Russia Criticizes Pompeo's Statements against Iran at UN

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, this Wednesday criticized in the UN Security Council the statements of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against Iran and his belligerent rhetoric towards that country.

The Russian diplomat stressed that Pompeo's speech contained many negative words, and was 'punctuated with direct provocations and demeaning sanctions,' adding 'not once did you use the word dialogue.'

He noted that the US Secretary of State presented Iran as the sole source of problems in the Middle East, 'a kind of empire of evil, so to speak.'

Such discourse and increasingly hostile sanctions only lead to the risk of an armed confrontation, any incident could trigger a conflict and it is urgent that both parties tread softly, he emphasized.

Conflicts must be solved by diplomatic and political means, sanctions and threats must be set aside, the Russian diplomat said at the UN Security Council meeting dedicated to the situation in the Middle East.

Currently, the Middle East is facing serious crises, so it is critical to look back to understand all mistakes made in the past and avoid falling into them once again, he added.

The most important conclusion is that unilateral action of any kind does not bring us closer to solving problems in the Middle East, he stressed.

Some states are trying to impose themselves against others, beyond the law, and promote policies aimed at creating instability and removing governments that are not to their liking, the Russian representative said.

This has only generated greater risks and more bloodshed, he noted. Therefore, international efforts in terms of diplomatic initiatives are urgently required, to avoid interference in internal affairs and military interventions.

According to Maria Luiza Viotti, chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary-General, the situation in the Middle East is complex and characterized by a great number of divisions and lengthy armed conflicts.

In recent weeks there have been a series of incidents in the Strait of Hormuz which have increased tensions to very dangerous levels, she said.

Therefore, she stressed the need to keep communication channels open, and bring the parties in conflict to the negotiating table.

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FIVB Men's International Olympic Qualification Tournament set to begin with six tickets to Tokyo 2020 on offer

A group of 24 teams will begin their search for six available tickets to Tokyo 2020 tomorrow with the International Volleyball Federation Men’s International Olympic Qualification Tournament set to get underway.

The teams are divided into six pools of four, with the table toppers punching their tickets for next year’s Olympic Games.

Brazil, who triumphed at their home Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to secure a third Olympic gold medal in their history, will compete in Pool A at the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna along with hosts Bulgaria, Egypt and Puerto Rico.

They are the only country to have played in every single edition of the Olympic Games since volleyball was introduced to the programme at Tokyo 1964.

Reigning world champions Poland, meanwhile, will face some very tough opposition when they welcome France, Slovenia and Tunisia to the Pool D event at Ergo Arena in Gdańsk.

Rio 2016 silver medallists Italy will also need to overcome a huge hurdle when they meet Serbia at Palaflorio in Bari.

Australia and Cameroon complete the Pool C line-up.

Three-time Olympic champions the United States are on the road in their quest to make Tokyo 2020, travelling to the Rotterdam Ahoy to go up against hosts The Netherlands, Belgium and South Korea in Pool B.

The 24 teams are divided into six pools of four, with the table toppers punching their tickets for Tokyo 2020 ©FIVB
The 24 teams are divided into six pools of four, with the table toppers punching their tickets for Tokyo 2020 ©FIVB

The Americans were bronze medallists last time around in Rio 2016.

Reigning European champions Russia are at home at the Sibur Arena in Saint Petersburg, but they are in for a tough challenge from Iran in Pool E, which also includes Cuba and Mexico.

This is the only qualification pool in which all four participants played at Rio 2016.

Russia finished fourth after blowing a two-set lead against the US in the bronze medal match, while Cuba and Mexico failed to make it beyond the preliminary round.

Argentina and Canada are expected to battle it out for glory in Pool F at Beilun Gymnasium in Ningbo, where they also face hosts China and Finland for a spot at Tokyo 2020.

Both the South and North Americans were knocked out in the quarter-finals at Rio 2016, with Argentina losing to Brazil and Canada falling to defeat at the hands of Russia.

