India: Decision on oil purchase after Lok sabha polls, India tells Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Decision on oil purchase after Lok sabha polls, India tells Iran

The US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil imports on May 2 has hit India.

BUSINESS Updated: May 14, 2019 23:46 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing 23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10% of the country’s energy needs.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Tuesday that a decision on purchasing Iranian oil in the face of US sanctions will be made after the conclusion of India’s general election, people familiar with developments said.

Iranian oil exports and Tehran’s approach to recent developments in the region, including tensions between Iran and the US over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian nuclear deal, figured in the discussions between Zarif and Swaraj.

Zarif arrived in New Delhi late on Monday for a previously unscheduled visit to lobby for India’s support against the backdrop of the Iran-US tensions. He last visited India in January, and the current trip was organised at short notice at Zarif’s request, the people cited above said.

When Zarif raised the purchase of oil from Iran, Swaraj reiterated India’s position that a decision will be made after the general elections while keeping in mind the country’s “commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests”, the people said.

The US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil imports on May 2 has hit India. Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing 23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10% of the country’s energy needs.

The sanctions were imposed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Zarif briefed the Indian side on Iran’s approach to developments in the region, including on JCPOA, and also reviewed bilateral cooperation.

The outreach to India, he explained, was part of Iran’s consultations with key countries, including Russia, China, Turkmenistan and Iraq, over the past few days.

The impact of the sanctions on Iranian oil exports, the country’s main revenue earner, prompted Tehran to threaten last week that it would roll back its compliance with the nuclear deal.

Zarif referred to President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on May 8 about Iran keeping larger amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water, instead of exporting the excess as required under the JCPOA. He also mentioned the 60-day timeline given to the EU3 (France, Germany, the UK) and other parties to the JCPOA (China and Russia) for restoring oil exports and banking channels.

The Indian side, the people said, reiterated its position that New Delhi would like all parties to the JCPOA to continue to fulfil their commitments and engage constructively and resolve issues peacefully through dialogue.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of an interim contract between India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) for the development Chabahar port. They also discussed Afghanistan and agreed to “maintain close coordination on the evolving situation”, the people said.

First Published: May 14, 2019 22:32 IST

Avoid looking’ at women: Iran hardliners crack down on modesty infringement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(oped: the immaturity levels of so many Islamic men is beyond ridiculous) 

‘Avoid looking’ at women: Iran hardliners crack down on modesty infringement

Judiciary threatens prosecution, urges women ‘to respect the hijab even more than before’ and men to ‘avoid looking directly at female passersby’

Iranians walk along Valiasr Street in northern Tehran on May 8, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iranians walk along Valiasr Street in northern Tehran on May 8, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s hardline judiciary has reportedly been cracking down on what the regime considers religious and moral crimes in public spaces.

Iranians have been warned they will face punishment and prosecution for violating the Ramadan fast by eating in public, or for flouting the regime’s gender-based modesty rules, the British daily The Telegraph reported Saturday.

“My personal advice to women is to respect the hijab even more than before and gentlemen must avoid looking directly at female passersby,” the report quoted Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesperson, as saying.

He added: “Anyone ignoring these instructions during the Ramadan will be committing an offense and should expect some punishment from the law enforcement units.”

Anyone caught playing music on car radios will be fined and have their car towed, officials also said.

The report linked the draconian crackdown to the regime’s fears of public criticism and protests amid growing economic and diplomatic uncertainty as its diplomatic row with the US has ratcheted up in recent months.

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Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Amid US-Iran tension, Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’

‘Things are heating up,’ Yuval Steinitz warns as US aircraft carrier sails toward Persian Gulf; Iranian Guards chief dismisses US ‘psychological war’

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on February 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on February 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Israel’s energy minister, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warned Sunday that escalating tensions between the US and Iran may lead the Islamic Republic to launch a missile assault against Israel.

“Things are heating up,” Yuval Steinitz told the Ynet news site. “I wouldn’t rule anything out. Iran may fire rockets at Israel.”

