Iranian authorities confirm 12 dead and 64 infected from COVID-19

Tehran, Feb 25 (Prensa Latina) The Minister of Health and Medical Education of Iran, Saeed Namaki has confirmed that 12 people have died and 64 have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Thus, he corrected the statements of the deputy for the city of Qom, Ahmad Amirabadi-Farahani, who assured at least 50 people had died as a result of the virus.

Namaki promised to present his resignation if even half that many people had actually died.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Parliament's Directive Board, Asadollah Abbasi, presented a report on the hospitalized suspects of infection, 64 all in all, among them patients with influenza.

The Deputy Minister of Health Iraj Harirchi spoke as well against what he called fake and incorrect information on the fifty dead in the city of Qom.

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Iran: 43 infected with coronavirus; patient zero identified

Iran has confirmed 15 new cases of the new coronavirus, taking the total to 43 with a death toll of eight, reports Reuters. Most of the infections have been in the Shia Muslim holy city of Qom.

According to the Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki:

The virus came from China to Qom city. A Merchant from Qom who died of the virus used to regularly travel to China … Flights were suspended between the two countries but he used indirect flights.

He urged people to avoid traveling to Qom, a major destination for Shia pilgrims 120 km (75 miles) south of the capital Tehran.

“Obviously we do not recommend trips to Qom or any other holy Shia cities in Iran,” Namaki said on state television.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced the 15 new cases earlier on Sunday.

“So far, we have 43 infected cases and the death toll is eight,” he told the television.

Eight of the new infections were in Qom, where authorities have shut down schools and religious seminaries. In Tehran and some other cities, schools have been closed until Tuesday.

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Iranian president says national unity prevented U.S. from defeating Tehran

Tehran, February 6 (RHC)-- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Americans did all in their power to bring Iran to its knees, but they failed to achieve that goal thanks to the nation’s strong unity and vigilance.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Rouhani described national unity as well as trust between the people and the ruling establishment as the keys to resolving problems and withstanding enmities.

“The Americans, have done their utmost to pressure the Iranian nation over the past two years, but have failed, thanks to our people’s steadfastness and unity,” he added.

The Iranian chief executive also noted that the White House sought - in vain - to get its European allies to toe its line in dealing with the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Why has the U.S. even failed in dragging its allies along?  Why is the US incapable of presenting its act of terrorism as powermongering to the world?  The reason must be sought in the vigilance, awareness, resistance and withstanding of our great nation,” he said.

The administration of President Donald Trump has followed what it calls a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran, which has seen Washington abandoning the JCPOA and imposing the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Iranian economy.

Washington is also exerting pressure on the European signatories to the JCPOA to scrap the multilateral nuclear accord, which was also ratified in the form of a UN Security Council resolution.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani emphasized the need for the Iranians to participate en masse in the upcoming countrywide rallies marking the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, saying, “Today, our enemies are standing against our national interests with all their might.”

Edited by Ed Newman
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Iran Slams Trump's Middle East Peace Plan as 'Disgraceful'

"The Zionist regime (of Israel) is an occupying regime, and the only way to settle the Palestinian cause is a referendum among the real inhabitants of the lands," the Iranian spokesman added.

Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday strongly rejected the U.S. Middle East peace plan as "disgraceful."

RELATED: Iran: Alternative Solution to the So-Called Century's Deal

In a statement released hours after U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of the so-called Deal of the Century, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said it is the "betrayal of the century" and is "doomed to failure."

"Palestine belongs to the Palestinians," he said. "The Zionist regime (of Israel) is an occupying regime, and the only way to settle the Palestinian cause is a referendum among the real inhabitants of the lands," the Iranian spokesman added.

Given the importance of the Palestinian issue and the major "conspiracy" behind Trump's deal, Iran is ready to cooperate at any level to forge unity in the Muslim world and "thwart the big plot that has endangered Muslim nations," he said.