The six table toppers will be joining Japan at Tokyo 2020, with the hosts having already claimed one of the 12 available berths.

A further five teams will emerge in January from the Continental Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to complete the Tokyo 2020 line-up.

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US sanctions, an opportunity to expand Iran-Cuba relations

The two countries of Iran and Cuba reestablished their diplomatic ties on August 8, 1979, and Cuba was among the first countries that recognized the Islamic Revolution.

During these forty years, the two countries backed each other overwhelmingly and expanded their amicable ties in various fields such as biotechnology and health, notes the statement.

Cuba attaches great importance to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and recognizes Iran’s inalienable right for the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it adds.

The statement notes that the Cuban government strongly condemns the imposition of US unilateral sanctions on Iran which contravenes international rules and regulations.

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Magazine says Trump invited Iranian foreign minister to White House

President Donald Trump invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the White House last month at the height of tensions between the two countries, The New Yorker magazine reported.

The invitation, extended by Sen. Rand Paul with permission from the president, was turned down for now, The New Yorker reported Friday. Zarif said it was up to Tehran to decide on accepting it.

Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to requests for comment on the report, which quoted U.S. and Iranian sources and what the magazine called a well-placed diplomat.

Zarif told the magazine he would not want a White House meeting that yielded just a photo op and a two page statement afterwards, The New Yorker said.

Trump has said publicly several times that he is willing to hold talks with the Iranians even as he lambasts Tehran as a corrupt, incompetent and dangerous regime that is a threat to regional security and U.S. interests.

Last year Trump pulled the U.S. out of an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program, and has reimposed sanctions on Iran — and even slapped them on Zarif this past week — in an effort to force it to renegotiate the agreement.

Rand had been working for weeks on setting up a meeting with Zarif and on July 15 conferred with him in New York, passing on an invitation from Trump for him to come to the White House, the magazine said.

At the one-hour meeting with Rand, Zarif suggested ways to end the nuclear impasse and address Trump’s concerns, The New Yorker said.

Tensions soared in the Persian Gulf in June and July amid attacks on oil tankers, Iran’s downing of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone and after the U.S. said it had downed an Iranian drone.

Trump has said the attack against the U.S. drone prompted him to order a military strike in response, only to call it off at the last minute.

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Tehran to Host Trade Forum With Cuba on Aug. 10

A joint trade forum between the businesspeople of Iran and Cuba is scheduled to be held in Tehran on Aug. 10, which marks the 40th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between Iran and Cuba.

Cuban Ambassador to Iran Alexis Bandrich Vega and Cuba’s commercial attaché in Tehran, Tania Rodriguez will attend the event, which will be held at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.

The forum has been organized with the aim of expanding commercial relations, ICCIMA's news portal reported.

Iran and Cuba traded 1.25 tons of non-oil commodities worth $156,960 in the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2019), registering a 9.53% and 48.13% decline in tonnage and value respectively compared with the year before, data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show.

Iran’s exports to Cuba stood at 1.23 tons worth $60,007, down 9.68% and 70.82% in tonnage and value respectively year-on-year.

The type of goods Iran exported to Cuba was not mentioned on the IRICA database.

Cuba only exported 21.4 kilograms of antibiotics worth $96,953 to Iran during the period under review.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Calls for Global Unity Against US Radical Unilateralism

US rage to control other nations, their resources and populations is the greatest threat to world peace, stability and security.

Its imperial agenda threatens everyone everywhere, risking potential destruction of planet earth to own it, all life forms endangered by its rage.

Bipartisan US ruling authorities, including congressional war party leaders, want pro-Western puppet regimes installed everywhere, sovereign independence of all nations eliminated.

They want ruler-serf societies everywhere they control, US-dominated NATO transformed into a global military on every continent - enforcing US interests, along with official narrative mind control, alternative views eliminated.