Steinitz added that Iran may also choose to attack Israel by activating its proxies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Gaza’s Islamic Jihad.

“The American sanctions are breaking the neck of the Iranian economy, and a new and stronger wave [of sanctions] is still to come,” he warned, suggesting that the danger was unlikely to pass in the near future.

Speaking later Sunday to the Kan state radio station, Steinitz stressed that he was not privy to any particular intelligence information on Iranian plans, but noted that Iran was facing drastic economic pressure and “anything could happen” in such a climate.

The Iranians could “go crazy” and “declare war on the whole Middle East,” he said.

There were some in Iran who recognized the imperative to dismantle their rogue nuclear program, and others who would seek to retain it in the hope that the regime could weather the current economic crisis.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz at a conference in Tel Aviv on February 27, 2019. (Flash90)

Steinitz’s comments follow a report on Israel’s Channel 13 on Friday that said Israel had warned the US that Iran was contemplating targeting Saudi oil production facilities.

The unsourced report said the Iranians were “considering various hostile acts” against American or American-allied targets. Tehran had looked at targeting American bases in the Gulf, but that had been deemed too drastic a step, it claimed.

The main target then became “Saudi oil production facilities,” the report said. Such a strike would also send world oil prices soaring and enable Iran to get more income from its oil sales, the report added.

Channel 13 also quoted unnamed Arab intelligence sources as saying there was a debate raging in the Iranian leadership about striking US and US-allied targets, with some in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps pushing for attacks, including against Israeli targets, while others cautioned that it would be “suicidal” to get into a serious military conflict with the US.

Earlier last week, the same channel was the first to report that the Israeli Mossad had tipped off the White House two weeks ago about an Iranian plan to attack either a US or US-allied target. That earlier report did not specify potential targets for such an ostensible attack.

The US responded to the reported message, and to escalating rhetoric from Tehran, by saying it was moving significant military assets into the region, including an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, leading a larger naval strike group, sailed through the Suez Canal toward the Persian Gulf late last week.

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On Friday, the US Maritime Administration warned that Iran could try to attack American commercial vessels, including oil tankers, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, the move was dismissed by the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as “psychological war.”

The Pentagon’s deployment of the USS Lincoln, Major General Hossein Salami told lawmakers at a parliament session in Tehran, was part of the American military’s regular rotation schedule.

“Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” Reuters quoted parliamentary leadership spokesman Behrouz Nemati as saying, summarizing Salami’s comments to the parliament’s ICANA news site.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened a “swift and decisive” American response to any attack by Iran.

In this undated photo released by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran (Sepahnews via AP)

“The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve,” he said.

The Pentagon also said Friday that the US would move a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.

An American official said the decision to send in more forces was based in part on intelligence indicating that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores.

The moves have frightened some European allies as well as US President Donald Trump’s Democratic rivals, who fear the administration is pushing for war based on overhyped intelligence.

Illustrative: Iranian Navy exercise in 2011. (CC BY, Mohammad Sadegh Heydari, Wikimedia Commons)

Pompeo, who canceled a trip to Greenland to rush back to Washington last week, said, “We do not seek war. But Iran’s 40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.”

Meanwhile Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the United States Naval Forces Central Command, told Reuters he would bring the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln through the Gulf’s sensitive Strait of Hormuz if need be.

“If I need to bring it inside the strait, I will do so,” Malloy said. “I’m not restricted in any way, I’m not challenged in any way, to operate her anywhere in the Middle East.”

Iran on Wednesday said it would suspend some commitments under a 2015 nuclear accord rejected by Trump, frustrated that renewed US sanctions have prevented the country from enjoying the economic fruits of compliance with the deal.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said he sought talks with Iran.

“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask.”

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Trump also said Washington was not looking for a conflict with Tehran, but refused to divulge why the carrier had been dispatched.

