Iran nuclear deal signatories reiterate commitment to pact

United Nations, Sep 26 (Prensa Latina) Iran and the parties to the nuclear deal signed in 2015 agreed to maintain efforts to preserve that pact, considered a milestone of international relations.

During a meeting here this Thursday, cited by international media, there was consensus among representatives of the Islamic Republic, Germany, France, China, the United Kingdom and Russia, plus the head of foreign policy of the European Union (EU), regarding the need to maintain the pact.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Yavad Zarif described as positive the extraordinary meeting between foreign ministers of signatory nations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Federica Mogherini, head of EU foreign policy, assured that all parties are committed to preserving the pact, although this is increasingly difficult.

According to Mogherini, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and Iran agreed to continue efforts to keep the treaty alive, from which the United States withdrew in May 2018 at the behest of President Donald Trump.

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Trump Says He Instructed Treasury to 'Substantially Increase' Sanctions on Iran

US President Donald Trump has stated that he has instructed his administration to ratchet up sanctions on Iran.

"I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump said via Twitter.

The sanctions appear to be part of Trump's response to Iran's alleged involvement in the weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

The statement comes after Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on 17 September that oil production had returned to the previous levels.

Prior to that, Saudi Aramco had to close two of its compounds, the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities, after they were hit by drones and caught fire. The incident led to a cut in oil production totalling 5.7 million barrels per day - about half of Saudi Arabia’s daily oil output. The closure of the facilities triggered a surge in oil prices worldwide.

US officials, including Trump, have accused Iran of being responsible for 14 September's attacks. Tehran has strongly denied the accusations. The Houthi movement, against which Riyadh and its allies have waged a four-year war, claimed responsibility for the attack and promised more strikes.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated recently. Relations substantially worsened last year after US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and began re-imposing sanctions. In May and June, Washington blamed Iran for a series of security incidents, including attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and built up its military presence in the Middle East. Iran has rejected the allegations and accused the United States of trying to find a pretext for conflict.

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Iran Rejects US Accusations of Attack on Saudi Arabia

The accusation, in which no proof was presented, was rejected by Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif.

Iran's government dismissed Sunday the United States' claim that Tehran is behind the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and as warmongering rhetoric escalates fears of an all-out Iran-U.S. conflict reignite in the region.

"Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Sunday, adding that “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

The accusation, in which no proof was presented, was rejected by Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif, who responded by saying Washington shifted from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to one of “maximum lying” and “deceit,” adding that Yemen’s situation won’t be solved by blaming Iran.

Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also criticized Saudi Arabia for fueling the flames of war in the region by committing various war crimes in Yemen and hailed the country for putting up resistance in the face of the aggression.

As tensions increase, President Donald Trump warned that the U.S. believes it “knows” who was behind the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities and is “locked and loaded,” but waiting for verification and for a Saudi assessment of responsibility before deciding how to proceed.

While Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a statement warning that although neither country wants a military conflict if it comes down to it, Iran is prepared for a "full-scale war". The commander of the IRGC aerospace arm Brigadier-General Amir Ali Hajizadeh noted Iran's missiles could hit U.S. bases and ships within a range of 2,000 km.

All this comes as Yemen’s Houthi forces Saturday attacked the state-run oil company Aramco’s Abqaiq plant, the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility, in a strike that cut more than half the Kingdom’s output or more than five percent of global oil supply.

A Saudi source told Reuters the damages inflicted on the oil facilities in the recent drone attacks are so massive that it is not clear when the country's oil output can return to normal.

As the world faces a possible production shortage of as much 150 million barrels per month, Trump authorized on Sunday the release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) if needed in a quantity to be determined. While oil prices surged more than 15 percent to their highest level in nearly four months at the open on Sunday.

Dubbed as the “Forgotten War,” the Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries in a military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi.

The conflict has since turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran. A narrative rejected by the Houthis who say that they took power from the Saudi-backed government in order to end Saudi interference into the country's affairs.

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Iran seizes vessel in Gulf for allegedly smuggling diesel fuel

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized a vessel in the Gulf for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates, Iran’s semi-official Students News agency ISNA reported on Monday.

“It was detained near Iran’s Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf...the crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province,” ISNA said, without elaborating on the nationalities of the crewmen.