They want global societies unfit and unsafe to live in, US-headquartered masters of the universe enforcing the will of Wall Street; the military, industrial, security, controlled media complex; and other corporate predators.

Orwell's 1984 no longer is fiction. Big Brother watches everyone. Endless wars rage against invented enemies, planned new ones on the drawing board to be launched at the whim of the US ruling class.

The nation I grew up in long ago no longer exists. The American dream members of my generation enjoyed is gone. You have to be asleep to believe otherwise, the late George Carlin explained.

An increasingly totalitarian/tyrannical oligarchic plutocracy replaced the US of my youth - intolerant of democratic values and the rule of law everywhere, especially not at home.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is participating in the July 20-21 Ministerial Meeting of the Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), taking place in Caracas - Venezuela the host country, enhancing the Bolivarian Republic's sovereign independence and prestige on the world stage.

Some 120 nations comprise the NAM, two-thirds of UN member states.

The organization was established in 1961, an initiative of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito.

In his 1979 Havana Declaration, Fidel Castro defined the organization's purpose, saying the following.

It's to insure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of non-aligned countries (in their) struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony, as well as against great power and bloc politics."

NAM's founding Declaration said "(p)eace cannot achieved with separation, but with the aspiration towards collective security in global terms and expansion of freedom, as well as terminating the domination of one country over another."

The movement's five principles include:

Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Mutual non-aggression.

Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs.

Equality and mutual benefit.

Peaceful co-existence.

All of the above are contrary to the imperial aims of US-dominated NATO and partners.

NAM member state ministers are discussing international law principles, the right of sovereign independence for all nations, decolonization processes, Venezuelan and Iranian resistance against US aggression, along with other relevant topics.

Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif sounded the alarm about what he called a "new wave of US radical unilateralism," the world community of nations threatened by its rage for global dominance - pursued by economic, financial, trade, sanctions, and preemptive hot wars.

"This challenge is weakening the rule of law in the world and is threatening global peace and stability," Zarif stressed, adding:

"Even many US allies are being exposed to the unprecedented US interference in their internal affairs."

Zarif called for NAM member states to "resist this new (US) wave and push it back." He hailed Iran's "pioneering in resisting (US) economic terrorism."

"Our sincere efforts to respond to unfounded concerns about our peaceful nuclear program is one of the many victims of the new unilateralism," he stressed.

He slammed the Trump regime's aim "to push the nuclear deal to the brink of collapse despite the world's investment in" preserving it, adding:

"Not only did the US violate the UNSC resolution, but also has sanctioned the countries that wanted to stick to the agreement" - namely Iran, Russia and China.

Zarif expressed solidarity with Venezuela's democratically elected and reelected President Maduro.

He denounced Trump and Netanyahu regime aims to deny Palestinians their universally recognized right of self-determination.

The US "brings insecurity and instability to anywhere it sets foot. Today it has taken insecurity to the Persian Gulf, Middle East, as well as South and Latin America by its presence," he stressed, adding:

"We don't know anywhere in the world to which US presence has brought stability. Anywhere they have set foot, they caused extremism and terrorism and put people under pressure."

While in Latin America, Zarif will also visit Nicaragua and Bolivia to express solidarity with their sovereign independence and leadership.

He warned Trump regime hardliners against "playing with Iran. We always respond...We say you may start a war, but you won't be the ones who end it" - adding loud and clear:

"We will survive. We will prosper long after...Trump is gone. Our time slots are in millennia."

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Iran observes all U.S. ships in Gulf region: Iran navy chief

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran observes all U.S. ships in the Gulf region and has an archive of images of their daily movements, the head of Iran’s navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said on Tuesday, according to the Young Journalists Club news site.

Iran and the United States came to the brink of war last month after the Islamic Republic shot down a U.S. drone, nearly prompting a retaliatory attack which U.S. President Donald Trump called off at the last minute.