“We have information that you don’t want to know about,” Trump said, according to Reuters. “They were very threatening and we have to have great security for this country and many other places.”

Asked about the possibility of a military confrontation, he said, “I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen.”

Iranian judo agrees to end decades-long boycott of Israeli athletes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Iranian judo agrees to end decades-long boycott of Israeli athletes

Historic commitment comes after talks with International Judo Federation over ‘disturbing phenomenon’ of Iranians throwing matches

Uzbekistan's Bekmurod Oltiboev, in white, competes against Iran's Javad Mahjoub during their men's +100 kg judo bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, August 31, 2018. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Uzbekistan’s Bekmurod Oltiboev, in white, competes against Iran’s Javad Mahjoub during their men’s +100 kg judo bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, August 31, 2018. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

In a historic move, Iranian judo officials have agreed to stop boycotting Israeli athletes on the mat, ending a practice that had drawn criticism against Tehran in the sporting world.

In a letter to the International Judo Federation published Saturday, Iran’s Olympic Committee and local Judo Federation agreed to “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle.”

In a statement, the IJF said the letter came after several rounds of talks regarding the “disturbing phenomenon, which involves the sudden ‘injury’ or failure of weigh-in of Iranian athletes,” which it said was related to Iran trying to avoid meeting athletes from certain countries.

Neither Iran nor the IJF specifically mentioned Israel, but Iranian athletes have on several occasions forfeited matches to avoid facing Israelis, who have become increasingly relevant in the sport on the world stage.

Iran’s sports policy is an outgrowth of the country’s official refusal to recognize Israel. Its leaders routinely encourage the demise of the Jewish state and the countries are considered arch foes.

In February, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei threw a match at the Paris Grand Slam to avoid facing Israeli Sagi Muki in the next round by feigning an injury, ending his chance at a gold medal. He then recovered to win his bronze medal match, but feigned another injury to avoid standing on the podium with Muki.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, the IJF had threatened to ban Iran from international competitions, including the Olympics, if it did not agree to fight Israelis.

On Saturday, Muki won gold at the Baku Grand Slam, likely securing his place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Israel’s Sagi Muki poses on the podium with his gold medal following the men’s under 81 kg weight category competition during the European Judo Championship in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on April 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The IJF has in recent years stepped up pressure on Muslim boycotts of Israeli athletes, including refusals to host them or shake hands.

In 2018, the body stripped international competitions from the UAE and Tunisia over their refusal to allow Israelis to compete as Israelis.

The UAE later relented, resulting in the anthem Hatikvah being played in the country for the first time last year after Muki won the gold in the under-81 kg category.

Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Israel Judo Association President Moshe Ponte with medal winners during the women 52 kg medal ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Judo tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Iran has had a long-time policy of avoiding Israelis in athletic competitions, frequently at the expense of its own competitors. An Iranian swimmer refused to enter the same pool as an Israeli at the Beijing Olympics and in the 2004 Athens Games, an Iranian judoka refused to face an Israeli, resulting in his disqualification.

In February, after Mollaei threw the match in Paris, Iranian athletics chief  Davoud Azarnoush said he hoped “Israel will be wiped out and annihilated before the next Olympic games, and all of us will breathe a sigh of relief,” according to Radio Farda.

A letter from Iranian judo officials to the IJF, published on May 11, 2019. Click to expand. (IJF)

In the letter to the IJF, the Iranian sports officials said they were negotiating with Iran’s parliament “to identify proper legal resolutions,” seemingly in order to rescind the unofficial ban on competing against Israelis.

Iranians athletes have increasingly found themselves caught between domestic officials, who may punish them for competing against Israelis, and international officials, who will punish them if they forfeit matches. In recent years, an increasing number of Iranian athletes and coaches have spoken out against the policy.