Trump on Tuesday announced the long-awaited political aspect of his Middle East peace plan, a proposal that has already been repeatedly refused by the Palestinians.

The plan proposes a "realistic" two-state solution and recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided capital," according to Trump.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday called Trump's proposal for peace in the Middle East a "nightmare for region."

"The so-called 'Vision for Peace' is simply the dream project of a bankruptcy-ridden real estate developer," Zarif tweeted.

"But it is a nightmare for the region and the world," he said. "Hopefully, (it's) a wake-up call for all the Muslims who have been barking up the wrong tree," the minister noted.

Trump's peace plan is merely a deal between the United States and Israel, Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Iran's president tweeted.

"This is a deal between the Zionist regime (of Israel) and America. Interaction with Palestinians is not on its agenda," Ashena said.

Besides, "this is not a peace plan but a plan of imposition," he added.

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US Envoy Threatens to Assassinate New Quds Force Commander

“If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” U.S. envoy Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat.

The U.S. envoy to Iran Brian Hook has threatened Iran's Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani with the same fate as his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, if he followed the latter's path.

RELATED: Netanyahu, Pence Slam 'Anti-Semitic' Iran at Holocaust Memorial

AccordIng to the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Hook and the rest of the Trump administration will not tolerate Soleimani's approach any further. The U.S. representative said the Trump administration will take similar action against Ghaani if seeks to replicate Soleimani's approach. 

“If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” U.S. envoy Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat.

He said in the interview in Davos, Switzerland that Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.

The U.S. military assassinated Qassem Soleimani using a drone near the Baghdad Airport on January 3rd. Soleimani's death was said to be in response to his plans to allegedly attack the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. 

In retaliation for the Soleimani assassination, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired 22 missiles at the U.S. forces in Iraq on January 8th. The U.S. initially denied any casualties; however, a report leaked shortly after claiming as many as 11 U.S. soldiers were wounded.

Following the death of Soleimani, General Esmail Ghaani was named the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force. He was considered Soleimani's number two and a close confidant of the late Quds Force commander. 

 

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Iran is now enriching MORE uranium than before the 2015 nuclear deal – President Rouhani

Iran has boosted its nuclear enrichment to levels not even seen before the JCPOA deal, President Hassan Rouhani has proclaimed, shortly after the Islamic Republic accused three European nations of “selling out” to the US.

“We are enriching more uranium [than] before the deal was reached ... Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress,” Rouhani said in a televised address on Thursday.

Tehran is now bound by “no restrictions on nuclear energy,” Rouhani said, as Iran is “better off in terms of nuclear power.”

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the official name of the 2015 deal – Iran had agreed to enrich uranium only up to 3.67 percent, a process typical for fuel in commercial nuclear power plants, and to stockpile no more than 300kg of this material.

Also on rt.com How Europe betrayed Iran: By triggering JCPOA dispute mechanism, EU helps Trump finish job of killing the Iran nuclear deal....

Iran was meticulously sticking to the pact after the US unilaterally departed from it in May 2018, re-imposing economic sanctions and ratcheting up bellicose rhetoric against Iran, as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had repeatedly confirmed. On their part, France, Germany and the UK — the three European signatories colloquially known as the E3 — rejected to stick to Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" policy.

Later that year, Iran began to gradually be scale back its commitments, insisting that European signatories failed to do their part of the deal.

In January, Tehran vowed that it will move beyond all uranium enrichment limitations set out in the stalling accord. The dramatic decision was made in response to the assassination General Qassem Soleimani — one of Iran's most influential military leaders — in a US drone strike on Iraqi soil earlier in the month.

Iran to break uranium stockpile limit set by 2015 nuclear deal...

Upping the ante, the E3 claimed Iran has no legal grounds to do so, and triggered a clause allowing to scrutinize its compliance with the deal.