The reported seizure coincided with raised international tensions following a weekend attack on a major oil installation in Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s longtime regional foe.

Responsibility for the strike was claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, while the United States has blamed Iran itself for the strike. Iran denies the accusation.

Iran, which has some of the world’s cheapest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the fall of its national currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighbouring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.

Iran stepped up its fight against smuggling fuel earlier this month when its coast guards seized a vessel for smuggling fuel in the Gulf and detained its 12 Filipino crew members.

In July, Iran seized a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar accused of taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Iran’s Adrian Darya 1, formerly Grace 1, was released last month. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that the British-flagged Steno Impero oil tanker will be released soon.

The latest reported ship seizure by Iran follows a series of incidents involving shipping in and near the Gulf after U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports took full effect in May.

The incidents coincided with stepped up attacks by the Houthis on targets in Saudi Arabia.

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Iran urges US to abandon ‘warmongering’ policy as arch-hawk Bolton leaves White House

Washington should give up its policy of aggression toward Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said. His remarks come hours after outspoken regime-change connoisseur John Bolton stepped down as national security adviser.

During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Rouhani pressed the US to “abandon warmongering and its maximum pressure policy” on Iran, and warned that failing to reverse course would further degrade Tehran’s commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif made similar calls for a US policy U-turn, tweeting on Wednesday that Washington’s “thirst for war” should end with the departure of its “warmonger-in-chief” Bolton.

A government spokesman said after the cabinet meeting that Bolton’s departure could help US policymakers have a “less biased” attitude toward the Islamic republic. Tehran stressed, however, that Bolton’s removal would not change its position on dialogue with Washington.

Also on Better late than never? Bolton’s firing gives Trump a chance to heed his instincts – Ron Paul....

“The departure of US National Security Advisor John Bolton from President Donald Trump’s administration will not push Iran to reconsider talking with the US,” Tehran’s United Nations envoy Majid Takhteravanchi said.

US President Donald Trump announced Bolton’s dismissal on Tuesday, tweeting that he had “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.” Bolton claims that he’d actually resigned before Trump’s announcement.

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Cuba reiterates solidarity with Iran in face of US hostilities

According to the Cuban News Agency, the head of Cuban diplomacy pointed to the meeting with Iranian envoy in a tweet where he described Iran as a friend country.

He pointed out that in the meeting both parties ratified the will to continue strengthening bilateral ties, which are 40 years since diplomatic relations were re-established.

The authorities of Cuba and Iran have repeatedly denounced that the US administration resorts to unilateral sanctions and threats to destabilize those countries.

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Iran Tanker Released By Gibraltar After 6 Weeks Now Headed To Lebanon

An Iranian tanker released this month after being detained for six weeks by the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is now headed for Lebanon, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.

"This tanker is not heading actually to Eskerun (in Turkey), this tanker is heading to Lebanon," Cavusoglu said during a visit to Oslo, referring to the Adrian Darya 1 vessel. The ship was suspected of transporting crude oil to Syria and the US has called for it to be seized.

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Sadaat leads Iran to three-set win over strong Cuba

Bardia Sadaat collected a remarkable 23 points to be Iran’s top scorer in the match.

“It was a very good game. Cuba was a very strong team physically. Having a good analysis of their performance, we managed to win three straight sets,” said Sadaat after the match, according to Iranian volleyball federation. He said that the team will try its best in the quarterfinals.

Iran, the reigning champion, will lock horns with Russia on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

“It was a hard game; Cuba was one of the strongest physical teams of the event. They managed to even defeat Brazil in the group stage. The team arrived at this level by playing hard matches. It was important where we would recover and we today succeeded in the first playoff. Tomorrow we will meet Russia and I’m happy that we played great today,” said the team’s coach Mohammad Vakili after the match.

The 2019 edition of FIVB Boy’s World Championship kicked off on August 21 in Tunis, Tunisia.

With two gold, two silver, and two bronze medals, Iran is the third most decorated team in the event after Brazil and Russia. Iranians won their first title in 2007 where they defeated China in the final. Iran has taken part in 11 out of 15 editions of the games so far managing to advance to the semifinal in eight ones.

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