The last competition between Iranian and Israeli teams on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The regime in Iran routinely encourages the demise of Israel, and funds, arms and trains terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza that avowedly seek the annihilation of the Jewish state. Israel has led international opposition to the 2015 P5+1 powers’ deal with Iran, which was intended to prevent Iran attaining a nuclear weapons arsenal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing the Iranians of lying about their nuclear weapons program and successfully lobbying US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the accord.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Tehran to Continue Enriching Uranium, Rouhani Warns Against Internal Divisions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Tehran to Continue Enriching Uranium, Rouhani Warns Against Internal Divisions

Sunday, 5 May, 2019 – 08:00
A general view of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, some 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran October 26, 2010. REUTERS/IRNA/Mohammad Babaie
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
As the US intensifies its pressure campaign aimed at curbing Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its regional influence, the Iranian clerical-led regime reaffirmed its plans to resume enriching uranium, heavy (deuterium0-based) water and exporting oil.

Speaker Ali Larijani said Tehran would continue to enrich uranium and produce heavy water, regardless of restrictions on shipping abroad.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, for his part, warned that the recent host of US economic sanctions, a part of Washington strategy to counter Iranian malicious behavior, risks stoking internal tensions. Reformists in Rouhani’s administration and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei loyalists have been at odds on Iran’s response policy to pressure.

“Under the [nuclear accord] Iran can produce heavy water and this is not in violation of the agreement. Therefore, we will carry on with enrichment activity,” the semi official Iranian news agency, ISNA, quoted Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani as saying on May 4.

“We will enrich Uranium whether you move to buy it or not,” Larijani said.

On May 3, the US President Donald Trump’s administration slapped new restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities as it looks to force Tehran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant, intensifying a campaign aimed at halting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and curbing its regional power.

Despite increasing pressure on Iran, the United States on May 3 extended five sanction waivers that will allow Russian, China, and European countries to continue to work with Iran’s civilian nuclear program at Bushehr. But it said it may punish any activity that expands the site.

At the same time, the State Department said it was ending two waivers related to Iranian exports of enriched uranium in what it called “the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime.” All of the waivers were due to expire on May 4.

The 45- to 90-day extensions were shorter than the 180 days granted previously but can be renewed.

It was the third punitive action taken against Iran in as many weeks. Last week, it said it would grant no more sanctions waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, accelerating its plan to push Iran’s oil exports to zero. The Trump administration also took the unprecedented step of designating Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.

“The Trump administration continues to hold the Iranian regime accountable for activities that threaten the region’s stability and harm the Iranian people. This includes denying Iran any pathway to a nuclear weapon,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

The Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear accord a year ago and vowed “maximum pressure” aimed at curbing the regional role of Iran.”

Iran And Turkey Refuse To Classify Muslim Brotherhood As A Terrorist Organization

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran, Turkey Reject Trump’s Move to Classify Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Organization

Thursday, 2 May, 2019 – 10:30
US President Donald Trump meets with Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House in Washington, US, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ankara – Cairo – Washington – Saeed Abdelrazek – Mohamed Nabil Helmy – Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey and Iran on Wednesday criticized the United States over President Donald Trump’s attempt to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Ankara has rejected the US move, which the White House confirmed on Wednesday, saying it would promote “anti-Islamism” in the West and around the world.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for his part, accused Washington of supporting terrorism in the region, stressing that Tehran opposed the inclusion of the “Muslim Brotherhood” on the US list of “terrorist organizations.”

“The US is not in position to (..) start naming others as terror organizations and we reject by any attempt by the US in this regard,” Zarif was quoted by Reuters as saying. “The US is supporting the biggest terrorist in the region, that is Israel,” he added.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump “has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern and this designation is working its way through the internal process.”

According to Reuters, the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the US list allows sanctions to be imposed on those who have relations with the group, which is classified as terrorist in a number of Arab countries.

The US announcement comes three weeks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s visit to Washington. According to the New York Times, which revealed information about Trump’s attempt to classify the Muslim Brotherhood, the president’s initiative faces strong objections, especially within the Pentagon.

Egypt did not officially comment on the US move against the Muslim Brotherhood, but members of the parliamentary foreign relations committee welcomed it.