Rebuking the move by the trio, Tehran vowed "a firm response" if the Europeans' decision threaten the largely defunct accord. On the other hand, it said that throwing out enrichment limitations was based “on technical needs,” and that Iran isn’t after atomic weapons.

Also on rt.com Non-commitment probe into Iran by France, Germany & UK ‘groundless,’ only increases tensions around nuclear deal – Russia   

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Seemingly Fragile Truce Between Trump and Iran

Donald Trump said last Thursday that the new sanctions imposed on Tehran are already working.

Excuse? The missile attacks on bases that house U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Already done. We have expanded them. They were very severe, but now they have increased. ”

And he added without further explanation: "I just recently approved them with the Treasury."

The president had promised hours earlier "additional punitive sanctions" in retaliation for the attack.

Seen by experts, he recalled the Associated France Press (AFP), as a moderate response to the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

The latter, in a North American strike with drones in Baghdad.

According to the Pentagon, there were eleven missiles fired by Iran that reached the air base of Ain al Asad (west) and another in the north used by North Americans and allied forces.

With these types of sanctions, said AFP, Washington's non-military response "was seen as a sign of good will to calm down the escalation of the conflict."

Iran (...) hit us with missiles. They shouldn't have done that. Fortunately for them, nobody was injured, nobody was killed,” Trump repeated on Thursday.

And then he added:

"They are very affected by the sanctions."

“They can strengthen their country's economy very quickly if they wish. We'll see if they negotiate or not. ”

Amid that apparently conciliatory atmosphere, Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump will ask his European allies to nullify the nuclear pact signed with Iran.

That agreement, observers recalled, was in the process of extinction since the United States withdrew from the commitment.

Pence was blunt: The president will ask our allies to withdraw from the "disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran" and demand that they give up their long history of terrorist violence.

As well as its nuclear ambitions, and join the family of nations.

Pence made his statements during an interview with the far-right "Fox & Friends."

Some indicated Trump's friction with Britain, France, Germany and other NATO members, since the U.S. backed down in 2018 from the nuclear agreement negotiated by Barack Obama.

Your excuse to do so? That it granted Tehran too many economic benefits without preventing that at some point it will build a nuclear weapon.

Great Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China, and Russia have not left the agreement.

Another proof that corroborates how uncertain it is to establish any sort of obligation with Trump and his tribe.

All of this, when in reality, the fiery episode between Washington and Iran doesn’t seem to have end, in the first place.

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U.S. targeted Iranian official in Yemen in failed strike

The United States military tried, but failed, to kill another senior Iranian commander on the same day a U.S. drone strike killed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard's top general, Qassem Soleimani, U.S. officials have admitted.

Officials said a military air attack targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), but the mission was not successful.  The officials spoke to the Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a classified mission.  The Pentagon declined to discuss the highly classified operation.

"We have seen the report of a January 2 air strike in Yemen, which is long understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States.  The Department of Defense does not discuss alleged operations in the region," said Navy Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokesperson.  The Washington Post first reported the development.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury said Shahlai was based in Yemen and accused him of "a long history of targeting Americans and U.S. allies globally" -- including killing U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.  It has offered a $15 million reward in connection with him under its "Rewards for Justice" program.

The unsuccessful operation against Shahlai may indicate that the Trump administration's killing of Soleimani last week was part of a broader operation than previously explained, raising questions about whether the mission was designed to cripple the leadership of the IRGC or solely to prevent an imminent attack on Americans as originally stated.

The Trump administration has been under fire by Democrats and two Republicans in Congress over its decision to order the drone strike that killed Soleimani.  In an interview that aired earlier on Fox News, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that Washington did not know "precisely" when or where the imminent attacks allegedly being planned by Soleimani would take place, but said the threat was "real".

U.S. military operations in Yemen are shrouded in secrecy -- primarily because they are illegal under international law.  U.S. officials said the operation against Shahlai remains highly classified, and many declined to offer details other than to say it was not successful.

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