not, Yadlin claimed.
While Iraq’s and allegedly Syria’s facilities were concentrated in one place, Iran’s nuclear energy programme is ‘much more fortified and dispersed,’ he added.
‘Iran has learned from what we have done,’ Yadlin said, claiming that Israel had also learned from what it had done and had ‘more capabilities’ for new sabotage acts.
The Israeli media says that the country’s military planners have ‘several options’ to use against Iran’s nuclear programme, including ‘covert attacks, clandestine actions and cyberattacks.
‘In essence, try everything short of war’ it said of the regime’s so-called ‘five strategies to stop Iran’, adding the last resort is bombing Iran’s nuclear programme or pushing for regime change.
Last year, Natanz came under another terrorist attack that Israel is suspected of orchestrating. The uranium enrichment facility was also the target of the Stuxnet computer virus discovered in 2010, which is widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel.
Tel Aviv is further believed to have played a key role in assassinating seven Iranian nuclear scientists in the past. Last November, Iran’s prominent nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in a sophisticated operation near Tehran.
On Saturday, Iran named a suspect in the latest attack on Natanz, saying he had fled the country ‘only hours before’ the sabotage happened.
National television named the suspect as 43-year-old Reza Karimi and showed an Interpol ‘red notice’ seeking his arrest.
The report said ‘necessary actions’ are underway to bring Karimi back to Iran through legal channels. The Interpol ‘red notice’ listed his foreign travel history as including Ethiopia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Qatar, Romania, Turkey, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.
The report said there was a ‘limited explosion of a small part of the electricity-feeding path to the centrifuges hall’ at Natanz, adding this was due to explosive materials – there was no cyberattack.
The report also showed centrifuges in a hall. ‘The sound that you are hearing is the sound of operating machines that are fortunately undamaged,’ the reporter said, the high-pitched sound of the centrifuges can be heard in the background.
An engineer told the Iranian media: ‘Many of the centrifuge chains that suffered some damage are now under control. Part of the work that was disrupted will be back on track with the round-the-clock efforts of my colleagues.’