The Egyptian authorities have classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity since December 2013, in the wake of a booby-trapped car explosion against a security directorate in an Egypt province, which killed 16 people.

Iran’s President Decries US Policy Of Maximum Pressure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran’s Rouhani Decries US Policy of Maximum Pressure

Wednesday, 1 May, 2019 – 09:15
Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking national Workers’ Week in Tehran, Iran April 30, 2019. (Reuters)
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered Tuesday a vocal defiance to Washington’s latest measure to bring Iranian oil exports to zero.

“We will bring the US to its knees,” said Rouhani two days ahead of US decision to end waivers for country’s buying Iranian oil goes into effect.

Rouhani’s bellicose words followed an even tougher speech delivered by Qassem Soleimani, who commands the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.

“Enemies are looking to harm us through coercion, sanctions and threatening the country’s stability,” Soleimani said, while stressing that the US is going full-throttle in its attempt to trigger regime change in Tehran.

Last week, Washington announced it will no longer exempt eight countries that mainly import oil from Iran from economic sanctions. The move is set to place maximum pressure on Tehran so that it returns to negotiations and complies with 12 demands which include ending its support for regional militias, as well as freezing its development of ballistic missiles.

Since then, Rouhani and Iran’s top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have signaled willingness to reopen negotiation channels.

But Soleimani blasted any talks under the pressure of economic sanctions as “degrading, capitulation and surrender.”

The country’s ultra-conservative Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, for his part, deemed returning to the roundtable a “strategic blunder.”

“America’s decision that Iranian oil exports should reach zero is wrong and incorrect, and we will not allow this decision to be implemented,” Rouhani said.

“In the coming months, the Americans themselves will see that we will continue our oil exports,” Rouhani said, taking pride in Tehran having “six methods” to circumvent US sanctions.

Rouhani and Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to halt Iranian oil exports.

The Strait of Hormuz links the crude-producing countries of the Middle East and markets in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond, and a third of the world’s sea-transported oil passes through it every day.

Iran has also threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal itself if European powers do not succeed in ensuring Tehran’s economic benefits.

European countries have said they would help companies keep their operations with Iran as long as they are committed to the deal, but Tehran has criticized what it sees as a slow pace of progress in the implementation of a payment mechanism for trade settlement between Iran and Europe.

Iranian Minister Threatens To Quit Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Iranian minister threatens to quit nuclear non-proliferation treaty

Iran’s foreign minister says leaving the pact is one of Tehran’s ‘many options’ to retaliate against US sanctions

Iran's uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005.  (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said leaving the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is one of the “many options” Tehran has to retaliate against US sanctions, state media reported Sunday.

The United States has imposed a raft of sanctions against the Islamic Republic since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers.

Last week Washington announced an end to sanction waivers for buyers of Iranian crude oil, and earlier this month the US declared Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a “foreign terrorist organization.”

“The Islamic Republic has many options… (leaving) the NPT is one of them,” Zarif said in remarks to Iranian reporters in New York aired by state television.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the CBS program Face the Nation, April 27, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

State news agency IRNA said Zarif was asked why he had not touted leaving the nuclear treaty as one of Iran’s possible reactions during his trip, as he had done so previously.

“The country’s officials are deliberating” the different options and measures, Zarif replied, adding that the possibility of leaving the NPT was among those options. He did not list the other options.

Iran has branded the US sanctions “illegal” and Zarif warned on Wednesday that there would be consequences should Iran be barred from selling its oil.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal with six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — had given the Islamic Republic sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Zarif claimed Israel, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Saudi Arabia,and the United Arab Emirates were pushing a reluctant Trump into war.

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South Korea Hunting For Iran Oil Replacement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

South Korea Hunting for Iran Oil Replacement

Friday, 26 April, 2019 – 10:30
FILE PHOTO: South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy’s main factory is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (256 miles) southeast of Seoul, February 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
South Korea is looking for a replacement for Tehran’s oil which it will no longer have access to after May, now that the United States intends to tighten sanctions on Iranian exports. The country is the biggest buyer of Iran’s condensate.

