STOP RAISING EXCESSIVE DEMANDS – Iran warns P5+1 group

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A SENIOR Iranian official says a final deal with the P5+1 group of countries over Tehran’s nuclear programme will be achieved should the six world powers stop raising ‘excessive demands’.

‘A win-win agreement in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group is reachable if the opposite side steers clear of the policy of imposition and excessive demands,’ Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said on Tuesday night.

Shamkhani said a durable agreement with the six world powers entails the safeguarding and development of Iran’s peaceful nuclear industry and the removal of sanctions slapped on the Islamic Republic. He also played down the Israeli regime’s opposition to ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

Iran and the P5+1 countries – the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – have been engaged in crucial nuclear talks in the Austrian capital to nail down a landmark deal over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Iran and the six countries missed an initial deadline of June 30 and all parties agreed on a new one of July 7.

However, in the wake of the outstanding issues in the talks, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Tuesday that the negotiations will continue for ‘a couple’ more days. Trade Promotion Organisation of Iran (TPOI) says the Islamic Republic has exported a total of $5.393 billion worth of non-oil commodities during the first two months of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2015).

According to a report released by TPOI, the high exports figure does not include exports of gas condensate and various services by Iran, showing that the country has already realised 10 per cent of the exports goal it has set for the current year. The report added that if condensate exports were taken into account, the value of Iran’s non-oil exports during the same period would hit $7.861 billion.

According to the organisation, the total volume of Iran’s non-oil exports is expected to hit $55 billion by the end of the year. The report also noted that liquefied propane, pitch, film-grade polyethylene, liquefied hydrocarbons, liquefied butane, methanol, urea, as well as iron and steel products were major non-oil commodities exported by Iran during the aforesaid period.

China, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Afghanistan were main destinations for Iran’s non-oil exports during the first two months of the year, accounting for 73.5 per cent of those exports.

Turkey, Pakistan, Italy and Oman were other important markets for Iran’s non-oil exports. Earlier in April, Iran’s deputy minister of industry, mining and trade, Valiyollah Afkhami, said the country’s non-oil exports rose by 19 per cent during the last Iranian calendar year (ended March 20) compared to the preceding year.

Pointing to the boom in Iran’s service exports in such sectors as tourism, engineering, and transit, the official added that the Islamic Republic is able to further increase the export of these services. Oil prices have risen again in international markets after an earlier plunge at the beginning of the week over the Greece debt crisis and economic fears related to the world’s biggest energy consumer, China.

On Wednesday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery increased 43 cents to $52.76 a barrel. The price of Brent North Sea crude for August also gained 38 cents to stand at $57.23 a barrel in Wednesday deals. Oil prices were relatively steady on Tuesday, after US crude futures fell about 8 per cent on Monday due to concerns about slowing global growth.

The concerns came after Greek voters rejected a bail-out offer from the international creditors while China moved to rein in turbulence in its financial market. Asian equities fell on Wednesday in some Asian markets as plummeting Chinese shares began to affect other markets, and also after European leaders set a deadline for Greece to submit new bailout reform proposals.

‘China’s stock market rout is now spreading to other financial markets, creating a sweeping sense of panic and liquidity crunch,’ said Zheng Ge, an analyst at Wanda Futures Co. Analysts said China’s new restrictions on margin trading and concerns about the overvaluation of many stocks have forced mainland investors – mostly retail traders – to cash out. Meanwhile, European leaders have set a new final deadline of Sunday for debt-stricken Greece to clinch a new bailout deal with its creditors and avoid possible exit from the eurozone.

Both crises are putting extra pressure on oil prices in global markets at a time when the global crude market is already oversupplied, analysts said. Traders were also awaiting the release of the weekly US crude inventory report later on Wednesday, which offers an estimate of demand in the world’s top oil consuming nation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has highlighted the significance of stepping up cooperation between his country and China, adding that the two sides can resolve the current common difficulties by joining efforts. He made the comments during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit of emerging economies in the Russian city of Ufa on Wednesday. BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

‘We are well aware of difficulties that we have to face both in economy and international politics, but by combining efforts, no doubt we will overcome all the problems before us and solve all the problems and tasks before us,’ the Russian president said. Putin also thanked Xi for taking part in the summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS in Russia.

‘I will not hide that it is especially pleasant to see our friends from China, taking into consideration the great amount of our humanitarian and political contacts and the growing volume of trade and economic ties,’ Putin added. The two-day BRICS summit started on Wednesday. BRICS accounts for almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output.

Its New Development Bank is seen on course to challenge the dominance of the US-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund. China has turned into Russia’s biggest trading partner as Moscow is looking for markets in Asia in the face of Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine and low energy prices. Last year, Beijing clinched a USD-400-billion gas supply agreement with Moscow while in May Russia emerged as China’s biggest source of crude oil.

‘China-Russia relations are the best they’ve been for a long time,’ said Ji Zhiye, the vice president of China’s Institute of Contemporary International Relations, adding, ‘Russia and China have a lot in common when it comes to views on global politics.’ President Putin enjoys high popularity in China, mainly for his willingness to stand against the United States.

• A US Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Persian Gulf has hosted the Saudi defence minister, who currently leads the kingdom’s brutal aggression against Yemen. The Saudi Press Agency said that Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boarded the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Wednesday, adding that the visit was made upon a request by the US Department of Defence.

The US marine commanders on board the ship reportedly briefed Salman on the weapons and operations of the giant carrier, which is operating in the area of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in waters close to Bahrain, a close ally of Riyadh. Saudi officials cite various reasons for their increased military cooperation with the United States, with the most notable of them being the rising influence of Iran in the Persian Gulf.

However, the US-Saudi bonds were further strengthened when Riyadh started its deadly air campaign against Yemen nearly three months ago. The Saudi attacks, which have claimed the lives of over 1,500 civilians in the impoverished country, have had the support of the US as Washington provides the Saudi jets with aerial refuelling and intelligence about their targets in Yemen.

Saudis have declared that the main objective of their aggression against Yemen is to weaken the Huthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Saudis have also taken a giant stride in their military cooperation with other Western governments. Riyadh has reportedly reached agreements with France to receive modern weapons and ammunition from Paris worth $12 billion.