Tensions have also spiked between Iran and Britain after the Islamic Republic seized a British-flagged tanker last Friday because it had collided with a fishing vessel, according to Iranian officials.

British Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar in early July, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.

“We observe all enemy ships, particularly (those of) America, point-by-point from their origin until the moment they enter the region,” Khanzadi said, noting that images were recorded using Iranian drones.

“We have complete images and a large archive of the daily and moment-by-moment traffic of the coalition forces and America.”

Iran will hold joint naval exercises with allied countries for the first time by the end of the Iranian calendar year, which is in March 2020, Khanzadi said.

He did not specify which countries might take part in the exercise.

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Iran says it has arrested CIA spies; UK to unveil response to ship crisis

DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday it had captured 17 spies working for the CIA and sentenced some of them to death, an announcement President Donald Trump dismissed as “totally false” amid an escalating international crisis over tankers in the Gulf.

The Iranian announcement came hours before Britain was due to unveil its response to Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker, a move that has escalated a three-month confrontation that nearly drew the United States and Iran into a shooting war.

“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot-down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!” tweeted Trump.

Iranian state television published images it said showed CIA officers who had been in touch with the suspected spies. The Ministry of Intelligence said the 17 spies had been arrested in the 12 months to March 2019. Some had been sentenced to death, according to another report.

Such announcements are not unusual in Iran and are often made for domestic consumption. But the timing suggested a hardening of the Iranian position as the Gulf crisis escalates.

In London, Prime Minister Theresa May led a meeting of her government’s COBR emergency committee to respond to Friday’s capture of the Stena Impero tanker by Iranian commandoes who abseiled onto its deck from helicopters in the Strait of Hormuz.

British ministers were expected to unveil their plans in a speech to parliament later on Monday. Regional experts say London has few good options to exert leverage over Iran at a time when Washington has already imposed the maximum possible economic sanctions, banning Iran’s global oil exports.

But the incident may prompt Britain and other countries to be more forthcoming as Washington has asked its reluctant allies to provide more ships to help secure the Gulf.

Asked on Fox News about any possible U.S. role over the seized tanker, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said pointedly: “The responsibility ... falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships.”

Confrontation between the United States and Iran has spiraled since last year when President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement signed by his predecessor Barack Obama which guaranteed Iran access to world trade in return for curbs to its nuclear program.

In May this year Washington closed loopholes in sanctions, effectively barring all countries from buying Iranian oil.

Since then, Iran has stepped up its nuclear activity beyond limits in the deal and Washington has accused Tehran of attacking ships in the Gulf. In June, after Iran shot down a U.S. drone, Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes, only to abort them minutes before impact, the closest the United States has come to bombing Iran in their 40 year history of animosity.

Last week the United States said it had shot down an Iranian drone, which Tehran denied.

Washington’s major European allies Britain, France and Germany opposed Trump’s decision to quit the nuclear deal and have tried to remain neutral. But Britain was drawn more directly into the confrontation on July 4 when its Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar, accused of violating European sanctions on Syria.

Iran repeatedly threatened to retaliate for that incident and has made little secret that its capture of the Stena Impero two weeks later was intended as a retaliatory move. It says the ship is being held over safety concerns and the 23-member crew, including 18 Indians and no British citizens, are safe.

As Britain weighed its next step, a recording emerged on Sunday of Britain’s only warship in the Gulf radioing in vain to try to persuade Iranian forces not to board Stena Impero. That showed the difficulty a mid-sized naval power would have in protecting ships in the strait between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, the most important waterway of the global oil trade.

The United States, which has an aircraft carrier and several other warships in the area as part of its Fifth Fleet based in Iran, has been trying to enlist other countries to join an international task force to protect shipping.

The United States has been struggling to win its allies’ support for an initiative to heighten surveillance of Middle East oil shipping lanes because of fears it will increase tension with Iran, six sources familiar with the matter said.

  • Published in World
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