SK Incheon Petrochem Co Ltd, Hyundai Oilbank Corp and Hanwha Total Petrochemical are set to once again scan the world for alternative, but more expensive, condensate supplies and snap up heavy naphtha oil products for their processing units, known as splitters, industry sources and analysts said.

In 2018 South Korea bought and tested up to 23 different types of condensate from 15 countries as a potential substitutes for Iranian condensate, at a cost of about $9 billion, government and trade data analysed by Thomson Reuters showed.

This year South Korean refiners did not have to look hard as they made full use of the Iranian oil volumes allowed under the US waivers by importing only Iranian condensate. However, those waivers will expire on the 1st of May.

The country is set to import about 249,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian South Pars condensate by the end of April, 70 percent of the total volume of condensate it imported last year, the data showed, much more than it needs in the first half of 2019.

The country’s condensate demand has also fallen in the first half of this year as refiners cut runs at splitters on poor naphtha margins and as Hanwha Total shut a splitter for maintenance, the sources said, according to Reuters.

SK and Hanwha Total may replace condensates by buying more heavy naphtha, a raw material for petrochemicals. Low naphtha prices could help repeat a spike in imports that happened in late 2018.

Hanwha Total, which operates two condensate splitters, last year raised its monthly average imports of heavy naphtha to 400,000 tonnes from 250,000 tonnes in the absence of Iranian condensate.

Yemeni Parliament Pledges Ending Houthi Coup, Bringing Peace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Yemeni Parliament Pledges Ending Houthi Coup, Bringing Peace

Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 – 14:30
The new Cabinet’s session in the presence of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Seiyun (Saba News Agency)
Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemen’s Parliament Speaker Sultan al-Borkani pledged to end the Houthi coup and bring peace to the war-torn country.

This came during his meeting in Riyadh with the Chinese and British ambassadors in light with the MPs’ move in the diplomatic circles to enhance the legitimate government’s position in the country.

The parliament resumed its activity on April 13 by holding an extraordinary session in the eastern city of Seiyun in Hadramaut after most deputies attended.

Official sources said Borkani and the members of the parliament bureau, deputies Mohammad al-Shaddadi and Eng. Mohsen Busra, have received British ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron to discuss the latest developments in the country.

Borkani praised the great role played by the United Kingdom and its keenness to implement UN resolutions and agreements, most recently of which was the Stockholm Agreement on Hodeidah.

He also referred to the arbitrary measures taken recently by Houthi militias against Yemeni deputies, saying they contradict with all values and ethics.

Houthis have earlier taken measures against deputies, who have attended the parliamentary session in Seiyun, on charges of treason. They issued judicial claims to confiscate the property of those deputies, seize their houses, and arrest their relatives.

Borkani pointed out that the humanitarian tragedy has exacerbated by the continuation of the coup and failure to respond to peace options, according to Saba.

The agency added that he vowed to work hard to end the coup, restore the state and its institutions, end the human suffering, support any political solutions to bring peace, take into consideration issues related to citizens’ life and play his legislative and supervisory role.

He shed light on the militias’ lack of seriousness in dealing with the peace process, citing the non-implementation of Hodeidah agreement.

“Any attempts or talks about a settlement without including Hodeidah agreement will neither be useful nor unreasonable,” he noted, adding that instead, this will prolong the war and increase the Yemeni people’s suffering.

He hoped the Quartet meeting, which is scheduled to be held soon in London, will bring positive outcomes and strict positions that would force the militias to implement the agreements and comply with peace in accordance with the three terms of reference.

The Quartet includes foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Aron, for his part, pointed to the cooperation between Yemen’s parliament and UK’s House of Commons, saying his country “will provide facilitation for the success of efforts to achieve peace and implement Stockholm agreement on Hodeidah”.